*NEW* WONDER WOMAN REVIEW *NEW*

The best DC movie yet. But is that saying a lot?

Superhero movie of the year? Or overhyped drivel?

Gal Gadot, be still my beating heart.

Before she was Wonder Woman, she was Diana, princess of the Amazons, trained warrior. When a pilot (Chris Pine) crashes and tells of conflict in the outside world, Diana leaves home to fight a war, discovering her full powers and true destiny.

The only interesting character in Batman Vs Superman. Bearing in mind; I had no idea who she was or what she was actually doing (and why for that matter?)

Now we finally get some answers. Sort of.

The best DC movie outing but that doesn’t say much.

The opening origin story with young Diana was entertaining enough.

I never read the DC comics and knew only a little of the TV show with Lynda Carter. I don’t remember all this God stuff BUT the writers even managed to make the Lasso of Truth a believable (and lethal) weapon.

The 300 style training montage with the glorious Greek goddesses kept things ticking over as Diana defied her mother’s wishes by training to fight.

Robin Wright (House of Cards) and Connie Nielsen (Gladiator) were both underused as Diana’s sparring mother and aunt. One desperate to see Diana reach her potential, the other weary of it.

It was a little cheesy BUT it hit the spot as Diana grew stronger. The truth about her abilities rearing its ugly head just as a WW1 plane crashes into their safe haven. Opening a whole new world for our heroine.

The film was injected with the right balance of humour and heart. Something sorely missed in the other DC efforts . . . So far.

One particular highlight involving Diana, clad with sword and shield, strolling through a department store perplexed at the “battle” attire women wear.

The WW1 setting was a perfect focal point for our heroine. The film delicately handled sexism and politics quite well as Diana demanded to know why women couldn’t fight, vote or speak.

Not bad for a superhero movie.

The 3D was disappointing and hardly worth the ticket price BUT the special effects and action pieces were superb.

The No-Man’s land battle sequence was fantastic.

The chemistry between Gadot and Pine was perfect. A great duo. Steve’s bewilderment and Diana’s defiant (if slightly naive) approach to achieving her objective was the glue that kept this piece together.

The banter and bubbling tension helped drudge the meandering pace (which tragically could have been cut by a good 20 minutes).

I loved the supporting cast. It was great to see Lucy Davis (The Office) back in the limelight. She was hilarious as Steve’s long suffering secretary. Diana’s reaction when she was told the purpose of a secretary was brilliant; “So you’re a slave?”

Of course, Diana and Steve couldn’t achieve their mission alone. They needed a rag tag team of misfits. Said Taghmaoui (American Hustle) was highly comical as Sameer.

I was elated to see ol’ Spud (Ewen Bremner -Trainspotting) as the drunk and disillusioned Charlie.

Eugene Brave Rock was a little weak as the poorly titled Chief. BUT he was nowhere near as weak as the villain.

Danny Huston (X-Men Origins: Wolverine) was dreadfully bland and not quite as sinister as I had hoped. Reduced to popping pills and gurning some serious faces. Shame.

Elena Anaya (The Skin I Live In) drew more chills as Dr Poison (A terrible name!) with her scar and scary mask.

The finale was drawn out. It felt like the Man of Steel; once you’ve seen one super being smash another through set piece after set piece, it soon got a little repetitive.

Plus it rushed to such an abrupt ending that I was left wanting. Good in one sense but bad in another.

The only problem was that from all the hype, I also expected something a little more.

I have nothing against a strong female character taking the helm and to adapt a dated 70s TV show and make some of the sillier aspects into something empowering and less farfetched was a great feat.

BUT the drawn out pace and plot holed story line hindered an exhilarating blockbuster.

I was left asking questions (POTENTIAL SPOILERS, maybe?); if the Amazonian island was shielded away from the world – why was Trevor’s plane the one to break through? Explain the other wars after WW1 if Wonder Woman’s mission was to stop the God of War? What was she doing for the next century? Surely not sitting in a museum?

BUT for all its flaws, WW was still entertaining, engaging (if a little long at the tooth) and DC’s best effort to date.

There might be some hope for them after all.

3.5/5 (Just)

*DON’T SIT THROUGH THE CREDITS – there are NO extras, teasers, NADA*

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*NEW* T2 TRAINSPOTTING REVIEW *NEW*

trainspotting

Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a sequel that is actually good. Choose this film.

After 20 years abroad, Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor) returns to Scotland and reunites with his old friends Sick Boy (Jonny Lee Miller), Spud (Ewen Bremner), and Begbie (Robert Carlyle).

It was always going to be tough to top such an iconic film. BUT if anyone was going to take it on, it could only be Danny Boyle.

21 years?! 21 years for a sequel that no one really asked for or wanted. BUT come on. How many of you were buzzing when those teaser/trailers hit the big screen with Iggy Pop’s Lust for Life blaring in all its glory?!

As soon as the hypnotic bassy beat of High Contrast’s Shotgun Mouthwash blared through the speakers, I cracked a grin. I knew what I was getting in for.

I was a huge fan of the film BUT have yet to read the Irvine Welch novels. Although I’ve been told they are not the most accessible of novels. A perfect example demonstrated with Spud’s “memoirs” as the lads ripped him for his indecipherable drivel. The bigger joke being that they were actual extracts from Welch’s books.

Considering the massive time gap, the cast hadn’t really changed. A perfect contradiction. Everything had changed BUT it was all still the same.

I couldn’t fault any of the lads. Bremner was spot on as Spud. His random stories delivering some cracking one liners. McGregor was superb. Miller nailed it. BUT there was one man who ran the show. And that man was Ol’ Begbie himself, Robert Carlyle.

He chewed up every scene he was in. A bi-polar bad ass. Bringing nail biting tension and bittersweet humour by the bucket loads. The man you loved to hate. A ticking time bomb.

The first act was just as mad and frenetic as the original. And I have to admit, I was beaming from ear to ear. All the little nods. The soundtrack was spot on. Mixing new with the old. Boyle teasing every scene with a drop of Iggy or a riff of Underworld. Perfect.

The excitement as the gang united for one more drug fuelled mind f**k of a reunion.

However, it wasn’t going to be all hugs and kisses now. Let’s not forget that Renton ran off to Amsterdam with all the drug money. Begbie vowing to kill him if ever their paths would meet again.

It was funny watching the mixed reactions as Renton returned BUT it was also quite hard hitting as well. Especially with Spud as he tried to get clean after years of being a junkie.

Sick Boy was still up to the same old hustle. Extorting rich businessmen in sleazy hotels and Begbie . . . Well, he broke out of prison.

I was in stitches watching Begbie trying to educate Begbie Jr with the ways of his trade. Especially when the poor boy would rather focus on his degree in Hotel Management than tea leaf a 50 inch flat screen.

The middle act did test me as we waited for Renton’s inevitable reunion with Begbie. Wondering if Sick Boy would screw him over. However, once the pair inevitably met, it was gritty, enthralling and funny.

Seriously when the pair realised they were in the cubicles next to each other, it was like something out of a Marx Brothers sketch. I will say no more.

It really came full circle as the lads re-evaluated their lives and remembered the glory days. The retreads through pivotal scenes were enjoyable as it recapped for some of the less avid Trainspotting fans particular plot points.

There was even a revelation that I never picked up on from the original. BUT after a while, it got too repetitive and took the attention away from the ongoing story line. I was starting to feel like I was watching the first one all over again.

BUT Renton and Sick Boy’s little con was entertaining enough. Infiltrating a Protestant pub to steal bank cards. Their ruse nearly discovered until the pair had to pull one hell of a distraction. Trust Boyle to get McGregor singing. And what a song! THERE ARE NO CATHOLICS LEFT!

For most of the film, I was pleasantly surprised BUT that’s not to say that it was perfect.

Anjela Nedyalkova’s turn as Veronika was a mixed bag for me. She came off as an unsuspecting femme fatale that got in the way. A mere plot device to spurn the fractious relationship between Sick Boy and Renton while helping Spud focus his rehabilitation on something more productive. 

I didn’t want to spoil too much about who pops up and what BUT Shirley Henderson was completely wasted as Gail. A mere passing cameo. Shame.

The pace was a killer and it really dragged to that finale. BUT once it kicked off, it was tense, unsettling and delivered a fitting swansong that ticked all the boxes.

A gritty visceral emotional rollercoaster ride that perfectly tackled friendship, loss, nostalgia. A bloody good watch from a reunion I didn’t expect. For a sequel I never thought would happen.

CHOOSE A FILM. CHOOSE ONE THAT WILL ENTERTAIN. CHOOSE ONE THAT IS (ALMOST) WORTH THE HYPE. CHOOSE THIS.

3.5/5

Please enjoy this High Contrast song and suffer the infectious beat that has been in my head for days.

 

 

GET SANTA REVIEW

Film-poster-Quad_AW_26815-Get-Santa

Get on it!

Jim Broadbent dons the red suit and white beard and leads a sterling British cast in this fun (but flawed) Christmas cracker.

Writer/director Christopher Smith has taken the same old Santa spiel and re-worked it into something quite different and entertaining.

So what’s it all about? (Besides the obvious implications of the title) A father (Rafe Spall) and son (Kit Connor) team up to save Christmas after discovering Santa Claus (Broadbent) sleeping in their garage and on the run from the police.

A breath of fresh air! I was surprised at how little this film was marketed at the cinemas. It’s not without it’s imperfections but I can certainly commend it’s originality. Execution on the other hand? Ho, ho, ho, here we go.

Broadbent brings St Nick to life brilliantly and delivered the charm by the stocking full. He was everything I expected. Funny, endearing and entertaining. It always helps in these family holiday films to have a likeable cast.

Connor (An impressive debut from the little chap) and Spall (X + Y) were fantastic together. They played the parts well and made the father/son dynamic work.

Spall’s dead pan delivery certainly made for some cracking one liners. His reaction when Tom tells him he’s found SC in the garage; “Are you in the garage with a man? Pass the phone to your mum”. Priceless.

The prison angle was a fresh take. Recently released from prison, Steve is desperate to be a good dad. Little does he know that his prison ties will be more important than ever. His quest for redemption certainly had a little more substance to the usual Christmas father/son squabbles.

The idea of SC incarcerated was a perfect platform for some fun gags. I smiled a lot more than I expected and was surprised at the stars that popped up in this.

Matt King (Super Hands from Peep Show) featured as a miserable and unsatisfied prison guard. To be honest, his character was nowhere near as good as I hoped. If anything, he was a little flat. Even the OTT comical punch up between him and Warwick Davis (Harry Potter) left little to be desired.

Davis, on the other hand, was quite good. Of course, lazy elf gags galore were thrown at the poor chap but his retorts and sarcastic jibes made up for it.

And what was Combo from This is England doing in this?! Stephen Graham’s turn as The Barber was an unexpected delight. Good to see he can still have a laugh and that he’s not too big for the small Brit pics. His tough guy training sesh with Broadbent was almost worth the ticket alone.

I was in stitches watching ol’ SC strutting around the gaff with corn locks. Throw in a cheeky slow mo tough guy montage to a bit of Ice Cube for good measure? Yes please.

Joanna Scanlan (Stella) played the delightfully unpleasant parole officer with aplomb. BUT apart from stomping about and carrying a toad in tow (You read that right), she didn’t really do much else.

Jodie Whittaker (Broadchurch) was wasted in her role. Apart from a few awkward exchanges (and rightly so) between her character and Steve, she didn’t really pop back up until the final moments.

The reindeer were quite funny for the little ‘uns. Especially the deceptive Dasher (who manages to break into vans without explanation). He can’t talk but he can communicate. And of course being a children’s movie, he does so by farting. That’s right. Communicating through farts (Come on, we’re better than that).

Although Spall trying to remain serious as the furry critters trumped away was quite funny.

Ewen Bremner (Trainspotting) was really irritating as the over-enthusiastic and deluded PC Finkerton. He did my nut in.

Unfortunately, for every clever little prison gag, there were a dozen recycled ones. BUT there was still fun to be had. A cheeky Shawshank Redemption reference shouldn’t have worked but it got a little nod from me.

For the little ‘uns, you have Big Nick firing a tommy gun of reindeer droppings in a high speed police chase.

The animation was a little cartoony for me. Especially in the letter tunnel when Steve and Tom are transported to Lapland. BUT their sleigh ride was brilliantly captured. Santa’s gadgets were quite cool. His slinky/chimney expander was a nifty little trinket.

I know it’s a Christmas film BUT it skimmed through a number of plot holes. Look, I’m prepared to except all the rubbish about SC and the reindeer flight paths (It’s a kids film after all) BUT breaking out of secure prisons so flippantly? Come on now.

It wrapped things up a little too quickly. For a moment, I wondered if Smith was going to play on the “Is he/isn’t he SC?” spiel a little more as Steve fears that he’s helping a chap who is nothing more than a petty criminal.

I loved its originality but was a little disappointed in its execution as it raced to its shamefully predictable, corny and rushed finale.

BUT I had a lot more fun than I expected and it wasn’t the worst way to kill 90 minutes.

2.5/5.