Agents of Shield season 3 premiere ‘Laws of Nature’ review

Agents of Shield season 3 kicked off last night in a big way, following on a few months after the events of the season 2 premiere, people have now been affected and changed by the Terrigen chemical that leaked into the ocean, called the ‘Bio-morphic event’ on the show. Meaning certain people   with alien DNA already in side them that have the potential to change, then undergo a transformation and get changed and turn into super powered beings or Inhumans, while Coulsons task force is up and running with Daisy in the lead with her powers now in better control as they track down new Inhumans.

And to talk of new things, we have a shiny new bus for SHIELD and a new dynamic for the season with more Inhumans and more focus on super powers, Coulsons team is looking for them to save and recruit them while the government is also tracking down individuals but for quite different reasons – to study them and we see they’ve already captured a few people, while one person got away (Lash?).

Things aren’t so much SHIELD vs Hydra anymore as the Inhumans have come and taken centre stage and there’s a glimmer of the drama to come in the rest of the season as now transformed people cope with their new abilities and how their lives gets changed. As usual SHIELDS team is a highlight of the show and great to watch with Hunter and Mack especially bringing some good humour, Bobby seems to have taken over Simmons role in the scientific research department now and it’s something different for her, it’s a bit of a stretch to not see her in the field but she seems to know what she’s doing. Meanwhile Fitz is globetrotting in search of clues to help get Simmons back and seeing him determined and on a mission brings an interesting dynamic to him, Fitz has had some of the more interesting plot arcs since season 2 and once again, he’s getting good material.

And Lash makes his appearance, which I didn’t think he would in the first episode, confirming he’s hunting down Inhumans to kill them as he fights Lincoln and Daisy, watching this was awesome and makes me think of season 3 as a more fully fledged superhero show now, powers are here in a big way and here to stay and Lincoln is back. He’s been working in a hospital, incognito but gets exposed as an inhuman and has to go on the run, opting not to go work with SHIELD, though Daisy objects to this. As it turns out, the government is behind the other task force that is hunting down Inhumans, the ATCU or ‘Advanced Threat Containment Unit’, not trusting anymore in SHIELD. The premiere ends on an intriguing note, Simmons is alive but somewhere unknown, what looks to be another planet awash with twilight, I wonder how that story will play out.

On the whole the premiere was really solid, Agents of Shield has re-invented itself as a superhero show of sorts and it’s exciting TV with the Inhumans story and some interesting characters like Lincoln, more of the same with what made season 2 great is back – Bobby and Hunters flirtationship, Macks one liners and new stories for Fitz and Simmons. The Inhumans have injected a lot of fun into the show along with super powers and some interesting mysteries are raised with May and Simmons whereabouts, as well as Wards, great season opener for what should be an equally great season.

Talking points

. Where is Simmons exactly? An alternate dimension?

. What is Ward up to now?

. Will we see Hydra in any real capacity soon or are they out of action for the time being?

October film preview

October has rolled on up as awards season build up gets into gear and we reach the tail end of the year, with a few prominent films set to come out in the next 4 weeks, here are some notable releases (US release dates by default).

The Martian – released on the 2nd of October, (30th of September in UK)

Based on a best selling novel of the same name, the story is set in the near future and follows astronaut Marc Watney as he attempts to survive alone on Mars after an accident which forced his teammates to abandon a mission, not knowing they left him behind. Directed by Ridley Scott, starring – Matt Damon, Jeff Daniels, Jessica Chastain, Michael Pena, Kate Mara, Sean Bean, Sebastian Stan, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Donald Glover.

The Walk – released on the 2nd of October

Biographical drama based on the real life French tight rope walker Phillipe Petit, his motivations and what drove him to walked between the Twin Towers on a tightrope in New York in 1974, yes he actually did that. Directed by Robert Zemeckis, starring – Joseph Gordon Levitt, Ben Kingsley, Charlotte Le Bon.

The Final Girls – released on the 9th of October

Self aware horror parody as high schooler Max Cartwright is transported into one of her late mothers (a former scream queens) famous films and re-united with her, having to play out the story with her friends, fighting the films characters and clichés as they try and find away out of the film and home. Directed by Todd Strauss-Scholson, Starring – Taissa Farmiga, Malin Akerman, Adam DeVine, Nina Dobrev, Alia Shawkat, Alexander Ludwig, Thomas Middleditch.

Knock Knock – released on the 9th of October

Happily married man Evan Webber opens his house to two women one night and discovers they may have sinister intentions for him. Directed by Eli Roth, starring Keanu Reeves, Lorena Izzo, Ana de Armas.

Pan – released on the 9th of October

You know the story of Peter Pan but do you know how he became the iconic character? Prequel Pan strives to answer this 12 year old Peter gets taken to Neverland and discovers wonders, dangers and a path which will lead him to become Peter Pan. Directed by Joe Wright, starring Hugh Jackman, Rooney Mara, Garett Hedlund, Levi Miller, Amanda Seyfried.

Steve Jobs  – released on the 9th of October

Biographical drama based on the late Steven Jobs and his life as an inventor and the creator of Apple along with the highs and lows he encountered. Directed by Danny Boyle, starring Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen, Jeff Daniels.

Bridge of Spies – released on the 16th of October

Based on a book of the same name and the real life events during the cold war as an American lawyer is recruited by the CIA to negotiate the release of a US U-2 plane pilot who got shot down over the Soviet Union. Directed by Steven Spielberg, starring Tom Hanks, Mark Rylance, Amy Ran, Alan Alda.

Crimson Peak  – released on the 16th of October

Period drama set in the late 19th century in a dilapidated Gothic mansion as a writer falls in love and moves in to live with her husband, who she discovers may have shocking secrets of his own along with his sister who also lives with him. Directed by Guillermo Del Toro, starring Mia Wasikowska, Tom Hiddlestone, Jessica Chastain, Charlie Hunnam.

Room – released on the 16th of October

A mother and her 5 year old son struggle to adapt to the outside world, escaping after being trapped in a single, featureless room for 7 years. Directed by Lenny Abrahamson, starring Brie Larson, Joan Allen, William H Macy.

Burnt – released on the 23rd of October

Drama based on a chef trying to redeem himself and his name, returning to work in London to build up a restaurant to excellent quality so it can get 3 Michelin stars, Directed by John Wells, starring Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Omar Sy, Daniel Brühl, Uma Thurman, Alicia Vikander, Emma Thompson.

The Last Witch Hunter – released on the 23rd of October

Fantasy action film centred on the last witch hunter, an immortal fighter standing as a force of good against evil witches in modern day New York City. Directed by Breck Eisner, starring Vin Diesel, Elijah Wood, Rose Leslie, Michael Caine.

Suffragette  – released on the 23rd of October (30th in UK)

Drama based on real life events and the suffrage movement in the early 20th century as women fought for equal rights, battling with the state as they did so and facing the consequences of their beliefs. Directed by Sarah Gavron, starring Carrey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter, Meryl Streep, Ben Whishaw, Brendan Gleeson.

Scouts Guide To The Zombie Apocalypse – released on the 30th of October

Horror comedy set during a zombie outbreak as group of friends who are also boy scouts try to survive and save their town. Directed by Christopher Landon, starring Patrick Schwarzenegger, Halston Sage, Tye Sheridan.

Source Code review

Source Code is a sci-fi action thriller directed by Duncan Jones, starring Jake Gylenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga, Jeffrey Wright, centred on Colter Stevens, a soldier who wakes up in the body of a stranger on a train that has been bombed. Colter is projected into another person but for only 8 minutes at a time and has to use that time to find the train bomber and stop him before the fact.

The film has an awesome premise and is a creative film from Duncan Jones, proving himself as a rising sci-fi director, it’s time travel that’s straightforward and with a central plot of needing to time travel to further the plot, but having Colter only having 8 minutes at a time to try and find the bomber was an interesting change for a time travel film. The time constraint as well as the circumstances that Colter found himself in made the story all the more gripping, you are along for the ride as the characters are and actively looking out for clues and hints here or there to try and find the bomber, which speaks volumes of the level of engagement the story has.

Hitting those emotional points as well is important in the film and it does that well, Colter is the protagonist, trying to save a train full of people and doing it rather selflessly, further getting you behind him and Gylenhaal brings a likeability and charm to the role, also playing Colter with nuance each time he’s back on the train. Initially he’s panicky and paranoid, trying to instantly find the bomber but as time goes on he’s more measured and calculated, while Michelle Monaghan is great as Christina Warren, bringing a level headed, grounded approach to events as well as some more emotional elements.

The plot plays out in an interesting way and it’s quite an emotional ride but a well crafted one, watching it the first time, you may think you know how it will play out but you will probably be surprised with a satisfying, gratifying ending that feels like it’s a great way to end the story and give the audience what they wanted while they were watching the film. While the film also looks great and has fast cuts and effective shots used to focus on certain things in a scene, as Colter himself looks out for clues for the bomber, the cinematography works well to match the action as well as Colters own frame of mind in various scenes as he makes attempts to save the day.

Source Code is a gripping and engaging emotional story, told well and driven by strong performances from Gylenhaal and Monaghan, the plot really gets you behind Glylenhaals’ character and is written in a way that isn’t too confusing but straightforward and entertaining.

8/10

. Great plot, engaging from start to finish

. Gylenhaal is a great leading actor, plot gets you to empathize with him

. Time travel done in a way that isn’t too convoluted, story does well to explain what’s going on

Star Trek (09) review

Star Trek is the reboot of the popular, iconic sci-fi franchise, helmed by JJ Abrams in a shiny new portrayal, there’s a new, all star cast this time around, starring Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Simon Pegg, Zoe Saldana, Leonard Nimoy, Eric Bana, Bruce Greenwood, Karl Urban, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Winona Ryder, Chris Hemsworth.

And we get a well told entry point to the Star Trek universe with James T Kirk played brilliantly by Chris Pine, embodying the arrogant, headstrong persona of young Kirk, as he tries to make a name for himself and live up to his fathers legacy, signing up to work in Star fleet, a space faring organization. JJ Abrams has a great handle of things in Star Trek and expertly crafts an entertaining and engaging world, with a standout aesthetic to the visuals that represents the shiny new updated version of the Trek universe from the film from the interior of the spaceships, to the teleporter beams to the blaster rifles, it’s a wonderful looking film. And JJ really nails it with great camerawork, giving us awesome panning and wide shots of alien planets, spaceships and space battles, Star Trek feels very epic and big in scope and it’s a joy to watch.

The cast is fantastic and everyone really does well in their role, Pine and Quinto play off each other really well as a younger Kirk and Spock and even if you’re not that familiar with Star Trek (as I am not) you can tell the two have a special relationship and will probably need each other in future. While Simon Pegg and Zoe Saldana also bring life to their characters and play them with enthusiasm and vibrancy, same goes for Eric Bana as Nero, the films antagonist who wants to terrorize the galaxy, destroying planets with black holes because… he can. And the heroes of the story do have things a bit rough, things don’t always go their way but they band together and tackle things with their thinking and some improvisation which is fun to watch storywise, the stakes in the film are high and the tension is carried well in certain points, helped by the films great soundtrack.

Bana as Nero is good and quite larger than life with his actions bring about some of the more emotional beats in the film, James Kirks’ father sacrificing himself, the loss of the Romulus planet and Spock holding onto and tragically losing his mother spring to mind, these moments came thick and fast and are treated well in an otherwise fast paced, action packed film. Character development is also a big part of the film with Kirks’ own personal journey as he grows into a capable ship captain, willing to sacrifice himself for his crew, growing to respect and depend on Spock and vice versa, as Spock learns to trust and rely on others and not always go it alone, Leonard Nimoys’ cameo in the film was also a great touch and a nice nod to the original TV series and films.

Star Trek really is an excellently crafted blockbuster with heart from its’ tone to its great pacing, scenes flow into each other seamlessly and the big action set pieces are fantastic, especially the space combat which is emphasized by the use of the camera to pan out and show the vastness of space and the ships in the scene firing away at each other. And while being a big budget, CGI packed film, the storytelling never takes a back seat and plays a crucial part in why this re-boot works, the plot is engaging, the characters are colourful, fun to watch and it’s a thrill ride from start to finish, with some great tension and action.

8.5/10

. Fantastic plot, great pacing, engaging

. Stunning visuals, very well shot film

. Effective use of characters to draw you into the story, good character development

Sunshine review

Sunshine is a sci-fi drama directed by Danny Boyle, set in 2057, on a spaceship on its’ way to the sun in hopes to re-ignite it, as it’s dying and a dead sun would mean a dead human race and dead planet, the plan is to take a crew on a long mission, using nuclear bombs to use fission to re-invigorate the star Saving humanity in the process. The film stars Cillian Murphy, Michelle Yeoh, Rose Byrne, Hiroyuki Sanada, Chris Evans, Mark Strong.

The ships’ crew is diverse, coming together on their mutual mission to save humanity but and the earth but naturally there are divisions and conflict between people. The film is notable for some good performances as well, brought especially by Cillian Murphy and his own internal struggle whilst being on the mission, a few of the characters actually have their own doubts over aspects of the mission, while others are more optimisic making for interesting difference between the crew.

Danny Boyles’ effective directing shines through again, as he takes on another sci-fi film, doing the science some justice but also crafting an interesting drama, pitting people against seemingly impossible odds, as sound as the science for the mission is, stopping a star from dying is pure science fiction as of right now. The films’ tension is played up very well, coupled with a fantastic soundtrack that matches scenes perfectly, the visuals in certain scenes are stunning, whether highlighting just a fraction of the suns’ full visibility which is mind blowingly bright at nowhere near 100%, to emphasize the sheer power of the nuclear factory we see in the sky everyday. You really get the scope of the mission the scientists are on and marvel at the sun itself, which is almost like a character in the film, throwing curveballs at the mission as the crew has to work around different situations.

The films looks spectacular, from the outside shots of the spaceship to glimpses of the sun, to the solar flares the sun itself puts out, seeing outside space scenes was a great touch and it made for an interesting change in pace to the ships’ interior, which is also designed quite well, as the ship as a whole is. The spacewalks and scenes taking place outside as are very tense as you’d imagine and they make for great viewing, knowing a slip or detachment in space means a character will flying into space or a puncture or fracture in a space helmet means almost certain death, the tension is at a fever pitch in quite a few scenes.

The story is well crafted from the onset and plays out an interesting way, with the crews’ conflict growing deeper and an extra element to the mission, though seemingly coming out of nowhere, the final third of the plot feels disappointingly out of place and almost an after thought, to drive in some tension and extra drama. Still, Sunshine works well as an engaging story and as imaginatively put together sci-fi with some brilliant visuals and a good set of characters, the film falls foul of a poor overall final third though the pot worked its way up to that point rather well.

7/10

. Awesome premise executed well

. Has some stellar (pun totally intended) visuals

. Great set of characters and some good performances

. Last third of the film is a bit messy