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You kind of look like a slutty Ebola virus.

Crazy Rich Asians (2018)
(SPOILERS) The phenomenal success of Crazy Rich Asians – in the US at any rate, thus far – might lead one to think it's some kind of startling original, but the truth is, whatever its core demographic appeal, this adaptation of Kevin Kwan's novel taps into universally accepted romantic comedy DNA and readily recognisable tropes of family and class, regardless of cultural background. It emerges a smoothly professional product, ticking the expected boxes in those areas – the heroine's highs, lows, rejections, proposals, accompanied by whacky scene-stealing best friend – even if the writing is sometimes a little on the clunky side.

They make themselves now.

Screamers (1995)
(SPOILERS) Adapting Philip K Dick isn’t as easy as it may seem, but that doesn't stop eager screenwriters from attempting to hit that elusive jackpot. The recent Electric Dreams managed to exorcise most of the existential gymnastics and doubts that shine through in the best versions of his work, leaving material that felt sadly facile. Dan O'Bannon had adapted Second Variety more than a decade before it appeared as Screamers, a period during which he and Ronald Shusett also turned We Can Remember It For You Wholesale into Total Recall. So the problem with Screamers isn't really the (rewritten) screenplay, which is more faithful than most to its source material (setting aside). The problem with Screamers is largely that it's cheap as chips.

The possibilities are gigantic. In a very small way, of course.

The Avengers 5.24: Mission… Highly Improbable
With a title riffing on a then-riding-high US spy show, just as the previous season's The Girl from Auntie riffed on a then-riding-high US spy show, it's to their credit that neither have even the remotest connection to their "inspirations" besides the cheap gags (in this case, the episode was based on a teleplay submitted back in 1964). Mission… Highly Improbable follows in the increasing tradition (certainly with the advent of Season Five and colour) of SF plotlines, but is also, in its particular problem with shrinkage, informed by other recent adventurers into that area.

My pectorals may leave much to be desired, Mrs Peel, but I’m the most powerful man you’ve ever run into.

The Avengers 2.23: The Positive-Negative Man
If there was a lesson to be learned from Season Five, it was not to include "man" in your title, unless it involves his treasure. The See-Through Man may be the season's stinker, but The Positive-Negative Man isn't far behind, a bog-standard "guy with a magical science device uses it to kill" plot. A bit like The Cybernauts, but with Michael Latimer painted green and a conspicuous absence of a cool hat.

Right! Let’s restore some bloody logic!

It Couldn't Happen Here (1987)
(SPOILERS) "I think our film is arguably better than Spiceworld" said Neil Tennant of his and Chris Lowe's much-maligned It Couldn't Happen Here, a quasi-musical, quasi-surrealist journey through the English landscape via the Pet shop Boys' "own" history as envisaged by co-writer-director Jack Bond. Of course, Spiceworld could boast the presence of the illustrious Richard E Grant, while It Couldn't Happen Here had to settle for Gareth Hunt. Is its reputation deserved? It's arguably not very successful at being a coherent film (even thematically), but I have to admit that I rather like it, ramshackle and studiously aloof though it is.

Well, we took a vote. Predator’s cooler, right?

The Predator (2018)
(SPOILERS) Is The Predator everything you’d want from a Shane Black movie featuring a Predator (or Yautja, or Hish-Qu-Ten, apparently)? Emphatically not. We've already had a Shane Black movie featuring a Predator – or the other way around, at least – and that was on another level. The problem – aside from the enforced reshoots, and the not-altogether-there casting, and the possibility that full-on action extravaganzas, while delivered competently, may not be his best foot forward – is that I don't think Black's really a science-fiction guy, game as he clearly was to take on the permanently beleaguered franchise. He makes The Predator very funny, quite goofy, very gory, often entertaining, but ultimately lacking a coherent sense of what it is, something you couldn't say of his three prior directorial efforts.

Anything can happen in Little Storping. Anything at all.

The Avengers 2.22: Murdersville
Brian Clemens' witty take on village life gone bad is one of the highlights of the fifth season. Inspired by Bad Day at Black Rock, one wonders how much Murdersville's premise of unsettling impulses lurking beneath an idyllic surface were set to influence both Straw Dogs and The Wicker Mana few years later (one could also suggest it premeditates the brand of backwoods horrors soon to be found in American cinema from the likes of Wes Craven and Tobe Hooper).

I can't explain now, but I've just been murdered.

The Avengers
5.21: You Have Just Been Murdered
Slender in concept – if you're holding out for a second act twist, you'll be sorely disappointed – You Have Just Been Murdered nevertheless sustains itself far past the point one might expect thanks to shock value that doesn't wear out through repetition, a suitably sinister performance from Simon Oates (Steed in the 1971 stage adaptation of the show) and a cartoonish one from George Murcell (1.3: Square Root of Evil) as Needle, of the sort you might expect Matt Berry to spoof.

It’s the power that excites me. I want to be ill-mannered, and rude, and uncouth.

The Avengers 5.20: The £50,000 Breakfast
Another week, another remake. This one reworks one of my favourites of Season Two, Death of a Great Dane, but the results are almost entirely uninspired. Indeed, it jostles for one of the weakest episodes of this season.

High octane stuff, eh?

The Avengers 5.19: Dead Man’s Treasure
One of my very favourite episodes, such that I even like aspects others find profoundly irritating. What makes it such a hit? It might partly be a fondness for the comedy race/rally genre (Monte Carlo or Bust leads that small but distinguished pack) or possibly it’s the supremely jaunty Laurie Johnson incidental score that accompanies the jaunty jalopies. The summery scenery adds something too (Bowler Hats and Kinky Boots notes it had more location filming that any other British film series episode produced during the '60s); the concoction as a whole is irresistible.

It’s great you’re helping all these random people and everything, but it’s not going to fill that hole in your heart.

The Equalizer 2 (2018)
(SPOILERS) I was going to suggest The Equalizer 2 is to The Equalizer (2014) as Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is to Jack Reacher, but then I remembered Jack Reacher is pretty good, and The Equalizer is just okay. Denzel broke his no-sequels rule for this?

It smells like ass in here.

The Hitman's Bodyguard (2017)
(SPOILERS) An unabashed '80s/'90s throwback antagonistic buddy action movie, albeit lacking the finessing and sharp dialogue of the master it aspires to, Shane Black. Samuel L Jackson, who appeared in a few of those movies, is the loud, outgoing, emotionally-contented hitman Darius Kincaid, Ryan Reynolds the careful, measured, reserved bodyguard Michael Bryce. And, given the title, you can tell how it will escalate from there.

Never tangle with a Cybernaut.

The Avengers 5.18: Return of the Cybernauts
Avengers sequels not featuring Brodny are a rarity, and as obvious a no-brainer as this follow-up to last season's crowd-pleaser is, it rather underlines that the show was never at its best when returning to past glories (not least by churning out straight remakes). Return of the Cybernauts at least boasts a couple of elements that put it above its predecessor, however, even if the improvement is very much relative.

Welcome, to Nightmare Alley.

The Avengers 17: Death’s Door
By this point, it goes without saying that, with Sidney Hayers calling the shots, Death's Door is very stylish, which is an enormous boon to the dream sequences, taking a conscious leaf out of Spellbound's book for how to do these things; if Too Many Christmas Trees previously plundered the manipulated mental state in not wholly dissimilar fashion, Philip Levene ensures this one keeps ticking along, with a proper howdunnit for Steed and Emma to solve.

Some clown just tried to kill me!

Married to the Mob (1988)
(SPOILERS) With The Silence of the Lambs, Jonathan Demme became a bona fide mainstream director, and I don't think it really suited him. Apparently, he'd been courting Tom Cruise for Married to the Mob, so I guess he was gradually shifting towards "Hollywood player" territory anyway, but I can't imagine the picture being nearly as loose and fun as it is with the then biggest star in the world attached. Because Married to the Mob is shambolic and freewheeling, disinterested in anything you'd call classically Hollywood, even by comedy standards. And its enormously, infectiously uplifting.

My cigars. He’s been smoking my cigars… And he’s… Bitten the end off. Bitten!

The Avengers 5.16: Who's Who???
As much as the series would fall back on remakes of earlier episodes when the producers were in a tight squeeze and pushing deadlines, necessity could also be the mother of invention. While The Prisoner made the worst possible fumble of the old body-swap scenario with Do Not Forsake Me Oh My DarlingWho's Who???, borne from the twin challenges of Patrick Macnee and Diana Rigg wanting time off (her departure from the series was announced during filming) is largely a success.

Our very strength incites challenge. Challenge incites conflict. And conflict... breeds catastrophe.

The MCU Ranked Worst to Best

It's the end of the world here, so nobody stays for long.

The Avengers 5.15: The Joker
It seems this remake of Don’t Look Behind You, the second redo of the season following The Correct Way to Kill reduxed as The Charmers, is generally highly regarded in relation to its Cathy Gale era original. I have to admit, I can't really see it, and coming after last season's also-leading-Avenger-lady-trapped-in-an-isolated-house near-remake (The House That Jack Built), it comes across a bit like flogging a dead horse. What The Joker has in spades is production value, cleverly directed by sure-hand Sidney Havers and draped with a level of plushness the Cathy Gale era couldn’t muster. It isn't enough, though.

Now then, you show nanny where you keep those pretty little missiles.

The Avengers 5.14: Something Nasty in the Nursery
Once Upon a Time, the penultimate episode of The Prisoner, sprang to mind more than once while rewatching Something Nasty in the Nursery, with its regressed adults and distorted guitar twangs announcing the sinister. It's very nearly a great episode, the only thing letting it down being the lack of any rug pull or shift in perspective beyond the initial setup.

In my day, those even endeavouring to fly were accused of witchery.

Warlock (1989)
(SPOILERS) Hero REG? Scottish hero REG? This could only have happened before anyone knew any better. As Richard E Grant himself commented of a role Sean Connery allegedly turned down ("Can you do a SKUTTISH accent for us?"), "How could they have cast a skinny Englishman to play this macho warlock-hunter?" And yet, that incongruity entirely works in Warlock's favour, singling it out from the crowd as the kind of deliciously-offbeat straight-to-video fare (all but) you could only have encountered during that decade.

That living fossil ate my best friend!

The Meg (2018)
(SPOILERS) There’s a good chance that, unless you go in armed with ludicrously high expectations for the degree to which it's going to take the piss out of its premise, you'll have a good time with The Meg. This is unabashedly B-moviemaking, and if a finger of fault can be pointed, it's that director Jon Turteltaub, besides being a strictly functional filmmaker, does nothing to give it any personality beyond employing the services of the Stath. Obviously, though, the mere presence of the gravelly-larynxed one goes a long way to plugging the holes in any leaky vessel.

Never mind. You may be losing a carriage, but he’ll be gaining a bomb.

The Avengers 5.13: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Station
Continuing a strong mid-season run, Brian Clemens rejigs one of the dissenting (and departing) Roger Marshall's scripts (hence "Brian Sheriff") and follows in the steps of the previous season's The Girl from Auntie by adding a topical-twist title (A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum came out a year earlier). If this is one of those stories where you know from the first who's doing what to whom, the actual mechanism for the doing is a strong and engaging one, and it's pepped considerably by a supporting cast including one John Laurie (2.11: Death of a Great Dane, 3.2: Brief for Murder).

You just threw a donut in the hot zone!

Den of Thieves (2018)
(SPOILERS) I'd heard this was a shameless Heat rip-off, and the presence of Gerard Butler seemed to confirm it would be passable-at-best B-heist hokum, so maybe it was just middling expectations, even having heard how enthused certain pockets of the Internet were, but Den of Thieves is a surprisingly very satisfying entry in the genre. I can't even fault it for attempting to Keyser Soze the whole shebang at the last moment – add a head in a box and you have three 1995 classics in one movie – even if that particular conceit doesn’t quite come together.

The Black Panther is not someone to mess with.

Gringo (2018)
(SPOILERS) Gringo's problems stem from it trying too hard to be the kind of movie its makers have seen done better. It's doing its best to give off a studiously crazy/ frenetic tone, something accentuated by Christophe Beck's self-consciously quirky score. Throwing David Oyelowo's straight-edged pharmaceutical rep into the path of Mexican cartels and hitmen, Nash Edgerton's second feature is "one of those", the latest in a seemingly unremitting stream of low-budget hit-and-miss crime affairs, peppy enough to attract a supporting cast working for scale, but lacking the personality to stick in the mind for very long.

The simple fact is, your killer is in your midst. Your killer is one of you.

The Avengers 5.12: The Superlative Seven
I’ve always rather liked this one, basic as it is in premise. If the title consciously evokes The Magnificent Seven, to flippant effect, the content is Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None, but played out with titans of their respective crafts – including John Steed, naturally – encountering diminishing returns. It also boasts a cast of soon-to-be-famous types (Charlotte Rampling, Brian Blessed, Donald Sutherland), and the return of one John Hollis (2.16: Warlock, 4.7: The Cybernauts). Kanwitch ROCKS!

It’s an enema of sunshine.

Roman J. Israel, Esq. (2017)
(SPOILERS) The main takeaway from Roman J. Israel Esq. is that every Dan Gilroy movie can't be a Nightcrawler. That jet-black satire was a hit both with critics and (in a small but distinguished way) audiences, nabbing Gilroy an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay into the bargain. Sony doubtless gave him carte blanche as a result, on the basis that if material as unlikely as that did well, what did they know? The result is almost perversely uncommercial, an awkward movie that marches in dislocated beat with its awkward protagonist, staunchly refusing to chart the expected, stirring course of the "underdog hero" legal thriller and leading to a dénouement that hardly feels justified by its diffident content.

Who are you and why do you know so much about car washes?

Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)
(SPOILERS) The belated arrival of the Ant-Man sequel on UK shores may have been legitimately down to World Cup programming, but it nevertheless adds to the sense that this is the inessential little sibling of the MCU, not really expected to challenge the grosses of a Doctor Strange, let alone the gargantuan takes of its two predecessors this year. Empire magazine ran with this diminution, expressing disappointment that it was "comparatively minor and light-hitting" and "lacks the scale and ambition of recent Marvel entries". Far from deficits, for my money these should be regard as accolades bestowed upon Ant-Man and the Wasp; it understands exactly the zone its operating in, yielding greater dividends than the three most recent prior Marvel entries the review cites in its efforts at point scoring.

Gloat all you like, but just remember, I’m the star of this picture.

The Avengers 5.11: Epic
Epic has something of a Marmite reputation, and even as someone who rather likes it, I can quite see its flaws. A budget-conscious Brian Clemens was inspired to utilise readily-available Elstree sets, props and costumes, the results both pushing the show’s ever burgeoning self-reflexive agenda and providing a much more effective (and amusing) "Avengers girl ensnared by villains attempting to do for her" plot than The House That Jack BuiltDon't Look Behind You and the subsequent The Joker. Where it falters is in being little more than a succession of skits and outfit changes for Peter Wyngarde. While that's very nearly enough, it needs that something extra to reach true greatness. Or epic-ness.

You use a scalpel. I prefer a hammer.

Mission: Impossible - Fallout (2018)
(SPOILERS) The latest instalment of the impossibly consistent in quality Mission: Impossible franchise has been hailed as the best yet, and with but a single dud among the sextet that’s a considerable accolade. I’m not sure it's entirely deserved – there’s a particular repeated thematic blunder designed to add some weight in a "hero's validation" sense that not only falls flat, but also actively detracts from the whole – but as a piece of action filmmaking, returning director Christopher McQuarrie has done it again. Mission: Impossible – Fallout is an incredible accomplishment, the best of its ilk this side of Mad Max: Fury Road.

I've killed him! I've killed him again!

The Avengers 5.10: Never, Never Say Die.
An episode that sets out its store of intrigue quite nicely, and hums confidently along, but ultimately reveals itself holding the least plausible of decks. Never, Never Say Die sounds like a Bond title and tends to be a fairly highly-regarded episode, however; I can only assume much of that is based on its illustrious guest star, Christopher Lee, strutting his stuff in dual roles; both Professor Frank N Stone (hur-hur) and his monster, a part he has, of course, played before.

I will unheal the shit out of you!

Hotel Artemis  (2018)
(SPOILERS) Hotel Artemis is all set up. It's solid set up, undoubtedly – a heightened, John Wick-esque criminal world by way of John Carpenter – but once it has set out its wares, it proceeds to pulls its punches. One's left more impressed by the dependable performances and Drew Pearce's solid footing as a (debut feature) director than his ability to develop a satisfying screenplay. 

You’ll note, gentlemen, the correct way of doing everything, even in defeat.

The Avengers 5.9: The Correct Way to Kill
You wouldn't get away with this kind of thing today. An undisguised remake of third season episode The Charmers, right down to its choicer dialogue, looking at them side by side is neither revealing as a shot-for-shot exercise (Gus van Sant's Psycho) nor the changes resulting from a switch to colour and upping the budget (The Man Who Knew Too Much, although there were additional substantial changes there, of course). Instead, both versions have their positives and negatives, but for me, this new one never quite manages to improve sufficiently on source material that was never quite there in the first place.

It means murder, Watson. Cold-blooded, refined, deliberate... murder.

The Hound of the Baskervilles (1983)
(SPOILERS) The 1988 Jeremy Brett Hound of the Baskervilles was, sadly, an early sign his incarnation wasn't full proof, doubly disappointing because there was an expectation, based on previous form, that it might have been the telling of the tale. Luckily, there's another '80s TV version that's much more satisfying. Half a decade earlier, Douglas Hickox directed Ian Richardson in the latter's second, and alas final, Holmes outing. If The Sign of Four was merely adequate, in part due to the changes made to the story, Charles Edward Pogue furnishes Hound with several creative solutions to key challenges in adapting the material.

The best place to hide a needle is not in a haystack, but among a lot of other needles.

The Sign of Four (1983)
(SPOILERS) The first of two TV movies featuring Ian Richardson as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's greatest creation, and a very upbeat, personable Sherlock Holmes he makes too, making for an effective contrast with the more burdened Jeremy Brett incarnation of a few years later. The Sign of Four is lightweight but efficient, its biggest stumble being the manner in which it reframes the plot so as to present most of the salient facts upfront and as a consequence impinge on the mystery and sleuth's deductions.

Well, in this case, the cats are going to kill the curious.

The Avengers 5.8: The Hidden Tiger
Another of the season's apparent run-on ideas, as the teaser depicts a character's point-of-view evisceration by aggressor unknown. Could this be the Winged Avenger at work? No, it's, as the title suggests, an attacker of the feline persuasion. If that's deeply unconvincing once revealed, returning director Sidney Havers makes the attacks themselves highly memorable, as the victims attempt to fend off claws or escape them in slow motion.

What if I tell you to un-punch someone, what you do then?

Incredibles 2 (2018)
(SPOILERS) Incredibles 2 may not be as fresh as the first outing – indeed, certain elements of its plotting border on the retread – but it's equally, if not more, inventive as a piece of animation, and proof that, whatever his shortcomings may be philosophically, Brad Bird is a consummately talented director. This is a movie that is consistently very funny, and which is as thrilling as your average MCU affair, but like Finding Dory, you may understandably end up wondering if it shouldn't have revolved around something a little more substantial to justify that fifteen-year gap in reaching the screen.

Perhaps I am dead. Perhaps we’re both dead. And this is some kind of hell.

The Avengers 5.7: The Living Dead
The Living Dead occupies such archetypal Avengers territory that it feels like it must have been a more common plotline than it was; a small town is the cover for invasion/infiltration, with clandestine forces gathering underground. Its most obvious antecedent is The Town of No Return, and certain common elements would later resurface in Invasion of the Earthmen. This is a lot broader than Town, however, the studio-bound nature making it something of a cosy "haunted house" yarn, Scooby Doo style.

Dirty is exactly why you're here.

Sicario 2: Soldado aka Sicario: Day of the Soldado (2018)
(SPOILERS) I wasn't among the multitude greeting the first Sicario with rapturous applause. It felt like a classic case of average material significantly lifted by the diligence of its director (and cinematographer and composer), but ultimately not all that. Any illusions that this gritty, violent, tale of cynicism and corruption – all generally signifiers of "realism" – in waging the War on Drugs had a degree of credibility well and truly went out the window when we learned that Benicio del Toro's character Alejandro Gillick wasn't just an unstoppable kickass ninja hitman; he was a grieving ex-lawyer turned unstoppable kickass ninja hitman. Sicario 2: Soldadograzes on further difficult-to-digest conceits, so in that respect is consistent, and – ironically – in some respects fares better than its predecessor through being more thoroughly genre-soaked and so avoiding the false doctrine of "revealing" …

He’d been clawed to death, as though by some bird. Some huge, obscene bird.

The Avengers 5.6: The Winged Avenger
Maybe I’m just easily amused, such that a little Patrick Macnee uttering “Ee-urp!” goes a long way, but I’m a huge fan of The Winged Avenger. It’s both a very silly episode and about as meta as the show gets, and one in which writer Richard Harris (1.3: Square Root of Evil, 1.10: Hunt the Man Down) succeeds in casting a wide net of suspects but effectively keeps the responsible party’s identity a secret until late in the game.

Invisible man? Ha-ha-ha! I could see through that one immediately!

The Avengers 5.5: The See-Through Man
I’m sure Warren Mitchell and Patrick Macnee had a fine time bouncing off each other whenever the former won a guest spot on the show, but the return of Brodny in The See-Through Man is about as welcome as bringing back Harry Mudd in Star Trek's Mudd's Women. Additionally, and quickly becoming something of an over-used device, there are suggestions of pure science fictional goings-on, ones reduced to something much less remarkable (see also Escape in Tim eand From Venus With Love).

The trouble with Scotland is that it’s full of Scots.

Braveheart (1995)
(SPOILERS) With some Best Picture Oscar winners, it's difficult to conceive the precise conflation of circumstances that compelled Academy members to plumb for a particular contender. So it is with Mel's ridiculous medieval martyrdom epic. My objections to Braveheart, however, aren't to do with its historical inaccuracies, be it the woad, the plaid, the facts of William Wallace's life, or the Battle of Stirling Bridge not taking place on a bridge; with the biopic (in its loosest sense), fidelity tends to fall away as a source of vexation if the overriding content passes muster. The problem with the picture is that it simply lacks the sensibility to fill the shoes it clearly wants to; if Eastwood's passage to director takes in the Siegel tradition, Gibson's goes via the Lethal Weapon route.

Which is a shame, as Mel's a much more talented filmmaker than Clint. But where the latter directs with reserve that sometimes verges on indifference (or t…