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Showing posts from 2018

Bumblebee (2018) - Review

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Somewhere between 'Aquaman', 'Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse', 'Mary Poppins Returns' and...the rest, I feel like 'Bumblebee' has been pushed to the side out of all of this year's Christmas releases. The film is *gradually* making money, but I think the lack of interest stems from the quality of the previous films; I think once people realise that 'Bumblebee' is a genuinely great film, it will actually find greater success. The new posters I've seen for it have emphasised its positive reviews, but here I am to tell you that yes, 'Bumblebee' is really, really good and you should go and see it - especially if you have kids.
The story opens with a prologue on Cybertron, introducing us to the war between the Autobots and the Decepticons. With flowing camerawork, slightly clunky 80's-style designs and bright, vivid colours, this sequence alone stands out from Michael Bay's five (how on earth are there five?) films. Bumbleb…

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) - Review

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I'm struggling to work out how to start this review of 'Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse', because not only is it the best Spider-Man film in 14 years, but it's also one of the best films I've seen this year. No, seriously. This is an incredible piece of cinema that I highly recommend watching if you have any interest in it whatsoever, and I am really hoping that there's a big IMAX 3D screening somewhere near me soon - 'Into the Spider-Verse' deserves to be seen on the biggest screen possible.
Whilst I enjoyed 'Spider-Man: Homecoming' last year, I felt that the screenplay could've been tightened and that six films later, Jon Watts has produced the least visually interesting Spider-Man film of the lot. Funny how 'Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse' improves on every problem I had with that film. This is a gorgeous film to look at, with absolutely incredible animation that is directed with a sense of energy, artistic flair but also ve…

Aquaman (2018) - Review

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It's hard to imagine that James Wan's 'Aquaman' would've arrived as fully-formed and utterly bonkers as it is prior to Marvel Studios' world takeover. Prior to the juggernaut successes of the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy, Warner Bros Pictures would have more than likely favoured a down-to-earth, serious version of the story - why else did they cast Jason Momoa for Zack Snyder's ultra-serious 'Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice'? Thankfully, Momoa has some comedy chops, and James Wan went ahead and made the first Aquaman film a hell of a ride.

'Aquaman' is a very busy film at the end of the day, trying to remain a standalone entry whilst also following on from last year's 'Justice League' in a "we don't know if 'Justice League' was successful yet so we'll mention it and then carry on like normal" sort of way. In part because the character was left so underdeveloped in his team-up movie though…

Doctor Who: The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos (2018) - Review

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Here we are then. Ten weeks later and Doctor Who's eleventh / thirty-seventh series has reached an end in 'The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos'...and everyone seems a bit disappointed with it.

To be fair, this episode isn't really the sort of series finale we've been used to from Doctor Who in recent years. We expect a whole army of Daleks, or Daleks vs Cybermen, or the Master, or Davros and the Daleks, or the Daleks teaming up with the Doctor's other foes, or the Master/Missy teaming up with the Cybermen, or the Master, Missy and the Cybermen, or...hang on, this is feeling a bit repetitive somehow. It makes sense for Chris Chibnall to re-work the finale into a conclusion for its characters. Ryan and Graham confront Tim Shaw (who teleported away in Episode 1), and grow closer because of it. Graham's determination to kill Tim Shaw is very much the crux of the episode, but his decision not to felt like a key development in his shared arc with Ryan, whom he has f…

Doctor Who: It Takes You Away (2018) - Review

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I feel like I need to re-watch 'It Takes You Away', mainly because the episode went in a direction that caught me completely off-guard. Most, if not all of my expectations were subverted, so much so that I'm not entirely sure if these twists really worked in the episode's favour.

So, 'It Takes You Away' starts off with Team TARDIS trying to help a little girl whose father has gone missing and is surrounded by some kind of sinister creature. It turns out that a mirror in the house is a gateway to an Anti-Zone, which is a pathway to a mirror universe. Ryan discovers that there is no sinister creature around the house, and that the girl's father has been keeping her trapped, while the Doctor, Yaz and Graham journey through the Anti-Zone, meeting a sinister guide Ribbons and encountering deadly flesh-eating moths. Arriving in the mirror universe, the Doctor and everyone else realise that inside, their loved ones have been resurrected. The girl's father Eri…

Marvel's Daredevil: Season 3 - Review

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As I finished the third season of Marvel's Daredevil this weekend, it was admittedly with a tinge of sadness, knowing that this would be the last season of the show, and that Episode 13 would serve forever more as the show's series finale, not just a season finale. Despite the criticisms hurled at Marvel and Netflix's co-productions, I feel that they managed to create something really special as a whole. It was an experiment that people invested in, but now seems to be without an ending. If rumours are to be believed, after next year's Jessica Jones: Season 3, the Marvel/Netflix-verse will be no more.

But if we're being honest here, Daredevil was always the best of these shows - despite its rocky second season. The characters were likable, complex and well-defined with clear roles in the stories; the villains were (mostly) brilliant; the production values excellent; and the fight sequences incredible. We had a strong hero, a strong villain, and a strong conflict t…

Doctor Who: The Witchfinders (2018) - Review

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Just give Alan Cumming his BAFTA now. I mean, no wonder he spent most of the episode outside - there probably wasn't much scenery left to chew after his first scene!
I was initially very apprehensive about 'The Witchfinders'. The trailer made it look very confined with an emphasis on a very human threat, and very much exactly what the series has been delivering most weeks since 7th October. I wanted monsters, dammit! Proper scary monsters! The early reviews weren't too favourable either, questioning the episode's tonal decisions, which didn't encourage me very much either.
Teaches me to judge a book by its cover. 'The Witchfinders' is my favourite episode of Series 11 so far, so much so that I just had to re-watch it this morning to double-check - and yeah, it's pretty darn good. There was action! Suspense! Drama! Horror! Scary monsters! Hammy dialogue! Oh, and Jodie Whittaker mastering her way through the whole thing like a pro. I think this might…

Doctor Who: Kerblam! (2018) - Review

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A distinct criticism of this current series of Doctor Who has been that each episode has been lacking in a strong villain, and instead focuses on characters going up against less black-and-white antagonists or antagonistic forces. Sure, we had Tim Shaw in the very first episode, and Krasko in 'Rosa', but neither left much of an impression. The best alien so far has been the Pting, but that's not exactly a villain. Part of the problem manifests in the stories being told: Episode 1 needs a one-dimensional villain to flesh-out the heroes, 'Rosa' and 'Demons of the Punjab' tread potentially difficult ground in creating proper villains, and 'The Tsuranga Conundrum' tries to play on expectations with a more cute-and-cuddly monster. Ultimately I feel that 'The Ghost Monument' and 'Arachnids in the UK' needed definitive villains or monsters for the Doctor and co to fight off, and I'm slightly disappointed to say that 'Kerblam!' …

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018) - Review

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At the very beginning of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, the new logo for JK Rowling's Wizarding World appears - a reminder (or perhaps threat) of the fact that the Harry Potter series no longer consists of just Harry's story, but now that of a variety of other characters. A spin-off series was inevitable, but Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was a lovely little film in itself: a quirky little adventure film with likable characters, jokes and monsters. It may not have been up there with the likes of the Harry Potter series, but it was never going to be. It didn't feel like an awkward franchise-starter, first-and-foremost, with references to Grindelwald and Dumbledore kept somewhat at arm's length. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, however, very clearly establishes itself as a franchise film, the follow-up to the previous Fantastic Beasts entry and a prequel to the Harry Potter series, and ultimately falls apart because of it.

No longer i…

Doctor Who: Demons of the Punjab (2018) - Review

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One of the many benefits of having a diverse range of writers working on Doctor Who is that each writer can bring a completely different perspective, and from that a completely new set of ideas for the show that no other writers could really contribute. This week's guest writer Vinay Patel has clearly decided to make his episode of Doctor Who with 'Demons of the Punjab', exploring a culture and history that is rarely approached in mainstream media in this country. I knew next-to-nothing about the partition of India prior to watching this episode, but Patel's script presented a wonderfully-realised look at a real historical event.

Unlike 'Rosa', which I felt took a huge topic and never quite managed to simplify it to fifty minutes of television, 'Demons of the Punjab' re-contextualises a historical event from the perspective of one family, and a small one at that. Each character brings a differing perspective on these real-life events in the episode, an…

Doctor Who: The Tsuranga Conundrum (2018) - Review

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This week on Doctor Who, a medical freighter gets attacked by a little green Stitch who fancies a snack, and a grown man gives birth to a baby called Avacado. In many ways, it's not surprising that a large number of Doctor Who fans have voiced their outrage at such a silly episode - I just find it a little disappointing to hear so much about how 'The Tsuranga Conundrum' is "the worst episode since [X]". On the plus side though, I quite enjoyed it.

The Pting is probably the best monster we've seen so far this series, being a wonderful blend of freaky, adorable and inadvertently menacing. The final shot of it floating off into space with a bright orange belly and a grin on it's face really made me smile, and I can't see that as anything other than a point in its favour. Ultimately though, the Pting reminded me of how lackluster Series 11's monsters have been so far: the Stenza were average, the robots uninteresting, the Remnants a bit silly and the…

Doctor Who: Arachnids in the UK (2018) - Review

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With a premise like 'Arachnids in the UK', Doctor Who can go down the route of terrifying creature feature or make a big old silly B-movie monster flick, and for some reason decides to blend the latter with important character drama central to the rest of the series... I mean, it worked for 'Aliens of London', so why not?

Despite having very little to work with in previous episodes, Yaz finally gets some more character background in this episode with the introduction of her family, but it all feels a little bit tacked-on. Its as though Chibnall realised that Yaz had nothing to work with and so decided to work in a family sub-plot (and it really feels like a sub-plot) into this episode because it was the only present day one for a while. Now, on the one hand, that's fine, but after a while I started to wonder if Yaz's mum and the scientist-whose-name-I-really-can't-remember were almost entirely interchangeable exposition machines with the only difference be…

Doctor Who: Rosa (2018) - Review

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Last night's episode of Doctor Who has been acclaimed as the greatest the show's given us in (at least) a decade, and potentially one of the best ever. It's a huge risk for the BBC and the series itself, and it seems to have paid-off as the most acclaimed episode of Who in recent memory. So, when I came out of 'Rosa' thinking that it wasn't perfect, I don't mean to say that the episode was terrible. Or average. Or anything like that. It was a great episode, but I felt that it was a little underdeveloped in some areas. Perhaps tackling themes of time travel, racism, segregation and Rosa Parks in one episode overwhelmed the story. With so many directions one could take with it, what do you choose to do?

Upon re-watching the episode, I understood that writers Malorie Blackman and Chris Chibnall endeavoured to emphasise the companions' stories in this episode as opposed to Rosa Parks', or anyone else's. Ryan really suffers the harsh reality of segr…

Doctor Who: The Ghost Monument (2018) - Review

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Please note that this review has been written shortly after viewing the episode, so my opinions may or may not change with multiple viewings and a fresh perspective.

Wait for it...wait for it...BAM! New title sequence, baby! Oh, and what a title sequence it is. That new time vortex looks incredible, and the effects work looks so much sharper than Peter Capaldi's. While it is much more minimalist by the standards of 21st Century Who, I do appreciate that element - even if I am curious to see whether or not the TARDIS will show up in next week's titles.

Speaking of the TARDIS...I have opinions. Firstly, the exterior Police Box looks lovely. Really nice new paint scheme, cool to see the darker door sign return, and the blue lamp is much more striking somehow. The shape looks a little strange to me, and I can't help but wonder if it should be slightly thinner, but given our larger TARDIS crew, I suspect that that encouraged the production designer to make a larger box to fit t…

Marvel's Iron Fist: Season 2 - Episodes 4-10 Review

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Somehow amidst everything that's happened over the past month I completely forgot to finish reviewing Marvel's Iron Fist: Season 2, so here goes...

Looking back over the season as a whole, the biggest problem with Marvel's Iron Fist as a show is that is seems to be in constant contradiction with itself. It's a superhero show, but Danny Rand rarely uses the Fist and doesn't have a superhero costume. It's a street-level vigilante show, but Danny Rand has a superpower that can take out almost anyone trying to attack him, and can also fend-off any financial issues because he's the son of a billionaire. It's a martial-arts show, but the series tries to stray away from the cultural influences of traditional martial-arts stories and incorporate the superhero and vigilante elements. A series like this needs a certain amount of focus to really work, and Marvel's Iron Fist just doesn't do that.

What would I do to improve this season? Firstly, give Danny …

Doctor Who: The Woman Who Fell To Earth (2018) - Review

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Doctor Who rocketed onto our television screens last night after (yet another) eighteen month hiatus with...a guy trying to ride a bike. Chris Chibnall's opening episode, 'The Woman Who Fell To Earth', is filled with subtle, small-scale character moments like this. Ryan talking about "the greatest woman [he's] ever met"; Graham's heartfelt speech at the funeral; Grace recognising Yaz from Ryan's school ("hello Ryan's nan!"); and the Doctor's little speech about her family near the end. Amongst all the alien shenanigans you expect from Doctor Who, there are these smaller moments built on character in a way I haven't really seen the show do for a long time.

Whilst Bill and Nardole were unique and likable characters, neither of them had character arcs, while Clara's character arcs never felt fully-formed or were contradicted at the last second. Even Amy's character journey seemed to have concluded by the end of Series 5, wh…

X-Men: Dark Phoenix (2019) - Trailer Reaction

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After being delayed from it's November 2018 release and rumours circling of a straight-up cancellation, Fox has finally reaffirmed that X-Men: Dark Phoenix will be released on 14th February 2019, and have unveiled the very first trailer for the film. They've also confirmed that the US title will simply be Dark Phoenix, while the UK title will actually include the X-Men main title, which is...confusing. I mean, this is clearly an X-Men movie as opposed to a spin-off. What's wrong with including the X-Men label?

Regardless of Fox's strange title decision, and a whole ten months after Entertainment Weekly previewed it for its November 2018 release, the trailer is out and...it's a teaser. I don't think Fox have really made it clear that this is a teaser trailer, but that's essentially what it is. Lots of slow moody shots, vague ominous dialogue, no exciting reveals and very few visual effects shots.

Saying that though, didn't this movie finish shooting abou…

Killing Eve: Season 1 - Written Review

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Last Friday I started watching Killing Eve on BBC iPlayer. It's now Monday, and I've just finished watching the eighth and final episode of the series. I might have just been a little bit *too* into it.

For those who haven't heard of the series, Killing Eve follows Vilanelle, a young assassin working for a mysterious organisation. Her childish glee extends to both nice clothes, murder and interesting people, and no one's more interesting to Vilanelle than Eve Polastri, an MI5 agent investigating her murders. Eve might have just worked out who Vilanelle is, but needs all the help she can get if she'll have any chance of finding and stopping her.

The series is based upon a novella series by Luke Jennings, and has been developed for television by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, incorporating a very strange, almost whimsical style and black humour. Some may be put-off by the frequent gags, but the show's humorous sensibilities separate it from other thrillers on TV at the m…

Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan: Season 1 - Written Review

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After what felt like months of advertisements, Amazon finally released their original series Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan last month and...it's fine. Just fine. I mean, considering how much they seemed to be pushing it, I was expecting something much more impressive. Amazon have been trying to make a big event series to compete with Netflix for some time now, but I don't feel like any of their shows have really taken off. Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan seems to be the biggest series Amazon have made so far, but having watched the first season in its entirety, I have to say that it's far from the blockbuster Amazon seemed to be selling.

Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan: Season 1 is quite methodically-paced across its eight episode run. It isn't constantly working in big action sequences in an effort to feel more like a mainstream blockbuster, but because of the lack of action, most of the show consists of characters talking. There's very little in the way of visual story-tellin…

Captain Marvel (2019) - Teaser Trailer Reaction

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Am I allowed to say I really liked this trailer? Cos I really liked this trailer.

For the record, Captain Marvel is, and has been, my most anticipated Marvel film for a little while now, mostly because it just sounds like a general film I'd be interested in watching. I mean, the story is Brie Larson fighting space aliens. Plus, the movie's got a really, really good cast (most of whom aren't shown off in this new teaser) and intends to tell the story from the perspective of "yeah, Carol Danvers has got powers already, so what?", which after seeing so many origin stories (and that's just in the superhero sub-genre), is quite refreshing. I've got no idea what relation this has to the comics other than that Captain Marvel's costume looks like her's, and her iconic helmet briefly features. Other than that, I think the green aliens are shape-shifters...?

If there was one element I was hesitant about, it was the directors Ana Boden and Ryan Fleck, a duo…

The Predator (2018) - Written Review

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*Sigh*

This movie...

Initially I found the prospect of a Shane Black-directed Predator movie a really fun idea, despite having never seen the original 'Predator' (something I'll fix at a later date). The marketing had felt a little lackluster, but given that this was Shane Black I assumed that the trailers were watered-down advertisements for a much more exciting and original movie. I was wrong.

The first...I think maybe half of 'The Predator' is a really fun, old school monster movie, even as far as the opening titles. The big orchestral score, the amazing practical Predator suit, it all seemed to point the film in the right direction.

However, the editing in this film is incredibly choppy, with many scenes notable by their absence, and there's very little sense of structure. 'The Predator' jumps from character to character, location to location, with very little narrative progression until these plot threads *eventually* intertwine. Even when these p…

Marvel's Iron Fist: Season 2 - Episodes 1-3 Review

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The first season of Marvel's Iron Fist has been much derided since its release last year, but there's been a clear passion from people for what the show could've been. Enter M. Raven Metzner, a new showrunner determined to shake-up the series for the better, with much more of an emphasis on martial arts action and street-level heroism. The cinematography is more vibrant and colourful, the fights more slick and action-packed, and a new composer has been brought on to really showcase that this is indeed a fresh start for Iron Fist. I just wish the show had gone further with that.
For starters, "The Fury of Iron Fist" (an amazing title for a ho-hum episode) almost instantly places some drama around Rand boardroom logistics with a meeting between Joy, Danny and Ward. While this meeting is about Joy putting everything together for her plans with Davos, there's still a sense of "oh no, not another one of these". Had Metzner ended the meeting with someone…