Review: Father Figures

I tried to think of a snappy first line for this review, but much like the movie I seem to have lost my funny bone.

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Let’s get it out of the way at the start, this movie is fine. Meh. Mediocre. The epitome of average. But it’s wholly uninspiring.

A strange cast, ranging from the outstanding J.K.Simmons (Roland Hunt) to the always funny Ving Rhames (Rod Hamilton). But not a single person feels like they’re putting their all into this film. The phrase “Phoning it in” gets thrown around a lot in Hollywood these days, but I think it’s perfectly applied here. No one is bad in their role, and whilst I have never really been a fan of Ed Helms (Peter Reynolds), I feel pretty safe in saying that this is the closest I’ve come to having a connection to any of his characters. But there is nothing in this movie from the actors that hits anything other than average, the standard for what you would expect from high profile actors in a wide-release theatrical movie.

The story is pretty basic, but unfortunately due to the road-trip nature of the film there are a lot of characters who come and go in the space of 10-20 minutes, never receiving any development and never being seen again. This also led to the film feeling very repetitive – Search for man, talk to man, find out he’s not father, search for next man. There were some nice moments though, particularly between the family dynamics of the Owen Wilson (Kyle Reynolds), Ed Helms (Peter Reynolds) and Glenn Close (Helen). Their family connections were really the only thing keeping the movie from dipping below average.

It’s unfortunate to say that for a comedy movie, the majority of the jokes fell very flat during my screening. Don’t get me wrong, there were a few moments that earned a few laughs from the crowd, but rarely did anything reach levels above a quiet chuckle. Maybe that’s partly down to this being a very “american” film, if that makes sense at all, and the humour just not transferring over to British audiences.

Overall, if you get the chance to see this movie for a reduced price, or even for free if you’re a Cineworld card holder, then it’s worth the time spent on it if you have nothing else to do. But don’t go rushing to the theatre this weekend to pay full price and watch it, there are better things to watch, especially as the Oscar contenders finally make their way over to the UK.

Final Score:

5/10 Porgs

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Review: Black Panther

Avengers: Infinity War is right around the corner, but the MCU had one final stop to make first…

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As someone who has openly admitted that over the past few years I’ve become saturated by Superhero movies, I went into the latest installment of the MCU with tepid expectations. I can report, however, that I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the movie.

Black Panther’s biggest strength comes from the fact that it doesn’t feel like all the other Marvel superhero movies. This would be important enough if it was just a run of the mill entry into the MCU, but because of the political importance behind this movie and its placement in the timeline (Being the final entry before the big mashup of Infinity War) it was critical that Black Panther felt fresh and reinvigorated any fans who might be waning on the franchise.

As previously mentioned, Black Panther holds a strong political message about race and equality. The whole film is built around this concept and I am far from qualified enough to talk about the connotations and emotion behind it all in detail. All you should know is that the message is organic for the story Marvel are trying to tell, but most of all it is impactful and well delivered.

The cast of Black Panther is phenomenal. Whilst I thought Chadwick Boseman’s King  T’Challa  was a weak character for the most part, his portrayal is still well delivered and the supporting cast is probably the strongest of any Marvel movie. With Letitia Wright’s Shuri and Danai Gurira’s  Okoye being particular standouts. The highlight of the movie however came in the form of Michael B. Jordan’s Erik Killmonger. Killmonger is without doubt the best Marvel villain since Loki, and I would even go as far to say that he may be better, purely down the level of character development he is given and the realistic motivation behind his goals. Loki of course benefits from being featured as the main villain in multiple movies, but it will be interesting to see where the general audience start to rank the two when compared to each other. One thing is for sure is that Tom Hiddlestone has his work cut out for him if he wants to match the emotional weight that Michael B. Jordan delivers in his role.

The film isn’t perfect though. As previously mentioned, King  T’Challa is somewhat of a weak character until the latter stages of the film where he develops his own moral standing. There is also some moments of dodgy CGI, which are a shocking inclusion given the budget and hype behind Marvel movies nowadays. Furthermore, whilst Wakanda is solidly established ahead of its seemingly large role to play in Infinity War, I could have done with perhaps 5 to 10 more minutes developing what the actual city was like, rather than just the one or two remote locations we get to explore. Although this time would have had to have been knocked off from elsewhere as the film already stretches its run-time to the levels of just about being acceptable.

With that being said, Black Panther is certainly one of the strongest Marvel films. A strong cast, good direction, a good story and a well developed villain have all combined to create the kind of impactful film that the Marvel series has needed for a number of years now.

Consider me back on the bandwagon and bring on Infinity War.

Final Score: 8/10 Porgs.

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Review: Star Trek: Discovery Series 1

Star Trek Discovery, the most under-appreciated show on Netflix… in one nerd’s opinion anyway.

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When it comes to “Netflix Originals” I tend to find that they go one of two ways, either they are extremely good televsion or film productions (Usually the former), or they exist somewhere between poor and downright awful. Fortunately I can say with sincere confidence that Star Trek: Discovery’s first season is one of the better shows that Netflix has to offer.

First airing on CBS over in the US, before being made available the day after on Netflix, the latest take on the Star Trek franchise is an incredibly fun, compelling and emotional adventure that is worthy of the name.

What stands out about Discovery, is that it doesn’t feel like any other sci-fi show, it actually feels like a Star Trek series of old, except with a larger budget and better writers. Kicking the series off with an extremely tense and gripping opening episode, the show does a great job of having you hooked from kickoff. But what serves the series the best is perhaps the content which it adopts throughout the course of the series.

With there being 3 recent blockbuster sized Star Trek films in recent memory, the writers of Discovery did a good job in establishing this separate universe and timeline. By making the overarching story of Discovery being about a war against the Klingon’s (A key species in Star Trek lore, but one which was largely left out of the recent films), the show takes advantage of having an exciting core story which leads to various action set-pieces, whilst also being smart enough to write in various sub-arcs which all hit home.

The acting ranges from serviceable to pretty damn good in places. Doug Jones (Saru) and Mary Wiseman (Sylvia Tilly) are particular stand outs throughout the season and offer up some of the more compelling characters. Fortunately, due to the scale of the season and not being limited to a 2 hour long film, most members of the USS Discovery do receive solid to substantial character development. However, there are a couple of recurring non-crew members who do lack the development of others.

All in all the first series of Star Trek: Discovery was a joy to watch, particularly the final handful of episodes which keep you clinging to your seat and make it very difficult to turn off the TV. There are twists and turns which keep the enjoyment and surprise high at all times, but more importantly they don’t feel like twists for the sake of them, everything seems to make sense for the Universe that has been established.

While there is no set date for the confirmed second series, Star Trek Discovery executive producer Alex Kurtzman told The Hollywood Reporter that “ideally” he wanted the show to be back on “the early side of 2019”.

Final Score:

8/10 Porgs.

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The Superbowl Roundup

The Superbowl happened! For most people it’s an event in the calendar that highlights the culmination of the American Football season. But for us nerds, it’s a time for some sick trailers.

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The Superbowl has come and gone, and whilst the result of the game itself was historic, what was perhaps as equally jaw-dropping was the quality of the trailers which we were treated to throughout the night.

There were too many to publish individual blog posts about every single one, so instead I’m going to make “The Superbowl Roundup” a yearly feature whereby I go through and highlight the best of the bunch, the trailers which stood out to me for one reason or another.

First up let’s talk about the trailer that everyone was looking forward to the most (Arguably as it’s not actually a full trailer): Solo: A Star Wars Story

Whilst this is one of the shortest trailer in our Roundup, it’s probably the one which has people talking the most. An excellent PR move on Disney’s side, as by publishing a short teaser at the “Big Game” (NBC property) they have effectively used another network’s most watched product to say “come and watch Good Morning America (ABC property) for the full thing”.

The teaser itself didn’t offer a great deal, as was to be expected from a trailer of this size. But what it did offer looked promising. The visuals were superb, in particular the shot of the Star Destroyer deploying tie fighters in what looks like the Kessel run.

Hopefully we get significantly more Alden Ehrenreich (Han Solo) in the full trailer, as if the marketing tries to hide him as much as possible then there will be massive worries among the fan-base that LucasFilm don’t have faith in him as Han. Which given the rumours around a dialect coach on set, is the last thing he needs going into the movie’s release.

Next up, was another shorter trailer: Avengers: Infinity War

The trailer offered little in the way of new content, but given the hype around this movie anything new is worthy of note. Giving us a high quality shot of Captain America’s brand new Wakanda-style shield, as well as our first footage of Nebula in action, the trailer served its purpose to keep Infinity War fresh in everyone’s minds and to keep the hype machine ticking along nicely.

Our first full trailer for the Roundup comes from the sixth installment in the Mission Impossible franchise: Mission Impossible: Fallout

A surprisingly dark tone for the first trailer of the movie sets us up with the concept that Tom Cruise (Ethan Hunt) is on the run (Again) and 1. Having to atone for all his actions in previous films (Hence the “clever” name Fallout) and 2. Is having to go up against friends of old and enemies of new in Rebecca Ferguson and Henry Cavill respectively.

Cavill’s character appears to work well as a counter-weight to Cruise’s character, but we’ll need to see more interaction between the two to confirm that. Whilst it’s evident that the chemistry between Ferguson and Cruise is carrying over well into this next film in the franchise.

The trope of Ethan Hunt being disavowed and turned on by his own Government is becoming stale now, so hopefully the movie approaches it in an entirely different way, otherwise this movie runs the risk of being all too familiar before people have even stepped foot into the cinema.

Our penultimate note for the roundup comes in the form of what was more than likely the most surprising trailer from the Big Game: The Cloverfield Paradox

Perhaps not noteworthy for the content of the trailer itself, or indeed for the hype preceding it, but instead for the context it lends to the modern era of film-making. As we reported at the end of January, the fourth Cloverfield film was being rumoured to land on Netflix outside of the US. Little did we know that the 3rd installment, creeping ever closer to what we believed to be the rough release date in cinemas, was in fact only a few hours away from being made available on Netflix.

With the trailer noting that not only was The Cloverfield Paradox going to be releasing on Netflix rather than in cinemas, but in fact it was releasing right after the Superbowl. A surprising move for the confusing sci-fi series, but a welcome one.

Regardless of what reviews the film gets (Early reviews aren’t looking great) it’s certainly a statement of intent by Netflix and you can almost guarantee than more and more movies will follow a similar format of release.

Lastly let’s take a look at my favourite trailer from the Superbowl: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

I am a massive fan of the Jurassic Park/World franchise, always have been and likely always will be. But even I had to admit that the first trailer for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom did absolutely nothing for me, in fact I actively disliked it.

Fortunately, this trailer has completely turned my hype train around and I am fully on board going forward. The darker tone, the emphasis on practical effects and sheer sense of fear and dread that is laced throughout the trailer was incredibly appealing to me.

It’s promising to see that the Island rescue portion of the movie may end up only being perhaps the first third or half of the movie, as to me that was what put me off trailer 1. A volcano makes for a very bad antagonist, but another hybrid that leans more towards the Raptor gene than the T-rex? Sign me up.

J.A Bayona’s directing appears to be leaps and bounds ahead of Colin Trevorrow’s from the first Jurassic World film (Sorry Colin), so it’s safe to say that my expectations for the movie have been suitably raised. Let’s just hope that the actual film can live up to this trailer and that the story is strong enough to warrant this new trilogy.