Three hundred pages of the first draft of my new book under my belt and I think I need to plop out another blog post before the wheels completely fall off the wagon. Here’s a quick run down of some of the films I’ve seen recently. The first two were recorded from Film4 and the rest were either Netflix or Amazon rentals, with the exception of the two MCU films which I felt obliged to purchase.
War Horse is an overly sentimental story about a horse who goes from working on a farm in England to being used by the British and then the German army for war stuff like dragging cannons around. The titular horse is eventually reunited with its owner and I assume they live happily ever after. It’s a story not so much about the destination (you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who didn’t think boy and horse wouldn’t eventually be reunited) but the harrowing journey the horse goes on.
While some of the English and French scenery is overly saccharine and colour-saturated, the special effects are amazing. There’s a particularly gruesome scene involving a shed load of barbed wire which is gut wrenching and ridiculously far fetched in equal measure. I’m not sure whether the musical came before the film or vice versa but I imagine there wouldn’t be a dry eye in the theatre at the end. For me I wasn’t that bothered; I don’t really like horses all that much. Marley and Me though. Wow. That left me in pieces.
Captain Marvel is the limp processed cheese slice in the sandwich made of the super-fresh wonder-bread that is Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame. It’s a Nineties retro superhero film somewhat modelled around Top Gun and featuring everything you’d expect from an MCU film and a Nineties retro film (I’m sure the next Wonder Woman film – set in the 1980s – is going to be just as cheesy in it’s pop culture references).
I recently heard the MCU described as ‘a TV show with blockbuster movies as episodes’ and Captain Marvel certainly fits into that. Viewed in isolation, it’s a formulaic but generally fun comic book film, but as an MCU film coming out in the shadow of the excellent Infinity War and expectations over Endgame, it was rather on a hiding to nothing. The tentacled face cat seems straight our of Men in Black and really should’ve stayed there. But you just can’t tell cats to do anything can you?
Beside the cat, I wasn’t that impressed by Brie Larson or Sam Jackson’s performances either and I got mightily confused over the use of the tesseract as the McGuffin – so much so I had to Google it straight after the film. Seems that it all ties together okay with Captain America: First Avenger and the other MCU films so no worries eh? Although really, wasn’t Cap Marvel the first Avenger? Give her USAF call sign was what inspired Nick Fury to call his team of mutants The Avengers? hey ho. Just a film. Just a film….
I have a friend at work who is obsessed with The Greatest Showman and having seen a clip of it on Gogglebox I didn’t really want to see the film. It looked as bad a Mamma Mia!. So it was a bit of surprise to find myself watching it around another mate’s house while we were over there for a takeaway curry and beers. I did opt for a chicken korma which kind of tells you that I wasn’t quite of sound mind at the time.
I didn’t like the film. Everyone in it seemed like they had drunk too much coffee before they started singing. I mentally called bullshit on a number of occasions having already had some rudimentary education around the supposed hero P. T. Barnum (enthusiastically played by Hugh Jackman) who was a bit of a dick in real life. I wanted to smash the TV with my adamantium claws. If only I had possessed a set.
I made my friends watch the Honest Trailer which I’m glad to say presented them with the low-down on Mr Barnum:
The Commuter (not to be confused with the Philip K Dick’s Electric Dreams episode ‘The Commuter’) is pretty much Taken on a train. Lazy writing I know, but I’ve had a long week at work, so give me a break!
In the film Liam Neeson is a down on his luck ex-cop with a particular set of skills who is asked by a mysterious woman (Vera Farmiga) to put a tracking device on a commuter’s bag. She doesn’t know who the bag belongs to but she does know where that person is getting off. She offers him a lot of money. He’s just lost his job and needs to pay for his kid’s college so he’s game.
However he soon realises that he’s doing a job for some dodgy people and so being a good ol’ boy tries to sort shit out. Enough of the reluctant hero shit Liam, time to kick some bad guy ass! Pretty much all the action takes place on a train and it’s as silly as any other of his popcorn action flicks. If you liked them then you’ll like this. I did and I did.
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is not at all what I thought it might be. Sure, it loosely follows the legend of the magical sword Excalibur and the royal Pendragon line, but director Guy Ritchie has taken it in a different direction. I’m still, weeks later, trying to figure out if that was altogether a good thing. Also Charlie Hunnam (Sons of Anarchy, Pacific Rim) didn’t really carry off the role as young Art’ very well imo. Is it too harsh to say that he seems like a poor man’s Hemsworth brother and I spent a lot of the film just wondering if it would’ve been better if one of them was the lead. Jude Law (who is also in Captain Marvel) on the other hand is very good as the bad guy.
The movie feels like a mash up of all his wise-crack London gangster films with First Knight and a bit of Lord of the Rings. The special effects are great from the off, the dialogue amusing and a cameo from David Beckham aside the performances are generally very good. There’s a lot of funky stuff to think about when the screenplay diverges from the accepted story but it is still rather formulaic when all is said and done. And where. The fuck. Was. Merlin?
Hail, Caesar! is a jolly Hollywood farce brought to you by those crazy cats the Coen Brothers. It starrs among others Josh Brolin (who plays it straight) and George Clooney (who plays it for laughs). What’s it about? I hear you ask. Well, Brolin plays a Hollywood fixer whose job it is to keep a 1950s movie studio’s stars in line. Clooney is one of those stars and a main actor in the current production of a Spartacus-sized biblical epic Hail, Caeser! He gets kidnapped by a bunch of communist sympathising writers with hilarious consequences.
It’s quite a simple film by the Coen’s standards and a side plot featuring the cover up of yet another scandal involving a screen siren played very well by Scarlett Johansson that Brolin wants to fix by marrying her off, seems to come to nothing in the end. The line “I ain’t doin’ that again! I had two marriages. It just cost the Studio a lot of money to bust them up,” is a fairly typical example of the catchy dialogue. I don’t know which film wins for catchy lines Hail, Caeser! or King Arthur: Legend of the Sword but I really like a well-written quip.
Talking of Brolin and Johansson…
Avengers Endgame was understandably one of the most hyped films of the year and I’m amazed that I was able to miss it at the cinema and still avoid any spoilers until I watched it on the day of home release.
I was so set on avoiding anything even close to a spoiler that I didn’t even watch the movie trailer. The Star Wars Show on Youtube almost spoilt it for me the day before the home release date, but I grabbed the TV remote and managed to stop an interview with the Russo brothers just in the nick of time.
I am a fair weather MCU fan these days, but boy-oh-boy the film does not disappoint! It’s rather disjointed at times, which I guess is understandable when it’s got pretty much everyone from the MCU in it, and, reportedly like many others, I was reduced to tears at one point.
That’s all I’m going to say. I would hate to spoil it for anyone else. Bravo!
Photo by Sid Balachandran on Unsplash.
“Do you know what is coursing through my veins right now?”