Who Is The New Doctor?

In the year 2017, Doctor Who enjoys  somewhat unique place in popular culture. Since being created in 1963 as an educational programme using time travel as a means to explore scientific ideas and famous moments in history. Since then, the show has become arguably one of the biggest in the world.

And at the centre of it all is The Doctor, a renegade time-lord from the plane Gallifrey who travels the universe righting wrongs and tackling some of the most terrifying villains that can be put on at tea-time.

And a nifty idea that has become central to show is that the central character can regenerate. Basically, every few years when the actor playing The Doctor desires to try to escape so they don’t get typecast as The Doctor (and good luck to them with that) the character gets ‘killed off’ and comes back as a new character with the same name and identity but with a slightly different personality.

And until the 16th of July 2017, that main role had always gone to a white man. And all of that changed when, after an inevitable win at Wimbledon for Roger Ferder for a record breaking 8th time we were shown our first glimpse of the new Doctor.

Jodie Whittaker.

Which was followed by several inevitable reactions. Twitter exploded with people claiming that it was ‘about time’ and that it was going to be amazing for the show and it’s dynamics. The second was how PC this move was and how it was going to kill the show and how they would never watch it again. Because it was unrealistic that a two hearted time travelling alien could become a woman.

I had a slightly different question.

Who the hell is Jodie Whittaker?

One quick dive to IMDB and Wikipedia told me that she’s worked fairly solidly for years, bubbling away just below the surface.

She was the main character in cult classic Attack the Block (which is pretty much an episode of Doctor Who anyway), as well as appearing in television shows  Tess of the D’Urbervilles (2008), Wired (2008), Return to Cranford (2009), and of course, the absolutely fantastic Broadchurch, where she played Beth Latimer for 24 episodes.

And despite the fact that I’ve actually had to research who the new Doctor is, I don’t really have any concerns over Whittaker. People forget that Matt Smith was virtually unheard of and the IMDB message boards exploded with claims that he was too young and that he was going to ruin the show. Capaldi was primarily known for playing Malcolm Tucker in satire The Thick of It. And David Tennant wasn’t exactly a household name either.

I don’t care that the new Doctor is a woman either. The writing for that has been on the wall for a while. Although I was defiantly team Tilda Swinton I do think this well respected, talented actress should be given a fair shake at the role.

No, if i’m angry about anything at all it’s the way that the BBC told us about this new Doctor.

You see, Capaldi and Smith had hour long TV shows dedicated to who on Earth they were, what kind of Doctor they were going to be and how excited they were to step into the role, so on and so forth.

But for Whittaker? And unveiling arguably the biggest casting decision of this year? After all, the Whovians were pretty much the only fanbase not declaring with one voice that only Tom Hardy was acceptable in the lead role and eager for anyone that wasn’t Kris Marshall to take the role and how does the BBC tell the world?

A 60 second advert after the Wimbledon mens finals.

Not a teaser trailer, not an advert showing us the new Doctor and then telling us to watch at 6.15 whereupon we would be given more information, hell, there wasn’t even a single word of dialogue.

She simply walked through some woods in little blue riding hoods old cloak, had a key materialize in her hand, look at the camera and that was it. For such a huge casting decision that was all we got.

It was pathetic.

Mind you, it probably added a fair few million to the viewing figures for about ten minutes. And I seriously hope the BBC does better with the new series.

But what do you think about the new casting?

War for the Planet of the Apes Review

 

Why does this franchise exist? I mean the MCU exists as a licence to print money, the DCEU and Dark Universe exist as an experiment to see if you can create a similar licence without putting in the legwork. Bourne exists because America is desperate to reclaim the spy genre and Fast and the Furious because 12 year olds need their sugar rush.

But I can find no reason why pointless of the apes exists betting proving that Andy Serkis deserves a precious oscar that the nasty, tricksy academy is keeping from him.

I mean yes, the 1968 is one of the greatest films of all time with one of the most iconic and parodied endings of all time, and yes, the following films were hit hard with the law of diminishing returns but they created a perfect, eternal, causal loop. We don’t need a new franchise to explain how we got to the original film. We already know.

And weirdly, no-one seems to remember these films exist until the next one is about to hit cinemas. It’s just sort of… there.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, War for the pointless of the apes is amazing. Arguably the best blockbuster of the year but there’s just a curious futility to its existence.

There’s other niggles as well. This iOS apparently a post apocalyptic world with unlimited food, petrol and bullets and the apes seem weirdly ok with being naked in temperatures that are probably hovering around 0.

And despite constant references to a planet of apes, we never see or hear any mention of tribes beyond serkis, so it’s more a Small Wood of the apes than a planet.

But aside from that, I’ve got very little to criticise.

The film wanders from Vietnam movie to revenge western to Ape-pocalypse now towards the end. (That’s not one of mine by the way, it’s literally stencilled on a wall)

Don’t go expecting all out action as was inferred from the trailers, instead Logan would probably be the closest film I could think of. It has ruminations on war and revenge, justice versus vengeance, how far into savagery must you go to defeat the savage?

Even the villain, gets some measure of tragedy, his backstory and a new threat to what remains of humanity giving some understanding to his beliefs, giving layers to a character that could so easily have been a cardboard cutout.

The film looks incredible, with the apes looking like you could reach out and touch them.

Serkis needs his Oscar for his performance as Ceaser, the ape equivalent of Professor X who finds himself pushed deep into a darkness that film seems all to eager to explore.

Because this is a pretty dark film that might be too intense for younger viewers and I was very grateful for the comic relief character, even if he was called
Bad Ape.

With deep characters who have believable motivations, backed up by some of the greatest CGI creations ever made and some truly thrilling yet realistic action scenes this is the first (and probably last) must see blockbuster of the year.

Just don’t believe all that guff about this being a trilogy, part four has already been greenlit.

My Score-See It Now

Baby Driver Review

 

Coming out of my screening I heard another audience member say that ‘fast and the furious is dead. Too much green screen and it got too silly, this film is the madness’. And I agree completely, because yes, I had a ton a jokes about fast and furious reboots and how vin now has hair but why would I silly this, this masterpiece with comparisons to that beached whale of a franchise? Because this is light years beyond fast and the furious.

Imagine the film that you thought drive was going to be, then throw in the verve, swagger, attitude, soundtrack and sunglasses of The Blues Brothers, throw in a spark of madness and your pretty much at Baby Driver.

Edgar wright has truly made his masterpiece in a film that far surpasses the ice cream trilogy.

Taking the relatively simple story of criminal meets girl, criminal has to do one last job, last job goes sideways, allies and enemies shift… you may think you know the drill but there’s enough twists in the tale to keep you entertained throughout.

Special credit has to go to the cast , from Lily James as the love interest, to Keiza Soz… I mean frank Underwood as a mob boss, even Jaime Foxx- attempting to atone for Sleepless whilst still chewing all the scenery he can get his mitts on. But special credit has to go to Ansel Elgort of Divergent franchise fame, as the titular character, who dances around the set rocking a seemingly unlimited supply of sunglasses, iPods and attitude whilst speaking maybe 10-15 words in the film.

Speaking of iPod’s, forget Guardians of the Galaxy, this is the soundtrack to own this summer. I’ve had it on repeat since I got home from my screening and it rules. My neighbors seem to like it as well- they keep banging on the walls to get me to turn it up.

And I guess spending all that money on song rights meant that the reason that there was no cgi or green screen was because Wright had run out of cash? Either that or Wight had a deep desire to show actual pulse pounding car chases instead of CGI cartoons? Either way he’s proven my theory that CGI and green-screen will never, ever, look as good as an actual car driven by an actual person doing actual stunts.

Throw in some amazing one take shots of car chases, Baby dancing around apartments and Atlanta whils’t never being placed in the corenr, that must have been a nightmare to film and you’ve got yourself a classic.

Hell, I haven’t even gotten to the dialogue which cracks and sparkles better than Tarentino on his best day. My audience laughed more at this than any comedy more that I’ve sat through this year.

I mean, one poor, brave soul even tried to applaud at the end credits.

But, as this isn’t mad max fury road, this isn’t a perfect film. It could do with 15 minute being taken off the runtime and the main couple fall in love faster than a Disney princess. And i’ll be charitable and say that the characters aren’t exactly for the ages and that unless Keizer Underwood has one hell of a cleanup team or the dirtiest cops outside of The Shield every single person in the film would have been arrested within about… hmmmm 15 minutes.

But these minor quibbles aside? Nope. Nothing else from me. Drop everything , SEE IT NOW and please don’t let it turn into this years The Nice Guy’s.

Please?

For me?

The Mummy Review

Another day, another failed attempt to create a cinematic universe.

But for this one we’re going to have to go a little bit further back than usual because this is not just a film, it’s the beginning of the Dark Universe! Assuming of course that Warner Brothers doesn’t sue them into oblivion regarding the name “Dark Universe,” which is the working title for an upcoming DECU movie based on the Justice League Dark comic book series.

But back with The Mummy, and we discover that according to an interview on Screen Rant that the original films- ranging from the ‘20’s to the ‘50’s are still considered cannon!  Quote “There is, however, some very cool news for fans of the original films. We asked Kurtzman if there’s any chance that the original films might be considered canon. “You know what?” said Kurtzman, initially hesitant about the answer, “I will say, absolutely. Those movies exist in continuity.”

This blessing does not extend to the Brendan Frasier films (2 of which I really like), 2004’s Van Helsing (which I enjoy) nor does it include Dracula Untold which was supposed to start off the DARK UNIVERSE, but that has now been declared an unfilm meaning that we are getting another Dracula re-boot at some point in the future. As well as a threatened DARK UNIVERSE film every year whether we want it or not.

The joy.

Mind you, I seriously doubt  we are getting a sequel out of this mess because whilst this isn’t as unwatchable as say King Arthur: Legend of the Bored, it’s still a mess. And just like with Legend of the Bored, I have a list of questions that I hope will addressed in the unmade sequel.

I’ll start with the easy ones.

Does Russel Crowe want a pay check or to chew the scenery? When did Maximus Decimus Meridius develop such a dad bod? Who decided to call their secret organisation  Prodigium instead of ‘Not SHIELD’? How can they seemingly have a small army yet need to be saved by some random bloke off the street? Why is it lead by someone that they should clearly have dealt  with? And why did they clearly show Hyde instead of hinting as to his existence? Watching Jekyll become corrupted over several films would have made for a great solo film where Hyde, armed with all of ‘not SHIELDS’ knowledge and resources becomes an evil influence? How is ‘not SHIELD’ funded? Who decided the best place to base ‘not SHIELD’ was in the Natural History Museum and when did the NHM move next to the Houses of Parliament instead of being 15 minutes away in South Kensington?

How and why did this film get a 15 rating in the UK? A film like this needs to be 12a and to my eye was edited accordingly.

Why does this film have VFX that look identical to a film that came out 20 years ago? Why is it so dull? How can a film with 125 million dollar budget look so cheap? How can a film world with almost eighty years of backstory feel as flat as a pancake in every regard? Why do Cruise and erm… Girl act like star crossed lovers when they no chemistry?

Yeah, Cruise is playing basically the same character he has been for twenty years so I’ll call his Mummy character Bethan Bunt since I can’t be bothered to click over to IMDB to find out what it is. In my defence, the filmmakers didn’t seem to care so I don’t see why I should. He’s brought back from the dead after a plane crash that should have turned him into a puddle and not only is it not explained why he suffered not even a scratch but it’s never explained if he’s now turned into Captain Scarlett or if he’s still just human who got a use once ‘get out of death free pass’. He can certainly take punishment that I’m certain would have killed anyone not made of rubber.

As to his love interest, Jenny, I’m at a loss for words. Early Bond girls had more character and development  than her! She doesn’t really advance the plot in any way shape or form. And yet she and Bunt act like star crossed lovers? No. nononononono. No. No.

Onto the villain, (played by the far too good for this kind of thing Sofia Boutella) who’s end goal is…. Erm actually I have no idea. I’ll say global destruction with  a side order of bringing an evil god into our world but I’m not entirely sure on that point. Neither does the film. Either on that or what exactly are her powers which seem to involve mind control (on people and bugs), sand, and erm… really rocking the rag look. The film doesn’t seem to care about her as she takes away from all the exposition that’s dumped on the audience head every other scene.

The special effects look no better than they did in the 1999 version, in which the characters were better, as was the story, and the level of enjoyment, the baddies powers were defined and stuck to, I laughed more and cared more, and it didn’t feel like a bloated advert for a film series I don’t remember asking for…..

You know what, a plague on this films house! Just go and watch another version or go and see Wonder Woman again.

As for this film?

My Score- Skip It.

Wonder Woman has been banned in Lebanon

(Note: This article is correct at time of writing- 31/05/17)

Wonder Woman has been subject to some of the most pathetic ‘controversies’ I’ve ever had the misfortune to glare at over my morning cornflakes. They include the ‘expected’ controversy over whether or not her costume is too sexy (which according to the director it isn’t.)

To an actual controversy about whether or not the Amazons would have shaved their armpits or not (I told you the ‘controversies’ were pathetic.)

Then the Alamo Drafthouse movie theater received some negative responses for announcing a series of women’s only screenings of the film now, they are taking place after the premier of the film and for charity but I still have mixed feelings on the subject.

But the award for most astonishing and in some ways most pathetic controversy belongs to the country of Lebanon. Which has banned the film completely. Not for moral or ethical reasons or because their still scarred from Suicide Squad and Batman Vs Superman: Dawn. It’s not even really for religious reasons.

Rather it’s because Gal Gadot is an Israeli.
Lebanon, which has been officially at war with Israel for decades, has a law that encourages boycotts of Israeli products and bars Lebanese citizens from traveling to Israel or having contacts with Israelis.

And this has been a seriously last minute ban- allegedly coming into effect a mere 2 hours before projectors started rolling.

The ban was prompted by a group called Campaign to Boycott Supporters of Israel – Lebanon, which pressured the government in Beirut to block the movie. On its Facebook page, the group said it is advocating a ban because Gadot was a soldier in the Israeli army, and has expressed support for Israel’s military policies against the Gaza Strip, a coastal Palestinian territory run by the militant Hamas group.

In a widely shared posting on her Facebook page, Gadot had praised Israel’s military during the Gaza-Israel 2014 war, sending prayers to Israeli soldiers “who are risking their lives protecting my country against the horrific acts conducted by Hamas.”

Even though Lebanon enjoys a greater margin of freedom of expression than other countries in the region, prior censorship remains in place, particularly with content relating to Israel, religion and homosexuality.

Ironcially, the same council that decided to ban Wonder Woman failed to get Batman v Superman: Dawn of Migraines banned in the country. And other Gadot films (like the Fast & Furious installments she starred in and Tom Cruise vehicle Knight & Day) were also shown in the country.

And despite the ban in Lebanon, Wonder Woman is set to open as scheduled during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan across theatres in the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Kuwait on Thursday. It is scheduled for release June 22 in Oman and June 29 in Bahrain. Although this may change at any time.

Interestingly, In 2013, the Lebanese government heeded a call by the Arab League to ban Lebanese-born filmmaker Ziad Doueiri’s “The Attack” because it was shot in Israel. As a result, the film was “massively pirated across Lebanon where the DVD was prominently showcased and sold in all major pirate DVD stores there,” says the film’s Middle East distributor Gianluca Chakra, head of Dubai-based Front Row Entertainment.

“Did they actually stop people from watching the film? Absolutely not,” he said.

And I figure the same will happen here.

Baywatch Review

I no longer fear death for I have seen Baywatch 

Sorry, I normally do more a lead in than that.

Lets start again.

Baywatch was a tv series that ran from 1989-2001 and includes several unwatchable spin-offs.  At its height, it aired in 148 countries, on every continent except Antarctica. After 11 years in syndication, it was canceled for the second time in 2001. It’s the only TV show in Iceland’s TV history to receive massive complaints from viewers over containing subtitles (for the text would get in the way of ‘vital’ parts of the imagery). As the show was infamous for cramming roughly 15 minutes worth of plot into a 45 minute show via the medium of slow mo shots of various pretty young things in skin tight swim costumes.

Fast forward to 2017 and the show is making it’s big screen debut via the director of such comedy classics as Four Christmases  and Identity Thief. 

And I have no idea who thought this was a good idea.

I never really got into Baywatch when it was on TV, but I remember it being on during tea time just before Gladiators and as far as I can work out there’s absolutely no reason why this film shouldn’t have been the same.

Yeah, all the gross out humor from the trailer? That’s pretty much all there is in the film save one very unfunny and horrifically stretched gag involving the slats in a deck chair and an ‘overexcited’ young man that was met with side-splitting silence in my screening.

Because whilst I know that humor is subjective apparently everyone in my screening is as grouchy and jaded as I am. There were a few smiles, maybe a chuckle or two but mostly, there was just dead silence- even during the outtakes over the credits.

And there was no need for the gross out humor, or the nudity, or the rampant foul language because this would have worked perfectly well as a PG rated summer blockbuster. Seriously, this film felt like a PG rated film with loads of American Pie humor rammed in for no reason. Because most of the people that were going to see this are in their thirties or forties  now and most of the people I know of that age have grown out of that sort of thing and are teenage boys going to flock to a reboot of a franchise they’ve probably never heard of?

I mean the plot: In which Priyanka Chopra and her two inept henchman come up against a group of lifeguards who attempt to foil her operation to smuggle drugs though a collection of really obvious tanks, horrific green screen and appealing CGI that I think is supposed to be an ocean, is pretty much a description of something I would have enjoyed (and been a lot more forgiving of) when I was 10 or 11.

Hell, I’m pretty sure dad would have stayed awake for this one as the slo-mo shots have survived. And their commented on in several awkward almost-but-not-quite fourth wall breaks that just make everything so much worse than it needs to be.

And you can put as many slo-mo shots of Alexandra Daddario, Kelly Rohrbach, Dwayne Johnson and Greek God/human CGI Effect Zac Efron as you like but sooner or later even I start to twig that there may be the odd plot hole or million including vanishing jet-skis, deaths, falsified evidence that could easily be debunked…..

Look, if you wanted to turn this silly show into a gross-out comedy/parody of itself then do that. Go for it, go all out, you had all the ingredients there but the film just seemed to lack the confidence to go there and it had nothing else to fall back on. The characters are all parody’s of themselves or whoever would inhabit this world. It had everything going for it but instead just made me wonder why they had bothered when with virtually no effort they could have mad the film a family friendly affair.

But I don’t review that which could be, I review that which is.

Summing up? In Baywatch the stunts were awful to look at, the CGI obvious, I never came close to caring about the clothing allergic pieces of cardboard with character arks I could set my watch to, the plot had nothing to offer, the humor out of place and not to my taste (or anyone else in my screenings.) And I still have no idea who this… this… thing was aimed at.

Were it not for Transformers: My God Just Stop and The Emoji movie I would say that this is the worst film of the summer.

And as for Hasselhoff and Anderson? Their credits get more screen time than they do.

My Score- Fire 

 

 

King Arthur Review

Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, released in 1998, was director Guy Ritchies first feature length film and has immediately established itself as classic film, it’s still comfortably inside IMDB’s top 250 to this day and defiantly  worth a watch.

When Ritchie followed it up in 2000 with Snatch, starring Brad Pitt which is still currently in IMDB’s top 100 it seemed that we were witnessing the arrival of a new legendary director, with a knack for juggling multiple plot lines, huge casts of characters with a distinctive look and feel to his films.

But we weren’t because Ritchie never made a great film again.

His next two films (Swept Away and Revolver) were unwatchable, but he momentarily reclaimed something akin to his former glory with RocknRolla the first in a seemingly never to be completed trilogy.

Then, someone very brave, looked at a director known for making low budget crime films and decided to give him $90 million and to make Sherlock Holmes which did pretty well, making back 524 million,

Similar returns awaited Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows but Ritchie scored one of the biggest bombs of all time in 2015’s The Man from U.N.C.L.E., and has now been given 175 million dollars to horrifically mutilate the story of King Arthur. And this is just the first in a planned series of 6 films in what I will be calling the ‘Arthurverse’.

That’s assuming that there are sequels which, if there is a merciful God, there won’t be. But, because it’s the job of the first film in a franchise to set up story threads which will be resolved in future films, here are some questions that I hope they will address in the never-to-be-made-ever-ever-ever-sequel

I’ll start with the easy questions. I want the the Casting Directors name, rank, serial number and home address because I will find him and I will make sure that he never again so much as watches a film. I mean who’s was it to cast Jude Law as a a brooding, tortured, menacing character? Who decided that Charlie Hunnam was an actor instead of an underwear model? In 2017 how is it acceptable that pretty much the only female character has literally no name? Seriously, her IMDB credit is simply ‘The Mage.’ And the actress playing her has either never interacted with a ‘human being’ before or was she deliberately told to deliver more wooden acting than someone in a Shamalan film?

To that end, why is David Beckham giving the best performance in this film? He’s awful and appalling but he’s the only actor who looks like he’s actually trying, Hunnam looks confused, Law just looks lost and as for MageI think she’s just trying to puzzle out the strange grunts these bizarre two legged creatures use to communicate.

Similarly, was the fight choreographer hired at an anti-violence protest for cripples? Or have they only heard of violence by rough description? And no, hyper-editing everything does nothing to hide the fact that most of the people killed in the ‘sword fights’ died from the hyper lethal ‘stabbed under the armpit’ method that I thought had died out in the ’70’s.

And for that matter, where exactly is Merlin? I would have thought he would be extremely important in a !~”!”£! King Arthur film! Especially one where Arthur needs a mentor! What exactly are Excallibers abilities other than whatever the plot requires? Why does one side only realize that they can create giant snake monsters at the end of the film? I would have thought that would be the first (and probably last) move that you would need in a fight. And what the hell are the Siren like things that Law keeps down in the basement and where did they come from? What… is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow? Can that either African or European Swallow carry a coconut? How did a street urchin learn to use a sword? There’s a dojo so we know how he learned to fistfight but why is there a dojo in medieval England?  Why did they use CGI to enhance Keira Knightley’s bust? Why does Ritchie seem confused as to whether he’s making a gritty King Arthur reboot or a gritty Robin Hood reboot?Are strange women lying in ponds distributing swords a basis for a strong and stable system of government? Why does medieval England have access to black powder but no guns? Why is a better Assassins Creed movie than the actual Assassins Creed movie? Why do you hire a great actor in Eric Bana and then only use him for 5 minutes when he would have crushed it as the villain? And most importantly, is this film so tragic and pathetic and forgettable that i’m possibly getting it mixed up with other, better tellings of the King Arthur Legend?

A waste from beginning to end, there is nothing to recommend in this dull, grey, poorly cast, acted, plotted, shot and over-edited mess.

My Score- Fire. AVOID AT ALL COSTS!