Tagged: Film

Film review: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

I wasn’t going to watch this but it came highly recommended by some comic-loving friends so I checked it out.

This is visually stunning, has a great story, has a vibrancy and energy all of its own and must instantly go down as one of the great superhero movies.

I was completely blown away.

• Spare Cycles: Marvel Cinematic Universe: movie reviews Assembled

Film review: In The Shadow Of The Moon

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This year is the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landings and there are some excellent programmes and films around at the moment.

This documentary features the surviving astronauts of the US space missions to the moon (at least, at the time of its release 12 years ago) telling stories about their experiences. It is interesting stuff, told with a good dash of humour and some great archive NASA footage.

Well recommended.

• Spare Cycles: Mini review: “The Right Stuff” by Tom Wolfe

• Spare Cycles:  Film review: The Right Stuff

• BBC Radio 4: The Infinite Monkey Cage –  Astronaut Special

Film review: John Wick (Chapters 1 and 2) – Blu-ray version

These films basically involve Keanu Reeves beating up and shooting (mainly shooting) everyone in sight. Put your brain in neutral for a couple of hours and enjoy.

A bit more variation in how he dispatches people would be good though.

I think the films are a bit overrated but Chapter 2 is better than the first and Chapter 3 is coming out on disc / digital later this year. That’s supposed to be the best of the bunch.

Film review: Captain Marvel

I’ve managed to catch this at the cinema before it leaves the big screen – I was surprised to still find showings after a few months on release – but I guess there are still people like me who wanted to catch up after seeing Avengers: Endgame.

In my review of Avengers: Endgame I said:

The character Captain Marvel played a significant part in this film and I was disappointed that I hadn’t been able to see her own film before Endgame came out. Not knowing Captain Marvel’s background story did not affect my enjoyment of Endgame but it would have been better to have seen it beforehand. Bear in mind that the Captain Marvel film came out less than 2 months before Endgame and was not getting stellar reviews so I did not rush to see it (opportunity is also a factor). Contrast that to the release of Black Panther, which was also released only a couple of months before Infinity War, where the reviews were excellent and I made sure that I saw it in the cinema.

A lack of buzz around the film meant that I overlooked it. I also thought that it was really late in the MCU series to introduce a major character.

However, after a bit of a muddled start, I really enjoyed the film. For staunch MCU fans there is a lot to recommend the film – it is as much a film about Nick Fury as Captain Marvel and answers a number of questions that I didn’t realise I had, such as how Fury lost his eye and how the Avengers got their name.

If you haven’t seen it – and especially if you haven’t seen Endgame yet – it is well worth checking out (it’s always best to see the series in order of release and, as ever, stick around for the credits). Is it up there with your “Iron Man”, “Infinity War” or “Black Panther”? No. Does it feature in the second rung of very solid episodes like “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”? Yes indeed.

Film review: Avengers: Endgame

I was completely blown away by the ending of the last Avengers film – Infinity War – and wondered how they were going to follow it up given that half of all life in the universe had been wiped out, including many of Marvel’s main characters.

This is a suitable ending to this Phase – it ties up the stories of all the main characters (as far as I see) and it is certainly a spectacle. The big battle scene is truly astounding in its scale and if I knew that was coming I would have booked an IMAX showing. You also get your money’s worth – the amount of talent on-screen at any one time would bankrupt most movie studios.

I was disappointed in one aspect of the story line and that was the use of time travel. I knew going into the film that all the superheroes who had been erased in an instant could not possibly remain dead (there are sequels to make…) but having Tony Stark invent time travel at short notice left me feeling a little short-changed. If this was a possibility then why wasn’t it considered in an earlier film to prevent Thanos from collecting all the Infinity Stones in the first place?

I know that this is “just a superhero movie”, and I can’t really see any other way out of the situation where you have previously killed off a lot of the stars of your multi-billion dollar franchise, but still…

Overall, this is a really good film and a fitting ending to the “Infinity Saga”. I wonder if we’ll see any more Avengers-branded movies or whether Marvel will just carry on with the regular series (Spider-Man, Black Panther, Guardians of the Galaxy etc) and mix in other characters, as they did in Captain America: Civil War?

There are a few other points I’d like to make:

With a running time of 3 hours, this felt like two films tacked back to back. That’s not to say that the movie dragged in any way – there was a lot of story to tell. The film took it’s time initially to deal with the emotional impact of the ending of Infinity War and I think that was right.

The character Captain Marvel played a significant part in this film and I was disappointed that I hadn’t been able to see her own film before Endgame came out. Not knowing Captain Marvel’s background story did not affect my enjoyment of Endgame but it would have been better to have seen it beforehand. Bear in mind that the Captain Marvel film came out less than 2 months before Endgame and was not getting stellar reviews so I did not rush to see it (opportunity is also a factor). Contrast that to the release of Black Panther, which was also released only a couple of months before Infinity War, where the reviews were excellent and I made sure that I saw it in the cinema.

Finally, you have to acknowledge the achievement that Marvel has managed to pull off. Avengers: Endgame is the 22nd film of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with more to come, and the vast majority have been really good films, with strong casts and excellent special effects. The regularity with which they have been able to release the films and the extent to which they tie in with one another is astounding, especially when you consider that this has been achieved in just 11 years. Not to mention the level of popularity – 5 of the current top 10 highest-grossing films of all time come from the MCU.

Film review: Heat

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I remember when this first came out in 1995 all the interest was related to the fact that this was the first time that Robert De Niro and Al Pacino had actually spent screen time together. Previously, in The Godfather Part 2 they had been in the same film but not at the same time. That momentous occasion seemed to overshadow the whole film.

I watched the film again recently – it is a masterpiece. As action films go this is intelligent and vicious. A great story, a magnificent cast. One of the best examples of the genre.

Mini review: “The Ipcress File” by Len Deighton (audiobook version)

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I have read many of Len Deighton’s books and enjoyed the audiobook versions that have been released over the course of the last four years but I had never read his first book, The Ipcress File, until now.

I’ve seen the film, listened to the BBC radio adaptation and worked my way through several of the other “Spy with no name” / ”Harry Palmer” books, so I thought it was about time I corrected this major oversight.  Can you really be called a fan of an author if you haven’t read their first big hit?

The plot deals with our spy trying to secure the release of a scientist who was recently kidnapped – one of several to have gone missing.

The book is far from perfect.  The story gets confusing at some points (something that can happen when the author is trying to portray the confusion of the character himself) and seems to drag at some points too, although it generally rattles along at a good pace.  It also relies a lot on a “catch up” section where the spy has to explain a number of things to a colleague towards the end of the book.

Despite all of that, the book is a lot of fun to read.  You get a real sense of the 1960’s London vibe and some excellent dry humour.  I’ve always loved the quality of dialogue between characters in Deighton books and he really nails it here.

The narration is well done.  If you have heard any of the other audiobooks in the “Harry Palmer” or the “Bernard Samson” series then you know what to expect – it is the same narrator.  The book mentions the character’s northern English roots on occasion, so it is a bit of a shame that we basically get a copy of Michael Caine’s accent.  In the radio adaptation the character is played by the Liverpudlian Ian Hart.  It would have been more authentic to keep that but the general public do associate dear old Maurice Joseph Micklewhite Jr with the role.

Overall I prefer the Bernard Samson novels over these “Spy with no name” / ”Harry Palmer” books, but the Ipcress File is probably the best of this series.  I found it to be a perfect summer read.

 

• Spare Cycles: Len Deighton books

• Spare Cycles: Mini review: “Horse Under Water” by Len Deighton (audiobook version)

• Spare Cycles: Film: Funeral in Berlin

• Spare Cycles: Mini review: “Billion Dollar Brain” by Len Deighton

• Spare Cycles: Mini review: “Berlin Game” by Len Deighton (audiobook version)

• Spare Cycles: Mini review: “Mexico Set” by Len Deighton (audiobook version)

• Spare Cycles: Mini review: “London Match” by Len Deighton (audiobook version)

• Spare Cycles: Mini review: “Spy Hook” by Len Deighton (audiobook version)

• Spare Cycles: Mini review: “Spy Line” by Len Deighton (audiobook version)

• Spare Cycles: Mini review: “Spy Sinker” by Len Deighton (audiobook version)

• Spare Cycles: Mini review: “Winter: A Berlin Family 1899-1945” by Len Deighton (audiobook version)

Film review: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

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I liked the original Jurassic Park film a lot and the book even more. The Lost World (Jurassic Park 2) spoiled things as both the film (hardly Steven Speilberg’s finest hour) and the book (hardly Michael Crichton’s finest hour) were bad. I kind of remember Jurassic Park 3 being better.

I missed the first Jurassic World but seeing this one they have done a good job of updating the series whilst basically keeping it the same.

I’m not sure why, but I feel a bit guilty about how much I enjoyed this Dino action. Velociraptors are still my favourite.

• Spare Cycles: Mini review: “Jurassic Park” by Michael Crichton (audiobook version)

Film review: Black Panther

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Without doubt this is up there with the best films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Good science fiction can allow you to reflect on the real world in new ways. This ties in some of America’s past sins whilst also offering some parallels with our current political climate.

The film has received glowing reviews everywhere, is a huge financial success (this could be the highest-grossing film of the year, out-earning even Avengers – Infinity War) and has elevated a little-known comic book character into the public consciousness.

If someone wanted to find out what all the fuss is about with these Marvel films, I’d recommend that they start here.

• Spare Cycles: Marvel Cinematic Universe: movie reviews Assembled

• Empire: Black Panther review

• The Guardian:  Black Panther review – Marvel’s thrilling vision of the afrofuture

• The Atlantic: The Game-Changing Success of Black Panther

• The Numbers: Top Grossing Movies of 2018

Film review: Avengers – Infinity War

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Wow.

Now that was off the scale…

Where do they go from here?

Also, as ever, stick around to the end of the credits.

• Spare Cycles: Marvel Cinematic Universe: movie reviews Assembled

• Empire: Avengers: Infinity War Review