Category Archives: Sci-fi

Assassins Creed

Bad Ass-assin

There are some really beautiful sweeping vistas of sepia toned Spanish cities from the middle ages in Assassins Creed that emblazens your imagination. Why the art director decided to hide these views under thick layers of fog and smoke and dust is not only beyond me but it’s symptomatic of the film simply missing the fucking point.

If you’ve played the games then you should probably avoid the film because it focuses more on Callum Lynch (Michael Fassbender) and his relationship with his dad than it does the perpetual fight between Templars and Assassins which is disappointing.

If you haven’t played the games then good luck because the lore is publicised as well as your local drug dealer’s P&L accounts.

Let me help.

There is an order of people called the Templars. You can think of them as your current government; they are the ruling classes and could care less about your liberties but hey, they do get shit done.

The Templars want rid of the Assassins who are rebels and freedom fighters. The good guys… as long as you are happy to overlook the whole merciless killing of power figures and any grunt foolish enough to do their job and try to keep the peace. Obviously you’re happy to do that because assassins are cool as shit!

Whilst this dichotomy of values between the two factions and indeed within themselves is only skirted over in the games it’s non-existent in the film. Sophia Rikkin (Marion Cotillard), Alan Rikkin (Jeremy Irons) in fact all Templars are one-dimensional “seedy” types and all the Assassins are moody and unlikable.

In the film the Templars are chasing the Apple of Eden which, again, isn’t really explained but it is a literal mind control device of mysterious and unknown origins. It’s been lost since the 1300s.

The Animus is a device that will help locate the Apple. It scrubs your DNA looking for “memories” of your ancestors and allows the user to re-live past events. In this case Cal’s ancestor was the last known person to hold the Apple so relive his life, find the Apple, control the people, rule supreme.

In the game you have to synchronise these memories which provides a loose set of universal laws to the game. You can’t wander too far from your intended location or die or fulfil your inner psychopath by killing everything in sight… unfortunately. Try it and you de-sync. Game over. Start again.

This could have been so brilliant to play with on screen. Think about how wonderful Edge of Tomorrow (or even Groundhog Day!) was simply by failing to fulfil your destiny. Lynch could have tried to run away at first. De-sync. Tell his fellow assassins they are ass hats. de-sync. Be rubbish at assassinating. De-sync. Started disco dancing in front of the town guard. De-sync.

What actually happens is he gets put in the Animus and instantly he is a total badass. What a let down. Where’s the learning curve? Where is the fun?!

At least, being a total bad-ass, means that you get to see some really cool action scenes and to their credit it does convey the freedom of movement and elaborate fight scenes found within the game but that isn’t good enough.

Director Justin Kurzel has managed to strip out almost everything that was interesting and unique about the Assassins Creed game series and settle for a middle of the road generic blockbuster. This film puts the ass in assassin and the mustn’t in Animus!

The Good, The Bad and The Outcome:

+ Unlikable characters
+ Epic scenery hidden by smoke and fog
+ Doesn’t explain the animus or the Templars or anything


– Awesome fight scenes
– Free running
– Some nice costume designs

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Arrival

Cunning Linguist

Arrivée. That is how you would say it in French.

Except for the fact that one of these pod things lands in France that fact has absolutely no relevance to the film. It does, however, hold relevance to my experience and enjoyment of the film so hold on to your chapeaux as I parle au sujet des langues.

As you may have guessed; I’m learning french at the minute. I think that’s one of the reasons why I liked Arrival. It isn’t about alien invasions and star warring – it’s about language and how it affects the way we see the world.

There’s a point in the film where Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) says to Louise Banks (Amy Adams) “do you dream in their language”. As soon as I heard this I was all in because I’ve had two dreams in French.

If this has never happened to you then let me tell you: it’s really, REALLY fucking weird. I knew it was real french because I could understand it, but only parts of it, just like my waking self. Think about it; your subconscious is fully talking to you in a language that you don’t properly know. In a way it’s haunting and, in a way, that’s what this film tries to portray.

Imagine how hard and terrifying it must be to be forced to learn a language from scratch, especially with a backdrop of potential extinction level events. No Google translate. No bilingual guy at work to steal a few free lessons from.

Arrivals slow aesthetics and scenes of isolation echoes the feeling when you are trying to understand what you are seeing and hearing, at times switching realities without you realising.

Adams and Renner reflects the audience’s struggle for comprehension and, whilst it helps that they are both captivating in their roles, I wonder if this will be lost on those who have no interest in learning another language? Then again, perhaps I’m projecting too much of myself on the film?

In any case, lasers going pew pew because this is a deliberate film. It knows what and how it want’s to deliver it’s message. At points this works in its favour such as the moment that they all enter the pod because you are left in suspense but at others you wish it would pick up the pace just a little and get to the point.

Weirdly though the key concept to the film is only mentioned in passing, making it incredibly easy to miss. Maybe those who are more intelligent people got it instantly, maybe some knuckle-draggers were just thinking “show me da boobs ‘n’ explosion!”. For myself I was half way to the car before it finally clicked.

I didn’t need that long to identify my biggest dislike though. Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker). The urgency at which he speaks to Banks seems to be completely independent of the journey that Banks and Donnelly are on. We see too little of the global crisis to understand his motivation so he comes across as a one dimensional a-hole.

Regardless of whether languages interest you the alien heptapod’s language should. It looks as modern and radical like graffiti yet combines meaning and inference into a single word similar to how German combines a million words into a single one such as “Rechtsschutzversicherungsgesellschaften”. Yes, that’s an actual, single, word.

Unfortunately Arrival isn’t as refreshing as the language it portrays but I found it deeply fascinating, if a little confusing, because of exactly that: language.

Fin.

The Good, The Bad and The Outcome:

+ If languages fascinate you
+ Cool graffiti looking circle language (technical term)
+ Deliberate and thoughtful


– At times, too slow
– Blink and you miss it reveal
– Forest Whitaker

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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

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Ghostbusters

Girlbusters!

When women got a little too over-excited by the sight of babies I used to say: “Ok… put your ovaries away!” but I think I need a new similar saying for those people who are needlessly sexist and/or defensive about things.

If you haven’t heard there was a LOT of buzz about this Ghostbusters film. So much so that the trailer was the most disliked trailer on YouTube. Was it really worse than Gangnam Style or the guy being amazed by a double rainbow? No. Of course not.

So why was it so hated? Well, there’s three main reasons. One: Some people simply didn’t like the trailer – fair enough. Two: Some people are fucking idiots. Three: Some people are fucking arseholes.

Those who fall into group 2 love the original Ghostbusters a little bit too much and probably want to wed Bill Murray or make gloop babies with Slimer. Anything that touches the hallowed ground of the original film is sinful whilst casually forgetting that Ghostbusters 2 is actually pretty bad.

Those who fall into group 3 are those people who think women can’t be role models whether they admit it or not. These are the sort of people who would gleefully look back at colonial times proclaiming them to be “the good ol’ days” and casually forgetting about the destruction of national identity, widespread theft and exploitation. You know, generally being a fucking arsehole!

What makes groups 2 and 3 even more frustrating is that half the damn population are crying out for this sort of positive representation  and more importantly the film is totally fine.

Writer director Paul Feig does an excellent job of keeping the film light-hearted and fun and I found myself laughing a lot more than I was actually expecting. Thankfully these comedic moments are mostly script driven so it avoids coming across as too cheesy.

The first half of the film is the funniest with some of the best moments coming from the sheer stupidity of Kevin who is effortlessly played by Chris Hemsworth. In my opinion though it is Kate McKinnon who steals the show as Jillian Holtzmann.

Holtzmann is effectively Egon from the original film only so much cooler. She has a devil-may-care attitude, underpinned by fierce intelligence and an engineering prowess that gives her a steam punk kind of vibe that I don’t think I’ve ever seen before in a film.

She also has a sexual confidence which will make many men want to be with her and many women want to be her. Such a strong and unique character can only be a good thing for equal representation in films.

Holtzmann isn’t, however, a one woman band and has to rely on her fellow colleagues Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig), Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) and Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones) who all gel really well as a team  and is something you’d undoubtedly expect from Paul Feig.

Appearances from the likes of Charles Dance and Bill Murray keep the film feeling fresh yet weirdly, after Bill Murray’s entrance the film really grinds to a halt.

It’s here that the film feels more fractured and unsure of itself. Slimer and the marshmallow man are part of an unrelenting desire to reference the original work and makes you question whether this is a sequel, a remake or a re-imagination.

Make no mistake this film isn’t perfect. Not all jokes land as well as they could and It doesn’t have the same magic as the original but an abomination it’s not. However, if you still don’t want to at least give it a chance then I suggest you take your prejudices, proton-pack them in your anal cavity as tightly as a spectre in a ghost trap and just chill the hell out.

The Good, The Bad and The Outcome:

+ Kate McKinnon
+ The first half
+ Chris Hemsworth


– Is it a remake, a reboot or a sequel?
– The bit after Bill Murray
– Doesn’t have the same magic as the original

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Independence Day: Resurgence

Regurgence

So, I started writing this post about how Independence Day Resurgence was an unwitting parallel to the Brexit independence day in which  similarly unbelievable characters fought a war against illegal immigrants culminating in an embarrassing mess with massive plot holes that left people scalping themselves they were scratching their head so hard.

As funny as it would be to talk about how Michael Gove reminds me of shit pencil topper or how Boris Johnson seems to be the lovechild of the Tasmanian Devil and a cauliflower it was all too unoriginal and unnecessary . So for a long time I tried to find an angle for my review even though I’d just found it: it was simply unnecessary. There is literally no good reason for this film to exist.

I guess my biggest gripe is that there is no complexity behind the story. The aliens are back. There you go – you now know the entirety of the storyline. If you are going to make a sequel after such a long time you better have a fucking reason to make the film other than “hahaha…. give me your money!”

Even when dredging the depths of creativity you can still squeeze out an acceptable film with a decent script but again the film really phones it in. To be fair, it kind of has to as it still needs to feel like the original which is about as cheesy as Burger King’s Mac & Cheetos.

Although there is a line at the end of the film where Julius Levinson (Judd Hirsch) asks a group of orphaned kids if they want to go home with him. The kids say “I’d like that” to which he replies “… me too!” which I’m pretty sure is just grooming small kids. HOW DID THIS GET MADE?!

The acting is just miserable from almost everyone involved and there is an over-reliance on characters from the original film as if we couldn’t tell it was a sequel from the fact it has the same sodding name.

Jake Morrison (Liam Hemsworth) may as well be called mr generic white man whilst Rain Lao (Angelababy… yeah seriously, that’s a name!) is wedged in to make it palatable for the Chinese market. The only palatable actor was Jeff Goldblum but an over-reliance on almost every character from the original really holds it back from breaking free of its old chains.

If you can forgive all of that you still need to overlook plot holes that are as gaping as Nigel Farage’s ability to be sane, rational and courteous. Classic inaccuracies of “we only have 20 seconds” then 5 minutes later they are still faffing is overshadowed by ones such as out-running a tidal wave created by planet sized space ship on a 12 foot fishing boat.

This is Roland Emmerich simply trying to out-do himself once again. First it was severe weather, then almost every possible natural disaster, now it’s giant aliens next is a project called Moonfall. Someone needs to put a stop to this man before we get film about an intergalactic, planet eating version of Barney the dinosaur is released.

The best advice I can give you to get through this film is the same as with Brexit: get a few beers and just watch the madness unfold around you.

The Good, The Bad and The Outcome:

+ Probably a fun film to get drunk to

– Inconsistent
– Terrible script
– Over reliance on old characters

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Midnight Special

Zero Hour

……………Sometimes it’s better to go into a film completely blind. These films tend to keep their trailers deliberately ambiguous. 10 Cloverfield Lane is an excellent example of this. Obviously the downside is that you are never sure if the film will be any good.

……….Whilst the trailer for Midnight Special reveals quite a lot about the film it’s still remarkably vague, leaving the viewer to peer into the unknown. It’s a method of building intrigue and suspense and Midnight Special is desperate to prove it can do this.

…..If you are wondering why each sentence starts with a long pause it’s because I’m mocking every line of dialogue in the film. Mock may be the wrong choice of word because the scripting is totally acceptable I just wish each line didn’t start with [dramatic pause].

The story follows Alton Meyer (Jaeden Lieberher) who is a special child – and not like “oh he is one of god’s special children” – as some believe him to be a saviour and some a destroyer. Father Roy (Michael Shannon) and friend Lucas (Joel Edgerton) kidnap Alton in order to bring him to a mysterious location. 

Dramatic pauses serve the early parts of the film well by drawing out the question of who or what Alton is, how his ‘ability’ has put him on an FBI list, who is telling the truth and who knows what exactly?

When you start to piece together what is going on this becomes very quickly irritating as plain time wasting. Get on with it. Say your fucking lines!

The more I watched the more I wanted the film to cut to the chase the more detached I got from the characters and therefore ended up being not quite as gripping and intense as it probably should have been.

It’s also problematic because the film briefly touches upon a fascinating concept that would have been brilliant to explore further but it simply doesn’t have the time to do this. So rather than theorising about what could be a revolutionary cultural phenomenon it is like the end of the 10 o’clock news: “and finally, in other news…”.

To it’s credit though it is well acted and the slow pacing allows a degree of thinking time  for both players and onlookers alike that is missing from a lot of Hollywood films.

In fact, whilst it has the slick production of a Hollywood film there is very little in the way of glamorising the main cast which keeps it feeling ground in reality if not quite gritty.

Midnight Special could have been a really great thriller that holds eye-opening concepts – a zero hour for humanity if you will – but this aspect of the film is barely visible. It’s a shame that it’s also the most special part of it.

The Good, The Bad and The Outcome:

+ Starts well
+ Interesting theme
+ Well grounded


– Dramatic pauses [dramatic pause] everywhere!
– Theme not explored enough
– Less gripping as it progresses

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The Divergent Series: Allegiant – Part 1

Sufficiant

Funny story. I went to see Allegiant referring to it only as Allegiant. I came out of the theatre thinking “well, that wrapped everything up nicely”. A couple of days: “What the shit?! Part 1? Oh for fuck sake”.

I understand why Hollywood is trying to drag out franchises, I mean how else are studio heads supposed to sit on piles of gold like Scrooge McDuck whilst smoking a cigar and laughing at poor people?

However we, the consumer, are getting a bum deal. We are seeing a downward spiral in quality when it comes to these franchises. The Hobbit was 1 film too long, The Hunger Games was again one film too long.

The Divergent Series has decided to follow the Hollywood formula and by proxy this will be 1 film too long. Perhaps there is a great story left to tell (I haven’t read the books) but by the end of Allegiant part 1 I find it hard to believe.

Our heroes Tris (Shailene Woodley) and Four (Theo James) seem to have settled. Early signs of order have started to sprout. Our antagonists plans haven’t been thwarted but have at least been exposed. There are a few open questions but none are obtuse enough for you to desire more.

This would be a satisfactory end to an average series if it really was the end.

As a kid I used to really enjoy painting by numbers. I was convinced my pictures were awesome and even though they probably looked OK they didn’t exude any real flair. Sill; I enjoyed them… until I found out I was colour blind. After which I took up less productive pursuits such as eating sweats and becoming a podgy little bastard.

This is very much how Allegiant feels. No not like a fat kid but like it was painted, or rather filmed, by numbers. Everything you’d expect from a teenage, sci-fi drama is present: a blossoming romance, emotional strain on said romance, friends who aren’t friends, slightly questionable CGI work, under-developed questions of equality and humanity, flying ships and cool sci-fi gadgets. Check. All present and correct.

Actually, the latter of the list was impressive considering the generic nature of the film. Most memorable was the personal drones carried by army folks. It’s a fascinating concept and got me thinking about the viability of this in the real world.

Surely with the ever-increasing accessibility of drones this has to be the future of warfare right? I mean warfare isn’t going away any time soon.

Outside of the innovative gadgetry Allegiant has some fantastic settings. The beautifully coloured wasteland outside of Chicago and the hyper modernity of the Bureau are both wonderful but it’s the village of tents in the fringe that blew me away. It’s a setting that wouldn’t look out of place in Star Wars or the best of sci-fi films.

So it’s a shame that this isn’t the best of sci-fi films because promising ideas and fantastic settings ultimately have to live alongside safe and predictable cinematic conventions that are painted well within the lines of what is acceptable.

The Good, The Bad and The Outcome:

+ Interesting settings
+ Some cool sci-fi concepts
+ Overall an acceptable watch


– Filming by numbers
– Some bad CGI
– There is going to be a Part 2

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens

A New Hope!

Have you ever dyed your hair green because it looks like Kit Fisto’s squidlocks? Ever punched an asthma kid and stole his inhaler just so you can sound like Darth Vader? Ever stuff a midget into a trash can because you desperately wanted your own R2 unit? If yes: you will love this film.

I feel like I’m going to be the odd one out here by not giving the latest Star Wars an 8 out of 5. I did think it was a very good Star Wars film but therein lies the problem. If you are a super Star Wars nerd then this is like giving an ice lolly to a gorilla on a hot day; you’ll lap it up and you’ll love it, but if you’re not a fan don’t expect to become one because of this film.

So let’s start with the dark side of this film. There is nothing new here. That’s my biggest problem.

The (spoiler free) plot is simple: There are rebels fighting the good fight against a bunch of storm troopers who are headed up by Kylo Ren; a powerful Sith who reports to a Sith lord – same as Empire Strikes Back. One of the leaders of the rebels has some important information that is stored inside a droid and sent away so the Sith don’t find it – same as A New Hope. The droid stumbles upon a young desert dweller who happens to be gifted in the force – same as A New Hope. The race is on to get the information in the right hands before an inevitable showdown between the soon to be jedi and the Sith – same as A New Hope.

It’s all just a bit too familiar. There are other similarities as well that I can’t go into without delving into spoiler territory but even from the trailers you will know that Kylo Ren wants to finish what Vader started, Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) and Han Solo (Harrison Ford) return “home” to the Millennium Falcon. There are TIE fighters and X-Wings and everything you loved from the original trilogy and even a rubbish gonk droid (no pun intended). Thankfully there isn’t a Jar Jar in sight.

Don’t let that put you off though because there are many, many things that keep it on the path to the light side.

Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) is just brilliant as the universes new threat. He is beautifully unhinged and so consumed by emotional turmoil that you are never sure of what will happen next with him. There is a desperation in his performance that was missing from young Anakin in the prequels making Ren instantly more vicious and compelling.

Finn (John Boyega) and Rey (Daisy Ridley) have a fantastic on-screen chemistry which is only helped by a semi-whimsical script. This keeps it feeling light-hearted even in the middle of chaos in a similar way to what original trilogy did with such charm.

Then you have BB-8. This little sphere droid deserves a mention because it’s unquestionably the new R2D2. It is remarkably anthropomorphic making you care for this little fella’ more than you probably should.

The BB-8 droid isn’t the only weird but impressive character as J.J. Abrams takes the franchise back to it’s roots by making a much of it as possible real animatronics. It’s fantastic to see because as good as CGI is it still can’t trick the human eye so to see so many ‘real’ aliens breathes into the local society.

It’s ironic then that all of the above is eclipsed by the CGI moments. What I’m talking about here are the scenes with aerial dog fights which are both beautiful and breath-taking. The scenery the ships traverse and the manoeuvres they pull brought out the giddy 5 year within me and a big smile was slapped across my chops faster than a feminist can slap you for pinching her derrière.

The Force Awakens is unmistakably a return to form for a film franchise that has been mostly forgettable or at least regrettable for the last 30 years. Abrams firmly re-asserts everything that was great about the original trilogy which gives hope for the future of the franchise but by re-telling all too familiar stories it is unlikely draw in people with little love for the original trilogy. Still, if you already are a fan; this is the film you are looking for.

The Good, The Bad & The Outcome

+ TIE fighting
+ Return to the quality of the original trilogy
+ BB-8!

Nothing particularly new
– If you are not a fan then move along

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The Martian

Out of This World

There are people out there, somewhere, that thought that thought the Martian was based on a true story. No, really, you can see it here.

The above is either a testament to the endless stupidity of humans or a testament to how well scripted and directed The Martian is – I haven’t decided yet.

Let’s assume it’s the latter because let’s face it, this is an amazing film. Is it Ridley Scott’s best film? Probably not, but it is definitely up there with a fighting chance and is a return to form after a number of lacklustre films such as Exodus, The Counsellor, Prometheus and Robin Hood.

What makes this film so good is unquestionably the script. At any one point in time Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is, in his words, “sciencing the shit out of this” but don’t worry; no audience member is left behind because of a lack of understanding of scientific principles.

 

Watney religiously keeps a video log which gives you enough science to make everything he is doing seem viable in real life. As an example he makes water by using hydrazine (rocket fuel) to create hydrogen gas, which is then combusted to create a by product of water.

Sure, I didn’t understand a lot of the science but most things are also explained in layman’s terms such as making fertile land by mixing martian soil and human waste as a fertiliser. This means that even the people who think this film is based on a true story can understand it. In fact it is exactly the reason why they think it actually happened in real life.

At no point does the script feel padded out to fill time yet it also doesn’t overreach itself by trying to do too much. Writer Drew Goddard is surely up for an Oscar nomination for his input.

There is, however, one downfall to such a methodical and grounded approach in that there is perhaps too little dramatisation. There is only ever one or two moments where Watney ever seems in danger so at times it can feel a little flat.

Still, the flip side of Watney not being in danger is that he keeps high spirits all the way through the film making it consistently enjoyable to watch. Matt Damon puts in a great performance to bring Watney to life as a loveable but highly intelligent clown.

This is perhaps not as true for the supporting cast. Watney’s original crew, who left Mars without him, play an integral role in his rescue but their screentime is all too short to get a feel for who they are as people. There are only 5 of them but I wonder if the film put more attention on only 2 or 3 of them, leaving the others as just generic background engineers/crew, that this would afford more time to depict a team mentality and for us to care more about them.

It’s a similar story with the NASA ground crew on earth. Vincent Kapoor (Chiwetel Ejiofor) gets a decent amount of screen time to show that he is the brains and the drive behind the operation to bring Watney back but that isn’t so true with Teddy Sanders (Jeff Daniels). Teddy is the head of NASA so he obviously has a million and one demands on his shoulders but this is never really shown or explained in detail so his quick and at times obstructive decision making make him look a dismissive and uncaring villain. Perhaps that was the intention?

Still, the supporting cast shouldn’t be a concern when the main focus is, of course, on Matt Damon in my mind there was only downside to his character. The longer Watney is on Mars the more weight he loses but this is only obvious in a handful of chosen shots where a bony body walks past the camera. This is clearly a body double that is made all the more obvious when you see Matt Damon’s face that simply doesn’t match the gaunt look of the double. It is, by no means, as convincing as Christian Bale in the Machinist for example.

Both the final frontier and Ridley Scott’s recent poor form have been conquered in the Martian. It really is a fantastic film that will make you realise that firstly, terra firma is a nice place to rest your feet and secondly that the events in The Martian could have been based on a true story.

P.S. It wasn’t… idiots!

Go See

  • The fantastic script
  • Matt Damon
  • One of Ridley Scott’s best films

Avoid

  • Missing some dramatic beats
  • Often bland supporting crew
  • Malnutrition scenes

Overall

4-5-stars

Terminator Genisys

I’ll be back? More like Agh, my back!

This movie is about as much of a glorified fan service film as you could possibly imagine. Genisys has taken parts of all the other terminators and slapped them together in the hope of a decent movie. It’s basically trying be Skyfall but for the Terminator series.

I actually walked out of the theatre thinking that the film was better than anticipated but after a few slack days of not writing any reviews now I look back on it the film is actually fairly bland. Funnily enough it’s just moments from the previous movies slapped together.

What’s iconic about the first movie? A young Arnold sent back in time to kill the Connor family? Cool. Add it in. What about the second film? Well obviously Arnie as the protector! Cool, bung it in. The third? They go back to destroy SkyNet before it begins? Sure why not, throw that in there. I think we need something from Salvation as well? Well that has to be the big mechs and slave labour camps! Great, throw that shit on top and we are done!

That’s pretty much the playbook here I mean we even have a duplicate of the iconic scene where Arnie first get’s warped to LA. We even have one of those liquid metal terminators the T-1000 complete with the ‘Chinese Robert Patrick’ look. Is that me being subconsciously racist? probably but he does share a resemblance I’m sure of it.

One thing it doesn’t have is the female model T-X from Terminator 3 but it makes up for it with a brand new machine and if you don’t want spoilers then skip to the conclusion and I’ll see you next time. This new machine has a sort of graphite looking shape-shifting thing going on that is akin to the black stuff at the end of Transcendence or Lucy but a bit more cubist, like the way the microbots move in Big Hero 6. It looks pretty groovy for the most part.

This new machine is actually John Connor. The machines have somehow infected John and made him into “not a machine, not a human” but more. Funny story. Guess who is still the little bitch of SkyNet? Yeah John Connor. It makes no sense as to why he is fighting purely for the Machines if he is supposedly more than that. It would have been a much more interesting plot if the Ter-connator had his own agenda that unfolds throughout but no, sadly we are left with the well worn subject matter of Terminator versus Connor.

This new machine is obviously where all the CGI budget went because some of the other parts of the film looked cheap and tacky. These scenes are none more notable than when the film portrays a war torn future. The sentry bots look like superimposed chrome plated dildos with machine guns… jeez, that’s a weird analogy.

Somewhere inside me is the 17 year old who watched Terminator 2 in awe so I can’t help but enjoy parts Terminator Genisys. The Story isn’t one of them. I just need to point out that this storyline ultimately changes the timeline of all previous films which some will find an unforgivable crime.

Anyway brush this aside and you do get Arnie’s best performance in a long time. Sarah Connor has tried to humanise the terminator to blend in which gives credence to some of the more casual looking movement from Arnie. The film also deals with Arnie’s OAP status surprisingly well because that he ages throughout the film, which makes sense in the plot’s context. The jewel in the crown is obviously seeing old Arnie brawling with young Arnie.

Because the terminator has been humanised the relationship between Sarah Connor, Kyle Reese and the T-800 is surprisingly good turning T-800 guardian/protector character into a friend or even a family member. It’s the best thing they could have done as a 70 year old man simply isn’t as threatening as a terminator.

Overall the films pace rushes along so it’s never really boring but doesn’t bring enough fresh ideas to make this a knockout. To some this will seem like a bland pastiche of the Terminator franchise but to some it will be an entertaining enough summer blockbuster. Or at least it should have been but the box office sales are more along the line of a flopbuster. To me it’s not worthy of being a total flop but ultimately it’s you who has to pass that judgement on the day.

Go See

  • Arnie on Arnie action
  • ‘Pops’. Our friend the terminator
  • New terminator is kinda cool… at least visually

Avoid

  • Same old same old story
  • Re-hash of the older films, no real innovations
  • some questionable CGI moments

Overall

3-stars