Kursk/ The Command review

Normally I love watching submarine films. I mean the long lamented genre of siege films is my favorite and the idea of taking a siege mentality, putting it in a giant windowless cigar tube, with the knowledge that even a sneeze could sentence you and 100 other people to death from some unseen enemy is, to my mind a recipe to great movies. And U571.

Normally….

Because normally I’m not watching Kursk or The Command in the US or Kursk: The Last Mission in the UK. Normally I’m not watching a story which should not need to be told because there’s absolutely no reason for it to have happened.

Normally I’m not watching a film and getting Chernobyl flashbacks. You remember Chernobyl, right? Literally the greatest TV show ever made and, unlike Breaking Bad a TV show that you actually should put next on your to binge list. (I’m starting Breaking Bad next week, I swear! On my script guys life!)

Because all of the issues flagged up in that show are flagged up here, despite the Cold War allegedly being well and truly over by that point.  Over, according to the papers but not in the mindset of those high enough up the food chain to accept the offers of help that came in thick and fast, instead choosing to rely on outdated, inefficient machinery that didn’t have a hope in hell of doing what they needed it to do.

Then you have the people back at home, desperate for information who, instead are being fed useless out of date slogans and information that’s so irrelevant that the people delivering it might as well not have bothered.

However, unlike Chernobyl (which was so realistic that the only people who got a bit miffered were the Pro-Kremlin media which continues to deny the extent of the disaster at Chernobyl, saying it has been exaggerated, with state-run media scoffing at the “myths,” such as large numbers of leukemia. Segments of the Russian government were so unhappy with this program that state TV channel NTV is producing its own more “patriotic” account of the events, involving a wholly fictional storyline based on a conspiracy theory that a CIA agent was in Chernobyl to sabotage the plant.)- I can’t wait. But Kursk defiantly takes a more fictional route- the end results still the same but the way we get there is slightly different than what happened in reality.  Because otherwise it would be even more depressing.

Anyway, the plotline (in case you haven’t guessed 420 words in) is that during a Russian naval exercise in the Barents Sea two explosions severely damage the submarine. Twenty-three sailors survived the crash and desperately waited for help to arrive while their oxygen ran out minute-by-minute. It’s cold, it’s grey, it’s depressing and it’s one of the most affecting film I’ve seen in months.

I do have some issues with the film in the Colin Firth (whilst playing a smaller role than the ad campaign would have you believe) is somewhat distracting in the role because a story like this is strong enough that it doesn’t need star power, it’s simply distracting. It’s the same with Léa Seydoux who is a fine actor but I feel that casting an unknown would have lent the story more resonance. Also, toning down the melodrama might have helped somewhat, with the increased time being used to focus on the people trying to save those desperately trapped under the sea, as well as those trying to use their limited resources to get more time for the rescue that they know is coming if they can just hold out a little bit longer…

Kursk/ The Command/ Kursk: The Last Mission is a film that doesn’t pull it’s punches or attempt to quell it’s anger at the fact that every decision that was made was wrong, and (at time of writing) no-one has bee brought to justice. There’s no Hollywood style bombast or moments, just real people trying to make the most of a horrifying, nightmare, situation. I mean, the characters aren’t for the ages (the guys on the sub are pretty interchangeable) but I  liked them, I liked their sense of camaraderie, the way that they kept each other sane in the most terrifying circumstances imaginable. The effects were passable and, on the whole, this was a story that needed to be told, I just think that they needed to take out the star names, maybe stick closer to reality and treat this as an entry point to a fascinating story.

My Score- See It. 

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The Queens Corgi

I

Uh….

Dwah?

I have so many questions about this… well, I hesitate to call it a film- not just because it’s an unpolished mess (which it is) But because it lasts a mere 81 minutes!?!?! Now, that’s not to say good films can’t be short – Airplane is 88 minutes, Spinal Tap 89, Toy Story 81, but each of those (and many more) was a lean mean fighting machine with absolutely no fat on it’s bones.

The Queens Corgi? Let me lose in the editing suite and I can get that down to an hour easy. Hell, if I was to get rid of all the fat on this films bones I could get rid of 81 minutes worth of fat.

But, leaving that aside, this films release date smacks of some unpaid intern who was told to release the film but couldn’t be bothered to check IMDB to see what was coming out this month. I mean, this is a low budget animated film coming out in the immediate aftermath of Toy Story 4 whilst boasting the animation of Toy Story 1.

Seriously, where Toy Story 4 opens with a scene IN. THE. RAIN. as well as photorealistic cats and human that don’ look like soul sucking nightmare creatures whereas this… has those things I just said. I mean, I could get something like this coming out in deadtime such as September or January but in the middle of the summer bloodbath? That way madness lies.

I mean, this film came out on 3 April 2019 in France and Belgium, Uzbekistan (!) on 22 June 2019, Scotland and Ireland on 28 June 2019 and in England and Wales on 5 July. I mean, words just fail me. because this has got to be one of the worst release schedules I think I’ve ever seen. Oh, and the film is threatened to be released around the world, including China, Latin America, the United States and Russia at ‘some point in 2019.’ Avoid it if you can.

But, bad animation, pathetic run-times and mind-boggling release schedules do not a bad film make. Other things do. And this film checks a lot of those boxes.

Now i’m loath to mention the voice acting because it’s all universally awful but because it’s different actors in different locations- not just for language reasons but even between English speaking location’s! 11 cast members are due to be swapped out before this film crosses the pond – now that has to be some sort of record. Hopefully some of those 11 will be able to match their voices to their PS1 lips but I won’t hold my breath.

 

The Dead Don’t Die Review

The most annoying films to review are not the terrible films like your Hellboys who get everything wrong or your Mad Max Fury Roads who get everything right but the films that squander their potential.

The ones that, on paper have everything going for them but just can’t quite make the most of their ideas, cast or potential.

The ones that just make me want to scream at the screen, go back and write another draft and get it right this time!

Because The Dead Don’t Die should tick all my boxes. It’s a zombie film which usually means a siege movie (my favourite genre), it’s got a great cast, an amazing director- every film geek should check out the directors previous film Only Lovers Left Alive.

But… pretty much it’s every problem can be traced back to question ‘so what are you going to do with that?’

For example, it’s revealed early on that polar fracking has disturbed the day-night cycle. ‘so what are you going to do with that?’ Are you going to go the Stepford Wives thing of having every scene in broad daylight? Juxtaposing the glorious sunshine with the creeping horror of a zombie hoard? Nope, the last half of the film is in darkness.

Technology isn’t working. ‘so what are you going to do with that?’ No phones to call for help, no cars to escape in or alarms to warn us. Nope, tech works when the plot wants it to and doesn’t when it doesn’t.

The greatest cast ever disassembled screams the marketing, great, but (all together now) ‘so what are you going to do with that?’ With a cast so large I can’t get invested in anyone. Is Bill Murray going to say that unusually fights ghosts? No. Is too Danny Glover too old for this? No. Is Selena Gomez going to sing a song to cheer everyone up or discover that her songs drive everyone away a la Mars Attacks? No.

The zombies are smarter than your average zombie, drawn to places that were important to them in life. ‘so what are you going to do with that?’ A Wi-Fi joke? Seriously.

And it just goes on and on and on like that. This film has enough ideas to fill out a TV show but doesn’t DO anything with them. Or it’s cast. Apart from Tilda Swindon. Her character rules but the cast is so big with so much going on that she never has a chance to develop as a character.

Look… It’s like I tell the tourists I’m forced to interact with, yes, New York New York has enough stars on Broadway to make a new galaxy but do you know what the west end has? Plays worth watching.

It’s the same here, if your not prepared to use your cast except as an advertising gimmick then why have them?

Oh, oh oh! I have another one. Some of the characters appear to have forth wall knowledge. ‘so what are you going to do with that?’ Nothing? Moving along.

The plots your bog standard set up. In nowherevill USA, the dead start rising and the living try to fight back. Zombie films not really being big on a twisting narrative. But as a way to mock society? How consumerism and the daily grind means that we probably wouldn’t notice a zombie apocalypse? Or a way to examine what makes us human, placing compassion and empathy against our drive to survive? It’s a hard lens to beat but here? Nothing. Zombies arise and sometimes it’s hard to tell the living from the dead because apparently any emotion in this world is illegal or everyone took some downers before coming to the set.

Seriously, if your case doesn’t seem to be invested then why should I? I could be at home watching Anna and the Apocalypse again. At least that has characters i care about, singing and dancing penguins and a villain actually remembering to have fun. But here? Nothing.

Squandered opportunity after squandered opportunity after squandered opportunity. The violence is mostly off screen, there’s nothing distinctive or memorable about this film and at times, it feels so much longer than it’s 1 hour 40 minute runtime.

Everyone’s acting like the Straight Man, we never learn anything about any of the characters, two of them might have feelings for each other ‘so what are you going to do with that?’ Noble sacrifice? Tearful confession before a nearly certain to fail desperate last roll of the dice? No. Of course not. Don’t be silly.

The townsfolk go straight to zombies as an explanation for a series of murders that happen ‘so what are you going to do with that?’ Set traps? Prepare? Try to escape? Nope.

There’s seemingly only one song in this universe ‘so what are you going to do with that?’

You have one of the most unique singing voices in history acting as an observer/narrator ‘so what are you going to do with that?’ Your not even going to let him sing?

I just don’t get you movie.

Perhaps the inevitable cult that’s going to grow up around this will tell me where I’m going wrong but at the moment I just don’t see it.

Look, not every zombie film has to be Shaun of the Dead or Zombieland but being better than Strippers versus Zombies or Zoombies 2 should not be this hard! At least I can laugh at how bad they are!

To me, this film is just a stilted, boring mess that squanders every opportunity the film gods have given it. Hell, I genuinely think this would have been better as a slow burn TV show, as is?

My Score- Skip It.

Men In Black International

“Hey, I was just wondering if you planned to review MIB?”

Asked a long suffering subscriber and I suddenly felt like I was back at school being asked if I planned on doing my maths homework when I already had one eye firmly fixed on my PlayStation.

Which should not be the reaction to reviewing what should be a fun little timewaster. I mean the original film was a fun buddy cop meets monster flick starring two leads with great chemistry, it’s like it’s their fault that the two sequels were respectively unwatchable and basically passable, was it?

Nor is it their fault that according to Sony, the first film (despite taking 600 million at the box office) technically still hasn’t turned a profit.

Hollywood- where the most creative people work in the accounts department.

Anyway, for those of you.who need a refresher, the Men in Black films feature a secret, unaccountable, agency who keeps the aliens living among us secret. Their films always feature an all powerful mcguffin which has the power to defeat a seemingly all powerful alien who has an allergy to weapons, armour or anything that might give them an edge in combat against some sharp suited squishy humans.

And it’s nice to see that some things never change. Despite an interesting idea (A mole in MIB), there is still a hunt for an all powerful mcguffin which has the power to defeat a seemingly all powerful alien who has an allergy to weapons, armour or anything that might give them an edge in combat against some sharp suited, squishy humans.

Which is the first on a very long list of disappointments that this film heaps upon it’s audience.

Yes, Thor and Valkyrie still have good chemistry together but their so rarely together, their either with other MIB or an irritating little CGI… thing who I’m convinced exists purely to sell toys.

Hell, this films so bland that when I checked Wikpeida, it wasn’t for production notes, director, budget, etc. It was in the hope that someone could tell me what in the name of Zhoul was going on.

There was a whole 15-20 minute segment featuring the worst use Rebecca Ferguson I’ve ever seen that could have been safely left on the cutting room floor. Naturally our heros get framed and have to go on the run from MIB which could have lent a cool Jason Bourne air to the whole thing but it also goes nowhere and could have been left safely on the cutting room floor.

What else…

Well, I hesitate to say that the action scenes sucked because I’m not entirely sure that this film HAD action sequences. I mean, there were scenes where guns went bang and other where people made sort of punching type motions and then other people fell over but it was so over edited and I so so uninvested in the whole thing, they might well have been showing off particularly aggressive forms of chiropracting to each other.
Oh, and all together now… “the best bits were in the trailer.”

Which, given that the trailer is about two and a half minutes long and this film clocks in at an almost punishing two hours long (When it has no business being over 100 at the longest.) Shows that maybe you should let the accountants write the next one as this one isn’t going to turn a profit through being unwanted, unwelcome, unimpressive and uninteresting as opposed to being a reason to give them all energy powder and tax deductible bonuses.

I mean, I do like this world and it is a good idea in principle but overall, it’s as memorable as… well?? I would say a flash from a neuraliser but since that’s already been used in over 75! Other reviews, I’ll just say it’s a bland, dull, pointless remake from a company desperately throwing all its franchises with the slightest hint of name recognition at the walls and leave it at that.

In other words? Just go see Godzilla.

MY SCORE- Skip It.

Anna (2019) Review

I get that after your lifelong passion project (Valerian and the city of a thousand Planets) turns into one of the biggest bombs in cinematic history you might want to return to your cinematic roots and make something low budget to calm your nerves, check you’ve still got ‘it’ and stop your company from collapsing under a mountain of debt.

But there is returning to your cinematic roots and there is reheating old leftovers and Luc, buddy, this is some serious reheating.

But hey, I liked La Femme Nikita as well. Hell, I even stuck with the tv show for a couple of seasons but this… this is just copy paste. Just swap out the Centre for the KGB, and your pretty much good to go.

Now, for those of you who haven’t seen Nikita or even last year’s Red Sparrow (and on that one I can’t blame you) the plots simple. Set at some point during the cold war for no reason that I could work out, Anna is well, according to the blurb Beneath a woman’s striking beauty lies a secret that will unleash her indelible strength and skill to become one of the most feared assassins on the planet.

I’ll take that as a plot description because even though this film has a near 2 hour run-time (When a film this basic should be no more than 100 minutes at the longest) I genuinely have no idea what the plot is, why almost everyone did what they did or even who they were. I mean, how do you waste Dame Helen Mirren? I didn’t even think that was possible.

Now, as far as I could work out (and trust me, it wasn’t easy) the plot involves a beautiful Russian girl with no personality being forced into becoming one of the USSRs top assassins and then she enbarks on a cat and mouse game with CIA man (Cillian Murphy) whilst desperately trying to get out of the game without receiving a fatal dose of lead poisoning. Or Polonium. Or Cyanide. Or having a ‘boating accident’ since her cover is as one of the world’s top models. Because that makes sense.

In reality,it’s a mess. There’s only two real fight scenes (which weirdly enough featured pretty heavily in the trailer) , then everyone sits.around talking, some… people on set get shot but it never seems to cost our lead character anything. There’s one fairly major character, who, in the right hands could have acted as Anna’s conscience, a link back to her humanity but instead is just sort of… there. Remove them completely and the film wouldn’t suffer at all.

Also, I get that in spy films the odd flashback can be useful in helping us know how a trick was done, they are best used sparingly. Here? Their used so often that I was half wondering if the scriptwriter was on such a tight deadline that instead of rewriting some scenes, it was quicker and easier to just put in a flashback explaining how this was all part of some grand plan. It got do bad that you could make a drinking game out of them!

We never get a handle on our lead character and certainly not on any of the side characters. There’s two passable action scenes but scenes that should have been tense, weren’t. People that should have had depth, didn’t and its way, way too long.

I know a film of this type can work because it has in the past. But here? Even with the flashbacks it’s completely predictable and with a few rewrites it could have been so much better.

The best I can say is it’s made enough money to temporarily keep the creditors from Luc Beesons door.

My Score- Skip It.

Spider-Man: Far from Home Review

So, how does one follow up Avengers Endgame? A film which despite being re-released as an ‘extended edition’ whilst the original is STILL in cinemas featuring some half baked, unfinished irrelevant scene is still second behind a James Cameron film which nobody remembers let alone cares about in the global box office?

You reach for one of the most popular superheros in existence of course! Good old Arachnid boy who is pretty much single handily responsible for keeping the turkey factory known as Sony in operation.

Arachnid Boy – We Just Realized There’s A World Outside Our Windows, is the first film set after a bunch of CGI thugs undo Thanos heroic and noble actions to lower London’s house prices and help me get a seat on the central line in the morning.

And at first it looks like the film is going to tackle the issues raised by half the population suddenly coming back from the dead- schoolkids having to redo school years, people coming home to find that other people are living in their homes, family members having moved on, remarried and adjusted to what must have been a horrific experience.

Except within ten minutes the film drops all these ideas in favour of yet another Marvel film.

I mean, it is kind of cool that an American road trip film has realized that there’s more to Europe than London and Prague because well, insert your own Brexit joke here because I am so, so tired.

I am also slightly baffled by the interesting ideas that the film has and then throws away, Fury is depicted as being behind the curve but the film doesn’t really do anything with it. Parker is in so many European countries but they pass by so quickly that none of them make an impact beyond Marvel being pleased with the fact that it’s just bought a new atlas.

It’s gotten all the usual Marvel issues as well, the villain appears to have nothing but good points, the hero is basically an immortal, invulnerable God, the CGI is everywhere and obvious , even when it doesn’t need to be there, I’m still not convinced that the hero isn’t the biggest menace in the film and everyone’s just a quippy pain in the neck to such an extent that I wanted to go back in time and shove a book of Shakespearean soliloquies down Joss Wheedons throat and his Scooby Gang of helpers needs a lot less time in the third act as they frankly add a Gooniesh air to what could have been a very intense finale.

Aside from that, this films actually pretty good. Holland is amazing as Parker and is arguably the second best cast person in the film…. It’s great to see Jake Gyllenhaal back into blockbusters following 2008s frankly underrated Prince of Persia flick. More comedic lines hit than miss and there are some really cool ideas and visuals after what I guess is supposed to be a twist in the middle of the film but everyone who has even the slightest knowledge of the web-head would have seen coming a mile away.

There’s some good character moments but it just all get drowned beneath the inevitable CGI slurry hat accompanies all these films.

As a soft reboot after infinity war, this film works. As a fun distraction, it works. Marvel doesn’t make bad films. I mean, they will eventually but that day is not today. It’s got some interesting ideas but it doesn’t DO anything with them. All the characters are interesting flawed.and relatable. Or pathetically flat one dimensional bits of cardboard but that’s life these days.

Some of the action scenes are fun but all of them are different and inventive and to be honest, that’ll do film. That’ll do.

My Score- See It.

Yesterday Review

Dunkers, I am so confused right now.

Not about the plot of this film. Trust me, once you’ve seen a film where single people are banished to a hotel and are then given thirty days to get into a relationship or be turned into a lobster there’s very little that confuses you in films (apart from Momento I mean I’m only human) but by the fact that this is a film directed by Danny Boyle- fresh from getting out of the ungodly car crash that Bond 25 is turning into teaming up with the writer of Love Actually!

Danny 27 Hours Later, Sunshine, 127 Hours Boyle teaming up with the writer of Love Actually! That’s like Batman teaming up with the Ninja Turtles!
Huh, he did that and it came out on DVD this year?
Fine.

That’s like Batman teaming up with Judge Dredd!
Twice!?!?
Sherlock Holmes?
Tarzan?
Scooby Flaming Do?!?!?
Fine. This writing team up is like Batman teaming up with my mate Tom who thinks that just because he doesn’t drink he never has to get round in.
Git.
The point is that this team up shouldn’t work and yet it kinda does really.
The ideas really cool in that a mysterious blackout has caused everyone to completely forget The Beatles (along with a feather things) ever existed and completely removed all records, CD’s, YouTube videos etc from existence.
It’s also the kind of surgical removal which has left all art inspired by the Beatles completely intact. The inlyperson who remembers they existed is a failing singer who can recrerate all their songs from scratch. And even helps them to survive repeated encounters with Ed Sheeran.
We’re never told how or why this happened and frankly, I don’t care. We never questioned how or why Bill Murray got stuck in a time loop in Groundhog Day and its the same idea here.
Again it’s not the biggest suspension of disbelief I’ve ever had to make and its a really cool idea to springboard from.
Its just a shame that the main guy is a complete drip, none of his supporting characters gets any depth, the plots completely predictable once you strip away the while Beatles veneer, there’s a scene with James Corden in it which is one to many in my book and it well, it just doesn’t have enough Beatles music in it.
I mean, you would think that, having allegedly spent 10 million of your 24 million dollar budget on getting the rights to the songs, then you would use the damn things but the film just… doesn’t.
Which is a shame as the film, for all its predictability has a real charm and warmth to it. A flawed idea brought to life by humans who are passionate about it rather than made by marketing people in an attempt to sell toys.
The film does miss a wide open goal in Kate McKinnon’s manger… erm…manager who, towards the end almost seems to be some sort of villain who looks at our lead and just sees a licence to print money, where it would have been cooler if she remembered as well and was the devil on his shoulder, tempting him with money and fame if he would just keep his mouth shut and sing except she’s never used in that way.
Also, she’s not very funny in this either.
Look, I don’t want to give the impression that I’m down on Yesterday because it doesn’t really do anything wrong. It moved along at a decent clip, it’s actors are solid and it is a feel good film, woth a few scens that made me laugh and others that made me chuckle, but it’s just that with a few rewrites what’s good could have been better, make manager into a seductive menace, develop the characters a bit after cutting maybe one or two of them, play some of the songs and this could have been up there with Groundhog Day instead it’s sort of there.
Also, why is it all the good films this summer are based off of songs that came out 15 years (or so) before I was born? Seriously Hollywood, get it together before you have to make a film about The Eagles.
And everyone hates The Eagles.
My Score- See It.