Movie Review 13: Fury

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“Ideals are peaceful… war is violent.”

Fury is one of those films that I always liked the look of when it was on the side of buses, but then never ended up getting a chance to see for whatever reason. It happened with Spider-Man: Homecoming last month, it will probably happen with Thor: Ragnarok when it comes out. But those are superhero movies. This one is about the real heroes. It’s… also the DVD mum got dad for Christmas 2015, so that’s why I watched it in the first place. Whoops!

Fury follows the crew of the eponymous World War 2 Sherman tank, and their new bowel gunner, a totally inexperienced typist who must learn the ropes, and fast, lest he bring down the rest of the tight-knit team who have been together since the start of the war. They move along the German lines, a five-man army taking the country one small town at a time. There isn’t much else to it without major spoilers, but when a film with so simple a synopsis makes it into my top ten, you know you’ve got a gem.

The Good:

I have to start by praising the sound design in its totality. There is no better word for ‘all of it is stupendous’. Every bolt clattering in its housing rattles your bones, every muzzle flare is a blinding crash of light. Don’t even get me started on the tank shells. It’s the slams of punctured metal and the whistling of high velocity shells (which were created by, of all things, taping a whistle to a frisbee and throwing it past a microphone) that really bring Fury to life and make you feel like you’re the one going to war. It’s not just the sound effects that are tremendous but also the soundtrack. Haunting choral movements roll in like fog whenever Nazis are on screen, in stark contrast to the triumphant, almost electronic bass and sweeping piano utilised whenever the ‘Good Guy’ theme pounds across the battlefield. It’s as guttural and just as much of a beast as the tanks themselves, and it all creates that chilling atmosphere of hollow glory, hollow being the operative word, when the tracks (no pun intended… geddit, caterpillar tracks?) are so mournful and full of emotion. It also helped greatly with placing my shoulders somewhere up round my ears during one of the most tense moments I’ve seen in film, being the one-on-one tank combat scene. Fury circles a growling Tiger 1 tank, taking heavy machine gun fire and narrowly avoiding the fearsome shells. The Tiger itself seems impervious to anything our heroes throw at it, and the perspective given from the cold, efficient German crew just adds to the pressure of the scene. When two rounds are put square into the Tiger’s back end, flames erupting from the massive entry wounds, you have to manually pull your nails out of your armrests. Slow as the operation of tanks may be, Fury’s action is pulse-racing and truly a white-knuckle experience. Speaking of the good guys, though, all the characters, I think, are as strong as each other. This makes Fury the odd one out in the ‘Suicide Squad’ genre, and by that I mean a film or game where all but one or often all of the team of main characters are killed off. Some examples being Halo: Reach, Halo 3: ODST Rogue One, (click on all of those for my reviews of them) and… Well, the DC flop itself. There is not, I believe, a single weak link in the main group in Fury. The cast is great, too, and that helps, of course. This also allow for greater impact when we are offered the symbolism of all four original Fury operators dying inside the tank, forever entombed in the vehicle that became their home for the duration of the war, and will now be their home forever, and Norm, the new recruit, escaping. It is touching and tastefully done, so tastefully in fact that I didn’t notice it during my first watch of the film. While we’re on the subject of subtle emotion, the poignancy of the closing aerial shot hit me lot harder watching it this time round (not to mention the fact that it’s the only time the camera leaves the ground for the whole film, where it spends all of its time boots on the ground with the soldiers), and is a fantastic visual note to finish on given the content and overarching messages of the rest of the film. Visuals throughout are also grogeous, and we all know what a sucker I am for large, chunky engines of war bristling with radio antennae, wires, spare ammunition and, most importantly, loads of guns. The gritty tone and washed-out visuals (done much more effectively than they were in Dunkirk where everything just looked sort of… wet) are punctuated at regular intervals by split-second shots of violence that are just long enough to imprint the flash of blood and guts on the backs of your eyelids for a few moments, after which the film rumbles forward with whatever skirmish is taking place. The gore, much like Fury’s imagery and emotion, is restrained enough to not become dragging, yet somehow intensely satisfying in its discretion.

To be Improved: 

My complaints are mainly little nitpicks, as is often the case with films that make it into my top ten favourites of all time. The first issue I have is one that I don’t even mind that much, but I feel the need to point out that the constant laser-fire, tracer rounds though they may be, becomes a bit too Star Wars at points. Which, in actual fact, we all know is no problem for me, and to be honest it’s good that we actually get to see the bullets flying rather than a few yellow beams every now and again as per Saving Private Ryan and the like. While we’re on the topic of star wars, another problem with Fury is that, like Rogue One, and in fact Halo: Reach, the protagonists do develop a tendency to drop like flies. It makes more sense in Fury, though, because the whole climactic battle is them becoming drastically overwhelmed, pinned down with one of their treads destroyed, unable to move, fighting quite literally to the death. Speaking of Saving Private Ryan, there is a moment in Fury much like the opposite of the fact that Tom Hanks’ character lets a soldier live, and is then killed by the very same man. In Fury, Norm is forced by Sergeant Collier (Pitt) to shoot a German soldier, and is then, when spotted by an SS trooper while hiding under the tank as the film draws to a close, is allowed to live. It’s different… But it’s just as cheesy, and it’s really the only moment that doesn’t hold up in terms of poise or subtlety like the rest of the film’s more intense scenes do. Now, the one big issue I have with Fury is the pacing. I guess in war it’s difficult for this not to be the fact, but the film has a choppy-changey attitude when it comes to knowing when to switch from a lull to an action sequence. It’s very obvious whenever someone or something is going to get shot, or an explosion is going to go off, or a enemy trap is about to be sprung, and when it suddenly grinds to a halt and spends what feels like quarter of an hour (a lot in film-time) on… breakfast? I guess a lot of it is to show the fragility of civilians, the hopelessness of it all, and, during a particularly cryptic anecdote from Micheal Pena’s Garcia, how close-knit Fury’s crew are, purposefully excluding Norm. It’s hard to follow, a little disjointed, and all in all a rather jarring point in the film simply due to how suddenly everything quiets down. But, again, this is interrupted all in good time by the Germans shelling the town, obliterating not only the area itself but also the messages whatever that scene was trying to convey, and I use the plural because to me it seemed to be around three or four. It’s unfortunate that they all become a little tangled and are then forgotten about, because it did add another layer to the narrative, if a little too heavy-handed on the characterisation (John Berthnal’s standoffish Gordo licking a terrified German girl’s eggs and bacon, for instance).

Overall: 8/10

Despite the above-mentioned awkwardness of the one scene that tries to cram emotional exposition into a film with such explosive subject matter, it still conjures up some touching subjects to consider. The bond between brothers in arms. The futility of war itself. The despair of it all. However, none of the sentiment delivered in Fury is rammed down your throat, as it is in so many films. There are no downright ‘sad’ scenes, which is why I haven’t used that word until now, yet it still hits home on the poignancy front. It also, luckily, hits home when it comes to the front that is the film’s setting, and the glorious fight scenes complete with a wholly appropriate and satisfying aesthetic, along with the expert sound design and the score’s tone, create a war movie that is as intimate as it is fiercely action-packed. One for the history books (pun well-deserved).

 

 

Movie Review 12: Dunkirk

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“There’s no hidin’ from this, son… We have a job to do.”

I was invited to see Dunkirk with two of my three older brothers so we could have a boys’ night out at the pictures. However, much to my surprise, Dunkirk was the only so-called boys’ film that’s come out all year that my girlfriend actually wanted to see. I couldn’t help but indulge her, plus Harry Styles was in it so she had some eye candy if things got really boring. I’m okay with that; I had Cillian Murphy to look at.

It’s rather difficult to write a synopsis of a film based on actual historical events without taking it straight off the Wikipedia page, so I shall do just that in case people don’t know anything about what is arguably one of the most triumphant events in British wartime history: The Dunkirk evacuation, code-named Operation Dynamo, also known as the Miracle of Dunkirk, was the evacuation of Allied soldiers from the beaches and harbour of Dunkirk, in the north of France, between 26 May and 4 June 1940, during World War II. There you have it! Let’s get to the movie.

The Good:

I think most of the things I enjoyed during Dunkirk where due in no small part to Vue Cinemas’ gorgeous surround sound. ‘Scuse my French, but FUCK was the sound good!! Divebombers positively screaming overhead, explosions that made your ears ring, gunshots clattering out that felt like they were impacting all around you. It felt more like a 4D movie than a 2D one, with the seats juddering everytime a Spitfire made a pass. God damn, this is what cinema should sound like, god damn god damn. Ahem. Let me compose myself and talk about some other enjoyable aspects, speaking of the planes. The few times I felt my eyes sting a little during Dunkirk were, besides the moment when all the small vessels arrive (which was actually butchered by Kenneth Branagh’s subsequent line, tut tut) and when the boys arrive home and see the white cliffs of Dorset (I’ve already mentioned my little house there on this blog), were whenever the spitfires flew past. They were actually gorgeous, I can’t lie. I’ve never even had a particular affinity for the engines of war, but I guess a substantial part of me enjoys first person shooter video games and sci-fi war movies, and then on top of that Fury is among my top favourite films of all time, soooo perhaps I’m just trying to hide the fact that I do love a beautiful piece of engineering, and the Spitfire is no exception. Says a lot that I purchased a Lego Republic Fighter Tank in the shopping centre we saw the film in, doesn’t it? The visuals of the film in general were rather nice, if a little washed-out, just like the soldiers, and some particularly stomach-churning aerial shots were enjoyable when your seat was wobbling along with the nose of the plane. The acting throughout the film isn’t half bad, surprising considering it’s mostly American accents that work on the big screen, and I hate to say it but you know it’s never a good sign when I draw my “The Good” section to a close with a comment on something which is expected to be present in any film. To attempt to defend Dunkirk before I get into my criticisms, I will say that I acknowledge the fact maybe the character’s aren’t memorable because they’re not supposed to be, as war is anonymous, and hardly any are individual heroes… but let’s be frank: Nolan probably wasn’t thinking that hard about the symbolism.

To be Improved:

When I had to turn to my girlfriend and explain that yes, we were now on a third separate timeline in terms of the plot, I think we both realised that something was amiss. Cillian Murphy is on the small vessel Moonstone after being rescued, heading back towards Dunkirk; Cillian Murphy is also refusing access to a boat to another of our main characters, who is stuck on the beach (confusing enough already, the only indication that these are different time frames being the time of day); and Tom Hardy flies towards a German bomber about to take out a minesweeper. To add insult to injury, Hardy’s character takes about twenty minutes of screentime to get to the bomber, despite going full throttle and blazing through his Spitfire’s fuel. This is because it keeps jumping back and forth, and then to my intense frustration, Hardy doesn’t even catch up to the bomber before it completely obliterates the minesweeper, killing most on board in one barrage. There are moments like this that aren’t entirely explained, like when some sort of blind man (possibly, again, not explained) touches our hero on the face before giving him a blanket. Also, when Harry Styles’ character (who is the grumpy nadir of the film) does what he does best by being moody on the train ride home through England, there’s this sort of lacklustre reveal, as the other protagonist (though I use that word lightly) reads Churchill’s triumphant Commons’ address in the paper, that “Oh, I guess Harry’s character thought everyone would be angry at them for retreating, but we already… Sort of… Knew that Dunkirk was a triumph rather than a failure so… What?” On top of that, the sheer frustration that Hardy’s character, when he finally does run out of fuel, simply glides to a halt on the beach and, despite that fact that he flies over hundreds of men on the beach being evacuated, is captured by Germans in the film’s closing shots. I guess he didn’t want the Spitfire to fall into enemy hands? It’s all just so vague and confusing, and any emotional impact is lost because we don’t actually spend enough time with any of the characters to really care about them. Plus, and god, now I’m just ranting, the trailer spoils absolutely any moment of tension. My girlfriend got all tense when Styles’ character goes into the belly of a boat, and I just turned and said “Torpedo, I reckon,” and lo and behold, someone shouted “TORPEDO!” and the whole thing was blown to smithereens. Again, when some Englishmen hide in the bottom of a fishing boat which is being used as target practice by some unsuspecting Germans, one is asked to plug the holes or the boat will sink. I covered my ears, and sure enough, only my girlfriend jumped at the next bullet which came through the hull. How did I know all these things, I hear you ask? The trailer, man. The damn trailer. When the next Star Wars one comes out, I’m tellin’ ya, I don’t think I want to watch it, because studios are just spoiling more and more and more with each new film. The artificial tension throughout the film was a cheap way of making the audience on edge, and I started to notice about halfway through that at most quiet moments, some sort of gunshot was about to go off. Nearly one hundred percent of the time, I was right. It still gave me a bloody fright every single time, which was a nice adrenalin kick, but I’d go to a horror movie if I wanted that. And finally, speaking of artificiality, the death scenes that came every quarter of an hour were even less emotional than the jumpscares, and that’s saying something. It wasn’t poignant because, much like a horror movie in fact, characters were just picked off at every opportunity rather than in any sort of moving scene. Sure, as I kind of mentioned in the above section, maybe this is the point, as you can die at the drop of a hat in war, but Nolan’s death scenes were just too formulaic and at intervals far too regular to make me think that was the case.

Overall: 6/10

Dunkirk rumbles moodily along for its duration and for whatever reason manages to make its nearly two-hour runtime feel like half of that, with some great shots and emotional moments, but fails to deliver on any satisfying characters, action or poignancy overall. More like a string of ‘boo’ moments, the film (like many Cillian Murphy stars in, Anthropoid included) is not one that will be remembered, despite its subject matter, mainly due to the frantic (but somehow still dragging) jumping between scenes. I shall simply agree with what my dad, who saw it a few days before me with aforementioned brothers, said when I asked him whether or not Dunkirk was good: “Mmm… It was enjoyable, yeah,” he replied, with a so-so look on his face. And, in stark contrast to the history it was based on, I’ve gotta admit that that’s all Nolan’s Dunkirk is, unfortunately.

 

Movie Review 11: Baby Driver

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‘The moment you catch feelings is the moment you catch a bullet.’

Against the wishes of my friends that I attend a house party, I already had tickets booked to see a film I’d been looking forward to since I saw the trailer before Free Fire way back at the beginning of April, three months ago today. That film was Baby Driver, and I was not about to trek twenty stops on the central line when I could take a bus down the road to my local cinema and have a car chase- and rock music-fuelled evening of action.

Baby is a driver (seems simple enough, appropriate title choice) for Kevin Spacey’s Doc, a ruthless mobster who has our titular hero under his thumb for stealing a bunch of his stuff, presumably drugs, in the trunk of a car which he then proceeded to drive round Spaghetti Junction with no headlights or brake lights, managing to evade the police but (again presumably, and we’ll come to this in my biggest gripe with the film) crashing the car and (fucking presumably, because have I made it clear that we are never told) losing the drugs. We don’t see any of this, which is shame, and the film instead follows Baby’s last few jobs as he finally gets straight with Doc. But once your hands are this dirty, you’re probably going to end up curtains trying to get them clean, as we shall see.

The Good:

As with Free Fire and Full Metal Jacket, this is another one of the only good films I’ve reviewed on this blog. I’m not talking about enjoyability, because I gave Ghost in the Shell a 9.5/10 and that was a box office flop, but I’m talking about actual production value and lack of pandering to the rollercoaster-thrillride-loving common denominator. In that vein, the rating for this film should be taken with that in mind, and that a 9/10, for instance, is worth way more than a full 10/10 for a blockbuster. This is where the cracks in rating systems start to peek through, but I hope what I’m trying to sell makes sense. Right, let’s get into this thang.

This. Film. Rocks. Holy SHIT, does it rock. There aren’t many movies I come out of with the memory of turning to whoever I’m seeing it with and excitedly whispering “I think I’m gonna pee!” as I jiggle in place, but that was certainly the case with Baby Driver. There are around four different shootouts and chase scenes that time the gunshots and gear changes with the rumbling drumbeats and blaring electric guitars of such hits as Queen’s Brighton Rock and Tequila by The Champs. I could barely my contain squeals of pleasure as a pistol slide cracked with the hi-hat, or a clutch pedal was slammed down on the kick of the bass drum. God dayum was it a ride! This is so far removed from the bland, achingly over-the-top action and violence of Transformers or X-Men. It is true adrenalin, bursting at the seams, and it feels fucking great. This was a 15 so I’m allowing myself, much like the film, some ‘strong language’, I don’t even care. In terms of individual positives, a scene that stood out to me, above all others, was when Buddy goes crazy after the death of his bride and tracks Baby down in a multi-story car park. Seeing the beefy, glistening black police cruiser, swallowing all light save for the piercing red and blue of the lights, growling as it patrols the bays like a shark, especially when you overlay Mercury’s vocals and Brighton Rock’s guitar solo, was joy. Pure joy, simple as. Mum and I had to hold hands, we were just bouncing in our seats. The script isn’t bad, either. Mum thought it was a little too on the nose, and claimed it wasn’t very well written, but I thought many of the quips were laugh out loud funny, especially one pertaining to a certain line from Monsters Inc, although I will say that for obvious reasons Spacey is a standout. On top of the ridiculously satisfying action and soundtrack, there were also some lovely moments of symbolism. A shot from Baby’s point of view where his gaze flicks from Bats (Jamie Foxx), whose reckless personality not only he but also we the audience can’t pin down, to Buddy, a character who is somewhat of a friend to Baby, who we have just seen listening to music with him. Bats wears the privacy glasses (sunglasses framed with glaring pink LEDs to confuse cameras and shroud your identity, hint hint) that are about to be used in the heist, and Buddy does not. See what they did there? Also, whenever Baby is taking part in the heists or the planning of them, everything that happens around him goes with the beat of the music he is listening to, because it’s the life, or even the rhythm, one might say, that he’s gotten used to. But whenever he’s living his normal life, the life he wants, everything feels disjointed and it took me a moment to realise that it was because everything is out of time. Flat. What he wants, but not what he’s accustomed to anymore. Genius. Finally, and this leads nicely into one of my criticisms, just before Bats is killed, there is a shot of him (in true ‘The Departed’ fashion) through a car window, with the reflection of a lamppost or telegraph wire slashing straight through his image, crossing him off, subtly placing the imagery in the viewer’s brain and adding even more to the sense of unease that something is about to go down.

To be Improved:

As with books that I enjoy to a massive extent, this section is often a little longer when I find a film I love, but that’s because the criticisms are very specific. The biggest one I have with Baby Driver is the fact that the trailer featured many split second shots of nifty car stunts, and I remember saying to my girlfriend on the way to the cinema that I bet there would only be one chase scene at the beginning, then maybe another one a little later on that wouldn’t be as action-packed. How right I was, when, much to me and mum’s disappointment (yes, we saw it with my parents, but it was lovely, shush), the film opened on a car chase. It was the highlight of the film for my parents, who left feeling the rest of it was a bit flat in comparison. I don’t share this opinion, but I do agree that it was a high note which should have been saved for a little further into the narrative or at least matched by another later scene in terms of excitement, which, to be honest, it wasn’t. That’s really my only big issue with the film, so the rest of these are slight cracks which, for me, stuck out a smidgen to much. Firstly, a shot where a girl in a denim jacket and purple headphones goes into the back room of a diner singing ‘B-A-B-Y baby’, followed closely by the eyes of our eponymous protagonist. Then, a second later, a different girl in a waitress outfit appears from a different direction by the tableside, causing our hero to look up from the door his gaze was just fixed on. It’s just the case of a bad series of cuts that make it look like Debbie, who in reality is both women, just after a costume change, is two different people, but it took me at least fifteen minutes to suddenly hit that “OHHHH” moment, which was a little distracting. Second, contrary to my enjoyment of the symbolism before the fact, Jamie Foxx’s death was way too obviously set up. Hitting the audience over the head with not just one but several shots of an incredibly unsubtle stack of poles sticking out the back of a lorry parked in front of the getaway car directly in front of the passenger side was a little too indicative of Edgar Wright’s style, and something that should have stayed in Shaun of the Dead or the disgustingly gratuitous Hot Fuzz (just my opinion, shoot me). Finally, there were just some moments left painfully unexplained or fizzled out. Like a character referred to only as Soldier Boy who suddenly comes out of nowhere during the robbery of money truck, starts shooting at the getaway vehicle, and is then killed, never to be explained. Seems a bit random and unnecessary, is all. Then, Buddy discharging his pistol beside Baby’s ears, supposedly deafening him, although his hearing returns by the closing shot which seems strange. If it doesn’t return, and he stays deaf, a possibility me and dad discussed, it’s not obvious at all, and that’s a problem in itself, so it’s still a problem. But above all, the most disappointing aspect of the film was a lovely nighttime aerial shot of Spaghetti Junction just before the film’s climax, as this seemed to be setting up a repeat of the scene we heard about but never saw of Baby’s famous police chase, which in my opinion would have been an incredible way to end it, but turned out to only serve as a callback to the backstory. In fact, looking back on it after the rush of seeing the film has passed, a Spaghetti Junction chase should have been how the film ended, because the real ending was lacklustre and ambiguous to say the least. You can tell by the time Baby wakes up in the car beside Debbie, however long after Buddy’s death, that Edgar Wright was running out of ideas. It suffers from LotR syndrome, being that it doesn’t know when to end, meaning that instead of solidly ending, Baby Driver just sort of… peters out.

Overall: 8/10

Some truly great filmmaking has gone into Baby Driver. The soundtrack is insane, and I think I’ll be preordering the vinyl just after this review goes up because it’s certainly gotten me in the mood to listen to it all over again. “That’s some Oscar shit right there!” exclaims Jamie Foxx’s Bats as he applauds, breaking the tension during a sinister moment in the diner. Mmm… Perhaps I wouldn’t go that far, but that’s not to say that Baby Driver isn’t a glorious blend of pink neon, banging tracks, delicious carplay (too little of it, if you ask me) and dazzling firefights. A Drive-esque chase to finish the story where it started and really wrap everything up would have made this my film of the year, possibly my film of the decade, which just means it’s that much more of a letdown that it ended how it did. Sad face, but one that is trying hard to hide its childlike glee.

 

Movie Review 10: Transformers – The Last Knight

 

“For my world to live… Yours must die.”

I’ve got a Transformers tattoo. I saw the first two films in the series back in ’07 and ’09, both with a lifelong best friend. The memories of our super-nerdy childhood and the nostalgia which comes with the Transformers series meant that I just had to get Megatron inked in full colour across my torso, his arms going down mine. I’m totally kidding, of course. My tattoo is five little numbers in cybertronix (the language of the Transformers) on my wrist, representing Barricade’s interrogation of Sam with regards to the eBay item 21153 from the original movie. It’s basically dots and dashes, so no full body giant robots here! But my point is that I’m a massive fan of the series, and pretty dedicated to boot, hence ink, so I couldn’t contain my excitement when I found out about this, the fifth in the series.

Oh, Optimus, it’s been far too long. The Last Knight picks up where Age of Extinction left off way back in 2014. I say “way back” only because, in a time when Disney is successfully pumping out a billion-dollar-grossing Star Wars every year, a three year hiatus for a franchise is a pretty big deal. Either way, the events take place soon after the previous film, in a period where an evil corporation has taken to finishing the now deceased Lockdown’s mission to hunt what remains of the Cybertronian race. The timeline switches between this and the distant, medieval past, where Transformers shed precious metal with the blood of Arthurian knights against a vicious three-headed robodragon.

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“Giant robot? Uhm… Nope, not round these parts, I think I saw one go that way.”

The Good:

Lots of these are specific, I’ll be honest, so let’s just run through them in some semblance of the order in which they appear. Lots of the characters now have throwback designs, like Barricade’s arguably much more cartoony robot form, complete with a child-friendly (as far as evil, murderous robots go) blue paint job and ‘serve/protect’ knuckle dusters. This is a nice nod to the Generation One cartoons from the ’80s even if some of these characters are exclusive to the movie series. Speaking of nods, there are some insanely good callbacks to the original and proceeding cartoons, most of which I’ve seen at least half of, like Bumblebee’s famous “Sting like a bee”, Optimus becoming the evil Nemesis Prime (made me pee a little), Dragonstorm in all his glory, Megatron telling Prime that they were brothers once, Earth being Unicron, and so many more. On top of that, the return of Colonel Lennox is a very welcome one, although I stand with the majority of fans and wish Shia had been present, even in a cameo role (rather than just in a photo ripped straight from the first two films). And speaking of the army, the massive battle sequences complete with military jargon, huge explosions, fighter jets and the human race getting the living shit kicked out of it yet still firing just as much flaming ordinance right back at the ‘bots may not be anywhere near as incredible as the Strike Package Bravo and Operation Firestorm scenes from the first two movies, but there are plenty of epic moments and some gorgeous shots for sure. The climactic battle, though there are hardly any proper one on one fisticuffs, so none of the transformers get to show off their moves in all their glory, contains some amazing moments, like Optimus Prime asking six oncoming Insecticons “Did you forget who I am?” before launching into a sword swing which beheads each and every one of them in one go which he follows with “I… Am Optimus Prime”. Chills. Much.

And now, before we launch into my rather disappointing number of criticisms, let me just preface it with the fact that I really do think that the final half hour of this film did pull it back for me, and the fact that it ended on a cliffhanger means that Bay has one last chance (at least) to redeem himself, really hit home, and wrap this series up for good in a meaningful way. Which I hope he does, but am not in the least bit expecting him to. I’d much prefer if he stuck to his word and just effed off and let someone else take the reins. Hard reboot needed.

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Quintessa and Optimus proving that even Cybertronians have their kinks. Shame those chains aren’t pink and fluffy.

To be Improved:

Let me just start with my biggest complaint about this film, that being the fact that it is NOT ABOUT GIANT ROBOTS. This is a film about Mark Wahlberg hitting on a decidedly objectified Englishwoman, with the army following them around with a fleet of mini TIE Fighters (seriously, look it up), and a couple of thirty second robot fights in the background. In this vein, nigh on dozens of characters are completely wasted. Barricade gets one full body shot in the entire movie, complete with one of his amazing ‘Punish/Destroy” knuckle dusters, but is then barely seen and certainly never heard from again, before he disappears right after the main climax starts. Megatron is kicked out of an alien ship in what is once again a cataclysmically poor five-second-fight, much like the end of Dark of the Moon, and once again it is vague as to whether or not he is actually dead. Hot Rod and the gorgeous military green Allied Bumblebee fighting against Nazis is also a tragically underwhelming sequence, and one that my girlfriend was eagerly awaiting the entire time only to be left feeling utterly let down. Starscream’s head makes a nice cameo, but if I’m honest I’d prefer to have him back in his entirety if it meant he replaced one of the graffitied, racially insensitive Decepticons on Megatron’s team. And the twelve, count ’em, twelve guardian knights don’t even go into battle with the Arthurian ones other than in the form of Dragonstorm, whom they all combine to form and who is decidedly pretty interesting but, as with many robots in Age of Extinction manages to look very much like a pile of metal rather than the sleek, tyrannical lizard he could have been. All of the child actors are piss annoying, and I wish they would get squashed under a giant Cybertronian foot every time they’re on screen, but that’s not even the worst part. After a massive sequence involving the aforementioned TIE Fighters and no robots whatsoever (see above), there is a shot of the child heroine waking up in Wahlberg’s character’s scrapyard. I turned to my girlfriend and managed “Oh god, I fucking-” and didn’t even get the “forgot about her” out of my mouth before she held up a hand, nodded and agreed: “Me too.” Overall, The Last Knight really just doesn’t respect the series roots, and moves even further away from bringing back some of that spark (or should that be ‘allspark’?) from the first three films that was decidedly damaged, almost beyond repair, with the floating pixel transformations of the fourth film. Furthermore, much to my dismay, the film has adopted a very unfortunate trend that was started by the only piece of cinema I have ever given a 1/10 rating to: Guardians of the Galaxy 2. And it follows that trend in almost every way. Scenes that would otherwise be emotional and cool are shat on completely by Bay’s… well, nonexistent sense of humour, with a near-record-scratch moment of music cutting off in place of a quip just as it’s getting to the good bit, or a death scene interrupted by a joke attempting to get ‘down with the kids’ (a particular chase scene featuring a robot butler with an aristocratic English accent chanting “Move, bitch, get out of my way” made me feel particularly like I’d taken a big bite out of a lemon). One of the coolest action scenes is a game of polo in slow motion, for god’s sake, because it’s the only one that isn’t shattered by a poor joke. In my review of Guardians, I complained that the awesome opening scene was all blurry and shoved into the background, and it was instead decided that baby Groot dancing was the thing to focus on. Last Knight also achieves this, with a submarine (that is arguably just a big black cylinder) rolling through the water in the middle of the screen after it has been knocked off course, interrupted by split second shots of robots, tiny in comparison, beating each other up in the corner of the frame. As with Guardians’ opening, I was actually physically craning my neck to try and look around the massive obstruction blocking what I had actually come to see. However, not only does it follow in the footsteps of the absolute worst film I’ve ever seen in my entire life, but on top of that The Last Knight rips off some of the best. Okay, perhaps Suicide Squad isn’t among the best, but a greatly out of place sequence where Megatron chooses his crew is not only completely devoid of the tone set by the rest of the film and more like something out of a comic book movie, but is also so similar to Suicide Squad (especially considering the fact that in the following few scenes the army are using the Decepticons to track down the bigger bads, sound familiar?) that it’s outright insulting. On the subject of stealing ideas, what is most debilitating is that Bay seems to care about neither his own franchise nor in how shitty a direction he has taken it, openly having a character quote “What’s with the C3PO ripoff?” as if hitting the audience over the head with his outright assholery wasn’t enough and he also has to hammer it down our throats that he’s now become self-aware, as if that’s supposed to make it all forgiven.

Overall: 5.5/10

Five movies on and, in my humble, nerdy opinion, the Transformers series has absolutely lost its knack for creating awe-inspiring visuals in all their action-packed explosive glory, and is sticking well to the trend of including tamer and tamer storylines and acting as the series progresses. But come on, at the end of the day they’re based on children’s toys, for crying out loud, what did you expect? If you’re not willing to overlook that fact, then you really shouldn’t be spending money on a franchise you know you’re going to just hate and bash online later. Surprisingly, the child actors aren’t even the worst thing about the film, but instead it is the director himself. The humans are in the film far too much to not detract from the giant, metal T-Rexes and three-headed dragons, and sequences that could, nay, should have been five minutes long dragged on for half the movie, with none of the dry, actually funny humour of the first two films, and instead stuffed fuller with over-inflated sexual jokes than Vivian’s dress was stuffed with her over-inflated… Well, you get the idea. But did you hear me right? Giant. Robot. Tyrannosaurus. I can’t deny it: even if the Last Knight doesn’t make me all that proud to wear my ink, is barely hanging on to a positive rating and is honestly only doing so because of my love for the previous films… Shoot me, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy it.

Movie Review 9: Rogue One – A Star Wars Story

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“Theres a problem on the horizon. There’s no horizon.”

I can’t believe I didn’t think of this until now. I guess it’s because I returned from my reviewing hiatus after Rogue One came out in the cinema, and way before it came out on DVD. But now it’s here in all it’s glory, and you know I had to pick up a copy and relive the satisfaction of a Hammerhead Corvette shunting a Star Destroyer into its neighbour, the beauty of Scarif’s sweeping tropical vistas complete with towering AT-ACT walkers, and the sheer badassery of what everyone need only to refer to as that Vader scene. Can we tell if I enjoyed this movie yet?

Rogue One is set leading up to and ending with the events that kickstart the Star Wars original trilogy, wherein a small group of rebels, with the help of a captured imperial pilot and the daughter of the man who designed the Death Star, must steal the plans for said almost-operational battle station and deliver them to the hands of the Republic. The title is a pun in itself, as it is the first to be set between the events of the trilogies. But what ensues is the movie that put the ‘War’ in Star Wars, and it’s brilliant.

The Good:

I’m having trouble figuring out how to start this, and that’s not because I can’t find anything good about Rogue One. On the contrary, I think it’s because I normally have a select few aspects to praise about a film, making it easy to narrow my positives down to a starting point. With Rogue One, that’s impossible. Disclaimer, I am incredibly biased towards Star Wars at this point in my life. But during what is now my third viewing (I saw it in the cinema twice when it came out), I really tried to watch Rogue One objectively and, to quote the Lego Movie, this is what I felt: Everything is awesome. From the opening, the visuals are obviously the most stunning that the franchise has every seen, Force Awakens included (I personally hated the first shot of Star Wars VII with a passion). The new, never-before-seen landscapes, yet peppered with countless nods to the original which are nowhere near as heavy-handed as last Christmas’ addition to the series. Okay, I’ve had my fun, we all know the battle between Force Awakens and Rogue One will rage on for decades to come, so let’s drop the comparisons. I heard a recent argument that Jyn Erso is a rather passive protagonist for the first half of the film. In other words, things happen to her, and are not caused by her. I personally disagree with the notion that this is a bad thing, as she is ripped from her life time and time again until the Alliance finds her. We get this first half to see her ignoring wider galactic affairs (“I’ve never had the luxury of a political opinion”) in order to better see her development and her character arc over the course of the story. When you realise what a hero she becomes, and a flawed one at that, which makes her even more relatable, watching it again makes you appreciate how far she rises from her humble beginnings, and I think that’s some excellent development. Next, the fights scenes. The action in Rogue One is intense. Roaring laser fire and the return of all our favourite ships and some wonderful new ones just add to the wonder and visual spectacle of it all. But it’s all so desperate, as the fights on the ground prove, and we’re really rooting for the Rebellion by the time the film’s climactic battle rolls around. Speaking of those visuals, there are some killer shots. The Death Star’s first weapons test, all silent while Jyn’s father talks over the destruction of a holy city. The AT-ACTs stomping through lush green jungle while battalions of stormtroopers wade alongside them through the tropical shallows. And that shot of Vader. No, I don’t mean the closing scene with the lightsaber, though that’s a close second. I mean his introductory shot when his shadow towers over Director Krennic as the giant door to his chamber slides open and he stands amid sinister fog. But it’s not just the shots themselves, it’s what’s in them. On Jedha, there is a whole host of alien citizens who we’ve never seen before and will almost definitely never see again, but their prosthetics, costumes and makeup are all outstanding. The fact that so much time and effort has been put into really creating a setting that flows and feels real makes Rogue One a joy to behold. As much as I focus on them, however, visuals aren’t all Rogue One has to offer, as some people might argue. The characters are all compelling, unique, fun to watch, and work together incredibly well, and the plot gives birth to that of one of the most influential trilogies in history. On top of that, who doesn’t love getting our classic Imperial soldiers back (see below) instead of the tiny-waisted, big headed messes that are the First Order. I’ll shut up about VII until the conclusion now, I promise.

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You can’t roll up armour to go paddling, so Delta Squad decided to work with what they had.

To be Improved:

There aren’t many problems I have with Rogue One so much as areas where a little improvement could have gone a long way. Whereas the last three quarters of the film feel like their own contained episodes which could fully work as a TV miniseries, the opening scenes are rather too haphazard and are a little too quick to switch between four or five new locations to set the scene. An especially unnecessary and rushed moment comes on a planet called something like Hokusai (yes, even I who can whip anyone’s ass at a game of Star Wars Trivial Pursuit, don’t know what the planet is called, or really care, to be frank) when Jyn is rescued from an imperial labour camp. It’s all stuff we could have done without because it is done so hurriedly and something, even if we’d been dropped straight into her conversation with the Alliance after her rescue, we would have been able to work out for ourselves simply through conversation topics alone. The next big problem is that during the last segment the cast, secondary and primary alike, all start dropping like flies, and after the first viewing it loses its poignancy. This desperation is of course reignited by that gorgeous final Death Star ignition and the resulting shockwave, but it’s a problem when the deaths of your main characters aren’t all that moving. A technical gripe I must bring up is that I have no idea what the film would have been without the sudden, last minute heavy edits, so I can’t really complain about it based on some split second shots from the first few trailers, though it would have been interesting to see it and, with some speculation, one can see how it might have been made even better than it already is without the tampering. Additionally, it’s easy to make the connection between this and the lack of stable framework between the scenes following the title card. This doesn’t lose it too many points in my book, though. My biggest issue with film though is, surprisingly, it’s hero. Jyn, despite being the main main character is, funnily enough, the weakest link in the Rogue One team. Cassian Andor and K2SO no doubt hold her up and stand out as the two most likeable and believable characters, so the whole system just about works, but for a film mockingly titled “Rogue Feminist” by some angry internet forum users, Jyn doesn’t do a whole lot without extensive help from her male comrades. Still, that’s a hell of a lot better than a certain female lead way over at the other end of the scale who suddenly manages to master every single Jedi trick in about six and a half minutes. Damn, just couldn’t quite hold my tongue until the end, could I?

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*sings* What’s that coming over the hill, is it a Death Star?

Overall: 9.5/10

This is my first decimal review, and I’d like it to be the last. Ghost in the Shell (9/10) was amazing, but I much prefer Rogue One and that isn’t perfect either, so I have to give it less than ten but more than Ghost in the Shell’s nine, hence the nine point five. So, what do I think of the film on the whole? Well, it’s just the best Star Wars, isn’t it? It truly shows the scale of combat and what’s on the line for the little guys. And even then, despite their apparent insignificance in the face of overwhelming odds and narrative juggernauts like Vader, they become the unsung (literally, there is no mention of any of them in the original trilogy) heroes of the Rebellion, and for good reason. This is both visually and story-wise the most impressive of the (at the time of writing) eight films in the franchise, spinoffs rightfully not included. Where Force Awakens was an Instagram-filter rehash of what made the original trilogy great, like its characters Rogue One steps off in a bold new direction and reaps the benefits of that bravery.

Movie Review 8: Full Metal Jacket

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“Anyone who runs is a VC. Anyone who stands still… is a well-disciplined VC! Ain’t war hell?”

Last night, I was considering watching Rogue One, which I bought at Westfield along with a Lego model of the Imperial Hovertank that features in the film. However, during dinner my parents asked me if I wanted to sit down and watch something with them. Preferring our comfy sofas to the rickety office chairs upstairs, I said yes, and we settled on Full Metal Jacket. Dad was about as excited to rewatch it as I was to see Rogue One again, so I indulged him, and I don’t regret that decision.

Joker is a combat correspondent and he, along with his photographer Rafter Man, train to become Marines who eventually graduate and are sent to Vietnam to work for the Stars and Stripes newspaper. They document the horrors of war and, naturally, take part in combat themselves. From the gruelling clutches of their Drill Instructor all the way up to taking on Viet-Cong snipers, Joker, Rafter Man and the soldiers they meet along the way wage the war that changed the way the world sees America.

The Good:

This is the first ‘good’ film I’ve reviewed on this site, and by that I mean films that come out these days are rollercoasters. The characters are archetypal, the plot has often been seen before countless times, all the tropes included, and the action is so pumping and camera-wobbly that you come out feeling as worn out as you would if you really had been on a theme park ride. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy them massively; I will try and criticise a film that I love just as much as one that I strongly dislike, but I’m super nerdy so I’ll be biased towards a lot of the films I review here. Full Metal Jacket is (perhaps with the exception of Free Fire) a different breed entirely, so this review will have to be taken in that context. A movie like this won’t be anywhere near my favourite movie, because it doesn’t really fall under the category of films that can be ‘favourites’. These types of films are classics, nothing less, so it’s difficult to review them objectively as they’re just so damn solid. So, without further ado, let’s get into it.

Full Metal Jacket was an amazing film. I’ve got to say it straight away. But there are some major highlights of it that make other sections pale in comparison, although it’s all such a watertight package that there are hardly any visible cracks unless you really analyse it. First, I want to talk about the visuals. There are a particular few shots that will stick in my mind for a long time, and the whole look of the film is gorgeous, as per Kubrick’s usual standard. Helicopters roaring overhead and troop transports rumbling past as the actors walk towards a dollying-out camera. Soldiers walking in formation through a crumbling landscape lit by the fires of burning buildings. And my personal favourite: a continuous tracking shot along a line of tanks firing at an enemy fortification in the distance. It’s so personal and gritty, and you feel like you’re boots-on-the-ground right in the heart of the action with these guys, as the camera is almost never positioned above head height, if at all. Another big plus was the acting. The characters, though we only stay with most of them for a short time, are all so unique and fleshed out without being stereotypical. Sure, there’s the big gruff machine-gun wielding guy, the little compassionate guy, etc., but you don’t see that from looking at them and hearing them talk. They’re all just men fighting a war together. But the one moment that stayed with me was Private Gomer Pyle’s mental snap where he loads a rifle (“Seven-six-two millimetre. Full. Metal. Jacket.”) and shoots his Gunnery Sergeant then himself. Vincent D’Onofrio’s performance is one of the best I’ve ever seen, and makes Ledger, Leto and Nicholson’s Jokers (no relation to the protagonist of Full Metal Jacket) look like pussycats. The insane grin on his face paired with the ravenous, sadistic glint in his eye is terrifying, an amazing piece of filmmaking and acting.

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Tanks so much for your time, Lieutenant.

To be Improved:

The story. Honestly, that’s all I can say. It’s interesting to see characters progress from the first act to the second and third, from training through to first taste of combat then on to proper patrolling, but the sections aren’t really connected at all. Sure, the binary nature of training versus actual combat reflects a quote by Joker about the duality of man, but I doubt this was intentional. Knowing Kubrick, it may have been, but that seems too forced and it doesn’t really work or fit with the overall tone of the film. For that to truly gel, we’d have to see some civilian life as well, just to really hammer home the switch between normal life and the heat of Vietnam firefights. I suppose it would ruin the neat-little-package nature of the film for it to be any longer, but for me it was over before it even started. The boot camp sections are repetitive and, after you’ve seen the film once, serve purely as a tension-builder and a lead up to the finale of the first act, Pyle’s suicide. We stick with characters for a little while, and then they are invariably killed off or sent to a different part of the country. And there’s a rather disjointed if symbolic section of interviews sort of messily stuck around halfway through the film, almost Blomkamp style. The film’s finale feels like the end of the first half, not the climactic moments, and in my opinion the film probably wouldn’t have suffered from a Saving Private Ryan runtime just to really flesh out the characters and further put forward the message it’s attempting to explore.

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Yep, that one definitely says ‘British Gas’, I guess we’re not in Vietnam after all.*

Overall: 8/10

Full Metal Jacket is a really great watch. I enjoyed it all the way through and kept turning to my parents with my mouth agape as a chopper flew overhead or an explosion lit up the night sky in a blaze of fire. The script is insanely good, and funny to boot, and it keeps the ball rolling even outside of the action scenes, somethings lots of films fail to do these days. I could have listened to the boys tease each other for hours and it would still tickle and interest me without becoming saturated with humour or feeling like it’s over-exerting itself. The action scenes themselves are wonderfully shot, and poignantly executed, with some hair prickle-inducing tension and a couple of great slow motion kills. War may be hell, but Kubrick’s classic sure isn’t.

* If this joke went over your head, see Full Metal Jacket’s filming locations

Movie Review 7: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – THE NEGATIVE REVIEW

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“Whatever you do… Don’t. Push. This. Button.” (or watch this movie, funnily enough)

What’s this? Three paragraphs before the ‘Good’ and ‘To be Improved’ sections? Well, that’s because this review comes with a disclaimer. I’m proud to say that after some serious digging, this is the only entirely negative review on the internet for this film as of May 1st 2017 (pinch punch, by the way). As I Hate Everything would say, funnily enough, this is my opinion, so don’t get your Starmunch in a twist.

I saw the first Guardians of the Galaxy with my grandma, I won’t lie to you. There’s no shame in a little family time, especially when you can watch what is arguably Marvel’s least asked for but most anticipated and then eventually most cherished movie of the entire franchise. Speaking of highly anticipated, from the very first poster for Vol. 2 I was looking forward to it. The first one was just so refreshing, personal, and tongue in cheek. I’m very unhappy to say that the second take all of that and runs too far. Way too far. So far that it trips. And falls of a cliff.

Peter Quill (“Starlord, man, come on.”) is back again, this time with some new additions to the crew of the Milano. Nebula, Gamora’s ‘evil’ twin sister, Yondu, the ravager who picked Quill up from Terra as a child, and Mantis, a psychic, join Rocket, Drax, and HELL YEAH BABY GROOT, for another adventure accompanied by just as awesome a soundtrack, on their quest to find Peter’s elusive father and defeat the all-powerful Sovereign people, led by the gold-plated Ayesha. It should be about as crazy and exciting as the synopsis, but spoilers, it really isn’t.

The Good:

Baby Groot. Some of Yondu’s moments are pretty cool I guess, even if he has become a little bitch. Also I have to concede that the moment where Nebula flies her warship over Gamora with the cannons blazing was nice looking. Even though they built up the warship by hiding it from view when Nebula bought it, then it turned out to be exactly the same as the Milano, right down to the colours. Let’s move on.

To be Improved:

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is, without a doubt, the worst film I’ve ever seen. I know there are some truly awful films out there, but I’m talking about films that any semblance of effort and/or money was put into. I would rather watch Beauty and the Beast (my 2/10 review) again than this. First off, from the get-go, all the characters hate every single one of the others. I couldn’t agree with Nebula more when she tells the Guardians “All you do is bicker. You are not friends”, and I wish I could say this is a bit of intentional meta-humour but I’m really betting that it wasn’t. None of the characters are likeable. Except for Baby Groot, see above, although technically he’s Toddler Groot and Marvel knows it because they put a Teenager Groot end-credits scene in there and Groot in the plant pot from the first movie’s credits was Baby Groot. Oh, what, you wanted the name to have a nice ring to it? That’s no excuse for continuity errors, especially ones you highlight with your own movie. The fact that you’re not rooting (or should that be Grooting?) for any of the characters should be a massive red flag from the start, but it gets worse. Much worse. Adam Sandler worse. We’ll come to that in a minute. Next, we have the storyline. It’s essentially an extension of the trailer. Incredible! Every scene starts with a shot from the trailer so I immediately start wishing I had the ability to skip to the next one and fast-foward all the pointless bumph. The opening action sequence is completely blurry and covered up by Baby Groot dancing (though it is adorable, see ‘The Good’). In fact, none of the action sequences, or emotional ones, or heartfelt ones, or dialogue- and exposition- heavy ones, or any of them, are enjoyable, and it’s all because of one factor. The jokes. Every single line, scene, action and gesture is finished or, even worse, interrupted, by a one-liner that thinks it’s hilarious. Just when you think Fox on the Run’s banging bassline is ramping up to a climactic chorus, it cuts to silence and someone cracks wise. Even the amazingly-chosen songs for the soundtrack aren’t allowed to flourish. And just when one of the most epic and satisfying shots of the movie (but oh wait, it was in the trailer) appears, where the Guardians are standing in a circle, finally together as one unified team… Oh, Mantis gets hit by a fucking rock. What are you, twelve? I mean that’s the age rating and clearly the target audience, so why do I even bother trying to argue? And even my girlfriend, who enjoyed the film (I blame that opinion on her sleeping through most of it, which should immediately give you some indication of how stimulating it is), was disappointed that the writers had sunk to the ‘poo joke’ level. So, the humour, action, and characters are completely insipid, how about the plot? Well, for what feels like a three hour long movie, most of it takes place on Ego, the living planet, AKA Starlord’s dad. They fight, they talk, lots of stuff is cockteased and then half-heartedly revealed at a later junction for absolutely no payoff, and those gold ladies (from… When, again?) sort of just show up to anti-ex-machina the eventual ex-machina that occurs. That’s plot struck off. So come on, the film must have looked good, right? You said so in your intro paragraph! Well, I will admit that yes, there were a select few moments that were nicely framed, a particular forest wide-shot springing to mind. But the rest of the movie is so sickly sweet and bubblegum-saturated that it looks like the VFX team ate the contents of a candy shop and threw up on the screen. Oh, man, and here we come to perhaps the biggest issue with the entire film. I will overlook the fact that the cast of, what, ten main characters have absolutely no chemistry whatsoever, even when one or more of them is dying. I will overlook the fact that the plot is less like a train chugging along and more like a stopped train that you have to walk through, but it’s like super busy and there are no seats left so you have to stand in that bit between the doors where it’s cold and you’re squished up next to some hipster with a fold up bike. I will even overlook the fact that the jokes are anything but funny. But what I will not overlook, is this:

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Because that’s what the film’s climactic battle devolves to. Peter and his dad, during their “Let’s play at being Superman and Zod and chuck each other through buildings then have a Dragonball Z style punch-each-other-a-bazillion-times” section (I guess Marvel really has run out of ideas), suck in a bunch of rubble and encase themselves in it. Ego makes himself into a giant version of himself, fist outstretched, which is ridiculous in itself, and Peter makes… Well, you saw the picture. It’s genuinely no different from the Pacman above, apart from it has no eyes. It was the absolute final straw for me. How can you even attempt to put in the imagery from a film, a comedy at that, which scored 27% on Metacritic and a shocking 17% on Rotten Tomatoes? In fact, the CGI on the whole is absolutely crap. It’s so naff to see a luminescent blue Ego complete with a mouth like the Ice Cream Man from Legion (look it up) rise up and go “BLAAAGH” and shake about like a somehow even worse version of the T-3000 from Terminator: Genisys. Now, we come (finally, thanks for sticking around) to my last point, and it’s one that broke the film for me even more than the giant chomping sky-Pacman did. The end credits scene. It features Sakar, better known as Sylvester Stallone doing what he does best (which is look like and act worse than a piece of old leather) and his compatriots, who are, unlike Sakar, without a doubt fucking awesome. A striking Asian woman with an accent, dark hair and facial war tattoos, what looks to be a floating Cyberman head (which is played by Miley Cyrus), a man completely made of damn crystal, and some sort of red snake-cum-man-cum-Crimson Corsair (look him up) alien who communicates by spinning his hands and creating sparkling holograms out of thin air. Holy shit! Where were these guys all this time? Show me their story! They’re only on screen in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment, but I left the cinema wishing with all my heart that I’d seen a film about them, not the shit-show I’d just paid a tenner for. Let’s compare them to the cast of the actual film, shall we? Okay, so let’s see, we have: A human; a blue human; a blue human; a blue human (that’s not a triple-typo; Drax, Nebula and Yondu are not different in the slightest to me); a green human; a humanoid raccoon; and Baby Groot, who I’ll give a free pass. They’re just. So. Bland. And when you end a movie with characters who I see for less than ten seconds and already prefer them a hundred times more than the actual protagonists, you dun fucked up.

Overall: 1/10

For Baby Groot (though even his cuteness is milked dry by the end of the movie) and a few seconds of interesting visuals. I cannot praise anything else about this movie. A plot that goes nowhere. Characters I’m less invested in than I was in the dump I took before the film. A soundtrack that would have been cool if every single song hadn’t been cut off just as it was getting to the good bit. CGI that makes Dragon Wars (which did better than Pixels, just to put it in perspective) look good. And an end-credits scene that teases the nonexistent movie that I would rather have thrown my money at. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was an absolute waste of my time and my cash, and I will not be happy to give Marvel a single penny for the foreseeable future. I’m going to go and see Thor: Ragnarok when it comes out in November, but that’s for reviewing purposes, and I shall do so incredibly reluctantly. I wish I had more limbs with which I could give this movie even more thumbs down than I’m able with my current two.