14 June 2016

The Nice Guys review

Truth be told, if you aren't already a fan of writer/director Shane Black then The Nice Guys probably isn't going to change that. It's unmistakably his, a film noir inspired buddy movie that never veers too far from the tone and style on display in both Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang and (to a lesser extent) Iron Man 3. It's cynical. It's funny. It's got a strange sense of heart. But most importantly, it's a film with instantly captivating main characters.

We follow private eye Holland March and enforcer Jackson Healy as they team up in order to find a missing girl, but (as is to be expected) The Nice Guys is more interested in it's characters than it is the plot. To describe our main duo as flawed would be an understatement - Holland is an alcoholic single father who has to be driven around by his teenage daughter; Healy is a bitter divorcee who makes a living assaulting people. Neither are what you might consider to be good people, but therein lies the brilliance of Shane Black's writing - he balances the cynicism of these characters with beats that help show us that they'd jump at the chance to do the right thing if only given the opportunity. As with Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, it's not so much that our characters are bad people, it's that they've been corrupted by a bad world.

8 June 2016

Agents of SHIELD S3E22 "Ascension" review

Between the super-powered brawl that opens the episode, an assault on SHIELD by the primitive Inhumans, a last-ditch attempt to stop Hive's master plan and the death of a series regular, you'd be forgiven for thinking that "Ascension", the third season finale of Agents of SHIELD, runs the risk of feeling rushed. It's not like Agents of SHIELD hasn't produced it's fair share of episodes that are overstuffed, after all - even the first half of this season suffered thanks to how much it tried to do in just ten episodes, a focus on telling the story quickly over telling it well that robbed the show of it's ability to properly dramatise it's most important moments.

Fortunately, "Ascension" understands the difference between story elements that can be dealt with quickly and story elements that need some real time devoted to them, and in doing so offers us what may well be the most emotionally engaging episode of the show to date. Individual moments are given plenty of time in order to allow us to really feel them rather than just see them, an aspect of "Ascension" that also helps highlight how good the writing and performances are here.

5 June 2016

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows review

It would be very easy to dismiss Teenage Mutant Ninja Turles: Out of the Shadows as little more than visual noise, and in truth not entirely unfair. From it's opening moments it's clear that it's a film aimed firmly at a younger audience, and anyone older than that won't find anything here that they haven't seen done better before. But to do so would be to ignore the fact that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows is also a surprisingly competent movie, one that still feels like it's trying despite the easily entertained nature of it's target audience.

The story this time sees the titular turtles trying to stop another of Shredder's plans after he succesfully escapes from prison with the help of Dr Baxter Stuckman, a scientist who has been trying to create mutants of his own for some time now. With the help of Bebop and Rocksteady, a couple of lowlife criminals who Dr Stuckman has mutated, Shredder plans to bring an alien invader from another dimension to Earth in order to take over the world.

2 June 2016

Warcraft: The Beginning review

If the last 23 years have taught us anything, it's that it may be impossible to make a good film based on a video game. Every attempt to date has resulted in failure, without exception - even the somehow-long-running Resident Evil film franchise is nothing more than a series of duds, and they may actually be the closest we've got to "tolerable". It's impossible to say why this might be the case - you'd think the law of averages alone would have given us something decent by now - but the fact is that we're yet to see a good film that is based on a video game, and Warcraft: The Beginning doesn't manage to change that.

Opening up on the home world of the orcs, Warcraft: The Beginning initially follows Durotan, an orc war chief, as he and his people invade the kingdom of Azeroth using a magic called the Fel in order to escape their own dying world. From that point on we swap between Durotan and Anduin Lothar, a human military commander, as the war between orcs and humans is waged, which slowly sees Durotan begin to turn against his own people thanks to the way that the Fel (controlled by an orc named Gul'dan) has corrupted them.