Category Archives: Superhero

Doctor Strange

Marvel – Still Alive and Kicking

Let’s jump right to it. This is a Marvel movie. Sure, they are as common as Mars bars at the minute but god damn if they aren’t as delicious as those Lindor truffles!

I say it in almost every Marvel review but the foresight of Marvel studios is astonishing. Building out the wider Marvel universe is one thing but the real magic is keeping viewer fatigue at bay especially since doctors orders was to take 1-2 films, twice a year for 10 whole years!!

Charlie Sheen might disagree but you can have too much of a good thing!

However, by drip feeding us new characters like Black Panther and changing the style of films with Captain America being more of a drama and then along comes Ant-Man as a comedy crime caper.

So where does the Sorcerer Supreme fit in?

Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) is a rockstar doctor who can do no wrong but after being involved in a horrific accident he has to look for unconventional healing methods after western medicine fails him. It’s here in this quest that he finds The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) who introduces him to, essentially, a new way of living.

If you strip back all the mysticism and Inception style visuals you are left with a film that is incredibly similar to Iron Man.

I really wish the structure and character journey could live up to the name the doctor’s last name and taken us to mind bending places but that’s not the case. It is another Superhero film, but it’s an excellent one!

Doctor Strange, without question, packs in the greatest acting talent ever assembled in a Marvel film and because of this we are treated to some of the best performances in a Marvel movie accompanied by some of the hardest god damn names to write correctly.

Obviously Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange and Chiwetel Ejiofor as Mordo are both excellent but the supporting cast are just as excellent – if not better. Benedict Wong as err… Wong… is brilliantly placed as the hilariously humourless head of the Hong Kong sanctum whilst Mads Mikkelsen as Kaecilius is instantly one of the Marvel’s best enemies if slightly underutilised.

In my eyes though it’s all about the ladies. Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One was endearing, creepy, captivating and untrustworthy all at the same time. It’s another perfect piece of casting. There has been a lot of negativity over Rachel McAdams’ role as Christine Palmer and yeah, absolutely, more could’ve been done but at the same time she represents the viewer in being on the fringes of an unknown world where things don’t quite make sense.

I’ve neglected the real star of the film though: THAT CLOAK!

Oh man. I have never wanted a cape/cloak more than after watching the film. I won’t say anymore for fear of spoilers but I want one, I want one, I want one.

You should probably also give this a watch for some really interesting CGI. Doctor Strange really packs it in. Freezing time, rewinding time, one-take teleports, kaleidoscope visuals all take second place to a fight scene with Kaecilius that is like watching an M C Escher painting come to life.

It’s a shame that Dormammu was probably the worst of the film’s CGI repertoire because if you Google him he looks like a cool flaming head hell beast but in the film he’s mostly a disembodied cloud with glowy eyes.

I would fully understand if you thought this was a 3 star film but to me it still felt fresh, it was funnier than I was expecting and with such a good cast I think it’s up there with Marvel’s best.

The Good, The Bad and The Outcome:

+ New Cape-abilities
+ Excellent supporting cast
+ Interesting CGI


– Strange Iron Doctor Man
– Rachel McUnderutilised
– Dormammu

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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

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows

Half Shelled

There is an inherent problem with calling a film about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles goofy and stupid. That problem is that you are watching a film about martial art wielding, shell wearing, bi-pedal turtles… what else would it be?

That said; I found it goofy and stupid.

If you watch the 2014 Turtles film you will probably find it quite enjoyable thanks to the four charismatic heroes and that still holds true of this latest offering and in this respect it’s quite a faithful recreation of the cartoon.

Without question the best moments are when the turtles are on screen. There is a sense of fun emanating from them that I find really charming and this feeling is only extended thanks to the chemistry between the four.

The film also tries to bring in many fan favourites such as Bebop (Gary Anthony Williams), Rocksteady (Stephen Farrelly), Baxter Stockman (Tyler Perry), Krang (Brad Garrett) and Casey Jones (Stephen Amell) but director Dave Green is unable to bring a balance to all these new faces who at times struggles though only his second major cinematic release.

Equal screen time is given to all of the above but in some cases, such as Kim Kardashian, less is absolutely more.

Bebop and Roksteady received probably about the right about of screen time but their dialogue is aimed squarely at a younger audience and not, in my case, at big man-babies who grew up loving the franchise. They are goofy and stupid but I’m just about OK with that.

It’s Tyler Perry’s portrayal of Baxter Stockman that didn’t fly for me though. Firstly, he doesn’t look like the gangly scientist we are used to but moreover; Perry has made a name for himself in relatively dramatic roles so watching him trying to do slapstick is like watching your dad trying to dance.

Similarly disappointing was Casey Jones. Instead of being an effortlessly cool vigilante we get a rather generic rookie cop a bit like Riggs from Lethal Weapon. Perhaps the next Turtles film will turn this around.

Not all new characters are disappointing though because Krang was an excellent villain. His synthetic humanoid robot host thing is actually rather terrifying and looks like a genuine threat to both humanity and the turtles.

If it wasn’t enough to try to make sense of all these new characters by trying to understand and empathise with their own unique histories and motivations the film also tries to cram in added drama between the turtles as Leonardo (Pete Ploszek) must keep the team congruent.

I know what you are thinking, who cares about half shelled dramatics when Raphael (Alan Ritchson) is clotheslining- goons from the back of a truck or Michealangelo (Noel Fisher) is hoverboarding for funsies. Well… good point. The action scenes are superb and are about 40% more turtley than it’s predecessor.

That’s a good thing because it really feels like the cartoons that I fell in love with as a child. However,  with less noise and clutter from these extra story threads there is a really tight story that revolves around sibling rivalry and wanting to be accepted. If Out of the Shadows took this route we would be looking at a solid 4 star film or better but instead it’s an entertaining yet forgettable slice of entertainment.

The Good, The Bad and The Outcome:

+ Turtles
+ Great action
+ Intimidating villain


– Too many new characters
– Awful interpretation of Baxter
– Underwhelming action from Casey Jones

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X-Men: Apocalypse

X-Men: Third Class

Credit where credit is due; Bryan Singer has done as much for the X-Men franchise as he has for the popularity of the superhero film genre as a whole thanks mainly to the success of the two original X-Men films.

This was followed by the abysmal X3 (which took a hearty dump on the franchise) and a number of middling Wolverine films before First Class and Days of Future Past brought fresh faces and ideas to the franchise whilst expertly weaving in aspects of the original films and real life events alike.

Its a shame to see the third X-Men film, once again, abandon a winning formula in favour of gratuitous CGI.

Watching Professor X (James Mcavoy) and Magneto (Michael Fastener) struggle to keep together their friendship whilst staunchly supporting their own opposing ideals was one of the best aspects of the previous two X-Men films. It’s a saga that Apocalypse needed to simply drop a cherry on top of, drop the mic and walk off into the sunset yet these two icons barely exchange a single word.

Instead the dialogue is proliferated by Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) who reels off self infatuated monologues to anyone who will listen which, as it turns out, is no-one.

This dialogue is meant to make us understand why his four horseman chose to unquestionably follow him. However, it’s hard to comprehend this devotion when such a terrifyingly powerful mutant spends more time preening and fabulous-ising his horseman than he does being the titular harbinger of doom.

Even in the final fight with Apocalypse he does nothing. Literally. Nothing. You have a couple of x-men standing still whilst CGI whirls around them and Apocalypse standing still whilst CGI whirls around him.

Compare that to the dynamic and imaginative fight scenes captured in Civil War and the action is hugely disappointing. It’s almost as if this film was adapting an issue of Marvel’s “What if…” comic book series – this one is “What if Roland Emmerich directed X-Men?”

Apocalypse, as a villain, sits right on top of shit-heap that is the MCU’s catalogue of underwhelming villains but moreover the whole film simply tries to do too much ending with mixed results.

The latest offering introduces new X-Men and old favourites. The absolute best scene in the film is once again stolen by Quicksilver (Even Peters) . It doesn’t live up to the kitchen scene from Days of Future Past – one of the most clever and entertaining moments in recent film – but it still is a welcome injection of fun.

On the flip side is Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) who’s unnecessary appearance is an attempt to connect his Origins film but it doesn’t advance the plot and the aggressive nature of the scene doesn’t fit with the feel of the rest of the film.

Equally unpalatable is the criminally under-utilised Psylocke (Olivia Munn), the newly turned emo version of Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee), Jubilee (Lana Condor) with her multiple cameos and Jean Grey (Sophie turner) who… well… I just think is bad at acting!

On the plus side we get really excellent versions of Storm (Alexandra Shipp) and Cyclops (Tye Sheridan) who are both exciting and enigmatic new faces. They are perfectly placed to take the franchise forwards without having to rely on the juggernauts (pun intended) of McAvoy and Fassbender.

With so many characters to juggle and back stories to fill it’s unsurprising that the large chunks of the story feel completely disjointed as we jump from unrelated story to unrelated story with the exception of perhaps Storm’s involvement in the overall plot.

Even though it is largely unrelated to the main story the details of Magneto’s life after the events of the previous films are rather touching. It’s only a glimpse at what could have been but I would absolutely be interested in watching a Magneto standalone film that explores the tumultuous mind of Eric Lehnsherr.

The above might sound like I’m shitting on X-Men apocalypse and in a way I am, but it’s not because it’s a bad film to watch more that it’s lost focus of what was important in this film. Complete the Professor X, Magneto saga, introduce fresh faces to star in the next reboot and show some eye popping and imaginative action scenes.

Sure, it does some of the above but in a weird moment of self reflection it’s ironic that Jean Grey even states: “At least we can all agree the third one is always the worst”. Yes. Yes we can.

The Good, The Bad and The Outcome:

+ Quicksilver’s moment of glory
+ Most of the ‘new’ characters
+ Magneto’s Arc


– Rubbish villain
– Sophie Turner
– Does very little to expand the trilogy

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Captain America: Civil War

Civil War. Huh. What is it good for?

If you are a fan of the comics and are expecting Civil War then think again. Civil War is Civil War more by name than by nature but thankfully that doesn’t make it a bad film. In fact it still miraculously manages to bring something fresh to the table even after what? Like 12… 15 Marvel films in?

One of the things that keeps it feeling fresh is that many of our intrepid heroes have been given upgrades. Hawkeye for one employs a wider range of trick arrows than we’ve seen before whilst Captain America has some sort of grappling hook and Falcon finally has his trusty Redwing only this is a miniature drone instead of a real falcon – A wise move for the cinematic universe.

These are small changes that keep the action of all too familiar characters feeling new and exciting but perhaps the biggest and most exciting change is the introduction of two special guests; Spiderman and Black Panther.

I’m sure you will hear a lot of chatter about whether this web slinger is the best incarnation yet – I have my doubts as I found him a bit annoying – but for me Black Panther was the real stand out. Sure, the action scenes were great but there is an incredible stage presence that commands your attention whenever the Panther is on screen. There is certainly a lot of promise, and now expectation, on the upcoming Black Panther movie.

These new characters add an extra dynamic to the inevitable battle between good and err… gooder in what is probably the best superhero brawl ever depicted on film.

The airport scene, where the main clash of the clans takes place, is chock full with innovation and moments for comic book geeks to fap over.

Moreover this scene is genuinely fun to watch and manages to balance all of the main characters without any of them feeling like a novelty act.

Now, if you are thinking this might be another avengers movie then think again, this is very much Cap’s film and very much his internal squabble with Iron Man. This means it lacks the grandeur of the Civil War comic. It’s a shame because this could have also been a truly great avengers film.

However it is good for setting up an interesting dynamic for future Marvel films in what has become the most amazingly well planned road map for a film franchise; continually dazzling audiences with apparent ease.

The aforementioned conflict between Cap and Iron Man needed to have driven a much wider wedge between the two characters. Sure, that relationship is fractured but it doesn’t feel like it is beyond repair. If they had gone further to break the trust between the characters it would provide a fantastic backdrop to Infinity War which promises to be the Avengers biggest threat yet.

The growing conflict between our two heroes means that Robert Downey Jnr brings a performance that is much more sullen than we are used to leaving the light hearted humour to be injected by Spidey and Ant-Man. It’s a bit like talking to your funniest friend after they’ve had a car crash.

This dower personality is exposed the more that Cap goes against him and similarly the more the film goes on which means that the ending is an anti-climax, especially after the spectacle of the airport scene.

Captain America: Civil War doesn’t hit the heights of The Winter Soldier but it does bring some fresh new faces and promises fans that there is a whole lot more fun, excitement and eye-blistering action to come. I for one cannot wait.

The Good, The Bad and The Outcome:

+ Superhero upgrades
+ Black Panther
+ The fly airport scene


– Rift isn’t deep enough
– Finale feels a bit bland compared to earlier scenes
– Spidey was a bit annoying

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Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

BS: Yawn of Justice

You’ve watched all 28 of the various Batman V Superman trailers now your body is ready to extend those 3 minute snippets into 3 hours of the same content only less concise and with more dream sequences. Understandable, but don’t expect too much.

If you continue reading you will have the film spoilt like Justin Beiber… only less annoying. Fair warning!

Let’s quickly cover the good stuff. It looks great but that goes without saying; it’s Zach Snyder directing.

Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) was fantastic. I am actually quite excited to see the solo film with her because she seemed to enjoy being a badass and I like that.

Finally; Batman (Ben Affleck). I know we all had concerns about the Batfleck but he is unquestionably the best aspect of the film. The opening scenes where he rushes towards collapsing buildings as Superman is busy accidentally destroying the city instantly makes him likeable.

It’s an interesting perspective shift that is unfortunately never developed much further but Affleck brought the right level of grizzled distrust to his performance. Finally; seeing Batman fight henchmen and Superman was awesome because he looks tough as nails.

On the flip side the amount of balls dropped in this film is more than a school where everyone hits puberty on the same day.

Batman – a man with infinite resources – seems to gain more information from lucid dream sequences than he does from his tech. It’s only slightly less ridiculous than the way that Batman and Superman became team mates: “My mum’s name is Martha”, “Woah! mine too”, “Did we just become best friends?”. I wish I could tell you it wasn’t this stupid… but it was.

Superman (Henry Cavill) has the lions share of issues though. Through some sparsely detailed and convoluted plot threads he is painted to be a dangerous weapon. But because of the lack of depth behind his journey I cared as much for Supes as I do for rampant foot fungus.

There actually could have been an interesting sub-plot about the subversive nature of media and how mis-information easily twists public perception in a age that is hungry for quickly digestible content. Unfortunately this depth is traded for padding and leaves Superman to be the bland superhero that people already believe him to be.

Padding is evident in the set up for the Justice League who are introduced through a series of poorly CGI’d email attachments taken from LexCorp. Does that mean that Lex should be the one credited with bringing the JLA together?

Who cares is the correct answer because Lex Luthor is fucking abysmal. Watching Jesse Eisenberg tick his way through his lines makes me wonder if Lex is secretly Autism-man or Dr Aspergertron.

Coming runner up in the “face-palm character awards” is Lois Lane (Amy Adams). Her only involvement was to get feebly rescued by Superman at key moments of the disparate plot. She is as useful as an earthquake to a face-painter.

She also had no knowledge that Wonder Woman exists yet at the end of film she goes to see Superman and just waltzes in like “Hey Batman, hey random unitard wearing lady with a sword and shield who I’ve never seen before… anyway, well done for killing the thing that looks exactly like the cave troll from Lord of the Rings only with laser eyes”.

Expectation is the key here because it’s not actually a bad film but most people, myself included, were expecting a lot more than a bland story full of plot holes and lacking any real emotion.

As it turns out the night isn’t darkest just before the dawn: it’s after.

The Good, The Bad and The Outcome:

+ Almost everything Batman
+ Wonder Woman
+ Looks great


– Almost everything else

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Deadpool

Life After Death

Deadpool is amazing. Not only is it a genuinely funny and entertaining to watch movie but it triumphantly overcomes all obstacles in it’s path.

It’s likely you know Deadpool thanks to X-Men Origins. You will know him as someone whose mouth is sewn shut, has swords for arms and fires lasers from his eyes which is 300% incorrect to the comic book character. Even if it were 200% less wrong it’s still 100% wrong which is impressive.

Deadpool is actually a little known, yet cult character, from Marvel. His only real superpower is the ability to heal from pretty much anything and everything. As a mercenary for hire he is really good with guns but also loves to play with swords and let’s face it who doesn’t?

Given his job role and his aptitude for not dying; he cares little for his own safety and by extension everyone else’s safety but he also takes the superhero moral high ground when it suits him.

This is portrayed perfectly in the film whether it be as small as him threatening a pizza delivery boy to stop stalking some girl or as big as causing a catastrophic motorway pile up in order to kill the person that mutated him and as a by-product ruined his beautiful face.

Deadpool is almost the perfect anti-hero; he fights for good by being bad. He insults heroes such as the X-Men whilst showing a strong fondness for Hugh Jackman and he is also self deprecating, mentally, verbally and best of all physically.

It’s in the moments where Deadpool is being injured or maimed that you can really fall in love with the character. His fight scene with Clossus is absolutely hilarious due to the physical abuse he takes and allows you to relish in that stupid, childlike, joy of watching someone hurt themselves because you know he will heal.

It’s not just the physical comedy that this film excels in because the script written by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick make Deadpool genuinely one of the funniest films I’ve seen in a long time.

My initial concern was that the constant drive to be funny would wear thin but this didn’t happen thanks to the brilliant delivery from Ryan Reynolds. He even laughs off his previous crimes as the Green Lantern and the not-so-Deadpool, Origins-flavoured-Deadpool. Make no mistake, Reynolds makes the character his own. His comedic timing is spot on even in the moments where you are essentially watching Jackass: The Marvel Movie.

It’s not all fun and games though. On my naughty list is the villain Ajax (Ed Skrein) who really needed some character development or perhaps even a different actor as I found the dialogue between the him and Reynolds quite stifled and really slows the pacing down in the middle of the film.

Brianna Hildebrand who plays Negasonic Teenage Warhead (an unknown marvel character even to me) is also underutilised which is a shame because having a grumpy, unimpressed teenager around is a fun counterpoint to Deadpool’s eccentricity. My biggest concern though is how this will hold up in a few years. Technically this is not a great film but it is a hell of a lot of fun watch.

Fox Entertainment have taken a risk by rebooting an unknown yet tainted character with a simlarly tainted lead actor and making it family un-friendly but it has been worth the gamble. The film manages to continuously feel fresh even though it does have it’s downsides. I have my doubts as to whether this will stand the test of time but right here and now: Deadpool is very much alive and kicking arse, heads and chrome plated kahunas.

The Good, The Bad and The Outcome:

+ Hilarious
+ Great Action
+ Character is like the comics


– A bit dull in the middle
– Not the best villain
– Wasted use of supporting heroes

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Fantastic Four

Blandtastic Bore


I’m sure we’ve all had those days. You wake up, tell yourself “today I’m going to smash it”, you stride in to work and power through a full days work in about two hours. The realisation then dawns on you that, somehow, your workload has doubled! You work harder and harder yet things keep going to shit. Halfway through the day you think “Sod it, work can suck my bum cheeks”. The rest of your day you flake out and phone it in.

Fantastic Four is the same. It’s like they really tried at the start of the film but realised they didn’t have a smash hit so they shovelled up some some garbage and lobbed it carelessly at the end of the film. Bollocks to it, I give up, that’ll do.

The film opens with a young Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell) helping a young Reed Richards (Miles Teller) build a teleporter. Admittedly the concept of a kid developing a teleportation device when his voice hasn’t even broken is bullshit but opening at an early age helps to develop kinship between a genius and the son of a salvage merchant.

Richards is talent spotted and invited to build a bigger, working version, of his teleporter with the help of Victor Von Doom (Toby Kebbell), Johnny Storm (Michael B. Jordan) and Sue Storm (Kate Mara).

Casting. There’s the first balls up. There’s nothing wrong with any of the above actors but Teller is too goofy to be Reed Richards, Bell is too slender to be Ben Grimm, Mara is too moody to be Sue Storm and Jordan isn’t enough of a playboy to be Johnny Storm.

If you know anything of the comics you will know that Johnny and Sue are, by blood, brother and sister and white. Yet here Johnny is black – OK, fine, whatever – but Sue is white? If you are guessing that Sue was adopted then 10 points to you. Unfortunately the film explores this for all of 5 seconds on screen. When was she adopted? Why? How does Johnny feel about this? Where is Johnny’s mum? none of these are even hinted at. Insert the word adopted into the script and I guess that’s enough back story for one film.

In fact, as the team start to near completion of the machine you could have doubts that they even know each other as they barely speak a word to each other so the chemistry between the “brother and sister” is non-existent.

Up to this point the film has been a bit dull, but not bad, you might even have the feeling that it is building towards something good . The team perfect the machine and decide to take the glory of being the first humans to teleport. The machine actually teleports them to a different dimension, the visual aesthetic dimension which is beautiful yet chaotic. It’s a primordial world where streams of pure energy flow and pulsate into golden green pools reminiscent of a new born planet.

The energy pools erupt and the team scramble to get back home. In the frenzy Victor falls into the goop and the others escape but are fundamentally changed; they have gained their superpowers. You would have thought that this is where the film will get good but no, this is where it goes to shit. It’s bizarre to think that the worst part of a superhero movie is the superheroes. I mean seriously? How is that even a thing?

Well here’s how. Firstly, some of the CGI is shonky. There is scene where Johnny Storm – the human torch – takes down a drone in mid flight which looks like it has been lifted from the year 2002. Some of Reed Richards’ – Mr Fantastic – elastic transformations is questionable as are his fighting abilities. Think more camp adventure film than the dynamic action of Elastagirl from The Incredibles.

Next up is that the team never really do anything. There is a 20-30 section where the team practice their abilities without ever really interacting with anyone. Not even the other Fantastic Four members. Even though the training section is long enough most of the actual action is glossed over by a “1 year later” placeholder. The only good thing that comes out of this isolation is that you get to understand Ben Grimm’s – Thing – feeling of isolation and reflection on his new rock-steady appearance (a key plot point from the comics).

In steps Victor Von Doom – Dr Doom – who, of course, survived the previous disaster and came back with a heap of superpowers including being able to microwave people and make their heads explode yet he inexplicably doesn’t use this insta-kill power to stop the inevitable fight with the Fantastic Four.

Furthermore, all the others came back physically changed but mentally the same. Why then, has Victor gone from being a bit dour but overall a decent guy to becoming psychotic? A year in isolation? Perhaps, but there are no signs of his past humanity. Doom wants to destroy the earth to protect the other world which he has claimed as his home.

The peak of this mountain of crap is the finale. The only way to stop Doom is to go to his world and kill him. The fight scene here is absurd. They somehow get stuck to the floor by Doom’s power of gravity or something? Not really sure why or how this happened. Reed somehow manages to stand up and fight on like he is Rocky Balboa. The four work together in the most basic of ways to fight Doom by boring him to death probably. The acting in this scene is atrocious. The dialogue is rushed, confusing and inane in the rare moments it’s actually audible over the music and sound effects. Doom’s method of destroying Earth isn’t explained either its just some rocks and a laser thing. It an awful, avalanche of shit of an ending.

So how did this end up being so bad? Well, there have been rumblings of studio meddling in artistic vision with director Josh Trank tweeting then deleting the same tweet about how we will never see ‘his’ vision of the film. Other stories surfaced around Trank and how he was isolated and non-communicative during filming. Further rumours swirled of large parts of the movie needing to be re-shot.  Perhaps this lead to it’s 3 month delay and critic’s review embargo that only lifts the day before release, which is often a clue to poor quality in films and computer games for that matter.

The Fantastic Four have always had a troubled history in hitting mass market appeal unlike a lot of Marvel’s other intellectual property so if even half the above rumours are true and you factor in the mis-casting of a reboot that steers away from it’s source material then you might find it ironic that this was doomed from the start.

Go See

  • Builds well
  • The other world

Avoid

  • Doom
  • The end scene
  • Dodgy CGI in places
  • There’s no post credit scene for X-Men Apocalypse 😦

Overall

1-5-stars

 

Ant-Man

Tiny Man, Big Film

Marvel films. They’re great aren’t they? Lots of cool stuff happening; lasers blasting, shields acting like boomerangs, a tiny huge green monster human punching stuff really hard, person-spiders, the art of flight with a hammer – fuck it why not? Awesome. Yet, they are all starting to feel a bit samey aren’t they. A similar sort of humour running through all the films.

It’s understandable though. They are trying to build a whole interlinking universe across multiple franchises so it simply wouldn’t work to have something that is akin to film noir suddenly superimposed in the fun, glossy world of the Avengers. So when I say that Ant-Man is going to be part of the Avengers in the cinematic universe you know what to expect from this film right? Wrong.

Being small gives you get a totally different perspective on the world, simple things like a comic book seems so huge and people… you can see the pimples in their face and all the imperfections. It’s here we meet the hero of this story: Me.

You see I first encountered Ant-Man as a small kid in a comic store feeling overwhelmed with the scale of comics on offer and even being intimidated but the spotty faced nerds behind the till with acne the size of potholes in Cambodia. I found a little one off compendium featuring Squadron Supreme a relatively unknown superhero group. It was cheap so I bought it and there was Ant-Man who saved the day. I thought it was quite dumb to be honest.

After watching the trailer about 17,000 bloody times – it was on before every film in the cinema and I watch a lot of films – I was really expecting an awful movie especially given the troubles the film has had with losing directors throughout it’s production. But I was wrong. Really wrong.

Ant-Man is probably the most refreshing Marvel film since the first Iron Man. You’ve probably heard that each franchise tries to be a different style of film – Thor is a fantasy film, The Hulk is a monster flick, Captain America was war film. yeah the links are a bit tenuous but Ant-Man really is a heist film. It ignores most, but not all, of the tropes of the normal Marvel Franchise.

If you think about what made Ocean’s 11 fun and apply it to a superhero film you are on the right track. You have heist setup, a series of short clips of a man talking to a man who is overheard by a woman who talks to her dealer who sells the info to… well you get the idea. Ant-Man features a cool soundtrack that is like a John Williams and Quincy Jones mash-up riffing over the top of the important infiltration scenes. It also has those “Ahhh… very clever moments” of quick thinking and ingenuity.

It’s also thanks to the script written by Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish that this film feels very different to the other Marvel films even if it does have some classic Marvel humour drizzled on top. The lines are delivered for the most part very well by all involved but most notably Michael Pena as Paul Rudd’s not-so-bright friend; Luis. This character alone is a million miles removed from the ‘norm’ almost like this origin story.

I say origin but really it’s a passing of the torch so the true origins of Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) as Ant-Man aren’t explored in depth but instead this is a simple passing of the torch to Scott Lang, the new Ant-Man. This is an approach we haven’t seen before in any Marvel origin stories.

Of course, the change of perspective helps deliver a feeling of freshness. I was truly surprised how excited I was to see Ant-Man shrink for the first time and found myself really loving the tiny action scenes. The imagination of how a miniature heroes interact with everyday objects such as phones or Thomas the Tank Engine is brilliant and trust me; the Thomas scene is great – the trailer doesn’t ruin it.

Whilst the villain in Ant-Man is also refreshing because it doesn’t feel like the global threats of the last few Marvel films the motivation and overall feel of the villain is a bit samey. It’s a minor criticism and one of the only ones I can think of. One other minor criticism is that there is a sub plot of mind controlling ants that is casually glossed over with pseudo-science and that’s a shame because the rest of the film builds very well.

The only other criticism I can really say of Ant-Man is that it doesn’t feel as critical as the other characters/franchises but it is for that very reason that it is a breath of fresh air. The moments where we get to see tiny ant-man delivers big results. It wasn’t hard to come out of the cinema and think little 12 year old me was wrong. Ant-Man is pretty damn cool.

Go See

  • Great heist movie
  • Shrinkage in the bath
  • Supporting cast

Avoid

  • Bit of a bland villain
  • Do my bidding ants!
  • Not as important as Iron Thormerica in the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Overall

4-stars

Avengers: Age of Ultron

Age of Awesome

I went to see Avengers twice last weekend and there are 2 reasons for that. Firstly; all Marvel Studio films have become a sink hole that just sucks in everyone’s money away from other films so there were no other films of interest being released. Secondly Age of Ultron is probably the best superhero film ever made.

Now before you tell me I’m wrong let me just clarify that this isn’t the best film about superheros but it is the best superhero-y-ness displayed on film. Each of the Avengers really does feel like a superhero Thor fires electricity, Cap throws a motorbike, Hulk runs through a building, Black widow goes to town with some shock sticks, Iron Man is Iron Man and Hawkeye is… well he’s still not done quite right. 😦

On top of the fact that each of the Avengers is a bad-ass there is a real camaraderie between the actors that really shines through. The team really do feel like a team and this is achieved by the characters double/triple teaming enemies in fight scenes whether it be other people using or throwing Caps shield or Thor and Iron man firing lightning/repulsar beams at the same enemy.

This clique is also achieved by the – in places laugh out loud – banter between the cast. Nowhere is this more apparent than in a beautiful scene where Thor (Chris Hemsworth) challenges the team to lift his hammer. To those who don’t know; only the worthy can lift the hammer. Everyone tries to lift the hammer and fails but it’s the sublime look of fear in Chris Hemsworth’s face as Chris Evans (Captain America) tries to lift it thinking that Cap might be able to lift his Hammer and then the nervous laugh as he fails to lift it that is a joy to watch.

I’ve mentioned that the film is about a superhero-y as it gets so obviously the action is in the film is awesome but this becomes one of it’s greatest downfalls as there is often so much going on all the time that it’s kind of hard to keep up. If you try and keep up it starts to wear you out. Seeing it a second time had the benefit of being able to take more of it in and I have to say I found it as enjoyable the second time round as the first.

It’s not all action though. The writers have actually done something rather genius to still keep the storyline feeling fresh. Obviously we have had 3 Iron Man films some of which feature Black Widow, 2 Cap films which also feature Black widow, 2 Hulk films and 2 Thor films so we know all the main characters and their origins except for Clint Barton aka Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner). This is exactly where the film lands it’s focus. So if, like me, are a Hawkeye fan you’ll certainly like where the story goes.

Even if you aren’t a fan of Hawkeye it keeps the film’s plot feeling fresh and entertaining which is always the worry with so many Marvel films over the last few years. Furthermore we see a few extra steps towards the ultimate goal that has been intricately and fantastically woven since the first Iron Man film. I’m pretty sure I mentioned it in a previous review but you really have to give Marvel Studios credit for such a well structured plan for their films which just go from strength to strength.

In Age of Ultron we have a few new characters which I have mixed feelings on. Firstly we have Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor Johnson) and the Scarlett Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) who are twins. They weren’t given enough lines and or back story to really make a huge impact but they are a good addition to the film as their powers are so different to what we have seen before that it gives the action some additional breadth.

Then we have Ultron who is best described as a confused sentient robot who thinks that wiping out most of humanity is the best way to achieve peace. I started not liking the character but he grew on me as the film went on. His sociopathic tendencies interlaced with a strange naievity and innocence to the world is strangely fascinating. The biggest problem with Ultron is that he never feels threatening. You never think he could beat all of the Avengers or even any of them and that’s what the best superhero films have: a great villain.

Finally we have Vision who is part human tissue and part machine created by Ultron. I personally think Vision is fantastic they have once again nailed the casting, look and personality of the character. Vision is probably my favourite character in the film.

What has been assembled is another cracking Marvel film that not only plays to the strengths of a team movie complete with a fresh batch of heroes but a film that manages to avoid the pitfalls of a franchise incumbent with sequels. It’s not perfect but if you are looking for a live action version of an Avengers Comic this films lays it down with an iron fist.

Go See

  • Plot still feels fresh
  • Best depiction of superhero abilities in any film
  • Vision

Avoid

  • If for some bizarre reason you have no soul and don’t enjoy superhero films?!
  • There is a lot to take in – almost too much in some scenes
  • Ultron never feels like a real threat

Overall

4-5-stars