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Showing posts from August, 2017

So you made contact with the French operative?

Atomic Blonde (2017)
(SPOILERS) Well, I can certainly see why Focus Features opted to change the title from The Coldest City (the name of the graphic novel from which this is adapted). The Coldest City evokes a nourish, dour, subdued tone, a movie of slow-burn intrigue in the vein of John Le Carré. Atomic Blonde, to paraphrase its introductory text, is not that movie. As such, there’s something of a mismatch here, of the kind of Cold War tale it has its roots in and the furious, pop-soaked action spectacle director David Leitch is intent on turning it into. In the main, his choices succeed, but the result isn’t quite the clean getaway of his earlier (co-directed) John Wick.

And you people, you’re all astronauts... on some kind of star trek.

Star Trek: First Contact (1996)
(SPOILERS) Star Trek: First Contact (also known as plain First Contact, back when “Star Trek” in the title wasn’t necessarily a selling point to the great unwashed. Or should that be great washed?) is probably about as good as a ST:TNG movie could be, in as much as it actively rejects much of what made the TV series what it is: starchy, placid, smug, platitudinous exchanges about how evolved humanity has become in the 25th century. Yeah, there’s a fair bit of that here too, but it mainly recognises that what made the series good, when it was good, was dense, time travel plotting and Borg. Mostly Borg. Until Borg became, like any golden egg, overcooked. Oh, and there’s that other hallowed element of the seven seasons, the goddam holodeck, but the less said about that the better. Well, maybe a paragraph. First Contact is a solid movie, though, overcoming its inherent limitations to make it, by some distance, the best of the four big screen outings with Pic…

Don’t get tipsy. We can’t have you hiccoughing in the coffin.

The Avengers 4.2: The Murder Market
Tony Williamson’s first teleplay for the series picks up where Brian Clemens left off and then some, with murderous goings-on around marriage-making outfit Togetherness Inc (“Where there is always a happy ending”). Peter Graham Scott, in his first of four directing credits, sets out a winning stall where cartoonishness and stylisation are the order of the day. As is the essential absurdity of the English gentleman, with Steed’s impeccable credentials called on to illustrious effect not seen since The Charmers.

Now you're here, you must certainly stay.

The Avengers 4.1:The Town of No Return
The Avengers as most of us know it (but not in colour) arrives fully-fledged in The Town of No Return: glossier, more eccentric, more heightened, camper, more knowing and more playful. It marks the beginning of slumming it film directors coming on board (Roy Ward Baker) and sees Brian Clemens marking out the future template. And the Steed and Mrs Peel relationship is fully established from the off (albeit, this both was and wasn’t the first episode filmed). If the Steed and Cathy Gale chemistry relied on him being impertinently suggestive, Steed and Emma is very much a mutual thing.

I fear I’ve snapped his Gregory.

Twin Peaks 3.14: We are like the Dreamer.
(SPOILERS) In an episode as consistently dazzling as this, piling incident upon incident and joining the dots to the extent it does, you almost begin to wonder if Lynch is making too much sense. There’s a notable upping of the pace in We are like the Dreamer, such that Chad’s apprehension is almost incidental, and if the convergence at Jack Rabbit’s Tower didn’t bring the FBI in with it, their alignment with Dougie Coop can be only just around the corner.

Death to Bill and Ted!

Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey (1991)
(SPOILERS) The game of how few sequels are actually better than the original is so well worn, it was old when Scream 2 made a major meta thing out of it (and it wasn’t). Bill & Ted Go to Hell, as Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey was originally called, is one such, not that Excellent Adventure is anything to be sneezed at, but this one’s more confident, even more playful, more assured and more smartly stupid. And in Peter Hewitt it has a director with a much more overt and fittingly cartoonish style than the amiably pedestrian Stephen Herrick.

Evil Bill: First, we totally kill Bill and Ted. Evil Ted: Then we take over their lives.
My recollection of the picture’s general consensus was that it surpassed the sleeper hit original, but Rotten Tomatoes’ review aggregator suggests a less universal response. And, while it didn’t rock any oceans at the box office, Bogus Journey and Point Break did quite nicely for Keanu Reeves in the summer of ’91 (inflatio…

A wrong has been made right, and the Sun is shining bright.

Twin Peaks 3.13: What is the story, Charlie?
(SPOILERS) After the relative wheel-spinning of the previous episode, What is the story, Charlie? makes up for it and then some, with hugely satisfying Evil Coop and Dougie Coop plotlines and several really nice little moments back in Peaks itself. Damn it, they’re making me care about characters I always found tiresome in the original!

Anthony Sinclair: Dougie saved my life. Thank you, Dougie. Dougie-Coop: Thank Dougie.
I’m betting Tom Sizemore loves playing Anthony Sinclair. It’s so entirely against his type – “a weak fucking coward” as John Savage’s bent cop puts it – there’s an added enjoyment factor to seeing Sinclair break down and confess upon having Dougie-Coop massage his dandruff-coated shoulders. Dougie-Coop’s idiot savant ability to unknowingly bring about exactly the most positive solution is verging on the Clouseau-like (“I tried to poison Dougie, he saw right through me”), such that now even the crooked cops are implicated (whil…

I have one eye, but all my own teeth. Would you like to count them?

Ice Age: Collision Course (2016)
(SPOILERS) Five hasn’t been the charm lately, underlining, as if it were necessary, that studios never know to quit when they’re ahead. True, Fast Five found its franchise propelled to new box office heights, but this summer’s Transformers: The Last Knight looks like it will have to settle for about half the gross of its predecessor (pretty awful considering Paramount set up a writer’s room in order to spew out a whole universe of robot spin-off movies and sequels). Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazars Tell No Tales has actually done okay, but that’s still a $300m drop on On Stranger Tides. And last year, Ice Age: Collision Course also saw the franchise balloon suddenly deflate without warning, again taking half the previous instalment’s take. The lesson? Viewer fatigue, when it strikes, can strike suddenly and devastatingly. And yet, the thing is, for all the drubbing this fifth outing took, it isn’t that bad.

The caveat here is that none of the Ice Ages…