Category Archives: Blog

Justice League review by Nik Coppin **** (4/5)

Well get me some Kryptonite, DC might actually be back on track.

Man of Steel wasn’t quite as bad as people said, but still not very good, Batman v Superman was an overly-long incoherent mess with too many plot holes and silly scenes, Suicide Squad was simply awful (with the worst Joker ever, here’s hoping the theory that he’s actually Jason Todd is true, editor) , Wonder Woman was really good but overrated, and Justice League

…was actually pretty good!

We actually do get a coherent plot here that actually makes sense and builds and ties together quite nicely. The antagonist, Steppenwolf, is a pretty powerful sinister villain that causes all sorts of problems for all the superpowered heroes around him in his megalomaniac pursuit.

And of course, there are no spoilers to be had in DC’s worst kept open obvious secret that Superman is going to return. And he does. And it’s handled very well indeed.

As is how the characters come together and get to know each other in making up the team.

I was honestly almost hoping for this film to be so bad so I could delight in slagging it off, but I’m a little glad to be wrong and can’t understand where all awful reviews are coming from.

DC still has a lot of work to do and some ground to make up to catch up to Marvel Studios, who I think are probably too far ahead and possibly out of sight, but for me, this was the best of the recent DC shared universe movies so far.

4 stars

Kong :Skull Island 4/5 – Rob “The Encyclopedia” Deb

In some ways, the BvS of a new shared universe Kong is a companion to ‘Godzilla’ but peels back on the science and focuses heavily on a taut story extremely well told.

Set in the 70’s days after America’s withdrawal from Vietnam, the film opens stylishly enough with exposition kept to bare bones and setting characters. What we see is an ever-affable John Goodman and his Corey Hawkins confirm the existence of skull island and, through Hawkins conviction, get the budget and build an assortment of characters to help them explore it.

Tom Hiddleston is the most difficult character or actor in a sense as he plays the British tracker with such reserve he rivals Adrien Brody in ‘Predators’ for distancing the audience. Brie Larson’s photo journalist woman is played with pluck aplomb and humour but sadly does little in terms of plot.

It is Sam Jackson and his entourage of soldiers that drives most of the conflict of the movie as soon after encountering KONG, the giant monkey becomes the Moby Dick to his Ahab as he orders and exploits his units’ loyalty to take the King down. The films plot is part revenge tragedy and part escape plan as #TeamTom want off the island while #TeamSam want to search and destroy the great ape.

Largely building from the first act of the original King Kong the film is a refreshing change of pace while showing that classic genre can still be a draw, maybe not through originality but rather just getting it done. Kong deserves to be seen on the big screen as the island, well everything will kill you. And I mean everything! Everything. See that tree, it will kill you, see the Skull crushers, they will kill you, see that bison, it will kill you, see that pigeon, it will kill you. The sense of watching characters having to trek on blades of death over an island is amazing.

I do rate the film highly because while it doesn’t do anything new, just given a 70’s soundtrack and lifting ‘Predator’ ‘Alien’ and film land politics of the era, it does it with such superb craft I could not complain. My own pulp thrills do not excuse the meeting with the native Islanders or the adventures of Brie Larsson’s’ incredible shrinking shirt. Much like one of her previous films ‘The Shallows’ it’s just incredibly well done.

Its visceral in its violence which I applaud as opposed to the roid rage Laser tag of other franchises and ends with a post credit that left me intrigued with the concept of how this world works.

In many ways, this is the Fast and Furious for Genre fans. I can see many contingents having a field day with the antiquated sensibilities in this feature but as a middle-aged man or a certain upbringing they were a mild distraction at best in what was a great return of the KING!

4/5

ROGUE ONE REVIEW : A DIM HOPE 3 stars Rob “The Encyclopaedia” Debb

Well this was the bold decision, to create a hidden chapter in the franchise. While it would be familiar enough to the ‘classic trilogy’ it would also suffer for being a foregone conclusion in many ways, so one does not envy the task given Gareth Edwards in this first foray into a cinematic expanded universe.

In many ways, the film takes us to a much greyer world than the classics. A brutalistic one, because not only has the sense of hope been removed, but with it any sense of dashing escapes, wit and daring dos. While we follow the story of Jyn Erso, daughter of Galen Erso the man who would be at the core of creating the death star we slowly see her back story as the film sees her come to join the rebellion and lead the cadre to steal the plans.

While the force awakens was criticised for being too much like A New Hope, this film is closer in beats and story, complete with cantina like scenes of intrigue and politicking. In many ways, this is like a bizarre Mirror Universe of the first film. With Erso as skywalker, Cassian as a more bloodthirsty “shoot first, shoot last and shoot always” Han Solo with an evil goatee, Alan Tudyks Reprogrammed android the new Chewbacca and Forest Whittaker shouting platitudes and grievances like the Obi Wan Kenobi toy when it gets kicked out the pub in an Adam and Joe sketch.

Admiral krennick is charismatic as the evil lead, he has poise lines and wit. Sadly, he seems somewhat perfunctory to the events as they unfurl and ends up being the Empires most aggressive admin assistant. I mean the best dressed one too but ultimately…. a man from H.R who needs you to sign a form.

Rogue_One,_A_Star_Wars_Story_posterThe problem I think that lies in the heart of this is the film neatly breaks in two. The first half is showing a Star Wars world with more desperate measures being undertaken and no force powers to save us. Unfortunately, by doing that the years have been unkind to this era and by covering everything in a filter of shit the underdog scum lands look pretty unoriginal compared to all the direct underdog skive lands that stole from Star Wars in the 80 and 90’s. I did have points where I was thinking …” fuck it …put Trancers on”

Having said that though the second half kicks like a mule and once the mission is a go I was enthralled. I think it takes some doing in this case as while so much of the events are a foregone conclusion Edwards has created some of the best space battles ever put to screen and the last 20 minutes manage to confirm everything we thought happened while showing us it in such a way you cannot help but be excited.

I often have told friends and confess that whenever I watch Star Wars again on my own, I tend to skip straight to the cantina and watch it from there as the desert stuff bores me. In many ways, this is the same. You will have a great time at the end, but whether or not it was worth it with a leaden start is harder to say. P.s. I really suggest strongly you think about taking younger kids or not. I have  a 6 year old nephew and have texted his dad to have a look first. It’s the grimmest most viscerally and brutally violent Star Wars yet. And I think is the poorer for it.

3/5

West Linton Primary School Christmas Concert

No sooner have I settled into my tiny seat than a giant shakey silvery cardboard cut-out alien craft drifts across the stage before my very eyes. It crash lands! Well, it kind of stops a third of the way across the stage to a crew of confused and trying to look concerned creatures.

Then one-by-one, a series of ‘aliens’ with bobbles on their heads take turns to come from behind this artistic metallic masterpiece and approach the microphone to question how to get their ship going again. One of said alien beings has giant green inflatable hands and blow-up headpiece with three eyes protruding from the top. This and the spaceship are clearly where the huge budget was blown.

Of course they can’t get the ship going again and so have to go wander out into the world.

This all leads to a script I can barely understand or follow, a limp, seemingly dead donkey being hauled in a circular fashion around the stage (which was perhaps roadkill from the crashed alien craft) to an inaudible song about something seasonal, all interspersed with what I can only assume were messages of love and understanding and hands across the galaxy between people from the Middle East and the far reaches of the universe at this most wonderful time of the year.

What a lovely Christmassy message indeed. Well, it probably would’ve been had I been able to hear it.

This opening scene went on painfully long, but we were treated to some (very little) fine singing and drumming later on in the concert, which was way shorter and thankfully went faster than the opening scene, all topped off by Silent Night sang in English, German and French.

This was no doubt put together as a protest against the Brexiteers. I’m not sure politics and nativity plays should go together, but it was a nice touch in a sea of turgid and ridiculously bad performances.

The highlight of the whole thing of course, being one of my most famous numbers as a Johnny Mathis impersonator being sang, “When A Child Is Born”. Not quite as good as my beautiful dulcetly-toned rendition of course, but sang beautifully by a number of people including Jennifer Scott, daughter of Jeannie Jones. Jeannie, of course being who was totally responsible for me having to endure this whole ear-piecing, eye-watering debacle.

I really have no real clue what the story in the play was meant to be about – since it was inaudible and dreadful – the headmistress decided to compere and patronisingly lecture us all at the start and from beside a live microphone rather than into it, the mince pies were discusting (as always) and the organisers didn’t even have the good grace to throw copious amounts of alcohol into the non-alcoholic mulled wine on sale to numb the inevitable pain.

This all made for some truly torturous Christmas-time children’s entertainment. It hurt so much that I had flashbacks to the open mic night at the Purple Turtle in Islington, a soul-destroying charity golf day gig to Ramsgate football club and Christmas shows at Jongleurs.

Disjointed acting, scruffy choreography, plenty of out-of-tune singing and catering that will probably see me spending the festive season in the hospital.

Brilliant!

5 stars

Nik Coppin

Zombie Women of Satan 2 Review Rob “The Encyclopedia” Deb 3 stars ***

This is a terrible film, this is a Troma level of terrible without the effects or even multiple cameras. But I have been asked by our editor to talk about the whole DVD and it is surprisingly rewarding. Even if the editor turns up halfway through and …. well he also asked me to review the whole experience so here you go.

Even before I begin I get the sinking feeling at the scrawl on the back of the envelope says the dvd is “out of sync”. Sighing I take it up stairs looking at the cover that is a montage to make a bad thing look even more trashy. Then I wait until the folks are away and get myself ready to review this.

Having not seen the first film (who did?) I was not sure about Pervo.  Part Alan Partridge and part Chubby Brown, he is a survivor of some previous zombie women attack desperate to get back in the limelight. Grubby encounters with several entourages later and we see him takingzombie-women-of-satan-2_1 a road trip to a deserted area with his adhoc entourage making up the fodder.  One of them was on Big Brother and he seems as incapable as most of the script. The film is largely improvised, great. You need talent for improv or at least a tight script to rephrase from. This is just shouting cunt a lot. Which is kind of funny, with timing, nuance, pause. And the word cunt. But that’s not what happens.

Special mention should be given to the strong female super team “The Bad Habits”. Sizzling in sass as the Four Force Fox four they have a great chemistry and a sense of purpose but that is soon spent like one of Pervos “jokes” very quickly. Given how they do most of the genuine action there was a faint promise of me finally seeing the “renegade Nuns on Wheels vs Batwinged Bimbos From Hell” film I am constantly kickstarting but it never happens. All of this gets padded out with more and more scenes which it seems only exist to hit the magical feature length run time. I think it says a lot when the main zombie conversion only occurs a good forty minutes into the film. And they spend most of the film shuffling off the side of the camera like an irate mob from the Benny Hill Show. An obvious inspiration for some of the Japes, but again without the pacing, puns or levity.

Warren speed has given himself a tough role relying on sheer energy to bulldozer this through. However, the screen has amazing stopping power as does the makeup he must have endured to keep that look on throughout. On a low budget feature (the first of many low budget feature comments) if you can’t afford good shots to get the expression, then don’t cover the expression with kiss make up.

Watching this is Like watching through a flickering peephole for bad taste.  The lighting is off. The location looks like holding placements/ those inter scene bits you would see on shitcoms to show where the groovy gang are now. Apparently, they only had one camera, and that camera could not move through any of the sequences. This film could do with a D.O.P and…another camera. Even iPhone level would have helped.

The commentary is in many ways a bizarre experience. After sitting through a badly shot, badly lit, poorly veiled softcore with no story we get a rather earnest viewpoint from the director who, bless him obviously put so much work into this. At every point. Yet for what. I get the feeling the relationship with warren was warren screaming what was important to his mind and the director being some freakishly capitulating soul. There is a drinking game to be had in this, down a shot every time he says “in a low budget movie” it’s almost like a mantra. Made even more incomprehensible as so many decisions about a low budget movie are poor. The wet t shirt scene serves no purpose, he knows it serves no purpose, but it makes the film feature length. That’s not a feature. That a short with some tits in it boring everyone. He is dedicated to trying to make a story. That did not happen. He is obsessed and to be fair to him he dolls out credit to all the people who made the film happen. From the sound mix to getting a ford Capri. The Capri is good for a scene and how much do you need to hear Pervo swear in High Def? watching my editor pratfall like a massively cheap Finsbury Park (The Harry Hill Show ed.) tribute was good but not enough is made of it. And some lighting would have helped a lot.  Even another camera would have helped. And actors. And…you know what. Watch it with the commentary as it’s like the Don Quixote of fucking commentaries.

In short the film is nothing you haven’t seen clogging up the content folder of amazon prime to try and compete with the quality on Netflix. Its badly filmed and paced and the moments of game high kinetic punch it seems to try and capitalise on would have been better in a 15-minute short. I do bizarrely enough recommend this DVD. I recommend it because the commentary. If you’re interested in making films, whatever else these fuckers did it. You can learn so much from this and I know my next short will be better for it so with that in mind.

***stars

DOCTOR STRANGE REVIEW ***** (five stars) by Rob “The Encyclopaedia” Deb

DOCTOR STRANGE REVIEW ***** (five stars) by Rob “The Encyclopaedia” Deb.

As the MCU continues to expand in delightful ways, Strange exists as a film to give some breathing space to the relatively cramped Marvel Universe depicted in Civil War. For those unfamiliar with the character this is a bold step for Marvel, one they waited to introduce until the right time and they do it brilliantly.

Doctor Strange movie poster 2016Opening with an origin story We see the witty lines, the rejoinders and the now obligatory pop music sound track commentary that admittedly made me feel I was about to embark on an Iron man retreat. However this hand holding is crucial for the realms about to be introduced. Strange is a man, like Stark, at the top of his game and a crisis pushes him into learning humility and real power.

As he travels to heal his hands we see an incredibly Strong supporting cast in the roles of Wong, The Ancient one and Moro. Mordo Deserves special mention at this point, by giving what was previously a sinister Evil twin to Strange, into a fully fleshed character and motivation in his own right . Fans of the comics know he becomes one of Strange’s greatest enemies, but here we see a partner more than rival and how he will develop in the future.

The story itself without the performances or the rich characterisation is pretty route. However, the Finale and the way the greater evil is defeated is something really setting up the tone for future Doctor Strange adventures.

A film cannot exist on its spectacle alone, but the spectacle in this is truly outstanding.  It’s very much like watching Ditko’s most fevered dreams smeared across in the screen in dazzling delight. As a side note, for an adaption that takes so many ques from the comics visually it was irritating to see the new Marvel studios intro logo. Rather than the montage of Doctor Strange comics within the letters, we get clips from various previous marvel films, a choice I feel distances the universe from its heritage and is a bit insulting. Having said that the changes it made with the original source has definitely contemporised the characters in a way that a more ‘trad’ telling would have been frankly questionable.

In short it has definatly reinvigorated my interest in the MCU and I look forward to further adventures of The dark/mirror/multiversal realms Strange Travels.