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. →
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. →
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. →
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. →
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. →
A recent trip to Oxfordshire let me try out the recently-refurbished 'GWR' trains, introduced after First Great Western rebranded to their historical title of Great Western Railways, a rebrand so exhaustive they've designed their new trains for 19th century body shapes. →
I didn't see Star Wars: The Force Awakens because on the day I planned to see it, it was raining. There was no way I was going to get from my flat to the cinema without ending up with wet jeans which meant I'd have to sit in a full cinema in wet jeans watching a film that, I realised in a moment of epiphany, I had no interest in. I'd booked a ticket in advance like everybody else, swept up in the hype, not because I particularly cared about Star Wars as a franchise, but because of the sense that there would be conversations about the film and I'd want to be involved in them. →
Remembering David Cameron
As a history graduate, I’m interested in how we remember political figures, and how our memories of…
A misanthrope abroad
Back in 2010 I wrote about how hard I found it to go on holiday for a variety of reasons, but the last few…
On the function of dictionaries
Those asking for nature words to be reinstated in a junior dictionary are wasting their time. Dictionaries describe contemporary usage; by the time you want a word to mean something else, it’s probably too late.
January is the most miserable month of the year. It’s dark when you leave for work and it’s dark…
Around the start of last year I was performing my annual “Stroking of the books” ritual, where I…
Paolo Sorrentino’s Youth
When a character in Paolo Sorrentino’s Youth introduced herself as Paloma Faith I knew the name, but I…
My 2015 film highlights
As usual at this time of year, I’ve picked 20 highlights from all the films I saw during 2015, this time…
Marvel’s Jessica Jones
Ostensibly set in the same Hell’s Kitchen as Daredevil but actually sharing very little in terms of…
No experience necessary
It was recently announced that Seth Grahame-Smith, a middling screenwriter with only a smidgen of TV directing…
There’s something about Ryan Reynolds that’s always rubbed me up the wrong way. Maybe it’s…
Granger & Co. OttolenghiDaylesford
Generally, I try not to get into queues with people who don’t mind they’re in a queue. A queue is…
Breakfast at The Putney Canteen
A recent move to the south-west of London opened up a rich seam of easily-accessible breakfast venues in…
Breakfast at Berners Tavern
If you’re going to make me book a table in advance for breakfast, you ought to be offering something…
Breakfast at Damson & Co.
Though no part of Soho can really be considered ‘off the beaten path’, stumbling upon Damson…
Breakfast at Kopapa
I had every intention of writing about breakfast at the Tapa Room, a Marylebone restaurant with an unusual…
What kind of a game is L.A. Noire?
I wrote recently about how infrequently I replay videogames, and how small the selection of games that get…
Blinded by the light
One of the many problems of renting a home in London is that all expenses are generally spared, so although…
Final Fantasy VII and replaying games
I re-watch films frequently, I re-read books occasionally, and I re-play games almost never unless it’s a…
The secret 3DS player
The StreetPass feature on the Nintendo 3DS encourages you to take your handheld out and about with you,…
Animal Crossing and aspirational living
One of the key features in the latest Animal Crossing is the Happy Home Showcase, in which the houses…
- Grandma: Lily Tomlin as a misanthropic poet trying to help her granddaughter get an abortion is basically my spirit animal. Great piece.
- Fantastic Voyage: Like watching a lava lamp for 90 minutes without the benefit of being stoned.
- Transformers: The Movie: Like listening to an album of shitty ‘80s music that happens to have a robot cartoon running in the background.
- Milano Calibro 9: Absurdly violent and trashy Italian crime thriller. I don’t think a single spoken line matched the lip movements.
- Mystery Road: A by-the-numbers Australian cop thriller. Watching it was a bit like how I imagine it feels to read a Lee Child novel.
- Kiss of the Spider Woman: Perfect character piece, has made me seek out more of Raul Julia’s work. Turns out he’s not just Gomez & M. Bison!
- Love & Friendship: Fantastic Jane Austen adaptation that I can’t recommend highly enough. Kate Beckinsale incredible. Tom Bennett hysterical.
- Warcraft: The Beginning: Against all the odds, I enjoyed it. It’s flawed, but there's some good stuff here and there.
- It Happened One Night: 1934 romcom that’s served as a template for all other romcoms ever. Brilliant, and kind of quaint.
- A Letter to Momo: An anime so forgettable I’m struggling even to write this review about it.
- X-Men: Apocalypse: Serviceable, functional and generally unsurprising.
- Myra Breckinridge: A supposed train wreck of a film but the decades have been kind to it. Worth getting the DVD for the bitchy commentaries.
- Brick: Remains the fiercely-enjoyable, expertly-crafted high school noir pastiche it always was.
- Sleeping With Other People: Just…shit.
- Sheba, Baby: Possible I needed to be a lot drunker to appreciate such a trashy piece, but I did enjoy Pam Grier & a great soundtrack.
- Welcome to the Space Show: Wanted to love this kids anime but it outstays its welcome by about 45 minutes, and left me bored and confused.
- The Aviator: One of my favourites. Endlessly re-watchable for weird cinematography, for Cate Blanchett’s Hepburn & for the Wainwright cameos.
- The Black Dahlia: Looks great, sounds great, dreadful performances from everyone who’s either flat & wooden or coked up to the nines.
- The Long Goodbye: Obviously a classic, but also notable for an early Schwarzenegger moustache.
- Bride of Re-Animator: Just utterly fucking ridiculous and I wouldn’t change a bit of it.
- The Misfits: An oppressive, emotionally-wrought film, all the more so for knowing that it was Monroe’s last film. Flawed, but worth watching.
- Walkabout: Dreamy cinematography and a haunting soundtrack. Kind of dull as well!
- Plein Soleil: Great ’60s French Talented Mr. Ripley adaptation. Creepy, stylish, sophisticated, and men have never been prettier than here.
- Battle Royale: The older I get, the more reasonable the solution presented in this film seems to me.
- The Witches: Grotesque, terrifying Roald Dahl adaptation in which some blameless, kindly old women are brought to ruin by a horrible child.