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kerraig UK

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Finally got around to It Follows. After a strong opening act, aside from a couple of scenes I found it simply too boring to hold my attention and started nit picking the film’s logic, or lack of, like why cops aplenty turned up when she reported her attack but not one to the death of the neighbour. Nice to see something try such a high concept, and it has this weird sense of not being American somehow (I think cos of the shots of kids lying around a lot being wistful felt more European or Australian), but cast just too unlikable for me

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Proteus (1995)
A group of drug smugglers are shipwrecked and end up stranded on an oil rig where something evil lurks. All I knew before watching this was it starred Craig Fairbrass, post-Cliffhanger, here sticking to the somewhat-charming thug persona that has done him well down the years. However here it feels out of place in this SF/horror tale inspired by The Thing or Alien, or indeed the to-be-released Event Horizon. This generally unlikeable group encounter an oil rig that was being used for some nasty experiment, and they soon find themselves being hunted down and assimilated by The Thing- I mean Proteus. It had the feeling of something like Hellraiser, what with the music and production design, but stuck too closely to cliché to rise above mediocre. They back-load all the practical monster effects, which aren't too bad for a low-budget film. Doug Bradley turns up as the suitably-creepy owner of the rig but doesn't get much of a chance to do much with the character. Horror isn't my bag really, but for all the clichés and unlikeable characters I actually quite enjoyed it. But as is clear from my reviews here I'll watch any old rubbish, what do I know?

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I'm on a week off work so I'll be watching a lot of films including

 

Scorcher (2002)

Setting off a couple of nukes in LA is the only thing that'll save the Earth or something. Rutger Hauer is the President, John Rhys-Davies is a scientist. There's some mission to plant a nuke. It's all very balls-out American and suitably macho/over-sentimental. Less than an hour in I found myself watching a guy on Youtube playing some battle royale thing. Says it all really.

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Captain Marvel (2019, cinema)

The trailers suggested this would be another bland Marvel filler movie and it ended up being exactly that.

It starts poorly with a muddled first act that rams way too much exposition down your throat and features a band of completely forgettable characters before eventually finding its feet once Captain Marvel/carol Danvers/some name I can’t remember crash lands on Nineties earth.

We then have roughly an hour of “hey! Nineties references (they’re the new Eighties references by the way) and a typically bullshit cgi-heavy ending. Brie Larson is surprisingly likeble as the spunky lead and Jackson and Law  are good value, but this is another forgettable Marvel adventure that simply tries to do way too much.


There is a lovely tribute to Stan Lee, though.

2.5/5

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The Predator (2018)

 

This sucked. It's yet another film that doesn't understand what made the original so good...less is more. I guess now we've seen the Predator so much on screen its hard to do a film like that anymore, but still, right from the start we see it in full view and then moments later we see it tearing people to shreads. I'll admit this all looks pretty cool and kudos for the gore but it doesnt have the same finesse as the original at all. That was a full on stalker film where the alien earned the name Predator, this is just a massive alien being battering everything in sight. It could have been any old film. But then to try and one up previous films, they just introduce an even bigger and badder one.

 

But it's not all bad, I quite liked some of the army dudes, there's plenty of Shane Black humour in there (I laughed several times) and like I said, the gore was a nice surprise. Seems like a lot of films are going back to showing more of this these days.

 

But as a Predator film though....meh. It's AvP level bad.

 

2/5

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The worst of 58 films I saw in cinemas last year. An appalling mess. I’ve forgotten most of the specifics of why I hated it but I wouldn’t even compare it to AvP. Requiem, sure, maybe even worse than that.

 

 

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2 hours ago, linkster said:

The worst of 58 films I saw in cinemas last year. An appalling mess. I’ve forgotten most of the specifics of why I hated it but I wouldn’t even compare it to AvP. Requiem, sure, maybe even worse than that.

 

 

 

Ooooof I'm not sure I'd go that far, but the super Predator definitely smacks of PredAlien. 2/5 was a generous rating, but out of the 62 films from 2018 I've seen, it sits pretty damn low.

 

Screenshot_20190310-082941_Chrome.thumb.jpg.49a88b98149dcdd0e07a288e15dfb5d1.jpg

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1 hour ago, Stigweard said:

 

Ooooof I'm not I'd go that far, but the super Predator definitely smacks of PredAlien. 2/5 was a generous rating, but out of the 62 films from 2018 I've seen, it sits pretty damn low.

 

Screenshot_20190310-082941_Chrome.thumb.jpg.49a88b98149dcdd0e07a288e15dfb5d1.jpg

I’ve not seen most of those. Jurassic World was indescribably bad but this was even worse 

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17 minutes ago, linkster said:

I’ve not seen most of those. Jurassic World was indescribably bad but this was even worse 

 

Other than JW everything else below Predator were my wife's suggestions. Her taste sucks. Last night she went to bed cause she was bored by Heat.

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2 hours ago, Stigweard said:

 

Other than JW everything else below Predator were my wife's suggestions. Her taste sucks. Last night she went to bed cause she was bored by Heat.

 

I'm not sure my marriage could survive that 

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To be fair to her, Heat is pretty boring.

 

Try her with LA Takedown instead. It’s all the good stuff they transplanted to Heat without all the tedious bits, and as an added bonus no Al Pacino too.

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Nobody Knows (2004)

 

In a small Tokyo apartment, twelve-year-old Akira must care for his younger siblings after their mother leaves them and shows no sign of returning.

 

I’m slowly working my way through all the films of Hirokazu Kore-eda, and I find myself constantly surprised at the number of solid 5 star films he has made. And this ones right up there with his best (Shoplifters, Like Father Like Son, I Wish). It’s both achingly beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time. That’s the genius of Kore-eda. He’s an absolute master of showing the beauty of life in the most desperate of situations. And of course it goes without saying, he once again gets amazingly natural performances from all the kids.

 

Can’t believe it’s taken me this long too see his work. Still Walkng next.

 

5/5

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Made in Dagenham now on iPlayer. Rewatched it recently on Now TV and enjoyed it more than on first watch. Not only a great story but a really good little movie. 

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The Wanderers

 

A tale of rival New York gangs in the early 60s

 

First time watch of a movie I'm not entirely sure I ever knew existed. I figure I saw the name and thought The Warriors. It's popped up on Amazon Prime and then Kerraig mentioned it in the scary side character thread.

 

How best to describe it? Well in a nutshell, it's an urban American Graffiti, but it's also got shades of The Outsiders, Animal House, Escape from New York, Watchmen and perhaps even The Graduate.

 

Written and directed by Raiders scribe Philip Kaufman, and set in 1963 to a soundtrack of juke box 'favourites' (I actually found this mostly irritating), The Wanderers was immediately appealing because of the wonderful architecture of The Bronx. It's like when you see a London movie without the fucking Eye, I really liked throughout how it managed to avoid looking like A Bronx Tale or any number of NY minutes.

 

The Wanderers are a gang, a decidedly West Side Story gang, with shiny colourful jackets and greasy hair. But it doesn't open with them, focusing instead on an army of skinheads, lead amusingly by Grossberger from Stir Crazy. A fight soon breaks out and our 'heroes' (not the skinheads, or the decidedly less intimidating 'Baldies'), are scared off by the appearance of a new in town Jersey boy, who looks like what would happen if Judd Hirsch's mum mated with a bison.

 

It's all very exuberant and wise guy, quickly moving to the classroom for a truly stellar & hilarious To Sir With Love set piece in which a well meaning teacher tries to bring the factions together in the spirit of Brotherhood Day and instead causes gang warfare to break out.

 

Everyone in this town is a gang. My favourite being the 'five wise men', Hawaiian shirt clad block elder statesmen who sit like garish judges presiding over their own kingdom (a bowling alley) and see this gang showdown as a potentially messy waste of time and exploit it instead for cash in the form of a football game. This is an unexpected and clever twist, the first occasion when we see racial opposites put aside differences in favour of something mutually beneficial - there's honour here, and respect, and it's refreshing if melancholy, never mind the music this display of 'brotherhood' is maybe the most telling feature of the old ways to be lost, as every representation of ethnic groups since is distinctly polarised, in contrast to the wind of change the later 60s is credited for.

 

It's not all gangs though. American Graffiti had rich white kids going off to college. Parties, drunken fumblings, nice cars, the sense of an era coming to an end, is really what The Warriors is all about, only from the perspective of no hope inner city 'trash'.

 

That's until the true baddies emerge - the exclusively white, mute, creepy, blade wielding Catholics, who control a truly surreal corner of the borough, kind of like the Wanderers had crossed over into Silent Hill. This clearly was a major influence on Carpenter's later movie, with the hoardes appearing from steamy underlit alleys just like the freaks and drones of the mega prison, even lead by someone who looks a bit like Frank Doubleday.

 

The movie consciously makes these scenes unsettling, other worldly, in stark contrast with hero Richie trying to get into dream girl's pants in a drawn out game of strip poker. Karen Allen, obviously later to reunite with Kaufman to legendary effect, is wasted here, a throwaway squeeze fulfilling barely any more than she did for women characters in National Lampoon.

 

It's a movie packed with characters. One of my favourites is the dad of deeply irritating second lead Joey, a preening body builder who instantly put me in mind of the Comedian (the movie has a late scene featuring Dylan sound a like playing The Times They Are A Changing), and raised a howl in the final act tearing up bleachers to take on an entire army of hoods.

 

While the climax is very much in the vein of American Graffiti, what I love is how the gangs come together, especially touching when Richie, in an act completely out of character, pleads with the blacks and Chinese to stay at his bachelor party, which they do. He doesn't deserve it. This isn't really a movie of heroes though. By knocking up a gullible girl, Richie lucks out and earns an Hawaiian shirt of his own, and is now "set for life." Well, we all know how that turned out.

 

 

 

 

 

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17 hours ago, linkster said:

The Wanderers

 

A tale of rival New York gangs in the early 60s

 

First time watch of a movie I'm not entirely sure I ever knew existed. I figure I saw the name and thought The Warriors. It's popped up on Amazon Prime and then Kerraig mentioned it in the scary side character thread.

 

How best to describe it? Well in a nutshell, it's an urban American Graffiti, but it's also got shades of The Outsiders, Animal House, Escape from New York, Watchmen and perhaps even The Graduate.

 

Written and directed by Raiders scribe Philip Kaufman, and set in 1963 to a soundtrack of juke box 'favourites' (I actually found this mostly irritating), The Wanderers was immediately appealing because of the wonderful architecture of The Bronx. It's like when you see a London movie without the fucking Eye, I really liked throughout how it managed to avoid looking like A Bronx Tale or any number of NY minutes.

 

The Wanderers are a gang, a decidedly West Side Story gang, with shiny colourful jackets and greasy hair. But it doesn't open with them, focusing instead on an army of skinheads, lead amusingly by Grossberger from Stir Crazy. A fight soon breaks out and our 'heroes' (not the skinheads, or the decidedly less intimidating 'Baldies'), are scared off by the appearance of a new in town Jersey boy, who looks like what would happen if Judd Hirsch's mum mated with a bison.

 

It's all very exuberant and wise guy, quickly moving to the classroom for a truly stellar & hilarious To Sir With Love set piece in which a well meaning teacher tries to bring the factions together in the spirit of Brotherhood Day and instead causes gang warfare to break out.

 

Everyone in this town is a gang. My favourite being the 'five wise men', Hawaiian shirt clad block elder statesmen who sit like garish judges presiding over their own kingdom (a bowling alley) and see this gang showdown as a potentially messy waste of time and exploit it instead for cash in the form of a football game. This is an unexpected and clever twist, the first occasion when we see racial opposites put aside differences in favour of something mutually beneficial - there's honour here, and respect, and it's refreshing if melancholy, never mind the music this display of 'brotherhood' is maybe the most telling feature of the old ways to be lost, as every representation of ethnic groups since is distinctly polarised, in contrast to the wind of change the later 60s is credited for.

 

It's not all gangs though. American Graffiti had rich white kids going off to college. Parties, drunken fumblings, nice cars, the sense of an era coming to an end, is really what The Warriors is all about, only from the perspective of no hope inner city 'trash'.

 

That's until the true baddies emerge - the exclusively white, mute, creepy, blade wielding Catholics, who control a truly surreal corner of the borough, kind of like the Wanderers had crossed over into Silent Hill. This clearly was a major influence on Carpenter's later movie, with the hoardes appearing from steamy underlit alleys just like the freaks and drones of the mega prison, even lead by someone who looks a bit like Frank Doubleday.

 

The movie consciously makes these scenes unsettling, other worldly, in stark contrast with hero Richie trying to get into dream girl's pants in a drawn out game of strip poker. Karen Allen, obviously later to reunite with Kaufman to legendary effect, is wasted here, a throwaway squeeze fulfilling barely any more than she did for women characters in National Lampoon.

 

It's a movie packed with characters. One of my favourites is the dad of deeply irritating second lead Joey, a preening body builder who instantly put me in mind of the Comedian (the movie has a late scene featuring Dylan sound a like playing The Times They Are A Changing), and raised a howl in the final act tearing up bleachers to take on an entire army of hoods.

 

While the climax is very much in the vein of American Graffiti, what I love is how the gangs come together, especially touching when Richie, in an act completely out of character, pleads with the blacks and Chinese to stay at his bachelor party, which they do. He doesn't deserve it. This isn't really a movie of heroes though. By knocking up a gullible girl, Richie lucks out and earns an Hawaiian shirt of his own, and is now "set for life." Well, we all know how that turned out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Awesome fucking write up man, of one of my faves. It's packed to the gills with content and tonally schizophrenic. Much of it doesn't work, but the melancholy end of an era stuff you identified is really powerful. It makes me nostalgic for a time and a place that I never experienced and likely never even existed. 

 

Those ducky boys though. Proper chills 

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15 hours ago, kerraig UK said:

 

Awesome fucking right up man, of one of my faves. It's packed to the hills with content and finally schizophrenic. Much of it doesn't work, but the melancholy end of an era stuff you identified is really powerful. It makes me nostalgic for a time and a place that I never experienced and likely never even existed. 

 

Those ducky boys though. Proper chills 

 

The fight at the end did kind of remind me of the the dance hall number in 1941 - I loved it though, especially the big dude swinging the guy around as a weapon

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9 minutes ago, linkster said:

 

The fight at the end did kind of remind me of the the dance hall number in 1941 - I loved it though, especially the big dude swinging the guy around as a weapon

 

And then he fucking leathers his own son. 

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1 minute ago, kerraig UK said:

 

And then he fucking leathers his own son. 

yeah that was brutal.

 

Y'know having said at the outset I don't recall the movie, I've since had a very vivid memory of VHS rental in the 80s browsing the store and seeing a cover which I think had a few of the baldies, Erland van Lidth in the middle.

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Gladiator (2001, 4K blu-ray)

My name is Russell Crowe.

Actor in a roman epic, singer in a rubbish band, loyal servant to Australia.

Owner of a bad haircut, possessor of a wobbly accent and I will have my Oscar in this film or the next.

 

5/5

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7 minutes ago, linkster said:

yeah that was brutal.

 

Y'know having said at the outset I don't recall the movie, I've since had a very vivid memory of VHS rental in the 80s browsing the store and seeing a cover which I think had a few of the baldies, Erland van Lidth in the middle.

 

Yeah that was the reissue cover. The original was all the wanderers draped over the car during the game of 'elbow tit'. It was very American graffiti. I think they toughened up the re-release to tap into the gangster renaissance. 

 

It straddles those two worlds in a way I've not seen before. It's a very unique movie. 

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Completely random thought triggered by another thread but it's always bugged me


In Gremlins, why does Judge Reinhold's sleazy bank exec not get his comeuppance? He just disappears entirely from the movie after the bar scene early on

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24 minutes ago, linkster said:

Completely random thought triggered by another thread but it's always bugged me


In Gremlins, why does Judge Reinhold's sleazy bank exec not get his comeuppance? He just disappears entirely from the movie after the bar scene early on

 

Yep, that annoys me too. He's clearly meant to get his. 

 

ADDITIONAL: He was meant to just go nuts https://gremlins.fandom.com/wiki/Gerald_Hopkins 

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Green Street 2: Stand Your Ground (2009)

Three lads from the West Ham firm get transferred to a new prison and have to deal with the top dog inside. This must easily rank as the movie with the most frequent use of the word "cunt" ever, it flows like water through the football-thug cliche-driven dialogue. Once you're numb to that you'll probably be numb to the constant beatings everyone gets.This prison drama has the most tenuous links to the first film, merely the three main characters being members of the GSC - and that's it. No call-backs or recurring characters. No real surprises if you've seen enough prison-based films: top geezer out for blood, corrupt screws, clueless prison governor (played by Vernon Wells). No life-inside-reflects-society commentary, just straight-up violence with a no-holds-barred game of footy at the end. Cheap and nasty, trading on the original's name without adding anything to it. For genre fans only.

 

Disaster On The Coastliner (1979)

Someone with an axe to grind sets two express trains on a collision course, putting the President's wife in danger. Okay so it's a TV movie,  so we can forgive some lack of subtlety, but the inconsistencies in the writing really let this down. William Shatner plays a conman using a female passenger to evade capture. This woman could walk away at any time and alert the police onboard, no skin off her nose, but she chooses not to. I am assuming the writers had her down as falling in love but either through poor writing or direction it doesn't come over. And all the guff about the First Lady being on board one of the trains comes to nothing more than a lazy way to up the stakes. Performance highlight has to go to Lloyd Bridges who plays a very similar character to the one he would go on to in the Airplane films. I kept shouting "I picked a fine time to give up sniffing glue!". A bit of spectacular stunt work near the end, with a two choppers and a speeding train, and a shot of a guy stepping off the line just as the train speeds by - seriously that guy would have died a second later. And you get a really spectacular derailment at the end. Sadly this doesn't make up for a messy, uneven film that was probably great on paper initially.

 

I also watched Zombie Flesh Eaters (1979) but I'm reluctant to review that as it's such a horror classic I'd get strung up by the real aficionados. I will say I did enjoy it, some amazing zombies in that.

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Fortress (1992)

A man and his illegally-pregnant wife find themselves in a maximum security underground prison facility with no chance of escape. This is one of those films I hear people mention the name of but never got around to watch myself. I'm glad I finally did as this was really good fun. Suitably heroic performance from Christopher Lambert. Some excellent pre-CG make-up and practical effects, the film is visceral with blood everywhere, body parts and popcorn-friendly body horror. What is most impressive is how the writers set up this massive prison environment but everything plays a part in the story, from the retracting drawbridges to the laser cell bars. A certain amount of disbelief suspension is required to get past the ludicrous baddie, but it's all part of the fun. Not a classic but deserving of anyone's time who is looking for some 90s big-screen future prison action.

 

Russian Terminator aka The Russian Ninja (1989)

A girl is forced to find papers for some bad people. Her father hires a guy to find her. VHS aficionados will be well aware of this trash classic but this was my first viewing. What a bizarre film. Apparently this is a Danish attempt to make an American action/crime yarn and it fails hilariously. Genuinely bad acting (I suspect English wasn't the actor's first language), a script that looked like they made it up as they went along. Incongruous direction. There's a ninja in there for some reason, and they have this Kenny Rogers lookalike in the best jumper ever. Many would give up in the first 10 minutes but I somehow stuck it out because it was actually entertaining, for all the wrong reasons of course. Probably best viewed with some friends and alcohol. "You got a problem. You gonna die!"

 

 

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Captain Marvel

 

I'm honestly not sure. Something about a cat?

 

I love the ritual of the cinema, I almost dread them changing any single aspect of it - timing of the lights, idents. There's a weird addition in a Marvel movie that I've never entirely approved of - the post credits sequence. Sometimes glorious - was it Homecoming that had Cap right at the end doing his educational videos? Anyway, after tonight's screening in a pleasingly busy midweek showing, there was some small satisfaction in my feeble act of rebellion at being the sole exiteer as soon as Courtney Love struck up. I honestly couldn't have cared less by that point. 

 

Feeble since Disney won again and already had my £13.10 for the Xplus showing - 2D but magnificently large screen and Atmos audio, the way it should be. Dubious as I was about whether this would click with me, there's no point doing these things half arsed.

 

Captain Marvel arrives with no small amount of fanfare, and a series of IMO distinctly underwhelming trailers. Some controversy in its wake, with accusations of 'incels' mounting a campaign to vote the movie down on RT and much commentary on what it all means, Helen O'Hara of Empire contributing the following observation

 

Carol Danvers’ final battle offers a radical message and becomes a powerful metaphor for what could happen if we stop waiting to be told that we are enough; if we stop believing the people who tell us we’re too emotional or too weak. Captain Marvel says that, when we stop looking for approval, we can become literally godlike. This is not another cheap girl-power cliché; it’s an explicitly feminist apotheosis.

 

For this review, I decided finally to Google just what 'incel' means, and was rather disappointed to find it is rather glibly males who 'define themselves as unable to find a romantic or sexual partner despite desiring one'. Quite why they took against the movie, I am not sure. Even tho having been in a relationship for nearly 20 years would surely exclude me from any association, I'm sure there will be those who will suggest there's still a bias inherent in my views consistent with these internet unfortunates.

 

I've seen every Marvel movie save one, GOTG2, and consider Avengers Assemble my favourite, which is sadly ironic since it contains among many admirable lines the running gag "I got that reference". In Assemble, what makes alluding to a 1930s musical funny is it is delivered in a pleasingly oblique manner.

 

Unfortunately for me, Captain Marvel favours the Stranger Things / Ready Player One approach to references, each soundbite or shoehorned pop culture reference being more heavily signposted than one of those irritating captcha picture puzzles. Nowhere is this worse than in the soundtrack. I don't like GOTG. I especially don't like the music. But it's clear the person who made it does. Captain Marvel is like watching a movie on Xbox while streaming your own playlist. Music just appears without cue, and utterly without finesse - "I'm only happy when it rains" when driving through a desert. I did kind of snarl in annoyance when 'I'm just a girl' pipes up towards the end. Clearly for all its feminist pretensions, the directors don't have enormous faith in the IQ of the audience.

 

Much has been made of Brie Larson, but I wasn't prepared for quite how wooden a performance was in store. It's not quite as bad as Scarlett in Ghost in the Shell, but there is very little in it. I didn't root, or care much what happened, or was ever likely to happen given her glowy shootie fists. Early doors the movie reminded me of Edge of Tomorrow and how much I'd prefer to be watching Emily Blunt battle aliens. Brie runs a lot, as ordered, yet looks like she's never actually run 10 yards in her life. It's not much of a script, but she has no comic timing, or chemistry with Samuel L Jackson, who seems much happier in the company of the aforementioned cat, as indeed was I.

 

As an origin story, Captain Marvel suffers terribly by failing to find a way to connect the main character with the audience. RDJ was an arms dealer. Steve Austin a Good Person living in a very bad time. Carol Denvers is a pilot, one who we're told far too late had to suffer a great deal of indignity simply because of her gender, and that's a good angle, but it's barely covered, other than in passing, in the belief we'd care more about amnesia (deja vu more appropriate) and Trekkie type relationships with aliens. The reason, obviously, is Marvel's invested in a plan, and in spite of the movie's feminist credentials, they've left it too late to put this woman front and center cos it's all about Endgame. Maybe we'll get more of her origin later, but that's relying on us to care, and after an introduction like this, why bother?

 

Marvel villains of course have to be weird of skin and regional of accent, but in this it's honestly like we've stumbled into Star Trek (the TV series, not the movies). In Annette Benning, they've come dangerously close to rivalling Kingsman: The Golden Circle for Worst Villain Of All Time. Benning plays an AI, I think, in a series of exposition sequences what I could swear is basically the cut scenes from Halo 4 cut together with Destiny. These are not good stories, in case you were wondering and had not dabbled, but at least you can skip them.

 

I accept I am not the core target audience, but Marvel doesn't make a billion a movie without covering its bases, and across the board their strike rate is admirable with me, so there was no real reason for me NOT to like this, other than its a very weak film indeed. It has zero emotional weight - the central relationship, a reunion, passes at such speed and with so little impact its almost dizzying. The 'climax' discussed by Helen above is telegraphed from the first time we meet Jude Law, who spouts sub-Liam Neeson mystic drivel about "being the best you you can be" and makes himself so eminently punchable he literally begs her to punch him.

 

I'd read many of the spoilers in the main thread since I was undecided on whether to see the movie and perhaps tellingly I didn't understand a lot of them. I'm not sure I do now. I'm not a comic book fan, but Marvel deserves much credit for managing to serve up some genuinely great movies, within and without the MCU. But this just isn't one of them.

 

 

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Apostasy

 

Ken Loach-style drama centering on a Jehovah’s Witness community in the north 

 

Contains spoilers.

 

One of the reasons I really like eastern movies, especially when it comes to animation, is in part the acceptance that this life is fleeting, that it gives the protagonists an outlook that knowing the afterlife is to come steers them away from tedious naval gazing.

 

I knew nothing of Jevovah’s Witnesses beyond the cliches - no Christmas presents. the Watchtower, house calls. Turns out they are very big on an afterlife too, though one brought about by an unshakeable belief that Armageddon is soon to come and Jesus will wield the banhammer. They refer to the imminent arrival of the next ‘sequence’ in a way that brings to mind a cultish view of the world. It’s hard not to equate the beliefs with a tragic, lunatic fringe. 

 

None of the romance of the east on display here.  It’s more like the crushing disappointment that might await someone who after a lifetime of devotion finally passes into paradise and finds it’s a shitty red brick hall on Leeds council estate next to a dual carriageway. And it’s raining.

 

Central to the story is Alex, a pretty and pious 18 year old who suffers from anaemia and, in her mother’s words, “shame every day of her life” after a life saving blood transfusion which would never have been allowed by her family or church ‘elders’. Alex talks constantly to god, imparting her fury that a nurse offered her medical treatment in secret. Later she talks admiringly of a book at her church full of stories of brave kids facing oblivion who embraced it gladly, telling the meddling Doctor they would “rip the needles from their arms” (“if only I had such courage”).

 

Alex and her sister learn Urdu to represent the church in the community, spreading ‘the word.’, until the sister becomes pregnant and is cast out by the church, with her family forbidden to help. Soon after, a scrawny window cleaner arrives as a new church ‘elder’ and makes a beeline straight for the devout teenager. Her mother is approving, even though it’s decidedly creepy to watch this man simply skip any normal western rule of flirting to deploy his church status to tell the family how honoured it should be. There is an excruciating moment when Alex tells him of her condition, with the torment written clearly on his face.

 

It ought to have been obvious but I was still distraught when Alex dies. Like much of the film, it’s wholly understated and all the more devastating for it. The eulogy by the other elder is incredibly touching, but you cannot observe it without wondering how they could simply have let it happen.

 

Her mother’s faith never wavers, but vows to bring her estranged daughter back into the fold, but the elders are adamant she must prove herself, how, and over how long, they don’t know. 

 

Apostasy is brutally stripped down even for a kitchen sink drama, with some fabulous performances which make it unremittingly painful to watch.

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That's my week off over, watched a ton of films this week, was very enjoyable.

 

The Rift (1990)

A mission to find out what happened to a marine research sub runs into trouble. Imagine The Abyss but take 90% of the budget out and you'll probably get something like The Rift. The script tries to get a bit of intrigue going and combine it with some low-budget spectacle. The first half is a bit of a slog, largely due to them loading all the budget-hogging creature effects to the last half. And it has to be said the effects aren't that bad really, in a Geiger-on-a-budget kind of way. Without spoiling it too much it gets to a point where it feels a bit like Aliens, with mini slime monsters attacking. Lots of blood and gore too. It's not really enough to save this film that tries really hard to overcome the limitations but can't quite hit the mark. Full Metal Jacket's R Lee Emry plays the sub's captain and, it has to be said, his stiff, bluff, military style fits the bill. A good effort but ultimately rather lacking in some departments.

 

Cube (1997)

A group of people find themselves trapped within a cube-shaped room and try to find out why they are there and how to escape the deadly traps. The 1990s wasn't really a classic decade for horror but, in my humble opinion, this was one of the better films from that period. From the intriguing premise the film builds slowly, revealing more and more about the seemingly-random group of characters. It may be a bit wordy and lacking in action for some, but here it lends more impact and tension to the action and allows for some character development. There may be some retro-comparisons to Saw, and I wouldn't be surprised if this film had some influence on it. If you can buy into the concept fully this film will hold your attention.

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