Friday, 28 April 2017

Review: Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol.2 (first-pass)





Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol.2 (3D / first-pass / SPOILER-FREE)
Cert: 12A / 136 mins / Dir. James Gunn / Trailer



Expectation was always going to be the enemy of James Gunn's Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol.2. There are no audiences to surprise this time, it's a return-trip to the well. The ticket-buyers might not know exactly what to expect, but they have boxes they want ticking. So how does the movie fare against this?

Short version: satisfyingly well. The sequel is consistently funny, dynamic and engaging, upping the ante of the first film without coming off as fan-service. Sure, the run-time is probably a little too long at 136 minutes (a quarter-hour above the first movie), the eagerly-awaited soundtrack is a little more 'needle-drop' this time around, and Drax's foghorn-humour has been turned notably up, as has Groot's playfulness. But crucially the film is more than enough fun to cover the occasional raising of an eyebrow. Integral characters from the first installment return, and several new ones are introduced (with a couple of classic-Marvel cameos to boot). Things are left typically open-ended, but there's significant character development all round.

As usual with this sort of thing, the film's a sensory bombardment the first time you watch it. More words will be written after future viewings, but in the meanwhile rest assured that if you enjoyed the first Guardians Of The Galaxy, there is plenty in here for you…


Oh, and if you're a bit OCD when it comes to your playlists, this is the movie-used order of the soundtrack album:

Brandy (You're A Fine Girl) - Looking Glass
Mr. Blue Sky - Electric Light Orchestra
Lake Shore Drive - Aliotta Haynes Jeremiah
The Chain - Fleetwood Mac
Southern Nights - Glen Campbell
My Sweet Lord - George Harrison
Come A Little Bit Closer - Jay & The Americans
Bring It On Home To Me - Sam Cooke
Wham Bam Shang-A-Lang - Silver
Father And Son - Cat Stevens
Surrender - Cheap Trick
Flash Light - Parliament
Guardians Inferno - The Sneepers
(I didn't notice The Sweet's Fox On The Run playing anywhere in the film itself, so that could be a trailer-only track, as Spirit In The Sky was last time around.)

You're welcome.


And the business-end:
• Is there a Wilhelm Scream? Didn't hear one yet.
• Is there a Stan Lee cameo? Yes.
• Is there a mid-credits scene? Yes, several.
• Is there a post-credits scene? Yes.



So, watch this if you enjoyed?
Guardians Of The Galaxy.


Should you watch this in a cinema, though?
Absolutely.


Does the film achieve what it sets out to do?
Absolutely.


Is this the best work of the cast or director?
It's close to their previously high-watermark, but maybe not quite up to it.


Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?
That will depend on why we're disagreeing.


Yes, but is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
Not that I heard, but there are many viewings for me to unearth it, should it be there.


Yes, but what's the Star Wars connection?
Level 2: Zoe Saldana's in this, and she was in those Star Trek movies with Simon 'Unkar Plutt' Pegg.


And if I HAD to put a number on it…


DISCLAIMERS:
• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

Review: Guardians of the Galaxy





Guardians Of The Galaxy (3D / fifth-pass)
Cert: 12A / 121 mins / Dir. James Gunn / Trailer



It doesn't matter that this film is a low-risk gamble, a carefully crafted franchise-entry from two of the largest entertainment corporations on the planet. Guardians Of The Galaxy is utterly magnificent. Almost as a self-set challenge, James Gunn's movie introduces (and embeds) a swathe of new characters, and uses a bare minimum of connecting tertiary forces to establish itself in Marvel's larger cinematic universe. This is a high-point in a consistently high range. That's about all I have to say this time around…*1


So, watch this if you enjoyed?
Star Wars, Marvel Cinematic Universe flicks.


Should you watch this in a cinema, though?
If you can, you should.


Does the film achieve what it sets out to do?
It does.


Is this the best work of the cast or director?
It's a high watermark, certainly.


Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?
I just might.


Yes, but is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
There is.


Yes, but what's the Star Wars connection?
Level 1: This film stars the voice of Darth Maul, one of the new Darth Vaders and Benicio Del Toro (as yet un-named character in Ep VIII).


And if I HAD to put a number on it…


*1 Although my previous ramblings from the film's initial release-window can be found here, here, here, and here. [ BACK ]

DISCLAIMERS:
• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Review: Alien





Alien
Cert: 15 / 111 mins / Dir. Ridley Scott / Trailer



And following a brief break after Prometheus, the second-part of the 426 extravaganza was 1979’s original Alien movie*1.

The problem with running this double-bill in chronological story order, of course, is that the original film really isn’t ageing well, visually. There, I said it. The film stock is furry, even for a remastered director's cut. Miniatures look like miniatures, the fully-grown Xeno looks like a guy in a suit, and the escape of the iconic chestburster is nothing short of comical*2. And that's all fine until you run it back to back with a flick made in the digital age.

But, when it comes down to the mechanics of the Mansion Murderer In Space, Scott’s film is masterfully tense and hasn't been topped since (although many are still trying). This was the first time I’d seen the original Alien at the cinema. Hopefully it won’t be the last...

As the Nostromo is hauling an ore-refinery for mining operations, that effectively makes the seven crew members and the Seven Dwarfs.
Which would make the Xenomorph Snow White.

Discuss.



So, watch this if you enjoyed?
The Aliens.


Should you watch this in a cinema, though?
If you can bear the analogue-feel on a digital-screen, yes.


Does the film achieve what it sets out to do?
It does.


Is this the best work of the cast or director?
Probably not, but only because of their impressive other work.


Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?
Nope.


Yes, but is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
Nope.


Yes, but what's the Star Wars connection?
Level 2: Sigourney Weaver's in this of course, and she starred in A Monster Calls along with the voice of Liam 'Qui-Gon' Neeson.



And if I HAD to put a number on it…
Yeah, I've marked it up. Despite looking worse in the cinema, the film's better in the cinema. Me mordere...


*1 There were 13 people in the auditorium for the screening Prometheus which is embarrassing enough. But two of those left in the interval, and one walked out about ten minutes into Alien. Who does that? I could understand if they'd been showing the films the other way around. Alien is generally accepted as the better of the two, right? Some weird reverse film-snobbery going on.
[ BACK ]

*2 Not the screaming and the writhing; that bit where it looks around then goes skittering off across the floor. Tonight's audience had already watched a far more visceral version of the birthing process in Prometheus of course, but then this film was followed by a couple of sequences from Covenant, one of which shows a similar event. So seeing modern-interpretations both before and after John Hurt’s most famous scene doesn’t really do the film any favours I’m afraid. [ BACK ]


DISCLAIMERS:
• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

Review: Prometheus





Prometheus (2D / fourth-pass)
Cert: 15 / 121 mins / Dir. Ridley Scott / Trailer



And so, Alien Day saw a special screening of Ridley Scott’s two franchise-entries, in advance of his latest, Covenant. First up on the playlist was Prometheus*1, a film I haven’t watched since it ended its cinematic run in 2012. No agenda behind that, I’ve just been waiting for the director’s cut which hasn’t yet materialised (and probably won’t).

So while I remembered how much I enjoyed Prometheus, I’d forgotten what an amazing cast of character actors it boasts outside of the headliners*2. And sure, many of them are only there to do Stupid Horror Movie Things™ before buying the farm, but it makes for a great watch all the same.

The film's still got issues, of course, and the intervening years have not been kind to the exposition-heavy script and total lapses of screenplay-logic. But it’s not often I can go back to a movie I’ve left fallow for five years and enjoy it every bit as much.

Also, I like that the Engineers control their starships using six boiled eggs and a flute. That's the future, right there.



So, watch this if you enjoyed?
The Aliens.


Should you watch this in a cinema, though?
If you can, do.


Does the film achieve what it sets out to do?
Probably nowhere near as well as intended, but yes.


Is this the best work of the cast or director?
Nah.


Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?
No, I've been disagreeing with people about this film for five years now.


Yes, but is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
Not that I heard.


Yes, but what's the Star Wars connection?
Level 2: Rafe Spall's in this, and he starred in that I Give It A Year with Rose 'Dormé' Byrne.

Although in related news, the crew of the Prometheus contains Aldrich Killian from Iron Man 3, Heimdall from Thor, Wong from Doctor Strange and of course Magneto. You'd expect a team with those members to fare a little better, frankly...


And if I HAD to put a number on it…


*1 Given that Prometheus is a prequel, it makes absolute sense to show it first in a double-bill of course. However, as the “new” content of the Alien Superticket deal takes place between the two existing movies (and is being saved 'til last for screening in May), it would make more sense to show the films in their release order, surely? It’s not like Alien follows on immediately from Prometheus, in the same way that you wouldn’t go from The Phantom Menace to A New Hope (especially if you were awaiting the release of Attack of the Clones). More on this in my accompanying Alien review. [ BACK ]

*2 Although while I hadn’t forgotten that Prometheus is one of the few occasions where Michael Fassbender’s accent is actually under control, it had slipped my mind that the Fauxmerican drawl of Idris Elba is absolutely atrocious. I guess Ridley can’t be expected to steer two ships at once, right? [ BACK ]


DISCLAIMERS:
• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Review: The Belko Experiment





The Belko Experiment
Cert: 18 / 89 mins / Dir. Greg McLean / Trailer



Saturday night at the movies, who cares what picture you see? As long as someone gets beaten to death with a tape-dispenser and all the office-workers in the audience grin and silently fist-bump. Greg McLean's The Belko Experiment is a non-supernatural horror movie which is not for the faint of heart (relatively few films actually get an 18-certificate these days).

During an apparently normal working day, a seven-story building full of administrators for the mysterious Belko Corportation is put on enforced lockdown, whereby employees are informed by an unknown agency that they're to begin systematically reducing their numbers by any means possible. With no particularly favourable way out, the group begins dividing into leaders and followers, survivors and compliers, killers and victims.

The Belko Experiment is exactly the film it sounds like, and is all the better for it. The opening scenes are packed with background exposition and visual-callback setups, but at a lean 89 minutes, it wastes absolutely no time in getting to the starting line of having eighty colleagues holed up and panicking. The film's not particularly incisive with its social satire, and it's not even trying to be that clever. It's just gleefully amoral and nihilistic, not offering any solutions, just underlining the problem which has always been humanity's biggest enemy: other humans*1. Much like The Walking Dead, the plot-structure means that pretty much any of the characters can die at pretty much any point, without warning or justification (albeit often with ecstatic poetic licence).

Given the outlandish nature of the movie in general, it's fairly solidly performed all round, with strong leads from John Gallagher Jr, Adria Arjona and Tony Goldwin, a fairly easy paycheck for Michael Rooker (although the employees aren't going to stay trapped in the building for long with the amount of scenery John C. McGinley's chewing his way through, surely?). And when the James Gunn-penned flick opens with José Prieto's Yo Vivire, you just know this is going to be fun. Outside of the orchestrated score, the film's song-selection is often camp, always arch and never over-egged. Oh, and bonus point for the old-school Orion Pictures ident, too. Fantastic stuff.

The Belko Experiment was never going to redefine the genre, but if you get no enjoyment out of it then you obviously don't spend forty hours a week trapped in a building with beige electronics and idiots…



So, watch this if you enjoyed?
The Purge, Would You Rather and fuck it, Office Space.


Should you watch this in a cinema, though?
If you can, hell yes.


Does the film achieve what it sets out to do?
Pretty much.


Is this the best work of the cast or director?
Don't know if I'd go quite that far, not that it makes the film any less glorious.


Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?
No.


Yes, but is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
No.


Yes, but what's the Star Wars connection?
Level 2: This flick's got that Michael Rooker in it, and he was in 2008's Jumper alongside Hayden 'Skywalker' Christensen.


And if I HAD to put a number on it…


*1 Although it's 2017 for crying out loud, if the film's sharpest stick is 'people are awful by default', that's hardly a point which needs reinforcing, now is it?[ BACK ]


DISCLAIMERS:
• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.