Do Superhero movies need saving? DC vs Marvel 2: Dawn of The Age of The Leotard Extended Universe

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Unless you’ve been living under a rock the last few years that has been a big trend in superhero movies. We are now at a stage where 3 or more come out every year, the question is do we need them? How will they keep us entertained? How can they differentiate themselves from the crowd?

Please enjoy this discussion and leave your thoughts below:

To get started here are all the Superhero films being released in the near future (starting this year)! Deep breath everyone!


  • Deadpool (Fox/Marvel) aka Mr Pansexual Sweary Fourth Wall
  • Batman vs Superman (DC) aka Discount Civil War
  • Captain America: Civil War (Marvel)
  • Suicide Squad (DC) aka Harlequin and ”Not Heath Ledger”
  • X-Men Apocalypse (F) aka The Other Jennifer Lawrence Franchise
  • Dr Strange (M) aka Magic Sherlock


  • Wolverine 3 (F)  aka The last movie before Hugh Jackman collapses under the weight of his own pecs and biceps
  • Guardians of The Galaxy 2 (M)
  • Not Black Widow Part 1 (DC) aka Wonder Woman
  • Spiderman (who knows?) – no not Tobey Maguire, no not him either… It’s Tom Holland
  • Thor Ragnarok (M)
  • Justice League Part 1 (DC) aka Team Up Timewonder-woman-amazons1


  • Black Panther (M) aka slowly dragging superhero diversity into the 21st century
  • The Flash (DC)
  • Antman and The Wasp (M) aka Tiny Tim and his gang of criminal stereotypes
  • Untitled Fox/Marvel film (read X-men/X-Force/Gambit/Deadpool 2/ god knows what?)
  • Aquaman (DC) aka not Seaman and Swallow
  • Animated Spiderman film


  • NOT BLACK WIDOW Part 2 (M) aka Captain Marvel
  • Shazam (DC) copywright infringement as he was formerly known as Captai Mar-vel
  • Avengers Infinity War Part 2 (M)
  • Justice League Part 2 (DC) YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!
  • Inhumans (M)


  • Cyborg (DC) aka not Robocop or Ultron
  • Untitled Marvel Film
  • Green Lantern (DC) aka Deadpool’s worst nightmare
  • Plus 2 more untitled Marvel films


  • Daredevil
  • Jessica Jones
  • Luke Cage
  • Iron Fist
  • The Defenders
  • Arrow
  • Flash
  • Agents Of Shield
  • Legends Of Tomorow
  • Agent Carter

This is a lot of films, now you could argue that there would be twice as many action or horror films in the same length of time. But super-hero films are a much more specific type of film; they stand on and represent a set of principles and ideals and are meant to inspire and amaze audience. And as such with 6 films/ year they will need to do something to differentiate themselves from the crowd. The question is DO WE NEED THIS MANY?

Now to prefix this, I love superhero films; they are exciting, full of heart and a brilliant spectacle. And while they do not all hit the mark in terms of a cinematic masterpiece they are all a lot of fun!

Superhero films overcame their first obstacle right out of the gate with Nolan’s Batman Begins and Iron Man for the MCU. They got well respected and talented actors to play the leads roles, lending a certain weight to the projects which made people to sit up, pay attention and give the films a chance. This trend has continued with even the small bit parts being played by A-list actors. At last count there are 23  OSCAR WINNING  and  28 OSCAR NOMINATED actors involved with comic book projects alone (this excludes any production/writing/directing nominees). Unsurprisingly with this great depth of acting talent, and well rounded supporting casts, the performances are never an issue. The performances bring the heart, emotion and often the fun to these films.

Now a good cast can only work with what they’re given and if not given the best screenplay, there is only so much they can do. There is a wealth of source-material to pull from, up to 60 years of material in fact. There are so many arcs and characters that we could have a never ending stream of comic book movies until 2100! Although I think once we reach Squirrel Girl (M), Arm Fall Off Boy (DC) and Matter Eater Lad (DC)  maybe we should call time of death!

The name says it all!

The first major problem with super-hero movies is related to this. All of the studios have a huge roll-out plan for their extended universe’s with over arching themes and arcs to span years. Which means they want to have tie-ins, links, easter eggs, foreshadowing , cameos, and Stan Lee (DC gets a free pass here) splattered all over each movie. And while these can be harmless, like Howard The Duck at the end of Guardians, they can also cause serious problems. Take Avengers: Age Of Ultron, a solid film. Not Marvels finest and not Marvels worst. One of the many reasons it suffered were the ways it was trying to play lip service to set up future films: visions for Thor 3 and Infinity War, Wakanda and Klaus for Black Panther, Hulk disappearing into space for whatever reason. This takes time away from real character development resulting in 2 hours of continuous action spectacle…which is exhausting. *SPOILER ALERT*Especially since it meant we had no real incite into the Maximoff Twins but were then expected to cry when of them died? By the way the Maximoff twins are DEFINITELY..I REPEAT…DEFINITELY NOT MUTANTS.

Then you get things at the opposite end of the spectrum; poor/curve ball writing choices like Black Widow and Hulk falling in love in Ultron, the entire X-men Last Stand film and Thor films outside of Loki. Which the best actors in the world can’t do anything about

The result of this is that each film tries to up the stakes, the spectacle and the CGI in an attempt to feel new, interesting and relevant. When in fact, creating a smaller, human story would be a much more captivating and thrilling film. Is it any wonder that that best comic book films tend to be more at home in other genres: Captain America: Winter Solider is a thriller, while the Dark Knight is an out an out crime film, even Ant-Man is a heist film. Granted, Avengers 1 and the better X-men films are very much super-hero films but they thrive on a human heart and witty humour (especially Avengers) and not on Michael Bay Explosions and super-hero landings.

These tropes are so familiar and hard to avoid that even Deadpool, the most self-aware comic movie around, managed to fall into the same tropes whilst taking the piss out of them!

Granted there are often some great action sequences, (like the gem below) but with 6 films a year potentially relying on this back-up plan, how long until it gets tedious?


The other perhaps more troubling problem with these movies? Directing. It is inconsistent, now I realise it is unrealistic for the same director to do all the movies in one universe. But for every true hit movie there are usually a couple of misses! Consistency in the quality of director is crucial, poor direction makes a poor movie no matter what the rest of the film production is like. This then effects the appearance and quality of the whole universe, due to the studious insistence on interconnection. Here are some examples:

  • Incredible Hulk – Lous Letterier – Critically poor background
  • Iron Man 3 -Shane Black – Inexperienced
  • Thor: Dark World – Alan Taylor – who?
  • Captain America: The First Avenger – Joe Johnstone – acclaimed director of JURASSIC PARK 3!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Point made?

Brian Singer has made great X-men films, James Gunn and The Russo Brothers produced some of the best Marvel films (both of which were surprising efforts). Although it remains to be seen how the latter two will fair on their second outings. As both Jon Favreau and Joss Whedon (both acclaimed directors) created amazing first entries to the cannon. Yet studio intervention, pressure and scale resulted in the 2nd films which were good but unable to reproduce the magic a 2nd time around. Especially in Whedon’s case (1min 15 onwards).

I believe that to avoid superhero burnout we need to focus on smaller, grounded, personal stories within the grand scale AND directors must be held to a higher standard. Choosing experienced and quality directors who will make the smart choices. GRANTED even this does not guarantee success, take the first Thor and its director Kenneth Brannagh, an acclaimed Shakespearan director and actor; but an average film at best. But with all these movies vying for the limelight it is an issue which has to be addressed.

This brings me to Batman vs Superman. FULL DISCLOSURE I HAVEN’T SEEN IT YET. I am excited to see the film and will go in open-minded but I am not surprised by the luke-warm critical reception it has received:

  1. They are trying to set up a super-hero team up in one movie, something that took Marvel 5 films. This probably means screen time will be spread too thin between all the plot lines and tie-ins leading to forced cameos and exposition and probably poorly explained motives.
  2. The cast is strong and the acting will be great (especially excited for Batfleck) but this can’t save a movie if it’s already flawed.
  3. Zack Snyder. If we are all honest has he ever made a really good movie? 300, is solid. Watchmen is okay but far too long. Suckerpunch is a bizarre fever dream. All 3 are style over substance. His debut Dawn of the Dead remake is probably his best bet but still isn’t great. So why are people surprised when he doesn’t suddenly pull a cinematic masterpiece out of his backside?

Like I said I will go in open-minded and will probably enjoy the film, even find lots of praise for it. But will I love it the way I love other super-hero movies or even other movies in general? Probably not!

Now the future for super-hero movies does look promising, the casts continue to grow in talent. There are some exciting releases to come this year with Civil War (YAY SPIDERMAN), Suicide Squad and the emergence of magic in the MCU with Doctor Strange. After which, the super-hero genre is finally beginning to embrace diversity with the first African-Amercan and female lead movies being released in the near future. There are also some great directors attached to new exciting projects: David Ayer (Training Day) for Suicide Squad, Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station and Creed) for Black Panther and the Russo‘s have several films in the works.

But only time will tell if this film movement is a flash in the pan or whether it will last. But as long as audiences keep bringing in the huge profits you can be sure to see a lot more leotards over the next few years. Lets just hope the experience can always feel as new and exciting as it still does now!

Let me know your thoughts below!


Silence of The Lambs: I’m having an old friend for dinner

Recently, Hannibal served us it’s last course and closed out a pretty phenomenal 3 seasons. Despite its beautifully dark tone and phenomenal acting, NBC has cancelled it. So to say goodbye to Hannibal, I’m having an old friend for dinner. By which I mean I’ll be reviewing the trilogy of films starring the incredible Anthony Hopkins as our favourite cannibal. One of my favourite cinematic character portrayals of all time.

Let’s start with ”Silence of The Lambs”, our first introduction to Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter, based on the Thomas Harris book of the same name. This film, directed by Jonathan Demme, is an incredible cinematic achievement, leading to its status as the only horror film to win the Best Picture Oscar (the only other even nominated is ”The Exorcist”). On top of this, the film won Best Actor, Actress, Director and Adapted Screenplay. Making it one of 3 films to win the Big Four: ”It All Happened One Night” and ”One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest”.

Here is the trailer:

Jodie Foster stars, in an Oscar winning performance, as Clarice Starling, a determined, resilient and sharply intelligent trainee FBI agent. FBI behavioural analysis unit chief Jack Crawford (Scott Glenn) recruits Starling for a sensitive, nuanced, almost surgical task. To interview and analyze Dr Hannibal Lecter (Hopkins); a pure psychopath responsible for a heinous series of cannibalistic murder, now residing at Baltimore Mental Asylum under the care of the sadistic and opportunistic Dr Chilton (Anthony Heald). Meanwhile, the FBI desperately search for Buffalo Bill (Ted Levine), a serial killer who kidnaps, starves and skins his victims. As events unfold, Clarice winds up caught in a game of cat and mouse between Jack, Hannibal, Buffalo Bill and even Dr. Chilton. All the while, Lecter knows much more than he is letting on about the case and Clarice herself.

Hannibal is intriguing, horrifying and impossible to turn away from, in equal part due to Harris’ original writings but also through Hopkin’s stellar performance. For most of Lecter’s screen time he is limited either through the confines of his cell or by restraints. Yet despite these confines, Hopkins has a powerful  physical presence that is never anything less than menacing. His statuesque posture and deliberate steps, all carefully constructed to fully bring Lecter to life. Each and every word is delivered with purpose and point, wholly embracing the role of an exceptionally intelligent but malevolent Lecter.

What is most terrifying though, are his eyes. You know the hideous monster he is but he reveals nothing. Instead you can see his piercing, eyes focused directly on Clarice, searching her mind, seeing through her facade. He sees everything and reads more from every minuscule detail and in return Clarice gets self-reflection and a small trickle of information Lecter deems necessary. Carefully weighed, enough to intrigue but not enough to complete the puzzle.

The writing and dialogue here are exceptional, the best example being the verbal sparring between Lecter and Clarice. Clarice is scared and captivated by Lecter and never backs down from his abrasive questioning or intellectual challenges. But this is in essence what Hannibal is. He elevates himself to a higher plane of existence, intellectually and spiritually. He toys with those unworthy. Kills and eats those he deems rude or discourteous. For those few he finds interesting or deserving of his time he continually provokes and challenges to prove his superiority. To prove that they are beneath him, And to prove that he is in control.

Here he is in full flow:

Although cleverly shot, thoughtfully crafted and brilliantly acted throughout, the stand out for me (besides Lecter) is the strength of Clarice Starling as a character. Not only is she strong, dedicated and equally, if opposingly, brilliant to Lecter but she does this in a world designed to belittle and dismiss her. The Law enforcement of this film, and real life, is a strikingly male dominated world, with a multitude of evidence for this. Often the only woman in the room. Lustful or comical looks from male counterparts. The attitude towards women in the Bureau is summed up, in a typically confrontational, question by Lecter about whether Clarice has considered that Jack wants to sleep with her. She replies, ”That does not interest me Doctor and frankly, it’s, its the sort of thing Miggs would say”. In reference to her previous visit with Lecter where his neighbour Miggs threw semen at her; Lecter responded by convincing Miggs to kill himself… This exchange typifies Clarice, no matter the trauma or situation, she will become stronger, she will evolve and triumph. Further more, she challenges superiors to change and adapt their attitudes towards women because as she rightly states,” It matters, Mr Crawford. Cops look at you to see how to act. It matters.”

Here is my favourite scene of Clarice’s, discussing her childhood during quid-pro-quo with Lecter and explaining the films title:

Clarice is a strong character. She isn’t strong for a woman. Or strong for a man. She is a strong person in her own right. Defined by her drive and her goals. Now although times have moved on, the world of movies hasn’t really improved in this area. I can’t think of many women in film as strong since Clarice, apart from maybe Furiosa from Mad Max Fury Road (I’m sure there are a good few examples I’m blanking on). These characters are great not because they are physically strong (although I’m sure they are), like say Hope Van Dyne (Ant Man) or Isla Faust (MI:Rogue Nation), but because they are real people. They have complex emotions and beliefs, they are driven and have faults and stand against the obstacles in their path. They earn their place in cinema in there own right, not by serving as a foil for someone else or even worse as window dressing.

No horror film is complete without a big, scary villain. In this case we have two! Alongside Lecter we have Ted Levine giving a jarring and unsettling performance as Buffalo Bill. It was almost like playing two characters; the low-key and conspicuous public persona and the unstable, confused and angry murderer in private. He does this brilliantly, switching between the two seamlessly. Bill does not just kill for pleasure, he has a deep and complex pathology. A confusion and intricacy Levine brings to all his scenes; allowing us to empathize with him on some level knowing the years of abuse he suffered and his difficulty with self acceptance.

This film has received some criticism for featuring the often used trope of having trans-gender or homosexuality cause psychopathy (something especially common on procedural shows where fresh ideas for criminals run out fast), which is obviously COMPLETELY WRONG. LGBT rights and tolerance have come along a way since 1991 but the fact that this is still a writing device shows that there is a ways to go yet! I think these criticisms of the film are valid but I also think there is more to Buffalo Bill, as Lecter states;

”Look for severe childhood disturbances associated with violence. Our Billy wasn’t born a criminal, Clarice. He was made one through years of systematic abuse. Billy hates his own identity, you see, and he thinks that makes him a transsexual. But his pathology is a thousand times more savage and more terrifying.”

Bill hates who he is and thinks being someone else will bring him acceptance. He covets women and sees them as better and worthy of acceptance and so attempts to transform himself into one to gain self acceptance. But gender identity is an intrinsic part of us, the change in our external characteristics or appearance come later, if at all, and completely depend on each individual. Bill’s pathology has lead him to believe that wearing a suit of women to change his exterior will change his fundamental identity. He is too unwell to grasp that his self-hatred does not means he has a trans-identity.

Anyway….this is an exceptional film. Dark, scary and intense. Watch it.



SKIP to 1:20 for the classic exchange

The Lord Of The Rings (Full Trilogy) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

Recently I was fortunate enough to do a guest post for Cinema Parrot Disco. The subject? The entire Lord Of The Rings Trilogy. Please follow the link below to take a look. Hope you enjoy!

Ill be back soon!

Cinema Parrot Disco

Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from James of Slate The Silver Screen. Thanks for the review, James! 🙂 Now let’s see what he has to say about The Entire Lord Of The Rings Trilogy, IMDB ranks 9, 13 & 21 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE. Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos I’ve used at the top of any of these guest reviews.


Peter Jackson’s critically acclaimed Lord of the Rings (LOTR) trilogy is adapted from J.R.R. Tolkein’s incredible books. These films take…

View original post 2,006 more words

Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation. A Tom Cruise Triathlon

Most franchises start with the best entry and get progressively worse, eg Jurassic Park or Spider-man trilogies. Some produce entries of equal quality, for example all the Lord Of The Rings films are excellent and all of the Twilight  and Transformers films are complete and utter, abominable and intolerable shit!

Mission Impossible, however, ignores these popular models; good first entry, average second entry, slightly worse third, an excellent 4th… and now an excellent 5th movie! Amazing considering the characters are already old and the star, Tom Cruise, is even older! Let’s be honest, action movies tend to be a young man’s game, Neeson and Arnie aside. This entry is directed by Chris McQuarrie.

Here is the trailer:

Looks fun doesn’t it!

It is. Action movies are not new, they are too many, they are big budget and little thought. Even worse is that M.I is not a new franchise! Yet despite this being Cruise’s 5th outing as IMF agent Ethan Hunt, we are given a smart, stylish, witty and entertaining action movie. Definitely give it a watch.

Ethan Hunt (Cruise), Benji (Simon Pegg) and field operations director Brandt (Jeremy Renner) have been following a bread crumb trail of disasters left by an enigmatic and shrouded organisation known as the Syndicate. Hunt’s briefing in London is compromised by the Syndicate, who capture him with the aim of turning him or breaking him. A mysterious double agent within the Syndicate, Isla Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), helps him escape drawing significant suspicion upon herself. Meanwhile in Washington, the IMF is deactivated and acquired by the CIA who believe the Syndicate is a figment of Hunt’s imagination to justify the existence of the IMF. With no one to help and no where to go, Hunt and his team, including old friend Luther (Ving Rhames), must find and defeat the Syndicate before the CIA can get to them.

So… first of all, the action set pieces. They are great and small but IMPRESSIVE; from sprawling ciity vehicle chases, to complex heists and Tom Cruise actually strapped to a plane. All filmed with clever direction, shooting and editing. I especially enjoyed the fight scenes, beautifully choreographed, like a dance. What made them so great to watch is that the camera was steady and without editing cuts. This means  you can actually tell what is going on, whereas most movies like a fight/battle to have shaky/spinning/zooming cameras with constant jump-cuts and grey-wash colour pallets to ensure maximum confusion and utter pointlessness. It doesn’t matter how much danger your characters are in if we can’t tell what is going on! My only complaint here would be that the CGI is occasionally shoddy, particularly the motorbike chase scenes which look like something from a video game.

Next up, Tom Cruise. Your local, fun loving, confident, Scientology socio-path (see below). Of late, Mr Cruise has been a bit unhinged which has diminished his appeal somewhat. Personally I still enjoy his films, I just wouldn’t want him to check my Thetan levels. He was commanding onscreen, charismatic and charming. Funny where needed and the die-hard physical, intelligent action hero we know the rest of the time. It was a very strong performance and neither this film nor the preceding Ghost Protocol would have worked without it.

Also, if the guy wants to strap himself to the outside of a plane for the sake of a realistic action film. Good for him, Ill cut him a bit of slack.

This genre of movies is rife with cliché, many of them due to Mr TC himself. So here is a list of them for your entertainment: NB/ Those in bold are MI specific

  • Shots of TC running (x3)
  • Shots of TC riding a motorbike 
  • And to complete the action hero triathlon. TC swims 
  • The villain is British.
  • Gratuitous shot of woman’s bum whilst in an appealing dress
  • ”Gratuitous” shot of a woman in a bikini
  • The word ”disavowed” is used
  • Good guys disobey superiors for the greater good
  • Foreign mercenaries for TC to beat up (Eastern European preferable)
  • Using every single trick in the book to make TC look taller than 5’5”
  • An amazing face mask that somehow makes your body-shape match too (Kind of anyway)

This brings me onto my next point. This is a great film and still it contains the clichés above and probably many others. However, they are not over the top or silly and they all serve a valid plot point. For example, the ”girl in a bikini” is not just a ”money shot”, like any Bond girl in any Bond movie (There are too many examples to list here! Google it! Carefully!), but serves a purpose. Ilsa is using a pool in Casablanca to test her breath holding capacity to successfully complete her mission. The camera doesn’t linger as she leaves the pool and she quickly dresses in a towel before continuing her conversation with her male counterparts. Good job film!

One of the best things about the film is in fact the treatment of Rebecca Ferguson, the female lead. She doesn’t need anyone’s help because she is just as and often more capable than her male counterparts. She is smart, witty and NOT just window dressing. Her character serves and furthers the plot in her own right not  by just helping a man see the right thing to do. Furthermore she was incredible in her fight scenes; elegant, powerful and strong. Even better is the fact Rebecca isn’t 20 and incredibly thin but she is 31 and looks strong, athletic and healthy. A great message for all! She does look great but that’s a by product of being in film, because everyone does, but she brings a maturity and mystique to her character which is captivating to watch. Also she is the centre-point during the first part of the final action sequence and TC is the human shield, a lovely twist.

Granted, she doesn’t have a female co-star to talk with so bye-bye Bechdel test. BUT this franchise has a poor track-record with women. Remember, TC’s romance with Thandie Newton in MI2? NO, well that’s because they swapped her in for TC’s new on-screen wife Michelle Monaghan in MI3. Who, because she did nothing on screen, was consequently dropped from this film. As well as dropping Paula Patton after her good performance in Ghost Protocol. Hopefully, they have learned their lessons!  Plus, Ferguson takes her heels off during an action scene which playfully shines a light on some of Jurassic Worlds artistic license! They both fit with the tone of their movies; MI5 is realistic and tense where Jurassic World is about losing yourself in an out of this world and extraordinary story, where running away from a super-powered dinosaur through a rainforest is completely plausible.

I know I’m taller than you without them but will you please take my shoes? …Well let’s see you abseil in 6 inch heels!

Pegg and Renner’s characters help to provide natural moments of comic relief within the chaos, these breaks in intensity and tone are not forced (see Age Of Ultron for reference) and help propel the movie forward. This way their characters help provide the heart and soul to Hunt’s cold, dedicated intensity.

Anyway, this is a great film. Watch it. Enjoy it!



Good Night Robin Williams: A Good Morning Vietnam Review

Robin Williams was an immense talent, incredibly funny, lighting fast; no one could compete with him. He was a brilliant actor, from Mork and Mindy to Jumanji and Good Will Hunting. Raw emotion or just intensely funny comedy. Sadly, just over a year ago he passed away. This was a huge shock to the entertainment community and anyone who had ever enjoyed one of his shows, films or stand-ups. The tragic circumstances of his death have helped bring some much needed awareness and acceptance to mental illness.

But rather than dwell on the sadness, I am going to focus on the genius of his work. In particular the acclaimed comedy and drama ”Good Morning Vietnam”, directed by Barry Levinson and starring Williams as Airman 2nd Class Adrian Cronauer who arrives on placement in Saigon as a Armed Forces Radio DJ. This role was the first of 4 Oscar nominations; the others being Best Actor for Dead Poets Society (1989) and The Fisher King (1991) an his Supporting Actor win for Good Will Hunting in (1998). Click on the film titles for a great Williams scene for each movie!

So without further ado here is the trailer:

Cronauer arrives in Saigon for his new posting, once there Private 1st Class Edward Garlick (Forrest Whitaker) helps him settle in. Cronauer’s exciting, unpredictable and raucous presenting style, featuring the best of modern music rather than the same old sound, quickly wins over many listeners but also infuriates his two immediate superiors. As the weeks go by, fed up with bureaucracy and censorship he questions the importance of his role as a DJ. Yet, in the middle of all this craziness Cronauer develops a friendship with a young Vietnamese boy, Tuan, whilst also trying to win the affection and attention of his older sister, Trinh.

Williams is astonishing, as DJ Cronauer. He exudes ludicrous charm and confidence, or ”a deplorable excess of personality” as Dr Hammond would say. His broadcast scenes are full of impressions, characatures, wit and barely caged-insanity. You feel witness to your own personal Robin Williams stand-up performance, the speed at which he changes direction leaves you in speechless. And what’s more…it is hilarious. Here is Robin Williams at his best, his sheer joy at being an entertainer, it is no wonder he was so at home as Adrian Cronauer.

Williams is not just a joke machine. There are touching moments; heartfelt bonding between Cronauer and Tuan who in theory should be enemies, Cronauers sheer force of persona forming instant camaraderie with his peers. Cronauer’s clashes with his superiors are some of the best moments of the film; his resentment, their jealously.. and all dealt with through a biting sense of humour.

My favourite Williams’ scene in the movie is towards the end. SPOILER WARNING. And involves Cronauer and Tuan. Sorry for the poor quality, couldnt find a better link.

This scene is all about betrayal, trust and the causalities of war; seeing the war from both perspectives!

Beyond Robin there is a great surrounding cast, Forest Whitaker has a great and nuanced turn as Edward Garlick. While Tung Thanh Tran (Tuan) and Chintara Sukapatana (Trinh, Tuan’s sister) also gave great performances, especially the former as Williams friend and ally.

The film is very well directed and while often framed to focus on Williams and his eccentricities; just as important, however, are the establishing and surrounding scenes of ”Vietnam”. Although, filmed in Thailand, the scenery is remarkably beautiful, showcasing normal daily life in the villages or ”Saigon”. These visuals are often accompanied by 60’s pop-sounds of Cronauer’s show. The Beach Boys. James Brown. The Marvellettes.

The prime example of this is set to Louis Armstrong’s ”A Wonderful World”. The wonderful tones of Satchel Mouth play over contrasting scenes of military drills and local life, which suddenly change to panic and terror. Napalm bombing paddy fields. Riots in the street. Bombs in Saigon. A bloody sandal in front of a burning building. It is a haunting, beautiful and upsetting disparity. Watch the clip or watch the film…it’s up to you.

Although great, alas this movie is not perfect. As with many films of the era there is a little bit of dated, lazy racism through impressions or stereotyping. Fortunately, this is kept to a minimum and doesn’t overly detract from the film. Especially given the way modern ”comedies” try to get away with this and much worse. My other criticism would be the constant and unrelenting animosity from Cronauer’s two superiors, with no reason to really warrant it. One is partially understandable as he wants to be the funny man and so resents Cronauer’s talent and adoration, especially after he hilariously fails to take over the show and bombs (see below). The Staff Sergeant, however, is just mean because….he’s a military man? But why?  Why hate nice people so much? Why be such a dick? Again he got some form of come-upance as he is transferred out of Vietnam to a peace zone for being mean. But it is really hard to care about these wrongs being righted when there wasn’t a bloody reason for them in the first place!

Overall though, this is a wonderful film. Funny, dramatic, heart-warming and thought provoking. Mainly in part due to the never-ending talent of Robin Williams. I cant recommend this film enough.

Other Robin Williams films you really should see are: Dead Poets Society, Birdcage, Jumanji, Aladdin, The Fisher King, One Hour Photo, Good Will Hunting. And many many more!

Hope you enjoyed it. Like Comment and follow if you agree with my take on one of William’s greatest film.

VERDICT: ”You are in more dire need of a blowjob than any white man in history.”

Only Lovers Left Alive…forever… and ever…(A blood red romance with bite)

Only Lovers Left Alive is a vampire film with a twist, directed by Jim Jarmusch and starring Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston. It came out in 2013 and although well received by critics and film festivals it did not get a huge release. Upon watching it you can see why, it is the polar opposite of a blockbuster.  If Twilight’s glistening, despicable, farcical, twinkling shovel-faced excuses for vampires were day then these would be night; intelligent, sophisticated and dark.

This is one of the most original and intelligent films made in recent years, is fantastically made and I would definitely recommend watching!

So without further ado, here is the trailer:

This film creates an entire backstory and history surrounding the culture of vampires whilst centering around Adam (Hiddleston) and Eve (Swinton), who have been married for centuries but live in different worlds. Adam is an underground musician in Detroit whilst Eve reads voraciously in Tangiers, Morocco. Throughout the ages the have influenced and been inspired by great artists, scientists and musicians. A one stage Adam rattles of a list of friends including Gallileo, Newton and Tesla. Possibly the most intellectual and world changing name-drop in history. Eve’s dearest friend goes by the alias Kit (John Hurt) although it quickly becomes apparent he is actually Christopher Marlowe, the man rumoured to have faked his death to become Shakespeare. He also happens to be Eve’s contact to get ”the good stuff”, ie uncontaminated and healthy human blood.

These vampires sleep all day and wake all night. They drink blood. They have fangs. They are immortal. But they are not mindless monsters intent on world domination (see Van Helsing, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Daybreakers for reference). Nor are they those driveling, mindless, bland, vacuous empty shells of pitiful nothingness found in the Twilight movies!…God it just makes me so angry! These vampires are people with range, intelligence and emotion. They are characters, which is a novelty in of itself in what is essentially a vampire movie. They show the true potential of immortality; near limitless wisdom, a connection with the world, a sense of perspective. This was a brilliant piece of screen-writing to construct these characters. Eve is content to read and enjoy the world whereas Adam creates beautiful music but hides it from the world; spiteful of the humans and the banality and destructiveness. He calls them zombies with contempt and pity for wandering through life so aimlessly, this has left him depressed and insular…a typical tortured artist if you will. This prompts Eve to travel to Detroit and reinvigorate her lover.

Half-way through Eve’s sister, Ava (Mia Wasikowska) enters, a vampire who appears to have been ”turned” in her early 20’s. She is impulsive, reckless, full of limitless energy and always on the move. She is the flip side of the coin. An eternally wasted youth, forever stuck in the abyss between adolescence and adulthood and this immaturity causes problems. Particularly clashing with Adams insular and pensive attitude.

At this point it is only fair to stop and say that all the performances in this film are brilliant, especially Swinton and Hiddleston’s.

Living in today’s civilized society vampires try to avoid killing humans for blood and instead must find and bribe local doctors for excess “O Neg” blood supplies, for which they pay handsomely… in Adam’s case anyway. Adam’s contact is Dr.Watson, who played brilliantly in a small role by Jeffrey Wright provides some light relief. The blood drinking was a delight to watch. Small, delicate glasses filled with viscous red-liquid providing instant ecstasy and satisfaction. For the more impulsive vampires such as Ava, you could see how this may be problematic.

”I’ll have what she’s having!”

The film takes place entirely at night, but the shots are still full of vibrant colour and tone. Each of Adam and Eve’s interactions with this nocturnal world is a brief glimpse into their life experiences; reciting each plant they touch by its latin name, bewilderment at mushrooms growing out of season, the state of modern humanity. All is placed in order and perspective. Add to this a haunting soundtrack that ranges from ethereal soft sounds to hard rock and to Arabic moods. It really is a pleasure to watch. ALTHOUGH my one complaint would be that the speaking volume is low, especially in the 1st 30 mins, and I watched with subtitles to compensate.

Vampire lore and mythology is referenced and adhered to in creative ways. Bad luck to pass a threshold uninvited, but garlic is laughed off as an old superstition. Adam acquires a bullet made of dense wood when contemplating suicide. They sleep through the day, cant go out in sunlight and as such only travel on overnight flights, by first class I might add. Coffins and wooden stakes are playfully mention. Yet when called upon and given no alternative they will turn to their darker, revered and frightening ways, all in the name of self preservation… either that or thirst.

It is all there. These characters are Vampires but they feel fresh and original, a miraculous achievement.

One thing I didn’t understand was why they were always wearing gloves? If anyone has any ideas about Vampires and gloves let me know!

Now for two more comical observations:

1) Where did they get all this money from? I mean they are seriously loaded. Adam is paying out thousands of dollars a week for instruments, recording equipment and not to mention the blood. Then they fly first class everywhere…from Detroit to Madrid and then to Tangiers…that shit ain’t cheap!

Okay over the centuries they probably have a pretty large accumulation of rare and valuable stuff they can sell. Maybe they put some money in the bank in the 1500s and they’re just raking in the interest. Who knows? Either way for a couple without jobs they are playing with some serious cheddar.

2) By calling them Adam and Eve where they implying they have been around since the first signs of humanity? If so why aren’t all people related to/types of vampire? Is this biblical? Were these two the ones who pissed God off, pulled a fast one and got God to punish the humans for original sin?

Anyway this got me thinking. (SPOILER AHEAD)…..

If they are Adam and Eve, maybe the older Christopher Monroe is a God like/Jesus sort of figure. And if so that means that a dodgy doctor in Tangiers killed Jesus by giving him some dirty blood. He is not going to be popular in church on Sunday!

This is a fantastic film and I truly recommend giving it a watch. This film may star Vampires but it is not a horror movie. It is really a story about love and the appreciation of life that is delivered with charm, some interesting philosophy and a dash of historical artistic license!

VERDICT: ”You must excuse me, for I have already dined. And I never drink wine.”

PS: ”To make you a vampire they have to suck your blood. Then you have to suck their blood. It’s like a whole big sucking thing.”

DefiANT-ly good: ANT-MAN aka Super ANT vs Scheming mANTis (relatively spoiler free)

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

So to round out Marvels triumphANT phase 2 (whilst also heralding the arrival of Phase 3 with some not so subtle easter eggs) ANT-Man, directed by Peyton Reed, has arrived in cinema’s. Here is the trailer:

This film sees Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), a newly released ex-con, trying to live on the straight’n’narrow to win a place back in his daughter’s life. In the process he gets wrapped up in the life of Hank Pym (Michael DOUGLAS), a scientific genius, who founded the importANT and ANTdvanced technology company Pym Technologies. Pym created the Pym particle in the 80s, a technology that can condense matter into an ANT sized package. However, Pym realised the damage this technology could do if fell into the wrong hands and decidied to bury the tech. Now Pym’s former protege, Darren Cross (Corey Stoll), aided (ish) by his daughter Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lily) run the company and want to release this technology to the highest bidder and unleash deviANTce and chaos across the globe. ConsequANTly Pym recruits Scott Lang to become the ANT-man.

He’s got a big package for such a little guy!

Sooo… This movie is a whole lot of fun and I would definitely recommend giving it a watch. The movie has action, emotion, lots of laughs and a refreshing take on the superhero movie. This film decides to turn down the sheer magnificANT scale and instead delivers an intuitive piece that provides action and spectacle but not at the expense of character developmANT. There is also a great superhero training montage at the expense of many superhero tropes! Normally I’d also make some snide or witty remark about different, isolated characters using the exact same uncommon phrase to get the protagonist to jump into action. But this time I’ll let it galavANT away.

So lets begin:


Completing Lang’s gang of what appears to be an incompetANT gang of miscreANTs and criminals are: Luis (Michael Pena) the muscle?, Dave (T.I.) the getaway driver and Kurt (Dave Dastmalchian) the IT guy. These characters provide a lot of the comedic entertainmANT, especially Pena who steals every single scene he’s in with a stereotypical, ludicrous and brilliANT performance as fast talking Luis.

The three mains, Rudd, Lily and Douglas, give strong performances. Rudd is convincing in his first ANT-man outing and is simultaneously charming, intelligANT, caring and funny. Lily does a brilliant job as a double agent of sorts. You truly feel her frustration and resentmANT towards her fathers refusal to let her take up the ANT-(wo)man mANTle.

2) MalignANT Baddy

My main complaint with the film would be the ANTagonist, Darren Cross, who is played well by Corey Stoll. I know this film is going to be a smaller scale offering and we shouldnt expect an omnipotANT threat like Thanos or Ultron. But this man is just a greedy sciANTist in a suit who wants more power than he has, much like Obadiah from the first Iron Man film.

Yes there are moments, albeit not long ones, where you feel our heroes are in significANT danger or peril. Or you feel that Cross could succeed in unleashing terror upon the world. BUT a smart man, in a suit does not a serious, scary villain make. I dont really know how this could have been avoided as the story felt like the perfect way to introduce ANT-man to the cinematic universe but the bad guy just didn’t seem quite enough to me.

3) Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) tie-ins

This film was about as stand alone as things can get in the currANT stage of the MCU, which is building towards Avengers:Infinity War, but still had plenty of little Easter eggs and tie-ins for those astute members of the audience. They didn’t require in depth comic book knowledge and didn’t interrupt the flow of the film, they were fitting and fun. Even my parents got them (to a certain extANT anyway)! There are even some mentions of other heroes that we may be meeting soon, a certain someone who crawls up walls!

SPOILER:……The Avengers tie-in scene is a great cameo but also serves a serious plot point. The cameo is also enough to impress without being over the top self-aggrandizing marketing.

The Mid-credits scene has a huge amount of potential, especially given Evangeline Lily’s great performance in this movie. I wont say anything else but stay seated.

The end credits clip doesn’t have much importANTce to this film but does have fairly significANT implications for next years Captain America: Civil War.

4) COMEDI-ANTS getting ripped

Okay, here I am not talking about people like RDJ, Hemsworth or Evans. Or even Evangeline Lily (who is by the way in incredible physical condition for this film – if I learnt anything it is not to piss her off. She has a look of disgust that could metaphorically kill and martial art skills that literally kill). They have always been in good shape, they have been leading actors for a while so being in strong condition is important. In an ideal world aesthetics wouldn’t matter but they do. Plus these are Superhero movies they are meant to look fANTastic.

She will disintegrate you with that look alone.

I am talking about two men in particular (and almost certainly more to follow!) although I’m sure there are other examples. Here are there before and after shots:

Chris ”Star Lord” Pratt: Guardians Of The Galaxy

From Dad bod to I don’t need my dead beat space Dad!

Paul ”ANT-man” Rudd

From ”This Is 40” to 46 year old super-hero

These two are the perfect examples of funny,charismatic and talANTed actors who were right for the part they just weren’t in superhero shape yet. These transformations are impressive and serve to be both inspirational and also an example of the problems caused by the film industries standards of attractiveness and beauty. Then again I suppose if you want to play superhero you have got to look the part.


VERDICT: I ENJOYED IT ENOUGH TO FIT 38 ANTS INTO THIS POST, with varying levels of relevANTs and accuracy. BOOM 40


PPS/ I certainly don’t feel WASPish about this review. (If you watch the film/read the comics you’ll know what I mean!)

PPPS/ Sorry for all the ANTS! There must have been some in my pANTS. 42 BOOM!

Kickstarter: Ageing actor’s retirement fund

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Today’s world is rife with complex and at times horrifying problems: Ebola, ISIS, nuclear weapons, gender equality, marriage equality, wage equality, racism, world hunger, clean water, dictatorships, economic crises… the list goes on.

So right here and right now I am here to talk about…. none of these…instead I’ll talk about a problem that threatens the very foundation and future of cinema…a problem I am much more qualified to talk about…


NB/ This is apparently endemic to actors rather than actresses. Keep up the good work Meryl.

We’ve all seen it. A once revered, esteemed and magnificent actor making a movie so bad that it could only be intentional. Their eyes have glazed over. Their spark is gone. All the while they are just mentally counting the money banked with each line…$1,000,000…$2,000,000…..$3,000,000…..”Oh is it my line again? Sorry.”

The culprits are many and varied Samuel L Jackson, John Cusack, Mickey Rourke, Christopher Walken, even Neeson, Caine and Freeman are guilty to an extent.

Also I see you Al Pacino! You’ve done nothing of note since the late 90’s which is a travesty when you look at your early filmography!

I mean at least Sean Connery and Jack Nicholson had the common decency to just stop rather than parade a festival float of broken dreams and lost ambition through the streets!

But they are not the biggest offenders. They are not even close. There are two criminal masterminds here.

1) NICHOLAS CAGE – I’ve never really understood Cage’s appeal but he has made and will continue to makes some horrific career decisions. Which long ago erased any of the goodwill built during his early career.

The Holy Trinity: Eyes wide, Nasal Flare and Dislocated jaw

I believe the TV show, Community, summed him up better than I ever could!

”I don’t know? If I was in 70 films over 30 years and spent each one talking at random volumes, I might accidentally win an oscar.”


Let’s take a look at some highlights from his back catalogue:

Godfather Part 2, Taxi Driver, The Deer Hunter, Raging Bull, Once Upon A Time In America, Brazil, The Untouchables, Goodfellas, Cape Fear.

These are some incredible films. This man is an exceptional actor who has made terrific films for decades. He was renowned for his commitment to each and every role; living in Sicily for Godfather, driving a taxi for weeks for Taxi Driver, gaining 60lbs for Raging Bull. The list goes on.

Now, depressingly, we must take a look at his more recent films, excluding the two exceptions – Silver Linings Playbook and his minor role in American Hustle.

The Intern, Grudge Match, Last Vegas, The Family, New Year’s Eve, The Big Wedding, The Little Fockers, Machete, Righteous Kill… I can’t go on. I just feel empty inside. Its like the feeling you get watching Old Yeller and knowing that in reality Old Yeller and his pup Young Yeller have both been pushing up the daisies for a very long time.

The worst one here, for me, is Grudge Match. A Rocky rip-off except the boxers are both in their 60’s and incompetent. I mean we all know Stallone can’t act… he can barely speak English! Why did De Niro do this?

I get that people need to make a living. I know that actors wages in the 60’s/70’s were nowhere as extravagant as today but even so movie stars have never been brushing against the poverty line. I know these awful films are an easy way to bring in the money. But movie stars are not short of it in the first place. You are an artist, have some self-respect… I know this sounds pretentious… but come on. Look at the brilliant things you’ve done, you know that you are just phoning it in these days.

So now to my solution!

I am going to set up a charity.

”The Ageing Actor’s Retirement Fund”.

Here are the requirements:

  • Over 60
  • Have delivered in quality performances on film over 10 years ago
  • Have given up trying in the last 10 years

Once receiving income from this fund actors can make a maximum of 2 films per year which MUST receive prior approval from our film standards board. This will ensure that these actors continue to produce and achieve like we know they can. This doesn’t just benefit our film viewing experience but will also benefit their own self-esteem, allowing them to regain the decision making confidence they lost so long ago.

With your help and just a small monthly donation we can help supplement the income these elder statesman so that they can retire comfortably, rested, at peace and with dignity! With your help we can help stop the declining career standards these once great professionals had. We can help rid theatres of Rocky remakes and reboots. Of stupid ensemble cast holiday comedies. Of all these terrible films perpetrated by ageing actors!

Together we can do this. .



PS/ Here are some actual charities who would do wonderful work and will gratefully receive donations! This is obviously not an exhaustive list so donate where you feel you should.   ”Empowers promising LGBTQ students to achieve their full academic and leadership potential – despite the obstacles often put before them – to make a significant impact on society.”

What do you get when you cross Lord Of The Rings with a murder mystery?…The Lovely Bones…Apparently

This is a film by LOTR director, Peter Jackson, adapted from the book of the same name. Here is the trailer for The Lovely Bones:

SO before I get started I actually quite enjoyed this film and would recommend watching it as it is engaging, at times tense and has some striking, original visuals. That being said I may have gone off on a rant it here. I wish I could blame it on something in particular but I cant… I just went over board.

Here it is…enjoy!

This film focuses on the Salmon Family; father Jack (Mark Wahlberg), mother Abigail (Rachel Weisz), daughters  Susie (Saorise Ronan) and Lindsey (Rose McIver) and little brother Buckley, and how the cope with Susie’s death. Ever present is the unsettling neighbour George Harvey (Stanley Tucci).

NB/ Buckley disappears 30 minutes into the film to only be mentioned once more and never seen again. I guess the writers took a day off?

This time I’m going to do things a little differently, I am going to alternate between things I liked and didn’t like!


The majority of the cast (with notable exceptions) put in great emotional and likeable performances. Saorise Ronan as Susie Q was brilliant and I am excited to see some of her more recent work. The biggest applause really goes to Stanley Tucci as George Harvey. He completely embodies the role in a way I’ve never seen Tucci do before. He was unsettling, chilling and unrelenting.

How much wood would a woodchuck chuck ? If a wookchuck could chuck wood?

How much wood would a woodchuck chuck ? If a wookchuck could chuck wood?


2 big red flags here. Firstly, the insignificant role of Ray who is played by Reece Ritchie with a myriad of deep expressions including (and limited too); gormless, vacant, bland, bored, fixed on something in the distane, bored, blank, empty, the lights are on but nobody’s home… oh and bored again.

Secondly, Susan Sarandon as irresponsible, alcoholic Grandma #1. I normally love Sarandon but she was so over the top and ridiculous that her moments of light relief just seemed out of place. This is a film about a child being murdered and the hardest scene to watch in the whole film was the cringe worthy makeover Super Gran gives Lindsey. A makeover consisting of oatmeal face mask and raw egg conditioner…Oh god…(Retch)…(Swallow)…I’m okay now.


As you’d expect from Jackson this film is beautiful. Whether its the use of colour, the scenery or even the refreshing and original take on the in-between. Worth seeing just for the imaginative film making alone.


Okay so I know all of this takes place in Susie’s limbo place… but why have Susie act a certain way because of the emotions she is feeling when you can just CGI everyone’s emotions into the scenery. Susie is happy. Golden corn field. Susie’s sad. The field turns to water and she goes underwater. Her Dad is angry… have the ships in bottle he smashes in real life appear in her limbo? I can’t keep track anymore.

Need a plot point explaining? Put it in the background. Where are her remains? Put it in the limbo CGI. How does the killer relive the events? Put in the limbo CGI. How does Jack figure out who did it? A clue Susie sends from the CGI limbo. God fucking damn it!


Despite the troubling and dark subject matter there is minimal focus on violence or abuse. Instead the lion’s share of the focus is on the Salmon family and how they each respond and deal with this tragic event. This makes a wonderful change from Hollywood’s current obsession with violence and pain and gritty super-hero movies.


You knew there was going to be a but coming! The family focus often shits from endearing and positive to cloying and irritating!


If the film had ended 5 minutes earlier it would have been darker and sinister but much stronger for it! Instead, it tags an irritating karma based ending on which completely conflicts with the whole movies tone of accepting the hand life dealt you. Instead we get a, ”Look and smell the roses ending. Aren’t they so unbelievably pungent  fragrant”. Plus more cloying sentiment.



Annndd breatthheee..

VERDICT: I CAN’T CARRY IT FOR YOU BUT I CAN CARRY YOU…to the sofa to watch this film. The dead girl told us to in a voiceover….WATCH THE FILM…WATCH THE FILM…