A-Z Challenge – update 3


Well, this is becoming quite the challenge for me personally. I’ve now reached letter S having ploughed through 7 more movies. Revisiting La La Land for L was surprising in how much I enjoyed it and appreciated the story second time around, and would now rate it higher than my existing review. For M, Mission Impossible Fallout was an easy pick as I’d brought it on Blu-ray awhile back and not got around to watching it. Yes just as good if not better on second viewing.

La La Land

Reaching N … I chose another Alfred Hitchcock classic, North By Northwest … an exciting man-in-the-wrong-place mystery thriller with Cary Grant that was a lot of fun. O was one my most disappointing movie of last year, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, and although I enjoyed it a little bit more, it overall didn’t work for me and I stand by my initial review.

I recently reviewed Parasite, my letter P and was overall impressed with it, despite a somewhat far-fetched ending. Q was the mostly reviled Bond outing Quantum of Solace, a movie I still think is ok but the story is weak and unengaging even though Daniel Craig is still good and some of the action is great. Then we came to R and I chose the Spanish found-footage horror [REC] a movie I really like even if subsequent viewings do dilute the experience for me.

Now will I get the remaining 8 movies watched by June 30th? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Spectre


Viewed – 23 February 2016  Blu-ray

Yep, another big movie I didn’t get around to last year.  And I call myself a Bond fan.  Well here we are then with this latest outing for Daniel Craig as everyone’s favourite British spy.   I have certainly liked Craig as Bond for the most part even if the series has not quite lived up to the ‘Bond for a new generation’ hope gained from Casino Royale.  Subsequent movies seem for me to have instead slipped back into the more tongue-in-cheek traditions of classic Bond.  This is no different, but now you could say I’m getting used to it.

Spectre

Sam Mendes in perhaps a Bond first returns to the helm directing this after the somewhat downbeat Skyfall, and we’re immediately introduced to Bond on a mission in Mexico following a lead to what may uncover a secret criminal organization.  I won’t spoil the details but he’s soon defying MI6 (headed by new ‘M’ Ralph Feinnes after ‘spolier’ Judy Dench’s demise in the last movie) and bedding the women whilst roping in Moneypenny and Q for help.  This time it’s all about the mystery man behind the curtain, a villain who may well be Bond’s greatest adversary.  It’s no secret that current hot property Christophe Waltz is here as a new take of classic character of Blofeld, and to say he knocks it out of the park is an understatement.  Waltz is on brilliantly charismatic / evil form and even though his screen time is limited he elevates this from just another Bond movie into Spectre Bond Girlsomething a bit more special.  Mendes’ direction for the most part is attractive and classy, but his more artistic leanings don’t always suit a more action-heavy movie this time around (could that possibly be the least exciting car chase ever committed to screen?).  Yet thankfully the plot, which moves  fast from one exotic location to the next (Africa, Tangiers, Austria…) leads to a thrilling final act that is up there with the best we’ve seen from this franchise.  Daniel Craig again is decent if somewhat chilled and overly serious (perhaps his only real failing) but still looking the part and with a great down-and-dirty train carriage fist fight, he still more than handles himself as 007.

It still has a few too many nods to yesteryear, much of the humour falls flat, and sometimes it gets a bit silly (smart blood?) … but regardless, 007 hasn’t been this good for a while.  Nice to have you back on form James.

Verdict:  4 /5

When casting goes wrong


We’ve all been there, the anticipation, the excitement for a new adaptation of our favourite book or a continuation of a much loved franchise, only to have our hopes dashed when they announce who is playing who.  See below a few such roles I think were badly miscast.  Do you agree?

Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane in Superman Returns

kate bosworth

There may be many things wrong with this misjudged sequel to the much loved Superman franchise, even if Kevin Spacey is kind of great as Lex Luthor … I’m sure few can forgive the overly moody, personality-free performance of Kate Bosworth as one of comic-book worlds most loved characters.  Thankfully rectified in Man Of Steel’s Amy Adams.

Pernilla August as Shmi Skywalker in Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace

shmi skywalker

This is another movie that has many problems, but none more so than the meant to be earnest and emotional but actually wooden and amateurish performance of Anakin’s slave mother.  Surely this could have added much needed weight to young Anakin’s story instead of just making this viewer cringe.

Val Kilmer as Batman / Bruce Wayne in Batman Forever

bruce wayne

Personally my least favourite Batman movie, Jim Carey aside and yes I actually prefer Batman & Robin!  But Kilmer here had no presence, no charisma and just didn’t suite either the dark knight or the playboy millionaire persona.  Shudder.

Julian McMahon as Dr Doom / Victor Von Doom in The Fantastic Four

Dr Doom

Yes he’s from Nip/Tuck and kind of pulls it off as a charming nutjob – but the Dr Doom of the comic-books was a hulking, muscle-bound overlord that no matter how much he tries, McMahon just can’t pull off.  A poor-mans bad guy in what turned out to be a poor-man’s X-Men movie (that wasn’t an X-Men movie).

Timothy Dalton as James Bond in The Living Daylights

james bond

The looks, perhaps, but the wit and charm of either Connery or Moore?  Not a chance.  The follow-up movie Licence To Kill was at least a good story but Dalton was on borrowed time from the start and just didn’t deliver anything resembling the spy many of us grew up loving.

Daniel Craig as Mikael Blomkvist in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

dragon tattoo

Hot off the set of Bond, where he was surprisingly good, he steps into the shoes of actor Michael Nyqvist and lacked much of the believable emotion of Nyqvist’s performance in what turned out to be one of the most disappointing remakes in a long time – even in the hands of David Fincher.

Sylvester Stallone in Judge Dredd

MSDJUDR EC009

As the recent Dredd proved this character demands a no-name star beneath that iconic helmet to truly become judge, jury and executioner.  At the time Stallone was big business and he transformed what should have been a faithful comic-book adaption into another Stallone action-fest.  Not a good one at that.

Quantum of Solace


Viewed – 11 November 2008  Cinema

Dodgy title aside, what was I expecting from this latest Jame Bond flick?  Well following the rather impressive Casino Royale and the new direction the franchise had taken with the hard-as-nails Daniel Craig defying all expectations and turning out to be the best Bond (yet) – Its easy to say I went into this expecting something damn good.  Even the slightly off-target opening song couldn’t put me off.  So cue car chases, gun fights, lots of smacking of bad guys in the mush and beautiful Bond girls.  But do you know what?  The story is so reliant on having an a-z knowledge of Casino Royale that even this viewer who had not seen the last film since its cinema release, was nearly entirely lost through the running of the film. 

Ok, we have a boo-hiss villain in the shape of French actor Mathieu Amalric, and he’s a well rounded, decent character and a step up from the one-note scuz-ball from Royale…Judi Dench as Bond’s boss ‘M’ steals the show every time she’s on screen (as so she should!), and the action each time its blasted on the screen is eye-meltingly well done and a serious shot to the adrenaline gland.  So why make it so complicated and at the same time, so vague?  This Quantum organisation is only briefly mentioned, making it about as foreboding as Postman Pat, and the villains main evil scheme just sparks of ‘is that it?’ compared to the diabolical plans of Bond villains from the past.  But never mind all that – here’s another action scene!  Really…how long did this one take to write?  One major plus is the amount of believable emotion conveyed here as in Casino Royale and shows how well the new style is working, making Bond a more believable human being and his love-interests much more rounded (no pun intended).

So see it for the action.  See it for Daniel Craig.  But perhaps leave your brain on standby.

Verdict:  3 /5