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Film Review: Men in Black: International

“We’ve Been Compromised, With Every Citizen At This Planet At Risk. Trust No One…”

With the catalogue of blockbusters appearing on the big screen post-Avengers: Endgame so far this year not exactly managing to hit the same levels of excellence in any way shape or form whatsoever, with the likes of Godzilla: King of the Monsters and X-Men: Dark Phoenix failing to win over both critics and the box office alike, one of Hollywood’s most rusty cinematic franchises is strangely brought back to life in the form of Men in Black: International in a last-ditch attempt to save the day for cinema chains across the worldWith the original Men in Black from 1997 still too darn entertaining to be regarded as a guilty pleasure, with a typically sarcastic Tommy Lee Jones and a Will Smith in full-on Fresh Prince-era brilliance resulting in a cinematic partnership for the ages, the subsequent sequel and threequel failed to ignite similar levels of excellence, resulting in sheer bemusement when rumours of a fourth entry was on the way, and with the latest chapter this time being directed by F. Gary Gray, whose work on the excellent, Straight Outta Compton, has somewhat been overshadowed after the not-so excellent, The Fate of the Furious, it’s fair to say that International isn’t the most anticipated movie of the year thus far.

With the usual acting suspects dropped in favour of Thor and Valkyrie themselves, it’s fair to say that the likeable pairing of Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson (Avengers: Endgame) is one of the only good things about International, a lifeless, run-of-the-mill, cash-grab which sees Thompson as Molly Wright, a wide-eyed, alien-obsessed dreamer whose experience of the titular darkly attired agents as a young child results in her soon joining up herself and working alongside Hemsworth’s suitably cocky and annoyingly charming, Henry, in order to, you guessed it, save the world against an alien threat known as the hive. With cringe-inducing dialogue, poor storytelling and an over-reliance on forgettable special effects, Gray’s movie prefers the art of nonsensical explosions over a decent plot and whilst the inclusion of Kumail Nanjiani (The Big Sick) as the voice of a clingy, cutesy egg-shaped alien adds a much needed level of comedic spice, International is annoyingly both a gigantic waste of time and talent, adding itself rather nicely to the collection of half-baked summer blockbusters thus far. Neurolyse me now.

Overall Score: 4/10

Film Review: Avengers: Endgame

“Even If There’s A Small Chance. We Owe This, To Everyone Who’s Not In This Room, To Try…”

With the final season of Game of Thrones gracing eager audiences earlier in the month, April 2019 will always be remembered as the time in which pop culture exploded into realms of unprecedented greatness as society witnesses the end point of both TV’s most talked about show and of course, the  enormously anticipated, Avengers: Endgame, the latest chapter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the sequel to last year’s excellent and groundbreaking, Infinity War. Presented as the final installment in the Kevin Feige coined, “Infinity Saga”, which began all the way back in 2008 with Iron Man, Endgame sees our grieving band of OG superheroes come to terms with, and more importantly, attempt to revert the catastrophic damage caused by Josh Brolin’s (Deadpool 2) megalomaniacal titan, Thanos, in the previous chapter, and with the giant purple one’s tricky finger snap having gone down in pop culture loire for evermore, the bar is set impressively high for a sequel which Marvel themselves see as the one film the entire MCU has pretty much been leading up to. Bamboozling critics and audiences alike with a staggeringly long three hour run time, it’s fair to say that in terms of excess, Endgame laps it up completely, and whilst anything stamped with the Marvel branding tends to be absolutely critic-proof, what an absolute pleasure it is in being able to confirm that Endgame is everything that it should be and more, an emotional, bizarre and thoroughly engaging and entertaining cinematic blockbuster which manages to effectively balance spectacle with narrative payoffs, resulting in a closing chapter which beautifully reinforces the idea that what Marvel have done will never ever be executed quite as brilliantly ever again in the history of cinema.

Heading in, it’s quite important to note that Endgame is not in anyway Infinity War part two, and whilst expectations and fan theories always affect judgement on the final piece, the fact that I’ve now watched Endgame twice goes to show that the fourth Avengers piece is not just another movie, in fact it’s almost too much of a movie, a three hour long comic book dream which expects its’ audience to be synchronised with every in-joke, every knowing aside and be able to recount what happened where and at what time in each of the preceding twenty one MCU chapters. If part of this selective band of followers, then Endgame seeks to provide as much fan service to you as humanly possible whilst crucially still understanding the fundamentals of filmmaking by biding its time with an opening act which seeks to show the effects of Thanos’ snap, one which impressively highlights melancholic tales of loss, depression and guilt, resulting in some of the most impressive writing I can remember seeing in a superhero film since The Dark Knight. With the PR team for Endgame deserving their own round of applause for brilliantly being able to manage not spoiling anything at all, pretty much everything seen in the film’s trailers either occurs during the opening thirty minutes or not at all, and whilst particular narrative choices are expected from fans with more observant qualities to their Marvel addiction, the fact remains that in order to enjoy Endgame‘s many shocks and surprises you must simply head in not being aware of anything, with one of the film’s many joys is being able to gasp, cry and fist-pump your way through the action with an audience who are as dedicated to both the characters and the franchise as you undoubtedly are, if not more so.

At three hours long, the fact that Endgame did not feel as if it was testing any sort of patience at any point is a remarkable feat in itself, with both the pacing and the editing serving the action rather splendidly in a way that only the best filmmakers can successfully manage to balance, and whilst at times particular characters seem to be slightly wasted or criminally underused, such a complaint is particularly minor and in a way obsolete, with the primary mission of the piece clearly offering the chance to serve conclusions to characters who have been with us since the start and being well aware that for the new breed, the future is both bright and holds their own tales ready to be told and explored as we head into the franchise’s new phase come the end of the year. With enough hilarious dialogue and slapstick performances to put most so-called comedies to shame, Endgame deliciously plays into the Marvel mould we have both come to know and love, and whilst the balance between light and dark never fails to hit the solemn, gritty realism of Logan, the emotional payoffs of particular character arcs will leave even the most cold-hearted of sociopaths in floods of tears as they come to realise that characters in which their time has been spent with for just over a decade may not be ever seen again, in this universe anyway. When it comes to reviewing Endgame, what Marvel have ultimately achieved is unprecedented in the realm of cinema, twenty two movies across eleven years and all leading to a conclusion which is worthy of both the hype and anticipation laid upon it, and in some way, just being part of such a magnificent journey is reason enough to fall in love with a movie which will not only make it difficult to look at any future superhero movie in the same way, but is in some ways a love letter to fans whose dedication and desire have ultimately made such a dream come true.

Overall Score: 9/10

Film Review: Bad Times at the El Royale

“This Is Not A Place For A Priest, Father. You Shouldn’t Be Here…”

Written and directed by the excellent Drew Goddard, the mind behind the likes of Cabin in the Woods and Netflix’s first season of Daredevil, Bad Times at the El Royale bundles together an abundance of top-notch actors within the confines of a script which mixes together an Agatha Christie-esque air of neo-noir mystery with a very obvious nod to the quirky and wordy works of Quentin Tarantino. Set in the dying embers of the late 1960’s, the majority of the action takes place within the lifeless, unkempt eeriness of the titular hotel, one straddled with history and echoes of a previous life involving the rich and famous but now suffering from a lack of custom primarily due to a newly founded inactive liquor license. As soon as the film’s colourful band of characters slowly check themselves in however, the presence of the murky collection of cats including Jeff Bridge’s (Hell or High Water) Catholic Priest, Donald “Doc” O’Kelly, Dakota Johnson’s (Fifty Shades Freed) rebellious young Emily and Jon Hamm’s (Tag) travelling vacuum salesman, Seymour Sullivan, result in the mysteries of the hotel and the secrets of its’ guest’s unraveling with particularly violent and menacing ends.

Whilst Goddard has proven to be successful in the past with work which has always remained entertaining and interesting, even if at times not exactly for everyone, Bad Times at the El Royale is unfortunately the American’s first cinematic turkey, an excruciatingly overlong and plodding mess of a movie which although begins in intriguing fashion, fails to warrant almost two and a half hours worth of your time as it drags its’ way towards a finish line without any real sense of purpose or point. Whilst the film does boast a healthy selection of well-executed dialogue heavy set pieces alongside excellent central performances from the likes of Bridges and Cynthia Erivo’s wandering soul singer, Darlene Sweet, as the film crosses over the hour mark, the over-reliance on wasteful backstory and wandering narrative stretches result in a painful longing for the action to come to some sort of meaningful end. Enter Chris Hemsworth (Avengers: Infinity War), whose appearance come the ninety minute mark as a curly haired, spiritually baffling and overzealous cross between Charles Manson and Jim Morrison, meant the film then decides to go on for another excruciating forty five minutes, concluding with a soppy and rather weak attempt at humanising a particularly annoying character and then finally ending with a final gasp of saintly praise as I left my seat and headed to the exit. Whilst not totally awful, Bad Times at the El Royale is a simple case of style over substance and made me check IMDB pretty quickly to see if an editor was actually hired at all to do a decent job. On inspection, Lisa Lassek, you are in my bad books.

Overall Score: 5/10

Film Review: Avengers: Infinity War

“When I’m Done, Half Of Humanity Will Still Exist. Perfectly Balanced, As All Things Should Be…”

Following the release of Jon Favreau’s Iron Man exactly ten years ago, the culmination of plot threads, narrative developments and vast array of characters which have encompassed the Marvel Cinematic Universe since then have all led in the direction of Avengers: Infinity War, the latest gargantuan superhero romp which sees each of the major Marvel characters of the past ten years come together and join forces in order to thwart the oncoming threat of Josh Brolin’s (Sicario) ominous Thanos, who vows to collect each of the Infinity Stones, six immensely powerful alien artefacts, in order to bend the universe to his evil and genocidal will. With the hype train well and truly steaming ahead, the anticipation for Infinity War is unprecedented within the realms of superhero cinema, and with a extensively star studded cast list and the directing duo of Anthony and Joe Russo at the helm, whose previous credits of course include Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Civil War, expectations from audiences and critics alike are resoundingly off the charts. Thankfully, what the Russo’s have manged to achieve with Infinity War is a staggering, operatic work of spectacle and heartbreaking drama, a film, which on paper had no right to succeed, but has somehow resulted in the most rewarding, magical and downright jaw-dropping Marvel superhero experience in the MCU so far.

With two and a half hours worth of plot to dissect, Infinity War essentially breaks down into a quartet of individual narrative channels, with Earth being the base for the character band lead by Chris Evans’ Steve Rogers, space being the battleground for both the Guardians of the Galaxy subplot and Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark own personal quest, and the entire universe being the backdrop for Brolin’s Thanos who travels from planet to planet leaving behind a cold, calculated and murderous path as he collects the all-powerful Infinity Stones. With the MCU struggling in the past to effectively conjure up groundbreaking and well-rounded villains, the introduction of Thanos follows in the footsteps of Black Panther‘s Killmonger by refusing to bow down to simply cannon fodder for superhero stardom and instead is the surprising central character of the piece, with the script superbly managing to highlight the character’s genocidal plan with some degree of purpose whilst at the same time introducing flaws and elements of empathy, particularly in the stand-out conversations between himself and Zoe Saldana’s Gamora. Of course, with purple CGI muscles, a band of merry followers known as the Black Order and the Infinity Gauntlet in hand, the real power of the character is evidenced to an alarming degree too, with surprising character deaths by his own hand and a dedicated reluctance to fail, resulting in explosive action set pieces which both never seem to outstay their welcome and a include too a perilous sense of threat for everyone involved which the franchise up to now was thoroughly lacking.

Of course, with so many characters and so little time spared on deep characterisation aside from the film’s leading antagonist, particular individuals do become somewhat by-products of a larger endgame, particularly those involved in the drama taking place on Earth and specifically, Wakanda, but with eighteen previous stories worth of backstory and development behind it, Infinity War isn’t designed to further character arcs and instead is there to tie up the development already achieved and offer long-awaited fan service for which it undenaibly achieves. Whether it’s the banter fuelled dialogue between Tony Stark and Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange or the egotistical match-up between Chris Hemsworth’s Thor and Chris Pratt’s Star-Lord, amidst all the grandiose drama, Infinity War still manages to hold onto the razor-sharp comedic puns the franchise is renowned for without ever feeling cheesy or stupid enough to lose its’ dramatic edge, and whilst the best moments are undoubtedly in the other-worldly realms in which Downey Jr. and Pratt are present, the film as a whole balances its’ monumental premise with staggering ease. Of course, with Infinity War only part one of a much bigger design, there is a resounding sense of payoff not yet being ripely achieved, but with a ground-breaking, melancholic and brazen concluding scene which rips up the cinematic blockbuster rule book completely, the year long wait for the concluding chapter is of course undeniably agonising, but one which if continuing the success of Infinity War, will undoubtedly be an experience to savour.

Overall Score: 8/10

Film Review: 12 Strong

“Nineteen Men Attacked Our Country. The Twelve Of You Will Be The First To Fight Back…”

Growing up throughout the late 1990’s and the early 20th century, whenever the name, Jerry Bruckheimer, appeared on the opening credits of a movie, my action loving, adrenaline fuelled teenage mind would jump in extended joy at the knowledge that what lay ahead was an eye-watering level of action and adventure which had me sold from the word, go. Whether it be The Rock, Bad Boys or Ridley Scott’s Black Hawk Down, the standardised Bruckheimer release tends to consist of hyperbolic explosions, rugged leading heroes, and of course, guns, lots of guns, and what we have with 12 Strong, the directorial debut of Swedish filmmaker, Nicolai Fuglsig, is indeed a movie which confines strictly to such a model with a steady degree of success. Set directly after the events of 9/11, 12 Strong follows Chris Hemsworth’s (Thor) inexperienced Captain Mitch Nelson as he leads his titular team of warriors into the heart of Afghanistan in order to broaden alliances with Navid Negahban’s (American Assassin) General Abdul Rashid Dostum and strike back against the threat of the Taliban, personified by Numan Acar’s (The Great Wall) murderous leader, Razzan.

Based upon Doug Stanton’s non-fiction book “Horse Soldiers”, Fuglsig’s movie is full to the brim with mechanical, macho mayhem with notions about the price of war and the effect of 9/11 on the wider world simply glanced at in favour of endless action set pieces and somewhat cliched, emotionally manipulative character development. Thankfully for the first-time director however, the sheer spectacle and scale of the aforementioned action presented on-screen is surprisingly well done, with the mixture of well-tempered violence and sound design managing to inflict a rigorous amount of tension, and even when it becomes somewhat easy to giggle at witnessing a tight muscled Chris Hemsworth riding into battle upon a horse in a War for the Planet of the Apes-esque manner, 12 Strong doesn’t ever become too mindless to lose its’ audience completely. With a ensemble cast featuring the likes of Michael Shannon (Nocturnal Animals), Michael Peña (End of Watch) and Moonlight’s Trevante Rhodes, the chemistry between the band of brothers is solidly captured, and whilst the film does seem at least twenty minutes too long, with a sense of familiarity and repetitiveness hanging over it come the concluding act, Fuglsig’s first shot at Hollywood is entertaining enough, and even with a ridiculously bald William Fichtner, 12 Strong is the type of Bruckheimer release I would have drooled over as a child, explosions and all. Bring the popcorn.

Overall Score: 6/10

Film Review: Thor: Ragnarok

“We Have To Stop Her Here And Now, And Prevent Ragnarok, The End Of Everything…”

With arguably two of the weakest entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe thus far, the return of Chris Hemsworth’s Thor marks the seventeenth entry in the gargantuan comic franchise, and whilst the character is awash with charisma and undeniable charm, it seems Hemsworth’s God of thunder has been the recipient of being better served when mixed in with the collective Marvel characters rather than being free to fight battles on his lonesome. Inevitably therefore, Ragnarok, directed by New Zealand’s Taika Waititi, manages to follow in the footsteps of Captain America: Civil War by for all intents and purposes being an Avengers movie, just without the titular phrasing slapped across it, with Hemsworth’s character this time being surrounded by the likes of Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner and the return of Tom Hiddleston’s Loki in his battle against Cate Blanchett’s evil goddess of death, Hela. With Waititi’s previous works including the likes of What We Do In The Shadows and last year’s critically acclaimed independent groundbreaker, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, the Kiwi’s ascent into Hollywood stardom continues the MCU’s usage of interesting, promising directors after Shane Black’s Iron Man 3 and Jon Watt’s take on Spiderman: Homecoming earlier this year, and what Waititi has managed to achieve with Ragnarok is undeniably create the best of the Thor standalone releases so far, but with a aching sense of inconsequentiality running through it, the latest MCU release is supercharged in style but lacking wholly in any sense of prolonging substance.

Faced with the passing of father Odin, Thor heeds the warning of the coming of Cate Blanchett’s Hela, the Goddess of Death, whose desire to overthrow the Asgardian kingdom could potentially lead to the coming of Ragnarok, a prophetic armageddon which eradicates the existence of Asgard from the face of the universe, but with the God of Thunder’s preoccupied exile onto the planet of Sakaar, Thor must first overcome the greatest gladiator battle of all time before returning to save his home planet from certain destruction. With the chugging riffs of Led Zeppelin and a colourful, sparkly tone which made Guardians of the Galaxy so joyous throughout, Ragnarok is a movie which soaks up the fundamental ridiculousness of Thor’s character and simply hands the audience an undeniably entertaining comic adventure on a multi-coloured plate, and whilst the rib tickling comedy and likeable characters, both old and new, keep the audience chuckling and the lengthy running time manageable, the latest Marvel adventure does suffer at times from having almost too much to say without any of it having any real consequence. With a emo-inflicted villain who is too camp to take seriously, strangely jarring cameos from particular Hollywood stars and a limited screen presence from the likes of Jeff Goldblum and Idris Elba, Ragnarok suffers where the likes of Civil War prevailed, with the latter working with each pieces of the chess board onto something of consequence, and considering the future which lies ahead for the fate of the MCU, Ragnarok is indeed a highly enjoyable addition to the Marvel universe but ultimately doesn’t seem exactly necessary.

Overall Score: 7/10

Film Review: Ghostbusters

“We’re The Ghostbusters!”

Perhaps gathering the craziest amount of sexist-hate since the birth of mankind itself, it is fair to say that Paul Feig’s revival of the Ghostbusters is that strange case of a film being seemingly given up on before one reel of the final footage has even been released. Of course, being of sound and sane mind like many die-hard cinephiles, the hatred towards the idea of a female-led, 21st century take on Ivan Reitman’s cult classic is one that seemed exciting, interesting and inherently different in a day and age when many remakes or reboots simply repeat the formula of their predecessor in order to simply make a quick buck, destroying the legacy of the original in its’ wake. Point Break most recently pointed out how, when done wrong, remakes can be viewed as just plain stupid and nonsensical, and whilst Ghostbusters is most definitely not as good as the 1984 original, it is nowhere near the disaster many believed it was set to become. That’s right haters, we have a new team in town.

Perhaps relying too much on the uneven plot of CGI set piece after CGI set piece, Ghostbusters indeed is the summer blockbuster you would expect, led by a confident quartet of Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon, whose barmy Jillian Holtzmann is arguably the standout of the four, a confident introduction when up against the famous faces of both McCarthy and Wiig. Comedic elements throughout also help the film in times when it verges on the edge of weariness, whilst one scene in particular effectively managed to make me jump out of my seat in horror, perhaps due to the rather obvious 3-D, which, I say with a slice of humble pie, was actually rather effective with scenes in which we witness spectres upon spectres break the frame and reach out into the audience being a rather inventive surprise. Ghostbusters is indeed not the flop many regarded it as before it hit the big screen, but it is nowhere near as good as it perhaps should have been. Light entertainment which will pass the time nicely, Ghostbusters is solid, but not spectacular.

Overall Score: 6/10

Duo Review: Avengers: Age of Ultron

Dan’s Review

It’s that money-making, mind-blowing, blockbuster time everyone and with the simply unbelievable performance of Furious 7 over the course of the past few weeks, where I believe it is now into the top ten of highest-grossing films EVER (Seriously?), it is time for Avengers: Age of Ultron to firmly push it, and many others in the top ten, out of its place. In terms of the money-making side of movies this year, one of the conundrums of 2015 is what will take more; Avengers or Star Wars?  After watching the latest addition to the MCU however, I think the one true question is whether they will match each other in terms of quality. After returning from the midnight showing on Thursday morning, slightly knackered but still rolling on, I think it’s fair to say that Star Wars has a lot to live up to. Avengers: Age of Ultron is pretty fab.

The real winning formula of the first Avengers movie was that each and every character got their own decent share of screen time, and although Downey Jr. and Hiddleston as Iron Man and Loki respectively, were the stand out performers, not one of the actors and actresses in such a huge ensemble cast felt left out in any way. Fortunately for Age of Ultron, this formula is pretty much adhered to, even with the inclusion of a bunch of new characters, where, sloppy Russian accents aside, Olson and Taylor-Johnson as Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver are a fantastic addition to the MCU, whilst Bettany’s portrayal of The Vision was a wonder to behold, although there should have been a rain-check on that cape. No capes. Top marks for best newcomer however has to go to big baddie Ultron, magnificently voiced by James Spader, who walks away with the award for best CGI robot-thing in a MCU film so far, not only due to the stark realism of the characters’ presence on screen, but because Ultron felt like a proper character, someone who you could believe in, and someone you felt afraid to the bone of, something of which is rare in a lot of CGI characters.

With the first Avengers being one of the standout pictures in the MCU, Age of Ultron kind of needed to change direction, if only slightly, in order to sway away from the dreadful curse of being only “more of the same”, and the way in which Whedon and co. have decided to do this is to make Age of Ultron a much darker film than the first. Yes, the banter between the team is still rife as ever, but the darkness stemmed from Ultron himself, who came off as a much more cold and malevolent presence than I ever thought Loki was, as brilliant as he is as the bad guy of Asgard, to the whole sterialisation story of Black Widow, which was pretty damn depressing to say the least. In the case of Age of Ultron, the step into the dark-side worked and the threat of impending doom was always there, particularly in the final battle, cemented with the death of one of the supposed key characters of the Avengers, which although was teased throughout the film, had a sickening, yet cleverly finessed, twist to cap it all off.

Yes the film does have faults. The whole MCU cross-ins and cross-overs, mixed with interwoven stories and plot points would obviously be confusing to the lay movie watcher who just happens to have not seen any of the previous installments and decides to watch Age of Ultron, but my question to that person would be, why watch it without seeing at least the first Avengers previously anyhow? Even as a keen follower of the MCU (not the comics however), even I at times tend to get lost and confused regarding what Infinity Stone is what, who is where etc. etc. so the level of confusion for someone oblivious to the stories previous is going to pretty high. The film also had an awful knack or rushing certain plot points, with it sometimes just resorting to another jumping, action, blowing up scene, which is always good fun, but seemed a bit too much at certain points. I mean, don’t even get me started on what Thor did at the pond thing. I have no clue whatsoever. My usual moan of runtime however, cannot be adhered to this time, with the film’s 140 minute runtime surprisingly flying past, something of which hasn’t happened since last years’ Interstellar. 

So in conclusion, yes, the film does have flaws, but the positives overwhelmingly outweigh the negatives, with a stellar cast being put to great use to continue the fun of the MCU which doesn’t seem to be in danger of crippling anytime soon. Is it better than the first? On first watch, probably not, but the beauty of a blockbuster is that there are a ridiculous amounts of chances to watch it again (I think it is showing 30 times a day in my local multiplex) and a second watch is something of which I am looking forward to already. Age of Ultron is a solid and spectacular farewell to the directorial duties of Joss Whedon too, who has supplied the Marvel fans with two of the finest superhero films of all time. Farewell Mr. Whedon. Its’ been emotional,

Overall Score: 8/10

Josh’s Review

Once again I’m back to feeling half my age, hyped up for the new Marvels’ Avengers: Age of Ultron movie where the cinema staff obviously did not want to calm me down when handing me a free action figure with my coke! But I digress, the film was amazing and was all I could want from an Avengers film, but that’s not to say there wasn’t a few disappointments.  (SPOILER WARNING)

Let’s start with the first scene with the Avengers going against a Hydra base. I would have liked a bit of context on how all of the Avengers assembled (LOL), for example, at the end of Iron Man 3, correct me if I’m wrong but didn’t Tony Stark blow up all of his Iron Suits? Yet here he is flying around! Don’t get me wrong, I love Iron Man but just a bit of context would have been nice, unless I missed something.

Now, I don’t know if any of my fellow reviewers here on Black Ribbon watch Marvels Agents Of Shield, but it was awesome seeing Dr List and Strucker, the Hydra Villains at the beginning, which have been seen in the TV show and now appear on the big screen. Having Dr List introduce Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch fitted well with the back story of Agents of Shield, with Hydra kidnapping people with powers.

The interactions, mainly the wit, between the characters were in my opinion top class. The cinema audience laughed at the characters’ banter and gasped at the shock of the Vision handing Thor his hammer which made the film all that more enjoyable to watch. I did enjoy seeing some back story into Hawkeye and Black Widow which was well deserved and did lead me to anticipate one of their deaths but was gladly mistaken. I would have liked some more scenes with Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch where although you get a brief description of them telling Ultron about their past, it felt like there was very limited dialogue between them and the Avengers which I would have much  preferred to see.

In terms of the fighting choreography, being an Avengers film I think we all expected some amazing action and I was not the slightest bit disappointed. All of the fights seemed original, well- paced and made full advantage of the surroundings. The combos between the characters were clever, however I would have liked if they mixed up the combination of characters. I lost count the number of times Thor did a combo attack with Captain America.

To me what makes a good action film is a good villain. In the case of Ultron, he is good and has character, despite being a robot. With an understandable motive and evil plan however I was slightly let down. In the trailers he seemed more malicious, giving off an evil Pinocchio vibe giving that awesome line “There are no strings on me” where just thinking about it gets me hyped up! However, in the movie he just felt less impressive but this could be due to him being out-shined by the Vision. I would have liked to see Ultron kill an Avenger with his hands or at least a bit more close quarters rather than random shootings with a helicopter. Sure he cuts off Klaw’s arm but who cares about Klaw? Hardly jaw dropping stuff!

Like every Marvel film there is always a teaser at the end of the credits and this time we see Thanos pulling out the Infinity Gauntlet saying “I will just do it myself”; F*!& yeah! This small clip has got me psyched up like a bat out of hell! I can’t even imagine the amount of carnage which is going to occur, however I am slightly worried about the new Avengers they showed at the end (War Machine, Scarlet Witch, Falcon) as they hardly seem like replacements for their predecessors but maybe I read that entire scene wrong.

I know I have listed many negative points throughout the review but believe me when I say this; I loved it and I’m very much tempted to go watch the film again which for me never happens. I loved seeing the character interaction between the huge roster of heroes with all of them getting a fair amount of screen time whilst the action scenes were creative and fast paced whilst showing constant humour, and all of this is setting up for another huge film in the future with Thanos. I’m sure most of you will go see this film regardless, however for those on the fence, go see this film!

Overall Score: 8/10

Top 5 Movies of 2013!

2013 has been one hell of a year. We have yet to hit our first birthday (Feb. 18th) but I’ve had plenty of time to spend procrastinating, watching films and playing games. Nothing different to my normal lifestyle, apart from the fact that this site gives me a reason to sit up until 3AM.

In no particular order, I have chosen my 5 favourite movies of the year.

1 – RushRush 2

Starring Chris Hemsworth, Rush details the lives of famed racing drivers Nikki Lauda and James Hunt. Ron Howards directions gave this movie an incredible feeling. It is a raw depiction of one of the most dangerous sports with little regulation and safety precaution. Gloriously shot, the colours pop and focus is always drawn perfectly with the right balance of focus in high speed chases. An exciting thrill ride with an intriguing story and a must-see for any F1 fans, both new and old. Full throttle excitement with some strong language and a feels trip for old fans. Rush – Review

2 – Captain Phillips

Based on the events in 2009 where Somali pirates board the MV Maersk Alabama. The five day ordeal is compressed down quite substantially but still is a brutal watch. Nothing is skimped out and you can really feel the tension oozing off screen. The space that they had to work in is also incredible when you think about it. The work that went into getting the stunning shots is massive and it paid off 100%. With Tom Hanks at the helm, his acting talent shines. Contrasted against Barkhad Abdi, two completely different men bounce off of each other. Abdi’s skeletal frame is token to how well they have cast everyone. A roller-coaster ride with one of the best ending scenes I have ever seen. Packed with emotion, superb acting and gorgeous filming, anyone with half a brain will adore. Captain Phillips – Review

Pacific Rim 43 – Pacific Rim

Giant monsters, giant robots and a shit ton of action? What’s not to love!? Yeah the script and acting are a little wack but no one can say that Pacific Rim is a terrible movie. Visual effects are probably the best I’ve seen in many years and the choreographed fight scenes are just epic. Plus a bit of Idris Elba never goes a miss. The perfect movie. Nothing to complicated, great fun and a gaggle of laughs.

Pacific Rim – Review

4 – Only God ForgivesOnly God Forgives 3

Considered the biggest Marmite film of this year, I felt that this movie was a work of art. Directed by the same guy as Drive, the gruesome violence transcends into this wonderfully excessive environment. Yeah, sure, Ryan Gosling isn’t an amazing actor and has the voice of a prepubescent boy who can’t convey anger without squeaking away like he lost a game of Call of Duty. All that aside, it is a really meaty and creative piece of work. It’s a film that demands a lot from it’s audience and if you’re in the right mindset, you could really enjoy the neon lights and the twisted story to this dramatic thriller. Only God Forgives – Review

5 – Saving Mr. Banks

Seeing that I only just reviewed this the other day, I was in love with this movie. It’s a real feel good movie which feels like it has every bit lovingly worked upon to give it this feeling. The jumping between time periods to elaborate and expand the story is a wonderful addition to document the life and creation of the beloved Mary Poppins. An all around great film with little – if anything wrong with it. Saving Mr. Banks – Review

Thor – The Dark World – Review & SPOILERS

ThorSeeing that over the last few days, I’ve been hammering (get it!?, get it!?) out Assassins Creed: Black Flag so I can get a review out of it, I didn’t want to leave anyone out of my recent travels.

Earlier today we Brits were treated to the release of yet another Marvel movie! This instalment of Thor details the resurgence of the Dark Elves – a race who ruled the universe in complete darkness and seek to bring back the black with the use of a super weapon which does a lot of complicated science stuff. So, we have more aliens fighting alien. I always feel that this is what makes Thor shine. It’s not always bound to saving earth. It’s a much wider aspect that opens up far more avenues for high octane fun. With a mix of brilliant cameos and sassy jokes, Thor is definitely a must-see.

As I’ve already explained the story, I don’t feel much need to complain about it. With a lot of twists and turns, you are drawn into the story, even if moments are predictable. Being that it is a Marvel movie, it is going to have the good vs bad which drives the story forward even if it feels a little generic.

Visually, it was almost perfect. ALMOST. Certain green screen scenes and long distance shots made characters stick out like a sore thumb, overly bright in a dark area and this really agitated me. The same could be said about some of the fight sequences that do exactly the same. Otherwise there are some brilliant visual effects all the way through astonishing costume design that makes everything look badass.

Marvel are not known for Oscar worthy scripts and acting but it wasn’t bad. Yeah, there was a few cheesy lines but they were mixed in with witty one-liners that were very funny and kept a continual up beat feeling throughout. The sassy nature of Loki with his banter towards Thor is golden. It helps to enforce the fact that they are siblings. This sassy nature also uses Loki’s power to transform himself into Captain America and spout excitable, patriotic nonsense which he is notorious for but also makes Loki look like he is trying to impress his older brother. With another guest appearance from Stan Lee, the film seems complete. The only other thing to focus on is the acting. Hemsworth and Hiddleston were perfect, as ever. My issue rides with Natalie Portman who plays a pretty pathetic character in the first place but she doesn’t look genuine – almost uncomfortable in her role. Fear ends up looking more like shock. An additional actor that many people don’t really focus on when they think Thor is Idris Elba. If you haven’t read my Pacific Rim review, you should Thor 1know that I love this man and I feel he didn’t have a big enough role within this film and I wanted to see what happened to him at the end.

Overall, I consider a 8/10 a good score. It’s a darker and more personal twist for Thor to undertake and appears to be the current trend at Marvel (Look at Iron Man). Yet, some acting, some poor CGI and a few loose ends within the story do drag it down for me. Superhero/action movies will never achieve a 10/10, simply because they are more for fun rather than the critical film making that many critics desire.

I’m sorry for such a short and crazy review but seeing I’m running on 5 hours sleep and trying to keep up with everything that’s going on is not an easy task.