‘Ghost in the Shell’ (2017) Review

shost-in-the-shell-trailerI’ve made it no secret that I struggle with a lot of anime, even the classic, universally acclaimed titles of the genre. Maybe it’s me, maybe it’s cultural differences, but I often find myself having difficulty understanding films that, on paper at least, sound like I’d really enjoy. Case in point; 1995’s Ghost in the Shell, noted as a key influence on The Matrix no less, when I first watched it, I found it more or less incomprehensible. I saw it again a few years later with similar results, finding the material surprisingly inaccessible for such a landmark, beloved movie. Anyway, I think I’m more of an outlier here, so maybe I shouldn’t be taken too seriously when I say that one of the few positive things about this American, live-action Ghost in the Shell remake is that I didn’t find it especially confusing at all. Continue reading

‘Star Trek Beyond’ Review

star trek beyondIt’s an odd fate that seems to have befallen 2013’s Star Trek Into Darkness, the film opened to positive reviews (it’s still sitting at 86% on Rotten Tomatoes) and decent audience response, but very quickly, pretty much by the end of that year, the negative opinion initially voiced only by more hard-core Trek fans seemed to be the common consensus. It now appears to be thought of as a bad movie with dubious political undertones, a poorly handled “twist”, and a shameless recreation of one of the series’ most famous moments leading to a cop-out ending. What was at first a fresh and exciting new take on the classic Star Trek now seemed in need of course correction by film number three. Continue reading

‘Independence Day: Resurgence’ Review

independence day 2We’ve seen a slightly different trend appear in the in franchise-dominant 21st century blockbuster market recently; that of the sequel to a long-gestating property that essentially acts a reboot but also stays within the same timeline. I’ve heard a few terms for these including “rebootquel” and “requel” but the one I like best is “legacyquel”. We got several of these last year, Jurassic World, Mad Max: Fury Road, Creed, and even Star Wars: The Force Awakens fit the bill. Independence Day: Resurgence is clearly another example of a legacyquel, but it’s coming at it from a different perspective to every other one I can think of. Continue reading

‘High-Rise’ Review

high-riseOnly a scant few directors have taken on the challenge of adapting the iconoclastic work of sci-fi (is it even apt to call him that?) author J.G. Ballard. Most famously Steven Spielberg with the mostly (unfairly) forgotten Empire of the Sun, and perhaps his most obvious cinematic counterpart David Cronenberg with 1996’s controversial Crash. Now, British director Ben Wheatley (Kill List, Sightseers) adds his name to the mix with a take on Ballard’s 1975 novel High-Rise, an adaptation of which has been in the pipeline for decades now. Continue reading

‘10 Cloverfield Lane’ Review

10-Cloverfield-LaneI know I’ve paid to see plenty of bad movies in my time, but I recall being particularly reluctant to shell out for Cloverfield upon its release back in 2008. I was put off by the drawn-out marketing campaign that leaned so far on being mysterious that I just found it irritating. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate promos withholding plot details but I completely failed to comprehend what could have been gained by not even revealing the title of the movie. Then on top of that it was found-footage? Of course, I was ultimately persuaded, and it was quite fun, but not something I’ve ever revisited or given much thought to since. The point being, similarly to it’s found-footage forbearer The Blair Witch Project, I’d associate Cloverfield far more with its marketing campaign than the actual movie itself.
Continue reading

‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2’ Review

mockingjay part 2The decision to spread the final Hunger Games adaptation across two parts left Mockingjay Part 1 feeling like an unsatisfactory half-a-movie, all build-up with not a great deal actually happening. My hope was that Part 2 would pay it all off, and send this series out with a bang. It definitively does not, withering out with unquestionably the weakest entry in this series.
Continue reading

‘The Martian’ Review

the martianRidley Scott’s been especially prolific over the last few years, with his newest film The Martian opening less than a year after Exodus: Gods and Kings, and these are large-scale movies we’re talking about. However his recent output has been inconsistent at best, tending to vary between dull epics (Robin Hood, Exodus) and highly divisive movies (The Counselor, Prometheus). The Martian fits neither category, a true return to form, it’s easily his most crowd-pleasing movie since Gladiator, and arguably even his best since Blade Runner.
Continue reading