SteveResin

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Reviews

Star Trek: Discovery
(2017)

The Tears of the Clowns
I've willed this show to be great but sadly it's gradually gotten worse and worse, to the point where I feel I have to bail after I finish this third season. Despite its flaws I enjoyed season one, largely due to Jason Isaacs. Season two saw a drop in quality but was saved by Anson Mount as Captain Pike and Rebecca Romijn as his number one. The quality has plummeted so hard in this third season it's becoming painful to watch.

I agree with the reviewer who called it a CW teen fantasy. That's exactly what it's become. The show is just a constant barrage of pretty special effects and heart tugging emotions cranked to the max. On previous Trek shows going right back to the 1960's if the crew were given a mission they suited up and just got on with it. After the mission was completed the captain would acknowledge a job well done and they moved on to the next. These people are the elite in their fields, much like astronauts they detach their emotions to concentrate on getting the job done. You'd get the occasional scene of high emotion, if a crew member was lost, but the joy of the series was always in their ability to solve seemingly impossible problems and pull together as a team for the greater good in a professional and badass way. You'd get tearful scenes maybe a couple of times a season.

This doesn't happen in Discovery. Before missions they hug each other, look tearful and constantly remind each other how wonderful they all are. On completion they have a huge circle jerk and tearfully compliment each other on their magnificence. This season they even had a tearful goodbye for a mass murdering despot who showed the crew nothing but contempt. It's absurd and completely tiresome. They also underscore these scenes with swelling orchestral music just in case you don't realize you're meant to be getting the feels along with this bizarre and excessively emotional crew.

The crew are so thinly written it's almost impossible to remember their names. Three seasons in and I couldn't tell you the name of any of them outside of the main core of Burnham, Saru, Tilly and Stamets. At this point I'm past caring. The acting is soap opera level. The character Burnham is overused and doesn't warrant the amount of screen-time she gets. The writers seem oblivious to this and have the crew constantly remind us how wonderful she is by showering her with compliments. Apparently she's even responsible for making Spock into the man he became. It's a shame we can't experience any of Burnham's God-like powers of charisma on the show because all we see is her crying and being insubordinate. It's bizarre. If you constantly need to remind the audience how awesome and wonderful your Captain is chances are she isn't. And believe me, she isn't.

Sadly it seems the makers of STD are less concerned with interesting, logical and entertaining story telling and more concerned with ticking the right number of politically correct boxes. They've even thrown in some cute robots who I can only imagine would appeal to small children. Who are they making this show for? It's a complete mess, with its nonsensical storylines hurtling along at 100mph with no room for character building or rumination. As for the cause of the Burn the less said about that the better.

This show had so much potential but is now just an embarrassing addition to the Star Trek family. I'm out.

The Neighborhood
(2018)

Decidedly plodding.
For me, The Neighborhood is one of the most hit & miss shows in recent times. It started badly and took quite a few episodes to find its groove, but for every decent episode there are absolute stinkers.

To be honest they should have just set it exclusively around the black family, they have good chemistry together and are fun to watch. The white couple are completely obnoxious, so aggressively "progressive" they are absolutely insufferable. Their equally obnoxious child "Grover" is one of those precocious sitcom kids we all got sick of twenty years ago. His mother is so obnoxious she even has a sandpit in her classroom called "The Zen Garden" where you're meant to rake your way to happiness. I wish somebody would bury her in it up to her neck and unleash the fire ants. The less said about his emasculated father the better. The writers should have written a young school age child for the black family to interact with Gormless Grover, because his interactions with the black family's two adult sons are painful.

The laugh track is unforgivable, the "audience" are absolutely howling at every single sentence the characters utter. It's a shame because the show has potential, but I can't see this lasting beyond 2 or possibly 3 seasons, unless they improve the writing dramatically and tone down that terrible white family.

Fear the Walking Dead: I Lose People...
(2018)
Episode 15, Season 4

Fear Watching This Tripe.
This show is about as credible as Scooby-Doo in the scary or horror stakes. How low do you have to set the bar to think this is good? There's been some really poor episodes this season but this one takes the cake. Martha is the worst villain I've ever seen in a show. Her laughably bad backstory aside, why is she so hefty in this universe? These people are barely getting by, finding tin cans and small chocolate bars to keep them alive. This woman looks like she's dining on steak every night. We're supposed to be a few years in to the apocalypse now, it's just ridiculous.

The characters all get separated in the mother of all storms, and are separated by hundreds of miles in a huge state, yet find each other by accident because the plot requires it. The characters are so thin it would be hard to explain them in more than a few words. All we know about the dude who sacrifices himself here is that he made beer. Nothing else. He's been in the show for half a season and that's all they can come up with. Why should anyone care that he's dead? He was barely a person in the first place. And the less said about magical fire engines appearing with dead engines but working ladders that can conveniently rescue our heroes from rooftops the better. This is writing so basic it hurts your brain because you have to dumb yourself down to watch it.

This show was never stellar TV but it was entertaining in its own way. Now much like a zombie bite it's just painful.

The Riverman
(2004)

Bundy Behind Bars
This is a decent film for anyone interested in Ted Bundy and his crimes and psyche. A few reviewers here and I imagine some viewers seem to be disappointed that the film doesn't focus more on The Green River Killer, Gary Ridgeway, but he's not meant to be the focal point of this movie or indeed of the investigation carried out in this film. Robert Keppel, FBI profiler and former Washington police detective sees an opportunity to enlist Bundy's help in profiling Ridgway so he can eventually get Bundy to confess to 8 unsolved murders that took place in Seattle during his time there as a detective.

The good - When the film concentrates on the conversations between Keppel and Bundy it's engrossing. Bruce Greenwood is excellent here, but is outshone by Cary Elwes as Bundy. His Bundy covers the whole range of Ted's personality, or at least what we know of it. He's charming, intelligent, polite, arrogant, provocative and sinister. Elwes covers all of these traits effortlessly. It really is a fantastic performance. All the scenes with these two interacting are fascinating.

The bad - The rest of the film, sadly. There's an unnecessary story-line that is better suited to a soap opera, with Keppel's wife fretting that her husband will lose himself (rolls eyes) by involving himself in serial murder crimes again. Each time these scenes appear you're just willing them to finish and for her to go away so her husband can get on with his job. Why they feel they always have to include these soapy elements to serial killer films is beyond me. There's also an annoying sidekick character who works with Keppel, and although he's a seasoned officer of the law who by his own admission took 8 years to get his "gold badge" keeps making rash and stupid decisions and reactions purely for the sake of the plot. For example upon meeting Bundy for the first time instead of allowing Ted his hubris so they can slowly drip information from him instead he reacts to Bundy's mild ribbing and loses it totally, even rising to physically attack Bundy. This is nonsense and unnecessary, there's already enough drama going on in the scene without this hokum. Thankfully he disappears from the midway point and is only seen briefly at the end.

7/10

CBGB
(2013)

Don't Come Close
CBGB is a decent if frustrating look at the birth of punk rock in New York in the mid-70s. It's more a love letter to the club's owner Hilly Kristal than to the movement itself.

The cast are mostly great. Alan Rickman is excellent as Kristal, and the actors portraying such well known faces of the period like Debbie Harry, David Byrne, Patti Smith and The Ramones are believable. There are a few missteps, such as Lou Reed and Richard Hell in particular. A few interesting players in the story are missing for some reason, such as Nancy Spungeon, Jerry Nolan, Lester Bangs, Johnny Thunders and more, which is annoying.

For dedicated fans of the period there are also some added gripes such as them re-writing the story of Johnny Blitz's stabbing, which happened completely differently to what they show here. Why do that?

Ultimately it's an enjoyable if flawed experience packed with fantastic music and larger than life characters, definitely worth seeing if you have any interest in the genre.

Spider-Man: Homecoming
(2017)

Meh.
A film of two halves for me. The first half was largely excruciating, with Peter acting like a hyperactive kid who'd OD'd on M&M's. Aunt May as some cougar who Stark wishes was dressed in something "skimpy", just no. Complete lack of chemistry between Parker and his love interest.

The second half was better. Keaton was great once he went full supervillain, Parker was much better once he calmed down after Tony took away the toys. Ned was great. There was still too much CGI for my liking, the stealth plane sequence was so manic and crammed with SFX it just looked like a video game. Watchable but could have been a lot better imo.

The Island of Dr. Moreau
(1996)

Look At Him!
Legendary movie I only saw once, back in the day when it was released. I remember watching it with mouth wide open, aghast at what I was seeing. It's widely regarded as one of the worst films in history, and in many ways it is, if you consider the quality of the cast, director and budget.

But revisiting it 20 years later after seeing the interesting documentary "Lost Souls" about this car crash of a movie, I didn't find it quite so bad. It's poor, no doubt about it, but it's not tedious and mind numbing in a Battlefield Earth kind of way and nowhere near real dross like Batman & Robin or The Spirit. It's entertaining for many reasons, chief among them being Marlon Brando's blatant trolling of the entire production, insisting on wearing white make up and using buckets instead of hats to keep his head cool. His performance is worth the admission alone.

The rest is worth watching for the implosion of Val Kilmer's career as an A-List actor. Fresh from the success of films like The Doors, Batman Forever and Heat he was apparently extremely arrogant during the making of this film, and he just oozes apathy in every scene he's in. If he truly was as insufferable as he's been accused of in "Lost Souls" then karma certainly paid him a visit here, as his career never recovered from this wreck. Fairuza Balk is decent and tries her best with weak material, Ron Perlman is solid as always, but David Thewlis is miscast, his North England accent and bad teeth detracting from his performance. But those scenes with Brando and the worlds smallest man as his freaky sidekick are pure gold.

The make up effects are decent, and the location is gorgeous. Everything else is terrible. But it's certainly entertaining, even if it for all the wrong reasons.

Thinner
(1996)

Lacking Meat
This isn't a terrible movie, it's just not that good either. Decidedly average with a ridiculous premise, corny dialogue and some below par acting.

The lead actor is the worst culprit. No offence to the guy but he's not leading man material. The special effects designed to make him look obese are very dated and just make him look unrealistic and almost like a cartoon character. The other characters are complete clichés, from the evil gypsies with magic in their veins to a psychotic Mob boss.

This would have worked better as a 30 minute Tales From The Crypt episode. It's not interesting enough or good enough for a movie.

RocknRolla
(2008)

Ritchie's Gangster Fantasies Continue
It's not a badly made film. It has a decent cast and some of the music is pretty cool. Sadly this isn't enough to rescue it from tedium. It's basically just the same old same old from Guy Ritchie again, a reworking of Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, all cockney "geezers" and gangsters "having it large" and speaking in a cool way that nobody on Earth has ever spoken like. It has the clichéd Russian gangsters, the "salt of the earth" villains who destroy peoples lives but hey, they look after each others Mums, so you know, they're Saints really in Ritchie's gross fantasy.

Absolutely nobody in the film is remotely likable, it plays to the usual movie tropes of glamorizing drugs or at the least making junkies seem comedic. The central villain played by a miscast Tom Wilkinson is brought down for the crime of "grassing" on various lowlifes and scumbags. Really? This is meant to be a bad thing? The Rocknrolla of the title is his stepson, a musician turned crackhead who is completely odious but is of course presented as witty and "cool" because he listens to The Clash. Do me a favour.

Ritchie should have stuck with Madonna, at least you knew you'd be served up utter dreck that way. He strikes me as a one trick pony whose films have deteriorated in quality over time to the point of absolute drudgery.

Two for the Money
(2005)

Superb Acting, Mediocre Storytelling
The story itself is interesting but nothing special, a yarn about a Vegas college footballer who becomes the prodigy of a New York betting shark, lifted above mediocrity by two superb masterclasses in acting from Al Pacino and Matthew McConaughey. Truth is there's no likable people here, and the cloying, against-all-the-odds ending is in poor taste. But the performances make it worth seeing at least once, Pacino in particular is having a blast as the wise-cracking shark and Matthew McConaughey is no slouch here either. Just a shame the story isn't that captivating, unless betting on football games is your thing.

Beyond the Reach
(2014)

Beyond The Pale
Tedious, by-the-numbers thriller that sees Michael Douglas play an entitled multi-millionaire businessman out in the desert paying off the locals so he can fill his trophy cabinet and bag himself a Longhorn. Of course, this being Hollywood he hires the "BEST TRACKER IN THE STATE!" even though the guy looks half asleep from the word go and barely out of short trousers. Jeremy Irvine is lacking personality and it's hard to care for his character and the predicament he finds himself in.

The predicament itself is mildly interesting but spoiled by absurd moments. Douglas accidentally shoots some old eccentric living out in the desert and frames Irvine for it, making him wander the wasteland until he hopefully dehydrates or burns into a crisp. But our personality free but plucky hero has other plans! Which seem to involve heading to the eccentric's home, which hilariously in inside an abandoned mine but furnished with vinyl records and old school dynamite, and just... hide there. Douglas finds him and the chase is on again, culminating in Irvine following some lame Treasure Island style map to uncover a chest buried by the eccentric, which contains water and finally a weapon. Unbelievably, the weapon turns out to be an old school slingshot with marbles for ammunition! And in true Biblical style David slays Goliath. Except he can't even do that right and instead ties him up and takes him back to the local police station.

More thrilling twists and turns unravel as Douglas escapes through the toilet window into a waiting helicopter (he's a millionaire, they have 'copters waiting at the drop of a hat) and the chase is on again. The end is just dreadful and there's not much point recapping it here because like a Longhorn with a good snout you'll see it coming from a mile away.

The only thing this movie has going for it is the scenery, the story is wafer thin and stretched to fill 90 minutes when 30 would have sufficed, Irvine is like a plank of wood and Douglas' false teeth were too distracting. Avoid.

Quarry
(2016)

Buried Treasure
Just heard Quarry has been cancelled and it's a real shame as it was a magnificent show. It's first and only season is a masterclass in storytelling and acting, in a wonderful setting filled with memorable characters. Goodness knows why it wasn't more successful than it should have been, maybe it got buried beneath the current golden age of TV climate, where there are so many equally good shows out there, and with the rise of Netflix and the like so much choice and so little time.

That said, Quarry is still worth your time if you haven't experienced it yet. The season does have a resolution of sorts and doesn't end on a cliffhanger. It leaves the possibilities open to take the story further but also has an ending to the set up season one explores. If you like strong drama with some great action sequences, stellar performances and the politically and socially charged 1970's then this show is for you.

Kong: Skull Island
(2017)

Skull Candy
I thoroughly enjoyed Kong: Skull Island, for a few simple reasons. There's no obligatory romance distracting from the action, the visuals are absolutely stunning, the action is frantic, the characters are likable and the acting is first class. It was such a relief to see an action movie without long, drawn out scenes of pointless exposition or tired romantic tropes. Skull Island just gets down to business from the opening scene and doesn't let up until it's over.

The story is simple and not drawn out or blown up into tedious proportions. At the end of the Vietnam War a secret division of the US Government called Monarch discover the location of a mythical island and decide to investigate and map it before the "Commies" get a chance to after the war ends. After breaking through an almost impenetrable storm that surrounds the place all hell breaks loose, as Kong arrives and wreaks havoc. With limited time until a possible extraction the survivors of the team have to make it to the far end of the island within 3 days, through a perilous jungle of prehistoric and mythical creatures. It's like Jurassic Park on steroids.

Samuel L Jackson's character is interesting, at first sight he seems despondent that the Vietnam War is ending. The truth is he doesn't want war to end, he's become obsessed with war and is determined to die a soldier, so his later decision to abandon all sense and hunt Kong down to the detriment of an escape plan fits perfectly with the little we know of him. Tom Hiddleston is great as the tracker, Brie Larson and John Goodman have fun with their roles but the star of the show (Kong aside) is John C Reilly as a WWII pilot marooned on the island since 1945. He's a little stir crazy shall we say, and has some fun quips and an entertaining personality. Even the supporting cast are quite memorable and thankfully not one of them was annoying or incredulous.

The SFX are phenomenal. Kong has never looked better. The other creatures are inventive and interesting. It has a fun Vietnam-era soundtrack, and includes a great scene where they fly into the Island Apocalypse Now style with Paranoid by Black Sabbath blasting out of the speakers. That alone tells you this movie is not to be taking seriously, it's just a fun monster movie in the classic Kong and Godzilla mode, sit back and enjoy the fireworks and leave the pathos and hand wringing to other mediums.

8 out of 10 bananas.

Alien: Covenant
(2017)

"That's The Spirit!"
Go in with low expectations (which is good advice for any film, never mind a prequel to one of the greatest of all time) and you may be pleasantly surprised. Go in expecting the Ripley & Dallas era Alien experience and you'll be left wanting.

There's not much of a story here, it's as basic as it gets. But it neatly borrows and gives subtle nods to the 1979 original here and there. A massive ship transporting thousands of people to colonize a distant planet gets caught in a solar storm and inadvertently picks up a beacon emanating from nearby (sound familiar?). The flight crew are woken by the ship and discover this newly found planet is more habitable than the one they're heading for (and changing their plans will trim seven years off their voyage into the bargain) and so decide to check it out for themselves with a view of staying there.

After a slow build up this is where the action kicks in. What they hadn't bargained for is the fact that this new planet is home to the Engineers of the first Alien sequel Prometheus, and Elizabeth Shaw is the source of the beacon. As you can imagine danger, carnage & mayhem ensues. Oh, and a few xenomorphs.

As always, aesthetically the film is in safe hands with Ridley at the helm. It looks gorgeous. The space scenes are magnificent. There's one scene midway through where a flashback reveals the fate of the Engineers at David's hands, and it's an awesome scene. The different types of xenomorphs look fantastic, and there are some suitably graphic and gory chest bursting scenes and visceral action that provide a good counter-balance to the more erudite and cerebral parts of the story.

Michael Fassbender steals the show here. He reprises his role of David and also plays the Covenant ship's robot, this one called Walter. They both have completely different accents and personalities and Fassbender is utterly convincing as each one. The rest of the cast are capable and as characters are a massive improvement on Prometheus, they hark back to the original 1979 Alien and all seem like regular folk, without absurd eccentricities (yes I'm looking at you, Fifield and Millburn), and this is a good thing as this is without doubt Fassbender's film.

If along with me you're one of the few who enjoyed Prometheus you should find a lot to like in Alien Covenant. It's by no means a masterpiece but these days what is?

Phantasm: Ravager
(2016)

Goodness Gracious, Great Balls Of Steel
I've loved the Phantasm series since I first saw the original on VHS in the early 80's. Sure, they're not Oscar worthy or bursting with state of the art SFX or A-list talent but they never pretended to be, they were just a continuation of an interesting premise with fun characters and a first class bad guy. Sadly, this final installment is an enormous let down.

There's not much satisfaction to be found for Phantasm fans in Ravager. Well, not for me at least. Reggie is still great, it was nice to catch up with old characters again like Mike, Jody, The Lady In Lavender and even a surprise appearance by Rocky from Phantasm III. It starts quite well with Reggie reclaiming his stolen car and meeting up with a hot chick, even trying to seduce her by writing her a song on his guitar beside a fireplace. Classic Reggie! Some of the effects were OK, I especially enjoyed the shots of the dystopian Earth with enormous Sentinels hovering over everything. And that's about it.

The rest is pretty bad. The storyline descends into chaos, with alternate realities coming and going with zero explanation or real purpose. The movie is shot on digital cameras which makes it look cheap and nasty and doesn't do the low budget SFX any favours. I'm not sure what's up with A. Michael Baldwin here but he just didn't turn up for this film, his acting is just abysmal. I have a pine coffee table in my home that is less wooden. And sadly they just left it too long to make this sequel. Angus Scrimm, God rest his soul, was a superb and truly horrifying villain but here he just looks too old, a shadow of his former self. Not that any of that is his fault. He does his best but I dunno, the fear factor has gone. It's hard to be terrified of a guy who looks like he needs oxygen and a lie down.

I rated the film 4, because it's Phantasm, and there's always something to enjoy, but sadly the bad outweighs the good massively in Ravager and it's a feeble and inadequate way to end such a magnificent franchise.

BOY!!!!

Underworld: Blood Wars
(2016)

Cry Wolf
The Underworld movies are not classics, but if you enjoy hammy acting, vampires, werewolves and Kate Beckinsale in skin tight leather kicking ass then they can be a lot of fun.

Blood Wars is an end game of sorts, although it still leaves room for more films if the money men think it worthwhile. It would be a decent ending if they decide to close the chapter on this franchise now.

The plot is quite straightforward, there's some decent action and fight scenes and a few new characters and creatures introduced, and it doesn't drag on too long and outstay its welcome. Charles Dance lends some gravitas to the cast, and Lara Pulver has a lot of fun as the power crazed Semira, while Kate Beckinsale is as youthful and badass as ever.

If you enjoy the Underworld series then I'm sure you'll find this a decent addition.

Rogue One
(2016)

Star Wars Suicide Squad
Director Gareth Edwards does a fantastic job with the slimmest of story lines, which consists of the rebel alliance stealing the plans for the Death Star that lead into the original Star Wars, A New Hope.

The Good: The cast is excellent, and the new characters are hugely likable. The best of these are Baze and Chirrut, one a badass warrior and the other a blind monk with some serious skills and a love of The Force. I could easily have watched a whole movie featuring just these two as the protagonists. Felicity Jones is believable as Jyn, the daughter of the Death Star's chief architect who joins the rebellion to lead a rag-tag team to retrieve the plans for the Emperor's ultimate weapon. Diego Luna and Riz Ahmed also bring their A Game. The droid K-2SO is also a welcome addition to the crew, a classic Star Wars droid if ever there was one. Ben Mendelsohn is a decent villain, if a little one note, and both Forest Whitaker and Mads Mikkelsen provide good support.

The battle scenes are fantastic, possibly the best I've ever seen in the Star Wars universe. Even the smaller street battle scenes are masterful and expertly crafted. The Death Star has never been better or more fearsome. Its destruction of a city is just visually stunning. The space battles are pure old skool Star Wars and full of excitement and tension. There's one scene in particular where a ramming ship pushes one Star Destroyer into another and it just looks incredible. But all this eye candy aside the ultimate scene is towards the end when Darth Vader makes a last ditch attempt to retrieve the stolen plans and takes out a whole squadron of rebels single-handedly in a small corridor, in a scene so badass it will surely become iconic.

The Not So Good: There's not much here I didn't enjoy, and it feels harsh ragging on such a great movie, but it wasn't the greatest idea to include a CGI Peter Cushing as Grand Moff Tarkin. He just isn't convincing, and it was giving me bad flashbacks to some of the terrible CGI in The Phantom Menace. If they'd used him for one small scene maybe shaded in darkness it could have worked, but he appears in quite a few long scenes and it really takes you out of the moment. Princess Leia looks even worse, and again was there really any need to show a close up of her badly computerized face? Maybe a long distant shot would have worked better. Small complaints though, and they don't spoil an otherwise hugely enjoyable experience.

Leia's final words in Rogue One are "hope". Well this movie has given me hope, hope that those soul destroying prequels are fading into the ether and the Star Wars franchise is back on track.

Twin Peaks
(1990)

There Is Nothing Else Quite Like It
Twin Peaks is a bona fide classic TV series, steered by the master David Lynch. It's full of pathos, humour, wonder, horror, romance, terror and charm. It's setting is timeless in its quality. It exudes old times, more innocent times, dragged into the present by encroaching horror. It's the kind of place you wouldn't mind living in, save for the demons and dark spirits that tear the place asunder.

The cast is fantastic, and the role of characters unique and wonderful. There's Cooper, the by-the-book genius FBI investigator sent to the town to investigate the murder of a young woman. He is immediately a text book hero with his personable demeanour, open mindedness, non-judgemental personality and boyish charm. He and the town sheriff enjoy a bromance, and through them we're introduced to the host of unforgettable characters that inhabit the town.

These characters have all sorts of ranges, from the relatable everyday type of folk we all know like Major Briggs, Ed and Norma or Doctor Heyward, likable and harmless eccentrics such as Doc Jacoby, Andy, Lucy and Pete, dark worrisome scoundrels like Leo, Ben Horne and Catherine, crazy as a box of frogs types like The Log Lady, Nadine or Windom Earle. And of course there's the greatest character in a TV show ever, Leland Palmer. Ray Wise is just unbelievable here, giving the performance of a lifetime. The show never really recovered from his exit early in the second season.

Mixed in with all these superlative characters are some of the oddest ever committed to popular culture. A giant no less, The Little Man From Another Place and the terrifying and unnerving Bob.

Twin Peaks won't be for everyone. It's like Lynch decided to throw everything from American culture he could get his hands on, toss it in a blender and film the results. One minute it's like watching a southern soap opera and the next it's like being thrown into a surreal nightmare that leaves you breathless and bewildered. But if you're captivated by Twin Peaks it will stay with you forever, it is totally unique even to this day and nothing out there is remotely like it. Sadly it dips in quality after its big reveal early in season 2, but there's still enough to keep you entertained until the second season wraps up, and the final episode is just utterly remarkable, one of the greatest episodes of a TV show in history.

It's returning for a third season in 2017, and I can't wait to see all these characters again, it will be like meeting old friends.

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter
(2016)

A Biohazard For The Brain
The Resident Evil film franchise got off to a terrible start as far as I'm concerned way back with the first in 2002, when for some inexplicable reason they decided that the protagonist would be a "new" character that doesn't even exist in the games. Who the hell thought this was a good idea? They then hired and sacked George Romero, so after these two dreadful decisions the only way was down.

To be fair, the first 5 films are not terrible, just decidedly average. The kind of films you've completely forgotten about a few days after seeing them. But a pleasant enough way to pass 90 minutes on a boring night. I even thought the 5th instalment was the best of the series, so I was quite looking forward to seeing how they would wrap it up with this closing chapter.

I wish I hadn't bothered. Aside from the absurd storyline, terrible hammy acting and appalling dialogue the directing and editing is just painful. The action scenes (and 95% of the film is action scenes, to the detriment of storytelling and character building) are cut so manically that I was convinced at one point I was having a seizure. I'm not sure if the director and editor have ADHD but they should get themselves checked out just in case, because this was the worst overload of the senses I've ever experienced.

The storyline is so thin you could roll it and smoke it. Alice returns to The Hive at Raccoon City to release an anti-virus to destroy the T-virus and save the world. Hot on her heels is the evil Dr Isaacs, who is now a cyborg or bionic clone or something equally as absurd. There's an awful, awful scene where he uses his er, um, "implants" to calculate whether a bullet shot from close range will hit him or not. You know, as the bullet is traveling towards him. He calculates his chances are good and DODGES THE BULLET. I wish I'd dodged this bullet, that's all I can say. Iain Glen is just terrible here. He keeps cracking his neck to the side every time he does something evil, because you know, that's what evil types do.

Speaking of awful scenes, there's also the hilarious sight of an aged Milla Jovovich in a wheelchair trying to act wizened and frail It's absolutely hilarious and the worst acting and scene from the entire franchise, including the games and those terrible voice actors from 1996's RE. Half the character didn't even return for this movie, there's no Jill, no Chris, no Ada Wong. They probably sacrificed themselves to a licker rather than appear in this crap. It's so crap one character even dies at the hands of a fan. Fanned to death, imagine that.

Dreadful stuff, and not even in a "so bad it's good" way. Let's hope this really is the end of the franchise now, because like Wesker and the zombie horde it just needs putting out of its horrible misery.

I, Frankenstein
(2014)

The Laughably Modern Prometheus
I, Frankenstein is so absurd it's like some mind bending hallucinogenic trip. To be fair it's not so bad that you have to switch it off in sheer bewilderment or disgust but it's not a fat lot of good either. It's strangely fascinating due to the sheer insanity of it all.

Aaron Eckhart is pretty good as the creature, Bill Nighy just turns up as Viktor from the Underworld films again, Yvonne Strahovski is just there to look pretty and Miranda Otto is so po-faced and earnest every time she appears it's hilarious.

Speaking of hilarious, there are a lot of guffaws to be found here. I couldn't believe what I was witnessing most of the time. "The Gargoyle Order". A massive city being destroyed in the name of a secret war between God and Satan that has remained secret from humans (yes really) for centuries yet there is never anyone on the streets. The entire population must down a copious amount of sleeping pills as soon as the moon appears and lie in oblivion until sunset. One of the main supporting characters is played by a soap actress from Neighbours. The gargoyles look decent but the demons, oh man, those face masks are laughable, like something from a crappy 80's B-Movie, and the fact they all fight while wearing black designer suits just made it all the more absurd and hilarious.

It's worth watching for a few giggles, it's so unintentionally funny in parts it gives Young Frankenstein a run for its money! But don't expect anything of worth, this is no Boris Karloff's Frankenstein or Bride Of Frankenstein in any shape or form.

Unleashed
(2005)

More Dashchund Than Doberman
This isn't one of Li's best. Don't get me wrong, his skills are as impressive and wonderful to behold as always, and the basic premise is really promising. It's the execution that's lacking.

Bob Hoskins has some fun here, cranking his cockney gangster spiel up to 11, Morgan Freeman is wearing his "wise sage" suit again and Jet Li is fine, mixing rage and comedy with moments of pathos quite well. Kerry Condon is less convincing as a schoolgirl.

The big fight set pieces are excellent, and Massive Attack's soundtrack was a good fit, but the story-line is completely absurd, the script largely awful and there's way too much hand-wringing and doe-eyed brooding between the action, but all in all it's worth seeing once, but just the once.

Arrival
(2016)

Squid Pro Quo
A slightly above average sci-fi film but nothing more. Aesthetically it's stunning, the acting is first class and I found the aliens and their technology intriguing. Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner are both excellent, with solid support from Forest Whitaker and Michael Stuhlbarg.

On the downside the story is a touch pretentious, yearning to be taken seriously. Through terminal illnesses and mathematical and linguistic conundrums it paints itself as something profound and new but in truth is lacking any originality or depth. Disappointingly there's also the usual clichéd sci-fi tropes thrown in, such as Russia and China being portrayed as insensitive and overly aggressive, the disillusioned rogue soldier who attempts to sabotage our heroes' world saving plans, shots of rioting breaking out on news channels around the globe. Yawn.

It's a decent film, and worth a viewing if you have any interest in sci-fi, but one I doubt warrants repeated viewing.

Suicide Squad
(2016)

Flawed But Not Without Merit
After reading so many disappointing reviews since its release I watched Suicide Squad with some trepidation, but it wasn't anywhere near as bad as I expected. It's above average, but there's no denying it's flawed and parts of it just don't work at all.

Similar to Sin City it's very meta in its approach. It plays up the comic book aesthetic and for me this worked well. It's quite dark with splashes of bright colour that reinforces the Sin City vibe and it looks great.

OK, the good - The cast are mostly excellent, particularly Margot Robbie, Viola Davis, Joel Kinnaman and Jay Hernandez. There's a few neat appearances from Affleck as Batman and a short cameo from The Flash which was fun. Will Smith is decent as Deadshot, but his casting took me out of the movie constantly. I always felt I wasn't watching Deadshot, just Will Smith. I found it hard to separate the actor from the character, maybe they should have gone for a less iconic actor in the role. His acting is flawless though. Margot Robbie is flawless too, but I must say the constant gratuitous shots of her backside were over the top. The character was completely sexualized and if they'd reigned this in a little (or a lot if I'm honest) her character could have really been something amazing. It's a little tough to admire her acting chops or the dialogue she's been given when her backside gets top billing. Horny young teens will love it though...

Sadly there's a lot of bad. The choice of music is either hugely predictable and tired (Spirit In The Sky anyone?) or just awful. The storyline is wafer thin and the big bad, an ancient and powerful witch called Enchantress has zero backstory which removes any sense of urgency to the threat everyone's up against. Her relationship with Kinnaman is also underdeveloped so why should I care, frankly? The Deadshot and his daughter scenes are largely awful and feel out of place, some of the dialogue is poor and the climactic big fight scene fell short.

The most polarizing part of the movie is Jared Leto as The Joker. I've always admired Leto as an actor, he's done some incredible work in the past and had a thankless task following in Heath Ledger's much loved footsteps, but I have to be honest and say it didn't really work for me. He's more like some meth-crazed gangster than The Joker, again his back story with Harley was too short and underdeveloped and his dialogue is largely appalling. I thought Harley had more chemistry with Diablo, which says it all.

I rated it a 7. If you can ignore the flaws there's an enjoyable film to be found here, not a classic by any means but certainly has it's moments.

Futureworld
(1976)

Future Shock
It's predecessor Westworld is a bona fide classic. One of those stand alone masterpieces that doesn't warrant or need a sequel. Nothing could compare to it and whatever was served up would only be disappointing.

Disappointing is exactly what you get with Futureworld. To be frank it's awful. The story itself has promise, this time the company that create the fantasy theme park and its lifelike robots hatch a cunning plan to clone world leaders and high profile media personalities, bump them off then replace them in the real world with their doppelgangers and RULE THE WORLD! HAHAHAHAHA! (Evil Chuckle). Sounds good right? Wrong.

Peter Fonda plays a journalist chosen for "replacement" alongside plucky TV host and love interest Blythe Danner, who are drugged in their sleep on a PR visit to the theme park and cloned. Now this is the worst part of the story. Instead of just killing them while under anaesthetic and leaving their clones go about their business they decide for some ridiculous reason to have the clones kill their own counterparts. So we're treated to the worst shoot-out scene in history when Danner fights it out with her double in the ruins of Westworld and Fonda is chased all around the complex by his double in the most tedious and unexciting sequence I've ever seen in a big budget action movie. Beating their clones our plucky heroes escape the park and the film actually ends on a shot of Fonda flipping the evil Futureworld boss the bird. Yes, really.

Everything else about the movie is poor, it absolutely reeks of the 1970's, with terrible clothes and colours, the script is weak, the acting sub standard and the fantastic Yul Brynner only appears in a dreadful dream sequence where he dances with Danner while twirling around a red silk ribbon. In full "gunslinger" costume. Yes, this really does happen.

Avoid this at all costs, it's rusty as hell and beyond repair!

Cradle to Grave
(2015)

Memoirs To Be Taken With A Pinch Of Salt
If you view this as purely a nostalgic comedy series set in early 1970's London then it works supremely well, there's lots of fun to be had with a slew of larger than life characters getting into many mishaps and misdemeanor's to enjoy. It recreates the period with aplomb and the soundtrack is to die for. However if taken as an interpretation of Danny Baker's memoirs then suspension of disbelief is required. So many ridiculous situations arise that you're led to believe Baker grew up in a Willy Russell play. It's also slightly let down by a story line played for laughs involving schoolboy Baker being sexually teased and seduced by his alluring French teacher, which felt awkward in the current post Jimmy Savile Operation Yewtree climate we live in. Some of the jokes are stolen from other shows or movies too, the most blatant being the football match episode which knicks it's entire storyline from the film Kes.

Peter Kaye is an exceptional comedic talent and he is stellar here as Danny's ducking and diving father Spud. Lucy Speed is also exceptional as Baker's frustrated but strong and loyal mother Bet. Laurie Kynaston is fine as a young Baker but I must admit I didn't find the character entirely convincing. Danny Baker is known as one of the most loquacious people in the media, yet here he's portrayed as quite sullen and laid back. His appearance seems to have been re-imagined too, as Baker I'm sure is nobody's idea of leading man material yet here we're meant to believe he's a David Essex lookalike with the uncanny ability to enchant both the nubile and the mature, hot French teachers no less.

That said the series is well written, the acting is largely great and the music is wonderful. There's plenty of laughs to be found and a few heartfelt moments, although I wouldn't recommend binge watching as the "cor blimey guvnor" cockney ambiance can become grating.

8/10

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