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Showing posts from June, 2018

The noblest parrot of them all. A master of rhetoric. Such a garrulous tongue. Such verbiage.

The Avengers 5.3: The Bird Who Knew Too Much
A step up from the first two below-par episodes, there nevertheless remains a pervading sense that Season Five isn't yet firing on all cylinders. The plotting isn't quite smart enough, even at its most playful, and the eccentricity is all a bit learnt. But The Bird Who Knew Too Much does at least move along at a pace, and features a couple of – well, one in particular – truly nasty psychopathic hitmen, which makes for a jarring but effective contrast when one of the characters is a bird enthusiast named Twitter.

Well, I've always had a hankering for the eighteenth century. Gadzooks and stap me vitals.

The Avengers 5.2: Escape in Time
I suppose one couldn’t expect The Avengers to deliver a genuine "Could-it-be-possible?" element to a time-travel plot, but Escape in Time doesn't offer even a modicum of suspense or intrigue regarding how the scheme is being achieved; as soon as one of the intended victims escapes "1680" and shows up at Steed's flat (not even ten minutes in), it's clear we'll have to look elsewhere for satisfying plot twists.

It isn’t all a bed of roses, trying to be a dictator.

Jeeves and Wooster 3.5: Hot Off the Press  (aka Sir Watkyn’s Memoirs)
There's some serious thieving going on from Blandings Castle in this episode, albeit one could argue that by using a very early Wooster short story revolving around the same subject, it's fair game to get the drop on the account of Sir Galahad Threepwood's memoirs that formed the backbone of probably the best known Blandings novels, Summer Lightning and Heavy Weather.

Do not run a job in a job.

Ocean’s 8 (2018)
(SPOILERS) There’s nothing wrong with the gender-swapped property per se, any more than a reboot, remake or standard sequel exploiting an original’s commercial potential (read: milking it dry). As with those more common instances, however, unless it ekes out its own distinctive territory, gives itself a clear reason to be, it’s only ever going to be greeted with an air of cynicism (whatever the current fashion for proclaiming it valid simply because it's gender swapped may suggest to the contrary).  The Ocean's series was pretty cynical to start with, of course – Soderbergh wanted a sure-fire hit, the rest of the collected stars wanted the kudos of working with Soderbergh on a "classy" crowd pleaser, the whole concept of remaking the '60s movie was fairly lazy, and by the third one there was little reason to be other than smug self-satisfaction – so Ocean's 8 can’t be accused of letting any side down. It also gives itself distinctively – stereo…

What we sell are hidden truths. Our territory is the mind. Our merchandise is fear.

The Avengers 5.1: The Fear Merchants
The colour era doesn't get off to such a great start with The Fear Merchants, an Avengers episode content to provide unstinting averageness. About the most notable opinion you’re likely to come away with is that Patrick Cargill rocks some magnificent shades.

It’s all Bertie Wooster’s fault!

Jeeves and Wooster 3.4: Right Ho, Jeeves  (aka Bertie Takes Gussie's Place at Deverill Hall)
A classic set-up of crossed identities as Bertie pretends to be Gussie and Gussie pretends to be Bertie. The only failing is that the actor pretending to be Gussie isn’t a patch on the original actor pretending to be Gussie. Although, the actress pretending to be Madeline is significantly superior than her predecessor(s).

I think my mother put a curse on us.

Hereditary (2018)
(SPOILERS) Well, the Hereditary trailer's a very fine trailer, there's no doubt about that. The movie as a whole? Ari Aster's debut follows in the line of a number of recent lauded-to-the-heavens (or hells) horror movies that haven't quite lived up to their hype (The Babadook, for example). In Hereditary's case, there’s no doubting Ari Aster's talent as a director. Instead, I'd question his aptitude for horror.

I love the combination of Gummi Bears and meat.

Despicable Me 3 (2017)
(SPOILERS) The Illumination formula is at least reliable, consistently and comfortably crowd-pleasing where DreamWorks often seems faintly desperate (because they are – who's their distributor this week?) Despicable Me 3 ploughs the same cosy, affirmative furrow as its wholly safe predecessor. When I saw Despicable Me 2, I mentioned that it reminded me of Shrek 2 in its attempt to continue a story that was complete in itself. Despicable Me 3 is similarly redundant, suggesting the most airless of brainstorming sessions – Gru has the kids, the wife, the job, how about now he gets a sibling? – although this time I was put in mind of the Lethal Weapon sequels and their ability to continue churning out/expanding on the family vibe long after Riggs had become a (relatively) well-adjusted member of society.

This entire edifice you see around you, built on jute.

Jeeves and Wooster 3.3: Cyril and the Broadway Musical  (aka Introduction on Broadway)
Well, that’s a relief. After a couple of middling episodes, the third season bounces right back, and that's despite Bertie continuing his transatlantic trip. Clive Exton once again plunders Carry On, Jeeves but this time blends it with a tale from The Inimitable Jeeves for the brightest spots, as Cyril Basington-Basington (a sublimely drippy Nicholas Hewetson) pursues his stage career against Aunt Agatha's wishes.

Gives man a halo, does mead.

Robin Hood (2010)
(SPOILERS) It’s all about story for Sir Ridders, which is why he signed on to a direct an original take on Robin Hood that he promptly disabused and changed into something much more run-of-the-mill. The same Ridders who cocked a snook at the entire history of big screen Sherwood Forest forays by suggesting Men in Tights was the best version of Robin Hood yet managed to make a picture inferior to most of the ones he probably sidelong glanced at en route. Robin Hood is most definitely not one of Scott's best movies, and yet, the first half has just enough pissed-away potential to leave one with a whiff of what might have been.

Scott had been angling for a Robin Hood picture before seizing on Nottinghamby Ethan Reiff and Cyrus Voris (BrimstoneSleeper Cell). Their take flipped the protagonist and antagonist, with Robin as the villain and the Sheriff of Nottingham as the hero. They also had – I know, not exactly vouching for its quality – a serial killer plotline (Robi…

You two. You're the parents of the new world.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018)
(SPOILERS) One thing the Colin Trevorrow and Derek Connolly scripted follow up to their ludicrously popular Jurassic World has going for it is that it finally delivers on the promise any self-respecting dinosaur exploitation aficionado would have meted out in the first Jurassic Park sequel, rather than waiting another 25 years until the fourth. Even then, they only offer a closing-moments taster of what to expect next time. But that's been a problem with this series all over, caught between the desire to have the prehistoric beasties scare the bejesus out of youngsters on the one hand and teach them the merits of preservation of endangered species on the other (if we're to be more precise, of valuing genetically modified organisms over the natural environment, but hey, let's not quibble). Trevorrow and Connolly possibly wanted to push against those restrictive ground rules, given Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is loaded with B-movie trop…

I should advise a degree of alacrity, your Grace.

Jeeves and Wooster 3.2: The Full House  (aka Bertie Ensures Bicky Can Continue to Live in Manhattan)
Ferdinand Fairfax took on directing duties for Season Three and reproduces the series' look and tone fairly seamlessly, although he's undoubtedly presented with challenges for the New York scenes he simply can't overcome; there's never any doubt this is making do in the tradition of threadbare productions unable to afford a hop across the Pond. Episode Two continues the use of Carry On, Jeeves, entwining two consecutive chapters to provide a compare-and-contrast of dominating relatives of Bertie's chums who inevitably put a cramp in his style.

This is my only chance to assemble a disreputable past, and I'm going to take it.

Jeeves and Wooster 3.1: Bertie Sets Sail  (aka Safety in New York)
Full disclosure: I don’t much care for the series' excursions to New York, however canonical some of them may be. The studiously ropey accents, the same low-angle buildings doubling for the Big Apple and repetitive elevator conversations grow wearisome quite quickly, veering from the sense of time and place the series gets so right generally and causing too much distraction.

Beautiful mushrooms will blossom and burst.

Doctor Who The Armageddon Factor
Even within a season as unadored as the sixteenth, the grand finale is one marked out by an abject lack of appreciation. Most stories have their champions, even in the Williams era, but The Armageddon Factor's are few and far between. The previous outing, the much-derided The Power of Kroll gets more love – significantly more love – due to its glorious B-movie campness. Kroll be praised. Yet I come here to defend The Armageddon Factor and lend my support to its worthy cause. For me, it’s no more than a marginal notch down on the first four (classics) of the Key to Time season, and that's mainly because it rather fumbles the touchdown. It’s that rare six-parter justifying its length with plot to spare – making it mystifying that it gets labelled dull or boring – and a set-bound story managing to pass off three convincingly-rendered worlds. And it has Drax.