Joeblade

  1. No. 1 Duke Street is the Richmondiest place you can go for breakfast in the whole of Richmond, because while the food is excellent there’s also a tense, uptight feel to the place that no amount of complimentary cucumber water, wicker chairs and deep, soft sofas can mask. Like Richmond in general, No. 1 Duke Street is a place for people who think they’re pretty cool and liberal and trendy but would lose their shit if the coffee machine at Waitrose was out of order.

  2. Following Captain America: Civil War and Ant-Man, Doctor Strange is the third Marvel film in a row that’s left me feeling vaguely unsatisfied. Not nearly as weird as publicity would have us believe, the film papers over a well-worn story template and bland characters with some kaleidoscope effects and not a lot else.

  3. Ostensibly a police procedural set in Gotham City before the appearance of Batman, Gotham is a frustratingly difficult series to enjoy or recommend, with a scattershot approach to storytelling that makes trying to keep on top of things pointless, and drifting so far from the source it’s a wonder the showrunners didn’t just make the fully-fledged Batman series they so obviously wanted to. But, credit where credit’s due; there’s a lot here to like despite the flaws.

  4. I was always going to appreciate No Man’s Sky. The look of the game is pure ‘70s sci-fi trash, all orange clouds and acid rain, the hardware chunky and brightly coloured with just a bit of smudge around the edges. The soundtrack as well matches perfectly, all pop and synth and twang. That’s just the surface, though: to fully appreciate the game, I first had to understand what sort of game it is.

  5. 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.”

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

From the archives

In brief

  1. Arrival: Wonderful. Thoughtful, intelligent, contemplative sci-fi. Amy Adams is exceptional.
  1. The Incredible Melting Man: Just…shit.
  1. The Martian: Not much more than “some scenes from the book, filmed”, but it’s as polished, funny & moving as the book, so all is well.
  1. The Big Sleep: One of the all-time greats, so perfect it almost makes me angry.
  1. Set the Thames on Fire: A funny, surreal, affecting fantasy set in a future, drowning London. Sadly does also feature Noel Fielding.
  1. Whisky Galore!: It’s a bit of a one-joke affair but has all the cosy charm & comfort you’d expect from an Ealing comedy, so I won’t complain.
  1. Mad Max 2: Road Warrior: I never get tired of it. It may actually be the perfect film.
  1. Archipelago: Just the kind of stuck-up cringeworthy middle-class drama I like. Awkward and uncomfortable throughout, this is just delightful.
  1. The Exorcist: My first viewing; sadly, years of parodies and references have robbed the original of any impact. It’s probably fine.
  1. Tammy: Bit of a first-draft feel but with Melissa McCarthy, Susan Sarandon, Kathy Bates & Toni Collette, it’s a strong, funny cast.
  1. Men and Chicken: Danish dark comedy that’s grotesque but also stupidly funny. Mads Mikkelsen has never been less appealing.
  1. The Fly (1986): A grotesque, horrifying warning to us all about the perils of skipping the peer review process.
  1. Frankenstein (1931): An adaptation that unavoidably feels a bit slight now, but it’s about as perfect as it could be, all things considered.
  1. The Faculty: It’s an unashamed Body Snatchers rip-off but it’s so much fun I can’t fault it. A great, weird cast as well.
  1. The Frighteners: Terrific from start to finish. Michael J. Fox is brilliant, Jeffrey Combs utterly batshit. Even the effects have aged well.
  1. Doctor Strange: Looks and sounds great, shame about the seen-it-all-before story.
  1. My Name is Bruce: While Bruce Campbell is always enjoyable to watch, the rest of this film is abysmal. Racist, sexist, and not even funny.
  1. The Invisible Man (1933): Taken as a dark comedy rather than a horror, this holds up well. Stupid fun, and the effects aren’t bad either.
  1. Matinee: Not one of Joe Dante’s best, with a slew of forgettable teen leads. John Goodman and Robert Picardo always fun to watch though.
  1. Candyman: More thoughtful and introspective than your typical slasher horror, but still with enough gore and scare to suffice. Good stuff.
  1. Green Room: Brutal, terrifying, exhausting. Patrick Stewart at his most nightmarish. Anton Yelchin superb; will be sadly missed.
  1. Frankenstein (2015): Decent lo-fi adaptation by Bernard Rose. Strong casting — Carrie-Anne Moss, Danny Huston — make this worth seeking out.
  1. When Animals Dream: Slow & sleepy Danish werewolf film. Doesn’t do much that’s new with the idea, but what it does, it does solidly enough.
  1. Lifeforce: Utterly brilliant-awful schlock. Great sets, effects, soundtrack, some scenery-chewing performances. I never tire of it.
  1. Mad Max: I love it, but now feels oddly like a fairly sedate prequel to the series rather than simply the first film. Still great though.