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MV5BMjI3Nzg0MTM5NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwOTE2MTgwNTM@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_What’s it all about?

Jake Pentecost, son of Stacker Pentecost, reunites with Mako Mori to lead a new generation of Jaeger pilots, including rival Lambert and 15-year-old hacker Amara, against a new Kaiju threat.

Why did I want to see it?

I loved the first one so much, and there was no way that I would miss John Boyega continuing to be awesome but in a different franchise.

What did I think about it?

This is a film that isn’t getting a lot of love, either because people don’t think it should have been made at all (did Pacific Rim really need a sequel given that the apocalypse was, indeed, cancelled?) and as one reviewer put it “did it lose its heart” (early exit of a popular character). But I thought it was huge fun and so much better than any Transformers movie I have ever seen.

John Boyega is just such a charming presence and works well with both Scott Eastwood (looking more and more like his Dad very single day) and Cailee Spaeny as the young girl brought into the world of Jaeger pilots, so I was very happy to spend an hour or so watching this. The only disappointment was the insufficient presence of Rinko Kikuchi

Did it get a bit silly towards the end? Of course it did. Are there plot holes the size of Mount Fuji itself? Of course there are. Did I care about any of this? Not a jot.

Lots of popcorn adjacent fun, would watch again.

Dazzling details: Directed by Stephen S DeKnight, Pacific Rim is 111 minutes long and is rated 12A for¬†moderate violence, threat, injury detail, rude gesture. The BBFC does like protecting us all from rude gestures ūüôā

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Cloverfield ParadoxWhat’s it all about?

Orbiting a planet on the brink of war, scientists test a device to solve an energy crisis, and end up face-to-face with a dark alternate reality.

Why did I want to see it?

It has Cloverfield in the title so obviously I was going to watch it. It’s a whole Pavlov’s Dogs thing, there is nothing I can do.

What did I think of it?

Well. Paradox went straight onto Netflix which doesn’t necessarily mean anything (after all they do have amazing TV series) but nobody seemed to know it was coming, which is a bit more problematic I think. It’s possible to sneak things under the radar without a complete blackout, so that’s interesting in itself.

Anyway, because we do not yet have a smart TV (I know, I know), so I watched this on my laptop late at night in the dark which was actually good fun. And the movie was nowhere near as bad as many on the interwebs have been reporting.

Is it delivering anything new? Not really.

Can you spot all of the influences from other (better) movies? Well, of course you can.

Does the stuff that relates to Cloverfield feel poorly integrated? Mostly yes.

BUT

I actually enjoyed it. The cast was excellent and played it dead straight which is all that anyone can ask. However, the law of diminishing returns is definitely applicable here – original Cloverfield is one of my Top 10 Desert Island films, 10 Cloverfield Lane was really well done but was 80% one film and 20% a completely different film. And Paradox is nowhere near as good in comparison but passes the time perfectly pleasantly.

#damnedwithfaintpraise

Dazzling details: Directed by Julius Onah, this was released onto Netflix. It’s 102 minutes long, and rated 15 for strong threat & injury detail (some of which is entertainingly gross)

MV5BNjQzNDI2NTU1Ml5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTAyMDQ5NjE@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_What’s it all about?

As the war of Panem escalates to the destruction of other districts, Katniss Everdeen, the reluctant leader of the rebellion, must bring together an army against President Snow, while all she holds dear hangs in the balance.

Why did I want to see it?

I had worked my way steadily through the first three films (although I think I only saw the first one at the cinema) and as Mockingjay Part 1 (which I reviewed here) ended without  proper conclusion it made sense to watch the last part. As I had never made it past the first few chapters of Catching Fire I had no idea of how the story would be resolved and I just wanted to find out.

What did I think of it?

Not a bad film at all, although I think that it suffered from both the law of diminishing returns and from being one story split into two. It was interesting that the film reverted back a little bit to the first two in the franchise and introduced more Hunger Games type obstacles for the characters to overcome, and I liked the complexity of the adult characters, especially Coin and Snow. I think it’s fair to say that they both got something close to what they deserved.

Jennifer Lawrence is of course excellent as Katniss, with my only quibble being one that I think I have raised before, namely that she seems too mature for the role. What I mean by that is that her reactions to the events of the story work for someone much younger (or at least more immature), and that jars occasionally.  And the wholelove triangle thing is still deeply annoying, but at least it gets resolved.

So I enjoyed it, am glad I saw it but don’t think this is a series that I will revisit.

Dazzling details:

  • Directed by Francis Lawrence
  • 137 minutes long
  • 12A for moderate violence, threat

 

 

ValerianSo, as you will have noticed I haven’t been around here for a while (I was aghast to see my last post was in April so nearly 4 months have gone by). This doesn’t mean that I haven’t been watching movies. In fact, I have a backlog of 16 films that I want to write about, not including Valerian.

The reason for me not being around is that I left my job for health-related reasons (my last day on the books was 19 July) and spent the last few months getting ready for all of that so my mind wasn’t really on anything else. But now that I’m a retired person I have time to do something with my blog. But oh, that backlog is a bit of a killer, so I have decided to start afresh with the first movie I saw in August, and catch up with the others as I feel able.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets 

What’s it all about?

A dark force threatens Alpha, a vast metropolis and home to species from a thousand planets. Special operatives Valerian and Laureline must race to identify the marauding menace and safeguard not just Alpha, but the future of the universe.

Why did I want to see it?

It looked spectacular. I loved The Fifth Element and hoped this would be more of the same. My husband loved the comics and was champing at the bit to see this. If you have been here for any length of time you will know that I can’t resist this sort of thing.

What did I think of it?

Sorry to disappoint anyone looking for a takedown of this film (there seems to be a lot of that going on) but I loved it. It’s huge fun, glorious to look at, profoundly silly in all the right ways and so packed with astonishing visuals that your eyes don’t quite know where to look. The plot is the basic mismatched law enforcement partners summoned to investigate an anomaly but of course it’s not what it seems and of course they are being kept in the dark, and of course they do the Right Thing in the end.

Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne are really good in the lead roles and there is a lovely cameo from Rihanna. The bad guy is obvious but this is not about the story, it’s about bringing a comic book to life, and in that Besson has more than succeeded. Already looking forward to seeing it again!

Dazzling details: Luc Besson directed, it’s a 12A certificate in the UK {for moderate violence, sex references, language} and is 2hrs 17 mins long. I saw it in 2D because that is how I roll.

 

MV5BMjA1MjYyNDkxN15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMTgxODAwOTE@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_What’s Morgan¬†all about?

A corporate risk-management consultant must decide whether or not to terminate an artificially created humanoid being.

A very bald statement there, IMDb – no subtlety at all.

Why did I want to see it?

I saw the trailer on a visit to the cinema to see something else ages ago and thought it looked interesting, then a friend and I talked about going to see it and that didn’t work put, and so I forgot all about it. Then my friend Silvery Dude watched it on a flight back from Dubai and said I had to see it, so I got a hold of the DVD and presto, one Sunday night the Book God and I sat down to watch.

What did I think of it?

I thought this was a very good example of the good old sci-fi thriller, just close enough to what’s possible now to not seem totally ridiculous but still far enough away from what we can do to be disturbing and unsettling. Morgan herself is played by Anya Taylor-Joy, and actress I’m becoming very interested in, having seen her in (the disappointing to me) Split; she is very compelling to watch.

There’s a really good ensemble cast here, with Toby Jones being all mad-scientisty, and Paul Giamatti being all shouty, and Kate Mara being cold and calculating and totally up to the job of dealing with everything that goes wrong with this assignment, because of course everything goes wrong. Rose Leslie is also excellent, though it’s going to take me a while to stop muttering “You know nothing, Jon Snow” whenever I see her in anything these days.

I was rooting for Morgan as much as I was for Kate Mara’s character; it seemed very clear to me that she wasn’t the problem, but the humans around her who had forgotten what she was and treated her like a child/young person they saw as a member of the family. Because as you won’t be surprised to learn, the military-industrial complex was behind her creation.

There’s a reveal at the end which was a bit Basil Exposition and I¬†had guessed 90% of it about three-quarters of the way through the movie but it was nicely done and quite satisfying.¬†I only have a couple of quibbles with the film – insufficient Brian Cox and why do people keep on saying it’s a horror film? But still enjoyable and I expect to watch it again.

life-posterWhat’s it all about?

A team of scientists aboard the International Space Station discover a rapidly evolving life form, that caused extinction on Mars, and now threatens the crew and all life on Earth.

Why did I want to see it?

Impossible for me to resist nasty monster in space terrorising extremely good looking people. Plus Ryan Reynolds, obvs.

What did I think about it?

“It’s Alien, Jim, just not as we know it.”

It’s totally impossible to watch Life without thinking of Alien (which reached me out totally when I was a student back in 1979 and had to go home in the dark in a lonely part of Glasgow, but that’s another story). The similarities are more than obvious – thing that’s alive gets on board, picks crew off one by one, has to be stopped from getting to Earth. The main differences are:

  • the crew know they are bringing potential life on board and have protocols in place to manage it (or so they think
  • when things go wrong it’s very up front and everyone knows immediately
  • it’s taking place on the ISS so just a hop, skip and a jump away
  • there is a distinct lack of grunge

Having said all of that, Life is what it is and does a pretty good job of it. Yes, it has a cast that is that is too high-powered for a glossy B-movie, it has an ending that seems to have surprised some but the Book God spotted it coming just before I did, and why does everything want to eat us?

The effects are really good, the alien in particular¬†is excellent, and it moves along at a reasonable pace with not too many “what are you doing, you’re a scientist for god’s sake” moments (though there are still some).¬†The various deaths are nasty, I did jump a few times and squinted through my fingers at least once (apparently) so it was all good fun, except there really should have been more Ryan Reynolds.

MV5BODcxMzY3ODY1NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNzg1NDY4MTE@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_What’s Lucy¬†all about?

A woman, accidentally caught in a dark deal, turn the table on her captors and transforms into a merciless warrior evolved beyond human logic.

Why did I want to see it?

I like Scarlett Johansson. I (almost always) like Luc Besson. The trailer looked cool. It was a Saturday night and there was nothing else catching my fancy.

What did I think about it?

I actually quite enjoyed what is actually a deeply silly film because it was delivered with a bit of panache. But it is still silly. The 10% theory of brain usage has been debunked elsewhere but Morgan Freeman still makes it sound plausible, though his voice is so smooth that if I was present at him giving a lecture I would probably slip into a deep and comforting sleep.

So Lucy is meant to deliver a briefcase but it all goes horribly wrong as per, and she is captured and forced to become a drug mule for the bad guys, and when I say forced I mean knocked out an operated on, none of this swallowing packets stuff. And then she is mistreated and the bags burst and she is flooded with a substance which ends up making her only the most intelligent post-human you can imagine, although what you mostly notice is that she stares unblinkingly and speaks in a  very deliberate monotone to show that she is, you know, not one of us. Cue time-travel, metamorphosis and other wacky stuff.

It’s a film that takes itself a bit too seriously but I would be happy to watch it again, once I’ve checked my own brain at the door.

IMG_1198What’s it all about?

In the near future, a weary Logan cares for an ailing Professor X somewhere on the Mexican border. However, Logan’s attempts to hide from the world and his legacy are upended when a new mutant arrives, pursued by dark forces.

Why did I want to see it?

I have always loved Wolverine in the X-Men films, not so much in the standalone movies, so I was intrigued to see what a grittier version with an older Logan would be like. Also the presence of Sir Patrick Stewart, this likely being Mr Jackman’s last outing in the character AND an awesome trailer complete with Johnny Cash made this unmissable.

What did I think about it?

Awesome. Genuinely, this was an awesome film, exceeding my expectations which were, let’s face it, astonishingly¬†high.

We saw this in the Picturehouse Central near Piccadilly Circus, which is a real cool cinema, with other members of the Film Club (for which we do not have a better name. Yet). This enhanced the experience considerably as it was so comfortable there were no distractions and we could all concentrate on the film.

It’s elegiac and beautiful to watch and tugs the heartstrings at all levels. It was totally emotionally draining, and I know that several of us felt¬†a genuine sense of loss at the end. The performances were superb, which you would expect from Messrs Jackman and Stewart, but the young girl who played X23 (Dafne Keen) was a revelation. And of course it was lovely to see Richard E Grant at his villainous best.

This was a superhero movie for people who think they don’t like superhero movies and I loved it. Straight onto the to buy list ūüôā

MV5BMjM1OTMxNzUyM15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNjYzMTIzOTE@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_Which I keep on wanting to refer to as THE Suicide Squad because there can be only one, right?

What’s it all about?

A secret government agency recruits some of the most dangerous incarcerated criminals to form a defensive task force, with their first case leading to a potential apocalypse.

“Their first case” – that’s really sweet.

Why did I want to see it?

I love, love, love the character of Harley Quinn. Viola Davis being badass as Amanda Waller. “We’re the bad guys. It’s what we do.”

What did I think of it?

Suicide Squad was one of my most anticipated movies of the year, and if I’d written this closer to when I actually saw the film I probably would have had more to say, but to be honest it was pretty much a mess. I’m not going to say that it’s bad, because there was a lot in it to enjoy, but it could have been great. Mark Kermode (amongst others) has suggested that it was edited into oblivion and not in a good way. I just thought that the story didn’t hold up; the best bots were all about Amanda Waller introducing each of the Squad members at the beginning of the film.

The good stuff:

  • Viola – wonderfully nasty. Wish she was on Arrow.
  • Margot Robbie as Harley – gleeful with a manic edge
  • Will Smith reminding me why I used to like watching his films
  • reminding us all that¬†Ballroom Blitz is a great song

The rest was meh. Didn’t like Jared Leto’s version of the Joker, but not sure it’s entirely his fault.

So a disappointment more than anything else. Wonder if they’ll ever have a second case…..

MV5BODkyNDQzMzUzOF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwODYyMDEyOA@@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,674,1000_AL_What’s it all about?

In a violent, futuristic city where the police have the authority to act as judge, jury and executioner, a cop teams with a trainee to take down a gang that deals the reality-altering drug, SLO-MO.

Why did I want to watch it?

Karl Urban. Wiping out the memory of the Stallone travesty. had heard good things about it. Needed something to watch on a Friday night.

What did I think of it?

I liked it. It was brilliantly violent. Silvery Dude suggested that was enough of a review, and I was tempted but…… that didn’t seem fair.

So, context – my kid brother used to read 2000 AD so I knew a bit about Dredd but have never really got into the comics myself. However, I think I know enough to realise that this was a pretty good adaptation; Mega City One was suitably cruddy and seedy and requiring of the type of justice meted out by Dredd and his colleagues.

It’s a classic cop buddy movie ¬†– Dredd is given rookie Anderson to take out on assessment; she’s not done that well at¬†the academy but she’s psychic so extremely useful. They head off to deal with three murders and walk right into (or actually provoke) retaliation from MaMa, nasty female drug dealer and all-round badass. Things do not end well.

Urban is brilliantly grim and the helmet stays on, so 1 million points to him. Olivia Thirlby¬†as Anderson is superb – at one point I thought they were going to do the classic female gets kidnapped so hero has a reason to do his thing, but it’s so not like that (thankfully) – and Lena Headey plays MaMa in a style that makes Cersei look like a pussy cat.

Bloody and violent, but imaginatively so; like I said, like it.