Monday, 20 August 2018

Review: When Harry Met Sally

Quirky and, by now, classic rom-com which asks whether men and women can ever be just friends? Crystal gets the best of the sparkling dialogue although the infamous scene in a diner proves Ryan can match him in comedic chops.

Made pre-World Wide Web and mobile phone, it feels like a film from another time now as telephone exchanges provide ample opportunity for comedy. It must be a head scratcher for anyone aged thirty or younger.

It is also punctuated by vignettes of older couples and the odd ways they got together.

Verdict: Good chemistry and fun script

Sunday, 19 August 2018

Review: The Breadwinner

Wonderful piece of animated social realism intertwined with a fantasy which is pure Campbell.  Both quest stories have a simple subtlety - particularly in the character animation.

The result is a moving and occasionally humorous story in which small acts of kindness shine through a curtain of dark brutality.

Verdict: Can't fault this slice of magical realism set in war torn Kabul.

Review: Deadpool 2

The return of the wise cracking foul mouthed superhero mutant is surprisingly muted compared to his first big-screen appearance. There's fewer jokes all round and those that there are less riotous.  I found myself smiling rather than laughing with this one.  The jokes that broke the fourth wall were probably the most effective.

Brolin and Beetz make for good additions to the cast - and complement Reynolds' strengths while their characters' provide some neat plot resolutions and hole filling. I hope we see more of them in future movies. The rest of the team remain underused - and I've got to the point of inwardly groaning when the simply dull Colossus appears on screen.

Verdict: Less funny, but more thoughtful second act.

Monday, 13 August 2018

Review: Skyscraper

The missus' ongoing love affair with Johnson continues and so to a viewing of his latest blockbuster.  Objectively, it's not a great movie - but Johnson is as charismatic as ever and, despite a weak script, his performances are getting better. It's wonderful to see Campbell back in a blockbuster.

It's also interesting to speculate the impact Chinese cinema goers are having on Hollywood as the movie tilts to their ambitions. To start, it's set in the tallest skyscraper in the world which happens to be in Hong Kong and owned by a Chinese billionaire. Asian actors also populate most of secondary parts - and not just as bad guys.  Lastly, the ascetic and staging of the action feels distinctly Hong Kong at times.

Verdict: Passable Die Hard copy lifted by Johnson & Campbell.

Sunday, 12 August 2018

Review: Paddington 2

Paddington 2 doesn't quite reach the anarchic heights of the first, but it does come close. The starting premise is a slight one - Paddington must earn enough money to pay for a present for a well-loved aunt and the madness spirals out from there.

Hugh Grant is wonderfully self-deprecating as a fading celebrity actor with a inflated ego.  It's a brave part to take on and a few lines of the script are rather near the knuckle.

It's peppered with quirky performances - even in the minor parts - throughout. Capaldi's nosey, if occasionally accent slipping, neighbour is a treat for example.

Verdict: A riot of bear necessities.

Monday, 6 August 2018

Reivew: ET the Extra-Terrestial

Back in 1982, I had something of an obsession with ET. I distinctly remember seeing a magazine article with Spielberg next to ET and being instantly captivated.  It didn't matter that I wouldn't see the film for several long months - on a rare sans-parents trip to the cinema with my sister.

Afterwards, in those pre-VHS days - I mainlined ET through a selection of toys, audiobook (on cassette), novelisation, sticker album and even membership of the fan club. Strangely, I never watched the film again until now.

Compositing work aside, ET has aged well. The creature effects still impress. A well observed script helps the young cast feel naturalistic. William's score captures and enhances the mood of every scene.  Oddly, I found I'd forgotten so much of the film - especially its references to Peter Pan.

Verdict: 80s nostalgia in a bottle

Friday, 3 August 2018

Review: Doctor Who: Whispers of Terror

The third release in the Big Finish release, Whispers of Terror, plays with the audio format from the start as the setting is a museum of sound samples.  Cue lots of tweaks, stretches, pitch shifts and sampling as well as technical explanations of sound manipulation.  From the perspective of nearly twenty years, it feels slightly dated, self-serving and rather quaint at times.

The mystery is an interesting one but I sometimes became confused by the lack of distinctness of some of the male voices.  Baker's Doctor is always clear though.  His incarnation is as bombastic as ever - and takes every opportunity to berate Peri to the point where it feels uncomfortable at times.  Bryant's Peri also gets very little to do, although she's not above making the odd barbed quip.

Lastly, the music really does transport you to back to the 80s with synths a plenty.

Verdict: A characteristic outing for number six.