Venom proves to be a piece of toxic tripe

words fae Olivia Armstrong (@starcadet96)

This isn’t Venom’s first debut on the big screen, much to Sam Raimi’s dismay. Despite his personal dislike for the character, studio interference insisted that Raimi have him appear in his third installment of his original Spider-Man trilogy, despite the script already being full to bursting with characters and plotlines. As a result, the first cinematic debut of Venom in 2007 (played by Topher Grace) gets as little screen-time as was allowed and has almost no bearing on the whole film save for one fight scene at the end, which left many fans disappointed.                          

This is Sony’s third attempt at a Spider-Man property, as The Amazing Spider-Man series was cancelled after a mere two films, with Andrew Garfield playing the role and Sam Raimi’s original trilogy still being well-regarded but left on a sour note with many fans. Despite loaning the titular web-slinging hero out to Marvel and consequently being unable to use the character themselves, Sony still very much wants to make it known that they are clinging onto the rights to the Spider-Man universe like Uncle Ben on his death bed.                

Despite the fairly impressive effects of Venom in all his gooey glory, the first trailers didn’t do much to build hype for the film, with awkward editing and the inclusion of lines that were hard to believe were actually real (the infamous “turd in the wind” line has already reached meme status due to the disbelief that something so hilariously stupid was meant to be seen as a badass threat). Sony’s review embargo until October 2nd wasn’t a good look either, as it came off as a borderline admission from Sony that they were aware they had a stinker on their hands.

The first half hour of the film largely relegates itself to clunky exposition and establishing Eddie Brock as one the worst journalists in comic book film history. We learn that he has a hugely popular show and is regarded as an excellent investigative journalist. But that doesn’t seem to match up with what we see, as he talks over his interviewees, dresses like he slept in his car, doesn’t bother to fact check (to the point where in his opening interview with the corrupt corporate villain, he is corrected by the bad guy himself) and hacks into his girlfriend’s computer to find classified information and stupidly use it live on air right in front of the villain instead of doing any investigation of his own. This, of course, gets him fired and his girlfriend dumps him on the spot.

But things pick up when it’s revealed that alien organisms known as Symbiotes are being tested on human hosts by Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed), who’s been using poor people and addicts as test subjects to see if he can give birth to a new superior race of alien-humans able to live in space. After being smuggled in by an employee who decides to trust him for some reason (despite previous establishment of him as a terrible journalist), the Symbiote known as Venom escapes and it turns out he and Eddie are a perfect match.

Tom Hardy is one of the most likeable and enjoyable actors working today, but even he has his limits and this film found them. Not to say that he is boring or uncomfortable. On the contrary, he makes what would be a bland and forgettable product into an insane buffet of ham and cheese through his performance. It’s a perfect combination of under-acting and extreme over-acting that brings us head-first into Nicolas Cage‘s Ghost Rider territory. Considering the rumours that large chunks of the film were cut (and it shows),  what they did decide to keep is strange, to say the least. There is even a moment in which he makes out with a sexy Venom. I’m sure there’s one guy out there rejoicing that the fanfiction he wrote while stoned one night was noticed by the films writers and put into the script on a dare.

While there are some intentional laughs in the film, the biggest ones are in the sheer clunky nature and badly-timed humour that’s so unfunny that it comes back around and gets a laugh. There’s even an end credits scene hinting at a cinematic universe, because all the cool studios have cinematic universes now and Sony just wants one so bad.

Venom is bad but it’s bad in a way I’d be eager to see more of. Fantastic Four (2015) had everything wrong with it but one of its biggest crimes was that it was duller than dishwater, with long stretches of boring dialogue and almost nothing happening for two hours. After a clunky start, Venom just never stops with its endless barrage of dumb and almost seems to revel in it.

I don’t think Sony is self-aware enough to know people are laughing at them rather than with them, but at the same time, any laughter is better than none at all. It takes a certain mindset to watch Venom and there’s no mistaking it for a good film, but if this is your kind of dumb, this might just be the turd in the wind for you.

The Golden Run Is Over: Solo Is Disney’s First Star Wars Dud

words fae olivia armstrong (@starcadet96)

Solo: A Star Wars Story is yet another side story in the Star Wars franchise after the success of Rouge One. However, this time it tells the story of fan favourite and fanboy self-insert of the franchise: Han Solo. Despite obviously making the money that Disney needed it to, there seemed to be a distinct lack of hype and epic scale of the release of this film, which is strange considering who it’s about. Even the marketing seems downplayed by Disney standards and it seems to be banking on its connection to the franchise to pull through. So the question is posed: is there any good here? Does it need to exist? How does it rank against the franchises other installments?

For as much as the complaints regarding the lack of need for a Han Solo movie, there is a fair amount of good choices to be found. For example, Donald Glover is a fantastic choice for Lando Calrissian and he deserves at least double the screen time that he has. His charisma oozes through the frame in every scene he’s in and it’s only once he appears that the story begins to pick up. The whole first act of the film really begins to drag but once he shows up, the new team finally begins to do what they set out to after failing the first time. He also has a droid co-pilot (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) who is also a fun character, being a snarky, rebellious activist for equal rights for droids and most of her comedy comes from her snark with the other characters instead of being a joke herself like most of the other droids. Woody Harrelson is also a fun as Han Solo’s mentor/partner, although I always wonder if seeing him in these movies comes from a determination for him to be in every single sci-fi franchise war film ever.

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There is a fair amount of good wholesome fun, particularly in the last third with betrayals, backstabbing, double-crossing and character motivations changing and revealing new things. For example, Han’s relationship with his girlfriend throughout the film is rife with back-and-forth of what will come of it (as we all know from the future films that the relationship is doomed). There’s a surprise cameo from an unexpected iconic villain and the ending is one of the few parts to actually have some weight. However, most of this film is extremely light on story and character and while it is showing the past of Ham Solo, it does so in a way that doesn’t tell us a lot more about him and unfortunately a lot of that comes from the central performance. There are also points where the story drags and almost loses focus and it becomes a chore to sit through, even in parts that should be exciting. Even as a smaller story, the plot is so thin that what should be exciting, fun action becomes frustrating when they can’t just get from point A to point B already.

Sadly, Alden Ehrenreich in the titular role feels just miscast here. Despite clearly trying his best, he just doesn’t capture the attitude of Harrison Ford’s iconic portrayal of Han as being both the cool guy and a complete disaster who doesn’t know what the hell he’s doing. The understanding is that this portrayal of Han is as a more wide-eyed, excitable young thief before he became so jaded in A New Hope but even that feels distinctly off in this performance.

It’s not entirely his fault; some of the dialogue comes from writers desperately trying to capture what they think Harrison Ford would have said but Ehrenreich’s performance doesn’t enhance any of the material. Whatever interpretation of the character they’re going for, it just feels unconvincing and almost constantly reminds you that you’re watching an actor and not a character.

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Despite the moments mentioned earlier, the biggest downfall of Solo: A Star Wars Story is how completely inconsequential it is as a film and not just as a Star Wars film. While the “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away” title card is shown, we get no iconic Star Wars text scrawl explaining the setting and building the hype. Instead, we get a few screenshots of exposition and then the film just starts. It almost feels like an admission from the creators that they know you don’t really need to watch this. And that’s the biggest tragedy of the film; for all it’s fun and occasional tense moments, there’s absolutely no grand scale to the presentation. Rogue One, for all its faults, took its smaller story and gave some weight to the build-up of what was to come in in the later films and did have some incredibly memorable moments (especially the scene with Darth Vadar). Star Wars, even when it’s bad or divisive, is almost always memorable and the biggest tragedy of Solo is how much it doesn’t square up to that.

The bland moments don’t come close to the enjoyably bad cringe-fest of Phantom Menace or Attack of the Clones while the fun moments still can’t compete with the fun and excitement of defeating the empire in Return of the Jedi. On top of that, there’s absolutely no risk factor in the decision making and it’s as safe as film-making can possibly get. Say what you want about The Last Jedi (that request is rhetorical; I’ve heard far too damn much about what people have to say about The Last Jedi) but it and The Empire Strikes back took some of the most daring risks in the franchise and succeeded in fuelling fan discussions for years. There’s so little of the spirit and mythology of Star Wars in Solo that it feels like any sci-fi space universe (the Force isn’t even mentioned a single time).

So, where does that leave Solo: A Star Wars Story?

I’d say only see if you’re a die-hard Stars Wars fan or if you or your kids just want a cute space adventure that doesn’t require too much thinking. Aside from that though, I sadly can’t say this instalment of the franchise will leave its mark on the galaxy.

The Shape of Water is the Valentines film you didn’t know you’d need


words by olivia armstrong (@starcadet96)rating 9

Guillermo del Toro is something of a visionary when it comes to his storytelling and presentation. The man is an endless foundation of creativity and he refuses to be trapped by the conditions set out in traditional film-making. His aims are higher and more ambitious and the results are endlessly fascinating. However, out of his impressive body of work, The Shape of Water stands out as his most intimate and personal work to date.

What makes him one of the most interesting and impressive directors currently working is both his commitment to his ideas and his visual talent in bringing his stories to life. Indeed, it’s hard to think of another director who could take this idea and produce something extraordinary. He only cares that his stories are told in the way he envisions them, as can be seen in his most acclaimed work Pan’s Labyrinth. Similar to Pan’s Labyrinth, The Shape of Water plants one foot firmly in fantasy and the other in reality. It takes the romanticism of fairy tales and old Hollywood films and translates it into 60’s cold war era America.

Every member of the cast is pitch perfect in their roles but a special mention has to go to Sally Hawkins. Being the main character, it is already expected that she would steal the show but her devotion to the role cannot be overstated. Elisa is a mute and lonely woman, who finds solace in her work-friend Zelda (Octavia Spencer) and her neighbour Giles (Richard Jenkins), who shares her love of classic Hollywood movies. She works at a research facility, mopping floors and keeping her head down. Every intimate detail of her life is explored (pun intended) and she is utterly loveable as a hopeless romantic who conspires to break out the creature (or “The Asset”) she has fallen in love with. Even moments that should feel too silly or too cheesy are heart-wrenching because of her commitment to the character.

What is apparent throughout is Del Toro’s deep sympathy and empathy for those deemed worthless for not fitting the ideal mould of what the current time prioritises. This obviously comes through best with Elisa and the Asset but the whole film is an ode to the love story of the outcasts; every heroic character suffers from the prejudices of the time in some way. Giles is gay, as well as a struggling artist and Zelda is a black woman in 1960’s America. The paranoia concerning communism and Russian spying is also explored via another character, who proves vital in Elisa’s plan. Del Toro has stated that a large amount of inspiration for this film came from his own feelings living in America as an immigrant, a feeling of complete isolation and finding other outsiders to connect with.

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By contrast, the head of the research facility (Michael Shannon) is terrifying in how he shows the absolute worst mankind can offer while still being an example of what has been glorified and distorted into a twisted desire to assert dominance and prove his masculinity to ridiculous lengths. He presents at first as a creepy, bigoted but inefficient man who vastly underestimates what Elisa is capable of but as the rug is pulled out from beneath him, the simple metaphor of him being the real monster becomes terrifyingly literal.

Del Toro has said that out of all the films he has made, this is the one he considers the proudest of at this point in his career. This makes a great deal of sense; despite the universal themes of love and romanticism against the backdrop of a cold and unforgiving point in history, it also feels intimately personal to him as a director. Out of all his films, this one feels the closest to his personal viewpoints towards love (a hopeless romantic and believer in true love, similar to Elisa) and whom he considers to be the true monsters, hiding in plain sight amongst us as we look away to place blame on those living in isolation.

In a way, it almost feels like a spiritual successor to Pan’s Labyrinth but with a more direct look into adulthood, rather than the viewpoint of a child. His complete commitment to the idea keeps it from being laughable and instead finds it captivating. It’s a beautiful, dreamlike film and may well be considered one of the greats in several years.

How “The Best Worst Film Ever Made” Resulted In One Of 2017’s Top Movies

By Liv Armstrong (@starcadet96)

It’s hard to overstate the cult following Tommy Wiseau’s 2003 film The Room would receive in wake of its release. It made $1800 on opening night, compared to the over $6 million Wiseau himself mysteriously was able to put into the film budget. The entire cast and crew were convinced no one would ever see it. And why wouldn’t they? The Room is often (affectionately) referred to by many of its fans as “the best worst movie ever made”. It not only defies the laws of film-making, it renders them completely irrelevant. Entire scenes have no effect on the plot. The dialogue is beyond bizarre. Every line is wrong.

And at the centre of it is one of the most bizarre performances to ever grace the screen by one of the most indescribable men; Tommy Wiseau himself. For years, fans have been speculating and theorising about both the film’s production and the man himself; what could have happened to give us the result seen in the final product?

Then The Disaster Artist was published, a tell-all memoir by Greg Sestero, who played Mark in the film and worked closely with Wiseau during and before production. He is also possibly Wiseau’s only close friend. It revealed that the making of the film was every bit as bizarre as the film itself and this film adaptation by James Franco brings to life the story of the friendship between the two that began in an acting class and ended with one of the most unlikely independent film success stories in movie history.

Upon their meeting, neither one could be more different to each other; Greg (played by Dave Franco) is a young, attractive yet extremely shy aspiring actor who doesn’t have the confidence to let go and show his abilities to the class. Tommy (played by James Franco) is older (despite what he claims) and fearless in achieving his ambitions to become a great actor. The only problem is that he is also completely terrible at it. They do have one thing in common though; no one seems to give them a chance.

Greg is inspired by Tommy’s ambition, even if the rest of the class is completely baffled by it. After some misadventures and a promise that they’ll make it together, it leads the two to Los Angeles where they try to make it in the movies. However, neither of come close to their big break, especially Tommy who is crushed by the reality of the situation. It comes to a head when Tommy is ready to give up and Greg is also disheartened. “Wish we could just make our own movie,” he says. Tommy turns to him slowly. “That’s great idea,” he replies. And the rest, as they say, is history.

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James Franco’s direction takes an almost documentary-style approach to film, with the camera often shaking slightly and close framing. It works to the effect of feeling like a behind-the-scenes feature during the production. As Wiseau, it is important to understand his desire to capture the spirit of the man rather than an exact-life portrayal. The voice is spot-on and it’s very easy to imagine the real Tommy in many of these scenes and scenarios. But what is most impressive is the dramatic scenes between him and Greg, in which he switches between being sympathetic and embarrassing in seconds. It would have been easier but much less effective to simply focus on his strange afflictions and mannerisms which are infamous to anyone familiar with him. 

However, Franco’s portrayal emphasises the comedy and sympathy of the man; he isn’t simply a joke or a figure to be mocked. He is a real person (despite some people’s theories to the contrary) with some extreme eccentricities and his friendship with Greg is ripe with cringe comedy. But his desire for both him and Greg to become huge film stars because Greg is the only person he views as a friend is completely genuine and it forms the heart of the film between the uncomfortably hilarious journey for the two to make their own movie.

In one scene, one of the crew muses on the idea that the film is autobiographical for Wiseau; that someone broke his heart and he feels like the world is against him. While we don’t delve into any of Tommy’s mysterious past simply because no one, not even Greg Sestero, knows the truth of his origins, it’s easy to look at Tommy and Greg’s relationship and see some parallels that show up in the script Tommy produces. In the plot of The Room, Lisa cheats on Johnny (played by Wiseau) constantly with his best friend Mark, causing Johnny’s infamous declaration of “Everybody betray me! I fed up with this world!” As Greg begins to receive more acting opportunities and enters a stable relationship with his girlfriend, leading to his declaration to Tommy that he is moving in with her, Tommy is angry and terrified at the thought of Greg moving on without him. The tension between Tommy and the cast and crew of the film leads to paranoia on Tommy’s part, spying on them behind the scenes and believing they are all conspiring against him – “betraying” him, if you will.

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When the premiere finally arrives and the time comes for the screening, the reaction is exactly would anyone familiar with The Room would expect. At first, Tommy is devastated, seeing his script and film that he believed he put his heart and soul into not receiving the reaction he expected. But Greg tells him to stop and listen to what is actually happening – they’re happy. They love the film. Even if it wasn’t the way he wanted, Wiseau had created something no one had ever seen before. It’s a surprisingly warm end and leaves with a good feeling, especially considering much of the cringe comedy and sympathy for Greg as well as the cast and crew of the film over Tommy’s antics.

While it may not have been the way he envisioned, Tommy Wiseau created something completely unique and original to the world of pop culture. Reading the book and viewing this film, it’s sometimes hard to like him. His vision is misguided. His friendship with Greg, however genuine, could be seen as toxic. He treated the cast and crew of the film terribly. He did every single thing wrong and was a complete pain in the ass at times. But at the same time, it’s hard not to admire what he accomplished. It’s possible to see in him what Greg saw at the beginning of the film; a man who may not be following any kind of rules of filmmaking but just went and did it anyway. His fearlessness and blind belief in his ability (or lack thereof) led him to technically follow his dreams. And in the end, he did make something meaningful to a lot of people. The film’s cult fanbase speaks for itself. Many of them dress up as the characters, can quote every line and scene and the midnight screenings sell out in an instant. Simply saying “Oh, hai Mark,” is enough to send many of them into hysterics. And that’s a kind of magic that can’t be defined.

The Disaster Artist is a hilarious, genuine and surprisingly delicate look at one of the most beloved and bizarre success stories in film-making history. Whether we’ll ever see another film that reaches the cult magnitude of The Room in our lifetimes remains to be seen. But one thing is clear: there will never be anything else quite like it. It’s one of a kind and James Franco’s retelling of its origins brings the laughs and the heart of how two unlikely friends ended up conquering the world of cult cinema.

Movie Review: Atomic Blonde

By Dominic V Cassidy (@Lyre_of_Apollo)

Atomic Blonde is the latest project courtesy of director and stuntman David Leitch, who’s directing Deadpool 2, and gave an uncredited directorial assist on the kinetic John Wick.  With this in mind, and the fact the unequivocally bad-ass Charlize Theron is playing the titular yellow haired spy, the viewer best have their seat belt at the ready for the sheer roller-coaster of fucking insanity that comes after the funky (and perfectly violent) set up, the tempo and energy just keep going up and up and up and so on.

Mentioned above, Charlize Theron takes the lead as the MI6 intelligence officer Lorraine Broughton, who heads to Berlin during the cold war to track down the usual “fate of the world” sort of classic spy McGuffin, seen in Bond movies for decades. It is to this effect that the story of Atomic Blonde is not anything special, it is however a thrilling, action packed, carnage ride; filled to the brim with excellent set pieces, it feels like the story is really going out of its way to create these opportunities.

The characters, while somewhat playing into classic archetypes, do flip roles quite a bit creating a sense of dread and excitement. There is a plot thread that, if you are keen on problem solving or spy flicks, you might see coming, but the sheer insanity of it makes for brilliant viewing.

There must be a loud round of applause for the cast which does feel slightly ensemble – there’s never a face on screen you don’t recognize, with John Goodman and Toby Jones making great wee appearances on the fringes of the story. Charlize Theron, while not delivering a career defining performance in the action film, does play her part extremely well, showing great devotion to the role, especially in the physical sense, doing many of her own stunts. The way she plays her character shows a femme fatale style character as the protagonist, which is refreshing giving a nice edge to the movie.

However, James McAvoy steals the screen whenever the camera mans no looking. His portrayal of a more morally ambiguous station manager in Berlin, again for MI6, is spot on. His slow burning menace is definitely reminiscent of Split, and honestly, after showcasing his darker side, it’s nice to see more of it, and his acting ability is very much welcomed in this already star studded cast.

Now this is one of the most crucial points to be made on Atomic Blonde: it is a fucking gorgeous movie. There. The cinematography is perfectly thought out, giving it an edge on the other movies of its kind. Where Bourne’s camera is shaky in fight scenes, Atomic Blonde’s is steady and tracking the point and punctuation of each movement perfectly, where it could be argued Wick was neon in its colour scheme, the use of colours in Atomic Blonde, is so smooth, so subtle, that if it wasn’t so delightful the viewer would hardly notice. The colours are something that really catch the eye, and should be looked out for in the movie.

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And where would an action movie be without the actual action? A completely different destination from where Atomic Blonde has ended up, the action, and fight choreography in this movie really is of the highest calibre. Including one fight scene towards the climax of the feature which is honestly quite fantastic to behold, the seemingly realistic way blows are exchanged and the absolute lethality of Theron in her movements is reminiscent of the hallway hammer brawl of Oldboy, and really puts this as a rival to some of the fight movies like The Raid, or the Bourne movies fight scenes. The music as well is perfectly pitched for the movie, tunes like 99 Red Luftballoons, Blue Monday, and various other 80’s bangers are out in full force, and make this seem much more light hearted an experience than it is and has any right being.

While Atomic Blondes story is by no means Shakespearean, it gets the job done; but while you are experiencing a somewhat commonplace spy thriller, you won’t care. You’ll be watching a beautiful movie, with perfect fight scenes, amazing use of colour, and a fantastic sound track. The film does nothing especially new, but what does, it does with the care and utmost precision of a master. A strong contender for the best recent Bond movie.






Film Review: Baby Driver – Edgar Wright’s Best Film Yet?

By Fraser Nunn (@badknitbear)

Have you seen Baby Driver yet?

If not, go see it. If you have, go see it again. I don’t want to do that review thing where you say how good a film is and it kinda swells the anticipation and your heart beats faster at the thought of going to see the film and then you get in there and you have such a massive idea of what the films going to be that you’re left with the cinematic equivalent to blue balls.

What I do want to do is just express to you all how damn exciting it was to see this film in the cinema. For years my top five films have been secured by 80’s Classics and 90’s brilliance but that has been well and truly invaded by Edgar Wright’s instant Classic Baby Driver. The film is essentially about this young guy called Baby. Yes, B-a-b-y, Baby. He gets in bed (not literally) with Kevin Spacey’s character Doc and winds up as his go to Getaway driver. From then on, the film follows this quiet kid around his life as a getaway driver and his home life as he tried to break free from his mundane job… as a getaway driver for a major crime boss.

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Past the basic stuff now, the film has one of the best opening scenes of any film ever (I may have said the same thing about Guardians of the Galaxy vol2 but trust me this time). It’s amazing, taking a massive amount of influence from Edgar Wright’s 2003 Music Video for Mint Royale (this video was the birth of the script for Baby Driver) with the crew heading into the bank to start the heist and Baby showing the world how to rock a lipsync in the car and not look obnoxious AF. Bellbottoms blasting, we are left out of the action, focussed on Baby and what he’s seeing and it’s honestly just perfect – every beat is so well timed I had actual shivers.

This theme continues throughout the film: the music was Wright’s primary asset in Baby Driver, and there are countless scenes in which the music matches the scene perfectly but it’s so much more than a backing up tune. We’re hearing what the characters hear and we’re experiencing everything along side Baby. We hear his emotions played out in song form, we hear his joy, his anger, his fear and frustration and we hear his confidence. Baby is well written and complex and the music tells us this story.

The Harlem Shuffle walk, in which Baby is picking up coffee post heist, shows just how much Wright can do with really basic scenes, keep an eye on the grafitti in the background of this scene and admire the timing and the choreography, it’s truly stunning and it’s not the only one. The film is full of beautiful cars, and beautiful driving sequences and chase scenes, yet one of the best chase scenes comes when Baby is on the run on foot practically dancing as he goes, easily becoming one of the film’s strongest scenes.

It’s no surprise that after all this rambling that I’ll say this – Baby Driver is one of the best films I’ve seen in quite some time. Its sublime editing, writing and direction, all thanks to Mr Edgar Wright, helps to solidify itself as one of the year’s finest flicks and makes it another strong addition to the British marvel’s filmography. Only time will tell if it can really take the title of “best film yet” but with a phenomenal soundtrack, Wright’s trademark aesthetic and the aforementioned writing, you’re doing yourself a disservice by not seeing this film – let Edgar Wright and Baby take you on a wild ride.






Film Review: Wonder Woman

By Olivia Armstrong (@starcadet96)

The general mantra among comic book and movie fans at the announcement of a new DC movie these days seems to be “please, don’t suck”. That mantra was amplified tenfold with the announcement of Wonder Woman. Not only has DC had a mixed reception with audiences and a fairly poor reception with critics since Christopher Nolan’s Batman days, but this is the first time DC was finally putting their biggest heroine front and centre on the big screen.

There’s been a long debate about female-led comic books movies and how few there are and how the ones that do exist tend to be on the terrible end of things (see; Catwoman, Elektra, Supergirl (the movie, not the well-received tv series) etc.). There’s obviously been plenty of bad adaptations of male superheroes as well but that still hasn’t stopped them being made on a consistent basis, whereas developers and focus groups seemed to determine the tired stereotype that female-led superhero movies don’t do well because the focus was on a female character and not because the movies themselves were simply awful and poorly made. So there was a lot riding on this movie; not only for DC to redeem themselves with critics and audiences but to show that a profit could and would be made from a film about arguably the most well-known female superhero of all time.

Despite only having a small role in one of DC’s previous films Batman Vs Superman, many audiences and critics who disliked the film admitted that Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman was easily the best and most exciting part of the film and it reawakened the desire among fans for her to have her arguably long-overdue solo movie. Come June 2017, it finally appears that DC may have cracked their questionable track record and for the first time in a while have delivered a truly great superhero movie.

The key element of what makes this film succeed where previous DC films have failed is all in the tone and presentation. DC have received a lot of criticism in their previous films for being too focused on being edgy and dark and as a result coming off as unpleasant and boring. With this film, however, the lead character’s idealism and strength are what drives the narrative. The tone is lighter, incorporating some genuinely humorous elements in the first half but the darkness and grit are still there, distancing it from its competitor Marvel. The film is set during WW1 and doesn’t shy away from showing that, with both the visuals and themes of Diana’s (Wonder Woman) character arc as she learns about the nature of humanity and war when she leaves her peaceful life among the Amazons to help the people of Earth.

And yet, this darkness does not swallow the film due to the spirit of the character. Instead of annoyingly edgy and nihilistic, the film opts for being actively hopeful and inspiring. It looks at this darkness and actively rejects it, which is far more inspired than any preachy rant about the dark nature of humanity which has been heard umpteen times. Just the visual in the scene of Diana rising and walking through no man’s land against soldiers and gunfire feels like a powerful sigh of catharsis to those who claimed this film couldn’t work. It perfectly exemplifies the strength, nobility and justice that Wonder Woman stands for and it’s played as a straight, cheer-in-your-seat cinema moment.

Gal Gadot is perfect in the lead role. Any doubt from her previous appearances for her ability to hold her own movie is completely dashed. She perfectly captures Wonder Woman in every enjoyable light she can be seen in. She’s an incredibly strong, one-woman army who will show no mercy to who she is up against and the film doesn’t play this down, which is wonderful to see. And yet at the same time, she shows such a strong sense of empathy and desire to see the right thing done. Therefore, when her morality is questioned and she goes through an arc of discovering the humanity and inhumanity of war, it’s a legitimately engrossing struggle, almost like it was being told for the first time. At the same time, her charm and enthusiasm are so endearing as she learns about the world of man and how different it is to the world of the Amazons. While she gets some strange looks, the characters around her don’t sneer or belittle her; they instead explain how this place is different to her home and what is simple differences in culture and what legitimately makes no sense in the time era (such as gender roles, expectations and even racism).

She also has a strong supporting cast to work with, with Chris Pine as Steve Trevor (an American spy attempting to stop the German weapons of war) and a later group of misfit soldiers who join them in trying to take down the German General Ludendorff (whom Diana thinks is really the God of War, Ares) to stop him using gas to wipe out the allied forces. Diana and Steve work well off each other and the team assembled feel a genuine connection that makes them enjoyable to watch. There is also a twist at the end concerning the villain which actually ties very well into the core themes of Diana’s moral struggle and, while the ending battle can feel a bit fatiguing, the execution is done well enough and wraps up the arc nicely.

Whether this is the start of a true redemption for DC in movies or simply a combination of all the right things at the right time remains to be seen. Both this and Lego Batman are being taken as signs that the criticisms are being listened to and improvements are being made. But in any case, Wonder Woman stands as the best DC film of the decade and the adaption the character always deserved. It blasts through all cynicism and delivers a great helping of idealism and hope. Despite the valid criticism of their past projects, DC can hold this film up proudly as a true example of “that’s how you do it”.






2016’s best film is an unrelenting horror thriller hybrid that will have you on the edge of your seat

In a year that has been full to the brim with juggernaut clashes like Batman Vs Superman, it’s surprising to see a film that is essentially angst ridden punks vs terrifying and antagonising nazis be the best battle of the year. From the twisted mind of genius director Jeremy Saulnier, Green Room manages to put these blockbusters to shame with its authenticity and intense nature that is present from the get go and remains for the films 95 minute long running time.

The premise of Green Room is relatively simple but the amount of heart put into the films manages to flesh out what could have easily been a cat and mouse film where we root on the villains. The Ain’t Rights are your classic punk band: poor, potty mouthed and most importantly pissed off. After arriving at a far right club to perform, the band find themselves trapped in the, surprise surprise, Green Room while under threat from a pack of neo nazis after they witness the death of someone.

A lot of the first act helps to not only establish the struggles of our punk protagonists but helps to make the film a true love letter to punk. Having adored the movement from a young age, Saulnier packs in a lot of passion into this project and manages to use it in various ways throughout the film which can be felt through the unrelenting, aggressive aura that Green Room radiates.

Green Room“Fear him. Hate him. Loathe him. Condemn him. But you’ll never forget him” says the trailer for Green Room, helping to solidify Patrick Stewart’s menacing nazi bar owner character as a force to be reckoned with. The acts he and his pack of deviants commits as well as the sinister portrayal Stewart delivers is what makes Green Room equal parts horror and thriller with the only complaint being that we don’t get to see enough of him. Despite that, the moments that Stewart is on screen  are the undisputed highlights of the film.

The film toys not only with its characters but the viewers themselves, leaving us in a vulnerable state just as the credits roll.Saulnier stated”it’s a war film where on one side of the door are professional soldiers, and on the other side of the door are clearly inept protagonists – it’s total amateur night inside that room” but with his professional flare, we get to see the true extent to which these characters go through, at some points verging into sadistic territory.

It would be a sin not to mention how beautifully shot Green Room is. As beautifully put by its director, the film benefits from “being set in a punk rock and hardcore venue is you get a haunted house. A real one”. A gritty and rough setting is yet another perfect staple of punk, one that can make the viewer almost as uncomfortable as its visceral and nauseating gore.

Just as punk is defined as a a loud, fast-moving, and aggressive form of music, so to is Green Room a visceral and dynamic thriller that never lets up. The execution from Saulnier is yet again perfect, making his track record along with Blue Ruin a golden run thus far. You’ll leave the cinema with a new found respect for anarchy and hate for nazis: not that you didn’t already.




– Liam Menzies