AFTERLYFE Movie Review

I haven’t posted a review in a while but when I heard of this short movie, I just had to do one. From Wagyu Films comes their first officially released movie and whilst it’s a short it’s bloody good.

What is it?

AFTERLYFE is a horror movie that pulls no punches and in its 20 minute run down has more scares and excellent world building than most of the crap coming out of Hollywood these days.

Created by a small studio and on a low budget the movie does an impressive job of both looking like a much bigger budget production and fully immersing in the viewer.

A Short Movie with a Tall Reach

It doesn’t pull any punches; its short run time doesn’t allow for that and that is one of its strengths. It wastes no time diving into the action by setting up the scene that is both mysterious and immediately scary.

With all that’s being on regarding the Covid pandemic, the opening shot of a man waking up inside a body bag in a dark hospital room with an oxygen mask on his face taps into the fears over the virus. It also gives the movie a 28 Day Later vibe which I absolutely love.

It’s creepy AF

Our as yet unnamed protagonist frees himself from the body bag to discover that there are people in similar bags all around him. The lightning is excellent as the man leaves his room and begins to explore the oppressively dark hospital.

As he ventures down a corridor, he sees other rooms containing other ‘patients. In one room he encounters a man covered in bandages who gives a disturbing performance as someone who is absolutely petrified.

This is where I have to mention the music in this movie. It’s subtle and creepy rising and ebbing in perfect unison with the tension on screen. The tension builds and a female voice cuts into the eerie quiet, that made me jump. The hero finds a walkie talkie and asks the woman questions about his situation, her answers are vague adding to the sense of uneasiness. We learn that the hero had been in a car accident, but the woman says, ‘this isn’t a hospital’. A WTF moment if ever there was one.

The script is great with the exchanges between the man and woman in particular believable and unnerving. The horror aspect itself is done better than some big budget movies with a particular scene of ‘something’ stalking the dark corridors genuinely creeping me out. It definitely succeeds in its attempts to scare and does it in a way that doesn’t rely on obvious jump scares and over the top gore.

A scene where the hero encounters another ‘survivor’ who is armed is perfect as it subverts much of the audiences’ expectations as we realise this isn’t just another zombie survival movie. In fact, that scene flips things on its head entirely to the point where I then felt concern for the ‘survivor’ more than the protagonist. Needless to say, the thing we saw earlier stalking the corridors makes another appearance and its suitably horrific.

To say any more about the plot would ruin the twist and shocking revelations, in short, the writing was great. There was only one point where I could see the twist coming, which as any writer trying to throw an audience off the scent of a big reveal can attest is incredibly hard to pull off.

If this review has piqued your interest, then watch it below!

Is it worth a watch?

Yes! For a debut movie Afterlyfe is excellent and I can’t wait to see more from Wagyu studios. They plan to release more short horror movies as well as a full length movie called Patriarch that looks very promising.

Final Verdict – 9/10


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Ghosts of War Movie Review

I’ve not done a movie review since Rise of Skywalker way back in January thanks to Covid-19 shutting the cinemas, but last night I watched a movie that stunned me at just how shit it was. So much so that I felt compelled to write a review.

I’ll just get straight to the point. Ghosts of War is possibly one of the worst movies I have ever seen.

Promising Premise

As with most low budget horror movies (if you can call this horror, I don’t think the creators could decide on what it is) the premise is quite promising. Set in World War Two a group of US soldiers are assigned to protect a manor house in the French countryside.

This is also where we get our first glimpse at the terrible special effects when two US bombers fly overhead. They’re so laughably CGI it instantly takes you out of the scene.

The Nazis are on the run but are still a menace to the region. The manor house is located on a strategically important road which is why the US forces are so keen to prevent it from falling into enemy hands.

The movie begins by introducing our heroes. A rag tag bunch of men who do the usual poorly scripted military chat about their lives at home, hobbies etc… then as they’re walking across a field, they hear a car approaching. It’s full of those pesky Jerries. They set an ambush and promptly blow it up killing most of the occupants inside.

This film is a War Crime

This is when alarm bells began ringing for me. Our ‘brave’ heroes then promptly commit atrocities and outright murder the survivors with one of them challenging a surviving German officer to a bout of fisticuffs. The German gains the upper hand and then the US officer promptly shoots the guy in the head.

Did the writers of this movie realise that the outright murder of surrendered prisoners is a crime? Did they think this make the audience like the characters? If they did then they were massively mistaken. The US soldiers now just come across as thugs and murderers no better than the Nazis they are fighting. Great job guys!

The Manor of terribad sfx

They reach the suitably creepy manor and are greeted by another squad of US soldiers who were babysitting the place and who’d been waiting for relief. This new bunch act all sketchy and we immediately know something is off as they’ve all been sleeping in the main hall and not taken advantage of the manors many bedrooms. They don’t tell the new arrivals that anything is amiss and promptly depart leaving the new guys a bit confused.

As with every bad horror movie the team promptly split up and go their separate ways as they explore the mansion. Now this is where the film was actually ok. The scares were pretty good and suitably creepy. Figures in the background, strange noises, and shadows. It builds up the tension well. As time goes on more and more bizarre events occur and then the plot goes down the path to loony town.

WTF is happening?

So as the movie progresses we learn that the ghosts haunting the house are those of an Afghan family that was killed by Nazis for harbouring Jews (…this literally makes not a lick of sense, but don’t worry all is soon revealed)

One by one the ghosts start killing the team until it’s the turn of the lead character, who wait for it, wakes up in a hospital bed in the present day. Wait, what…

If you’ve ever played the Assassins Creed video games, it’s obvious that the writers based this whacko sci-fi twist on them. The captain wakes up, confused and Billy Zane tells him that he was in fact wounded in Afghanistan and that he was put into a WW2 simulation to keep the brain alive.

At this point me and the wife were laughing at just how bat shit the plot had become. Turns out the captain and his team were all in Afghanistan and were tasked with saving a family of informants from ISIS. They fail and ISIS kills said family in the same way the ghosts from WW2 were killed. A firefight ensues and then out of nowhere a random Afghan woman blows them all up. Despite the US soldiers being blown to pieces and barely alive, the woman is somehow able to cast a curse on them before she croaks it.

Now, this is where this film goes really batshit crazy. We jump back to the captain who is now explaining everything to the audience (seriously if you ever have to explain everything back to the audience you’ve done a piss poor job of writing). Except, somehow thanks to the curse the ghosts of the simulation break into the real world and start causing havoc. Then the movie just ends with a black screen. Quite possibly making it the dumbest ending to any movie ever.

Overall

Netflix movies are a bit of a running joke, but nothing could have prepared me for just how terrible this movie is. A promising start gives way to terrible special effects, a non-sensical hard left into bizarre science fiction territory and writing that is so bad I was left laughing hysterically for about an hour afterwards.

2/10

Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker *Spoiler Review*

Never has a movie split the Star Wars fandom more than episode 9. After the train wreck and utter disrespect for the franchise seen in The Last Jedi, I went into this one expecting the absolute worst.

Blame Disney

Now, before I tell you my view on the movie, I just want to point out that the blame for how this entire trilogy turned out, falls squarely on the shoulders of Disney, Kathleen Kennedy, and that little twerp Rian Johnson.

It is clear from episode 9 that JJ Abrams did have a story planned for these characters, but thanks to the quite frankly bizarre decision to give full creative freedom to three different directors, each with their own unique visions of what the movies should be, it was always going to end up a disjointed mess.

Abrams did well in setting up some tantalising mysteries in Force Awakens, but then along came Johnson and The Last Jedi, and those threads were disrespected and tossed aside leaving nothing for episode 9. I said in my review of that movie that the ending felt more like a conclusion to the series rather than a second part.

Salvaging the trilogy?

I went alone to the cinema to see this movie (after the last one my wife refused to go) and went in with very very low expectations. As soon as the opening crawl began to go up the screen I initially thought WTF but then I remembered that this had to be its own thing, a sort of stand-alone as it was the only direction it could have gone. All those thinking Palpatine returning is stupid should know that this very thing happened in the old expanded universe. Instantly I thought to myself ‘Why did Disney ditch the old Expanded Universe if they were going to steal and copy parts of it?’

Anyway, we jump straight into an action scene which only further highlights that the folks in charge of these movies A- did not really know what they were doing and B- know nothing of the established Star Wars lore. Po and Finn are on the run after picking up a message from a First Order spy and rather than just outrunning or blasting their pursuers embark on Hyperspace skipping which just like the Holdo manoeuvre in the previous film ditches established lore on how FTL works in the Star Wars Universe. He ‘skips’ the Falcon without any planning or navigation several times, including into the atmosphere of planets, the middle of an asteroid field and some alien city, all without causing horrific damage or crashing into anything. (sigh)

Guess who’s Back…

Anyhow, the plot progresses by showing Kylo meeting with Palpatine. Now, it’s not explained at all but I’m guessing from his appearance this is a clone of the Emperor as it looks nothing like the one we saw in Return of the Jedi and more like a weird cross between the Palpatine of the original trilogy and some messed up zombie dude. This is where we encounter one of the many plot problems, in that NOTHING is explained. Did Palpatine always have a clone waiting in reserve in case he died? We do get a resolution to just who and what Snoke was. A clone created by Palpatine. It does not explain why there is more than one Snoke clone, which we clearly see in various forms floating about in vats.

I do not want to go through every scene as this will take forever, but the plot involves our heroes chasing down some do-hickey that points the way to where Palpatine is hiding. Kylo Ren is sent by Palpatine to kill Rey to put an end to the Jedi (why just Rey and not Leia too?). The plot then devolves into a hectic run through several locations, a few scrapes with the First Order and possibly one of the worst scenes in the entire franchise.

They Fly Now?

Why, why, why do our heroes shout this in surprise? During a pursuit, some stormtroopers launched themselves into the air using jetpacks and our heroes act as though they have never seen this before. To me, this scene just proves this movie was written by people who do not know anything about Star Wars. Jet troopers have always been in Star Wars. In the books, games, and animated shows there are loads of them. Hell, even in Return of the Jedi we see Boba Fett using one. As I sat there watching this scene, I rolled my eyes and gritted my teeth. What the f**k have you done Kathleen Kennedy!

Don’t think too hard

It seems to be a thing in Hollywood these days that writers are well, a bit shit. One scene makes absolutely no sense. They retrieve an ancient Sith dagger that then leads them to Endor and the wreckage of the Death Star. Question: How did the ancient Sith know the Death Star would be built? How did the person who made the dagger know exactly how the wreckage would land so that someone could use it to find a room that somehow miraculously survived a cataclysmic explosion and over 30 years in a violent sea? Ugh.

Rey gets inside the wreckage and finds said room where for some reason she is accosted by a vision of her as a Sith. She defeats that and then finds the device needed to find Palpatine.

Then comes a lightsaber duel between Kylo and Rey which is very well shot and dramatic thanks to the waves crashing over them. It is in this scene that for some reason Leia uses the force to I guess distract Kylo and then she promptly dies. (What is it with these movies? You get a bit tired and then just suddenly die). Rey stabs Kylo but then realises that it was wrong to try and kill him. She heals him with the Force (Yes this is a power that has been seen many times in the lore) and flees after learning that she is the granddaughter of Palpatine.

Kylo is redeemed following a chat with his dead dad and he sets off to help Rey kill the Emperor. Meanwhile, Rey for some reason goes back to the planet we last saw in the Last Jedi and we meet the ghost of Luke Skywalker. Now, I liked this scene as JJ went some way to try and redeem the character following his absolute butchering at the hands of Johnson. We learn that Leia was a full Jedi, and that she had even made her own Lightsaber.

I want to see this movie! Not this garbage

We are then treated to a flashback scene (my favourite in the whole movie) that uses CGI to show us a young Luke and Leia sparring together. As I watched it, I could not help but feel that this was the movie I wanted to see. With the technology now available I just wish that they could have adapted Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn Trilogy using the original characters.

Anyway, back to this movie and well, things happen. Now that I have had time to digest it there is just so many plot holes and stupid choices that I can’t bring myself to go through them all. The space battle is bland, with it’s only saving grace being the brief cameo made by Wedge Antilles and Lando being back in the Millennium Falcon. There is a ridiculously stupid charge on a Star Destroyer by space horse things that makes no sense, and oh yeah, about 60,000 ships arrive to take on the Emperor’s fleet of death star laser wielding destroyers despite in the last movie no one came to help.

And Yet…

Despite all of these very valid criticisms of this movie, I didn’t leave the cinema furious like I did after Last Jedi. I did enjoy it despite the plot holes, the bizarre creative choices and I think I did because this movie ‘felt’ like a Star Wars movie.

If anything after watching this film my hatred for episode 8 has intensified. That movie left JJ with little to work with. I feel as though what we see in Rise of Skywalker is the best and only way to bring this wasted opportunity of a trilogy to a close. It tries to fix the problems created by the second movie and delivers plenty of fan service.

Now that these movies are over, I just hope Disney has learnt its lesson. Give us a Knights of the Old Republic Trilogy and plan it properly. Use the writers who worked on the games if you must. It could be epic.

My overall rating – 5/10

Captain Marvel Movie Review

First off, don’t listen to all the ridiculous chatter surrounding this movie. Both extreme sides of the political spectrum have tried to hijack this movie to spout their own ridiculous messages.

Let’s get the political BS out of the way

Instead go into it like you would any other movie. I went into the cinema expecting some feminist ranting nonsense, instead I got a worthwhile addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And to those moaning about the feminist messages that do make an appearance, what the hell are you so insecure about?

The messages in this movie are no different to those found in similar ones and if I had a daughter, I’d be more than happy for her to get the message this movie puts across.

What I took away from it, was that Captain Marvel was no Mary Sue type character (unlike Rey in Star Wars, but that’s a whole different kettle of fish), she suffers and only through sheer will and persistence does she attain the powers she ends the movie with.

Persistence, getting back up when other people put you down or after a failure, standing up to bullies, all are worthwhile messages that both girls and boys should heed.

Is it any good?

So now that stuff is out of the way let’s get into whether it’s a good movie. In the most part I’d say yeah it is. The story is nothing too original and if you’ve seen the Green Lantern you may think that Captain Marvel’s story is strikingly similar. Both fighter pilots that come into contact with an alien and get incredible powers etc, etc… but unlike Green Lantern this movie has Samuel Jackson as Nick Fury coming along for the ride.

The CGI work done on Samuel L Jackson and Clark Gregg as Agent Coulson to make them look like they did back in the 90s is incredible. A part of me wishes they used such technology on the original Star Wars cast to truly carry on Luke’s story but alas it wasn’t to be.

The relationship between Samuel L Jackson and Brie Larrson is probably the highlight of the film and you can tell that the two actors had fun making it. A lot’s been said about Larrson being a stiff dour figure in this movie but what did they expect? Captain Marvel is a military figure, trained by an alien race of super stoic warriors, it’s understandable that she wouldn’t be cracking wise constantly (although she gets plenty of sarcastic lines through and you can tell she’s doing her hardest not to be mischievous). It’ll be interesting to see how her character will change when she makes her appearance in Avengers: End Game.

The action scenes were pretty good and a lot more exciting and better handled than those in Black Panther. The cat that many other reviewers are raving about was ok, it wasn’t all that original but it added some comedic value.  It was an odd decision by Marvel to introduce another new character to the superhero pantheon and to some it may be a bit jarring to go back to an origin type movie after ten years of the MCU.

Overall, Captain Marvel was a good movie. It wasn’t amazing and it wasn’t rubbish. It was good and I feel it was a worthwhile watch and a nice bit of filler for Avengers: End Game.

Score: 7/10

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Review: Outlaw King

So, Netflix’s attempt at an historical epic is now available to watch and on a rainy grim night me and the wife settled in to watch The Outlaw King, the untold story of Robert the Bruce.

First off let’s get the good news out of the way. It’s no Braveheart, a movie that plays fast and loose with real history to the point that it’s insulting. There’s no tartan in sight either which is a surprise but a pleasant welcome as it shows the film makers were more interested in historical accuracy than Mel Gibson ever was.

Chris Pine does a ok job as Robert Bruce but I felt as though a man who did so much against such odds would have had far more of a personality. He does a passable job and even his faux Scots accent is passable. The acting throughout is adequate but there’s the problem. Aside from Robert’s wife, every character is instantly forgettable.

The English as to be expected are portrayed as villains as per usual but again at least there not done in such a pantomime way that Braveheart handled it. Prince Edward’s character however annoyed me a lot. In real life, yes, the guy was a bad king who was eventually murdered by his nobles but in this movie, he comes across as a lunatic who kills for no reason other than ‘I’m the baddy so I kill people’. One scene where he literally disembowels a man was way over the top and I seriously doubt a prince would have got his hands dirty like that.

The trailer for this movie suggested that we’d be getting plenty of Medieval battles and we certainly do. The violence is high to the point where I was expecting to see a chap with a super soaker spraying blood everywhere and boy does the blood spray (to the point where it gets a bit daft).

The final battle is done well save for the movie makers playing fast and lose with history in a big way. Damnit Hollywood why change things when the real-life events where far more fascinating and exciting than any script could hope to be!

The costumes were excellent however and for the most part historically accurate. The combat too was done well save for the usual Hollywood nonsense of fire arrows and chucking swords at people.

Overall the movie was distinctly average, and the pacing was all over the shop in places. It also ended on weird spot that surprised me. If you’re expecting a recreation of the Battle of Bannockburn your going to be hugely let-down.

Outlaw King is a bit of a meh movie. There are some good scenes in it and the cinematography is excellent throughout it’s just that the script is a tad dull and poorly paced.

I give it a 6/10.

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Review: The Haunting of Hill House

Hi everyone, it’s been a while since my last blog post. A combination of being busy at work (always a good thing!), getting man flu (boo) and facing down the dreaded writer’s block being the main reasons.

In this post, I thought I’d share my thoughts on the Netflix series: The Haunting of House Hill. Now my wife is a massive horror fan, me not so much. It’s not that I don’t like them because they’re scary but often because the writing of horror movies is often terrible and very predictable. Often Hollywood takes one of two routes, either they go all out gore or just plain dumb. So many movies begin well and suitably creepy but then decide to reveal the ‘ghost, monster or whatever else it is and the horror just falls away to be replaced by hilarious situations (looking at you Conjuring).

When we decided to give The Haunting of Hill House a watch I wasn’t expecting much at all but I am pleased to report that this series is excellent. The writing is filled with twists and turns, the acting is done brilliantly by the entire cast (both the children and adults alike) and for once in a horror, I didn’t see the ending coming.

Is it scary?

From the very first episode, the series is genuinely creepy and at times really scary. It has plenty of jump scares but it is also very subtle with the horror too. Sometimes you see figures in the background of a scene, faces in a mirror, shadows moving along walls. In some scenes that on the surface seemed entirely normal my wife actually cried out at spotting something lurking in the distance and when you do spot it you will feel the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.

At the heart of the plot is a family drama and an excellent one at that. I won’t spoil anything but be prepared to be at first confused due to all the time jumps but by the end, it all pays off in an excellent way.

The first few episodes follow the experiences of each of the children and the parents of both their time growing up in the haunted house as well as the impacts it has had on them into adulthood. Even the most seemingly stable of the children grow up to have demons of their own and the show portrays this brilliantly.

The story doesn’t descend into gory or supernatural stupidity like most movies or shows but instead, every single one of the ghostly experiences happens for a real reason and reasons that you can relate too and understand.

Perhaps one of the creepiest examples of this is when the eldest son is talking to his dad about the experiences he had in the house. For most of his adult life, he was adamant he hadn’t experienced anything supernatural until his father calls him out on something seemingly minor. The son tells a story of walking through the house that at the time was full of workmen and says he had avoided a man working on the old grandfather clock. Except, there was never anyone hired to work on the clock, his father says. It was a ghost! This scene is done in such a way that I could believe it 100%.

Overall, The Haunting of Hill House is an excellent horror series and one that is genuinely creepy. However, once you get to the final episode and begin to understand what is occurring the sense of fear disappears. As with anything the fear of the unknown is the biggest fear we all have. Once we see the face of that fear it loses its power over us and in the case of this show the same occurs. Despite the final episode, those that come before are full of genuine scares and I’m not ashamed to admit that I too was hiding behind a cushion a few times!

Overall score – 8/10

An excellent series with great acting and is actually scary…well until the final episode.


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Movie Review: Avengers Infinity War

Well, here we are. Ten years after the first Iron Man film teased an expanded universe and 19 movies later we have Infinity War and wow. Marvel knocked it out of the park.

This is a spoiler-free review, so I won’t cover the many, many surprises and at times shocking moments but let me say, be prepared for the unexpected.

Thanos, the mad Titan, is the tits

A lot has been said about Thanos and how he’s been teased as the big bad ever since the first Avengers movie. He does not disappoint and is a prime example of well-written and massively threatening villain. The Marvel movies weakest parts have often been the bad guys, Thanos addresses this and then some.

He is a villain that has a motivation that I think many can relate to and he sincerely believes that what he’s doing is the right thing. He is a masterclass in excellent writing (unlike that garbage in The Last Jedi, yes, I’m still bitter.) Marvel luckily didn’t ruin my love for these movies as Lucasfilm did.

The huge cast of characters are handled excellently, and every single one gets a chance to shine, and no one gets left out except for a valid reason. The action is an incredible spectacle, but my favourite would have to be the second fight. When the heroes arrive, and the music played I had goosebumps and wanted to fist punch the air.

I can’t really get into the individual character story arcs without giving anything away, but I’ll say of the overall plot is that it took me by surprise. There are some seriously harrowing moments, plenty of laughs and some complete shocks. That ending! I can’t believe Disney allowed Marvel to go down that path but massive kudos to them for doing so. It was a brave decision, and it pays off both satisfyingly and leaves you wanting more!

Now, this is not a perfect movie. I had some issues with some of the CGI. In some places, it looked a tad ropey and was used a bit too often in certain scenes. Another gripe I had was the huge battle in Wakanda. It was a great spectacle don’t get me wrong, but it just felt a little bit of a sideshow to other events. A minor gripe on my part and one I doubt many will share.

There are also one or two points that may annoy a few people. To avoid spoilers, I can’t say what they are, but one of them involves Star-Lord and a certain actor from Game of Thrones, who whilst being amusing didn’t quite fit in.

Overall, Infinity War was well worth the wait and the build-up. It also further shows DC how to build a shared universe properly and makes Justice League look amateur hour in comparison.

 

Score: 9/10

Pros:

Fantastic story that will shock and surprise you

Amazing action scenes

That ending!

Thanos

Cons:

Some ropey CGI in places

A few niggles with one or two scenes

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Movie Review: Ready Player One

So just a bit of background. This was the first movie I’ve been to see on my own for a good few years as the wife didn’t fancy it (a bit too geeky for her), but I have to say she missed a treat.

Ok, so this is a movie that relies heavily on your knowledge of popular culture from the past 50 years. There are so many references to so many things it’ll take several viewings to spot them all, but oh boy the ones I spotted were fantastic and amazingly uplifting.

The Plot

In the future, the real world pretty much sucks. Overcrowding and out of control corporations have resulted in vast slum cities. To escape this dreary life most people now choose to spend most of their time within a vast virtual world called The Oasis. It’s a place where people can do pretty much anything they want as their avatars interact with and compete with people from all over the planet. However, The Oasis is under threat as when its creator, a reclusive super geek dies he sparks a race to recover an Easter Egg that will bestow whoever finds it full ownership of The Oasis. To find the egg, dedicated gamers embark on a series of challenges to recover three keys to unlock its location. At the same time, a villainous corporation also seeks the keys and soon it becomes a race against time to be the first to retrieve the egg.

As a lifelong gamer, this movie really resonated with me. From references to games from decades past to the latest releases it just gets gamer culture. Now to some, this is likely to be very confusing as I know for a fact some people would not ‘get’ it at all. Which is why the movie also packs in tonnes of classic movie nods. If you’re a fan of the Shining, for example, be prepared to never watch it in the same way again!

The action scenes are incredibly well done, and the race at the start reminded me of the most chaotic races I’ve had playing GTA5 or Mario Kart online. Also, the big battle near the end had me laughing out loud at some of the whacky avatars chosen by some of the characters. You just know that in real life people would do the same thing, I mean have you played VR Chat? Bonkers. Watching Spartans from the Halo series do battle alongside superheroes, and the Iron Giant was a fantastic experience that left me grinning from one geeky ear to another.

The acting is great, and I didn’t feel like I was removed from the scenes when they were entirely virtual. The avatar of the main character was a bit cheesy but then again how many of us have ever made one in a game that we’re truly happy with? The scene where he customises it to impress a girl is heart-warming and amusing.

Summary

If you want a popcorn flick and are a massive geek, you cannot go wrong with Ready Player One. I left the movie feeling uplifted and wanting to go back for more. It doesn’t stick that closely to the amazing novel its based on but forget that just enjoy it for the spectacle it is. I’d recommend viewing it on the big screen as I’m a bit concerned TVs won’t do those set pieces justice.

There are one or two scenes that are a bit cheesy, but that’s to be expected from a Spielberg movie, and they certainly didn’t ruin it for me. Overall, I give Ready Player One an 8 out of 10. (For non-gamers and non-movie nerds I’d have to give it a 6 as I reckon a lot of the references and spectacle will be lost on them.)

8/10

 

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The Force is not with The Last Jedi *Spoiler Review*

I’m sat here torn. I’ve just watched Star Wars: The Last Jedi and my heart feels heavy. I am a huge fan of these movies. They’ve been an important part of my life for so many years, but now, here I sit, and I’m thinking; ‘The Star Wars I love is dead’.

I also know I’m not the only one feeling this way. Other Star Wars fans have begun to express their displeasure with the Last Jedi and once again it feels like those critics that have raved about it A) went and saw a completely different movie or B) were not Star Wars fans to begin with.

Look at the current Rotten Tomatoes score. Critics are on 93% in favour whereas fans are at just 57%. Were the critics all high or were they all receiving a payment from Disney or something? This disparity between critics and the general public seems to be a growing issue lately.

So, let’s get into it. Why was The Last Jedi such a massive disappointment?

This is not the story we’re looking for

The movie starts off promising enough with a pretty spectacular space battle that sees the Resistance fleeing a vengeful First Order. As usual, the dogfighting scenes are great, but my first niggle with the movie appears at this point.

Po Dameron’s X-Wing single handily destroys a First Order Dreadnought’s guns enabling some slow bombers to attack it. A) why hasn’t the First Order developed effective anti-fighter weapons yet?? Did they learn nothing from losing two Death Stars and Starkiller base? B) why are the bombers designed to manually drop bombs like a WW2 bomber?

We’re then taken back to Ach-to the planet at the end of the Force Awakens (read my review of that movie here), where Rey meets Luke Skywalker. If you’re hoping for a meaningful scene where he takes his father’s lightsabre (btw there is still no explanation as to how the lightsabre was found after Luke’s and Darth Vader’s duel on Bespin), you’re gonna be disappointed. He takes it and then promptly chucks it over his shoulder and walks off. This is one of the most obvious points in the movie where it plays for a cheap laugh that just doesn’t work. Throughout the film, there are cheap and unfunny gags throughout. Whereas The Force Awakens had some heart, the Last Jedi just doesn’t, and the attempts at humour feel forced.

Slow motion chase

So, let’s get back to Po, Leia and the others. Their story arc is quite simply terrible. Leia’s ship gets hit by a missile promptly killing everyone on the bridge (including Admiral Ackbar who deserved a far better ending than this) and sending Leia out into deep space. Now, due to real life circumstances (RIP Carrie), this would have been the perfect time to say goodbye to Leia as a character and would add something to Kylo Ren’s story arc. We even see him hesitate to fire on his mother’s ship, so when it gets hit anyway that could have added some real pain to his character. Instead, Leia uses the Force (did she receive training? Why is this never mentioned?) and somehow manages to fly through space like Mary Poppins (no, really, she actually looks like Mary Poppins) and saves herself.

Following this, Leia and Po’s storyline literally turns into a slow-motion space chase for the entire movie while doing absolutely NOTHING to advance the story overall. Finn meets some random chick called Rose and randomly hatches a plan to save the fleet by boarding a First Order destroyer and disabling its tracking abilities. They take a shuttle and jump away. (If it was that easy for them to get away then why didn’t the rest of the Resistance personnel just jump into transports and all jump away to different locations? The First Order wouldn’t have been able to catch them all!)

As for Rose and Finn’s storyline, it is a complete waste of time. Their little side mission is dull, and as I was watching it, all I wanted was to get back to Luke and Rey. Finn and Rose literally serve no purpose in this film. Their plot was all over the place, and their trip to the dull casino planet was a complete waste of time. I don’t think what they did there had any impact on the plot at all save for them doing more harm than good.

So, let’s get back to Rey and Luke. Well, Mr Skywalker has turned into a whiny moody recluse who has turned his back on the galaxy and the Force. His reasons for doing so are quite frankly lame and belittle the character. Eventually, Rey wears him down, and he basically tells her she’s wasting her time and is afraid of how powerful she is. The backstory that was teased in The Force Awakens about the destruction of Luke’s Jedi temple is completely ignored. We learn nothing more about the Knights of Ren; we don’t why Ben was such an angry douche or how Snoke had influenced him.

Who the hell is Snoke? No answers here

As for Snoke, well, to me this is by far one of the worst parts of the movie. Rey goes to confront Kylo and is then promptly captured by Snoke. Plot twist! Kylo kills Snoke. Right, but who the hell was Snoke? We learn nothing about his character at all, and then he’s killed off way too easily. Now, at this point the movie’s plot could have been saved if Rey took Kylo’s offer and joined him (or the other way around), instead the sagas main villain is now whiny Ben Solo who isn’t really all that evil, he’s just a bit of a dick. We also learn at this point that Rey’s parents were nobody special at all. I mean I’m ok with this except for the way this plot point was hyped up so much in episode 7. It’s like the director decided to remove all the mystery that movie had established.

I could go on and on with the number of bad story choices in this movie, but this review would end up being an epic essay. I’ll just bullet point the other issues:

  • There is no real lightsabre duel.
  • It takes a dump on much of the lore established over the past 30 years or so.
  • Yoda appears and looks terrible.
  • Luke Skywalker dies for no reason save that he overexerted himself (I’m guessing)
  • They kill Luke Skywalker FFS!
  • The new AT-ATs, the cool looking things in the trailer literally do sod all.
  • The overall plot just feels like they were making it up as they went along
  • It doesn’t feel like the second movie in a trilogy more like the conclusion
  • No one suspecting Kylo of Snoke’s murder. What the hell?
  • The first order destroying the republic so easily.
  • The slowest chase movie ever. Why couldn’t the First Order send another ship far ahead of them to cut them off?
  • Why can Rey do things with the force even Master Yoda struggled with, with zero real training and no effort?
  • Why are those giant horse cats important? Why should we care about them?
  • Benicio getting 3 mins screen time, so his betrayal means nothing.
  • Phasma dying with zero development either. Her escape from Starkiller base in episode 7 is not explained at all!
  • Roses ‘we fight for what we love’ bullshit.
  • How did Rey get onto the Millenium Falcon in the final act?
  • By the film’s end, the First Order Fleet is destroyed, and there is only a handful of ‘Rebels’ left alive. Episode 9 is going to have the smallest battles in cinema history!
  • The last act is a betrayal of the entire saga.

A Betrayal of the Saga?

For all the hate JJ Abrams got from some fans, he managed to brilliantly create an endless amount of questions and theories about the characters he introduced. You could have literally gone 1000 different directions, and somehow Rian Johnson picked some of the most uninteresting and outright stupid resolutions and revelations. Rey is nobody. Snoke was cool and super powerful, but he died just like that so who cares about his backstory? Knights of Ren? Nope, doesn’t matter. Really no payoff for any character. The only backstory we got was how Ren turned against Luke. That’s all Johnson cared to think about. Luke dies for nothing. Suddenly Jedi can project their image thousands of light years away, and even have lightsaber fights with their projection. Why didn’t Yoda do that every time he wanted to help his men escape? You create these new OP force powers, and naturally, you’ll have people wondering hey, why didn’t they do this then, it would have solved everything.

Like why not drive a ship at lightspeed through the Death Star if you can just destroy Snoke’s Supremacy like that? The movie did have some good moments (space battles, some moments with Rey and Kylo, good acting by Mark Hamill), but overall a big waste.

I would have honestly been happier with JJ Abrams directing all 3, at least we’d get one clear direction. It’s like Johnson wanted to tell a full story in this one movie because you could easily leave it here and pick it up 10 years from now with a new trilogy. There certainly isn’t much left to explore; everyone’s dead, there is no big bad guy, just a Rey vs Kylo deal to look forward to. Frustrating and disappointing.

Apparently, Rian Johnson the director of The Last Jedi has been given the green light to do a whole new standalone Star Wars Trilogy. If this is the best, he can do then god help the franchise. It has well and truly fallen to the Dark Side. I think I’ll stick to the old Expanded Universe and regard these movies as non-canon from now on.

The Last Jedi is a well-shot movie with some good action scenes, but it shits all over the franchise that does no service to any of the characters. It had so much potential but threw it all away. A massive disappointment and what’s the point of episode 9 now?

Overall score: 5/10

Blade Runner 2049 Review

Blade Runner 2049 is the long-awaited sequel to the 1982 sci-fi noir Blade Runner a film that was based on Philip K. Dicks short story Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Is the film a masterpiece as many critics are claiming?

The quick answer to that question is no. However, please don’t think that the movie is a bad one, far from it. It, like its predecessor, is a deeply thought-provoking movie and asks many questions of what it means to be human. And like its predecessor, it’s also a noir, beautiful to look at but at times some scenes can drag.

We are first introduced to K, a Blade Runner played by Ryan Gosling who plays the part well. If you don’t know what a Blade Runner is this trailer to the first film explains all –

Now back to 2049. 30 years have passed since the events of the first movie and a lot has changed in the world. New types of obedient Replicants have been manufactured by the creepy Wallace (Jared Leto),  the environment has collapsed, a cataclysmic event known as the BlackOut occurred at some point as well as some sort of nuclear attack that has resulted in ash falls over LA and a seemingly radioactive Las Vegas. In other words, the planet is pretty messed up, which has caused humanity to colonise other planets. It’s these colonies where the Replicants are used as slave labour a fact that Jared Leto’s character has no problem with.  In fact he wants to be able to create millions more replicants so that we can colonise the whole galaxy.

The technology on display is fantastic and believable too. From self-flying cars to holographic companions this is a world that you can imagine being a reality. The film is absolutely beautiful to look at with a surprising amount of bright colours, from the neon holographic adverts to the vast LA cityscapes the movie is a visual treat.

K (Gosling) is also a Blade Runner who whilst hunting a Replicant stumbled upon something that could change the balance of power between humanity and Replicant. I won’t give away the plot as its definitely a movie to go into with open eyes and little knowledge. The trailers did a great job of keeping most of the major plot points a secret.

If you go into this movie expecting a fast-paced action sci-fi you will most likely be disappointed. There are action scenes in it that are really well done when they do occur but the time you have to wait in between can be very long. Some scenes are long and drawn out, but all serve a purpose to advancing the plot and with this film being close to 3 hours in length many are sure to get a numb bum or need a toilet break before the credits roll. (Why don’t cinemas do intermissions anymore?)

Harrison Ford returns as Deckard, the Blade Runner from the first movie. (And no, we don’t get a definitive answer to that question). He appears around the 2-hour mark and Fords performance is pretty solid. I just wish he could have been in it a tad more.

Overall, Blade Runner 2049 is well worth a watch if you want a movie that will make you think. It’s got plenty of twists, head scratchers and is a treat for your eyes and ears (the soundtrack is a true tribute to the originals). Be prepared for a long movie, but its one that kept my attention all the way through.

Score: 8/10