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Gemini Man (2019) - Review

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I'm not sure if there's a right way to begin a review of 'Gemini Man' - the latest Ang Lee-directed, Will Smith-starring sci-fi blockbuster out in cinemas. The most intriguing twist in the film has rather naturally been spoiled on every posted, trailer and plot synopsis for the film - that being that Will Smith is hunted down by an assassin who is in fact his younger self in clone form - and beyond that, there's not really too much to say. As much as this has been sold as an Ang Lee / Will Smith film, 'Gemini Man' doesn't really show-off the talents of either its director or its lead star, and ultimately feels like a paint-by-numbers action thriller with a surprising caliber of talent behind it.
'Gemini Man' sees Will Smith as a generic, retired assassin, who quickly realises that he might have uncovered some kind of secret, and thus works with generic love interest / action heroine / exposition-dumper Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Benedict Wong …

Joker (2019) - Review

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To say that those who made 'Joker' had the best of intentions feels like a somewhat disingenuous statement given exactly who made this film. Its director Todd Phillips previously directed such classic comedies as 'The Hangover' trilogies and 'Due Date', and when people stopped laughing at his films, he decided to go for an Oscar and make a serious awards-bait comic book superhero spin-off film. His ambitions for awards glory led him to attain Joaquin Phoenix, renowned for his interests in art-house cinema and lack thereof in mainstream, as well as getting Martin Scorsese's name in the credits - no doubt as a means of silencing the claims that 'Joker' is trying to be like Scorsese's own filmography (see 'Taxi Driver', 'The King of Comedy', etc.). Phoenix wants to take the Oscar-worthy role of the Joker of course - Heath Ledger posthumously received a Best Supporting Actor award for his role as the clown prince of crime in 'Th…

Ad Astra (2019) - Review

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Taken from the Latin phrase for "to the stars", 'Ad Astra' seeks to journey back into the deep unknown of space in an existential story that ultimately unravels itself to be much more down-to-Earth and human than one might expect. That's not to say that the film avoids its space setting, or the assortment of creative world/Solar System-building that comes with it, but that it avoids venturing too far into the more fantastical elements of science-fiction. 'Ad Astra' seems to be at one point referencing 'Gravity', and at others '2001: A Space Odyssey'. It's more of a thought-provoking science-fiction film that builds a very believable future into the background of its central human narrative.
Set in the near future, 'Ad Astra' follows Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) as he is sent into space to investigate mysterious "surges" emitting from a space station orbiting Neptune. SpaceComm - an organisation interested in exploring the p…

Doctor Who: Mindwarp - Review (BFI Screening)

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With Doctor Who: The Collection - Season 23 releasing on Blu-ray on 7th October 2019, a special preview event for the boxset took place at the BFI Southbank on 14th September, including a screening of 'Doctor Who: Mindwarp', alongside a Q&A and signing. I was very lucky to attend, and was able to watch the extended edits of the four featured episodes, as well as some clips from some of the extras on the boxset, including 'The Doctor Who Cookbook Revisited', 'Behind the Sofa', an outtakes reel and two specially-made trailers for the Blu-ray.

'Mindwarp', for those who don't know, is the sort-of-nickname given to 'The Trial of a Time Lord' Parts Five through to Eight. 'The Trial of a Time Lord' itself was the umbrella title given to Doctor Who's twenty-third season, airing after an eighteen month hiatus (during which it was briefly cancelled by Michael Grade), which consisted of fourteen, twenty-five minute episodes. As with mo…

The Mandalorian - Trailer Reaction

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Exclusive to the upcoming streaming service Disney+, 'The Mandalorian' is a Star Wars spin-off series created by Jon Favreau, set between the films 'Return of the Jedi' and 'The Force Awakens'. With over thirty years of story material to dig into, 'The Mandalorian' focuses on a Mandalorian, as played by Pedro Pascal, in his adventures across the galaxy.

There are a number of things that make me excited for this new series. Firstly, it's a live-action Star Wars show, and it's one that seems to be focusing on extending the universe further, as opposed to focusing on pre-established characters. It's building the mythology of bounty hunters like Boba Fett further with a new central character, new ensemble cast and new story. Unlike 'Rogue One' or 'Solo', 'The Mandalorian' isn't there to tie directly into 'A New Hope', but instead sets itself in the thirty years of Star Wars we haven't really seen before, …

Once Upon a Time in...Hollywood (2019) - Review

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The ninth (apparently) film from Quentin Tarantino, 'Once Upon a Time in...Hollywood' is the legendary writer/director's tribute to late 60's Hollywood, from television to cinema, 160 minutes of call-backs, tributes and references, that also revolve around the murder of actress Sharon Tate (played by Margot Robbie here). Naturally, being a Quentin Tarantino film, the story doesn't play out quite as one would expect, and the potential criticisms with Tarantino turning a real-life tragedy into one of his films is certainly something the man himself tries to overcome with the finished film.

Set in 1969, 'Once Upon a Time in...Hollywood' follows ageing cowboy legend Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) struggling to propel himself back into stardom. Known for his turn as a classic cowboy in western series 'Bounty Law', Dalton has struggled to keep his career going beyond that, and with the help of his stuntman/driver Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), tries to figure…

Doctor in Distress? The Series 12 Conundrum

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Its difficult to be a Doctor Who fan on the internet without coming across outcries from certain members of the fan base about how "terrible" Series 11 was. Aired from 7th October 2018 to 1st January 2019, Series 11 (or Season 37) featured not only the show's first female lead with Jodie Whittaker as the Thirteenth Doctor, but a larger and more diverse ensemble cast with Bradley Walsh as Graham, Tosin Cole as Ryan and Mandip Gill as Yaz. This, coupled with the series' emphasis on real-world issues - including episodes focused on Rosa Parks, the Indian partition, 17th Century witch trials, a mock-Amazon company and a Trump-esque billionaire - caused many people to call the series "overly-political", in spite of the obvious argument that this was nothing new. Whilst some journalists will publish articles on "PC Who", many fans took this idea further, moaning about "SJW Doctor Who"...whatever that means.

For the record, Doctor Who has alwa…