Movies of 2017: Nerve

A high school senior finds herself immersed in an online game of truth or dare, where her every move starts to become manipulated by an anonymous community of “watchers.”

Nerve (2016). Directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, based on the novel by Jeanne Ryan and starring Emma Roberts, Dave Franco, Emily Meade. Featuring a cameo by everyone’s favourite vlogger, Casey Niestat.

A paltry 6.6 stars on IMDb, Nerve clocks in at a very healthy 1 hour 36 minutes long – which, as we all know, is nigh-on the perfect length for a movie at a shade under 100 minutes.

Venus “Vee” Delmonico is a high school student desperate to leave home, but ends up embroiled in ‘Nerve’, an online game where the Watchers dare the Players to do more and more dangerous things.

Nerve is a fast-paced, gloriously neon-soaked joyride through New York by night. Emma Roberts and Dave Franco have a definite chemistry and are fun to watch. It’s a thriller with a technological edge, but one which has a certain plausibility and feels like the writers actually know how social media works. People will say and do a lot of things hidden behind the anonymity of a phone screen, and people will do a lot more to become famous on the internet.

Great fun, even if it does falter slightly in the final act where a bit of moralising comes to play. It’s a minor niggle though, and worth going along for the ride. 96 minutes well spent.

Movies of 2017: Ghost in the Shell

In the near future, Major is the first of her kind: A human saved from a terrible crash, who is cyber-enhanced to be a perfect soldier devoted to stopping the world’s most dangerous criminals.

Ghost in the Shell. 2017, a somewhat disappointing 6.9 stars on IMDb. Starring Scarlett Johansson, Pilou Asbæk, Takeshi Kitano and directed by Rupert Sanders.

Based on the acclaimed anime of the same name, Ghost in the Shell is visually stunning, a noir-esque mishmash of a daylit Blade Runner cityscape crossed with the action of The Matrix. Scarlett Johansson’s Major is a brain in a cyborg body, put to work combatting terrorism as part of the elite Section 9 but soon delves deeper into the mystery of who she really is, who is the ghost?

So, the action is gloriously choreographed, the special effects are absolutely top-notch, the supporting cast are, with few exceptions (the cockerney member of the team did grate a tad), splendid. Takeshi Kitano simply oozes cool as Aramaki, head of Section 9. Pilou Asbæk (Euron Greyjoy from Game of Thrones – I *knew* I recognised him!) is wonderful as Batou, Major’s sidekick of sorts and Michael Pitt is a convincing villian in Kuze.

Weak point if any is the usually reliable but here woefully underused Juliette Binoche who is called on to do little other than stand by the Major, do some medical mumbo jumbo and look suitably angst-ridden. I was initially amused by how often someone mentions the word ‘ghost’ or, to a lesser extent ‘shell’, which got a bit much in the end.

I saw Ghost in the Shell in 2D, but I could imagine that it would look glorious in full IMAX 3D. I might even be tempted to go find out.

Overall, I give Ghost in the Shell 7 cyborg Scarletts out of ten. Definitely worth checking out on the big screen.

Movies of 2017: Suicide Squad

suicide-squad

A secret government agency recruits some of the most dangerous incarcerated super-villains to form a defensive task force. Their first mission: save the world from the apocalypse.

Suicide Squad. 2016, 6.3 stars on IMDb. Written and directed by David Ayer and starring Will Smith, Jared Leto, Margot Robbie and Viola Davis, amongst many others.

Regular readers of this blog may just about remember my movie A-Z back in… crikey. April of 2014. I could have *sworn* it was last year. I had enormous fun doing it and have been meaning to do more movie things for some time now. Slightly more time than originally intended. I blame the books. You may also have noticed that I quite like talking about books. Thought I’d branch out into movies.

So, here we are in 2017 and I finally got round to watching David Ayer’s Suicide Squad.

You know what? It was alright. Better than I was expecting, though a little light on story. Will Smith is hugely watchable in just about anything, as is Jared Leto. His Joker, whilst not up to Heath Ledger standards, was perfectly serviceable. Could have done with a bit (lot) more screen time, and a more developed character arc. Or indeed any kind of character arc.

Most of the other characters get a bit lost in the mix, as is so often the case with these ensemble movies. Killer Croc turned up to do basically one job. Diablo was pretty good, but remarkably easy to talk out of his ‘not doing this any more’ thing. The Enchantress was probably the most interesting character, but again, woefully underused. It did feel a bit like getting all these cool bad guys together, do a Snake Plissken on them and set them loose against an even bigger bad guy. Viola Davis was utterly splendid and ruthless as Amanda Waller.

Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn was the other character with some semblance of development. Fun to watch, though her relationship with Joker was a bit weird. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not particularly up on much of the Joker/Quinn from the comics, so I can’t say how well it fits with that.

Could have done with being a movie with half the squad and Joker as the Big Bad. Never really felt the menace or the stakes.

Overall, it was a fun popcorn movie. I give it six deranged evil villains out of ten.

Have you seen Suicide Squad? What did you think? Should I do more movie reviews? Answers onna postcard please…

Movies – an A-Z roundup

So, April is done. My movie A-Z is over. I had a lot of fun writing it (and watching the movies).

Our alphabetical journey through film took us from Alien (and its sequels) through to Zardoz (and *that* photo). Along the way we stopped off in the eighties for Ferris Bueller and The Breakfast Club. We dallied in old-school animation with Miyazaki and Howl’s Moving Castle before going more high-tech with Pixar’s Up and WALL-E and Jack Black’s turn as Po, the Kung Fu Panda. We caught fire with Katniss Everdeen in the second Hunger Games movie and talked Bond old and new – Connery’s Goldfinger (to counter his Zardoz), Brosnan’s GoldenEye and Daniel Craig’s Quantum of Solace – not as bad as people make out, especially if you consider it the second half of Casino Royale.

Brosnan also gave us The Thomas Crown Affair, whilst Casino Royale’s Mads Mikkelsen turned up again as the mute Viking warrior One-Eye in the acid trip that is Valhalla Rising.

We journeyed into space, firstly for the big budget blockbuster The Empire Strikes Back (a thinly-veiled cover for me to wax lyrical about Star Wars) to the smaller films: Pitch Black and Moon. We got to Moon from Labyrinth, featuring Moon’s director’s dad in some splendidly scene-stealing trousers.

Speaking of scene-stealing trousers, Burt Reynolds’ jeans in Smokey and the Bandit could give Jareth’s a run for their money any day of the week. Throw in Bob Peck’s thighs in Jurassic Park and you’ve got quite the party. Something you’d only see in a cheese-induced dream, which leads us nicely onto Inception.

Back to reality with a bump (and a claw hammer) for Oldboy and The Raid, two superb examples of their genre. The action turned more Hollywood for National Treasure (featuring GoldenEye’s Sean Bean) and Die Hard (which had the Breakfast Club’s Mister Vernon). See? I did try and link this lot together!

Some letters were harder than others. X was only ever going to be The X-Files or X-Men. This time it was the former. Next time, the latter?

We finished with some laughs, courtesy of Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein. And, of course, Mister Connery. That photo always raises a smile. Oh, go on then. Here it is again.

Zardoz

That was my A-Z. I know I missed out a ton of really great films, and had some brilliant suggestions along the way via Twitter and in the comments. I may turn this into a regular thing. What do you think?

Z is for Zardoz

From the very first moment I decided to make the A-Z challenge movie-related, I knew what my Z film would be.

Z is for Zardoz. 1974, and a mere 5.8 stars on IMDb.  John Boorman’s next movie from the utterly brilliant Deliverance.

I have no intention of reviewing this film. Never had. Instead, I shall present you with a photo.

 

One which, once seen, cannot be unseen.

 

You have been warned.

 

Still reading?

I present Sean Connery as Zed. Burt Reynolds was first in line for the role, but he was ill. Apparently. Either that, or he didn’t fancy the nappy and the ponytail…

Zardoz

 

My work here is done. Any day in which you can show *that* photo to someone who hasn’t seen it is a good day in my book. 🙂

I hope you enjoyed my movie A-Z. It’s been a lot of fun – I think I’ll throw more movie posts into the mix more often!

What’s been your favourite of my A-Z movies? What classics do you think I should have covered? I’m going to start a new series called ‘Films People Said I Really Ought To Watch’, so I’m taking suggestions…

previously, on The A-Z Challenge
A is for Alien
B is for The Breakfast Club
C is for Catching Fire
D is for Die Hard
E is for The Empire Strikes Bank
F is for Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
G is for Goldfinger (and GoldenEye)
H is for Howl’s Moving Castle
I is for Inception
J is for Jurassic Park
K is for Kung Fu Panda
L is for Labyrinth
M is for Moon
N is for National Treasure
O is for Oldboy
P is for Pitch Black
Q is for Quantum of Solace
R is for The Raid
S is for Smokey and the Bandit
T is for The Thomas Crown Affair
U is for Up
V is for Valhalla Rising
W is for WALL-E
X is for The X-Files
Y is for Young Frankenstein

Y is for Young Frankenstein

Mel Brooks on fine form.

Young Frankenstein scores a very healthy 8.1 stars on IMDb. 1974, and it was nominated for two Oscars – Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Sound – it lost out to The Godfather Part II for the former, and Earthquake for the latter (though The Conversation was also nominated in the Best Sound category – how that didn’t win I have no idea. It’s a superb film. Gene Hackman also puts in a cameo here as the blind man.)

Anyway. Dr. Frederick Frankenstein (Gene Wilder) (“No, it’s pronounced “Fronkensteen“) inherits his great-grandfather’s castle in Transylvania. His grandfather being the famous Dr. Victor von Frankenstein, of course. Frederick decides to resume his grandfather’s experiments in re-animating the dead, with the help of Igor (Marty Feldman).

Hijinks and hilarity ensue. It’s a sheer delight, 106 minutes of Brooks at his best. Though that’s a close call with Blazing Saddles (which only scores 7.8 stars on IMDb, but did get nominated for three Oscars…)

previously, on The A-Z Challenge
A is for Alien
B is for The Breakfast Club
C is for Catching Fire
D is for Die Hard
E is for The Empire Strikes Bank
F is for Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
G is for Goldfinger (and GoldenEye)
H is for Howl’s Moving Castle
I is for Inception
J is for Jurassic Park
K is for Kung Fu Panda
L is for Labyrinth
M is for Moon
N is for National Treasure
O is for Oldboy
P is for Pitch Black
Q is for Quantum of Solace
R is for The Raid
S is for Smokey and the Bandit
T is for The Thomas Crown Affair
U is for Up
V is for Valhalla Rising
W is for WALL-E
X is for The X-Files

X is for The X-Files

The movie, that is.

1998 and a paltry 6.9 stars on IMDb.

Mulder: How many times have we been here before, Scully? Right here. So close to the truth and now with what we’ve seen and what we know to be right back at the beginning with nothing.

Set between the end of season 5 and the start of season 6 of the X-Files tv show, the movie was quite an event for a long-time fan such as myself. I’d followed the adventures of Mulder & Scully for years, eagerly discussing the previous night’s episode with friends at work.

The movie was good fun, though felt rather too much like an extended episode of the show. Mulder and Scully traded dialogue playfully. There was the usual gubbins about extraterrestrial plots and shadowy government conspiracies. Our heroes have been bumped from the X-Files and are investigating a bomb threat against a government building in Dallas. Mulder discovers the bomb in an adjoining building.

Mulder: Thirteen fifty-four. Thirteen fifty-two. Thirteen fifty. You see a pattern emerging here, Scully?

Hijinks ensue. There are swarms of bees, black helicopters, The Lone Gunmen (yay!) and, of course, our old chum, the Cigarette-Smoking Man. The X-Team turn up in Antarctica for reasons I’m not entirely clear on (it’s been a while since I watched it!) and in the end, there’s a hearing where they’re ignored (as per usual) and stuff gets covered up.

All in all, a big long episode. Which is what we wanted anyway. Wasn’t it?

X-Files reopened. Stop. Please advise. Stop

previously, on The A-Z Challenge
A is for Alien
B is for The Breakfast Club
C is for Catching Fire
D is for Die Hard
E is for The Empire Strikes Bank
F is for Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
G is for Goldfinger (and GoldenEye)
H is for Howl’s Moving Castle
I is for Inception
J is for Jurassic Park
K is for Kung Fu Panda
L is for Labyrinth
M is for Moon
N is for National Treasure
O is for Oldboy
P is for Pitch Black
Q is for Quantum of Solace
R is for The Raid
S is for Smokey and the Bandit
T is for The Thomas Crown Affair
U is for Up
V is for Valhalla Rising
W is for WALL-E