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Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Where the only super is superficial.
A film with both Batman and Superman in it should be superb... and yet this film isn't. Even if you are willing to overlook Ben Affleck's raspy voice and his lumpy, squished face when squeezed into the Batman helmet, or the lack of humorous riposte between Alfred and Batman...this film's super is superficial. Which probably has more to do with the film's overall surmise that Batman and Superman could, or would be arch enemies based on a dislike for the collateral damage of one another's heroic actions. Unless of course you believe that both Superman and Batman suffer such self loathing that when shown a mirror both would rather fight to the death than accept its reality.

There is however one big flaw with this theory. Both Batman and Superman are on the same side (good) and suffer no shortage of evil to fight. Yes, Batman may be dark and brooding, but if he can accept the loss of numerous Robins and most everyone he loves (acception being Alfred) I think he can cope with the inevitable killing of a few innocents if one is defending the planet from aliens intent on destroying every human being on it. As for Superman, the blue boy scout, he doesn't intentionally kill, full stop.

So the story line is flawed and some of the acting is dubious, but thankfully Lex Luthor is deliciously evil and creepy! Louis Lane is not the 'most galactically stupid woman in history' and there is one funny line when Wonder Woman appears towards the end of the film. Does this save the film from a fate of ultimate Are you left pining for some humour...any humour, yes, sob...oh please... yes.

Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens

Why are the rebels so ineffective and rubbish at ruling the galaxy?
At last an authentic Star Wars film where storm troopers die if you point a laser vaguely in their direction but they themselves can barely hit a barn door despite years of military training, Chewbacca still can't say his own name, and the droids are actually cuter.

The sensitive use of CGI, costumes and real site locations made the film gritty just like the originals. It is a great film, and a happy return to form, but there were times when I did find myself asking "Isn't this plot eerily similar to the first Star Wars film?" Meaning episode 4 if you count those films. "But, but…" I hear you say, "What about the original cast, who can't be excited by that?" And yes, really I was. They looked older, and a bit battered (all except Chewie who didn't have a single gray hair on his body) but they were still the cast we knew and loved. Han Solo's death was neither a surprise or a disappointment, but felt aptly appropriate. I mean, who wants to see Hans being pushed in a wheelchair, fed or helped into bed by a Wookiee. Besides, I imagine Harrison Ford really can't be arsed with another film franchise of this scale.

Skywalker being held back until the end was inevitable and sets up the next film well. I must admit though seeing Mark Hamill standing on Skellig Rock off the coast of Ireland (close to where I grew up) did make me think "Gosh, so that's where he's been hiding all these years! Poor guy, I knew his career took a down turn…" I imagined bumping into him and making small talk while he collected his weekly shopping. "Hi Mark, tisn't the weather terrible?" I'd say, whilst we were simultaneously eying up the last loaf of bread, at which point he'd probably put up his hand to wipe my memory and say "This isn't the bread you're looking for..."

So just why is the Empire, sorry, First Order, so successful, and the rebels so ineffective and rubbish at ruling the galaxy? What the hell have the rebels been doing since the end of Return? All these years on and they are still a ragbag group who seem to have spectacularly failed to maximise the advantage they gained. I figure it all comes down to branding. The rebels, apart from giving themselves fancy new titles such as general of this and that, still do business in seedy bars, have no fixed abode and, simply put, lack order. The Empire however, successfully re-branded as the First Order, have a fancy new logo and salute (rather annoyingly identical to the Nazi one) and seem to have no issue recruiting. If they took in older recruits we can imagine the life choices of a teenager living in Tatooine. "Mum, I really want to be a rebel when I leave school." The mum would probably reply, "Erm...why don't you join the First Order? Have you seen their new brochure? It says here they offer training, good rates of pay, annual leave, opportunities for travel and a pension. Look you even get your own room with a view of five planets." The son may argue "But, I really want to be a rebel. I got a contact from that bar in Mos Eisley…" thrusting a dirty, crumbled piece of paper in her face. At which point the mother would probably retort "That seedy bar 'Cantina'? I don't think being a rebel is a healthy career choice. Whose side do you want to be on? The winning side, or the losing side?" And who could argue with that? Let's face it, historically, the rebels may have 'won', and yet some forty years later, the new improved, re-branded Empire is still ruling the galaxy.

Okay, putting aside the failures of the rebels, it was great to see a strong female character such as Rey. Resourceful, intelligent, beautiful and enviously knowledgeable about mechanics. Not only that but she didn't need training in the arts of the force. Nope, she didn't need to spend time in a swamp with a green alien clutched onto her back, she could just rely on her woman's instinct and learnt how to use the Force in a few short minutes – surely there is a Rosetta Stone CD opportunity for her there? 'Learn hour to use the force in a few short sessions…listen on the way to work, on the beach, or in the bath….'. Fortunately we were spared the nasal, whiny voice, best reserved for the voice of the Joker, that repeatedly chanted "but it's not fair." Well Luke, I think you're right, it really ain't!

The Maze Runner

Don't watch the last 5 minutes
I actually enjoyed this film until the very end when it was spoiled with completely unnecessary story exposition. Before that point I'd felt the cast and acting was great, the special effects were believable and there was good pace to the film.

Then they ruined it with a 'narrator' scientist woman, explaining in an unnatural scenario to another random group of scientists, that the world had been destroyed by a solar flare, that the maze was all some big test, and there would be further tests for those teenagers who'd survived the maze. As if the scientists working in the maze wouldn't already know all this stuff, and if they didn't perhaps they ought to find employment elsewhere.

This blatant attempt to hook us into watching the next film only caused me to question the ridiculousness of the final scene and consequently the whole film, like...Why would these scientists invest what must be absurd amounts of money to build an over- engineered maze only to kill off most of the teenagers they put in there? Why was the scientist woman and her team lying on the ground 'pretending' to be dead when the teenagers entered the room? How long had they been pretending? What happened if one of them needed to pop to the loo? Had they considered the possibility that one of the teenagers would prod them with one of their wooden sticks?

This bizarre scene was stitched onto the end of the film and was pointless to boot as I'd already watched the film at this point! Way to go whoever wrote this script!


Cinderella - a simpering simpleton
I was disgusted by the disparaging portrayal of Cinderella in this film, and the weak role model she represents to children. Throughout the film there were frequent times when Cinderella could have stood up to her step-sisters and step-mother who bullied her. But instead she takes the rather dubious moral high-ground of "I must be kind and courageous". Since when did being 'kind' equate to being a dupe and a push over? Of course it all works out well for Cinderella who is rescued by her fairy god mother and prince - a great lesson to teach our children...not. With her continual chatting to animals and air-headed behaviour I was inclined to believe that her step-sisters were correct - Cinderella was a simpleton. At which point I lost all interest and rather hoped the prince would marry the wicked step- mother, who at least had a backbone. The film ended with the surmise that Cinderella was courageous (in case you had any doubts) as she faced the prince without makeup and a flouncy dress on - well done Cinderella. I too can't bear to face a man without looking my utmost prettiest and best. Oh, one last thing Cinderella - if you had really wanted to wear your dead mothers 'pink' dress to the ball, what were you thinking when you let the fairy godmother turn it into a blue meringue? Oh sorry I have to be "kind".

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