With half the year done and dusted, it’s an opportune time to look back at some of the low lights of the silver screen. What was awful, what simply just let us down? Let’s have a look!
Pacific Rim Uprising
As a standalone movie, Uprising is not all that bad a film, but when you associate it with the surprisingly popular Pacific Rim, is where things collapse. By removing the creative & dark Del Toro elements, and removing a magnetic lead such as Idris Elba, you are left with a very underwhelming film. Gone is the sombre and intense feel of the first, replaced by brightly coloured robots that can now be effortlessly controlled by teens, a la Power Rangers. Gone is the vast scale of grandeur and size, in comes the numerous product placements before the title card even shows up.
Truth or Dare
Considering this was created from the critically acclaimed Blumhouse Productions, whose previous works include Get Out, Happy Death Day and Split.Truth of Dare is a step back to the cheesy horror flick full of jump scares and idiotic characters. The plot is horribly convoluted for a by the numbers horror film, the cast is clichéd, and an ending so shambolic you will leave you astounded by what just happened! And let’s not forget the laughable ‘possessed’ demon faces…….
This really could be filed under ‘So bad, it’s good’, while it was nice to see Gabrielle Union play a role she really isn’t associated with, Breaking In starts off reasonable well, but as soon as the action begins, it loses all its tension and delves almost into parody. Where Union’s character got this military like experience, we don’t know. Guy gets run over twice by an SUV, then just randomly appears later without any sign of damage, sure why not. The entire audience was laughing as the final credits rolled! Which I guess makes it………. a good movie?!
The Cloverfield Paradox
‘’Stop trying to make Cloverfield happen……….It’s not going to happen’’
There was a reason why this convoluted mess was released on the sly on Netflix, at first, this was slated as an original movie, before studio intervention, The Cloverfield Paradox seems to be all over the place, floating between space horror, comedy and mystery, while never really sticking to one path. A shame considering the sheer talent of the cast involved in the project.
At over 140 minutes, Red Sparrow is one drawn out, turgid spy thriller. The premise of this movie were spies that were trained to seduce. But her character is frankly useless as a spy, wondering why she was even releases to go on field duty! The entire plot revolves around a mole in the KGB, which comes out of nowhere at the end with literally zero work leading up to it. It’s just……….boring.
So what movies this year let you down? let us know! 😀
See our spoiler-free review if you have not seen this film!!
(Though if you haven’t seen it by now, come on, what are you doing?)
Be sure to comment any points I may have left out.
So it is the long awaited arrival of the second installment of the new Star Wars Trilogy. There has been a large amount of hype for The Last Jedi and unfortunately for me I allowed myself to be dragged into the chaotic chorus of high expectations. After a nostalgic and interesting setup in The Force Awakens, an unrelated yet enjoyable Rogue One, and a tasty exhilarating trailer (with Porg goodness) I think we can all agree we were expecting good things. I, however, was less than fulfilled and found myself severely disappointed and close to anger on leaving the cinema. Probably not helped by the fact that my friends and I had been to the double-bill feature and had left the cinema at 3am after being there since 9pm!
Before I get into a laboured account of the negatives let’s start with something positive…
Yes they may be unnecessary and not at all relevant but it was an inventive solution to a problem and a creative reflection of the true location. Ahch-To, aka Skellig Michael, is just off the Southern Coast of Ireland and was the perfect location for the remote Jedi monasteries, what with the abandoned monasteries already present on the Island that were once home to Christian monks some 700-800 years ago.
Also present on the Island at certain times of year were PUFFINS! As the Island is a nature reserve, it would be wrong to remove the vast number of birds (not to mention logistically incredibly difficult), and to digitally erase the native birds would be hugely time consuming; so it was decided that they would have to roll with it and create a new indigenous species. Just like on the island, these birds get EVERYWHERE in the film (but thankfully not to an annoyingly obnoxious level) and even have an actually funny interaction with Chewbacca when he tries to eat one of them.
REY AND KYLO
This storyline was genuinely intriguing as you have a bridge between two characters who are still unsure of their paths and roles in the upcoming story (aren’t we all).
Each is trying to win the other to their side, while being slightly confused as to whether they are light or dark themselves. A mind bridge is created between the two characters by Supreme Leader Snoke, an ingenious plot to lead Rey to them and turn her to the dark side. Rey falls for this and seeks Kylo out as she still sees good in him. This plan back fires on Snoke, resulting in his death and an impressive fight scene between Kylo and Rey, and the Praetorian Guards. I personally enjoyed this fight, the style being a favourite of mine, mainly because of the way Rey and Kylo interact and fight alongside one another against the guards (however tentative the link between the two and how little they know of each other’s fighting style). Ultimately, they go their separate ways and leave the arc open to perhaps continue in Episode IX…
I liked it! Some people said he looked weird but I was glad to see him, being my favourite Star Wars character. Not only that, he is still schooling Luke even after being “dead” for decades and pushes him past this nihilistic stage of his life. Still the most subtle and natural laughs in the film and humbly awesome.
Well that’s me being nice…moving on!
SUPERMAN/MARY POPPINS/LEIA ORGANA
Right, I get she is force sensitive and there may be precedent for this scene in other obscure pieces of lore, games or series. But COME ON? Really? Also, I get this was filmed before she passed away (RIP, love and respect) but I really thought this was going to be it for Leia in the film. And it could have been so beautiful! I could feel myself tearing up as she gracefully floated through space in a dignified end to a powerful and forever rebellious character. But then she reached out her hand and force pulled herself back?!!? To a door that was not an airlock!! Which did not seem to bother anyone?! Except shields blah blah. NO! Some may say that it was an interesting twist and wasn’t expected but I believe it was just Disney rubbish and I wholeheartedly disagree with this scene. Not only that, now Leia’s death will either be reduced to a minor mention in the opening scrolling text, or some hurried and heavily CGI’d scene in Episode IX. I just can’t…
SLOWEST. CHASE. EVER
I think this was just a plot device whose sole purpose was to legitimise a pointless, convoluted and bloated sub-plot. I’ll get to this. A very long and drawn out plot device. Which also included an unnecessary deception from Vice-Admiral Holdo (Laura Dern) again, purely a device to allow Finn and Rose to go on their redundant side-mission. They could have evacuated the ship and headed to Crait while the Vice-Admiral light-speed destroyed the First Order fleet, giving more time for a battle on the surface of Crait. This could have allowed more speeder vs. AT-AT battle, a ground siege of the base, and a more interesting utilisation of Phasma. Again, I’ll get to this.
I suppose Holdo’s light-speed attack came as a last minute realisation moment to save the fleet, and I will also submit that it was a visually impressive and made for an emotional scene. BUT even the prospect of an 18 hour snail-paced space chase when it was first mentioned made many people in the audience groan. It drew the pace of the film to a grinding halt and just seemed to me like a bit of a half-baked idea in order to give Finn a quest of his own. Speaking of which…
CANTO BIGHT SUB-PLOT
During the slowest chase in history Poe, Finn and Rose formulate a plan to find an individual named the Code-Breaker, stow aboard the First Order ship and destroy the tracking device inhibiting the Resistance fleet’s escape. Finn and Rose travel to Canto Bight for what turns out to be more of moral journey for Finn; as well as a display of the subtle effects of living under a fascist First Order and how easy it is to spread hope through the galaxy. I do understand the relevance of this scene and when Finn does take a closer look at his extravagant surroundings to the injustice lingering just beneath the surface it does pluck on a few heart strings. However, the execution felt forced, the message rushed and probably did not require as much dialogue as we were given, which collectively dampens the intended impact.
After exploring the casino settlement for a while, they manage to get themselves arrested ultimately due to a parking violation. In their cell they meet DJ (Benicio Del Toro) who they dismiss as some hack criminal. They escape with the help of children, fathiers (space horses), BB-8 and DJ who they then decide to bring along in place of the Code-Breaker. This backfires when DJ betrays them to the First Order, teaching them a valuable lesson about a) trusting strangers they meet in prison cells, and b) about the people who play both sides in war. The First Order Dreadnought is fortuitously destroyed seconds before Finn and Rose are to be executed, allowing a short face-off between Finn and Phasma. This is a gross misuse of both Benicio Del Toro and Phasma; who, although we were promised a grander role for this bad-ass Storm Trooper captain, was barely used and swiftly removed.
FINN AND ROSE
They had ZERO chemistry! And yet she decides to save Finn’s life and confess her love to him? No. Just no. He started out as a deserter and has a change of heart, wait…doesn’t that sort of happen in The Force Awakens? No, it’s all for Rey, always. Could we have a little character development please? The justification for most of his heroic actions is so that Rey is able to return to a safe and protected rebellion. Up until he calls himself “rebel scum”. I must admit I chuckled. Regardless, none of this explains why Rose would inexplicably fall in love with him. They never show anything resembling attraction to one another and yet she sacrifices herself to stop him from sacrificing himself. It felt forced and like so much of their storyline, unnecessary.
WASTED TALENT AND CHARACTERS
I have touched upon a couple of these points already but I think I should re-visit them in a little more detail. As the sub-title suggests, this film has failed to utilise both actors and characters that were presented to it. Top of the list for me, personally, was Supreme Leader Snoke. He could have been an immensely superior bad guy, resembling the Palpatine/Darth Sidious kind of presence; and yet, we learned nothing of his history, back-story or motivations. What makes this even more disappointing is that Andy Serkis gives a great performance, typical for his calibre. The scene where he finally meets Rey is interesting, he was at least given the chance to display some of his own power and I liked that he had orchestrated the mind bridge between Kylo and Rey. He’s a more stable villain than Kylo Ren and is way more sinister in my opinion. But he is killed-off in an instant in a way that an all powerful being should have seen. No matter how sneaky Kylo was being.
Battle for Supremity
That does not look pleasant
Speaking of Kylo Ren, I believe this character has so much potential but in both episodes VII and VIII he is a little whiny for my taste. I understand that he is conflicted about whether he is light or dark, but he could be played as a little less emo-teenager; having tantrums and hissy fits doth not make a Supreme Leader. I also understand that this is likely down to script and direction rather than Adam Driver’s portrayal, which is very good given the material he has received.
Another First Order character to lose out in this film was Captain Phasma, Rian Johnson has inexplicably risen her from the jaws of trash compactor only to give her an insufficient amount of screen time and a second apparent death. The new films are quite saturated with antagonists, what with Snoke (Darth Sidious), Kylo Ren (Darth Vader), General Hux (Grand Moff Tarkin), Phasma (Boba Fett?) is more in the background but then why hype up the character so much? Why put a prominent actress under the mask? And not just for the lulz like with the Princes and Daniel Craig. It was just a waste of quite a sinister, mysterious character, a great actress, and a waste of bringing her back.
Moving swiftly through to the next underused talent, Benicio Del Toro as “DJ”. Firstly, DJ isn’t even the “Codebreaker” Finn and Rose were sent to find, they decide that it would be a GREAT idea to recruit a man they meet in a prison cell and are then SHOCKED when he eventually betrays them to the First Order. Showing once and for all that War is an endless cycle with an area of grey between the opposing sides full of indifferent people profiting from the spoils. Although this is a great a message and something we haven’t seen before in the Star Wars movies, the creators could have focused more on the character’s back-story, motivations and given Del Toro more room to actually perform, rather than the over-edited scenes of Canto Bight we were actually exposed to. Again, I get the relevance of Canto Bight in Finn’s development from “I must help Rey” to “Rebel Scum”; but this could have been done using DJ as the “Codebreaker” to perhaps further delve into the deference, corruption and greed seen in that Casino town. But then where would we fit in space-horse racing?
CONTINUITY DOES NOT EXIST
J. J. Abrams gave us a nostalgic return to the Star Wars franchise with The Force Awakens in 2015; although many people criticised it due to it’s uncanny resemblance to the Episode IV plot (doesn’t seem so bad now doesit?), I very much enjoyed this instalment and many times found myself squealing and fan-girling in my seat. Unfortunately, Rian Johnson has decided to ignore most of what the previous film gave us and almost create a stand-alone movie.
The fact that the Resistance destroyed the Star-Killer Base in The Force Awakens seems to be of little consequence to the First Order, as they are now chasing the Resistance to the ends of the galaxy. This is a recurring theme even within The Last Jedi, even though Holdo destroys much of the First Order fleet with her light-speed attack, the First Order still have an army with which they can launch a ground assault on Crait. Furthermore, we still aren’t really sure where the First Order have come from and why they arose. Sure we have the maniacal ramblings and speeches from General Hux in both films, and the Opening Crawl text describes them as “risen from the ashes of the Empire”, but no real explanation as to where they came from and how they have amassed apparently infinite numbers of followers in just 30 years since the Empire was destroyed. If you read a little bit deeper in to the story outside the movies, you find out that Hux’s father was part of the previous Imperial movement as an overseeing officer at Arkanis Academy. But you need to look online or watch the Star Wars Rebels series to find out any of this.
This sort of comes under both continuity and characters but I decided to put it here as it’s another example of Rian Johnson’s complete disregard for the events of The Force Awakens. Rey’s parents. Her family was introduced as a mysterious enigma, a premise that had the fan theories going wild all over the internet. Is she a Solo? Is she a Skywalker? Is it going to be another obscure character from the numerous films, literature, games, or series? Nope. They’re nobody. But we all knew that in our hearts, right? I, like so many other people, hope that Kylo was lying so that he might destabilise her and draw her to his side. Please J. J. Abrams??
I wanna just circle back to Phasma for one second. A trash compactor?! But it’s OK! She’s fine! The chrome suit is just that strong! It will probably save from that fire too…
DO YOU REMEMBER EPISODES IV, V AND VI? DO YOU? DO YOU?!
There are quite a few of these so I’m going to bullet points these:
Rebels have been found by first order and are escaping their base aka Hoth
Ahch-Too aka Degoba
Black hole on Ahch-Too aka dark tree on Degoba
Rey sees her reflection, Luke sees himself in Vader
“I feel the good in you” spoken by Luke to Vader and Rey to Kylo
Obi-Wan, A New Hope – “If you strike me down, I will become more powerful than you can possibly imagine”. Luke, The Last Jedi – Pretty much the same thing
The Emperor, Return of the Jedi – “Come, boy, see for yourself. From here, you will witness the final destruction of the Alliance and the end of your insignificant rebellion”. Pretty much the same as Snoke’s scene with Rey where he tells her to watch the destruction of the Resistance.
Over the last few weeks we’ve heard a lot about whether Mark Hamill loved or hated the film. Also seen a couple of “Not my Luke Skywalker” posts.
I didn’t hate the character entirely, again these points go across sections so I made a special section, but I didn’t appreciate the injection of comedy and the very uncomfortable space-cow scene. It also seems strange to me that he can be so trusting and sure of the good in Vader during the original trilogy, but toys with murdering Ben Solo (before Kylo) because he’s sees a little darkness. The real issue we’ve had is the inconsistency; in The Force Awakens, we are told that Luke left a map behind so that the Resistance can find him if they find themselves in great need. But now he acts stubborn and obstructive when he is found by Rey. I understand why he would be reluctant to train Rey (at this point I turned to my friend and said “Too old, yes, too old to begin the training” nearly right) but he should be more supportive of the Resistance. I see the shift from Hero to Hope they are going for in this film, but it doesn’t quite match up with The Force Awakens, and will it progress into Episode IX?
Last but not least SPOILER Luke’s death. It was very creative the way they hinted at his projection by not leaving the red indentations on the planet Crait; however, would it have been cooler if Luke had actually been there? Sure there might be a timing issue (how’d he get there so fast?! A la Batman in Dark Knight Rises) but if he’d have actually deflected that attack it would have been an incredible display of power! Or, if he’d had projected himself, then NOT died, that would also have been good. I think him allowing Kylo Ren to defeat him would have been way too similar to Obi-Wan in A New Hope.
Overall, I guess you could say I was disappointed. The Last Jedi looks and feels like a Star Wars movie but lacks conviction, continuity and emotion.
Looking forward to the next movie, in the immortal words of Master Yoda: Failure is our greatest teacher.
If you agree, disagree, or think I’ve missed something, be sure to leave a comment and follow our Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram.
The Force Awakens was a nostalgic action packed throwback, that helped the franchise get back on track, following the thoroughly underwhelming Prequel trilogy from the Early 00’s. Since then, we’ve also had the well acclaimed spin-off, Rogue One. So expectations were sky high for the latest instalment in the saga, Episode VIII, The Last Jedi.
One of the biggest criticism of TFA was the fact it stuck pretty close to its guns, and essentially, it was a rehash of the story from A New Hope, with a fresh coat of paint. In all fairness, it was a safety first approach, but it payed off, but with the sequel, the studio would have to be brave and shake things up. To keep this spoiler free, this review will be pretty concise!
TLJ carries on straight after the end of TFA, as Rey (Daisy Ridley) tracks down the reclusive Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). In search for the guidance she requires to help the resistance fight off the imminent threat of the First Order, led by Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis), and a bemused Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), having suffered a shock defeat at the hands of Rey last time around.
What TLJ does right, it does supremely well. The space battles as always are stunning to watch, the opening scenes of the resistance taking down a dreadnought, not only shows us the underdog nature of this war, but also the morbid consequences that follow even after the battle has been won. The final act, that takes place on the salt plains of Crait is a visual treat. Star Wars is a franchise that rarely uses blood, so the red marks left on the surface of the plains makes it a great method to show the brutality of the situation without resorting to the red stuff!
The dynamic between Rey & Kylo is intriguing throughout the film, both of our characters are conflicted in their own ways, and seeing them try to understand each others motivations adds a new layer to a story trying to play it different. Luke is also another highlight of the show, Mark Hamill has always been the one who engages the most with his fans regarding Star Wars, even to this day he still loves the fact he is Luke Skywalker! The battle scenes are as strong as ever, though the light-saber action is a bit on the downside here, the show down in Snoke’s throne room is wonderfully choreographed and shot. There is also a surprising cameo from a well loved character from Star Wars past, which will have the fans smiling.
This movie has been controversial to say the least, with fans having a far more scathing assessment than the largely positive critic reviews. To be honest, there are several flaws that really do effect the enjoyment of the movie. To avoid any big spoilers, these will be listed in a vague way, to avoid revealing too much of the story! The whole Finn & Rose arch feels very unnecessary, a way to simply pad out the already bloated run time. Finn is also reduced to very much a side character, which is a shame, considering how charismatic John Boyega is. There are several plot points from TFA that just seem to disappear, Rian Johnson, taking over from J J Abrams, seems to have struggled to weave the two movies together seamlessly. There are also decisions made by the some characters that really make no sense, seemingly only done to create another plot narrative, such as Vice Admiral Holdo (Laura Dern), whose peculiar decision making serves no real purpose apart from creating tension.
Overall, I found TLJ a bit disappointing, The usual Star Wars shine is there, with its outlandish characters, charm and familiarity. TFA may have been some more of the same, but it still provided the audience with enjoyment, and a tidy plot. TLJ is unfortunately riddled with plot holes, character motivations and frankly some bizarre scenes (to be discussed in the spoiler review!).
The Room is widely recognized as one of the most bizarre films ever created. With it’s eccentric acting, plodding story line and bizarre script, and funded by $6m of Tommy Wiseau’s mysterious fortune. The Room is shrouded in a cloak of mystery, which has earned it a cult following of fans online!
Tommy Wiseau is the star of The Room, directing, producing and writing this surreal piece of cinema. The Disaster Artist, starring James & Dave Franco, is based of the book written by Greg Sestero, who co-starred in the 2003 cult hit, and takes a look behind the story of how The Room came to be!
The Disaster Artist follows Greg (Dave Franco) , as a young, aspiring actor struggling to find his feet in a competitive career. He meets the outlandish Tommy Wiseau (James Franco) at a local acting class, and they both decide to go all in, move to Hollywood, and make their dreams become reality.
Though the film does show some of the scenes that took place while filming the now infamous movie, The Disaster Artist is actually a movie that does surprisingly well to show us the trials and tribulations that Tommy especially went through, in order to create this. Greg was no where the finished deal, but he was still bagging minor roles in his life in L.A. Tommy on the other hand, was seen as an outcast, with not many big names in Tinseltown wanting to associate themselves with him. It was mainly this shunning, that lead him to produce something by himself.
You don’t have to have watched The Room to enjoy this movie, but having prior knowledge of it will exponentially improve your enjoyment of this movie. The scenes on set are by far the stand out moments of the film, capturing the frankly surreal situation the cast & crew were put under. There are stand out guests stars, such as Seth Rogan, playing the exasperated script supervisor and Zac Efron has the insanely intense extra on set! There are several scenes that are paid homage too, but seeing the chaos behind the infamous ‘I did not hit her!’ dialogue is hysterical. Oh hi Mark….
James Franco does exceptionally well in capturing the unique mannerisms of our oddball Tommy. It’s just not the comedy he does well, but you can also see the anguish on display as he see’s the initial reaction at the premier of the movie in front of a packed theater. Dave Franco is fine as Greg, but it’s Tommy that really steals the show.
There really isn’t too much to say in regards to negativity. You are expected to know the story behind The Disaster Artist, so unless you have utterly no idea what to expect, you really won’t be left disappointed by this eye-opening story about frankly horribly made film!
Starring Emma Stone & Steve Carell, Battle of the Sexes is the dramatization of the real life events in 1973 which lead to the creation of the WTA, the Women’s Tennis Association.
Battle of the Sexes takes a look back at the monumental clash between former men’s Number 1, Bobby Riggs (Carell), in the twilight on his career. Up against one of the top women’s players at the time, Billie Jean King (Stone) in an open challenge to the Women’s tour. Back in the early 70s, the Women’s game was highly disregarded in the male dominated game, with far less pay and recognition than their male counterparts. So the consequences of this clash would go far beyond the court.
Though the subject of the movie may be Tennis, the film takes a greater look into the inner conflicts and demons that our two protagonists are facing. King is struggling to deal with her sexuality, and the pressures of being away on tour from her husband. Whereas Riggs is trying to balance the end of a career with his increasing gambling addiction, which is causing immence strain in his relationship with his wife.
Battle of the Sexes is a slow burner, as the first hour focuses mainly off the court, with both Stone & Carell excelling in their performances. Though the role is far more serious than what he usually does, Carell still brings his trademark flair to the role of Riggs, bringing sympathy to a character who revels playing the pantomine villain in this show.
The struggles faced especially by King, against a system which simply does not treat her colleagues as a serious threat and the credibility they deserve provides the movie with an antagonist we can all get behind, the USLTA commsioner Jack Kramer (Bill Pullman). Sarah Silverman also shines bright as the resourceful & sassy manager of the breakaway LTA organisation.
Battle of the Sexes is a must watch for any fan of Tennis, as the influences of this event still reverberates today. It may feel like it does drag on at times, and the actual showdown isn’t as hyped up as it could have been, it feels like the drama on the court could have been built up far more greater. The 2 actors are not known for the physical roles, so it probably was expected to reduce the on court scenes in a minimum. However it’s the players personal battles off court, that soar above their battles on court.
After all the anticipation, DC’s Justice League finally hits the big screen, with all the pressure of the entire DCEU on its broad shoulders, how does it preform? It is a roaring success like Wonder Woman, or more of the same, like Suicide Squad?
The Good – Wonder Woman & The Flash
Wonder Woman proved to be a monumental success in the Summer, and it’s no surprise that she is by far the most relevant & interesting member of the group. Her role in BvS was disappointing, considering the power that she wields, but here, Gal Gadot shines again as the beacon of hope. With everything she does, she could easily be the de facto leader of the team, and does put Batman in the shade.
Justice League also sees the introduction of The Flash, to the DCEU movie-verse. With Ezra Miller providing a large chunk of the films laughs and wit. Playing the social awkward Barry Allen, The Flash jumps at the opportunity to join a super team, and most of the memorable set pieces revolve around him. His reactions to most things are pretty much how the audience would react; a solo movie for him would be largely appreciated! His inability to make friends is slightly overplayed, which can be a mild irritation!
The Bad – The Appalling CGI
For a movie that reportedly cost near $300m, the CGI here is frankly inadequate. Cyborg, who is entirely CGI, bar a part of his face looks pretty laughable at times, looking like a character model from an old PS2 game! For a character who is a major player in the story, it’s a shame he looks like a joke at times!
Then there’s the curious case of Henry Cavill, and his now infamous mustache. Due to the re-shoots that took place, following the departure of Zack Snyder from the project, Cavill was recalled to film some of his scenes, the problem though; he was contractually obliged to grow a mustache, for his upcoming role in Mission Impossible 6. With Paramount studios unwilling to break their agreement with the actor, the team at JL ended up embarrassingly having to remove the ‘stache post production. Leaving Cavill looking comically bad at times!
The Good – The Insane Action
Among the various criticisms of BvS, the lack of action & intensity was a massive flaw. Considering the film was about two titans clashing it spent far more time dealing with the inner struggles of Superman, and the plans of an irritating Luther! Justice League corrects that, and has far more action and fights, which is after all, what these huge movies should be about! There is one confrontation in the middle of the film which is pretty amazing, and works well as a treat for comic fans. There is also a spectacular sequence in Themyscira, where our villain Steppenwolf takes on a legion of Amazonian warriors, as he attempts to steal one of the motherboxes. As wave after wave of warriors try valiantly to slow down his charge.
The Bad – The Plot
This was expected, seeing as the film is essentially the work of 2 directors. Zack Snyder, who started the project, was eventually replaced by Joss Whedon, following a family tragedy. Whedon called in reshoots, after initial feedback from the movie was looking poor. Both directors have contrasting styles, with Whedon far more into the fan service and humour, as seen in Avengers Assemble. The plot revolves around our antagonist, Steppenwolf trying to gather 3 ‘Motherboxes’, which were spread across Earth, in order to take over the world, blah blah. It’s all very generic, offering nothing new or interesting. There are sporadic shifts in tone, the film will go from serious, to banter. You will have scenes such as Wonder Womans appearance in London, which went nowhere plot wise. Then you have illogical decisions, like our heroes just leaving the last Motherbox in the open, unguarded, Steppenwolf just sneaks in, and runs away with it! It’s all very abrupt. There’s also an aimless plot regarding a Russian family, which has next to no payoff! The shift in tone is so inconsistent too, in BvS, Superman was portrayed as a threat to humans, but here, everyone cares about him and is mourning. Going off the previous film, it doesn’t really flow well.
The Good – Humour
This is probably where Joss Whedon made the biggest changes to the DCEU formula. It’s clear to see that he bought in some of the magic he used for Avengers Assemble. There is great chemistry between all the team members. The Flash & Cyborg are great together; Cyborg & WW have their moments. Aquaman prefers to be the lone wolf of the team, but he still has his lines to bring out the laughs. BvS and Man of Steel were far too dreary and grim, JL is far more enjoyable to watch, and essentially, so much more fun. The mid-credit scene is typical Whedon, and all fans will laud it up!
The Bad – Batman, Aquaman & Steppenwolf
Firstly, Batman, who assembles this team, is by far the most redundant member of the team. This is a vital flaw, as in the comics, Batman, Superman & WW all have pretty much equal say in the JL. Batman’s lack of physical strength, is made up for, by the intelligence and logical thinking he brings to the squad. Here, Bruce Wayne constantly gets beat up, does nothing of any importance, and could really be left out altogether! His cerebral advantage is never shown here. He is all brawn, when they should focus on his ‘best detective in the world’ trait.
Aquaman, though portrayed amazingly by Jason Mamoa, also suffers a lot as a character. His back story is summed up very quickly, so that leaves things open for his solo outing. But his contribution to the team is pretty small, bar some moments of fun. His prime weapon is his association with water. With the battle taking place on land, he is pretty much second fiddle. He is also reduced to comic relief at times, for The Flash, this works, but for the King of the Ocean, not so much.
Steppenwolf is a major disappointment, a copy & paste villain, who at the end, is dealt with far too easily. He pretty much suffers from the same flaws the effected Ultron in Age of Ultron. A very tepid villain.
The Good – Cyborg
Unless you’re a diehard DC fan, little was known about Cyborg, played by Ray Fisher. As it turns up, Cyborg ends up playing a vital role in the movie, without him, their plans will fail. So it’s strange that he got next to no build up. His origin story is a curious one, thought the film doesn’t go into much detail, barring the fact he was in an accident. He also plays off well with The Flash, and his vital role in the team makes him far more interesting than Aquaman, and even Batman.
To sum it up, Justice League is nowhere near the epic levels of Marvels superhero ensemble, but it is a vast improvement on the likes of BvS & Suicide Squad. While the action is top notch, it inconsistent and plodding story-line, and not fully utilizing all its cast, puts Justice League in the middle of average.
Blending a thrilling zombie flick, with a surprisingly emotional storyline, Train to Busan is a riveting action/horror, which any fan of the Zombie genre should definitely track down!
The plot is pretty straight forward, Seok-woo, our protagonist, is escorting his estranged young daughter, Soo-an, on board a train from Seoul to Busan. What should have been a mundane journey soon becomes a commute from hell, as an infected passenger manages to struggle on board, creating a chain reaction of death & the undead! As the viral outbreak spreads across the country, it’s a race against time to survive, and reach Busan, which has been fortified against the virus.
The claustrophobic train setting works wonders for this movie, the feeling of being trapped, with literally only one way to go, ramps up the tension. As more and more of the train slowly become infected, there is only so far our survivors can run. Combine this with rampant zombies, who are simply ravenous at the sight of any humans, creates an exhilarating cocktail.
Seeing as most of the film takes place within one setting, it’s crucial that the characters on board are worth caring for. Our hero Seok-woo slowly ditches his greedy, corporate ways, becoming the person his daughter wanted him to be. Then there’s Sang-hwa, the polar opposite of Seok-woo, caring, and light hearted, but some who can also pack a punch! His pregnant wife Seong-kyeong, also happens to be on board. Her condition alone makes you care about her survival. You also have survivors such as Yong-guk, the young student, travelling with his school baseball team, who ends up in a huge moral predicament, following the demise of his fellow friends. Any good zombie movie needs a good cast, as people will inevitably die, and it’s down to the script to create characters well enough in order for the audience to feel any emotion.
The zombies here are the raging types, similar to the kind you would have seen in 28 Days Later. They hunt in packs, and are relentless once they have seen their prey. This offers plenty of enthralling set pieces, which see a ferocious display of panic as they all swarm together at once. Although it is a zombie flick, Train to Busan is far more of an action set piece, so expect loads of combat, but not too much slow building tension or overly gory deaths,
Speaking of the combat, as the film is set in South Korea, the passengers don’t have guns, so the fighting is far more physical, from baseball bats, riot shields to the simple fists! A particular scene, featuring a trio of survivors, fighting through carriages filled with zombies to get to their loved ones, is magnificent! There really isn’t an antagonist per se, as the evil is the viral strain infecting the civilians, though we do have Yon-suk, a senior CEO figure, someone who only looks pout for themselves. He provides a good example to Seak-woo, on what he may became, if he does not change his ways.
The film also highlights how quickly people can turn on each other, when things to intense. Even when there is a train filled with the ravaging undead, people still find the time to shun each other, unwilling to accept their fate, and reverting to a selfish state. Also highlighting how easy it is for people to easily fall into a mob mentality, when it suits them.
Overall Train to Busan is a treat for anyone who has an interest in Korean cinema, or loves a good zombie flick. Though it may not be perfect, such as the inconsistencies of how our zombies work, and the plot convenient scenarios that take place, it packs one heck of a sentimental punch! Be sure to check it out!
Featuring an incredible cast, and an intriguing source material, can the latest adaption of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express thrill audiences, or will it run out of stream?
This is in fact the 4th adaptation of the classic novel across various forms of media, though this is by far the most extravagant vision of the story yet. Kenneth Branagh , who also directs this film. Takes up the role of Hercule Poirot, the world famous detective, who happens to be at the wrong place at the wrong time, and stumbles into another case, while he takes the lavish Orient Express back to London. With a carriage full of suspects, it’s down to Poirot to find the culprit, before the police take matters into their own hands.
The strongest part of the movie is by far the stellar list of actors that are involved with this project. An ensemble cast featuring the talents of Johnny Depp, Penélope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Judi Dench, Daisy Ridley & Michelle Pfeiffer to name a few. Each of them playing their characters as well as you would expect. Poirot is of course the star here, and while Branagh does a pleasant job with our master detective, he does have a few comedic moments, which feel a bit forced at times, bumbling, a trait he really didn’t need for this.
Alongside the cast, the period setting works excellently. From the hustle & bustle of the streets of Istanbul, to the divine elegance of the Orient Express, it all looks sublime. The film is also filled with several well shot scenes, such as the tracking shot as Poirot strolls through to his carriage, or the interrogation scenes, which are shot through the cuts of window glass, a very polished movie. It is a tad heavy on the CGI, but it still looks pleasing to watch, especially the scenic Alpine sections of the trip.
The cast & setting aside, Murder on the Orient Express does have its share of issues. The pacing of the movie feels very uneven. While the first half of the film moves along at a serene pace, its well into the movie before the murder occurs. After a bit of investigation, the case is suddenly all wrapped up. It does feel like the ending was rushed, a longer more drawn our investigation would have been far more satisfying to watch. The murder should have taken place in the first half hour or so, then spend rest of the time analyzing and building up the suspects for a bigger reveal.
The mystery to it all is also fairly straight forward, it’s not before long you can figure out yourself what’s going on, and put the pieces together. For a master detective, you would have hoped the conundrum would have been a bit more cerebral, to display why Poirot is so highly regarded. The film is a like for like copy of the novel, and you can see where it has hurt this movie, a few changes could have been made to make the original source far more captivating for the current audiences
Murder on the Orient Express is a perfectly fine film to watch during these cold chilly winter months, it’s not the most enthralling mystery and the pacing is slightly off. But with its distinguished cast & colorful