Thursday, 3 October 2019

Review: Fast and Furious: Hobbs & Shaw

The charismatic Johnson and surly Statham team up in this spin off from the main series. The convoluted plot involves both of them somewhat unconvincingly separately and then collectively pursuing a McGuffin also being chased down by Elba's terminator-a-like and assisted by the capable Kirby.  But the whole thing is just a frame for the three of them to indulge in lots of fighting and occasional car based stunt.

One thing that baffles me out of this series is considering how much money they make the entries within it invariably feel a bit cheap.  At least some of the CGI always looks a bit off, a few of the action sequences a little muddled, the script lacking the wit and delivery of Bond and the acting flat (especially from the two leads). But somehow they chuck enough at the wall during the over long running time that at some of it works.

Verdict: Fun & Flawed

Wednesday, 2 October 2019

Review: First of the few

Inspired by the recent discovery of Public Service Broadcasting's Spitfire track:

I decided to give the original film from which it is sampled a go - and I'm glad I did. After a slow propaganda heavy start, it became a compelling story of innovation and one man's dedication to aircraft design.  Niven and Howard are well drawn character-wise, but some of the others are bit thin.

Verdict:  If you can get past the limitations of a wartime propaganda drama, this is a little gem. 

Sunday, 15 September 2019

Review: Men in Black International

The original Men in Black charmed because of its quirky humour, witty script, intriguing glimpses at a well rounded universe and the odd couple at the centre of it. Men in Black 2 - I can't even remember. But MiB3 injected some new twists and felt like a revival of the magic.

So we come to the number four in the franchise. This time it's the turn of a new duo and they go global trotting in search of various bad guys and a gizmo to save the world. Thompson and Hemsworth have undoubted chemistry, but the script lacks spark and jeopardy which contributes to a feeling of we've seen it all before.

Verdict: The trusty formula is wearing thin.

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

Review: Life Drawing: A Life Under Lights

For most Doctor Who fans, Martin's iconic performance as a werewolf in the late 80s, is probably the primary attraction for reading this autobiographical graphic novel.  They hopefully won't be too disappointed as there are a solid couple of pages dealing with her work on Who and relationship with John Nathan-Turner.

As a rattle through Martin's career in TV and on stage (a lot of which I didn't know due to being just a little too young) it does the job and there are hints at her tenacious and methodical character. There are also some genuinely moving elements, such as her blossoming relationship with her current partner and various reunions.  But I felt occasionally, I'd have liked to know more ie what does a performer do when the calls stop coming and I'd have appreciated more insight into the actual work of acting.  But it does end on a more satisfying note as she draws parallels with the impact of her mother on her life and developing a new set of creative skills.

Verdict: Depth of insights limited by the format perhaps. 

Review: To reach the clouds

Petit's book is a fever dream of one man's five plus year obsession with wire walking between the WTC twin towers and - spoiler alert - achieving it.  He's an extraordinary and likely very difficult individual and he manages to fully capture his essence in his prose.

Probably the most fascinating elements of the narrative as those relating to social engineering.

Verdict: Highly recommended. 

Review: The summer we all ran away

Parkin's time jumping story is a decently told mystery centred on a manor house and its occupants - and had I not been given it, I doubt I would have chosen it as it probably veers towards chick-lit.  As it is she did just enough to keep me reading in ever greater chunks after initially struggling to settle into it.

Verdict: Light concise prose with a Gatsby-sque feel. 

Wednesday, 28 August 2019

Review: Peterloo

Weighing in at well over two hours, there should have plenty of time to tell this important milestone in the history of suffrage in a engaging way. Instead, director Leigh chooses to extend too many scenes beyond their natural length to fill out the running time and populate it with two dimensional, often declamatory, caricatures. There's one positive in all of the speechifying - it does serve to illustrate just how much biblical language influenced the timbre and content of the written and spoken word at the time.

Verdict: Overlong and strangely lacking historical drama