Monthly Archives: August 2016

Suicide Squad

The Best of the Worst

Suicide Squad. If you listen to some DC super fans this was an incredible achievement that is only paralleled by unicorns shooting rainbows out of their horn and pooping skittles. On the other hand if you listen to a lot of critics they will claim it’s an affront on film as a medium and something that is so bad that your eyes will crust over and your brain will dissolve and leak out of your ear.

In reality it’s somewhere between the two. There are absolutely worse films than this. There are absolutely worse superhero films than this. You only have to re-wind a few months to the drab BVS or a few months further to have the Fantastic Four confirm this.

Suicide squad is structured a bit like Craptastic Four in that it starts quite strongly but then gives up half way through, hides at the bottom of a well and gently sobs itself to sleep.

The initial recruitment montage is pretty good. It holds that fun, fast paced bubblegum hyper-violence that the trailers promised and apart from a rather awkward and forced cameo from the Bat it’s exactly the sort of thing we were looking for.

Very quickly we are introduced to the best of the worst of humanity and characters that you’ve probably never heard of unless you read DC’s fiction. Diablo (Jay Hernandez)? Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney)? How about the commander in chief Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) anyone? No?!

These quick introductions are great because it provides a surprisingly good basis from which to build the characters whilst keeping it fun and fresh. However, equal screen time and story is given to everyone and as a result exactly none of our anti-heroes ever truly feel whole. In fact those who do get less screen time such as Katana (Karen Fukuhara) feel as deep as a PowerPoint presentation. “Name: Katana. Japanese. She traps souls in her sword and cries. This graph shows our cumulative growth patterns and here’s a motivational quote.”

On the flip side is Deadshot (Will Smith) who is incredibly likeable and how could he not be? This is the most “Will Smith” performance from Will Smith in a long time.

Thankfully it’s not overpowering. This isn’t Will Smith and a bunch of other losers because we also have Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) who is almost certainly the best thing in the movie.

Not only because of her skimpy outfits, but man… them outfits!

Harley Quinn injects fun into the film even when it’s plummets into a pool of sewage towards the end. I just wish that her loud and kooky attitude was included as part of the squads background noise and not just that the comic-relief countdown timer has hit zero.

This is symptomatic of a film not really knowing what it wants to be. Guardians of the Galaxy had an unlikely cool team spirit but then again it should be grim and grizzly like BvS but then again… Deadpool was great. “Add in some comedy… and whilst you are at it you may as well add a world threatening enemy. X-Men did.”

Towards the end of the film the script needed to be tightened, the slow mo needed to be removed and most importantly the villain needed to be low-key, not all powerful. Strong enough to need superheroes but not powerful enough to need Batman and company. A perfect excuse to put the leashes on the squad and give them an introductory test run.

Instead, we get Enchantress (Cara Delavinge). The worst, overpowered, super villain who is defeated too easily ever depicted on film. She is a bullet proof, belly dancing, young/old smoke lady spirit thing with a swooshy whirlpool of death who can turn anyone (except the suicide squad apparently?!) into half granite, half blackberry people. And why? Because fuck you that’s why! Brilliant. Cheers for the explanation Warner Bros.

Suicide Squad is, however, worth a watch. Just set your expectations accordingly. I did, and when I left the cinema I felt entertained enough to not be disappointed. I am very much looking forward to a solo Harley Quinn film yet at the same time sceptical of any future DC film.

Has the DCEU thrown itself off a bridge? Not quite, but it is starting to feel like it’s hanging by a thread.

The Good, The Bad and The Outcome:

+ Will Smith
+ Cool recruitment montage
+ Harley Quinn

– Abysmal villain
– Some terrible scripting
– Doesn’t know what it want’s to be




Lofty Aspirations

I don’t know if it was the book or a cartoon or a TV show or a hand puppet show but I remember really loving the BFG when I was a kid. Hmmm. It couldn’t have been a book because I rarely read on account of me reading slower than the sloths from Zootopia.

Anyway, I was quietly optimistic about Steven Spielberg’s latest family friendly adventure. 

As it turns out that optimism was unfounded because the BFG lacks the charm and the magic that I was dearly hoping for and most of this can be laid at the hands of the two main stars; Mark Rylance who plays the BFG and Ruby Barnhill who plays Sophie.

Before you ask how many snozzcumbers I had to guzzle to hallucinate so vividly let me just say that there was nothing wrong with Mark Rylance as the BFG. He looks the part and anyone who saw Rylance absolutely smash it in 2015’s Bridge of Spies will be unsurprised to find out that he is fantastic once again.

The problem is that Steven Spielberg has removed the darker aspects of the BFG such as the children eating. Roald Dahl essentially writes fairy tales and if you look at all the best fairy tales there are often psychotic undercurrents or origins that probably shouldn’t be read to children ironically!

The removal of sweet, delicious, cannibalism means that Spielberg has tried to Disnefy Roald Dahl’s classic by accentuating the fairy part of the tale. In my eyes, Mark Rylance is too drab to be the architect of the fantastical.

The BFG catches dreams atop a huge hill in dream country in one of the most visually stunning moments of the film. He uses said dreams to give young children pleasant nights sleep. Very sweet but Rylance’s portrayal doesn’t hold the magic that the character suggests.

I think Sophie was even worse. I found Ruby Barnhill actually quite annoying and really you could have replaced her with almost any young well spoken British person and I wouldn’t have noticed.

it’s not all bad. There are fun moments. Seeing the other cannibal-not-cannibal giants playing with buses and cars like there were Matchbox toys or roller skates was only surpassed by an evening meal with the queen. A meal that featured a pitchfork a billion fried eggs and a bottle of frobscottle which induces more flatulence than a night of Dominos pizza and Stella Artois.

Of course the real star of the show is the script. I don’t remember the BFG well enough to say if this was thanks to Roald Dahl’s original story or whether it’s thanks to Melissa Matheson who wrote the screenplay. Either way it’s absolutely fantastic. Mispronunciation of every other word makes the BFG instantly adorable.

Unfortunately the film was waaay too long to keep my attention so I question how well younger viewers will fare. More importantly; the length of the film makes it feel less focused and therefore less magical so with the darkness glossed over The BFG feels flat. Perhaps if Guillermo Del Toro had directed this could have been spectacular.

The Good, The Bad and The Outcome:

+ Fantastic script
+ On screen Queen scene
+ Dream catching

– Darker would have been nicer
– Sophie
– Way too long


Jason Bourne

One Hundred Bourne Every Minute

Did I fall asleep and somehow wake up in the late 90’s? No? Well then I must have missed the memo saying that the whole shaky camera and epilepsy inducing editing was back in vogue because I thought we collectively agreed that style of film making was a bad fucking idea.

I can’t deny that there is something incredibly visceral and brutal about this style of film-making but it’s all in the imagination. There’s no way your brain can fully keep up with a hundred cuts per minute or make sense of what you are seeing so you fill in the gaps.

I realise I sound like your 90 year old neighbour complaining about your hippety-hop music but it’s not just me. I heard at least two or three other people leaving the cinema sharing the same sentiment: yeah it’s good but I couldn’t get on with all the shaky camera stuff.

If for some reason you actually like watching films in the middle of a tornado then you might really like Jason Bourne – especially if you liked the other films.

Don’t be turned off if you haven’t seen the previous films though because Jason Bourne seeds just enough flashbacks for anyone to follow the story without being too obtrusive. It’s a perfectly good place for newcomers to join the series.

That said Jason Bourne doesn’t really do very much at all to progress the story with the general plot being along the lines of “oh, Bourne has resurfaced and he still knows too much”. In fact some of the scripting is almost that generic as well with many of the main characters talking in pseudo-spy. A key example of this is another government agent like Bourne (Matt Damon) who is simply called “Agent”. How stupid would it be to have a dog called “Dog”? Fuck it, from now on just call me “Nickname”.

Thankfully; Agent (Vincent Cassel) is a greater than his alias suggests. He is essentially a grittier and more remorseless version of Bourne with Cassel playing the character with laser focus.

It’s not just Cassel who produces an excellent performance. Alicia Vikander is excellent as ever in her role as Heather Lee a young, determined member of the CIA who is determined to prove herself and rise through the ranks underneath the Director of the CIA Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones). It’s a bit of a weird pairing but the constant power struggles between these two frenemies is often more interesting than the on-screen action which has historically been Bourne’s strong point.

Overall this really does feel like another well produced and (mostly) well written film from Paul Greengrass. It has the right ratio of political intrigue, action and drama but it really does suffer from very convenient espionage, the action being filmed inside an earthquake simulator and death by a thousand cuts.

The Good, The Bad and The Outcome:

+ Remorseless Villain
+ You don’t need to see the previous films
+ Alicia Vikander

– Too many edits per minute
– (Un)Steadycam work
– Generic spy film dialogue


Finding Dory

Still A-Dory-ble

The great thing about Finding Dory is that it’s basically Finding Nemo complete with almost all the charm of the original film which, to me, is still the best animated film going. The bad thing about finding Dory is that the whole joke of having short-term memory loss starts to wear thing very quickly.

That said, what’s great about Finding Dory that it’s basically Finding Nemo complete with almost all the charm of the original film!

It’ll come as no surprise that writer/director Andrew Stanton cannot hit the heights of Finding Nemo neither in the quality of story-telling nor in its emotional resonance because the original was such a perfect slice of animation.

The story of Finding Dory is not so much a case of ‘finding’ in a physical sense but more in the sense of a gap year student taking a year off in Thailand to learn yoga, grow dreadlocks and generally find yourself, dude. It’s a promising concept but one that is difficult to connect with, especially when the main character keeps forgetting that that’s what she is trying to do.

What we are left with is a thoroughly entertaining tale but one that is less critical, less important, than that of its predecessor. It is important to remember that a lot of Nemo’s charm was its characters. In this respect Finding Dory is very much playing the same tuna.

It’s a good job that I’m not in charge of these characters otherwise you would have had an agoraphobic crab, a short tempered electric eel or a swordfish with tourettes. Not ideal for kids.

Thankfully I don’t make these decisions and we get Destiny who is an extremely short sighted whale in a sea life museum. Unlike Dory’s affliction Destiny’s actually becomes funnier and funnier as she continually smashes head first into the holding pen’s furniture.

For me though it’s Hank the Octopus who was the best addition to the gang. Hank is grumpy and devious enough to give his character depth but is soft enough to fall for Dory’s unrelenting, cheery optimism.

Hank also becomes the vehicle for most of the best action the film has to offer thanks to his unique dexterous shape-shifting, colour-changing ability. He’s able to use his prehensile appendages to open doors, grab objects and swing on whatever there is to swing from.

Maybe I’m suffering from memory loss as well (in fact I probably am, my memory is terrible) but I swear I have seen a cartoon of an escaping octopus pretending to be plants because these scenes were familiar, beautifully animated and even somehow comforting.

If you need another reason to go see Finding Dory then go see it for the absolutely stunning short that is being shown beforehand. It’s called Piper. It’s probably already on the yoochoobz and I highly recommend you give it a watch. It’s guaranteed to make you smile.

Even if you don’t watch the short be sure to check out Finding Dory complete with its fantastic new characters making it comparable to Finding Nemo complete with almost all the charm of the original film yet missing some of the necessity of it.

Wait… have I already said that?!

The Good, The Bad and The Outcome:

+ Hank
+ Destiny
+ It’s beautiful
+ Piper – Short film

– The story isn’t as
– Memory loss humour wears thin


Star Trek Beyond

Team Me Up Scotty

A long time ago in a galaxy far far away was a completely different franchise.

I don’t mean that to be some sort of self-ironic play on intergalactic movie series, what I actually mean is Star Trek Beyond is almost unrecognisable from Star Trek: Into Darkness and if it wasn’t for Captain Kirk and Spock you would be forgiven for thinking they were two different franchises.

If you are one of those people who hated the second film then you’ll love Star Trek Beyond. If, like me, you are one of those emotionally inept morons who actually really liked Star Trek: Into Darkness then good news! you’ll still really like this film.

Beyond is a solid film. As solid as the USS Enterprise. Actually, scrap that. The Enterprise gets torn open quicker and easier than a pack of Jelly Belly jelly beans in the hands of a fat kid in one of the films most visually stunning and exciting scenes that sets the tone for the rest of the film: it’s big, it’s fun, it’s what a big budget Star Trek film should be.

The destruction of the Enterprise comes at the hands of Krall (Idris Elba) who is a bit of a mixed bag. As a villain Krall is fantastic. Menacing, unforgiving and relentless. As a character he’s about as interesting as an insurance salesman because his motives and history simply don’t match up to his intent.

Krall isn’t the only disappointing character. There is too much screen-time for Scotty (Simon Pegg) who is best utilised as an exclamation mark – the odd moment of comic relief.

It’s quite funny that the script was written by Simon Pegg because I wonder how much he wrote himself in the film: a few extra lines here a bump of the paycheck there and voila!

The problem is that Scotty isn’t the enigmatic character that the camera really wants to linger on. Previously that accolade would have gone to captain Kirk (Chris Pine) or Bones (Karl Urban) but in Star Trek Beyond it’s all about Jaylah (Sofia Boutella) who is a new addition to our intrepid band of explorers.

What I loved about Jaylah is not only her instantly recognisable look that wouldn’t be out of place in a Star Wars film but also her rebellious streak which cuts right through the crew’s often stuffy dynamic yet is somehow complimentary at the same time. I would love to see her being a recurring character.

Director Justin Lin – famous for not much more than some of the Fast & Furious films – has clearly tried to bring more of a team dynamic to this latest adventure making it more than just the Kirk and Spock show. Whilst it’s not perfect it’s better than the tributes that are paid to Anton Yelchin and more specifically to Leonard Nimoy.

Ironically; Nimoy’s tribute is only marginally better than Fast & Furious’ tribute to Paul Walker because it has all the subtlety of an American on holiday. But don’t be put off by that because there is still a lot of other worthwhile things to see.

The Good, The Bad and The Outcome:

+ Visually impressive
+ Jaylah
+ Great team dynamic

– Krall’s back story
– Too much Simon Pegg
– Tributes


Ice Age: Collision Course

Extinction Imminent

The normal trend for most animated films seems to be that you create a decent original film, follow it up with a questionable sequel then just to call it Betty and milk it as hard as you can with straight to DVD films – let’s face it, kids will watch anything!

It’s quite impressive that Collision course is the 5th film in the Ice Age franchise to hit the big screen however, this feels very much like track 15 off of any greatest hits album because yeah; it’s Ice Age, but it offers nothing new.

The above is a really accurate analysis of the film so cue another 300 words of me waffling on like I’m trying to pad out a PowerPoint presentation!

If you have a child they will undoubtedly love this, there are funny animal characters and action scenes and Scrat chasing an acorn – it really is standard Ice Age stuff.

The most striking change to the series was that the focus wasn’t so much about the unlikely friendship between Sid (John Leguizamo), Diego (Dennis leary) and Manny (Ray Romano) which, in my book, was the most enjoyable part of the films.

Instead the story revolves around Manny’s family values whilst Sid sort of does his own thing and Diego is hardly even in it. In fact, Buck (Simon Pegg) who we first saw in Ice Age Dawn of the Dinosaurs plays a bigger part than Diego.

That’s almost a fair trade off because Buck is quite hilarious but it’s a bit like going to a Foo Fighters gig only to find out that it’s actually a Wu Tang Clan gig featuring the Foo Fighters – it’s just not quite what I was hoping for.

Because there isn’t a coherent narrative between the main protagonists the story doesn’t feel as tight as previous films but I suppose it doesn’t help that the idea of some animals managing to stop a massive comet from impacting the earth isn’t quite as grounded as the planet hitting an Ice Age.

Scrats adventures with his acorn follows this theme of the fantastical as he accidentally gets into a spaceship which forces him to moonwalk (not in the Michael Jackson sense) and battle varying degrees of face warping gravity (a bit like Michael Jackson ironically) in order to keep hold of his precious.

All in all I can’t help but wonder if this film Sid-nals the death of the series because it felt like the writers were Scrat-ching around in the dirt and finding very little inspiration… don’t worry i’ll Die-go now before I make too Manny other bad puns.

The Good, The Bad and The Outcome:

+ Fun for kids
+ Standard Ice Age stuff

– Offers nothing new
– Feels like the death of the series
– UFO?!