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The rest of my mini-reviews for April ūüôā

 

Alien: Covenant

I had originally been determined not to watch this because of how disappointed I expected to feel after Prometheus (I still can’t get over the allegedly experienced biologist who took his helmet off and all that followed), but it was on TV and I succumbed. It was pompous and over-explained everything. Despite a good cast I really didn’t feel there was anything new here so I should have gone with my first instinct. Mr Fassbender’s career choices have been a bit flaky recently…..

A Cure for Wellness

This was a weird one and almost certainly far too long but I kind of enjoyed it. Dane DeHaan is sent to bring his errant boss back from a sanitarium in Europe but after a car crash finds himself a patient in said asylum, and then it all kicks off. There are creepy villagers who fall silent when anyone walks into the pub. There is a weird floaty girl wandering about barefoot. There are dark corridors and lots of tanks filled with water used for nefarious purposes. There is the legend of an evil Baron. There is Jason Isaacs as the head doctor with a cool accent and a big sign above his head with the word baddie flashing on and off. Evil Jason is the best Jason IMHO. It’s beautifully Gothic and fairly intense but not at all scary.

Avengers: Infinity War

I’m not going to say too much about this because reams have been written already. I loved it. It was amazingly well-balanced considering the number of major superhero types involved; the best bits for me involved interactions between characters who are not normally in the same movies, especially Thor and Peter Quill, and Iron Man and Doctor Strange. Also worth noting that everything in it is huge, and that it works because Thanos is a properly rounded character; his plan may be evil, but it is logically evil (from a ¬†certain point of view). Shout out to bits of Edinburgh actually playing themselves rather than pretending to be Moscow or whatever. Can’t wait for the sequel.

All caught up now, and hoping to have a more stable posting pattern soon.

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Black Panther watercolourWhat’s it all about?

T’Challa, the King of Wakanda, rises to the throne in the isolated, technologically advanced African nation, but his claim is challenged by a vengeful outsider who was a childhood victim of T’Challa’s father’s mistake.

Why did I want to see it?

Seriously? Have you been paying attention to what’s going on in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? There was no way I was going to miss this!

What did I think of it?

I’ll be upfront about this; I ADORED THIS FILM.

As context, this was our film for Valentine’s Day. We one to the cinema, thoroughly enjoyed the film, then went and had a really nice late lunch. There may have been alcohol. There was certainly a lot of discussion about the film.

So, it’s fair to say that I have enjoyed all of the MCU films, but that the ones that have stuck with me the most are those that feature the characters that I know the least about, which means Thor, Ant-Man, Guardians and now Black Panther. ¬†I was really impressed with how the character was introduced in Captain America: Civil War and keen to see how the whole Wakanda thing was going to develop.

There is so much to appreciate in Black Panther. For a start, the story makes sense; what I mean by that is that the place feels that it might actually exist and the society as it’s presented has an internal logic that underpins all of the character and plot developments. It looks amazing, the whole cast delivers excellent performances and I was very invested in the story.

The cast was uniformly excellent and it seems unfair to single anyone out (so I won’t), but of course the number of amazing women involved was really wonderful to see. Actually, I will say that I was really very much taken with Letitia Wright who played T’Challa’s amazing sister.

So much was riding on this film and so many articles have been written about how important it is culturally because of the predominantly POC cast that it’s a real pleasure to be able to note that not only is it a great movie that will bear re-watching but it’s also making all of the money. I can’t wait to see this again!

Dazzling details: directed by Ryan Coogler, Black Panther is 134 minutes long and in the UK is rated 12A for moderate violence, injury detail, rude gesture (that last one made me laugh so hard)

 

 

 

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

03_SPTNK_B1_Reflection_English-600x857What’s it all about?

Political interference in the Avengers’ activities causes a rift between former allies Captain America and Iron Man.

Why did I want to see it?

Quite simply because I love the Avengers, and the Captain America films have been amongst the best. there was no way I wasn’t going to see it.

What did I think of it?

Adored it. A couple of reviewers felt that it was baggy and too long, but I didn’t feel that way at all, my attention never flagged and I enjoyed the whole experience.

I thought the difference of opinion between Captain America and Iron Man made sense, and the trigger for the move to put some sort of oversight in place was the collateral damage we’ve seen in other MCU movies, this time a newer member of the team still developing their expertise in the field. I¬†could go on about the plot a bit more but to be honest the delight in this film is the development¬†of existing¬†characters, the introduction of new ones and the set up for future films. So instead, here are my Top Ten favourite things about CA:CW

  1. The female characters are awesome; Scarlet Witch is turning out to be one of my absolute favourites, and Black Widow continues to be a voice of reason and to a certain extent the moral centre of the group
  2. Vision’s collection of casual wear
  3. Everything that Antman was – fanboying over Cap when he first meets him, what he gets up to during the major airport fight scene, all making me excited for his next standalone film
  4. Black Panther – what a cool character; gravitas, dignity and power (and a fabulous costume to boot)
  5. Spiderman – not my favourite Marvel character but this new take on him bodes well for the future; I though Tom Holland did a brilliant job and was engaging and funny
  6. The humour – the could have been a depressing slugfest but there were enough jokes and lighter moments to balance things out. I will never tire of Tony Stark’s sarcasm
  7. Zemo – a complex, believable and I would say sympathetic villain; a nice change from the normal megalomaniac wanting to take over the world
  8. the Bucky/Cap bromance; no-one smoulders like Bucky

I went in team Cap and remained Team Cap but with a better understanding of Team iron Man’s point of view. Looking forward to seeing where this all goes in future films. Beginning to get very excited for Doctor Strange!

 

WhaMV5BMjQyODg5Njc4N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMzExMjE3NzE@._V1_UY268_CR1,0,182,268_AL_t’s it all about?

A former Special Forces operative turned mercenary is subjected to a rogue experiment that leaves him with accelerated healing powers, adopting the alter ego Deadpool.

Why did I want to see it?

I didn’t know very much at all about Deadpool, other than that he was part of the X-Men universe, a relatively new creation (in comic terms that is) and regularly broke the fourth wall in the comics. Oh, and he kills a lot of people. But apart from that it was only (internet) word of mouth after the test footage leaked and a frankly hilarious marketing campaign that made me realise that I. Must. See. This. Movie.

What did I think about it?

The film-going experience was quite interesting. The Book God and I went to see the film early on Friday evening, a couple of days after the film was released, and for a good 15 minutes (we were early; we are always early) I thought that we were the only non-teenagers in the screening, and my chances of being the only woman were pretty high. And I felt pretty old as a very polite young man held the door for me. Luckily a number of couples came in after the adverts and before the trailers so that felt a bit better ūüėÄ

Oh, you want to know about the film? I thought it was hilarious. I started laughing during the opening credits and didn’t stop until after the post-credits sequence. It was an absolute hoot as long as you don’t mind Tarantinoesque levels of swearing and violence. I thought Ryan Reynolds did a brilliant job in bringing the character to life and the in-jokes were clever and effective. As others have said the way the film handled the origin story was refreshing and meant we were plunged into the action from the very beginning. Still giggling at¬†some of the jokes over a week later.

Went straight on to my to buy list when we got home. Loved it.

FINAL-launch-1-sheet-600x886What’s it all about?

The Fantastic Four are apparently

Four young outsiders [who] teleport to an alternate and dangerous universe which alters their physical form in shocking ways. The four must learn to harness their new abilities and work together to save Earth from a former friend turned enemy.

Oh c’mon IMDb, they’re not outsiders, they’re very much insiders it just happens to be mega-geeky technoworld that they are inside. But they have all the resources to build the teleporter thingy, which is no less than cool. Conceptually. Not my definition of someone on the outside.

Why did I want to see it?

Superheroes.

What did I think about it?

Oh dear. I was really disappointed, not to the level of hate there seems to be in certain parts of the interwebs, but I genuinely thought it was a missed opportunity. Although I saw some of the star ratings I have deliberately avoided detailed¬†reviews because I wanted to make up my own mind (after all, I loved John Carter *of Mars* when almost everyone else didn’t) so thoughts expressed¬†here are my own and if they do indeed repeat what others are saying then that kind of tells you something.

First the good stuff.

The first half of the film is pretty cool. I liked the way they set up Reed Richards as a boy, I liked his friendship with Ben Grimm (even though that means he isn’t a super-cool test pilot like he is in the comics). I liked the four main cast members, all very likeable. I liked that Victor von Doom still comes from Latveria. I liked the action¬†on the planet they end up on, though clearly someone should have told them that if you see green pulsating stuff and feel the need to point out that it’s almost alive it’s probably not a good idea to stick your hand in it (Victor, I am of course looking at you).

And then they come back.

I didn’t buy how Sue Storm gets her powers, though I liked the fact that she was so smart and no-one felt the need to comment on it. I didn’t like What Reed Does, especially as not very much later everyone seems willing to totally forget it. I didn’t like the stock minor villain. They didn’t make enough use of Doctor Doom. It was dark and relentless and without humour (the Book God’s one word review was “bleak”) and although I can see what they were trying to achieve I just don’t think of the Fantastic Four as being that dark, and the execution of the film did nothing to convince me that I was wrong.

And “There is no Victor. Only Doom” could have been a killer line if delivered with even a touch of knowingness but it just came out as flat.

And the end is so cheesy.

And it’s all such a shame;¬†for whatever reason a good director (I loved Josh Trank’s Chronicle), a strong and engaging young cast and high production values just didn’t work at all. And the relatively short running time just made it look like they had hurried to finish it or cut it from a much longer version.

If you want to see a different perspective then have a look at this article on Live for Films which explains why the Fantastic Four haters are wrong.

I’m not a hater. Just sad about what might have been.

avengers-age-of-ultron-poster-600x888I refuse to call it Marvel’s Avengers: AoU because anyone who thinks that over here we can’t tell the difference between The Avengers and The Avengers is an idiot. Or in marketing.

Anyway…..

What’s it all about?

So Tony Stark attempts to come up with a global protection system based on AI captured during an attack by the Avengers on a Hydra base as a means of bringing to fruition his dream of a global defence system, which would mean the people of the world won’t have to rely on the Avengers. Because he has Doubts. But of course it doesn’t go according to plan and the resulting Ultron decides to sort everyone out. Cue planned global annihilation which only our heroes can stop. Probably stop. Yes, of source they can stop it. Of course.

Why did I want to see it?

Are you seriously asking me that question?

What did I think of it?

Oh this was just the coolest thing ever, I loved it and could quite happily have sat through the whole thing again, quite a feat considering that it is not a short film by any means, though not Hobbit-length either. It’s actually pointless reviewing something like the Age of Ultron in many ways because you either get it or you don’t, and if you don’t you are probably never going to be persuaded otherwise, and if you do any discussion is probably going to descend into abstruse technicalities¬†about who was left out, who got what screen time and most importantly, what stories from the comic books were used to build the plot. You know you’re in the latter category when you find yourself in quite a serious discussion about which Infinity Gem is in which film and hunting out references to Thanos, the Gray (sic) Hulk and Vision.

Ah Vision. The glorious Paul Bettany, just wonderful in the part, what a voice, absolutely perfect. And James Spader as Ultron, exactly right with that lovely sneering quality he can bring to any part even when, as here, we don’t see him at all so we just have to rely on his dulcet tones. Sadly no Loki, but we did get a shirtless Thor, not that that is any in way important. At all.

All the regulars were absolutely cool and the newcomers were really good, Scarlet Witch in particular, and it all made as much sense as any superhero movie ever does but the scale of it was just brilliant, and I was really pleased to see that most of the stuff in the trailer actually took place at the beginning of the movie with some real surprises to follow, at least for someone like me who isn’t absolutely steeped in the stuff but knows enough to get most of the references (and knows where to go to find out more ¬†– you really should try Emergency Awesome’s channel on YouTube, he Knows Stuff).

So this is not an intimate low-budget think piece but there is a surprising amount of character development, especially for The Hulk and Hawkeye, and I did laugh a lot at the quipping before the mayhem started.

A very enjoyable addition to the MCU and I’m looking forward to Ant Man which is the next one up. Such fun!

MV5BMjI4MTIzODU2NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMjE0NDAwMjE@._V1_SY317_CR0,0,214,317_AL_What’s it all about?

The special bond that develops between plus-sized inflatable robot Baymax, and prodigy Hiro Hamada, who team up with a group of friends to form a band of high-tech heroes.

Oooh, animated superheroes, what’s not to like?

Why did I want to see it?

I’d seen some concept artwork online ages ago and the whole look of San Fransokyo was just fantastic, plus, you know, Baymax ūüôā

What did I think of it?

I thought this was just a lovely film, and not just in the sense of how it looks, which is astonishing (I think it was Mark ¬†Kermode who said in his review that you just want to freeze frame the movie to see the detail of everything that’s going on in the background) but in the story itself which is all about coping with loss and bonding with friends and turning a cuddly empathetic medical assistance robot into a badass fighting machine. As one does.

I didn’t know anything about the Marvel comics (until the Marvel movie universe was created we were (and still are to a certain extent) a DC household) but I don’t think that really matters because this is very much an origin story. How did Hiro and his friends and Baymax become the band of high-tech heroes mentioned above?¬†What really happened to Hiro’s older brother? Who is the bad guy with the kabuki mask? Will good triumph and will we all learn a valuable lesson about grief and the futility of revenge while rejoicing in one of the characters dressed up as a (very effective) weird Japanese fire-breathing thingy? Of course we will.

It is a really sweet film, very funny at times but also quite emotional and Baymax is such a wonderful character, the emotional centre of the film. To be honest all of the characters are great (especially Fred, my favourite) and even though the underlying themes are quite dark they are deftly handled. We saw it in a large cinema with only about six other people there and we were all mesmerised.

This is already the leading contender for our Heartwarming New Year’s Eve Movie for 2015. Highly recommended, DVD already on the wish-list.

1781910_10152193595517708_1687824606_nWhat’s it all about?

Light years from Earth, 26 years after being abducted Peter Quill finds himself the prime target of a manhunt after discovering an orb wanted by Ronan the Accuser.

As a description gives so much and yet so little. Deals with the McGuffin but not the gang or the quest or the big fight that you know will come at the end. So a starting point is all.

Why did I want to see it?

I have become a convert to all things Marvel, and this was next on the list after 3 x Iron Men, 2 x Thors, 2 x Captain Americas, assembled Avengers and the Agents of Shield.

Have I missed anything out?

What did I think of it?

This was an absolute hoot, really great fun and delightful from start to finish. I knew nothing about the Guardians going in to see the film so had no expectations whatsoever and was thoroughly entrained from the start.

Main thoughts are:

  • probably wouldn’t have been half so successful if Chris Pratt wasn’t so loveable as Star Lord, I was really rooting for him;
  • it would have been ¬†complete disaster if Rocket hadn’t been so well done both in the rendering of the physical character and the voice talent of Bradley Cooper (who is an actor I can take or leave, at least since he stopped being in Alias with Jennifer Garner);
  • I am Groot. Smashing;
  • green and blue women fighting to carry out/stop the Important Technical Thing necessary for the big fight to happen (nice to see Karen Gillan being not-Amy (much as I love Amy);
  • the literalness of Drax – amusing;
  • Glenn Close – fabulous hairdo;
  • Ronan really is a very petulant and stroppy villain, I liked him though his face paint was a tiny wee bit distracting;
  • the music. I got confused at first because I’d read that this was the music of Peter’s childhood so I thought 80s stuff and the very first song was a 70s thing and then ¬†I realised it was Mom-related so that’s all OK then. Still have the Jackson 5 stuck in my head three days later though;
  • I had to look up the content of the post-credit sequence on t’Internet cos I didn’t get the import (see lack of Marvel experience here) but I get it now, I think;
  • it is very funny indeed.

It’s firmly on the to-buy-as-soon-as-it-comes-out-on-DVD list and I’m hoping to see it again with a chum while it’s still in cinemas.

The-Amazing-Spider-Man-2-New-Poster-spider-man-35222096-1024-1421-737x1024I feel slightly disappointed that this didn’t have a colon and a subtitle, like Thor or Captain America or similar. Still….

What’s it all about?

IMDb gives us one of its special synopses:

Peter Parker runs the gauntlet as the mysterious company Oscorp sends up a slew of supervillains against him, impacting on his life.

Which I’m pretty sure (and I only saw this a couple of days ago) isn’t quite how it works out, not until the second half of the film anyway. The first half has much more to do with character development stuff interspersed with Spidey being a hero, which means lovey-dovey nonsense¬†with Gwen, angsting¬†over missing parents and the loss of Uncle Ben with Aunt May and bonding with Harry. Then it all kicks off.

Why did I want to watch it?

I enjoyed the first one (more or less), the trailer looked cool and it had an interesting cast. Plus, you know, superhero stuff.

What did I think of it?

This could have been a really good film but I certainly felt (and the Book God agreed with me when we compared notes afterwards) that the pacing was entirely off which made it fine but not great. The character stuff was well done with good chemistry between the main players but those parts were so sloooow, especially when compared with the whizz-bang blink-and-it’s-gone action sequences, and as is the tendency with these films there were too many villains. Rhino appears not as Rhino right at the beginning (Paul Giammatti wasted a bit with a dodgy Russian accent and being mostly a teaser for (presumably) the third film), Electro looks and behaves like Dr Manhattan from Watchmen and there is insufficient Green Goblin. There is lots of Harry Osbourn which I enjoyed because I have liked Dane DeHaan since seeing him in the excellent Chronicle (though I get the impression not everyone likes him and he is a tad whiny but so would you be with that father and that legacy) but not enough Goblin which presumably is also a set up for the third film, and there is the villain’s villain¬†Colm Feore (also a favourite).

Meanwhile we learn all about what happened to Spidey’s Dad though I’m still not sure how he paid for Roosevelt but that doesn’t matter, the important thing is he’s a good guy so that’s all OK then. And Gwen is lovely and bright and blonde with fantastic clothes and then the Thing happens which I¬†knew would happen at some point because it’s canon but I just didn’t expect it then.

And it ends mid-scene which is annoying and possibly manipulative but I’ll still probably go and see the next one because, well, Andrew Garfield.

So quite good fun, could have done better but enjoyable evening out despite bad behaviour from sections of the audience. For example who on earth thought it was OK to take a little kid to what was obviously going to be a very noisy 12A picture (and had to leave with said crying child 25 minutes in after the tutting and glaring of fellow patrons became impossible to ignore)?