Pride and S-foils to attack positions!

So, I’m going to start with what I assume you’re all raring to see: a update on my progress through the BBC Pride and Prejudice. Well, we’re through episode 3 and while I haven’t seen any further Doctor Who alumni, Mr Collins later played Cicero in Rome. a show that deserved more airtime damnit. The accent caught my ear, and a quick Google confirmed it. I also can’t help but think that the lady playing Mrs Bennett played Mrs Miggins in Blackadder the Third. She didn’t (I checked), but I can’t help but think it whenever she starts to speak. I really hope I’m not alone in that…

Mr Bennett’s dry gives no fucks attitude is a refreshing contrast, and I’m curious to see how he’s represented in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. I’m also slightly kicking myself for not comparing Mr Darcy’s time brooding to his time spent speaking – I was half expecting him to make it through all of episode 2 without speaking. Still, Firth broods really well. It’s the sort of brood I’d expect to see on a gargoyle in Gotham City, quality stuff. It takes work and skill to do that sort of thing and the further I get into the show, the more I can understand the cult that built up around the performance.

Moving on, let’s analyze some recent trailers! First off, the announcement trailer for Star Wars: Squadrons, EA’s latest multiplayer game.

I can sum up my initial feelings in two words:

Danger. Zone.


To give some more detail, this is the sort of game I’m after. I spent a lot (and I mean a lot) of my teens playing through X:Wing and TIE Fighter and the idea of a modern version of those games has long been a dream of mine. While the Battlefront games (both old and new) had their moments, they didn’t scratch the itch enough for my tastes. The trailer looks mighty spiffy, both sides have female pilots (Representation, fuck yeah!) and we get a quick look at Hera Syndulla and Wedge Antilles. Though TIE Bombers having a beam weapon (as seen at 1:08) – where the hell was that? I’m not as up on Star Wars canon as I used to be, but if someone can explain that I’d appreciate it.

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Cars, sports, beer? Nahhh, this was my Friday nights as a teen.

I’m still not quite sold on multiplayer gaming (Outside of Destiny 2 my biggest stint was playing Battlefield 1942 back in the day) and was very pleased by the inclusion of  a single player campaign, but I’m certainly looking forward to trying to shoot down friends. Mostly, I just want the experience of being in a massive skirmish and not having to be the main character. Let me fly in the Battle of Endor or Jakku and let me go. If friends can heckle me as I get shot down constantly, all the better. Hey, I love the games but I’ve never claimed to actually be good at them.

The mix of ships seems standard, though I eagerly await the complaining about bringing in EU ships, or trying to balance the TIE Defender against everything else. I’m biased – the X:Wing is one of my favorite fictional ships, matched only by the Earth Alliance Starfury and I’m always keen for the chance to sit behind the controls. I may have spent more time playing TIE Fighter and the Empire does have a snappier theme tune, but to lock S-foils in attack position is a childhood dream.

Starfury
It’s just gorgeous and NASA want to adopt the design.

Moving on, we also got the first trailer for the long in development hell Bill and Ted Face the Music.

I don’t know what to think. I have a lot of love for those movies, though I’m the first to admit that parts haven’t aged all at well. The story idea seems strong, at least workable, we don’t see enough of the cast to really get an image, but Reeves and Winter sure look like they never left the roles. Granted, Reeves is more well known these days for murdering his way through most of New York’s underworld in the John Wick movies, so seeing him as the lovable slacker we met him as mostly makes nostalgic for my youth and feel very old.

Mostly, I’m just crossing my fingers and hoping it doesn’t suck, you know? Belated sequels aren’t a good starting point, so I’m hoping this works. Better representation, hopefully giving the princesses and their offspring something to do and telling a good story. Isn’t that too much to ask? I’d just be happy of 2020 gave us some good news, something to enjoy you know? Surely we can get that, can’t we?

Addendum: Clothes maketh the man

Bit of a short update that I meant to add to the last entry. My wife and I are currently watching Good Omens, having recently finished season 1 of The Witcher. We enjoyed the show, but I can’t argue with my wife’s reaction at the end of the season, which I will sum up here: “WHAT? The whole things been a prelude?” The cast do their jobs well, especially the children, and Henry Cavill has quite the talent for conveying a lot with a look and an annoyed grunt. (And is quite the Warhammer 40K nerd) If I had to pick, I’m really not a fan of the amount of reverse grip nonsense in the sword work. I’m still not sure where that trend started, but I think The Force Unleashed? Look, it’s pretty, and works well for the show, but even as a novice historical fencer it bugs the hell out of me.

Witcher grunt

As for Omens we’re 4 episodes in at the time of writing and it’s beautifully Pratchett in feel. It’s been a long time since either of us have read the book, though I’ll likely go through it when we’re done with the show. I didn’t want to be constantly going “But this was different in the book!” all the way through it. I’m sure there are changes, but I’m content to wait to re-discover them. It should come as no surprise that I’d like a lot of Crowley’s costume in my wardrobe, though I couldn’t hope to match David Tennant’s swagger in a million years. Or the scarves, though that’s more for my rather long and scrawny neck. And yes, Aziriphale’s coat is lovely, but I really don’t think that colour is me.

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Staying with costumes, another few photos from the new production of Dune have been released, and well, they’re quite pretty. I can’t help but think back to the rubber(?) stillsuits from the Lynch movie and wonder how uncomfortable they must have been to wear. I’ve a making of the film book around here somewhere, I must dig it out at some point.

Be seeing you.

Thoughts. I has them.

My therapist today said I’m making good progress. I am pleased with this. I’ll be talking about The Rise of Skywalker, recent Doctor Who and other media things. There be mild spoilers ahead mateys!

Book wise, I finished Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames. It’s set in a world where D&D style adventurers are like rock stars in our world, with bookers, promo and the like. It’s about a group of adventurers who used to be stars, but are now old, fat or drunk. And then all of a sudden, they have to get the band back together. Shenanigans ensure. Hilarious, occasionally heartbreaking and stuffed with fun, I love the running gag about who every bard who joins them dies. I’m planning to grab the sequel next payday. 🙂

Doctor Who has returned! We’re two eps in to the new season at the time of writing,  and it was wonderful*. I’m a little sad Missy didn’t get to meet 13, but that’s what Big Finish is for. Gomez was wonderful in the role, and I liked the attempt at a redemption arc for her in Capaldi’s last season, but I love having a Master who’s a right proper villain back. No ‘trying to stop the Magna Carta being signed’ nonsense, this was villainy with a capital V. Roger Delgado’s Master would be proud. The second episode suffered a little (What actually was the plan? Also, I was watching on my phone on a train, which never helps), but as with part 1 the final few minutes more than made up for any possible shortcomings. I’m still not quite sold on having 3 companions, but i wouldn’t cut any of the current 3.

Master Coat
Also: I WANT THAT COAT.

Moving to The Rise of Skywalker. Yes, I went to a midnight screening. It’s hard for me to talk about and still remain unbiased, but I’ll try. There were moments I loved, that thrilled me with childlike glee and had me punching the air with joy. At the same time, there were moments that had me cocking my head and going ‘Ya fucken what?‘ at the screen. And there was some sadness and tears, as expected and the ache of what could have been. Because well…

This wasn’t the film we would have got had Carrie Fisher still been with us.

Don’t get me wrong, I thought that what they did with the footage they had was wonderfully done. She was a big part of the story (Unlike Rose – NOT HAPPY JJ), but I wanted more – this was supposed to be Fisher’s spotlight film after all. Can we get a Leia training Rey novel, please? (I know about Resistance Reborn, but haven’t had the chance to read it yet.) It’s just I’m greedy and I want to see her more of her – can you blame me? Also, in the entire saga there’s only been three female characters who’ve held lightsabers on screen and had dialogue (Film canon only – I count Leia, Rey and Maz. Yes, I know there’s been other female Jedi but they didn’t speak), and that shit NEEDS TO FUCKING CHANGE.

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I miss you Space Mum. Everytime I take my meds I think of you.

I also like the fact that there’s still unanswered questions, but the two halves of my nerd soul war against each other – one side likes the mystery** while the other side screams ‘I NEED TO KNOW WHAT THAT SIDE CHARACTER HAD FOR BREAKFAST 2 YEARS AGO, GIVE ME ALL THE INFORMATION!’*** I’m looking forward to more stories in the universe not based around the Skywalkers. Yes, KOTOR: The Movie could be amazing, but given how much we’ve seen about the Jedi, there’s other parts of the universe that could be explored.

On that note, while re-watching Solo recently I was reminded of a few things.
!: I maintain it could be improved by having Beckett killed (As much fun as Woody Harrelson was having) during the opening job and Val being Han’s mentor.
2: I’d have loved the story of the job that got Han in debt to Jabba, rather than an origin story. I’m over them at the moment. To fly off on a slight tangent, I also like the idea that our first glimpse of Doctor Strange in the MCU was in Thor: Ragnarok, rather than his own movie. Earth has wizards now, deal with it. Back to the points i was trying to make.
3: Not getting to see more of Donald Glover’s Lando would be a damn shame. Ehrenrich did justice to young Han (You gotta have adamantium balls to step into those shoes), but Glover was flat out amazing – the man can wear a cape damn well.
3: It could, and should, have done better by it’s female characters.
4: Maul was a continuity reference too far. If you hadn’t seen the relevant Clone Wars/Rebels episodes, you’d have been completely out of the loop.
5: GIVE US AN ENFYS NEsT AND AHSOKA MOVIE YOU COWARDS.

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Please?

That slow drip of information was done well, however, in The Mandalorian. A Fistful of Dollars meets Lone Wolf and Cub, but in spaaaaaace. Roll on season 2. That Pedro Pascal was able to convey so much emotion and character with body movements and his voice was wonderful. Hell, just the silence that followed the line ‘of Alderaan’ in the final ep sent shivers down my spine. And the Child. *squees mightily* That was 3/4’s of why I wanted to show it to my wife. I’ve since been informed by her that ‘I have spoken’ will be used against me. I’m hoping to retort with ‘This is the way’ but I’m not expecting to succeed. I haven’t wanted a suit of that armour so much since my teens. Seeing the Armourer’s helmet, reminiscent of the Corinthian Greek helm, had me almost jumping up and down in glee at the design.

We’ve purchased tickets for the Brisbane run of Good Society****, and character details got released today! Choice is… tricky. I’m hoping to swash my buckle, if you know what I mean, and not make as make of a mess of my characters life as I did at Pax Europa. Blackpowder and Bloodlines tickets are soon available as well, and character ideas are percolating. Mostly around my old adage of ‘The next character I play will carry less junk’ and how I never manage to keep that. The idea is a big game hunter, whom others in his family may have issues with – why do you think he’s journeyed so far from home? So, that’s hunting clothes and a fancier wardrobe for parties, bow, arrows and quiver, likely sword and dagger, other misc kit, and storage for said items. Perhaps a facial scar or two and some bling for my hair and/or beard. Oh, and some colonial era white privilege. My tall boots need to be resoled, and I also need to get back into shooting practice. Busy times ahead!

Enough for now. Sleep beckons. Be seeing you…

* Yes, I avoided saying ‘masterful’ on purpose.
**To quote G’Kar again: “They are a mystery. And I am both terrified and reassured to know that there are still wonders in the universe, that we have not yet explained everything.”
*** My wife asked me, quite pointedly, why I was OK with “How’d you get up there?” “Wasn’t easy!” in Big Trouble in Little China, yet wanted more details from this. I’m not exactly sure, but since the SW universe is vastly more detailed, I guess I want to read that.
**** I’m seeing the Iron Maidens the night of the Sydney run, and need to be back for that.

Keanu Reeves murders (almost) everyone.

JOHN WICK CHAPTER 3: PARRABELLUM, AKA KEANU REEVES WEARS A SHARP SUIT AND KILLS AN ABSOLUTE FUCKTON OF PEOPLE. I MEAN, SERIOUSLY, IF THEY MAKE ANY MORE OF THESE HE’S GOING TO MURDER A SMALL COUNTRY’S WORTH OF PEOPLE I’M NOT KIDDING.

Look, it doesn’t fit anywhere near as well on a poster, but it’s a far more representative picture of the film.

There’s a small clutch of films that whenever I watch them I have the urge to drop a solid chunk of money on a quality suit, neaten my hair and beard and then, well, walk around I guess? I’ve never gotten that far in the planning stage. Mostly it’s the Bond films, but I think I have to add the Wick saga to that. In RPG terms, It’s not quite Feng Shui: The Movie (That title will forever and always belong to the frankly unbeatable brilliance of Big Trouble in Little China), but if you aren’t using that system to represent this world, you’re doing this wrong. Weapons are shown in almost fetishistic detail, perfect for that game, and there’s some incredible skill on display in their use – while there’s the odd quick cut, for the most part it’s long takes of people messing each other up in increasingly brutal, and occasionally ridiculous ways and the stunt work is frequently jaw dropping in it’s skill and execution.

Keanu Reeves stars as 'John Wick' in JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 3 - PARABELLUM.
Told you. That’s damn sharp.

Keanu Reeves returns in the title role as the former hit-man dragged back into the life, and he certainly wears a suit well. I’m not sure I’ve seen one worn with such style since Chow Yun-Fat in The Killer, one of the few films able to match this one for sheer scope of  carnage. Halle Berry isn’t in it as much as you’d expect given her prominence in publicity and Laurence Fishburne appears to be having more fun than you at all times. He has some competition on that front from Mark Dacascos who seems to be enjoying himself so much I wouldn’t be at all shocked if he’d taken the part for free. (A harsher critic could say that being in a big budget film that’s actually seen in cinemas might also be a factor, but I’m not that person.)

There’s the odd burst of ‘Hey, it’s that guy!” with Brooklyn 9-9’s Detective Pimento and Bronn from Game of Thrones appearing. At least I thought it was Bronn, the accent he was using made it difficult to tell without a mid film visit to IMBD and my phone remained firmly turned off during the film. I’m a sucker for a good arming montage (My favorite still being the frankly hilarious one in Schwarzenegger’s Commando) and this one has a doozy, complete with a cheerful nod to Reeve’s past work that I won’t spoil. It’s not quite the equal of John Wick Chapter 2’s, but what’s the point in exactly repeating things?

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Holy shit, I’m on a horse!

We start with Reeves in serious trouble, and the amount he’s in only increases as the film goes on. Points to the writers for upping the scale of things, as the film moves around sharply, with Wick busily proceeding to chop, stab, shoot and punch his way through an awful lot of New York, with one early kill aided by a copy of Dante’s Inferno. I can picture the writers room high as kites on sugar, “So we’ve just had Wick have a gunfight in a stable, so what if he gets into a gunfight while riding a horse, against people on motorbikes? Oh, and later can he ride a motorbike and get into a sword-fight against a bunch of other people on motorbikes?” I can practically hear the high-fives as I type this.

Our guide to this world and it’s rules and regulations is Winston (Ian McShane), who has a tone and gravitas in his voice that not only will I buy whatever he’s selling, but I’ll buy immediately and thus get the free set of steak knives. For a criminal organization it’s incredibly well structured, with a complex set of rules and guidelines. The near mystical gold coins as payment, bloody thumbprints in lockets to signify favors owed and adjudicators to ensure the laws are held to. It’s the sort of nonsense that you’d expect to find in a game of Dungeons and Dragons and would seem utterly ludicrous but given how seriously everyone takes it, it works.

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Also, a very sharp coat there.

The increasing scope across the three films thus far has been slowly allowed to reveal itself, which is, to me, a far more elegant way to do things than a film 1 info dump. Sure, I do occasionally wonder at the sheer scale of things, or smaller questions such as just how many people in New York belong to this group of assassins and how Wick hasn’t yet murdered them all in the previous films. I’m more than aware of New Yorker’s reputation for giving no fucks whatsoever, but I’m fairly sure that were this many bodies dropping on this regular a basis in public places that someone would be saying something, right?

Expanding the scope and mythology of your universe can be tricky. The Empire Strikes Back did it well, the Matrix sequels less so. In fairness, I’m not sure on that – I saw both the Matrix sequels at midnight premieres back in the day and haven’t gone back since. I left them angry. Not as angry as after the second Hobbit film, but that’s a different story. Mostly when I remember those two films I think back to my early to mid 20’s bullshit and how much of a twat I could be and I’m really not proud of that. It took me a long time to work past that and I still quake with shame at some of my actions. I can’t take them back, but at least I can learn from them and hopefully not repeat them. On the bright side, it’s around that time I finally came clean, and became an open and proud Iron Maiden fan, as opposed to treating them as a long time guilty pleasure. So, that’s something good and up the Irons! Getting back on topic…

If you know what you’re in for, you’ll love this. If you don’t want to see Reeves dressed well and murdering a whole lot of people with some incredible skill, then this might not be the film series for you. A 4th film has already been announced, and if it hadn’t been the films end would have all but confirmed that. In any case, I can’t wait for the next one and I’m sorely tempted to go back and see this one again. Possibly while wearing a suit…

4 and a half fancy shotguns out of five.

Moffat, fandom and nerd rage.

As opening lines/statements of intent go, “I’m a street walking cheetah with a heart full of napalm” should be up there with the greats. But that’s not what I’m here to talk about today.

As with many Doctor Who fans, I have issues with Steven Moffat’s stewardship of the show. Over reliance on continuity and season long arcs, a lack of female writers (I was ecstatic to see Rona Munro return) and a hope that someday I’ll visit the alternate universe where Matt Smith and not Peter Capaldi was the Doctor in Robot of Sherwood. Curiously, Clara isn’t one of them. Yes, Jenna Coleman was hard done by, probably stayed a season too long and the Impossible Girl plotline could have used another rewrite or two, but none of those is really her fault.  But the reaction that Clara inspires, well, I haven’t seen it since Adric, or possibly Donna. I admit, I was far from a Donna fan at first (Not being aware of Catherine Tate’s comedy), but that was till Turn Left. Now, I’m itching for the next series of Ten/Donna adventures from Big Finish,  the announcement of which caused what seemed like half my Twitter feed to stand up and shout “CRIIIIBBBBIIIINNNNSSSS!”

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Best. Companion. Ever. (Who isn’t Ace or Sarah Jane)

It’s the level of fury that get’s me, nerd rage I’ve not seen since the Star Wars prequels. Yeah, I was young, dumb and angry, and said my fair share of stupid shit about them, but I’ve let it go. I’m not saying I’ve matured, but I’ve grown enough perspective (and grey hair) with age to remember that actual people who worked on those films, people who’s lives were made a living hell by something that should have been the happiest moment of their lives. I’ve tweeted a couple of times to Ahmed Best recently, saying if he’s ever in Sydney I’d love to buy him a drink by way of apologies. I can’t take back what I said about him in my younger days, but I can learn from it and not do it again. I’m not an apologist for the films as such, but I’ll sure as hell defend the people who worked on them.

Geting back to Who, I can’t fathom the idea that someone would stop watching the show, as some proclaimed, whether that be owing to a production team or a character they can’t stand. I loathe the character of Adric (The Wesley Crusher of Doctor Who), but I’m still going to watch his episodes, otherwise I’d miss out on Kinda (One of the most perfect and utterly brainmeltingly good bits of Who from any era and Earthshock (Spoilers…) People seem to expect the show to fit their whims, or to be always good, and people, that’s not what Who is about. A consistently good season? A season without at least one “Ohhh, that could have been a bit better?” THAT’S NOT MY SHOW. I need the rubbish to balance out the brilliance. I can’t quite explain it, but consistency isn’t one of the show’s strong points and that works for me.

You see, I love Doctor Who. (Shocked, gambling, winnings etc…)
I love it when it’s great.
I love it when it’s rubbish.
I frequently love it more when it’s rubbish – my adoration and uncritical love for The Horns of Nimon is well known. For those not acquainted with it, there’s some crap monsters, a minor character who splits his pants at his death, some of the most bored extras I’ve ever seen and the Doctor and the main villain are in a scenery chewing contest, while Romana plays it deadly straight. It should be unutterably awful, and yet I adore it with a joy that I’m sure has made my wife hope that someday I’ll talk about her like that*.

Getting back to the earlier point, I’m trying to praise Moffat, not to bury him. You see, despite all the bitching I may do, there’s some joyous moments during his tenure that make me punch the air and shout “That’s my show!” So, here’s a couple you may not have heard of, taken from Moffatt’s novelisation of The Day of the Doctor (Yes old time fans, Target novelisations are back!) Firstly, when all three Doctors are inside the Black Archive, and find copies of the Peter Cushing Dalek movies. There’s a lovely aside between Clara and Kate Stewart about how UNIT tried to suppress them, but they kept showing up on bank holidays, and that Cushing and the Doctor became great friends. Of course, they only found this out when Cushing started appearing in films made long after his death…

Secondly, is this extract, taken from when the Doctors are translating Gallifrey into the statis cube:
It took the better part of a day to translate the world of Gallifrey from one plane of reality to another, and the General was right. The planet screamed and burned and raged.

There was a town, on the southern shore of Lake Calasper, ripped apart by a giant earthquake. No one should have survived, but everywhere the people ran, they found a  blue police telephone box standing in front of them, opening it’s doors.
A tornado tore through a tiny village, till a ring of blue boxes spun round the storm in the opposite direction, shinking it into the ground.
As cities and towns and villages burned all around the planet, blue boxes came hurtling through the smoke, rescuing people from windows and rooftops.
A sky transporter, plunging towards the heart of the Capitol, was suddenly being piloted by a funny man with big ears and a black jacket. Everyone on board stared out of the windows, as he climbed along the wing, to rewire one of the engines.
A ship on the high seas, about to capsize, was suddenly captained by a strange little man in a frock coat and check trousers, who kept offering people gobstoppers and complaining about his aunt being giddy.
There was man with a ridiculous umbrella, who evacuated a school as a mountain crumbled towards it, and kept everyone laughing as they ran. A gentle cricketer took command of a hospital on fire, rescued the patients and completed an operation as the flames licked at the theatre door. A man with a cloud of white hair and swirling cape stood on a beach, and with a tiny silver rod, froze a whole tsunami as it thundered towards a town.  A laughing joker in a colourful coat led a party of miners out of the tunnels that had come crashing down around them. Four children, trapped on the side of a cliff face, knew beyond doubt that no one was coming to their rescue, till the end of an absurdly long scarf dangled down in front of them.

I was everywhere I was needed that day, across all my lives, and I believe I have never run so fast. If I sound proud, forgive me: it is the inverse of the shame I carried for so many years. That was the last day of the Time War, but it was no longer the worst day of my life. Instead, this was the day the people of Gallifrey rose up, and put 2.47 billion children safely to bed. This was the day I remembered who I was, and swore never to forget again.

This was the day of the Doctor.

Yeah, that could be said to be overly long and emotionally manipulative. And it’s working. Now,  you’ll excuse me, there’s some dust in my eyes. Yep, just some dust. And who the hell is chopping onions at this time of night? *ugly crying*

PS: I do have one last thing to say about Who at the moment: BINRO WAS RIGHT.
*She hasn’t watched it, but when her schedule frees up, in oh, 2028, I’ll sit down with her and some popcorn and pop it on. I may even live tweet the proceedings. 🙂

Black Panther. (Spoiler free)

So, Black Panther. Bloody fantastic. I’m keen to see it again, not just so I won’t be badly needing to pee during the second half, and to try to pick up on some of the dialogue I missed. (I’m a suburban white guy from the North Shore of Sydney – there were words here and there I didn’t catch) I can understand how that’s been as lauded as it is, how it’s inspired so many people. The fact they made an origin story that also wasn’t one was even more impressive. As said previously, I’m a white kid who’s never been oppressed in his life* so my laughter at a white character being addressed as ‘coloniser’ also contained more than a little bit of awkwardness, like a good round of Cards Against Humanity.

I’m keeping things vague to avoid spoilers, so here’s what I can say. Wakanda is bloody gorgeous and the costuming and design teams deserve all the awards they can get. I remain incredibly happy this wasn’t the film they screwed up (Because sooner or later one’s going to be terrible, and not on an Iron Man 2 or Thor: The Dark World scale). I believe a sequel has been all but confirmed already, and I’m already waiting impatiently for it. It’s tricky – I want to see more of this group of heroes, but post Infinity War I’d like to see others get the limelight.

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And I want that sleeveless outer robe in my wardrobe, please.

The fight choreo camera work wasn’t to my tastes, bit too much juggly cam in places, but not too much – like they accidentally added a pinch of Michael Bay to the recipe. Don’t get me wrong, it fits with the story they and each character has their own style, but it’s occasionally tricky to work out what’s going on. Still, many points to the stunt team and fight arrangers – the last 20 years have seen some amazing advances in those fields. It wasn’t till Fellowship of the Ring that I saw fight work where each culture felt different to each other, but I’ll stop now otherwise I’ll just keep talking about swords till the cows come home.

And now I guess my thoughts must turn to Infinity War. To prepare myself for the scale of the thing, to enter in the almost certain knowledge that characters I’ve been watching for almost a decade may well perish. To hope the CG on Thanos has improved from the trailer. To once again hear Alan Silvestri’s Avengers theme and feel the effect it has on me, that being wanting to stand on a mountaintop posing like I’m in a Frank Frazetta painting. Seriously, listen to this – the pertinent part starts about 2:25 in, but the whole thing is worth listening to for the buildup. How does that crescendo not stir the blood, to make your hands itch for an absurdly over sized weapon and your body almost involuntarily pose like you’re on the cover of a Manowar album?

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OTHER BANDS PLAY. MANOWAR KILL.

But look, no matter how much I may speculate, try to guess plot details and look forward to the film, my brain keeps coming back to one thing, and one thing alone.

Chris Evans with a beard. Daaaaammmmnnnn.

I’d always thought he was a bit too pretty for my tastes (The only permanent residents in my man crush list are Liam Neeson** and Nathan Fillion), but I guess I’ve a new addition. I might be starting to understand what my wife felt at that first image of Chris Hemsworth, shirt all damp, arms straining to lift Mjolnir. Ahem. I think I’ve said enough for the time being.

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Just keep running towards me, it’s OK…

Be seeing you…

*Not being allowed to see Masters of the Universe at age 7 doesn’t count. Besides, the films far, far funnier watching as an adult.
**The bit in Rob Roy when he comes out of the lake and wraps his kilt around his waist just in time, I don’t care what side your bread’s buttered on – WOOF.

 

But do Dead Men Make More Sequels?

So, a fifth Pirates of the Carribbean film. Once again the Disney company have dragged a hungover Johnny Depp out of bed, dressed and put him on set and let him loose. Is it worth it?

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Well, sort of… They did keep that lovely main theme, so that’s something.  It tries, it really tries to recapture the sense of adventure that made the original film so much fun, and manages some wonderful moments, but doesn’t quite get over the line. Given the time between films 4 and 5 and the well documented issues during shooting (Barnaby…) that’s not really a surprise.

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For starters, we don’t get enough time with the new leads to really care about them, what with one of them being a cut rate Orlando Bloom and the other constantly being chased for witchcraft (In character that is), an element which seemed somewhat out of place for the time period. It reminded me a little of the way science and faith were treated in Jon Pertwee era Doctor Who, but that’s a discussion for another time. I guess some setup to the Carribbean witch trials would have been nice to help set the scene, but that might have meant cutting Depp, and I’m guessing they don’t want to anger their golden goose by limiting his screen time. (Me? I’d have cut it and blamed the Australian Government)

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Mercifully it’s closer to 2 hours in length than 3, which is a welcome relief given how numb my arse was getting halfway through the third film. I’d comment on the fourth, but I genuinely don’t remember enough about it to comment. As for the rest of the cast, a mostly CG Javier Bardem does a fine job (I kept thinking of him as his character from Skyfall), chewing at as much scenery as he can get his hands on, which isn’t much after Depp and Geoffrey Rush are done with it. On the bright side, there’s a small appearance from [NOT REALLY A SPOILER BUT I’M STILL KEEPING IT SECRET SQUIRREL] and one of the villains turned out to be [LOUD SQUEAL OF JOY FROM MY WIFE], which was lovely as I didn’t know they were in the film at all.

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Maybe there were a lot of deleted scenes, or maybe they tried from the outset to make the film shorter,* the stories that came from set don’t make it sound like a functional production. How much of that is down to Depp (Or his dogs) I’m not sure and am trying not to guess at, but I’m pretty sure there’s a far better film lurking in there. (I’m an optimist that way) It could be we’re blase about the supernatural elements, as opposed to the surprise they were in the first film, but the seeming need to go bigger and bigger with each film just hasn’t paid off. For an example; there’s a fight scene near the end that should be amazing (I can see how I’d run it in an RPG), but it swiftly become’s little more than Depp jumping around on a green screen, and while that’s not wholly unwelcome, it get’s old.

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Also, in barely related news, for a film that seems to be trying to wrap up the series, the after credits scene annoyingly hints at further films, and is in no way up to the Marvel standard. Maybe it’s finally time to sink the franchise down to Davey Jones?

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I give it 3 raised cutlasses out of 5.

PS: I also discovered I know someone who doesn’t know who Errol Flynn is. A double bill of Captain Blood and The Adventures of Robin Hood is in her future. 🙂

*An approach Peter Jackson could do well to remember.

PARKOUR! The Movie.

AKA Assassin’s Creed. This is less a review, and more a collection of random thoughts concerning the film. Also, there be spoilers.

I came to the film not having played the games much outside of Black Flag (Cause you know, pirates.), but I know the basics. It seems to be represented pretty well, though I don’t know if the Templars grand council consisting entirely (As far as I saw) of old white people was a subtle political jab or a case of you work with the extras you have, not the ones you want. Cause you know, when have old white people ever wanted to stop people from having free will?

I’d say I was certain that gaming tables and LARPs will soon be deluged by players wanting to play good assassins, but I’m fairly sure that already happened about the time of the first game. Also, it’d have to be a much better film to have that sort of impact – there’s good reason cons were jam packed with Ledger Joker cosplayers for years after The Dark Knight. (There’s an urban myth floating around that at a UK LARP event following the release of Fellowship of the Ring there were no less than 9 characters named Legolas) Ahem. I digress.

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I continue to not be able to put aside the logic (or lack thereof) of a group of assassins who have a recognisable uniform and a signature weapon. Still, it’s far from the greatest logical leap needed for this film, which has the Knights Templar searching for an apple that contains humanity’s genetic code in order to ‘cure’ violence. Oh, and they have a magical device that let’s people live through their ancestors memories. It could be said that it’s Jeremy Iron’s best genre film, but that’s damning with very, very faint praise. That and it’s not that terrible. It’s still not great, but he’s done worse movies – one only has to look at him in Star Wars Episode IV Eragon. As for the film as a whole, it could have been far, far worse (See also Super Mario Brothers).

Characters don’t really get much to do – Fassbender glares stoicly and grunts his lines while bouncing around in a CG harness, Irons all but sleepwalks through it with his voice rarely being raised above a monotone (I think it’s meant to convey something about his lack of emotions showing his devotion to the cause, but it just seems like he’s heavily medicated) and Marion Cotilliard tries bravely, but seems more a plot device than a character (See also Natalie Portman in Thor: The Dark World). On the bright side, Brendan Gleeson is always lovely to see, though again he’s more plot device and exposition spouter than character.

It’s also an oddly bloodless film given it’s body count, with people getting stabbed, garotted and pierced with arrows, crossbow bolts and knives, but barely a drop of blood is shed, outside of a few major incidents involving characters with dialogue and even then there’s far less than could be expected. Speaking of knives, in the scene where Fassbender’s 15th century ancestor and his compardre (Who’s name I don’t recall being mentioned, despite her and said ancestor’s involvement) escape from the fires of the Inquisition and Grand Inquisitor Torquemada (Let’s face it, you can’t Torquemeda anything!), where the hell did all those knives they threw come from? Had they not been searched well enough, or where they magically picking up them from all the people they’d killed? It’s a mark against the film that I spent more time pondering that through the Ye Olde Jason Bourne style chase scene, along with the unintentionally hilarious moment when as they’re about to escape they dramatically draw their hoods up*. Speaking of that, I’ve a lot of respect for the CG and/or costume department wizardry that kept said hoods up while the cast were crashing, stabbing and bashing about the place.

So. Not the worst film I’ve seen (That title is currently held by The Smurfs 2 – we’re never letting my niece choose what movie we see again) and there’s some nice visual moments (The flyovers of medieval Madrid are lovely), but this isn’t the film to do for video game movies what X-Men did for comic book films. Especially given how much the ends screams sequel. I also can’t confirm an after-credits sequence, as I badly needed to pee and wasn’t willing to risk it. Still, it’s not a Marvel film, so I don’t think I missed anything.

2 and a half impractical wrist blades out of 5.

* Though not as funny as the dramatic “I’ll be back” in Terminator: Salvation, a moment that cause my wife to burst out laughing in the cinema.

Annoying paternal instinct.

The only Supergirl I’ve seen was the 6 minute preview of the pilot a while back and a variety of press shots. I’m reliably informed it’s really good and I mean to get around to watching it, once I catch up on Arrow, The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow. The second Superhero Fight Club promo on the other hand, has me wanting to watch the show NOW and to have daughters to show it to.

(My wife continues to accuse me of wanting daughters solely because I get to name them. That might slightly have influenced me…)