28 August 2015

Ranking the films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe

To say that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is anything less than a resounding success is to deny the billions of pounds taken at the box office, the vocal critical acclaim many of these films have received and the over-whelmingly positive reception audiences have had to this universe. If that somehow doesn't convince you, take a look at the number of studios that are now attempting to set up their own cinematic universe - they say that imitation is the highest form of flattery, after all.

Now that Phase 2 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is completed, I've decided to rank the Marvel Cinematic Universe films in order of quality. This list is by no means anything other than a subjective list of which Marvel films I like the most, from worst to best. As such, it is 100% correct and if your opinion differs even in the slightest then you are wrong, scientifically. Do with that what you will.

12. Iron Man 2

The worst of the Marvel Cinematic Universe films so far, Iron Man 2 suffered from poor pacing, a badly written story and a need to "set up" the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which led to an overly long middle section that just about gets by on the charm of Tony Stark alone (and an admittedly strong opening). Devoid of much of what made Iron Man so good, Iron Man 2 remains Marvels only major misstep to date.

20 August 2015

The Man from UNCLE review

After Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels put Guy Ritchie on the map, his follow up film Snatch solidified his reputation as "that British Gangster films guy", the inter-connected structure present in both making his films stand out while quickly becoming something of a director trademark. So imagine my surprise when the Ritchie directed The Man from UNCLE contains one of the most straightforward plots I've seen this year, which as a Cold War era spy film would have benefited greatly from a bit of the unique convolution that Guy Ritchie is most well known for.

Set in 1963, The Man from UNCLE follows American CIA agent Napoleon Solo and Russian KGB agent Illya Kuryakin as they attempt to stop the wealthy, Nazi associated Vinciguerra family from building a private nuclear weapon. To do so, they need the help of German engineer Gabby Teller, whose uncle works for a shipping company owned by the Vinciguerra's.

14 August 2015

Fantastic Four review

Expectations can be a funny thing when trying to evaluate something, and to say that expectations were low for Fantastic Four would be something of an understatement. Between the extremely negative critical reaction and the poor box office takings that the film has seen so far, Fantastic Four will probably end up being the go-to bad film of 2015, another talking point for people who have chosen superhero films as their particular hill to die on. But knowing this going in to Fantastic Four (as well as hearing about the allegedly severe issues that director Josh Trank faced in production) makes the viewing experience a completely different kind of beast, leaving me to wonder about what could have been rather than what was provided. Because although the final product was on the whole a bad film, it would be dishonest to act like Fantastic Four doesn't show real potential at times.

Fantastic Four follows child genius Reed Richards, who after being discovered by Franklin Storm, director of the government funded Baxter Foundation, helps Victor von Doom, Sue Storm and Johnny Storm complete their work on a "Quantum Gate", a teleportation device that transports matter to a different point in space. After their initial expedition using the Quantum Gate goes horribly wrong, Reed, Sue, Johnny, and Reed's best friend Ben Grimm learn that their biochemistry has been altered, the change manifesting itself as the emergence of super powers.

10 August 2015

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation review

It's easy to be sceptical of Hollywood in the modern day, with 2015 marking the release of the seventh film in the Fast and Furious franchise, the fifth film in the Terminator franchise, the eleventh and twelfth films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and now the fifth film in the Mission: Impossible franchise, alongside a gluttony of reboots and spin-offs that leave little room in the release calendar for new intellectual properties to emerge. Hell, later this year we are going to be seeing the release of the seventh Star Wars film, the fourth Hunger Games film and the twenty fourth(!) Bond movie - critics of this system have a valid argument when they point out an over-reliance on pre-existing properties.

On the other hand, 2015 has been a great year for cinema so far, sequels and all, and Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation is no exception. Once again we follow IMF agent Ethan Hunt as he attempts to do a mission that some may describe as exceedingly difficult - this time, to prove the existence of The Syndicate, a rogue organisation ("An anti-IMF" in the words of Benji) that have been committing acts of terror all across the globe.

5 August 2015

BoJack Horseman season two review

I was a big fan of the first season of BoJack Horseman, which despite a handful of mediocre opening episodes really upped it's game from it's mid point onwards, delivering a solid animated series that was not only genuinely witty but also delivered one of the most on point emotional gut punches ever seen on TV, the kind of profound character work that would have been rightly recognised as near genius in a non-animated show.

Season two of BoJack Horseman picks up the threads left by the first season, predominantly focusing on how BoJack's life has changed since the publication of Diane's book about him. Despite his new found positive attitude and the fact that he has been cast in his dream role as the lead in a biopic about his childhood hero, his insecurities about his skill as an actor start a spiral of self doubt that quickly pushes him into old habits and self destruction.