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Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011)
Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011)
2011 | Action, Sci-Fi
7
6.7 (25 Ratings)
Movie Rating
Delivering a much-needed shot of adrenaline to the summer movie season, “Transformers: Dark of the Moon”, arrives awash in stunning visuals and cutting-edge 3-D.

The movie picks up a few years after the events of the last film, as Sam (Shia LaBeouff), is struggling to adjust to his post college life. Despite the fact that he has been honored by the president for his heroic actions in the two previous films, Sam finds himself like many graduates, unable to find a job in today’s economy.

Sam bemoans the fact that he wants to do its work that matters again to his new girlfriend Carly (Rose Huntington-Whiteley), and is become increasingly frustrated with not being able to contribute to their finances. The fact that Carly works for suave and rich boss named Dylan, (Patrick Dempsey), only heightens Sam’s insecurity.

Meanwhile Sam’s Autobot friends are working closely with the government to root out any threats to national security as well as staying on alert for Decepticon attacks.

It is learned that an object great importance is on the moon in a crashed ship, and that the United States and Russia created their space race during the Cold War in an effort to obtain the secrets of the crash.

When alerted to the existence of the crash site, the Autobots investigate and discover their long-lost leader Sentinel Prime (Leonard Nimoy) is still alive and guarding precious cargo.

Despite meeting interference from a politician overseeing the top-secret program (Francis McDormand), Sam discovers a shocking secret with the help of Simmons (John Turturro), which soon has the entire planet caught in a battle between the two alien forces.

As loyalty, love, and friendships are put to the test, Sam and the Autobots must once again face their mortal enemies to save all life on earth.

The film is much darker than the previous films in the series as watching cities and civilian’s cut down during various enemy attacks may be hard for some fans of the series to watch.

That being said, the film is a visual masterpiece as the wizards at Industrial Light and Magic have crafted an amazing experience that at times is hard to believe are comprised of digital imagery rather than actual creatures.

Director Michael Bay who made a name for himself with summer action films that are big on explosions while short on plot has created arguably the best film of the series and perhaps of his career.

While the film runs at two hours and 40 minutes and does at times lag, Bay keeps things moving along at a steady clip and injects a little bit of humor into the film in between the chaos and mayhem.

While the acting and plot are not going to win any awards, they are better than usual for a summer action film.

It was reported that Paramount pressured Bay into filming in 3-D by threatening post convert the film if he had filmed in 2D. Bay responded with lavish 3-D effects that show off the true beauty and potential of the new 3-D technology and drastically underscores why Hollywood needs to stop doing the vastly inferior post conversion 3-D which has been done to the majority of 3D films that are being released. While it does not have the immersive quality of “Avatar”, the film nonetheless provides quality visual experience without resorting to the in-your-face gimmicks which are so common with 3-D films.

There are several fine supporting performances in the film including John Malkovich, Alan Tudyk, and John Tuturro who lift up the scenes they are in. Rose Huntington-Whiteley taking over for Megan Fox provides a fresh new romantic interest for Sam even though she’s given little more to do than play the damsel in distress for large parts the film. When she is given the chance, she throws herself deep into the action with a gusto worthy of any of her cast mates.

The film does have more than a few plot holes and without giving away any spoilers, suffice it to say that I had to question the events the last two films after seeing this one.

When a long-term objective is revealed, I had to ask why the events of the previous films took place now rather than in the past when certain parties had all of the required information available to them for decades.

It certainly would’ve been just as easy for characters to have initiated the actions of this film in an earlier film or timeline and would have wasted less resources.

That being said, when you’re dealing with shape changing aliens, one does have to allow a good degree of leeway in the storytelling process.

While it may not be the end to the series, certain cast members (Shia LaBeouff), have indicated that this is their last performance in the series. If that is the case, the film goes out on a strong note is arguably the best film in the series and a highly enjoyable summer movie experience.
  
Moonlighting
Moonlighting
1985 | Comedy, Drama, Mystery, Romance, Classics
7
7.8 (23 Ratings)
TV Show Rating
Contains spoilers, click to show
Another dip into the retro TV archive as part of that odd period in lockdown when all I could do for my watching fix was find old shows with full episodes on You Tube. My favourite show when I was a teenager happened to be one of those, with most of seasons 1 and 5 out there, and a small selection from the middle years.

If you were to make a time capsule to show aliens what the mid to late 80s looked like, look no further than this madcap rom-com drama that ran for 66 episodes between 1985 and 1989. The shoulder pads, the hairdos, the slip on shoes, the large chunks of cheesiness, it’s all there. Some of the coloured silks Maddie Hayes (Cybill Shepherd) wears have to be seen to be believed.

It was the first show to get free reign creatively from a network, with ABC trusting Glenn Gordon Carol, fresh from success with Remington Steele, to create something cool and hip. At the peak of its success it was costing $1.6m per episode, with Bruce Willis’ pay check becoming a big chunk of that, as his ego inflated and his star rose.

They auditioned close to 600 actors for the role of glib, fast talking sleuth David Addison, before taking a risk on an out of work nobody the producers had heard singing karaoke in an LA bar. The phenomenal buzz around Bruce Willis in 1985 is hard to imagine now, but he was literally the biggest star on TV, and once Die Hard came along in 1988, he gave the movie star thing a good go too.

Famous for its post-modern take on episode content, with overlapping dialogue, direct address to camera, in jokes and endless references to current events and the show itself, it was a knowingly self-conscious misfit. Nothing had ever been like this. Nothing, even close. It was funny, cool, had mass appeal and could seemingly do no wrong, breaking ratings records all over the place.

But all was not paradise on set. Shepherd and Willis were never pals, and at the worst actively despised one another, often refusing to film scenes if they thought the other one was too much the focus – which in Shepherd’s case was often a weird anachronistic soft focus, that attempted to make her look like a vintage movie star. They argued, fell out, made up and threw tantrums just like the characters they played. And scripts for the unusual hour long format were often so late, they filmed filler scenes whilst they were being finished on set!

This allowed for an unparalleled voice in American TV land. They got away with some very terse comments and innuendo bordering on smut, that slipped under the network radar, simply because the show was being edited minutes before it was shown. By season four it was really falling apart, as episodes got more surreal and used the breaking of the fourth wall more often, in a desperate attempt just to keep going.

Ostensibly, it was a detective show. But it was never about the cases. The sleuthing was only a background to the will they won’t they romance of Maddie and David, facilitated by the ever present Allyce Beasley as Agnes DiPesto, the rhyming receptionist, that was the only other cast member to appear in all 66 shows apart from the two stars. Early on the mystery plots and crimes to be solved were taken semi seriously; with a peak in season three where it actually approached proper drama. But by the end it was all about Willis goofing around, at the expense of any recognisable story.

Let’s face it, looking back on it now it has aged a whole bunch in a lot of bad ways. You aren’t really going to indulge in it for anything other than nostalgia reasons. But I was a huge, huge fan, and so for me it was a real trip to see it again. I never missed it as a kid, and would sulk if anything threatened to stop me watching it as it aired. I had every episode taped on VHS and could quote entire episodes, I had watched them so much.

It all ended too soon for me, but not soon enough for them. Shepherd got pregnant, Willis took the break to go and make some mid budget action film, and the rest is history. To this day, footage of them reminiscing about it is a fascinating but awkward watch, as they clearing still can’t agree on anything and thinly veil their contempt for each other. Willis’ ego does not come out of it well, but David Addison will always remain the one character that formed my personality via TV in those days, for better or worse.
  
Call of Duty: Ghosts - Invasion
Call of Duty: Ghosts - Invasion
Shooter
Just in time for the 4th of July, Activision has released the Invasion DLC for Call of Duty: Ghosts so PC and Playstation users can get in on the action. The content as per the usual formula releases first on Xbox systems and then makes it way to the other platforms where it can be purchased on its own or as part of a season pass which offers 4 DLC releases.

The new release offers four new maps and the latest chapter of Extinction which will provide plenty of variety to keep fans going until the final DLC set is released which sets the stage for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare in the fall.

Mixing old and new the new maps have much to offer at first glance and look to take the online experience of the game to the next level.

Pharaoh

Is set amongst Egyptian runes and there are dark temples and rubble strewn courtyards for players to navigate. Sadly it also makes for an ideal place for campers to setup in the shadow and this is one of the biggest frustrations as spawn camping happened to me often.

When I could get out to explore the richly detailed maps were great fun and I enjoyed the traps such as the collapsible pillar, the secret room, and the flesh eating scarabs as well as other treats the developers provided. I just wish gameplay issues did not mar the joy as much as they did.

Departed

Is set in a small Mexican Town during the Day of the Dead festival as if you had any doubt, the hearse and lively décor in the town’s fountain would be a giveaway. There is a church, retail shops, courtyards, and vehicles to contend with, however once again, camping rules the day as players often hide in the shadows or above picking players off when they spawn and making progress around the map tricky.

The Death Mariachi can be obtained via Field Orders and having a spectral ally with dual .44 Magnums can be a huge help along the way to victory for those lucky enough to obtain it.

Mutiny

This is perhaps the most creative of the new content as players battle in and around pirate ships and must contend with some speed and stealth requirements and two great Field Orders. There is the cannon barrage from the nearby sailing ship and the Ghostly Crew who are more than happy to help send enemies down the briny depths each chance they get.

I found a shotgun or an AK 47 worked best here as the close quarters make ideal conditions for a shotgun but on deck and the pier the rapid fire functions of the AK really helped out.

Favela

This is an update of the popular map from Modern Warfare II set in the Rio slums. Players have to run and gun across varied terrain to battle the enemy which is no easy task as snipers and campers love this map so expect to be frustrated if you have not played it before. Every window is a possible hiding place so this is not ideal for run and gun players.

Awakening

This is the third chapter in the Extinction storyline where players team up to battle an alien threat. This time they take the fight and the drill to the Alien’s backyard. As before players earn money by dispatching aliens which can be used for better weapons and power ups.

You need to work with one another as death will happen and you will need your team to revive you as once all four players are down, the game is over, and you will have to start the campaign over.

Calling in some sentry guns and artillery strikes help with the never ending waves as this is the best of the DLC by far.

 As much as I wanted to love this collection, sadly I ran into several issues with this collection which has marred my enjoyment of it. Issues with camping, lag, and rampant hacking have been so bad that I have struggled at times to find games on the PC version and when I have, gameplay at times has been almost unplayable.

Skill is one thing but when you unload half a clip in a target and they stand there taking it or kill you dead with one shot all the while being hit, you know you have a hack, lag, or gameplay issues. This happened time and time again, day in and day out.

Many players had told me in game how unhappy they have been with this collection as the maps encourage camping which leads to a lot of frustration.

Some users have complained that the matchmaking system is combing players regardless of their geography which is resulting in latency issues. I cannot tell you how many times a game has slowed to a crawl or stopped or how gunfire appeared to have no affect due to lag which on a 20 MBS line should not happen.

I did not see issues as bad as this with the previous two DLCs, the first one actually helped change my thoughts on the multiplay of Ghost which for me has been the least enjoyable of the series. That being said, it sadly is a return to form this time around and I am hoping that we have a better finale in store.

http://sknr.net/2014/07/14/call-of-duty-ghosts-invasion-dlc/
  
Pandorum (2009)
Pandorum (2009)
2009 | Action, Horror, Sci-Fi
Feels like the offspring of Event Horizon and The Descent. (0 more)
The story is crazy convoluted. (0 more)
A man wakes up in a sleeping chamber of some kind aboard a ship trudging its way through outer space. He has no recollection of who he is, what his mission is, or how long he's been on this vessel. After being awake for an hour, his memory begins to come back to him. He knows his name is Bower and he has a wife who may be on the ship somewhere. That's about the time the power surges begin and Lieutenant Payton wakes up. After realizing that they can't do much without having full power, Bower ventures off on his own to see if he can figure out what's causing these power surges and if anymore of the crew is awake. Bower doesn't get too far before he figures out two things: the first being that he only has about forty five minutes until the reactor goes into emergency shut down unless he can reach it in time from the other side of the ship. The second is that there's something else on board and whatever it is isn't human.

I had wanted to see this film ever since it first hit theaters since it had been a few years since the last sci-fi horror film I really enjoyed and I was really craving one. I missed it during its initial run though since it didn't perform so well at the box office (only a little over $10 million to date) and the response from moviegoers seemed a bit mixed (7.2 on IMDb, 27% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes). I had my doubts about the film since I knew Paul W.S. Anderson was involved and I've been rather disappointed with the majority of his films. Even though he was only a producer this time around, I knew his influence would still be on the project and it certainly was. So how did Pandorum stack up against the rest of Anderson's filmography? Probably about the same, but I enjoyed it overall.

The film starts off with an interesting premise, but the storyline seems to get more and more tangled up in itself as its twists and turns unravel. The viewer is left slightly disoriented by the time it's all said and done. There's at least two twists in there and several complicated conversations explaining what's actually going on. The other big problem for me was the fight scenes. Even though Christian Alvart is in the director's chair this time around, it seems as though some of Anderson's filming techniques left an impression on him as I remember having the same problem during the Resident Evil films (mainly Apocalypse). It's just hard to make out what's going on at times. You know someone has been stabbed or punched or kicked, but the camera zipping around so much sometimes makes it hard to see who is doing what.

The main reason to watch Pandorum is Ben Foster. He's just more and more impressive as an actor with every film he gets under his belt. I grew up watching him as Tucker James on Flash Forward and basically never forgot about him. After appearing in The Punisher, Hostage, and X-Men: The Last Stand, his most impressive role was in 3:10 To Yuma where he almost managed to steal the show from Russel Crowe and Christian Bale. It just seems like the more screen time Foster gets, the more time he has to portray how talented he really is. There are hints of Anderson's work on other films in Pandorum and although I'm not a big fan of his work, it was subtle and enjoyable overall. Event Horizon is the most obvious one, but there was a scene in the film where Bower and a few other people are trying to get to the reactor and they travel through a room that resembled the room in the first Resident Evil film with the lasers that wind up chopping most of them into bits. It was kind of interesting since Anderson's impression was definitely left on the film, but it felt like there was still enough material there for Christian Alvart to do his own thing as director. Speaking of Alvart, I was pleased that his two leads from his film Antibodies (André Hennicke and Wotan Wilke Möhring) had cameos in the film. Even Norman Reedus, who had a small role in Antibodies, managed to have a scene in Pandorum.

While Pandorum's storyline does seem to have about three turns too many and it's a bit difficult to make out what's going on when the action gets intense, it still managed to meet my expectations and be exactly what I was looking for with this type of film. Ben Foster definitely steals the show (Dennis Quaid is pretty good, as well) and the creatures in the film look similar to the ones from The Descent, which makes me think of this film as the offspring of Event Horizon and The Descent. If you're a fan of Event Horizon, Resident Evil, Aliens, or Sunshine, then this may be worth checking out. Considering its reputation, however, it'll probably have to be filed with the rest of my guilty pleasures.
  
Alien: Covenant (2017)
Alien: Covenant (2017)
2017 | Horror, Sci-Fi
Horrific Beasts and How to Avoid Them.
I seem to be in a bit of a minority in quite liking Ridley Scott’s last Alien outing – 2012’s “Prometheus”: a heady, if at times ponderous, theory to the origins of man. The first hour of that film is really good. But for me, what made the original 1979 film so enthralling was the life cycle of the ‘traditional’ Xenomorph aliens through egg to evil hatchling to vicious killing machine. This somewhat got lost with “Prometheus” with a range of alien-like-things ranging from wiggly black goo to something more familiar… and frankly I was confused. Some – repeat, some – of the explanation for that diversity of forms in “Prometheus” is made clearer in the sequel “Alien: Covenant”.

“Covenant” (named again after the spaceship at its heart) is a follow-on sequel to “Prometheus”, so it is worth re-watching it if you can before a cinema trip. At the end of that film we saw Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”) and a reconstructed android David (Michael Fassbender, “Steve Jobs“) flying off in an alien craft still loaded with its cargo of nasty alien black goo. Shaw had a mission to seek out The Engineer’s home world – named “Paradise” – to find out why after creating man they were intent on going back to finish them off with a WMD. A neat prologue has been released which documents this… here:


We pick up the action 10 years later in a totally improbable 2104. (Give us a break writing team! [Story by Jack Paglen and Michael Green; screenplay by John Logan and Dante Harper]. We know they won’t have got through planning permission on the third Heathrow runway by then, let alone invented interplanetary travel…! 2504, maybe!)
Daniels (Katherine Waterston, “Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them“) has just suffered a sudden bereavement (an uncredited James Franco – – blink and you’ll miss him). She has also been rudely awakened from hypersleep due to a sudden system mishap: no, not to find Chris Pratt there like “Passengers“, but by the ship’s android Walter (also Michael Fassbender) who’s also revived the rest of the crew. While effecting repairs they receive a garbled John Denver track mysteriously beamed to them from an earth-like planet not too far away. As this might be a suitable homestead, and as spending weeks more in hypersleep is unattractive, Captain Oram (Billy Crudup, “Spotlight“) votes to check it out, against Daniels’ strong objections. Needless to say, this proves to be a BIG MISTAKE as the new film neatly links hands with the first film.

Kick-ass… Katherine Waterston being careful not to slip in the shower.

There’s a limit to what more I can say about the film without delivering spoilers (so I have added a few more comments in the spoiler section BELOW the trailer). It’s a far more action-oriented film than “Prometheus” and has enough jump scares and gore to please most Alien fans. (In fact, it’s a surprise to me that it got a UK “15” certificate rather than an “18”: how much more violence do you need to show in the film?) A shower scene towards the end of the film is particularly effective and will likely put an end to relaxing shower sex for many people for good!
It also looks visually stunning (cinematography is by Dariusz Wolski (“The Martian“, “Pirates of the Caribbean”) with location shooting in Milford Sound in New Zealand. The special effects are also a cut-above the normal CGI with a devastated Pompeii-like city, a picture of blacks and greys, being particularly effective.

In the acting stakes it is really all down to Waterston and Fassbinder. I wasn’t a great fan of Waterston in “Fantastic Beasts” – a bit insipid I thought – but here she adopts Ripley’s kick-ass mantle with ease but blends it beautifully with doe-eyed vulnerability. Some of her scenes reminded me strongly of Demi Moore in “Ghost”. Fassbinder is fascinating to watch with his dual roles of Walter and David, both slightly different versions of the same being. And the special effects around the Fassbinder-on-Fassbinder action, tending somewhat towards the homoerotic in places, are well done.

Unfortunately the rest of the crew get little in the way of background development, which limits the impact of the inevitable demises. They are also about as clinically stupid as the spaceship crew in “Life” in some of their actions; I guess you could put some of this down to the effects of panic, but in other cases you might see it as a simple cleansing of the gene pool in Darwinian fashion.
Also making uncredited guest appearances are Guy Pearce as Weyland (in a flashback scene) and Noomi Rapace.

Music is “by” Jed Kurzel, but to be honest he does little than wrap around re-versions of the original Jerry Goldsmith classics: not that this is a bad thing, since those themes are iconic and a joy to hear again on the big screen.
My expectations for this movie were sky-high, as it was hinted as a return to form for the franchise. And in many ways it was, with a “man, Gods and androids” theme adding depth to the traditional anatomical-bursting gore. But to be honest, some of the storytelling was highly predictable, and I left slightly disappointed with the overall effort. If my expectations were an 11/10, my reality was more like a 7/10. It’s still a good film, and I look forward to watching it again. But perhaps this is a franchise that has really run its course now for Mr Scott and he should look to his next “Martian”-type movie for a more novel foundation to build his next movie “log cabin on the lake” on.
  
Call of Duty: Ghosts - Devastation
Call of Duty: Ghosts - Devastation
Shooter
The second of four planned content packs for Call of Duty: Ghosts has arrived and offers more than a way to tide fans over until the release the next pack and highly anticipated release of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare in November. Following the established formula of previous releases, the new collection offers four new maps, a new weapon, and a new episode for the alien themed Extinction gameplay mode.

 

The following maps are included in the collection.

 

Behemoth

This is set in a large excavation tool in Columbia where stairs, narrow corridors, and fast action are the order of business. Think of a cross between an oil rig and excavation machine and you have an idea what’s in store.

The upper levels of the map provide plenty of fast action and the interior locales get plenty of opportunity for close quarter combat. Running on the main deck may make you a favorite of snipers, but there are plenty of opportunities for players to duck out of harms way if they’re willing to jump over a ledge.

I have to say that this is my favorite of the new maps because I just really enjoyed the run and gun style of playing and this one suits me perfectly.

COD Ghosts Devastation_Behemoth Environment

Ruins

Set in Mexico, this map combines a jungle locale with plenty of temples. At first it was very frustrating as due to the excessive amounts of foliage and varying terrain levels, it was a campers paradise. I lost count of how many times I was spawn camped at the beginning of my play sessions but I soon developed instincts as to where opponents preferred to set up and hide. There is plenty of opportunity for fast and intense combat here as long as you’re willing to put up with the numerous snipers and campers that will letter the map.

When a player reaches a certain level of kill streak, they will become The Predator from the film series and this allows them to hunt opposing players using the heat vision of character as well as his wrist blades and plasma cannon. Should a player be lucky enough to take down this creature, he often gets the final laugh courtesy of his self-destruct mechanism which complete with sound effects from the film has devastating results.

COD Ghosts Devastation_Predator vs the Volcano

 

 

Unearthed

Set in a classified location this is often the most frustrating of the new maps for me. It is like a combination of Dome and a couple of other maps from previous games which forces combat to flow along and excavation site. There are some impressive things such as automatic doors and underground areas to fight within. However the central hub and elevated catwalk also lead to lots of sniping and camping. I had been spawn camped on this map more than any of the other maps combined but if you’re willing to lob a few grenades into the central hub, you can often be rewarded with some very impressive kill streaks.

COD Ghosts Devastation_Unearthed Environment

 

Collision

This New York based map is cluttered and dangerous as it is set aboard a crashed freighter that is mingled with the bridge and has all manner of vehicles and cargo containers aboard. Sniping is common here but the multilevel map and numerous interiors allow for a nice mix of gameplay styles. I remember recent session where I completed the final kills for our team by jumping down upon three passing enemies firing as I jumped. I have also racked up some very enjoyable kill streaks on this map that resulted in rocket strikes being called in. The detail level is good from the standing water in the lower sections of the ship to the cargo netting and containers that letter the upper levels. Seeing the wrecked New York City taxis was a nice touch as well as some of the more personal details in the crew quarter areas of the ship.

COD Ghosts Devastation_Collision Environment

 

The new weapon is called the Ripper and I found it to be a very interesting mix of submachine gun an assault rifle as it escaped will changing between the two on-the-fly. It is very high rates of fire which will rip opponent to shreds in short order hence how the weapon got its name. The high rate of fire though does go through your ammunition quickly so short bursts or plenty of time to reload is always recommend.

 

The final part of the collection is the Mayday episode of the alien themed Extinction. For players work with one another to infiltrate and clear a locale that is been overrun by the alien menace. Players purchase weapons upgrades based on the amount of enemies they dispatch and will also earn skill points based on their performance. Said skill points will let them do things such is offer ammunition upgrades to teammates and bring in electronics ranging from Sentry guns and other advanced weaponry. My first time through we made excellent progress as we seem to be well synced to take out the aliens and guard our drill that was required for advancement into the game.

This was short-lived as after several successful encounters we came across a group that had our number and dispatch us in quick succession which left no one to revive the fallen members. While it is a bit frustrating batch when this happens you must replay the entire session over the graphics and gameplay are definitely a very nice touch and I’m very happy to see that they have moved this to an episodic format because the narrative and back story bring a whole new level of enjoyment.

 

While not perfect, the collection is to me more enjoyable than many that maps the game shipped with at launch and therefore one that I can easily recommend. Those looking for the best value will want to purchase a season pass is that will get you all for the map packs at the discounted price which is certainly a is better than paying the going rate to get them à la carte.

http://sknr.net/2014/05/20/call-duty-ghosts-devastation-dlc/
  
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Emma @ The Movies (1779 KP) rated X-Men: Dark Phoenix (2019) in Movies

Jun 22, 2019 (Updated Sep 25, 2019)  
X-Men: Dark Phoenix (2019)
X-Men: Dark Phoenix (2019)
2019 | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
This was another screening that needed a second viewing because of challenging people, so now I've seen it in 2D and 3D. I'm seeing more films in 3D recently that actually work, I'm still not quite convinced by it but I'm certainly not annoyed by it.

The pre-"hype" for this was very mixed. I had been looking forward to the film for a long time but when the first trailer dropped I was disappointed and underwhelmed, it was however nice to see that others were having the opposite reaction to me. Perhaps I had just built it up too much in my head beforehand.

As we eeked closer the vibe became decidedly negative around it, and for the most part I avoided articles and rants as I just don't see the point in speculating so wildly about something that hasn't been seen. That climaxed again when the preview screening was interrupted by a fire alarm, and then when the internet seemed to go nuts over the fact the review embargo was so late. (It's not like embargos are unusual, I don't see how you can draw conclusions from release and embargo being on the same day... this seems entirely logical. *deep breath*)

Something I would like to query is the fact that someone decided it was sensible to put a reaction video of three of the stars seeing the Dark Phoenix trailer in 4DX. It's a little bit of fun, but frustrating if you've been trying to avoid trailers and spoilers before seeing the film.

Wow... waffle... to the film!

The team take on a mission to space when a shuttle loses control and is in the path of what appears to be solar flares. The mission seems successful until they realise there's still a crew member trapped. With the shuttle disintegrating the only ones who can safely make it are Jean and Nightcrawler. As Jean holds the shuttle in place Nightcrawler rescues the last man from the wreckage but when he returns for her she's already encountered the strange space energy.

Somehow despite the destruction of the shuttle Jean survives floating in space, Nightcrawler brings her back to the X-Jet and the whole team return to Earth as heroes. Jean wasn't left unchanged by her encounter though, she's changing, and as her mind begins to open the danger starts to grow.

Almost all of the characters in Dark Phoenix go through some sort of change. Jean comes face to face with her past and a power that is even more difficult to control than her own. Professor Xavier is less of a friend in his current persona than he's ever been before, and in this moment may not be the leader the X-Men need. Certainly by the end of the film each character has grown in some way. I'm not sure I was a fan of the changes in Professor Xavier, they were necessary in some respects but in the context of the rest of the series are a bit of a shock and out of the blue.

Thankfully some things don't change, and Quicksilver is still very funny, the occasional laugh was needed in what was quite a serious film.

Very briefly I want to talk about the effects. There's obviously a lot of them but I didn't spot anything that was outright terrible. (There's one moment in Cerebro, but that's more to do with how they choose to depict Cerebral's general imagery than anything.) My real standout moment is Jean's hair when she is embracing Dark Phoenix. We are given the floating underwater swirling effect that we should have seen in Aquaman.

It's been a while since I've seen all of the other films, although I did rewatch Last Stand and Apocalypse in the run up to this. There were a few moments where I saw flashes of Last Stand in Dark Phoenix which I thought was a nice touch.

I'm not sure there's a lot of point dwelling much on the acting for the main cast, it's consistent and what you'd expect for the franchise. Nicholas Hoult was able to bring a slightly bigger performance and he's probably one of the only regulars that had the ability to do that with his story.

Our villains were led by Jessica Chastain as Vuk. Vuk as a character and most of her group in general are actually quite bland. As emotionless aliens there's little to either love or hate. Had they been slightly more human than drone-like then they might have had a bigger impact. The only moment where I saw some good acting was when Vuk is with Jean near the very end and a look comes across her face and I thought, "oooh, acting!"

I wasn't entirely sure what was happening with Raven. She seemed to be a bundle of contradictions and got a terrible hand when it came to the script. I did want to slap her at one point, there was no need for what she did! NO NEED!

[Random thought: If Raven's scales/skin ripples when she transforms then how does she manage to do that when she's wearing an X-Suit? And also, why does she bother changing to her human look when she's in the mansion?]

The actions sequences were very good, the train scene felt like it had been crafted perfectly. Possibly a little too organised, but overall the entire scene came together. I particularly liked the choice of music when it coincided with Storm's piece, wonderfully atmospheric. (A pun? Perhaps.)

If there's anything I've taken from this it's that Dark Phoenix annoyed me less than Endgame did. It's not epic, but then I've never felt like the franchise has ever been that high on the scale. I'm reasonably happy with where it's left the sequence and what the future of the franchise might hold. I honestly don't think it deserves the hate that it's been getting.

What you should do

I think that you should go and see it, the action is good and a nice diversion for a couple of hours.

Movie thing you wish you could take home

I'd always want a superpower, but my choice changes more than Raven does.
  
Hellboy (2019)
Hellboy (2019)
2019 | Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Make up (0 more)
Acting (0 more)
It all looked soooo promising
Contains spoilers, click to show
Let me say this upfront; David Harbour looks f---ing boss as Hellboy. The makeup is far superior to that of Ron Perlman, not that there was anything wrong with Ron Perlman’s, but with this new incarnation it’s all in the eyes. Deep red, sunken, pained. Sadly, that is all I can say about this movie that is one hundred percent genuinely positive. There are positives however, but they come with a big ‘however’.
I was initially a little concerned that we were getting a re-boot and not a direct sequel to Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008), especially as it still seemed so recent and was so well made. I know it was over a decade ago but quality is timeless, yeah? Then David Harbour was cast and Neil Marshall announced as director. Great, thought I, an actor I like and a director who’s put out some solid genre material. I saw the first picture of Harbour as Hellboy and I was genuinely excited. I saw the trailer and again, excited. Then I watched the film.
Eurgh, where to start?
Firstly, Ian McShane’s initial voice over is clunky and ill fitting, then they throw in some b@llocks about King Arthur and Excalibur. I had my first wobble here, as some of the effects seemed less than special.
Cue opening titles.
The film starts with a Mexican wrestling match that is purely exposition to let us know Hellboy is a hard drinking and hard fighting anti-hero working for an organisation that deals with the paranormal. The make up for his vampiric opponent is also great (can’t fault the makeup department), but the scene seemed superfluous. We get the nubbin of the story forming now; some horrible witchy wench from way back when was cut into bits and flung around jolly old England to prevent her from spreading a right ‘orrible plague. Turns out a potty-mouthed Liverpudlian pig-monster is collecting said bits in the hope of putting her back together in exchange for his normal appearance. Scouse pig-monster is quite entertaining.
Hellboy goes to England at the request of an upper-class paranormal society to help them kill giants; this goes t1ts up. Again, this seems like unnecessary exposition to introduce Alice, a medium who he rescued as a baby, who now rescues him in a transit van. We also get introduced to M11’s Agent Daimio. There something wrong with him, he keeps injecting himself with a serum to stop something happening. I knew at this point we’d get to see what it was eventually, probably at a juncture where something is needed to rescue someone important. However, at this point I had a feeling it would be bad, I just didn’t know how bad.
There some more fighting, some good effects, some mediocre effects and some terrible effects. There’s some good one-liners, there’s some dull and/or terrible dialogue and then we get the film’s conclusion.
There’s something I’ve been putting off mentioning as I didn’t want the entire review to be about it, and it could have been; the witchy wench at the heart of all this paranormal consternation, Nimue, is played by Milla Jovovich and she is terrible. From when she first opens her mouth to her predictable demise, she is terrible. Terrible. TERRIBLE.
I love some of the Resident Evil films but all she’s required to do is some slow-motion scissor kicks and shoot zombies and zombie-dogs in the face. She is tolerated, rather than enjoyed. Here she is emoting, or at least I think that’s what she was going for, and as a depiction of an evil entity bent of the destruction of all mankind, she is, for want of a better word, cack.
David Harbour and the Hellboy franchise deserve better than this. To be blunt, the franchise has better than this and Mike Mignola should be a bit more f---ing precious with his creation.
Hellboy (2004) was genuinely exciting; it was an origin story that bought that story full circle for its thrilling and apocalyptical conclusion. It has a wonderful nemesis, great support and breath-taking visuals. The re-tread of the origin story in Hellboy (2019) is, again, one more unnecessary diversion from a sketchy plot, which, for all its meagre bones takes a f-ck load of time to tell.
Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008) was equally impressive. It also introduced a fully formed community of creatures and customs hiding alongside mankind. It did so with nonchalant aplomb. Nothing seemed irrelevant or forced. For two films with almost identical running times, Hellboy (2019) tells less of a story with way more waffle.
So, I did mention there were some positives. David Harbour is great. He’s dour, sarcastic, defiant and funny, he just has no engaging story in which to be all those things. Ian McShane is good as the father figure but he is overshadowed by memories of the late, unbelievably great John Hurt. The story of a witch trying to destroy mankind is solid fantasy movie gold and the unleashing of her plague late in the final act is suitably hellish; bizarre demons emerging from city streets and tearing humans limb from limb, it’s bloody wonderful and wonderfully bloody. They all could have come straight out of a Clive Barker fever dream. However, it’s too little too late, by this point in the story we’ve had too many cutaways, too much shoddy CGI, and Agent Daimio stinking up many a scene with his ‘will he won’t he’ turn into something rubbish… he does.
The worst part of all this is I don’t know if they can come back from this. The film may have sunk the franchise at least for the next few years.
I do however, look forward to a re-boot in a decade or so, if we haven’t all been assimilated by aliens, overrun by AI robots or decimated by a supernatural plague bought on by some witchy wench with an axe to grind.

THREE WORD SUMMATION: Big Red Turd.
  
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017)
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017)
2017 | Sci-Fi
The story of Valerian is a good one. We open on Mül, a idyllic place of peace and a simple life. But this peace is shattered when fire rains from the sky devastating the entire planet. The last moment of Mül sees the Princess, doomed to die in the explosion, release her energy into the universe, through time and space.

Valerian, sunning himself on his ship, is hit with a sudden vision of the cataclysm on Mül. Unsure about it's meaning he goes back to the task at hand, retrieving a relic from some disreputable people on the black market. The "converter" is the last of it's kind in the universe, it will eat anything and rapidly replicate it, and as such is a very valuable commodity.

The mission is to return the converter to Alpha station. But when they arrive they discover that the station has been infected with something right at its heart. It's spreading, and all those that enter do not come back. When events lead to Valerian being drawn into the infected area, Laureline isn't willing to give up hope, and she battles her way in. Once she's reunited with Valerian they work travel to the centre of the station and discover the shocking truth about how the infection began...


The film is based on Valerian and Laureline, a French sci-fi comic series written by Pierre Christin and illustrated by Jean-Claude Mézières. I have got the first one to read, but as is my tradition, I have yet to do so. The first one is available free on Kindle at the moment if anybody is that way inclined. I expect that it will get a much better reaction in Europe than it seem to have done in the States, which is a bit of a shame. Possibly the way to go would have been with bigger stars, but *shrugs shoulders* it's too late now.

As I said, the story itself is a good one, and while people are nit picking and saying there are plot holes... there aren't if you don't look for them. I have this horrible ability to just watch a film for what it is, if you just go and see something to have some fun you don't notice any of that. It's a horribly nice way to be able to live my life, I enjoy a lot more things that way.

What I'm about to say is going to contradict my overall feeling for the film... I didn't really enjoy Dane DeHaan or Cara Delevingne. I had originally thought that I hadn't seen DeHaan in anything before, but was soon getting recollections of The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Scrolling through Delevingne's few years of films I've only seen Suicide Squad, and her acting as a "real person" is quite a small piece in that. While I can't think of anyone who would have perfectly suited either role, I feel like many other actors could have done an equal, or better, performance.

You get a wonderful introduction to what the station is, and has become. And we're treated to the potted history of alien species, several of which would sit quite nicely in the Whoniverse. I'm quite looking forward to reading the graphic novel. I can see stories unfolding in the different sections of the station, and that works. It almost feels like it would have made an amazing TV series, because it is essentially Star Trek with glitzier aliens and ecosystems.

As far as the secondary characters go we're treated to several memorable moments. Including Ethan Hawke as Jolly the Pimp, which is as flamboyant as you'd expect. Clive Owen as Commander Filitt, stern and ruthless, the sort who would stab you in the back (or the front) for his own gain. Sam Spruell as General Okto-Bar, who acted his part incredibly well... I'm honestly surprised I've not seen any of the other things he's been in, but I will be checking them out. Rihanna as Bubble, I'm a little surprised about how much I heard about her being in this considering how short her role is. But the same is true of a few things I've seen recently. We first meet her at Jolly's den of iniquity, where the music video training definitely came in handy.


As a whole the film moves along smoothly, with only a few little bits that seemed like they didn't belong, or could have been cut out. Unlike other films though, these little additions didn't harm the overall product.

Here is where my love for the film takes a steep nose-drive. Imagine crying with joy to resting bitch-face in the space of a few seconds. The 3D was hideous. I can't even think of a nice thing to say about it.

When the scenes were general crowd shots or indoors, everything was fine... although these shots didn't really benefit from the effect. The exterior shots however, in my not so expert opinion, were a terrible idea. I found some of them actually painful to watch, particularly long range shots of Alpha with ships coming in to dock. It was near on impossible to deal with the perspective as there was so much happening. For the last half of the film I took my 3D glasses off every time these shots appeared on screen as my head was rapidly starting to hurt, and I wasn't the only one having trouble.

If it wasn't for the painful exterior shots I honestly would have forgotten I was watching the film in 3D. Unlike other 3D films, you weren't aware that things were coming out of the screen at you. Not once.

I really don't want to be so negative about this film, it was an enjoyable watch (without the optical illusion created by the 3D). I would recommend it to anyone who has a passing interest in sci-fi and adaptations of comics. And I feel like, if nothing else, it might get the graphic novels themselves more circulation outside of Europe.

But please... watch it in 2D.
  
Avatar (2009)
Avatar (2009)
2009 | Action, Comedy, Mystery
Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) is your typical jarhead from the military other than the fact that he doesn't have the use of his legs, but him being in a wheelchair doesn't seem to slow him down at all. Jake is the type of soldier to shoot first and ask questions later while his twin brother was more of the scientific type, but Jake's life takes an unexpected turn when his brother is killed. Jake is asked to step into his brother's shoes, so to speak, and take his spot in the Avatar project. The project requires him to travel to Pandora, a planet that takes nearly six years to get to, and to try to learn the ways of the natives there, the Na'vi.

Incredible technology has been developed that enables users to transfer their human essence into the body of a Na'vi avatar that they've raised from a DNA injected fetus and transfer back again. Parker Selfridge (Giovanni Ribisi) runs the project currently taking place on Pandora, who is after a resource known as unobtanium that could be the answer to the energy crisis back on Earth. A sacred tree that acts as the Na'vi's central base rests on top of the largest unobtanium deposits in Pandora. When Jake begins being trusted by the Na'vi race, a deal is made that he'll get his legs back if he can somehow convince the Na'vi people to leave. However, Jake begins to realize how spectacular their world really is, that the Na'vi people are more than just "blue monkeys," and begins to feel like his time in the avatar body is more genuine than when he wakes up. He begins to wonder if he's fighting for the wrong side.

The first feature film from director James Cameron (director of the first two Terminator films, Aliens, and Titanic) in 12 years that promised some of the most groundbreaking special effects to ever hit the screen is finally here. This film's ad campaign has been insane with clips and behind the scenes featurettes showing up online left and right while TV spots were nearly on every major channel. Is there any way a film could live up this kind of hype? The short answer is yes.

Avatar starts off rather slowly with the main human characters and the world of Pandora being introduced to us. Then there's the technology on the human side that needs its fair amount of screen time. Needless to say, it takes a good while for things to really get rolling. Character development is never a bad thing to accomplish early on. It makes it that much easier to establish an emotional connection when things get rough later on, which is exactly what this film does. Plus, when the war finally does happen, it's well worth the wait. Although, the emotional connection didn't seem as strong as it should have been or as strong as previous Cameron films. Once things took a turn for the worst, the emotions were there but it just seemed like it should have had a stronger connection given the duration of the film along with the time, effort, and money put into making this film as great as it is.

The special effects are pretty mind blowing. James Cameron has practically given life to this extravagant world and the marvelous creatures that inhabit it. The majority of the film looks realistic even though nearly every scene relies heavily on CGI. A feat not many CGI-heavy films have been able to pull off and none to the extent that this film has. There's a scene where Jake is attacked by a group of viperwolves and another scene where Jake learns to ride a direhorse that look incredibly genuine. To make something like people with blue skin or a horse that has an anteater head with six legs look real is an accomplishment worth being proud of. The technology used in the film by the humans is pulled off so flawlessly that it seems like it could come to fruition in the real world tomorrow.

Sam Worthington continues his trend of exceptional performances, as well. While Zoey Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Giovanni Ribisi, and Joel David Moore all have their shining moments, Worthington steals the spotlight and rightfully so since he's the lead. His dry humor and struggle to do what's right are one of the most enjoyable factors in watching the film (other than the special effects, of course). Worthington was really the only redeeming factor of Terminator: Salvation and looks to put in another strong performance in next year's Clash of the Titans.

While the film has superb action sequences (the thanator chase and leonopteryx chase were amazing in IMAX), nearly flawless CGI, and strong performances from the cast, the film still had its flaws. The story is probably the weakest aspect of the film. It's pretty thin and predictable, but that is probably the last thing on the minds of most of the moviegoing audience. With South Park mocking the film last month by calling the film, "Dances With Smurfs," and the film being called, "Dances With Wolves in space," nearly all across the net, the similarities of those two comparisons are certainly there. While the Smurf one is a bit of a stretch, Dances With Wolves in space seems almost accurate as a nutshell review. The nearly three hour duration may also be a factor for some while 3D and IMAX versions of the film may be a problem for those who had problems with a film like Cloverfield. Seeing the film in IMAX, going back for future viewings of the film in 3D and 2D seems like a good idea just to compare since the IMAX version didn't feel like the definitive version. Would it have the same effect in digital 3D showings? What about regular showings? Shelling out $15 when you could spend half of that is something to take into consideration when seeing a film that was sold out nearly its entire opening weekend.

James Cameron's Avatar was well worth the wait and certainly lives up to the hype. Its special effects are certainly the best to be featured in any film to date as these vibrant creatures nearly jump to life because of the effects alone. The performances are top notch and the action sequences certainly live up to James Cameron's reputation. Despite all this, the emotional connection between the audience and the characters didn't seem quite as strong as some of the other films this year. Up, Where the Wild Things Are, and even Moon were able to establish a stronger connection. So while the film is exceptional, it isn’t the best film of 2009 which is probably a shock to some.