Avengers: Endgame (2019)

So, that’s it, as close to a season finale the MCU has had yet, this film genuinely feels like closure for a lot of the characters. A fitting closure too, it completes a lot of story arcs which have been running since 2008. Whilst there’s been a few missteps along the way it’s generally accepted that the films have been of high quality and with interacting storylines to keep you invested (even if they weren’t as carefully crafted as they needed to be at times, with major plot holes and continuity errors between separate films). I did love this film, I really enjoyed it, and didn’t feel it outstayed its welcome (which considering it is 3 hours long, really says something). It deserves the praise it’s getting, but I still can’t help but feel slightly disappointed, not with what happened, but with now can’t happen. Like I wish they pushed the Civil War storyline further, as it is it never really felt like a proper division between two sets, it always felt temporary and outside of Civil War itself, kind of small. It never had that urge of paranoia, you never felt like the heroes against registration were under any threat (with the possible exception of Ant-Man in Ant-Man And The Wasp). If you look at the movies after Civil War:

  1. Doctor Strange (completely unaffected by Civil War as not recognised by the government)
  2. Guardians Of The Galaxy 2 (In space so unaffected)
  3. Spider-Man (pro-registration but didn’t affect the movie much. This is annoying as a big part of the Civil War comics was Spider-Man unmasking and revealing his identity, nothing similar to that has happened in this universe since the first Iron Man movie, and that was clearly Tony Starks decision, there’s no “forced to reveal identity” moments yet.)
  4. Thor: Ragnarok. (Again, in space)
  5. Black Panther (not as affected by the Registration Act as it could have been)
  6. Ant-Man And The Wasp (The most affected, but not essential)
  7. Infinity War (just causes a slight “we need to find this person” moment)
  8. Captain Marvel (Set in the past)

To be honest, I can’t even remember if the Act passed at the end of Civil War. That’s how little it’s affected the movies, and that can not be fixed now, it’s too late for it to start coming into effect now, and that’s disappointing. The other thing I’m disappointed in is that there were no post-snap movies. Ok, yeah, technically all movies now are post-snap, but they’re also going to be set after the resolution. There should have been a film between them, so many villain origin stories start with them losing their families, and yet the perfect opportunity for one now won’t happen (oh, spoilers, the people killed by the snap come back, but 5 years have passed in this world so they will be 5 years younger than they should be when they come back, I REALLY hope they make a big point of this in future films). We mostly saw how the snap affected heroes, we didn’t get much of it affecting the world, the opening scenes were done to show that, but the audience isn’t as invested in that as they should be as they’re sitting there waiting for everyone to get revenge on Thanos. Can you imagine how much more effective it would have been if there was an entire movie set in that world? The chaos, the frustration, the paranoia, the fear, the bastards using it to make money, the conspiracy theories! Do ordinary people know it was Thanos? As far as most of them saw, half the world just disappeared with no explanation. The only way they’d know it was Thanos is if someone put out a press release, which I can’t really see happening somehow. So can you imagine the conspiracy theories that would arise from that? It would be INSANE, and yet we will never find out (although I am thinking of writing a short Marvel story set in that universe, just to express that idea).

I know I haven’t spoken much about this film, but I feel if you wanted to see it, you would have seen it already, there’s nothing I can say in this review that will change that. Also, the entire internet has opinions on it and has expressed them better than I could. They’ve been right; it’s emotional as hell, full to the brim with references and fan-service, things are paid off which you didn’t even realise they were setting up, and most characters get their time to shine. It’s not perfect though; Captain Marvel seems misused, only seeming to exist as a Deus Ex Machina, and she’s involved in one of the most cringy moments of the franchise so far which is clearly designed to get a reaction in the cinema but is so false it seems like pandering. Despite how many characters are included, some rather important ones are missing with not even a mention. Also if you think about some aspects of the plot for too long it does seem to fall apart slightly.

But despite that, I highly recommend it, so far it’s been the best example of spectacle so far this year, and I doubt even the Godzilla movie could top it

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Wild Rose (2019)

I was slightly apprehensive about this film. I worried it would try too hard to be emotional and would just fall flat. I don’t really connect with a lot of country music on an emotional level, so if that’s the lynchpin of the film then I just won’t get it. Also, it’s a British movie about a working-class person wanting to live their dreams; films like that tend to not do well in the “great plot” stakes, usually incredibly predictable and obvious. There was a small glimmer of hope however that it would work. As this film went on that hope became larger, I became emotionally invested in this film and it just really works, a lot. Most of that is due to the performance of Jessie Buckley, who I’ll admit I’m not too familiar with but I feel I should be, her performance in this is breath-taking, turning what could be an unlikeable character into one you really root for and that you can’t help but love.

Make no mistake, this is a SCOTTISH country film, the fact it’s set in Scotland adds a lot to the story and the character and makes it unique. I mean, it’s also a Scottish COUNTRY film, wouldn’t really work with most other music genres, there’s something about the soul of country music which lends itself to this film. I mean, I suppose it’s also a Scottish country FILM as it wouldn’t work if it was a fruit basket, but that would just be silly, albeit delicious.

It’s not perfect, there are a few moments which only exist to service the plot, in fact, there’s one character who almost seems to exist only to further the plot with her actions. Don’t get me wrong, the interactions between them and the main character are incredibly heart-warming and lovely, it does seem a little hollow at times. The way the main character reacts to her seems incredibly out of character and only seems to happen to cause a plot-problem later down the line.

I mentioned the performances earlier, and whilst they are good, they’re not the best part of the film. The best part is something you can’t really identify but is there; the heart. Everything in this film seems like it’s done with great love and emotion, and it’s that which carries this film through the weaker moments. The heart Jessie Buckley puts into the songs she performs brings tears to your eyes. Even the ending is full of heart, ending with something that’s not the happy ending the film is expected to have, but the one that the film deserves, and it’s beautiful.

Hellboy (2019)

Oh dear. Oh dear oh dear. That’s all I have to say about this really. I remember being kind of hyped up for this. It looked like it was going to be a mature bloody kind of film, but one that’s a lot of fun. It essentially looked like a mix of Logan and Thor: Ragnarok. Instead, it’s like a mix of Thor: Dark World, and a 15-year-old on Twitter. The Thor comparison is simple; I heavily disliked both and found them incredibly bland looking. The 15-year-old; that’s more complicated. You know when kids reach adolescence and they consider themselves adults? So they decide to act more “adult”, but all this means is they actually become pricks? Yeah, it’s that. This film is the cinematic equivalent of someone typing “I’ve got a big cock, you fag! Watch this video of people being executed. Hitler was my hero, megalols”. It has no nuance, subtlety, or actual maturity to it, in fact, it’s trying so damn hard to appear mature that it comes off as juvenile.

I did have kind of high hopes for this, hopes that faded when the early reviews came in. I understand this kind of film isn’t for everyone, so an average score in the ’60s would be acceptable. But at the time of writing the average score is 14%. That suggests a complete trainwreck, a film that fails on a very basic level. And it does. The pacing is just weird, it takes forever to say things that it could say in a minute, then glosses over things that they should focus on. We spend a lot of time introduced to characters who essentially don’t even matter. I’d estimate at least 30% of this film could be cut out and you wouldn’t lose anything. It doesn’t even have the decency to look good. I mean, it does in some parts, but in others, the CGI looks woeful, there’s one moment near the end in particular which is almost laughable. What’s not as laughable are the jokes, I think they’re supposed to be jokes, they have the cadence of jokes, but not the humour. It’s hard to tell because tonally this film is all over the place, and it’s not really helped by the performance. There’s a certain performer in this film who I have not seen in anything else, so I feel bad slating their performance because everyone can have an off day, so I won’t name them (if it was a very well known one, trust me I’d go all guns blazing, but with this it would just seem rude), but trust me, it’s one of the worst performances I’ve seen in a long time, probably not helped by the fact they’re playing a nationality that definitely isn’t their native one, and as such the accent wavers all over the place.

I mean, on the plus side the gore is a welcome change, they just couldn’t match the gore with grown-up sensibilities and tone (unlike Logan, which matched both PERFECTLY). And David Harbour is almost good enough to forget that he’s not Ron Perlman, almost. But it’s not good enough to pass over the multiple flaws this movie has. If I was thirteen years old, this would be my favourite movie,  although I’d also be too young to see at the cinema. In a world where Marvel movies are making billions, films which seem this lazy are not acceptable.

Shazam! (2019)

Well this is fun. Genuinely one of the most fun superhero films I’ve seen in a long time. It’s pure cinematic joy. So yeah, I liked it. It melted even my cold cynical heart, eventually. I mean, it took f*cking forever to get going. That’s always the issue with the first film in a superhero series though, particularly with one that not many people now. You have to not only have a film within itself, you need to introduce everything; the universe (Batman Begins wouldn’t have been as effective, for example, without first setting up that Gotham was kind of a shithole), the main characters backstory, and the villains backstory. That’s a lot to do in a short period of time, and it’s REALLY hard. That’s why it’s shared universes are great for this kind of thing, you can set up the characters in someone elses film. Spider-Man: Homecoming for example didn’t need to spend much time setting up the character, as he was already introduced in Civil War (also, EVERYONE knows Spider-man). If you cut out the origin story then the biggest issue with this film would be fixed immediately as it will be a lot pacier and flow better. To be honest, this character would have been perfect in Justice League, taking most of the comedic dialogue away from The Flash. You’d have to restructure parts of this though so there is a chance that might break it. This film is pretty much about family, it contains genuine emotion, like, tears slightly welling up level of emotion. The cast is also great. Zachary Levi easily makes you forget you’re actually watching an adult, not a large child.

I mean, it’s not perfect. As I’ve mentioned the pacing is glacial at the start. And whilst there’s nothing wrong with the way it looks, per se, it just isn’t visually very interesting which is a shame. It looks just like a normal film, nothing really wows you. I also think they missed a golden opportunity. This bit contains plot spoilers btw. There’s a moment where all his adopted siblings also become adult superheroes. I feel this would have been a great chance to have some cameos, you know, have some fun with the casting in some way. Oh, and the villain is missing from long periods of the film. Holy crap this film had a lot of flaws now I look at it. But I don’t care. I wasn’t thinking about the flaws when I left the cinema, I was smiling like an idiot because the film was fun enough to make me not think about them. And really isn’t that all you want from a film a lot of the time? For it to entertain you? Although I’m still not sure if it’s Faithe Herman who’s adorable and lovely, or just the character. Let’s just say it’s both for sake of argument.

Us (2019)

Spoilers: this film isn’t as good as Get Out. That’s not damning it though, as VERY few films are as good as Get Out. I feel that film could weigh Jordan Peele down slightly, it has given everything he is involved with INCREDIBLY high expectations which it’s going to be hard for him to match.

That being said, this film is still spectacular. I don’t see it hitting pop culture quite as high as Get Out did, but it’s still probably one of the highlights of the year, and definitely the best horror film of the year so far.

Honestly, and as much as I hate to say this, the weakest part of this film is the script. It feels like it needed adjusting slightly. I mean, it is still good, but there are moments where it’s a bit too unsubtle, a bit too unfocused, taking too long to say certain things. It’s still great, it just needs slight tweaks. While the script isn’t as good as Get Out, this film is MUCH better directed, which considering how great a job he did on Get Out, really says something. EVERYTHING seems to have purpose visually. He’s great at making sure a sense of unease looms over the entire film, giving even innocuous scenes a sense of dread. You could watch normal scenes out of context, scenes of family just walking down the beach, and they’d be SOMETHING about it which would tell you it’s slightly off.

The performances are also SUPERB. Almost everyone in it has to play two roles, and they need to make them different enough to visually identify which character we are seeing. Lupita Nyong’o in particular really nails it. The way she makes her characters move effects how you see them as people, it’s truly great.

My favourite moment of this film? The wham moment (which is not to be confused with the scene from Keanu where they argue that George Michael was a gangster, that’s a Wham! moment) is one of the best I’ve seen. This moment has slight spoilers so if you don’t want this film spoiled, look away now, and I’ll tell you when you can look back.

Those fucking idiots. If they’re looking away then they won’t see when I tell them to look back, they’re going to be walking around forever looking slightly to the left, they’re going to walk into so many open sewers. Hah!

Wait, where was I? Oh right, the wham moment. For a lot of this film it’s played like the only clones (ok, they’re not clones, but if I call them “tethereds” that will make no sense unless you either see the film, or I explain it) that exist are the ones of the family. We then find out that they exist of another family, and they’re all similar; all sociopathic killers. We then see a news broadcast and find out it’s country-wide. This moment is SUPERB. We find out that what we have been watching has been happening all over the country, that there are millions of stories just like the one we’ve seen, and they’ve all ended brutally. That is what I will remember from this film, how I felt in that moment. Also, that moment had a piece of realisation of visual foreshadowing that made me say out loud “You magnificent bastard”. So that’s that, this film made me annoying.

Fisherman’s Friends (2019)

This is not the greatest film I’ve seen, but it’s enjoyable. It’s the cinematic equivalent of a piece of toast (I compare films to food way more than most people do, I should look into that). By that, I mean that no matter how perfectly it does what it needs to, it will never be your favourite. It sticks to a formula, and as such is kind of restrained by that. You can guess almost every single plot point in this film from the opening 10 minutes. It won’t surprise you at all. But it doesn’t really need to, this is not a film to analyse and pore over, it’s a film to sit and distract yourself, and it does that well. The dialogue is razor sharp, the characters are loveable (and fully fleshed out, even the background ones have minor details to them which help you know them), and it will make you smile. The whole thing is just massively endearing and charming and, I don’t know, warm I guess is the word I’m looking for. You know how certain films have colours attached to them? I’d say this one is a warm sea blue. It’s just comforting and lovely, the kind of film the whole family gathers and watches on Christmas Day, in that post-dinner haze where you’re all too exhausted to move, and someone inevitably falls asleep in the sofa with their Christmas hat still on. It’s incredibly BBC, and I mean that as positive and a negative.

So yeah don’t go out of your way to watch this, but if (actually, when) it comes on iPlayer, watch it immediately.

The above made complete sense in relation to this film. Which is weird, as with the exception of 3 words, it was lifted word for word from an earlier review. That’s both the best and worst thing about about this film. It’s nice to have something familiar, even if it is something new. It’s comforting to not have to sit there wondering exactly what’s going to happen and to just be able to lose yourself in the dialogue and the characters. It’s nice to have something you can have on in the background and talk to people during. It’s good to have something you expect, and have it meet every expectation. But yeah it can be a bit annoying to have that. It can be slightly frustrating to feel you’ve already seen everything in it. I think my feelings would be a lot less forgiving if I had paid for this, I feel that about quite a few films, but this one in particular was received more warmly because it was free. I mean, it is enjoyable, incredibly so, it just never feels like it does more than exist. It doesn’t grab you. It does have James Purefoy looking like a West Country Wolverine though, so it gets a few points for that.

Captain Marvel (2019)

No, I did genuinely love this movie and it’s likely to be one of my favourites of the year. It was really funny, looked great (mostly) and I think Brie Larson is incredible. I thought I’d get that out the way because this blog will make it seem like I don’t. It was good, it was just……not what was needed right now. We are right before Endgame, one of the most anticipated films of the year. That film is supposedly the culmination of an overarching story which has run for about 10 years, the entire MCU has been building towards Endgame. The last two films before this ended with multiple character deaths, people are looking for that MOMENT to lead them into Endgame, and this completely fails at that. This is fine on its own, but as part of the MCU narrative, I don’t really feel it does its job. It doesn’t build up the next stage, like, at all. This film could have been made in Phase One and it wouldn’t really affect much. The biggest difference it would have made is it would have meant whenever there was a danger we would have thought “why doesn’t Fury just call Captain Marvel?” for most of the films, we now only have that in retrospect, which is…better? Should point out, one of the credits scenes DOES manage to get you slightly excited for Endgame, but the rest of the film doesn’t really do the same, at all.

Also, it turning out that Fury’s eye was lost to Goose the cat? “OMG who saw that coming?” Almost everybody. When I saw the trailer there were hundreds of comments under it saying the cat probably clawed out his eye. At this point, it would have been a surprise if that DIDN’T happen.

My other major issue with this film; the soundtrack. It’s like a 90’s jukebox. It’s good but it really could be much better. For one thing, some of the songs came out AFTER the film was set so it’s just a bit “ok, so this song doesn’t exist in this universe yet, so why is it being played?” and it’s obvious, because it’s “90’s” and that’s good enough. But if you’re going to do that, why restrict yourself like that? Personally what I would have LOVED them to do was to do a 90’s soundtrack, but have it be 90’s songs covered by female-led bands. At least then the soundtrack to a Marvel movie would be interesting (something which has only happened to 3 films so far, shockingly low).

A minor issue: some of the CGI was a bit dodgy. One scene, in particular, seems a bit cheap in terms of how they’ve layered it so badly that it looks fake. That just should not happen in a film this big and immediately puts it out of the running for the best looking film this year. It’s too big a mistake to ignore.

But the good: it was a lot of fun. Like, A LOT of fun. You will leave this film smiling and having enjoyed it. Also, Brie Larson is a badass, but anybody who saw Room already knows that. The de-ageing CGI also works BEAUTIFULLY and never manages to take you out of the movie (unlike some of the CGI of the character in flight, again, awful). The way it subverted expectations in terms of who the Kree are is also superb, I NEVER saw that coming, and in a genre often decried for being obvious, that says something.

So yeah, an enjoyable watch. But if you go into Endgame without watching this, you won’t really have much to catch up on.

Also, that No Doubt scene was WAY too unsubtle

Fighting With My Family (2019)

I may be biased but I genuinely loved this film. I found it incredibly funny and heartwarming. It may be Rock-produced film focused on a huge American company, but a lot of the humour is incredibly British and snarky, Nick Frost’s character showing disdain at having to wear a t-shirt as it’s too posh for him etc.  Also, it’s probably the only film this year to have the line “dick me dead and bury me pregnant” in it (unless the sequel to Secret Life Of Pets takes a weird left turn).

This film is helped by the performances. Everyone really gets into their characters, to the point where you forget they’re playing characters. I’ve seen the person this film is based on, and followed their career for years, I still forgot it wasn’t actually her in the film. It’s weird as she doesn’t physically resemble her that much, but the way she performs as her completely convinces you (much like Michael Sheen in The Damned United).

I am aware of the background of this film, the happy ending of the film is one I remember watching and my knowledge actually makes me like the film slightly less. They discount a lot of the work she did prior to that and how highly regarded she was. This film makes it look like she was one step away from being fired and nobody knows who she is. When the truth is she was one of the most highly regarded performers for the developmental company, and the internet loved her and were begging for her to be called up to the main company. This is also shown in the ending. In this, she gets called up and is met with silence as nobody knows who she is. In reality, the reaction she got was loud as hell (caused partly by a large number of English fans who were in attendance) and everybody loved her. I see why they played with reality though, it makes the film much better and flows narratively more. I mean, “highly respected performer who is known as one of the best gets a promotion after impressing on shows for over a year” isn’t as compelling a narrative as “plucky underdog comes from nowhere”. The other thing that makes reality cheapen this film; a sex-tape joke. The person this film is based on suffered from a leak of a sex tape, which led to her suffering from suicidal thoughts and being hospitalised from stress-induced anorexia. So the fact a character refers to another as “sex-tape” because “he makes you famous” seems a bit….awkward. Especially since it SO easily could have been cut out, it wasn’t in the middle of an important piece of dialogue and NOTHING would have been lost if it got cut.

Also, she’s now retired. She suffered an injury which means if she wrestles again she risks paralysis. Although, again, I get why they didn’t put this in. It would have provided a real downer to what is essentially a feel-good movie. And this movie is feel-good. It’s charming, funny, and has the heart needed. That’s the forgotten part of a feel-good movie. If it’s just happy happy all the time the feel-good moments of it feel disingenuous. This film hits hard when it needs to. Yes, you see her succeed, but you see others fail. You see her rise, but you see the aftermath of someone else’s fall. You see her dream come true, but you see her brothers’ dream get torn away from him and he has to watch her succeed where he can’t.

The film also looks good. Apparently, Stephen Merchant was hand-picked to direct this, and I can’t see why. By which I mean I have no idea why he thought he’d be right for this, I mean, he is, completely. He nails every moment of this with a sleekness and brilliance. The way he cuts between a lot of the scenes is genius and I truly love it. I really hope he does more directing work as he’s REALLY good at it.

Happy Death Day 2 U (2019)

First off, applause for that title. It’s the best/worst sequel title ever and I love it. Now, I LOVED the first movie. Yeah it wasn’t that scary, but it had a great plot and terrific performances, was truly one of the highlights of 2017. I heard initial reports that this one was a disappointment. Personally I liked it. I get why people wouldn’t though. It’s quite different from the first one, with a different emphasis which takes it away from the horror genre somewhat. It also wastes what would be a great plot in the opening 10 minutes where another character is trapped in the same day. Although part of me thinks that that plot wouldn’t have worked because it would have been incredibly similar to the first one. The moment where they find that character from another universe is in this one and trying to kill them definitely would have worked and it’s a shame they didn’t use it. I mean, the plot they used was incredibly good. She wakes up on the same day as the first one, but in an alternate universe where things are different. One of the major differences is that her mum is now alive. This sets up a brilliant sub-plot of whether she wants to stay in the new universe or go back to the one she knows.

I’m under no delusions that this is a great film. But it is a film I love already. Jessica Rothe  is damn amazing in this, and Phi Vu handles his increased duties incredibly well, stepping up from a one-note character to a fully-fleshed out supporting character. Quite a few minor characters from the first movie have increased roles this time. I mean, yeah it’s not the same as the first one, but it works great as a companion piece. They don’t feel too separated, they feel like they belong together naturally. Like this wasn’t a sequel, but was the second part of the first one. Crucially it didn’t need to do this. When you watched the first one it felt like a whole movie, you left it with questions, but not questions that distracted you from how much you liked the film. Your thoughts weren’t “but why did x happen?” it was “I liked that”. So this film wasn’t needed, but you’ll be very glad it exists.

Hasn’t been my longest review, or my best. This is a film that has to be seen to be believed. It’s really weird and worth your watch; even if only for Jessica Rothe’s performance. And the music. And the editing. Editing in movies are like drums in music, I tend to only notice them when they’re really bad (There’s a scene in Bohemian Rhapsody in particular that’s a mess) or really good (this). The montage editing is superb, flows brilliantly and has a great rhythm to it. The emotion this film manages to bring to the table should be commended too. Has genuine tear-causing moments. Which in a film THIS funny is something special. So yeah, go see it, especially if you loved the first one.

Alita: Battle Angel (2019)

Do you have an interest in seeing this film? Then see it at the cinema. Trust me, this is a cinema film. You’ll get a lot more out of seeing this on a big screen than you will by sitting on your sofa watching it. This is spectacle cinema at it’s very best. And like most spectacle cinema, you do feel it’s lacking something though.

It’s not the performances, they’re all fantastic. All of them, and there’s a lot of them. I think it has so many characters as this film was made with an eye towards a sequel. I mean, with the ending this film has, it has to have a sequel otherwise the story will just be unfinished. Christoph Waltz actually seems charming and not-evil in this film, which I didn’t know he was capable of (off topic, if they do a remake of Who Framed Roger Rabbit, he’s Judge Doom). The star of the show is definitely Rosa Salazar, who is so damn impressive in this it’s hard to believe. The way they kind of animate her eyes is genius, a beautiful blend of reality and CGI which is an incredible use of the technology. It’s not being used to replace or create reality, but to work alongside it, which is a technique which always works better.

Now the downside; the big one is the plot is kind of generic. The romance sub-plot seems kind of forced. A lot of the dialogue is just explaining plot points and character motivations to the audience, some of which could have been done a lot more subtly. It’s tonally all over the place, going from a film that’s seemingly aimed at children, to a dog being slaughtered then having its blood used as war paint before saying “fuck mercy” and killing someone. It’s a 12A which features a character being chopped in half at the waist, not a robot, a human. I’m not sure if being chopped in half would kill a robot in this film as it’s incredibly inconsistent when it comes to things like that. Sometimes having a limb chopped off leads to them being severely weakened and makes them as good as dead, and sometimes they just walk it off like it doesn’t affect them. It makes the action scenes difficult to get invested in as after every hit you’re not sure how to react, did that cause immense damage, or does it not matter? You have no idea until AFTER each hit, there are no rules set to tell you which makes it incredibly frustrating.

I feel I need to mention the motorball sequences. They’re the action highlights of the film and make you want to see a film based around it (wait, that exists, it’s called Rollerball and the original is awesome), in fact, I would be genuinely surprised if there’s not a video game based on that sequence, and kind of disappointed.

So should you see it? I’d say yes. The visual world-building is top notch and film-making like this deserves to be rewarded. So go buy a ticket and see it at the cinema, even if you’re not blown away, I highly doubt you’ll regret it either.