A Review of ‘Immortals’ (2011)

‘Immortals’ tries to be the most macho film since ‘Predator’ and gets about as close to achieving that aim as I ever get to a gym. It wants to be the lovechild of ‘The Rock’ and ‘Rambo’ and raised by every single Clint Eastwood movie ever made. Instead, it manages to become the embarrassing cousin of all of the most hateful parts of ‘Blazing Saddles’ and 1960s-era James Bond movies.

First off, this film is completely fucking gay. I don’t mean that in a homophobic, “being gay is like being different and is therefore bad and funny” sense – I mean it in the sense that John Barrowman – that’s John Fucking Barrowman – saw this film and said “Wow, that’s pretty gay.” I mean it in the sense that Elton John, wearing full wedding regalia, watched this film and said “Wow, that was a bit extravagant, wasn’t it?” I mean it in the sense that Graham Norton watched ten minutes of this film and said “Wow, that’s the gayest thing I’ve seen today, and I just spent three hours watching a bunch of men fuck each other.”

You might think I’m exaggerating, and being fairly hateful myself, but let’s have a look, shall we?

"Immortals" 2010
That’s pretty gay, that is.
08slid6
Also fairly gay.
imoTT3250.52.139_CC
Gay AND racist? Well, at least it can’t get much wo-
Tim-Immortals-2
Jesus Christ.

I mean, this is a film that features people cutting their own tongues out with rusty shears. It features at least four throat-slittings, about nine litres of blood, people being burned alive, a bloke having his testes mashed with a hammer, it’s got several breasts on display – the film tries so very hard to be as tough and “manly” as Burt Reynolds chewing a nail-covered brick, yet packs in so many flamboyant, ridiculous visuals that its tone is entirely sporadic at best and self-contradictory at worst. Christ, they even introduce an all-powerful bow, and denote it as “magical” by covering it in glitter.

Most ironically of all, the story is set in Ancient Greece, a place known for its awful yet still fairly loose approach to sexuality and orientation. You could have had legitimate homosexual relationships based on historical precedent, and still have been less gay than the final, super-hetero, ultra-“manly” product.

The star of it all is the finely-sculpted slab of physical prowess named Henry Cavill, playing the legendary Theseus. There would have been plenty of room to have another powerful male lead – let’s say Mark Strong, as a dreamy example – and have the two of them go around killing everything in sight and occasionally penetrating one another, and it would have been the most macho film since Arnold Schwarzenegger said “Fuck it, just record two hours of me lifting weights, shooting Russians and smoking cigars.”

But the bewildering combination of high-camp regalia and absent homosexuality is hardly the most significant of ‘Immortals’ problems – and it’s not even much of a problem unless you’re a hardcore homophobe. No, much worse is its treatment of women.

There are six female characters with speaking lines throughout all of ‘Immortals’. I’ll list them below:

  • The mother of the protagonist, who is a victim of rape, and whose death serves to motivate said protagonist in his quest.
  • The goddess Athena, who is introduced topless, and who manages to kill a few goons before getting killed by a few goons.
  • The three sisters of the main love interest, all living in chastity, who get captured, abused, threatened with rape, and ultimately burned alive.
  • The main love interest, who achieves nothing, lives in chastity, and who asks to be “saved” by having the protagonist fuck her so she can be rid of her “curse”.

I mean, technically the love interest and her sisters initiate an escape-attempt, but given that it only leads to further violence against women, with added expressions of surprise that mere women were capable of overpowering unsuspecting men, I’m inclined to be unforgiving.

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Please, stop. I don’t mean the gay stuff, I mean EVERYTHING.

Oh, and what is it with fucking movie villains threatening women with rape all the time? Three movies I watched in the space of a couple of months, this, ‘Elysium’ and, I’m sad to say, ‘In Time’, and each one features a main antagonist threatening the leading female with sexual assault. I can only imagine that the conversations in the writers’ offices go something like this:

Scumbag Writer #1: “So, the bad guy has captured the woman, and now he wants to threaten her to get information. But what can he threaten her with?”

Weary Voice of Reason: “Death? Torture? Her family and friends? All the things that a male lead would be threatened with?”

Scumbag Writer #27: “Don’t be so gay, Frank, we can’t threaten a woman the way we’d threaten a man, that would suggest women have a stake in the story and are capable of possessing personalities.”

Scumbag Writer #14: “Derek’s right, if you’re going to threaten a woman, you’ve got to threaten her sexually, otherwise the audience might forget that the true value of a woman is based only on the things that she can offer to a man.”

Scumbag Writer #1: “Right, job’s a good’un everyone, let’s go down to the strip club and pay immoral sluts to show us their bodies and then threaten them when they refuse to touch us.”

The thing is, when you threaten someone with something, in a weird way you kind of normalise it – “this will be a consequence of you not doing what I want.” And whilst there might be a time when you need to say to someone “if you don’t stop trying to kill me I’m going to have to kill you”, there ought NEVER come a time when you might say to someone “if you don’t act according to my wishes, I will rape you.”

Or, cause you to “suffer discomfort unique to your gender”, as the film’s antagonist so charmingly phrases it. Which also implies that men can never be victims of sexual assault – another charming notion that this film espouses.

Hell, the whole concept of the main love interest’s only interesting feature is that she’s a “virgin oracle” – a woman who retains her powers only as long as she remains chaste. And whilst that in itself is a fairly nasty little idea in this day and age, it’s exacerbated when one of our actual protagonists describes it thusly:

“Were she to be violated, the prophecy would be corrupted.”

“Were she to be violated…” – it’s as though the concept of women willingly participating in sex in the world of ‘Immortals’ is completely alien. The only evidence we see of any consensual interaction is when the “virgin oracle” decides to sleep with the protagonist, and even that is explicitly described as him “doing her a favour.”

The fact is, ‘Immortals’ makes rape normal, ignores the existence of homosexuality and in general seems to be working hard to make the real world a worse place for all of us.

I’d love to be able to write more about the plot holes, stupid characterisations and silly costumes a little more. Things such as the visibly plastic armour, or frankly adorable pair of brass bunny ears that the antagonist wears to look intimidating. But there’s so little to this film beyond genuinely unsettling misogyny and absurd design choices that I’m left with nothing but empty anger.

A Review of ‘Attack on Titan’ (2013) Written in the Format of ‘Attack On Titan’ (2013)

This is my overly-indulgent, somewhat-pretentious review of ‘Attack on Titan’, the anime adaptation of the manga by the same name. There are lots of things to like about the series, from the wonderful visuals to the over-the-top action scenes, the epic plot twists and the pervasive sense of dread and inescapable defeat. An anime is an animation produced in Japan in a characteristically colourful style, with vibrant characters and fantastical themes. There are also a lot of things that are profoundly annoying about the show – it really is a mixed bag. In the next paragraph, I will discuss the setting of ‘Attack on Titan’.

attackontitan

This is my overly-indulgent, somewhat-pretentious review of ‘Attack on Titan’, the anime adaptation of the manga by the same name. In the last paragraph, I offered an introduction to the show. In this paragraph, I’ll talk about the setting. ‘Attack on Titan’ is set in a huge, walled city, the last refuge of humanity. A review is an evaluation of a product or publication, usually to provide the reader with an insight into the strengths and weaknesses of the respective article. The creators perfectly captured the claustrophobic feel of life inside the fortress city. In the next paragraph, I will continue to discuss the setting and background of ‘Attack on Titan’.

This is my overly-indulgent, somewhat-pretentious review of ‘Attack on Titan’, the anime adaptation of the manga by the same name. In the last paragraph, I began to discuss the setting of the series. In this paragraph, I will further discuss the setting. The blend of modern technologies with antiquated weapons and medieval-style buildings is well handled. A building is a large structure with a roof and walls, usually made of rigid materials. The creators have managed to achieve an environment that very much feels lived-in and genuine. In the next paragraph, I will discuss the elements of the background behind the series.

This is my overly-indulgent, somewhat-pretentious review of ‘Attack on Titan’, the anime adaptation of the manga by the same name. In the last paragraph, I put forward my views on the setting. In this paragraph, I will look at the background. By setting the fall of humanity over a century prior to the show, we get a culture that is gradually becoming complacent even as it is constantly reminded of that original horror. A century is exactly one hundred years of time, although it can often be used more loosely than that. The literal division of the city into three distinct classes is heavy-handed, but it serves its purpose well for the narrative. In the next paragraph, I will examine the background behind the Titans, and their role in the story.

This is my overly-indulgent, somewhat-pretentious review of ‘Attack on –

(continues for another nineteen paragraphs, concluding that the lead character is annoying, Armin is a legend, and that overall the show started off well but eventually became a guilty pleasure)

A Review of ‘Doctor Who: The Good Episodes’

I’m a fairly hateful person. Y’know, I wouldn’t call myself a racist or anything, or a misogynist – generally I think women are a good thing. I’m against gay weddings, but only because I’m against all weddings due to the happiness of others causing me physical discomfort. I think it’s great that transgenderism is becoming more and more accepted, to the point that someone born a man can freely become a member of a gender that is judged solely by their conformity to popular standards of appearance.

But Shitty Sci-Fi? You can bet that’s going to get me pissed. And I don’t mean sci-fi that’s just shitty. ‘Under the Dome’ never got people flooding my fucking Facebook feed with goobly frothing about how “dramatic” last night’s episode was. No, Shitty Sci-Fi is something pretending to be science fiction when it’s actually just crap.

And before you bring up Star Wars, no, Star Wars isn’t sci-fi, it’s fucking Space Opera and you know it. What’s more, it’s glorious space opera. Go fuck yourself.

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I have no comment to add to this.

Anyway, ‘Doctor Who’ is that “science fiction” show about a mysterious figure with a time-travel device that allows him to travel with one of his improbably-attractive “companions” to any place and any time in the Universe, so long as it’s modern-day Cardiff, modern-day London (scenes shot in Cardiff) or a small sound stage with lots of greenscreen.

Oh, and he’s immortal, too: he’s a member of an enigmatic alien race which means that when he dies he “regenerates” into a completely different form, so long as that form is a white, male human being with a British accent. Because we all know women can’t be doctors, right? That would be too unbelievable. The show isn’t called ‘Nurse Who’. Or ‘Midwife Who’. Or ‘Secretary Who’.

Women have three roles in this show, and that is to either be a love interest to the Doctor, to stand next to the Doctor looking attractive and being “spunky” and not understanding anything that’s going on, or to be victims. At least, that’s the impression I have based on what I’ve seen, which includes the entire first season, one-and-a-half Christmas specials and the two episodes upon which everyone seems to agree are “the best”.

Neil_Gaiman_on_re_writing_Doctor_Who__Clara_was_originally_going_to_stay_as_a_Victorian_governess
I’m not trying to make a point here, I just wanted a reason to include an image of Jenna-Louise Coleman.

Maybe I’m being unfair. Maybe I need to watch more of the show. But that’s not going to happen and here’s fucking why: as far as I can tell, each episode has been written by a twelve-year-old. A twelve-year-old who once saw an episode of ‘The X-Files’ and who has read the first six pages of a book called ‘The Guide To Holding Your Audience In Contempt.’

When my very, very rational hatred of ‘Doctor Who’ would come up in conversation, my friends would tell me:

“But you need to see the good episodes, you’re basing your opinions on all the bad ones!”

And:

“Have you seen ‘Blink’? You’d like ‘Blink’!”

Or:

“What about ‘The Girl In The Fireplace’?”

And:

“But I loved ‘Doctor Who’ ever since I started watching it after I got a massive settlement for that horrifically-botched brain surgery! Can you smell green? My teacup hurts!”

Bloorm_and_Dax
Two average ‘Doctor Who’ fans.

Well, that last one was probably fictional, but whatever. The point is, those were the arguments that were always raised, and so to answer them, I have now fucking watched ‘Blink’ and ‘The Girl In The Fireplace’. And they’re both shit. There. That’s my review. The best of ‘Doctor Who’ is shit. The End. Go away.

I should probably explain why they’re shit, I guess, so here goes.


 

‘The Girl In The Fireplace’ doesn’t warrant an actual review. It was fine I guess until that point where the Doctor falls in love with the attractive lady and then forgets about how the magic-time portal thingy worked (which was a major plot point throughout) and subsequently forgets that HE HAS A FUCKING TIME MACHINE THAT CAN GO ANYWHERE WHAT THE SHIT I MEAN WHAT’S THE POINT OF HAVING IT IF YOU CAN’T USE IT JUST BECAUSE THAT WOULD DEMOLISH THE DESPERATE ATTEMPT AT DRAMA THAT THE SHOW IS TRYING TO CREATE and then the attractive lady dies.

The-Girl-in-the-Fireplace-doctor-who-for-whovians-35747373-944-531
I’d have been a lot more forgiving of this episode if it had just been a man screaming incoherently at a horse for fifty-five minutes.

I mean, you’ can’t have a fucking TIME MACHINE (WHICH ALSO TRAVELS ANYWHERE IN SPACE) and have stories about tragic loss if, and this is key, YOU HAVE A FUCKING TIME MACHINE. Jesus. Just, what’s even the point? It works in other episodes. It’s not like the TARDIS stops him from creating paradoxes (such as in ‘Blink’) or whatever. The “we can’t go back, we’re part of events now” is just a line that they fucking threw in there so they can manufacture some pointless fucking heartache.

There is literally no justification for it beyond “Well, we kind of wrote ourselves into a corner here, and I can’t figure a way out because I’ve been drinking since breakfast.” And then the other bloke (and I checked, pretty much everyone who writes for this show is a man – sort by number of episodes and it gets even worse) says “Hey, don’t forget about all of that crystal meth on which we spent most of our special effects budget!” and then they both leave to go to a brothel and hand the half-finished script to one of the cleaning staff who is still learning English.

Fuck this show. Fuck it right in the teeth.


Okay, so, ‘Blink’ is apparently really, really scaaaary and “dramatic” and “good” and I’d buy into all of that if they fucking got it right. How tricky can it really be to follow the rules you wrote for your own fucking episode? And this isn’t like in Star Trek, where one writer says you can’t beam through shields one episode, and the next episode is done by a different writer who didn’t get the memo: ‘Blink’ is one fucking episode done BY THE SAME FUCKING WRITER.

Blink-Weeping-Angel
“Excuse me, some BBC writers just ran off with all of my recreational narcotics, did you see which way they went? That way? Oh, thank you.”

Okay, let’s get this down: the Angels can only move when they’re not being observed. But they can move when no “living thing” is watching them. Right, got it. Except for all of those bits in the episode where nobody is watching them but they still aren’t fucking moving. Or, when they are moving even when being watched. Oh, they’re also really fast, like, incredibly fast, unless the director’s trying to ramp up the tension in which case they’re really fucking slow.

I ‘m struggling to cope with how absurdly simple it would be to make the episode conform to the rules that it itself created for these monsters, only to willfully ignore them for literally no reason. It is very, very difficult to take seriously a threatening monster when it fails to act in anything like a sensible way.

Let’s deconstruct one scene in particular. A charismatic detective turns around to see four Angels that have appeared behind him, all trying to break into the TARDIS. The scene concludes with him blinking right at the end, at which point the Angels whisk him off to nineteen-sixty-nobody-cares. So, we know the Angels want to get rid of him, we know they can only move when nobody is looking at them, and given that they only attack when he blinks, we can assume that he’s the only observer in the room. Let’s take a look, shall we?

Here, we see him staring very much at one of the Angels, and not at any of the others:

blink - look one way

Then he walks past that one, with his back to it:

blink - look another

Hmm, maybe it was tired. Then he examines the one on the left more closely:

blink - seriously

At this point, even the camera can’t see the other Angels, so it’s nothing clever like that. So, how do these Angels work again? Then he turns his back on that Angel:

blink - come on

I mean, the creators of the show read their own script, right? Or were they too busy snorting crushed meth off of a prostitute’s thighs to review their own work? Why even bother making an episode like this IF YOU CAN’T EVEN GET THE BASICS OF YOUR OWN FUCKING STORY RIGHT?

Oh, and as for its construction as a story, let’s not forget that whilst yes, it actually has a female protagonist, she doesn’t fucking DO anything. Except for taking a mysterious key, and then figuring out that the key must match the lock which the Detective specifically pointed out has no key (at this point, Scooby Doo could fill in as the protagonist), all she does is wander around being confused, as well as being the best fucking actor the show has ever fucking featured.


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SCREEEEEW DRIVER.

These are the things that piss me off about this ruin of a franchise. One of the excuses that is made for ‘Doctor Who’ is that “of course it won’t be as good as an American show, it’s got a much lower budget, silly you!” Yeah, which is fine, except that you can still write a story that makes sense on a budget of pretty much nothing. You don’t even need paper if your memory is good enough.

Low-quality special effects and cheap guest-stars are features that are also shared by another show, called ‘Babylon 5’. And that show managed some actual quality output -when you talk about the best episodes of ‘Babylon 5’, you still get the awful visuals and the glorious hammy over-acting, but you get stories that can withstand even cursory analysis.

‘Doctor Who’ fails because it doesn’t even try. Between various Deus Ex Machinations, forced attempts at drama and tension and overall shoddy, neglectful attitudes towards story-crafting, I still can’t get behind this over-hyped nonsense. You find more cohesive plot lines in ‘Garth Merenghi’s Dark Place’, and there’s just no excuse for that.

I have actually seen another episode from a later ‘Doctor Who’ season, ‘Midnight’, and y’know what? I actually half-enjoyed that one. I enjoyed it because it was actual fucking Sci-Fi: it used its setting to explore a strange concept, didn’t try doing anything clever, and didn’t rely on stupidity to explain away wild inconsistencies. It still wasn’t particularly great, but if ‘Doctor Who’ stuck to smaller, tighter story arcs like that instead of trying to lever-in ridiculously over-the-top concepts that it can’t be bothered to get right, I might have been willing to give the show a chance.

As it is, it can fuck off.

 

 

A Review of ‘The Last Legion’ (2007)

During my last review, I experienced some degree of consternation over the fact that I was expecting to be ranting about a crap movie, and was instead forced to accept that it was actually largely entertaining and well made.

In a bid to avoid disappointment, this time I followed Amazon Prime’s recommendations based on the Jon-Snow-delivery-mechanism ‘Pompeii’, feeling that such a trail of breadcrumbs must surely lead to juicy awfulness, ripe for critique.

For once, I was right.

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I honestly don’t know who I’d rather be in this scenario.

‘The Last Legion’ is magnificent in its mediocrity. It is so chaotic and sporadic and bizarre that I don’t know where to begin. I’ll start with the first thing I noticed: this film could have been a dry-run for ‘Game of Thrones’. Right off the bat, in the first scene alone, there are three actors from the HBO adaptation of ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’. Every scene thereafter, more and more appear. They must fuck each other in real life as much as they do on the show, because these bastards were multiplying faster than E. coli.

In no particular order, we meet:

  • Iain Glen (‘Jorah Mormont’)
  • James Cosmo (‘Lord Commander Jeor Mormont’)
  • Thomas Brodie-Sangster (‘Jojen Reed’)
  • Nonso Anozie (‘Xaro Xhoan Daxos’)
  • Owen Teale (‘Ser Alliser Thorne’)
  • Alexander Siddig (‘Doran Martell’)
  • Robert Pugh (‘Craster’)
  • Murray McArthur (some Wildling, apparently)

Then, I started noticing that a lot of ‘The Last Legion’ features scenes taking place in locations startlingly reminiscent of “King’s Landing”, “Pentos” and “Beyond The Wall”, and for most of the time I spent watching it, I genuinely assumed this film was made after a season of ‘Game of Thrones’ had wrapped, and they found themselves with leftover money and location permissions that were still valid, and just decided to make something of it.

Except that ‘The Last Legion’ was released two years before ‘Game of Thrones’ even started filming. So I dunno. It just weirded me out. But not as much as the rest of the film did.

It opens with the most unoriginal telling of a prophecy I’ve ever experienced. Ben Kingsley provides the voice-over with an inexplicable Welsh accent. Then we forget about the prophecy for the first third of the movie – I’m not even kidding. Our first scene is Colin Firth arriving with Alliser Thorne, Xoan Daxos and some guy who I think might have been called “Demetrius” but whom I’m positive Colin Firth later calls “Delicious”, and I much prefer the latter.

delicious
“Delicious”

We get a good thirty minutes of solid Roman action. I really liked this portion of the film; it was uninspired, but impressive. There are huge crowds of cheering Roman citizens, great costumes, great sets, it all works. In the space of twenty minutes, we see Jorjen get made Emperor and get a crown, we get Goths sacking Rome, the crown gets trodden on (by another HBO vet, Kevin McKidd), Jorjen’s parents get killed brutally.

Jorjen gets kidnapped, gets taken to an island fortress as a prisoner, Colin stages a daring rescue with his little band of Thronites and Delicious, helped by Aishwarya Rai and an IKEA-ballista. And half-way through this sequence, it all just starts… to fall apart.

Sir Ben Welshley gets strung up from a crane, and whilst there notices a big metal sign that suddenly reminds him of the entire plot of the movie. He shouts instructions to Jorjen, which their captors either can’t hear or willfully ignore. Meanwhile, Aishwarya and Colin get some brief interaction in a baffling scene which starts as on-location filming, before switching to obvious green-screen between two lines.

I get that pick-ups happen, but did they really fuck up half of the scene enough to justify awkwardly jamming in another minute of dialogue that has no actual bearing on the story? The decision to do this makes no sense to me.

But it makes more sense than any of the hair in this movie. You might think that I’m having a turn, but I am serious. The wig- and beard-design in ‘The Last Legion’ is so overwhelmingly appalling that I wonder if it was done as a joke by the make-up department and nobody picked up on it until too late.

Kevin McKidd in particular suffers – the fake fringe is so distracting I honestly thought he wasn’t even playing a human when I first saw him. Like, I genuinely thought he was meant to be Klingon or something. It made more sense.

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Q’aplah!

In truth, it wouldn’t be fair to pick on just the hair design. Poor Aishwarya Rai sweated along with the rest of the cast during the location shoots during scenes on the island, so to replicate the glistening on her skin, and again, I’m being serious here, someone saw fit to just oil her up during reshoots. The pick-up shots were jarring enough, but let me tell you that there is something otherworldly about seeing a woman instantly transition from natural perspiration to lubed-up cleavage.

And these are just the technical details from the first portion of the film. I could talk about the music, which was very competently put together by someone watching a completely different movie. It’s not bad, it’s just inappropriate.

How about the rampant swings in tone? From violent revenge-seeking to adventurous treasure-hunting to light-hearted romantic-comedy. I spend the first thirty minutes thinking I was watching a gritty historical romp in the vein of ‘Pompeii’ or ‘Arn: Warrior Templar’ or ‘Black Death’. But apparently that was all a ruse and this is actually a fantasy story about FUCKING ARTHURIAN LEGEND.

Because after they get back from the island – which, why did the story need to take us there in the first place, by the way? They just rescue the kid and fuck off again. I mean, he finds the sword there, but he could’ve found that anywhere, it’s not like there’s actual historical records detailing the location of where a fucking magical sword made for the Caesars was hidden.

ANYWAY, they get back from the Island of Pointless Plot Threads after some really good fight scenes (which failed to advance the story in any way) to get insta-betrayed by their would-be allies as soon as they return. In one of the biggest crimes of the film so far, Alexander Siddig has managed a grand total of about three lines since he first appeared, and now suddenly betrays our heroes before getting stabbed up by Aishwarya, in one of the most egregious wastes of talent since… his role in ‘Game of Thrones’.

I mean, in his first scene he turns up to say about nine words to the King of the Goths, who tells him to fuck off almost immediately, so he just leaves. Why even put him in the scene? Why have him in this movie? Alexander, you’re great, you could do so much better! This is post-‘Kingdom of Heaven’, you could do anything you want! Why this? Why?

Aishwarya’s murder of Siddig comes with its own problems, though, since some twelve-year-old holding her hand is apparently enough to overturn her lifetime of training and oath-swearing and encourages her to indulge in outright treason against her compatriots. Maybe the film-makers needed more shots of her oily breasts.

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Seen here: the beginnings of treason.

They decide to travel to Britannia, for… reasons. By this point, I was becoming more and more hysterical as I watched. They arrive on British shores, then suddenly Welsh Kingsley brings up some masked bloke called “Vorticunt”. I think he meant “Vortigern” but it doesn’t matter, because we’ve never heard of him until fifty minutes in, even though Venticunti will now be the main antagonist for the remaining thirty-five minutes of film.

Despite the entire story being set in 475 AD, Vorticunt lives in the most Medieval castle I have ever seen. He wears a big golden mask for reasons that are never explained, and he… He was mean to Sir Welsh Welshley a long time ago, apparently. He also wants the magic sword, of which we just now get reminded and which is once again the centre of the story line. I thought we were all about the collapse of the Western Roman Empire?

I can’t decide what the main plot is, but that’s alright because neither can the film-makers. It’s something to do with destiny, the end of the Roman way of life, the last stand of the last legion, and a magic sword which could be magic, but so far hasn’t done anything magical.

I’m starting to get a headache.

We get a pointless training montage between Colin and Aishwarya, which would be cute if it wasn’t entirely unrelated to the plot. I swear the director must have been indulging in a lot of cocaine, because he flits around from one thing to the next like a bluebottle in a room full of shite. One moment we’re wasting time with a forced romance sub-plot, next we’re fannying around with undeveloped villains, now we’re… some bullshit to do with farmers who are legionaries who are farmers and then they don’t know he’s the Emperor but then they suddenly introduce this Blacksmith character from nowhere who gets one scene of acting but then never appears again even though it was his kids who got murdered, did I mention that there’s child-murder in this film?

Then we – hang on – castles. No, Romans, and walls… Empire… FIGHTING! And Vorticunt, Caesar, he’s – no, it’s the Goths who… I… Let me… I can’t… Fuck. Fucking – film. Film, MOVIE, fucking… swoooorrrd. I’m almost…

aishwarya
Swoon.

… Look, I’m going to cut to the last bit, because despite the fact that I only finished watching three hours ago, trying to make sense of the latter half of this film is causing my central nervous system to shut down. I have a feeling that it’s more straight-forward than I’m thinking, but if you want a synopsis, read the Wikipedia article. I’m sure that will clear everything up.

So, we get to the final battle, in a ruined castle on Hadrian’s wall. Then things start happening. Colin gives a noble speech which is either about the glory of Rome or the defense of Britannia, but they’re defending Britannia against her own native population. Look, it’s clear he doesn’t know why he’s there, but he is there and God damn it he’s going to make the best of a bad situation. He mentions that they had lost “two friends” but I’m pretty sure that with the sacking of Rome there were more people hurt than that, including all those Imperial guards killed when Jorjen first gets kidnapped, but I think Colin had turned to drinking by this point so I’m not going to put too much pressure on him.

Then we see Sir Welshy-Welsh Welshley launching the absolute worst CGI fireballs I have ever seen in a production that could be called “professional”. And I’m not even talking about films, the original ‘Baldur’s Gate’ had more convincing effects and that was an isometric roleplaying game from the ’90s.

So then Wartycunt’s best friend exclaims “They have a sorceror!” and Cuntycunt responds “That’s no sorceror” even though he JUST LITERALLY THREW FIREBALLS AT YOUR ARMY WHAT DID YOU THINK HE SUDDENLY INVENTED NAPALM YOU MASKED MORON JESUS WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU OH MY GOD IS THIS FILM STILL GOING?

FIRE
This is an actual still from ‘The Last Legion’. From the actual final release. This film cost $67 million dollars to create. Also pictured: Not-Sorcery.

Jorjen climbs out of the castle and onto the battlefield, I think because he wanted to add extra peril to the scene, but whatever, there are some great combats all through this bit, this is a fantastic battle so far – except for the cartoon fireballs. It’s exciting, y’know?

And then things get extra weird. It’s actually difficult for me to describe, but the standard thing happens where the army that said it won’t fight turns up to fight and save the day, and suddenly the entire picture quality changes. I’m not even joking around with this, it’s as though they suddenly switched cameras. Seriously. Everything’s suddenly all grainy and it looks great but it also looks completely different to the entire rest of the fucking film.

Honestly I thought it was because they had used stock footage for all of the Roman soldiers, but Colin is in there, along with the rest of the cast, and they all look the same, so either they used stock footage and changed the rest to match the picture quality, but only for this scene, or they changed the cameras they were using, again just for this scene. I don’t understand. What’s going on? Is this what going mad feels like?

WARTCUNT
The perils of plastic surgery addiction.

Wellllllshy defeats Cuuuuunnnnnt in some not-terrible but not-great fight scene with lots of fire, the mask gets ripped off revealing some weird kind of wounded face thing underneath, no explanation, into the fire he goes and out of the story, just as quickly as he arrived. Welsh waves the mask around and says he killed Cunt, everyone goes home except for Kevin McKlingon who tries to kill Jorjen but Colin intervenes and gets not-killed? He almost gets killed but not quite.

At no point do we have explained to us what the magical sword of power and destiny actually does, except maybe cut through other swords if you’re really lucky, so Jorjen throws it away, it turns into a CGI cartoon because the animators were using Sega Megadrives as the main processors for all of their visual effects rendering, then it lands in a rock and we get a shitty epilogue and it’s all done.

As we fade to black, we get the one bit of the film that could have been rewarding – we zoom in on the Latin inscription on the blade, now obscured and given the “V’ger” treatment, to reveal the sword’s true significance. The individual letters light up, revealing:

E

S

CALIBUR

ESCALIBUR

E. FUCKING S. CALIBUR.

excalibur
ESCALIBUR

Hey y’all, do you remember all those fun stories about King Arthur, son of the last Roman Emperor, who fought with his legendary sword, ESCALIBUR? I used to love all of the tales about Arthur and his friend, Lantillot, with Gunnyvere and Morlon and the Lady of the Lace.

I mean, they had the ENTIRETY OF LATIN at the disposal from which to pick their bullshit motto to be engraved on the sword, and they decided to fuck it up. How? Why? What is WRONG with these people? Do they need help? Should they join a support group? HOW DO YOU MAKE DECISIONS LIKE THIS?

I mean, I could forgive the fact they thought the Sword in the Stone was Excalibur, plenty of people make that mistake, but HOW DO YOU GET THE FUCKING NAME WRONG? I mean, Jesus H. Fucking Belushi, it’s not like it’s even the actual name of the sword, in Latin it’d be called “Caliburnus” or something, so WHY EVEN BOTHER? Just, ARGH.

Ugh.

Fuck.

How do movies like this get made? Somewhere at the heart of ‘The Last Legion’ was a compelling fantasy epic about a Roman boy with a great destiny, and then they just fuck it all up. They travel from Rome to some Island to the fucking Alps (for a grand total of two lines of dialogue) then on to Britain and none of it works. Well, the first bit works. But the rest?

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If you look closely, you can see in the reflection of his eyes the huge piles of cocaine that went into making this movie.

You’ve got a great cast of actors, supporting and lead. You’ve got costumes galore, all gorgeously anachronistic. But there are so many baffling decisions made by the film-makers. Doug Lefler has never directed since, now stuck firmly working in the art departments of better productions. But how did names like Colin Firth and Ben Kingsley even get attached to this barmy punch-drunk escapade? Apparently they each thought the plot was “interesting”, and I’ll give them that.

Interesting in the same way that, when you get right down to it, dead bodies are also quite interesting.

There is so much more I could discuss about ‘The Last Legion’ but I can barely remain coherent as is. There’s the lack of a central protagonist, the absence of any sensible story structure, the use of filler with a running time barely past the ninety-minute mark. If my already fragile psyche could stand it, I’d watch this film through a few more times, really dissect every scene.

But I don’t think I’d live through it.

A Review of ‘In Time’ (2011)

This film has ruined my entire fucking evening.

I bought ‘In Time’ on DVD ages ago when it was, like, £2 on Amazon or something, probably about thirty minutes after it came out on DVD, in fact, and I could’ve fucking sworn it was shite. I didn’t even remember most of it, it was that bloody bad.

So I shove it back in the XBox tonight so I can take notes on all the ways it failed. Yes, I take notes, my anger has become so unrelenting that it’s the one thing that can motivate me to be organised. And I’m watching this turd, preparing to describe great big steaming piles of cinematic excrement, and it can’t even suck properly.

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C’mon, Cillian, can’t you see that this was meant to be a shit film? Can’t you just do a crap job, chew up the scenery and forget a few lines? Don’t make me enjoy this would-be shitefest.

About half an hour in, I realise I’m enjoying myself. Justin Fucking Whatshisface, who I remember being abjectly abominable as an actor in this very film, is managing to deliver a natural performance. Y’know, not perfect, but not exactly Kevin Costner either. What can I do with that? What do you expect me to do with that, Justin? My entire thing is being negative and whinging about stuff that doesn’t matter as though I’m the least self-aware douchebag on the planet, but nooooo, you have to go and be mostly convincing.

It’s okay, though, because I distinctly remember these useless bastards fucking up the workings of this film’s particular gimmick. Like, I remember very much that Justin Beaverlake’s arm-countdown thingy was completely inconsistent between shots. So this time, I decide to note it down, so I can rip it all to pieces.

But I was wrong. They were right. They got it right. I mean, they were probably a few minutes out or something, but they got it Right.

Those wankers.

Why? What did I do to deserve this? An hour in already, and you’ve got a villain who’s believable. You’ve got a love interest who actually has a personality. You’ve got these annoying, fucking perfect shots with excellent atmospheric lighting. The soundtrack never misses a beat. The entire cast is fucking beautiful, especially Amanda Seyfried but especially Cillian Murphy.

All I want, all I need, is another Hollywood film with huge plot holes and pointless characters and glaring inconsistencies and laughable dialogue, and instead I get this fucking well-put-together, competent, enjoyable movie with fucking compelling character interactions and an interesting premise and by now I’ve already overused italics to the point that I feel disgusted with myself, almost as much as when I look at my own browsing history.

It is entirely unfair that the biggest issue I can cite with ‘In Time’ is a lack of fucking ambition. I mean, I could try to spin out my complaints over its lack of world development into a full-length, profanity-fucking-riddled admonition, but I didn’t even find it that irritating. Sure, they missed a trick by just making the rich people live lives identical to modern-day rich people, and yes, I find it totally fucking unbelievable that a bunch of intelligent individuals living hundreds of years at their physical prime wouldn’t have at least something interesting to do with their time, like mastering every language or answering philosophical questions or dedicating themselves to scientific research.

Y’know, of course the comparison to fucking contemporary capitalism is heavy-handed and clumsy, and I absolutely feel that the portrayal of the wealthy was a little too shallow, simple-minded and hypocritical, but that hardly detracts from the main enjoyment of the film, that’s more a complaint about what the film could have been, and that’s not particularly compelling for the kind of person who willfully inserts the word “fucking” into his blog posts to make it seem like he’s angry when he’s actually just sort of entertained and pleasantly fucking surprised.

No, wait! The puns!

This film is riddled with puns to the same extent that George Lucas is presumably riddled with self-loathing. Here’s a tip, moron film-makers, any attempt at a serious tone for your film about time being used as a currency is ludicrously undermined by calling the law enforcers “Time Keepers”, thugs who steal other people’s time “Minutemen”, the different bands of wealth “Time Zones” and all the crap about “Who has time for a girlfriend?”

I’m here for a God-damned train wreck, but you’re giving me a mostly fun mix of action-adventure/pursuit-thriller instead of bogging yourself down with details and explanations for how your stupid economy works. I mean, what, are you trying to make your film marketable or something? Give me a fucking break. I need you to clog up your script with pointless exposition about Time exchange-rates so that I can rip the dialogue apart for not being character-focused enough.

Let’s be straight, ‘In Time’, you’re not going to be winning any Oscars anyway, so why bother being even half-way decent? You’ve got the perfect B-movie premise and all of the material you need to be shitty shlock, why go to all the effort of providing an entertaining ride with a charismatic pair of leads? Cillian Murphy could have intentionally phoned it in through every scene, totally aware of the fact he was wasting his time with a pointless endeavour, but instead he had to go and be all “I’m acting like this is a real film” and stuff.

Just, I… I really wanted to slam this film, but after watching it I really want to recommend it, and I can’t really do either. It’s a well-rounded dystopian sci-fi adventure film, so it’s not going to be satisfying for anyone looking for something to hate. But, I can’t recommend it as a film that you should see – if you happen to watch it you’ll enjoy it, but it doesn’t bring anything new to the table. It fails to do anything interesting with its own premise beyond standard action-adventure stuff.

So I can’t rant, I can’t rave. I just have to sit here, frustrated, annoyed and let down. You let me down, ‘In Time’. You’re… you’re not even fucking mediocre, you’re just good. Not interesting, not abysmal, not revolutionary and not derivative. Just… Good. Solid. Entertaining. Unambitious but fun. I don’t need fun. I need incredible, or shit.

I’ve just moved my review of ‘Prometheus’ a few places up the schedule.


 

Also, they put in all of those fucking puns, but didn’t call their protagonist, played by Justin Woodypond, “Justin Time”? Fucking waste.

A Review of ‘Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves’ (1991), Starring Alan Rickman

In honour of the great Alan Rickman and his recent passing, my friend Nick (and yes, I have friends) has requested that I review one of Alan Rickman’s most iconic movie roles. Since we all know and love Mr. Rickman, I’ll waste no further time and get right to the film.

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00:30 – Wow. This is an incredible score. Like, properly heroic. This is probably one of the best pieces of opening music ever. I hope the rest of the film lives up to it.

02:16 – Standard exposition card. Classy.

03:03 – Wow. Dude just got his hand cut off. Brutal.

04:12 – “This is English courage.” Said with an American accent. Fuck you, Hairy Costner.

05:53 – I never realised that the city of Jerusalem was built on a perfectly flat sound stage.

07:53 – Alright, fair play, they have just set up a good part of our hero’s origin, his sidekick, and his link to the romantic interest, all in a very short space of time with a lot of action. This is good old-fashioned movie pacing.

08:00 – Locksley Castle. Looks very much like a manor house and very much not like a castle, but hey, what do I know?

08:30 – Aw yeah, fucking BRIAN BLESSED. He’s my spirit animal.

08:40 – What a voice on this man. Such a class actor. You can hear the Shakespearian theatre dripping out of every syllable.

09:29 – AWW YEAH BATTLE-MODE-BLESSED. Shit’s about to go daaaaahhhhhhn.

09:49 – Shit, the Klu Klux Klan have got him trapped. Not sure those robes of theirs will stand up for long against four-and-a-half feet of Blessed-driven steel sword, however.

09:57 – No! Alan Rickman’s in the KKK? Mind you, talent like that, even a racist past time probably wouldn’t hurt his career.

10:13 – Okay, I know for a fact that a fully-armed and operational Brian Blessed, on horseback no less, would roundly fuck any enemy force, from cavalry right up to attack helicopters. I find his dispatch by a gang of racists in dressing-gowns highly unrealistic.

10:38 – FOUR MONTHS LATER -In Dover, apparently. Man, that place looks bleak.

10:58 – Costner’s had a shave. Looks a bit baby-faced for a man who was just being starved to death in a Middle Eastern prison. And where’d he get those fancy clothes from? And the fare for the ferry? SO MANY PLOT HOLES.

11:15 – No, Kevin, that’s sand! You can’t eat that!

11:20 – No Englishman would thrash around in the surf screaming “I’m home!” And certainly not with that accent.

11:37 – Just had our first main bit of none-whispered dialogue from our two protagonists. Morgan Freeman’s great. I thought Kevin Costner was an actor, though?

12:22 – “Our fighting days are done.” Imagine that line, spoken with no inflection and no emotion in a completely flat tone. Or, save your imagination and watch this film.

13:25 – More dialogue. Pretty sure Costner was reading his lines for the first time ever from a cue-card held behind the camera.

13:35 – “What do you know of women?” What. did I miss something? Are women a mythical beast in this universe? That being said, I haven’t yet seen any…

14:16 – Robin Hood is a bellend.

15:42 – Some kid’s being hunted with dogs. Wasn’t that the Medieval version of sport?

16:12 – Kid climbed a tree, so now they’re cutting it down. Why would they cut down the tree instead of just chucking things at him until he fell?

16:17 – Robin Hood just tried to be sassy. Kevin Costner managed to sound vaguely awake.

16:52 – This villain (Guy de Glastonbury or whatever his name is) is great. That voice, he sounds like a boulder shitting out gravel.

17:10 – Where the fuck did that crossbow come from? Under his robes?

19:52 – Here we go with more Alan Rickman! In fairness, he does more than enough acting for himself and Costner, so it actually balances out.

20:15 – Why does the Sheriff think Robin Hood’s a “whelp”? I mean, obviously in this case that’s true, but only because of the Costner of it all. But I’d hardly think that a knight who survived the Crusades would be a “whelp”.

21:20 – Why would they burn the castle down? Wouldn’t someone after power and land want to keep a castle? As I recall from history classes, they’re weren’t quick to build…

23:49 – Christ, even when he’s swearing a blood oath, ol’ Robin sounds bored.

25:12 – Now this is some quality witching right here – this lady is nailing it.

28:20 – As evidence of how much of a prick Robin is, he just showed visible disappointment that Maid Marian wasn’t as hot as he remembered. Bear in mind that he’s here to TELL HER THAT HER BROTHER IS DEAD. Jesus, Robin, there is a time and a place. Or did you really expect “Your brother died, but it’s alright because he got tortured first” to be a major skirt-hitcher?

29:03 – Okay, so, Robin just swore to protect Marian. She tells him to fuck off (very sensibly, I might add) and then has a masked bodyguard put a sword to his back. So rather than doing as requested, he decides to… attack the bodyguard? Nice. Real nice, Robin. You jebbend.

30:16 – “No one feels his loss more than I.” Nice sentiment, Robin. It’s a shame you said it as though you were reading the answer to a crossword puzzle, though.

31:14 – “My purpose in coming was not to hurt you. I swore to your brother that I would protect you.” By beating up the people she had employed to protect herself? Fuck off, Robin.

31:28 – Gorgeous castle setting, though.

32:40 – Cue a “hilarious” scene with Robin totally not understanding what a telescope is. He just looks like a moron. Which he is. A moron.

36:23 – “You scare easily my painted Moor.” Yeah, keep it up bellend, further insulting Morgan Freeman is definitely a way to win our hearts.

36:53 – So, they come upon a river, Azeem claims “in [his] dreams alone has he imagined such a place.” And Robin, being so “charismatic”, tells him to “imagine a way to cross it.” I get that they don’t like each other a great deal, but fuck me is Robin unlikable. Truly, absolutely irritating on a very deep and personal level. It’s only made worse by Costner’s inability to connect with anyone in any kind of emotional way. Like Hayden Christensen, he’s a fucking vacuum of charisma – he’s so flat and robotic, he actually sucks out of the scene all of the emotion being put into it by the other actors. I mean, Morgan Freeman’s doing his best with a very dodgily stereotyped character, but fuck me, every ounce of acting he musters just falls into the great, puckered chasm formed by Costner’s attempts to deliver the lines in an even faintly human way. How did this loser ever develop a career? Jesus.

37:10 – Also his hair is stupid.

41:26 – Okay, it seems the film has heard my complaints because it just handed Robin his own arse twice in quick succession. I can get behind this. You go, film.

42:04 – Apparently Little John can’t bloody swim. Why did he get into a fight over a river, then? I just mean, that seems like playing into your own weaknesses, you know? Maybe he was tired of life.

43:05 – “Save it for the ladeez.” Yo, Costner, you do realise that this is set in England, right? In, like, the 800-hundred-years-agos? Or did you think that this is how everyone still is in England? Did you assume that this was a documentary about an American man trying to integrate into a country that has literally not advanced since the 1100’s? That would explain a lot…

43:15 – Apparently Robin and Azeem are now friends. When and how did that happen, exactly? Last I checked you were still giving him shit for Not having had his arse kicked into the water like you.

45:05 – And here we go with ol’ Will Scarlet, another American. This one can act though. Where’s the justice in Kevin Costner having had a career but not Christian Slater?

51:11 – Ah, there’s the classic line. Alan Rickman is divine in this movie. But why a spoon?

53:10 – “No, to lead you.” Just typing it out I can add more to that line than Costner.

54:34 – “Because it’s dull, you twit, it’ll hurt more.” Even with italics, I can’t muster a millionth of the talent that Rickman casually throws out.

57:59 – Robin just gave an inspiring speech. Well, it was meant to be inspiring. It was an off-brand version of inspiring. It was the “X-Game 360 Console” of inspiring. It was… “Impring.”

58:43 – Aw yeah epic Medieval montage. This piece of music is truly amazing. THIS is inspiring. I am inspired. I am not impried.

1:00:38 – Christ, even with no dialogue Alan Rickman owns it. See this, Costner? This is what those in “the biz” call acting. You twit.

1:01:28 – Three to four million? He’s nicked four million in five months? Four million what, hairpins? Jesus, four million of anything back then was enough to buy, like… Most of England. Four million? Even in pennies, that’s, like, a lot. Wow. Good job.

1:02:14 – “And call off Christmas.” Oh, Alan, you saucy minx.

1:06:23 – Ah, Michael McShane. Total legend. He’s my spirit animal. He’s also a much better actor than Kevin Costner. Everyone in this movie is a better actor than Kevin Costner. Even the horses. And the trees, and the bar for them is set really, really low.

1:07:32 – McShane is killing it. Such a legend.

1:10:17 – “Well at least I didn’t use a spoon.” God damn it, Rickman, god damn it.

1:11:49 – That had better not be Costner swimming naked in that pond.

1:12:00 – That had better not be Costner’s arse under that waterfall.

1:12:01 – OH GOD FUCK IT ALL

1:12:05 – You can tell this is a film from the early ’90s because the leading man doesn’t have a body that looks like it’s trying to eat itself with its own muscles.

1:12:15 – That being said, Marian’s coming over all soppy-like on seeing his naked bod, and, y’know, it’s not that nice of a naked bod. I mean, not that I’m one to talk, but, y’know, like, if you didn’t know that was Kevin Costner you might assume that it was just somebody whose main form of exercise was walking the dog and opening lager cans. Just sayin’.

1:12:58 – Even Marian’s unnamed maidservant manages to steal the scene from Costner. At this point it’s just embarrassing.

1:14:40 – I can’t watch Michael McShane in this film without cracking up. What a legend.

1:15:49 – Alright, as soon as you give Marian any dialogue she’s… really not much better than Costner. This was a big budget movie at the time, how did they end up with these two as the leads? They must have spent all of their casting money on Alan Rickman.

1:21:00 – Okay, they’ve just had a scene with Azeem delivering a baby – I think by cesarean? And one thing that I really like is that they kept a lot of religious tension between him and Friar Tuck. I mean, I know we have enough religious bullshit in this day and age, but it’s nice that they didn’t just ignore the kind of trouble that might arise with having a Muslim wandering around Medieval England.

1:22:10 – For a film that has cast a Christian American of Nigerian descent playing a Moorish Muslim, they’re surprisingly unpatronising of Islamic values. Azeem turns down beer, and the other characters just accept it. Despite my previous point, I again quite like this idea that whilst having a different set of beliefs might be cause for tension, it doesn’t need to be cause for ridicule.

1:25:10 – Ah, and Lady Marian gets rowed off into the mist. And, hopefully, out of this film. This romance sub-plot is just so flat. Probably because the dialogue’s crap, neither person has any charisma and the whole thing’s stupid. Great music, though. Great music.

1:26:16 – This film lives two lives. It bottoms out every time we have Robin on screen, but get the Sheriff and his horrific witch involved and Boom! Instant quality.

1:29:38 – The Sheriff’s soldiers are following Blind Duncan to Robin’s location. Not to be harsh, but… What if they ended up in, like, Swanage or something? I mean, he’s relying on the horse to take him, but that thing sees a mare in heat and Boom! Intant hilarity.

1:37:17 – Again, credit where it’s due, this movie gets its action scenes spot-on. They manage to be exciting, threatening, and the bad guys seem mostly competent. In an attack on the Merry Mens’ village, the initial wave of hired thugs fail to do the job. So the Sheriff has the place filled with fire arrows and flaming pots launched from catapults. I approve of this kind of efficient, down-to-earth villainy.

1:40:30 – Alan Rickman continues to be the best part of this movie. He’s just so threatening and vile and unhinged. He’s my spirit animal.

1:46:26 – Christian Slater has to look away from Costner before delivering his big piece of exposition. Presumably for dramatic effect, and also to mitigate the sapping of his talent by the emotional vampire that is Kevin Costner.

1:49:08 – With the exception of the cardboard Jerusalem at the very start, these sets are bloody neat. The Sheriff’s castle looks like an actual castle. And it’s all real, too. No greenscreen here.

1:49:36 – Holy shit, I think that’s King Ecgbert. Hang on… Damn. Cannot confirm. Okay, somebody needs to find a way of checking if Linus Roache was playing the guard talking to Friar Tuck at this time stamp. If so, that’s awesome.

1:56:02 – Ugh. The executioner just dribbled onto Will Scarlett’s head. That’s actually a brilliant touch. I love this film!

1:57:12 – Ugh. Marian’s given up on acting so is now just screaming. I hate this film.

1:57:56 – Got to love a villain whose primary motivation, when his base is under attack, is still to execute his prisoners as quickly as possible. I’m not even being sarcastic, that is literally exactly how I’d react.

1:59:45 – Now Morgan Freeman can deliver an Inspiring Motherfucking Speech. See, Kevin, this here, this is also called acting. It’s what talented people do after they’ve learned their craft and when they give a shit about the job they’re doing.

2:00:47 – I love how, as he gets on the catapult, Morgan Freeman tries but eventually just cannot be shitted with finding the scabbard for his sword, so just tucks it against his hip as though nobody’s going to notice. I NOTICED, MORGAN. YOU CAN’T HIDE FROM ME.

2:01:03 – I am 99% certain Will Scarlet just said “Fuck me, he cleared it!” I’m guessing they edited that out of the version I saw when I was a child.

2:01:04 – Also, as ludicrous as it is, the catapult-launch over the wall is hilarious and amazing. But a bit pointless given that the peasants trapped by the gate managed to lift the gate almost two seconds after Robin and Azeem landed.

2:02:11 – Again, Alan Rickman, fucking owning every fucking scene he’s in. As he screams his indignation at the witch you he’s just glorious and sexy and I love him.

2:05:16 – Alright, so, a lot of people remember this film for Alan Rickman’s ridiculous gallivanting across the screen like the King of Villains, and there’s loads in this movie that kids love, but you may not remember some other bits that make this an affair for mature audiences only. We’ve just had an old woman being skewered alive, we had a kid being hanged, the Sheriff is currently part-way through the aggravated rape of Marian (no, really), there are dismemberments, there’s swearing, there’s close-ups of Kevin Costner. This is not the family-friendly adventure that I remember. And it was a fucking PG Rating!

2:05:56 – At this precise moment, just over Robin Hood’s shoulder, through the window you can see a chunk of castle that’s clearly a piece of set. You can just see it end abruptly in a straight line at the top. And the fact that I noticed this, and nothing of what Kevin Costner is actually doing, is probably an indication of just how gripping a performance he’s delivering.

2:07:38 – Michael McShane just full-on murdered a bishop. Total. Legend.

2:08:18 – The fight scene between Robin and the Sheriff is fantastic. It’s ridiculous and over-the-top in exactly the way it should be. It’s theatrical, and revels in swashbuckling excitement. They’re throwing benches at each other, toppling statues, wrecking all the woodwork – it is everything a duel between a hero and a villain should be. I love this film!

2:08:50 – God damn it, Costner can’t even stab a dude and make it look decent. He flexes his wrist like he’s letting go of something hot. Jesus. All you have to do is stab a dude and look serious whilst doing it. How do you fuck that up? How do you fuck up stabbing a dude? I hate this film.

2:09:13 – There is a lot of saliva throughout this movie. Alan Rickman’s wonderful death scene involves pints of the stuff. Marian spits on people. Executioners dribble. I’m not complaining. I actually think there should be more drool in modern movies.

2:10:49 – The costumes in this film are hardly a high point, but why does Robin always look like a dipshit? It’s his fucking wedding and he looks like his mum dressed him for a school trip to a castle using random shit she found under the bed. Oh, wait, his mum’s dead, that was a plot point – sorry, Robin, meant no offense, I’m sure she was a lovely lady.

2:10:57 – On the subject of costumes, Marian’s wearing some kind of wreath of barley. That seems a little – pagan? For a film which features the Christianity of its characters so heavily.

2:11:15 – And the music flairs, the sun shines through the trees, and we are presented with the awesome majesty of King Connery. Showing up Robin Hood at his own wedding.

2:11:46 – It’s unbelievable just how easily Connery steals this entire scene. Even him just smirking in the background distracts from the climax of the romance between the two leads.

2:12:33 – It is entirely justified for Michael McShane to get the last line in this movie. He is, after all, a real legend.


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I really like this film. It is exactly what it should be – a fun, over-the-top adventure which is frequently hysterical and mostly fun. Unlike Ridley Scott’s later attempt, it manages to avoid being dull to the point of being soporific, it has great ’90s-style action scenes.

Costner is truly, truly awful, as is Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio – they couldn’t act their way through an infomercial for air fresheners. But the entire rest of the cast completely nails it, the sets are absurdly good, and the music is spot-on, especially the main theme and the love theme.

I wish more films today were like this – we need so much less grit and darkness in our movies. It’s one of the reasons that the two Marvel ‘Avengers’ films work so well, as well as ‘The Force Awakens’ – they focus on the kind of fun and joy that films can provide.

This film is well-paced, it’s exciting, it has a bit of a weak script but the dialogue is functional enough to keep everything moving. The story is nice and simple; most of the time A follows B follows C. With a better leading pair, this film would be a proper classic – as it is, it’s a very enjoyable, big-budget B-movie.

Of course, a lot of the enjoyment comes from Alan Rickman. He interacts so well with the other actors around him. Every line is loaded with poise and threat and characterisation. His performance is incredibly physical, too – the way he moves, the suddenness of his actions, it all contributes to a massively memorable villainous performance. I’m aware that he was very keen not to be type-cast as the villain in his Hollywood career, but he delivers in these sorts of roles so well that he was almost a victim of his own success in that regard – why get anyone else to play your bad guy when you could have Alan Rickman do it better?

As I write this, the news of his death is about twelve hours old. And whilst it is very sad, and obviously all of our best wishes go out to his family, it’s nice to know that we’ll always be able to revisit all of these great roles of his, these performances that delivered so much joy to so many people. In that regard he will always be with us, and the timelessness of his skill and talent will maintain his legacy for decades.

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Everything Clever in ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ (2015)

Star Wars is like ice cream. It is the thing to which I turn when I simply want to enjoy myself.

One of the reasons that I find the “Prequel Trilogy” so intolerable is that it opposes my enjoyment on so many levels. It’s like digging into a tub of ice cream to find that it’s not ice cream at all, it’s mashed, frozen chickpeas. And that might be alright, there might be some people out there who like the taste of mashed frozen chickpeas, but this stuff isn’t even mashed very well; it’s lumpy, it’s hard, it’s bitter and has been flavoured with earwax and ebola.

In essence, the Prequels are awful because not only are they a poor substitute for Star Wars, but they’re also objectively poor in their own right. I won’t dive into the details here, as there are many and better reviews already out there.

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If you think that my views are coloured by nostalgia, and that the “Original Trilogy” is just as flawed as the Prequels, then my proof lies in the following anecdote. My friend, we’ll call him “James”, tried to prove precisely that I was affected by “nostalgia glasses” by watching ‘A New Hope’ and noting down of all the problems with it; half an hour in and he’d forgotten to take any notes because he was enjoying the film so much.

Curiously, he managed to keep his concentration all the way through ‘The Phantom Menace’.

The truth is, all I need from any Star Wars experience is a warm and comfortable feeling of fun; almost as though I’m a bright-eyed happy kid again rather than the dour, depressive, bitter and bearded adult I have become. What I specifically don’t need is in-depth character studies, explanations of technology or The Force, political discussions, or pointless bloody child actors.

Six paragraphs in and I still haven’t mentioned the subject of this article, namely the latest Star Wars release, ‘The Force Awakens’, produced by Disney and directed by J. J. Abrams, the man behind another movie which is so stupid that being able to understand its plot is an indicator of brain damage. And I’m glad to say, he got everything right with this one.

Well, almost everything.

Fair warning, what lies ahead is almost entirely positive and, as such, much less entertaining than my usual frothing bile-ridden rants. What I am aiming to do is highlight all the things that this movie got right for me, but there are some rules:

  • Aesthetics – I will avoid talking about appearances, music, acting and other stylistic choices, unless it’s an important feature of the story.
  • No physics/realism discussion, because, y’know, this is fucking Star Wars.
  • I won’t be using this as an excuse to slam the Prequels. I’ll happily compare its triumphs to their failures to make a point, but I’ll avoid devolving into an incoherent admonition of those three turds.
  • I don’t give a shit about any “Expanded Universe” bollocks and I never will. That putrescent cauldron produced such pointless entities as the “Yuuzhan Vong” and the idiotic, ideas-from-the-notebook-of-a-spotty-teenager-who-thinks-cars-with-twelve-exhaust-pipes-are-cool-inspired “Suncrusher”, so no part of this article will address anything from any part of the Expanded Universe except maybe some of the more explicit pieces of slash-fiction, and then only indirectly and unintentionally.
  • Similarly, there are novels and cartoons and other support media released alongside this film which are apparently “canon”. I couldn’t care less. This is a Movie franchise, damn it, and that’s exactly how I’ll treat it. If you’re meant to read a comic book before you can fully appreciate a film then they ought to put that on the bloody poster.
  • These rules will be broken. Blow me.

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I believe I’m in a strong position to dissect this movie, as I have now seen it a total of four times. I think I’ve reached saturation, in fact, as the last time I watched it I started dozing off a little, but in fairness it was eleven in the morning so I was pretty sleepy.

Finally, these observations are mostly mine, and I’ve avoided other peoples’ reviews of this film specifically so I could write this post. However, there are some points on here that were raised by other internet commentators, and for which I have failed to keep references. I’ll highlight this where I can, but I won’t be able to offer links so do your own bloody research and blow me.

And, obviously, spoilers ahead. You’ve been warned.


A New Cast For A New Age

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This film does not mess around with establishing its own setting and characters, and it definitely feels like the beginning of a trilogy of new stories. Indeed, it doesn’t really feel like a “continuation” from the end of ‘Return of the Jedi’ at all, and that’s incredibly important for the purpose of crafting an engaging story.

In essence, the new trilogy has to leave the old characters behind. Luke defying the Emperor and redeeming his own father was the perfect climax to his character arc; actually showing him trying to rebuild the Jedi order would have felt stale. He’s already done the most exciting thing he’ll ever do, and everything that comes after will feel inferior by comparison.

This is best exemplified by the final chapters of ‘The Return of the King’ – Tolkien’s original ending saw the four Hobbits return to the Shire and wage a minor campaign to take their homes back from Saruman. It was sensibly dropped in the films because they had already won. Sam carried Frodo up the mountain, Frodo destroyed the ring. Prancing around Hobbiton on ponies and calling Grima Wormtongue a cunt is just a huge anti-climax.

‘The Force Awakens’ grabs this principal and runs with it. Han and Leia are almost casual in their approach to destroying Starkiller Base; they’ve done this twice already for crying out loud, and Admiral Ackbar is the only familiar face to seem excited about the new mission, probably because he was so surprised to be invited back at all.

By hanging the plot entirely off of new characters like Rey and Finn, we get to go through their story sharing in their excitement, their fears and their uncertainties. We can see characters that grow and develop as they enter a whole new world of possibilities.


Speaking of A Whole New World…

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A lot of people have expressed frustration with the ambiguity of the origins of the “First Order”, as well as other status quos such as the role of the Republic and its relationship to the Resistance. These are frustrations with which I sympathise, but the absence of details about background and setting are important to the integrity of the film itself.

For one thing, ‘A New Hope’ didn’t waste any time on any of its background at all, to its strength. It was entirely focused on the action at hand. We don’t see the Senate, we don’t even see Alderaan beyond a pale image on a view screen. The audience is thrown into the action and left to fill in the blanks with our own imagination.

You may think you want more details about the politics and the history, but that’s exactly what you got with the Senate sequences in ‘The Phantom Menace’, and do you recall how exciting and enjoyable those incredibly memorable scenes were? If we’re being honest with each other, we both want a lot more of BB-8 giving the thumbs-up with a cigarette lighter, and a lot less of Senators deferring their motions to allow committees to explore the validity of their accusations.

The truth is, the First Order firing their new super weapon is a lot more exciting than the story of how they built it. And whilst a bit of background explanation doesn’t hurt the story, these films have to come in at around the two-hour mark, and when you’re trying to arrange scenes like you’re playing the world’s most expensive game of ‘Tetris’, what exactly do you leave on the cutting room floor in order to make space for a two-minute piece of dry exposition on the logistics of space station construction?

Going back to characters for a moment, the same economy has to apply to the people as well as the setting. For instance, all of the conversations between Han and Leia in ‘The Force Awakens’ are not about each other, but instead focus on Kylo Ren, their son and the third main character. Knowing the intricacies of their relationship following ‘Return of the Jedi’ is so much less important than understanding their son and his story.

Last point on this subject, but exploring the intervening thirty years between this film and the last is a fast track to failure. Would the tale of an aging Luke Skywalker and how he grew his beard ever really live up to your expectations?

I think not.


‘The Force Awakens’ Nails Relationships Like Rhonda Rousey Taking On A Bus-Load Of School Children

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With four words, “I like that Wookiee,” the diminutive orange Yoda-Lite Maz Canata immediately secures the trust of the audience. This was originally pointed out by a redditor on the Star Wars subreddit, and whilst I’m unable to relocate the post in question, This Is How Character Development Should Be Done.

By exploiting her friendship with a loved character like Chewie, the film-makers let us know that Maz is one of the good guys, in exactly the same way that we can identify a baddie by their mistreatment of the most sympathetic character.

Were this a prequel movie, we would doubtless have had two minutes of back-and-forth dialogue about “that time when Maz saved Han from that corridor of feeblecocks” or whatever, and the audience would be left baffled and wondering why they weren’t watching a better film.

What’s more impressive is that this is just about the only time in this movie that a friendship between two characters is established only with dialogue. The trust and fellowship between Rey and Finn is developed through their actions, and likewise between Finn and Poe. We see them work together, suffer together, triumph together, and every step of the way we understand why these people care for one another.

Compare the fury and uncertainty and anger that exists between Rey and Kylo, protagonist and antagonist, to the interactions between any of the villains in any of the prequels and their counterparts. I guess Nute Gunray kind of hates Padme, but she doesn’t seem to even acknowledge him, despite his attempt to INVADE HER FUCKING PLANET AND SUBJUGATE HER PEOPLE. Don’t even get me started on Darth Maul, or the emotional vacuum of Yoda fighting Palpatine.

The point is that by properly establishing relationships between characters through actions and choices, the audience is drawn into those relationships and made a part of them – we’re rooting for Poe and Finn to escape the Star Destroyer as much as they’re rooting for each other, and we feel just as excited as they do when they’re reunited.

Also, it’s my solemn hope that a beautiful relationship blossoms between Finn and Poe in the next installment. I want, nay, have to see Poe being dragged away to his doom, as Finn cries out “I love you!” and Poe smiles and says “I know.” And then later they bone.


Keeping It On The Screen

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Just as relationships are shown to us clearly, so are the qualities of individual characters. We’re told at the beginning of the film that Poe Dameron is a top pilot, but that is never sealed until we see him in action, pulling head-spinning manoeuvres and downing TIE Fighters faster than a combine harvester can chew through a line of nuns.

We don’t actually get told how powerful Kylo Ren is; we get to see it for ourselves as he stops time, rips secrets out of our heroes’ minds and destroys innocent consoles. Kylo is a symbol of fear and threat not because of the film telling us how dangerous he is but by showing us what he’s capable of. And he doesn’t even have any tattoos or head spikes.

In ‘Return of the Jedi’, we see Lando spot the Imperial trap, co-ordinate his squadrons to avoid destruction, and in general render poor Admiral Ackbar completely redundant. Any question over his suitability as a General is completely wiped clean as we see him naturally settle into the role.

Anakin Skywalker is apparently a great pilot because he tried spinning. That was a neat trick. He could also fly a skycar around pretty well I guess, but it seemed like Obi Wan did a better job.

Having qualities that are visible to the audience is just about the most important part of creating a character for a film. When characters lack defining qualities, or when their traits are talked about but never displayed, you end up with bland characters who fail to compel the audience.


Motivation Is Important

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“Why?” is just as important as “How?” when it comes to storytelling. Sometimes more so. Vader’s revelation to Luke at the end of ‘Empire Strikes Back’ is so powerful a moment because it expands his motivations – he has doggedly pursued Luke and his friends throughout the whole film, but the fact that it was so personal adds a new dimension to the conflict.

Fortunately, ‘The Force Awakens’ gets its motivations right, too. Rey is characterised as the ‘noble survivor’, someone determined to make it through to the next day whilst doing the right thing. Finn’s dialogue-free breakdown during the opening battle tells us everything we need to know about why he decides to escape, and why he later refuses to get involved with the Resistance’s cause except to rescue Rey.

In ‘A New Hope’ we see Luke dreaming of adventures and excitement. We understand Tarkin’s objectives of crushing the Rebellion once and for all. We’re never faced with some silent enemy who turns up randomly at a hangar with the intention of… killing two specific Jedi, apparently. Hell, Boba Fett gets about ninety nanoseconds of screen-time, but we still understand his simple and clear motivations as a bounty hunter ten-million-times better than we do the intentions of Count Lampshade Dooku.


It’s The Little Touches

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One of the things that everyone can enjoy in any Star Wars movie is the detail; the menagerie of aliens, a myriad of vehicles and technologies, the costumes, and so on. And in the best tradition, ‘The Force Awakens’ is replete with clever little flourishes, the significance of which could be easily missed.

  • My good friend Simon pointed out that Han, being chased by the tentacled Vagina Dentatas, punches and then throws a mercenary into one of the gaping maws as he and Chewie flee the carnage. This is classic, ruthless Han Solo, and detaches us from the weird alternate universe presented in the Special Editions where for some reason, only the baddies shoot first.
  • Another is in Rey’s interrogation scene, as Kylo talks about the ocean in Rey’s dreams, and the island she sees. She’s dreaming of Luke Skywalker, already linking to him through the Force, but until you see the closing scene this just seems like fairly standard dream imagery.
  • All of Rey’s skills and abilities are carefully built up early in the movie; she spends her life scavenging Imperial ships, and so is already a capable mechanic, and is well-prepared to stealthily navigate a First Order base when she later needs to escape, used to Imperial designs and layouts.
  • Snoke’s towering introduction immediately asserts him as a powerful, terrifying figure, and the revelation that it’s a hologram adds a brilliant ‘Wizard of Oz’, “man behind the curtain” feel to his character.
  • Another one from Reddit, the use of lighting during the confrontation between Kylo and Han, the fading of the bright light to bloody red as Kylo resolves to carry out his terrible deed. The fact it echoes Poe’s earlier statement of “As long as there’s light, we’ve got a chance” is just lovely.
  • Rey and Finn can barely move the grating that they hide underneath aboard the Falcon, so when Chewbacca casually hoists it without trouble, newcomers to the franchise are immediately informed of his colossal strength.
  • Love or hate the cross-guard, the instability of Kylo’s lightsaber, and the brutal crackle of it as it twitches, barely contained, is a fantastic alternative to the “Vader Rebreather” as a menacing indicator of the villain’s presence. And is several steps above and beyond the wheezing coughs of General Grievous.
  • My friend James pointed out that Poe’s X-Wing, black and orange, is the exact colour inversion of the rest of the squadron in blue and white. Just try and pretend that’s not neat.

Filling In The Plot Holes

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No story is watertight, and sometimes the necessity for excitement and drama requires a certain suspension of disbelief. If things are exciting and dramatic enough, then the audience won’t even notice – nobody really cares about gaps in the plot of ‘The Matrix’ because we’re all too busy being entertained.

There are some elements of story of ‘The Force Awakens’ which sadly do rely upon a bit of coincidence, or which don’t stand up to detailed scrutiny. But unlike J. J. Abrams previous directorial endeavour, most of them are too small to be noticed compared to all of the amazing sights and sounds, and most of them get ironed out upon further scrutiny.

There are better articles for filling this movie’s plot holes, but the real core of the matter is that most of the plot holes don’t matter in the first place. The story itself, like in ‘A New Hope’ (we’ll get to that soon) is straightforward – it doesn’t hang off space politics, trade taxes and territory disputes, but instead keeps matters focused on the characters at the heart of everything.

It is a bit of a coincidence that Finn happens to stumble into the same town as Rey and BB-8, but how he ended up there doesn’t really matter. And, if you really need an explanation, then this is one of the perfect candidates for that otherwise eye-rolling excuse “The Force Did It”. Influencing the random direction chosen by a person wandering aimlessly through the desert is exactly the kind of thing that an omnipresent mystical energy field might do – and in fact, I kind of like the idea that maybe the Force guided Finn towards Rey – it adds to the mystery and the power of the whole concept.

But that aside, I’ve watched this film four times now, and I’m yet to notice any flaws which ruin my enjoyment of it. I don’t care how Maz got hold of Luke’s lightsaber – her little den of smugglers and space-farers seems like exactly the kind of place where strange relics and artefacts would end up anyway. Finn’s ability with a lightsaber might seem perplexing, until you realise that he got completely demolished by a bloody Stormtrooper, and that as soon as he lands a lucky hit on Kylo, the Emo Wonder stops fucking around and spends about thirty milliseconds disarming the hapless hero and giving his spine a brand new look on life.

None of it matters, though, because the story itself holds together, our characters do things that you might expect them to do in each situation, and none of it gets in the way of a good romp. This isn’t ‘Prometheus’, where the motivations of each character are so opaque that their actions seem random; nor is it the Prequels, where a bad dream can cause you to lose control for a moment and attack your colleagues, murder children, travel several thousand lightyears, murder a whole bunch more people, and then try to murder your friend and mentor shortly after trying to choke to death the person about whom you were having the bad dream, then go on to help found an Empire of corruption and oppression and torture whilst systematically hunting down a whole cadre of war heroes alongside whom you used to fight, eventually culminating in you actually murdering your mentor and friend, trying to murder your own son and all of his friends, and choking to death anyone who in any way fails to live up to expectations.

Hey, we all have nightmares.


There’s Something Familiar About This Place…

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As just about everybody has already pointed out, there are several “parallels” between the overall plot of ‘The Force Awakens’ and ‘A New Hope’. This is fairly obvious, but that’s just it: it’s obvious. It’s surface features. Yes, it involves a band of freedom fighters taking down the planet-destroying space station of a tyrannical force of evil, but once you start looking at things in a little more detail, it becomes a bit more clear that the similarities are mostly skin-deep.

I’ve made this point a few times now, but Star Wars is, really, all about the characters and their journeys. ‘A New Hope’ is the tale of a restless farmboy, bored of his uneventful circumstances, desperate for adventure. Tragic circumstances end his old life suddenly and he embarks on the adventure he always wanted, discovering magic, rescuing a princess from a wicked tyrant and then destroying the evil fortress and saving the day.

‘The Force Awakens’ is about a girl abandoned by her family, struggling to get by day-to-day, until she gets dragged, literally and reluctantly, into a fight between good and evil. She gets captured by a masked villain, only to discover something completely new about herself, and eventually confronts and defeats the monster who captured her, before taking her first steps (literally) on a strange and mysterious path to the force.

The themes in both films are completely different, and the actual similarities are structural; the fact is, elements like a humble beginning for our hero (Tatooine and Jakku), an aged mentor who gives their life for the cause (Obi Wan and Han Solo) and and a terrifying weapon (the Death Star and Starkiller Base) are fantastic features around which to hang a story that’s meant to be exciting and thrilling and engaging and enjoyable and I just love Star Wars so much it huuuurts.

Other differences between the two films include the focus on a villain as a primary character; Obi Wan’s death in ‘A New Hope’ is all part of Luke’s story, but Han’s death is very much more a part of Kylo’s story than it is Rey’s. Similarly, ‘The Force Awakens’ shows us the journey of Finn, a Stormtrooper gone rogue – someone going through some serious revelations and who defects not so much to the side of Good but rather tries to escape the whole affair altogether.

It’s for those reasons that I never felt like I was watching the same film. All of the same features are used to tell two very different stories, and although the structure might be similar, the actual meaty content of it all is very distinct.


But Nothing Is Perfect

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Despite all of my dribbling adoration, there are still flaws with ‘The Force Awakens’ which cannot escape scrutiny. Given what they had to achieve, what expectations were laid upon them and what consequences there were for failure, I feel the film-makers achieved something incredible. I also feel they had more-or-less unlimited resources provided by the second-largest entertainment company in the world, so I have to call them out on their failures.

  • I would really have liked to seen more from Captain Phasma. This might be more a result of my crippling infatuation with Gwendoline Christie, but Phasma’s promise as a ruthless , terrifying military badass was dissolved by her lack of relevance in the film. In truth, Finn and friends could have taken any First Officer prisoner to lower the shields, and I feel that she lacked any particular qualities that actually stood out. Hopefully the next film will rectify this, as Phasma relentlessly pursues the despicable traitor who deserted her division and humiliated her after forcing her to betray her duties. Hopefully.
  • The first time I watched through the film, I felt it was over-paced. It moved so quickly that I could hardly catch my breath. In subsequent viewings this was less of an issue since I knew what was going on. However, ‘A New Hope’ managed a few lovely, slow scenes, such as Luke training aboard the Falcon, or the gradual build-up towards the final battle, which really helped let everything I’d seen sink in without loading me with yet more information.
  • None of the music was quite iconic enough compared to my expectations. John Williams is one of my favourite musicians full stop, and I was sad we didn’t get anything on par with ‘Duel of the Fates’ or ‘The Imperial March’ out of this. ‘Rey’s Theme’ has become a favourite, and Williams’ use of the old melody when Rey ignites the lightsaber for the first time brought a tear to my eye, but none of the new music is quite as timeless and encapsulating as some of the previous scores.
  • I was going to include the “Thermal Oscillator” in this bit, but apparently thermal oscillation is actually a thing and would make sense in the context it’s described, so I’m forced to give it a pass, even if it does sound stupid.
  • Speaking of stupid-sounding things, “Supreme Leader Snoke” is just ridiculous enough to be distracting. “Snoke” is a fine name for some dumb, clumsy alien with a long trunk for a nose and bright blue skin, but not for a super-secretive uber-villain.
  • Ventral cannons. Ventral cannons should act like cannons, not missile launchers. I don’t care if a cannon can actually fire missiles, it still annoys me.
  • The scene in which Kylo attempts to use the Force to interrogate Rey is just silly enough to remind me of that episode of South Park where Cartman develops psychic powers and has “mind battles” with other mystics.
  • And as for that scene, Kylo almost comes across as a bit… rapey with some of his dialogue. However, I have chosen to give this a pass since I’m pretty sure that if Rey was a man rather than a woman I would never have thought that.
  • This is super-minor, but I would really have enjoyed seeing some more varied ship designs. With the final assault on Starkiller Base, they could have had all sorts of Resistance ships getting involved, with some real visual variety in the designs. As is, the dogfights were still exciting and engrossing, so it’s mostly fine, but I feel like they missed a trick here.

And… that’s it. That’s the sum of things that stand out as being negative about this movie for me.


Some Final Thoughts

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Maybe I’m just a wide-eyed fanboy, but I really think they nailed this one. We have characters that we care about; characters with clear motivations; characters who come to life on the screen. We have gorgeous settings, amazing shots, and in general this film manages to improve my state of being from “obnoxious arsehole” to “smiling fool”.

It wasn’t quite on a par with the originals, but it was never going to be, not in my eyes. The first three Star Wars films hold a special enough place in my heart that nothing could ever match them. But I reckon that for less die-hard fans, or for people new to the franchise, ‘The Force Awakens’ will become the new standard for Star Wars films.

Everyone who I’ve spoken to who has seen it has said that they can’t wait to see the next one, and that’s the sign of a quality movie. It doesn’t answer every single question, and it doesn’t have to; this is as much the beginning of a story as ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’, and I have a feeling the whole series is going to be just as epic.

… Actually, one final thought; I don’t know what his character was actually called, but “Max von Sydow” is a perfect Star Wars name.

 

Everything Stupid in ‘Star Trek: Into Darkness’ (2013)

Alright then, a little background. There are some films that I just don’t enjoy or find very engaging. Maybe they’re bad, maybe they’re the wrong film for me, maybe I wasn’t in the right frame of mind at the time, whatever. It’s allowed. I could talk to you about everything I don’t like about ‘Public Enemies’ (2009), for example, but it basically all comes down to subjectivity.

There are some films, however, that are Offensive to me. ‘Prometheus’ is a good example. Any of the Star Wars prequels another. These are films that are objectively bad, and in a way that is particularly annoying. ‘Revenge of the Sith’ grinds its shitty boots all over background established in the original trilogy, ‘Prometheus’ promises cerebral thrills but devolves into B-Movie shoddiness.

‘Star Trek: Into Darkness’ falls into this category because it tricked me. It dazzled me with stunning effects and exciting action and Alice Eve’s breasts and at first, I really enjoyed it. So much so, I watched it a second time, but then I started seeing the flaws. The third time through, I was angry. I was livid.

I was hurt.

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Consider this a metaphor for my feelings.

Now, it’s payback time. For no reason other than my own bitterness, I’m going to eviscerate this mess of a film in as precise and surgical a manner as an incoherent frothing scouser can manage. I’m going to do far more than kill this film; I’m going to hurt it. And I wish to go on hurting it. I’m going to leave it as it left me, as it left all of us, angry and confused.

This is the fucking Wrath of Jon.

Scene by fucking scene.

Some rules, though:

  • I won’t be comparing this to other Trek productions. This movie’s failures as a ‘Star Trek’ movie only cloud the issue of it being a shit story. This film has plenty of issues beyond its loyalty to the brand.
  • No complaints about subjective matters. Namely, how a line is delivered, choice of music and so on. This is based on objective quality, not preference.
  • No examination of science/physics/realism. ‘Star Trek: Enterprise’ already gave us characters hearing ships flying by in THE VACUUM OF SPACE, so as far as I’m concerned Star Trek now has as many “hard sci-fi credentials” as Star Wars. Or ‘The Hobbit’.
  • All three of the above rules will be broken at least once in the article. Blow me.

So, I’ve got the lighting just right, got food and drink to last, and my stretchy jogging trousers on for maximum comfort. Let’s do this.


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Excitement! Alien planets! People running! Star Trek!

On the planet Nibi… Nbu… N’bir… On an alien planet…

‘Star Trek: Into Darkness’ has a great opening sequence. It’s exciting. It has some great moments, like the reveal of the ship underwater, or the excitement of Spock descending on a grapple line into the heart of a volcano. Even if it would have just been easier to drop the “cold fusion device” in there from the air. Wouldn’t it?

I mean, once Spock’s down there, all he does is drop the bloody thing. It’s not like he’s fiddling with it right up until detonation. So, why did he need to go down there dressed as C-FatPO? In an incredibly dangerous environment? They beamed him out, couldn’t they have just beamed the device in? Or, just lowered the device on the grapple and left Spock out of it?

They even go so far as to state that the device will in fact kill Spock. So, why was he down there at all? Except to get put in a deadly situation which then requires a lot of drama and emotional tension? Drama which, given this is the first ten minutes of the movie and Zachary Quinto’s face was all over every inch of the marketing material, doesn’t exist?

For that matter, why do they wait until the volcano has destroyed all the poor ash-faced aliens’ temples and homes? Couldn’t they have detonated the device, like, a lot earlier than that? Or did the crew want to emphasise the extent to which the poor, backwards species’ fate is in their hands? I for one value any display of technological superiority and dominance, so I’m fully behind it if that’s the case.


In London, in the future…

Well, no matter, they beam him out, cue epic music, all very good fun. And – wait, who’s this guy? In London? I thought the only city in Star Trek was San Francisco? Anyway, London, sad-looking couple (the bloke’s actually from ‘Doctor Who’, poor bastard) and they have a dying daughter? Abrams is a master of telling a story without dialogue, and I mean that genuinely, this entire sequence is really well done.

Oh, look! There’s Sherlock! And he’s solved ‘The Mystery of the Dying Daughter’. Hmm. I’m sure there won’t be any negative consequences to his involvement, given how friendly and sincere he looks.


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The one character who comes close to not doing anything stupid in this entire movie. And it’s the Vulcan on the right. Naturally, she’s still guilty of being a little bit stupid by being in this movie.

In San Francisco (told you it was the only city in Star Trek)…

So, a bit of characterisation for our two leads later and we’re in Admiral Pike’s office, and he’s now reprimanding Kirk for having broken Starfleet’s “Prime Directive” and then lying about it on his official report. Presumably, Kirk implicitly trusts all of the hundreds of his crew to never speak a word of an incredibly controversial action, and now that he’s been found out, he’s presumably going to be Court Martialed and booted from the service, right?

Oh, no, apparently he’s getting a “tribunal” and has lost his command. Shouldn’t he be, like, arrested or something? They’re sending him back to the Academy? Why aren’t they putting him in the brig? They do have brigs in the future, don’t they? Or is risking hundreds of lives in an act of gross negligence not an issue if it’s your first offense?


Back in London…

Okay, so Sherlock’s blood instantly heals Sick Daughter. Neat. That was nice of him. Wait, that easily? It wasn’t even a full transfusion, it was just a small vial of his blood. Whatever, maybe it’s a plot point. Maybe he’s Wolverine.

So, the dad of Sick Daughter just blew himself up and the base he works in. Impressive. The tiny ring in the cup of water demolished half of London. But, he was wearing it, so… what if he sweated? Like, clammy palms, on the grounds that he’s about to suicide-bomb a bunch of his colleagues, wouldn’t that set the ring off?

And it’s clear that this is part of the bargain. Sherlock offered to save his daughter if he blew up the building, I guess, but, like, unless the dad was already a terrorist, wouldn’t he just raise the alarm as soon as his daughter was healed? Like, put the blood in the tube, watch her get better, then immediately phone, like, Starfleet Headquarters and say “There’s a creepy dude with Wolverine-blood who wants me to blow up my office, you should come and arrest him.”


In a bar in San Francisco…

Here’s some nice character stuff between Pike and Kirk. And Pike reveals that Spock’s been “transferred”. Transferred? He was Kirk’s first officer, he’s just as fucking culpable as Kirk. Surely Kirk didn’t violate “dozens of regulations” without Spock’s knowledge? And wouldn’t it be Spock’s exact job to call his captain out on breaking the rules, and stopping him from doing so where it would endanger the ship?

Plus, Pike takes Kirk on as his second-in-command, because he “believes in him”. No offense Pike, but you’ve got a gammy leg; doesn’t that mean you’re going to rely on your first officer even more than most captains? Especially on away missions? And so, doesn’t that mean that having an officer you have literally just hours earlier told is incapable of command run counter to that? Are you a moron? Did they make you Admiral out of sympathy or something?


sherlock
The face of brutal, unsurpassed intelligence.

Starfleet Headquarters…

Presumably after a coffee and a cold shower, Kirk’s now back in uniform and blaming Spock for losing his captaincy because… Spock wrote a report dobbing him in? Kirk must be one of those arseholes who will drive through a 30-zone at 80mph and then blame the speed camera for him getting caught and fined. What a bell-end.

Oh, and he says that you shouldn’t stab in the back someone who saved your life. But Spock’s life wouldn’t have needed saving if Kirk had done his FUCKING JOB and not allowed a horrendously dangerous mission to take place that then demanded Spock’s life be saved. Jesus Kirk, just walk around wearing an “I’m a Wanker” t-shirt, you could probably get away with it since there’s so many different bloody uniforms nobody would be able to tell.

Further, Spock is clearly a Vulcan, he’s got the ears and everything. I mean, he’s mentioned at least a dozen times already in this film that he’s a Vulcan. So why does Kirk keep expecting him to act like a human? What, does he expect children to fill out tax returns, too? Is Kirk’s point of view actually that, in a galaxy full of weird aliens, anyone who looks mostly human should also act human, otherwise they’re just being an arsehole? What a prejudiced moron.

Apparently, Sick Daughter’s Dad sent a message to Admiral Robocop confessing what he was about to do, right before doing it. If he felt that guilty, couldn’t he instead have sent a message saying “Someone is trying to make me blow up this base, please arrest him, he’s right outside?” and then not blow up the base? Like, we don’t see Sherlock acting with anyone else, so what did he have on Sick Daughter’s Dad, exactly?

God, this scene is full of stupid. So, apparently protocol means they all assemble in that room in the case of an attack on Starfleet. So, why isn’t that room shielded? And armoured? And guarded? And thirty miles below sea level? WHY DO THEY HAVE SECRET MILITARY MEETINGS IN HUGE SKYSCRAPERS WITH MASSIVE WINDOWS THAT ALLOW THE ENTIRE COMMAND BRIGADE TO BE KILLED BY ANYTHING? Fuck, these people deserve to be invaded. I hope the Klingons come and sort them out.

Meanwhile, Sherlock’s objective is to kill them all, right? I mean, I’m guessing he’s not shooting lasers at them to express his feelings of affection? So, why not just launch a large explosive into the room? He’s been firing these lasers for aaages now, and he’s still barely killed any of them!

Wait, he’s transporting out of there? Then why didn’t he transport in? Or even better, transport a MASSIVE FUCKING BOMB in there! That’d kill everyone pretty neatly and quickly. Then he wouldn’t even need to be on the same fucking continent as the rest of them. I thought Sherlock Holmes was meant to be smart. Apparently he’s a moron, too.

I’m actually getting angrier at this film.

Oh, and the only person of note to get killed in the attack was Pike. Like, the others didn’t even get scratched. Or even any dirt on them. That wasn’t a very effective attack.


On the streets, after the attack…

Scotty was the one investigating the wreckage? They seriously don’t have CSI teams in the future? Maybe they don’t have crime in the future… Is this a ‘Minority Report’ sequel or something?


In another glass building completely exposed to outside attacks…

Kirk just ran up to Admiral Robocop and asked for “his command [to] be reinstated.” And rather than telling him to fuck off, the Admiral dismisses all the other admirals so he can talk to Kirk. Is he a moron, as well?

“Is he defecting?” IS HE DEFECTING??? HE’S A FUCKING TERRORIST WHO’S KILLED DOZENS, IT’S A BIT LATE TO “DEFECT” YOU BLITHERING IDIOT.

And they’re still holding their meetings in buildings made of glass, despite having no idea of where Sherlock Holmes is. Christ, even SPACE would be a safer bet. Do you guys just not have a word for “security” in the future, or what?


kirkmarcusspock
The face of disappointment. And disappointment is certainly very attractive.

On board a shuttlecraft…

They’re ready to head to the Enterprise, and Spock is NOW objecting to their mission. Yeah, you can do it now, Spocky, but not when it comes to the Prime Fucking Directive? Jesus.

Also, they’re openly discussing their secret espionage mission of assassination in an enemy’s sovereign territory, in a shuttle full of randoms? There’s all sorts of people wandering around! Including bloody “Science Officer Wallace” who is, it turns out, THERE UNDER FALSE PRETENSES. And she just walked in on their conversation? Do they also not have a word for “secret”?

This new girl is fairly attractive, though.


Aboard the Enterprise

Okay, Scotty’s annoyed because he can’t scan the fuel compartment on the torpedoes. That’ll be important for later.

SIX DOZEN TORPEDOES? Yeah, not so sure about keeping this one under the Klingons’ radar when you nuke two-thirds of the surface of their planet. Fuck, talk about excessive force.

Also, Spock and Uhura are shagging. Isn’t that, like, a major issue, for two senior bridge officers to be in a relationship? Wouldn’t that cause, y’know, issues in matters of life and death? Eh, what do I know, apparently Starfleet isn’t so much a formal organisation as a great big party-bus full of idiots.

Apparently, Chekov’s been “shadowing” Scotty, so he’s taking the role of Chief Engineer. But, surely there are other officers in engineering, who maybe have more experience than none-at-all? Isn’t it kind of insulting to them to put a kid in charge? A kid who is very specifically NOT a member of engineering? Well, we can just add that entire department to the list of people about whose feelings Kirk doesn’t give a shit.

Wow. Spock just said he would be “happy” to risk his life helping Kirk on a suicide mission, and Kirk responded sarcastically with “You, ‘happy’?” Jesus Kirk, there’s gratitude for you. Are you literally competing for “Biggest Dickhead In The Alpha Quadrant”? Were you bummed out when you lost it last year to the alien with an actual penis and scrotum growing out of the front of its head?


 

Down in engineering…

Here’s a great exchange:

“What are you doing, doctor?”
“I’m just -”
“You misunderstand, what are you doing aboard this ship?”

NO, SPOCK, YOU LEAVE HER ALONE. SHE DIDN’T “MISUNDERSTAND”, YOU ASKED A STUPID QUESTION. AREN’T YOU A VULCAN? AREN’T YOU MEANT TO BE LOGICAL? Maybe Spock’s so Beta-Male that he only acts like a prat when Kirk’s not around to out-prat him.

She’s very attractive, though.


scotty
That guy, there on the right? He’s pulling the exact same face I pull all the way through watching this movie. Also happens to be the same face I pull during sex, but for entirely different reasons.

In general…

If I worked on this ship, I’d be fucking pissed off with all of these arseholes acting like adolescent shitbirds all the fucking time.


On the bridge…

Holy Shit. Okay, so, their mission is secret, right? And Kirk just said that there can’t be anything tying their mission to Starfleet, right? To avoid starting a war? So Sulu just fucking up and transmits a message to the Klingon homeworld TELLING Sherlock that they’re sending a Starfleet team to come and slip a bag over his head. Man, I sure hope the Klingons don’t have radios, or this whole espionage thing is FUCKED.

Oh, and he says that they’ll fire SECRET long-range torpedoes at him if he doesn’t surrender. Yeah, nice job, Sulu. Next time, just write down all of Starfleet’s military secrets in a Microsoft Word File, save it to a USB and just send it in the mail to Kronos, it’d be easier and quicker and less dangerous than sitting on the edge of Klingon space to do it.

“Remind me never to piss you off” is such a dull, cliched line it makes my balls retract to my stomach every time I hear it.


Aboard the confiscated merchant vessel…

Spock calculated the odds of Sherlock trying to kill them as “91.6%”. Can I see your working on that, Spock? You can honestly estimate someone’s behaviour down to accuracy of one-over-a-thousand based on the fact you saw his face, maybe? Yeah, what are the odds that he has a foot fetish? How much should I bet on him being a Scientologist? Is it safe to assume that he has a fear of lampshades? Or are you, Spock, just a charlatan? What are the odds on that?

Oh, and, I love the idea that Spock has somehow done a pyschological analysis on this guy, but still can’t recognise a joke when he hears one, or understand that when Kirk says he’ll miss him, he should respond in kind. Yeah, Spock really strikes me as someone with a lot of psychological nouse.

Wow. Uhura’s choosing the start of a deadly suicide mission to vent her feelings. Way to advance the feminine gender, Uhura! It’s definitely worth playing into female stereotypes and sabotaging the morale of everyone involved for the sake of “character development”. Fucking arsehole.

Also, it’s a shame that Sulu wasn’t here to fly this shuttle, I bet he would’ve been great at it. Nah, much better to leave him on the bridge making pointless threats. I mean, you can’t have an action sequence that doesn’t revolve around Kirk or Spock, right? Right.


On the bridge…

Huh. Sulu gave Sherlock “two minutes to confirm [his] compliance.” It’s been, like, five minutes. Why hasn’t he nuked Sherlock already? Careful, Sulu, if you don’t nuke a person after you say you’re going to nuke them, you’re in danger of looking like, y’know, a shit-eating cretin. Too late, I guess.


On the Klingon homeworld…

Uhura goes out to speak to the Klingons, since she’s such a talented linguist, apparently. But then Sherlock turns up and starts shooting them anyway, so she doesn’t actually achieve anything except getting strangled a bit. Maybe she’s into that. Maybe it’s misogyny.

Kirk just started assaulting an unarmed prisoner because he was angry, I guess. Yeah, what an enlightened future this is.


In the brig…

Why is McCoy’s first impulse to take a blood sample from the prisoner? Is that, like, a fetish or something?

So, Sherlock just acknowledged that their engines were fucked and they were stranded far from Earth. Then, to convince Kirk of his trustworthiness, gave him a set of co-ordinates… near Earth. Did he know that Kirk had a drunk engineer hanging around with nothing better to do and access to a shuttle? If not… what’s the point in handing over the co-ordinates? “Take a look.” Really, Sherlock? How, exactly? Got a Palantir handy? You wanker.


Back on the bridge…

Right, now, listen, just, shut up a moment and listen. Spock just said he was going to tell Kirk about Carol Marcus’ deception and sneaking onto the ship under a false identity “when it became relevant”. Hmm, true, guess it did only just become relevant now, when they need to examine the torpedo, and definitely not WHEN THE ENGINE GOT FUCKING SABOTAGED. Jesus Spock, did someone chemically lobotomise you without you knowing? “Hmm, well, she is an impostor and the ship did just get stranded mysteriously, but nobody’s actually said the word ‘sabotage’ yet so I’ll just keep about my business and assume we’re all fine.”

She is quite attractive, though. She’d probably get me all confused, too.


carol1
This scene was absolutely necessary to advance both the plot of the movie and the opening weekend ticket sales.

In a shuttle, for… some reason…?

How is it “clever” for Kirk to make the assumption that, after Admiral Robocop made the torpedoes disappear from the official records, that he then handed them to Kirk? I mean, Kirk literally has them loaded in the firing tubes, so, did he think… what, that the torpedoes stayed disappeared? And that he just loaded a load of GHOST TORPEDOES into the tubes? What?

Anyway, Carol asks him to turn around, then when he asks why, says “just turn around.” Seems this was so she could get undressed down to her underwear and appear in the trailer, as there is literally NO REASON for her to invite him into the same room whilst she’s getting changed, unless she somehow needed another character to be in the room so that there’s an excuse to film a scene of her getting changed which can then make it into the trailers. Fuck this movie.

She is really rather attractive, though.


mccoymarcus
At least one of these people is a war criminal. Hint: it’s definitely McCoy.

On some random planet that just happened to be close enough to reach by shuttle…

Did McCoy just call Carol Marcus “sweetheart”? Hey, enjoy life back in the ’60s, McCoy. Maybe you could get a gig on ‘Mad Men’.

Also, they just had this whole fucking scene with the fake peril of McCoy getting his arm trapped, just to have Carol Marcus unlock the damn thing and open it up anyway. Did we really need that extra bit of tension? Was that plot-relevant?

So, inside the torpedo is a person. But, they’re in the fuel compartment. So, do the torpedoes run on people? If not, how are they “long range”? Wouldn’t Kirk just launch them, and they’d float in space uselessly? They’re not much bigger than a person anyway, so it’s not as though the fuel is stored somewhere else. So, what’s the point in having the torpedoes?

You know before, how I said that the fact that Scotty couldn’t scan the fuel compartments of the torpedoes would be important later? Well, this is it. The torpedoes’ fuel compartments aren’t fuel compartments at all, they’re people-tubes, so what the fuck are these torpedoes using for fuel? Are they really meant to travel lightyears with no fuel?

I know I said I wouldn’t bitch about technology and such, but these torpedoes have so far formed about 60% of the plot of this movie! Knowing how they work is important! Jesus, what’s the point in having them at all? If you make a fuss of them being long-ranged torpedoes, then IT BECOMES RELEVANT WHETHER THEY’RE LONG-RANGED OR NOT BECAUSE OTHERWISE THE FUCKING PLOT DOESN’T MAKE ANY FUCKING SENSE YOU APES.

Carol Marcus is startlingly attractive, though.


Somewhere near Jupiter…

Hm. Scotty’s just flown up to the super-secret base near Jupiter. A base which is so secret that they don’t bother with sensors or scanners, as Scotty literally flies right up it. Literally, twenty yards from it. He wasn’t expecting a secret base, so it’s not like he could avoid its scanning area. He didn’t have any clue about what he might find! So how did they not detect him?

Okay, now he just flew into the shuttle convoy. But, right in front of loads of other shuttles. Wouldn’t they see him? One of the biggest features of these shuttles is the ENORMOUS WINDOWS on the front, how the shit did they not see him, never  mind the fact that they had sensors?


In sickbay…

Okay, Carol Marcus (she’s just so, so attractive, though) just outright said that the the fuel compartment had been removed prior to the people-tubes being added. So, no fuel. So, what, it’s just a warhead with a people-tube attached? How were these meant to help kill Sherlock?

The technology is “beyond” McCoy, even though it’s “ancient”. So, wait, you can’t figure it out, McCoy? Aren’t you meant to be clever, or something? What, you can’t figure out the sequencing? Just fucking scan it or some shit!


admiralmarcus
This man’s motivations are as transparent as they are relevant to the actual story.

Back in the brig…

Why did Sherlock put those people in the torpedoes? He just said he put them in the Admiral’s super-special torpedoes. Why? Wouldn’t the Admiral notice?

Yeah, why would a Starfleet Admiral need a three-hundred-year-old frozen man to help him design better ships? Did it really take a “warrior’s mind” to say “BUILD IT BIGGER AND GIVE IT MORE GUNS”? Could, could Starfleet not figure that one out? Like, is that the best Sherlock has?

“Hey, what about advanced tactics and new strate-”
“NOPE, BIGGER, MORE GUNS.”

Stupid shitbags.

Wait, so, Admiral Robocop gave Kirk the torpedoes to fire at the Klingon homeworld to start a war. So, did he know the torpedoes had people in them? Wouldn’t he have checked the torpedoes were working first? If Sherlock knew he was going to do this, why did he hide people in the torpedoes? Did he really retrofit all seventy-two torpedoes AND hide people-tubes in them without ANYBODY noticing?

Does this make sense to anybody?

Hang on, hang on, so, Sherlock hid the people in the torpedoes, but was discovered? So, Admiral Robocop did know about the torpeoples?

But, then, why did he give Kirk torpedoes that wouldn’t work? Because Kirk couldn’t fire them at the Klingons if they had no fuel, could he? So, why did Robocop give them to Kirk?

I’m so confused.

I’d also like to point out that this entire fucking plotline is delivered through exposition. The actual story that Sherlock tells could actually make for a decent movie. Instead, it’s several minutes of background bullshit in a story that makes no sense.


Uss_vengenace
Starfleet’s latest vessel, bravely built out of Lego, apparently.

On the bridge…

Alright, Admiral Robocop has just confirmed that he did know that there were people on those torpeoples. Torpedoes. Whatever. He wanted them dead, so he gave them to Kirk to fire. But, what if Kirk only fired, like, three of them, and thought that was enough? Or what if Kirk didn’t need to fire them at all? Wouldn’t it be easier to take the people out of the torpedoes, and just kill them the good old fashioned way, by smothering them with a pillow or pushing them down the stairs?

Hang on, did Admiral Robocop know that Sherlock would transport to the Klingon homeworld? How could he? Did Sherlock tell him beforehand? Because that’s the only way he’d know.

If he didn’t know, then how does keeping the people in the torpedoes in any way contribute to starting a war with the Klingons? That’s what the Admiral wanted all along, right? But what if Sherlock instead transported to, say, one of Saturn’s moons, or something? Or just somewhere else on Earth? How does keeping the people in the torpedoes help with that?

How does keeping the people in the torpedoes help in any way at all? Doesn’t it just increase the chances of something going wrong? I mean, if you didn’t have people inside of them, you wouldn’t need to shield their contents presumably, so then Scotty wouldn’t have to resign when he refused to allow them on the ship because he’d be able to see inside them in the first place!

What the hell is the point of the people inside the torpedoes? I mean really? Why are they in there? Is everyone in this movie, and everyone involved with this movie, some kind of, of, ah… special person?


Still on the bridge…

love that Admiral Robocop straight up beams his daughter up so he can carry on annihilating the Enterprise. Turns out he is capable of making sensible decisions. Winner.

She is astonishingly attractive, though.

Robocop does lose a lot in the way of sympathy as a villain when he decides to kill all of Kirk’s crew, though. Hell, even Khan in ‘Wrath of Khan’ was classier than that, and he – shit, that’s one of the rules broken.


Wandering through corridors…

So, Kirk puts Spock in charge, then Spock joins Kirk in immediately leaving the bridge, meaning that as they face a deadly enemy bent on destroying them… nobody’s in charge? Come on guys, I know you’re not military, but that shouldn’t mean you’re also braindead. Jesus Christ.

“It is my function aboard this ship to advise you on making the wisest decisions possible.” Really, Spock? That’s really your function? Seems like, y’know, you may have DROPPED THE BALL A FEW TIMES on that one, do y’think?

“The Enterprise and her crew need somebody in that chair who knows what he’s doing, and that’s not me.” Kirk just spoke the most sensible line of this entire fucking movie. Congratulations, Kirk! You win the prize for “Most Self-Aware Character In A Cast Of Narcissists!” Then he ruined it by saying that duty belongs to Spock. Yeah, not so sure about that.


mccoytribble
“Does anyone else want to eat this Tribble? I want to pour some bleach in its eyes first, see if that does anything.”

In sickbay…

Hah! McCoy’s continuing his character arc of “Shelley-esque Crazed Scientist” and injecting a dead Tribble with Sherlock’s Wolverine Blood. Yeah, apparently he’s a graduate of the Mengele Academy of “Medicine”.


In Spaaaaaaaaace…

So, huge space battle less than three hundred thousand kilometres from Earth (which, despite the visuals, is actually closer than the Moon) and NOBODY from Starfleet has come to help? Not even a shuttle? What, is it a Sunday or something? Do they not respond to violent clashes between Starships on Earth’s front doorstep? Is Starfleet really that carefree? In the wake of a series of terrorist attacks?

I mean, Admiral Robocop didn’t expect Kirk to fly back to Earth, so it’s not like he would have ordered all of Starfleet’s vessels away in anticipation of his villainry, is it?


Aboard the Vengeance

The great big doofus pointing a gun at Scotty heard the communicator as clearly as Scotty did then asked “What is that?” I mean, he knew the ship had just been sabotaged, is he so incapable of abstract thought that he can’t figure out that this EXCEEDINGLY NERVOUS GUY doing suspicious stuff and with an active communicator to another ship MIGHT BE THE ONE HE’S LOOKING FOR?

“That person counting down, what is that?” THIS GUY IS A FUCKING ASSHATTING PANTS-ON-HEAD-WEARING RETARD. I’m sorry, I don’t like that word but COME ON, SERIOUSLY? HOW ARE YOU EVEN HOLDING THAT GUN THE RIGHT WAY ROUND? DO YOU TIE YOUR OWN SHOELACES OR DO YOU STICK TO SLIP-ONS? FUUUUUUUCK.


spockfire
An image of Zachary Quinto, presumably trying to figure out how they’re going to have a Star Trek story ever again now that Old Spock is, ah, *unavailable*.

Back on the Enterprise’s bridge…

Mr. Spock just called Mr. Spock for a quick chat. I mean, is now the best time, Spock? Really? With only thirty seconds until the enemy ship starts firing its guns again? What were your tactical priorities again? Who put you in charge?

Oh, wait, Kirk did. I take it all back.


On the Vengeance

One of the crew on the Admiral’s ship just reported an unauthorised door opening. The Admiral knew it was Sherlock straight away. How, exactly? Sure it wasn’t, like, any of the computers fucking up, which is something that’s just happened? Or maybe one of the hundreds of other crew members aboard the Enterprise? Eh, if it wasn’t Sherlock then you wouldn’t be able to say “Sherlock” in that dramatic fashion right before the camera cuts away.


Enterprise bridge again…

So, Spock is asking Spock about Sherlock. Why, exactly? Shouldn’t he instead be asking him about the actual immediate threat, Admiral Robocop? Or, like, really powerful Federation warships? Why Sherlock, exactly? Spock, WHY SHERLOCK? ANSWER ME, YOU FUCK.


Bridge of the Vengeance

“IF I’M NOT IN CHARGE, our entire way of life is decimated!” spake the Admiral. Admiral Robocop. Did you really mean that? As in, 10% of our way of life will be destroyed? Are you sure you didn’t just mean “destroyed”? Or “devastated”? Or “demolished”? Or “disintegrated”? Or “denatured”?

Sherlock just broke Carol Marcus’ leg, and she screamed. Then he killed her dad, and she screamed again. All she’s fucking done this movie is lie and scream. I thought Trek was done with all of its denigrating of women in the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, ’90s and 2000s? Is it still going into the 2010s, now, too?

She really, really is super-dooper attractive, though.


Aboard the Enterprise…

I quite like the torpedo deception that Spock pulled.

Although, was that scene the whole reason for the fucking Torpedo palava?

Also, got to love the fact that McCoy fills all of his hospital beds with frozen people in tubes who would do just as well in a cargo bay, whilst his own crew gets blown to bits. Pretty sure most of your shipmates would appreciate those beds so they can lie in comfort as they die from explosion-related injuries, McCoy.

Hah! Who am I talking to? He’d only stick pins in their eyes or shove hamsters up their rectums whilst they suffered. All in the name of Science, of course.


star-trek-into-darkness-damaged-enterprise
Once again, the Enterprise finds itself an unfortunate victim at the hands of the script writers.

Still Enterprise

So, Spock orders the crew to abandon ship, and Sulu decides that they’re all going to stay on the ship with him.

Like, the entire crew all unanimously agreed to die for no reason? Really? Nobody thought “Well, Spock’s cool, but I really kind of miss my family, I might jump into this escape pod right here and, y’know, not make orphans out of my children.” They’re all just willing to die because Spock’s staying behind?

Man, Starfleet’s not a party bus, it’s a God damn Cult.


Down in engineering…

Okay, this is the bit that really pisses me off. Like, in a deeply personal way. Kirk’s “sacrifice”.

First off, apparently the warp core just got knocked out of its clips or something, so Kirk wanders in and kicks it into place. Okay, so, that’s how technology works then, I guess, fine. But, the warp core’s not damaged, just misaligned. So, it got jolted enough to fall out of its slot, but not enough to get damaged. Does that sound well-designed to you? For a starship intended for long journeys? Hm.

Anyway, then Kirk is dying. ‘Cause of radiation. Like in ‘Wrath of Khan’, except it’s Kirk instead of Spock. So, okay. Right. Then they start parroting dialogue from ‘Wrath of Khan’. I guess because it’s poetic, they rhyme, I guess.

So we have this really bad, insulting recreation of a wonderful scene from ‘Wrath of Khan’, a scene which normally brings me to tears but which here is driving me to homicidal tendencies. Because, apparently these characters have grown, or something, but nothing they did is based on lessons they actually learned during the film. It’s just mirroring stuff they did right at the beginning.

And then That Bit. That Scream. Spock, having watched Kirk die, screams out Sherlock’s name. How dramatic! How emotional! How…

Wait, why, exactly? It’s not like Sherlock specifically killed Kirk. Most of the damage was done by Admiral Robocop. So why all the Sherlock hate all of a sudden? All he was doing was getting the hell out of dodge. But, y’know, you wouldn’t be bastardising classic Trek if you weren’t pointlessly parroting lines with nowhere near the same emotional impact.

kirkkhan
This single frame contains more story, character development and emotional depth than the entire two-hour run of ‘Into Darkness’. Also more Shatner, which can only be a good thing.

Y’see, in ‘Wrath of Khan’, Kirk screams Khan’s name after Khan has just stranded him in the heart of a dead planet, to die along with his friends, his former partner and his son. Khan promises to destroy Kirk’s ship and his crew, all out of spite for Kirk. All simply to hurt Kirk. All entirely personal and merciless and vindictive.

So when Kirk screams Khan’s name, it’s out of anger, frustration, vulnerability, self-pity. There’s all these things going on emotionally, all caused by Khan and his quest for vengeance. In that moment, Khan has truly defeated Kirk, and mocked him and taunted him for it, and all Kirk is left with is empty rage.

In this film, I mean, sure, Sherlock’s a villain, but he’s kind of incidental to this whole affair. I mean, I guess he killed Pike, and Spock’s mindmeld with Pike in his dying moments probably made this a little more personal, but it’s not like Sherlock actually put the knife into Kirk. Hell, by this point it’s been five whole minutes since we last saw Sherlock at all.

So when Spock screams “Sherlock!!!” it’s not really all that personal. Certainly not for Spock and definitely not for the audience. It’s not even like this was all part of Sherlock’s plan. This is just incidental damage. It could’ve been anyone killed by that radiation. And for all we know, the damage was done by Robocop, not Sherlock.

Shoddy, shoddy story-crafting, of the worst order.


Oh well, San Francisco again…

Sherlock’s ship is now crashed, and now Spock is on a blood rampage of vengeance, I guess? I mean, Kirk’s whole thing was saving Spock at any cost; Kirk didn’t swear to take vengeance on the volcano. So, how are these arcs linked? Spock’s now just a violent thug, really.

Also, why did Sherlock aim his crashing ship at Starfleet headquarters? What was he trying to achieve, exactly? He’s already killed the man he had a grudge against, so now… I guess he’s going to finish off the rest of Starfleet? On his own? What’s his plan, exactly? I mean, he’s meant to be super-intelligent, so what’s he up to here?


McCoy’s House of Horrors Sickbay…

Hah! The Tribble came back to life. Incredible. Apparently human Wolverine blood is capable of resurrecting Tribbles. Are they even mammals? They’re hairy, so I suppose they must be…


San Francisco…

Yay! People punching each other! Spock doing a nerve pinch! STAR TREK!


sherlockspock
This, too, is a face that I regularly make whilst having sex. Usually right before I burst into tears for half an hour.

Sickbay…

Wait, why does McCoy need Sherlock alive? His blood BRINGS PEOPLE BACK FROM THE DEAD. Like, he took the blood out of Sherlock, and hours later it resurrected a Tribble, it’s not like once his blood has left his body it suddenly becomes inert. And it’s not as though it’s going to suddenly become inert as soon as Sherlock’s heart stops, is it? Couldn’t you just kill him and then immediately exsanguinate him?

Or does McCoy just want someone really resilient on whom to carry out his experiments? Someone who won’t succumb to pain as quickly as all of his other victims…


San Francisco…

Wait, blasting Sherlock in the heart with a phaser won’t down him, but knocking him about the head a few times will? You’ve literally been punching him in the head for the last six kilometres, why does he suddenly now have a glass jaw? Maybe he was tired.


… Somewhere? Probably some Earth hospital? I don’t even care by this point…

HAHAHA! And just like that, McCoy cures Death. Damn it, Bones, you’re either a scientific genius or, more likely, a reckless medical necromancer. Christ, now his experimental subjects can’t even take their own lives to end their suffering, he’ll just bring them back again and again. “I must scream and I have no mouth, because McCoy has surgically replaced it with a third kidney.”

Tell you what, though. They’ve cured death. That’s sure going to take the drama out of any sequels.


San Francisco…

Can someone explain to me how “Space: The Final Frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise” constitutes an OATH? Like, what are you swearing to? Which duties are you promising to uphold? Can, can you take me through that, please? He says “The Captain’s Oath”, so, all captains have to swear to this? Even the ones who aren’t captains of the Enterprise? What the FUCK?

Also, they’re sending their most powerful ship out on a five-year mission of exploration? I know they’re meant to be explorers, but don’t they want to maybe hang around a bit, in case the Klingons really do want to start a war? Like, have they learnt nothing from the last two hours of dreck?

I did.

I learned that Carol Marcus is most definitely very attractive.


In summary…

This is why ‘Into Darkness’ is such tripe. It’s that the story itself, and the motivations of its characters, just don’t stand up to scrutiny.

Kirk and Spock, our two leads, are both entirely unlikable and, for all of Spock’s “logic”, they are irrationally unpleasant to the people around them. All Spock seems to have learned by the end is the value of revenge – he only lets Sherlock live because “they need him alive”. That doesn’t seem like a very positive character arc for someone who’s meant to be a hero.

Kirk himself doesn’t exactly get much of an arc. He’s told at the beginning that he’s unfit for command, and he doesn’t actually do anything throughout the movie to change that. He’s as poor a leader at the end as he was at the beginning – the only thing he’s done is sacrifice himself, I guess, because he was going to die anyway.

Uhura is kept on to do nothing more than bitch at Spock – they jimmy in her “language skills” for the Klingon bit, but Sherlock turns up and kills all the baddies anyway, so what was the point?

Chekov just runs around reminding everybody how unqualified he is as chief engineer (reflecting more poorly on Kirk than on himself), Sulu makes empty threats and then does nothing, because in the one bit where his piloting skills would have been useful, Kirk’s doing the flying instead. All Sulu does is keep telling everyone else that the ship’s been dropped out of warp.

McCoy is just so, so terrifying in this film. His priority is “doing stuff to people that they didn’t ask for.” I mean, on what grounds would any trained physician deliberately inject a person’s blood into a completely different species from an entirely distant star system? The fact that it works doesn’t reassure me…

Scotty at least gets to do some stuff, and he sticks by his principles. He comes across as the most sensible part of the team, but he’s written so comically that it’s difficult to take him very seriously. I’m so sorry, Simon Pegg, you really deserve better than this script.

Carol Marcus has the sole job of wearing underwear for the trailer. There is very, very little else that her character actually accomplishes, aside from getting captured, getting injured and lying about stuff. At no point does her presence actually advance the plot in a way that couldn’t be accomplished by one of the established characters. I mean, I suppose she unlocks the torpedo, but given that she just ends up ripping the circuit board out because she doesn’t actually understand it, I’m pretty sure Chekov could’ve managed much the same.

Her father, Admiral Robocop, is just as pointless. He just seems to be Villainous. Like, that’s his character trait. He’s paranoid, aggressive, cruel, pretty stupid and he has no redeeming features in any way. He’s more of a cartoon villain than any one in, say, Star Wars. His motivations are unclear beyond “WAR IS GOOD” and I have no idea how any of his actions were meant to achieve any of the things he claimed to want beyond mere coincidence.

Sherlock himself is just so poorly done. He could’ve been a fantastic villain, and would have worked as a paranoid, aggressive, cruel character bent on domination. But he’s just so random himself. He’s focused on revenge, sort-of, against Robocop, but given that Robocop is actually more villainous, why should we as the audience care about that?

The rest of the damn plot is just moronic. Things happen merely to conveniently wind the movie onto the next scene; nothing actually flows from A to B to C – from Klingons turning up because they “were on a random patrol” (wow, great) to them then being dispatched by Sherlock anyway – why have that sequence with the Klingons at all? It doesn’t do anything to actually advance the story!

This film is a mess. It’s a painful, attractive mess that just doesn’t work. Forget its heritage, forget how “Trek-like” it is – it fails as a story long before it fails as a Star Trek movie.

 

A Review of the ‘Star Trek: Beyond Trailer’ (2015)

I have “opinions” about Star Trek. Opinions strong enough to be facts in my mind. Opinions such as, but not limited to:

  • Arguments about the “Best Captain” are as pointless as arguments about the “Best Alcoholic Drink”.
  • Being proud about knowing the technical details of pretend spaceships is like being proud of a fungal infection.
  • About 60% of Star Trek is abject dreck.
  • About 5% of Star Trek is some of the best Sci-Fi you’ll ever experience.
  • Riker’s Beard is a more compelling character than most of the cast of ‘Enterprise’.
  • Unless you’re talking about The Original Series, the first two seasons of any Star Trek show are crap.
  • ‘Wrath of Khan’. Just, ‘Wrath of Khan’.

You might disagree, and that’s fine, other people’s opinions mean very little to me.

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They’ve changed the uniforms AGAIN?

I also have “opinions” about the latest film to be released, ‘Star Trek: Into Darkness’. When I first saw it at the cinema, I loved it. It was exciting. It was dramatic. Great opening scene. Brilliant cast. Fantastic directing. Delightful music.

It was so good that I went back to watch it a second time, and the cracks began to show.

I bought the DVD and by the time the credits were rolling, so were my eyes.

‘Into Darkness’ is bad. Like, really very bad. All of its components are superb, except one: The Story.

People who say that the reboot films “aren’t like Star Trek” have probably never seen an episode of the Original Series. For those of you haven’t, the Original Series is that one with Kirk in it, where he laments having a woman as his yeoman and where most of his clashes with aliens are resolved with punching and karate-chops.

‘Star Trek’ (2009) succeeded as a movie because it was fun, it was exciting, it had a simple story that didn’t warrant too much scrutiny and it was fresh. I hated its interpretation of the Kobayashi Maru test, but that’s mostly because I bum ‘Wrath of Khan’ so much that hearing the first five bars of its soundtrack gives me an erection.

‘Star Trek: Into Darkness’ failed as a movie because, and I’ll keep this concise because I still haven’t talked about the trailer for the new film yet, but ‘Into Darkness’ failed because most of its plot is told in exposition, and that plot makes as much sense as a vomit-flavoured chocolate suppository.

Here’s a list of things you need for a Star Trek production to be ‘Star Trek’:

  • People.
  • Aliens (who might be people).
  • At least one spaceship.

That’s it. That’s all that the collective Star Trek franchise had consistently through its entire run prior to J. J. Abrams taking the helm. Seriously, go back and check. That’s what has always constituted something being “Star Trek”.

Now, here’s a list of things you need for a Star Trek production to be ‘Crap’:

  • Stupid stories that make no sense.

I mean, other things might make a crap Trek, but mostly if you get a good story going, you won’t go far wrong. And that’s why I’m still hopeful for ‘Star Trek: Beyond’.

‘Star Trek: Beyond’ has done something revolutionary, which even Ridley Scott couldn’t conceive of: it has told Damon Lindelof to fuck off.

Damon Lindelof is the “mind” (that word used with artistic license) behind such incredibly bewilderingly baffling stories as ‘Prometheus’ and ‘Star Trek: Into Darkness’ and the ‘Lost’ television series. He is the hackiest of hacks, the dickiest of heads, a fraud, a villain and a charlatan.

And he’s now gone. In his place is British hero Simon Pegg.

Simon-in-Hot-Fuzz-simon-pegg-737485_640_272
A film about a British police sergeant turning an English village into a wild west shoot-out and it still makes more sense than ‘Into Darkness.’

Mr. Pegg has written some of the cleverest movie scripts in the last ten years. He’s got huge “nerd” credentials, he cares about the material, and he’s proven himself capable of writing stories that are both entertaining and comprehensible.

The first trailer of ‘Star Trek: Beyond’ is little more than a series of bright and colourful images, with a couple of good lines of dialogue thrown in. It shows McCoy being McCoy, it shows some fun action, humour, and what looks like the bridge of an old starship with some startlingly, reassuringly familiar design touches.

But it doesn’t hint at any pointless references to the rest of the franchise; we’re not getting “Benedict Khanabatch” with this one. Neither has it flashed us with gratuitous shots of Women In Underwear, a level of titillation truly mundane since the invention of both the Internet, and clothes shops.

It hasn’t simply shown us a string of scenes of people screaming emotionally, and it hasn’t particularly made any huge promises about sprawling, in-depth storylines. Indeed, the story as best as I can make out is: “Crew must survive without their ship”, and that seems like it could be really cool.

All this film now has to do to avoid annoying me to the point that I’m spitting spinal fluid is to Keep Things Simple. ‘Into Darkness’ attempted a complex espionage plot and failed appallingly due to a lack of any espionage and an absence of higher brain functions in its lead writer. ‘Beyond’ just has to stick to formula, give us the characters we love doing exciting things and I’m sold.

Yes, there’s a motorbike and yes, it looks almost identical to ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ but, let’s be honest, what did you think was going to happen? Picard set the precedent for off-road vehicles in Star Trek in the abominable ‘Nemesis’, and ‘Guardians’ was popular enough that of course new sci-fi trailers will be shaped to draw in a lot of Marvel’s audience.

For now, I am going to maintain hopeless optimism that Star Trek is still capable of producing quality content.