1. My appreciation of the 2005 and 2007 Fantastic Four films comes from a single scene in Silver Surfer, where Mr. Fantastic has begrudgingly gone to his own bachelor party, and we cut to him being a big nerd, surrounded by attractive twentysomething women and talking about something scientific. “…it expanded exponentially into what became the universe we know,” he explains. “Wow, you're really smart!” replies one of the women. “Thanks, Candy. That means a lot to me.”

  2. In a year of summer films that have struggled to elicit much more of a reaction than “ok, and?” from me — the deeply-flawed Warcraft has so far been my pick of the blockbusters — Ghostbusters at least feels like it was made by people who cared about it. The end result can be a little uneven, but it gets by with fun characters, a great script, and a liberal application of the 1984 soundtrack to kick my withered nostalgia gland happily into life.

  3. How much you'll get out of Warcraft: The Beginning may depend on how much you're willing to engage with the fantasy genre itself; the film is serious-faced high-fantasy and isn't ashamed of it. This is fine. Where the film wobbles is in being a prequel rather than simply the first in a series, a film that explains how the war between humans and orcs came about without that war ever having presented on film. Unashamedly presenting fantasy film tropes is one thing; assuming an existing audience investment in videogame source material is another.

  4. Throughout my whole adult life, there have always been X-Men films, so when the 20th Century Fox fanfare segues into the X-Men fanfare as it does every time, I can't deny I get a little thrill from it. There's something of the elder statesman about the X-Men franchise, now in its sixteenth year without any serious rebooting or recasting; in the same time frame, we've seen three Peter Parkers, two Clark Kents, two Bruce Waynes and two sets of the Fantastic Four family. Even the Great Marvel Cinematic Universe has only been going for eight years.

  5. My feelings on Tom Holland's Spider-Man and Paul Rudd's Ant-Man in Captain America: Civil War reflect my feelings on the film as a whole: fun, but disposable. I enjoyed watching, but I can't imagine wanting, or needing, to watch the film again.

  6. I've had to accept that The Walking Dead isn't going to tell the story I want it to tell. Whether it's for budgetary reasons, or for a self-imposed need to stick closely to the events of the comics, or just a failure of imagination on the part of the show runners, I have no idea. The Walking Dead is going to tell the story of Rick and a few others finding what seems like a sanctuary, attempting to settle there, and then losing it to a hostile outside force, forcing a retreat into the woods. The details vary — sometimes the hostile outside force is a large herd of the undead, sometimes it's David Morrissey — but the basic story beats tend to be the same.

  7. I didn't hate Josh Trank's Fantastic Four, though it offers up so many reasons to do so. In its final form it's certainly a flawed work, awkwardly-constructed with a self-conscious script, shoddy plotting, a small cast and a sparsely-populated world that combines to give the film the feeling of an Amazon Original Series pilot instead of a blockbuster comic book movie. While I can't recommend watching it, I'm still interested in how a large part of its failure comes from ignoring the last 15 years of comic book cinema.

From the archives

In brief

  1. Ace in the Hole: Fiercely cynical noir, back from when actors didn’t so much act as simply bulge their eyes & sweat.
  1. Watership Down: A film all children should watch, to teach them valuable lessons such as “how to choke a rabbit” and “do rabbits float?”
  1. Bone Tomahawk: Superb minimalist Western, darkly funny, also gruesome & horrific. Some self-consciousness about its own racism comes through.
  1. Pride & Prejudice & Zombies: A bad Jane Austen pastiche, a bad horror film and a bad comedy. Really quite a comprehensive failure.
  1. Triple 9: Tediously masculine.
  1. Jurassic Park: A thrilling, terrifying warning from Spielberg and Crichton to avoid single points of failure in your IT staffing solution.
  1. Out of the Past: Outstanding 40s noir in which Robert Mitchum plays a man cursed to never remove his trench coat.
  1. Jason Bourne: A promising first draft of a film. Hopefully they can improve the plot, screenplay and character motivations before release.
  1. To Live and Die in LA: Solid, trashy eighties noir with William Dafoe when he looked like a rubbery CGI interpretation of his younger self.
  1. One Million Years B.C.: So utterly ridiculous on so many levels it’s practically adorable.
  1. The Lost Boys: Actually perfect.
  1. Welcome to Me: Dark comic piece from Kristen Wiig about a woman with borderline personality disorder winning the lottery. Funny but painful.
  1. Red Desert: Bleak and oppressive Antonioni piece that’s probably a great choice if you’re in the mood for something bleak and oppressive.
  1. High-Rise: All style and no substance. Could have said so much about the problems of modern living, instead said nothing at all.
  1. Ghostbusters (2016): I haven’t wanted to be a Ghostbuster this much since the early 90s.
  1. The Birds: Obviously brilliant, but also worth noting for one of my favourite Big Train sketches.
  1. Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key: The amazing title by far the best thing, but it’s still a solid bit of Italian schlock.
  1. The Man Who Wasn’t There: Great-looking Coen brothers noir with equally great performances. Story feels a little undercooked, but it gets by.
  1. The Spanish Prisoner: So-so drama showing how easily someone can be tricked into betrayal, especially if they’re the stupidest man alive.
  1. The Fifth Element: So ‘90s and European I can’t help but love it all the more, given recent events. Even Ruby Rhod seems more tolerable.
  1. Leon: Wonderful for so many reasons — cast, script, cinematography, soundtrack — but also just for Gary Oldman's "EVERYONE!" rendition.
  1. Moulin Rouge: Watched for maybe the thousandth time, because I can can can.
  1. Bang Gang: Vacuous teenage drama.
  1. Nice Guys: A little looser and flabbier than some of Shane Black’s other films, but still brilliant. Great sight gags, fun performances.
  1. Family Plot: Hitchcock’s last film, a fun comedy thriller in which wild-eyed Bruce Dern gives a great wild-eyed Bruce Dern performance.