Skull Island

•March 14, 2017 • Leave a Comment

What you can expect from Kong: Skull Island

Image result for kong skull island

  • A lame backstory, involving two WWII pilots.  (The American survives, the Jap doesn’t.)
  • An equally lame present-day story that gives our characters a reason to go to Skull Island.  The trailer featured the line, ‘they weren’t testing nuclear bombs, they were trying to kill something‘.  This gave it a genuine MUTO / Godzilla feel that I was looking forward to.  Alas, this part of the story wasn’t developed that much.  The arguments to be granted a military escort and journey to explore Skull Island weren’t really that convincing.
  • Idiotic military strategy.  Kong starts throwing trees at the helicopters.  Then he just goes ape and starts grabbing them and throwing them at each other, with people on board!  At this point, intelligent commanders would fly them higher, out of his reach, regroup, observe, plan, etc. but our guys kept flying towards him.  What did they think was going to happen?  So much needless death.  If you want to slim your cast down to only a few survivors, send in a small crew to begin with.  Sadly it seems that the Jurassic Park idea of blasting your human element way down to a few heroes is the way to do it.  This wouldn’t really have an effect on character development, as discussed in the next point.
  • Way too many characters, and thus no-one to become engaged with.  John Goodman’s character (initially, the protagonist) was killed off, with no gravity or significance attached.  He was gone in the blink of an eye.  I can’t even remember his character’s name.  For once, the black assistant wasn’t killed off, and survived to the end.  There was a (token) Asian woman, but I don’t know why she was there, probably to give weight to the MUTO theme.  By the end of the film, it is anyone’s guess as to who is the central character.
  • Lots of fast spinning and shaking in fight scenes with large animals.
  • A weird community of people who live on Skull Island, communicating only in tiny nods of the head.  Comes complete with a fully functioning 100ft wooden dam and 3d effect wall engravings.
  • The lukewarm love interest.  The anti-war photographer girl was very pretty, and her beautiful teeth were very straight.  But apart from physical attraction, there was nothing between them.  I think she was there to fulfill the role of beautiful blonde, love interest of men and of Kong.
  • The tracker demanded five times what they were paying him.  They paid him just like that.  No negotiation.
  • CGI effects to die for.  Especially the first time we see Kong in his full height, with a violent sunset behind him, shimmering in the gunfire.  Also, some of the other creatures were really effective, especially the giant spider.  Unfortunately we don’t get to see much of the spider from afar.  It seems they blew their budget on CGI and hoped this would carry along a miserable plot.
  • Sam L’s character had no real reason to become obsessed with revenge.  As a commander of soldiers on a dangerous mission, he knew it was risky, and had seen the skull-chasers; even he could reason that it was better for Kong to be left to live.
  • Some good acting and funny lines from John C.  His reuniting scene with his family at the end brought tears.
  • Excellent old-school footage of real events, like they show in Godzilla movies.  Makes if feel authentic.


The Legend of Tarzan (2016)

•July 9, 2016 • Leave a Comment

I saw the trailer and thought this looked like an epic film.

I saw the film, and was so bored.  Bored, bored, bored.  This is meant to be a kids’ film right?!

There was death, violence, men being visibly beaten by apes, near-nudity, snogging, and of course, the white man’s supremacy celebrated.

There were lots of semi-Congolese men shouting for a long time, holding spears, etc.  A bit stereotyped I thought.

Fair enough, there was good CGI and stunning African scenery, but the story was terrible, and there are only so many times a man, born and raised in the jungle and illiterate until late-teens, and yet able to converse in Congolese, English, and Animal.

A very stigmatised villain played by Christoph Waltz; highly trained kung fu girl, Margot Robbir (where did she learn combat?), to fulfil the feminist agenda; random dead-pan comments and death-defying everything from Tarzan.

AAAaaarrrggghghghghgh!  Don’t waste your time or bring your children!!!!

Our Kind of Traitor

•June 16, 2016 • Leave a Comment

(Susanna White 2016, on the novel by John le Carre)

It was nice to see a good British film, with good British (and other) talent.

This film is not too long, with a very intense middle, and slightly tame twist at the end.

It features Damian Lewis talking like a ventriloquist (moving his mouth as little as possible), and Ewan MacGregor talking really, really, posh Scotch, and being very bland; an unlikely choice for a London university tutor.


The choice of names for the characters was terrible.  Lewis is called Hector, MacGregor plays ‘Perry Makepeace’, and Naomie Harris plays ‘Gail Perkins’.  Pretty lame.  I could go on, but I won’t.  I could have made up better names.

Perhaps the strongest theme was the strain on Gail and Perry’s marriage.  He had an affair, but she stayed with him, obviously very hurt, and they are trying to work through it.  She is bitter and he has said sorry, but it shows that a choice like that will have long lasting percussions.  I know it was just a film, but if I was married to Naomie Harris….


The friendship (if it can be called that) between Hector and Perry (such unlikely names btw) didn’t seem like it would have actually grown at all.  I don’t think they would have ever wanted to see each other again, or that Hector (an MI6 officer) would have allowed Perry to learn where he lived.


Of course, a chilling and somewhat unsettling performance from the mighty Stellan Skarsgard.

I felt that, ultimately, Perry and Gail got out of it a lot smoother than they should have.  If it were a more gritty film, one of them would have died.

‘Anticlimax’ (A.K.A. Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part II)

•April 17, 2016 • Leave a Comment



Vision….  Katniss looks really weird and dazed.

Then, an argument, where she doesn’t get what’s happening, and everyone else does.

Then an adventure into The Capital.

Then….Boom!  Explosion!

Katniss wakes up in hospital a few days later.

“What happened….”

“You need to rest, you’re the mockingjay….”

“Peeta blah blah Gale blah blah Primmy blah blah President Snow/Coin blah blah”

Then she recovers, and goes on another adventure where they almost get killed.  Then….

Boom!  Another explosion.  More visions and flashbacks!  More arguments!  More deaths!  Katniss unconscious….

Katniss wakes up in hospital wing.  “Where am I”.

“Take it easy, Mockingjay”.  It’s Hey, Mitch.  Or is it Hamitch.  Or Hamish in American?  More arguments, attitude, risk, further unravelling of a stupid plan which stupid Katniss still doesn’t get.

Next part; more adventuring, explosions, rebellions, arguments, unconsciousness, broken hearts, deaths, ‘what happened’s, etc. etc. etc.

The mess that was screwed up because greedy people wanted to milk the Hunger Games story and make four films out of three books.

A terrible disgrace of a movie, considering how well done and understated the first one was.

Honestly, I hadn’t even realised it had been released, unsure which part of the final film this was meant to be.

Thus, a shoddy anticlimax.  Not helped by Jennifer Lawrence’s inability to act.

Hot July Night ~ Neil Diamond at the O2

•April 11, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Let me get this out of the way first: I don’t need to hear Sweet Caroline ever again; and no, we are not all God’s children.  The gospel of John clearly states that to those who believed have the right to be called children of God.

That said, what a tremendous evening!  What a showman, what a show, oh what a night!

Neil Diamond; where the songwriter meets the poet.  Diamond-heads of the country, unite!  All hail, the King of Diamonds!

The man, in person, has suffered terrible back ache, family pressures, on his third marriage.  I don’t judge, because I don’t know how else he could have done it.  And he makes me, as a fan, feel very special for being there.

Call it good PR, but his on-stage humility is heart-light-warming.  Of course, we don’t know what he may be muttering to his band beyond the microphone, when they ruin the effect by moving around at the end of the song, so Diamond is silouhetted, standing perfectly still, and the band shuffling about behind him cast moving shadows, spoiling the effect.

What musicians though: a stunning sax solo in Love on the Rocks, an accorrdian and beautiful piano effects throughout, and a brilliant band play-off towards the end.

I got  so emotional, more so than before.

The poetry is awesome;

‘Songs she sang to me, songs she brang to me, words that rang in me, rhyme that sprang from me….’ what’s not to love?!

He made me sing like a guitar humming.

House of Cards

•April 11, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Spoiler warning….

I watched House of Cards, Season 4, can’t remember which chapter…. Anyway; I’m sure that I can now nail down my favourite scene of the whole series, even though it’s not finished yet!

Tom Hammerschmidt (played by the intense Boris McGiver) is in a diner, late at night; he lost his job at The Herald ages ago, because of Zoe Barnes.  Now he is devoting his life to finding out why and how she died.  He wants justice, because he may have loved her like a daughter or niece or something.  He did make some personal professional sacrifices for her when she was a junior journalist.  In fact, the diner he’s in is just below where Zoe once lived.  He’s investigating her old neighbourhood.

He is munching on some food he’s just bought, he’s asking the chef some questions which inevitably will get one or both of them in trouble, but Tom plays it cool.  He pretends not to care that much, just casually asking if the chief whip ever dropped in before he became president, etc.  But then, when the late Meechum’s picture is shown on TV, and the chef says. ‘I used to see that guy in here a lot though.  He came in for coffee, never food.’ Tom, mouth full, eyes widen, asks in the most urgent, trying-to-keep-calm, insistency, ‘You’re sure?’

This was the opening he needed.  Because House of Cards is fairly slow-paced, this scene was tantamount to an action one.  The excitement made me lean in towards the screen – is this Underwood’s downfall?

What’s also interesting for me, is that my former favourite character (possibly apart from Garret Walker, played by Michael Gill) was Lucas Goodwin, who once worked for Tom at The Herald.  Why this is interesting, is because, for me, Lucas was the most inwardly-torn and tormented character, the one who’s suffered loss and injustice, and now he’s gone, Tom Hammerschmidt falls into that default.  Two men, using their restless inquisitiveness and journalistic scavenging to rudder the truth.


The scene where Tom met with the former President Walker (Michael Gill) was the one that really picked up the pace.*

Exchange of power: Tom visits Frank in the oval office, things get heated, and when the President is interrupted, Tom volunteers to leave.  Frank shakes his head knowingly, “Oh no Tom, you and I are not done here“.  This is scary – is he going to kill Tom?

But then Tom waits patiently in another room – if he isn’t back in an hour, the story will be released, and his office will start asking where he is!  For once, someone has outsmarted Underwood, and his blustering is not convincing the serious, sharp, driven Tom.  This all led to Frank’s loss of confidence, regret that he didn’t quite cover his tracks.  And here ends the fourth lesson.  Or season.

* I never quite understood why and how Garret Walker was impeached and then resigned as President – the reasons weren’t very strong, or enough to call for the resignation of such a sincere and hard-working incumbent.

Star Wars Spoiler

•December 20, 2015 • Leave a Comment

I’ve chosen this title as a double-entendre, as this review contains spoilers, and the film kind of spoils itself (and by extension, the new and coming Star Wars trilogy).


Wisely, it will be kept it brief.  Thus, divided into likes and dislikes:

I liked:

  • that there were familiar items and scenes, like imperial wreckage, the target-finder on the Millennium Falcons guns, some familiar aliens, etc.
  • the appearance of Luke, Han, Leia, and Chewie.  (Forget Artoo and Threepio – droids don’t realistically last that long, like computers.)

I disliked:

  • that the gorgeous woman on one of the planets about to be destroyed, who looked like she was about to become a main character in the film, was zapped.  For a few seconds, I was looking forward to seeing her in action.  Alas….
  • that Oscar Isaacs appeared in this movie – he is too big an acting personality, and his role was unclear; how did he survive the TIE fighter crash?  How did he find his way back to the Resistance?  What was he doing on Jaaka in the first place?  How come he was such a good pilot?  Where is he from, what does he do?  And who was the old man who was murdered?
  • that Domhnall Gleesom appeared in this movie as the ginger bad guy – he was just evil and weird, but for no apparent reason.  What was his motive?  Was he a self-styled Moff Tarkin?  And did he die in the end?  It was a bit messy.
  • that there were lots and lots of new characters; who was Fin, and was his character necessary?  I mean, he helped the guy with the droid to escape, then he took over as informant-type, then he became the hero/lover, then he died (although we all know what that could mean) – all the time, his character seemed to have taken over from Isaac’s, then they are brought briefly back together.  It’s like Luke Skywalker reworked and split into two characters.
  • when Ray (Daisy Ridley) introduced herself (“I’m Ray”) it sounded like she said her name was ‘Amray’, which is a beautiful name and one totally succint with those of the Star Wars galaxy.  I was disappointed when I learned that her name is actually plain old ‘Ray’, which is a boy’s name anyway.
  • that there was NOWHERE NEAR enough of Luke Skywalker – we want to see what’s become of his Jedi Academy, which he runs along with Leia, whom he’s also trained to be a kick-ass Jedi Princess!  Instead we get a scared old hermit on St Kilda who has no legitimate reason for being there.
  • the storyline was almost a parallel of A New Hope, which is disappointing.  Secret plans are hidden in a droid, which is then pursued across a desert planet and beyond by stormtroopers, led by an angry man in a dark suit and mask, who wields a red lightsabre, and speaks to a giant hologram of a shrivelled old creepy evil dude.  And his rivals in the same organisation operate a planet that can and does blow up other planets*, which has to be disabled by destroying the shield and bombing the reactor.  Seriously?   Even I could have invented a more original story.
  • that Han Solo was killed.  Han Solo should not have died.  For goodness’ sake.


* There was no clear purpose or warning about this.  They just randomly fired massive lasers into space to simultaneously blow up five planets (perhaps to demonstrate their superior power?  But there had been no prior explanation as to what they were about).  Like the Death Star effects weren’t good enough, so we gotta see it again in C21st light and magic?

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