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The Fate of the Furious (2017)
So now we know...
For the record, not being a gear head, I had little to no interest at all in the first four or so Fast & Furious movies. No, I came to them around movie five and up until now the seventh instalment had been easily the best. Very, very dumb but oh so very enjoyable. I had wondered, though, how they could possibly outdo the over-the-top nonsense we were fed in part seven. How could they possibly walk the line between dumb and just plain stupid? Could they go even more bonkers and still just about - but only just about! - have us willingly suspend our disbelief long enough to be able to enjoy the damn thing? Was that even possible...?
Well, now we know. The answer is sadly no.
I really did want to engage with this movie in a meaningful way, IMAX 3D and all. But it was just too dumb. From a shower of driver-less cars to pushing torpedoes away with your bare hands to...oh, I don't know what else. No matter how dumb a movie is, there has to be something we can believe in, right? Well, not this time out. No spoilers here, see it for yourself - yes, really - but don't say you weren't warned...
Listen to them all at your peril...
Never - probably! - in the history of cinema has such a concerted campaign been undertaken by so many people who have obviously not seen the film to discredit a movie. Well, I may be wrong about that, there may be a historical precedent that I am unaware of, but I'm sure you get what I mean. Now, quite why so many would have you believe this movie stinks, I really can't say. It doesn't matter anyway, because this movie very definitely doesn't stink.
Is it as good as the 1984 original? No, and nothing could ever be that good again. Is it as good as 1989's follow up? Possibly. It may even be better, that was a largely soulless affair. What you can say about Ghostbusters 2016 is that it has heart. A lot of heart. And it's funny. Very funny. All of the principals are great, with Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy excellent and kudos in particular to Kate McKinnon who, being a Brit living in Tokyo, I had never seen on SNL. Chris Hemsworth was also entertaining, playing very much against type.
I am aware that the movie mafia is suspicious of any good reviews being posted for this movie. Well, screw them all. Use your own brains and not theirs. See this movie, you won't be sorry that you did.
Of Gods and Monsters....
Being as I was a part of the London metal community in the seventies and eighties, a Hawkwind fan in my youth (saw them a few times in '72 and '73) and a Motorhead fan right from the beginning (I managed to catch their first few live shows in 1975 or whenever), I was, I guess, right at the front of this movie's core audience. Not even I, though, could have hoped for a more complete and more satisfying experience as the movie turned out to be!
Having had the privilege of spending time with the great man himself on a number of joyous occasions, I can happily report to any interested parties that 'Lemmy' is as honest a portrayal of the man as you could possibly hope for. He is exactly as this movie shows him to be, and that alone is enough reason for anybody - metal head or not! - to make the effort to see it. There is - and there will only ever be! - one Lemmy. Thank god (or maybe the other fella..?) that somebody had the balls to make this movie so that we may all cherish it in the years to come.
Jonah Hex (2010)
C'mon people, this is a better movie than you are all saying...
Sure, we've all seen this movie a dozen times over, from 'Wild,wild west' to any number of similar plots, but Jonah Hex is fun, simple as that. Josh Brolin is always good value, the supporting cast is excellent and there really isn't anything on display here to warrant such venom. I have seen far worse movies earn a better rep than this one, quite what you were all expecting is a mystery to me. This movie only requires that you go with it, it isn't high art but it also isn't the turkey that they would have you believe.
If, like me, you were dumb enough to be put off seeing this movie by the reviews posted here...well, don't listen to them. Jonah Hex is OK by me and I think it will be by you, too.
In the Night Garden... (2007)
Top marks for this one...especially Makka Pakka
The original remit for this show wasn't to entertain but rather to bridge the part of the day between learning and running around generally being a wee kid and bed time. This it does admirably. Besides, we shouldn't make the error of thinking that children's TV need always be educational. This desire to constantly bombard children (in this case pre-schoolers) with information is a bit tedious and its amusing to see the same tired arguments that were leveled at the Tellietubbies rolled out again. Kids aren't machines, they need a bit of nonsense from time to time the same way we adults do. Top marks for this one...especially
Bionic Woman (2007)
Not at all surprised at the reaction to this....
It's a typically cynical attitude to a perfectly good re-imagining of a series that was pretty dreadful to start with. C'mon, let's face facts, with the source material being so ropey in the first place, there was no reason to expect very much at all from this. The truth of the matter is that this is far more interesting than the awful 70's original and deserves to be judged on its own merits, of which there are many. Michelle Ryan is remarkable given her woeful origins in soap opera hell.
Look, if you are open enough to take this on board without getting bogged down in all of the baggage that comes with it, then there is much to enjoy.
The Number 23 (2007)
Oh my God...could this be any worse?
I am simply awestruck at the ineptitude of this film. Like everybody, I have seen my fair share of dreadful films...but this is a whole new level of truly appalling. I have all the time in the world for Jim Carrey and Virginia Madsen, but what sins have they committed in a previous life to deserve being stuck in this utter dog's dinner of a film? I won't even bother trying to précis the plot - such as there was - but what I will say is that everybody involved - especially Joel Schumaker - should be deeply, deeply ashamed. There is unlikely to be a worse film this year and this abomination alone will leave a black pall over 2007. An unmitigated disaster from beginning to end.
Life on Mars (2006)
Now, this is what I miss about not being in the UK....
Sure, there's plenty to get a hankering for. Steak and kidney pudding, Cheddar cheese...but what I miss most being stuck here in Tokyo is quality TV. Nobody - and I do mean NOBODY - other than a British programme maker and probably only the BBC could have come up with anything remotely as original and challenging as Life On Mars. Having come to this show as late as I have, it's a real treat to see how well received it has been. Quite why an American network feels the need to re-make what is essentially already just about perfect is quite beyond me. I hope they get it right, but I fear they won't. That being said, the US version of 'The Office' works well, but that is because the approach is pretty radically different to the original - they chose to focus more on the peripheral characters than the UK version. In any case, Life On mars is to be cherished. Top drawer stuff.
King Kong (2005)
Good, could have - should have! - been great.
I guess that Peter Jackson was always odds on for a hiding with this film. I know many people who are just not at all interested in seeing this film because it's either a remake of a film that they never particularly liked in the first place or just a remake of a seventy year old movie. Mighty Joe Young and the like have probably had all their is to be had out of the big ape genre. Their opinion, not mine.
Boy, was I stoked at the idea of seeing this movie, I ran to the cinema and kinda made myself a bit of a fool over it. So, what did I get in return? OK, let's face facts here, IT'S TOO DAMN LONG!! At least 45 minutes could have been shaved from the film and nobody would have been any the wiser. The CGI is shabby at times, especially the Brontosauruses - they were really poor and the blue screen work in that part of the film was just awful - you felt that you could reach out and peel the human characters off the screen, that's how detached from the CGI action they seemed. I could also have done without all of the insect nonsense; they were not at all believable and didn't move the plot along at all.
Kong himself, however, was simply amazing. Thanks to Andy Serkis, he is perfectly believable and it's easy to lose yourself in him as a character. The acting is fine and the final pay off is great. At 2 hours 20 minutes and without some of the truly atrocious CGI work, you're looking at a great movie. As it is, it's worth seeing but that's about it.
It's Oliver Stone...get over it!
I've worked it out. It took me a while, but I've finally figured it out. This film isn't damned by so many people because it's good, bad or indifferent. People have a problem with it because it's an Oliver Stone movie, simple as that. Now, in a world where a pile of old tosh like 'Million Dollar Baby' - easily the laziest piece of film making of recent years - gets the praise that it does and bags a truckload of Oscars to boot yet a brave attempt to film an almost untellable story like the life of Alexander gets so pilloried...well, what does it say about cinema goers? Most prominent are complaints that it's too long - not so - and that it's boring. I ask you, how could you tell a story like this and it be boring? You couldn't! Like somebody else said on this thread, see it yourself, don't be told what to like. If it doesn't work for you, then so be it. But see it anyway...
Koroshiya 1 (2001)
I really wanted to like this, but....
Junk...pure and simple. Nothing coherent or remotely interesting, poor characterisation (which is a sin for a manga adaptation) and violence solely for the sake of violence - never a positive thing in a film, if you ask me. I have absolutely no problem with screen violence at all - in fact the more gory it is, the happier I normally am - but it has to serve the story. That is simply not the case here. Random bloodletting and raging sadism will never take the place of story led violence. All in all, I have to say I was mightily let down by this movie. I've enjoyed much of Takashi Miike's past work - especially the truly awesome 'Audition', but this just didn't hit the spot. Don't believe the hype.
Give it a chance, it has all the makings of a potential classic...
It seems odd that the knives are being sharpened so quickly - one episode and, for some, it's all over bar the lynching. What price comedic success, eh
? Like everybody, I thought The Office was pure comedy gold. The premise was so strong that even the US offering couldn't fail. So, this time up, what has Ricky Gervais got for us? Well, more of the same only different. 'Extras' is in the same mould as The Office, there are those cringe worthy moments that we've all grown to love and expect...but there's a clever twist on the formula. The Gervaise character isn't the butt of all of the jokes this time around. Sure, the scene in the trailer with the crying eastern European reminded one of the fake sacking of Dawn and the scene towards the end at the party with the racial slurs was pure Brent, but more often than not Andy was observer and rye commentator on what was going on around him. This would simply have been beyond David Brent's self obsessed nature.
All in all, 'Extras' has what it takes and I await the next episode with great anticipation.
Million Dollar Baby (2004)
Sometimes I despair, I really do....
Look, what passes for emotion in this movie isn't emotion at all. This is a shallow, hotch potch, thrown together cliché ridden movie that thinks very little of it's audience and insults said audience's intelligence from the word go.
Go on, count them off - all the required elements are there. The script is incredibly unoriginal and the story telling is just downright lazy. The performances by Hilary Swank and Morgan Freeman are watchable, but Clint Eastwood faxes his performance in. That the academy would fall over itself to shower this mess with accolades says all you need to know about where their loyalties lie. Talk about honour your own...
And why is it Hilary Swank's character can only be beaten by a cheating ex East Berliner? Pathetic...
Batoru rowaiaru (2000)
Flawed but fun.
I was lucky enough to see the special edition of this movie whilst in Tokyo recently (I have no idea how it differs from the bog standard edition!). That nice Mr. Tarantino was doing a great job on TV drumming up interest, so how could I say no?
To be honest, the only people likely to be either shocked or outraged by this movie are those who haven't actually seen it. The violence - and make no mistake, there's plenty of it! - is strictly comic book in execution and, in the main, actually pretty funny. Imagine if Tarantino or Robert Rodriguez had made the remake of 'Lord Of The Flies' and...well, you get the picture.
On an un-PC note, how often have you been on packed public transport and been really hacked off at the behaviour of a bunch of teenage kids? Well, this one's for you, pal.
Takeshi Kitano is under used, the ending is a real cop out and it's pretty poorly paced. Apart from that, it's a lot of fun - watch out for the head through the window, it's a hoot.