Archive | Film reviews

An archive of the blog's film reviews. There's also an archive and an A-Z index of all reviews.


July 17, 2015

What have you been watching? Including X-Men: DOFP (Rogue Cut), The Equalizer and The Last Ship

Posted on July 17, 2015 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

It's "What have you been watching?", my chance to tell you what movies and TV I’ve been watching recently that I haven't already reviewed and your chance to recommend things to everyone else (and me) in case I've missed them.

The usual "TMINE recommends" page features links to reviews of all the shows I've ever recommended, and there's also the Reviews A-Z, for when you want to check more or less anything I've reviewed ever. And if you want to know when any of these shows are on in your area, there’s Locate TV - they’ll even email you a weekly schedule.

I’ve had a heavy workload this week, which is why my output has slightly dwindled to a mere two TV reviews:

Sorry about that. But I have been managing to squeeze in some viewing, so after the jump, I’ll be looking at the latest episodes of: Ballers, Dark Matter, Glitch, Halt and Catch Fire, Humans, The Last Ship, Mr Robot, Stitchers, Strike Back: Legacy, Suits, True Detective, UnREAL, and The Whispers. Two of these I’ll be dropping from the viewing queue. Can you guess which ones, Tigers?

Hannibal’s been shunted to Saturdays in the US, by the way, so that’ll have to wait until next Friday now.

I’ve also watched a couple of movies.

The Equalizer (2014) (Now TV)
Denzel Washington reunites with Training Day director Antoine Fuqua for this adaptation of the famous Edward Woodward 80s TV series. Washington is Robert McCall a former CIA agent who retires after promising his deceased wife that he would stop doing the bad things. However, when a child prostitute (Chloe Grace Moretz in little more than a 10-minute cameo) is beaten up by her Russian pimp and Washington exacts revenge, everything escalates as he has to take on mob fixer Martin “I may be a Hungarian-New Zealander but I’ll play any other nationality” Csokas (Rogue, The Bourne Supremacy, Falcón).

There’s not a huge resemblance between this and the original TV series, with the whole movie essentially being the origin story that the pilot episode briefly touched on, it, too, setting up a potential franchise at the end. But surprisingly there’s not much action or even espionage work, to replace the episode-long drawn out violent politicking of the original series. Indeed, we bet the occasional shootout and fight scene and a series of incidents to which Washington presents fait accompli solutions to everyone’s problems.

Not an awful movie, though, there’s a certain degree of intelligence in the script and Washington makes for a very stoic lethal old buffer. But a disappointment for both action fans and fans of the original series. There’s not even a Rolls Royce in it.

X-Men: Days of Future Past: Rogue Cut (2014/5) (iTunes)
Not technically a new film at all, as I’ve already seen and watched the cinema release, but this new cut of the movie promised an entirely new sub-plot involving Rogue that had been excised from the original for running time. This version gives us just a few early additions in the first 90 minutes – a line here, a brief extra scene there – but is otherwise much the same as before. It’s not until towards the end that we get the big additions, and there is indeed an entire new sub-plot that gets added involving rescuing Rogue so that she can take over from Kitty. Everything makes a little more sense as a result and it’s interesting to see they must have refilmed certain scenes as some of the Rogue material conflicts with the cinema cut.

However, to be honest, it’s not that much extra, the extra plot was obviously only in it to crowbar Rogue into the movie, and its excision was no great loss as it all feels a lot slower as a result of the addition. So save your pennies, unless you’ve not seen the original but particularly if you were thinking of buying it on iTunes, as the promised two hours of additional material has so far been a no-show, thanks to an Apple cock-up.

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July 10, 2015

What have you been watching? Including Terminator: Genisys, Man of Tai Chi, The Last Ship, UnREAL and Westside

Posted on July 10, 2015 | comments | Bookmark and Share

It's "What have you been watching?", my chance to tell you what movies and TV I’ve been watching recently that I haven't already reviewed and your chance to recommend things to everyone else (and me) in case I've missed them.

The usual "TMINE recommends" page features links to reviews of all the shows I've ever recommended, and there's also the Reviews A-Z, for when you want to check more or less anything I've reviewed ever. And if you want to know when any of these shows are on in your area, there’s Locate TV - they’ll even email you a weekly schedule.

I’m not exactly behind on my TV viewing, so much as watching certain shows at Mrs TMINE’s pace and she’s been very busy of late. That means I still haven’t seen the latest two episodes of Strike Back or this week’s Humans. And as ABC Australia only aired the first episode of its new supernatural chiller Glitch last night, I’ve not yet had the time to watch it, which means I’ll review it on Monday or Tuesday next week.

All the same, this week, I’ve passed third-episode verdicts on:

And after the jump, I’ll be looking at the latest episodes of the usual regulars: Dark Matter, Halt and Catch Fire, Hannibal, The Last Ship, Suits, Stitchers, True Detective, UnREAL, Westside and The Whispers.

I’ve also watched a couple of movies.

Terminator: Genisys (2015) (in cinemas)
Probably the first proper sequel to the first two Terminator movies, this does for the franchise what JJ Abrams’ Star Trek did for Paramount’s space epic, effectively recasting and rebooting the whole series while still maintaining continuity.

Here, the idea is that the timelines are being altered again, with more Terminators being sent further back in time to both protect and kill Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke from Game of Thrones) that by the time 1984 rolls round and Kyle Reese goes back to save her, she’s not in need of saving, having been raised by an ageing Terminator (Arnie) to be a warrior. The question is: can Reese, Connor and daddy Terminator now stop Skynet from taking over the planet and nearly exterminating humanity? And what will Skynet do to stop them?

The first half hour or so is actually very good, with not only some good ‘future shock’ scenes, but near frame-by-frame recreations of key scenes from The Terminator that even give us a young Arnie v old Arnie fight. We also get Lee Byung-hun (Red 2, GI Joe) as a T-1000 and Jason Clarke (Brotherhood, The Chicago Code) as John Connor.

The trouble is that the rest of the movie suffers from ‘CGI weightlessness’ – while the CGI is impressive, it also gives us physically impossible physical effects that rob the action of impact and any sense of tension. It’s basically just computers plastering the screen with pixels, for all the emotion that’s conveyed.

All the same, much better than it has any right to be, quite funny in place and although it often feels like fanboy homage to the original, it never feels slavish and often innovates and takes the story in unexpected directions. Blink and you’ll miss Matt Smith, by the way.

Man of Tai Chi (2013) (Now TV)
It’s a Matrix reunion for Keanu Reeves’ directorial debut, with this Chinese-set, half-Mandarin, half-English martial-arter that stars Reeves’ Matrix martial arts instructor and bestest friend Tiger Chen as a T’ai Chi student who wants to show the world the power of T’ai Chi in conventional tournaments. However, Reeves’ evil billionaire wants him to star in underground fight movies and tries to corrupt Chen.

With fight choreography by The Matrix’s Yuen Woo-ping, naturally everything’s dead exciting but littered with wire work, and although my six months of T’ai Chi at university doesn’t exactly make me an expert, I didn’t notice an awful lot of T’ai Chi on display (“What sort of T’ai Chi is that?” “My own style.” You betcha), beyond a couple of scenes with Chen’s sifu. The plotting is pretty much exactly what you’d expect, with only a couple of twists, and unfortunately, despite his presence towards the end, The Raid/Star Wars 7’s Iko Uwais doesn’t get much screen time.

All the same, enjoyable enough, some good locations and with enough variation from the standard formulae that you’ll never be bored.

Continue reading "What have you been watching? Including Terminator: Genisys, Man of Tai Chi, The Last Ship, UnREAL and Westside"

July 3, 2015

What have you been watching? Including Scream, Mr Holmes, Ballers, True Detective and Mr Robot

Posted on July 3, 2015 | comments | Bookmark and Share

It's "What have you been watching?", my chance to tell you what movies and TV I’ve been watching recently that I haven't already reviewed and your chance to recommend things to everyone else (and me) in case I've missed them.

The usual "TMINE recommends" page features links to reviews of all the shows I've ever recommended, and there's also the Reviews A-Z, for when you want to check more or less anything I've reviewed ever. And if you want to know when any of these shows are on in your area, there’s Locate TV - they’ll even email you a weekly schedule.

Summer schedules are here, so another week, another batch of new programmes to review. Elsewhere, I've reviewed most of the new shows, I think:

I’ve also passed third-episode verdicts on:

I haven’t watched this week's episode of Strike Back, which I usually watch with my wife, but she had better things to do this week. So that means that after the jump, I’ll be looking at the latest episodes of the usual regulars – Halt and Catch Fire, Hannibal, The Last Ship, Suits, Stitchers, True Detective, Tyrant, Westside and The Whispers – as well as newbies Ballers, The Brink, Killjoys, Mr Robot and UnREAL. At least one of them’s for the chop.

But I’ve watched one other new TV show, as well as a movie…

Scream (US: MTV)
I was umming and ahhing about whether to review Scream, given that

  1. It’s MTV so aimed at ‘those young people'
  2. I never really liked the Scream movies
  3. I have a big workload next week so might not have the time
  4. I’m slightly boycotting anything associated with Kevin Williamson, as a result of the evil that is The Following and Stalker.

But as I had nothing else to watch this lunchbreak, I decided to watch it anyway. And frankly, I was bored. Scream as a movie was moderately interesting, critiquing and subverting the horror genre with characters making explicit analysis of the tropes of horror movies, so that these could then be undermined.

The TV Scream wishes it was even half that clever, though. Not truly a sequel, given it doesn’t really follow on from the original movies or feature those characters, as far as I can see, it does however feature a ghost-masked killer who’s always on the end of a phone (or social media interaction), talking to his victim. It also starts off by doing the exact same thing as the original Scream – killing the most famous cast member in her own home while she’s on the phone to the killer.

All the same, that’s where the similarities really stop, since the rest is tedious. The show spends most of its first hour boring us witless with a bunch of cookie-cutter teens and their cookie-cutter relationships, which are so tediously unoriginal, the show tries to be clever by pointing out how tediously unoriginal they are at the end. It also tries to ‘Scream' TV shows, name-checking the likes of American Horror Story, Hannibal, The Walking Dead et al, without adding even an iota of insight or analysis to them.

Even halfway through, I was desperate for my lunchbreak to end and the sweet relief of work to begin. Surely that’s not the way it’s supposed to be?

Mr Holmes (2015) (in cinemas)
Sir Ian McKellen plays a 90-year-old Sherlock Holmes, retired and looking after his bees, while slowly losing his faculties. At the same time, he thinks back 30 years to an old case that Watson fictionalised and whose solution he can’t quite remember.

Those going in expecting a 'Sherlock Holmes story’ will be disappointed as there’s only two minor mysteries for Holmes to solve in the entire piece and they’re not the hardest to crack. But while it’s still definitely a story featuring Sherlock Holmes – in various forms, including the Strand magazine Holmes and Nicholas Rowe's Holmes, Rowe having starred in Young Sherlock Holmes – Holmes here is a proxy for intellectuality without emotionality/spirituality and how it’s ultimately no comfort if you’re human and mortal.

I wouldn’t say I loved it, but it’s something that definitely leaves you thinking about it for some time afterwards, and McKellen is superb at both ages.

Also features a slightly odd excursion to Japan with Hiroyuki Sanada (Helix, The Last Samurai, Ring, Lost).

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