Monday, 21 April 2014


Starring Johnny Depp, Morgan Freeman, Rebecca Hall, Kate Mara,  Cillian Murphy and Paul Bettany.

Directed by Wall Pfister. 120 minutes long

Depp is a scientist at the cutting edge of artificial intelligence and on the verge of a breakthru when he's shot with a bullet laced with Polonium and left with a month to live. Luckily his wife, fellow super-scientist, Rebecca Hall and best pal, (also a scientist, but this time of the medical kind), Paul Bettany are on hand to transfer his consciousness into a computer and before you can say, 'is it really him, or is it the computer?' we plunged into a world of either endless possibilities and enlightenment or total enslavement at the hands of a megalomaniacal computer and only a rag-tag army of anti-technologists, Morgan Freeman and Cillian Murphy stand between us and the end of everything as we know it, or are we? But since the entire film is told in flashback, apart from the opening scene we already know the outcome, so there's no real tension or drama in what follows, except for the obligatory twist ending - but that's giving it far too much credence, it's more of a oh, right, well that was sort of obvious - ending.

In between it's a slow, good-looking, ponderous film that languidly winds its way through the plot and it's 120 minute running time towards a hi-speed, dramatic chase involving gun ships and an all-female, topless, marine assault team willing to snog passionately with each other if it's going to save the world!

Sadly, it's only the first half of that paragraph that's truth, otherwise this film would be getting a totally different score than the one I'm going to stab thru it's boring, dull heart.

Old Depp-o almost avoids his obsession of defining his character by the hats they wear by wearing a skull helmet of brain implants for most of the film, he also spends 95% of the time as a head and shoulder hologram.

Characters disappear for huge chunks of the time only to reappear when they become salient to the plot again. There's little drama, or tension or real intrigue, at one point you get the sense that the plot is going somewhere else entirely different than it does. And yet this film starts off quite strongly and you're intrigued to know where it's heading. Trouble is, by the time Depp's character is surfing the web, you've sort of lost any interest.


Wednesday, 16 April 2014



Directed by Marc Webb, starring Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx and Dean DeHaan.

$200 million dollars.

142 minutes.

Two good moments. Sadly they're at opposite ends of the film. And in the middle, 140 minutes of bland tedium. Terrible characters, over-wrought CGI, angst ridden pap and over written, waffling  guff. I really didn't care about any of these one dimension characters, apart from Norman Osborne, up to the point he becomes yet another boring super villain cackling evilly as he twiddles his mustache.

Plot, if you're interested, one group of pixels wants something to stop something and another group wants to stop them before something happens. Sometimes the pixels are portrayed by actual actors but mostly not. Some characters motivations and behaviours change depending on what is required of them. Then there's just lots of bashing and crashing and punching all to little effect. Oh and some characters just turn up to remind Peter of blah blah, waffle, waffle. yadda yadda yadda. Before another bout of pixels punching other pixels.

It's only been an hour since the end of the film and already I'm having trouble remembering much about it, but I think it had something to do with Osborne wanting Spider Man's blood and Peter Parker's off and on again chaste relationship with Gwen. Oh and then there was some stuff with Electro who also wanted Spider Man because he didn't come to his birthday party. Actually I didn't make up that last bit.

Don't get me wrong, the pixels punching other pixels was jolly good, the fabric and wripple effects worked brilliantly, as did the bits of Spider Man swinging along through the city, they all worked really well. But the rest of it from the pointless shaky cam to the lazy script, well I just couldn't care less.

But don't worry, if you loved the first of the Amazing Spider Man films, you're gonna love this one! It's got everything you need from Spider Man 2.0.

Me, I think I'll stick with the Sam Raimi versions, even the 3rd one was better than this long, boring, pointless and utterly un-engaging cash cow. The one good thing about it, it wasn't as terrible as the first one.

The threat of more of these just fills me with inertia.


Monday, 14 April 2014



Starring, Liev Schreiber, Elias Koteas, Romola Garai, Goran Kostić, Johnny Harris,Tom Cullen, Yusra Warsama and Olivia Williams. Directed by Ruairí Robinson. 98 minutes long.

If only there was an Oscar for 'good effort', or 'most ambitious' or even, 'they made this film for how much?' then Last Days on Mars might just win.

Ignore the generic, seen-it-all-before, ridiculous plot, with so many holes it also served as the production's catering sieve and in stead just admire the very lovely special effects and the impressive set designs and production values, from the lovely Syd Mead inspired Martian rovers to the claustrophobic, Alien-loving, interiors LDOM is a good looking film and that's its highest accolade.

However the story and plot just isn't that much cop, you can guess the beats and how the whole thing will end miles off, not so much telegraphing as sending up smoke signals. The plot sees a weary group of astronauts preparing for the final day of a fruitless, six month mission on the red planet in search of evidence of life, when with just hours to go until they leave to return home to Earth, one of the scientists discovers what might be bacterial life and, ignoring the rules, sets off to find a sample. After that it's an Alien, the Thing, Dawn of the Dead (remake), Moon, Aliens and Sunshine mash up- race to the end.

Punching far above its weight class, Last Days on Mars isn't a great film it's an okay film. Watch it once then promptly forget.


Sunday, 13 April 2014



Studio Ghibil production, directed by Hayao Miysaki. 126 minutes long.

One of my Top Ten favourite films of all times. The first Anime I ever watched, recorded one Christmas on a whim back in the late 80s and loved ever since. Also one of the first animated films I ever saw that wasn't a generic kids film, but an original, action-packed, adventure story with rounded characters, a compelling story, some seriously impressive visuals and not a single song and dance number. The design of the film is glorious and its mighty robotic guardians are both wholly unique and, at times, terrifying in equal measure.

In some far-flung post-apocalyptic Wales, mankind is slowly recovering from some undisclosed global catastrophe - some 600 years - previously that saw the peak of civilisation - vast floating cities kept aloft by levitation stones - brought crashing down to earth, literally.

Now, Sheeta, the last descendant of the floating city, Laputa, is abducted by a sinister government agent, with his own agenda, so she can lead him back to a mythical floating city obscured by clouds and unlock the deadly forces the city harbours. Along the way she teams up with a young orphan called Putzu and a family of aerial pirates called the Dola family in a race to reach Laputa first.

I bloody love this film. It's my favourite Studio Ghibil film. I've lost count of the number of times I've watched it on TV, DVD and Blu-Ray, but to see it up on a big screen was an absolute treat.


Monday, 7 April 2014



Directed by Neil Burger

Starring: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Miles Teller, Kate Winslet and Ray Stevenson.

One Hundred and Forty Minutes. That's two hours and twenty minutes. Two hours and ttweeeeenttyyy mmmiiinnnuuttteesssss looooooooooonnnnnnnnngggggggggggggggg.

Once upon a time, in Hollywood. A producer strode into an office of suits and pitched them his idea for a new film.

"Remember how we were looking for the next franchise we could mine? The next Harry Potter, the next Twatlight or Hunger Games?"

"Yeah, sure," replied the suits. "But don't kid us, that's not fair! Everyone knows there's nothing left out there in Word Land (which is what the suits called 'books').

"Well, I think I've found it." the Producer explained, his voice trembling a little.

"What existing franchise is it like?" asked a suit.

"Is it wizards? Or is it vampires or is it fighting babes?"

"But don't tease us, it tain't fair."

"It's like all three!" cried the Producer.

"WWHHHHHAAATT!?!?!?!" the suits gasped, not believing their ears.

"Yeah! it's like, imagine a Belle-aged Hermoine Granger joined Slytherin House and then had to fight to survive in a post apocalyptic future world while kissing.

The suits spat out their breakfast, because this was a breakfast meeting and signed their 'X's on the contract and then activated the big green light that lived beside the Hollywood sign. And all the little people who lived to watch the films cheered and the world was good.

And that's how this stupid film got made.

So, it's the future, 100 years after a war, only Chicago seems to have survived. The city has built a rather useless-looking wall around itself and then divided the city into five factions - The Jocks. The Preachies. The Nerds. The Organics and the Lawyers, because any apocalyptic surviving society starting from scratch and hoping not to fall into the same traps as the previous one is going to want one fifth of its population being lawyers. Then, just to make sure it's going to fail, it creates a sub-strata of their society that embraces street running as a legitimate life-style choice, gives them guns and makes them their police force.

With no natural enemies or threats and no desire to explore what's outside the stupid wall, this society decides it's far better to wage war against the 1/5 of their society whose job it is to distribute uneaten food to the factionless (that 6th faction of this world of 5 parts that lives apart from society) and  governs benignly and with complete impartiality. 

Luckily Kate Winslet on hand to bring society crashing to its knees and before you can say 'Bring back the Naming Hat', our plucky heroine discovers that she doesn't conform to any of the five factons because she'd divergent and must hide her shame least society kills her then it's a race against the clock to stop the big conspiracy from happening.

Along the folks die to provide plot points, and we get safe, sex-free snogging and talks about being different.

Chuck in some attractive actors and actresses, all under the age of 25, because we all live in the Cult of Youth, throw in a few oldies who have mortgages to pay to add some gravitas, a couple hundred mil of CGI effects and just then press record button and there you have it. This year's Mortal Instruments, or Host, or Ender's Game, or How I Live my Life, or Beautiful Creatures.

Too many plot holes to discuss, too little worth noting, not a horrific burning coach crash, but not a skateboard fail either.

Some nice moments, alas all too few and infrequent, and lots of emoting. A sort of big epic meh.

If you're deciding to see this or not, might I suggest you check out the director's name and then say, 'Shall we go and see the new Dullvergency film or go for a...