Monday, 28 December 2020

Time After Time (1979)

It appears I have stumbled across another Twilight Zone-esque film. Once again this feels more like an extended episode of said show (or many similar shows) which isn't necessarily a bad thing's hard to get away from thinking that. Twas directed by Star Trek's Nicholas Meyer though, one of his earlier offerings, which I found intriguing.

The Plot: It's pretty straight forward. Famous British science-fiction writer H.G. Wells has invented a time machine. Around the same time the notorious serial killer Jack the Ripper is on the loose in London. One evening as Wells entertains dinner guests police knock on the door. It appears the Ripper has struck again and might be in the vicinity. After some investigating it appears that one of Wells dinner guests could be the Ripper. But before you can say 'he's gonna escape in the time machine'...he escapes in the time machine. The Ripper sends himself into the distant future of 1979 and it now falls on Wells to go after him and bring him back to face justice. What follows is your typical out of time adventure as the British gentleman from 1893 must navigate San Francisco circa 1979 to find the hideous Victorian killer. 

Obviously despite the fact this film uses real historic people the story itself is completely fictional (duh). But I did like how Meyer fit this fantasy into a realistic timeline. I should quickly point out that Meyer's screenplay and this film is actually based on an actual book of the same name and year (1979). As I was saying, the film takes place in 1893, two years before Wells would actually write his famous time-travelling story in 1895. Thusly in this film Wells invents the time machine for real, has his chaotic adventure, and then follows it up by writing the story.

As for the chaotic time-travelling adventure, well it's a tad predictable and tame really. Wells is portrayed by a young Malcolm McDowell who, unfortunately, doesn't really pull it off in my opinion. For starters he doesn't really look the part with an obviously fake moustache, blonde hair, and he's far too slim both in stature and face. Secondly he comes across as a complete drip frankly, not that I know anything about the real Wells as a young man but McDowell's performance felt so soft and timid. On the other hand there are plenty of nice little touches from McDowell such as examining surfaces made out of new materials (to him). Trying to work out how to open a car door. Trying to understand the difference in 1979 speech patterns etc...I like that he struggled to get along for a time and had to sell bits and pieces of his attire to raise cash for food. That felt like people had actually thought about this instead of some stupid easy get-out clause (like him meeting a hot girl straight away who just takes him in and looks after him).

On the flip side the Ripper (David Warner) conveniently doesn't seem to have the same issues, that we see anyway. Maybe it's because he's the villain but things don't really seem to faze him as much. He seems more intent on continuing his killing streak in this new futuristic world. This was something that bugged me because why would he do that? I get that he's a psycho but he managed to escape from his murderous past and obvious eventual presumable capture and has given himself a fresh new start. Yet he gets straight back to killing again which would presumably land him right back in the same eventual outcome, capture and imprisonment. Many serial killers are supposed to be quite intelligent, apparently. Well this doesn't come across as a logical move to me, surely he'd be amazed by the future and wanting to discover more about that? I dunno.

Time travel is of course a very hard subject to tackle because who knows how one might react to a whole new world with new inventions. Especially from someone in our distant past because with basic things (to us now) like plastics, travel, architecture, communication etc...would be mind-blowing to them. It might not be too bad for people in our present going forward because we would be more likely to adapt to greater technology, maybe. 

Have to mention the casting of Mary Steenburgen as Wells love interest here. In all honesty her performance isn't exactly ground-breaking but it's the circumstance that's interesting. In this film she plays a 20th-century woman who falls in love with a man from the past and eventually follows him back in time. In 1990 Steenburgen played a character from the past who falls in love with a man from the future and eventually follows him into the future ('Back to the Future III').

There are many things in this film that are quite quaint these days. The main factor of course being the distant future being 1979, one year after I was born. This naturally makes everything incredibly dated to the point of hilarity whilst watching. The outfits David Warner wears in some scenes are priceless. The young girl wearing literal transparent trousers in front of Wells was bizarre as I've never seen that before myself. The fact that the US banks were happy to exchange British currency from the 1800's! Really?? All the cars and technology we see throughout the film. I also liked the obvious visual homage to the 1960's time machine with this film's time machine. Actually I thought this offering was better and had more of a sensible look really. This time machine actually had a little pod you sat in that would protect you from any possible dangerous effects of travelling through time. The fact the time machine in the old 1960's version was essentially an open sled always bugged me.

So anyway the film predictably moves along and we watch the Ripper kill various women only to eventually kidnap Wells love interest in order to obtain a special key from him. Said key is one of two special functions on the time machine. This key stops the machine from automatically going back to its time of origin, which would result in any time traveller being stranded. Without said key the machine won't go at all, I think. Not really sure why anyone would build this function into your machine. The same could be said for the second key. Apparently when you remove this important key it sends the time traveller hurtling into time and space and unable to be saved. This was something I still can't quite get my head around. I assume you have to be in the machine for this to work, but I don't get how the removal of this key sends you into oblivion. And again, why would you build this into your machine?? Seems dangerous.

Anywho overall this film is an enjoyable little time-travelling romp that any time-travelling TV series would be happy to showcase during its run. Admittedly this film would merely be seen as generic time-travelling filler for any TV series, I mean there's nothing ground-breaking here to be honest. It's a very simple story with a very simple outcome that could be retooled for any number of characters from any number of time periods. Think along the lines of 'Quantum Leap' I guess.


Saturday, 26 December 2020

Mr. Destiny (1990)

Believe it or not but there was a time when James Belushi was actually a pretty big movie star who popped out quite a stream of solid comedies. None of these movies broke the box office or anything but they were steady flicks that, for a time, consolidated Belushi's position as a decent funny man. I have strong fond memories of seeing Belushi flicks on the shelves at our local video shop and always picking them up knowing they would be a good time (hopefully). It was only in his later years that Belushi would, as most actors do, move towards more adult material, sadly.

So what's it all about? Well it's the old 'what if' scenario. What would have happened if one small moment in one's life had been different. This movie is essentially a Twilight Zone episode...which is great. Larry Burrows (Belushi) entire life has been marred by the fact that he struck out during his high school baseball championship game back when he was 15. He continually ponders about how his life could have been so much better had he hit the ball and won that game. Well on one fateful night Larry gets his wish via a mysterious bartender in a mysterious late-night bar.

I guess the first thing that struck me about this story is the fact that Larry's current life isn't actually all that bad. I think the story would have had a stronger punch to it had Larry's life been a tad harder or more miserable. I understand that he's supposed to be this average guy...but was he? He is married to a beautiful wife (a pre-'T2' Linda Hamilton), has a nice home, a decent well-paid job, and is generally a well-liked chap. OK he loses his job prior to meeting the mysterious bartender but at no point does he ever seem very concerned about it, in fact he's pretty chipper about it. Clearly he's got good enough qualifications and experience to walk into another job and has plenty of money in the meantime. So his continual yearning about that fateful game merely seems rather pathetic really, like get the hell over it man!

The next thing that struck me was how someone's life could be so dramatically different purely because they won a baseball championship back in high school. OK yes I understand this isn't supposed to be a deep movie, it's a charming little fantasy, but still. So just because he hit the ball and his team won the game his life went down a path of continuous glory? To the point that he became the President of a major company, became a millionaire, and married the hot girl in high school he lusted (and still does because he still knows her) after? Suspension of disbelief yes, but it still makes you think.

Speaking of this company, a sporting goods company, it also seems wildly unrealistic that Burrows alternative life would be SO incredibly lavish by just being the company's President. This company works in sporting goods distribution which seems like it could be a big deal sure, I'm not a business expert. But the size of Burrows house, the interior decor, his assets etc...are more on par with a member of a Royal Family! It's also incredibly frustrating to watch Burrows essentially get fed up with his newfound lavish lifestyle and eventually feck it all up. Again I can understand he would miss his actual wife and have memories etc...but come on! You are now set for life with another beautiful wife and a top job, there's no way you should screw this up, just enjoy the ride.

I have to mention the cast here because it's actually pretty impressive. This did come out in the cinema I believe, although possibly just in the US. Granted a few of these actors were pre-A star status but it's still quite surprising to see such a roster of stars. Here in the UK I think this was merely a straight to video job. Apart from Belushi and Hamilton you have Jon Lovitz as Burrows old schoolmate. Rene Russo as Burrows alternate reality wife (the hot girl he had a crush on in high school). Hart Bochner as the dastardly antagonist who is trying to take over the company (more of a subplot). A post-'He-Man' Courteney Cox in a completely pointless role. And Michael Caine as Mike the mysterious bartender, which kinda felt like a miscast to me.

Overall I did enjoy this charming tale of alternate realities and time travel. Yes the entire thing is wholly predictable and doesn't really offer anything in terms of originality. Yes some of the characters are pointless and towards the end the shady character played by Hart Bochner does take the plot a bit too far towards comic villainy. And yes it does get a bit too schmaltzy in places. But hell what do you expect here? The movie is basically a loose modern retelling of 'It's A Wonderful Life' and one of those safer cutesy 'Twilight Zone' episodes. It's a feel good flick that doesn't really need to go too deep with explanations but does get you thinking just that tiny bit.


Sunday, 20 December 2020

Sword of the Valiant (1984)

Another 80's flick that I had never heard of but was drawn in by the quite amazingly hokey looking movie poster. I mean look at it, a huge sword emblazoned across the middle with various character images hand-drawn to either side. And is that Sean Connery I see on the right? Why yes it is! The only well-drawn (recognisable) face on the poster I might add. Connery's casting elevated my interest...along with the glorious cheesiness on display.

This film is loosely based on the 14th-century poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and is also the second adaptation of the poem by director Stephen Weeks. Interestingly Weeks also recast Ronald Lacey in exactly the same role in this version. 

The plot revolves around a mysterious knight clad in green armour (Sean Connery) presenting himself within King Arthur's court one winters night. The knight offers a challenge to any brave willing knight, one attempt to behead him. After that the Green Knight would have his chance. Naturally nobody steps forward...until the young squire Gawain (Miles O'Keeffe) accepts the challenge. Gawain beheads the Green Knight only to find it has no effect as the decapitated body merely picks up the head and puts it back upon its shoulders. The Green Knight then decides (after recognising Gawain is still very young) to allow Gawain one year to solve a riddle in order to save his life. And that's it! Gawain must then set off on his somewhat random quest of solving the Green Knights curious riddle in order to avoid getting his head cut off in one year.

So yes the plot is rather odd and with little explanation to anything. Alas one must expect this seeing as it's based on a 14th-century poem, albeit loosely. The most obvious question is who or what is the Green Knight? Clearly this knight is some kind of supernatural being. A messenger or tester of men from another world or beyond the grave. He presumably goes around offering these challenges or tests to men in order to see who is worthy of life...or something like that. Why was his armour green? Well after some minor research it seems in old English folklore green represented nature, mythical creatures and witchcraft. So you can see how that would match with the mysterious Green Knight. In this film the knight also has some kind of stag horns on his head which points towards Paganism and Celtic culture, I think. Again all supernatural elements.

Then you have to question the 'beheading game'. I mean seriously, what kind of game is that?! Surely it wouldn't last too long after the first bloke has a hack at the other. Admittedly after some more minor research, it appears that this insane act is merely a trope of medieval romance and not an actual leading sport from the time of yore (I think).

This film is packed with oddities and various mythical easter eggs as it were. Sir Gawain's first trial is a battle with the infamous Black Knight, a character that has popped up in all manner of material. His reward for defeating the dark knight is to be led to the hidden city/realm of Lyonesse (a mythical stretch of land between Lands' End and the Isles of Scilly consumed by the sea). There Gawain meets with another mysterious character, the Lady Linet, who gives him a magical ring allowing him to disappear. She is later kidnapped by a lustful Prince and it falls upon Gawain to rescue her etc...

Problems do abound with this feature unfortunately. The casting is in places impressive and twas clearly a coup to land actors like Connery and Peter Cushing, both of which do fit their roles pretty well. Cushing as the regal Senechal to the lustful Prince and Connery as the towering Green Knight. Both his Scottish lisp and bushy facial hair a big plus factor here. His clearly sexualised suit of armour has to be seen to be believed. On the other hand the casting of O'Keeffe as Sir Gawain felt awkward and wooden. Sure he had the bod but he definitely couldn't act too well and that blonde wig was terrible! He looked like a Ken doll. Wilfrid Brambell pops up in his last onscreen role looking every bit the scruffy medieval peasant type. And then there's the poor man's Brian Blessed, John Rhys-Davies, as a Baron.

To be honest, the film doesn't really look that good either. Whilst filming took place in various locations with actual castles used (France and Ireland) which definitely looked great, overall the film looked fake. It seemed to differ from scene to scene. There are some scenes inside castle walls which looked really authentic with old period looking wooden storefronts, flags, banners, candlelit halls, and whatnot. There are some scenes where knight armour looked pretty decent and genuinely metallic, and there were some costumes that looked realistic. But overall much of the production looks a bit tinny and plastic with stupid wigs and glittery makeup. 

The less said about the score the better methinks, talk about B-movie. And then there's the ending, it just ends, just like that. Sir Gawain rescues Lady Linet, she turns into a dove and flies away back to Lyonesse. We then get a lingering facial shot of Gawain as he looks sad, and in mid-head movement, the film stops and ends. So what happens? Dunno, but can't Gawain just go back to Lyonesse to see Linet again? The original poem is completely different here.

So overall the plot has been tinkered with to make a relatively cohesive plot but unfortunately it simply comes across as generic whimsical fluff. It seems much of the original poem's themes have been jettisoned for a more simplified, trope-laden fantasy. Whilst not a bad film, it's not particularly engaging either.


Sunday, 31 May 2020

The Phantom Planet (1961)

Like many of these oldies I chose this purely based on the absolutely epic title. After that I then followed up with a touch of research into the plot and looked at some images on Google. I quickly came to the conclusion that yes, this is a movie I must watch.

Plot you say? Well allow me to enlighten you. It's the futuristic year of 1980 and mankind (and by that I mean the US) is now firmly set up on the moon. Alas there seems to be a problem, a few US astronauts and their ships have gone missing. So the stiff short back and sides Colonel orders a two-man search party. The surprisingly blonde Capt. Chapman (Dean Fredericks) and Lt. Makonnen (Richard Weber). It's not long before this young all-American duo suffers damage to their ship from a meteor shower which forces them both outside to try and fix it.

During this spacewalk Chapman is knocked-out after a meteor-like particle pierces his oxygen hose. Something that you'd think would kill him pretty quickly but nonetheless. Makonnen manages to get him back inside the ship before he is also struck by a meteor-like particle which sends him floating off into the cold depths of space. Sometime later Chapman comes to and finds the ship being drawn down to a large asteroid, forcing him to land. Upon landing and still suffering the effects of his incident Chapman exits the ship and collapses. He briefly awakens to notice tiny six-inch tall aliens approaching him, before passing out again.

No this isn't a space set Gulliver's Travels, but it is very much a blend of The Twilight Zone and the original Star Trek series. Basically these little aliens (Rhetonians) are trying to keep their existence (on the asteroid Rheton) secret from other lifeforms mainly down to their superior technology (gravitational control). So naturally Chapman isn't allowed to leave. But naturally Chapman wants to escape despite being welcomed into the alien race with his choice of attractive female companions. Yes it's at this point I must mention that the aliens do in fact look exactly like humans, because of course they do.

It's also at this point that I should point out that when Chapman lifted the visor on his space helmet, the alien asteroid 'air' or 'atmosphere' was breathable and instantly shrank him down to the alien's size. So obviously I needn't point out the complete lunacy of this. Firstly, asteroids do not have an atmosphere to breathe, and secondly, even if it did why would it instantly shrink a lifeform to the exact size of the aliens? In fact, why are the alien that big anyway??

As you might expect Chapman does start to settle in with his new alien hosts but all the while he is scheming to escape. And again as you might expect there is romantic jiggery-pokery afoot as one attractive alien female wants to get in Chapman's pants but this makes one of the male aliens jealous (cos he wants to get inside her knickers). Naturally this leads to some stern but polite language between the pair and eventually the alien custom of battling to the death in the movies main Star Trek moment. Think Kirk vs Spock but way way more crappy and without that classic tune.

Anyway after all this cliched nonsense (Chapman wins the battle but doesn't kill the alien cos basically he's a decent chap) we eventually get to yet another plot detour. Turns out this little human-like alien race has enemies. Enter the incredibly cliched rubbery monster-esque alien race called the Solarites or 'fire people'. Because the technologically advanced goodie race of aliens look like humans, whereas the baddie war-obsessed alien race look like large bug-eyed bipedal lizard monsters. Oh and the ships they fly seem to That are actually engulfed in flames? I guess that's why they're called fire people...monsters. Fun fact, the Solarite we see in the movie is Richard Kiel in his first film role.

Long story short, with Chapman's help the Rheton's beat the fire people and all is well with the universe. Chapman is now allowed to go back to Earth when the very conveniently timed US spaceship arrives in orbit. Chapman crawls back inside in spacesuit and automatically grows back to his regular human size because...he breaths in atmospheric gases from Earth?? Huh?? Firstly, why would Earth 'gases' undo the shrinking process? And secondly, how was there any Earth 'gases' left inside his suit when his visor was left open this whole time!

There are lots of solid goofs and cringeworthy moments to be found. The fact that the astronauts move quite normally when doing their spacewalk. Also, neither of them are actually tethered to the ship, they are 'walking' freely. In fact there doesn't seem to be any attempt at the effects of zero gravity at all which is most amusing. Why didn't Chapman's spacesuit shrink with him? It's things like this, the goofs, the errors, are exactly why we (the fans) watch this stuff. Glorious.

Overall this is definitely an entertaining bit of sci-fi hokem which definitely gets more and more ridiculous as the plot goes on. The introduction of the Solarites was but the icing on the cake frankly as I didn't expect that. The movie does have some nice effects here and there and the costumes, mainly the spacesuits, are well done. Set wise it's as you might expect with everything looking rather flat and obvious but it does the job. It's mainly the space sequences that showcase the thoroughly enjoyable clunky effects at their best. It was also surprising to see a blonde male lead as often you get a tall dark handsome hero. Fredericks hair definitely gave him some much-needed edge. So yeah, this space mystery adventure pretty much provides you with everything you could want in a cheesy old black and white early 60's peek into what life would be like in 1980.


Monday, 25 May 2020

Unknown World (1951)

So I found myself craving some classic black and white science fiction once again, after a prolonged period of modern-day crap (it just gets worse). Having a stroll through whatever a simple Google search would find me, I came across this little number. I read the plot, it sounded sweet, so here we go. I might add this movie is available to watch on You-Tube, so go watch it now.

At a rather compact 74 minutes this movie can't hang around too long, yet it does. As you might expect with many of these old flicks the start of the movie is one long narration explaining the current situation of mankind at the time. This narration is intertwined with scenes as the key characters set up the basic plot. Nonetheless this entire setup does take around the first five minutes of the film. Add to that the usual long period of talking and debate amongst the key characters and other background characters as they decide on what to do.

So what is the plot? Well you've probably guessed the basis seeing as this is a 50's flick. Yep it's all based around atomic bombs again, ugh! Bottom line, Dr. Morley (Victor Kilian) is concerned about mankind if a nuclear war were to start. So he manages to create a small team of various experts in order to burrow down into the Earth in order to find a safe haven just in case. At first he can't get the funding, but then he does via a rich young tycoon type (Bruce Kellog) and all systems are go. 

Yes this is essentially an early Doug McClure movie minus the gloss. The team of experts are all men with one attractive woman, which seems to be (an amusing) contractual part of all these old adventure movies. And as you might expect there is the obligatory tension between a couple of the male experts over the lady. The vehicle they use has a neat little name, a Cyclotram. Essentially a pod-like featureless submarine with a big drill nose. As you might expect visual effects are pretty basic and what you see is an obvious small model being tugged along. The interior is a simple layout with all the characters sat neatly behind each other. There are various dials and pipes on the walls as you might expect. Although it amused me how there only seemed to be a few other quarters, very little space for seven experts. Where's the toilet?? No need for a kitchen in this futuristic vision though as everyone is living on tiny pills that constitute a meal. 

Anywho after much adventuring around underground and the death of a few experts from toxic gas and one falling into an abyss, the team discovers a vast underground cavern. This cavern is yet again everything you might expect from a silly fantasy flick. Firstly it's enormous, like a valley with its own mountains, ocean, desert, nice climate, convenient light reflected off the phosphorescent cavern roof, and a weather system. And secondly, it's conveniently absolutely perfect for human life to survive. BUT there is one small problem, for some reason this cavern renders all living things sterile. The pregnant rabbits which the team brought gave birth to dead rabbits. This is of course makes no sense because the rabbits were pregnant before they reached this cavern and I don't believe they were fed anything from the cavern. So just being in the cavern made them sterile? Does that mean the humans are now sterile? Something in the air is that powerful? Oh I should also point out flaw number two, no dinosaurs.

Unfortunately this apparent oasis turns out to be an oasis for the dead. Humans could probably live and prosper but would not be able to have children and would die out after one generation. Thing is old Dr. Morley doesn't accept this and still has hope as he thinks life on the surface is doomed anyway. Morley has also lived through two wars so he holds little affection for mankind as it is. But before you can self-destruct, a volcano erupts and seemingly destroys everything. Morley is depressed and allows himself to be killed whilst the others escape into the underground ocean. They happen to surface just by an inhabited island, lucky huh.

Watching this on You-Tube probably didn't allow for the best visual representation but the movie still managed to entertain me. Naturally the effects are limited and quaint but still utterly charming. The view through the cyclotram cockpit summed up the corny charm. Portions of the movie were filmed in and around various real caves in America which definitely helped. The huge underground cavern seemed to be a matte painting and a very nice one at that. As already explained model shots were pretty basic but they do the job. The cast seemed to be taking things seriously which also helped sell the adventure, unlike their rather dapper attire and juvenile equipment but it's all good.

Of course the science is silly and of course it's all very hokey, but movies like this paved the way for your modern-day blockbusters. How many big CGI spectacles have taken inspiration from old movies like this eh. Fans of things like this know what they're getting into, you don't need me to tell you this stuff is great. Just a shame there weren't any monsters, this movie actually took a more intelligent route, surprising really.


Monday, 11 May 2020

Sonic The Hedgehog (2020)

So this is a movie that has gone down in the annals of movie history, or is that infamy? 

I think everyone who has a slight passing interest in movies knows the story behind this long-gestating project. Long long story short, there has been interest in making a Sonic flick for decades. Ever since Sega introduced the zippy blue hedgehog the idea has been floating around. Alas with the epic infamous flops of videogame adaptations 'Super Mario Bros' and 'Street Fighter' the idea took a backseat. I think it was the surprising success of 'Mortal Kombat' in 1995 that probably got people thinking again.

After much studio faffing Paramount Pictures acquired the rights and announced the movie would be released in November 2019. And this is where the fun begins. The visual effects were handled by a few effects studios and all under the understanding that making a more realistic Sonic was the way to go. The idea was to create a more human-like appearance for Sonic so that he would blend into his live-action feature more easily. As we all know this included realistic fur, separated eyes, human-like legs, human-like hands, human-like teeth, a realistic nose, and actual realistic sneakers. Apparently they were going for the 2012 'Ted' look. Unfortunately someone forgot to them Ted was a teddy bear and still looked like a teddy bear. At no point was Ted ever made more human-like. 

Oh, the team also looked at the 2014 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie for inspiration too. Feck me! Yeah apparently they expected Sonic fans to outrage but thought the general audiences wouldn't care about the redesign as that same thing happened with the Turtles. This goes to show how these 'creative people' think with these franchises and explains why so many tank.

Of course we all know what happened next. The trailer for this movie was released in May 2019 to astronomical levels of backlash. It seemed all the Sonic fans didn't like this ugly freaky human-like nightmare of a vision and actually wanted Sonic to look like...Sonic, you know, from the videogame. So with their tails set firmly between their legs the studios withdrew the movie and got to work on fixing the problem. But did they??

Well in my opinion no they didn't. OK let's be real here, yes I can fully appreciate the director and co listening to the fans and going back to fix the visuals on Sonic, sure. But the movie is still a pile of garbage. The visuals before the backlash were pretty bad granted but at least they had an original spin to them...I guess. The new visuals were fine and looked like Sonic should but it doesn't help the movie in any way. The plot is weak as hell and merely involves Sonic getting thrust into our world and having to find his magic rings. He manages to find some human friends along the way to help him oh and the evil Dr. Robotnik is chasing Sonic too to harness his power (yawn!).

As you might expect it's actually the small snippets from Sonic's world and the mushroom world Robotnik is banished to that are of more interest than anything else in this movie. Setting the story in our realm was positively the worse decision you could make. Has no one learned from previous videogame fudge ups?? Everything takes place in boring settings with boring characters that do cliched unfunny boring things. James Marsden is simply your average good-looking lead that is ten-a-penny in Hollywood. He isn't particularly good with comedy...or acting frankly. His partner is played by someone called Tika Sumpter who has no chemistry whatsoever with Marsden. Literally to the point where I don't understand how she was cast. 

And then we have good old Jim Carrey who is admittedly the best part of this lame flick. Of course, as everyone knows, Carrey's performance feels like it's been ripped from the 90's, back in his heyday. In turn this makes the entire movie feel completely dated in an odd blend of nostalgia and pure crap. It is very bizarre how one person can make an entire movie seem dated, but Carrey does just that. His performance is little more than his 'Cable Guy' and 'Liar Liar' characters rolled into one and regurgitated. So yes while Carrey is the best part that still doesn't help the movie because we've seen his schtick many many many times before decades ago.

Yup I know this is essentially a movie for children, I know that. But it was always gonna lure in the aging fanboys, like myself, from back in the golden days of videogaming. Call it a case of morbid curiosity I guess, on my count anyway. But yeah this turned out exactly as I expected it would with or without the creepy Sonic visuals. The CGI is generally poor and obvious all round. The acting is generally poor and cringeworthy all round. Sonic does all the stupid childish goofy things you'd expect him to do in a kid's flick. The movie has all the usual big blockbuster tropes and cliches that get used ad nauseam to the point of switching off (you see the same crap in all the Marvel fluff or any other big blockbuster). 

Overall this was very basic generic guff with poor visuals and bad acting. Simply sticking 90's Jim Carrey in there doesn't save the day in my opinion, nor does the 'upgraded' Sonic design. In fact, I'm more curious to see the original movie with the original Sonic design because I genuinely feel it might be better. Yeah, how bout dem apples.


Thursday, 19 March 2020

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

You know it really did highlight to me how much I miss George Lucas and his visions when watching the final installment in this new Star Wars trilogy. Now don't get me wrong, it's not like all of Lucas' ideas were perfect and his prequel trilogy was good, far from it. There is no way I can honestly turn around now and say to you the prequel trilogy was good now I think about it, or these new movies justify the existence of the prequels, oh no. Lets be clear, the prequels were bad on many many levels and Lucas fecked them up, but at least Lucas had a vision, a path, a story to follow. 

We now all know that the new trilogy had no story to follow, there was no path, no vision, it was literally made on the fly. The first movie 'The Force Awakens' was merely a poor remake of the classic original which didn't even look as good! The second movie 'The Last Jedi' was impressive visually, at least, but director Rian Johnson was allowed to go off on his own tangent and wrecked the whole storyline. If his movie and ideas had been in a spin-off then maybe it wouldn't have been so bad. And now finally we have this final movie which had to fix Johnson's mess and get everything back on track and tie it all up with a nice bow on top. As we now know this was an impossible task which basically would have required another flippin' trilogy to fix.

I'm not going to essentially write a review here, I'm just going to list in order everything I found nonsensical about this hodge-podge.

The movie kicks off with a bang that's for sure, with a rapid succession of quickfire sequences that basically confuse and disorientate you. We are skipping from one location to another with action sequences fuelled by 'light-speed skipping', something that has apparently just been conjured up? What I didn't get was how the TIE fighters could also use the same light-speed passage as the Falcon. Is that new also? This is also interspersed with small sequences of Kylo Ren massacring various aliens in his quest for a Sith wayfinder (Marvel influenced mcguffin).

It's at this early stage that I noticed how 'clean' Chewie looked, like the actor's costume just looked way too glossy and clean for a Wookie. It didn't look real, it looked like a cosplay. Also, who or what is that huge slug-like alien in the Falcon? Where did that come from?

The Rebels/Resistance continues to be made up of mainly minorities and women now, apparently. Although it's not as obvious as previous movies. I'm just gonna assume the majority of white male fighters were killed off in the original trilogy.

Kylo gets his helmet fixed (forged back together), and it looks stupid. Get a new cool helmet mate.

The gang head to another planet in search of a Scooby clue to lead them to the location of the Sith wayfinder, it's yet another desert planet. Here, out of nowhere, Lando pops up to save them and then literally disappears for half the movie.

Desert planet must equal speeder-bike chase sequence and voila! Not too bad of an action sequence but there's no tension whatsoever because you know none of the main heroes are gonna get hurt so...Also, they fly now??!!

Eventually they stumble across this Sith dagger with text on which 3PO is not allowed to translate because more Scooby clue searching is required to pad out the plot. How can they get around this? They have to wipe 3PO's memory again, ugh! We also get the first glimpse of how much of a Mary Sue Rey now is seeing her heal an alien with the power of touch...just like Jesus!

Whilst trying to escape the planet on an abandoned ship Rey wanders off for no reason causing issues. Turns out its to confront Kylo in a TIE (translation - have a cool looking Matrix-style action sequence). This whole confrontation turns out to be pointless, but it does result in Chewie, somehow, getting captured also. Kylo is on a mission to assassinate Rey by this point, under strict orders of Palpatine. He has plenty of opportunity to do this or at least confront Rey (after she takes down his TIE), but for some reason just allows her to leave when she was only around 20 metres away.

Another planet and another pointless strong female character in a nifty looking helmet. Always female.

After Rey senses where Chewie is (on Kylo's Star Destroyer) they go off to rescue him. Using another mcguffin they infiltrate the Destroyer...literally guns blazing. Somehow the entire Destroyer isn't alerted to their gung-ho entry. Somehow they manage to wander around virtually unimpeded. And somehow they manage to find Chewie almost straight away. These sequences were like watching a first-person shooter on easy level, the stormtroopers were that useless.

Then it's off to yet another planet where the remanents of the second Death Star are found. Somehow large sections of the Death Star rubble have remained intact! Despite being blown to pieces at the end of RotJ. Amazingly even Palpatine's old throne room is recognisable! This is where the Sith dagger comes into play...'Goonies' style. Oh did I mention yet another strong female character on this planet? Well there you go, another one. Can't have enough strong female characters ya know, just in case we forget ourselves men.

Rey fights Kylo, beats him (of course), mortally wounds him, but then heals him? I dunno. Leia helped with her force powers, dies in the process. Why? I duuno.

Kylo has seemingly flip-flopped on sides during this saga and apparently having a conversation with a memory of his dad Han Solo gets him to finally go to the light side. Why? I duuno.

Rey goes off to battle Palpatine one on one. Palpatine looks like something outta the Hellraiser franchise now. He also has an entire legion of Star Destroyers, literally hundreds. Who built them? Who's manning them? Why are all stormtroopers and Star Destroyer gunners now in red armour? (to sell more toys). Who were all those hundreds of hooded people in the arena type area watching Palpatine converse with Rey??

Movie tries to get your emotional juices flowing as the Rebels gear up for this one last final huge battle. It doesn't work because they rush the build-up. We get one shot of them piling into their ships, a quick take-off, then all of a sudden they're at their destination and getting stuck in. There was none of the slow dramatic build-up we got in RotJ. Also why do all the pilots looks squashed in their rebel starfighter cockpits? And why does the Nien Nunb mask still not look as good as in RotJ?

This whole finale is yet again a simple rip-off from Lucas' previous work (RotJ). The only difference is its just not as good, its pants. As usual the Rebels start off well but then start to succumb to the might of the Empire. Various faceless pilots get blown to smithereens whilst trying to take out this navigation tower that helps Star Destroyers take-off (navigational tower, shield generator, meh). But of course when reinforcements turn up with Lando the tide turns. This whole sequence just can't muster the same goosebumps you got with the original classic trilogy I'm sorry.

Riding on alien horses into battle on the surface of a Star Destroyer? Feck off movie. Literally what the feck??

Apparently taking out a Star Destroyers' main planet-destroying gun causes the entire ship to blow up? We also see our first black male Imperial Star Destroyer officer here (?!).

How do the Knights of Ren know their leader has turned to the good side when they meet up? They just see him and go after him. Also, why to the Knights of Ren look like Ringwraiths?

Palpatine reveals that Rey is his granddaughter, really?? At what point did Palpatine have a relationship? Surely this might have cropped up at some point during the last six friggin' movies???

Palpatine explains his plan to allow Rey to kill him in order for his soul to enter her body giving her all his power, or so he can control her body or something. He seems pretty confident in this plan. But when Kylo turns up and helps Rey he decides to drain them both and rejuvenate himself. Well...why didn't he just decide to do that in the first place? Seems like a better plan and it works out pretty well at first. Unfortunately for Palpatine Rey is a Mary Sue so she beats him.

I'm still amazed the Rebels actually won this battle considering the literal hundreds of Star Destroyers packed with tonnes of TIE's. Surely they were outnumbered tenfold? Most of the Rebel ships were cruisers, frigates, and smaller crafts manned by regular people/aliens. How could they defeat all those Imperial fighters and Destroyers?? Pretty sure there were loads of Destroyers left at the end too.

Denis Lawson cameo as Wedge? Well played movie, plus point earned. 

Then at the very end we are given a few pathetic shots of other locations as the Empire falls. Bespin...because they'd not been able to crowbar that into the trilogy. The forest moon of Endor with a couple of Ewoks? Why?? Jakku I think, again why? Its a barren desert world. Oh and Chewie is given a medal...because 'A New Hope'.

Rey goes back to Luke's home on Tatooine to bury his and Leia's lightsabers, for some reason. Some old crone asks her who she is, Rey replies 'Rey...Skywalker'. Bollocks! You aren't a Skywalker! You're a bloody Palpatine! Feck off movie. 

So yeah, tis a load of crap basically. A hot mess of padding and guff stuffed into an overly long movie desperately trying to fix the last fiasco whilst keep the fanbase happy. Disney should have thought harder about their direction, hiring choices, and political angles before diving in. How could a company feck up Star Wars? How??!! Plus points? Visually this looks good as you might expect, that's it. But yeah, the whole trilogy has been an unmitigated disaster. I hate the new characters so much I wanted the Empire to win.