Captain Marvel

As someone who has been quite a big fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe since it first hit our screens back in 2008 with Iron Man (and has read a fair few comics in my time too), the one question I had was “When are we going to see a female lead?”

Sure, the X-Men had given us the powerful Jane Grey (Famke Janssen) and fiesty Storm (Halle Berry) and the “reboots” put female characters front and centre but these were very much ensemble movies with (as usual) the men taking centre stage.

When the Avengers first assembled back in 2012 there was hope of a Black Widow movie but as the franchise moved on this seemed less and less likely – especially after the release of the Jennifer Lawrence lead Red Sparrow in 2018. Even D.C got in on the act before Marvel with their wonderfully received “Wonder Woman” released in 2017.

While Kevin Feige would probably argue that a female-led movie was always on the cards for the MCU, I can’t help think that the success of Wonder Woman helped pave the way for (or move forward) the production of Captain Marvel.

So, was the wait worth it?

Captain Marvel stars Brie Larson as “Veers”, a Kree soldier with anger management issues who is sent to rescue a spy. The mission turns out to be a trap and leads Veers down a path of deception, self-doubt and self-discovery.

Veers ends up on Earth in the mid-1990s which leads to some great moments for audience members of a certain age – the appearance of Blockbuster and Radio Shack brought a nostalgic tear to my eye and I think I showed my age when I laughed as Veers Googled searched the internet using Alta Vista, there’s also a great moment featuring a Windows 95 PC loading a CD ROM – kids today don’t know the agony!

Anyway, nostalgia to one side, the story is pretty good and moves quickly. It’s one of the shorter films in the MCU at just over 2 hours so they had to cram a lot into the runtime but it’s handled well and you don’t feel as though there are many things that are left out. Being short it also passed the watch test – I didn’t look at my watch once during the course of the movie!

That being said, it would have been nice to have seen more of the relationship between Carol Danvers (as she was before she became Veers/Marvel) and Dr. Lawson (played by a sorely underused Annette Bening). It’s obvious from the beginning of the film what an important role this character had in Danvers’ life and how she viewed her role in the Air Force and beyond. I think an extra 30 minutes of run time (bringing it to the length of a “standard” Marvel movie) would have allowed this relationship to have been developed more fully, along with Dr Lawson’s important back-story.

The majority of the film is set on Earth with Veers/Danvers/Marvel (I think she has a few identity issues) teaming up with a young Nick Fury to stop a supposed Skrull invasion of the planet, which comes with a few twists – not only because the Skrulls are able to shapeshift into anything they see – “Can you become a filing cabinet?” “Why would I want to do that?”.

There’s plenty of humour – most of which comes from Nick Fury’s interaction with Goose the Cat (I wonder if the name is an homage to Goose in Top Gun), and in fact Goose steals most of the scenes he’s in and certainly made me look at my two cats with a sideward glance when I got home!

Jude Law gives a pretty average performance as Yon-Rogg – and there are reasons for this that I can’t divulge without giving out a big spoiler. It would have been nice for him to turn it up a notch in the final third of the film, instead I was left feeling like I was watching a young Albus Dumbledore in a Space Suit rather than one from Savile Row but it’s a passable performance (even if it lacks the necessary “oomph”).

The effects are pretty good although I think the majority of the budget went on de-aging Samuel L. Jackson and as a result a couple of the scenes of a glowing Captain Marvel in space are slightly ropy to say the least. This is only on the screen for a few seconds though so can be forgiven (and I hope not repeated in Avengers: Endgame).

Captain Marvel In Space

So, do I recommend the film – I certainly do! While the couple of plot “twists” were obvious to me almost from the start of the film I found it very enjoyable couple of hours and it’s not often I wish a film could have been longer.

Was it as good as Wonder Woman? Not quite. Given Wonder Woman’s 30 minute extra run time I felt it was able to explore that character a bit more than Captain Marvel, that being said Captain Marvel is still a great film and it’s wonderful to finally have a strong female role model in the MCU – Sorry Black Widow and Scarlet Witch, your background role antics just don’t cut it any more.

Bumblebee

Bumblebee is an origin movie, but with a slight twist. Unlike most superhero origin films where they go right back to the very beginning of our hero’s story this one starts slap-bang in the middle of the war of Cybertron. The Decepticons appear to have the upper hand and Optimus Prime is sending the Autobots out into the galaxy where they can meet up later – all except for B-127 who is sent to Earth to prepare a forward base for the Autobots to regroup and find safety.

Unfortunately for B-127, his arrival on Earth immediately pits him against the U.S Military and a Decepticon who has followed him. During a battle with both forces, the Transformer barely escapes with his life and we are left unsure of his fate.

We then cut to our heroine, Charlie Watson (a girl by the way!), a typical teenager on the cusp of adulthood who hates to get up in the morning, put any deodorant on (apparently) and is a big fan of The Smiths (there’s no accounting for taste I suppose). Welcome to 1987, when we were allowed to ride mopeds with no helmets on but it was okay to wear headphones so we couldn’t hear any traffic, music came on tape and Judd Nelson was the greatest thing since sliced bread.

Charlie is gifted a beat-up old VW Beetle as a birthday present from her Uncle Hank who waves her on her way with a smile while his friend comments what a death trap the car is. “I know,” he says, “but look at her, she’s happy!”

The great thing about setting this film so far in the past (Goodness that makes me feel old now!) is that there are fun cultural references that us “grown-ups” will get as well as letting the kids of today know how lucky they have it (they don’t have to listen to The Smiths for a start). It also means it’s not going to be stepping too much on the toes of the Transformer movies that came before it (or should that be after it?).

If this film had been made in 1987 then Charlie would have been a boy, the “love interest” would have been a hot blonde and not a geeky black guy with a cool Afro and the army probably would have saved the day. If that were the case then there would be really no point in making this movie as we had all of that with Shia Lebeouf and his Transformers movies. Thankfully though, with a female writer at the helm  (Christina Hodson who has written the Harley Quinn movie which I’m now really looking forward to thanks to her writing talent) the characters are handled exceptionally well and are rounded unlike the usual two-dimensional affairs films of this genre seem to offer us – even the Decepticons have some personality traits that are quite amusing.

Staying with amusement, this film has buckets of laughs – I can’t remember a recent film where I laughed pretty much from start-to-finish and the whole audience was chuckling away throughout, especially as Charlie tries to teach the newly named Bumblebee about music (he feels the same way about The Smiths as I do) and his obsession with The Breakfast Club is hilarious. That being said, make sure you take a couple of tissues with you as there are some truly touching moments where Charlie tries to deal with past losses and Bumblebee tries to comfort her without being able to speak.

I won’t spoil the plot too much but needless to say that the Decepticons are up to no good (“They literally call themselves ‘Decepticons’. That doesn’t set off any red flags?” asks Agent Burns in a humorously self-aware moment) and there are plenty of fight scenes. The good thing about this movie is that you can actually see the fights and what’s going on whereas I felt in past films it was all a bit hidden – that may be because there aren’t that many CGI characters in this film so the budget may have stretched to allow this.

I have to say that I think this is probably my favourite Transformer movie to date – although I think I’ll go back and watch the original 1984 transformers TV series and 1986 Movie as I’m not convinced they got the evacuation of Cybertron quite right!

Watch this film if your feeling a bit nostalgic and want to relive the 1980s (minus the bad hair) or teach the youth of today what a Walkman and decent music was.

The Woman Who Fell To Earth – Dr Who

The Woman Who Fell To Earth is the first episode of the 11th series (well, 37th if you want to be pedantic) of Dr Who.

It’s notable for a couple of reasons: The Doctor is now a woman (gasp!) and most of the original production cast have left and the the show is now being produced by Chris Chibnall who cut his Dr Who universe teeth on the excellent Torchwood.

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!!!

The story opens on an idyllic scene in the Peak District with Ryan trying to learn to ride a bike. So far so ordinary except Ryan is pretty much a grown man in serious need of training wheels thanks to his poor hand-eye co-ordination due to dyspraxia. In frustration Ryan launches the bike off the side of a hill and on going to find it comes across some strange glowing lights. Ryan of course touches the lights and causes what could only be described as an enormous papier mache gourd to appear. Ryan calls the police and a former schoolmate Yas arrives who thinks that Ryan is pulling her leg in an elaborate hoax.

Meanwhile Ryan’s Nan, Grace, and (not) Grandad, Graham, are heading home on a train when it suddenly comes to a halt. The power goes out and a strange tentacled creature starts moving along the train towards the helpless passengers. Unable to get off the train Grace is able to call Ryan before getting cut off and just as the tentacled beast is about to strike it’s disturbed by a body falling through the roof of the train carriage. Apparently unharmed from the fall The Doctor pops up and is able to ward off the creature and then admonish a recently arrived Ryan and Yas for not being much help.

Side note: If Ryan’s Nan has you doing the “Where have I seen her before?” dance then she was in over 100 episodes of Holby City!

This kicks off a meeting of (presumably) the new companions and The Doctor (who can’t remember she is called The Doctor at this stage) and what is surprising is how much the companions have to do in this episode. Usually The Doctor keeps the companions in the dark, revealing only what is necessary but this Doctor has them involved in every aspect of her plan – apart from the building of her new sonic screwdriver.

And before I go on, can we just discuss the new screwdriver please? Am I the only one who thinks it’s a bit phallic looking?

Dr Who Sonic Screwdriver

Photo Credit

Maybe I’m just looking at it differently because The Doctor is a woman, but when you consider the way that previous Doctor’s tools looked, they weren’t so… veiny and bulbous, they were more efficient and tool like!

Anyway, I digress!

I won’t go into the whole plot here as I don’t want to ruin it for you – you need to view it with an open mind but I will highlight a couple of points.

The way that the first episode is shot is very filmic and almost epic looking in a way – the first 5 minutes in the Peak District was almost like an advert for the National Park. There’s also more light – even in the darker scenes. I’m not sure if this a bit of clever mise-en-scène to highlight The Doctor’s lighter attitude when compared to Capaldi’s Doctor or if it’s just a stylistic choice by the director, we’ll have to see more episodes to see if it’s a theme.

The creature effects were also suitably sinister. Tim Shaw’s  (not really his name but that’s what The Doctor called him – I thought he said Dim Sum!) facial makeup would be the stuff of nightmares for a smaller child – easily reminiscent of the scares from the Cybermen and Daleks that had me hiding behind the sofa almost 40 years ago.

One of the big complaints from previous series was that the continuing story lines made it difficult to keep up if you missed an episode and also took away from some of the essence of the old Doctor Who. In this series we’ve been promised less serialisation and no recurring Aliens so it will be interesting to see what they come up with each week.

There was a lot of moaning online that they had made The Doctor a woman and this first episode went a long way to put people’s fears to rest. The first couple of episodes after a regeneration are always a bit hit-and-miss as The Doctor is still finding his (or her) feet and so you can’t get a true sense of what an actor is going to bring to the role. Whittaker has a sparkle in her eye and a sense of the incredulity and absurdity of it all that is quite refreshing and I hope it doesn’t diminish once The Doctor’s personality asserts itself.

The other main difference is that this is one of the first episodes of Doctor Who set outside of London. Most previous companions have come from our Nation’s capital so it’s a nice change to see another area of the country represented (Sheffield) and the addition of an Asian companion (and a female one with authority at that) in Yas’ character is great and I look forward to see what they do with her – and I do hope she’s not there to serve the screaming helpless female trope.

An interesting addition to the cast is Bradley Walsh. I’ve stayed away from all the previews and cast news so I could go into this new series fresh and without prejudice. A lot of people will think of Walsh as the irreverent compare of The Chase but he’s much more than a game show host having starred in Coronation Street and Law And Order: UK –  alongside former companion Freema Agyeman so I’m sure he was able to get loads of tips and inside knowledge!

Overall, the show is pretty slick but the introduction of the characters does feel a little rushed – we usually only have to deal with the Doctor and a single companion and here we have four (ish). The story is a pretty solid Doctor Who episode that ticks all of the boxes and bodes well for forthcoming episodes.

Need reminding of how we got our first female Doctor and how the T.A.R.D.I.S was lost?

 

And get your own (non-phallic) sonic screwdriver from Amazon or The Doctor Who Site!

Venom

Venom is the first film in Sony’s Marvel Universe – separate from the one inhabited by the other Sony owned Marvel property, Spider man.

Non-Marvel studio’s luck with bringing films to the big screen have been spotty at best (Fantastic Four (2015) anyone?) but Sony needs to kick start their own MCU in order to make use of the 900 characters they own the rights to.

Venom follows investigative reporter Eddie Brock (Hardy) who decides to look into the goings on at the Life Foundation after a tip off from a Doctor who works there. Brock’s had a run-in with Life’s CEO Carlton Drake (Ahmed) in the past and it cost him his career, fiancee and cat.

Drake – an Elon Musk-esq character – sent an exploratory mission into space and it brought back samples of an alien parasite. The shuttle crashes on its return to Earth and one of the parasites escapes but Drake is able to take the others to experiment with, hoping to create a human-hybrid that will be able to stand the rigors of space. Brock is infected with one of the parasites when he breaks into the lab and together Brock and the parasite that infected him (named Venom) decide to stop Drake’s plan.

And there you have it, that’s pretty much the entire film in a single paragraph.

The first 30 minutes of the film is spent setting up Brock’s character as a bit of a loser who has distanced himself from the world after he lost his relationship and I think a lot of cinemagoers will be disappointed with the slow build up and pacing of the story line. There’s a car and bike chase scene which, while good isn’t a patch on the one in Black Panther and the final fight scene between Venom and fellow symbiote riot is so dark that you can’t see what’s happening half the time. I’m sure the editors and the director will tell you this is intentional in order to add atmosphere and highlight the dark nature and inner turmoil of the characters I get the feeling it’s in order to hide some poor CGI work.

Don’t get me wrong, the CGI isn’t bad, it’s just not as tight as it could have been (think Henry Cavil’s upper lip in Dawn of Justice). This in no way lets the film down but in the 11 years since Venom appeared in Spider-Man 3 you would have expected some improvement.

The film isn’t bad, I had to rate it a 5 as it’s in no where near the same league as Black Panther or Infinity War which I rate at a 7, or Ant-Man which I rate a 6. Also, with it being a 15 rating you’d expect a more adult tone in the vein of Deadpool but instead you get some swearing and broken bones, both of which could have easily been cut to get the film down to a 12A and make it available to a wider audience.

If you’re a fan of Venom, or the MCU in general that I would certainly give Venom a look – although you won’t be missing out on anything from the original MCU story if you decide to give it a miss.

There are also two post credit scenes: the first after the main credit sequence which sets up a Venom sequel, and one right at the end which is basically a big advert for the forthcoming Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse cartoon movie so don’t feel like you have to hang around for that one.

Age Of The Dragons

Age Of The Dragons is a rip-off re-imagining of Moby Dick set in a weird alternative world when humans hunt dragons instead of whales for “vitriol” that powers their world.

The film starts with a young Ahab (yes, that is his name) out hunting with his sister. She wanders off and gets killed by a giant white dragon (yes, seriously) and Ahab is horribly disfigured (where do they get their script ideas from?).

Fast forward about 100 years (not that many really but it felt like it) and Ishmael (I kid you not) is introduced to us in the following manner:

Old bloke in the Inn: “I hear you’re called Ishmael”

Ishamel: “You may call me that”

Seriously.

All the script writers have done is to take a copy of Moby Dick and do a find & replace with ship to wagon and whale to dragon (that rhyme had more thought put into in than the Age of The Dragons script by the way).

Ishmael and his companion Queequeg (where do they get these names from?) are looking for work and join a rag-tag bunch of Dragon hunters as they cross the country to find as much vitriol as they can – and if they happen across a white dragon, well that’s a bonus!

There’s a fair bit of character backstory set up in the first half-an-hour. Mind you not a lot else happens so they have to fill it with something. This is were we learn about Ahab and his mad quest for the white dragon and how no-one in the crew believes him and they’re just in it for the money Yadda Yadda.

I’m assuming that the budget for this film all went on Danny Glover’s salary (yes, that Danny Glover) who stars as Ahab. Well, when I say “stars”, he decides to turn up after about forty minutes, chew some scenery and then growl a bit. For most of the film he’s wearing a mask and you can’t see his face so I doubt he even turned up and they just used a body double.

The film also stars Vinnie Jones – when he popped up I almost spat my coffee out! He has a monologue scene which he’s hoping to use for his Hamlet audition tape I think, but every time he’s on screen I can’t help wondering if he’s going to start crashing through walls Juggernaut style – sadly that doesn’t happen as it would have livened things up considerably.

There are two great things about this film – the lighting is fantastic. It’s atmospheric and really conveys the meaning of a scene (which is fortunate as most of the actors seem incapable of doing that). The other good thing is Sophia Pernas‘ performance as Ahab’s daughter Rachel – Age Of The Dragons is only her second film but she is a lot more believable that any of the other actors (perhaps being a newcomer she’s not as jaded as the rest of the cast and is actually excited to be working on something).

I can see why they made this film – I’m sure it sounded great in the pitch meeting (Moby Dick Meets Dragons)  – however it’s massively let down by a poor script and a mediocre cast which is a shame. Given the big-budget treatment and some star actors (sorry Danny Glover, you peaked at Lethal Weapon) it could have worked well, instead it was relegated to the bargain bin at the local blockbusters.

Watch this if you have a test on Moby Dick in the morning and haven’t bothered to read the book yet (just remember to replace dragon with whale when you write your answers).

 

Polar Storm

Yes, it’s another disaster movie review – you’d better get used to these are they are my go-to film type!

Comet Copernicus is passing close by to the Earth and residents have been warned that they will experience disruption to satellites and power grids as it interacts with the Earth’s magnetic field (side note: the comet would have to pass ridiculously close to  Earth for that to happen but we don’t care about that apparently).

Cut to super-star Astrophysicist Dr. James Mayfield who is in Alaska to study the comet’s interaction with the Earth and report back to an agency that isn’t NASA as I guess there are copyright issues using their name or something.

Anyway, Mayfield’s main concern at this moment is successfully taking some readings of the comet’s interaction with the magnetic field and get it sent to Not-NASA so he can smoke a Cuban cigar. No, I don’t get it either, I would save smoking one of those for something really important rather than just managing to hook your computer up to your mobile wi-fi up to send an email back to your office.

As the comet nears the planet, a piece breaks off and hits Alaska a mere 100 miles from Mayfield’s location – how’s that for a coincidence? Somehow Mayfield manages to escape the comet fragment’s impact blast with some seriously dodgy 4×4 driving but his assistant isn’t so lucky (note to self: don’t become a scientists assistant – you have as much chance of surviving a disaster as a Red Shirt does on an episode of Star Trek).

Why is it in films like this no one seems to be able to drive a car without swerving all over the road and getting stuck in something? It doesn’t add any dramatic tension, it just makes me wonder how people manage to pass their driving tests in the States… right, sorry, I digress…

Mayfield is able to send his readings back to his lab but when he tries to analyse the data later he finds that all his work on the comet has been classified. Mayfield visits a General (who turns out to be his father – how’s that for coincidence?) to find out why he can’t access his work and is told that he shouldn’t cause a mass public panic because everything is fine. Sticking two fingers up to his Father and ignoring a direct order from the President of the United States (played by Teal’c from Stargate SG-1!) Mayfield appears on local TV where apparently a sundial can be used to convince the entire world we’re all doomed.

While all this is going on there’s the usual family drama of a son hating his new step-mother, fawning over a friend from school and generally moping around (yawn).

It soon transpires that the tiny little town the Mayfield’s live in is the epicentre for one of many new mini-poles that are slowly causing the Earth’s poles to move and this causes localised electromagnetic storms – what a coincidence! These electromagnetic storms will kill you if you’re driving a car or holding a mobile phone but apparently you have to be zapped a tonne of times for your pacemaker to stop working – there’s nothing like plot consistency, is there?

Mayfield comes up with a plan to save the planet and stop the polar reversal with – yes, it’s an American film so you know what’s coming – a massive nuclear explosion!

Does he succeed? Will the submarine he finds himself on sink into an icy oblivion? Will his son ever stop acting like a sullen teenager? Do we even care? No, not really to be honest, but with film of this type you’re not supposed to.

It was surprising to see Jack Coleman in the role of Mayfield – after all he was excellently sinister in Heroes but I guess he took this as a break from his Heroes character.

The acting is quite good for a film of this type but it does suffer from a rather weak script. If you don’t care about science then you’ll find it quite an enjoyable hour-and-a-half but if, like me, you’re scientifically minded then you’ll probably throw your remote at the television on several occasions.

Watch this if you have a heavy cold and your brain won’t engage in high gear too much

2012: Doomsday

2012: Doomsday is the type of low-budget offering from production house The Asylum that I absolutely love! You know exactly what you’re getting with an Asylum film – a plot with a beginning, middle and end with minimal character development, some cheesy effects and questionable science – but hey! That’s not why you watch these films, you watch them because of the cheesy effects and questionable science!

2012: Doomsday follows 5 people who have a strange urge to visit a Mayan temple;  Susan, a disillusioned paramedic who has lost her faith in God; Sarah who’s the spiritual one; Dr Frank Richards (played by Dale Midkiff who’s the sort of actor that has you scratching your head and asking “What have I seen him in?“) who is an archaeologist and placed to figure out all of the clues; Sarah’s Dad, Lloyd (played by Cliff De Young who obviously needed to pay a couple of bills for him to be in this), who didn’t believe in his daughter’s spiritual nonsense then does a 180 quicker than a pirouetting ice skater; and And then there’s Wakanna who is the “Virgin Mary” of the piece and dumped into the plot to provide some quasi-religious symbolism.

The story is about how these characters are drawn to, and make their way to, a Mayan Pyramid in Mexico. There are adventures, deaths and accidents along the way the weirdest of which being the fact that Susan’s Grandmother disappears from their car after telling Susan she should perhaps believe in a higher power. Was she a messenger sent from God? Was she an Alien with an important message for the world? Who gives a shit? I mean Susan obviously doesn’t as she carries on like nothing’s happened and that disappearing Grandmothers are quite normal in her world.

Of course, we’re not supposed to look too deeply into these sorts of things – it’s not really that sort of film, but I did find all of the religious references and allegories a bit much – I mean a pregnant woman whose baby is apparently the saviour of the world? Come on!

This is one of those films that’s perfect to watch if you’re having a duvet day or have just had a few pints down the local pub – you don’t have to think about it too much and it doesn’t matter if you pass out for 20 minutes in the middle – but if you’re looking for a film in the vein of the big-budget 2012 then I’d give this one a miss!

Bounty Hunter

Set in the near future, Bounty Hunter is a film about… er…. Bounty Hunters that go out to fulfill contracts taken out on the greedy businessmen and women that caused the apocalypse.

Stylistically and thematically this film invokes thoughts of Mad Max (the first “proper” one, not the rubbish sequels or Tom Hardy weird-fest), Death Proof and Death Race 2000.

The orange-hued desert tones and its use of vehicles try hard to replicate the iconic Mad Max film but falls short of the mark. I think the problem is that everything is a bit too pristine – all the vehicles look like they’ve just been driven off the garage forecourt (even thought they’re from the 1970s) whereas Mad Max had a warn and lived in look: vehicles patched and cobbled together as only a future apocalypse could cause.

Reading the film’s description (view a great version here) you’d would think that this film was an ironic take on corporate greed, a way to hold the mirror up to our current society’s love of capitalism and where the people with the money call all the shots. Instead it’s all over the place with the Bounty Hunters being just as bad as the Apocalypse-causing business people leaving you unsure who you should be rooting for.

I’m not sure what I was hoping from this film – the Mad Max style cinematography and the hints of Death Proof sounded promising but the film is really let down by not knowing what it wants to be or where it sits.

Part road-movie, Grindhouse exploitation and Romance the film doesn’t fit easily in any category and it’s not helped by some bad editing and acting either. There are some supposedly comedy moments with throw-away casual one-liners that fall flat – I don’t know, perhaps I was just in a bad mood but I didn’t see the humour anywhere.

I feel that a bigger budget would have helped (the film was shot in just 18 days), there’s a touch a cheapness to the film that isn’t a kitsch feel that seems to work in Death Proof or Death Race 2000 so I don’t know how Bounty Hunter wasn’t able to capitalise on this.

One standout part of the film is the “Gypsy’s” face paint – meant to scare and invoke terror it’s really well done and is probably the best aspect of the production design – in fact apart from Gary Busey’s fee I think this is where most of the budget went – face paint isn’t cheap you know!

The cast is okay but there aren’t really any stand out performances. Christian Pitre is adequate an the vengeful “Mary Death” and Gary Busey has obviously just shown up for his paycheck (and, judging by his performance, a free mini bar). I think part of the problem is that while there is some back-story development you don’t really feel for any of the characters – you’re just moving from scene to scene to see who gets bumped off in a gory fashion next.

Final thoughts? It’s only an hour and a half but I wouldn’t waste your time. If you’re in the mood for a futuristic or gore filled road movie watch Mad Max or Death Proof or if you want a bit of nostalgia watch Death Race 2000 (the 1975 version rather than the Jason Statham 2008 version).

I really wanted to enjoy this film but it fell far short on all fronts – save your time and don’t bother – it won’t rev your engine at all.

The Predator (2018)

If you’re looking for the suspense of the first Predator film, or the goriness of the second film then you’ll probably be a bit disappointed in this new take on the franchise in Shane Black’s directorial debut.

Don’t get me wrong, the film doesn’t deviate from the Predator story that we all know and love: Predator arrives and a bunch of people die horrible deaths but it does seem to suffer from not knowing where it wants to be – comedy horror or sci-fi horror.

With the introduction of a 12 year old boy as one of the main characters, I was wondering whether the studio was aiming for the youth market however with the level of gore in some scenes (decapitation by wire anyone?)  and the bad language from tourette’s suffering Baxley (played by Thomas Jane doing an exceptional job) it was never going to get a 12A certificate – in fact I’m surprised it’s only rated a 15, 10 years ago it would have been an 18 for sure.

The story centres around Quinn Mckenna, a sniper embedded in an unnamed South American country who witnesses a Predator crash land and take out his team. Mckenna realises no one will believe what he saw so he steals some of the Predator’s tech and – somehow avoiding all US customs inspections – mails it back to a P.O box in his hometown for “safe keeping”. Co-incidentally he’s not paid for his P.O box for a while so the Post Office dumps the package at his home for his 12 year old son to open.

Rory Mckenna – played by a fantastic Jacob Tremblay – has Aspergers (or Ass Burgers as his bullies call it) and because of his unique view of the world he’s able to operate and understand the Predator’s equipment which leads, obviously, to a collision course with the Predator.

All in all the film is reasonable – as long as you don’t go into it with your expectations set too high – and it seems to be geared towards introducing a new audience to the Predator in order to set up a sequel.

My main gripe? The Predator in this film wasn’t as cunning as we’ve seen them to be in past films, it was more of a “Hulk Smash” creature rather than something you could see as being a stealthy hunter. The introduction of a Predator “dog” and it’s fondness for fetch was a nice touch, as was a more comedic tone which added to the movie rather than detracted from it.

Overall, an enjoyable hour and 40-odd minutes but if you’re a die-hard “Get to the chopper!” fan then you may want to wait for the DVD or streaming release.

 

The Meg

Before I start this review I have to hold my hand up and say I love movies like this – in fact, the cheesier the better!

The Meg is based on the book of the same name by Steve Altern but the film’s storyline differs greatly from the book (I do recommend the book, it’s a quick and easy read – perfect for the beach!).

The basic plot line is that a research submarine enters a “hidden” section of the Marianas Trench, it has an accident which leads Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham) to head up a rescue mission. When they’re returning to the surface they unwittingly allow a Megalodon (think Jaws on steroids) to escape and wreak havoc on the unsuspecting local population.

If you’re expecting slow tension building with jump-inducing scares as you’d find in Jaws then you’ll be disappointed. The Meg is a fast-paced action movie which, surprisingly, spends welcome time on character development but doesn’t have the leg-floating shocks of Jaws.

It’s a decent film with an interesting twist half-way through and I’m glad I saw in on the big screen so I could get the full scale of the Megalodons size, however for a shark film you don’t see as much of the creature as I would have liked.

It’s definitely worth a watch – and try to see it on a big screen if you can.

Ant-Man And The Wasp

Ant-Man And The Wasp takes place after the events in Captain America Civil War. Scott Lang is under house arrest for his part in the action in Germany (he was 65 feet tall so it’s not like he can pretend he wasn’t there) and only has a short while to go before he’s allowed out and about.

You don’t really need to have seen the first Ant-Man film in order to understand what’s going on – the plot’s relatively simple and self-explanatory: Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) and Dr Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) are planning to rescue Hope’s mother from the quantum realm when a Ghostly attacker steals some important equipment that they need to complete the task.

Scott Lang gets involved after having a dream about Hope’s mother from which they deduce (in quite a big leap) that she imprinted something in Scott’s memory when he visited the quantum realm.

The scheduling of this film seems a bit strange considering Infinity War was released so recently and Ant-Man And The Wasp doesn’t reference it’s events until the post credits scene. Still, it was an enjoyable film but if you haven’t seen it yet you don’t have to panic about any Earth-shattering Infinity War revelations you might have missed out on.

It was nice to have another strong female hero added to the Marvel Universe in Lilly’s “Wasp” character (and she can certainly kick butt!) and the “Ghost” character (played by Hannah John-Kamen) was good, if a little underused.

This is probably one of the weakest entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe but it was still an enjoyable couple of hours – I’d certainly recommend it if you’re a Marvel fan or if you have a teenage daughter who needs to see that there are female heros out there too.