2020 – Most Anticipated Films

Happy New Year, Happy New Decade, Happy New 365 days of films, games and television to enjoy. 2019 was the culmination of a decade of geeks ruling pop culture, and 2020 doesn’t look like it’s going to be slowing down. There are superhero films all over the shop, but none of them are intriguing me currently. Here are a few films that I can’t wait to see, and none of them have a superhero in them. Shocking right. 

Tenet – 17th July 2020

I saw a short part of Christopher Nolan’s next film at an IMAX screening a couple of weeks ago, and the entire cinema was on the edge of their seats from start to finish. That was with no context, just a scene that immediately lets you know the feel of this film. There is something odd happening in this film, as we have come to expect from Christopher Nolan, and all I can tell so far is that its time related.

Nolan has become one of those few directors who is bigger than the films he makes. I was signed up for seeing Tenet as soon as Nolan said that’s his next project, and that goes for a lot of people now. He has built up enough goodwill with the audience off the back of Inception, Interstellar, The Dark Knight and so on, that whatever he chooses to do next automatically qualifies as a must-see film.

We have a bit of a wait for Tenet to be ready for cinema’s but with this film maker it’s very likely to be well worth the wait.

Ghostbusters: Afterlife – 10th July 2020

It would appear July is going to be a bit of a stacked month, and to my own surprise one of the films I am most excited for is a Ghostbusters film. I like the original Ghostbusters, I even watched a bit of the cartoon as a child, but I never saw Ghostbusters 2 and I took a hard pass on the rebooted film last year because it just didn’t look like something I would enjoy and nobody I know wanted to see it either.

Enter Ghostbusters: Afterlife, a film I had down as “probably won’t see it” because it’s coming out in a busy period. This is a great example of the power of a fantastic trailer, as now I cannot wait. I have no real attachment to the Ecto-1, but by the time I saw it careening around streets and through fields in that trailer, I was completely sold and hyped to see that car again.

It’s only been one trailer, and they can be misleading, but fingers crossed this one is as good as it looks.

A Quiet Place: Part 2 – 20th March 2020

I watched A Quiet Place indoors with my flat mate, and I remember us both being deadly quiet throughout the entire film. It’s an incredible film and the idea it came from Jim in The Office is mind blowing to me. It seems like the Horror genre is becoming a fertile ground for comedic talent to show a different side to them, with John Krasinski following in the footsteps of Jordan Peele’s Get Out and Us.

I have no idea what to expect in Part 2 of A Quiet Place, but with Emily Blunt in the lead role it’s got a chance of being great, and the premise of this world is so beautifully cinematic I can’t wait to sit in the cinema for this one and witness an entire theatre on the edge of their seat and afraid to make a noise.

West Side Story – 18th December 2020

This one is a bit of a wildcard. I have never seen the original West Side Story, but I have only ever heard good things about it. I have a soft spot for musicals, as confirmed by Lala Land being one of my favourite films in recent years. West Side Story is a classic musical, and it’s being directed by Steven Spielberg which makes this whole project a little bit more intriguing.

I don’t believe he has ever made a Musical before, but he has covered just about every other genre in his career. He has been successful with almost every genre he has attempted, and I am excited to see what he can bring to the Musical genre. I know very little about the story so it’s one of those films I am excited to see the trailer for to judge whether it will be for me.

Top Gun: Maverick – 17th July 2020

If you were outraged by me not having seen West Side Story, the fact I have never seen Top Gun is probably even more of an egregious oversight. I have loved Tom Cruise’s movies over the last few years, and that’s kind of made me excited to see this new Top Gun. I might even go back to watch the original, as all I really know about Top Gun is it’s got Kenny Loggins’ hit Danger Zone in it, which I know because of Archer.

The trailers have been solid, and even though I have no clue what the story is going to be, there is going to be some cool flight scenes which look stunning from the trailers.  Could I end the year a huge top gun fan? I wouldn’t be surprised; Tom Cruise hasn’t really put a foot wrong in the last few years, so I expect Maverick to be more of the same.

There is 5 of the films I am most looking forward to next year, and not a single mention of Black Widow, Birds of Prey, Wonder Woman, or Mulan, which I now realise makes me seem like a sexist. In fact, I just haven’t seen anything from those films yet to really get me more excited for them than the above-mentioned films. Wonder Woman wins 2020’s Poster competition immediately but beyond that there isn’t much that’s got me interested. Birds of Prey looks bizarre, Black Widow looks generic, and James Bond needs to do a lot to get me excited for yet another bond film.

Next year there is no Avengers, there is no Star Wars. The MCU has no Iron Man anymore, Captain America is gone, and with them the two heads of the franchise. Star Wars hit me hard, a franchise I love that much not delivering for me was painful, but I have enjoyed the Mandalorian, and I am excited for everything Disney Plus will bring in March when it finally arrives in the UK. As is always the case for me this far out, I have no idea what the Oscar type movies will be, this time last year I hadn’t even heard of JoJo Rabbit, but now It’s the next film I am going to see, hopefully tomorrow night.

That’ll be the first review of the year, thanks for reading throughout 2019 and Happy 2020!



Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker Review (NON-SPOILER)

“This will begin to make things right”

That was the first line of this new sequel trilogy, and The Force Awakens gave a lot of people a lot of hope for a new trilogy. Following that we had Rogue One, showing that it doesn’t have to be a saga film. Then came The Last Jedi, and Solo, and they both divided and then jaded the fan base respectively. The Rise of Skywalker had a lot on its shoulders, could JJ Abrams possibly land this trilogy and end the entire 9 film saga on a high? 

The Last Jedi, for all its divisiveness, posed several interesting and exciting questions about how the universe of Star Wars would look. As I sat down at midnight, it hit me. This was it, the final Star Wars saga film. The end to a story I have spent most of my life watching repeatedly.

Well TROS immediately hits you with a surprise. Right in the opening crawl, you’re given a lot of information. I expected some of these key points to be shown to me, not written at the start, but as you watch the film you realise there just wasn’t time for that. At least not with everything they decided to do with this film. You’re told exactly what the different groups of people are doing at this time, and the film launches off from there. It’s a fast start, and this is where reviewing this film starts to get difficult without spoilers.

The plot boils down to a series of fetch quests, the ones in video games you do that are fun and exciting because you’re playing the game and enjoying the game play. The plot doesn’t really have room to be much more complex than that, and bar from a robot related speed bump, it largely just propels the characters on both sides towards each other with great speed. The reason it doesn’t have much room to breathe is because The Rise of Skywalker is not a sequel to The Last Jedi, but an apology.

This film does so much to retcon the previous movies events, and it is not subtle about it. Clearly Disney and JJ Abrams did not like the backlash TLJ received, and they set out with this film to right those perceived wrongs. Perceived wrongs that I personally do not think were wrongs, but bold choices and challenges we haven’t seen storytelling wise in these films before. I will go deeper on this next week in a spoiler review after I have seen the film again but suffice to say if you’re a big fan of The Last Jedi then this film might be borderline offensive to you.

Whilst being an apology for TLJ, this film also attempts to cram in a quick version of the Episode 8 JJ would have made if he was in charge, crammed into the opening half hour of the film. So far, that is two challenges for this movie to overcome aside from its own plot. Those two challenges only add to the immense weight on this films shoulders to carry a 9 film, beloved franchise to a satisfying end. TROS certainly does put an end cap on the saga films, and I thought it was quite a satisfying end to the franchise, the problems I have are the issues this film causes the rest of the 8 films to date. Barring the Force Awakens, this film has kind of made 1 through 6 redundant, and it’s cut out 8 entirely. More on that in spoilers next week.

If the Force Awakens leaned on nostalgia to get fans back on board, The Rise of Skywalker takes that nostalgia and beats the ever-loving fuck out of you with it. That sounds like a problem, but honestly, I am all about it. I love this franchise, and so I loved all the references and the winks and nudges, the name drops, the cameos, all of it put a smile on my face as a Star Wars fan. As a film, it comes off cheesy in large parts, but that is undoubtedly the idea. Fan service has a stigma attached to it, but this film simply had to do it. This franchise has so many memorable moments, touching base on a bunch of them is just an easy win that would be stupid for JJ Abrams to miss out on.

In terms of new characters, we get a few that I thought added a lot to the film. A personal favourite being Zori Bliss, a Daft Punk looking woman who has a shady history with Poe. Their chemistry was great on screen, which leads me to Poe himself. I don’t know if any character in history has ever had so much sexual chemistry with everything in a movie before. Oscar Isaac just has this way of making everything he interacts with seem like he might have sex with it. Objects and People alike.

John Boyega continues to be a little bit underused in this film, but what he does have I thought was entertaining. As for Daisy Ridley, this is her best performance so far. She has developed a lot as an actress and it shows here, and she does so opposite the excellent Adam Driver. Their dynamic drives this film, and it’s by far my favourite part of this sequel trilogy.

As with both the previous films, TROS is an excellent executed film from a production standpoint. Everything looks fantastic, the special effects, the set design, it’s all done to the level of polish we have come to expect from these films. It has made The Mandalorian look a little shoddy, but that’s a budget thing and more a problem for the Mandalorian show than this film.

The other huge positive in this film, and arguably the one consistently brilliant thing throughout the entire saga, is the score. John Williams is a huge part of why Star Wars is so special, and this film uses his music brilliantly and the little changes he has made to certain themes all add to the drama and weight of everything happening. He is an unrivalled legend in his field and this film is another example of why.

As you can probably tell, this film has hit a weird place for me. I can tell it’s a well-produced movie, but I cannot shake the feeling that this film, and this entire trilogy, has been badly handled. The lack of a consistent vision and plan for this trilogy has undermined its potential and its special moments.

The Rise of Skywalker will go down as one of the lower ranked Star Wars movies, mostly for spoiler reasons. I will go into more detail next week but for now, I am left underwhelmed by a film that tried to take on an impossible amount.

Good: The duels, the acting, the music, the cinematography.

Bad: The editing, the frantic pace, the messy plot, and the dismantling of what came before.

5/10 – This one hurt.


6 Underground: Michael Bay, Please Stop.

Over the past weekend Netflix released the Ryan Reynolds led action film 6 Underground. I am a fan of Reynolds, and in general him being in a film is enough to make it enjoyable and passable. I sat down this weekend to watch 6 Underground and I only made it 30 minutes in before I had to turn it off. 

The opening 20 minutes of the film is a ridiculous car chase where there is no context for anything happening. It’s cut to pieces by constant jumping between shots and angles and slow motion and explosions and skids and explosions and screeching tires and explosions. I was genuinely watching in disbelief that this is how they decided was best to start a film. Completely out of context action, time jumping around with the camera just ever so slightly zoomed into each character when they’re trying to deliver some of the garbage cheesy dialogue.

This is of course a Michael Bay film, and it appears he has just been let off any kind of leash and given carte blanche to make whatever he wanted. There might be an absolute masterpiece in the hour and a half I didn’t watch, but I will never find out because it’s borderline unwatchable. The explosions and cars being smashed into a shower of pieces and bodies being flung about like ragdolls is all stuff that can work if done well, and if the story has led to it being relevant.

I normally wouldn’t spoil anything but fuck it, this movie is trash. at the end of this obnoxiously long opening chase, the driver, or number 6, or whatever number he is called because even Names are a character trait Michael Bay doesn’t care for, is killed by a forklift spike through the chest. Everyone in the car reacts like their brother, who they have fought alongside in the trenches has died. Up to this point in the movie, they have all been acting as if this is the first job, in fact I think at one point, they even say it’s the first job. So, they have known this dude for days, and then they mention they are using numbers instead of names, so they don’t get attached. So why did we just have a 5-minute scene of everyone sad about the driver.

Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese wrote Deadpool, so I must believe they have some excellent writing skills. Either that, or the entire Deadpool film is improvised and their script was ignored. The dialogue, the logic, everything about the opening 30 minutes of this film, just defies belief. Netflix clearly gave these guys all a lot of money, and Ryan Reynolds is Ryan Reynoldsy, so he is still mildly entertaining, but everything around him is just nonsense. Visual Noise is a term I believe John Campea coined, and it fits this film perfectly.

When these writers were combined with a passionate film maker in Tim Miller and Ryan Reynolds, they produced a fantastic film. I like to think people always try their hardest, but I can’t buy that here. This feels like people happy to take the paycheque and run. That, or it must have been one hell of an off day when everyone put their heads together to produce this.

To be fair, the core idea does sound quite good, a group of people off the grid trying to do things that nobody can do whilst they’re a member of society. It’s a cool premise, lead with that, show us some characters, get the chemistry working and let us buy into the group and then kill off someone. That works, that has an effect, that is how you make us care and engage an audience. Twenty minutes of explosions and quips leading to a sudden death and immediate sadness for a character we don’t have any attachment to just doesn’t work.

Films can open with action scenes, in fact I love it when it’s well done, this is just not given any context because it’s frantic, shot at 100 miles an hour and the tone is that of an early 2000’s music video. Raiders of the Lost Ark opens with an action scene, but it’s done so well that we understand everything we need about Indiana Jones. It’s tense, it’s deliberate, nothing is done because it looks cool, it’s cool because of the character and the tension and the pay off.

To be fair, it’s outrageous to expect any film maker to be able to produce a start like Raiders of the Lost Ark. It’s a target though, it’s something you can watch and learn from. I don’t believe Michael Bay has watched anyone else’s movies; he only seems to repeat his own stuff. Transformers was a franchise with limitless potential, and all he could get from it was a lot of slow motion and cool looking robots. The action scenes are a hurricane of metal everywhere. The story is an afterthought, below a supermodel like actress wearing hot pants in the checklist of how to make a movie.

He can produce good movies, Pain & Gain, Bad Boys, 13 Hours, The Rock, and Armageddon are all examples of fun films Bay has directed, but sometimes he just seems to get lost in the excitement of blowing stuff up. I’d love to see him work with another director, someone who is more character focused, and see what that produced.

For now, though, steer clear of 6 Underground, and watch Watchmen instead. I started it this weekend and episode one is a fantastic set up, I plan to finish it by the end of this week. There is also a small indie film coming out this week called “The Rise of Skywalker” and hopefully that’s something readers are interested in.

Until then, thanks for reading.



Le Mans ’66 Review

I have been trying to find time to see this film for several weeks, and finally I managed to get to a showing this week. Going in I knew it was about Le Mans and how Ford tried to overcome Ferrari who had a stranglehold on the legendary 24 hour Le Mans race. 

First off, this film’s title is Le Mans ’66 in the UK, and its “Ford V Ferrari” in the US, who knows what it’s called in your local area if it’s not one of those titles. Weirdly, whilst both of those titles do relate to some parts of this film, it is not what the film’s about. This film is about two men, and their passion for motor sport driving their desire to make the best car they possibly could. Ford are represented as a necessary evil, the huge conglomerate that enabled this pipe dream to become a reality.

While Carroll Shelby is a pretty well-known name, I must admit I knew very little if anything about Ken Miles. Matt Damon plays Carroll Shelby, and he gives the best performance I have seen from him. He comes across as a man who is from the same background as Ken Miles but is now finding himself having to learn to cope in the suited-up hallways of the bureaucrats in power at big companies like Ford. His chemistry with Christian Bale in the role of Ken Miles is the fuel that keeps this film going.

At this point I think it’s hard to argue against the idea that Christian Bale is one of the best actors of all time. His career is littered with excellent performances and this is right up there with the best of them. Matt Damon is very good throughout this film, but Bale steals every scene and somehow, despite being a very recognisable actor, completely disappears and becomes Ken Miles. Early on the tone of the character is set and learning this story about the men behind the iconic Ford GT40, a car that made Ford cool.

The film clips along at a good pace, and it covers a lot of ground in its two and a half hour run time. All the characters in the film have their own dynamics with the main characters, and Bale’s dynamic with his son is one of the most believable and enjoyable Parent/child relationships I have seen in a while. Youngster Noah Jupe holds his own in scenes with these huge name actors, and in some scenes, there is real emotion being displayed and he is right there with them.

Le Mans ’66 may seem a bit unapproachable for people who have no interest in motor racing or cars at all, but this isn’t about that. This, like most great films, is about human connections and passion. We all have passion for something, and this film displays people who are devoted to something they really care about. On top of that, the interactions between all the people on screen feel real.

Director James Mangold was a name I knew of and didn’t think had top tier potential a few years ago. That is no longer the case as he has shown a new level of maturity as a film maker with this film following up the incredible Logan. He is showing he can pull some monster performances from hugely talented actors and package them in entertaining packages whilst also not shying away from sad and difficult topics.

I went into this film with quite high expectations, and it surpassed them. That is a rare thing, and credit to all involved for making Le Mans ’66 such a great time. My only gripes with the film are the run time, which does feel a little indulgent at over two and half hours with the story they were trying to tell. There is also one character who started to grate on me in a “Is this guy just a dick and nothing more” way, but not enough to really detract from the film overall. If you enjoy cinema at all, I have no doubt you will enjoy this film.

Good: Astounding performances all round, Bale driving straight into a very congested best actor race this year. Great dynamics with all characters and well-done racing scenes.

Bad: Not much, a one note brown nosing character and a run time that made me check my watch a few times.

9/10 – Add it to the Best Picture List already. 


2019 Gaming: The Calm before the Storm

This past weekend I was thinking about what games I have really enjoyed this year, which games I would put up there as potential Game of the Year contenders and to my surprise I think the only real contender for me is Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. But surely that can’t be the case. 

Discussing it with a friend of mine, they referred to this year as the calm before the storm, and it does make a lot of sense. They also pushed me in the direction of Outer Wilds, a puzzle exploration game which I will be playing this week, and not to be confused with The Outer Worlds. I have tried to jump into The Outer Worlds and it just didn’t grab me, I am thinking about committing a solid chunk of playtime to it and just seeing how it feels after 5 or 6 hours, but after the first few hours of it I was almost bored.

Borderlands 3 was fun, but it added very little to the experience for me, and the boss fights were largely dull after the first half of the game. The final boss is possibly the easiest big boss in the game, and I was hoping for something a little bit different. As for it being Game of the Year, it doesn’t do enough to get into that conversation for me.

The only game that’s given me any wow moments all year has been Fallen Order. It takes elements of all the recent GOTY contenders from previous years and combines them into a solid gameplay experience with an interesting story for Star Wars fans. It doesn’t quite stick the landing story-wise, and even with its spectacular ending the plot could have used a little more to tie it together.

The elephant in the room with all my games this year is Death Stranding, a game I was completely put off by. As soon as I discovered what the gameplay was, I was out, I wanted no part of it. I think during the Christmas break I might pick it up and see how I feel once I am in the world. Even Hideo Kojima’s walking simulator hasn’t hit the games industry quite the same way that 2018 and 2017 did. Horizon Zero Dawn, God of War, Uncharted 4 and Spiderman all came out over those 2 years, and that’s just listing off PS4 Exclusive games.

All the PS4 titles would win game of the year in 2019 comfortably, and that’s made this year feel barren. What that’s meant for my time spent on games this year, is a lot of game services being grinded out. I started the year hammering Destiny 2 and getting up to the level cap, deep in the weekly grind. Then I fell into Apex Legends and all spent a lot of time deep in that game right up until they changed the maps. That felt like a good point for me to jump into something else.

FIFA came along in September and I have barely played any mode except Pro Clubs, which is of course the best mode on the game. Then came my only other contender for Game of the Year so far, except possibly Outer Wilds this week. That game is, surprisingly to me, Call of Duty Modern Warfare.

I have a lot of great memories with the Call of Duty franchise, right up to Call of Duty Black Ops 2, I was a die-hard player. I spent my evenings after school either sitting on Habbo (remember that?) or playing Call of Duty. Modern Warfare 2 was when I was in my prime, and although I am not back to that level right now, I am slowly getting there.

The new Modern Warfare has an excellent single player shooter campaign that I would encourage anyone to play as it’s one of the best and most hard-hitting stories I have seen in any of these types of games. That combined with the edge of your seat twitch shooting multiplayer make it one of the most complete games of the year in terms of giving you a lot of content to play through.

What it boils down to is the end of the console generation being in sight, and this year has suffered because of it. Right now, we have less than a full year of the PS4/Xbox One generation left, and in the time, we have a lot of huge games to drop before the new squad of consoles arrive. Next year will have The Last of Us Part 2, Cyberpunk 2077, Marvels Avengers, Watchdogs Legion and Doom Eternal just to name a few. I am more excited for each of those games than anything released in 2019.

I have checked if I missed anything big this year, and the only game I found was Sekiro, a game I have no interest in. 2019 might be the most disappointing year in gaming we’ve had for a while, but 2020 could potentially be the best we’ve ever had. Fingers crossed Cyberpunk & Co live up to my lofty expectations.

Later this week I think I might do a Star Wars predictions post, which is something extremely nerdy for you to look forward to. Until the next post, thanks for reading!




Knives Out Review

Knives out is one of those rare occasions when I went in having no real expectation for the film. I knew it was a murder mystery directed by The Last Jedi’s Rian Johnson, and that Daniel Craig was in it. I love the idea of the genre, but I find it’s very rarely done well. 2017’s Murder on the Orient Express did it quite well, but that film missed the mark a little with me. 

First off, bravo to whoever managed to get such a talent packed cast. Christopher Plumber, Michael Shannon, Chris Evans, Jamie Lee Curtis and Toni Collette are all key members of the cast and to get a group so talented together to play characters in a whodunit is a master stroke. Top of the bill is Daniel Craig, and he clearly loved playing this quirky role. The accent is a little bit jarring at first, but once I had adjusted my ears to his voice, I thought he smashed this role out of the park. I think for him these quirkier fun roles are what he wants to be doing, hence his reluctance to continue as Bond where he must be the straight man and can’t let that side of him out.

He doesn’t quite take the top spot performance wise for me though, that is reserved for the rising star of Ana de Armas. I checked on IMDB to see where I recognised her from, and she was in Blade Runner 2049 where I remembered enjoying what she did there. She is playing Norma Jean in the movie “Blonde” based on the real life of Marilyn Monroe next year, and if Knives Out is anything to go by, that film will be a fantastic watch. Her character is central to the events of this film, and in a film full of questionable people, she appears to be the one ray of shining light.

It’s very hard to go into any of the performances without venturing into spoiler territory, and this is one film that you do not want spoiled before you see it. I remember Murder of the Orient Express frustrating me because it was an impossible mystery to figure out without the exposition of Poirot, the detective. In Knives Out, you are quite brilliantly given every piece of evidence, every thread you need to knit together the answer. This is fantastic as it adds another element to the film, and I found myself actively looking around the scenes for clues.

I managed to piece together a large chunk of the mystery before it was revealed on screen, and whilst that gave me some satisfaction, at first, I felt a little disappointed. Thinking about it on the way home, I realised what I said above about everything being there, and that kind of being part of the fun of watching this film. You’re supposed to guess along and see how close you get. I am always looking for potential twists in any film, I don’t think that’s something everyone does, but it helped me to piece together some bits and bobs.

Director Rian Johnson got a lot of mixed reactions to his last film, which is to be expected with the things he attempted to do within the confines of a Star Wars film. Here he seems like he’s enjoyed the ability to craft his own story entirely and not have to pick up an already partially told story and carry it on. He strikes me as a film maker who perhaps suits doing his own thing better than jumping into a franchise like the Star Wars Saga films, and that’s from me, someone who enjoys The Last Jedi.

Knives Out is probably the best whodunit film I have seen, although I must confess, I haven’t seen a lot of them. It’s got a dark sense of humour which got me giggling a few times, and the mystery elements are all there to have fun with. There are a couple of the plot reveals that fall a little flat but that is possibly because they were telegraphed a little too much but overall, I really did enjoy this film.

Good: All the performances are great; it’s shot beautifully and piecing together the mystery is a great part of it.

Bad: A little too easy in parts to guess certain elements. Daniel Craig’s accent will put off someone I am sure.

9/10 – Whodunit? Rian Johnson did it. 



The Superman Problem

Late last week a few stories broke about DC not being entirely sure how to use Superman in their films. It’s a revelation that will shock very few, considering they’ve not touched the man of steel since Batman V Superman and Justice League where he was mishandled and used in odd ways. I think DC have been making some good moves lately, but their handling of Superman has shown they don’t understand what they have with the character. 

The character that started the Superhero film genre in the 70’s couldn’t catch a break in the 2010’s and has nothing planned for the 2020’s. Henry Cavill looks the part, and even acts the part superbly, but DC seem hesitant to go forward with anything involving the Kryptonian.

The age-old problem people immediately put forward with Superman is that he’s impervious to everything except a green rock, which is true, he is overpowered. That does not make it hard for him to be compelling though. One of the most interesting aspects of the character for me is not that he’s a godlike figure, but that he struggles to fit in anywhere.

He knows he doesn’t fit in with the people around him, but he’s grown up as one of them and lives among them. He loves a human woman, he has human friends, a normal job, and in all three of those situations he feels uncomfortable. If DC need a little bit of inspiration, they should watch Kill Bill 2, where Bill talks about superman.

“When Superman wakes up in the morning, he’s Superman. His alter ego is Clark Kent”

Man, of Steel did not take this angle, it made superman a reluctant hero who then had to step up into the role. To me, being Superman was always the easy part for the character. Saving people from falling buildings, punching villains, all that jazz is the easy part. The hard part is maintaining his Clark Kent persona. Diving into that side of him is a tough choice though, because it’s the part that doesn’t involve him being a superhero.

From that angle, the challenge with Superman isn’t making him compelling or relevant to audiences but making that fit into a modern superhero film. The action set pieces need agency and stakes, and there is only really two ways to do that with superman. Green rocks or kidnapping the ones he cares about. Of course, we have seen both ideas executed before.

Batman V Superman had the ingredients of a good superman story, the problem with that film stem from the over eagerness of the studio to cram in everyone and catch up to Marvel. They had an interesting Lex Luthor, but he was only a bit part character because they had to get to Batman, and cover Wonder Woman, and bring in doomsday to eventually kill superman. All in one film. It was too much and went beyond ambition into the realms of stupidity. Also, Batman might well kill people, but he’s not got much previous with just annihilating people with rockets and machine guns.

In Lex Luthor, we have an influential billionaire who people can easily find things to hate about. His power is his influence, and to me the dynamic between him and superman could potentially rival the Batman/Joker situation. The Superman film I want to see is Superman struggling with being a human whilst finding stopping super-villains a piece of cake. Then he should deal with facing a real human problem like having his reputation dragged and false stories leaked about him, an enemy he can’t punch or throw around to defeat.

Give Superman a problem that Clark Kent must deal with, then you force him into a position he’s uncomfortable in, and that makes for great drama. DC trying to fit Superman into the universe they have with Wonder Woman and Aquaman probably won’t work this way, as they need him to be even more powerful than those two, who at this point are gods. Maybe they should take a leaf out of the Joker book and make a standalone Superman story that isn’t connected to the rest of the DC Films.

I hope they don’t just bench the character and focus on everything else. I am not even the biggest Superman fan, but the character demands respect, as without his films in the 70s, we wouldn’t have any of these superhero films.

A nerdy one to start the week, probably in reaction to my Sunday which was spent watching NFL and the Premier League. ‘Til Tomorrow!



The Irishman Review

Martin Scorsese teams up with Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci to make a film that for many old school cinema and gangster movie fans will be the most anticipated film in decades. It certainly has the cast, and the extreme run time, of a Godfather wannabe, but can it deliver on all that potential?

I found myself going into this film with some trepidation regarding a few points. Would the de-aging technology employed throughout work seamlessly or would it be a jarring factor in the film? Could Scorsese pull a good performance from De Niro, a man who has largely cashed cheques for turning up over the last few years. He has done his part in a lot of films but rarely with the commitment he had back in the day. Would Al Pacino become a caricature of himself as this larger than life character in Jimmy Hoffa? Could Joe Pesci possibly still deliver the goods after nearly 21 years of doing very little in Hollywood?

Well quite incredibly, the answer to those concerns were all emphatically positive. The biggest compliment any special effect can receive is that you simply don’t notice it is there. That is the case for the majority of this film, and although there are a few scenes where it’s a little odd, it never threw me out of the movie. At one point there is a scene that highlights that whilst you can de-age someone’s face, you can’t de-age their movement, and the scene outside a greengrocer highlights it clear as day. Other than the odd moment here and there though, the film’s exorbitant run time is unobstructed by the technology, and this film simply wouldn’t be possible without it.

Robert De Niro is an incredibly recognisable man, but he disappears into this role in a way I haven’t seen him do for a long time. He is completely committed and gives a lot in his performance, but the nature of his character means he comes across as a reluctant protagonist. Al Pacino’s character is the charismatic, larger than life figure who chews scenery left and right, owning the role. Again, he is completely in on the role and working with Scorsese seems to have lit a fire in these two actors and brought incredible performances from them both.

The third headline name is one less known to my generation because he’s barely done anything since the late nineties. Joe Pesci plays a hugely respected mob boss who is pulling strings and has a finger in every pie around. He doesn’t do it by being the over the top Pitbull type like Pacino does, but instead invokes memories of Marlon Brando in The Godfather. He is quiet, thoughtful and deliberate. You get the feeling he is friendly to everyone until it doesn’t suit him to be friendly, and even then, he will order you to your death whilst sipping a glass of red and smoking.

There is a cavalcade of other actors involved, and to list them all would take forever, but I think it’s pretty obvious at this point that Scorsese gets gold out of everyone he works with. Best of the rest for me was Stephen Graham, who steals most scenes he is in. He plays a character cut from the same cloth as Pacino’s, but with different motivations. The actors and performances all make this movie incredibly watchable from moment to moment, and they need to be at this level to carry a movie this long.

The plot is a complex one, but essentially it is the life story of De Niro’s character Frank Sheeran, who was a real-life gangster back in the day. It spans 60 years of his life, thanks to the de-aging tech, and to me the film is split into two distinct themes. Most of the film is a good, maybe even great mob film, but it treads on ground very similar to what we have seen from these actors and this director before. That doesn’t take away from the fact that it’s entertaining, but it does mean you kind of know who these people are and how they’re going to interact quickly if you’re familiar with this style of film.

There is a lot of talking, broken up by occasional bouts of violence. The character relationships are dived into, particularly the three main actors I mentioned above, and Frank’s relationship to them is the main element we are focused on. He is fiercely loyal and has learned to do things a certain way, and that extends to his time with his family.

The scenes with his family are spread throughout the film and at first I thought it was just there to humanise him, which it does but when the film starts to slowly wind down to the end, certain things come back and I found the more I remembered about the film and thought about it, the more effective the ending become. The Irishman is a story about a man who lived his life in service of other people, at the expense of his own life in many ways.

In the final moments of the film, it hits you that he is trying to make amends for the way he lived, and although I don’t believe he regrets all of it, you certainly feel like he wishes something was different. When the film ends, the final shot felt abrupt to me, but that’s because I was so in, I wanted to know what was happening next and then it ends. But this started to be less odd the more I thought about it.

This is a great film, but as I have hinted at, the run time is excessive. At 3 hours and 30 minutes long, it is an ordeal to sit through. You must plan around it; you can’t just chuck this on one evening. This is the main issue I had with the film, every scene when you’re in it felt important, but quite a lot of them could be removed and the film doesn’t lose anything. Speaking to people about the film and discussing certain plot points, I realised they went nowhere, which is disappointing because in the moment I was interested in seeing where things went.

The Irishman doesn’t boldly go where man has not been before, but it goes back over the history of this genre and cherry picks the best actors, relights their passion for film and lets them go on a greatest hits tour of gangster movies. Goodfellas, Heat, Casino, The Godfather, Scarface, The Departed and more all give a little something to this film. It’s a film that’s made possible by the tech, and by the combined centuries of experience working together.

Whether Scorsese meant to or not, he has created the Avengers of gangster films, where all the previous films have contributed towards creating this one great, epic piece.

Good: The acting, seriously, these guys are masters in this genre, and they show why they’re the go to names. It sticks with you afterwards and for me personally, gave me a different perspective on some things.

Bad: Its offensively long, and a little bit of fat trimming here and there wouldn’t have hurt at all. It’s a little derivative but that’s not something that bothered me really.

9/10 – A love letter to a genre, written by the people who made it famous. 


Frozen 2 Review

Frozen 2 has finally arrived with the excitement of every Disney fan in the world on its shoulders. This sequel has huge pressure on it to deliver, and the impossible task of repeating the magic of the first one and trying to deliver another knock-out punch of a song like the first on provided. Does it manage that mammoth task? 

First off, the cast of the first returns and they’re all excellent again. Idina Menzel provides an unbelievably powerful voice in her solo songs that reminds you what made Let It Go such a huge hit. Elsa is once again the split protagonist with Kristen Bell’s Anna, who outdoes her own great performance in the first film to bring some great emotion to the film and if I had more of a heart it might have even been touching.

The star of this one, a little surprisingly to me, was Olaf. The Josh Gad voiced comedic relief hit me with nearly every joke he made, and he even had a touching scene that worked for me. I cannot be as full of praise for Kristoff though. I can’t put my finger on what, but something about his character just annoyed me throughout the film. To be honest, it’s the only real negative I have in the whole film, every time he came on screen I groaned. His bumbling buffoonery wore thin quickly with me and from then on, he just felt a bit out of place. They clearly didn’t have much for him to do relating to the main plot, and the story line he has which should feel important plays out like a meaningless side show that wasn’t needed.

So, I enjoyed three of the four main characters quite a bit, but what about the adventure they’re on. It’s a perfectly serviceable story, with some attempts at surprises that will work wonders with kids. The film just never quite got its hooks in me to the point where I was really into the story. The adventure they’re on is fun, but for me it felt telegraphed from miles away. I appreciate that films often give you some crumbs early on of where the plot is heading, but this gave me more than I needed. I was in with the initial tease of the plot, then it carried on and I was sure of the core story, and that doesn’t add to the fun of the experience for me.

A huge part of the first film is the music, it provided several songs that you were humming right out of the theatre. “Do you want to build a Snowman”, “Love is an open door” and of course “Let It Go” were all in my head for days afterwards, and this is one key area I think Frozen 2 falls a little short. Idina Menzel’s incredible vocals during Into the Unknown and Show Yourself are just as hair raising as ever, but they are missing that magic that Let It Go captured. I realise it’s essentially asking for Disney to capture lightning in a bottle twice in a row, but that’s the problem you give yourself with a sequel to Frozen.

Anna’s song “Some things never change” is a fun ride, and Olaf & song are both superior to their previous efforts, but nothing is there to reach “Do you want to build a snowman” or “Love is an open door” levels of catchy. A friend of mine made the point that the songs in this film are similar to something you would find on Broadway, and I have to agree with him, but for some reason that just didn’t work for me the same way it did for him.

One of the things I am confident in about Frozen 2, is that you will have a good time watching it. It’s got very little wrong, and it’s one of the most beautifully animated films ever, which is becoming par for the course with Disney & Pixar’s’ efforts each year. Every film in recent memory has added a new element to the Disney Animation bow, be that the realistic flowing hair from Tangled or the perfect water from Moana, and I genuinely look forward to just looking at each new Disney animation because of it.

The one element Pixar has consistently nailed in their films that Disney still misses for me, is being able to tell a story that is compelling to both children and their parents alike. Whilst most older generations will enjoy this film, I don’t think it’ll have you thinking about it for hours afterwards. As great as Tangled, Frozen 1 & 2 and Moana are, I couldn’t argue for any of them over Coco, or Up. That is the next step for these films in my opinion, and one I hope they make soon.

Frozen 2 is a good film, its biggest problem is the strength of the first film. Whilst it never reaches the heights of Frozen, it’s a worthy successor and one I think most people will enjoy seeing.

Good: Stunning animation, solid musical numbers, great voice acting across the board.

Bad: Telegraphed plot took away something, and no song quite hits the heights I wanted. Kristoff consistently annoyed me.

7/10 – Do you want to knock a dam down? 


Why I spend too long playing Football Manager

Football Manager is a video game in the same way that Microsoft Access is a video game. Essentially, it’s a giant database of statistics, and a football simulation engine. Quite how this game is my most played in recent years is difficult to explain, but over the last few years I have poured hundreds of hours into meticulously managing my team and creating a dynasty before I scrap it all up and start again with the following years game. 

It makes little sense when you think about it, I have given up on my Football Manager 2019 save where I am 9 years deep into a save with Arsenal now the most successful team in history, and I am starting all again to use a slightly different game and revert back to a squad with all the problems I had spent hours trying to fix and train out of my squad.

But here I am, 8 hours into my next slog, and I am already feeling that addictive pull towards the game. It sucks hours from your life, and all of the time you’re watching the simulation, then addressing the press, discussing things with your players, attending scouting meetings to keep an eye on future talent, managing your youth squads and even negotiating contracts to try and keep your wage bill in check.

Do you stick to a dedicated wage structure, something the game will not police for you, but that you will have to actively decide yourself that no, you will not offer your striker 20k more than the other members of your squad. Last year I lost a star player because of 10k per week that I could easily afford. But in my head, he was out of form, and the cheek of asking for a raise at that point annoyed me enough to end up with me leaving him on the bench for a few months and getting rid at a loss.

Those moments, those situations that develop are what makes Football Manager so compelling. Yes on the face of it, it’s just stat sheet after stat sheet, but as it’s improved over the years, it’s become a story game full of relationships that build up and break down and even lead to grievances with players that you carry into the real world. I was furious when Arsenal were linked with Zaha because he had pissed me off on football manager 3 years ago and honestly, I have never let it go.

I will always have a special place in my heart for Tye Clemo though, A youth academy player the game generated itself who went on to become Arsenal’s 2nd all-time top scorer only behind Thierry Henry. I am heading into this year’s iteration with so much curiosity about what new twists await me in the coming hours I will spend berating my centre backs for missing tackles and fining a player because he got sent off and cost me a pen that means my 4-0 win becomes a 4-1 win losing my clean sheet.

To the uninitiated, it’s an unwieldy prospect. People play FIFA and Pro Evolution to live out their fantasies of watching their favourite players perform wondrous feats of skill on a football pitch. People play football manager for a different kind of love, even if stems from the same sport. I love playing football manager because I can pretend, even just on my own in my room, that I am in charge of the football club I love.

I was going to try and review the game, but I don’t think it’s a reviewable thing for me. I would never recommend anyone play this game unless they’re supremely passionate about all things football. But for the people that are in love with the beautiful game like I am, it is an absolute delight and I am going to stop this blog now because my last match was a humbling 2-0 defeat at Bournemouth after a solid start of 2 wins including a victory over Sp*rs.

Hope you have a great Monday!