IT (2017)

Note: So I only noticed this now but apparently this post didn’t upload the first time I tried to post it (which was literally two days after IT came out). I doubt people will be too interested in this review now, but hopefully it’s still enjoyable.

 

 

16 September:

So earlier this evening a friend and I went to watch the new IT…

Let’s just say that watching the remake of the film that created one of my deepest fears wasn’t all fun and games – there were a few times where I considered leaving the cinema; but then I noticed the other audience members weren’t dealing with the jumpscares as well as my friend and I, so I figured I’d stick it out. And I’m glad I did.

Now, several hours later (it’s almost midnight at the time of writing this segment), I’m wracking my brain trying to remember everything I can from the original IT and from the bits of the book that I can remember (it’s been a while since I last read it and I never got to finish it; seriously need to reread it), I’ve got a lot of material to work with for the review so this is going to be a long night.

Apparently, this is how we overcome our deepest fears: by going to the movies.
Now, when is the Arachnophobia remake coming out?

The Next Morning:

The review:

When the IT remake was announced, I was thrilled, the friend I mentioned in the above paragraphs made me promise not to watch it without her, I did and she made the same promise to me as well, needless to say, we were really looking forward to it.

But once I’d settled into my cinema chair and the film had started, I slowly started to realise what I was in for. Georgie got his paper boat. Which then proceeded to make its way down a stormwater drain. And then It appeared.

Pennywise

The Dancing

Clown

There he was, Bill Skarsgård, covered in makeup. Made to look like Pennywise.

It was at this moment that I came to the realisation that I was probably going to start sobbing at any second.

After making the mistake of watching the original back when I was eight years old (with another friend of mine, he fared the experience much better than I), I’d had a deep-seated hatred and fear of clowns. Never liked people in those giant costumes either, always hated it when Simba from Simba Chips or Sasko Sam from SASKO (the bread company) came to visit my nursery school, but that’s a story for another time.

So yeah, thanks, Tim Curry, Ronald McDonald and I got off on the wrong foot before he even had a chance to greet me, and thank you too, Bill Skarsgård, now Ronald and I will never get along.

The new IT doesn’t take very long to get into things, excluding Georgie and his paper boat, we start seeing weird things literally within the first ten minutes. And I’m not talking ‘first ten minutes of Paranormal Activity’ stuff, I’m talking ‘last twenty minutes of Jeepers Creepers’ stuff.

We’re introduced to the protagonists and (for most of them) we see Pennywise playing to their fears within a few minutes of each character’s introduction.

IT hits the ground running and literally does not give you a single break, there is never a moment of calm; I thought we were barely an hour into the movie, but looking at the time indicated that we’d been in the cinema for nearly two hours – and even then it didn’t look like the film would end anytime soon.

This is one of those films where you literally can’t leave to go to the bathroom or get a snack, if you miss just two minutes within the first hour, there are things later on in the film that just won’t make sense.

 

It uses people’s fears to get to them.

Stan is afraid of disappointing his father, a rabbi at a local temple, but he is also absolutely terrified of the painting in his father’s office; It puts the two together and brings the ‘person’ (if you could call it that, online she’s being called the ‘Flute Lady’, in the film’s credits she’s named Judith) in the painting to life (the painting itself is based on the works of Amadeo Modigliani, more on that later).

Ben is frightened of being alone, but (at the start) he doesn’t have any friends so he spends time in the library, It manages to lure him into a dark corner and nearly gets to him when he’s alone.

Richie is scared of clowns, so Pennywise is already in the perfect form to get to him.

Bill’s fear isn’t so much a phobia and is more guilt than anything, but good old Pennywise manages to get his attention with just a few drops of water – remember, Georgie went missing during a rainstorm.

Beverly’s fear is more insinuated than actually shown, every now and then the film hints at her father being sexually abusive. But, she also gets a scary scene to herself, in the bathroom; with a lot of blood. Just after she’s bought some tampons at the nearby pharmacy.

Eddie is an asthmatic and a hypochondriac (he’s afraid of germs, dirt, infections, and the like), so It comes to him in the form of a homeless leper, covered in dirt, missing a nose, and looking like a walking plague.

The one thing I found most unnerving, was something I only noticed after I left the cinema, that there are several moments in the film which are aimed at us; the audience.

That scene in the library? Pay attention to the old lady in the background, notice how she’s constantly smiling and staring at Ben while he flips through a book on the town’s history. There are a few other moments like this, instances where Pennywise shows up in pictures in the background, stuff like that.

The creepy painting in Stanley’s father’s office wasn’t in the original story, it was something that director Andy Muschietti added himself. It’s actually based on one of his childhood fears, once upon a time, in his childhood home, his parents had a print of a Modigliani painting; Amadeo Modigliani had an interesting style, often painting people with elongated and deformed bodies or faces, the painting always frightened Muschietti and his child-self was terrified of the possibility of meeting face to face with the woman in the painting.

“He (Amadeo Modigliani) often does these portraits with elongated characters. His vision of humans were with elongated necks, crooked faces and empty eyes most of the time. It was so deformed that, as a child, you don’t see that as an artist’s style. You see it as a monster.” – Andy Muschietti

And let’s be honest; I’m sure most of us have a fear similar to this, as a child I always thought that the eyes in paintings and on billboards were following me, wasn’t as bad as my fear of spiders or clowns but it was just a little something that had me slightly paranoid whenever we left the house.

There were a couple of scenes and themes in the book that were missing in the film but there is good reason for that: one reason being child pornography is immoral (and illegal) and the other being that there was a scene in which a group of homophobes beat a homosexual practically to death – you can see how either of these would be horribly received by the general public.

How does it hold up against

the original and the miniseries?

I’m going to have to clear something up before you waste your time on the original film AND the miniseries: they’re the same thing. The miniseries came out first and consisted of two episodes, said episodes were then put together to make up the nearly three and a half hour long film; the 2017 release, for comparison, is two hours and fifteen minutes long.

The original IT constantly jumps between the 1950s and the 1980s, exploring the childhoods of our protagonists and their first encounter with It to their adulthoods and final encounter with It; whereas this new iteration focuses only on their childhoods, and moved the setting up a few years to the 1980s, giving most of the people of today something they can relate to, what with all the nostalgia and music of the 80s.

One difference fans of the original will have noticed while watching the reboot is that there was no Wolf Man scene. In the original, Richie has an encounter with It just after watching Universal’s Wolf Man at the cinema, but because the setting has been moved by nearly thirty years, Wolf Man wouldn’t have been as applicable to the character. The only reference to this in the new IT is a shot of a cinema with “Nightmare on Elm Street 5” on the board outside.

And no, Freddy Krueger does not make an appearance (but it looks like we will be seeing him in Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One).

As someone who was terrified by the original as a kid, imagine my disappointment at going back to discover that it was actually atrociously horrible. The first part of the original is pretty good, although there are multiple parts where It could have easily killed each of the main characters but didn’t, and the second half was just anticlimactic and filled with more drama than horror. And the final fight scene? Don’t even get me started.

One similarity I have to applaud was one I didn’t even notice until well into doing my research for this review: the power of belief.

At one point in the original, the first time the kids defeat Pennywise, they discover that they can use It’s strengths to their advantage; he is how they perceive him, he reacts to things the way they think he would; so Eddie uses his inhaler on Pennywise, saying that the contents consisted of battery acid, and sprays It a couple of times. And so the inhaler was filled with battery acid, which melted one side of Pennywise’s face.

I won’t go too into detail about how this is similar to something in the reboot, but let’s just say that it’s a throwaway moment that even I didn’t think about until a few moments after the fact.

The only review that matters:

What does Stephen King himself think about the new IT?

“I had hopes but I wasn’t prepared for how good it really was. It’s something that’s different and at the same time it’s something that audiences are going to relate to, and they’re gonna like the characters. Because, to me, it’s all about character; if you like the characters, you care, and then the scares generally work.”

“I think that my fans will really enjoy the movie” … “I think that some of them will go back two or three times to actually savour the thing; I mean, I went back and saw it a second time and felt that I was seeing things the second time through that I’d missed the first time.”

“Skarsgård was great as Pennywise, and he’s got big shoes to fill, let’s face it; because people remember Tim Curry as Pennywise the Clown and they remember the look that Pennywise had.”

“When I wrote the book, I thought to myself ‘Well, I’ve written some books and have gotten this reputation as a horror novelist, so IT will be my final exam. And I’ll bring back all the monsters, that I remember, from my childhood, the ones that I grew up with. Frankenstein, Dracula, Wolf Man, The Thing from Beyond the Grave, because the entity that is Pennywise focuses on whatever that particular child fears the most. Well, I was thinking about the Universal Monsters and the ones that scared kids in the 50s, well, they’ve moved the timeframe, they had to, to the 80s. To me, that isn’t the important thing, the important thing is they kept the core idea that Pennywise gets to these kids by finding out what they’re afraid of and being that thing.”

Don’t you just love that? Very rarely do book-to-film adaptations work well when the author isn’t involved in production, so it really means something when a film like this does well and the author was only used as an over the phone consultant for the second half of the film’s production.

What’s really interesting to note is that the new IT has a secret title that was only revealed at the very end of the film… “IT: Chapter One”.

We all know what that means; there was a little bit of foreshadowing in the film for the sequel but no announcements have as yet (at the time of writing) been made, director Andy Muschietti is eager to do a sequel, he has said that they could start on pre-production by mid-2018, but we’ll just have to wait and see. Fortunately, we won’t have to wait another 27 years though (which just so happens to be It’s feeding/hibernating cycle), as IT: Chapter One took place in 1989, meaning that the sequel would take place in 2016.

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The Hitman’s Bodyguard (2017)

The first trailer for The Hitman’s Bodyguard had me raring to go and watch it, I just couldn’t wait till it came out. And then it did.

Now I’ll be perfectly honest with you, I honestly don’t think that Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson were actually given scripts, it seems more like they were told “You’re a hitman, you’re a professional bodyguard, you two have tried to kill each other before; YOU have to escort HIM to a court in another country. Have fun.”

And the two actors were then released into the world.

Whether or not they were actually given scripts, I don’t care, because the lines were perfect, from the timing to the delivery, everything was perfect. The action? Also perfect, if a little drawn out at parts.

 

There were a few scenes where our two protagonists would get split up and we would follow the one until his high-speed chase ended and things would die down for a few seconds, only to needlessly pick up again for another three minutes when we switch to the other character.

The jokes were, in my opinion, pretty good, but some of them seemed a little lost on the audience – although it probably doesn’t help that I watched it late on a Sunday night, either everyone was really tired or I was going just a little crazy (in which case I apologize for this review, because as I write it, I literally just got home from the cinemas).

There was a fairly serious over-arching story to the film but all the things going on between Jackson’s and Reynolds’ characters and their respective love interests kept on ruining the overall feel. Or was it the politically themed story that kept ruining the romance? I can’t quite tell.

 

 

Side note: I do know that there were other movies out there this month that I could have reviewed, but unfortunately I couldn’t make it to the IT previews, Atomic Blonde didn’t actually seem that interesting and Dark Tower (as much as I’ve been looking forward to it) unfortunately has to wait. But hey, that just means you guys will get more reviews in a shorter timespan in the next month or so (provided I actually find the time to get to them).

Dunkirk

When I saw the first trailer for Dunkirk, it was only a few weeks before the film was to debut, but with just one trailer, it was easy to see that this would be a heavy hitting film… and it was.

Dunkirk tells a tale of surviving the Nazis on the Western Front in World War II. The thing with history is that we already know how the story ends, but not everyone knows the exact chain of events that lead up to the end of the now infamous Battle of Dunkirk, not a lot of people know what those soldiers went through.

Dunkirk follows the story through several different perspectives; that of two soldiers on the beach, three civilians in a small boat (on their way to Dunkirk to get their soldiers home) and three Spitfire pilots (on their way to provide air support to the Allied soldiers on the beaches). The film constantly, and seamlessly, jumps between these perspectives, sometimes even jumping forward or backward by a few hours; but in the end, it all makes one cohesive film.

One thing I couldn’t help but notice that the music wasn’t at any point heavy, it was often high-pitched and suspenseful, choosing to purvey more the urgency of each situation instead of the action. A lot of the scenes spent following the pilots didn’t actually have any noticeable music, opting rather for the iconic sound of a Spitfire engine.

Something I didn’t notice until it was pointed out to me after watching the film, is that there isn’t actually a lot of dialogue; we go through the first ten minutes of the film with almost no dialogue at all, with many of the scenes on the beaches also having very little dialogue.

All those soldiers wanted to get off of Dunkirk, but not all of them were willing to work together; however, the two Allied soldiers we spend most of the film following, spend almost the entirety of the film soundlessly working towards their goal of leaving Dunkirk.

Something this film purveys very well is the true desperation of those soldiers stuck on the beach; they spend most of their time waiting in lines for ships to come and collect them… and they very quickly learn how to tell when the tide will be coming in, a rather morbid line that I would rather not spoil for those who have yet to watch Dunkirk.

I feel that this is a film that one absolutely has to watch, I enjoyed every second of it and it felt more like an actual account of the event rather than a documentary. Dunkirk is definitely near the top of my ‘Recommended Films’ list.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

I’ll be honest with you, until I saw the first trailer for Valerian, I had no idea what it was; but upon doing a little bit of research, I discovered that it was based on a groundbreaking French graphic novel from way back when… needless to say, I went and read it.
And I enjoyed the hell out of it.
The original graphic novel was filled with amazing lore and had an incredible story… the film, not so much, it’s a little lacking on that last bit.
I’m not going to deny the beauty of what the film’s producers have done: they gave us some brilliantly designed aliens (almost none of which were actually in the graphic novel, those were all completely new designs) and a feast for the eyes. Is it worth watching in 3D? No, its not Doctor Strange; you won’t notice much of a difference between the 3D and 2D versions.
Unfortunately, as with many ‘book to big screen’ adaptations, the film falls short where the graphic novel succeeds. It’s almost as if they spent too much time on the visuals and almost none on the storyline. After the first half hour, the plot became predictable – very predictable.
“Scene of a random race on a random planet, weirdly random stuff happens (we promise this random stuff will make sense later). Meet our two heroes; one is arrogant, free-spirited and has a disdain for rules, the other is a by-the-book leiutenant; both are basically black ops agents. Our heroes get assigned to a job at a giant space station – que explanations for each alien and their weird design. Meet this general; he’s a douche. Heroes go on a job, get drawn into conspiracy” — I’m going to stop right there, I had this whole hilarious summary ready but then realised it was a bit too spoiler-ish, so I’ll just cut that bit out and keep it for myself.
Continuing on…
The film’s biggest shortcoming, besides the story, is the world-building (or should I be saying ‘universe-building’?). The movie spends all of one minute trying to convince us that this is a living, breathing world/universe where all sorts of crazy stuff happens, but all it’s really doing is explaining some of the aliens and areas we’ll be seeing later on in the film (but, to be fair; there are some things in this movie we just wouldn’t understand without a proper explanation).
There were also a few scenes that had absolutely nothing to do with the story… but they needed an excuse to make our two protagonists like each other a little more. Then there was the completely unnecessary death of a particularly lovable side-character.
No, seriously, forget about Valerian and Laureline, I want a whole movie about (insert name of side-character who dies here); there is something I would love to watch a couple hundred times.

War for the Planet of the Apes

An epic ending to a wondrous trilogy.

War of the Planet of the Apes picks up several years after Dawn for the Planet of the Apes (which picked up years after Rise of the Planet of the Apes)… I think I’m noticing a pattern here.

Note: I’m going to refer to each of these movies by the first word in their titles, it would be completely superfluous to type out the entire title each time I want to say it.

One thing that bugged me is that War didn’t pick up straight after Dawn. Anyone remember Caesar telling his new human friends to leave while they could and that war was coming? Caesar had a serious look on his face and then the screen cut to black. Remember that?

Yeah, we never get to see the ensuing epicness; War starts two years after that.

War got nothing but praise at the international box office, and it is easy to see why.

There were no plot holes (something most film franchises tend to have by the second film these days, if not in the first), the pacing was perfect and, of course, the acting was amazing and the CGI was even better than in the first two films of the trilogy.

I’m actually really happy to hear that this is where the rebooted franchise ends, because if you watched the originals, you’ll know that things get pretty crazy (and completely nonsensical) after the first two movies). As interesting as it would be to mix time travel in there somewhere and involve the race of humans who live underground, it would be a far stretch from the world that the current version of the franchise has built.

Andy Serkis’ acting is in it’s prime, as usual, that man just keeps getting better and better, Caesar was more expressive than ever.

It was fairly evident from the get-go that Maurice would play an important role, but I was quite surprised to see Rocket again, making him one of only three characters from the original film to survive this far (with Buck having died in Rise and Koba getting himself killed in Dawn).

What was interesting to see, as with Dawn, was the cultural progression of the apes. At the start of Dawn, we saw that the apes had built an amazing base and that they had developed a reasonably advanced culture; and now, with War, we see that they have developed further (we don’t see much difference between Dawn and War but there is enough to be noticeable).

For those who watched the originals, you’ll probably remember the big Xs that were used as warnings to humans, with human corpses attached to them in a manner almost similar to that of a crucifixion; those made a not-so-welcome comeback, this time being used by the humans to torture uncooperative apes.

This is one of those films that really makes you question your humanity and what it truly is to be human, it’s also one of those films that makes you feel bad for being a human.

Spider-Man Homecoming

When Marvel announced Captain America: Civil War, the one question on every comic geek’s lips was “What about Spider-Man?”

So Marvel started brokering a deal with Sony and they came to an agreement: Marvel could do two standalone Spidey films and use the character in a few cameos, but Sony got publishing rights to the standalone films and made most of the money (Marvel does, however, finally get to add Spidey to all their MCU merchandise, so they make a little money there). This meant that Marvel got to do the casting, directing and most of the producing. Meaning that we didn’t end up with another flop like the Amazing Spider-Man franchise.

It’s been quite some time since the film came out (my friends and I struggled to book tickets for the release date) and it was glorious. If you still haven’t seen it (where have you been, under a rock?), then I’m giving you a heads up that there are two post-credit scenes… one of them featuring Captain America.

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!!!

(it’s been long enough… right?)

(and besides, this one is just too great not to talk about without spoiling)

Remember when Zendaya was cast as “Michelle” and the internet exploded? And then she told us she wasn’t “MJ” and the internet exploded again? I’ll just clear that up right here: she is MJ, just not the one we’re used to.

And don’t complain about Aunt May being too young, the actress, Marisa Tomei, is 52 years old; besides, she’s his aunt, not his grandmother. No, seriously. If you read the original Spider-Man comics, you’ll note that Peter is practically finishing university at the start, he’s in his early thirties. But over the years his origins were changed and he was made younger and younger so that he was just 15 when the spider bit him; but his aunt and uncle didn’t get the same de-aging treatment, they both stayed old (while the rest of the comic universe was either getting younger or simply just not ageing). In actuality, MCU Aunt May is probably the most logical Aunt May we’ve ever seen (I know right, I’m applying logic to comic book characters, but I’m a comic book geek, it’s what we do best).

Then there was that wonderful clip of Captain America in what appeared to be an old video tape the teachers were playing for the students at Midtown High. When that first popped up in the trailers, people were pretty confused… for a while, then we started to pay attention to the old-style font. In Homecoming, the gym teacher actually explains that the tapes are a required part of the schooling system and that he has to play them even though Cap is now technically a war criminal. So that clears some things up.

If you have seen Homecoming, you may have noticed some continuity errors. Those being that the first Avengers film was supposed to take place in the year it was released, 2012, with Homecoming taking place eight years later, which would put Homecoming (and technically, Civil War) in 2020, but in Civil War, Vision says that Tony announced his identity as Iron Man to the world eight years prior to Civil War; Iron Man is supposed to be set in 2010 (in Iron Man 2, Tony states that it has been six months since he became Iron Man, Iron Man 2 and Thor are supposed to be in the same year, with Nick Fury stating in Avengers “last year Earth had a visitor”, in reference to Loki, putting Iron Man 2 in 2011 and Iron Man 1 in 2010 – even though it was released in 2008).

With all this in mind, it means that either Homecoming and Civil War take place in 2020 or they take place in 2018.

I’m sure Marvel will just do what they do when this happens in the comics and simply say that Doctor Strange messed up a little when he used the Time Stone, or that it was Thanos when he used the Time Stone in the Infinity Gauntlet (more on that thing some other time, seeing as it made an appearance in the first Thor film). Oh, Marvel; why are your continuities so messed up?

Later on in the film, it is revealed that Liz (the girl Peter spends most of the movie crushing on) is Adrian Toomes’ daughter. Adrian Toomes is the Vulture. Whom Spidey is currently pestering. This may come as a shock to some of you but a few months ago, Marvel threw out two prelude comics (Homecoming Prelude Part 1 and Homecoming Prelude Part 2) which revealed that Liz is Vulture’s daughter (not everyone read the comic, and many of those that did didn’t actually notice, it was one of those well-hidden secrets which was actually out in the open). But either way, actually seeing Adrian as Liz’s father still felt like quite the shocker in the film.

One thing that bothered me was the amount of trailers and T.V. spots there were for Homecoming, but literally only the clips from the first two trailers were actually in the movie, the rest were all shot specifically for other events (one of them was a car advertisement, another featured DJ Khaled but was actually an advertisement for some or other biscuit). Those of you that still haven’t seen Homecoming will be very pleased to know that it is a lot more standalone that many of the trailers led us to believe, Iron Man actually has very little involvement (we see him like two or three times, Tony actually has less than 10 minutes screentime).

But now for the most amazing part of the film: the one scene that pays homage to, possibly, Spider-Man’s greatest moment in the comics, his greatest moment of strength.

Remember that bit where Adrian uses the Vulture wing-suit to (basically) drop a building on Spidey? Then Peter loses all hope and starts calling for help because he’s stuck under several tonnes of building rubble? Yeah, that bit.

Look up the cover of Amazing Spider-Man #33 and go to images. In this issue, Spidey was trapped under rubble and machinery in an undersea base, with the ceiling caving down on him; Spider-Man managed to lift the rubble (and effectively bench press the weight of all the water on top of him as well) and escape.

You might be thinking “But Spider-Man isn’t that strong!” And you’d be right, at current, he isn’t that strong, but physically, and at his weakest portrayal, he’s generally on par with Captain America; at his strongest, there was a time when Spider-Man was the fourth strongest man in the world – right up there with Hulk, Thor and The Thing; but according to the comics this wasn’t his strongest, mentioning that he was just a teenager and wasn’t actually in peak physical condition…

PS: they haven’t retconned this yet so he might actually still be the fourth strongest.

But I digress: that moment in Homecoming is an homage to that moment.

Now onto the film itself. Did anyone notice the change in music for Marvel’s usual opening sequence? Another reference, this time to the old Spider-Man television series.

The dramatic timing and acting in this film was spot on and very much believable. Peter really felt like someone I could identify with, in an effort to get a pat on the back and reach his goal of becoming an Avenger (because at some point in our lives, we all wanted someone to be proud of us, for someone to acknowledge just what we really are capable of, for people to stop treating us like five year olds and to treat us with the respect we feel we deserve, whether or not we actually deserve it).

And Robert Downey Junior really did seem like a mentor, only he was the kind of mentor who would rather leave his acolyte to figure things out for themselves and only tell them what they did wrong, never actually revealing what Peter could be doing right. But that was part of what made Peter’s journey so much better: the fact that he wasn’t really getting any help and he had to decide what to do by himself.

And did anyone catch that Miles Morales easteregg?!?!?! If you don’t know where that one is, I’ll leave you to figure that bit out yourselves.

The Mummy (2017)

So I was a little late to watch the most recent reboot of The Mummy, the start of Universal’s Dark Universe – which was actually supposed to start with Dracula: Untold (2014) but that was such a flop that Universal has done everything in their power to make people forget about it. Well guess what, Universal? I remember, I remember it ALL.

This time around there is no Imhotep, no Anksunamun, no Rachel Weisz (bummed), no Arnold Vosloo (really bummed) and no Brendan Fraser (really, really bummed about that). This time the mummy’s name is Ahmanet, and she was a princess that the Egyptians wiped from their history because she made a deal with Set (in the film he is described as the god of death, but fans of the 1999 Mummy film will know that Anubis was the god of death, Set is the god of evil, but whatever, Universal reckons that The Mummy won’t be attracting any Egyptian mythology fanatics to the cinemas, so what could possibly go wrong?). She was mummified alive (no flesh-eating scarabs this time around) and her sarcophagus placed in a pool of mercury (Egyptians believed that mercury could trap or destroy evil).

Skip to the present day and someone unsuspectingly sets her loose upon the world.

 

We all saw Dr. Jekyll in the trailer and you’re probably wondering if Mister Hyde makes an appearance… I don’t want to spoil it for you but it’s kind of obvious. Sadly, this isn’t Mister Hyde like we saw him in League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, he isn’t a gigantic, hulking beast; he’s slightly taller than Jekyll and is obviously considerably stronger but that’s about where it ends – and that was really disappointing.

Some of the character interactions were a little interesting (mainly between the main character, Nick Morton, and his best friend, Chris Vail). There was some incredibly forced romance which, from what I can tell, was based on a one-night-stand; this was a little funny in the first fifteen minutes of the film but after that, it just got boring and dragged on.

The best actor in the film was Russell Crowe, who played Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde. Everyone else’s acting was believable but seriously; don’t put Russell Crowe in your movie if you want the other actors to look good, because he will make them look terrible (same applies to Clint Eastwood, Idris Elba, Sean Connery and Morgan Freeman). I still don’t know why they chose Tom Cruise for the main role but it is what it is and there is no changing it now.

This film changed a whole bunch of stuff around in that the Crusaders were involved, and I can’t explain how without spoiling the majority of the plot. What I will say was that the climax was anti-climactic, to say the least.

 

 

Alright, so this film was supposed to set up the Dark Universe, and in some ways it did. When we first see Prodigium, we are led through what appears to be an anatomist’s laboratory. Seeing all sorts of things on display in vats of what is presumably alcohol. Among these things are a webbed hand (setting up the Creature from Black Lagoon) and a human skull with very long canines (obviously a vampire skull). There was also a rack with skulls on it in Jekyll’s office, one of them very ape-like; this could have just been an actual ape skull or a reference to a very old (and mostly forgotten) movie monster known as Paula the Ape Woman.

Films confirmed for Dark Universe so far include Van Helsing, Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Invisible Man, Dracula, Wolf Man, Phantom of the Opera (yes, once upon a time it was a monster movie, not an actual opera) and the Hunchback of Notre-Dame; all of these are as yet untitled.

Universal has a massive log of movie monsters to choose from, but with Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde and the Invisible Man, I feel like they could do League of Extraordinary Gentlemen while they’re at it.

 

Welcome to a new world of gods and monsters.

Welcome to the Dark Universe.

Pirates of the Caribbean 5: Dead Men Tell No Tales/Salazar’s Revenge

So I watched this just a day after it came out and (weeks later) I’m still not sure if it was all that good or not. It seems more like a nostalgia trip than anything. Ever notice how the PotC films seem to follow a very specific character layout? Being Jack, a woman and another guy. Through the first three films the other two were Will and Elizabeth; with Barbosa constantly changing sides at the flip of a coin. In On Stranger Tides, the leads were Jack, Angelica and the missionary. Now we have Jack, Henry (Will and Elizabeth’s son) and Carina. Or am I the only one who’s noticed this?

And what’s with the different titles? I get that sometimes words don’t have an equal translation in another language and some regions take offence to certain words but what’s wrong with ‘Dead Men Tell No Tales’? Why did South Africa get stuck with ‘Salazar’s Revenge’? Did our rating board think the title was offensive? How would it even be offensive? Who even came up with the title ‘Salazar’s Revenge’? ‘Dead Men Tell No Tales is considerably better – and it’s an actual line in the film.

The film picks up quite a few years after On Stranger Tides, and Jack hasn’t quite figured out how to get the Black Pearl out of her bottle, so the crew don’t really even have a ship. They try to rob a bank, by stealing the entire vault itself, but the whole thing goes wrong and in the end they don’t actually have anything to take from the little misadventure. Jack gets caught and is to have his head lopped off with the newly invented guillotine. It is here that he and Carina (who is about to be hanged for witchcraft) officially meet each other. Henry, having previously met both of them, helps them escape and so they begin the search for the Trident of Poseidon – each for their own reasons, of course.

Somewhere along the line, Jack gave up his compass, and apparently giving up the compass will release one’s greatest fear – in Jack’s case, pirate hunter Captain Salazar Armando, who Jack trapped in the Devil’s Triangle way back at the start of his pirating career. This opens up something of a plot hole – seeing as we have seen Jack give the compass away before, but hey, forget about plot holes and just enjoy the movie for what it is: a horrible pirate film that we’ll all enjoy anyway because it’s got Captain Jack Sparrow.

Oh, and if you thought you’d be seeing much of Will or Elizabeth, you’d be wrong; Will gets less than one minute of screentime and Elizabeth only gets a few seconds.

Wonder Woman

She really is carrying the DCEU.

 

Directed by Patty Jenkins, this one superhero film, the first female-led superhero film in a while, has quite literally just saved the DCEU from total failure. Joss Whedon, we here you’re doing major reshoots now that you’re helming Justice League, I hope those are worth it.

 

The film recounts Wonder Woman’s days on Themyscira, her defiance of her mother and her introduction to the rest of the world; including her intervention in World War 1.

Diana’s journey from sheltered child, to fierce warrior, to protector of humanity is a tale not many think of when it comes to superheroes. We all know about the death of Uncle Ben, the murder of Thomas and Martha, and the destruction of Krypton, some of us know there is more to Wolverine’s origins than the films let on; but how many of us can confidently say we know Wonder Woman’s origins?

I must say that even though I’ve been reading DC Rebirth Wonder Woman, and I did read her New 52 run, but beyond this film, I don’t really know all that much about Wonder Woman. Up until recently, she was one of those characters who’s story you could just gloss over (but then, the writing in her comics has also improved as of the start of Rebirth; seriously, that’s some recommended reading right there).

And while the film does put a new spin on Wonder Woman and her origins, I can’t really talk about that without spoiling the film.

 

WARNING: no spoilers ahead.

The acting in Wonder Woman was incredible, the characters were believable and so was the world they were in; the environments they moved through, the people around them, the constant emphasis on Diana being a strong and independent woman in a time when women weren’t really allowed to be strong and independent.

The story itself was well written and I’d love to take a look at any previous versions of the script, see how the producers came to the ideas and conclusions that they did; because there are certain things in the film that I would have loved to see go the other way.

 

Does the film deserve the high praise it has received? It was amazing, I’ll give it that and I’d definitely go watch it again, but – oh, you know what, I’ll be honest with you; that was the best superhero film I have ever seen and I can’t find anything wrong with it.

We’ve gotten so used to DCEU films flopping that when a good one comes out, I just can’t resist the temptation to hate on it, but there is seriously nothing bad or wrong with this film. It is flawless.

Alien: Covenant

A sequel to a prequel but still a prequel to the first film in the franchise – Alien seems to be going the same direction as Star Wars.

Directed by Ridley Scott, Alien: Covenant is the sequel to Prometheus. Looking to see more of the Engineers? You can forget about it, we see them for less than a minute and then they’re all dead. Covenant is about the evolution of the Xenomorph, from the Trilobite and Deacon we saw in Prometheus to the Bloodburster and Neomorph, over to (what appears to be) the first true Xenomorph.

Some of you may be thinking: “What is the trilobite?” and “What the hell is a deacon?”. Remember the alien in Prometheus? Little thing with a second jaw and a pointed skull? That’s a Deacon. The Trilobite is that tentacled monster that was growing inside of Elizabeth, an earlier incarnation of the Facehugger; the Deacon is basically a Chestburster.

The film itself takes place ten years after Prometheus, the Covenant is a colony ship, carrying over two thousand colonists (all in hypersleep). A random solar flare damages parts of the ship, forcing the onboard android, Walter, to wake up the crew and begin repairs. They scan the nearby star systems to find the cause of the flare, instead finding a perfectly habitable planet which is much closer to the one they were originally on course for. A few of the crew members get infected by our wondrous pathogen and all hell breaks loose.

Alien: Covenant was interesting, to say the least, but it wasn’t a horror movie, a genre I wish the franchise would return to – let’s be honest, it stopped being a horror franchise after Aliens. A little bit of gore, some guts on the floor, a decapitated head and a jump scare or two later, I left the cinema feeling more than just a little disappointed.

David is back and… well to say anything about him would give away literally the entire plot so I’ll just stop right there.

The cinematography was pretty good, could have been better but the camerawork for each scene fitted each, well, scene. I didn’t pay much attention to the musical score, was a little too focused on the gigantic pathogens running around, but I get the feeling it won’t be getting any awards anytime soon.

Between the characters, I found the interplay between the crew members to be interesting, considering each was in a relationship with another crew member and that the captain dies at the start of the film, sending a group of friends who have to work together into disarray. Then there is the interaction between David and Walter, both are androids, they look the same; one is convinced that he has emotions and the other just wants to serve his crew as he was programmed to; then there is the fact that Walter is effectively a better version of David, something that comes into play later in the film.

The biggest problem that Alien: Covenant faces is that we see too much of each alien, there isn’t much mystery because everything is explained to us by the end of the first hour of the film.

Although the twist at the end was perfect, I’d love to see how that plays out in another sequel/prequel-thingy.

Image courtesy of the AvP Wikia.