Everything Wrong with ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ (2016)

I said I wouldn’t do this. I said it was pointless. It is pointless. But I’m doing it anyway.

You may have already seen my guide to coping with ‘Batman v Superman’, but I do feel a need to dig deeper. There have already been plenty of reviews doing the rounds, but I want to cover the specific failings of the film. I want to go through, in as much detail as I can manage, the individual components that set this movie apart as being of a lower quality than its peers – and I want to do it as objectively as possible.


1 – The Subjective Stuff

Ignoring my previous assertion, the first thing I want to get out of the way is the subjective, qualitative aspects of the film that led to my dissatisfaction with it. For one thing, it’s just boring. It goes on forever, it suffers from a worse case of “Ending Gore” than ‘Return of the King’, and the action sequences are so overblown and so saturated with special effects that at no point did they feel dramatic or tense.

I genuinely enjoyed Batman’s contributions during the first half, and would have enjoyed the post-apocalyptic dream sequence a lot more if it had been tied into the plot in any way. But I didn’t care for the pacing, which was all over the place, and Snyder has reached a new low in presentation – everything was so dark and moody that I found it to be a visually depressing experience.

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Angry.

The story itself was not particularly compelling, and there were no performances which were actually entertaining in a stand-out way. Jesse Eisenberg did his best but missed the mark drastically in terms of characterisation, and the rest of the cast were perfectly capable but not particularly engaging. It’s too easy to make comparisons between ‘Dawn of Justice’ and any of the Avengers series, but the fact is I genuinely enjoy the performances of Evans, Downey Jr. and Johanssen – they’re not necessarily better on a technical level than Affleck, Cavill or Adams, but they’re just a bit more fun.

Which leads me to my final gripe with ‘Badman v Supertwat’ – Zack Snyder can’t do comedy. Well, maybe he can, but he doesn’t even seem to try. Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy defined the current trend of dark and edgy superhero movies, but Nolan was still able to inject little moments of levity and humour into proceedings. Snyder seems to believe that the cities of Metropolis and Gotham are populated exclusively by people who are genetically incapable of lightheartedness.

This is best exemplified by Alfred, Bruce Wayne’s butler-sidekick. When played by Michael Caine, Alfred was a sassy but sensitive character, capable of engaging with the heavy themes of the movies but still able to crack wise. There are some genuinely touching and funny moments between him and Christian Bale’s Caped Crusader. In ‘Batfleck v Henryman’, Alfred is reduced to a muttering old man who makes the occasional quip about Bruce’s lack of progeny. The humour, and consequently the warmth, is gone.

This is true in most of Snyder’s other films, too. Ironically it’s ‘Watchmen’ that has more funny moments, and also happens to be the darkest. Meanwhile the inane ‘Sucker Punch’, the depressing ‘Man of Steel’ and the fairly marvellous ‘300’ (if you’re into that sort of thing) are all played almost entirely straight – depressingly so. In fact, it was his directorial debut (and now that I’ve used that phrase, I think I’m qualified as being a “real critic”) ‘Dawn of the Dead’ that has remained the funniest film he’s done to date.


2 – The Whys and the Wherefores

Now let’s get onto the measurables.

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Moody.

There is exactly one character in this entire film whose motivations are laid bare – Batman. The film opens strongly, with Bruce Wayne witnessing the rampant destruction of Metropolis and the lives lost due to Superman’s callous disregard for collateral damage. Bruce’s fury with Superman’s actions are clear. How could a being of such power, and with a total lack of oversight, possibly claim to serve humanity whilst wreaking that level of catastrophe on a human city? And what happens if even more of them show up?

Every other character, however, fails to present a reason for any of the things they’re doing. Superman seems to float from scene to scene, essentially looking grumpy at every development and never particularly making a decision for himself. I have no idea of what he was trying to achieve throughout the film. There was no revealed villain at any point whose plans he was trying to thwart, I have no idea of whether or not he wanted to be accepted by humanity, or not – he just seemed to angst about it throughout, without ever reaching a conclusion.

Wonder Woman was Doing Things. I’m not sure why. I’m not sure what it is she wanted with the stolen data from Lex Luthor’s house, or indeed why she was even there – did she know Bruce Wayne would be turning up with a data hacker? Was she just waiting for him to attach it? What was she doing for the entire rest of the film? She grudgingly decides to participate in the fight against Doomsday, but why? Maybe it’s to protect the planet, but we don’t know enough about her to make that assumption.

The most egregious offender on the subject of Motivation. The entire point of including a villain in your story is to offer challenges, obstacles, resistance for your heroes to overcome. In that regard, the motivation of your villain can be as simple or complex as you like, as fantastical or mundane as is needed. This is played with beautifully by ‘Die Hard’s Hans Gruber – his objectives are at first mysterious, but are revealed to be really quite pedestrian – he’s a thief, he wants money, and his actions are in line with his goals. Hence, he is an effective antagonist.

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Smarmy.

Lex Luthor? Lex Luthor has no goals whatsoever, and certainly none that would be a result of his actions. At first, he seems to want to legalise the importation of the mysterious Kryptonite into the US, and so pressures legislators to do exactly that. Except that when they refuse, he simply smuggles it in anyway – something for which we find out he was preparing all along. It wouldn’t be so bad, except that his battle to legalise the import makes up the entirety of his scenes in the first half of the film.

Later, it turns out he wants the Kryptonite so that it can be stolen by Batman, weaponised, and used to kill Superman. So set is he on killing Superman that he then proceeds to mix his own genetic material with that from the corpse of General Zod to create an indestructible Kryptonian monster – a plan so zany, it might just work. And his intentions for killing Superman?

Well, there’s the rub. It doesn’t seem to be personal, beyond Lex’s declaration that he is an atheist following an abusive relationship with his father. It could be for money, if he wasn’t already so rich as to have apparently limitless resources. Maybe it’s for power – but it’s never explained how killing Superman will achieve that. So, why does Lex do any of the things he does?

The best answer I have is that he does them because they are villainous, and he is a villain. And we know he is a villain because he keeps doing villainous things.


3 – More Than A Sequence Of Plot Points

This one gets down to the very heart of storytelling, because ‘Shitbird v Turbodouche’ is sadly replete with plot points, played in a sequence, and drastically lacking in story.

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Ugly.

The most offensive example is the “dream-sequence-within-a-dream-sequence” flash-to-the-future segment, in which we see a duster-wearing Batman gunning down soldiers bearing Superman’s symbol in a grimy dystopian future, before being captured by Superman himself. At first, it might seem like this is a reflection of Batman’s fear, his own vision of what the world will become if Superman isn’t stopped. Except that he snaps out of this dream-prophecy to find a mysterious cybernetic character reaching to him through some kind of time portal.

So, is this film introducing a time-travel plot? FUCK NO! Because Batman then awakes from THAT dream to find himself alone. So, did he dream up the specific characteristics of the mysterious cyborg that he’s never seen before? Did any of that actually happen? Does it have any bearing on the plot? And are these all rhetorical questions? In reverse order: Yes, No, Nobody Knows, Apparently So.

Undoubtedly this scene is a set-up for future films from the Justice League franchise, but it’s loaded with so many problems. For one thing, the whole segment is roughly ten minutes long – or at least feels like that. For another, it adds literally nothing to the film in which it appears – you could remove it entirely without any knock-on effects. Indeed, the movie would arguably be improved by its removal.

And I have to ask, is that what DC movies are all going to be? Just extended trailers for the next release? Naturally, Marvel pulls this off in a much better, if equally clunky fashion – the after-/during-credits sequences in most Marvel films are little more than advertisements for future installments, but it’s key that they A) are entertaining in their own right and B) sit outside of the main feature.

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Dusty.

All a sequence such as this is really is an in-joke for audiences of films that have not yet been released, and like all in-jokes, they fall flat for everyone not in on the joke – unless they’re done well. If you want to see in-jokes masterfully implemented, you should go and watch ‘Arrested Development’ twice the whole way through – once in the correct order, once in reverse order. You’ll notice all sorts of little asides and references which are funny for established fans – but in no way affect the flow of an episode for a first-time viewer.

Or, watch ‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade’. This has a great example of an in-universe in-joke, where Indy and Elsa see a depiction of The Lost Ark, the mcguffin from the first film. They have a brief exchange in which Indy casually identifies it with a simple little line. It’s a moment that’s quick, it adds to the movie for new audiences by further establishing Indy as an expert in his field, but for people familiar with the franchise it’s a great little touch that further adds to the celebratory tone of the trilogy’s final film.

An entire dream sequence that is visually and tonally distinct from the rest of the movie into which it is shoehorned purely as a set-up for films that are yet to even be written is such a poor treatment of this movie’s audience as to be insulting. Maybe in six films’ time we’ll look back and see how “it all came together”, but there isn’t even anything clever about this bit – there’s nothing to “pay off”.

The same goes for the ten-minute sequence in which Wonder Woman checks her email inbox and finds Batman’s note about the other METAHUMANS. We are treated to three cheesey vignettes of The Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg, each of sharply declining quality. The Flash’s sequence manages to actually mostly fit with the overall aesthetic of ‘Branston v Pickle’, but the Aquaman bit looks like it was lifted straight from ‘Smallville’, and the ‘Cyborg’ segment is so poorly done it would look more at home in an episode of ‘Lois and Clark’.

And regardless of the quality of these little insertions, once again they contribute NOTHING to the film into which they have been added. They would have made a great after-credits sequence, where Bruce shows Wonder Woman what he’s found, takes her through his plans to build a team, but instead we get this forced sequence where we witness the excitement of a woman in her pyjamas browsing fan-made Youtube videos of the three superheroes that were too boring to be included as a main part of the film. It’s holding the audience in contempt for the sake of advertising a product. I’d rather have seen a BMW badge on the Batmobile.

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Flashy.

I’ve just written several hundred words about two sequences, so let’s have a look at some other plot points in this film that exist for no reason. I’ll even do them in list format, for the sake of brevity:

  • Superman is introduced rescuing Lois from a terrorist cell in which a CIA agent’s identity is revealed, landing her in jeopardy. Neither the terrorist cell nor the CIA feature ever again in the film, so why her capture had to be so convoluted is beyond me.
  • Batman is tracking down and interrogating and branding a band of people-smugglers in a one-man crusade against dickery. It turns out the people smugglers are working for Lex Luthor, but not as people smugglers, he’s just using their boat. The people-smuggling plot does not feature again.
  • Lex Luthor has been keeping tabs on METAHUMANS and has a collection of data files on them. Since none of them actually appear in the film, this proves irrelevant, as already discussed.
  • There is a series of scenes revolving around the need to legislate Superman and his abilities. The committee tasked with investigating the matter is blown up in the first half of the film – the matter is not subsequently revisited.
  • The committee’s destruction, and that of the US Capitol building, is the result of Lex Luthor’s manipulation of a man wounded in the climactic fight of the previous movie. Several scenes are dedicated to Luthor’s manipulation of this man, apparently to make the explosion look like the work of Superman; however, Superman is not subsequently blamed for the bombing, and this plot thread is never revisited. The actual reason for planting a bomb in the wounded man’s wheelchair is never given.
  • Clark Kent wants to write a story about Batman, but his editor shouts at him for not writing about a local sports game. This occurs over multiple scenes, with no pay-off.
  • As previously mentioned, there are multiple discussions in which Lex Luthor tries to convince legislators to allow him to import Kryptonite to the US for research. When they refuse, he smuggles the substance in, but according to information given by Batman earlier in the film, this had been his plan all along. The legal importation of Kryptonite is not relevant to any aspect of the story.
  • Over the course of three scenes, Lois Lane travels to Washington DC on a hunch to find the origin of a mysterious bullet fired when she was captured by the terrorists. The bullet is an advanced prototype produced by Lex Luthor’s company. His reasons for equipping mercenaries with a unique, special bullet are never revealed, and the information is never passed on by Lois to any other character in such a way that it affects any decisions that are made.
  • Wonder Woman steals Bruce Wayne’s data-hacking device, only to return it to him a few days later claiming she could not break decryption. Her purpose for stealing it is never explained, and the data device itself serves only to reveal the existence of other METAHUMANS – who do not feature in the film.

Again, I know it’s bad to make continuous comparisons to Marvel, but in ‘Avengers Assemble’ just about every scene follows on from previous scenes and advances the story. From Loki’s initial heist of personnel and materiel from the SHIELD research lab, through to the final battle scene, everything revolves around the main story, and leads to consequences further down the line. There are still missteps, don’t get me wrong, but in general the narrative is focused.

In contrast, ‘Blahblah v Oopsiedear’ features over a dozen distinct plot threads, none of which interact with one another. This makes it difficult to follow, forces its audience to sit through scenes which are ultimately redundant and which – crucially – just aren’t that entertaining. If a film is going to make its audience sit quietly for two-and-a-half hours of their time without any humour or real drama, it had better not be packed with filler.


4 – Self-Cannibalisation

You’re crafting a story. You spend a lot of time building up the main conflict in this story. You manage to create a compelling narrative for one of your lead characters, shape his motivation to something that the audience can understand, with which they can empathise. Despite all of the chaff you throw into the rest of the story, you manage to get your two leads together into a climactic conflict, leaving the audience to guess at how these two incredibly powerful beings will resolve their differences.

Then they become best friends because their mothers both had the same first name.

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Fighty.

Look, let’s get one thing straight: if you’re going to tug on Batman’s heartstrings, if you’re going to tickle his empathy organ, you’re going to do it via parental trauma. That much is obvious. But here, in this film, Superman gasps his own mother’s name as Batman prepares to deliver the killing blow – he pants about saving “Martha” – which just happens to be the name of Batman’s mother, the late Mrs Wayne.

Okay, sure. This is set up previously in the film, so I won’t slap it with the old “Deus Ex Machina” badge of shame. But Batman suddenly relents in his hate- and anger-fueled quest of vengeance against Superman because their mothers share a name. You take the most compelling and relatable piece of characterisation in the film, and the ONLY comprehensible element of motivation, and dismiss it all with a simple coincidence.

I mentioned in my previous article my issues with Batman’s willingness to casually slaughter his enemies via grapple-hook-induced road traffic collisions, and the truth is that I am less annoyed that his “One Rule” has been ignored and more frustrated that it wasn’t used as a character point.

One of the things this film really gets right is its characterisation of Batman – of a grizzled, weary vigilante, consumed by his quest for “justice”. He’s cruder, more brutal, almost barbaric at times, and it’s fantastic. He’s been fighting evil for so long that he has become twisted. Hell, he comes across as someone who’s emotionally void, except for the smouldering core of anger that throbs in the dark cavity of his chest.

So, imagine this. Imagine if, as Batman renders Superman helpless, as he prepares to land the fatal strike to the heart, Superman simply tells him “I’m not afraid to die doing what I know to be right.” Or, maybe he says “If you kill me, you’re no better than the people you fight every day.” Or maybe even simply “I thought you were better than this.”

Or SOMETHING. I’m not a scriptwriter. Blow me. But have that challenge from Superman. Make it something inspiring, something defiant, hopeful. Something fitting the icon of inspiration that Superman is meant to be. Then have Batman actually realise what he’s done, what he has been doing, what he is about to do. Make Batman’s descent into darkness an actual plot point in the film, hell, make it THE plot point of the film. Everything’s set up for it to be that way.

Instead, they went with the cheap option. The easy option, the least satisfying. In the space of two minutes, Batman and Superman suddenly shift from being mortal adversaries to “friends”, fighting evil together like “bros”. All because their mothers have the same name. The fact is, nothing about Superman has changed, he’s still just as powerful and dangerous as he was before. And the fact he has a mother doesn’t exactly distinguish him from the countless other thugs Batman has fought – and killed – already. It’s just a convenient way to resolve a difficult conflict between two characters, and it selfishly devours the best parts of the film.


5 – Uninspiring

Throughout the film, we are informed that Superman is some kind of god-like figure to the denizens of Earth – a hated beacon of fear for some, but a loved icon of hope for others. And, as with so many other elements of this film, Superman’s status amongst the humans is handled as cack-handedly as possible.

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Starey.

First of all, the only heroics of Superman’s that we witness occur in a 30-second montage in which he rescues some astronauts from a launchpad, pulls a ship through some ice, and then saves a little girl from a fire – after which the locals reach out to him to stroke his beautiful muscles. And sure, these are nice moments, I suppose, but that’s all we get of the “inspiring” side of Supes – half a minute of dialogue-less cutaways.

We do, however, get several minutes of screen time in which Clark Kent pointlessly argues with his boss. Oh yeah. Superman wants to write about Batman, but Perry White wants him to write about some random game from some low-key local sports team, it’s all terribly thrilling. Oh, and, again, adds nothing to the overall story.

This is a post that has recently been doing the rounds on social media. I will be honest, I wouldn’t be very interested in it normally, but it does an incredible job of demonstrating exactly how Superman can be a hopeful figure, even in the context of a very dark narrative. Superman’s value is not his ability to punch invincible villains for hours on end – it’s his messianic ability to do whatever needs to be done to help humanity.

And once again, this all ties into some of the best aspects of the movie. My favourite line from the entire two-and-a-half hours is when Bruce Wayne justifies to Alfred his intentions to kill Superman. “He has the power to wipe out the ENTIRE human race, and if we believe that there is even a one percent chance that he is our enemy, we have to treat it as an absolute certainty.” It’s a cold, ruthless perspective, and it makes absolute rational sense. Superman is en entity of extreme destructive capability, and no earthly weapon can stop him – the danger he poses is absolute and undeniable.

What’s even better is that the argument doesn’t change. If we had seen more of Superman doing heroic things, saving people, acting for humanity, then at every turn Batman could have broadcast the same footage from the destruction of Metropolis, of the collapsing buildings and of victims falling thirty storeys to their deaths. And as Superman does ever more heroic things, pulls off ever more dramatic stunts to save people, uses more and more of his power to do good, Batman’s message gets stronger: “But what if he turns? That power which right now helps humanity could just as easily destroy it.”

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Posey.

And as I explored in my previous segment, when it then came to that climactic fight between the two of them, when it came to that brutal contest of ideologies – hope versus vigilance, inspiration versus independence – you can make that fight mean something. Give it more significance than a fist-fest which gets resolved by maternal insecurity. You could have fully half the human race cheering on Superman whilst the other half call for his destruction.

The fact is that Batman wins the fight. Man defeated God, and he always will. And Superman should be defeated because, as I said above, his value is not derived from his own strength, but the strength he gives to other people. Render him helpless and vulnerable, put him at Batman’s mercy – hell, have Batman crucify him if you really want to hammer the point home. And then, maybe have him simply ask Batman to take care of the world. Maybe Superman tells Batman that the people don’t just need someone to defeat the bad guys – they also need someone to help the good guys, to protect the innocent. That it isn’t enough to destroy evil, you must inspire good in people – do things that nobody else can, that others might try to do the same.

Maybe Batman will ask why so many people think that Superman is on their side, and Superman will answer “Because they have faith.” I mean, this whole thing is about Superman being a god, right? That’s what the film keeps telling us. So whack us round the head with the religious aspect. In a godless time of danger and instability, Superman is the omnipotent protector that the world needs, that the world deserves.

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LAZORY.

Why not get cheesey with it? Why not have Superman’s supporters try to help him, try to save him, regardless of how helpless it is. Have them display a level of kindness and compassion that this Batman hasn’t seen in a long, long time. Maybe the two heroes are fighting in a burning building, surrounded by fire and smoke and brimstone, and Batman watches Superman’s believers throw themselves into the flames, work together despite the danger to preserve the life of someone they believe to be good and righteous. Have it mirror a scene from earlier in the film, where Superman instructs people to work together to save an imperiled family. Maybe make some of them previous enemies – cops and robbers working together, rich people and poor people, sworn enemies united by their own faith in something good.

Make that the thing that convinces Batman. Make it meaningful, relevant to the story, and relevant to the things these two heroes represent. Batman, the one who would sacrifice his own safety every day to prove that humanity at its base level is more than an evolved pack of animals. Superman, the one who lifts humanity from its base level to something greater. Batman, the violent thug who justifies his brutality with antiquated notions of justice. Superman, the demon with the face of an angel, who at any given moment might enslave all of humanity.

Instead, we get a ten-minute fight scene in a dingy ruin, isolated from any onlookers, which is resolved by a ten-second moment of realisation that Superman cares about at least some people, I guess.

The thing is, you can still have darkness and grit in a hopeful tale. I get that everyone ejaculates uncontrollably every time they see a film that is “dark” and “gritty”, but those things alone aren’t indicators of quality. They’re elements that can be used well to make a story more compelling, or believable, or relatable, but that’s all they are – storytelling devices. In the same way that a kid’s film can be sad and upsetting whilst still being colourful and bright, you can have a more mature film that can be positive and uplifting whilst still being dark and gritty.


6 – Show, Don’t Tell

There’s one final element of this mess of a movie that I would like to call out, and that is its refusal to adhere to perhaps the one unbreakable rule of film-making: show, don’t tell.

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Standy.

This ties into my previous segment, where Superman’s heroism and inspiration is never visible to the audience. We are told that he is inspiring people, but we never really see how. Simlarly, we are told that Batman is executing, by proxy, those villains that he brands. That when those people reach prison, they are murdered by other inmates, but we are never shown this, only told it through news reports.

An actual depiction of one of these incidents would not only be more interesting, but might also give us an insight into why these inmates are murdering Batman’s targets, why they are doing his bidding. It would go a long way to defining how Batman is seen by the population, by the people it has locked up. Instead, we get a few seconds of news footage before being whisked back to more random wittering by Lex Luthor.

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Gloomy.

Lois Lane travels to Washington to discover the origin of the special bullet used to kill terrorists, and she is told that it was made by Lex Luthor’s company. Yet another plot thread that goes nowhere, but I have to ask: why not show this? Why not have a scene where, instead of Lex Luthor trying to convince a minor politician to change import laws, he briefs his own mercenary squad, gives them the special ammunition, explains some of his motivations? It’s not as though his villainous nature is a secret to anyone by this point, so why even bother with the cloak-and-dagger stuff?

Instead, we focus on Lois Lane’s exciting quest to ask questions of a minor character from the previous film in such glamorous locations as a men’s toilet and a park bench. And as soon as she finds out, the thread gets dropped anyway. It’s baffling to me that they would include scenes like this, but not a scene that actually works to strengthen the film’s antagonist.

Despite Superman’s mother being used to bait him into fighting Batman, they only actually share a single scene together. In it, they stand in a field, in the dark, and Superman’s mother tells him that he can either be the hero he could be, or he could not – basically, a repeat of the themes from ‘Man of Steel’, almost verbatim. It’s a scene that exists primarily to remind us that Superman has a mother before she is kidnapped and used against him.

Maybe, instead of the stupid mother thread, you could have shown what happens when Superman stops being Superman? Show people calling out for him, even praying for him to come help them. There’s an entire sequence in which he hallucinates the ghost of his father on top of a mountain, and his father does even MORE “telling”, relaying a lovely story about digging ditches and drowning horses. Why not show the impact Superman’s absence is having? Why not show him watching from afar, weighing up his choice of not getting involved against the suffering he now sees occurring? Why do we need a scene from Kevin Dead-ner talking about farming and pie, when we could have some actual characterisation for one of our two main protagonists?

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Pretty.

Wonder Woman steals Batman’s data thingy. Later on she returns it to him, telling him that she couldn’t access it because it was encrypted. Again, WHY would you not show that? Why wouldn’t you show her trying to access it? Give us an idea of the resources at her disposal and, more importantly, give us a hint at what she might be up to? Once again a character with no motivation is denied valuable development for the sake of expositing a minor plot point.

We have a brutal car-chase where Batman attempts to retrieve a supply of Kryptonite from Lex Luthor’s thugs. It ends abruptly when Superman stops his car and tells him to fuck off. First of all, there is no reason for Superman to pick this particular moment to talk to Batman, he seems to just do it for the sake of it. Secondly, Batman later actually steals the Kryptonite from Lex Luthor’s secure research lab – and it happens off-screen! Again, I am left baffled – we are shown the failed attempt that happens to involve the Batmobile (and its immediate destruction), but denied what would have been a fun display of Batman in action actually infiltrating and fighting. We get dark and murky special effects when we could have had an interesting heist scene that actually shows of Batman’s capabilities.

So much of this film is done in such a backwards fashion that it strains my suspension of disbelief. I have an easier time accepting the existence of a bullet-proof, flying God-hero than I do the fact that people were actually paid to come up with this story, and the way in which it is told. There are so many missed opportunities to make this film good that I actually wonder if it’s not a post-modern experimental piece that got a bit out of hand after an accounting error put a couple of extra zeroes on the end of its budget.

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Sturdy.

7 – In Summary

So, if you enjoyed this film, that’s fine. I’m glad you enjoyed it, and I hope you go on happy with your life. But when you really break it down, there’s a lot here that’s just awful from a story-telling perspective. I have only seen the film once, and have no intention of doing so again – I personally found it boring, dull, monotonous, bland and absurd. I will be very interested to see the thoughts of people who watch it a second time – and wonder if it will match up to their initial positive assessment.

I think what really galls me is not what this film is, but what it could have been. Marvel’s ‘Avengers Assemble’ was a joyous romp with a lot of fun characters and silly moments. It was not particularly deep or meaningful – indeed, you might almost call it shallow, lacking substance. But it at least entertains, and that in itself is a quality all of its own.

‘Batcock v Supernips’ fails to entertain – or at least, it did for me. And what’s more, it missed out on a key opportunity to appeal to those who tire of Marvel’s unrelenting action-comedy. ‘Beatnik v Uberdriver’ could have loaded itself with a weighty plot about godhood, social responsibility, faith and optimism. Instead, it abandons a strong developing story for the sake of angry punching and ludicrous CGI. It dips its toes into the water of meaningful narrative but loses its nerve, running back to the warm safety of greenscreen and people shouting.

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Teamy.

What I really hope comes out of this, and I’m sorry to say it, is that Zack Snyder gets his arse fired and they bring in a director more capable of depth and subtlety. Snyder can create a visually stunning film. ‘300’ is a classic for me because of how aesthetically revolutionary it was and, to an extent, of how “pure” it was – it stuck to its simplistic premise like glue, and was all the better for it.

But ‘Man of Steel’, ‘Sucker Punch’ and now ‘Bloodbath v Seasonal-Affective-Disorder: Bored of Just This’ have really shown Snyder’s limitations as a story-teller. He did a fine job with ‘Watchmen’, but that was a beat-for-beat recreation of the original graphic novel. As soon as he tries to tell an original tale, Snyder’s reliance on special effects, shadows and slowing things down and then speeding them up again really starts to hold him back.

Dismantling ‘Prometheus’ (2012) Piece By Piece: Intro and Chapter 1 – The Everything

When ‘Prometheus’ was announced, I got excited. Not just because it was another sci-fi epic from Ridley Scott, not just because it was his return to the ‘Alien’ franchise, and not just because of the amazing cast that were involved.

No, I was excited because it promised to be different. From first glance, it looked like it could be the kind of meditative, thoughtful creation that I love. I was expecting tense action, a rich and philosophical plot, an exploration of a universe that I love, incredible special effects, and close-ups of Charlize Theron.

But as I left the cinema, I wasn’t intrigued. Neither was I entertained. I wasn’t even angry. I was disappointed.

I was disappointed not because I expected great things and the film failed to deliver. Not even because the film failed to deliver on the promises that had been made on its behalf. I was disappointed because I had gone into the cinema expecting a film, and was subjected to series of pictures, projected in sequence and in time with recorded voices and music.

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If you haven’t seen the film, you may be wondering what’s going on here. Don’t worry, actually watching the film is unlikely to change anything in that regard.

One of the key elements of almost any creative work is the Story it tells, either implicitly or explicitly. You can look at Edvard Munch’s ‘The Scream’ as an example. Regardless of the quality of its composition, the image itself implies a story, one that the audience crafts for itself using the limited information presented.

In ‘Alien’, the film that “started it all”, we get an explicit narrative – a straightforward tale of a woman struggling to survive a deadly predator as all the people around her are gradually slain. We aren’t left trying to figure it all out ourselves, and that’s fine – we are shown enough to reach the end of the movie satisfied with a story that runs from A to B to C.

But ‘Prometheus’ treads the fine line between implicit and explicit narrative, finding that little reservation of shit that runs between the two and riding it determinedly to a tragic, terrible end. It doesn’t leave enough blanks for its audience to fill in, but it possesses so many huge, gaping, cavernous, echoing holes in all of the important bits that it looks like a victim of “The Red Wedding.” Except that it didn’t have the good grace to die.

There’s a lot of debate over ‘Prometheus’ on the internet. Specifically, debate about whether ‘Prometheus’ really is just the dreck that it appears to be, or whether it’s full of hidden meaning and is actually deeply “philosophical”, which is wanker-speak for “pretentious”.

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Ooh, David, what are you up to now, you naughty boy? Are you by any chance doing more random, sinister crap for no specific reason? Jolly good, keep it up.

To put this debate to rest, I’m going to dissect ‘Prometheus’ piece by piece. I’m going to look at every aspect related to the story – the characters, the setting, the events, and explore fully what their significance is and, specifically, the reason that none of them work.

What I don’t give a flying winged lesser-spotted shit about is anything that’s not in the movie. I loved the marketing material for ‘Prometheus’, but if it’s being released as a film, it needs to work as a film. If you have to start reading fake company websites and watching Youtube uploads to enjoy the damn movie, they ought to put that on the fucking poster. ‘Big Trouble In Little China’ didn’t have a fucking marketing campaign to explain the most salient plot points, yet it managed to make more sense than ‘Prometheus’ with a plot that requires its primary villain to serially rape green-eyed women in order to get his dick back.

This has been a long time coming for me. Let’s get stuck in.


Chapter 1 – The Entire Fucking Film

The first time I watched ‘Prometheus’, I adored it. For about an hour.

The first half of ‘Prometheus’ is a gloriously slow-paced tale of a team of varied characters exploring the relics of a forgotten alien race. From the enigmatic first scene, showing a mysterious figure planting genetic seeds on an uninhabited planet – which is both more and less gross than it sounds – to the sense of awe that is captured as the crew take their first steps into a derelict alien structure, this film was just as pondering and cerebral as I hoped it would be.

We watch David the Android get up to no good, try to guess what his motives are. We wonder what the purpose of the weird gooey substance is, how it might be related to the opening scene. We share in the crew’s attempts to unravel what happened to this ancient race, to make sense of what we’re seeing, to decipher the meaning of it all.

All of this would be great if any of it led anywhere. But it doesn’t. We are presented with so much random crap from every angle and the only reason any of it is in any way entertaining is because it leaves you wondering what it all means. But once you get to the end of the film, and realise that none of it means anything, on subsequent viewing the first half of the film becomes just as inane as the second.

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A visual metaphor for the relationship between ‘Prometheus’ and its audience.

And the second half is where everything really falls apart for me. As our explorers find the body of the first extraterrestrial that humanity has ever encountered, a storm approaches over the horizon, forcing them to retreat to the safety of the eponymous vessel. On first glance, this might seem like a tired and unoriginal plot device, but on second glance you realise that it’s also boring, pointless and silly.

The storm arrives, forces the explorers to leave the site early, and then is gone by morning. What was the significance of them being forced to leave early? FUCKED IF I KNOW, that’s what. The storm gets several minutes of screen time, a huge chunk of the special effects budget, and ultimately offers nothing beyond eye-rolling cliche.

From this point on, ‘Prometheus’ is doomed, and I’m not even referring to the fucking ship. Every scene after the arrival of the storm is nonsensical, and the plot itself effectively grinds to a halt.

Crew members act stupidly, get turned into monsters, attack the rest of the crew and get killed off, all without consequence or explanation. Our leading lady gives cesarean birth to a writhing mass of tentacles, for it to be completely ignored by the rest of the crew and ultimately serve as a cheap death for a mute antagonist in the penultimate scene.

The sequences and events to which we bear witness barely follow on from one another. It’s as though “causality” is a dirty word, a forbidden concept, like some kind of Orwellian thought crime or those daydreams I have about your mother.

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This image could easily double as a graph showing the spectrum of character motivations, going from “Stupid” on the left to “Completely Random” on the right.

Now don’t get me wrong: there are components of this film that are masterfully executed. The visuals are generally stunning, the sets and costumes are all perfect, the sound and the music and the lighting all work just fine – this is not a work lacking in technical expertise. None of the acting is jarring or particularly unbelievable, or at least not enough to stand out.

Even the directing is on-point; each scene, examined in isolation, is constructed and executed perfectly well. Everyone says their lines in the right order and at the right time, the cameras are all in-focus and pointing the right direction, and I don’t think I noticed ANY booms or set lights or stage markings or Damon Lindelof’s personal stashes of methamphetamine.

Please note that for legal reasons I am not stating or implying that Damon Lindelof uses methamphetamine recreationally whilst writing, I am simply pointing out that I didn’t see any stashes of methamphetamine that belonged to him at any point during my viewings of ‘Prometheus’.

But the core of it all is rotten. It is a festering stool wrapped in pretense, packaged competently enough to entertain, just as long as you suppress the impulse to remove the packaging and take a closer look at what it contains.

Ultimately, I just can’t identify the story of ‘Prometheus’. It can’t be a character piece, because our characters act so fucking randomly that they may as well be shit- and blood-filled ping pong balls stuck in a tumble drier. And it’s not about the events of the mission itself, because the collection of scenes on offer match both of the definitions of “Brownian Motion” – random, sporadic impulses and rapid gastric evacuation.

The themes involved are abstracted to the point of disconnection. The ancient Greek tale of Prometheus is the story of a powerful being sharing stolen technology with mortal humans, leading to his unending punishment by the Gods. The closest I can get to that is that ‘Prometheus’ is the story of a powerful director stealing two hours of everybody’s life to ceaselessly punish his mortal audience.

So, on a general, broad level, ‘Prometheus’ fails to be a compelling piece of narrative, but I’m not satisfied to leave it there. No, there are so many specific, critical failings that I’ve barely even scratched the surface. Next up, a look at the characters, starting with King of the Shitheads, Charlie Holloway.

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The lights are on, but nobody gives a shit.

You can find Chapter 2 of this review, a look at Charlie Holloway, here.

A Review of ‘The Counselor’ (2013)

Jesus Bollocking Christ, this is a dull movie. I haven’t been so bored whilst staring at a T.V. screen since I watched that documentary about my own romantic success stories. Somehow, ‘The Counselor’ actually manages to be less eventful and more masturbatory than my love life, and that’s fucking going some.

This is a film about nothing. I mean, stuff happens – there’s at least two beheadings and a woman fucking a car, but none of it actually builds to anything approaching a story. Ridley Scott filmed this two years after he did ‘Prometheus’ and apparently the only thing he he learned in the meantime was that his films really need less coherence and more baffling dialogue.

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Literally the most exciting scene in the entire two hours – mostly because of the possibility of seeing a nipple.

Right from the get-go you can tell something’s up. Michael Fassbender and Penélope Cruz roll around beneath the sheets, spewing dialogue that is meant to be intimate and sexy, and instead makes me feel ashamed for having genitals. Nobody in this film talks like a real person, except maybe Javier Bardem, whose most notable character trait is wearing colourful trousers.

The plot revolves around a sewage truck full of drugs, and its theft. That’s… that’s basically all that happens. Micky Fastlender is somehow involved, having something to do with the original deal, which means that when the truck is stolen, he and every single person he has ever spoken to is apparently to blame.

But the thing is, he doesn’t actually do anything. We never see or understand what his role in this big drug deal is going to be, and consequently all of the action that results seems fairly abstract. The script spares what feels like three hours to allow a character that we meet only once to pretentiously monologue about the philosophy of Mike Fuzzbuffler’s fate, but we never fucking understand what those choices actually are beyond the fact he planned to take part in some kind of drug deal in some capacity that is NEVER FUCKING EXPLAINED.

I understand entirely that this is meant to be a deep, thoughtful, philosophical film, but if that’s the case why do we get a scene of Brad Pitt being slowly killed and decapitated, spurting fountains of blood onto a London pavement? It’s a scene that’s gratuitous in every sense of the word – he just staggers about shouting “Fuck you!” over and over, as his fingers are sliced off and his carotid artery punctures. There’s nothing philosophical or deep about it, it’s just fucking vile.

Or that wonderful, truly insightful scene where Cameron Diaz fucks a car windscreen? With Javier Bardem describing it as “like a catfish on an aquarium wall”? Yeah, that was REALLY fucking deep, I can really see what you were going for there. It was an important scene that definitely needed to be included in the film, much more than any kind of explanation of the story.

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They could have just spent two hours filming that speaker in the middle and saved themselves a lot of money.

In truth, this is a film where just about every scene proves to be redundant, or even indulgent. We see the truck getting stolen, but given that it directly involves precisely no speaking characters – there may have been a line or two, but it was all purely functional – the entire sequence may as well have happened off-screen. We see Javier Bardem chased down by cartel thugs, only for them to accidentally kill him, and then run off.

I’d be more forgiving of ‘The Counselor’ if it didn’t think so highly of itself. It could have been a creative misstep – an attempt at a meditative masterpiece like ‘Unforgiven’ that sadly missed the mark. But it feels much more like the writings of a moody, highly-literate sixteen-year-old who “sees the world the way it really is” and who “like, totally, y’know, gets what’s going on” and who thinks “like, yeah, y’know, she’s fucking the car because it’s, y’know, a metaphor for the thalassocracy.”

It tries to totally blow your mind, man, but instead is mostly empty, shallow drivel, packaged with a top-rated cast and filmed by a director who’s capable of so much more – as we later saw in ‘The Martian’. Indeed, it’s this kind of film that seems to be Ridley Scott’s weak point. When he sticks to focused, tight stories with a simple narrative – and that’s no criticism by any stretch – he can deliver magic. But as soon as he tries to stray into unknown territory, he just seems to lose focus entirely. ‘Gladiator’ was great for so many reasons, but it was at its heart a simple story in which the audience could invest. I wish Mr. Scott would stick to those kinds of narratives.

As a final note, other reviewers seem to have heaped praise on Cameron Diaz for her performance in ‘The Counselor’, and whilst I can’t really argue that she was bad, I’m not quite sure she was that amazing. She did well with an absurd script, but I’m not sure I every fully believed her performance.

Except for the bit where she fucked the car. She really convinced me that Ridley Scott had actually put a scene in his movie where a woman fucks a car. Otherwise, I would never have believed it.

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.
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Also fairly gay.
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Gay AND racist? Well, at least it can’t get much wo-
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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 ‘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.

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“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…

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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?

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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?

fhd007TLN_Colin_Firth_017
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.

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.

star-trek-into-darkness-enterprise
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.


star-trek-into-darkness-chris-pine-karl-urban
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.


pike
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 ‘Batman v Superman’ (2015)

I was not particularly fond of ‘Man of Steel’ – indeed, I felt it was one of the worst things since sliced bread buttered with salmonella. However, I am aware that it was fairly successful, so I was surprised wen its sequel, ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’, came out with so little aplomb – just a couple of teaser trailers before widespread release at the beginning of the month.

batman-v-superman-dawn-of-justice
The three things this movie is about: Batman, Superman, and sunrises. Not pictured: Justice.

I should confess, I didn’t exactly watch this film legitimately – indeed, I watched it on Youtube.com. I’m not proud of this, but it was the only place I could find it to watch it – none of the local cinemas were showing it, which was also baffling given how big a budget it must have had – I would have expected at least one or two major cities to be showing it somewhere.

Anyway, if you do get a chance to watch it on the big screen, I would recommend it. The Youtube upload I watched has likely been taken down by now, and the special effects are definitely worthy of the


 

Look, fuck it. You get the joke by now. Warner Brothers and DC have, in their wisdom, released the entire fucking film in the form of a two-minute trailer. From start to finish, they have revealed every key scene and plot development that the audience is going to find interesting.

The only thing we don’t see is the climax, but given it’s called “Superman v Batman’ and the only other character revealed only arrives in the final fight scene, and that this is the beginning of DC’s own fucking ‘Justice League’ franchise, we can be pretty fucking sure that they’re not going to pull off anything bold like having the good guys lose this one.

Seriously, go and watch the ‘Dawn of Justice’ trailer and try to pretend, with a straight face, that you now don’t understand in very specific terms the plot of the movie. I’m actually going to hold myself above the publishers here and NOT describe it all, because fuck it, there ought to be some fucking mystery left in the world.

Y’know, J. J. Abrams managed to convince himself that he’d convinced us that we had no idea who Benedict Cumberbatch’s character really was in ‘Star Trek: Into Darkness’, at least he was bloody trying to hold something back, unlike Mr. Zack “Slow It Down, Now Speed It Up Again” Snyder.

If J. J. Abrams were being interrogated for state secrets, you can bet you could run 10,000 volts between his gonads before he’d even confirm his name – sat next to him, Zack “My Movies Empower Women” Snyder would be blubbering uncontrollably whilst writing down the names and addresses of every allied agent East of Paris as soon as a guard lit a cigarette.

I mean, movie trailers are meant to tease and excite you, get you eager to see what’s still hidden from view – they’re the opening act of a striptease. You don’t start a striptease by dropping all your clothes in the first ten seconds and then slapping your client around the face with your genitals.

At least, I don’t.

 

A Review of ‘Robin Hood’ (2010)

Alright, I’m going to try something different. I’m going to do a running review of Ridley Scott’s ‘Robin Hood’ (2015). I remember seeing bits of it a while ago and not being too impressed, but maybe it deserves a little more attention. Got a bottle of wine and everything ready to go – let’s do this.

robin_hood_image_02
Based on this picture alone, I’m expecting this to be a very brown film.

 

00:50 – Nice studio intros. Nice music. ‘Scott Free’ is always nice to see.

01:00 – Standard Olde Worlde text prologue. “The Outlaw takes his place in history.” DRAMATIC.

01:27 – Ooh, the moon!

02:00 – Somebody’s running. In Nottingham, apparently.

02:32 – Since when was Cate Blanchett a brunette?

02:57 – And why does she have a bow?

03:36 – She’s nailing the accent though. I think.

04:10 – More Olde Worlde text titles. Hang on, did they just spoil the plot of the film? Jesus.

05:00 – THERE’S Russell Crowe. He looks old. Wasn’t Robin Hood young? Why is Robin Hood old?

06:58 – Okay, why did that man immediately catch fire? Like, a fire arrow hit him, but he wasn’t all oily. What was it, a napalm arrow? I thought fire arrows were just bits of cloth soaked in a bit of oil. Like, not enough oil to immediately engulf a man in flames. Whatever.

07:20 – So far this castle assault has, like, all the elements of something that’s exciting, but I don’t know any of these characters. If one of them dies, am I meant to care? I don’t think I would care.

08:13 – Okay, I know FOR A FACT that bags of oil wouldn’t explode like that. I mean, not, like, scientific fact, but I’m pretty sure a bag of petrol wouldn’t fucking explode like that, and that’s PETROL. Also, paraffin can’t melt steel gates.

08:44 – Wow, London’s a shithole.

09:56 – Neat, it’s Poe Dameron. Erm, Oscar Isaac. No, wait, it’s fuckin’ Standard! Man, ‘Drive’ was a great movie. I loved the way all the lighting was done, every shot was like a Hopper painting. And the limited dialogue, and oh! The music! Oh, shit, ‘Robin Hood’ is still on.

11:36 – Okay, missed a bit there, but I think Standard Dameron is the king. Or will be the king. Also, his mother doesn’t approve of his girlfriend. But, hang on, his mother’s not Guatemalan, or South American at all, and neither’s King Richard, so why is… Wait, is is he Kind Richard’s son? Shit, film’s still going.

12:34 – King Richard kind of looks like Billy Connolly. Also I think the other dude is Cate Blanchett’s husband. Just about been paying enough attention.

14:39 – I know this is the “Dark Ages” but did they have to have a fight scene in pitch black? If I can’t see Russell Crowe punching people then why am I watching?

17:07 – The King’s done that thing that never actually happens except in movies and plays and reality TV shows and pretended to not be the king so that he could get kicked in the head and then shout at Robin Hood for doing what he was told. OR SOMETHING.

17:29 – Russell Crowe is now in the stocks. Sad times.

18:25 – Oooh, is that Mark Strong? He’s great. He was great in ‘The Guard’ and ‘Kingsman’ and ‘John Carter’ and just fucking every movie he’s in. What’s he doing with this French bloke?

19:31 – Ooooh, treachery. And Mark Strong being evil again. Standard.

20:45 – FUCK ME the King just got owned by the soup boy. Seems… unlikely. But I guess this is a documentary so what do I know.

21:53 – “The more the merrier.” I get it! Like, the Merry Men, right? Man, this movie is clever.

22:08 – Wow, for an archer, Robin Hood’s got a pretty good handle on regional economics. He must be clever, too.

22:53 – Some kind of ambush in the woods, but I don’t know who’s getting ambushed and I don’t know who’s doing the ambushing. Maybe it’s a bacon tree.

24:52 – Ohhhh, it was Cate Blanchett’s husband getting ambushed. It was so easy to tell because he’s so distinctive-looking and almost 30% of his face was uncovered by his helmet. Otherwise I would’ve been confused and would have needed him to say who he was. Also he had the crown? Like, that was the most urgent thing, not leading England’s army back to England, but getting the Crown back, yeah. Wait, wasn’t he the smart one? Shit, more movie.

25:14 – Robin Hood is apparently also a horse whisperer.

28:27 – That was an awkward death scene. Ol’ Dead Loxley made Robin promise to take his sword back to his father, but it was, like, really forced and conceited? None of the dialogue seemed natural. And then Loxley died literally once the deal was done. I guess the spear in his lung was waiting for the most dramatic point before doing the most damage.

30:26 – Is Robin Hood Irish or something? He kind of sounds Irish sometimes, but then other times he doesn’t sound so Irish. I’m confused.

30:39 – Fuckin’ Robert Baratheon! As a priest, it seems. Mark Addy’s wonderful.

32:05 – Cate Blanchett really knows how to do exposition.

35:26 – What a nice shot of a river. Visually, this film’s pretty good.

37:17 – Ooh, think I just saw William Hurt. Wait, aren’t there any British actors in this thing? ‘Pacific Rim’ was, like, 50% British, and that was the most American film I’ve seen ’cause it had nukes and punching. This film’s set in fucking Britain for Christ’s sakes and they’re all bloody Antipodean or American. God damn it.

40:58 – Poe John II isn’t a very nice king.

46:10 – In the last few minutes, Cate Blanchett has been sexually harassed by the Sheriff of Nottingham (bad guy) and Mark Strong (bad guy) has asked the big French dude from ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ (bad guy) to kill Robin Hood and now Robin Hood has just sworn to go see the old Man of Nottingham and it’s all been a bit.. dull. It’s good that the bad guys all make clear how they’re bad guys and not good guys, though. This is a gritty, realistic retelling after all, so you need cartoonish villains so you know who not to root for.

47:10 – Oscar Isaac is a good actor. They’re all good.

51:14 – Now King Not The Nicest is being more less-nice. Apparently he’s a bit greedy. Still all a bit slow and dull.

51:33 – Did I take the bins out? Shit, not sure if I took the bins out. Eh, they’ll wait, it’s cold and wet outside.

53:30 – Why does Friar Tuck not think they’ve heard of mead? Hasn’t mead been around since, like… 2800-1800 BC? Man, I love Wikipedia. Also, those blokes would totally of heard of “what we call ‘Mead’.” What a plonker.

53:48 – Music’s quite nice.

54:05 – Yeah Robin, check out that fine Cate Blanchett arse. You can definitely appreciate it underneath that heavy woolen gown, and it is definitely distinguishable from many other things, like, say, a bag of clothes, or a sack of rocks, or my own arse in a heavy woolen gown.

54:45 – Why did the camera suddenly zoom in on her face like that? Like, we know that she’s finding out about her dead husband, we’ve been watching the movie, and we could already see her face clearly. That was weird.

56:51 – Is that Max von Sydow? I preferred BRIAN BLESSED.

58:29 – Okay, I hate to seem like some popcorn-munching mouth-breather in need of instant gratification, but it’s been almost twenty minutes since the last plot development. Can we have some pacing, at least, in this film? Like, even just a bit? We’re close to an hour in and all that’s really happened to our protagonist is that he’s escaped the army and picked up a sword.

58:45 – By this point in ‘Gladiator’ there’d been a lot more killing.

59:40 – Apparently Robin needs help with his armour but this is so transparently just and excuse to force some chemistry between the characters.

1:00:10 – He’s in good shape, mind.

1:02:58 – Okay, so Old Loxley wants Robin to pose as his dead son so the tax man won’t take away their home. Didn’t ‘Frasier’ have an episode with this exact plot?

1:06:28 – Much like Robin, I would love to be sat watching an open fire right now. It would probably have a deeper plot than this. Certainly more warmth. Aren’t Robin Hood stories meant to be exciting?

1:07:16 – These two have the same chemistry as Indie and that woman in ‘Temple of Doom’. By which I mean, they’re doing their best but nobody’s convinced.

1:10:51 – Robin is also a philosopher, apparently.

1:13:57 – Over half way in, we’ve just had Robin’s first instance of “Hoodliness” – he promised not to snitch on Mark Addy’s bees if… wait, if Mark Addy steals the grain? Basically, they’re stealing grain. Well, talking about stealing grain. Riveting.

1:15:55 – Okay, they nicked the grain. Pitch black, took ten seconds, two people got bonked on the head.

1:16:18 – Jesus, did Ridley Scott forget to pay his electricity bill or something?

1:18:15 – Apparently the Big French Dude From ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ just flat-out ignored Mark Strong, because he’s sat right there next to him, patently NOT killing Robin Hood. Or even trying. Villainous.

1:19:04 – Don’t got a battering ram? Two horses will break solid oak gates, apparently. If only I’d known that in all those games of ‘Medieval: Total War’.

1:33:16 – Wait, so, Robin’s dad was some great stone-mason-philosopher, and Old Loxley know all of this, and it just so happened that Robin was the one to escape Richard’s army, happen upon Young Loxley during the exact two minutes he was dying (in the middle of some French woods), happen to be the one Young Loxley asked to return his sword, managed to not die through any of this, now to be told his father’s history by the one man old enough to remember? Like, does that not seem like, y’know, A BIT OF A COINCIDENCE? Fuck, George fucking Lucas would be rolling his eyes at that one.

1:38:04 – That’s right, Robin, use the family heirloom that’s the cause of THE ENTIRE STORY as a hammer/crowbar. Probably fine. Don’t bother with the enormous fucking lump-axe your buddy’s holding. Just use a sword blade to lever up a masonry flag. Fucking pleb.

1:47:56 – Alright, did you really have to make the French guy a rapist? Like, he’s robbing people, killing civilians, his troops are burning people alive, does he also have to attempt to rape Cate Blanchett? I mean, they couldn’t show him actually raping her, that would be insensitive, but threatening her with it, that’s fine I guess. I mean, as a woman, I suppose it’s not enough to threaten her with death, like a man, since only men need to worry about death in films, and women only need to worry about getting raped. That’s how it works. Also, a villain isn’t a real villain unless they’ve doing the most villainous thing they can possibly be doing at every possible moment, which means if there’s men around, they must be killing those men, and if there’s women, they must obviously be attempting to (but not actually, because of sensitivity) raping them, and if they have a moustache, they must be twirling it, whilst wearing clothes made of puppy fur and talking at the theatre. Otherwise, there’s no way to be sure that they’re really villains.

Fuck this movie.

1:50:11 – Ooh, ooh, now Robin’s an expert cavalryman, capable of out-jousting men-at-arms! Wow, the archer-training program is pretty fucking comprehensive.

1:52:44 – Now they’re burning Old Loxley (he died, by the way), and for some reason it occurs to me that the only “Hoodly” things we’ve seen Robin “Hood” do this entire film is pinch some grain and carry out some really fucking minor-level vandalism.

1:53:25 – He’s got a really modern haircut, too. This annoys me, because I got a haircut today and she made my fringe look medieval.

1:53:53 – Why does he love her? They’ve had about four conversations, now they’re in love? Well, I suppose it wouldn’t do TO KISS SOMEONE WITHOUT BEING IN LOVE WITH THEM, WOULD IT?? FUCK ME.

1:58:18 – Why are the French charging out of their totally-non-anachronistic landing craft like this is Omaha fucking Beach? They’re just landing an army, not carrying out a beach assault. They thought they were landing in secret, too. There isn’t even an English army there yet! WHY ARE THEY ALL SHOUTING AND RAISING THEIR WEAPONS? AREN’T THEY MORE WORRIED ABOUT DROWNING? WHAT’S WRONG WITH THEM?!?!?

1:58:57 – That boat flipped upside down, but, like, it’s not in the water, it’s hanging above the water, like it’s a rushed special effect or something. I mean, couldn’t you just capsize a boat? Why is the boat now hovering above the water? Oh, wait, I paused the movie. Still, though.

2:01:04 – No. No, I refuse to accept that Marion is somehow now a cavalywoman. She explicitly stated that she was a… I dunno, a minor noble widow’s daughter, or something, and since then has been farming. Modern-day women can do anything men can do, sure, but Medieval England, someone who is essentially a farmer’s wife is NOT going to be leading a cavalry unit into battle, that’s horseshit. It’s bad enough Robin doing it, but at least you can pretend he MIGHT have had some fucking experience in all the fucking wars he’s been in, but Marion has been fucking FARMING for the last TEN YEARS, HOW IS SHE SUPPOSED TO HAVE THE EXPERTISE TO RIDE A WARHORSE INTO BATTLE, IT’S NOT LIKE PLOUGHING A FIELD MARION, YOU MAD WOMAN, JESUS JOSEPH GORDON LEVITT. Ooh, that’s a “Robin” reference!

2:02:15 – THE TWELVE-YEAR-OLD ORPHAN PEASANTS ARE NOW TRAINED RIDERS TOO. JESUS. JESUS FUCK. FUCK ME. NO. NO. THIS IS, and I hate this word, BUT THIS IS RETARDED. FUCK. DO YOU KNOW HOW DIFFICULT IT IS TO TRAIN TO RIDE A HORSE? AND THEN TO RIDE A HORSE INTO NOISY, CHAOTIC, TERRIFYING BATTLE? PRETTY FUCKING DIFFICULT, YOU STUPID CUNTS.

2:02:35 – The English didn’t have mounted archers. That wasn’t a thing. Unless it was. Was that a thing?

2:02:57 – Now the anonymous, unarmoured twelve-year-old who grew up in the woods is taking on two or three trained, armoured French soldiers at a time. This isn’t fucking ‘Bugsy Malone’, what the shit?

2:03:39 – Okay, fine, Cate Blanchett looks pretty badass in the armour. But it’s still stupid.

2:05:40 – After a moronic fight against Mark Strong, Robin just shot him. With a bow that he found floating in the water. Pretty sure trying to take a long-range shot with a soaking wet bow is a considered a poor tactical choice.

2:06:15 – Yeah, don’t worry about the battle, Robin, just keep snogging. You prick.

2:09:10 – Shit King IV just said he’s making Robin Hood an outlaw. Literally based on the last 20 seconds of the last scene where apparently the army were all cheering Robin for no particular reason. So now Robin Hood is an outlaw for no real reason. Wow. That’s satisfying.

2:09:26 – Here’s the sheriff again. What a cock.

2:09:47 – Yeah, he’s a cock.

2:11:34 – “And so the legend begins.” Wait, this was a fuckig ORIGIN STORY??? WHAT THE SHIT? THIS WHOLE THING JUST SO’S HE CAN BE CALLED “ROBIN OF THE HOOD” AT THE END? WHAT THE HELL. THAT’S SO STUPID. FUCK.

2:14:10 – What’s with all this stupid cartoon shit? I mean, it’s more exciting than the rest of the movie, but what the hell is it about? I DON’T UNDERSTAND.


 

This movie was boring and stupid. It replaces fun with “grittyness” and ends up being miserable, makes no sense, relies on huge coincidences to advance the plot and pretends it’s all historical and stuff but is about as historical as fucking ‘Back to the Future 3’.

What the fucking hell, Ridley Scott, what the fucking hell.

 

An Angry Review of ‘Mars et Avril’ (2012)

So,  a while ago I was sharing a house with some friends. One of them, we’ll call him “Matt”, read a review of a foreign-language film on the internet somewhere, which is weird, because he only visits Pornhub and I didn’t think they did movie reviews. But apparently, this film was really good, so we watched it.

Fuck you Matt. I know you’re reading this. Fuck you.

‘Mars et Avril’ is a Canadian film that somehow manages to be Eurotrash, and normally I’d never even use that word. At least, not as a derogative. But in this case, “Eurotrash” is probably one of the nicest words I could have used; other appropriate words include, but are not limited to:

“crap”, “bollocks”, “boring”, “pretentious”, “wank”, “masturbatory”, “redundant”, “tautological”, “snobbish”, “smug”, “annoying”, “fuck”, “arsewater”, “nonsensical”, “eyebrows” and “idiotic”.

I hate this film. Most other films I’d watch again before reviewing, but no, nothing could make me want to re-watch ‘Mars et Avril’. Not even a set-in-stone guarantee of mind-blowing sex with the entire cast of ‘Reaper’. The only thing this film guarantees is that by the end I’ll be sat in the shower, crying and drawing on myself.

I’m going to use the phrase “or something” a lot in this review. Really, that should have been the film’s title, especially because “Random Events In A Random Order And A Lot Of Meaningless Dialogue” is too long to fit on a DVD case.

mars-et-avrilbullshit
The titular Avril, the fate of whose loins is apparently what this film is about. Her character traits include “attractive” and “awake” and occasionally “slightly strange”.

It starts with some pretentious arse-wank concert with some old men playing weird instruments. There’s some buffoonery about how the old main guy plays instruments shaped like women because the shape of the woman’s body changes the sound OR SOMETHING. None of it made sense.

He picks the models for his instruments, then everyone thinks he sleeps with them OR SOMETHING but he doesn’t, but he apparently has some legendary sex-life but we only find out about that when everyone acts surprised that he doesn’t have some amazing sex life and by now I’m already confused and angry.

A lot, and I mean most of, the story of this film occurs without us actually seeing it; instead we just see the character’s reactions to the story that presumably happened, OR SOMETHING. If the story made sense, then this would be a bold and creative way of telling it, but the story doesn’t make sense, so instead it’s just stupid.

I’ll try and summarise the rest of the story in a paragraph:

Some dudes are going to Mars but might not be, as they might be holograms. The girl sleeps with the old dude, who hadn’t fucked anyone before and everyone’s shocked by this. Some guy without eyebrows is upset about this specific fucking as he wanted to fuck the girl because she was attractive OR SOMETHING. Both she and the old dude step in a teleporter which we never see used in the film previously, but she ends up on Mars, where the astronauts are all bored because apparently they thought there was a rollercoaster there, then she almost dies but they get her back to Earth but now the old dude is dying but they use his lungs to replace hers because, and I shit you not, they genuinely think that an eighty-year-old’s lungs will be in top-notch condition because he plays woodwind. Credits roll.

stupidoldman
We see far more of this man’s naked body than we deserve. It’s nearly inhumane.

Was this film meant to be funny? Because it plays like a parody. Nothing that anybody does makes any sense. The old dude calls the teleporter people to tell them that someone has literally disappeared and is probably dead OR SOMETHING, and they just tell him it’s not their problem and that he should fuck off. But, this isn’t portrayed as some corporate nightmare dystopia, that’s just how people act, OR SOMETHING.

Then there’s all this nuisance about how the Mars mission is actually an illusion, or hologram OR SOMETHING. The film thinks it’s so clever playing with all these high-end philosophical concepts, but that’s all it’s doing, is playing with them. I used to play with my dad’s power-tools but that didn’t make me a fucking builder. It did make me nervous around cordless drills, however.

love weird, off-the-wall science fiction. ‘Farscape’ is great, ‘Solaris’ is brilliant, but ‘Mars et Avril’ is just meaningless. It fails to entertain because nothing in it is entertaining. It asks questions that nobody wants answered, it answers nothing in terms of its own story, its characters are baffling to the point that they could be figures in a dream-sequence from another film… The whole thing is tripe.

The film fails to establish key plot-points upon which it later relies. The teleporter network is one; the main character’s status as a sex icon is another. The fact that the music he plays slows time down OR SOMETHING is left pointless, because apparently that doesn’t apply if you’re trying to sleep with someone OR SOMETHING.

‘Mars et Avril’ seems to assume that we, the audience, are already completely familiar with the world in which it is set, which could be fine if it wasn’t so random and ridiculous.

The special effects are appalling, something I’d be willing to forgive if it didn’t rely upon them so much. If you want to create a completely zany and imaginative world, you need to be able to do it believably. Alternatively, work within your limitations! Instead, this film aims high and lands so, so low.

The smartest bit of the film by far is the fact that there’s a character who’s a “Pneumatologist”, who is an expert in both spirituality AND breathing disorders. That one bit of wordplay is as close as this film gets to quality. Of course, the character in question is some over-the-top self-indulgent pointless-drivel-peddling fuckbadger, so even the one GOOD bit of the film is ruined. Well done, film, well done.

pneumatologue
This crap-weasel right here has a clever job title. Kind of. I don’t know what language those subtitles are even written in, but they make more sense than the English version.

Basically, this film is rubbish. Utter, abject, narcissistic chaff pinched out from the over-creative sphincter of the kind of person who watches dreck like this and then tells his friends about how he understood all of the intricacies of the plot and the deep meaningfulness of its characterisation whilst the people subject to his inane self-indulgence silently contemplate how easily they could hide his fetid carcass.

The only redeeming features of this film are some of the trivia about its production. Feel free to read those, and then never, ever subject yourself to the most pretentious hour-and-a-half of your short, precious life.

A Review of the movie ‘Gravity’ (2013)

I didn’t think it was possible for a film to somehow be less scientifically accurate than ‘Pacific Rim‘, but so many people praised ‘Gravity’ for its ambition that it’s not too surprising that it achieved that mantle.

‘Gravity’ looks amazing, and so perfectly showcases the visual journey of the single-most-unlucky person alive that it will leave you breathless. Breathless from the sheer spectacle of it, and breathless from laughter.

‘Gravity’ is the story of Dr. Mrs. Sandra Spacewoman, and her desperate struggle to regain a career after the dizzying heights of ‘Miss Congeniality’. I’m sure Sandra Bullock’s a lovely person, I’ll bet she vaccinates her children and hardly ever kills dogs just for fun, but I have always struggled to accept the premise that she’s an actor.

She seems to just Be In Movies, smiling and being nice and not really actually, y’know, portraying a character or anything. Maybe I’m being unfair. I’m not saying she’s a bad performer. It never looks like she’s reading her lines from an off-screen cue-card.

But put her next to someone like Anne Hathaway or Scarlet Johanssen… Let’s put it this way. Emily Blunt in ‘Adjustment Bureau’ is not the same Emily Blunt in ‘Edge of Tomorrow’. Have you ever seen Sandra Bullock being anyone other than Sandra Bullock?

Gravity-Sandra-Bullock
Sandra Bullock, here playing her seminal role of “Sandra Bullock”, which critics say is even better than her last role as the character “Sandra Bullock”, or even the ever-memorable and charismatic “Sandra Bullock”, from ‘Every Movie She’s Ever Been In’.

My irrational distaste for S-Meister B aside, ‘Gravity’ is exhausting. That’s almost a credit to the film itself; I left the cinema feeling almost as tired as Spacera Blastoff’s character presumably felt, but for the wrong reasons. Every scene stretched my suspension of disbelief to breaking point.

The fanciest, most realistic effects in the world don’t make the string of incredibly unlucky events that follow each other (all within the space of an hour) any easier to believe. I greeted each new development in the story with a dismissive “Yeah, right.”

Partly that was due to my space-nerdery telling me that Things Don’t Work Like That In Space. The story kicks off when a rogue Russian missile blows up a satellite, which creates a debris cloud which then systematically destroys every single man-made thing in the solar system, apparently.

But Starra Blofeld’s a tough cookie, and she survives each new disaster that befalls her. She gets to the shuttle, but it’s been wrecked. She makes it to the ISS, but Jean-Luc Picard’s pulled a drive-by “Self Destruct” on the thing, seemingly, as it immediately starts collapsing around her.

She escapes the lethality of the space station (have we really had people living on it for years? That thing’s a deathtrap, apparently) to go some other places, all of which are equally terrible and deadly.

Apparently, every space program around the world is run by the same tribes who built all of the temples in the ‘Indiana Jones’ trilogy. All space things are apparently rigged to instantly kill the first person to set foot inside of them. Maybe it’s an allegory for Australia.

She has a baffling moment of respite where she briefly turns into a werewolf. I guess it’s always a full moon in space. Once she’s done with that, she does what any other sensible human being would do and decides “God has a plan for me, and that plan is short-term, so I will obey his wishes” and turns the oxygen off.

Sadly, that’s not the end of the movie, as Clorge Mooney reappears (we’ll get to him in a bit) and gives her the pep-talk she needs to get her shit together and get out of this Space Jam! Some more stuff blows up spontaneously, she lands in a pond, credits roll.

I could write for days about the scientific inaccuracies and plot-holes in this film. I really could. I won’t. Just go play Kerbal Space Program for half an hour and you’ll get the idea.

What I do want to write about is the only other character with a face in the film, George Clooney. And isn’t it a lovely face? Let’s look at it for a moment.

George-Clooney-579440
Prozac for the soul, this guy.

Wasn’t that lovely? I think so.

In ‘Gravity’ he plays the experienced, about-to-retire Manstronaut who knows what’s up, who rescues Sandy Bumhole initially and later reappears to her as a dream-ghost, giving her the inspiration and drive she needs to Not Die A Pointless Death.

He’s mostly a loose stereotype, played with great charisma, obviously, but it’s his significance to Bullock’s primary character that irks me. The story could’ve been about the Toughest Girl In The Galaxy, about her own will and drive to keep going, keep surviving, and it just about is.

But for me, it gets side-tracked by Gooney’s reappearance at that critical point. Now, it’s about a Girl Who Is The Toughest In The Galaxy As Long As She Has The Example Of A Man To Inspire Her.

I mean, this is a really minor point, and it works more-or-less fine in the film, but could we have had a woman in Jorge’s place? ‘The Martian’ had Jessica Chastain to prove that you can have a capable badass female astronaut who takes names and kicks arse; would it have been such a stretch to have, say, Sigourney Weaver as the veteran, the one who saves Panda Hillock and later inspires her to keep going? THAT could have been neat.

Or maybe just have Shandy Bulmers inspire herself into survival. Maybe she looks at a picture of her dead daughter and decides “No, somebody needs to remember her”. Or maybe she just looks out at the stars, realises internally that her life is shaped by more than the things that happen to her, and decides that she’s going to go down fighting no matter what.

I dunno, maybe this isn’t the place for advancing a feminist agenda. But maybe “First All-Female Science Fiction Movie” might have been a better title to have than “Somehow Less Realistic Than Giant Robots”.

Oh, and in the final scene, she starts swimming up to the water’s surface after having landed in a pond, and a piece of seaweed starts to wrap around her leg, and people in the cinema, myself included, actually started laughing.

I would have enjoyed this movie more if the creators had been brave enough to have the main character get drowned by seaweed.

Then they could have called it ‘Buoyancy’.