Thor-some Sauce

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I managed to go and see Thor: Ragnarok the other night, and boy was it awesome. The laughs came thick and fast, and there was plenty of action. The Thor series definitely went back to its roots, but this time without the tepid love action courtesy of Jane’s inclusion, which I always felt was a bit weak and shoe-horned in.

Honestly, I would have given Thor: Ragnarok 10 out of 10 on IMDB if it weren’t for two minor things. First, Cate Blanchett’s Hela was rather hammy (why do women badies have to chew up the stage so much?). Secondly, Bruce Banner was more ‘bumbling’ than he has been in the past. That being said, if I could’ve, I would’ve given this a 9.5 as these are pretty minor gripes compared to the film as a whole, which was fantastic.

Overall, I think this is one of the best entries into the MCU, beaten only by the original Avengers film. Actually, they may even be level-pegging. So if you haven’t seen this instalment, do so. You won’t be disappointed!

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Popcorn for the ‘Little Grey Cells’

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So, somehow I missed out on seeing Blade Runner 2049 in the cinemas. Is it me, or was its run in British Cinemas way shorter than usual? Anyway, it’s no bad thing, as it’s been years since I watched the first, and I would’ve liked to have seen it again before watching the new one. I’m sure there’ll be a double box set out sometime in the future. However, with having missed Blade Runner 2049, I was in need of something else to see at the cinema, and urgently, as my mate’s free, Sweet Sunday, tickets were due to expire.

There was Thor: Ragnarok, but as that’d only been out for about a week, I figured it would still be packed, so we (and by ‘we’, I mean ‘I’) opted for Murder on the Orient Express. Mainly because the poster showed it to be a rather star-studded film. Plus, although I think I’ve seen one of the story’s previous incarnations, like Blade Runner, I had no recollection of what transpired, so I could go see the film with my brain a spoiler-free zone.

Looking at the reviews of the film on IMDB, people seem to be pretty bent out of shape over the fact that it was a remake, and harp on about not needing another one. Fair enough, but as there are already several versions out there, what’s one more? There has been one other film (1974), and two TV versions (2001 & 2010) of the story, and if someone hasn’t seen any of these adaptations, or if, like me, can’t remember what happened if they have, then another remake is fine. And let’s be honest, Poirot is one of those series that gets a rehash every few years with a new lead. Moreover, I don’t hear people getting their underwear in a bunch over the various Sherlock remakes that keep getting churned out. So live and let watch I say.

Overall, I found the film quite enjoyable. It was a slow, methodical burner, rather than an epic film, but then that’s what you get from the material, and given that everyone was stuck on a train, it had a somewhat claustrophobic feel to it. Additionally, although I’ve grown up with David Suchet as Poirot, I didn’t find watching Kenneth Branagh in the role too jarring. Plus, his moustache was way more epic than Suchet’s. I did have an inkling as to who the murder could’ve been about halfway through, and as it turned out, my guess was right. Whether that was good ol’ Belgian detective work on my part, or a long-forgotten neuron firing, I’ll never know. So ignore the bar-humbug nay-sayers. If you’re looking for a quiet film to go see on a rainy afternoon, then this will fit the bill nicely.

 

Brollies Up: It’s Kingsman Time

Thanks to my mate’s chocolate addiction, I was able to nab a couple of free cinema tickets through Sweet Sundays. So, of course, I had to use them to go and see Kingsman: The Golden Circle.

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I have to say, the critics have been unduly…well…critical. The film was a hoot and a half, and I certainly didn’t notice its over two hours run time. Ok, it wasn’t as good as the first, but then what sequel ever is? Still, it definitely doesn’t deserve the mauling it’s gotten from the pole-up-their-backsides-critics. Apparently, there’s going to be a third film, rounding off the trilogy, and I’m so up for that. Also, the film had over an hour’s footage cut from it, so I’ve got my fingers crossed for an extended director’s cut. Yep, I would happily sit through four hours of Kingsman, so the film couldn’t have been that bad. I sat through over two hours of Transformers: Age of Extinction, after which I vowed never to do that again, and I haven’t. The Last Knight be damned!

I have to say, up until Kingsman, I don’t think I’ve actually seen Colin Firth in a movie. The films he’s usually in aren’t really my thing, namely period dramas, or chick-flicks. So having seen him in the two films has made me realise what a great actor he is, especially in the sequel. He has the ability, with barely a change in expression, to go from someone who looks like a fragile, doddery old man, to an avenging kick-ass hero. It’s oh so subtle, but oh so obvious.

Also, how have I never heard of Pedro Pascal before? I mean Agent Whiskey…DA!-AMN! Now I get the whole women crushing on cowboys thing [insert crude jokes about whips and being lassoed here]. Anyway, getting back on track, not to be too spoilery, but his character deserved way better.

In conclusion: Go see this movie! It has action from the very start (with Matthew Vaughn’s slickly choreographed fight scenes taking centre stage as per usual), humour, unnecessarily attractive cowboys, and Elton John. If you haven’t seen the original, see that first. It’s bloody hysterical (if you can get past Samuel L. Jackson’s annoying lisp), and will set things up nicely.

Lastly…. Damn you “Take Me Home, Country Roads”! Damn you to hell!

Flu and Film Reviews

Despite an encroaching cold, I managed to go to the cinema a couple of times this past week.

giphy-downsized.gifFirst I caught up with Despicable Me 3 (which is probably where I picked the lergy up from). To be honest, the film wasn’t a patch on the previous two films. I laughed, but it was usually at the minions. There was one moment that got me thinking, and not about the story line. [non-spoiler alert]. There’s a moment when Dru and Gru are on a beach, talking, and Dru is sat, playing in the sand. It was just a small action, but the fact that they included this random little detail (who hasn’t sat on the beach and absent-mindedly dug a hole?) and the detailing of the sand itself, made me realise just how far and how intricate animation has become. It was a cool little revelation, but it couldn’t elevate the film above its mediocre delivery.

spider-man-2319337_1280Then, with a scratchy throat, I went and saw Spider-Man: Homecoming. The cinema was packed, which surprised me, considering how long the film’s been out, and I ended up getting a cricked neck in one of the front rows. Thankfully, the film was a hoot and a half, and I hardly noticed the fact I was sat practically horizontal in my seat. Bringing Spider-Man into the MCU’s fold was a good move in my opinion. The action was fast, the dialogue was funny, and there was a much lighter tone to the whole thing (a key ingredient to Marvel’s big-screen appeal over DC). I can’t honestly fault the film, and I’m actually looking forward to more Spidey films. Oh, and the Marvel end credit scene was also incredibly trolley! *Bravo!*

So, to sum up, if you haven’t seen either film, I’d say go see Spider-Man on the big screen, and wait for Despicable Me 3 to come out on DVD … or on the TV.

No Wonder

When one door slams shut in your face, another opens just a crack. Gotta love air pressure! What I mean by that rather weird sentence is that a couple of days after posting about how Hootsuite had given their free users a punch to the gut, I got an email from Buffer inviting me to try out their business plan for free for a fortnight. S-weet! Unlimited posting here I come! Of course, there’s no way that I’ll be signing up proper to a Business account as 1) I’m not a business, and 2) I’m unemployed, so I’ll have to enjoy it while I can. It’s just nice not having to juggle 4 different scheduling platforms for a couple of weeks.

With my rantings over Hootsuite, I forgot to mention that I went and saw Guardian’s of the Galaxy the other week. Great film! I’m not sure about the inclusion of PacMan in the final boss battle, but other than that, it gets good marks all round. The dialogue was quick and funny, there was plenty of action…and oh, Yondu!

The next movie-going debate in my household revolves around Wonder Woman. To be honest, I just can’t find the motivation to go see this. The DC Cinematic Universe, for me, has been one loooong and daaaaaaaark disappointment. I didn’t even bother going and seeing Batman vs Superman. And from what I hear, I think I dodged a bullet. The whole franchise seems turgid at best. Actually, I’ve not seen a Batman on the big screen since Batman Begins. I caught The Dark Night on TV…and pretty much prayed for my own death because it was so long and dull. The Dark Night Rises wasn’t that much better, and in all honesty, the only good thing about it was the Robin that never got to be: Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

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Typical maximum lighting level in a DC film

From the trailers I’ve seen, Wonder Woman’s lighting isn’t much better. Again, it’s the good ol’ dark, bleak lighting that plagues the other DC films. Something that’s in serious need of a vaccine. Then there’s Gal Gadot’s accent. I’ve mentioned before that I’m more than happy to hear accents on a film, but not at the expensive of not being able to understand what’s being said, such was the case of Marion Cotillard’s last line in Assasin’s Creed that no one seems to have caught. And quite frankly, she could have done with subtitles for the majority of the movie, despite speaking English. Unsurprisingly, I worry that Gal Gadot’s accent may also cause problems. And to be honest, from what I’ve seen of the trailers, her delivery seems stilted at best, which doesn’t bode well if I have to sit through near two hours of her performance.

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With all this, I have to say, my drive to see Wonder Woman is negligible. There’s an undercurrent of, “you should go see this movie, because woman power!”, and that I’m somehow failing the sisterhood if I don’t go see it, but I don’t want to have to sit through two hours of ‘meh’ just to prove I support female leads. Yes, some people have been raving the film, but then, people raved about Heath Ledger’s performance in Batman, and I found it forgettable (no disrespect to someone gone too young too soon). I guess I’m just not a DC fan, or rather, a DC Cinematic Universe fan. Will I be going to the cinema to see it? No. Will I watch it on TV in a couple of year’s time? Probably.

Well, I’m sure my thoughts have just p-o’d a lot of people, so I’m off to go vote for a better country. Ciao!

Once Bitten

I missed a weeks blog entry, mainly because I didn’t have much to say, but also because I got pissed off with the mark of my latest uni assessment, which put me in a bad frame of mind.

My previous Open University assessment came back at 100%. The last one was 82%. Now I will put my hand up, and admit I goofed up slightly when it came to laying out calculations (though taking marks off me because I wrote ‘seconds’ instead of just ‘s’ is a bit much). But a couple of other parts had been marked down for reasons that made me fume. Now, if you’ve ever done (or are doing) a course with the OU, you’ll no how much they beat it into you NOT TO PLAGIARISE! Mention your sources!  Acknowledge your sources! etc etc. So, when I was faced with summarising an article written by someone else, I took those warning sirens to heart, and made sure I acknowledged the author of the article whenever I mentioned his thoughts on something. Unfortunately, apparently, this is considered “reviewing” and article as opposed to “summarising” it, which lost me marks, gained me an admonishment for “not reading the question properly” and promptly made me annoyed. The second kick in the proverbial nuts, was another “you didn’t read the question properly!” Arguably, I had. The trouble was, I had translated the question’s meaning differently to what was apparently being asked, so again, lost marks. Ugh! Anyway, my next assignment comes with another ‘summarise the article’ type question, so I’ll be sure not to mention the author at all (except in the reference) and see what happens. I need to keep my overall percentage grade up as the OU is quite stingy when it comes to their 1st and 2:1 pass rate.

Beyond the aggravation of my assessment, I managed to catch a couple of films at the cinema, namely Kong: Skull Island, and Ghost in the Shell.

Kong: Skull Island

First up was Kong: Skull Island. It was a fairly entertaining film. Samuel L. Jackson’s character was a bit of a cliche in a ‘man’s better than animals’ kind of way, Tom Hiddleston’s was as easy on the eye as always, and it was [spoiler alert] nice that Kong actually survived the end of the film, unlike in King Kong, which had me bawling my eyes out.

The only real problem I had with the film was the ‘bad-guy’ monsters. Now I could suspend belief and believe that the creatures on the island had gone through some collective evolutionary gigantism, giving way to giant oxen, spiders, (unseen) ants, stick-bugs, and of course, apes. However, the monsters seemed completely out of place with everything else. The didn’t conform to a scaled-up creature, or even a prehistoric creature, so they ended up jarring against the backdrop of animal life. The were these two-legged, weird-skulled, things that would have been better-suited to a sci-fi film set on another planet.

Still, overall, it was an entertaining movie, and I’m glad I got to drool over Tom…I mean got to see it 😉

Ghost in the Shell

Prepare to be disappointed. Why? because I really enjoyed this film! I’m going to pass over the whole white-washing thing, as that’s an argument for another day, and (IMHO) not as clear cut when dealing with anime and manga, and just review the film based on the film itself.

Now, many years ago, I watched the original anime. It was cool, but it was also so long ago that I’ve forgotten most of it. I remembered the iconic jump scene, and Batou on his boat, but the story line itself has been lost from memory. So, overall, I went into the film fairly fresh. And you know what, it was a pretty darn good movie. My mate sulked at the end, but I think he’d been caught up in all the negative reviews, and had basically prepped himself to not like the film, and did just that. But I went in with hope, and wasn’t disappointed. The visuals were great, especially the imagining of the futuristic city. The plot was followable, which is something that can be an issue with anime films, whose writers interweave spirituality, visuals, and crazy ideas, to a point where they can overwhelm you. And I remembered I once had a crush on Batou…and now I do again.

The only thing that irked me was that Scarlett Johansson seemed to stomp around in a rather (for want of a better word) butch manner. I don’t recall her being that way as the Black Widow in Marvel, and I don’t recall the Major being all stooped and stompy in the original anime (but like I said, it’s been a while since I saw it), so I’m not sure what was going on there, but it was very distracting

To be honest, I think the white-washing argument pushed critics to instantly write-off this film, and hence turned the viewers against it before they’d even seen it, leading to it bombing in the cinema. This is a shame, as the film itself doesn’t deserve the full force of negativity it received. Very few films are perfect, but this isn’t as crap as the nay-sayers make it out to be, so go see it while you can.

Disappointment City

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Welp, I wasn’t wrong, I didn’t get the job. Some guff about different visions. Though, to be honest, their vision could quite easily become mine, so I’m hitting the Bullshit Button on that. The final kick in the teeth is that I won’t get any reimbursement of my travel expenses. That means I’m near £260 out of pocket, with absolutely nothing to show for it. If I was reliant on Jobseekers allowance, I wouldn’t be able to pay any bills, or buy food, for around a month. Utterly ridiculous!

It really is hard to stay motivated when at every turn the universe knocks the wind out of my sails. All I want is a career to make me happy, and put money in my pocket. But the universe deems me useless and I that I should embrace unemployment. I’ve failed as a marine biologist, I’ve failed as a novelist, and now I’m failing as a social media editor. A few years down the line I’m just going to end up having to become an over-experienced toilet cleaner or shelf-stacker. It’s a very depressing state of affairs, and one I don’t see overcoming any time soon.

Anyway, to cheer myself up, went to see Logan in the cinema. Though, to be honest, it’s not the most cheery of films. It was dark, it was depressing, and it was brutal. Without a doubt, it was the swansong Logan deserved. It broke my heart, but it did the character, and Hugh Jackman’s time as the character, justice. I’m gonna miss ol’ Adamantium Claws.

To be honest, I’m not sure how I’d feel if Hugh Jackman gets replaced in future X-men films. The part was his, just like RDJ is Iron Man (or more accurately, Stark ;)), and Chris Evans is Captain America. Better to have a completely new character filling the slot. Like the Falcon becoming the new Capt., if such a need arises, or X23 becoming the new ‘Wolverine’. That way, the character can continue, but not by re-booting their previous incarnation. But I guess that’s something that’ll happen a ways down the line.

Novel Update:

I’ve broken out the red pen. Now it’s time to try and slot in 5 pages a day, whereby I doodle over them with corrections. I estimate it’ll take me about a month and a half to get through the first review. So may the slog continue.