27/07/2015

ANT-MAN - REVIEW


If the success of Guardians Of The Galaxy confirmed one thing it was that Marvel could, indeed, get away with making the most out-there, obscure comic book movie adaptations and turn them into gold.

The plan was certainly to do that with Ant-Man but the departure of director Edgar Wright last year seemed to suggest that this was a troubled production doomed to not make Avengers-style zillions.

The horror!

And so, while Ant-Man certainly didn't wow audiences and critics quite as much as some of the (literally) bigger superhero movies, it still did a good job and put ants (and wasps) on the map! Paul Rudd, known mostly for his reliably goofy work in Judd Apatow-led comedies, turns out to be a solid choice to be the Ant-Man despite the fact that one feels the man, who gives a restrained performance here, was holding back from cracking all sorts of inappropriate jokes on set during the course of the movie. It should make for some inspired bloopers on the Blu-Ray, for sure.

The film itself links Ant-Man and that suit's history (including Michael Douglas' Hank Pym) to the Marvel movie universe surprisingly well by having a nifty bunch of cameos and references to key events pop up here and there. One scene even sees Ant-Man fight an Avenger in one of this film's most entertaining moments. The real strength of the film is how well it balances celebrating its wackier concept while poking fun at it also, yet never turning into a disrespectful parody or getting too serious. Ant-Man also looks super slick, boasts some fascinatingly trippy scenes and the fact it's a heist movie makes it stand out more as something a bit different. Composer Christophe Beck's theme capturing what makes the character so likeable, fun and interesting perfectly.

The film's flaws are minor but certainly worthy of mention: Scott Lang's (Rudd) daughter subplot is thoroughly uninvolving and underwritten. As a motivation to get that character to do anything, it ends up feeling a tad weak. Michael Peña and two other dudes who play Scott's sidekicks/partners in crime could have probably been cut out of the film entirely despite them getting the odd amusing scene. Story-wise, the film seems to throw a lot of ideas into the air and, while most of them land safely, a few plot-holes remain throughout. The whole "I knew you'd do this, this and that so I let you do this only so I could do that!" thread is repeated one time too many so here's hoping future outings will mix things up a bit. That said, Corey Stoll makes a worthy one-time-only villain as The Yellowjacket pulling off the vanity, cunning intelligence and dangerous nature of the baddie really well.

All in all, Ant-Man is ludicrous but in a good way. It's consistently entertaining and, with all the comic book movies around, it still manages to feel pretty darn original, which is an achievement. Visually, it's a treat and the cast is well chosen. Sure the script is a tad slight in places and contains a handful of cheesy jokes we could have done without but, as a whole, it works.

A good time.

17/07/2015

GOTHAMIZED: REVENGE OF THE KNIGHT - PODCAST


Gothamized is a completely unofficial guide to new series Gotham and a debate arena for all things Batman.



In this 23rd episode, we discuss Gotham Season 2 news, the Batman V Superman and Suicide Squad trailers, The Joker, "seeing" and we take a quiz.

(for my written review of the Gotham Pilot, click here!)

Hope you enjoy it!

You can also find us on podcast The Big Rewind (available on iTunes, Stitcher and Player FM) and send us emails with your Bat-questions, Six Degrees challenges and riddles here: gothamized@gmail.com

(for the pilot episode CLICK HERE)

13/07/2015

THE BIG REWIND: REBOOTS - PODCAST


In some extra audio from episode 58 of The Big Rewind podcast, Jamie and I list and comment on some of the reboots we've been graced with over the past few years.

TERMINATOR GENISYS - REVIEW


After Jurassic Park gave us the World last month, The Terminator gave us Genisys, an oddly spelled sequel/prequel/reboot starring the franchise's very own Jason Voorhees, the unstoppable Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The result was one messy Terminator film to say the least.

The core premise of the film being to pull a Star Trek and deliver an alternate timeline thereby somehow creating a fresh and new storyline. This time, we go back to 1984 where the original Terminator film takes place only to find that a T-800 had already been around for 10 years training Sarah Connor to be a badass. Oh, also a T-1000 who doesn't look like Robert Patrick shows up. Everything is given a reason to be but it's all rather far-fetched, even for a series of films about time-travelling Austrian robots. Weirdly, the fact that Terminators can age ends up being the least distracting plot point. In what is easily one of the least respectful franchise moves I've seen, new Arnie literally annihilates the T-800 from the original James Cameron classic and the film continues as if nothing had happened.

You know, the Terminator we were all genuinely scared of back in the day?

Yeah he sucks now.  

And as if the plot wasn't convoluted enough you've got Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) remembering things from a new timeline and John Connor (Jason Clarke) being turned into some kind of villainous liquid metal organic hybrid. There's been a big backlash against Terminator Salvation as of late with everyone pretty much trashing it but, while that film was flawed, it was at least clear about what it was doing (until its last 5 minutes, at least), plus it felt different and wasn't just a lesser retread. Sure its post-apocalyptic future lacked pink neon but its vision of the world after Judgement Day worked both in tone and visually. Terminator Genisys is basically the new John Connor: there's some DNA of something good and iconic in there somewhere but really it's a mishmash of interesting and very dumb ideas that don't make a whole lot of sense.

There are a few more issues this Terminator (and Terminator 2) fan has with this film.

For one thing, the casting is patchy at best. Emilia Clarke just doesn't sell any part of her character and, frankly, a CGI'ed Linda Hamilton would have probably worked much better. Her tough cookie attitude is not convincing in the slightest, she doesn't feel like she's from the 80's at all and it's like she never even saw the original films as she doesn't even attempt to capture the character's essence. The same could be said for Jai Courtney's Kyle Reese who basically comes off as nothing more than a bland jock. It really makes you pine for Michael Biehn's subtle, memorable performance in the first movie. Add to that a shamefully wasted J.K. Simmons as some guy you could have easily cut completely out of the movie and you've got yourself one clumsily cast flick. Oh, also Matt Smith is briefly in this movie but he only serves as setup for the sequel.

The Terminator films were always spot-on in terms of action. Yes, even Rise Of The Machines and Salvation. This one offers us a school bus chase on the Golden Gate Bridge, some rushed T-1000 retread at the beginning and the obligatory factory climax. So even purely as an action movie, Terminator Genisys fails to live up to any of its predecessors which begs the question: how much money did the studios give to James Cameron to publicly approve of this belated "preboot"?

All in all, I can't possibly recommend Terminator Genisys: it's messy, criminally bland, miscast and surprisingly uninvolving as a whole. Arnie's willingness to just have as much fun as possible is this film's only saving grace but, really, you should just go back and watch or re-watch the first two movies.

Terminator Generic.

07/07/2015

THE BIG REWIND: EPISODE 58 - PODCAST


In this 58th episode, Adam (aka The RetroCritic) and fellow film buff Jamie discuss movie news, review Terminator Genisys and talk retro stuff.


Email us here if you have any questions, requests or contributions: bigrewindpodcast@gmail.com

Or simply comment below :)

Oh and you can also find us on iTunesStitcher and Player FM where you can subscribe to the podcast and download every episode thusfar!

@TheRetroCritic
#TheBigRewind
retrocriticblog.blogspot.com

JURASSIC WORLD - REVIEW


At first, Jurassic "anything" sure didn't sound like the best idea seeing how unpopular both sequels to Steven Spielberg's genial 90's blockbuster Jurassic Park were. Then the idea of a Jurassic World popped up and, suddenly, we all perked up about the project a little.

The trailers had a lukewarm flavour to them, though, so who knew if this reboot/sequel was going to be any good.

Especially sans Goldblum!

Having the doors of the Park actually open and allowing guests to go on (mostly unsupervised) prehistoric rides certainly offered a lot of opportunities for mindless dino-destruction and an unparalleled body count for the franchise. In that sense, Jurassic World delivers exactly what we needed: pure Summer blockbuster chaos complete with people getting chewed-up by fab-looking CGI dinosaurs, tons of suspense and that iconic John Williams score (arranged by Michael Giacchino) punctuating the show throughout. The plot sees two kids whose parents are going through a divorce be sent away to Jurassic World where their aunt Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) was supposed to look after them. When a new "attraction", a dangerous new breed of dinosaur, escapes, panic soon settles in for the people in charge and the film becomes a race against time to stop the beast before it reaches the centre of the park.

Chris Pratt is Owen, an ex-marine who works as a trainer for the raptors. He is soon landed at the forefront of Jurassic World's catastrophic new development and, eventually, he is convinced by a shady Vincent D'Onofrio to use the velociraptors to hunt down the loose monster. Unlike Jurassic Park, which is entertaining from start to finish, Jurassic World takes some time to get going: the first 15 minutes are slow and heavily expositional. Luckily, once the action kicks in, it never lets go and the rest of the film is pretty relentless. While the novelty of seeing CGI dinosaurs was lost after Spielberg's original, the visual effects in this one are slick and look great. The occasional use of animatronics also adding a welcome retro feel to certain scenes.

This is by no means a perfect movie with characters not quite as memorable as Park's and a script with plot holes and cheesy lines which could have easily been fixed but, as a whole, it works. This is a fun, colourful Summer blockbuster which both embraces and criticises the fact it's a reboot of a beloved classic. Packed with exciting, at times genuinely violent, action sequences, Jurassic World may be kinda silly at times but, like Jurassic Park, its horror B-movie core is handled in a playful way.

Definitely check out this sequel if you're looking for a good time at the cinema. This is an old-fashioned big-budget popcorn movie which won't make you smarter but which will get the job done.

Fun.

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