Star Wars: The Last Jedi

WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD

A couple days after watching The Last Jedi (which I eventually got to in between Christmas and New Years), I sat at my computer and pondered on exactly what to write. I literally couldn’t figure out what to say, SW:TLJ wasn’t particularly bad it wasn’t exactly stellar either, so I figured I would just sit on the review for a while and hope I’d eventually come up with something. But with my deadline fast approaching, sitting around waiting for the words to pop into my head wasn’t exactly an option.

Cue me sitting in the cinema waiting for the lights to dim and for The Foreigner to start – because when you can’t write a review for one movie, it’s always a good idea to cram another one into your head, that way you can force the information out – actually, no, don’t to that, it’s a bad idea and it makes for sloppy writing.

 

(next day)

This morning I sluggishly slithered out of bed, grabbed my breakfast in the kitchen and groggily went through my news feeds – oh look, the ANC has a new president; Mesozoica has been released on Steam Early Access; and there is still no progress on the upcoming Unreal Tournament game (that last one was totally not a shocker) – after realising the second half of my cereal had turned to mush, I decided I’d just brush my teeth and maybe spend the day reading.

In the bathroom, I stared at my reflection, realising that not only had I not been sleeping very well, but that I’d also forgotten to buy beard oil the last time I was out shopping; and it was while I scratched at my itchy beard I realised something: Luke’s mechanical arm should have fallen to the ground when he became part of the Force! It’s not actually a part of his body, it should have been left behind just like his cloak.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi wasn’t bad by any stretch of the imagination, hauling in just over $220 000 000 on opening weekend, but it didn’t feel like it was THAT good. Sure, Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a 93% on the Tomato-meter (the same score they gave Force Awakens) but for some reason the large majority of people I’ve spoken to (both online and in person) seem to agree that TLJ was actually kind of disappointing – and I still can’t quite put my finger on why.

It was definitely the funniest Star Wars film to date, some of the comedy didn’t really seem out of place (especially in Poe Dameron’s case) but I’ll have to agree with Mark Hamill and say that something just seemed off about Luke’s characterisation and the way the script forced the actor to portray the character – and it’s not even like anyone could argue his point, actors often think very deeply about their roles, especially their longtime roles in the case of Mark Hamill playing Luke Skywalker, if anyone knows the character inside and out, back to front and upside down, its him.

And now, onto the thing you’ve all been waiting for… LIGHTSABERS!

Snoke is dead. Luke’s lightsaber has been destroyed.

But between the two of those things happening, we got what might have been one of the best-choreographed lightsaber battles we’ve ever seen.

Speaking of lightsabers, did anyone spot what looked like a red kyber crystal in a metal container in Luke’s hut on Ahch-To? ‘The Last Jedi: The Visual Dictionary’ describes these as a “fragmented Sith lightsaber crystal” and a “recovered Jedi Crusader pendant.” Those of you who just watch the Star Wars films probably won’t realise just how much this means for the Star Wars canon, but to those of you who have played Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic or Star Wars: The Old Republic video games, the term “Jedi Crusader” means one thing and one thing only: Darth Revan.

Quick breakdown for those who don’t know what I’m going on about: Revan was once a Jedi but he went against the wishes of the Jedi Counsil and, along with a few of his followers, joined the Galactic Republic in the Mandalorian Wars, Revan and his followers won the war but he later turned to the Dark Side and became a Sith Lord of note (no seriously, in the Star Wars comics; the canon of which is now yet again up for debate: Darth Revan was arguably one of the most powerful Sith Lords ever to exist).

‘But what ties the term Jedi Crusader and Darth Revan together?’ you may be asking. Well, the Mandalorians coined the term… and they used it exclusively to refer to Revan. The producers could have gone with any number of other Jedi-related terms which are canon to the films, Jedi Consular, Seeker, Guardian or Sentinel; but it seems like someone consciously decided on Jedi Crusader.

The reason there is so much to freak out about over this is because a year or two ago LucasFilm declared that the games, along with any Legends branded Star Wars comics, were not canon to the films – just for clarification this means that most of the currently-running Marvel-produced Star Wars comics are canon to the films (or at least they should be, I’ll not go into inconsistencies now).

But why hint at Darth Revan? Rian Johnson, director of the upcoming Star Wars trilogy, has already told us that his trilogy won’t be set around the same time as the Old Republic… but its not like directors and producers haven’t lied to the public before, especially when it comes to keeping secrets about upcoming films.

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Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

Jumanji…

Where to start?

Well, for one it’s definitely a sequel, but the title, Welcome to the Jungle, suggests that there might be another one coming. And while I wasn’t too sure about this one to begin with, regardless of the fact that I enjoyed it, I’m not so sure a sequel is the best idea either.

Hands up if you watched the original Jumanji as a child. Hands up if you think they should have left the franchise alone. Hands up if you miss Robin Williams.

If you were hoping that Welcome to the Jungle would be a direct sequel to the original, I’d hate to burst your bubble, but I’m going to have to: none of the characters from the original make any appearances at all. The only callbacks being the board game itself and the name ‘Alan Parish’.

The film starts off at the beach, where the last one ended, only this isn’t some far off beach in another country, somehow the game ends up back on the American coastline, where it is picked up by a jogger in 1996 (the original took place in it’s year of release, 1995 – now I’m starting to feel old), the jogger takes the game to his son who at first shows no interest in the boardgame, instead preferring his Nintendo/Atari (we never really get a good look at the console). That night, we hear the iconic drums, which wake up our first player, who opens the box and discovers that the board game is gone and has been replaced by a game cartridge (oh the good old days, now I’m really feeling old); he gets drawn into the game and something something years later a group of teenagers discover it while cleaning out the school basement while on detention, they decide to play the game aaaand I can’t say anything more without spoiling the plot.

Now, I don’t know about you but that sounds eerily like the original: boy gets stuck in Jumanji, waits so many years for other players to join, they finish the game and then everything goes back to normal.

Only this time there is a bit of a twist; a video game twist. NPCs repeating their lines, something which is barely funny the first time (if I had a cent for every time I’ve heard the ‘I used to be an adventurer like you, but then I took an arrow in the knee’ line, I’d be a billionaire) and wears off rather quickly; the whole inappropriate female clothing thing (they had a lovely excuse for that one – its a video game stereotype, so of course this allows the film-makers to put Karen Gillan in clothing inappropriate for the setting; technically it doesn’t but it does make sense because they’re in a game, and games have proven time and time again that they just don’t care) and a couple of other things – overpowered masculine characters and nonsensical inventory systems among them. All of this, plus a couple of other things, warrant a few laughs here and there, but there comes a point in this two-hour feature where the comedy dies and suddenly we’re watching a serious action film – like, come on guys, pick a genre.

Much could be said of the horrid story, but in a sense, it mirrors older role-playing games; a good deal of them didn’t really have good stories – PS: I’m referring to the in-game story, the actual story and character development weren’t too bad. The characters were clichéd (high school nerd, self-obsessed teenage girl, etc) but it seems as if this was done on purpose, because each is thrust into a role which demands that they turn their weaknesses into strengths: the two shy characters are forced into positions in which confidence is required (be it hand-to-hand combat or flirting), the self-obsessed girl is forced to take a look at herself and become not-shallow, the confident basketball player is put in a position where he has to constantly take cover and run away from danger. I can see why the producers made some of the decisions they made, and it all makes sense.

At the end of the day, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, while not perfect, isn’t as bad as people thought it would be. Including me.

Justice League

I would put down a SPOILER ALERT but we all know Superman died in BvS and that he returns in Justice League, the leaked set photos practically confirmed it… oh, and don’t forget that we saw him in the posters too.

Justice League tells the story of-

Why am I even explaining? You should know this; a bunch of heroes band together to stop a threat that neither of them could ever hope to face alone. Sound familiar?

No, I’m not talking about Avengers, I’m talking about our childhoods; the animated Justice League TV series, to be more specific. We all know the story in some regard.

Okay, maybe not everyone knows who Darkseid is, although if you’ve been keeping up with DC’s animated ‘direct to DVD’ films then you probably know who he is, but unless you’ve been reading the comics (and I mean REALLY reading the comics), chances are you haven’t got a clue who Steppenwolf is (no seriously, I don’t think he’s been seen or even mentioned since the start of DC Rebirth; Steppenwolf barely has a proper origins story, even in the original comics, we don’t really know what his deal is and we hardly see him all that much in the New 52 either, he was just never all that popular or well known). And you might know some of the New Gods by name if you’ve seen Smallville or Young Justice (the latter of which is FINALLY getting a third season, YAY!!!).

And don’t worry, even I had to do a double take when I saw him in the first Justice League trailer.

Steppenwolf is Darkseid’s uncle, and his greatest general; he is in charge of the entirety of Darkseid’s army. Don’t ask me how Darkseid turned his uncle into his glorified servant, because that is a whole other can of worms. And so are the Motherboxes, those deserve an entire article all by themselves. Along with the New Gods, they’d need several articles all to themselves if I were to explain them properly.

See the problem here? I don’t really want to compare Marvel to DC (seeing as I loyally read comics on both sides and watch all the related films) but I’m going to have to point out an itsy bitsy problem: DC is trying to do in just five films what has taken Marvel seventeen (soon to be eighteen) films to do: setting up the big bad. And I’ll be honest, Justice League manages this, if only just barely, but there is so much stuff that you just wouldn’t understand unless you’ve been paying attention to DC’s other forms of media (being their animated films, TV series – both live-action and animated – or the comics themselves). Darkseid isn’t even mentioned by name, so newcomers to the fandom have no frigging clue who Steppenwolf is and what he means for the DCEU, let alone who Luthor was talking to in the second post-credits scene (yes, there are two, so make sure to stick around) and what that means for the DCEU.

In short: Justice League needed more setting up before diving right into making New Gods references. We need to see Batman and one of his Robins (personally, I’m looking forward to Damien, but we still have to meet Dick, Tim and Jason, although it is confirmed that Batman has already lost a few Robins, so we’ll see where that picks up); we need to see Cyborg fighting Grid; Superman fighting Cyborg Superman (or maybe take the opportunity to set up the Multiverse and introduce Red Son Superman); Wonder Woman fighting Cheetah (maybe do Cheetah’s redemption? Which she got so close to in the comics recently); Barry picking the name ‘Flash’, fighting Reverse-Flash and clearing his father’s name. There was so much that needed to be done and Warner Bros is just glossing over it all; with the first Flash film to be titled ‘Flashpoint’ (which is arguably one of the more important story arcs in DC comics history), the first Green Lantern film will follow the Blackest Night story (another very important story arc); they aren’t even taking the time to properly set the Green Lanterns up (and Blackest Night requires more than just the Greenies, the Blue, Pink, Indigo, Black, Orange, Yellow and White Lanterns also have a steak in that story).

Enough complaining about that, time for the movie itself.

Bringing Superman back from the dead probably wasn’t Batman’s smartest move, at least, it doesn’t seem like it at first. Sure, it all worked out well in the end but I’m still not happy with it. Those who have read the comics will know that bringing people back from the dead often involves that person never really being quite the same again – Aquaman mentions this in the film; but what irritates me is that Supes was crazy for all of half a minute (his three line monologue to Batman was amazing though) and then he’s fine again. I half expected him to kill someone or at least be all sulky for a good deal of the movie but no.

One thing I appreciated but still think could have been done better was Cyborg. When we first see him in Justice League, he’s all “I can’t let people see me, I’ll never have a normal life again. I hate you for this, dad!”, but then at some point, he just flips a switch and everything is alright. On the one hand, I’m thankful he wasn’t angsty throughout the movie, that’s not what we paid for, but on the other I would at least like to see his change of heart or what it was that made him change – then again, being part machine it should be possible for him to just flip a switch and be OK; but where’s the fun in that?

Oh, and we finally got to see Bruce Wayne!

Now I know what you’re thinking: ‘dude, Bruce Wayne and Batman are the same person, you should know this, it’s common knowledge’.

And I do know that. But the point of having an alter-ego is that they are very different from you. This was one of my biggest issues with BvS; there was little to no distinction between Batman and Bruce Wayne; but in Justice League, we start to see the difference, little by little.

Onto Superman, and boy, do we have a problem here. Notice how Supes always has this smug little smile on his face? Superman is supposed to exude confidence, but the only vibes I’m getting from Henry Cavill’s Superman is arrogance (even if only a little); this was a problem that my fellow moviegoers also experienced (I just love going with friends, hearing other opinions, it’s amazing, certainly helps me make my writing better).

Onto Aquaman.

Dressed like ‘not-Batman: The Animated Series’ Aquaman, thank goodness. Jason Mamoa’s Aquaman is the Arthur Currie we didn’t know we needed. What I loved about Aquaman is that Justice League simplified him while still leaving room for more; we find out he can swim really fast, he takes pity on humans but wouldn’t mind if the Earth was completely covered in water, can technically talk to fish, has yet to take his place as King of Atlantis and had his backstory very quickly and off-handedly explained in a ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ moment. That was all we needed and it was all we got. Presumably, Aquaman’s first solo film will follow the story of him taking the Throne (Throne of Atlantis, anyone?), but looking at DCEU’s roster for upcoming films, they might just skip that part and jump right into Prince Orm attempting to usurp the Throne (Spoilers? I guess?).

Wonder Woman was spectacular, as one would expect after watching her solo film. She’s evidently still a bit salty after losing Steve but she didn’t have, nor need, any real character development this time around.

Although, in the same way she’s been carrying the DCEU, she did most of the heavy lifting when it came to fighting Steppenwolf.

All in all, Justice League was actually a very good film and I would definitely watch it if I noticed it was on TV, but if I had to choose from all the movies that came out this year, I’d probably go for Logan or Spider-Man: Homecoming.

Jigsaw

It was only very recently that I discovered Saw would be getting another sequel, then we were told it was something of a reboot but not really – and then we were slightly confused.

It’s a sequel… but it’s still kind of a reboot.

 

The entire film is one gigantic callback to the originals in that there is a room filled with literally every single tool we have ever seen Jigsaw use on his unwitting victims.

And that right there is this film’s only problem: it tried too hard to be a reference to its own franchise. Although it still did a good job of setting up the possibility of a sequel… maybe we’ll get another six or seven of those in the coming years.

 

As expected, Jigsaw gets right into things, we aren’t even introduced to the victims and they’re already suffering – which is good, because some of us are just slightly sadistic and we like that kind of stuff. Hey, don’t judge, why else would someone go to a movie like that?

What I enjoyed was that, for the majority of the film, we have no clue who the killer is. We don’t know if its Jigsaw himself (remember, “he is supposed to be dead”) or if the killer is a copycat; we don’t know if the killer is a cop or his partner, or if the killer is someone no one expected at all. And that’s good, a good murder mystery is supposed to keep the killer a secret from you, but you’re also supposed to be able to figure the whole thing out before the big reveal. Everything is given to us, its all in plain sight, we just have to spot it to know whats really going on.

MINOR SPOILER WARNING WHICH IS TECHNICALLY A MAJOR SPOILER BUT I DON’T ACTUALLY TELL YOU ANYTHING MAJOR: there is a twist at the end. I don’t know how the twist caught me off guard and I don’t know why, honestly, at this point twists are to be expected.

 

Anywho, it was great seeing that creepy little doll again.

 

 

 

And no, no one is forced to cut their foot off this time.

Thor: Ragnarok

No, Thor, NO!!!

 

While Thor: Ragnarok was probably the best film of the trilogy, it bugs me that they tried to go for ‘Guardians of the Galaxy-level humour’ and stopped at being ‘just funny’.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that Marvel finally realised that Thor has access to this widely varied and crazy universe, but Thor and Peter Quill are two very different people, and the thing that happens when you put them together just barely survives outside of the womb from whence it came.

I enjoyed the humour now and then, like when Thor says “He’s a friend from work!” (a line suggested by a fan), but every now and then it just felt dry and overdone; like they were pushing the humour just a bit too hard and failing miserably.

Although I guess that is what happens when Thor finally comes into his own as a solo hero: he gains something of a sense of humour and his air of arrogance (somewhat) returns.

 

What I do like is that we’re introduced to Surtur very quickly (incredibly quickly), Thor makes short work of him (in the comics, that fight probably would have gone on for ages) and then decides to return to Asgard.

Where he finds Loki impersonating Odin.

I’m guessing you can tell where things go from there.

 

I was hoping that Surtur’s presence would lead to Beta Ray Bill’s introduction, but sadly not; and while Hulk fighting in a gladiatorial arena on a planet called Sakaar does heavily imply the Planet Hulk storyline, we have to realise that the Grandmaster had no part in that story, and that Sakaar was definitely not a junk planet.

Unfortunately we will probably never get another live-action Hulk solo film, simply because Universal Studios owns the title “Hulk”, they’ve given up the character but they still own the name (at the time of writing, that is; Stan Lee has said that Marvel is working on getting back all the rights to their characters, so this topic is subject to change).

Speaking of Planet Hulk, what the heck happened to Korg’s voice?!?!?! Is he still a prepubescent rock? Will he turn into a full grown boulder for his next appearance in the MCU? Did Marvel feel like there were too many masculine voices in the film? What happened?!

 

Okay, I’m calm now.

One of the things that bugged me was the differences between certain scenes in the trailers and those exact same scenes in the film. Some of the differences made sense, certain story information had to be withheld until the actual release of the film. The reasons behind other changes absolutely escape me; one such scene would be Thor and Loki’s first encounter with Hela; which in the trailers was portrayed as being in what appeared to be a city street or alleyway (you can tell from the bricks in the background) but in the film it happens in an open, grassy field.

 

NOTE: this next paragraph is a bit spoilery in terms of references to the comics, if you’d like to spot those yourself, skip it and come back after you’ve watched the film.

Something to look out for, is Thor’s ‘umbrella’ as Doctor Strange calls it (we all know it’s Mjolnir but it’s a reference to the character Donald Blake, who, until just recently, was the human host for Thor’s spirit – there was also a reference to Donald Blake in the first Thor film); once upon a time the hammer could take the form of a cane or umbrella, and would transform Donald into Thor when needed. Other references would be the faces on the tower the Grandmaster seems to live in, I managed to spot Hulk, Man-Thing and Hercules, see if you can identify the rest.

 

Thor: Ragnarok was good fun, it really was. Valkyrie came through nicely towards the end of the film (to be honest I was slightly worried that her character had been ruined when we saw her in the first trailer) and it was good to finally see a Hulk that could actually string together sentences – even if they were a bit short.

But Ragnarok suffers from the same problems as Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2: too much not-so-hilarious-comedy (they were really trying way too hard) and not enough feels.

 

Although I have to admit, it was great to see Thor has finally learned how to deal with his brother; because each film with Loki in it goes through the same thing: Thor is constantly falling for his tricks… well NO MORE!!!

 

 

 

Oh and if you’re a fan of Lady Sif, sorry to disappoint; actress Jaimie Alexander was in the middle of filming for a crime/drama series called Blindspot when Marvel approached her about reprising the role and she felt her schedule was full enough. Sorry, guys.

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.

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.