Cowboys and Aliens


Viewed – 19 January 2016  Netflix

Cowboys-and-Aliens-I haven’t a clue what’s taken me so long to get around to seeing this quirky-concept action adventure starring Daniel Craig as a mysterious stranger who wakes up in the wilderness with a strange device on his wrist.  Soon he attracts the attention of local shady big shot Harrison Ford who’s trouble-making son gets into a spot of bother with Craig.  Yet the two gunslinger’s problems are only just beginning when a race of aliens invade and begin abducting the locals.

It’s a solid idea and in the hands of Iron Man director John Favrau it’s fast and mostly fun, even if the pairing of the mumbling, serious Craig and the mumbling serious Ford grates a little (where’s the comedy side-kick?).  Thankfully we do get the lovely, if bland Olivia Wild (Tron Legacy) on hand as a mysterious beauty who seems to know Craig’s character even though Craig himself has amnesia.

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The aliens however are horribly typical fair and not interesting; their big plan to steal gold woefully under-explored.  Yet the effects are decent, and with a great flying space crafts verses cowboys (and Indians) on horseback sequence, the action proved thrilling at times.  We also get some enjoyable supporting characters including a wimpy bar tender played by Sam Rockwell.  Yet for such a cool idea, I’d have liked this to be a bit more tongue in cheek, and could have done with better western-themed atmosphere other than the setting and failed to go anywhere I wasn’t expecting it to.  Probably the reason the movie wasn’t all that talked about after it’s initial release.

Verdict:  2.5 /5

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Movie preview 2015


With 2014 finally in the memory banks, I am of course looking to the year ahead for my movie fix and wonder just what will excite, delight and entertain in 2015?  Listed below are just a few of the movies I am most looking forward to, with a few words on how I hope they’ll turn out…

Kingsman: The Secret Service

January

Mathew Vaughan’s attempt to inject some much needed cool into the Brit spy thriller and considering he was responsible for the excellent Kick-Ass, I’m very hopeful of this one.

Ex Machina

January

Directing debut of writer & novelist Alex Garland, with an intelligent look at artificial intelligence, a reclusive genius and a realist look at cyborg-technology.  Trust me, it looks cool.

Avengers: Age Of Ultron

April

I really enjoyed the first Marvel Avengers Assemble, and any follow up seems essential viewing.  Maybe the whole Marvel comic book thing is getting tired, but hey, one last outing for Iron Man, Thor, The Hulk and Black Widow has gotta be worth seeing.

Mad Max: Fury Road

May

Tom Hardy seems perfect casting as Max, but the post-apocalyptic setting is very tired and director George Miller, who made the first movie way back in 1979 – has he still got it?  Could go either way this one.

Jurassic World

June

No Spielberg?  Hmm, ok.  I’m on the fence about this, but the original Jurassic Park is still a classic and if they can capture even a bit of that movie’s wonder and scale, then I’m in.  Chris Pratt, hot off Guardians Of The Galaxy seems a good fit.

Crimson Peak

October

After the luke warm offering of 2013’s Pacific Rim, it’s good to see director Guillermo Del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth) go back to his routes in this creepy looking horror.  Casting of Alice In Wonderland’s Mia Wasikowska seems a great choice as is the gothic spooky mansion setting.

Mission Impossible 5

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December

Can this series do any wrong?  Not after Ghost Protocol it can’t I’d say and despite an ageing Tom Cruise, this is pretty much guaranteed to wow us again with some amazing stunts.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

December

Although the recent prequels were rather hit and miss (mostly miss) I’m very open minded by what wonder-kid J J Abrahms can bring to the party.  Star Wars is now also in the hands of Disney who seem to have the Midas touch of late, so this has to be good, right?

So those are for me, the big hitters of 2015 but I’m sure there will be many surprises and disappointments along the way.  I’m curious about The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie and there’s still a lot I didn’t get to see in 2014 that I need to catch up on, like Hunger Games: Mocking Jay Part 1 (and Part 2 when it arrives) as well as Exodus Gods & Kings and Birdman.  There are also probably some I haven’t even been made aware of yet that could turn out to be great.  We’ll wait and see.

Iron Man 3


Viewed – 17 December 2013  Blu-ray

You have to love Iron Man.  Such an unashamedly bad-ass character backed up by the one liner filled charisma of Robert Downey Jr … what’s not to like?  In this third outing for the high tech hero / billionaire and following on directly from the Marvel Avengers Assemble, Tony Stark (Downey Jr) faces a new threat, that of a middle eastern terrorist (Ben Kingsley), clearly modelled after Osama Bin-Laden (bad taste?) who is setting off bombs on American soil.

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Directed by Shane Black (Lethal Weapon, Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang) as can be expected this is peppered with the director’s trade mark sharp, often very un-p.c. dialogue.  Not quite so much fun are the constant nods to Avengers with references to Thor and the like (didn’t we get enough of this in I.M #2?) and a war on terror backdrop that’s becoming an all too familiar story device these days.  Downey does a good job as the increasingly troubled stark (he’s getting panic attacks following Avengers … but this isn’t fully explored) and throw in a little kid let’s bond moment (Hellboy anyone?) and a twist I saw coming a mile off … and well, to be honest considering all the good reviews – I was disappointed.  The first half of the movie is actually rather slow, and although Guy Pierce as always, is rather good – this all just felt a bit unnecessary.

Again Stark’s relationship with Pepper Potts is well observed and is the crutch this movie just about stands up with, with an enjoyable Gwyneth Paltrow – and towards the end some of the action was pretty slick – especially the final encounter with the villain.  Also Rebecca Hall is in it, and well… she’s hot.  But overall I found this really lacking – and dare I say it, I might have enjoyed I.M #2 more.

Verdict:  2.5 /5

Iron Man 2


Viewed – 29 October 2010  Blu-ray

Back in a packed summer season, Iron Man #1 stood out as the surprise superhero gem despite tough competition from The Dark Knight and Hellboy 2.  I loved it, mainly down to the perfect casting of Robert Downey Jr but also some superb action scenes and a tongue-in-cheek rule breaking attitude that kept it fresh and exciting.  Naturally I was hyped for the sequel, but sadly missed it at the cinema.  So it was high time I made up for that on Blu-ray.

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Iron Man


Viewed – 31 October 2008  DVD

The super hero / comic-book movie just doesn’t seem to fail these days, what with The Dark Knight & Hellboy 2 hitting hard this summer.  So we must not forget the first out the blockbuster-cannon, that much celebrated but painfully ignored hero Iron Man, a Marvel Comics stalwart for several decades.

Casting one of my favourite actors, Robert Downey Jr as billionaire weapons developer Tony Stark was my first bet that this was going to rock, and I wasn’t wrong – Downey Jr is every bit the likable, suave, charismatic lead, and although the origin story that is par the course for a super hero franchise is a little thin, and the climactic battle all too brief (with a deja vu Transformers-style); in between we get some priceless moments of comedy, stylish, feel-good action and plenty of personality (mostly from Downey Jr) that just makes for a guaranteed ‘fun’ two hours. 

Jeff Bridges (another fave) is excellent as Tony’s business partner, and a surprisingly sexy Gwyneth Paltrow is on hand as Tony’s ever-faithful secretary / assistant where thankfully we don’t go the love-interest route.  So much of this movie plays against genre conventions that it just feels fresh and exciting from the start – and I think this is going to become a great franchise.  Roll on Iron Man 2!

Verdict:  4 /5