REVIEW: Aquaman (2018)

Directed by: James Wan
Starring: Jason Mamoa, Amber Heard, Patrick Wilson, Willem Dafoe, Nicole Kidman, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Dolph Lundgren

Written by Rhys Bowen Jones

The DCEU badly needs a win. To say the DCEU has had peaks and troughs is something of an understatement. Despite, for my part, ‘Man of Steel’ being far stronger than the wider consensus says, and ‘Wonder Woman’ being as universally acclaimed as it is, the DCEU is badly trying to course correct after the mixed reception received on ‘Batman v Superman,’ and the genuinely shambolic efforts of ‘Justice League’ and ‘Suicide Squad.’ It needs a film to reunite DC fans everywhere that convinces them the DCEU could be a success. I think ‘Aquaman’ could well be that film.

Game of Thrones’ Jason Momoa stars as Arthur “Aquaman” Curry, a human-Atlantean hybrid with super strength and a swimming ability not too far behind that of Michael Phelps. Living his life as a metahuman living amongst us, Arthur forgoes the secret identity schtick, openly embraces being Aquaman, and spends his time saving people from various nautical disasters. When Orm (Patrick Wilson), Arthur’s half-brother, stakes claim to the throne and threatens an Atlantean takeover of the world, Arthur must return to his true home and claim the throne that is rightfully his.

I’m going to cut to the chase. ‘Aquaman’ is the most fun I’ve had at the cinema in months. I’ve seen some terrific films in the last year, even some genuinely all-time great superhero films like ‘Infinity War’ and ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,’ but nothing compared to ‘Aquaman.’ As the film escalates towards its inevitable, CGI-tastic battle scene, I found myself actively cheering the action on screen. It forced various exclamations that basically said, in umpteen different ways, “this is so cool.” Because that’s what James Wan, the stellar filmmaker behind films like ‘Saw’, ‘The Conjuring,’ and ‘Furious 7,’ managed to do. He made Aquaman cool. He made the guy who has been the joke of DC for years and known as “the one who can speak to fish” cool.

What really works for ‘Aquaman’ is its cast. It boasts a terrific ensemble, and no matter how ridiculous it all is if you really look at it, everyone is all in on their characters, embracing the ridiculousness of it all, and just having a great time with it. There’s a chemistry amongst every major player, from Arthur and Orm, to Arthur and Mera (Amber Heard), to Arthur and Vulko (Willem Dafoe), to Mera and Vulko, and to Orm and Nereus (Dolph Lundgren), that makes the film work. All the different relationships between the characters are, admittedly pretty blatantly, clear and their motivations are presented well so that everyone knows where they stand as the tensions mount into the third act. The ‘will-they-won’t-they’ dynamics, the rivalries, the father-and-son relationships, it’s all well thought-out and executed extremely well, thanks largely to the great cast.

Where the film does have flaws – and believe me, it has its flaws – is largely down to its dialogue. Despite the well-fleshed out relationships I mentioned above, the conversations are about as on-the-nose as it comes. Characters explicitly describe their emotions and plans in every line of dialogue, shoving in corny, superhero focused one-liners to raise an obvious moral question for Arthur to ponder for 20 minutes. It’s blunt, but it’s serviceable; there’s no room for subtext. But then again, this is fucking Aquaman. At one point, sharks are used as surfboards. Subtext left the writer’s room 27-minutes into Day One. And that’s okay.

The average cinema-goer goes to a superhero film for the action. You can claim all you want that people live for the interpersonal drama you find in the MCU, but a superhero film lives and dies by its action sequences. ‘Aquaman’ raises the bar for what a superhero film’s action scenes should look like. They’re the cleanest, best choreographed, and best shot action scenes since probably ‘Mad Max: Fury Road.’ In the first 10 minutes, there’s a very cool fight scene involving Atlanna (Nicole Kidman) in a living room that’s a long-take, one smooth shot in which all 3 enemies are vanquished in expert fashion as the camera swirls around the room. At that moment I knew we were in good hands, but that was just a taster.

There are a lot of nice little action sequences throughout the film, all of which are well done, but there are two stand-outs: Sicily and The Battle of the Trench. Sicily, for starters, includes a glorious long-take following a Atlantean battering ram crashing through 15 apartment walls as it’s the fastest way to Mera who is running along the rooftops, while simultaneously Arthur is being chased by Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), the film’s sadly underused but encouraging secondary villain, with various moments for combat thrown in, an exploding church bell, and Arthur using a literal ball and chain as a weapon. At one point, the camera shows Arthur’s fight and zooms across the rooftops to catch up with Mera, mere minutes before she creatively uses red motherfucking wine as a weapon. Just thinking about this scene again brings a smile to my face. It’s chaos in its most glorious form.

The climactic Battle of the Trench is, thankfully, a worthy capper on a terrifically fun time. I can’t go into too much detail for fear of spoilers, but this scene is the main cause of my exclamations of disbelief I mentioned earlier. Some of the moments on screen are wildly creative, they’re moments that will stick with you for months, because it’s a battle on the same scale as that of Helm’s Deep in ‘Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers’ only this time it involves sharks with freakin’ laser beams attached to their heads, giant crocodiles, giant crabs and lobsters, and there’s even the closest thing to an actual kaiju. It’s not a case of Wan throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks here; everything sticks. The final 30 minutes of ‘Aquaman’ is the best climax to a 2018 film this side of ‘Hereditary.’

Aquaman’ is fantastic. I can forgive the flaws of its screenplay when the action is this satisfying and this impressive. It has charismatic performances, a fantastic soundtrack (‘Aquaman’’s theme is the best superhero theme since ‘Wonder Woman’, for everything the DCEU is doing wrong, it’s nailing the music), and stellar direction and cinematography. It’s one of the most bombastic, energetic, insane films of the year, and it deserves your attention.

Give me more ‘Aquaman.’ I want so much more ‘Aquaman.’

 

RHYS’ VERDICT:

5

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The DCEU Movies Ranked

Written by Nick Staniforth

Braving the waters of the comic book universe once again this week, Warner Bros have supposedly turned back the tide and managed to deliver a superhero story that is getting unanimous praise for embracing its bonkers premise and surfing it to the shore of success. If you haven’t twigged yet, what with all the water puns, I am of course referring to Aquaman, the latest chapter of the DC universe starring Jason Momoa, Willem Dafoe, Patrick Wilson, Dolph Lundgren, Ludi Lin, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Temuera Morrison, Amber Heard, Nicole Kidman and Randall Park.

As of today, the man born of land and sea has made his way into cinemas, but following his release, where does the half-Atlantean sit among  Warner Bros. other highly debated efforts? Here be the rankin’ of the entire DCEU films so far that’ll no doubt cause some waves.


 

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Suicide Squad

It’s almost fitting that James Gunn has been tasked with a sequel to the film Warner Bros were keen to make their own Guardians of the Galaxy. Rough around the edges and filled with its own team of misfits, Suicide Squad had all the potential to be the outside contender that could straighten up the impending array of entries that were in the pipeline – instead, it almost ran the damn thing off the road.

A slung-together script, reshoots aiming to lighten the mood following the near-fatal feedback of Dawn of Justice (more on that later), and one of the shortest performances of The Joker ever caught on film, Suicide Squad was a slog of a viewing experience if it wasn’t for some key players that saved the day.

Margot Robbie and Will Smith as Harley Quinn and Deadshot reignite the chemistry they had in Focus, with the likes of Jay Hernandez’s El Diablo, Karen Fukuhara’s Katana and Jai Courtney as Captain Boomerang conjuring some compelling performances, but the outcome is still a visually murky slog that even with an impending sequel, is an instalment that rarely gets revisited.

 

 

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Justice League

Die-hard DC fans can hashtag the crap out of a campaign to release the Snyder Cut until the Parademons come home, but there’s no denying that the finished product of the Justice League was far from complete. The second that light touches the synthetic upper lip of Henry Cavill, things roll off to an uneven start for the film that should’ve been a team-up for the ages. Instead, we’re treated to a CGI-tastic tone tornado that was another close call for the end of the DCEU.

Snyder’s eyegasmic vision and Whedon’s wit colliding should’ve made for the perfect comic book film, but like Suicide Squad before it, Justice League ends up a drab and forgetful outing. There are glimmers of hope, with Jason Momoa’s Aquaman making his debut, Gal Gadot Gadoing what she’s great at, and that hair-raising moment Superman returns for real, but it’s just not enough.

That chase scene on Themyiscara still holds up but besides that, the rest of the film, for the most part, is a union of DC’s finest stuck together with PVA glue in front of an undeniably bland CGI backdrop. They should’ve entered a league of their own, but instead served as a grave injustice.

 

 

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Aquaman

A well-known horror director and a former horse lord are easily one of Warner Bros. bravest bargaining chips when it came to Aquaman and his solo film. Appearing as an undeniable redirection from the dark and sombre scope the DCEU has been focussed on for some time, Jason Mamoa’s standalone entry as the king beneath the ocean is one of the most refreshing instalments thus far, though not without its own issues.

Demonstrating that same flair he had with high-octane sequences in Fast & Furious 7, director James Wan gets his feet wet again in an at times visually impressive affair and tackles them to a degree, with Nicole Kidman as an ass-kicking Queen Atlanna being a standout moment. Sadly, these aren’t enough to wash over what is a fairly dull story that feels worn down. Plucking plot points from Thor, Black Panther and Wonder Woman, it avoids being a complete wipeout thanks to Momoa who is once again not giving a fork and having an absolute ball, which pushes the film along. Ultimately, it’s a good effort for DC to steady the ship but still not a patch on the best entry so far.

 

 

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Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Tearing friendships apart as much as The Last Jedi, or when Ross and Rachel went on a break, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was the film we never thought we’d see, and ultimately the film fans will never, ever agree on. Considered to be the stuff of dreams and I Am Legend Easter eggs, the sought-after showdown between The Dark Knight and The Man of Steel is a battle on so many levels. For every hit it lands, there’s another counter swing that puts it on the backfoot, which is why its slap bang in the middle of this list.

Forming a bond in the opening act to the previous film amid the rubble and chaos left behind in Man of Steel, Snyder does a great job at building up the motivations for both fighters in this epic bout. Cavill once again slips into the super suit with ease as the still tortured Superman trying to find his place in the world, while Ben Affleck delivers one of the best iterations of Bruce Wayne and Batman ever captured on screen. Fearful of this stranger beyond the stars and being a figure worth dreading himself, it helps a great deal for when these two finally do go toe to toe. It’s the time spent getting to and following from the final fight that is the films biggest issue.

The Martha motive is still frustrating to even recall, as is Jesse Eisenberg’s weedy, tick-induced Lex Luthor. It’s a lengthy lost opportunity that we may never get back but thankfully gave the world Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, the films most undeniable redeeming factor. If your chest doesn’t swell the second she flies in on Hans Zimmer’s score, then you really need to seek medical attention.

 

 

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Man of Steel

Ah yes, back when it all looked so promising. Snyder’s debut venture into the world of DC’s greatest heroes may have had its issues, but Henry Cavill’s first turn as the man with the big red cape is undoubtedly one of the strongest of the bunch.  Retelling the origin story of the most iconic superheroes ever for the modern era is a tough task but even more so when that beloved tale is tweaked to significant levels.

It all works, for the most part, aided by a strong cast that solidifies this world, and provides realism in a way that even Marvel still hasn’t done. From Amy Adams’ sharp Lois Lane to Michael Shannon’s tyrannical iteration of General Zod, every box is checked for the players involved in this effort to get Superman soaring to new heights. Most notably are the parents that mould Clark into the hero he becomes. Russell Crowe and Kevin Costner bring varied but vital fatherly roles as Jor-El and Jonathan Kent, respectively, while Diane Lane as keeps her son grounded as widowed mother MARTHA (sorry, old habit).

There are flecks of kryptonite littered through the film of course, most notably in that films final building breaking scuffle between Cavill’s Superman and Shannon’s Zod. Turning the shining Metropolis into an abandoned car park by the film’s end may well have been Snyder’s plan, but he once again spends too much time on something that should’ve zipped by faster than a speeding bullet. Not a bad first try – if only they’d been this good, though.

 

 

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Wonder Woman

There was only one place for Gal Gadot’s solo gig as the Amazonian princess to go and that’s right at the very front. Putting aside all the convoluted, reconstructed world-building that has been tried and tested, Diana’s first adventure is the closest to perfect Warner Bros. has been. Patty Jenkin’s take on the most well-known female superhero is an absolute treat from beginning to end, distancing itself from all the other entries by decades and finally giving audiences a film they could all agree on as being an absolute belter.

A fish out of water tale with added oomph, braving the era of World War I to bring Diana’s story to life is a refreshing chapter in an uneven series of instalments. Already demonstrating she could wield the headgear and lasso in Dawn of Justice, Gal Gadot gets time to really fit into the role of Wonder Woman and make it her own. Strong, graceful and an undeniable presence of good, she elevates every frame she’s in and makes the walk through No Man’s Land as iconic as Christopher Reeve circling the earth.

Taking the lead behind an equally charismatic Chris Pine who is in awe of his co-star as much as we are, she’s a breath of fresh air in a world that up until then was lost in its own self-manufactured smog. So the familiar final act may suffer some crash, bang and CGI wallop, but it’s redeemed by Diana’s heartwrenching goodbye to Steve Trevor that conjures the more emotion than any of the films that came before it. It’s a wonder we even got this, far but thank the gods we did.

REVIEW: Creed II (2018)

Directed by: Steven Caple Jr.
Cast: Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson, Dolph Lundgren, Florian Munteanu

Written by Cameron Frew

“If he dies, he dies,” said Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) in Rocky IV, arguably the finest entry in the series outside the all-time classic original. It was a film that captured the essence of its time; the ultra-machismo, the air-punching music, a self-aware corniness, post-Cold War observations. But Creed II, the follow-up to 2015’s acclaimed spin-off, is a much different beast from its ancestor.

After Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) becomes world champion, Drago, the man who killed Creed’s father, and his brutish son, Viktor (Florian Munteanu) challenge him to a fight. Against Rocky’s (Sylvester Stallone) better judgement, Creed takes the bout, sparking repercussions that will affect his life at home with Bianca (Tessa Thompson).

Lundgren’s mournful icon opens the picture, from the frosty-blue filtered snowscape of Kiev, awakening his boy for what we can only assume a long, hard day of montage-worthy training. It’s not long before we see the terrifyingly hulkish Viktor, deftly handled by Munteanu, in action in the ring. One thing is established fast; Viktor shares one huge trait with his dad – a lack of compassion.

Director Steven Caple Jr, taking the gloves from Ryan Coogler, plays a tension-raising little game – we’re reacquainted with Creed and co fairly quickly (in a sneakily modest one-take). Rocky says to him: “Are you here to prove something to other people, or prove something to yourself?” The triumphant spirit that helped give the first film a surprising strength is back, but Caple Jr is keen to remind you that there’s definitely a storm coming, and there’s only so far a good man can go against someone “who was raised in hate”.

Stallone earned himself an Oscar-nom for the (formerly) titular role, and here he’s on similarly excellent form. There’s a really interesting narrative in play between him and Drago throughout; the latter broke things in Rocky “that ain’t ever been fixed”, but he also lost everything and was exiled by his wife – and country – following his homeland defeat. Lundgren is fantastic here, bringing a cautious vulnerability and real, hard vindictive streak in a fractured, immensely satisfying performance that makes these two titans meeting again feel more than an exercise in cheap memories.

The moral conflict is meaty; Rocky is against Creed fighting Viktor because of the past, because of how dangerous he knows Drago’s son is and, obviously, because he can’t face watching the son of the man whose life ended at the hands of his Russian foe, also die. But Rocky fought Drago out of guilt, so if Creed wants to fight his son after Drago has the brass neck to challenge him, can he be blamed? It’s a tale as old as time – testosterone firing on all cylinders. Thankfully, writers Sascha Pem, Juel Taylor and also Stallone keep the story rooted in harsh reality; Creed II is more of a story about finding oneself in the shadow of our parents, and the need to let the past go to become who you really want to be. That, and some tellingly obvious comments on toxic masculinity, takes this a little further than more surface-level genre efforts.

Thompson and Jordan are a fabulous duo that endures a heart-wrenching plight – the writing in this regard excels at not romanticizing their lives (aside from the dreamy L.A flat they acquire just like *finger snap*).  With the exception of a small number of truly moving moments, their narrative is filled with foregone conclusions. In fact, the film itself is excessively formulaic, almost going exactly the way any relatively clued-up moviegoer would predict.

But that’s the thing; Creed II only works if you’ve got skin in the game, if you have more than a floating investment. You need to care and believe in the stakes and the people. If you don’t, the clichés will hit harder, but if you do, there’s much to be enjoyed here as both a series veteran and newbie.

The fight scenes are intense and muscular, shot with a firm hand and never, as the trap less adept efforts fall into, disorientating to enjoy. However, the choreography is miles behind decades-earlier movies; not just Rocky, but also Raging Bull, or even Warrior in 2011. There’s a certain lack of distance afforded to the viewer, always cinematically in amongst it instead of taking a step back. In a boxing picture, that would seem like a detrimental flaw – but Caple Jr is slick enough to carry it off.

Returning to compose is Ludwig Göransson, who separates this work even further from its family tree, weaving the soundtrack with a hip, modernized flare that rarely taps into that classic theme (oh boy when it does, though), exhibiting a rare confidence in the culture of sequels. The music makes for a thrilling accompaniment to Kramer Morgenthau’s raw, evocative cinematography; a natural at both establishing the emotional range of an intimate environment and accenting a brilliant montage. A little more recognition of its roots would have carried it that extra stretch (don’t wait on Drago saying that famous line), but this is a cool, unruffled entry in a franchise that would be welcomed back again.

Gripping and poignant, Creed II marks the humble passing of the mantle. Just need Mr. T’s son for next time.

 

Cameron’s Verdict:

4

A Hero Is Born In The Final ‘Aquaman’ Trailer

“Following the events of Justice League, Arthur Curry, the reluctant ruler of the underwater kingdom of Atlantis, is caught in a battle between surface dwellers that threaten his oceans and his own people, who are ready to lash out and invade the surface.”

Directed by: James Wan

Cast: Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Patrick Wilson, Nicole Kidman, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Willem Dafoe, Dolph Lundgren, Randall Park

Release Date: December 13th, 2018

Brand New 5 Minute ‘Aquaman’ Extended Look Released

“Following the events of Justice League, Arthur Curry, the reluctant ruler of the underwater kingdom of Atlantis, is caught in a battle between surface dwellers that threaten his oceans and his own people, who are ready to lash out and invade the surface.”

Directed by: James Wan

Cast: Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Patrick Wilson, Nicole Kidman, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Willem Dafoe, Dolph Lundgren, Randall Park

Release Date: December 13th, 2018

Brand New ‘Creed II’ Trailer Teases The Creed v Drago Showdown

“Life has become a balancing act for Adonis Creed. Between personal obligations and training for his next big fight, he is up against the challenge of his life. Facing an opponent with ties to his family’s past only intensifies his impending battle in the ring. Rocky Balboa is there by his side through it all and, together, Rocky and Adonis will confront their shared legacy, question what’s worth fighting for, and discover that nothing’s more important than family. Creed II is about going back to basics to rediscover what made you a champion in the first place, and remembering that, no matter where you go, you can’t escape your history.”

Directed by: Steven Caple Jr.

Cast: Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson, Phylicia Rashad, Wood Harris, Andre Ward, Florian “The Big Nasty” Munteanu, Dolph Lundgren, Russell Hornsby

Release Date: November 30th, 2018

SDCC: Dive Into Atlantis In The First Trailer For James Wan’s ‘Aquaman’

Following the events of Justice League, Arthur Curry, the reluctant ruler of the underwater kingdom of Atlantis, is caught in a battle between surface dwellers that threaten his oceans and his own people, who are ready to lash out and invade the surface.

Directed by: James Wan

Cast: Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Patrick Wilson, Nicole Kidman, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Willem Dafoe, Dolph Lundgren, Randall Park

Release Date: December 13th, 2018

Michael B. Jordan Steps Back Into The Ring As Adonis Creed In The First Trailer For ‘Creed II’

“Life has become a balancing act for Adonis Creed. Between personal obligations and training for his next big fight, he is up against the challenge of his life. Facing an opponent with ties to his family’s past only intensifies his impending battle in the ring. Rocky Balboa is there by his side through it all and, together, Rocky and Adonis will confront their shared legacy, question what’s worth fighting for, and discover that nothing’s more important than family. Creed II is about going back to basics to rediscover what made you a champion in the first place, and remembering that, no matter where you go, you can’t escape your history.”

Directed by: Steven Caple Jr.

Cast: Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson, Phylicia Rashad, Wood Harris, Andre Ward, Florian “The Big Nasty” Munteanu, Dolph Lundgren, Russell Hornsby

Release Date: November 30th, 2018

 

Watch This Space: September 4th – 10th

Every Monday we will be recommending films that are on TV that week, films playing at the cinema, and also remind you of those brilliant films hiding on streaming services, such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, and possibly in your own collection.

In Cinemas

IT: The highly anticipated ‘IT’, the second Stephen King adaptation to grace our cinemas this year, is released on Thursday! It’s been 27 years since we last saw Pennywise on screen, but this time he looks like he’ll really be inducing nightmares. We’ll have our review up early next week.

Patti Cake$: Last week we posted up our review of Geremy Jasper’s first feature length directorial effort. Sarah calls it “a delightful, uplifting comedy drama with a killer soundtrack“. Don’t let this one fly under your radar! 

Logan Lucky: Another film we reviewed last week,  Soderbergh’s ‘Logan Lucky’ hit cinemas at the end of last month and you’d be a fool to miss this one. With Adam Driver, Channing Tatum, and Daniel Craig delivering the charm and laughs, we think this is a must-see this month. 

On TV

Monday

Star Trek (1979): This 1979 sci-fi feature film debut for the crew of the USS Enterprise was made out of an un-used TV pilot. So with ready made costumes, sets and props, a film was green lit to rival ‘Star Wars’ and prove that Trekkies weren’t out of the space film race yet! This isn’t the easiest of watches, I warn you. It’s very slow, very of it’s time and very un-eventful. BUT it paved the way for twelve sequels, multiple new TV shows and a fan base to rival that of the Jedi. With the cast of the original 60s show back, you’re in good company, but don’t expect anything to knock your socks off JUST yet in the early voyages of Captain James T Kirk. Beam up on SyFy at 9pm

Unbreakable (2000): Still the best Shyamalan movie (in my humble opinion of course), ‘Unbreakable’ is also one of the most unassuming “superhero” films as well, with fascinating characters and an interesting narrative. With standout performances from Samuel L. Jackson and Bruce Willis, and with the recently announced sequel to ‘Unbreakable’ in the pipeline, what better time to watch it than right now…or this week at least!

 

Tuesday 

Gladiator (2000): The 2000 film that came from nowhere proved to be one of Hollywood’s biggest gambles – a genre that was pretty much dead in the water, leading actor Russell Crowe who was yet to break the big time and a story set in ancient history. ‘Gladiator’ did what it set out to do; redefine the historical epic, shine a light on a forgotten and fascinating culture and showcase top acting and crew talent for a thrilling, rousing and dramatic story of a Roman general who became a slave, who became a gladiator who then defied an Empire. It is quality film-making and it’s all presented in such a bombastic way that it hasn’t been bettered since and given us more swords and sandal epics than we deserve. Be entertained on Film4 at 9pm

Blades of Glory (2007): In 2007, Will Ferrell tried his hand at figure skating. If that sounds ridiculous, it’s because it is. What it also is, though, is a frequently funny romp that gives us some hilarious set-pieces, a brilliantly silly chase scene, and some surprisingly well thought out skating routines. Keep and eye out for the scene-stealing Will Arnett and Amy Poehler as the Van Waldenberg siblings, but the real stars are Will Ferrell (as funny as he’s ever been) and Jon Heder (the straight man to Ferrell’s joker who still has a fair few great lines of his own) as the two polar opposites are forced to work together. Witness the hilarity on Comedy Central at 9pm

Wednesday

Godzilla (1998): Roland Emmerich unleashes the Japanese created sumo-lizard in New York City, carrying the tag line “Size Does Matter” in perfect 90’s fashion. Matthew Broderick and Jean Reno give chase to the monster along with a group of baffled scientists and military personnel with plenty of comic relief. Buildings will shake if you forget the fish at 9pm on Sony Channel.

V for Vendetta (2005):  The year is 2028. The United Kingdom is a fascist police state, with political opponents, Jews, Muslims, atheists, immigrants, homosexuals and other “undesirables” executed. Hugo Weaving is the mysterious V, an anarchist and freedom fighter, wearing the infamous Guy Fawkes mask. Natalie Portman is Evey, a young woman who is recruited into V’s revolution. ‘V for Vendetta’ is THE dystopian political thriller to watch. And has never felt more ‘on the nose’ than in our current political climate. Be sure to join the revolution on SyFy at 9pm

Thursday

Kick-Ass 2 (2013): The follow up to the excellent ‘Kick-Ass’, about a young man called Dave (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) who puts on a mask to become Kick-Ass, an adequate crime-fighter. Chloe Grace Moretz reprises her role as the fowl-mouthed ultra-violent Hit Girl, with added Jim Carrey as Colonel Stars and Stripes. Throw in a new villain in Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) and a supporting cast of loveable misfits, and Kick-Ass 2 is a fun grounded comic book movie that subverts expectations. Film4 at 11:25pm is the place to be. 

Friday

Resident Evil (2002): Up for a solid horror movie on a Friday night? Then look no further than Paul W.S. Anderson’s ‘Resident Evil’, the adaptation to the terrifying video-game series that scared millions. Whilst critics mostly panned the movie for its video-game aesthetic, it’s by far the best entry to the 7-film franchise. Catch Milla Jovovich and Michelle Rodriguez in the film that kick started the franchise at 10pm on 5*

Trainspotting (1995): Danny Boyle’s magnus opus ‘Trainspotting’, a masterclass of filmmaking that’ll have you immersed for its entirety. Follow Renton and his gang into the Edinburgh drug scene and all the grotesque imagery that comes with it, and with terrific performances from an incredible ensemble cast, this is a must see. You can catch this cult classic on Film4 at 1am.

This is England (2006): One of the best British films of the 21st century, This is England introduced the world to some exemplary world-class actors; Vicky McClure, Joe Gilgun and Stephen Graham among them. It is a hard-hitting and a difficult watch at times, but Midlands-based writer/director Shane Meadows always undercuts the drama with humour as well. This film tracks the ‘rise’ of a gang of skinheads in the 1980s, covering the music and fashion, as well as the much darker neo-Nazi side. Of course, this subject is unfortunately relevant today. If you do tune in to watch this film for the first time, I also highly recommend the TV series that followed. The acting is astonishing and heart-breaking. Catch the film on Film4 at 9pm

Hiding Online / In Our Collection

The Expendables 3 (2014): This is a fair entry into the series, but nowhere near as enjoyable as the second, and a very mediocre offering saved by seeing so many familiar faces clearly having a blast on screen. Ignore the youngsters if you can and just wait for the pay-off. With a cast including the likes of Sylvester Stallone, Wesley Snipes, Dolph Lundgren, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Terry Crewes and more, you know the bang for your buck you’re gonna get! But it’s a little more…family friendly this time, which is a shame.  If you enjoy this, I urge you to revisit the second film from 2012 which, to me, is the stand-out of this current trilogy.

Men in Black (1997): Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones star as the relentless duo assigned to “Protect Earth from the Scum of the Universe.” Slick and comical with timeless entertainment and notorious Sci-Fi creatures, director Barry Sonnenfeld delivers an instant classic with charming wit and suave action built around a plethora of cool-as-they-get gadgets. Head over to Netflix and keep a hold of your memories.

 

A huge thank you to contributors this week: Chris Gelderd, Jo Craig, Corey Hughes, Sarah Buddery, Sasha Hornby, Fiona Underhill, and Rhys Bowen Jones