Wonder Woman 1984


Diana Prince aka Wonder Woman, working as an archaeologist in 1984, stumbles upon a magical crystal that can grant wishes, and inadvertently brings back her dead former lover, just as the crystal falls into the hands of a power hungry oil tycoon and a nerdy colleague.

A lot of the negativity surrounding this has been a bit much. Granted, the writing can seem rushed, at least initially, forcing plot threads to develop rather lazily and convenient (Kristen Wiig’s Barbara / The Cheetah at first discovers she’s developing powers – because she can suddenly walk in heels?!). There’s also forced wokeness (because, of course), supposedly pointing out ‘toxic masculinity’ in two blatant scenes involving a woman walking alone and getting approached by leering men. Yet when the movie steps away from such elements, it’s actually a lot of fun. Gal Gadot is great, and continues to be a wonderful find as Wonder Woman – she just exudes charisma and presence every second she’s on screen. Pedro Pascal is also enjoyably nutty as villain Maxwell Lord. I’m also a fan of Kristen Wiig who again proves very watchable, even if her character takes a little too long to get going.

Patty Jenkins’ sequel struggles to live up to the first movie and the story is rather silly and not exactly grounded, but still entertained me and as wishes are granted and the world started to fall into anarchy … I was glued. Gal Gadot and Chris Pine again have good chemistry, and the action is decent, even if for my liking there was too much swinging around and flying (similar to the first movie). Yet it was exciting in places (with a stand out White House sequence) and with a message about being careful what you wish for – the closing moments had a lot of heart. Yeah it’s a bit cheesy at times and a touch over the top – but I still had a good time. Worth a watch.

Verdict: Good

Bill and Ted Face the Music


Viewed – 05 February 2021 online rental

This wasn’t a movie I thought we’d ever see. More or less 30 years since the last one, actor Keanu Reeves has certainly separated himself from that late eighties ‘dude’ persona. This has best buds Bill (Alex Winter) & Ted (Reeves) now middle aged and having not made the big time like they were destined, and haven’t made the ‘song to unite the world’. So when Kelly, the daughter of old time traveling friend Rufus, turns up to tell them that things haven’t turned out well in the future, Bill & Ted learn they have to come up with that song in 72hrs before the fabric of reality tares itself apart. At the same time, daughters, Billie (Brigette Lundy-Paine) and Theordora (Samara Weaving) decide to help by travelling back in time to bring together the ultimate band, using notable figures from history.

Dude, we grew old…

It’s a ridiculous story that borrows the plots from both Excellent Adventure and Bogus Journey, which means its kind of chaotic. Thankfully, Reeves & Winter jump back into their roles with ease and their dude banter will always be funny. Considering they have a time-travelling phone booth, the ticking clock plot device makes no sense whatsoever, yet as the dudes bump into different versions of themselves … there’s still fun to be had. As for the daughters of Bill & Ted – their adventure of recruiting music figures is a missed opportunity, with the choice of grabbing Jimi Hendrix, Louis Armstrong and Mozart, followed up with grabbing some cave woman drummer, a no name rapper and a flute playing Japanese woman (??) … surely there’s far more notable figures they could have chosen? Also Lundy-Pain is doing the most cringe-worthy bad-impression of a young Keanu Reeves it’s painful.

On paper this must have looked like a great idea, and at times it is entertaining, mostly down to Reeves & Winter, but the writing is weak and the plot lacks anything even remotely new or clever. As a ‘can they still do these characters?’ experiment it kind of works, but as a worthwhile sequel, not so much.

Verdict: Poor

The Midnight Sky


Viewed – 12 January 2021 Netflix

It would be easy to get cynical of another ‘Netflix original’ movie after three made it into my least favourite movies of 2020. However as the streaming service continues to attract major Hollywood talent, sooner or later a gem would surface. This George Clooney vehicle, which he also directs has him as Augustine, a lone scientist in a research facility in Antartica following a global catastrophe that has wiped out much of mankind. However after receiving a message from a space station travelling back to earth, Augustine races against time to warn the crew of the dangers of a planet they once called home.

This very heart-felt drama has a stand out turn from Clooney, an actor I’ve often enjoyed. His character, who is terminally ill, is complex and believable as a man who has put so much into his career, he’s forgotten how to live. The supporting cast of astronauts, lead by Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything) are also well rounded and convincing. The space bits bare more than a resemblance to Sandra Bullock hit Gravity, whilst the on earth segments feel more like a man-verses-nature survival story … and these two sides make for a compelling whole. Both settings can feel claustrophobic with imminent danger, that although the pace was slow at times I never stopped being fully invested.

For such a concept, a lack of grandeur can be forgiven considering this is more a character piece, although a little light shed on the virus or incident that’s gone down would have been welcome. I was also left wanting a little more detail regarding certain choices Augustine makes in his back story. However, with a genuine gut-punch of an emotional ending, I still came away from this impressed.

Verdict: Recommended

The New Mutants


Viewed – 05 January 2021 online-rental

2020 was the first year in a while that we had no real big comic book movies, apart from Wonder Woman 1984 at the end and this decidedly low key release. Set in the same universe as the X-Men movies, this focuses on a group of troubled teens in a hospital who are coming to terms with their mutations as a female doctor studies them … including a Native American girl who arrives following an incident that wiped out her reservation.

Think ‘Girl, Interrupted’ meets ‘Heroes’ and you’ll get the vibe this one’s going for. A recognisable cast includes Game of Thrones’ Maisie Williams as a girl with the ability to turn into a wolf, and The Queen’s Gambit star Anya Taylor-Joy as a bitchy Russian who can summon abilities from other dimensions. The banter and varying powers between the characters held my interest and there’s some good action, even if this is less a full-on comic book actioner and more a character piece.

However, hints at a shady organisation responsible for the hospital are unexplored, and the whole thing feels like part one of a bigger story. Plenty of potential here despite the fact that teen mutants is nothing new and has been explored in prior X-Men movies. Sadly a luke-warm critical and commercial reaction probably means this story won’t get continued. Worth a watch though.

Verdict: Good

Possessor


Viewed – 05 December 2020 online rental

I’ve been a long time fan of director David Cronenberg, and came to this unusual thriller blind, unaware at first that it’s directed by his son Brandon. However shortly into this I began to get those unsettling Cronenberg vibes, with its emphasis on the psychological effects of technology, not unlike Videodrome. This has a woman, Tasya Vos (Andrea Riseborough) who works for a secret organisation who by using a device can transport herself into another person’s body in order to carry out an assassination.

Shot with a visual aesthetic that’s both beautiful and creepy, I was initially gripped by this concept and intrigued how it would play out. We learn early on that Tasya is in a relationship and has a young son, but is away on ‘business’ a lot so finds it hard to relate to them naturally, almost playing a part whenever she’s with them. Therefore she dives into her role as an assassin, mentored by Jennifer Jason Leigh’s agency figure.

However the is let down by a lack of meaning to Tasya’s increasingly brutal kills, seeming to lose control whenever she has to complete her mission. The violence here is drawn out, incredibly graphic and I’ll say … unnecessary. The themes the movie explores of identity, sanity, technology etc are interesting but they get overwhelmed by the gore. This leads to an ending that just didn’t make sense. Director Brandon Cronenberg has many of his father’s sensibilities but little of his depth going by this example. Disappointing.

Verdict: Poor