Sunday, 23 August 2015

Ant-Man (12A)

So, every summer, Marvel kick-out a "new" film that hasn't been part of the main cannon.

Sure, it fits in, bolts on etc, but it's starting life as a stand-alone (depending on success, obviously).

Last summer's Guardians Of The Galaxy was an epic success, both artistically and commercially, but there's no way they can repeat that. Is there?


Guardians took £800m at the box office last year, and Ant-Man is already halfway there (at time of writing), so there's a chance the bums on seats figures could be at least matched.

So, it can't be as good a film then, surely.


I'll be honest - and I'm sure I'm not the only one who can admit this - Ant-Man hasn't played a major part in my Marvel experience so far.

I've read more than the odd book or two, and while I know the character and what he can do, he hasn't exactly played a big part in the main story arcs.

If you'll pardon the pun.

Then there's casting Paul Rudd in the lead role.

He's no Chris Pratt. In fact, upon hearing the news that he was to star in the film I was mildly underwhelmed.

I mean, sure, he was fine in Friends, but that - like most of his film roles - was part of a bigger cast. He was hardly the shining star.

How the hell was he going to lead the line here?


Pretty bloody well, it turns out.

With subtle humour, Rudd delivers an under-stated performance - moving seamlessly from shlubby criminal to reluctant hero.

And it turns out he had a hand in the screenplay too, the clever sod.

Rudd's performance is so note perfect, in fact, he more than matches Michael Douglas, who is in some kind of late-career renaissance.

In fact, the more you look back and think and reflect on Ant-Man, the more you realise there's precious little to complain about.

It's long, but doesn't feel so. It's action-packed. It's got strong characterisation. It's dramatic and gripping. It has geeky bits for the uber-fans.

And it's laugh-out-loud funny.

It's got subtle gags, slapstick, obvious jokes, and giant things and stuff.

It all works.

In fact, the only complaint i have is how long it's taken me to write the bloody review, but for that I blame Terminator - a film so bad it left me numbed.

Only ranting about it on the podcast has released the shackles.

At some point, Marvel's bubble is going to burst and one of their films will be terrible.

But for now, Ant-Man continues the high bar that's been set, and proves that even the smaller characters can play a big part in a a fantastically enjoyable, hugely fun movie.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Terminator Genisys (12A)

Now I know we normally write our reviews straight after watching a film, but honestly, this time, I couldn't bring myself.

It's not even so bad you can slag it off, it's just dull. Brain-numbingly dull.

So we talked about instead. Kind of. But even someone who liked the film didn't have much to say about it...

Chewing The Popcorn Episode 15

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation (12A)

Since Bond went all Bourne and favoured realism over bonkersness, there's been a dearth of mad-as-nuts action spy capers.

Thank the weird space alien gods, then, that Tom Cruise has so much fun making Mission: Impossible films that a fifth has now arrived.

And unlike the fifth Terminator film (more of that in a bit...), it's bloody good fun.

The plot (not that it matters) has Ethan Hunt (Cruise) racing about off the grid and undercover trying to prove to anyone that'll listen that The Syndicate is real.

He's helped, as ever these days, by Simon Pegg (techie-geek Benjie), Jeremy Renner (the be-suited Brandt) and Ving Rhames (the ever-reliable, ever-quitted Luther) - all of whom are having as much fun as Cruise is.

And, to be honest, without them I'm not sure the franchise would still be viable (no matter how much Cruise wants to carry on).

You see, if you trawl back through the previous instalments, the first is great fun, but the second was terrible. After that, it was a slow crawl back to the previous high-watermark.

And that crawl became quite the sprightly jog once Pegg appeared on screen in Mission: Impossible III. Inadvertently, Pegg has become the main reason M:I is worth watching.

And Rogue Nation is no different.

From the opening sequence of a plane taking off and Pegg, camouflaged up to his eyeballs, trying to open a door, the star of Spaced, Star Trek and the Cornetto Trilogy is the star and emotional heart of this movie.

Sure, Cruise's name is on the door, and newcomer Rebecca Ferguson is both sexy and seriously kick-ass, but it's Pegg who has you laughing your socks off during the car chases and holding your breath at other times.

And there are serious 'hold your breath' moments.

But they really aren't the point of the movie.

Let's face it, there is no point.

It's ludicrous, ridiculous, dumb as nuts bonkers. You'll find yourself asking such questions as 'where did she get that de-fib kit from?' and 'how did they get the hatch open?'

Only none of that matters.

It's the joyous over-the-topness that makes Rogue Nation the best film of the franchise.

Yes, it's taken them five films to get back to where they started, but when it's this much fun you can forgive them the low-point of II.

Who else could come up with a car chase that has you laughing out loud?

Or a bike chase where a motorbike actually explodes?

Or paper that becomes a laptop?

These are exactly the sorts of things you WANT in an M:I film!

And it's well shot too, which helps. It's slick and shiny, as these things should be.

The car chases are swift and visceral, the underwater scenes gripping, the opera suitably over-blown - writer and director Christopher McQuarrie has done a bang-up job.

Sure, there are plot holes, yes, if you apply logic your brain hurts - but there's serious films for that stuff.

With Mission: Impossible, the whole point is the improbability of the whole thing.

And sometimes it's just nice to give the brain a rest and let the eyes enjoy the ride.

Monday, 10 August 2015

Emily (15)

Among the many, many things I go out of my way to avoid - shopping in supermarkets, travelling by bus, Adam Sandler movies - Facebook ads are pretty near the top of the list.

They're intrusive, invasive and seem to know what you're thinking.

Then there's the 'promoted' stuff, that suddenly pings up in your newsfeed because someone you met once at a party clicked 'like' by accident last Thursday.

But just occasionally it pays to take an interest.

Like when the picture has Felicity Jones and Christopher Eccleston in it.

A short film? With Jones and Eccleston? Tell me more...

A few clicks and £1.99 later and I'm watching a beautifully measured and imagined story about a woman who wants to just feel anything other than what she is going through.

So she approaches a man alone in a cafe, and starts a conversation with one sole aim.

And for the 11 minutes Emily runs for, you are captivated and mesmerised as - with subtle comic touches offsetting the tension - the drama unfolds.

Now, those of you conditioned to the ways of the multiplex blockbuster may be shocked to hear that you can establish characters and storyline in a matter of moments.

It doesn't take half an hour and 17 explosions.

Jones' darkly-twisted character is portrayed with subtlety (and a clear sense of delight and enjoyment) while Eccleston does brilliantly in capturing a man and the lies he tells himself to justify his actions.

First-time writer-director Caroline Harvey uses close-ups to great effect, while the sound almost becomes a third character as it punctuates the tension and accentuates the drama.

In 11 minutes, Harvey delivers a film with fully-drawn characters, great performances and emotional punch and heart.

And all for £1.99 to boot.

And you don't just get the film for £2. You get biogs, deleted scenes, the script - I've not purchased and downloaded aa film before, but if this is the quality of the package then I'm converted.

It also means you can watch the film whenever you want, on any mobile device.


(All of this is an added bonus, it's the film that's the star here).

* You can download Emily at

And yes, I know, I still haven't written the Ant Man and Terminator reviews. There's a reason for that...