Friday, August 04, 2017

Wonder Woman, Spider-Man, Mr. Jackpots, City of a 1000 Planet of the Apes!

Way behind on my reviews as usual, so here's a quick roundup.

Wonder Woman
was great, of course, which was especially surprising after how dire Batman v Superman turned out to be. Amazing what a good director can do to turn things around. Hope Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot stay with DC movies for a long time.

Spider-Man: Homecoming was also a lot of fun, though once again the Marvel formula is starting to wear me out. Loved Tom Holland in the role, and Michael Keaton was definitely one of the more menacing MCU villains. But the rest of the movie (even the Robert Downey Jr. extended cameo) was just okay. Hopefully the sequel focuses on Spidey and not so much on his amazing friends.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
was as batshit crazy and visually gorgeous as you'd expect from the director of The Fifth Element. But it was nowhere near as fun or emotionally affecting as Luc Besson's earlier movie. The main problem is that Dane DeHaan is a totally bland leading man. The movie would have been much better if Cara Delevingne had been the main hero, rather than relegating her to a damsel in distress for much of the movie.

War for the Planet Apes was just as exciting and visually stuinning as the first two of the reboot trilogy. Woody Harrelson was a great villain and the film has an important (if depressing) message.

On the TV front, Twin Peaks continues to amaze me by being impossible to predict from episode to episode. Probably the highlights so far have been Episode 8 (possibly the most experimental and disturbing hour of TV in recent memory), Kyle MacLachlan knocking it out of the park each episode (despite still not being the Cooper we know and love yet), and seeing how returning characters such as Bobby and Hawk have evolved over the years. A little worried that there's been a lot of filler and seemingly pointless plot threads in the last few episodes, but hopefully David Lynch and Mark Frost pull it together for the finish.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

(Belated) Imaginary Cinema Awards 2016

So, somehow I forgot to post my pick of the best in sci-fi, fantasy and horror movies from 2016. Okay, it was a sucky year (personally, and politically) but I still need to give these movies a shout out.

Best Movie: Zootopia. Normally I don't include movies with anthropomorphic animals as fantasy, but this created such a vivid world, and had an important message to boot, that I'll allow it.
Runners-up: 10 Cloverfield Lane, Deadpool, Captain America: Civil War, Moana, Arrival, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, Star Wars: Rogue One, Star Trek Beyond, Dr. Strange, Kubo and the Two Strings, Ghostbusters, The Shallows.

Best Screenplay: Zootopia (Byron Howard & Jared Bush & Rich Moore & Josie Trinidad & Jim Reardon & Phil Johnston & Jennifer Lee - whew!)
Runners-up: 10 Cloverfield Lane (Josh Campbell & Matt Stuecken & Damien Chazelle), Deadpool (Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick)

Best Direction: Arrival (Denis Villeneuve) - I actually found the movie a little disappointing storywise, but the direction was impeccable.
Runner-up: 10 Cloverfield Lane (Dan Trachtenberg), Captain America: Civil War (Russo Brothers)

Best Actor: Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool)
Runners-up: John Goodman (10 Cloverfield Lane), Daniel Bruhl (Captain America), Benedict Cumberbatch (Dr. Strange), Samuel L. Jackson (Miss Peregrine), Mark Rylance (The BFG), Donnie Yen (Rogue One).

Best Actress: Eva Green (Miss Peregrine)
Runners-up: Mary Elizabeth Winstead (10 Cloverfield Lane), Amy Adams (Arrival), Kate McKinnon (Ghostbusters), Sofia Boutella (Star Trek Beyond).

Best Music: Kubo and the Two Strings (Dario Marianelli)
Runner-up: Moana

Best Visual Effects: Star Wars: Rogue One
Runners-up: Captain America: Civil War, Dr. Strange

Best Production Design: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
Runners-up: Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them

Best Editing: 10 Cloverfield Lane

Best Cinematography: Arrival

Best Make-up: Star Trek Beyond

Best Costumes: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Most Pointless Sequel: Independence Day: Resurgence (we waited 20 years for that?)

Disappointment of the Year: I would say Batman v Superman: Yawn of Justice, but I wasn't expecting much anyway.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017


So it looks like I may actually have a feature film credit in the near future. I wrote a screenplay set in a coffee shop with two other very cool writers and we're now in the process of trying to secure funding. It was a really great collaborative experience, and I think the finished movie will be a lot of fun. See here for more information!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Tale as Old as Time . . .

Another belated update. Since I last posted I've seen the following movies:

Beauty & the Beast - as shot for shot remakes of Disney animated movies go, it wasn't bad.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 - great fun as expected, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't getting a little tired of the constantly quippy Marvel movies.

Alien: Covenant - like Prometheus, it has a ton of problems (especially when it comes to character logic) but it's just stylish and eventful enough to hold my interest.

Movie I didn't get to see: It Comes at Night. The cinema I went to cancelled the show right after I bought a ticket due to lack of interest. WTF?

However, the media event I've been most excited about isn't a movie but a TV show. Twin Peaks is back (in unfiltered Lynch and Frost form) and for the most part it has met my expectations. Glad I didn't wait 25 years for nothing!

On the writing front, I'm still waiting to hear back about the spec scripts I entered in the Nickelodeon and WB writers programs. And to hear if anyone wants to help me publish my novel.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Lego Batman Movie & more!

Another long break in posting anything because I've been busy editing my YA superhero novel to get it ready to submit to agents. I'm about to start sending it out so watch this space!
Anyway, I've still been keeping up with movies, so here's some quick reviews of what I've watched, starting with the most recent:

The Lego Batman Movie
Tons of fun, though like the first Lego Movie the pace might be a bit exhausting for us older folks. The best part was the huge roster of villains, both DC and beyond, including Billy Dee Williams finally getting to play Two-Face. Probably my third favourite overall Batman movie, after Batman Returns and The Dark Knight.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Visually spectacular, emotional, and leads in perfectly to Episode IV: A New Hope. CG recreations of dead actors still not ready for primetime, though

Dr. Strange
Standard hero journey 101 stuff, but the cast and insane visuals made it worthy.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
Something of a return to form for Burton. A few dodgy parts but overall I enjoyed it

Friday, September 09, 2016

Stranger Things have happened . . .

So I haven’t updated for a while. I've been busy with schoolwork and editing my novel, and then my father passed away and I had to go back to England to put his affairs in order. Yeah, this year keeps getting shittier.

Anyway, here’s a recap of the movies and TV shows I’ve seen lately:

Ghostbusters – forget the shitty Ghostbros, this was a fun remake with a great cast of characters for girls and women (and, yes, boys and men) to look up to. Shame it probably won’t get a sequel because of the controversy hurting the box office.

Star Trek Beyond – after the mess of Star Trek Into Darkness’ half-hearted attempt at remaking Wrath of Khan, this was something of a back to basics for Trek. Nothing groundbreaking, just a good, fun episode.

Stranger Things
– the genre highlight of the summer was a gripping tribute to 80’s Spielberg and Stephen King. Anything that puts Winona Ryder back in the limelight is a plus with me.

Pete’s Dragon – a typically nice, well-made film from Disney that I liked but didn’t love. It may have more emotional impact than the original, but the dreary setting and depressing storyline saps some of the fun.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Rogue One and the Problem with Star Wars Spin-offs

So, a recent rumour went around that Disney have ordered reshoots of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story because the movie isn’t testing well and doesn’t feel like Star Wars. Whether this is true or not, it brings up an issue I’ve had with the Star Wars spin-offs ever since they were announced. These movies aren’t needed, at least not at this point. Disney should have just focused on Episodes VII-IX and then gauged audience interest before embarking on any more sequels, prequels or spin-offs.

There are two reasons for this. First of all, a Star Wars movie every year is just ridiculous. Star Wars is not the Marvel Universe, where every character has their own storyline that only occasionally crosses over into other character’s worlds. Star Wars is supposed to be one epic story and (until now) each new episode has felt like a special event. The spin-offs, regardless of their quality, will dilute the Star Wars brand and make it feel not so special anymore. Spin-offs are what you make when you’ve run out of ideas, not when you’re starting out on a new trilogy.

Second of all, as these rumours (if true) confirm, mixing the spin-off movies with the regular episodes will just confuse casual audiences and make any changes in tone more jarring. Rogue One shouldn’t feel like other Star Wars movies, and if Gareth Edwards and co want to make a darker, more war-like movie, I’m fine with that. But the general audience obviously won’t be and will wonder why it doesn’t feature any of their favourite characters and isn’t as lighthearted as The Force Awakens. If Disney had waited to make the spin-offs, or explored these stories in another medium like television instead, the change in tone wouldn’t be as jarring (no one complains that the Marvel Netflix series are far darker and more violent than the movies). Making spin-offs that have to please the family audience that went to the previous Star Wars movies is just limiting them artistically. These movies should be made further down the road, when the audience is more prepared for a different take on the saga.

Having said that, I’m totally down with an Obi-Wan Kenobi spin-off with Ewan McGregor. Even have the plot worked out – it should be a detective movie like the best part of Attack of the Clones. Have Obi-Wan reluctantly called out of hiding to solve a murder or find a kidnapped child on Tatooine and then he uncovers some major conspiracy. It would be the Chinatown of Star Wars movies. Lucasfilm, give me a call.