Sunday, 19 March 2017

Going to the pictures (I)

Before Christmas last year, the Empire cinema near me was sold to Cineworld. It took them a week or so but they rebranded and sorted themselves out pretty fast. I told myself I’d get one of their Unlimited cards - you pay a direct debit amount every month, which enables you to watch as many films as you want, provided you have a ticket for each one. To someone anticipating the summer period, this was a no-brainer.

I waited until something came out that I wanted to see, and then I purchased said membership. Since then we’ve seen quite a few films, and apart from simply sticking the cinema tickers in my TARDIS, I feel like I’ve ignored what I have seen. Considering I’ve been feeling starved of inspiration of late, this Will Not Stand.

I’ve decided to try to keep up with the films we watch, more for my own ‘look-out for the blu ray’ list than anything else. So here we go: a spoiler-free recap of the films I’ve seen through my Cineworld Unlimited Membership (Odeon also does one of these, but there isn’t an Odeon close enough to me).

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (19th Dec 2016)

I think everyone knew what was going to happen before they entered the cinema, but for those new to Star Wars in general it was a pretty good intro to the universe. Nothing could have been worse than the prequels of 1999 - 2005, and we had just had a decent rehash of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, in Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens. But how good was this spin-off going to be?

The entire film had a wonderful Star Wars IV feel to it; we had British Baddies and Darth Vader trying to stop multicultural rebels. The British Baddies even had the same 1977 porn-taches and hair-dos. It segued well into the events of Star Wars IV, even including a few nods to original characters and events surrounding the spin-off people. As the inevitable happened one by one, the impact was really felt. I think I was more upset about losses in this film than in Star Wars VII.

Verdict: 9/10; would recommend.

Passengers (29th Dec 2016)

Being suckered into this film was my fault; I barely saw the entire trailer before yelling ‘YOU HAD ME AT COOL SPACESHIP’ and putting a reminder in my phone to book tickets. Chris Pratt is a competent, fun actor, and Jennifer Lawrence is always a good bet. So as the movie dragged on - mostly ignoring the cool ship in favour of boring the pants off everyone with a tepid love story that borders on the creepy side (not in a good horror movie way), I realised I should have done more homework. They could have cut 45 minutes out of the middle and nothing would have been affected, other than we might have missed the robot bartender, who is in every way epic.

Verdict: 3/10 (and that was for the ship design and the robot bartender); would not recommend.

Assassin’s Creed (5th Jan 2017)

Michael Fassbender in a video game adaption (but not the version with Matt Ryan in it)? Why not. He’s always good and after Passengers, I really didn’t care where the good times came from.

Good cinematography, good storyline, some great characters (Marion Cotillard is brilliant), and most of all, some good fusion of game-play action and modern-day Reasons For Plot. If the last scene isn’t a sequel set-up then I’m shocked.

Verdict: 8.5/10; would recommend.

Hidden Figures (special members-only screening, 6th Feb 2017)

Actresses: wonderful. Story of them powering the math and engineering behind getting John Glenn into orbit and safely back again: brilliant. It could have delved deeper into the racism side of things for me, but otherwise this was a good tale told well.

Verdict: 9/10; would recommend.

The Lego Batman Movie (12th Feb 2017)

Yes, I’m 40 years old. No, I do not have any children, nor did I watch this film with any. But it was damn good fun. There were some kiddie moments - there had to be, after all - but the sophistication of some of the humour, and how self-aware the film was, overcome all of that. The voices were well-cast and the humour for me was spot-on. Also gave my fellow watchers and I a phrase for the next few weeks: I don’t wanna DO that.

Verdict: 9.10; would recommend.

John Wick: Chapter 2 (14th Feb 2017)

Had a bad day? Want to see a metric shit-tonne of Deserving Bad People get shot, sliced up, stabbed (with a pencil), punched, broken and pretty much fucked-up in short order? Then look no further. I think this movie is better than the first one, but your mileage may vary where puppies, cars, houses, wives and Lovejoys are concerned. This film may actually push Hard Boiled off the top spot of my go-to list of films that sometimes I just need to see to make me feel better about People In General being arseholes.

Verdict: 9/10; would recommend.

The Great Wall (23rd Feb, 2017)

Matt Damon is let out of the house by himself AGAIN and this time gets kinda lost in China. He encounters the Great Wall itself and along with his mate, sets about working out how to rob the inhabitants of all their stuff. However, as they’re desperately trying to fight off monsters with all the best tricks they’ve learnt over the last 2 waves of evil beasts, instead he has to decide how much he wants to live to steal shit another day. Great casting (Andy Lau! Eddie Peng! Tian Jing!), good effects, a pretty decent plot and more action than even Yuen Wu-Ping could shake a sword at, this was in turns amusing, grave, entertaining and satisfying.

Verdict: 9.10; would recommend.

Logan (2nd March 2017)

Billed as basically the last time Hugh Jackman would reprise the role of Wolverine, this movie caused mixed feelings before I even went in; I knew roughly what the outcome would be, but I was also very interested in how it would leave mutants in general. I think Jackman did Logan proud: a fine performance, some great set pieces as well as some trademark Wolverine humour in just a few places - this could have been absurdly depressing, but somehow it wasn’t. Everyone else in it was a treat to watch, and the ending left me with hope. It was a good ending to a lot of things, but as one door closes, so another opens, as they say.

You may want to note: in the UK there was no Deadpool teaser, or short, and no after-credits scene.

Verdict: 9/10; would recommend.

Kong: Skull Island (9th March 2017)

Brie Larson, Samuel L Jackson, Tom Hiddleston and scene-stealing John C Reilly - some excellent shots of creatures, better than what was promised in the trailer, as well as a truly man-eating island of weird shit and weirder escape plans. The cast was great, the CGI was impressive, the story a good one and I for one had a tonne of fun watching this.

You may want to note: the after-credits scene is clever and very welcome.

Verdict: 9.5/10; would DEFINITELY recommend.

Free Fire (special members-only screening, 15th March 2017)

The names in this are a treat in themselves: Michael Smiley, Brie Larson, Cillian Murphy, Armie Hammer and Sharlto Copley. You have American, South African, Irish and everything in between in an arms deal trying to go down in a dockside warehouse in Boston, 1978. Witty, amusing, in-your-face language, bodily damage and death - fun for all the family. A little slow in places, it did however keep things interesting until the very last scene. My only gripe is that you became too attached to certain characters. Ah well.

Verdict: 7.5/10; would recommend.

And that’s it for now - hopefully I’ll stay more up to date with these reviews from now on. I can’t wait until summer, when we have to see 2 films a week just to keep up. Good times.

Peach and lube, people - peach and lube.

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