Friday, 30 June 2017

The Walking Dead: Season 7 (2016-2017) - TV Review

Review:

*Originally written June 30th, 2017*

"Let it die"

The Walking Dead used to be a show that I really liked, a show that, I admit, had its highs and lows. It clearly peaked with Season 1, but my fucking god, this show has gone so far down hill that it's embarrassing. Season 7 has got to be the most frustrating, drawn out, self-indulgent piece of television I've seen for a long time. 

I tend to think the best shows last around 7 season max, but The Walking Dead shows no signs of an end game, and that's a problem. We have been through everything we could possibly see the group go through at this point and aside from a few moments of sadistic violence, Season 7 brought nothing interesting or new to the table.

I remember I had high hopes for Jeffrey Dean Morgan's Negan. His scene in the insulting Season 6 finale had real sinister intent and gravitas to it, but they sadly over use him to the point his appearances become annoying. He spends the whole season coming in and doing the same boring speeches about how "This is humanity now" and it become quickly tiresome. Less is more and Negan lost all of his effect. His baseball bat 'Lucille' became a joke quickly and also lost all its impact.


The opening episode was a big talking point due to the deaths of two main characters, who are beaten to a pulp in the most gruesome and nihlistic episodes of TV I have ever seen, and it set the tone for the rest on the season. The episode itself wasted its deaths by drawing out so long after the insulting Season 6 cliffhanger. Then these huge characters deaths lacked any sort of impact on the series in the long run. Showing them die in the Season 6 finale would have left a much better and impactful effect. 

The first half of the season showed Rick in an almost catatonic state, to the point of frustration. He's also barely in it. Which was weird, but gave the show a chance to explore some of the other characters. It's just a shame that they went nowhere with these characters. A whole episode was devoted to Daryl being tortured. It was just so relentless in its own depravity that it got boring. The whole of the season went round in circles despite the promise of this "All Out War" in the advertisment. When in reality, this was the last 20 minutes of the season finale.

Extending the seasons to 16 episodes and making them longer than 40 minutes has been a problem with me for a long time with this show. Season 7 pushed that to breaking point. The extended episodes of nothing happening were painful to watch. You honestly could have condensed this whole season into a lean 6 episodes with the lack of goings on here.

There are some bright spots scattered throughout. I loved the tiger, he actually looked good, compared to the usual CGI garbage in this show (That deer. Jesus Christ). Despite its huge popularity, The Walking Dead casually insults its fans with awful CGI blood and gore, which looks even worse next the excellent practical work they usually do. This show is popular enough to have the budget of good CGI, it's insulting how lazy and cheap they are with their content.


Urm, back to the good. There are some nice moments of levity here and there among the bombardment of grimness. An episode where Rick and Michonne go to the fair is a highlight. I also liked the introduction of a couple of new factions like the "Garbage People", who make Rick fight in some gladiator style trash pile. More creative stuff like that.

The Walking Dead: Season 7 is pure trash. The worst the show has ever got, to the point I even wonder why I watch anymore, and I think it's only because I'm seven seasons in now, so I'm gonna see this show through to the end, for better, or worse. I do have some real hope they'll improve things for Season 8, but if it's anything like this season, then fuck my life.

2/10 Dans

The Walking Dead: Season 7 will be released on Blu-ray and DVD sometime later in the year in the UK
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The Circle (2017) - Film Review

Review:

*Originally written June 30th, 2017*

"Transparent"

I'm pretty in shock and what I've just seen, but for all the wrong reasons. Labeled as a "Netflix Original" in the UK, it really earns it place as another piece of garbage to add to Netflix's horrific library of mostly terrible original films among their much better TV content.

The Circle is a huge misfire and a waste of everyone involved. There's a genuinely interesting story here, with some very strong and relevant themes that are squandered in such a lifeless mess. From its cringey dialogue its abhorrently lazy ending, The Circle is just 110 minutes of wasted potential.

Emma Watson's character is horrific, despite giving an okay performance. Her character changes opinion from scene to scene with no real rhyme or reason. I feel like there is a director's cut somewhere that actually fills in why Watson does the stuff she does. 




Its themes of online privacy are done in such a heavy-handed, naive and transparent way. It feels like a poorly done episode of Black Mirror. Black Mirror was never a subtle show, but this makes it look like deep arthouse. The script feels like it was written by young teens writing an essay about cyber security. It's filled with so many cringey and embarrassing things.

It's weird I mention that it felt like it was written by teens, because this does feel like a YA novel adaptation at times. It's all so lame and millennial. It feels like its trying to be a smart film for dumb people. Which it is. The Circle thinks it's a smart film, but its not. It's retarded. Almost like an after school special on "The Dangers on Online Security and Privacy".

Some moments have some real tension and life to them, but are made pointless by the Watson's bipolar character changing her mind every few scenes for reason. Annoyingly, The Circle never really takes a side, it lands on one at the end, which is one of the laziest things all year, they shove viewpoints as to the pros and cons of all of it, but they never really explore anything. It's all very hollow and boring, complete with flat and lifeless direction. This film was made by a real jobber.




I almost completely forgot to mention Tom Hanks and Bill Paxton (In his final role) are in it. Hanks is you know fine, doing his Hanks warm thing, but Paxton was decent as Watson's disabled father. I wish he got a better film to end his career on, but sadly, that's not how the world works.

The Circle is pathetic, a heavy-handed, childish and poorly done excuse for a cyber thriller that wastes some true potential. The most you'll likely get out of this is a few cheap laughs at the cringey dialogue.  


3/10 Dans

The Circle is streaming now on Netflix UK
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Quarantine (2008) - Film Review

Review:

*Originally written June 29th, 2017*

"Braindead"

A rather pointless, albeit competently made remake of a much better Spanish horror film starring a TV actress.

People who are too lazy or stupid to read subtitles deserve films this uninspired. It doesn't help that I'd only rewatched the excellent REC very recently, so I felt like I'd seen it all before (Which I had, seeing as this is a more or less shot-for-shot remake).


God knows what the straight-to-DVD sequel to this is like, I'll probably get round to it at some point.

My favourite stuff in this was Jennifer Carpenter hanging out with the firefighters for the first 10 minutes or so.

Blah. I have nothing to say. Just watch the original REC instead, it's better, more effective and you'll thank me after.
  
5/10 Dans

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The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014) - Film Review

Review:

*Originally written June 30th, 2017*

"Dead franchise on arrival" It's the best I had in my head.....

Well, I'm finally at the end of my series of Spider-Man reviews (Thank god) before the next reboot 'Homecoming' comes out in the week. It's been a long and interesting journey, with mostly lows, but a couple of high, it's just a shame that the series ends on this low note of shit.

Did Sony learn NOTHING from the failure of Spider-Man 3? Like, seriously? The reason Spider-Man 3 failed was because of too many villains, far too much plot and it was way too long. So they did it again. Are they fucking retarded? I'd honestly like to know if the people behind this mess had IQ's in the double digits, because I seriously doubt it.

There are some moments of good in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (Ah, how I missed the simplicity of numbered sequels), but they are undercut by such cancerous awfulness. Everything feels off and is extremely underdeveloped. Electro and Rhino should have been scrapped right off the bat and this should have purely been about Peter Parker and Harry Osbourne. Eveything else was unnecessary filler.

It doesn't help by the lack of effort put in by the actors. Jamie Foxx is atrocious, hamming it up to 11, which could have been fun, but comes off as painful. The design is ugly and looks fake as hell. All his scenes are accompanied by this lame and cringy dubstep score. Dear god, I forgot how bad that shit was. Paul Giamatti amounted to 3 minutes of screentime, all his scenes were in the trailers. He is equally as embarassing to watch, complete with a hokey Russian accent. It's a shame to see such accomplished actors reduce themselves to this.


Dane DeHaan fares a bit better than the rest as Harry Osbourne/Green Goblin. He's pretty good at the problem child thing by now (He was much better in The Place Beyond the Pines though). His character falls apart once he becomes Green Goblin and becomes a fuck ugly mix of CGI and poor make-up. They at least attempt to build up Harry and Peter's relationship with a cringy montage.

Being an action-heavy superhero film, I am failing to recall any memorable action. Nothing was unique or stood out, The only thing my brain can recall is how ugly and cartoony the CGI looked in a lot of the scenes. I'd go as far as saying there's not even anything here as good as the school fight in the last film.

The positives I'd say out of this mess are Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone once again show genuine chemistry. Garfield also played Peter Parker as much less mentally challenged this time, which was good. I also much preferred the costume here than in the first one, it reminded me a lot more of Raimi's Spider-Man 2 costume.


They also take a huge risk by actually killing the love-interest at the end of the film in a surprisingly brutal way (Surprising if you haven't read the comics. Which I haven't). It was a ballsy move that would have been much more appreciated in a film that wasn't such a trainwreck. I would like to see more superhero films murdering lead characters and not bringing them back. Looking at you Batman v Superman.

Another big mistake this film makes is its obsession of trying expand its world rather than tell an interesting story. It introduces a retarded amount of subplots that were never answered or even asked for. Wanna know the mystery behind Parker's parents? Well... you're never gonna get that answer. 

Hell, we still never got the Uncle Ben stuff resolved from the last film. Don't get me started on all the Oscorp shit. Fuck me.... There was one scene that was just dying to be a launching pad for spin-off films, but the franchise died and is now shared with Marvel. So we'll see what happens with that.

That's The Amazing Spider-Man 2, a complete mess, overstuffed, long, boring and forgettable, but never as offensive as the "Emo" scenes from Spider-Man 3, still painfull though. Your move, Disney, Save Spider-Man.

4/10 Dans

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is out now on 4K UHD, Blu-ray and DVD in the UK
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Thursday, 29 June 2017

Finding Dory (2016) - Film Review

Review:

*Originally written June 29th, 2017*

"Just keep swimming"

I was 10 when Finding Nemo came out, and I've seen it several times since. I find it amazing that it has taken 10 years for a sequel to reach our screens. I'm 20 now and I was so excited for the belated sequel. In a year of several sequels that came out way too late to poor reception, Independence Day: Resurgence and Zoolander 2 for example, I was very cautious when approaching Finding Dory, despite my excitement. Pixar have been pretty hit-and-miss lately. Sure, we've had Inside Out and The Good Dinosaur, but we've also been given Cars 2 (*Shudder*) and the less than great Monsters University. Does Finding Dory break the belated sequel curse and deliver another truly great Pixar experience? I am more than happy to say yes. Yes it does.

Finding Dory is another emotional and heartfelt adventure for children and adults, it doesn't reach the heights of the Toy Story trilogy or Monsters Inc, but it sure comes close. This is easily Pixar's best effort since Toy Story 3. I might be a teeny bit baised, seeing I grew up with the original. But that doesn't change the fact this is another excellent animation from Disney.

Taking place exactly one year after the original. Finding Dory follows Dory in her effort to find her real parents after she remembers they exist. She is helped in her effort by Marlon and his son Nemo as they make their way through the Marine Life Institute she was born in.




It was an easy choice for the Pixar to switching the narrative onto Dory, seeing as she was breaking star of the first. I will admit, I wasn't the biggest fan of Dory in Finding Nemo, I found her to be quite annoying and the weakest aspect of the film. Luckily, I was instantly won over by Dory this time around, helped by the fact that Baby Dory (Pictured above) might just be the cutest concoction Disney has come with. Every moment spent with Baby Dory stole my heart, it's one of the most adorable things I have ever seen. I cannot emphasize that enough.




The key to a truly great animated film is making it both for children and adults, Finding Dory is very sucessful on that front. Beneath the surface of the story, the theme of the importance of family is there and the story almost goes to some very dark places which it rightfully backtracks from, but it made the moment no less powerful. There is also a surprising lack of humour here, but when the jokes do come, they almost always land. A lot of the comedy derives from the introduction of some fantastic new characters such as Hank, a octopus who acts like a cliche Vietnam veteran with clear issues, Destiny, a near sighted whale and Bailey, a a whale with echolocation who gave way for a fantastic little homage to the vent scene from Alien.

On top of the Alien homage, there is also a Sigourney Weaver cameo that could not have been any better if they tried. Finding Dory also brings back many of the original cast on top of the three leads. We once again get to see the toirtoses and the class Nemo attends, none of them have changed and it was a welcome addition to ease us back into this world. There's also a tiny cameo from the seagulls, which actually served a purpose to the plot without feeling gratitious.

Pixar do once again knock it out the park when it comes to gorgeous animation. I'm having a hard time thinking of a better looking animated film than Finding Dory right now. It is much improved from its predeccesor, featuring some jaw-dropping and photorealistic water effects. The octopus was also wonderfully animated, it felt like it had weight and I loved what they did with him when he was camouflaged. The cinematography is breathtaking too, the scene where we see the centre aqarium in the Marine Life Institute is truly beautiful. I was in awe and felt 10 again.






All the set-pieces are fun and inspired. From the Alien inspired tunnel scene to the slow-motion finale that makes perfect use of 'What a Wonderful World', it was all memorable and visually creative. I wouldn't say anything here topped the moments in Finding Nemo, but they stand on their own well enough.

While the film did have a huge emotional impact on me. I would be lying if I said it didn't feel familiar. The emotional beats are all earned and feel genuine, but the story does follow the formula of the original a little too much. It plays things a little too safe for the most part. Finding Dory truly comes alive when it's doing something new and exciting, which is more often than not, but that sense of familiarity does come into play during certain moments.


8/10 Dans

Finding Dory is out now on Blu-ray and DVD in the UK
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The Cat in the Hat (2003) - Film Review

Review:

*originally written March 1st, 2017*

"CUPCAKES?! OH YEAHHHHH!"

In the middle of Emmanuel Lubezki's (The Revenant, Birdman, Gravity) faux, bright, Lazy Town on crack cinematography lies a really sad and tragic story of two kids with no dad who escape to a drug-fuelled world in order to flee from real lifes troubles. Along the way they meet 'Cat' who sounds awfully similar to.... 'Ket'. They go on crazy adventures filled with completely filthy puns.

You mess with catto, you get the batto

I.. I don't know what I expected. It was just a nightmareish hell of puns for 75 minutes. Completely vapid and soulless trash, but at the same time the most harrowing anti-drugs film since Requiem for a Dream.

I miss Mike Myers. RIP, dude. GROOVY BABY.

2/10 Dans

The Cat in the Hat is out now on DVD in the UK
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Okja (2017) - Film Review

Review:

*Originally written June 29th, 2017*

"Friend, not food"

I didn't think Netflix had another great film in them after the constant release of utter shite for the past two years after they released Beasts of No Nation, but they've finally done it. Okja is Netflix's first truly great Original Film in some time, and quite possibly their best.

From the director of Snowpiercer (Bong Joon-Ho), Okja follows a young girl who will do anything to get her genetically enginereed super-pig, Okja, back from the government who want it for their own purposes, so she goes on a globe-trotting adventure to reclaim her friend.


It's all very '80s and Spielbergian to a point, but it really has a strong heart behind it. The relationship between Okja and her human guardian is one of genuine warmth and brings a real emotional core to the film. It really helps if you have a soft spot for animals. Okja could have been a disaster of a creation. Making an original creature for a film can be hit-or-miss, but the technical team mostly did an incredible job bringing Okja to life. It's not as good as say the recent Planet of the Apes films when it comes to bringing a CGI character to life, but they did a good enough job to make us care for Okja.

I did not expect how deep this film would be, or how even heartbreaking and devestating the ending would be. Okja makes a big statement of the morality of factory farming and how we should treat animals. There are moments towards the end that made me feel awful for eating meat and wanting me to try and have a serious go at being vegetarian again. not the piss-poor attempts I've tried in the past. Some of the shit here is harrowing though.

Which brings me to the tone of the film. I'm not massively sure what to expect in Okja, but for the most part, I expected a family friendly film, which led me to be confused by the 15 rating for it in the UK. While I'd say this is a family friendly film for the most part, they do drop several uses of "fuck", which feels at odds for a film that is now restricted to an adult audience, despite being a film that young audiences really should see and learn from.


Bong Joon-Ho delivers some fantastic direction and a cinematic feel that has been sorely lacking nearly all of Netflix's films. There are some really inspired and exciting set-pieces and the film looks gorgeous. I really, really wish I got to see this in the cinema, which will always be a disappointing drawback of a Netflix film.

The cast are all great, although some could have done with a little restraint. The lead child actress Ahn Seo-hyun was excellent, she really carried the film. Some of the bigger names I wish had come off better. Jake Gyllenhaal and Tilda Swinton were clearly having fun with their roles, but veered into hammy territory at times. That said, Paul Dano and Giancarlo Esposito were both great and stole their scenes.

Okja is Netflix's first essential film in over two years. A fun, entertaining and extremely touching adventure film that has a lot to say and has a whole lot of heart. More like this Netflix. Not the fucking aids you shit out like 'Sandy Wexler' or 'iBoy'.

8/10 Dans

Okja is available to stream now on Netflix worldwide
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Wednesday, 28 June 2017

10 Cloverfield Lane (2016) - Film Review

Review:

*Originally written May 8th, 2016*

"I think we're alone now"

Despite the disappointment of missing this at the cinema, this was so worth the wait. I already knew this was a relation to Cloverfield in name only, and in all honesty, is much better for it. It still takes place in the same universe as the first film (I assume), but this tells a completely different story in a different location with a new threat and new characters.

After a girl is wiped of the road, she wakes up in a bunker being held captive by a crazed fanatic played by John Goodman claiming the world has ended after a chemical attack and that his shelter is the only safe place left.

It's taut and effective. Smaller and tense than its predecessor. First time director Dan Trachtenberg keeps an unsettling and tense atmosphere surrounded by mystery throughout. It was interesting to see these characters slowly become more and more concerned about their situation as John Goodman's character becomes more unstable.


Speaking of John Goodman, the man is a terrifying monster here. He's both sympathetic, yet imposing and scary when he needs to be. He arguably starts off as a man seemingly trying to do the right thing, but slowly becomes more unhinged as it goes on and you learn more about him.

The two other leads were great too. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is an actress I've always liked, but has never really been given the chance to shine and has been put in minor supporting roles in two terrible Die Hard films, so it was great to see her as smart and likeable lead you root for. Then John Gallagher Jr. was fine in his role, he was serviceable, but easily the least interesting of the leads.

The whole thing builds to an insane, genre-busting final act that gets a little too silly for my liking, but doesn't take away from the incredibly tense and entertaining 80 minutes that came before it. I will admit I did have the ending spoiled for me before seeing it, so I knew what was going to happen, but it still didn't work for me. I kind of wish it just stuck to the one location setting and we didn't know what was happening outside the bunker.


I do like what they're doing with the Cloverfield franchise though. This was a risky move that payed off and is a far more involving and interesting film than the original. I cannot wait to see what they do next with this anthology series and see how it all ties together (which is the plan)

10 Cloverfield Lane is a pleasant surprise. A tense, claustrophobic thriller with a powerhouse performance from Goodman, a likeable lead and shrouded in mystery. It's just a shame it goes a bit off the rails with the ending.

8/10 Dans

10 Cloverfield Lane is out now on Blu-ray and DVD in the UK
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Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Fifty Shades Darker (2017) - Film Review

Review:

*Originally written February 13th, 2017*
 
"Fifty Shades of cinematic cancer"

I know I'm far from the target audience this film series is aimed at. I'm neither a teenage girl or a sexually repressed middle-aged woman, so it really is not for me, but for my own twisted sadomasochistic reasons, I endure this franchise and it proves I really will see anything they release in a cinema. Even this abomination of "Kinky fuckery".

Fifty Shades Darker is more or less the same. A 2 hour shit-show of soapy melodrama, a laughable script and bored performances. Although one thing is different, they attempt heighten the "tension" with these hilarious moments of forced drama that come out of nowhere. It feels like a trashy '90s thriller in the vein of Basic Instinct, but with none of what made it great.

Once again the relationship at the center of the film is more damaging than it is romantic. It really scares me seeing girls share on Facebook and Twitter about how they "want their Christian Grey". It baffles me, this man is a creepy, controlling psychopath who seems more likely to skin you alive than provide romance. His relationship with Ana is so problematic. She breaks up with him at the end of the last film, but they're back together within the first 15 minutes under the promise "this time it's different"

Fucking in the shower with clothes on
What's funny is that nothing has changed. Ana more or less goes along with everything Christian demands of her with little to no discussion. Just this time there is no bondage until a very minor scene towards the end. Despite doing all of what Christian says, late in the film during a scene of forced tension involving a gun, Christian demands that Ana "Do what she's told, for once". It was so poor and out of nowhere.

That isn't the only moment that comes out of nowhere. In the last 20 minutes there is a helicopter crash that just happens, with no build up or any kind of intent the film would have a scene like this. Like a lot of the film, it feels like a collection of deleted scenes that are jumbled together to make a 2 hour film. After this helicopter crash, Christian shows up at his apartment with some bruising and covered in dirt, then the scene is forgotten. It was bizarre.

Even with the rare "18" rating in the UK. The sex is incredibly tame and lifeless. I don't never seen two actors seem so bored when they were in bed together. It was also strange that Jamie Dornan spends nearly all of the sex scenes with his jeans on while Dakota Johnson gets completely naked. At least she put some dedication into the scenes. Also, for a film about BDSM, a surprising lack of it.

One of the more frustrating things about Fifty Shades Darker is how uninterested the actors seem in general. Everyone in this film I've seen in other stuff and know they are capable actors. Here they just seem bored delivering some awful lines with no effort put in. I honestly think Jamie Dornan wears the same facial expression in every scene. Did his face move?! I don't know. Dakota Johnson didn't fare much better, the most interesting part about her performance is the way she seemed to say "Urm" during sentences, giving the impression she was trying to remember the script while filming.

There is at least an excuse to explain why Christian is the way he is. There's some tacked on stuff about him being abused by his mother when he was a child, burning him with cigarettes. It's revealed his body is covered in cigarette burns, but I am pretty sure these were not present in the first. There's also a weirdly prominent post for 'The Chronicles of Riddick' in his childhood bedroom, which just felt so weird'.

If this film sends a horrible message about romanticising an abusive relationship, they try their hardest to make Christian a "good" guy by making every other male character with more than a scene of screentime a monster. The only other real male character with screentime is Ana's boss, who they NEED to make a villain for some reason as he tries to rape Ana in another scene that comes out of nowehere in an attempt at drama for the sake of drama.

Ana getting finger blasted by a creepy pervert in an elevator

I could make a list of some of the "best" lines in Fifty Shades Darker, but I only saw it yesterday, but I forgot most of them already. The ones that have stuck with me had to be "Kinky fuckery" (Which I am saying a lot) and "You taught me how to fuck, Ana taught me how to love". Both of which made me laugh out loud in the cinema to the presumable disdain of the middle-aged women getting off on this tripe during a late afternoon screening in a fairly empty cinema.

I didn't stay to watch the trailer for next years 'Fifty Shades Freed' inserted in the middle of the credits, but the cliffhanger ending of a barely used character looking over a hilltop at Christian's party while burning a cigarette in a picture of him leaves me very excited for the absolute nonsense that is gonna go down in February, 2018.

Fifty Shades Darker is pure garbage, problematic, laughably bad, lazy, boring and poorly acted. No one involved in this series gives a shit about the quality anymore, and it shows. One of the worst films likely to come out in 2017.

1/10 Dans

Fifty Shades Darker is out now on 4K UHD, Blu-ray and DVD in the UK
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Transformers: The Last Knight (2017) - Film Review



Review:

*Originally written June 27th, 2017*

"Kill me" 
 
It's been well established that I don't like the Transformers films by this point. Well, I don't mind the first one, but even after 3 terrible films in a row from the series, I'm still willing to give Michael Bay a chance. Oh, god. Why am I so naive and willing to watch any film thrown my way?

I'll start with the good. It's better than Age of Extinction at the very least. It's also 15 minutes shorter than Extinction, but still coming in at an absurd 150 minutes. Why do people let Michael Bay make films this long? He does realise he can make more fans and get critical acclaim if he actually listens to his criticisms, right?

The only other minor good things I have to say about The Last Knight are some of the more insane and absurd ideas on display and the underused performance of child actress Isabela Moner. The crazier stuff I wish were explored and embraced more. We find out more convoluted history behind the Transformers and their place in human history. They were involved in everything, from King Arthur to World War 2 (We even find out Hitler was killed by a Transformer). These are the more interesting things we see brief things of, but would have made for a much more interesting film overall.




Then we get to the bad. The most obvious thing, which I have mentioned, is the length. It's absurd. I was ready for this to end about 40 minutes before it finished. I was so bored and exhausted by this whole display of nonsense. Much like the last one, it just went on and on until it abruptly ended. It was a soul-crushing experience. One I wouldn't want to wish upon anyone.

The Last Knight feels like Michael Bay throwing so much shit at the wall and seeing what sticks. The story is a needlessly convoluted mess. I had no idea what was happening. I got there was some world ending artifact that had to be kept out of Decepticon hands to save Earth. It's all just material that has been used for every Transformers film since 2007. This series has been stuck in limbo for 10 years now, nothing's changed, nothing is new. We're watching the same recycled crap over and over again. People complain about this in superhero films, but this is the real problem, at least superhero films use their formula well.


It was also embarassing to see such respected actors reduce themselves to this level of nonsense. Anthony Hopkins has the time of his life reducing himself to a joke with such lame and cringy lines such as "that's a bitchin' ride". Steve Buscemi also has a small role, that's not really of note. Wahlberg was as good as he was in the last one, just meh and serviceable. It was funny to see Shia LeBeouf have a small (sorta) cameo that at least remembers where the series once was. We also have a hot blonde in here, who is nothing more than cleavage and eye candy for the audience. Fuck you, Bay.

What really pissed me off about The Last Knight was how misleading a lot of the trailers were. One of them seemed like the film was different tonally, that we would be focusing on some new child actors discovering Transformers, and I actually liked the idea of that. Well, it was a huge lie, aside from one of the kids, they were in it for one scene. The one kid who sticks around was barely in it, which was a shame, as the child performance was actually quite good and her character was far more interesting and compelling than anyone else.





The trailers also made a big deal out of the whole "Optimus Prime being evil" thing and having a big showdown with Bumblebee. Well, holy shit. You will be in for a disappointment. Prime is absent for nearly all of the film and shows up in the last 20 minutes and his stint at being evil lasts a little more than 5 minutes and is solved by the 2017 equivelant of the "Martha" moment from Batman V Superman. I was shocked and appalled.

Oh, there is a huge and misguided mistake The Last Knight made, and this is the changing aspect ratios. Jesus Christ, what a distracting mess that was. Every scene the aspect ratio changes from shot to shot, giving the film an irritating and inconsistent visual style. I don't know what the fuck Bay was thinking? I know he's a self-inulgent twat, but who let him do this? In what possible way would this be a good idea to anyone? I was hoping this would stop being noticeable after a few minutes, but I was reminded of it through the entire 150 minute runtime.

I feel I should comment on the action, because for some reason, people seem to think that the Transformers films are somehow worth it for the action. It's not, it was another round of boring and bombastic explosions that left no impact, ruined by muddled editing and that annoying aspect ratio mess. There are some good ideas lying within the action, like the brief moment of Bumblebee fighting Nazis, but it was over far too soon to make any sort of impact. The rest of action is just as soul-draining, relentless and as boring as the rest of this mess. Hell, at least the visual effects were better than the last one.

Please let The Last Knight be the final film Michael Bay ever touches in this series. I honestly don't know how much more I can take. Fuck, I don't even know how much I even like films anymore after this incoherrent, boring, overlong and self-indulgent mess. Fuck you, Michael Bay.


2/10 Dans

Transformers: The Last Knight is out now in cinemas in the UK
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Monday, 26 June 2017

Logan (2017) - Film Review

Review:

*Originally written February 28th, 2017*

"Don't be what they made you"

If there was any film likely to leave me in tears this year in the cinema, it was going to be Logan. Hugh Jackman's swansong to the X-Men franchise and to the character of Wolverine he'd been playing for 17 years. Logan is a character I've been watching since I was 4 years old back in 2000, so in many ways it felt like the end of my childhood.

Thankfully, Logan is a film that has matured with its audience that had been watching X-Men since their early years. It's a dark, miserable and depressing film and barely resembles a single superhero film of recent years. I'll also say seriously that this is the best superhero film since The Dark Knight, possibly even better.

This was a beautiful, powerful and violent send-off that worked far better than I ever possibly could have imagined. Hugh Jackman plays a far older, broken and worn down Wolverine whose healing powers don't work very well anymore and has to look after a dementia stricken Professor Xavier who is prone to dangerous psychological outbursts. Logan ends up reluctantly having to look after and take a clone of himself in the form of a young girl he has to take to sanctuary while being hunted by a military group.

Where Logan differs itself from other superhero films is its tone and content. While Deadpool was a violent and crude film, Logan is far more mature, resonate and powerful. This is not a kids film, not just due to the adult content, but the bleak and miserable tone throughout.

It's really sad to see these characters you grew up with in such a broken state. Logan is a borderline alcoholic reduced to being a limo driver, while Xavier is a shadow of his former self. It's heartbreaking stuff that works so well thanks to the incredible performances from Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart. They manage to mix superhero nonsense with genuine heart, warmth, tragedy and even comedy at times. It's all so bittersweet, but it works.

They're joined by a star making turn from Dafne Keen as 'Laura' a near mute clone of Logan who is on the run from a military group. While barely saying anything, Keen brings so much to the role, delivering a really touching father-daughter relationship Logan had been unable to have throughout his whole tragic life. What's even more impressive is the fact this is only Keen's second role in her entire career and she nearly stole the show from Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart. This is probably the best child performance I've seen since Chloe Grace Moretz in Kick-Ass.


The Office/Extras writer Stephen Merchant also gave a memorable turn as Caliban, a pale albino mutant who brings a lighter tone to some of Logan's more bleak outlook. He's essentially doing what he usually does, but with some makeup on. Anyway, it was nice to see him a huge blockbuster film for once. He earns it more than his co-writer Ricky Gervais. And now I just imagined an alternate universe where Gervais was in this too...

James Mangold takes on directorial duties as he did with the previous Wolverine outing 'The Wolverine' in 2013, which was a bit of a mess, but at least better than 2009's 'X-Men Origins: Wolverine'. Logan thankfully does not suffer from the same pitfalls as Mangold's last effort with the Wolverine character. Probably due to the fact he was allowed creative control to make a violent, R-rated send-off that lacks a bombastic CGI heavy finale.

All the action in Logan feels small and contained, but is brutal and hard-hitting at the same time. It was so satisfying to see Wolverine actually cut people up into gory messes. While extremely violent, it all works within the tone of the film. I wasn't a massive fan of the frequent swearing at the beginning of the film, but that soon wore off and they toned it down.

Mangold directs the action scenes with kinetic beauty, making use of both Wolverine and Laura in some visually beautiful action scenes. The cinematography of Logan feels closer to No Country for Old Men than it does a superhero film. Logan has the vibe of a neo-western and looks gorgeous, full of nice looking deserts and even a trip to Las Vegas.


Without spoiling anything, I'd honestly be okay if this was the ending to the X-Men series as a whole. It leaves things in such a powerful and perfect way that I was tearing up. While this is the end of Hugh Jackman's run as Wolverine, it also feels like the end point of the X-Men we all grew up with, and it managed to do it all perfectly.

Logan is a powerful, violent and beautiful send-off for Hugh Jackman's 17 year run as Logan. It's also one of the best superhero films of all-time and likely to be one of the best films of 2017. I really hope there's Oscar considerations for Logan for next years awards.

10/10 Dans

Logan is out July 10th in the UK on 4K UHD, Blu-ray and DVD
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Sunday, 25 June 2017

The Fast and Furious (2001) - Film Review

Review:

*Originally written January 2nd, 2016*

"Live life a quarter mile at a time" Whatever that means.

It's always interesting to go back and watch films you loved from your childhood only to find out they are quite terrible. The most fascinating thing about The Fast and Furious is just how different it is from the later sequels, it's much more grounded and toned down, but also quite lame and cheesy.

The story is a complete knock-off of Point Break. Paul Walker plays a cop who goes undercover to take down Vin Diesel's street racing circuit, but finds himself getting in way too deep with the people he is meant to be taking down.

It's simple stuff that just reeked of '90s cheese, complete with awful and outdated CGI. Although some of the later action scenes like the truck heist at the end were pretty solid. It's probably unfair to compare the action to the creativity of the later films, but this first entry just feels really uninspired. The editing also feels so outdated and they try and make some of the scenes seem dramatic, but the execution is laughable and cringe worthy at best.


While they try and make you care about these characters to tell a story that is nowhere near as engaging as similar films, it fails dramatically. I haven't seen this in years and I remember next to nothing about it. It feels like one of those films that should have faded into obscurity, but somehow didn't and is now part of a billion dollar franchise.

Tonally it is different from any of the others too, this one feels far more gritty and violent and there's a few more f-bombs too. When people get shot they get a large bloody wound on them and actually get hurt in car crashes, a far cry from the superheroes they are today.

I guess this is the film that made stars of Vin Diesel and Paul Walker too. They are both terrible. 
 Maybe terrible is harsh, Walker isn't bad exactly, but he really was quite bland. Then we had Diesel, who doesn't do much other than try and sound serious with his 'milk bubble' voice. It was just so bad.

The Fast and Furious is far more interesting to watch ironically and to see where this series started, but it really isn't good at all. I don't even like Point Break, but I'd just say watch that instead.

4/10 Dans

The Fast and Furious is out now on Blu-ray and DVD in the UK
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Mission Impossible - Rogue Nation (2015) - Film Review

Review: *Originally written August 7th, 2015* "Cruising" Ditching the cartoony fun that Brad Bird bought to the franchise...