Movie Reviews

Deadpool – movie review


Another highly anticipated Marvel offering, the Deadpool hype began long before we got to see the actual film. I won’t pretend to be a Marvel expert, nor even much of a fan but I like superhero movies so I decided to give this one a go when it came out on DVD.

Ryan Reynolds is the strawberry clad hero in this action packed epic and he does a good enough job in the role. To be truthful, there’s no way of knowing how much of the character we see is actually Ryan Reynolds, since he wears a full face mask for 90% of the movie. It’s probably a stunt double most of the time. Whoever it is, he has a nice ass, but I digress.

Deadpool is standard Marvel fare. Action, fighting, love interest, fighting, car chases, fighting, a bad guy who holds the key to the character’s redemption, fighting, and death defying stunts. Did I mention fighting? There’s lot of it, and plenty of blood and gore. Although not overtly gratuitous, it’s borderline. I’m tempted to believe that this is an attempt to cover up for the lack of any real plot or depth.

Where this movie differs from the rest is the humour. The character is meant to be funny, but a warning here to all non-Americans, it isn’t that funny. American humour is a unique being and as an English woman, it failed to touch me. I laughed three times in total. The opening and closing credits are funny, and the bit where he chops off his own hand but that was it for me as far as laughs go. It seems to me that a group of old men locked inside a dusty office decided to try and put some funny bits into an action movie, but failed. Maybe I’ve just got a weird sense of humour. That’s always possible.

As usual, the effects and stunts are awesome and the costumes are cool. It would be nice though, to see one superhero who doesn’t wear brightly coloured spandex. What is it with that? Why is that a thing?

I don’t think the character has enough depth for a sequel, so I feel it best that Ryan Reynolds backs out of the room slowly.

The Revenant – movie review



Winner of 3 Oscars, this movie stars Leonardo DeCaprio and Tom Hardy in a tale allegedly inspired by true events. DiCaprio plays legendary explorer Hugh Glass as he struggles for survival and revenge against unbelievable odds.

Visually, this movie is spectacular, with breathtaking scenery of a very wintery American wilderness. There are a few ‘yuck’ moments which add a visceral, edgy quality that prevents the movie from becoming a schmaltzy ‘survival against the odds’ yawn. The special effects are awesome and fit seamlessly with the context, avoiding any hint of the magical or fantastic.

Advertised as, ‘inspired by’ true events, I personally found it a little over the top and suspect that a rather large dollop of artistic licence has been added to the actual historical facts on which the movie is apparently based. I am left wondering just how much ‘inspiration’ they took from the facts. This is one of two things that disappoint me about it, because the dialogue is decidedly dull. The characters spend much of the movie grunting their way through fight scenes, screaming in pain, and growling revenge. The only relationship dynamic is between the two lead characters, and that is flat at best.

The ‘survival’ aspect of the story has, I feel, been taken too far, making DiCaprio’s character and his experiences, unbelievable. We all know movies build things up a little but this one is too much. The native Indians in the movie come across as simpletons, little better than grunting savages without any basic ability to reason or make sound judgements. I feel this does them an enormous disservice.

I am left wishing I had seen it before buying the DVD, as I feel I have wasted my money on a movie I doubt I’ll watch again. Not Leonardo DiCaprio’s best career moment.

I give this movie 2 stars for stunning visuals.

Movie Review – Interstellar

interstellar poster


Like many science fiction fans, I’ve been waiting for this movie with much anticipation. It has been hyped as the best space opera movie in years, with every superlative you can think of attached to the write ups and trailers. It came out on DVD and Blue Ray here a couple of days ago, and I watched it yesterday with my mother. We were both very excited to finally be getting to see this much hyped phenomenon, and settled down with our coffee and Belgian Buns with broad grins on our faces.

There are three distinct ‘acts’ in the movie. The first act lays out the back story and sets the scene for our hero, Cooper, to leave Earth in search of a new home on which to settle. I felt this first act to be far too long for the movie. Whilst interesting and pertinent to the story, it makes the whole movie drag a little. There was one point where I was suddenly afraid the movie’s makers had fallen victim to the, “little kid stows away to be with her dad and then wreaks havoc,” trope but to my complete relief, they didn’t.

The second act is Cooper’s flight from Earth and the team’s experiences in space. They navigate the wormhole and arrive at the new galaxy, whereupon they have to find three planets previously identified as possible alternative Earths, and investigate them. A single astronaut was sent to each of the three planets some time previously, and Cooper and the team must rendezvous with each one. Of course their carefully laid plans go quickly awry when the female member of the team takes it upon herself to disobey orders. This causes the loss of a team member, and the loss of twenty three years equivalent Earth time, but she doesn’t seem concerned and Cooper quickly forgives her. This is my biggest complaint about the movie.

In real life, a highly trained astronaut would never disobey orders to such a degree with such losses as the result, but it is one of the most widely used tropes in movies. Seriously guys, can’t you think of anything original when you make these films? This was a huge black spot upon my enjoyment, and one that as an author I find unforgiveable. This second act ends with Cooper apparently lost to the black hole.

The third act brings the whole story to a nice close and ties up all loose ends quite well. Without spoiling it for anyone, the scene inside the black hole with the ‘physical time’ environment is rather a stretch for anyone’s belief and smacked of what I have come to recognise as that typical American shmaltzy aspect movie makers find so necessary these days. Even my mother, who has a degree in physics, raised her eyebrows at that series of scenes. Never mind, I understand the need for poetic licence just as much as the next person.

The ending sets us up nicely for a sequel, which I feel confident will be forthcoming. That one, if indeed it is made, should be even better than this one.

Interstellar would have been far better made as a trilogy. Each of the three acts could have been gone into in far more detail if they each had a movie of their own, and suitable cliffhangers on which to end are there aplenty. The cutting necessary to cram such a lot of stuff into one movie means that details have been lost that would have smoothed edges and added a level of sophistication that is missing from the hodge-podge that is the single movie. The whole thing feels busy and crammed and is far too long at two hours and forty nine minutes.

I give Interstellar four stars. It was a tad over hyped, too crammed, and far too long.

Brand new trailer for The Sleeping

I decided to make a brand new trailer for The Sleeping and it was great fun to do.  I used Animoto this time and found it easy but expensive.  I not only had to pay £30 to get longer than 30 seconds for my video, but if I then wanted to download it in good quality or share with any social media sites, they wanted another £10.  Not sure how to do a video here, hope this works.

Riddick 3 – Review

riddick 3   I must warn you now, I’m a dyed in the wool, card carrying Riddick fan, and my review will, most probably, reflect this.  Having got that out of the way, I do have a criticism, but more of that later.

This third installment of the Riddick franchise, sees the larger than life anti hero once again left for dead on an  unknown planet.  Having blotted his copybook with the Necromongers by not becoming one of them completely, they trick him into believing they’re taking him home to Furya.  Believing he is dead, they leave him there and exit stage left.

Injured, but very much alive, Riddick immediately finds himself surrounded by fierce creatures all intent on having him for dinner, and true to his nature, he has no intention of acquiescing.  This part of the movie has been strongly influenced by Pitch Black, the first, and most successful film in the franchise.  We see him allowing the more savage side of his nature to take control as he battles with the creatures and settles in to life in this dangerous environment.  Thankfully, Vin Diesel listened to the fans who all made it quite clear that they did not approve of the way the character developed during the second film in the series, The Chronicles of Riddick, and this third episode takes the character back what the fans see as his true nature – a misunderstood outcast who, by virtue of his slight lack of interpersonal skills, manages to alienate everyone with whom he comes into contact.  This always leads to friction, which leads to aggression and he has found, due to the turmoil that has dogged his entire life, that offence is usually the best form of defence.  He is his own worst enemy, and although I firmly believe that somewhere inside, he longs to be loved, he’s too set in his ways to ever make the change.

Riddick is probably the best character for Vin Diesel to play.  The poorly educated, emotionally repressed, but good looking thug, is the type of character that he can play without having to get too far away from his own true personality.  This is why he plays Riddick so well.  Take away the fact that the character is a killer, and you have Vin Diesel playing himself.

There is the usual band of Mercs, all hoping that Riddick is going to net them a good pay day, and all unbelievably confident in their ability to capture and restrain him without cost to themselves.  This is my criticism.  Given Riddick’s fame and notoriety, one would think that all the Mercs would have enough experience to realise that here is one guy not to take a chance with, that they will need to be disciplined and use all of their skills to not only get their man, but survive themselves as well.  Hollywood however, has other ideas, and every movie these days seems to contain at least one character who is supposedly successful at what they do, but this job is the one that turns them into a bumbling and ineffective idiot.  These characters in Riddick 3 are, we are supposed to believe, Mercs who have made their living capturing all manner of dangerous criminals whilst avoiding all sorts of dreadful creatures on many inhospitable worlds.  Why then, are they suddenly so stupid when they come to deal with Riddick?  They argue and bicker all the time, they let their personal issues get in the way of the job, they can’t shoot straight, and they are very easily distracted from whatever they are doing.  Please Hollywood, credit us with some sense.

Riddick 3 brings in a direct link to Pitch Black, in the form of one character called Johns.  He is the father of a character who died in Pitch Black, and wants Riddick to tell him what happened to his boy.  I like the fact that the Director, Dave Twohy, linked the two films this way, as it gives continuity and a flowing storyline that we can follow and believe in.

There is humour in this movie too, especially the part where Riddick makes his new pet balance food on his nose.  The animal character is lovely, a great idea by the movie’s makers.

There is all the fighting one would expect in a Riddick movie, and very Pitch Black-esque scenes towards the end where hundreds of creatures are bearing down on Riddick and the Mercs as they try to make their way back to the safety of their space ship.  Even the setting is the same, the night time and pouring rain are taken straight from Pitch Black, and the creatures themselves even look very similar to those in the first movie.  All of this is okay by me and most other hardened Riddick fans.  We love Pitch Black the best and are delighted that this third installment gives such a large nod to it.

You will not be intellectually challenged by this movie, and it won’t net Vin Diesel an Oscar.  It is him, doing what he does best – playing a character we love, in the way we’ve come to love him.  Riddick being wronged and left for dead, struggling to survive against all odds, fighting with creatures and living hand to mouth, dealing with the annoyance of Mercs and finally, being allowed to run off into the sunset because one of the Mercs has come to respect him.  Simple, straightforward and fun.  There is an obvious hint right at the end that there will be a fourth movie that sees Riddick head home to Furya, and I for one can’t wait to see it.

I give this movie 5 stars out of 5, not only because it’s Riddick but because it’s actually enjoyable and because the character is once again as I know he should be.

Review of Torchwood – and other similar TV series



This started out as a review of Torchwood, but has evolved into a review of all TV series that share the genre.  The reason for this is simple – they always make the same mistake.

Now, I loved Torchwood, just as I loved X files, Haven, Stargate SG1, Primeval and all the others like them, (apart from Dr Who, I hate that one.)  The first couple of seasons are fantastic; the team consists of likeable, real characters with enough charisma to look good on TV, without being too ‘made up,’ and the storyline consists of interesting adventures, with a new and exciting episode each week.  There is enough danger to keep you on the edge of your seat, fantastic effects, and no bothersome sub plots to get in the way.

And that’s the problem, that last one in the list – the sub plots.  It’s always the same with every series.  The first two seasons are great, but then they can’t help themselves, they have to make it all political (in the case of the American ones) or introduce complicated and unnecessary intrigue between the characters.  Why do the programme makers always do this?  No one likes it when this happens, and in my opinion, this is why series’ tend to fall apart after the first couple of seasons.

The only series I’ve seen that hasn’t yet made this mistake, is Supernatural.  They almost did, almost.  The first couple of seasons that Crowley was part of, became laborious and boring with his constant fucking things up.  It was predictable and I worried that I might go off the series.  Thankfully though, the programme makers must have had a moment of enlightenment, because they quickly got over that and the series is still wonderful.

I loved the first season of Torchwood, I loved the first two seasons of X files, the first two or three of SG1, the first season of Primeval and the first of Haven, and I look back on them with a mixture of fondness and disappointment.  They could have been fantastic, they could still be popular now if they had just kept it the way we like it.  Simple and enjoyable.  Science fiction is about escapism and I don’t want government cover ups in every single series, or double agents within the team, or bosses with different agendas.  I want to be entertained.

Please, programme makers, give us a series we can enjoy without all that crap.

Star Trek Into Darkness – review

star trek

I grew up with the original Star Trek series and regard it as one of my all time favourite science fiction space opera sagas.  Nothing can compare with the original series, but I do like Next Generation and I sort of enjoyed the first 3 movies.  With this history as a trekkie, I was looking forward to getting Into Darkness on DVD, as I quite enjoyed the first of the new ST movies, even though they totally screwed around with the historical facts, ie New Vulcan.  I watched every single episode of the original series and not once did Leonard Nimoy mention “New Vulcan,” but still, I digress.  Back to Into Darkness.

My uneasiness at this new crop of ST movies has grown as a result of watching Into Darkness.  This is due to two things.  The first is the constant stealing of original plot lines and I was, quite frankly, shocked and distressed as I sat through the ‘radiation room’ scene.  How dare they steal such a poignant scene from Wrath of Khan.  The only thing that was missing was the “the needs of the one,” speech.  That shows me that the movie makers lacked enough creative ability to come up with something new and original and I can do nothing but condemn them for it.

The second thing is the casting of Benedict Cumberbatch as Kahn.  This has to be the worst casting in movie history.  All trekkies know there can only ever be one kahn, Ricardo Montalban.  Not only did they cast an English speaking actor in the role, but he’s also white and thin.  They could at least of got an actor with a mediterranean complexion, an accent and some pecs.  They even had Spock yelling “KAAAAAHHHHHHHN.”  Oh please, just shoot me now.  The characterisation of Kahn was way off too.  This new one was totally cold and calculating, whereas the real Kahn had wit and charm, as well as being sexy.  Benedict’s Kahn was more of a robot than a humanoid.

I saw a few reviews for this movie when it first hit the cinemas, but I wanted to wait until it came out on DVD and give it a chance, being a trekkie myself, but I have to say, I’m totally disappointed in it.

I give Star Trek Into Darkness, 2 out of 5 stars, and that’s just for the special effects and the pleasure of seeing Karl Urban again.

Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter – Movie Review

abe lincoln


I’ve been wanting this DVD for a while and finally found it in Tesco the other day.  Starring Benjamin Walker as good old Abe, this movie charts his life, from his earliest years as a young kid, to the day he dies.  What this movie centres upon however, is his ‘other’ job, that of vampire hunter.

There is another character, Henry Sturges, played by Dominic Cooper and I like this character more than Abe.  Sturges gives Abe his ‘jobs’ which means he tells him which vampires to hunt down and kill, and he taught Abe how to be a vampire hunter/killer.  You get the distinct impression that he is Abe’s mentor and teacher. Halfway through the film, you find out Sturges is himself a vampire who wants to kill others like himself in revenge for his girlfriend being killed by them.  As vampires can’t kill other vampires (that’s a totally new bit of vamp lore), he recruits others to hunt for him.

Now, I’m not into vampires much, apart from Blade, who is so gorgeous it should be illegal, but I digress.  Even though vamps aren’t my thing, I really enjoyed this movie.  It’s quite gory so anyone who has a weak stomach may not be able to cope, but the gore is in context all the time, which is a rarity in movies today.

There is a sequence towards the end of the film, which takes place on a train and the special effects have been done very well.  It is very atmospheric without being spooky, although the vampire make up has been done with a slightly heavy handed approach.  They look a little cartoon-ish when in full vamp mode and not like real people with fangs.  They also behave like crazed beasts, which spoils it for me.  Personally I prefer vampires to be more real and more sinister.

I love the very end of the film, where Sturges offers Abe the chance to become immortal, so they can fight vampires for eternity.  Abe turns  him down and goes off with his wife to the theatre and you’re left realising that this was the night he was murdered.

Great fun, good effects (apart from the vamp make up) and I give it 4 stars.

GI Joe Retaliation – Review



This film finally came out on DVD and Blue Ray last week.  Starring Dwayne The Rock Johnson, Bruce Willis and all the usual characters, I’d been waiting for this ever since Dwayne announced he was to be in it.

The Joe’s as they are called in the movie, find themselves being hunted down by an imposter posing as the President.  All but three of them are killed, the character Snake Eyes having been away at the time, on another mission, escapes too.  Snake Eyes and Jinx are sent on a mission to capture Storm Shadow, which involves some fantastic action that takes places in the mountains.  Loads of abseiling and other impossible feats while dangling from a wire, ensure this sequence is a white knuckle ride.

Dwayne Johnson’s character, Roadblock, is a very typical Dwayne Johnson character.  Always the guy in charge, a permanent sour expression on his face and the usual Johnson-esque attempt to be humerous which just always seems to fail to be actually funny.  C’mon Dwayne, have you no more depth to your acting?  Can you not play a character that has any real depth?  These roles are getting seriously old buddy.

This movie delivers all the fighting, explosions and action that you would expect from such a tale and it is fun and exciting.  There is a great twist involving Storm Shadow, which I sincerely hope they build on, should there be further sequals.  There is the ever present and rather shmaltzy ‘proud to be a Murican’ theme that tends to run through most American made films these days, but if you can ignore that, this film does provide some fun entertainment.

Loads of action sequences, guys in cool costumes, big guns to give the guys a hard on, and, the best thing of all, no sex or love interest.  That fact alone, encourages me to give this movie 4 stars.

Movie Review – Sunshine

sunshine (3)


This 2007 movie, directed by Danny Boyle, was on tv last night and with nothing else worthy of my attention, I decided to watch it.  I’d never heard of it before but the very brief blurb on the tv guide website intrigued me.  It sounded just sci fi enough to interest me.

It stars Cillian Murphy, Rose Byrne, Cliff Curtis and Chris Evans, amongst others and centres around our own sun, which is dying.  The powers that be, decide to send a nuclear bomb (why do American movie makers think nuclear bombs solve everything?) strapped to a spaceship in the hopes of re-igniting our life giving star.

Also relevant to the story is the fact that a previous mission failed to release the bomb and also failed to return to Earth.

I was delighted to find the action begins right at the start of the film, without any of the boring scene setting.  The inter personal dynamic between the characters is pretty good, if a little dramatic and I was very pleasantly surprised to listen to dialogue that I found believable and natural.

The character of Searle, played by the gorgeous Cliff Curtis, from the tv series Missing,  seems a little suspicious as the movie unfolds and I found myself believing that he would turn out to be a bad guy.  I was wrong and he gives his life to save the others.  They find the original lost spaceship and plan to use it to help them re-ignite the sun but soon discover it has been sabotaged and is unusable.  A video recording made by one of the crew of the original craft seems to indicate that he went nuts and killed his crew members and sabotaged the ship.

The cast also includes Michelle Yeoh, of Babylon AD fame, who plays a character named Corazon.  Her character is a little weak and I feel she had little to bring to the table in this movie.  Another thing that disappointed me was that each character was the only one who could fulfill his/her particular role.  I’d have thought in a real life situation, NASA would ensure many crew members could fulfill different roles, in case of accidents or death etc.  Still, I know it’s a movie so let’s move on.

I really enjoyed this movie, apart from the end.  I found the introduction of the nutjob from the previous spaceship, and his subsequent behaviour, was too silly.  The movie makers went a bit overboard in making him a fully functioning wacko and it made me cringe.

Everyone dies in the end, which pleased me and made up for the fact that yet again, one lone person saves the day with seconds to spare (groan).  The movie is atmospheric without resorting to ridiculously low light levels which is a very annoying habit movie makers have when they don’t want to bother with effects (or can’t afford them).  The dialogue is good and the story simple but well played.

I’d recommend it.