History Is About To Change

Wash Westmoreland

Keira Knightley
Dominic West
Denise Gough
Eleanor Tomlinson

Set during the late years of the 19th century, we are introduced to Gabrielle Colette [Knightley], a country girl who weds notorious Parisian libertine and critic Henry Gauthier-Villars [West] who writes under the pseudonym Willy. Admittedly, Henry does not actually do a great deal of writing himself and merely employs a staff of ghost writers, allowing him to generate simple concepts for development and then sell the Willy brand. During a dry spell, Henry charges his young wife to write about her childhood experiences. In doing so, the ‘Claudine’ series is born and a best-selling movement sweeps France as women everywhere see something of themselves in Claudine. As success grows, Henry’s methods of extracting pages from Colette turn more abusive and Colette finds herself both exploring different types of relationships and discovers a burning desire to define herself outside of her husband’s shadow.

I will admit, I was only loosely familiar with Colette’s work, outside of the fact that her novel Gigi was adapted into the 1958 film of the same name. And yet, when you hear about her experiences and learn about this bombastic, headstrong, larger than life individual who was way ahead of her time, its evident she warrants more international prestige. As such, this is a daunting role for any actor but Keira Knightley constructs a changing, multifaceted performance, not only as a fantastic portrayal of someone aging from girl to woman but a wonderful and very real-feeling representation of an individual discovering who they truly are and the confidence they attain from it. A lot of this has been done through subtle gestures and physicality as Colette starts the film with a shrinking almost apologetic nervousness before adopting more self-assurance and typically masculine postures. But while Colette shifts and grows, Willy is unchanging, he starts out a brute and ends a brute, the only difference is that we, as the audience, learn with Colette over time that this is neither acceptable nor necessary. And this could have very easily been played up to extreme, quite literal, moustache-twirling villainy (as it was in Big Eyes) but there is a vitally important level of charm and charisma in West’s performance that explains how he was able to manipulate Colette for so long and so flagrantly abusively without either Colette or the audience completely turning on him until the story requires it.

It goes without saying that any period drama has a level of production above most others. Of course costume, hair, make-up, sets and locations are all vital components on any film but for a period film they bring their own set of unique challenges. More than that, Colette spans through a handful of formative decades which require the architectural and fashion styles to evolve with the passing time. While this could have the potential to feel jarring or clumsy, Westmoreland’s decisions to subtly morph the contents of Willy and Colette’s flat, merely introducing new elements rather than completely overhauling the whole space, to introduce new characters organically and having Thomas Adès’ beautiful score gently traverse through the musical trends of the time, adopting rising styles and themes of the day, allow the film to flow pleasingly from start to finish.

One of the only real negatives I could observe is that this is very much a film of lead and co-lead. No matter the gravity or import on the story, the supporting roles are confined to simply that. This is a combination of the usual factors of timing and pacing but also, as Colette herself becomes more willful and independent, to shine too brightly a light on those around her would rob the character of her own agency. Furthermore, the film also falls into the semi-risky trappings of telling a significant story about one of France’s most celebrated authors in English with English actors. And yet, reflective of our times and audience inclinations, without these, it may not get the spotlight it rightly deserves – after all, this film was initially scripted back in 2001 and has been in production hell for the better part of a decade and a half.

One of the many frustrations of glacial progress is seeing that we have already had prominent examples throughout our history yet the same battles are still being fought. Thankfully it feels like mainstream western society has had a bit of a renaissance with both the LGBTQ+ community and gender equality; subsequently, this won’t be the last film to address the unseen heroes and trail blazers of the past and as long as these stories continue to be told with skill and passion, hopefully lasting societal change can be made.

Release Date:
11th January 2019

The Scene To Look Out For:
About a third of the way into the movie, Colette and her fellow factory writer (as Willy’s ghost writers were known) are visiting a rather curious type of mime called a cantomime, wherein a male mime artist very skillfully lip-syncs a sung performance with elaborate gestures. It felt like a key turning point for the story as we see not only a form of theatricality that thrilled our heroine but also a nice little parallel of the film itself. Here we are shown a very impressive front-facing act from a man but in fairness, the genuine talent is from the woman singing the aria next to him, while everyone present applauds just the surface output despite knowing the truth of the matter.

Notable Characters:
There is no doubt that this is a film with an exceptional lead performance from Knightley. It will very likely earn her several nominations and I wouldn’t be surprised if a few lofty awards are sent her way (and deservedly so). But I was genuinely taken by the attention to diversity of the cast. This is Paris in the turn of the 20th century, a hub of life and activity and colonial influence. Over the decades, we have white-washed the past, presenting an inaccurate mono-ethnic presence, so to see so many people of colour in positions of success and sufficiency in a European period film was very rewarding.

Highlighted Quote:
“I will continue to pursue this because I want to”

In A Few Words:
“A stunningly crafted and superbly acted tale of a pioneer who should imbue others with assuredness and pride”

Total Score:


Cinema City Film Quiz #223

[07 October 2018]

Winning Team:
The Shawshank Confusion
Genre – Andy Dufresne, Deckard, Harry Potter and Hellboy escape prison through a hole behind a Star Wars poster

Runners Up:
Genre – A Mayan poster artist must draw art in order to save his failing civilisation
Desperately Seeking Struzan
Genre – Documentary covering Hollywood’s rush to make all movie posters look like the successful ones for Star Wars and Indiana Jones
Desperately Seeking Film Knowledge
Genre – a noir classic about two time travellers who end up in 2018 at a film quiz in Norwich totally clueless as to what’s going on
A Star Is Drawn
Genre – Animated family film
A Star Wars Is Born
Genre – A space opera with signing! Hard drinking country singer Han Solo’s life is changed forever when he meets Like Skywalker, a beautiful young Jedi singer in the Mos Eisley cantina
Loft In Transition
Genre – Bill Murray has a midlife crisis and travels the world with his photo albums and Christmas decorations
The (Not So) Incredibles
Genre – Superhero
Fellowship Of The Onion Ring
Genre – Comedy

ROUND I: Pre-Production
1. Inglourious Basterds took its title from which 1978 film?
2. What colour are the Na’vi in Avatar?
3. What is the name of Sherlock Holmes’ partner, played by Jude Law, in the 2009 Guy Ritchie film Sherlock Holmes?
4. Who voiced the role of Baloo in 2016’s The Jungle Book?
5. Jyn Erso is the lead character in which Star Wars film?
6. The Theory Of Everything is a biopic about which individual?
7. Who played the lead role in Roland Emmerich’s 2012?
8. Maleficent was released in which year?
9. Up There, I’m Super and Blame Canada are songs from which film?
10. Who directed The Breakfast Club?

ROUND II: Filming [Drew Struzan Special]
1. What is the title of the sequel to Blade Runner? Blade Runner 2? Blade Runner 2019? Blade Runner 2049?
2. The following quote is from which film, “All they found of him was a muddy set of prison clothes, a bar of soap and an old rock hammer damn near worn down to the nub”? Out Of Sight? The Shawshank Redemption? Escape From Alcatraz?
3. Which Indiana Jones film is set in 1935? Raiders Of The Lost Ark? Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom? Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade?
4. What is the name of Smollett’s ship in Muppet Treasure Island? Hispaniola? Henrietta? Pequod?
5. What was the nickname given to the electric chair in The Green Mile? The Hot Seat? Big Smoky? Old Sparky?
6. What is the name of the leader of the lost boys in Hook? Rufio? Ace? Pockets? [bonus point for naming who Peter puts in charge at the end of Hook]
RUFIO [Thud Butt]
7. Which 90s pulp comic hero adaptation features a hero nicknamed “the man who never dies”? The Rocketeer? The Shadow? The Phantom?
8. Where do the goonies get their name from in The Goonies? From the school mascot named Goon? Local Oregon slang for children? Their houses are located in an area called the Goon Docks?
9. The following quote is from which film, “There is no good and evil. There is only power and those too weak to seek it”? Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone? Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets? Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban?
10. At the start of The Crocodile Hunter, the MGM lion is replaced with a crocodile. True or False?

ROUND III: Post-Production
1. Les Miserables takes place over how many years?
SEVENTEEN (1815-1832)
2. What two films did Steven Spielberg direct in 2005? (one point per correct answer)
3. Which actor played the lead antagonist in Fast & Furious 6?
LUKE EVANS (Owen Shaw)
4. The following is a quote from which film, ” What’s your boggle, friend?”?
5. What is the name of the film in which Will Smith plays a professional dating consultant, trying to help Kevin James?
6. Tai Lung, Mr Ping and Grand Master Oogway are characters in which film?
7. What is the subtitle of the fourth Police Academy film?
8. Which film starred Anton Yelchin, Patrick Stewart and Imogen Poots?
9. In Coming To America, Prince Akeem Joffer decides to leave Africa and travel to the US on which birthday?
10. How many dream levels are featured in the main heist at the end of Inception?
FOUR (rainy van chase / hotel / snow fortress / limbo)

ROUND IV: Promotion & Release
1. Which of the following did not appear in The Cannonball Run? Jackie Chan? Jane Fonda? Dean Martin?
2. What was the title of the 1987 live-action He-Man film? He-Man? Heroes Of Grayskull? Masters Of The Universe?
3. *Batteries Not Included was released in which year? 1981? 1987? 1994?
4. The club, Ray’s Boom Boom Room, is featured in which Eddie Murphy film? Life? Dreamgirls? Harlem Nights?
5. Harry And The Hendersons was released as what in the UK? The Missing Link? Bigfoot And The Hendersons? Meet Harry?
6. What is the name of Kurt Russell’s character in Big Trouble In Little China? Jack Burton? John Ruth? Stephen McCaffrey?
7. What instrument is Daryl playing while performing his duet with Jane in The Witches Of Eastwick? Saxophone? Violin? Piano?
8. What action is used in The Sting to show that people are in on the con? Tipping your hat? Stroking your chin? Tapping your nose?
9. The following quote is from which film, “My partner is a belligerent asshole with his back up against a wall.. and now, so am I”? Drive? LA Confidential? Wall Street?
10. A theatrical sequel to 1996’s Casper was cancelled at the last minute due to new 20th Century Fox executives feeling family films about the supernatural were corrupting children. True or False?
FALSE (two direct to video sequels were released)

Screenshots: A Few Good Men / Margin Call / Beavis And Butt-Head Do America / Ghost
Poster: St Elmo’s Fire
Actor: Demi Moore


The World Has Enough Superheroes

Reuben Fleischer

Tom Hardy
Riz Ahmed
Michelle Williams

Returning from a deep space reconnaissance mission, the Life Foundation shuttle is returning to earth with four alien specimens on board. On re-entry the ship crashes with only one astronaut surviving. The head of the Life Foundation, Carlton Drake [Ahmed], employs his considerable resources to procure the samples and begin live-subject trials as soon as possible. At the same time we are introduced to Eddie Brock [Hardy], an investigative reporter who loses his job and fiancée (lawyer Anne Weying [Williams]) after he turns a fluff-piece interview with Drake into an attack on his illegal human experiments. After one of the Life Foundation’s key scientists tips Eddie off, he infiltrates the facility and comes into contact with one of the alien samples which begins talking to him and dictating his drives and actions.

Stumbling out of the cinema, as the film burps up its mismatched post-credit sequences, it is immediately apparent that Venom is such a bizarre entity. On one hand it is a typical 2010s example of a weak franchise launcher that bloviates about its importance and grand plans before passing out wheezing, “I can’t go on.” And on the other it is such a throwback to the pre-cinematic universe craze of the late 90s/early 2000s, where any comic property would be adapted with one big (white male) star, an underdeveloped disposable villain, poorly defined love interest, fleeting underwhelming CGI and a score packed with riffing guitars. It is simultaneously both 2007’s Ghost Rider and 2015’s Fantastic Four without being as arguably competent as the former or as laughably imbalanced as the latter.

One thing, however, is abundantly clear and that is the lack of room or time for anyone other than Tom Hardy. Now, I’m not saying that as a dig at the lead, simply highlighting that the script gives us little to no insight into any of the supports; their lives, motivations, backgrounds, none of it is considered to matter. From the get-go Eddie Brock is sold to us as this frankly inhuman cliché. He’s charming, altruistic, tenacious, generous, kind, roguish and an all-round catch. I know this because the opening prologue stuffs it down my throat like a 1950s Disney princess entrance wherein every character (human or otherwise) chirps how pretty the main character is. I wouldn’t have been at all surprised if, as he strolled down the street petting dogs and chatting to security guards about the wellbeing of their kids, everyone around him uproariously burst into a chorus of “that handsome man, that talented man, that marvellous Eddie Brock” before whip-panning to Tom Hardy clicking his heels and shouting “Whoo! That’s me.” And yet, when we actually get down to him proving himself, he’s a fucking terrible reporter who blunders his way through both interviews and investigations and a completely untrustworthy partner who opens his fiancée’s confidential emails. Then, to top it all off, he gets infected by an alien symbiotic parasite that is constantly talking about eating people. And yet Hardy’s dual-performance is probably the only good thing about this movie. Despite being absurd and an excuse for another set of voices to the acting scrapbook, the interactions between Eddie and Venom are surprisingly entertaining and visually amusing, which seems counterintuitive but once you settle in to the odd ambience of the film, it almost becomes fitting.

Unfortunately, the supports don’t get nearly as much attention. We have a range of insubstantial individuals but let’s start with the non-villain, Carlton Drake. Riz Ahmed has already proved himself a fantastic actor but he is given nothing to work with. Drake is an admittedly driven and passionate scientific mind who seemingly has mankind’s interests at heart but his methods are callous, unorthodox and without heart. And that’s all I can tell you. He is obsessed with furthering the species but there is absolutely no inkling of why or what drew him down this path. He is merely evil for the fact the film requires it of him. The other lead support is Michelle Williams but I’ll mention her more later but outside of that we have brief appearances from Jenny Slate and Reid Scott who feel as wasted as Judy Greer in things like Jurassic World and Ant-Man, which is genuinely criminal.

A cast heavy with comedic actors is far from unusual for Reuben Fleischer – the man cut his teeth on Zombieland and made a glorious success of it – but much like Gangster Squad, so much of the creative qualities that made Fleischer’s debut so enjoyable and entertaining are all but absent. The pacing and editing are appalling, the script is shockingly flat, the narrative flow feels hole-punched and erratic, leaping from one plot point to another and there is an uncomfortable unintentional comedy running throughout that creates such a tonal unease. Not to mention the fact that it’s a solid hour before Venom properly turns up. With such jumbled asymmetry, it’s hardly surprising that the film’s own internal logic is one of the first victims. From the start we are told so much about the alien entities in heavy expository info dumps from their strengths, weaknesses, bonding habits and abilities; none of which is retained as the continuity shifts to meet the action’s quota. It also robs the film of any actual urgency as Eddie is practically invincible and even if he were to perish, it wouldn’t really change our feelings about him or the fate of this earth – which, apparently, is in significant jeopardy.

This whole endeavour could be labelled as a waste of potential but the truth of Venom is that any adaptation is doomed to fail because while most people feel they love the character, there isn’t a great deal to actually enjoy. A large, snarling, boisterous creation that exists as a parallel to Spider-Man but doesn’t really work as effectively without that adversarial clash. And while I will acknowledge that the Flash Thompson/Venom covert-ops storylines from the comics are pretty decent, this is not what we have been offered and while the franchise may eventually make its way there, I feel it will fall by the side of the road alongside the corpse of Tom Cruise after he rode off into the sunset at the end of The Mummy.

Release Date:
5th October 2018

The Scene To Look Out For:
This is a film littered with really stupid moments and two in particular stood out for me. During Eddie and Dr Skirth’s clandestine break-in at the Life Foundation, Skirth reveals to Brock that the symbotic being is of extra-terrestrial origin. Naturally, Brock laughs this off by dismissively saying, “What are we talking about, aliens!? ET phone home?” To which Skirth deadpans a confirmation. While the transitional scene furthers next to nothing, the real insight is the possibility that Tom Hardy has never watched ET because his impression of ET (a very distinct voice and quote) is delivered in the most peculiar way, as if Hardy said on the day, “That’s a dumb voice, I can do better.. also it’ll be another unique voice for my scrapbook.” The other moment is when Anne’s boyfriend Dan (a surgeon with the power to give MRIs to people who don’t appear to have any medical insurance) is explaining the negative effects of the symbiote to Brock, stating “Your heart has atrophied” which is a maddening phrase because the second the organism keeping Eddie alive departs his body, he would be dead. But as stated earlier, that man is invincible.

Notable Characters:
Michelle Williams is an exceptionally talented actor and the only real saving grace of this film is that she’s only in it for a limited period of time. The script gives her so little to do and introduces her as both naïve and fickle as well as ruthless and headstrong in a mishmash of persona types that should give audiences whiplash but she has so little agency that the shifts are inconsequential and presented as irrelevant. The only thing I kept thinking is how many terrible agents must be working out there because Williams coming off the back of All The Money In The World and landing in this shit is just as poor a decision as Naomie Harris going from Moonlight to Rampage.

Highlighted Quote:
“Such poor design.. human beings”

In A Few Words:
“Somehow both extremely dull and erratically busy, Venom is a mess of a concoction that struggles constantly to define what it is and what it could be”

Total Score:


Cinema City Film Quiz #222

[23 September 2018]

Winning Team:
Whine Stein
Genre – Condemnation of a pervert

Runners Up:
Alien Vs Sexual Predator
Genre – Kevin Spacey and Bill Cosby uncover an ancient pyramid buried beneath Miramax Studios. Unbeknownst to them, the pyramid is full of aliens who they then try to have sex with
Close Encounters Of The Turd Kind
Genre – Richard Dreyfus plays Armitage Shanks, who finds himself drawn to a giant decal blockage in the New York sewers
Days Of Fiddlers Past
Genre – Christopher Plummer travels through time replacing actors of dubious moral fibre
Finding Pedo
Genre – Marlin joins a group of fish, catching sexual predators
Armageddon 2: Apple Pie, Time To Die
Genre – When a giant rotten apple appears above Boston, the CIA calls Ben Affleck and his team to drill down into its core and save us all from annihilation
The Mouse With A Clock In Its Balls
Genre – Chronological rodent mayhem
Silent Punning
Genre – TBC

ROUND I: Pre-Production
1. The musical Hairspray and its 2007 cinematic adaptation are remakes of which 1988 film?
2. In Lilo & Stitch, which of the title characters is the alien? [bonus point for naming Stitch’s original designation]
STITCH [Experiment 626]
3. How many Austin Powers films have been released to date?
4. What colour is Nemo in the Pixar film, Finding Nemo? (one point per correct answer)
5. Who plays both lead roles as twins in 1998’s The Parent Trap? [bonus point for naming the lead actor in the 1961 original]
LINDSAY LOHAN [Hayley Mills]
6. The following quote is from which film, “The truth is you’re the weak and I am the tyranny of evil men. But I’m trying, Ringo. I’m trying real hard to be the shepherd”?
7. Which Mission: Impossible film was directed by John Woo?
8. Which sport is the central focus of the 1993 coming-of-age comedy, The Sandlot?
9. What is the name of Kong’s island home in almost all iterations of King Kong?
10. Who played the role of Queen Victoria in 2009’s The Young Victoria?

ROUND II: Filming [Films on Rotten Apples]
1. Which spelling is used for the title of Terminator Genisys? Genesis? Genisys? Genysis?
2. Who played the role of Will Scarlet in Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves? Eric Bana? John Cusack? Christian Slater?
3. What was the title given to Francis Ford Coppola’s director’s cut of Apocalypse Now released in 2001? Apocalypse Now Revived? Apocalypse Now Redux? Apocalypse Now Phoenix?
4. The following quote is from which film, “If he comes up for anything, it will be to get rid of me. After that, my guess is you’ll never hear from him again”? The Usual Suspects? All The President’s Men? John Wick 2?
5. What is the name of the character in Men In Black played by Vincent D’Onofrio? Earl? Enos? Edgar?
6. The pigeon lady in Home Alone 2: Lost In New York squats in the roof of which New York building? Radio City Music Hall? Carnegie Hall? Madison Square Garden?
7. What is the name of the film in which Sean Connery and Christian Slater portray fourteenth century monks solving a murder? Chateau Gourdain? The Name Of The Rose? To My Younger Self?
8. When Bill first meets death in Meet Joe Black, whose voice does he use? Bill’s? Bill’s father? Bill’s daughter?
9. Which DC film does not appear on Rotten Apples? Man Of Steel? Suicide Squad? Wonder Woman?
10. Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara’s characters in A Ghost Story are listed as C and M respectively. True or False?

ROUND III: Post-Production
1. Viggo Mortensen, Sean Penn, Al Pacino and Luis Guzman appeared together in which film?
2. Mean Girls was released in which year?
3. The following is the poster tagline for which film, “For Harry and Lloyd, every day is a no-brainer”?
4. What is the name of the last human city in The Matrix?
5. Moulin Rogue! is told in flashback as the film opens with Christian remembering his time in Montmartre. How many years have passed between the events of the film and the opening prologue?
6. Who voices the role of Sid in the Ice Age franchise?
7. What is the name of Christopher Mintz-Plasse’s character in Kick Ass?
8. The following quote is from which film, “Damn it, Spock. God damn it! What you have done is betray every man on the ship”?
9. Which film featured the songs Razzle Dazzle, Funny Honey, Nowadays and I Can’t Do It Alone?
10. In which film does Ellen Page play a pregnant teenager?

ROUND IV: Promotion & Release
1. How many Living Dead films have been directed by George A Romero? 4? 5? 6?
SIX (Night Of The Living Dead, Dawn Of The Dead, Day Of The Dead, Land Of The Dead, Diary Of The Dead, Survival Of The Dead)
2. What is the name of Patrick Swayze’s character in Dirty Dancing? Max Lowe? Jim Cunningham? Johnny Castle?
3. Which Bond film predominantly takes place in Czechoslovakia, Austria, Morocco and Afghanistan? The Living Daylights? Tomorrow Never Dies? For Your Eyes Only?
4. Which of the following actors did not appear in 2004’s Crash? Brendan Fraser? Jeffrey Wright? Keith David?
5. How many Shakespearean adaptations has Kenneth Branagh directed to date (excluding 1988’s Twelfth Night)? 5? 7? 9?
FIVE (Henry V, Much Ado About Nothing, Hamlet, Love’s Labour’s Lost, As You Like It)
6. John Carpenter’s Assault On Precinct 13 was released in which year? 1971? 1976? 1984?
7. Which Coen Brothers film was the first to credit both Joel and Ethan as co-directors? Fargo? The Ladykillers? True Grit? [bonus point for naming which brother was listed as sole director before then]
8. What is the name given to muggles in the United States in Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them? No-Maj? Rubes? Wizless?
9. Who replaced Keanu Reeves in Speed 2? Jason Patric? Billy Zane? Tom Everett Scott?
10. The roles of Einstein and Copernicus, Doc’s dogs in Back To The Future, were portrayed by the same dog. True or False?

Screenshots: Toy Story 2 / Addams Family Values / Grosse Point Blank / School Of Rock
Poster: Snatched
Actor: Joan Cusack


The Only Thing Crazier Than Love Is Family

Jon M Chu

Constance Wu
Henry Golding
Michelle Yeoh
Gemma Chan

NYU economics professor Rachel Chu [Wu] is invited to Singapore for her boyfriend, Nick Young’s [Golding] sister’s wedding. This of course means meeting all the family members that Nick and as an only child with the single living parent the prospect is daunting. Things, however, seem awry at the airport as Rachel is put in first class and she learns that Nick’s family are affluent. Upon arrival in Singapore, Rachel meets up with her old college friend, Goh Peik Lin [Awkwafina] but when Peik Lin finds out who Nick actually is, she explains that Nick’s family aren’t just rich but that they are one of the wealthiest families in all of China, creating more anxiety about meeting Nick’s mother, Eleanor Young [Yeoh].

At its core, Crazy Rich Asians is a wonderful throwback to classic romantic films featuring prominent traits that have felt long absent from cinema, replaced with cynicism and grotesquery. I, of course, am not opposed to cynicism and grotesquery but after a while, it’s good to have an enjoyable escapist fantasy with some genuine heart to it. Combining themes of tradition vs modernity and power vs peasant with love at its centre, there’s something incredibly familiar about this story. On top of the strangely nostalgic formula of the story itself, the whole thing is presented magnificently. The set design and costume work are amazing, giving us a nice dichotomy between contemporary life in America over the luxurious dynastical world of the old-world families of Singapore. Equally, the music is extremely well crafted and assembled, in terms of the original score and the selected soundtrack, instilling another unique twist on a familiar vibe.

The characters presented represent the standard archetypal big family with their own set of dramas and personalities, all of which are explained decently yet waver a bit with their conclusions (but more on that later). At the centre are Constance Wu and Henry Golding who not only have fantastic chemistry but helm this whole feature brilliantly. It may not sound like much but if you can’t root for the lead couple, the film would literally die on its feet. Then we have Eleanor in what could be described as a fairly generic in-law adversarial role but the layering and complexity to her character is both well-written and masterfully performed. On top of that there is a whole host of captivating and memorable standout performances that I could easily list but I’d probably miss someone and the praise would make for tedious reading eventually. One thing I really appreciated though was the representation of first generation children of immigrants who are labelled as Chinese by Americans and dismissed only as American in Singapore. Cinema has always had a bit of a fixation with representing block areas as one people and that includes those who look a certain way but do not necessarily have that many ties to their ethnicity. Thankfully there is a growing trend to highlight the differences between (for example) Asians, Eurasians and American-Asians and even then, subdividing that into the specific regions of origin and habitation. Clumsily worded, I know but hopefully you see what I’m getting at.

With all that being said, it would be a hideous double-standard to say this film is without fault. As with all major romantic comedies there are plot threads that seemingly go nowhere, underdeveloped characters and a resolution that, while upbeat and pleasing, alters very little about the obstacles in the relationship’s way. Without spoiling things in the dissection process, Astrid’s character (played by Gemma Chan) is an extremely good example of this; on the surface her storyline is handled very well but in trying to sum things up quickly, they wrap everything up a little neatly, specifically her final shot at the bar. I get the idea behind it but it feels like an afterthought, as if people wouldn’t be happy with the reality of the situation, so we are given a fake upbeat finale – which is true of a lot of individuals reacting at that party. But I also appreciate that’s the nature of two-facedness and a part of the political game that has been played throughout. Also, something that is both a positive and a negative is the interchangeability of the story. The interesting truth of cultural differences it that most of them are relatable to most audience members. That’s not to say the specificities and eccentricities aren’t worth exploring but the bulk of the material largely remains the same; like the same base of a cake coated in different icing. A film about a big Italian wedding with an overbearing matriarch is something that can be appreciated in India, China, America, etc. and while that’s something that this film defiantly explains to the cinematic gatekeepers, it also means that there isn’t a great deal of new ground being trodden outside of the culture in central focus. But that, in truth, is the only real flaw of this movie, it’s a bit formulaic and generic but the progressive nature, completely enjoyable charming dynamics and weight of significance and importance for representation massively compensates for any shortcomings.

Release Date:
14th September 2018

The Scene To Look Out For:
As we are first introduced to Eleanor and her two young children, she checks in to an expensive London hotel only to be treated poorly and with disdain by the racist members of staff. Despite having a reservation, Eleanor is turned away into the stormy night, refused even a phone call. She then returns having explained the situation to her husband who has acquired the hotel from the family friend who owns it and is escorted to her suite. This performs three things in an exceptionally clever manner. First, we learn about Eleanor’s relationship with her husband (who is never really seen throughout the film) and her sense of will and determination. It also instils in the audience a sense of satisfaction making Eleanor a hero before recasting her as a villain, which is a nice rug-pull. And finally, it says to an audience who could never dream of the kind of money or privilege that these people have, that she has been dealt a band hand more than once and we should feel sorry for her. Which, in an age where people are living on reduced salaries, is quite the feat.

Notable Characters:
**Arguable spoilers within**
Nick’s grandmother, Shang Su Yi [Lisa Lu], is fascinating, a real embodiment of the outwardly successful and ideal image while being something completely different when against the wall. From her introduction, we immediately assume she will be an ally to Rachel but she turns out to be one of the least understanding individuals and this subversion of expectations is one of the fresher aspects that really saved this film from being predictable and disappearing into the crowd.

Highlighted Quote:
“I can’t believe this airport has a butterfly garden and a movie theatre. JFK is just salmonella and despair”

In A Few Words:
“Far from perfect with loose threads throughout but an altogether thoroughly enjoyable and uplifting romantic comedy that feels quintessentially both conventional and progressive”

Total Score:


Cinema City Film Quiz #221

[09 September 2018]

Winning Team:
Look Who’s A Baby Genius Now: The Revenge!
Genre – A zero-point mashup

Runners Up:
Ketch-Up With Me If You Can
Genre – Leonardo DiCaprio masquerades as a beans and sauce magnate whilst pursued by Tom(ato) Hanks
Uwe Boll Of Tomatoes
Genre – Directed by Uwe Boll; a bowl of tomatoes slowly rots, a testament to his career
Genre – Comedy about inept mobsters
Indiana’s Bone & The Temple Of Poon
Genre – Blue film

ROUND I: Pre-Production
1. Dorothy and her companions travel to the Emerald City in search of whom in The Wizard Of Oz?
2. Who played respective the lead roles in La La Land? (one point per correct answer)
3. What was the name of the film starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney as astronauts?
4. Who starred in and directed Citizen Kane?
5. What is the subtitle of the fourth Mad Max film?
6. What colour is Disgust in Pixar’s Inside Out?
7. The Babadook is set in which country?
8. What was the title of the third and final Wolverine solo film?
9. Which Ridley Scott film was released in 1979 and launched a franchise containing three sequels, two prequels and two crossover spin-offs?
10. Which central Avengers character plays a large supporting role in Spider-Man: Homecoming?

ROUND II: Filming [Less Than 10% On Rotten Tomatoes Special]
1. What was the title of the Sony animated film about emojis? Phone World? Express Yourself? The Emoji Movie?
2. Who played the lead role in Mathieu Kassovitz’s Babylon AD? Bruce Willis? Vin Diesel? Chris Hemsworth?
3. Which Big Momma’s House film has the lowest rating on Rotten Tomatoes? Big Momma’s House? Big Momma’s House 2? Big Momma’s: Like Father, Like Son?
4. Beverley Hills Cop 3 was released in which year? 1990? 1994? 1998?
5. Which Scary Movie film is the only one not to feature Anna Faris as Cindy Campbell or Regina Hall as Brenda Meeks? Scary Movie 2? Scary Movie 4? Scary Movie 5?
6. M Night Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender is based on which animated show? After World? Armageddon? Avatar?
7. What is the name of the failing school in Sister Act 2? St Ignatius High? St Bartholomew School? St Francis Academy?
8. Who directed The Number 23 starring Jim Carrey? Joel Schumacher? Paul Verhoeven? Gus Van Sant?
9. What is the name of the 2013 film starring Liam Hemsworth, Gary Oldman, Amber Heard, Harrison Ford and Richard Dreyfuss that has 7% on Rotten Tomatoes? Paranoia? Chain? Last Call?
10. Most of Batgirl’s scenes in Batman & Robin were cut because Alicia Silverstone gained weight during production and the wardrobe team had trouble refitting her costume. True or False?
TRUE (Joel Schumacher confronted reporters when the story leaked for attacking Silverstone’s weight gain)

ROUND III: Post-Production
1. Name the dwarves in Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs. (one point per correct answer)
2. Spell Wonder Woman’s homeland of Themyscira.
3. Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Liev Schreiber and Rachel McAdams appeared together in which film?
4. Which Steven Spielberg film was released in 1975?
5. What is the title of the Oscar winning film about American diplomats trapped in Iran during the Iranian Revolution?
6. Richard Linklater’s Boyhood was shot over how many years?
7. The 1998 short story Story Of Your Life was adapted into which 2016 science fiction film?
8. Which Disney animated film was released in between Big Hero 6 and Moana?
9. What is the name of the hypnotic void in Get Out?
10. How many years pass between Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes and War For The Planet Of The Apes?

ROUND IV: Promotion & Release
1. What name is given to the tiger in Life Of Pi? Edward Smith? Donald Greaves? Richard Parker?
2. What is the title of the sequel to 1931’s Frankenstein? Son Of Frankenstein? Bride Of Frankenstein? Revenge Of Frankenstein? [bonus point for naming the release year]
3. What colour are Randy’s wrestling tights in The Wrestler (specifically the final fight)? Pink? Green? Yellow?
4. The Hurt Locker was released in which year? 2006? 2009? 2011?
5. What is the name of the ship in King Kong? Venture? Majestic? Courage?
6. Who played the lead role in All About Eve? Ava Gardner? Ginger Rogers? Bette Davis?
7. The following quote is from which film, “I am a Comanche. Do you know what it means? It means Enemy To Everyone”? Flags Of Our Fathers? The Searchers? Hell Or High Water?
8. The final battle in Seven Samurai takes place in what kind of weather condition? Rain? Snow? Heatwave?
9. Orion produced films like The Terminator, Amadeus, Platoon and The Silence Of The Lambs but which major studio distributed its films? Paramount? Warner Bros? Columbia?
10. The 1990 adaptation of Roald Dahl’s The Witches has a rating of 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. True or False?

Screenshots: Escape From New York / Halloween 2 / A Fish Called Wanda / True Lies
Poster: From Up On Poppy Hill
Actor: Jamie Lee Curtis

Cinema City Film Quiz #220

[26 August 2018]

Winning Team:

ROUND I: Pre-Production
1. How many Dalmatians do George and Jane end up with at the end of One Hundred And One Dalmatians?
2. “Grease is the word” is the poster tagline for which film?
3. Which animation studio released Monsters Inc in 2001?
4. What is the title of the sequel to The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers?
5. Which two actors played the respective title roles in Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid? (one point per correct answer)
6. What is the title of the Jon Turtletaub film about Nicolas Cage stealing the declaration of independence?
7. Who played the role of Uncle Fester in The Addams Family and The Addams Family Values?
8. How many Scary Movie films have been released to date?
9. Who played the lead role in Enter The Dragon?
10. The following is a quote from which film, “Nobody puts Baby in the corner”?

ROUND II: Filming [Geographical Location Titles Special]
1. Which Bond film followed From Russia With Love? Goldfinger? Thunderball? Dr No?
2. Who directed 2008’s Australia? John Hillcoat? Baz Luhrmann? George Miller?
3. Munich was released in which year? 2002? 2005? 2007?
4. What type of animal is Marty, the character voiced by Chris Rock, in Madagascar? Lion? Giraffe? Zebra?
5. Who plays the lead role in the martial arts series Once Upon A Time In China? Jackie Chan? Jet Li? Donnie Yen?
JET LI (later replaced by Vincent Zhao
6. This Is England is set in which year? 1983? 1986? 1990?
7. Who directed 1984’s A Passage To India? David Lean? John Boorman? Richard Attenborough?
8. The following quote is from which film, “I’ve been on my own since I was 18. I never really fit in, even in the army”? Captain America: The First Avenger? Captain America: Winter Soldier? Captain America: Civil War?
9. How many clones of Hitler are made and adopted in The Boys From Brazil? 64? 94? 124?
10. 2016’s Train To Busan was South Korea’s first mainstream release to feature zombies. True or False?

ROUND III: Post-Production
1. Name the three titles in Sergio Leone’s Dollar Trilogy. (one point per correct answer)
2. Dante is the name of the dog in which Pixar film?
3. Mark Ruffalo, Channing Tatum and Steve Carrell appeared together in which film?
4. Which of the five DCEU films is the lowest grossing to date?
5. What is the title of the film in which Viggo Mortensen played Sigmund Freud and Michael Fassbender played Carl Jung?
6. The Castle Of Cagliostro was released in which year?
7. What is the name of the cinematic universe made up of the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts films?
8. The following is a quote from which film, “Yes, they do let women do some things at NASA, Mr Johnson, and it’s not because we wear skirts, it’s because we wear glasses. Have a good day”?
9. In Colossal, Gloria manifests as a kaiju in South Korea, when she walks through which area of town?
10. Which film featured Ben Stiller, Tim Robbins, Jack Black, John C Reilly, and Colin Hanks?

ROUND IV: Promotion & Release
1. How many of the 8 Nightmare On Elm Street films did Wes Craven direct? 1? 2? 3?
TWO (A Nightmare On Elm Street / Wes Craven’s New Nightmare)
2. Doc’s dance with Clara in Back To The Future Part III is a cover of a song by which band? ZZ Top? Aerosmith? Lynyrd Skynyrd?
3. The following quote is from which film, “You may dispense with the pleasantries commander, I am here to put you back on schedule”? Master And Commander: The Far Side Of The World? The Right Stuff? Return Of The Jedi?
4. Apocalypto is set in which contemporary country? Mexico? El Salvador? Belize?
MEXICO (Veracruz)
5. Which of the following films did not feature Kevin Bacon? Planes, Trains and Automobiles? Frost/Nixon? Flatliners (2017)?
6. Which of the following did not appear in Bone Tomahawk? David Arquette? Matthew Fox? Vince Vaughn?
7. Bad Lieutenant was released in which year? 1979? 1986? 1992?
8. The Big Sick is set in which US city? Chicago? San Francisco? Atlanta?
9. What was the title of Oliver Stone’s film about George W. Bush? George? W? Bush? [bonus point for naming the actor who plays Bush]
W [Josh Brolin]
10. In addition to Bollywood, India has many nicknames for different sections of its film industry such as Tollywood, Lollywood, Dhallywood and Kariwood. True or False?
TRUE (there are around thirteen different divisions based on language, content and region)

Screenshots: Batman Forever / Wayne’s World 2 / E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial / 50 First Dates
Poster: Titan A.E.
Actor: Drew Barrymore


Based On A Crazy, Outrageous, Incredible True Story

Spike Lee

John David Washington
Adam Driver
Laura Harrier
Ryan Eggold
Jasper Pääkkönen
Topher Grace

After two prologues we cut to the late seventies and are introduced to Ron Stollworth [Washington], the first black police officer assigned to a quiet mountain town in Colorado. After going undercover at a university rally where a civil rights leader is speaking, Stollworth befriends Patrice Dumas [Harrier]. Impressed with his work, his superiors promote Stollworth to intelligence. There he begins an investigation into the local Ku Klux Klan by calling up and posing as a white supremacist. The department gives the go ahead to continue the investigation but assigns Detective Flip Zimmerman [Driver] to be Ron’s white counterpart for face-to-face meetings. Both men manage to form a symbiotic performance that fools the affable head of the Klan chapter, Walter [Eggold] but the hot-headed Felix [Pääkkönen] has doubts. Over time, Ron and Flip impress the Grand Wizard of the Klan, David Duke [Grace] to the extent that he makes a personal visit to Colorado for “Ron’s” official initiation.

A lot of care and attention has been taken on a technical level that produces a rich period environment. The hair, make-up, costumes, sets, props, music choices, everything feels genuine and appropriate to the late 70s. More than that, shooting on 35mm film-stock rather than digital gives a really evocative and immersive feeling. What’s interesting on top of that is not necessarily the curbing but the subtle integration of Lee’s tropes and distinct style to create a very mainstream production with grounded cinematography, direction and editing. The music is another fine example of this with marvellous choices of songs paired with Terence Blanchard’s cool yet unsettling score; perfectly mirroring the tone of the on-screen exploits.

While films about undercover cops is nothing new, the similarities make it all the more trenchant and necessary. At the same time, the performances all round are honestly magnificent. On the one hand we have the cops – who are in of themselves a conflicted group, stuck in the past while progressive elements are trying to drag them forward – and on the other is the klansman with their repugnant views packaged with charm and repurposed as a political movement rather than a hate group. Flitting back and forth between these environments is the cause of a great deal of humour (racism makes for natural comedy.. because it’s so very fundamentally stupid) and there are some standout moments of hilarity on both sides but after all the bloviating and mockery subside, all you are left with is a group of hateful and dangerous individuals. There’s a brilliant cross-cutting between “Ron’s” initiation wherein they are watching and cheering the KKK in Griffith’s silent film The Birth Of A Nation and a group of students listening to a testimonial of a man who witnessed a violent street execution of a black man, partly inspired by the events in said film and all the while you are captivated by the stellar performances. One that comes to mind, in a disturbing way, is Driver’s double-performance. This is both a testament to him as an actor (one of the few I genuinely look forward to seeing in anything right now) and how dangerously easy it seems to switch between outwardly reasonable and polite to saying the most horrific and deplorable things as if they were always there beneath the surface. Driver’s character, Flip, should struggle undercover, he shouldn’t know how to react in these situations but it comes all too naturally, not because he is racist but because he is surrounded by simmering and secluded racism.

Because of the subject matter, it is very difficult to avoid discussing the motivation behind this film’s creation. More than simply telling an anecdotal story of one police investigation, it is a look at the nationalist resurgence crippling western civilisation right now. Sure, this is a tense, funny, clever, poignant release in its own right but it is also actively hoping to start a conversation and motivate people to vote and better collective values. This isn’t anything new for Spike Lee and is largely present in pretty much all of his works. More than that, during a post screening Q&A, Lee said that every artist creates political work, and that choosing not to include politics is in of itself a political statement. The responsibility and duty of the artist to create something entertaining that says something, no matter how simple and too much lenience in the interest of balance has been given to groups that are given global platforms to preach hate. Which ultimately makes for an interesting on-screen balance because the worst thing to do would be to pose the klansman as some cackling, moustache-twirling villain of the past, rather than the very real, active and thriving movement that they currently are. The biggest flaw I can find is that BlacKkKlansman lacks subtlety. But in truth the surreptitious and insidious creeping nature of intolerance needs a bit of bluntness to get through to audiences, so I can’t slate it too heavily for that. I could also bash the fact that certain elements have been heightened for cinematic purposes but these liberties are always taken with anything based on real-life events, so again, it’s hard to take the film too much to task for that.

Much like the 1970s, I feel this contemporary period of social and political change will be the subject of filmmaking for decades to come and the cyclical nature of movements paired with the idea that progressive battles are never won outright, they must constantly be fought and refought to keep fascism at bay, is as interesting at it is tragic. And for cleverly reflecting the societal divide that has split several nations in these recent years, this film deserves as much attention and praise that it can get.

Release Date:
24th August 2018

The Scene To Look Out For:
Audience members familiar with Spike Lee and his work, will be more than familiar with his patented double-dolly. Obviously he didn’t invent the technique but it’s something fans come to expect from the director and its placement is excellent. The narrative closes on a few upbeat notes before utilising this shot to not only bring the tone to a darker place but to bring us hurtling into 2017. Suddenly all the laughs and victories are set aside and the fiction of it all is brought into stark realisation with the footage of the murder at Charlottesville, President Trump refusing to denounce Nazis and Duke promoting Trump’s agenda of “taking America back.” Ending with an upside down American flag that becomes a desaturated monochrome symbol is, as stated earlier, very blunt but that’s to ensure the point is made clearly.

Notable Characters:
As unfortunate and irritating as nepotism can be, sometimes talent just runs in people’s veins and Washington is a fine example of the latter. I only discovered he is Denzel Washington’s son when writing this review but his talents are genuinely impressive and I am looking forward to him being cast in.. well.. frankly everything. Charming, confident, driven, vulnerable, conflicted; Washington gives a wonderful performance that is one of the key reasons this films works so spectacularly.

Highlighted Quote:
“America would never elect someone like David Duke President of the United States of America”

In A Few Words:
“Easily Spike Lee’s best film in years”

Total Score:


Cinema City Film Quiz #219

[12 August 2018]

Winning Team:
Dude, Where’s My Avenger
Genre – A comedy of infinite proportions

Runners Up:
Gone Grill
Genre – Dyslexic bar-b-q owner, Ben Affleck, wakes to find his barbecue missing and that he is the number one suspect. Spoilers; the grill had grill-napped itself
The Vanishing
Genre – *the title was written and partially rubbed out*
Now You See Me, Now You Don’t: A Documentary
Genre – Uri Geller assembles a real-life magician dream team to wipe the collective memory of film-goers everywhere who saw the Now You See Me films

ROUND I: Pre-Production
1. How many miners befriend/enslave Snow White in Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs
2. What are the titles of the Dark Knight trilogy (one point per correct answer)
3. Who played the title role in Pretty Woman?
4. The colony in A Bug’s Life is made up of what type of insect?
5. What colour is James Kirk’s uniform in Star Trek Into Darkness? (one point per correct answer)
YELLOW / GREY (ship uniform / officer’s uniform)
6. What is the name of Vin Diesel’s character in The Fast And The Furious?
7. Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves first starred together in which film?
8. The following quote is from which film, “This is Natalya. She is my sister. She is number four prostitute in all of Kazakhstan”?
9. Who composed the respective scores for Spider-Man, Batman, Avengers: Age Of Ultron and Justice League?
10. Titanic is set in which decade?

ROUND II: Filming [Missing People/Disappearance Special]
1. Who directed Prisoners? Duncan Jones? Denis Villeneuve? Sam Menses?
2.The Silence Of The Lambs was released in which year? 1989? 1991? 1993?
3. Gone Baby Gone is set in which US city? New York? Baltimore? Boston?
4. Which of the following did not appear in Shutter Island? Mark Ruffalo? Max Von Sydow? Michael Caine?
5. How many years passed between the Swedish and American releases of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo? 2? 4? 7?
6. 2006’s Silent Hill is an adaptation of the video game of the same name that was released exclusively on which console? PlayStation? XBox? Dreamcast?
7. Who played the British academic scientist in 1998’s Phantoms, alongside Rose McGowan and Ben Affleck? Patrick Stewart? Peter O’Toole? Richard Harris?
8. What is the title of the 1938 Alfred Hitchcock film about a young lady looking for her missing travelling companion on a train? The Lady Vanishes? The Empty Seat? Ticket For One?
9. What is the name given to the quarantined zone in Alex Garland’s Annihilation? The Shimmer? Alpha Site? The Barrier?
10. Ron Howard was fired from 2003’s The Missing but as most of the film was shot and the new director was more difficult to work with, Howard was re-hired. True or False?

ROUND III: Post-Production
1. What did Stanley Kubrick direct in between The Shining and Eyes Wide Shut?
2. What is the prince’s name in Beauty And The Beast?
3. Who directed the 1995 remake of Village Of The Damned?
4. How many films have Russell Crowe and Leonardo Di Caprio appeared in together?
TWO (The Quick And The Dead / Body Of Lies)
5. What two words are written on the pupil’s eyelids in Raiders Of The Lost Ark?
6. Aladdin was released in 1992 in America. What year was it released in the UK?
7. Al Pacino played the role of Carlito Brigante in which film?
8. The following quote is from which film, “You could learn from this guy, Gaff. He’s a goddamn one man slaughterhouse”?
9. What is Jean Val-Jean’s serial number in Les Miserables?
10. What are the titles of the two Disney films that featured Angela Lansbury? (one point per correct answer)

ROUND IV: Promotion & Release
1. How many presents does Dudley receive in Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone? 22? 36? 48?
2. In which film did Robin Williams play English teacher John Keating? Seize The Day? Dead Again? Dead Poet’s Society?
3. What is the title of the 2013 Boston marathon bombing film starring Mark Wahlberg? Lone Survivor? Patriot’s Day? Mile 22?
4. Who voices the role of the Wolf Man in Hotel Transylvania? Steve Buscemi? David Spade? Kevin James?
5. Who directed Stand By Me? Rob Reiner? Tobe Hooper? Frank Darabont?
6. Which of the following is not a Godzilla film? Monster Invasion From Below? Godzilla Raids Again? Destroy All Monsters?
7. Robocop was released in which year? 1984? 1987? 1989?
8. Which of the following did not appear in Ridley Scott’s Exodus: Gods And Kings? John Turturro? Jeff Goldblum? Sigourney Weaver?
9. Which infinity stone was housed in Loki’s sceptre in The Avengers? Mind? Space? Time?
10. Steven Spielberg never records director’s commentaries for DVD or Blu-Ray. True or False?

Screenshots: Pearl Harbour / Underworld: Evolution / The Aviator / Total Recall
Poster: Much Ado About Nothing
Actor: Kate Beckinsale


Heroes Don’t Get Any Bigger

Peyton Reed

Paul Rudd
Evangeline Lilly
Hannah John-Kamen
Michael Douglas

Following the events in Captain America: Civil War, Scott Lang [Rudd] is nearing the end of his two year house arrest. In that time he has had no contact with Dr Hank Pym [Douglas] or his daughter Hope Van Dyne [Lilly] but when relaxing in the bath, a mere two days away from freedom, Scott has a vision of Hope’s supposedly deceased mother, Janet Van Dyne [Michelle Pfeiffer]. Freaked out, Scott contacts Dr Pym and we learn that this dream was no coincidence as Hope and Hank had been working on a quantum tunnel in an attempt to locate and retrieve Janet. But as wanted criminals, the scientists have been working with the nefarious Sonny Burch [Walton Goggins] and have got the attention of a mysterious quantum-shifting figure, known only as the ghost [John-Kamen].

When Ant-Man was released I was thoroughly disappointed. Avengers: Age Of Ultron had been a bit of a bust and the turbulent behind-the-scenes shift of directors left a strange chimera film with trails and remnants of Edgar Wright’s tropes and Reed’s direction. The final product was serviceable but I didn’t share the lauding that most critics and audiences were spouting. Subsequently, I was rather looking forward to an Ant-Man sequel, a chance to create something from the ground-up with a clear voice and, hopefully, a strong central female performance. Alas I only got one of those. One of the biggest problems this film encounters is the generally piss-poor, infantile, simplistic and flat comedy. From throw-away lines or setups to running magic jokes, nothing landed hard enough for me to laugh at and wholly enjoy. That isn’t to say it wasn’t entirely without humour, it simply failed to produce anything that I hadn’t seen before. On top of that there was a distinct lack of emotional resonance. Over the last decade, Marvel have wheeled out some pretty hefty emotional moments and connections between characters and while Ant-Man And The Wasp has the opportunity to, it rarely delivers. I will admit that the connection between Rudd and his daughter and the purveying theme of daughters and their screw-up dads is interesting but it’s nowhere near as gut-wrenching as something like the connection between Stark and Parker.

Sticking with performances for a second, I will absolutely defend everyone involved. Rudd tries his hardest and Lilly is wonderful but the script is so painfully cliché with abysmal dialogue, leading to stunted deliveries. From the completely mediocre jokes to the text-book “I thought I’d lost you” sentiments, nothing in this film feels fresh, realistic or relatable and while that may sound a bit harsh or stupid, you need some sort of grounding when the entire basis of the story is the fantastical. This film also drags Marvel back into the pit of questionable villains – which is a shame after the marvellous complexity of the last two. Ava Starr/Ghost is a decent enough sympathetic villain, even if she is never really fleshed out but Sonny is terrible and continues the weird trend of Goggins being fantastic on TV but getting terrible roles on film. And then there’s Woo (played by the genuinely funny Police Academy film.

Getting back to Ava for a second, the character highlights some of the film’s technical issues. While the ghost effect looked pleasing and felt like a simple layering technique harking back to silent movie techniques, the action was largely uninspired. Say what you will about the first Ant-Man film, at least it was creative. Here we have fights that suffer from rushed, fast-paced editing (which somehow seemed to be cut better in the trailer), far too many ropey floating-head CGI moments and shrinking/enlarging tech that fails to create anything of note. I mean, when a 2018 blockbuster is giving you flashbacks to 2003’s The Matrix Reloaded but never rising above it, something has to be going wrong. Having said all that, Christophe Beck’s score is magnificent, making great and sometimes playful use of the motif (something Marvel struggles with) while delivering something constantly fitting and appropriate. Additionally, the de-aging effects are remarkable, Marvel have been doing a stellar job with this innovative technology.. although I wasn’t as convinced by the de-aged Hope. That was a joke. Sorry. It was either that or a DC facial hair removal gag.

As with 2015’s Ant-Man, it came off the back of the high-stakes, ultra-scale Age Of Ultron and with its standalone, unique story, endeared a lot of people to it. Then Lang reappeared in Civil War and the character was cemented as a great asset to have others interact with, offering some fantastic levity and visuals. This sequel should have built on that momentum, giving audiences an opportunity for a light emotional lift after the dour close of Avengers: Infinity War. But it wasn’t. Missing is the outlandish comedic treatment of Thor: Ragnarok and the character/world building of Black Panther, in favour of some weirdly delivered dad jokes, call-backs and importance placed upon the quantum realm that still feels like a complete mystery. In truth, this whole corner of the MCU feels like an arc on Spider-Man: Homecoming – and that was amusing but this is ridiculous. All we see is an enlarged ant playing the drums in Scott’s absence – the scene takes place in the trailer! At this stage we have to ask, what’s the point? I know Marvel are expected to generate two sequences but that was an absolutely pointless piss-take and to have already shown it in not only the theatrical trailer but earlier in the film from a different angle emphasises its absurdity.

Notable Characters:
**huge spoilers**
So I haven’t mentioned Michelle Pfeiffer, despite the fact she appears on the poster. On one hand, I really enjoyed Pfeiffer’s performance and on the other, it generated so many logistical questions that go completely unanswered. After Dr Pym enters the quantum realm, he discovers his not-dead wife and brings her back. She has been living down there for thirty years. Somehow. A single line of dialogue about the curative powers of the realm itself leading to a sort of evolution is all we get to explain how she has survived in this mostly barren plane of existence.. with perfect make-up. But to dissolve the tension between our heroes and the adversarial Ghost character, is to stretch out her hands and say, “I can feel your pain” before curing her. That. Right there. Is Sybok from Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. Nobody understands her frankly magic powers (almost as if the constant magic talk is merely foreshadowing) and I’m sure they’ll be explored later but for a film that spends so much time doing so little, you’d think they would have been able to etch out some time to even loosely cover it.

Highlighted Quote:
“Do you guys just put the word quantum in front of everything?”

In A Few Words:
“I went into this film with reasonable expectations and hope for something semi-decent, what I got was disappointingly sub-par but it’s still worth mentioning that at their worst, Marvel films are still better than the standard superhero cinematic fare”

Total Score: