Month: December 2014

Roll on 2015

Yeah so, I’ve been on holiday in the past week, explaining my lack of posting but I’ll aim to try and keep it consistent throughout 2015, a year already lined up with great movies and TV as well as some exciting news I’m sure.

So 2015, what you got? A tonne of great movies you say? As well even more comic book TV shows? And some great looking video games? I’m in, seriously, as good as most of the 2010s’ have been so far for all of the above in terms of entertainment, next year is looking pretty great if you ask me.

Upcoming big releases next year include Jurassic World, Star Wars Ep 7 The Force Awakens, Ant-Man, Avengers 2 Age of Ultron, (James Bond) Spectre ,a host of summer (and Star Wars, a december release) films that is probably better than what we had in 2014, Guardians Of The Galaxy was excellent, but the rest of the summer, meh. We’ll also be getting a Luke Cake, Iron Fist and Jessica Jones TV shows on Netflix next year and provided that they do well, hopefully that opens the door for more shows based on Marvel or D.C. properties, ok maybe not too many but a few done really well.

Marvel may just be pushing out TV shows to compete with D.C. in that area at this point but they should take it slow, quality over quantity, anyway back to films, don’t forget Jupiter Ascendingthe somewhat confusing but ambitious sci-fi epic from the Wachowskis’, I may not completely get the plot but I applaud the idea for it. And of course not forgetting the hotly anticipated Furious Seven, Terminator Genisys and Hunger Games MockingJay Part 2, yes there will be quite a few sequels next year but said sequels are shaping up to be pretty freaking good.

Oh and if you’re a an avid gamer, of course there’s Battlefield Hardline, Evolve, The Division and Batman Arkham Knight to look forward to, Arkham Knight especially looks awesome and I know a lot of people can’t wait to get their hands on it. All in all, it’s a good looking year for entertainment, we’ll have to wait and see what exciting new TV dramas or comedies get announced as well sometime next year but hopefully it’ll be another great year for sci-fi and fantasy.

Not forgetting the behemoth that is Game Of Thrones of course, season 5 could be one of the best, each season usually trumps the last in my opinion anyway, but as the story’s gone on, the show has gotten better I think.

The Hobbit – The Battle Of The Five Armies review

(Includes spoilers)

Wow that was a rollecoaster of a film and a great film at that, The final entry in The Hobbit trilogy, Battle Of the Five Armies sets up events to come in LOTR nicely while satisfyingly concluding the Dwarf centric plot arc, as well Smaug and the overall power struggle for Erebor/the lonely mountain.

Immediately the film starts off with a darker and more serious tone, the stakes are obviously higher in this film as we know we’ll be seeing how Bilbos’ great adventure ends and how the fight with Smaug ends, which by the way starts straight away and carries on for a few minutes. Smaug looked and sounded great once again, being quite expressive and terrifying and even with me knowing the outcome of Smaugs’ attack on Laketown, at points he did seem genuinely un-killable. The visual effects were fantastic as well, this isn’t the best thing to say but Laketown on fire looked fantastic, the CGI was great, Smaugs’ attack is cut short by that black arrow to its’ hide shot by Bard of course and the whole thing felt a bit short in the end.

But that just goes to show you the scope of the movie, the fact that Smaugs’ attack and defeat covers about 10 minutes, it’s even before The Hobbits’ title credits, but back to the story, the Laketown survivors leave the burnt out town and seek to rebuild and seek refuge in the lonely mountain, wanting a piece of the treasures there. Meanwhile the Dwarves in the mountain and Thorin go about their business, with Thorin slowly going mad, Thorins’ gradual decay as a result of dragon sickness and the love of gold was fascinating to watch and a huge part of the story, more to come on that.

I thought that Battle Of The Five Armies wouldn’t be as deep or emotional as it was in the end, considering the film title and the fact that it did feature a lot of action, though it was great, entertaining action, the stakes were higher than ever. And it pained me as a big Hobbit fan to later see the deaths of Filli, Killi and Thorin, this film clearly didn’t mess around and was in stark contrast in tone to the Dwarves cartoonishly fighting orcs in barrels in The Desolation Of Smaug. There is a pervading sense of loss in the film from the first minute with Smaugs’ attack and a sense that the end won’t be all sunshine and roses, but the journey to get to that end point is entertaining and gripping throughout.

The tone of the film never felt too dark and it was still great to watch, seeing the wizards of middle earth and Elrond in action was awesome as well, even Saruman kicked some ass which was cool, seeing Galadriel go toe to toe somewhat with an ethereal Sauron was sweet. I also like how the film set up but didn’t give you massive winks and nudges about the LOTR storyline, yes Tharanduil told Legolas to go and find Aragorn and we see Bilbo use the ring once or twice but the hints weren’t glaring at all, which was nice.

The action overall was great, a bit crazy and all over the place at times in typical Peter Jackson LOTR fashion with mountain trolls, Dwarves, Elves, mountain trolls, orcs, goblins and all fighting and it was awesome. I loved the chaotic feel to it and it really highlighted the fantasy element of the LOTR franchise, one of the things that makes me such a big fan. The Elves played more of role in this film, helping the Dwarves sort of, after threatening to attack them for some gold but hey, it’s awesome seeing them in action and actually doing something. The build up to the battle itself felt a bit more natural as well, the Elves, Men and Dwarves all coming to Erebor with legitimate claims to the gold, it was a complex situation and seeing some of the ‘politics’ in Middle Earth was a nice touch.

Oh and of course the Orcs commanded by Azog just come there to kill everyone that’s not them, but they also wanted Erebor as well, to use a base of operations, popular mountain.

As far as the acting went, it was great, Richard Armitage as Thorin gave a fantastic and multi-faceted performance which was interesting as you’re lead to believe that he’s only on the way down, driven crazy by dragon sickness but no, Thorin does make a return and it is epic, easily one of the highlights of the film. Bilbo is still a big part of the story and all, using the Arkenstone as a bargaining chip to get Thorin to not go to war with the Elves, but that storyline is cut short by the emergence of the Orcs and Azog, who seriously takes 3 films to get killed but he does get killed, finally.

The film was fantastic overall but pacing near the end was a slight issue, the people in the theatre I could see around me did all look a bit bored, as I was to be honest with the concluding moments but up until that point, I was hooked, gripped and thoroughly entertained. The highs and lows of Battle Of The Five Armies easily trump the events in the first two Hobbit films in my opinion, the action was much better, the stakes were higher and it was great to see more depth to some of the Dwarves, Thorin especially, though more of Dain would have been nice.

8/10

. The action was brilliant, best fight scenes in The Hobbit trilogy. Though the first two had some great scenes as well

. The scope of the film didn’t make the plot lose focus and it was still solidly entertaining

. Pacing near the end was a real issue

. The conclusion to Smaugs’ story felt rushed and anti-climactic as the first two films were mainly about him

So The Interview fiasco is a bit ridiculous

What a week it’s been for Sony and for film news in general eh, with a ludicrous series of events in the lead up to The Interview getting released, America itself has been threatened by a hacker group with a possible serious threat and North Korea has praised the group.

While denying any responsibility for the hack itself, you can’t imagine that Sony or anyone involved in the making of the film would have that though any of this would have happened, I myself was going to ignore the film and didn’t care much about it until the controversy. Now that isn’t to say that I’m just going to jump on the ‘It’s controversial so I have to see it’ train, but my interest is raised a bit, honestly the reaction from North Korea is over the top but then again, it’s North Korea.

I think everyone just needs to relax, it’s a Seth Rogen movie… I can understand people disliking his style of comedy and all but really Sony hackers, why’d you lose it over this, of all movies? I’m wondering if the group itself is actually in North Korea… which I doubt and if they are, you have a near comical situation with America accusing them of the hack and North Korea denying it, this could go back and forth for quite a while y’know.

You have to wonder the motivations behind the hackers’ actions if they are based out of North Korea, are they really loyal to Kim Jong Un? Are they just nefarious hackers and trying to troll on a grossly over the top scale? If so, making threats to people is a bit too much. Honestly it’s all just a bit confusing at the moment and I have to say I’m interested to see how exactly this ongoing story develops.

And maybe ironically, this story around the movie itself has ended up being 10 times as interesting as The Interview looked to be fair, I’ve seen people online theorise that this is all a huge PR stunt from Sony to drum up huge publicity for the film but that’d be a bit stupid. As Sony put quite a bit of money into the film and into promoting it, hacking themselves, leaking private information and conversations and all just doesn’t make sense, so scratch that theory.

Seriously though, whether the film is never released or released digitally or in a few theatres in protest… said hackers need to calm down and stop what they’re doing before they do cause a potential international incident. And if people want to see the film in protest then fair enough, freedom of expression is important and people should be able view/watch what they want without fear of harm or danger. Personally I just don’t really want to see the film either way but if people want to see it, they should be able to.

Brace yourselves.. winter hiatus is here

Dun dun dun, yes that dreaded time of year is upon us again, your favourite TV shows are going on a (I was going to put 3-4 weeks here but it’s much longer) several week long break, as they need to, of course, because actors are human and have their own needs too but yeah it sucks, so everyone let’s just binge on Netflix for the next month or two as we wait…

Though the good thing about this time of year, aside Christmas if you’re a big fan of it (can’t say I am), is that we still get a continual stream of entertainment, a few soap operas do keep running through the christmas break, films don’t stop coming out… ever, which is good of course. And you do tend to get the Oscar bait but generally better made films coming out from October/November until January (the dead zone for films). And of course some video games are always coming out as well so winter hiatuses – I prefer to say hiatii as plural, but anyway,  breaks are needed in entertainment of course, though we’d like to think otherwise.

But in the meantime, what will you be tuning into this winter holiday? Re-runs of the shows you’re watching? Anime? Will you just be watching whatever movies come out? Personally I’ll be watching copious amounts of anime, I might re-watch a season or two of Game Of Thrones and re-watch some of my favourite movies – LOTR, Inception and The Matrix to name a few. I did just see The Hobbit Battle of the five armies recently actually and I will be posting the review for it fairly soon.

Yes the winter hiatus for major TV shows is a drag but you know, internet and other things, we can all keep ourselves entertained, besides January isn’t too far away.

Space drama Ascension premieres on Syfy tonight

The glossy new space drama from Syfy premieres tonight, starting as an initial 3 part, six episode mini-series – reminiscent of a little old show Battlestar Galactica which premiered with a mini-series as well, Ascension also stars Tricia Helfer, an alumni from Battlestar.

The show itself looks fairly interesting, giving an alternative history slant on a space drama, the premise centred on a space ark on a century long mission, sent from earth to preserve human life by populating a new one and of course we’ll see conflicts of interest, drama and whatnot. As well as a possible long running mystery or conspiracy around the ‘true’ mission of Ascensions’, as a huge sci-fi fan and space drama lover, I’m interested so far and this is the type of show that I imagine could get a lot better as time goes on.

I’m interested to see what, if any twist there is to the show, android/robot uprising maybe? Half the population of the ship are clones… vampires, who knows. The interesting thing for the time being is not knowing and eventually uncovering that mystery, which may keep my (and yours, if you watch it) interest in the show.

Visually it looks great and it looks like Syfy has a fair amount of faith that the show will do well and presumably it will be getting a full series order, if the initial episodes are a ratings hit. Which I’m thinking they will be, anyway I’ll definitely be tuning in as the show looks interesting, hopefully it’s good.

Ascension will also be aired on Skyone in early January for UK viewers.

X-Men Days Of Future Past review

Another great instalment in the X-Men franchise? Yes please, Days of Future Past was a hotly anticipated and very well received new film in the franchise and possibly the most ambitious, bridging the past and future, multiple X-Men characters and finally including the awesome, now stylised sentintels in an X-Men film. The sentinels are a huge staple of the X-Men universe if you’re not that familiar with them, so seeing them was awesome, despite them being human sized, they were still cool.

And also awful, you know because they’re mutant hunting machines and evil, but yeah.  Days of Future Past centres around a plan hatched by Xavier and co in the future, desolated by super adaptable sentinels that have destroyed the world essentially, powered by Mystiques biology. The future X-Men are on the run and basically screwed as the sentinels way outnumber them, have always and will always find them and can adapt toand counter any power used against them.

The plan is to use Wolverines’ near indestructible mind, sending him back into the past to prevent Mystique from ever falling into the wrong hands, which leads to the super sentinels being developed, causing the dystopian future, though Wolverine has to convince an addict and generally douchey 70s’ Xavier to help him out, which is easier said than done, though the way Wolverine goes about this, enlisting the help of the likes of Magneto, Quicksilver, Xavier and Beast is pretty great to watch.

It was nice seeing some of the First Class mutants cameo in parts as well, them helping out Wolverine would have been awesome, but I guess bit convoluted, Jennifer Lawrence was awesome as a confused and pretty misguided Mystique, as was an ultimately evil, we all saw that coming Magneto, though his power trip just seemed ott, in typical Magneto style. The film had some great pacing though as well as great action set pieces, the scene with Quicksilver saving everyone was pretty great, reminiscent of Nightcrawlers’ solo beatdown of all the cops in the White House in X2 but with a difference. And it was awesome seeing the future or present I guess, seeing Blink, Colossus, Iceman, Shadowcat, Storm, Wolverine as well as some others.

The only big let down for the film for me was not seeing enough of the future, though you’d argue it was pointless as it was set to go a certain way as the film went on, I loved seeing more of the traditional X-Men all working together, something we haven’t seen since X-Men 3. But that aside, Days Of Future Past was emotionally gripping, fantastically acted and very ambitious, executed really well considering the scope of the film itself.

I guess you could say Days Of Future Past is the success that X-Men 3 could have been with its’ ambitious phoenix storyline. Also the setting up of the Apocalypse storyline is something very cool to look forward to, along with the Phoenix arc it’s one of the biggest, most eventful stories in the X-Men universe.

And how awesome was that post credits scene with most of the X-Men?

8/10

. Was great seeing a lot more mutants in the film, in the future especially

. Great acting throughout

. Great emotional pull in the film, the stakes are definitely high

You've lost me, Homeland

And it was completely to be expected really, I was doubting how the show could carry on in an interesting way without Brody after that season 3 finale and I doubted that I’d be interested in the show at all, which I haven’t been as it turns out, directly as a result of no Brody.

This season started off well enough I suppose, but so far it’s just seemed a bit direction-less and increasingly unbelievable with Carrie still just freaking out and getting operations to go ahead based on how she feels and what she wants to happen. I guess that without any real main protagonist or anti-hero in Brody, the show just feels a bit disjointed and of course it’s always a huge gamble to kill off your main character hoping that your show can still carry on just as well, keeping its’ ratings and working as more of an ensemble piece.

I’m imagining the shows’ creators always had that in mind and maybe had the idea of the show being about modern terrorism, intelligence agencies, giving an insight into how things would somewhat realistically go down in relation to a counter terrorism op for example. How the American government would respond to a drone strike in the middle east gone wrong, how they would go about trying to retrieve an American CIA agent and so on, which all makes for great viewing but I don’t know, something about this season has been off.

It’s not even that’s not well done, it’s just been utterly boring to me and I have to point to Brody not being there as the main reason for my lack of interest, despite the show still being well made, it just hasn’t captivated my interest.

Arrow mid-season finale review – The Climb

Wow that ending eh, Arrow just went out on winter hiatus and with a bang, with a mid-season finale to rival The Flash, The Climb culminated in the reveal behind Sarahs’ killer (Thea. Would you believe it) and Ra’as Al Ghul coming to the forefront of the show as well.

The episode went quite well and raised the stakes for this season, definitely picking things up as the episodes in this season thus far have been so-so in my opinion and hopefully more connected episodes and a storyline to come for the rest of the season. For the rest of the season it looks like Ra’as will be the main villain, a possibly unbeatable for Oliver Queen and it will be interesting to see how the show goes about delivering a conclusion to this seasons’ arc regarding Ra’as.

The episode started with Nyssa delivering a message to Oliver, about Ra’as wanting vengeance for his daughters’ grief over Sarahs’ death, bring Sarahs’ killer to the Leagues’ base to be killed, or the League will come to Starling and kill a load of people. Not much of a trade off but Team Arrow sets about trying to do it anyway, tracing the research done by Caitlyn on the Arrows’ head from Sarahs’ body, Felicity manages to I.D. the killer and it comes up as being Oliver.

But Oliver didn’t kill Sarah, obviously and it turns out he was being set up by Merlyn to take the fall for Sarahs’ death, while he was covering for the real killer, Thea, yes Thea, it turns out Merlyn used a psycho-active drug which can put people into a zombie like mindset. Leaving them susceptible to suggestion and making them do anything, killing someone for example, I remember seeing theories online on Sarahs’ killer from weeks back and I didn’t buy that Thea would do it, though she did in the end. I’m not too keen on this new plot device though the mind altering drug is very comic book-y and it’s not too far out for Arrow with something like Mirakuru existing in the same world but I still think the introduction of the drug was a bit random.

And near the end we see Felicity and Ray Palmer talk over at the former Queen Consolidated H.Q. and we finally see the secret project that Ray’s been working on, the A.T.O.M or as comic book readers know, Ray Palmer aka The Atoms’ future superhero suit, letting him shrink himself to the size of an atom or however small he wants. A cool nod to a superhero to come in DC TV Universe, though I wonder if we’ll see Palmer as The actual Atom at some point in Arrow, this season maybe? Then again that may be a bit too soon.

Oliver takes the fall for Thea in the end, travelling to the League Of Shadows’ base to face Ra’as and have a fight to the death, Oliver then climbs to the top of a snowy mountain to face him and they duel, topless (as you do on a snowy mountain). With swords mind you and Oliver is bested… yeah he really gets his ass handed to him and he gets stabbed, like straight up stabbed and kicked off the mountain by Ra’as and wow that was the ending, is Oliver dead? (probably not) How could he possibly be saved now? (Lazarus pit? or some new random herb/drug?)

I’m assuming Merlyn saves Olivers’ life and later they team up to take on Ra’as which would make for some entertaining viewing. As the two of them can’t stand each other and Oliver always seems to attack him when he sees him, meanwhile we may see Laurel comes more into play as she starts to take on the role of Black Canary fully, we should be seeing her as Black Canary in a few episodes time.

All in all though, The Climb was tense, suspenseful finale, tying up some loose ends and resolving the mystery behind Sarahs’ killer, though the conclusion felt a bit random, seeing Ra’as in the forefront was great and his duel with Oliver was awesome, though rather short.

. This gritty, more rough portrayal Ra’as is cool

. The Oliver – Ra’as duel was nice, albeit short

. The mind altering drug seemed a bit random

Transformers Age Of Extinction vying for best picture oscar

In somewhat surprising news of the week, Paramount have announced that they’re officially pushing for Transformers 4 to win a best picture Oscar, yes, Michael Bays’ Transformers, Michael Bays’ explode-y slow motion, actin films about giant sentient alien robots fighting each other.

The premise of the films does sound a bit ridiculous when you think about it but to be fair I did enjoy Age Of Extinction, more so than Revenge Of the Fallen. But I guess that’s not really saying much.

Paramount are also hoping the film will win best adapted screenplay, best original score and best director (Michael Bay ofc) it’ll be an interesting campaign to say the least and we’ll see how that goes for Paramount. And if it actually does get any of those nominations, best picture especially then we’re obviously living in bizarro world but it would be an interesting shake up to somewhat predictable and dull Oscars in recent years.

 

 

 

A look at some big December movie releases

Btw the default release dates for these films are in the USA, unless another country is stated.

So it’s that time of year again.. Christmas! You say? No, the run up to movie awards season of course and the tail end of the year and the start of a host of quality movie releases crammed into the next 4-6 weeks, this December specifically isn’t exactly chock full of great films, but hey.

The Last: Naruto the movie (Out in Japan 6th of December) – Bit of an alternative choice straight away but a film every Naruto fan probably should see, set between the last two chapters of the now finished manga, it looks interesting enough and should provide another interesting ‘ending’. Though the film is part of the end of the traditional Naruto manga, it’s also the start of the Naruto new project, the manga sequel coming in 2015.

Night At The Museum Secret Of The Tomb (out 19th of December) – The third and final film in the Night At The Museum trilogy, the film will feature some of the previous films popular and well received characters and a plot that concludes the overall story of the series. I’m not a huge fan of the NATM series but it should be a decent watch, good for families and a light hearted break from some of the deeper films out in December.

Unbroken (Out 25th of December) – An interesting period piece taking place during WWII following the exploits and life of legendary Olympic athlete and soldier Louis Zamperini, Unbroken is an ambitious and adventurous film, sort of like The Life Of Pi minus the 3D…. and fantasy elements and the being mostly stranded at sea. The trailers do look pretty impressive and it’s clearly that inspirational, motivational film that gets released around christmas time each year but that being said it does look pretty good, Jack O’ Connell looks like he gives a pretty spirited performance in it.

The Hobbit: Battle Of The Five Armies (12th December UK, 17 December USA) – The film I’m looking forward to the most and the culmination of The Hobbit trilogy, this film focuses more on the titular battle of the five armies, a major and concluding event from The Hobbit book. The last Hobbit film previously was going to focus a bit more on Bilbo and the repercussions of Smaugs attack on Laketown but it’s more action oriented now, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, the film features a fascinating look at the gradual change of Thorin, the lead up to Saurons’ rise in middle of earth as well as the build up to and the aftermath of the battle of the five armies.

Certainly ambitious for the final Hobbit film (but who does ambitious better than Peter Jackson?) and it’s a bit reminiscent of Return Of The King actually, though I have a feeling the plot may feel a bit more concise, all in all it’s set to be the most action packed, emotionally charged and epic instalment of the Hobbit films and I can’t wait to see it.

Exodus: Gods and Kings (Out 12th of December) – The somewhat controversial biblical film and definitely not the sequel to Noah, which also came out this year, Exodus suffered criticism months before its’ release about the ‘whitewashing’ of its’ portrayal of Egyptians and Israelite characters, Ridley Scott himself has responded to that criticism and ultimately I doubt the controversy will affect the films’ box office too much. Anyway the film itself follows the story of Moses, not from birth however, following him as an adult and close friend to Ramses and you know how the story goes, they grow apart as Moses is chosen by God to lead the Israelites out of Egypt.

In typical Ridley Scott style, the film is looks quite stunning visually and seeing his portrayal of the ten plagues will definitely be one of the highlights of the film, the film is also quite strongly casted in lead roles by Joel Edgerton and Christian Bale (one of my favourite actors), Ridley Scott is also one of my favourite directors so I will for sure be seeing this.

Into The Woods (Out 25th of December) – An interesting take on traditional fairy tales from Disney, a film/musical based on the broadway musical of the same name, the film doesn’t focus on just one fairy tail either, drawing on characters from Jack and the beanstalk, Little red riding hood, Rapunzel and Cinderella. Starting off with a couple who have curse placed on them by a witch, they set off on a journey (into the woods) to break said curse and encounter several characters on the way, this film isn’t really my cup of tea but it may be fairly entertaining.

Starring Meryl Streep as the witch, as well as Emily Blunt, James Corden, Chris Prine, Johnny Depp, Anna Kendrick and Tracey Ullman, it has a pretty great cast and of course Johnny Depp, as he’s the alternative fantasy film character actor. This should be a good watch for families and people of all ages and a hit with anyone that loves Disney movies’ and fantasy in general, though remember it is a musical.