Movies: Bohemian Rhapsody Review

October 31, 2018

I suppose if I went to see a film about a subject that I was passionate about, and it turned out to be a pretty inaccurate retelling of events, then I might be a little bit disappointed.

On that note, for some enthusiasts, it looks like Bohemian Rhapsody – the story of Freddie Mercury and Queen – is a disappointment. It’s certainly a polarizing movie because I’ve seen some people call it a five-star classic and others give it only two stars.

Having googled some facts about it myself, I can see why they aren’t happy. For example, in the movie it suggests that Queen suffered a bad breakup long before Live Aid and in their first gig together for years, Mercury only managed to pull a performance out of the bag at the last-minute despite his diagnosis of HIV.

In reality, the band were touring through 1984 and 1985 all the way up to Live Aid, and then continued to make albums afterwards. Mercury was only diagnosed in 1987.

I mean…it’s a pretty big inaccuracy, and seemingly it’s not the only one.

So if I was to be critical about the movie from that perspective then I guess I would have to mark it down.

But the thing is, I didn’t know any of that before I saw Bohemian Rhapsody, and thus I took it at face value.

And I have to say, I loved it.

Apart from being an interesting story – fictional or not – its focus on the music made it a fun and energetic viewing experience, culminating in a quite extraordinary re-staging of their electric performance of Live Aid.

That alone was worth the admission fee.

Remi Malek put in a powerful performance as the band’s lead singer, but thankfully didn’t have to really sing the songs himself. I thought it was just Mercury dubbed over while he lip-synced but it turns out the songs were actually sung by a Mercury impersonator from YouTube. I would never have known. But it was very good.

Apart from all of that though, the thing that really stood out about this movie is that even though its running time is almost two and a half hours, I never even checked the time once. That’s almost unheard of.

And it’s perhaps the highest praise I could give it.

So unless you are the ultimate Queen purist or conversely absolutely detest their music, I’m fairly sure you will enjoy this.

It’s definitely up there as the best movie of the year for me.

 

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Movies: First Man Review

October 19, 2018

There are two ways of looking at First Man, the Neil Armstrong biopic starring Ryan Gosling.

Either you could be impressed by the direction and shooting of the scenes in the rocket and in space, or you could be pretty bored by what is a movie devoid of much drama.

I was asked what the movie was about and the best I could come up with was “A man called Neil is asked by his employers to land on the moon, and he does”. Well, I could also have said “A man called Neil loses his daughter to illness, but manages to find closure by being the first man on the moon”.

All I knew about it was that it was a movie about Neil Armstrong becoming the first man to step on to the surface of the moon, but in my head I expected better.

Considering it’s such a huge historical event that – while I do believe it happened – mystifies me because of the level of technology available at the time, I hoped to learn from it.

I wanted it to get to the heart of how the moon landing was possible, and the bumps in the road along the way.

What I got was, by and large, an overly long 140 minute movie that just seemed to be about Armstrong’s emotional well-being. It looked good, but it was devoid of drama and really, it made the moon landing – which I dare say I’m not alone in thinking this is what it should have been about – secondary to a ‘human’ story of a man who lost his daughter.

It wasn’t a bad movie, but it’s certainly not the first one in recent years based on true events that has failed to excite me.

The difference is that this one should have.

 


Movies: The Meg Review (or “I Believe Literally Anyone Could Write Something Better”)

September 9, 2018

Sometimes you go to the cinema to watch a trashy film and are entertained. They don’t all have to be deep and full of inner truth and worthiness to be enjoyable after all.

I’ve reviewed loads of films like that over the years, the most recent one being Skyscraper.

Other times though you go to a trashy film and come away from it thinking “That was just absolute shite”.

The Meg was one such film.

I could put up with the bad acting and Jason Statham’s unbelievably terrible attempt at what I assume was an Australian accent if it had other things going for it, but it really didn’t.

Principally, it was just poorly paced and badly written.

Rather than building up to a single, exciting climax like just about every other film that has copied the Jaws formula over the years, the writers of The Meg decided to build up to three.

At first it’s a story about Jason Statham rescuing his ex-wife from a big shark at the bottom of the sea, then it’s about the shark coming to the surface, and then after it gets killed another, bigger shark also happens to have come up to the surface as well.

That might sound exciting written down (although it probably doesn’t) but in execution, it had two side effects. Firstly, it meant that after each climax, there was a 10-15 minute lull where nothing interesting or exciting happened and we were back to square one, and secondly it made me resent watching it any longer.

I ended up bored and impatient for it to end.

The problems with the writing didn’t just end there though. The dialogue was full of exposition and the sort of sentences people don’t actually say in real life, the plot was predictable and it just felt like one of the most lazy, thoughtless copies of Jaws there has ever been.

Really, it was just one of those crap movies you get on low-rent channels like Movies For Men, but with a bigger budget and a recognisable cast.

I have to admit I just sat there and thought that anyone else in attendance could have written something better with a little bit more originality. Writing The Meg clearly required zero talent.

Oh, and also, considering Statham’s character is meant to be a hard drinking island layabout, he sure has hell manages to keep himself in top physical condition. Great casting…

Literally the only entertaining part of the film was the way a fat kid a few rows in front almost jumped entirely out of his seat every time something apparently scary happened.

I guess I’ll always have the memory of that.

Anyway, if you’ve read this far and part of you still wants to watch The Meg, I’ll say it again one more time…

Don’t bother, it’s shite.


Movies: Skyscraper Review

July 15, 2018

There’s a lot about Skyscraper that is ridiculous.

Examples include

  • The cheesy dialogue.
  • The incredibly obvious villains who we’re not supposed to realise are villains.
  • Main character Will Sawyer’s continuous super-human physical fitness in spite of only having one leg and picking up numerous serious injuries on his arms and torso as events unfold.
  • The fact he has one leg for no other reason than so at one point he can rip off and throw it at a door to stop it from closing.
  • The bit where he doesn’t bother to save his daughter at the same time as the rest of his family just so that the film can be dragged out longer.
  • The way the villains tried to steal Will’s tablet at the harbour when they must have known they’d need his facial print to unlock it.
  • The hall of mirrors on the roof that appears to have no functioning purpose to the skyscraper other than setting up the confrontation at the end.
  • The way that the entire film is a set-up for a ‘did you turn it off and on again’ punchline.

I mean…if you really look deeply at it, Skyscraper doesn’t hold up to scrutiny.

But I think to come away from it unhappy with its ridiculous elements is mean-spirited.

If you take it for what it is – a daft action movie that combined elements of The Towering Inferno and Die Hard – then it’s perfectly enjoyable. It’s my type of ‘popcorn’ movie.

And it’s an easy watch as well; you won’t get bored, and you’ll have a few laughs.

So this is one that I would recommend.

 


Movies – Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom Review

June 16, 2018

Sometimes its nice to have another person’s insight into the merits of a movie.

Left to me, I was a little bit short on things to say about Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom; I just thought it was a pretty generic Hollywood blockbuster where the only significant aspect was that it wasn’t just the same old same old in terms of the Jurassic Park franchise. This one wasn’t about a theme park experience gone wrong again – I mean, how many times can they make the mistake of thinking free-roaming, man-eating dinosaurs make  for a fun tourist attraction – but rather about illegal dinosaur trafficking and the ethics of saving them from extinction again when they had no natural right to exist.

It was different – which I liked – but still unremarkable. The ethical dilemma is hardly one we can relate to in our own daily lives.

That’s not enough for a review though, so I asked my Jurassic Park aficionado girlfriend Mhairi what she thought, and she had plenty to say.

She was disappointed by it, pointing out that it didn’t deliver what a fan of the franchise wanted to see (i.e. people in a theme park being attacked by dinosaurs). She thought that there were many elements that were copied from other Jurassic Park films – elements I might add that I didn’t spot myself, which shows the difference between the casual viewer and the fan – which made it seem repetitive, and in general she didn’t think there was enough action. She wanted to be excited more than she was, and so she left a bit deflated that it wasn’t what she expected.

To be fair, she has a point there. The first time I looked at the movie poster was when I was getting it for use in this review, and it’s fair to say that it offers a false representation of what Fallen Kingdom is about. They must spent about 15 minutes in peril on the island, and the rest is set in a mansion somewhere in the USA. It’s a misleading poster.

So to sum up, while on the one hand we were at odds – what I thought was a worthwhile change, she saw as a negative – where we both agree was that it wasn’t that good.

Though it wasn’t boring, it did feel lethargic and lacking in excitement, and certainly it wasn’t as good as Jurassic World.

I get the feeling six months down the line we’ll both have forgotten we even went.

 


Movies – Solo: A Star Wars Story (or “Enjoyable, But The Genre Might Be Getting Stale”)

May 26, 2018

If you are familiar with the franchise the you’re not going to be too surprised by the plot of Solo: A Star Wars Story.

Being that this is about the early days of the eponymous star of the movie, it obviously features key moments from his backstory, including…

  • How he met Chewbacca
  • How he won the Millenium Falcon in a game of cards from Lando Calrissian
  • How he made the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs

And just like Revenge of the Sith and Rogue One, finding out how things we already knew about actually happened is part of the fun.

I certainly enjoyed it, although at the same time I thought it wasn’t without its faults.

On the plus side, it filled in the blanks, it had a mostly very good cast – with special mention to Alden Ehrenreich who I thought played Han Solo without me thinking it was just some guy doing an impression – and it had a that familiar Star Wars vibe to it.

On the negative side, I thought the direction was a little bit hit and miss (it was so darkly shot for the first half hour that it was difficult to make out anyone’s face), Donald Glover’s take on Lando was the exact opposite of Ehrenreich’s of Solo (it just felt like Troy from Community – as Troy from Community – doing a Lando impression) and the movie had that familiar Star Wars vibe to it.

And yes, you’ve probably read that last line and thought “Wait…what?”.

So hear me out…

I understand why Star Wars movies are the way they are; people like them…I like them. I can also see why other franchises try to leach off them, like Guardians of the Galaxy.

But with the increased regularity of these movies, how long before we get fatigued by them?

How many times can we see the same type of ragtag group of rebels with the same type of wise-cracking sidekicks, talking robots and corny romance without thinking “Let’s have something new”?

Like I say, I enjoyed it but I was becoming conscious of the fact that we’ve now seen this same thing so many times that I’m not too keen on seeing a replica of it again in the near future.

With any luck they’ll know that for the next Star Wars spin-off, there needs to be a change in vibe.

Otherwise it’ll get stale, and fast.


Movies: Avengers Infinity War Review (Contains Spoilers)

May 1, 2018

Note: This Review Contains Spoilers

So I suppose I’d better stall for a bit just in case any introductory text appears in the Facebook or Twitter links to this review.

Cos, you know, I’d be annoyed if I read spoilers without actually opening up the link, wouldn’t you?

…Pauses….

…whistles…

Engages in small talk…

What about that weather, eh?

Right, I think we’re clear.

So let’s get straight to it; the ending of Marvel’s blockbuster to end all blockbusters (until the next one), Avengers: Infinity War, certainly caught me by surprise.

To end with pretty much all the superheroes being wiped from existence and to have the villain of the piece win – for now at least – was a shock, but it was an enjoyable one.

But then it had shocks running through the movie from the very start. And not just shocks for the sake of it; ones that made sense for the story, even though they’d have lasting repercussions in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

That’s no bad thing though;  to constantly hit the reset switch and never have any of the main characters die despite the constant danger they find themselves in can be frustrating. I mean…how many times have we seen Loki defeated only to come back again.

So the significance of what happens throughout Infinity War felt like a reward for the long term viewers of the movies. Yes, of course the ones who were wiped from existence at the end will come back and save the day in the next instalment, but you’ve got to think we’ve seen the last of the likes of Gomora and the aforementioned God of Mischief.

Infinity War wasn’t just about random shocks though; it was an enjoyable movie.

Sure, if you look closely at it, it’s probably not got the best script or plot in the world, but the amount of characters in it from all the different ends of the MCU – characters, by the way, who all seemed to be given enough to do to justify their inclusion, which was no mean feat – meant that they got away with that as far as I’m concerned.

I really liked it.

But if I was going to be critical of anything it would be that the tone wasn’t consistent. The stuff with Thor and the characters from Guardians of the Galaxy was genuinely funny, but scenes with Captain America and his team of po-faced heroes were played mostly in a very serious way. It meant that from one scene to the next the mood changed.

Also, why was the Red Skull even in it?

But those are minor complaints. Having suffered from Marvel fatigue for a while, I feel they’ve got themselves back on track.