RIP Sir Roger Moore.

I woke up to some sad news today, in that the British icon and screen legend passed away today at age 89 so I just wanted to pay respects to sir Moore and his family, of course best known for playing James Bond of course, he was a true gentleman and will be sorely missed. RIP Roger Moore.

Ranking the Marvel cinematic universe (updated)

So this is a sort of ongoing feature that I haven’t updated for a while but alas, time goes on and more MCU films come out, 3 new ones since I last posted this list in fact (Civil War, Doctor Strange and Guardians Vol 2), so here’s my new, updated list and damn I should just wait until Spiderman Homecoming comes out then update it but screw it, I just like writing these lists.

Captain America: Civil War – 9/10

My actual new favourite film of the MCU is.. well the best I say, an excellently well crafted film with twists, turns, a very engaging plot and a level of stakes and depth that’s brought into the Marvel films (well developed on I suppose) with actual loss and a feeling of responsibility put upon The Avengers, the drama is palpable and hard hitting, changing characters relationships forever, the action is spectacular, memorable and very well choreographed. Civil War feels like a crescendo of events since the first Avengers in a logical way and plays out pretty believably actually, it hurts to see your favourite characters fight and that goes to show the level of investment the MCU has over you, this is the pinnacle of the MCU so far in my opinion and deservedly so.

 

Guardians Of The Galaxy – 9/10

So I previously had some serious thinking to do with picking my number 1 but since Civil War, the original Guardians is down to number two, with it being one of the most well received films in the MCU and one of the most well put together ones as well, it’s so easily re-watchable and it just about sums up both the tone that Marvel’s been going for with their films and the reason why a lot of people love Marvels’ films. The cast is great and they play off each other both naturally and entertainingly, couple that with an interesting plot, great writing and visuals and you have Guardians, the band of misfits in a feature film that really shouldn’t have worked but did.

 

Avengers Age Of Ultron – 9/10

I love Age Of Ultron,  no joke, probably more than I thought I would and the magic of seeing The Avengers on screen again wasn’t lost for me but just enhanced with seeing even more characters, Ultron is a great, flawed villain who got more depth to him in the movies than in comics. And the new additions in Scarlett Witch and Quicksilver didn’t feel like overkill, the character interaction was great and it has some of the best writing in a Marvel film with back and forths, jokes and general dialogue and while the third act may have felt a bit rushed, the feeling of peril and tension is prevalent and the action is top notch. And I’ve actually re-watched AOU at least 4 or 5 times, a few times more than The Avengers actually.

 

Captain America The Winter Soldier – 8/10

The Winter Soldier is an excellently crafted film, bringing a needed darker and grounded tone to the MCU, it’s very much a spy thriller and it plays out similarly to a few non comic book spy films with the premise of the main, good organization being compromised or infiltrated but with some of your favourite Marvel characters in the fray, not too many comic book films have tried to be conspiracy thrillers so the ambition is here for sure. The action in it is some of the best in any Marvel film and it’s great to see some depth added to Cap and a great nemesis for him in Bucky/The winter soldier who Cap simply won’t put down… and who’s also just about a match for him physically. The plot was thrilling and engaging throughout and it had a good pay off at the end.

 

The Avengers – 8/10

The Avengers was everyone’s’ favourite Marvel film until Guardians and or Age Of Ultron and deservedly so, it was awesome to see some of Marvels’ most iconic heroes fighting… each other initially and fighting together, the writing was brilliant and you can tell Whedon really had fun with the characters and their interactions, which made for half of the films entertainment value. Loki was/still is a great villain and while he was overcome a bit easily – villains being beaten easily is a weakness for the MCU as a whole, he was a highlight of the film. The plot flowed really well and the pacing was brilliant, culminating in a really well made film.

 

Iron Man – 8/10

Iron Man holds a special place for many Marvel fans for being the starting point of the MCU and the introduction of RDJ as Tony Stark and Iron Man to the mainstream, the film isn’t over the top or flashy but it just works really well nonetheless, it has great characterization and excellent writing. And a great balance of drama and humour, driven by RDJ as Tony, a role he seems to have been born to play.

 

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 – 7.5/10

The latest Guardians film is a right blast, maybe not to the heights of the original Guardians or Civil War but it’s a great thrill ride nonetheless, seeing the Guardians return to their dysfunctional ways and now with added members, sort of…. in Nebula and Yondu, the crews interaction again is the heart of the film and the humour has definitely been elevated, with the jokiest MCU film yet. The stakes are also upped this time around in a surprisingly deep and hard hitting turn that you probably won’t see coming, the visuals are also fantastic in easily the most colourful and vibrant looking Marvel film yet and that’s not forgetting the new, great soundtrack of course, bravo Mr Gunn, you’ve made another hit.

 

Doctor Strange – 7.5/10

An entry in the Marvel films that full on brings in the mystical and magical aspect of the comics, Dr Strange is a pretty solid film overall, first of all having a incredible cast and great casting in Benedict Cumberbatch as Stephen Strange, the film brings something different to the MCU in the way Ant-Man brought something different with its heist element and Ant-Mans powers. Magical powers, fantastical and mind bending visuals to name a few things that make an appearance in the film, the plot is engaging and well balanced between action, drama and humour, like any Marvel film.

 

Ant Man – 7/10

The film in the MCU that no one really talks about anymore is a spin on the tale of the Ant Man and with Scott Lang taking on the mantle, the film is a lot of fun and brings new action and inventive visuals to the MCU, as well as a different type of hero. It doesn’t stray too far from the Marvel formula but that’s not a bad thing as the film is a good, entertaining watch, the cast is great and Paul Rudd in particular feels like a perfect choice for Scott Lang.

 

Thor – 7/10

Thor is a film I really enjoy and a film I end up wanting to re-watch the most apart from Guardians and The Avengers and it’s because it’s such a well made film, visually it’s stunning an seeing the locales of Asgard in its’ colourful, alien looking world was great. The plot is great and has an almost theatrical structure to it, coupled with the dialogue and great performances.

With Loki and Thor playing off each other, Tom Hiddlestone is fantastic as Loki and Chris Hemsworth is great as Thor. It’s also a very comedic film even for Marvel but it was balanced with drama and serious moments, expanding the MCU into other realms and worlds and bringing magic into play, in a way, paving the way for films to come like GuardiansDoctor Strange.

 

Captain America – 7/10

Captain America is a perfectly good film, very well cast, especially Chris Evans as Cap and Hugo Weaving as Red Skull but I suppose it’s just not as memorable as some of the other MCU film for me, but in saying that, it’s still a well made and enjoyable film. With some good performances, Tommy Lee Jones was great as a cynical, war weary general and seeing a different time era entirely in a Marvel film was cool as was chronicling Captain Americas’ story, which was quite compelling in itself, in relation to WWII and his fictional role in it.

 

Thor The Dark World – 6.5/10

Thor The Dark World was actually a pretty fun film, visually great like the first Thor but with added stakes, Hiddlestone gets to expand his role as a complex and damage Loki, though he’s sort of playing characters in the film the entire time for his own needs. While Thor and Jane go through some issues, they more or less make up like half way into the movie, Thor is given more of a challenge and a better villain to fight in Malekith and their final fight is great to watch with its’ dimension bending but it was a bit short. Other than that, the side characters were good comic relief for the film and made it an entertaining ride.

 

Iron Man 2 – 6.5/10

Iron Man 2 is regarded by quite a few Marvel fans as being outright bad but I disagree, the film is well made and has a tight story, RDJ is in his element as Tony and rocking the cocky billionaire persona but I suppose the film falls short of being a great film for its’ lack of a great villain, which Whiplash definitely wasn’t. The action in the film is great though and Tony /Rhodes playing off each other are still some of the funniest scenes in the MCU.

 

The Incredible Hulk – 6.5/10

The official start of the MCU, The Incredible Hulk is also ironically one of the lesser memorable films, though it does provide a solid, good portrayal of the Hulk and has some good performances in it, namely be Edward Norton and Tim Roth, the film isn’t bad but it’s not necessarily great by any means either. It also misses out on being the definitive layout for Marvel films to come in combining good humour, action and great pacing, though it does look great and it has some great action scenes.

 

Iron Man 3 – 6/10

Iron Man 3, where to begin… unfortunately the film was a misstep and just didn’t quite work for me, Tony Stark is still a great character but odd misdirection regarding Killian and The Mandarin who should just have been the actual Mandarin in the film was just unnecessary. The acting was good but trying to give Tony a dark streak and have him battle his inner demons was at odds with the tone present through the movie in general, showing Tonys’ vulnerablity is a nice idea but it also isn’t really fun to watch. Also I wanted to see Iron Man in action and doing his thing, motor mouthed and arrogant but that didn’t quite happen which was a shame.

Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol 2 review

James Gunn directs Guardians of The Galaxy Vol 2, following on from the events of the first film, the Guardians are now an expanded team with Nebula and Yondu joining the fray, they go about taking on missions as mercenaries for hire, now going on an adventure with Star Lord as he comes to find out the truth about his father. The film stars Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Kurt Russell,Dave Bautista, Karen Gillan, Michael Rooker, Elizabeth Debicki.

The Guardians are back, big, brash and crude as ever and boy have we missed them, we follow the gang just a few months after the events of the first film, with them now being well known as a force for good, the characters and chemistry you remember is back and the dynamic between the characters makes for about half of the film, Drax with his dry sense of humour, Rockets’ crudeness, Gamoras conciseness, Star Lords playfulness and (Baby) Groots’ cuteness. The appeal is all there and it’s no surprise the film has done well and now with an expanded team of sorts with Nebula (Karen Gillan) on board, things feel a bit bigger in scope, straight away you can see the cast is enjoying themselves playing these characters and they’ve really grown into them, they all bounce each other well and make for a great dysfunctional family returning for another ride.

The acting is once gain solid for a Guardians film with characters filling in their specific role but upping the emotional ante as it were, when needed and in fact, Vol 2 is quite surprisingly emotional with some pretty hard hitting moments that build more depth for some of the Guardians, said moments may feel a bit cliché and predictable but the heart of the scenes is present and well, it works, giving extra dimensions to characters that you may not expect any depth from. The film is brimming with style, mainly aesthetically with James Gunn experimenting with a range of colours, use of viewpoints and so on, this is easily Marvels most colourful and vibrant looking film, which is a welcome change from some of its other films and this goes hand in hand with the stellar side to the story, with interplanetary travel and space battles, which are great to watch. And speaking of style, the writing is brilliant, the humour is dialled up in one of Marvels most joke heavy films, with a lot of back and forths but also a lot of genuinely funny jokes that work, though not everything is fun and games as we do get more emotional and heavy moments for levity and one again Marvel manages to balance light and dark just about right to create an entertaining picture.

If there is a criticism of Vol 2, it’s that it’s a bit meandering and the story isn’t quite as concise as as the first Guardians, though that being said, the plot is still engaging from the get go and manages to keep your interest, people may also bemoan the amount of jokes as it may take away from any drama but I think it was well balanced. I also give Vol 2 credit for further exploring other themes like dysfunctional relationships and without going into spoilers, the film goes to surprising and deep cutting places. Ultimately Guardians Vol 2 is another great romp in the MCU with characters we know and love, the humour may be laid on a bit too thick for some and while the plot is arguably not as great as the first outing, it’s still an enjoyable ride with a lot to offer, not Marvels best but still quality entertainment.

7.5/10

. Engaging story with interesting twists

. Great aesthetic appeal, full of style

. Characters are explored in more depth

Ranking the Alien franchise

Ridley Scotts baby, the Alien franchise is now 38 years old, bursting from his che-… err his wonderfully imaginative mind and now with 6 films on and a lot of lore, death and mystery, I think it’s high time to rank the series according to how I view it anyway, here goes. Oh and P.S., I haven’t seen Alien: Resurrection, thankfully, as I hear it’s an abomination but if I had seen it by now, it’d probably be bottom of the list.

And no, Alien Vs Predator does not make this list either.

Alien (1977) – 9/10

The original film of the franchise, the progenitor of it all, the facehugger that birthed…. ok you get the idea, anyway Alien is both a staple in horror and sci-fi, being one of the best space horror films of all time with solid acting, an easy to follow plot, inventive use of mis-en-scene to contribute to tension and suspense and importantly, a use of simplicity for effective scares. What makes the film so great? That it doesn’t try so hard to be good or to make any real point, the xenomorph is just there and things happen, it’s as visceral as it gets and easily the best in the franchise, full of twists, gory moments and a memorable plot.

 

Aliens (1986) – 8.5/10

Aliens is a peculiar sequel, a sequel many think is better than the original in fact, taking things in a wildly different direction and effectively spawning the space marine sub-genre, with memorable acting, good action set pieces and great pacing, the ante is definitely upped and things are just as scary with multiple xenomorphs as opposed to one, which serves to make things even more tense at times in fact. This is how a sci-fi action film should play out imo and it serves as a great template for action for films even to this day.

 

Prometheus (2012) – 7.5/10

Probably the most divisive film in the franchise but one I actually quite enjoy, Prometheus is big scale, scope and its ideas, though following horror tropes, it asks questions over humanity and its existence, while still exploring the origins of the xenomorph, I like it because it was something entirely new to the franchise, from the engineers and their weapons, to brand new moons, the plot felt exciting and fresh and it also looked fantastic visually. And with a strong cast to boot, it’s just a pretty engaging ride with one of the better plots in the franchise with some interesting twists and turns, despite some silly horror stereotypes, they don’t detract too much from the film as a whole for me.

 

Alien: Covenant (2017) – 6/10

The most recent Alien film is pretty much Alien re-treaded, with Aliens thrown in for good measure, answering maybe 1 or 2 questions from Prometheus and leaving a whole bunch of others hanging, it just felt  bit too generic for me, especially compared to the last film in the series, despite a decent cast and some tense moments, I couldn’t shake the feeling of having seen it all before, with nothing new or exciting present apart from a revelation that changes the tone of the film and does nothing more really. Covenant feels like a misstep, one that could have easily been better but went the generic sci-fi horror route, bringing nothing good to the series.

 

Alien 3 (1992) – 5/10

The 3rd film in the series is…. an odd one, going to interesting places as I think the writers were running out of places to put the xenomorph, it lacks the production values and quality of Alien and Aliens clearly and just feels a bit by the numbers, though Ripley returns, the acting is dire, the plot is predictable and it just looks really bad, with some of the worst CG I’ve ever seen, hell Aliens looks better.

And there it is, my ranking, a range of scores and an unfinished list with the next Alien film on the way, set to start filming next year and where that one falls in the list, who knows… but I can’t wait to find out.

Alien: Covenant review

Ridley Scott directs the latest instalment in the Alien franchise with Alien: Covenant, sequel to Prometheus and prequel to Alien, with us now being on a journey with the colonising ship the Covenant, bound for a planet with the aim of well, colonising it, travelling to a seemingly perfect planet throws the mission into jeopardy as alien creatures are discovered. The film stars Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Danny McBride, Billy Crudup, Carmen Ejogo.

Ah the Alien franchise, it’s many things, a long running series of high highs and very low lows, films of varying quality to say the least but I’d hoped the more recent films would turn things back around and raise the quality a bit, Prometheus did just that I think, a great thinking persons’ film with action, suspense, great visuals and a lot of mystery and intrigue to be continued… and what we get with Covenant is sort of the continuation to that, but not exactly.

You’ll need to watch the whole film to really understand that point but if you’re looking for answers for most of the questions you had from Prometheus and the bigger picture, you will be probably disappointed, though what is present is an Alien film, very much in the vein of Aliens with the set up and how things play out and while that’s not a bad thing per se, (Aliens is a great film), Covenant just feels like retreaded ground. Ridley Scott’s now adept at making Alien films but I found myself wanting something a bit more following on from the big scale of Prometheus, with the final result of Covenant being a pretty generic horror film that just isn’t that satisfying.

And horror film this is, deaths are predictably gory and if that’s your thing, you’ll like it, with the sort of new xenomorphs doing their usual thing and being creepy as ever.

What’s somewhat good about Covenant is its ambition, with some big themes that are a bit on the nose, there are some great visuals and generally good acting, Katherine Waterston is good, as is the now dual Michael Fassbender as the new android Walter and the incumbent David, he gives a good performance, as robotic and steely as in the last film with a real presence about him, though unfortunately other characters barely get fleshed out and serve as nothing but easy targets for you know what.

Ultimately I feel like Covenant is a bit of a missed trick, a film a lot of Alien fans were looking forward to, to delve more into the mythos of the world Scott created and while things are touched on, the reveal around the xenomorphs and a twist in the final third is a decidedly wet blanket, changing the tone of the film and watering down the tension and making everything feel far too formulaic. It’s almost as if Scott felt like he had to take the the film in a certain direction to adhere to horror tropes and keep the audience on their toes but things just felt far too familiar, uninspired and a bit aimless, how this film ties into Alien is beyond me and at this point, I’m not sure what else there is to explore in a subsequent film. I feel it’s a shame that Covenant didn’t resonate with me and I left my viewing only looking back more fondly on previous films like Prometheus.

6/10

. Has some solid acting

. Feels far too tropey, formulaic, retreads parts of previous Alien films

. Addresses parts of Prometheus but not all which will feel dissatisfying