Tuesday, 28 August 2018

The Spy Who Dumped Me (15)

You know, sometimes, all you want is to kick back, relax, not have to think too much and laugh your socks off at a really good comedy.

Well, with The Spy Who Dumped Me, you're luck is in. At least one of those things will definitely happen.

For both to be achieved, arriving at the cinema without your socks will give you a head start...

First, let's deal with the plot. Because of all the things wrong with this film, amazingly that isn't one of them.

Right, if you're sitting comfortably...

Mila Kunis' ex-boyfriend turns out to be a spy, who's dying wish is that she takes a thing to Austria. Naturally her bestie Kate McKinnon has to go too, because reasons. From here we chase our way across Europe, insult at least three nationalities, career wildly between feminism and toilet humour and people get shot.

At some points, you will laugh. But it's unlikely that Kunis and McKinnon will be involved.

Ooh, no, I tell a lie, there's one scene. But that's in the trailer.

Still made us laugh, granted. But that was it.

If one were to use The Good Doctor's Six Laugh Test (hello to Jason Isaacs), TSWDM falls short by at least one.

Which is not great for a comedy.

But hey, let's not dwell on the negatives.

Well, not yet.

Let's look at the plus points of this action spy thriller comedy espionage drama heist caper.

There's a car chase through the streets of Vienna that is brilliantly filmed and really captures the speed and physicality of the escapade.

And bodies are flying everywhere.

This bit is FUN.


And the chuckles and single laugh are at funny moments. Granted the bar is low (and the less said about the Hitler joke the better), but hey a laugh is a laugh and here they are like showers in the desert.

You make the most of them.

But then we have all the other stuff.

For a start, let's look at the cast.

The main two I'm fans of, and yet together it's a problem. Kunis does deadpan, McKinnon is a gurning, goofing clown.

This film did not need a clown.

Then we have Gillian Anderson (her mouth barely moves), Sam Heughan (if he stops moving you fail to notice him) and Hasan Minhaj, who has taken the brave step of leaping from the safety of The Daily Show into this movie.

No one catches him.

Then we have the villains.

Take a moment, and write down everyone you think would make a fantastic Russian villain. When you're done, add everyone who would do an OK job.

Done that?

Now list all those who you'd choose if the first groups were all suddenly killed in a freak accident.


Now list all those who, if the the first three groups were sucked into a vacuum, you'd pick if your life depended on finishing the film.

The guy they chose will not feature on that final list.

Can't name him, because it's a TWIST, but — and I say this as a fan of his — playing a Russian villain is really not his strength.

Hell, it's not even his weakness. That would be an upgrade.

Then there's the editing.

Look, I know this is a story not a documentary, I know this is fantastical and not based in anything any of us would class as a reality. But believability is still key to telling a tale.

And a man with his left arm in a sling who is then seen steering a car with his left arm before later performing a handbrake turn (a two-handed task in any language) is a problem.

Because if you haven't noticed that error in the editing process, what else have you missed?

(The answer lies in the teeth brushing scene).

Then there's the tone of thing.

Essentially, The Spy Who Dumped Me has been created by people who have never seen a spy movie but did watch the Naked Gun films but thought they were documentaries.

We have quips, slapstick, thrills, violence that needs the film to have a darker tone to carry it off, attempts at clever dialogue, toilet humour...

...but none of it sticks around long enough to become the main theme of the piece.

Which means your mind is prone to wander at stages, because the drama isn't dramatic enough and the comedy theme of the moment isn't funny enough to sustain your attention.

At one stage we started coming up with a list of things we would rather be doing: algebra, knitting, sawing our toes off one at a time...

This list made us laugh more than anything the film could throw at us.

I don't like slagging films off (although, given recent outings caring enough to be annoyed is most welcome), but at the same time I'm not going to applaud a sub-standard effort just because I agree with the ideals behind it.

Two female leads? Great. Two female leads running, shooting and hitting stuff? Brilliant. Two female leads doing all that and being hilariously funny? I'd pay good money to see that.

Instead we get a mishmash of ideas barely strung together, played out with misjudged sense of it's ability to entertain.

Monday, 20 August 2018

The Marvellous Marvel Marathon

Ooh, we thought, do you know what would be a really, really cool thing to do this summer?

No, we said, what would be a cool thing to do?

Well, we said, first off let's stop talking to ourselves in this really creepy way because people will think we've finally gone nuts.

Then, when we've done that, let's watch all of the Marvel films that have come out in order.

This, we agreed with ourselves before stopping this nonsense, was a cracking idea.

And what made it even better was finding a list that put the films in the correct MCU timeline order.

Now, it should be noted that this is an updated list. The one we found didn't list the TV shows as well, but that gives us something to do next summer when we won't have a World Cup getting in the way of important film geekery goodness...

But that's for another year. For now, we're just doing the movies. Starting with...

Captain America

First, obvs, because he was the first Avenger and all this kicked off with that little spat with Germany that the Americans like to take credit for. The film is every bit as much fun as we remembered, light, frothy, but with cracking action scenes and Haley Atwell as the brilliant Agent Carter. Chris Evans nailed this part from the off, and Red Skull is every bit as bonkers evil as the books made him. 8/10.

Iron Man

Do you realise this film came out 10 years ago? Seems like only yesterday. Or at least a few weeks ago. But then, for us, that'll be because we've only just rewatched it. And it stands up to the test of time. Robert Downey Jnr nailed this role from the get-go, and while the final act was a tad tedious at the time, watching it again it's actually a lot better than we remember. Helps that Jeff Bridges is clearly having a blast. There are loads of cool extras on this one too. 8/10.

The Incredible Hulk

It helps a lot, watching the films in this order, because you've had a couple of crackers before this turkey crash lands and ruins the whole vibe. The first time we tried to watch it we barely made it half way through, the second attempt a couple of years later wasn't any more successful, so this third bash was tough. Now, granted, it's not actually as bad as we remembered, the problems with this film don't improve over time. For a start, Ed Norton is no Banner. Secondly, Liv Tyler's Betty Ross is supposed to be Banner's all time love, and yet there's so little chemistry on screen they should have scrapped the story line all together. Tim Roth and William Hurt are both good value as the bad guys, but the whole thing is leaden, one-paced and dull as all hell. And to make matters worse, Joss Whedon came along and showed us all how Hulk should be done, rendering this film entirely moot. 3/10.

Iron Man 2

It's at this point you realise we're actually quite lucky that the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU to those in the know) survived these two releases. While not Incredible Hulk bad, this is not the film it could have been. Casting Mickey Rourke as Whiplash was a fine idea, but whoever agreed to set an entire action sequence in Monaco was an idiot. At the time we thought the whole film was a bust, but going back over it now we realise that two thirds of this movie are really good, and Sam Rockwell is great as Hammer (and no one noticed that Don Cheadle was now Rodey, honest). It's the car racing crap that throws this film out of whack. It slows things down, it's a tonal shift in the wrong direction and there were going to be a million better ways to get Whiplash from A (frozen wastes of Russia) to B (where he needed to be for the story) without using this ridiculous device. The extras on the DVD make for interesting viewing too, as no one mentions the lack of Terence Howard and Rourke (a major star again at this point) is conspicuous by his absence. 5/10.


By now the Marvel machine is really starting to pick up the pace, so it came as quite a shock to hear that Lord Kenneth Of Brannagh was directing the Asgardian's debut outing. But when you sit down and watch it, it all makes sense. There's the Norse flavours, the Shakespearian overtones and some fine comic touches, and in the middle of it all Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston are playing roles seemingly made just for them. This is as good now as it was then, and while it may be mildly batshit in places... have you read the books? 7/10.

The Avengers

And so we get to the first milestone event in the MCU, and in many ways in the wider cinematic world, as Marvel attempts to create a movie with an ensemble cast so laden with heavyweight stars it should never have been able to take off. And yet take off it did, breaking box office records as it went and giving is The Hulk we'd always dreamed of. And what made it so popular? Basically, the fact it has absolutely everything. The pacing is right, the action is right, the CGI is so good it just blends in with everything else and the laughs still make us guffaw every time we watch it. This is a film with real heart, real passion and a total understanding of what it was trying to achieve. At the time it was pretty much a 10/10 film, but this year that bar got raised... 9/10.

Iron Man 3

So how does Marvel set about following up on it's first major showpiece event? Why, by giving us a Christmas film of course. And not just any Christmas film, oh no, this is one of the all-time classics, up there with The Muppets. It's also the first time Marvel have woven the fabric of previous films into following ones, in this case with Tony Stark suffering PTSD following the destruction of New York and him flying all the way up there in to space n stuff. But this isn't a harsh, stark (no pun intended), downbeat movie. Oh no. Stark befriends a small boy, giving us some great humour to offset all the bad stuff happening, and in The Mandarin one of the best villains they have ever created (and possibly one of Sir Ben Kingsley's finest roles). we also find out The Mandarin is a Liverpool fan. Which is nice. 9/10.

Thor: The Dark World

As the MCU gears itself up for the next big event, it's time to pop back to Asgard and see how things are going there. Last time was fun, wasn't it? So this time should be a hoot too... Or not. Sitting in the cinema, we remember enjoying bits of this movie but essentially being a bit bored. And so we can't say we were looking forward to repeating the experience. But d'ya know what, folks? It's actually really good. Yes, sure, the dark elves story line is nuts and the team didn't really do their research of the London Underground, but small gripes aside this is a tasty little tale. It's dark, it's tragic, it's really funny in places and a lot shorter than it felt on the big screen. This may get watched again willingly.... (You may have noticed that references to the DVD/BluRay extras seem to have all but disappeared — that'll be because Marvel stopped putting any effort in. Seriously, it's got to the stage where you get one or two seven-minute featurettes and a trailer or two if you're lucky. Which is hard enough to swallow, but when you have to put in a second disc for the sake of 15 minutes of "entertainment" you really do wonder why they bothered). 7/10.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

How is it even remotely possible to forget just how good this film is? I mean, we knew it was good, but holy mother even on the umpteenth rewatch we found ourselves holding our breath for most of the film. And this is the one that feels like the game changer. Not yer standard super hero flick, this one (helped in no small part by the casting of that up-and-coming youngster Robert Redford — keep an eye out, he's gonna be a star one day, trust us) is a full-on political thriller. Yes, stuff blows up, yes a man has some kind of jet pack/wings combo, but both of those are really secondary to the plot as Fury is taken out and Cap and Black Widow have to go on the run. This is the film that raised the bar the first time (before the buggers raised it again this year) and it remains a modern classic. Oh, and extras? Yes, glad you asked. One deleted scene and two minutes on Cap's notebook. Nice one Marvel. Really pushed the boat out there. 10/10.

Guardians Of The Galaxy

Now this is where Marvel really started to have fun. Jokes come flying at you thick and fast, the music is a character all of its own and in Rocket and Groot two of our now favourite characters are introduced (and it's a measure of a quality of the film that the audience had so much of an emotional connection with CGI creations). The story rips along at a great pace and the action scenes are also up to scratch. Originally planned as throw-away summer stop-gap, as was the case with Ant-Man down the line, Guardians became a massive hit and embedded the five heroes in the MCU. This was the point where you realise the Marvel juggernaut was really picking up speed. The Blu-Ray extras are OK too, if you can get past the really annoying early-Nintendo stylings of the 'making of' feature, but the gag reel just adds further weight to the argument against their inclusion. Actors goofing around and having fun? Wow, not seen that before... 8/10

Guardians Of The Galaxy 2

Yeah, sorry, got distracted by stuff. Anyway, where were we? Oh yes, straight on to the sequel — which actually works surprisingly well. What's also interesting is how GOTG2 actually improves over time. It's more mature, more grown-up, the jokes still work but this time it's the themes and story that carry everything along. It also feels shorter and more compact, which is odd but good. It keeps you away from the main MCU for a little bit longer, watching the films in this order, but that's not necessarily a bad thing either. Especially when you know what epics are on the horizon. The extras are OK too, kinda — the 'making of' featurettes are fun, but the gag reels need to stop. Now. 9/10

Avengers: Age Of Ultron 

In tackling the second of the Avengers films, we had cause to look at IMDB. In doing so, one of the choice reviews was listed on the film's page — bearing the headline No One Was More Disappointed In This Film Than Me. Now, two things here: 1) It's not a contest, and 2) NO ONE CARES. A review isn't your chance to tell the world how important you are and how easily hurt your delicate feelings are. You are supposed to be critically analysing the movie, not blubbing into your keyboard. That said, Ultron is not great. The CGI in both the opening and closing scenes is ropey as all hell and the whole film feels like a a collection of set-pieces strung together with a vague plot. Underneath that, however, there's a half-decent film struggling to be heard. If, as we just have, you watch this off the back of Guardians 2, you'll also notice the thematic link (friendship and family) which helps bolster things no end. It'll never be the Avengers film you reach for out of choice, but it's not as bad as we remember.... 6/10


Another one of Marvel's surprise hits, Ant-Man is still one of our favourites — not because of the high drama or the the complex plot, but because it's genuinely funny and has so much heart it's almost smushy. As origin stories go, this one has everything you could want — Marvel history, character history, cameos, romance, a cute kid and a fight on a toy train. Paul Rudd shocked many, us included, when he pulled this off, and the supporting cast only helped to elevate proceedings. It's almost a crime that the DVD extras are simply a trailer for Ultron (which, in this running order, is utterly pointless). I get that they want to sell the higher-price blu-rays, but would a cheeky featurette or two have killed them? No. But hey...
Right, onwards! 9/10

Captain America: Civil War

One of the films I was most looking forward to, given my love for the books, and at the time one of my favourite films I think (I'm old, my memory is like a.... you know..... wortsit....). But watching it again as part of this mega-run of Marvel goodness, the big issue with the film really leaps to the fore. They were aiming for the same tone as Winter Soldier, and for the most part they nailed that — until they turn this into a mini-Avengers film. The big fight is just too much fun in the context of the darker storyline being told, and great as it was to see Spider-Man at the time, in a post-Homecoming world his appearance feels forced. There's something of a 'designed-by-committee' vibe to the lighter moments too, as if someone saw the Ant-Man figures and started yelling 'WE NEED GAGS'. The extras are OK, if you like a bunch of stars goofing around showing you mow much you like each other, but overall this falls a tad short of the stratospherically high bar Marvel has set by this stage. 7/10

Dr Strange

It's still a bit too Inception for its own good, but Dr Strange is a great introduction for the character and Cumberbatch looks like he was born to play the part. It's a tad too long, sure, but the first third is still one of the finest sections of any Marvel film and the car crash STILL has us holding our breath. The lighter moments are excellent too, and McAdams is superb. The extras are also worth a watch, especially when you find out how much work BC put into learning all the wire work. 8/10

Spider-Man: Homecoming

At the time, wee saw no reason for this film existing. A re-boot, albeit back under the Marvel banner, when Andrew Garfield had barely got his feet under the Spidey-table seemed at smidge OTT. But hey, Tom seemed to do the job nicely in Civil War so it might be OK... And the over-lap between the two films is good, well handled doesn't feel shoe-horned. Plus Michale Keaton is seriously brilliant. As for Spidey himself, Tom captures all the teen angst of a 14-year-old boy wrestling with fancying the cool girl while also being left on the sidelines after beating up Captain America.  We'd also forgotten just how much fun this film is. As for the extras, they are actually worth the money. You get to see how much work Tom put in, how much mo-cap and wire work he did to help bring the character to life, and his quips (essential to the character) flow freely and naturally. There's also a really cool 'study' mode, where you can watch the film with little blocks popping up with snippets of cool info about the comic history or the scene (and you'll be amazed with how much you missed). 8/10

Thor Ragnarok

Sure, we all talk fondly about how much fun the third Thor film was. Heads are nodded sagely when the topic comes up. It's the best Thor film yet, people agree. It is a lot of fun. But what you forget is how much FUN it is. Jeff Goldblum is off the charts ridiculous, the chemistry between Hemsworth and Ruffalo is at an all-time high, the whole Dr Strange sequence is hilarious, Cate Blanchett steals every scene she's in by just oozing sexy evilness, Tessa Thompson is brilliant as Valkyrie — hell, even the director puts in a cracking comic turn as Korg. There's not a bad performance in this film. Then there's the actual story. Director Taika Waititi strikes the right balance between the OTT fight scenes and the drama at the heart of the tale, tugging at heart strings while having us grin like idiots. As for the extras, Marvel seems to be stuck in a rut here. Either no one's been looking back at the mini-features or someone believes people actually enjoy a range of five-minute snapshots where everyone tells you that, really, THIS is the most fun they ever had on a film EVER. Honest. We're not saying go all Peter Jackson with this shit, but some actual thought and effort wouldn't go amiss. 9/10

Black Panther

We actually got some flack for being delighted that this film was up for an Oscar or two (it won three, so up yours internet idiot), but let's be clear about something — this film isn't good because it's our first black superhero with their name on the door, this film isn't good because of all the strong female characters. No. It's good. It just happens to have all those things going for it as well. To be fair, we'd forgotten just how much fun it was, and it's a total gas. It's funny. The action scenes are slick. It puts African culture right at the heart of the film. And it manages to be gripping and exciting despite Andy Serkis stinking out the place with an appalling South African accent. And it has battle rhinos. Battle rhinos. Every film needs a scene with battle rhinos. Oh, the extras? Yeah, Marvel are still trotting out all the same crap with no thought as to quality. But we're used to that by now, right? 9/10

Avengers: Infinity War

As part two looms large on the horizon, the fact it's taken this long to get to the bottom of the pile is both a source of embarrassment and a measure of just how damn busy we've been. Also turns out we'd forgotten just how good this film is. I mean yeah, sure, we knew it was good. We've seen it a few times now, but after unwrapping the disc (oh look, we also have the 3D version too — what an utter waste of resources...) and popping it in the machine, we settled down to have what was essentially meant to be a refresher. But we didn't move for the next two-plus hours. Gripped from the opening scenes. This film still packs an emotional punch. Even though you know what's coming, you still find yourself edging forwards on the sofa, occasionally forgetting to breathe. And the closing sequences are still frickin' AAAAARRRRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHHHHH. I won't bore you with the extras. You know what you're getting by now. 10/10

Ant-Man And The Wasp

And so, the day before Endgame changes our lives forever (even if it isn't actually the end of Phase 3), we finally reach the end of the Marathon. And, like all good meals, we finish with something sweet and fluffy — something you don't need and wouldn't miss, but enjoy nonetheless. Because while Ant-Man And The Wasp isn't near the top of Marvel's recent output (look at what's up there, how could it be?), that doesn't make it a bad film. And as we said at the time, it was actually the perfect film to follow Infinity War. After how that ended, you needed something light to lift the old mood — and this film does that perfectly. Zipping along at a fine pace, it has all the gags and action sequences you want without being too deep or serious. That's not to say it doesn't have depth, there's plenty of that, but it deals with heavy subjects (major science, family, grief, loss) in a light enough way to not weigh you down. And it also sets things up for Endgame a smidge.... The extras? Oh why bother asking. Same format, same wry smiles during the gag reel, a warm sigh as Stan Lee gets his own (his one line took a LOT of takes it seems), but you're still left feeling these are nothing more than an after thought — which given the amount of work that goes into one of these films is a real shame. 6/10

So, Endgame then....

Mission Impossible: Fallout (12A)

And so, finally, as the list fo films we had to catch up on is scrunched up and thrown to the cat to play with, we come to this.

The latest, and maybe possibly perhaps the final, Mission Impossible film.

And the sixth in the franchise.


The bloody sixth one.

How has it got this far?????

I mean the last one was a laugh, sure. And even great fun. But how does a man who must now be at least 127 keep going?

Well, yes, there's that. But let's not go there, eh? We can't afford the legal bills.

But hey, Mission Impossible films are a tad daft and all about the runny chasey stuff so let's not over-think this one, eh?

Yes, sure, we've been on a bad run of late, and there's a very real chance we'll be made to watch The Meg so the future's not what you'd call bright...

...but this is a safe pair of paws, surely.

Cruise saves world by jumping off a ledge and landing on a butterfly, helped by a lively and engaging supporting cast?

What's not to like here?

Well, for a start, the sodding running time.

Clocking in at almost two-and-a-half hours, you'll find yourself checking your watch more regularly than a bomb disposal expert the longer the film drags on.

And it does drag.

There is actually a clear cut-off point at around the 90-minute mark. Or even 110 if you fancy it.

But the final act is just a slog.

It's supposed to be the tense, dramatic climax, but by the time people are rushing to helicopters and having catch-up chats over dangerous wiring you're going to find yourself hoping the dog hasn't pee'd on the sofa.

Thankfully she hadn't.

Which was a bigger highlight than anything this film had to offer.

The story is as complicated as you would hope — plutonium is in the wrong hands because of Reasons and Cruise And The Gang have to get it back via several cities, a blonde femme fatale and an infiltrated agency.

There's tragedy, there's suspicion, there's one thrilling bike chase, there are those helicopters (don't ask where the third one came from), there's comic misunderstandings as Cruise races across rooftops — basically everything we've come to expect from a MI film.

Only it's a bit dull.

It drags.

It seriously lacks sparkle.

Simon Pegg and Rebecca Ferguson look a little unsure of themselves, as if someone has asked them to do things not in keeping with the characters they've played for ages, while Ving Rhames seems to be almost watching what's going on rather than being wrapped up in it all.

Then there's Henry Carvill.

Already not a fan of his wooden screen presence, that was previously attributed to the fact the Superman films are just terrible.

And while they are, turns out he's not a lot better.

Whatever you think of Cruise, on screen he knows what he's doing and knows how to make the most of what he does, so appearing opposite him you've got to bring your A game.

Sadly, it seems Carvill did.

You could airbrush him out of every scene and aside from the hole in the plot and the missing dialogue you'd actually improve the film.

And the more we think about it, it's Carvill that is the problem with this movie.

Look, it's a dumb-ass OTT spy action caper. It's not Bond, it's not Bourne, it has far more in common with The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (no, not the film) and wears it's sixties TV heritage like a badge of honour.

You only have to see the opening credits to know that.

But as such, you need to be OTT yourself. Not panto levels, sure, but you need to believe in the madness, embrace the stupidity, wedge the jester's hat hard on your head and dive in.

What you really, really shouldn't do is be so laid back as to be creating a vacuum every time you're on screen.

If for no other reason than it sucks the joy out of everyone else.

And that's what, at heart, is wrong with this film. No one seems to be having fun.

Even Pegg's usually delightful ineptitude seems a tad stretched.

If this is to be the last, then Cruise should be proud of helming a franchise that has brought a lot of enjoyment to a lot of people (even the Metallica song wasn't terrible).

But maybe this was a mission too far.

If we'd said goodbye last time the memories would be a whole lot fonder.

Deadpool 2 (15)

And so we crawl, muttering and mumbling, to Deadpool 2 — a film we genuinely had no interest in seeing, but nowt else was on so what d'ya do?

It's not because we didn't enjoy the first one, it was fine, but another two hours of meta jokes and fratboy humour was really not what we were after.

Which, it turns out, was a good thing, because that's not what we got.

Sure, yes, the fourth wall is left in tatters early doors and the in-jokes keep the uber geeks feeling smug and happy, but all that is wrapped up in an actual story.

A proper one. That kind of makes sense.

Seems that while poking fun at Logan for copying them, the Deadpool team learnt a trick or two.

It helps that they have dialled down Mr Pools endless quipping, which actually allows the film to breath a bit more and to not feel so relentless.

It also help that there is a lot less T. J. Miller.

Honestly never met a situation that his geeky comic shtick  remotely improves.

Adding current comic book bad guy legend Josh Brolin (as Cable) also helps, as it allows Ryan Reynolds to up his game.

Which he does surprisingly well.

I mean, I know we were all surprised that the star of many a bad rom-com, he who leans in posters like a legend, showed he had genuine comic talent, but now we are reminded he can act as well.

Will the shocks never end?

We're not saying this is a classic, by the way, but it actually grows from the seeds planted in the fast one without actually just repeating the formula.

Which is nice.

And it made us feel something (in this case, happy) upon leaving the cinema so it's automatically better than Ocean's 8.

Granted there's not a lot else to say about it — looks good, zips along, has jokes, has good performances, has good action scenes. Everything is where you would want it.

Is it memorable? Not massively.

Will missing it change your life? Not in any major way.

But watching it will make you smile, make you laugh, make you care a little bit and if you can't enjoy the skydiving sequence you're dead inside.

Look, this summer has been something a bust — the major blockbusters have, for the most part, been tedious as all hell.

So if something comes along that brings a smile to your face and puts a bit of a spring in your step, then just embrace it.

The world's a pretty crappy place right now, so some frivolous fun should be welcomed like a large glass of gin.

Saturday, 18 August 2018

Ocean's 8 (12A)

Right then, the backlog clear out continues with... *checks list* ... Ocean's 8.

Oh goodie.

oh well, pour the tea and crank up the music, let's get this over with...

Not the most auspicious opening to a review, we'll admit, but have you ever left a cinema having seen a film you've actually enjoyed and yet you feel nothing?

Not on a high, not happy, not flat, not disappointed by anything — literally nothing.

Like the film hadn't even existed.

It is the most disconcerting of feelings.

Because Ocean's 8 isn't a bad film. It's fun. Perfectly entertaining. Can't even be ruined by James Corden.

And yet it was like sitting in a restaurant fir two hours and eating nothing.

As we said, disconcerting.

The cast are many (seriously, there are millions of the buggers) and the big guns of Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett and Anne Hathaway are all on top form.

But there's something slightly off that we can't put our collective digits on...

The story's fine too — Bullock is Danny Ocean's sister who gets released from jail, puts a gang together and goes off to steal All The Things.

And it's not even a Ghosbusters-style all-girl remake (not that that would be a problem over here), it's a new story linking to the original franchise.



Well, for a start it's not as slick as the previous three films. It's like half a beat off what it could be. Like a drummer playing with a hangover.

And it's also a right sod to write about.

And the problem is this film evoked nothing lasting, there was no strong feelings either way.

We could have not seen this film and felt exactly the same.

And that's arguably a bigger crime than the heist the girls carry out.

All art — music, theatre, writing, film, paintings, photography, you name it — should make you feel.

Your emotions should be involved in some way, shape or form.

Anger's an emotion, so at least Michael Bay manages that with the dross he trots out.

Shame and disappointment are feelings, so even Fallen Kingdom managed that one.

But nothing?

No, we're not having that.

Sure, some people were angered by this — at least one comment we've heard concerned the fact that the girls stealing diamonds was a cliche — but that says more about them than the film.

It's not like a planned raid on a high-end hardware store was ever going to make it past the ideas stage, is it?

Honestly though, if that's the only thing that you took away from the film then somewhere the film has failed.

Mind you, it's more than we got.

We're glad that Ocean's 8 exists, and in some ways we're glad that we saw it — we just wanted something more from the experience.

Still, they've got two more films to get it right.

Which should be fun...

Friday, 17 August 2018

Lady Bird (15)

I know it's been ages since this film came out, but we've been determined to write this damn review even though we really haven't wanted to.

In fact there's a backlog of films we need to write up, but there's a blockage in the pipe.

And that blockage was this film.

You see, we were really excited to see this.

And while we may have missed it first time around, it came back for a mid-morning showing around the same time as I, Tonya so we got down there pronto.

I mean, it had five Oscar nominations. You don't get that by being crap.

But half an hour in we remembered Boyhood.

Everyone and their cat seemed to love Boyhood, despite it being one of the most mind-numbingly tedious cinematic experiences we can recall.

And while it's nowhere as bad as that, Lady Bird does a good job at trying to be.

It's been described as a 'coming of age' movie, and that much is certainly true.

We spend the whole movie in the company of Lady Bird McPherson (played perfectly well by Saoirse Ronan) as she decides what she wants to do with her life.

She wants to go to college, she wants to leave home, she wants to experience life and love.

And we get to experience all of this with her.

Which should be good. It should, at times, be tense and dramatic — we are, after all, dealing with a teenager.

I was one once. Everything was a sodding drama back then.

But somehow writer/director Greta Gerwig manages to weave a tale that is solidly one pace, a single note played repeatedly for 90 minutes.

That's like listening to Coldplay on repeat while smacking yourself around the head with a dead fish.

And it's not like there isn't any drama to play with her - we open with a row between mother and daughter, Lady Bird gets her heart broken, she gets seriously drunk.

But the scenes are played out with the same tone as the ones where she's bored at work.

I mean, how do you manage to make a teenager's life tedious?

Tedious to the point of making people wish they'd stayed at home.

And yet, upon release, the critics raved about it.

And to be fair, it looks lovely. You could watch some of the scenes all day.

But the pace needs to change, the tone needs to shift now and then, we have to actually feel the angst that Lady Bird is feeling.

Otherwise, what's the point?

In fact this film was so tedious it was really hard to even feel angry about it.

We just walked out feeling flat and more than a little disappointed.

Sadly we're unlikely to learn anything from this experience. When does Oscar season start again?

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (12A)

Three years ago we said we couldn't wait for the next Jurassic extravaganza.

Not because Jurassic World was good — not in any way, shape or form — but because of a morbid curiosity.

I mean, they couldn't imagine a franchise could be rebooted from such a low place and then sink further, could they?


...the good news is...

...Fallen Kingdom isn't as bad as World.

It's a close fight at times, certainly, and they still think they're making high drama when all we want to see is people getting eaten, but somehow this isn't the terrible car crash we were expecting.

I mean, it's not great. Not by a long way.

But when you find yourself grinning and almost cheering five minutes in when a dinosaur eats a human, you know they must have got something right.

It's not the plot, that's for sure — even Rafe Spall and Toby Jones have the decency to look slightly awkward when delivering the narrative.

It's not the continuity either, as that's shot to hell.

And it's not the running time, which is at least 30 minutes too long.

No, it's the dinosaurs. That bit they got right.

You actually care what happens to the CGI and animatronic little (and not so little) buggers, far more than you do to their flesh n blood co-stars.

It's a flaw in the film in a way, because you're supposed to be rooting for Bryce Dallas Howard (shoes now sorted), Chris Pratt, Daniella Pineda and Justice Smith.

But in a straight fight? Nah, team dinosaur all the way.

And this is for two main reasons — the first, a hangover from the last movie, is the two main characters are still not properly drawn. In the case of BDH, they've actually forgotten a key personality trait too.

Secondly, the monsters actually have more personality than most of the humans.

There's a point where one of them gets left behind and you actually feel sad. And it's only one of the ones you've seen in the background, not even one of the main dinosaurs.

It was said on Radio 5 recently that the Jurassic franchise should never have been, because it's hard to stretch the whole theme park riff beyond the first film, and they were right.

The original movie was a modern classic, but the following two fell off the cliff so fast they should have made the whole thing extinct.

But, clearly having learnt nothing from the first movie, they brought the concept back from the dad and created another three hulking behemoths.

And other than really annoying the anti-paleo Christians Against Dinosaurs lobby, there really is no point for these new films to exist.

The plot is being stretched beyond redemption (the next one is going to make even less sense), the characters aren't even likeable and there aren't even any decent jokes or songs to offset the appalling terribleness of it all.

As a measure of just how bad this film is, we actually say it ages ago we just couldn't bring ourselves to actually write up the review.

It has no redeeming features or qualities, the highlights are people getting eaten and it doesn't even have the decency to be so bad it makes us angry. Which would be more fun.

Instead, it's just there. It just exists. And we have yet to find anyone who can explain why this is...