The Wolverine (2013)

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Well, what was the point of that? I’m not really versed in Wolverine lore, and perhaps Logan does go to Japan to say goodbye to an old friend, but the film has nothing to recommend it.  In fact, if it didn’t have Wolverine in it, this would just be some random lame thriller that nobody would pay any attention to, probably starring Sam Worthington or Mark Wahlberg or someone equally vacuous.

At least X-men Origins (2009) had a bunch of mutants in it and the “Logan through time” intro.  Seeing him grow up through history with Sabretooth was really cool (great tune by Harry Gregson-Williams) and nicely realised by director Gavin Hood.  OK, so most the the rest of the film is terrible, but at least it had something to recommend it.

I really struggled through The Wolverine (my wife did fall asleep) as the plot wasn’t engaging and I had no investment with any of the characters; no emotion content.

“What was that?  An Exhibition? We need emotional content. Now try again!” – Bruce Lee, Enter the Dragon (1973).

He must have been talking about The Wolverine!  But, you know, that’s just, like, my opinion man.

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Robocop (2014)

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Formulaic and derivative actioner which lacks the bite of the original, and for which there was no need.

Where was the tongue in cheek jibe at modern day excesses?  Where was the finger given to the MTV (I guess now YouTube) generation?  Where was the commentary on the fact that huge corporations are inherently evil?  Paul Verhoeven’s original had all this and more.

For one, it had a believable lead role, not even Michael Keaton or Gary Oldman could rescue this.  Jackie Earle Haley’s character was fun, but Samuel L Jackson’s talk show spots didn’t really work as a prop to hang the plot on.

Not to mention that the way that Alex Murphy becomes Robocop has changed, the EDs are never explained – they’re just there, and Robocop never says “Serve the public trust, protect the innocent, uphold the law.”

I suppose comparisons with the original are unfair and shouldn’t really be made; but when a “reboot” is this poor it’s hard not to.  A missed opportunity, and a waste of everyone’s time.

Science on Film

As scientists we get a pretty hard time of it.  If we’re not struggling for publishable results, or being misquoted in the press about our research; then we’re being portrayed as über-geeks in The Big Bang Theory or with cinema-screen foreheads and clipboards in adverts (I’m looking at you Tefal).  Some of my non-science friends still call me boffin. If that isn’t enough, our subject matter, our interest, nae, our passion can be treated with such cavalier contempt in films.

As I see it, there are several issues to address here.  There is a fair amount (as you might expect) of bad science in movies; however there is also some good science (or at least the director has made an attempt to grasp some basics).  Quite often the scientist is the voice of reason (though the incidence of anyone paying them any attention is rather less); more often than not however, the mad scientist is the preferred flavour.  Finally I shall give some thought to the stereotypes that are perpetuated in the movies and whether there is any likelihood that it may change.

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Interstellar (2014)

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Does it say something about my taste in movies that the two movies I really wanted to see in 214 were purely because of the director?  The first was Godzilla.  I was so impressed by Gareth Edwards’ debut Monsters (2010) that I was really excited with what he’d do with Japan’s most famousest monster.  The only other film on my definite hit list was Interstellar.  I’ve been a fan of Christopher Nolan ever since I first saw Memento (2000) and was desperate to see a film of his out in space; especially since Gravity (2013) blew me away last year.  I wasn’t disappointed.

I should point out that there are a couple of spoilers in this review.  I generally try not to spoil anything in my writing, but if you’re anything like me, you won’t read anything to do with a film that you want to see and form your own opinion on.  So, to infinity and beyond!

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Oblivion (2013)

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I first saw Oblivion almost two years ago as an inflight movie:

Oblivion is one of the many films I wanted to see last year, but I just didn’t get the chance.  I’d heard mixed responses to the film so I was keen to take a gander myself.  Tom is usually good to watch, and Oblivion is no different.  Morgan Freeman is the other big name, but I felt he was mostly wasted, rather like in Wanted.  Andrea Riseborough is good as Victoria, the soulless robotic woman who is Tom’s partner, and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jamie Lannister) is fine as Morgan Freeman’s head of security without really being able to excel as he does in GOT.  The design was terrific and the effects were top notch, though overall I thought the film was missing something.  All the best Sci-Fi has something to say about human nature, and I’m just not sure what this was saying.  Maybe it’s because it borrowed from some of the best Sci-Fi: there were definite strains ofPlanet of the Apes, Moon, Logan’s Run and perhaps even Silent Running; the result is quite a mish mash of themes.  A very enjoyable film (with an excellent soundtrack), just lacking that little bit extra to make it a really good film.

I must say that I think I enjoyed it rather more this time; that could be a combination of a bigger screen (cinematography by Claudio Miranda (Tron Legacy, 2010; Life of Pi, 2012) is stunning), and the fact that I really quite love the score composed by Anthony Gonzalez (M83).  I still think there are many different Sci-Fi tropes as mentioned above, but with less mish-mash than I previously commented.  But, you know, that’s just, like, my opinion man.