The Foreigner – review

Martin Campbell directs The Foreigner, an action/crime drama set around a businessman and father whose life is turned upside down after his daughter is killed in a terrorist attack, he seeks the names of those involved to get vengeance, looking to a politician who may have links to details around the attack. The film stars Jackie Chan, Pierce Brosnan, Katie Leung, Rufus Jones and Mark Tandy.

Ah it’s great to see Jackie Chan in a lead role in 2017, after a self announced retirement from the big screen he seems to be back and this time around, in a very different type of film for him, a sort of revenge tale set in London, Mr Quan is a believably loving family man who… also has special forces training because of course he does, devastated from losing his daughter. The premise seems all too real with real terrorist attacks taking place in London and the UK this year but a new sub-set of the IRA is the focus of the plot, it’s different and a bold take for a film involving revolving around modern terrorism in the UK.

And the film is an engaging, somewhat thrilling watch for a fair portion of the story but then it starts to lose its way, getting lost in intricate political relationships, one upmanship and a pretty incoherent plot threat following various people and plans among the IRA and calling a film ‘incoherent’ is something that’s way overused when it comes to film criticism, I genuinely couldn’t really follow aspects of the plot and didn’t really care to either. The heart of the plot is that tale of revenge for Mr Quan and it takes some suspension of disbelief, to really buy that a Chinese man in his 60s (Mr Quan) could do what he does in the film but hey it is Jackie Chan I guess and for what it’s worth, the action is done pretty well and Chan still kicks ass in close quarters combat, though we do get the feeling that he is fairly aged and mortal which helps bring some realism to things. That being said, seeing some of the things Quan manages to do border on unintentional humor – think Macgyver/Rambo melded into one.

Don’t get fooled though, this is definitely not an action film and you’ll be disappointed if you go into it expecting that. The main problem with the film is that it tries to be a gripping, emotional drama as well as an action thriller and half-asses it at both jobs, being an amalgam but a shallow take on either side. The action is good but few and far between while the dramatic elements are sparse and get lost in silly politics around the IRA and Liam Hennessy (Pierce Brosnan) who you probably don’t really care about at all. Failing to elicit emotional engagement with me was the films biggest downfall in my view, in a story that hinges on empathizing with the main character and his own emotions that drive him forward.


. Action scenes are done well

. By the numbers plot, goes nowhere interesting

. Some plot threads make no sense

Bright – review

David Ayer directs Netflix’s biggest budget film to date – Bright, a fantasy drama set in our own modern world, a world filled with fantastical history and creatures, orcs, fairies, elves and humans all live together and one infamous orc in particular (Nick Jakoby) is paired with a popular human cop – Daryl Ward as a seemingly routine mission has them come across a magical wand and certain players who want to use it. The film stars Will Smith, Joel Edgerton, Noomi Rapace, Edgar Ramirez, Lucy Fry and Veronica Ngo.

I don’t want to go on the defensive immediately for Bright to imply it’s bad or anything so I’ll start with this, Netflix has done pretty well for itself, from its humble beginnings as a great idea for streaming to making fairly high budget films now with Will Smith and Joel Edgerton? That’s impressive, the film also looks pretty decent and I could absolutely imagine it coming out in theatres – though that’s not the case, seriously though everything thing from the on location shooting to the creature make up looks pretty good I have to say and at no point was I pointing out that anything looked bad, even the CGI.

The budget clearly was put to good use and it helps to create a sort of lived in, gritty Los Angeles were Orcs are now the de-facto ethnic minorities, though human minorities still exist, humans have interestingly been shifted to somewhere as Elves have their own closed off community and see themselves as superior to everyone else, making for some interesting social dynamics that aren’t really explored in the film which is a shame. And that’s a pointed low point for the film in not exploring its own interesting lore and ideas, with a barely 2 hour runtime, I understand that there simply wasn’t enough time to go into everything but when characters talk about past events and history, you get a semblance of what they mean but you still also have no idea what they’re talking about (who’s the dark lord?).

Things feel almost as a they’re setting up for a sequel without really having to get too much into origins for the world itself, with no explanations of magic, the different races and how/why they all live together but maybe that’s for another day. In terms of cast, the main players are quite good, Will Smith does Will Smith as usual with his smart talking, no nonsense attitude, playing off a kooky partner cop – think Bad Boys with magic and he’s good to be fair, though you’ve seen it all before. Joel Edgerton disappears into the role of Nick Jakoby quite literally with all the make up but also in personality. Almost naively fighting for what’s right in the face of discrimination and blatant abuse and he’s a highlight, while some of the elves are also quite good though, especially the Inferni (a special type of magic using elf), one of them is played by Noomi Rapace and she’s quite good in the role.

The action also is done fairly well, bringing an interesting mix of traditional shootouts with an added touch of magic. Bright overall is a decent film, far from terrible but erring on the side of being a generic buddy cop film, the magic and fantasy elements elevate the story and make it more interesting but a lackluster final third and no delving into the more interesting sides of the world itself ultimately hurt the story overall.


. Good performances on the whole

. Fairly good writing, has some funny as well as memorable lines

. Plot feels a bit by the numbers, predictable

. The lore is interesting but unexplored

mother! – review

Darren Arronofsky directs mother!, a drama set in a peculiar house, as we follow follow Javier bardem and Jennifer Lawrence’s characters – mother and him respectively as they live together in a seemingly idyllic house as strangers turn up and come inside, turning their lives around. The film stars Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris, Michelle Pfeiffer, Brendan Gleeson, Domnhall Gleeson and Kristen Wiig.

Ah mother!, there’s so much to say and everything has already been said by this point but this is a film that I’d wanted to see for quite a while but never got around to…. but I did…. and honestly it didn’t do too much for me. Arronofskys’ work is quite impactful, he creates thought provoking, sometimes hard to watch cerebral dramas and you may have gone into the film thinking it would be more of the same.

And you’d be mostly right…. minus the impact, the story is as visceral as it gets, with events unfolding pretty much at random, much to Mother (Jennifer Lawrences) chagrin and as thing goes on, you sort of get the point that the story is going for, it’s very on the nose and I feel that takes away from the ultimate impact that the director was aiming for. Looking back on the film as a whole in fact, it feels more like an elaborate arthouse stage play than a Hollywood film and its nature and tone are understandably what rubbed a lot of people up the wrong way, making it easily one of the most divisive films of 2017.

The performances are okay, though the nature of the story doesn’t really allow anyone to shine and do too much outside of being archetypes which is a shame, nevertheless Jennifer Lawrence still gives an enthusiastic performance with the fairly thin script that she probably had to work with. Because of what the story’s going for, the writing has to be a bit obtuse, enigmatic and thin but that’s no real excuse in my view and it’s bad, pretty bad with the way some of the lines get delivered being at best repetitive and at worst outright bad. And again that’s not Jennifer Lawrence or any other actors fault, it’s what they had to work with.

I get what Arronofsky was going for and writing the film out of a place of frustration and anger explains a lot of it but it just isn’t that impactful or hard hitting as it wishes it was, taking on a very on the nose allegory of biblical and theological motifs that doesn’t really make any meaningful point, let alone anything you haven’t heard before. Emotion can be a great avenue and inspiration for a film but take it with a pinch of salt, if we got a film made every time a director was in a place of anguish and frustration over the course of a couple of days, we’d one – have a lot more films out in general and two – have quite a few more pieces of cinematic garbage out as well, so take it as you wish.


. Plot solicits some pretty awful writing

. Very on the nose allegory, a feels a bit pretentious


Merry Christmas!

So I’ve made this post ahead of time as to not spend time on the blog posting and whatnot on Christmas itself but yeah Merry Christmas all, I hope you’re having a fantastic day with your loved ones, whoever they are and whatever you’re doing I hope you’re enjoying it.

It’s important to think about family and people close to you on any day, not just December 25th so yeah, cherish them, cherish the lovely food you have and the gifts you’ve received and the lovely people around you. So, everything said and done, enjoy your day y’all.

Top 5 best & 5 worst films of 2017

So here we are, with just a few days left of 2017 as we draw towards awards season and into a new year, it’s been a pretty eventful, interesting year for many reasons as you may know but for film, it’s been a mixed bag I’d say. anyway there have a been a plethora of interesting films from 2017 that have enthralled, engaged, disappointed and annoyed film audiences and I wanted to rank my personal top 5 and bottom, so here they are.

The top 5

Star Wars: The Last Jedi – 8.5/10

The latest and one of the greatest films in the Star Wars saga is just that, great, Rian Johnsons entry is divisive among audiences but nevertheless I found it to be impactful, surprising and importantly – engaging, following on in the vein of The Force Awakens tonally in some ways. But it feels entirely new and fresh in others, breaking down the mysticism around the Jedi, giving us a drastic new take on Luke and the force itself, there’s a major plot arc that could probably have been done without but that aside, the final product is a solid, engaging and thought provoking entry that Star Wars needed.


Baby Driver – 8/10

Edgar Wrights latest and largest cinematic outing is one of the most stylish and stand out films of 2017 by far, with a great soundtrack that matches the action in the film, namely the main character Babys’ getaway drives, Wrights signature humour and witty writing shines through, making for a genuinely funny and levity filled romp, though the drama and high tension is definitely there as well, turned up to 11 at point which makes for pretty thrilling viewing. Everything above said coupled with brilliant cinematography and choreography in the stunt driving which was all practical – which still blows my mind, makes the film a bit special in my books.


Wonder Woman – 7.5/10 

The film that had the hopes of the DCEU riding on it turned out to be a hit, with a tight plot, a nice infusion of action, drama and levity (important for a DC film!) and some great performances, Wonder Woman was a nice surprise – a surprise for anyone expecting it to be trash that is but overall it’s a solid and enjoyable outing with re-watch ability, Gal Gadot is the perfect embodiment of the Amazonian princess and she’s fantastic in the role. And she plays off well with Chris Pine (Steve Trevor in the story), the film goes to show that DC can do gripping action and drama with levity, keeping things easy to follow but without dumbing thing down.


Logan – 7.5/10

Hugh Jackmans last outing as Wolverine was an understandably emotional one, with a lot of baggage and memories and wow… it was pretty heavy wasn’t it? Anyway James Mangold did a great job in sending off the character with no holds barred, Logan bloodied, broken and beaten in a post apocalyptic future sans the X-Men, the themes are dark and things look bleak but there’s a nice undertone of hope and optimism in the story that saves it from being completely bleak. And while the film may not get any oscar nods for its performances, Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart give some pretty stellar performances, the pair of them bringing sides to characters we’ve never seen before.


Kingsman: The Golden Circle – 7/10

The sequel to the first Kingsman film is sort of a riot and a bit of a sleeper hit in my opinion, even more frenetic and balls to the walls crazy this time around, we get to return to the world of the Kingsman and the threats they face down and stop, with fun, kooky technology and brilliantly done action set pieces. The Statesmen bring a fun new dynamic to the story with their own set of unique characters and the plot tackles some fairly serious, poignant themes like mental illness and drug use, in its own irreverent way of course, it’s over the top but knowingly so and important; it’s entertaining.



And the 5 worst

Mother! (4/10)

Darren Arronofskys latest roller coaster drama is an obtuse one, easily one of the most divisive films of the year and in recent memory, the concept is one to be lauded in its ambition but in execution, oh boy… it’s rough, I totally get why some people hate it and I’m not too fond of it either, with some terrible writing and a story that simply tries way too hard. You sort of see where things are going after a while but it takes some time to get going and when it’s in full swing, it may prove a bit too much for some and I understand that, I get what Arronofsky was going for but the film wasn’t insightful or engaging in any real meaningful way, with an ending that adds to the fleeting nature of the story in my opinion.

After all is said and done, it has the impact and weight of a snapchat story.


The Mummy 5/10

No real surprise with this choice, I saw The Mummy recently, wondering if the criticism against it was really that warranted and well yeah, it was, a barley coherent plot, bad pacing and one too many silly plot point make the film a really odd watch, bringing nothing interesting to the Mummy mythos but instead bringing a tonally jumbled mess with a lack of tension, just watching it you can tell the film was mainly a set up for the coming Dark Universe but at the cost of a decent new Mummy film, which is a shame.


Flatliners – 5/10

Sort of sequel to the 80s film in the same vein, sees a bunch of thrill seeking college students flat line themselves in initial aim of seeing what’s there in the afterlife and yes it is as ridiculous as it sounds, clichés follow, you won’t really care about the plot and characters aaand scene. Yep it’s that generic.


King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword – 5.5/10

There’s a bit of a trend with the worst films of this year (and of any year really), bad storytelling, incoherent plots, weird looking action that lacks any real, notable tension, Guy Ritchies take on the legend of King Arthur is just really weird, mixing the vibe of a group of modern day lad best friends who happen to live in the middle ages, parts are entertaining but most of it doesn’t make sense, feels rushed and yeah, what an odd, odd film.


Alien: Covenant – 6/10

Maybe a bit of a controversial choice for one of the worst films of the year but not controversial in my view, Covenant was a real let down, promising to be an intriguing follow up to Prometheus, it touches on literally 2 or 3 plot points from the previous film, devolving into another generic Xenomorphs killing people fest, with added philosophy, maybe I felt a bit disappointed because I enjoyed Prometheus so much but judging this film on its own, it wasn’t up to scratch. Bringing nothing interesting to the franchise and even re-hashing moments from both Alien and Aliens, if Prometheus upset fans of the franchise for having nothing to do with Alien despite it ambitious ideas, Covenant represents the franchise wholly running out of ideas.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi – review

Rian Johnson directs the latest entry in the Star wars saga, following straight on from the events of The Force Awakens with the resistance on the backfoot, Rey insists on Luke training her in the ways of the force and re-joining the resistance to fight the First Order. The film stars Mark Hamil, Carrie Fisher, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Laura Dern, Andy Serkis, Gwnedoline Christie, Lupita N’yongo, Benicio Del Toro, Anthony Daniels and Peter Mayhew.

There was a fear from Star Wars fans that The Last Jedi would do the thing that The Force Awakens did and just be a re-hash of another film fro the original trilogy (the dark masterpiece that is Empire Strikes Back) so I feel people went into the film with a bit of trepidation but ultimately, the result is something entirely new, exciting and captivating.

This is a Star Wars film but also a Rian Johnson film and that’s a great thing, Johnson brings nuance, surprises and a very engaging plot that focuses on characters over action, following the main characters in this new trilogy and genuinely developing them, with a lot of focus on Rey and Kylo Ren naturally. We see new, interesting sides to both of them and we explore the idea of the complexity of the force and how it relates to Jedi, Sith and everyone, with a pretty intriguing section involving Luke and Rey talking about it.

What I like about The Last Jedi is the de-mystification of the force and the Jedi, yes they are cool space wizards but were they all perfect? Maybe not, Luke definitely doesn’t think so and questions like this are intriguing, maybe the average film goer won’t be asking them but they’re important for the Star Wars lore as a whole. The film carried on in a similar vein to Rogue One in my view, breaking down aspects for the Star Wars universe and putting them under a microscope to really break things down, bringing new and interesting aspects to the franchise as a whole, something that has really been needed. The cast on the whole is great, enthusiastic and well fitting in their roles, with the newcomers also being welcome additions, especially Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) and Admiral Holdo (Laura Dern) who bring interesting dynamics to the existing relationships within the resistance. While returning characters like Finn, Poe and Rey are again great to watch. Adam Driver specifically puts in another spirited performance as brooding  teenager-eque Kylo Ren and makes for a good balancing act with Daisy Ridleys – Rey.

The visuals as well deserve praise, with some of the best framing and shots I’ve seen in any Star Wars film, Snokes throne room looks spectacular, as does the final third on a certain planet and another scene sticks out, involving a character taking a daring action and the result is a pretty fascinating scene.

Admittedly there are some issues with the film that I completely get, with a sub plot involving Finn and Rose that took a little while and did drag on a bit and not finding out key things about certain prominent characters is a bit frustrating but these gripes aren’t nearly big enough to detract from my overall experience with the film. Which in all was an engaging, captivating watch and not just more of the same for Star Wars, it had great twists and turns, stunning visuals and it genuinely surprised me, which is more than I can say for a lot of films in this franchise.


. Strong performances from main cast, one of Mark Hamills best performance, Ridley, Driver and Carrie Fisher are all great

. Plot is engaging, keeps your interest and goes to interesting places

. De-mystifies the force and Jedi, brings interesting ideas to the series

Justice League – review

Justice League is the latest and possibly most important film in the DCEU to date, directed by Zack Snyder and in part Joss Whedon, Batman and Wonder Woman hope to put together a team of other meta-humans in order to stop the invading Steppenwolf before he can change the Earth forever. The film stars Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot, Ray Fisher, Jason Momoa, Ezra Miller, Jeremy Irons, Amy Adams and Diane Lane.

Much has already been said about Justice League as you know and much of the conversation has been a mixed bag with some controversy thrown in over the state of the DCEU but I’ll say it right off the bat, Justice League is okay, it’s not terrible and it’s far from the worst of the worst in the comic book film pantheon.

Okay maybe it’s not the best to start off with saying a film isn’t terrible but honestly, if the film is guilty of anything, it’s maybe guilty of trying to hard to please everybody and ultimately falling a bit flat in its execution due to a pretty generic plot and another by the numbers CG villain that has drawn a lot of flak for the film. Steppenwolf is the last generic single minded villain in just about every big comic book film for the last 5 years (including Marvel) so he doesn’t really stand out but he was a low point, with some questionable CGI at that, Cyborgs’ appearance was also a bit iffy at times but Ray Fishers performance saved the character.

And the performances saved the film in essence, with great interaction between the characters that so many of us have grown up idolising and watching on TV or reading about in comic book films, the DC nerd in me was delighted to see them all united on screen, even if this wasn’t the idyllic outing fans have wanted for decades. And in particular, Ben Affleck is great again as Batman, seemingly in his last role as the caped crusader, I’d love to see him bow out in a solo film but we’ll have to wait and see on that one, Gal Gadot again is a highlight as Wonder Woman and Ezra Miller is the surprising but endearing comic relief for the film, with some clear Whedon-esque one liners.

It’s great to see the league in action and fighting together with their unique abilities though you do get a feeling that the action feels a bit repetitive and the stakes never really feel that high, resulting in a “we need to save the world from a generic villain” kind of deal that comes out but you know they will, of course. A big returning character is another highlight for sure – you know who I’m talking about and he does elevate both the action and the cast. The plot also is a mixed bag, starting off a bit slow but speeding off to its conclusion at the end, I can understand how the film could be classed as ‘rushed’, especially in the final third. That being said, some action scenes are pretty great with one on particular involving a prominent league member standing out.

But yeah without having to say too much, the film is okay and that’s probably my biggest criticism of it, it’s not a mind blowing coming together of your favourite DC characters but it’s not as bad as say Suicide Squad or BVS, it’s a definite step in the right direction but things like better character development, stronger villains and a better put together plot would definitely have helped it a bit more.


. Great character interactions and it’s great to see the league together

. Good performances overall

. Generic CG villain, stakes don’t feel too high

. The return of a prominent character could have been handled a bit better

Thor: Ragnarok – review

Taika Waititi directs the God of Thunders latest outing in the MCU as Asgards’ entire existence is threatened by the Goddess of Death – Hela, Thor must find his way back to Asgard after losing his way, bumping into familiar faces on the way. The film stars Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins, Idris Elba, Tessa Thompson, Cate Blanchett and Karl Urban.

Even in 2017, the spirit of the MCU continues unwavering, this time around delivering the probably final film in Thors trilogy of films, with a decidedly different tone this time – something that was needed that I and I’m sure many other Thor fans felt. Director Taikia Waititi brings a quirky, absurdist sense of humour to the MCU in the style of Gunns Guardians Of The Galaxy and right off the bat you know what you’re in for, it’s a bit of a shift for a Thor film but the two previous films also had their fair share of comedy.

What sets Ragnarok apart is its scope, combined with its humour, it does different, interesting things with characters we’re familiar with like Hulk, who gets a more human depiction as the big green guy (something the MCU has needed for some time now) and this makes for some great interaction with Thor. And simply seeing the two in the film together was probably a big draw for a lot of the filmgoers that went to theatres for Ragnarok.

Ragnarok works so well because of its simplicity, MCU tropes are present and so are Thor’s ones – his tumultuous, troubled relationship with Loki and struggles in finding his place in Asgard but the way we see this time around is just very engaging and entertaining. Partially because of the fast pace of the plot and because of how Waititi balances a fairly big cast, giving the main characters interesting plot arcs and equally interesting interactions. Hiddleston is again a treat as the mischievous Loki, playing off effortlessly with Hemsworth, now the 4th time they’ve shared the screen in the MCU and you can tell – in a positive way of course.

Meanwhile new character additions in the Goddess of Death herself – Hela played by the evergreen Cate Blanchett, Skurge, the conflicted Asgardian (Karl Urban) and Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) are welcome and equally good in their roles, Tessa Thompson especially though you do get a bit of the ol’ generic, weak Marvel villain with Hela, though she is pretty badass at what she does. The main problem with Ragnarok, if any, is probably the comedy and tone, it’s a bit all over the place with the infusion of comedy in a lot of the story and you could argue that the dramatic moments fall a bit flat for the sake of a few laughs. And the story definitely feels a bit lopsided for me, with the final third being a tad rushed for my liking.

That being said, the final result is an enjoyable, entertaining and refreshing sort of reboot for Thor and a strong entry in the MCU, with some interesting new elements of Thors mythology thrown in and interesting new sides to existing Marvel characters, setting up for exciting things to possibly come.


. Engaging, well placed plot

. Has some solid performances

. Final third feels a bit rushed

3 years of Docthewho!

So this sort of passed by without much of a hoot but I couldn’t just not celebrate and make a note of it, yes I’ve been writing about films on this platform for about 3 years now, 3 years full of exciting, interesting films and various takes, opinions and a tonne of reviews naturally. And this is also a month or so late due to my absence on here but c’est lav vie, at least I’m posting it now.

Anyway it’s kinda crazy how it all started for me, just as a hobby really but I kept with and kept at it, surprising to myself to be honest as I’ve gone through periods from being busy because of work and life in general which kept me from posting, nevertheless I felt drawn to come back to discuss one of the passions in my life – movies (or specifically films as I like to say on the blog). And it’s a testament to my joy with movies, watching them, talking about them and seeing how they get made and after all this time and literally hundreds of reviews. i’m still excited to watch and subsequently review new big and small releases and get my thoughts out there – always my honest opinion and never a pandering, crowd pleasing one (at least I think so!).

Anyway that’s what I wanted to say, it’s been a pleasure to have been doing this for so long and long may it continue, thank you to any and everyone who’s read my posts, commented, liked and so on, I do this for myself but also for you, the reader. So yeah, it’s been a fun experience so far and here’s to another 3 years!

So TheDoc is back

So… yeah I’ve been away for a while but fear not, I’m back and technically I never really left but yeah, it’s been a pretty big month for film with some big releases out and yeah there’s like 2 weeks left in the year (where did the time go!). I’ve got top 10s, bottom 10s, previews and the like, for what has been a pretty good year in film.

But yeah anyway, I’m here, reviews are coming and sorry to keep you waiting in anticipation for more content (if you were) and for the site being down for a bit, The Doc is here.