Joeblade

Film & TV

  1. Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman

    I’ve found the last few years of superhero films to be enough of a slog that I was starting to resent not just them, but myself for continually falling for the positive reviews. Marvel’s films have suffered from increasingly conservative storytelling, DC’s efforts have been visually splashy but in all other aspects terrible, and the X-Men series was effectively ended in my mind with the one-two punch of a bland and overstuffed X-Men: Apocalypse, and Logan, which was excellent but also practically sequel-proof. Patty Jenkins' Wonder Woman, on the other hand, reminded me why I love the genre as much as I do, and why I keep coming back for more.

  2. James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy 2

    The joke that opens Guardians of the Galaxy 2, where the Guardians fight a giant monster in the background of the scene, out of focus, while Baby Groot dances obliviously in the foreground, is a joke you’ve seen before, in, say, Hellboy, or Men in Black, or the Q scene in a James Bond film. “Background chaos ignored by foreground character” is a dependable gag, but it only ever needs to last a few seconds. In Guardians of the Galaxy 2, it goes on for as long as the opening credits need it to, which is about five minutes. So, how much you’ll get out of the film may depend on how long you can stomach a joke for.

  3. Ghost in the Shell (2017)

    Ghost in the Shell, a remake of the 1995 anime of the same name, is so lacking in ambition and style I was left wondering why anybody had bothered. It lacks even the decency to be entertainingly bad, instead turning in a basic shot for shot remake that says nothing new and does nothing new, on any conceivable level, narratively or technically.

  4. James Mangold’s Logan

    Logan, the second Wolverine film directed by James Mangold and featuring the final performance of both Hugh Jackman as Logan and Patrick Stewart as Charles Xavier, is a great film, without caveat or qualification, a grim, near-future Western that’s firmly grounded despite the metal claws and psychic mindquakes. What the film also is is a very definite finish; I don’t see where else the current form of the X-Men film series can go now; Logan isn’t simply a great film, but a series-ending one as well.

  5. Falling in and out of love with La La Land

    I want to start this piece (which does contain spoilers), by stating my credentials: despite my rock-hard, toffee-glazed exterior, I like musicals. Singin’ in the Rain, An American in Paris, The Little Shop of Horrors, Moulin Rouge, Chicago, The Young Girls of Rochefort, The Nightmare Before Christmas and every goddamn Muppet film except for the one I haven’t seen because it stars Ricky Gervais. I think most TV shows would benefit at least one musical episode, like Buffy’s Once More With Feeling, or the whole of Doctor Horrible, or the musical episode of Lexx, or the karaoke bit in Sense8, or the entirety of the ruthlessly inventive My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, or Mayhem of the Music Meister! from Batman: The Brave and the Bold. I like musicals so much I sometimes regret I wasn’t born homosexual, but, we all have to play the hand we’re dealt, and my hand is, tragically, straight.

  6. My 2016 film highlights

    My annual film highlights post, in which I highlight 20 films from all I saw during the previous year. Not all are without their flaws, but I'm very fond of all of them, flaws and all.

  7. Doctor Strange

    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.

  8. The highs and lows of Gotham

    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.

  9. In defence of Fantastic Four

    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.”

  10. Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters

    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.

  11. Duncan Jones’ Warcraft: The Beginning

    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.

  12. Bryan Singer’s X-Men: Apocalypse

    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.

  13. Captain America: Civil War

    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.

  14. Survive The Walking Dead

    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.

  15. Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four

    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.

  16. Sight unseen

    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.

  17. Paolo Sorrentino’s Youth

    When a character in Paolo Sorrentino's Youth introduced herself as Paloma Faith I knew the name, but I had no idea if this really was Paloma Faith, or an actress playing the part of Paloma Faith. The former scenario baffled me because there's no particular reason for Paloma Faith to be in the film playing herself, and the latter because there's no good reason for an actress to be playing the part of Paloma Faith in a film where Paloma Faith's presence has no bearing beyond a brief name-drop that's lost on the rest of the cast.

  18. 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 from a pool of 227 candidates. The only rule I follow is that I saw the film during 2015, though this year there's only a bit of an overlap with 2014 so that probably isn't all that important.

  19. Marvel’s Jessica Jones

    Ostensibly set in the same Hell's Kitchen as Daredevil but actually sharing very little in terms of tone, location or character, Jessica Jones comes with a solid noir atmosphere and is free of comic book hijinks, with its gritty tone, violence, sex, and themes of rape, abortion and survivor guilt. Despite this, the show avoids bleakness for bleakness's sake, and is one of Marvel's stronger productions thanks to a great cast and an originality that comes from focusing on women, and the experiences of women.

  20. No experience necessary

    It was recently announced that Seth Grahame-Smith, a middling screenwriter with only a smidgen of TV directing experience had been hired to direct The Flash for Warner Brothers. Melissa Silverstein for Indiewire lamented that Grahame-Smith was "a man with ZERO film directing experience and he is being offered the keys to the kingdom". While Silverstein argues that studios are taking a hiring approach that may as well be "any male director, even with no experience, is preferable to any woman director", I'm not sold on the idea that these summer tentpole releases are prestigious 'keys to the kingdom'. I don't think it's that the studio thinks any male director is better than any female director, it's that they don't really want any director at all.

Next Page »