The Meg (2018)

The opening scene to this did not fill me with hope; Statham’s accent was off, we saw an action scene that wasn’t that great, and the character dynamics were a bit meh. It was at this point I worried, that I’d watch something just dumb, instead of dumb fun. As the film went on, I warmed to it, even at some points being able to tolerate Statham’s accent (why they couldn’t let him do a natural one is beyond me). It isn’t anywhere near as dumb as I expected it to be. I mean, if you think about it for a few minutes there are numerous scientific inaccuracies throughout, but the point is you have to think about it. They don’t immediately jump out at you. It’s fun enough, and well-crafted enough, that you don’t really notice any flaws or problems with it. Yeah sure, once you’ve finished you will have lots of “wait a minute, that didn’t make sense”, but in the moment you don’t care as you’re too entertained. Jon Turteltaub (who also gave the world the best bobsled-themed movie of all time in Cool Runnings, and also gave us the pilot episode of Rush Hour, which I didn’t even realise had a TV show based on it) knows what to do; he is great at showing scale. It would be very easy to forget how big the titular Meg is, to just show a plain shot of it with nothing else in frame to give an indicator, he doesn’t do this; every time the shark is on screen, you’ve given a reminder of how absolutely massive it is. It’s spectacle cinema, but in a different way than Skyscraper was. Skyscraper was about set pieces, this is about creating something larger than life, and I haven’t seen it done this well since Kong: Skull Island. It helps that the CGI holds up REALLY well in this film, there’s not many moments where you sit there thinking “that looks fake as shit”, although you do wonder how a movie featuring a giant shark can look more real than a scene in Spider-Man: Homecoming where two characters have a conversation.

It’s also funny as hell. With the right kind of jokes. You don’t have people get brutally killed then characters making jokes about it, the jokes are contextual and relevant, which is a welcome change.

I’ve spent most of this film gushing over how likeable and fun I found this. I suppose to be balanced I should talk about the bad things. That cast……are actually good. Ruby Rose continues to be incredibly likeable in almost everything she does. Hmmm, okay so I can’t go for that as a negative. Okay, the obvious pandering to the Chinese market…..wasn’t that big an issue. They had good narrative reasons for a lot of it so it wasn’t as jarring as it was in Independence Day. Damn, have to go with something else. The romance….actually kind of worked. Jason Statham’s character is joined by his ex-wife on the trip, so I expected it to go the traditional way and have them get back together. But nope, he ends up with another character, (played by Li Bingbing) joining her and her child. Okay that’s it; the child actor……wasn’t terrible and provided the film with a lot of emotion and heart, wasn’t distractingly awful, and her decisions didn’t render her a useless load on the rest of the characters. This was helped by both her performance, and good writing. Gosh darn it! Going to have to go with something else. The restrictions placed upon it by the rating? Actually that would be a valid criticism. It keeps threatening to be gorier than it is, and it would be a lot more satisfying if we could see more blood. This needs gore, we need to see destruction and lots of people eaten and we don’t get that. There’s a scene in particular near the end where the shark heads towards a crowded beach. The film builds up a brilliant scene full of carnage and fantastic set pieces, which we then don’t get as it pulls away at the last second. The film gives the audience an over-the-pants handjob when it really needs to fuck us.

And that’s where I’m ending this. Next weeks reviews will be The Festival and The Equalizer 2, where I’ll spend most of the review trying not to call it “The Sequalizer”, and probably failing.

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How We Get Through: June 2017

Films

Submarine Kid

A few months ago I made a slight adjustment to my “to do” list. I started adding names next to them so I would remember who to thank for suggesting them. I really wish I started that sooner, I want to find whoever suggested this film to me, and slap them very very hard round the face. Why? Why would you put me through this? Very Channel 5. Extremely bad dialogue. Can’t tell if it’s too American for me or whether it just doesn’t work as a film.

Under The Shadow

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I liked it but can understand why some wouldn’t. It doesn’t become a traditional horror film until the closing section. Until then it’s horror on a more personal level. Wonderful blending of a war-time drama and horror that doesn’t depend too highly on the usual tropes of one or both genres. Never seen anything like this before in my life, but I really wish I had. Side note, I’ve now seen two Iranian films, both of which have strong female leads, is Iranian cinema better at female representation than Western cinema? Or is it because women are treated as second class citizens there it makes them better characters so the quality of films are likely to be higher, which increases my chances of seeing them?

The Final Girls

finalgirls7

Genuinely emotional, a lot more than it should be. It’s basically a horror film about a group of people who get sucked into a horror film. It’s done by a team who obviously really love the genre, and love film-making in general. Lots of fun little moments in it, from the closing credits appearing in the sky above them, everything changing colour when they appear in flashbacks etc. It’s really good and I wish I made it first.

The Skeleton Twins

Turns “two characters lipsynching” into one of the most emotional, character developing scenes you’re likely to see. Funny, but very very dark.

Let’s Pollute

Bit preachy, very one note and simplistic. Talks about how people are selfish because they work somewhere different from where they live, as if getting a job in a Tesco the town over means you should move house.

The End Of The Tour

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I think part of the reason I like this is because of how great the dialogue is. It flows beautifully, as was described here;

“a funny and heartfelt road movie that meditates on fame, creativity, and loneliness, through the indepth and witty conversations of its protagonists. Whether you know David Foster Wallace’s work or not, this is an accessible and great film”

7:35 In The Morning

This was on my watch list as the writer/director also made Colossal, which I loved. You can kind of tell it’s the same guy by the story, the visuals are pretty bland though. Much like Colossal, I’ve never seen anything like this before. It’s a short film about a guy who holds an entire restaurant hostage so he can sing to a woman about how much he likes her. Keeps on the line between silly and frightning in a way that’s very hard to do.

We Need To Talk Kevin

VERY film student-ey. Spends so long laying on symbolism that it forgets other things.

Spy

Jason Statham is amazing in this. Plays his role to perfection. Everyone else is still good, but not as good as him. I’d love to see more of him in a sequel. When I first saw it I expected this to be a one joke film “haha, a fat woman as a spy”, but was actually really really funny.

Gifted

A lot less Nicholas-Sparks than I thought it would be. Bit formulaic but it plays to the formula very well. Chris Evans is very good in it, but is overshadowed by Mckenna Grace, who is very very good, probably one of the best performances this year. Is it just me or are child actors getting better? Manages to do a performance which is funny, moving, and hits all the right spots in terms of body language and facial acting. Great performance. Jenny Slate was also REALLY good in it, but wasn’t in it as much as she should have been.

See No Evil, Hear No Evil

Has some continuity issues but still very good. Kind of sad to think both leads have sadly passed on. They had amazing chemistry here, you don’t really tend to get acting double acts anymore. You have “groups” that work together, but that’s normally in a certain directors films as opposed to just always together. It’s a shame as that kind of thing can really help sell a film “oh, I loved the last film I saw those two in”. It also means unscrupulous marketers can change the title of the film in foreign markets so it looks like a sequel. Which is always hilarious. “yes, the first film ended with them both being shot to death, but here’s a sequel, where they have different names and characters, but they look the same. Now give money.”

Wonder Woman

I explained my thoughts on this here. Spoilers; LOVED IT! Even the closing credits were amazing. They were like a water colour painting. Haven’t seen any this good since A Monster Calls. I like when films take the time to attempt to do something with the credits, it shows a real dedication to what they’re doing.

X+Y

The moment where where he tries to do the monty python reference is really awkward and cringey, if anything it’s worse when you know it’s coming. Only just realised how heartbreaking some of the performances were, Sally Hawkins in particular.

Books

The Stars Tennis Balls

Always takes me forever to get through the opening chapter of this for some reason. Shame as the final third is absolutely superb, it just takes a while to get there (about two thirds of the book I’d guess).

Books Of Blood

The biggest issue this book has is that it starts with Fear, which is one of the best horror short stories ever written. Anything after that would just be disappointing.

Albums

Maps

Can’t remember how I heard this band (probably the Figure 4 Leg Rock podcast), great EP, available for free, which is my second favourite price to pay for things. Trigger Happy in particular is one of my favourite songs I’ve heard this year.

Panic Prevention

The moments in songs are usually better than the songs themselves. Although “Sheila” is pretty damn fine. Listed on my itunes as “Chavvy Acoustic Punk”, because I couldn’t think of a better way to describe it.

Look For The Woman

B-sides are remixes, which is always okay. But the song itself is amazing.

Punk Rock Is Your Friend Volume 6 (Hardcore Is Your Friend Too)

I miss samplers like this. Epitaph, Burning Heart, Kung-Fu records etc all used to do really cheap albums showcasing their bands. Doesn’t really happen anymore, probably due to the rise of streaming etc. Is a shame as these were great ways to get into bands. You pick them up barely knowing any of the bands and before you know it you’ve found your new favourite band. I got this for one reason and one reason only; new Tsunami Bomb song. They were one of my favourite bands at the time and I was obsessed with them (how I felt when they split is how the rest of the world feels when celebrities die) so the chance to hear something new excited me, made me look forward to a new album by them. Sadly they split soon after, but I’ll always have that song, and no more new ones, ever *cries*.

Just The Way I’m Feeling

Relatively pedestrian, listened to it today and I still can’t remember the b-sides.

Goodbye Blue And White

It’s a Less Than Jake album with at least two Slayer covers. Weird.

Stopgap EP

Probably the most American pop-punk band that’s ever come from England. Just an EP meant to tide people over until their new album came out a few years ago. Has some good stuff on it but the best song by a mile is the cover of “Everytime You Go Away”. I do loves me some covers.