Last night I sneaked out to watch Alien: Covenant, the nth Alien film. (Seriously, I’ve lost track how many there are now. Do you count the Alien Vs Predator films, or are they just too embarrassing? Does Prometheus count? Was there a film after Alien 3, or did I just imagine that?) This time around, I watched it in IMAX* (helpfully reminded by an extra long spot at the start of the film that IMAX is a trademark of the IMAX Corporation (©)), from the fourth row back from the start, because I either really like seeing really bloody big aliens, or I like getting a crick in my neck. 24 hours later, I’m recovered enough to write about it. Continue reading “Alien: Covenant”
We loved Guardians Of The Galaxy when it came out in 2014 so I was a bit worried that the sequel would be a disappointment. And indeed, some of the best jokes are given away in the trailer (Drax’s interactions with Mantis the empath in particular). The second film is a bit grumpier, less of the neon-coloured joy of its predecessor. There’s reference to Rocket Raccoon being misanthropic without much evidence; it feels like somebody hacked out a good few minutes of subplot somewhere. And the pace grinds glacially slow sometimes, when we want Kurt Russell to be chewing on the scenery. Continue reading “Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol 2”
Tonight we went to see Fast And Furious 8, a film franchise that seems to have attracted almost every bald-headed hardman in Hollywood. There’s Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham. No Michael Chiklis yet, but maybe all that yelling in The Shield was enough for him. It’s maddening to realise that there are now more films in the Fast And Furious series (what ever happened to the definite articles?) than in the Police Academy oeuvre. What will be the next thing to be surpassed? Star Wars?
Continue reading “Fast And Furious 8”
After John Wick 2, we watched La La Land. I wouldn’t recommend doing this in reverse order; very loud gunfights aren’t a great way to recover from a nuanced sing song about jazz and beautiful people. I’m also not sure, even with 24 hours’ perspective, whether La La Land is just a tremendous piss-take or not.
The evidence for that is strongest in the opening scene, an over-the-top dance sequence which plumbs the depths of shameless mugging to the audience, jazz hands, fancy footwork, shimmy-shimmy-shim-shim-sheree nonsense. It’s very funny to watch people cavorting around a traffic jam, and highly impressive that this scene could be achieved, but it’s also one of those look-at-me aren’t-I-great moments that draws your attention to the artifice of the whole enterprise.
That remains true for the rest of the film: it’s a wonderful confection but you never forget that is what it is. Perhaps it’s wrong of me to think of John Wick as realistic, when both films have in common a certain stylisation, and definitely both are films where the colour palette has been very carefully thought about. But with John Wick 2 the plot goes along so fast that you’re sucked into it, whereas with La La Land you’re perpetually sliding off something beautifully crafted.
Is it then, without a soul? I think the ending proves that not to be the case, a magnificent final ten minutes that ties the film together and that I won’t write about here. It looks lovely, it sounds very nice (though I can’t say Emma Stone’s voice is as big as the role demands – too breathy and ethereal) and nobody gets shot. What more do you want from a film?
Tonight we went to the cinema to see the latest Keanu Reeves extravaganza, John Wick 2. For anyone who’s seen John Wick, this is more of the same: hyperkinetic gun fights with Keanu turning opponents into an obstacle course, bonecrunching, skull exploding nonsense for two hours.
The advantage of seeing this in the cinema is that it’s so damn loud: we watched the first installment at home and to really appreciate the violent idiocy, you need eviction-instigating volume, every gunshot becoming full power percussion so after the film ends you’re battered and deafened by it. The constant maiming and death continues at such a high, unwavering velocity that it goes beyond absurdity into a commentary on the banality of violence, and then back into Keanu shooting lots of people again.
There’s a dog in it, but it survives, unlike the puppy from the first episode. Lovejoy returns, and there’s an unexpected and unexpectedly gory suicide about a third of the way through, but the only other thing I found offensive was Keanu managing to change the direction of a car he was driving, while travelling through the air. But this isn’t really a film for physics aficionadoes.
After a while, you stop counting how many bullets are in Keanu’s gun and concentrate on counting down henchmen to zero, but I guess basing a drinking game on that would get you to liver failure too damn fast. And what would be relaxing about that?
After the convention was finished, I sneaked off to see the new XXX film, XXX 3 or whatever it’s called.
Compared to it, the Fast and Furious films are the Greatest Story Ever Told. The stunts are great (though Tony Jaa is criminally underused) but there’s literally no plot. Characters swap from enemry to friend without even an attempt at justification and even Vin Diesel seems embarrassed as he delivers a series of sub-Roger Moore one liners.
But, it does have Donnie Chen doing some silly king fu, there’s a pair of surfing Motocross bikes, an unexplained attack of Russians in helicopters, and Toni Collette. I’m not saying it was worth paying for, but it wasn’t totally dreadful. Just all the parts that needed a plot, or characterisation, or dialogue.
That, or I had a major brain catastrophes at half way through, and it destroyed my memory both forward and back by an hour.
Off to Singapore, off to sleep.
Tonight we watched Howl’s Moving Castle, a Studio Ghibli film where an evil witch turns a servant girl at a milliner’s shop into an old crone and – well, it’s not worth trying to describe too much what’s going on. There are demonic pigeons, a sentient scarecrow, all manner of teleportation hijinks and a man who turns into a bird. And those are just some of the reasonable parts. When sensible Japanese people stop being reasonable, they really stop being reasonable.
So that was a nice way to spend the evening. It’s a shame that there is so much conflict and carnage in the film otherwise it might be suitable for La Serpiente to watch, but I don’t think it’s good for a three-and-a-half-year-old. No matter how much you like fantastic WWII re-enactments.
The only other Studio Ghibli films I’ve seen are Tottoro (the one with Tottoro in it) and Spirited Away (the one with parents that turn into pigs in it). I’ve heard of Princess Mononoke, which coincidentally was in cinemas the first summer I spent in Japan, but I never saw that. Maybe if I’d not been crashing my bicycle into trees I would have done.
So that’s Studio Ghibli for you. I don’t think I’ve seen such beautiful anime elsewhere, even if the plot is enough to make you slam your head in a door in utter confusion. But a good couple of hours to spend, anyway.