The Bat’s back – not that it feels like he’s ever been away. But can the new, somehow-even-grimmer-than-last-time, Batman movie work with all that darkness?
What’s The Movie?The Batman
What’s It All About, JG? Batman (Robert Pattinson) morosely investigates the murder of Gotham mayor Don Mitchell by the Riddler (Paul Dano). Following a series of morose clues, Batman morosely stumbles around Gotham as the Riddler picks off a few people one by one, while bumping into/helping/not being helped by Selina Kyle / Catwoman (Zoë Kravitz). We eventually find out that the Riddler has a personal vendetta against the Waynes, having grown up in an orphanage they had funded, and he leaks information that Thomas Wayne was corrupt after apparently paying Falcone (John Turturro) to kill a journalist. Also Falcone is Selina’s Dad, if not a good one. The Riddler send a bomb to take out Bruce Wayne as part of his revenge but instead manages to get Alfred (Andy Serkis), the lone non-morose presence in the movie. Selina plans to kill Falcone, but the Riddler beats her to it and is sent to Arkham, where he tells Batman that he was an inspiration- irony! The Riddler has also placed seven car bombs at the city walls which blow and flood Gotham, as a way to assassinate the mayor by forcing her into the “shelter of last resort” along with most of the city’s population and some rooftop assassins. A touch baroque, perhaps? Anyway it doesn’t work and Batman and Catwoman go their separate ways at the end of the movie. Morosely.
A Korean swashbuckling pirate epic! But can this film balance comedy and adventure on the high seas?
What’s The Movie?The Pirates: The Last Royal Treasure / 해적: 도깨비 깃발
What’s It All About, JG? Pirates. And treasure. You might just possibly be able to infer what kind of movie this is, but let’s do the necessary. A bunch of bandits, led by the spectacularly-haired Woo Moo-chi (Kang Ha-neul), are adrift at sea when they are rescued by Hae-rang (Han Hyo-joo). She’s the owner of a pirate ship and is on the search for – you guessed it – the royal treasure of Goryeo, which vanished at sea without a trace. The rest of the movie is basically a quest to find said treasure, which leads to all sorts of what can only be described as shenanigans – nearly dying via a herd of CGI cows, getting sucked into a vortex, sword battles in the middle of lightning storms, that sort of thing. Ranged against our unlikely band are Bu Heung-soo (Kwon Sang-woo) and his crew, rebels who are also after the treasure. It all ends with comedy penguins and sailing off into the sunset. Yup, it’s that kind of pirate movie.
I spy, with Amazon’s eye, something beginning with…
What’s The Movie?All The Old Knives
What’s It All About, JG? Two former CIA operatives, Henry Pelham (Chris Pine) and the now-retired Celia Harrison (Thandiwe Newton) meet up in a luxurious restaurant to discuss a case from 2012. A plane was hijacked in Vienna and despite the CIA’s best efforts all the passengers and terrorists were killed. New information has come to light years later that there may have been a mole, and Henry has been tasked with getting to the bottom of what happened. What follows is two stories told in parallel. Firstly there’s a series of flashbacks to the 2012 incident itself, including the psychosexual relationship between Henry and Celia, which outlines the events and characters involved. Secondly, and interwoven with the flashbacks, there’s the contemporary scenes set in the restaurant where the two former lovers play cat-and-mouse with each other, before the final reveal of what really happened and the consequences of it.
That “the dark side of the moon” gag is the best this movie is going to get. Be warned!
What’s The Movie?Moonfall
What’s It All About, JG? The moon is falling towards the Earth. Now I know what you’re thinking – sounds credible! And it is! Turns out the Moon is, in fact, a megastructure placed there aeons ago by the ancestors of humanity as a kind of ark when AI became too self-aware and tried to wipe humanity out. A plucky band of plucky heroes pluckily try to stop them. You know the type – characters with so much depth and character development they might as well have been called Feisty Female, Butch Male, and Nerdy Redshirt. While they try and figure out the whole moon thing, a teenage boy (Butch Male’s son), an Asian woman who serves no plot function whatsoever but presumably helps with that all-important Chinese market, and Male’s ex-wife and new husband, have typical disaster-movie adventures – getting stuck under falling trees, getting carjacked by local yokels, trying to escape the end of the world by running away a bit – until the plot requires them to not do that any more. The moon gets pluckily fixed thanks to some other aliens and (massive sigh) an EMP device, at the cost of Nerdy Redshirt’s life, and, um, goes back into orbit, so all’s well that ends well, other than the vast unprecedented destruction. Oh but Nerdy Redshit isn’t dead after all, he’s been uploaded to the Moon’s AI, and now it’s time to get to work. Cue sequel? Er…
Khan II: Space Boogaloo. But can Into Darkness do anything to expand on the original?
If the 2009 Star Trek achieved anything it was finding an excellent cast to continue the adventures of the old crew in new times. But now the crew has been established, can Into Darkness find a way forward for them?
Pre-Existing Prejudices: All together now: KKKkhhhhaaaaannnnnn! Yes, it’s the most notorious of the three Abramsverse movies, and probably the most controversial. There are accusations of whitewashing, with Ricardo Montalban’s charismatic take being replaced by This Year’s Thing, Benedict Cumberbatch. There’s sexism, with the gratuitous Carol-Marcus-in-underwear scene. There’s the… well, actually is it plagiarism of The Wrath Of Khan? Not really I guess, since it’s an intentional reinterpretation of those events. Eh, anyway, it’s that movie.
The Next Generation have become the former generation as Nemesis signalled the end of the line for that iteration of the show. But what’s this? We’re going back to TOS with a new cast for the old crew? Well, Ok then…
Pre-Existing Prejudices: It’s the first of three (so far) Abrmbsverse Star Trek movies where we return to the era of TOS with a new cast and a new timeline. I remember vividly seeing this in 2009 and having largely positive reactions to it, with some moments working very well (the TOS theme on a massive cinema sound system!) and some not so much. I’ve seen it a couple of times since but this will be the first time I’ve sat down to actually analyse it rather than simply sticking it on. For what it’s worth, when I first saw this in the cinema with my other half, his reaction was, “that’s the best Star Trek movie I’ve ever seen in the cinema”. The one he saw previous to that was Insurrection…
Can No Time To Die wrap up the Craig era in a satisfying way?
After a pandemic-induced delay, No Time To Die finally arrives in theatres and on streaming. But can Daniel Craig’s final outing make up for the disappointment of Spectre?
Beyond the interminable delays, not much. The delays had, I must confess, robbed some of my interest and the momentum behind the film seemed pretty stalled, despite Daniel Craig’s apparent willingness to pop up just about anywhere to try and get some interest going. And I didn’t know either of the Big Twists prior to seeing it, so that was nice. Reviews were mixed, but then again it’s a James Bond movie – reviews are always mixed. (For what it’s worth I watched this at home on streaming, not in the cinema).
Despite it’s reputation, it’s not that bad! Wait, come back, it’s true!
We enter the 21st century at last, with the final of four TNG movies, and arguably the one with the worst reputation. But can Nemesis at the very least avoid the blandness of its predecessor?
Pre-Existing Prejudices: Well, as mentioned, I don’t think there’s any movie in the Star Trek canon that has quite the reputation of Nemesis, though Into Darkness will work hard to correct this. As with all movies post-The Final Frontier I have seen this in the cinema, and have… well, you can probably guess but unusual opinions on it anyway.
Or, Why Is It So Hard To Find A Good Starring Vehicle For Maggie Q?
What’s The Movie?The Protégé
What’s It All About, JG? Mostly, figuring out why the awesome Maggie Q is stuck in rote nonsense like this instead of having Michelle Yeoh’s career. But more specifically Anna (Maggie Q) is an assassin, rescued from Vietnam as a child after a massacre, who completes high-profile, high-target missions around the globe. Her rescuer/mentor, Moody (Samuel L Jackson), is killed after a mission and Anna seeks revenge. That’s it, basically. Oh wait, there’s Rembrandt, as played rather wonderfully by the always-excellent Michael Keaton, who has a fuck me/kill me thing going on with Anna, and who works for the person she suspects of killing Moody. They flirt, have sex, have gun battles, flirt a bit more… you know, standard relationship stuff. Eventually it turns our Moody’s not dead after all, and he sacrifices himself to take down Vohl, the movie’s Big Bad, apparently because he has a bit of a cough. The end.