Three film sequels that are not wanted

 

Whenever a sequel to a film is released there is always tension about whether or not it will be able to stand up to the original; this problem is especially prevalent with sequels to very successful original films, like Aliens to Alien. This example is of course a happy one as not only was Aliens financially successful but also a brilliant film matching the quality of the original and continuing the story of Ripley seamlessly. However, such success is not always the case and sometimes sequels flop. What is perhaps worse than this though, is when a sequel is made that nobody was asking for or wanted, either due to its lack of necessity in telling the story or because it has simply been so long that there is no possible reason anybody thought a sequel was possible anymore; here are three films which fall into this latter category.

  1. TOP GUN 2

Apparently, this is going to happen, and with Tom Cruise already championing this project there is no real reason to believe it won’t. This reboot was recently announced a solid 31 years since the original movie hit screens in 1986; a classic example of a film being launched so far after the original that there can be very few reasons for doing so other than to make money, a quality that rarely leads to a great film (unless we want to believe James Cameron pitched Aliens as Alien$). Although this film is still in its very early stages its lack of originality reeks and already it is not difficult to predict the horrible manifestation of a film that awaits at the end of this journey.

 

  1. INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL

A golden oldie for hating sequels, this 2008 effort is one all turn to when in need of an example of an unwanted sequel, shown most by its receiving harsh criticism from fans. The film itself is actually not all terrible as shown by the critical consensus (65 on Metacritic), but the 19-year hiatus in the series led to confusion amongst fans who were unsure of the necessity of a sequel. The release of the film was met with contempt and Spielberg was accused of beating a dead horse in order to gain money from the name of the franchise. With this all born in mind the latest is that we might expect an Indian Jones 5 as well as a reboot with a new Indy… Yay…

 

  1. THE LEGEND OF CONAN

Just, why? Another morbid equestrian flogging seems to be the case as recently Arnold Schwarzenegger expressed his interest in a number of sequels and reboots, amongst which was the Legend of Conan. With the success of the original sequels (no, just no) one does wonder why such a reboot would be necessary. Fortunately, answers can be provided as this film would supposedly forget most of the old films and be the beginning of its own cinematic universe. Just gonna leave that there. This really claims the crown for time between films, as it has begun its life a mere 35 years after the first film roared onto screens. Can people not just come up with original ideas? At this rate, there will only be films available in about three or four different universes.

 

 

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Alien Covenant: Review

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For a start, Alien Covenant provides some much needed answers to the end of Prometheus, and helps to explain quite where that film was heading. In a way, the answers that we receive in the newest instalment provides a new purpose and interest to Prometheus which that film was lacking, as despite all its talking, little progress was made. However, Covenant helps to complete Prometheus’ story, but also set up some new questions: did they ever make it to Origae-6? What happened to the Alien and humans once they were there? With Scott not ruling out further expansion in the series, one feels these questions could very well be answered.

Alien Covenant also saw a much needed return of action and horror that was sorely missing in Prometheus. Some of the scenes are so intense and the part seen in the trailer, with quarantine regulations in the medical bay, was one of the best scenes of the film. The tension that was built during this was immense and it showed Scott was still able to create the same horrifying grip that the original held on audiences. Sadly these moments of action or horror/tension are often then spoilt by extended dialogue between two characters to explain what is going on, as if it wasn’t entirely plain at points, and ultimately this is a failure to show the audience and have them work out the points from shots, something that made the original so good. These long periods of speech dull any fear that has been built, and at points get very weird: the whole Michael Fassbender on Michael Fassbender action is straight from fan fiction, and ultimately drawn out too long.  This being said I do think that Covenant does a good job of creating tension and fear, despite the now well known Alien no longer having the shock factor it originally had due to the success of the franchise.

Covenant also shows a nice mix of Alien and Aliens in its genre, combining the horror of the original with elements of Aliens’ action packed, shoot-up style. This movie meets in the middle of the two and this works nicely for it, as it helps to show that this is still an Alien film, despite the different settings that the characters are found in compared to the originals, where they are more confined to buildings or spaceships.

Perhaps the biggest issue is with the number of crew there are on the ship. There are 15 members of the crew, compared to the 7 of the original (and cat), each married to another crew member, and the sheer volume of them leads to them treading on each others’ toes in regards to the role they have in the movie. As a result each of the characters lacks depth, and this is compounded by the films gleeful willingness to kill them off; essentially this is the most evidence of “crew expendable” yet seen in one of these films. Danny Mcbride’s Tennessee is the best of the characters with his cowboy hat, while Katherine Waterston’s Daniels is overcome with grief, but the film really struggles to show her character until the end. Had there been less crew members then perhaps each character would have had more depth and so their deaths could have been more shocking. Instead we are left with crew members dying and not really anyone missing them.

Alien Covenant is a nice return to some of the aspects that made the original Alien so scary and brilliant. A mixture of Alien and Aliens is presented and creates a story that moves along with jumps and scares, sadly to be bogged down by the heavy handed dialogue that made Prometheus dull. This combined with a forgettable crew are the main issues, but Alien Covenant is very enjoyable and should be seen by any fan of the series.

67/100

Movies to look forward to in 2017

With 2016 drawing to a close the dawn of a new year approaches and, quite frankly, the films coming out in 2017 are quite incredible. Here are just a few which I am most excited for:

LOGAN

The final instalment for Hugh Jackman as Wolverine having done 9 X-Men films in the past 17 years. Logan is a new look for Wolverine with the now aged hero living in a dystopian future for mutants. this movie is gritty and looks to provide closure for fans of those who have followed the X-Men movie franchise from its very beginning in 2000. Charles Xavier is once again played by Patrick Stuart, and Dafne Keane joins the crew to play Laura, and perhaps provides a future for mutants after all. Logan is out in March.

LALA LAND

Ok, so for Americans this movie is not a 2017 one, however it is not out until January 13th in the UK, and the hype being built about it from the States is enough to make me very excited. Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling play Mia and Sebastian, an aspiring actress and jazz musician. They fall in love and the film follows their romance as it is challenged by the rising success of each of the characters. Directed by Damien Chazelle who has apparently done an incredible job in bringing the film together, LaLa Land is a film to see, and one which is set to claim many Oscar nominations.

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST

A real version of the classic Disney Princess movie from 1991 which was the first Disney cartoon to be nominated for the Best Picture Oscar. Emma Watson and Dan Stevens come together in this modernised retelling of the story released in March, and early opinions are very positive about it.

JOHN WICK CHAPTER 2

Keanu Reeves returns as the hit-man John Wick for a second film to be released in February. The success of the first movie, both commercially and to critics was enough to convince the requirement of a second, and although the plot is not known, it can be guaranteed to be another action packed, thrill ride adventure.

LEGO BATMAN

Following the surprise success of Lego movie, the Lego Batman movie is perhaps not as surprising as it would first appear. Will Arnet returns as Batman/Bruce Wayne with Ralph Fiennes as Alfred and Michael Cera as Robin. Chris McKay directs and his involvement in the Lego movie suggests the project is in the hands of a man who knows what he is doing. The early trailers for this movie have been great, very funny and the character Batman seems to me to be like a more PG version of Archer. Due to release in February, Lego Batman looks like great fun.

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY: VOL.2

The return of the entire original cast as our favourite band of space saviours, Chris Pratt, Vin Diesel, Zoe Saldama, Bradley Cooper and Dave Bautista, is very exciting indeed. The original film was great fun and with a fantastic soundtrack to match was a surprise hit for a not so very well known comic book made into a film. The trailers for the new film look as though they continue the fun and energy found in the first film; with a release date in April 2017, the new film is one to look forward to during the cold winter months of the New Year.

WONDER WOMAN

The disappointment that was Batman V Superman did give some positives, one of which was Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman. The success of her character has now been followed with a solo film for her, and I believe is the first female lead super hero movie in this new generation of super heroes.  Wonder Woman is drawn into war from her seclusion following the crash landing of American pilot Steve Trevor (Chris Pine). He informs the unknowing Amazons of the global catastrophe and Wonder Woman is left with no choice but to follow Trevor and go to war for the sake of humanity. So many reasons to be excited for this film, but we must wait until June.

ALIEN: COVENANT

Director Ridley Scott returns again to the sci-fi genre on which he founded himself. Alien Covenant picks up where Prometheus left off, but a few years down the line. A crew on the ship, Covenant, are travelling across the galaxy when they see a planet which presents itself as a possible paradise, but which is in fact a hell hole, and the planet on which the events of Prometheus took place. With Fassbender and Noomi Rapace returning the film must intend to provide explanation to what took place in the inbetween years from Prometheus to Covenant, and also aims to link more definitively with the Alien movies. Due to be released in May.

So there are just a few of the great movies to look forward to next year and I, for one, cannot wait! Have a great New Year!!

Pacific Heat Review

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Pacific Heat is a new animated show made for Netflix about an Australian police squad who, despite their best efforts to do good, lack the brains and ability to do good. An interesting starting point and of course it immediately lends itself to comparison with the beloved show Archer. Unfortunately, Pacific Heat fails in a number of ways and rather than trying to simply emulate the success of the show Archer, it is quite clear that little imagination has been used to develop a new and unique idea that is separate from Archer.

One issue which I have with Pacific Heat is the quality of the show’s appearance. The animation is styled differently to Archer, slightly, with more angles and lines which is in itself quite attractive. The issue arises when effects are needed, such as explosions or fire, and here the lessened quality really shows and looks highly out of place with the overall appearance of the series’ style. The appearance of the show though is the least of its problems, and a constant falling point is the lack of main character. Following around the team of four main characters, there are times when a main character is implied, but one never steps forward. This leaves the story without focus and I found led to none of the characters really developing properly. The lack of character progression through the series left each episode lacking any reason for me to keep watching, and by the end of the series it was a struggle to keep going.

There were some funny points though, and some of the humour was good and provided me with some chuckles. Again, though, a few major issues arise with the show’s idea of fun. The thematic jokes that occurred in multiple episodes were lacking any real laugh value, and their recurrence was not appreciated. The biggest problem though was the seeming confusion between offensive and funny. This is a line which Archer runs very finely, but he seems to be forgiven for it, as either the ruder stuff can be dumped on the main character for being an abhorrent human being, or the jokes never really go too far in to out right offensive. Pacific Heat was much less concerned with subtlety, and there were points where i physically cringed as dubious sexism and racism was splurted out with little attempt to hide it. The women of the show are consistently used to sex up an episode by them removing their clothes to work “undercover”, and the criticism of certain foreign characters’ English speaking skills are just a couple of points where the mute button and duvet seemed to be the only solution to rid the festering scenes which were unfolding.

Ultimately the show is one which is trying to pick up on the success of another, but seems to misunderstand what made Archer successful, resulting in an unfunny and offensive turd of a portrayal of entertainment.

Time Commanders New Series

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Time Commanders returned to TV with a new series after an 11 hiatus. The show, though containing some similar aspects to the original two series that aired in 2003 and 2005, was also refreshingly different, and overall the first episode was a success!

The new host was Greg Wallace and he brought a nice combination of presenting professionalism from years of experience, but was also energetic and seemed very enthusiastic and involved in the action.

The general setup was different from the old show, which saw a team of 4 work together, with two captains and two generals, to fight a historic battle, before the experts, who were ever watching, would return at the end of the carnage to deliver an analysis. The new series differed though, setting up two teams of three people against one another. They each controlled one army and were given the chance to practice their skills in a skirmish. The studio was divided in two, with a large screen in the centre acting as a partition. This setup made the battle more interesting as it provided multiple perspectives on the action, as well as an extra element of competitiveness for the teams. Additionally, the show involved some real life use of the weapons if the troops and these sections were a nice way to segment the show. The teams were each given a time out for the battle as well, so that they could, if necessary, regroup their thoughts and seek the advice and aid of the experts.

The battle featured for the first episode of the new series was Zama, between Hannibal and Scipio, and so featured the Total War Rome 2 engine to represent and display the action. This was another change from the original series which of course only used the Rome Total War engine, where as the new one wishes to take advantage of the more diverse range of games now out by the Total War franchise.

Overall, the new Time Commanders was a success; entertaining and informative and all round good fun! If you are yet to catch it, I would thoroughly recommend doing so!

Sherlock Characters’ Hogwarts Houses

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The real question on everybody’s lips right now must be: Which house would Mary Be put in if she were a wizard? Well, puzzle no longer, as I have attempted to sort them out for you!

Sherlock = Slytherin: The brain box, drug addicted sociopath we all know and love. One might have thought that his intelligence would have made him a likely candidate for Ravenclaw, however, his wish to take risks, put himself in danger and generally his struggles with boredom make him much more a Slytherin than any other house (although he would appear to fit into most houses… though maybe not Hufflepuff!) The values of ambition, cunning and resourcefulness which Slytherin treasures are just some of the many which Sherlock possesses and demonstrates time and again. His wiles and wit enable him to think out any problem and he will pursue whatever interests him, no matter the danger that that path might have!

John = Hufflepuff: A tricky one indeed; caught between both Hufflepuff and Gryffindor, but John’s love of his friend and wife linked nicely to the love of home that defines Hufflepuffs. He is clearly a hard working man as doctors need be, dedicated to the people he loves with near endless patience for Sherlock and his connivings. Most obvious though is joins loyalty, which he demonstrates to Sherlock time and time again, coming at his call no matter what the situation; perhaps he is too easily trusting “you are very loyal, very quickly” but this is just another reason we love our John.

Mrs Hudson = Gryffindor: Not always a Landlady (not a housekeeper) in London; Mrs Hudson’s past married to a drug lord and filled with passion and adventure make her an ideal Gryffindor. Even now, her daring tendencies have not left her as she demonstrates her strength of character to help Sherlock fend off unwanted American guests. A wonderful woman with the strength of a lion.

Mary = Gryffindor: Again, a person caught between two houses (Slytherin was a close second) but Mary’s courage and bravery demonstrated by her past as a hit woman are clear to see, along with her insistence on going where the adventure is, even if it is not always wise. Daring and brave, Mary must be Gryffindor.

Mycroft = Ravenclaw: Different to his brother in so many ways and considered the smart one of the two, Mycroft is a clear candidate for Ravenclaw. His mighty intelligence is matched only by his unwillingness to be active and involved in the action, and he regards humanity with a nonchalance bordering on disdain (no, it probably is disdain). His one weak point is of course his little brother, but the otherwise it is difficult to point to a more Ravenclawing Ravenclaw that ever Ravenclawed.

Donovan = Slytherin: Donovan is a difficult one, but her pride in her work and ambition to be the best drive her on. She is resourceful and clearly one of the better police officers in the station. When she believes she is right she goes for it, creating a plan and pushing for its result (although not always right! something something Sherlock died something something). Clearly not afraid of danger and eager to work her way up, Donovan is of Slytherin.

Anderson = Gryffindor: Tricky as Anderson reveals little in the series so far and what he does show is generally dislikeable, but his attempts to usurp Sherlock might be considered brave along with reckless. I honestly have little more to say about this man. so…

Lestrade = Hufflepuff: Hardworking and dedicated to his job; Lestrade shows that he is not entirely useless despite Sherlock’s insistence to the contrary. He, like John, puts up with Sherlock’s crap demonstrating his patience and although not so resourceful, one feels as though this may be due to his sense of fairplay and doing things properly shown by his opinion of some of Sherlock’s methods. In addition, the brief mentions given of Lestrade’s life outside of work shows a dedication and loyalty to his family (cheating wife) that can be only suggestive of a true Hufflepuff.

Moriarty = Slytherin: Sherlock’s identical hand twin; Moriarty can be nothing but Slytherin. His resourceful nature and ambition are seen in the strength and might of his criminal empire, which takes Sherlock two years to dismantle. Much like Sherlock he has a boredom problem, and his pursuit of knowledge and a cure for boredom knows no fear of danger or death. He must know, just like Sherlock, and his games show a genuine disregard for literally everything. His schemes are brilliant and he is the only true match of Sherlock. I dare you to place him in any other house.

Molly = Ravenclaw: Dear, sweet Molly. The smartest and most important aid to Sherlock; in times when he needs her most she is always there for him. She is quiet but fiercely intelligent, and although she does not like to endanger herself, she will help Sherlock with whatever he needs. She is a brilliant scientist in her own right and provides Sherlock with much information, as well as access to the morgue. Endearing for her shyness, Molly does occasionally burst from her shell to cut down Sherlock, and she is one of the few characters who is ever able to. Intelligence and knowledge are her things thus making her truly a Ravenclaw.

Irene Adler = Slytherin: Once more a character who may have fit with another house, but she is placed in Slytherin. She schemes to protect herself and much like Sherlock enjoys the thrill of the chase; games are only fun when there is danger involved. Although her job as dominatrix shows her passionate side, it is all part of a wider plan that she has and is able to use to her own advantage. She is cunning; she is resourcefulness; she is Slytherin.

So… that happened! I did my best and understand there are some characters that could be argued for other houses… how well did this sorting hat do?

Stranger Things -Binge Watching Supreme

As I settled down on the sofa, blanket wrapped around me with sweets ready at hand, and pressed play on the remote to start Stranger Things, I must concede to not having quite been fully in the mood for committing to a new TV show. My mind, however, was instantly changed when the show got rolling, and what had been intended as a break from more serious work turned into an accidental marathon of the series.

Stranger Things tells the stories of a group of friends, young boys, and their families, set in the early 1980’s. When one of the boys goes missing, we see the different attempts by the groups to understand what has happened, but soon it is revealed that a more sinister and fantastical reason may be responsible for the boy’s disappearance than most seem to believe.

The story unfolds through the eyes of the different groups: the mother and brother of the missing boy, the police sheriff, the boy’s friends and finally the sister and family of Will who is the leader of the pack of boys who have lost their friend. The appearance of a girl, almost mute and dressed in a hospital gown only adds to the complicated story. Will takes her in but it soon becomes clear that she is no ordinary child. As the series progresses these stories become ever so more entwined, and the characters are explored further both with flashbacks and the way in which they adapt and handle the ever evolving situation they find themselves in.

The soundtrack is excellent too and really helps to set the scene for a 1980’s town, whist adding in elements of sci-fi and horror (and acoustically reminding me to some extent of the original Tron). The cast is strong and all give grand performances, and most pleasing is the strength of child acting, considering that much of the story revolves around them, they really hold their end up.

With twists and turns the whole way through, touching moments and characters of great depth and interest to the reader, and a cool cross over between the comic books and games which the gang of boys enjoy so much, Stranger Things is a TV show that will grab you, hold, and then leave you wanting more.