Friday, 30 June 2017

22 Things I Learned from Transformers: The Last Knight

1. It’s easy to sneak onboard a military flight with a robot the size of a fridge freezer.

2. Oxford, Westminster, and the White Cliffs of Dover are minutes apart.

3. Decommissioned submarines come fully equipped with pickled ginger and grated radishes.

4. Transformers have been on Earth for several thousand years, arbitrarily intervening in our wars to keep themselves busy. Only the tireless efforts of Albert Einstein, Frederick Douglass and others have kept their presence hidden.

5. Oxford lectures take place while – and indeed, consist solely of – wandering around museums making snide remarks about history.

6. Astrophysicists speak only in simplistic metaphors, and refer to these loudly and grandly as ‘physics’ (eg ‘Like Tiger Woods taking a swing: physics!’; ‘Earth will cook like a bag of popcorn in a microwave: physics!’).

7. Transformers can now reassemble themselves when they’re dismembered.

8. Except when they can’t.

9. English women find it acceptable to spy on the passionate lovemaking of their relatives.

10. Transformers hang out in Cuba because they seek both non-extradition territories and places to tan.

11. Stonehenge was at the exact centre of Pangaea.

12. There’s always a mysterious artefact.

13. There’s always a prophecy.

14. There’s always an air strike (or twelve).

15. There’s always a secret message hidden in the childhood relic from the father who you always thought neglected you.

16. There’s always a bit where Anthony Hopkins says ‘dude’, ‘bitch’, or ‘bro’. Oh no wait, that one’s new.

17. Two films in and already Mark Wahlberg looks bored.

18. There’s only one female Transformer, and she’s a villainous temptress from deep space with the power to warp men’s minds.

19. Which does beg the question: where did these baby Dinobots come from?

20. The headquarters of the European Space Agency look a lot like London’s City Hall; Sir John Soane’s Museum is a private residence; and London streets consist of nothing but one intersection near Bank, the Mall, and Westminster Bridge, repeating over and over during a car chase like the backgrounds of a cheap cartoon.

21. In the world of Transformers, everyone is gratingly obnoxious to everyone else most of the time. (When not being obnoxious, people either ignore one another, or tell one another they’re the best mechanic/father/honourable knight they’ve ever seen).

22. No-one crashes two planets into one another like Michael Bay crashes two planets into one another.


Thursday, 22 June 2017

22 Things I Learned from The Mummy

1. Iraq is full of crows.

2. Every blockbuster should open with news reports about the progress of Crossrail.

3. Ancient Egyptians dumped their problems in Persia.

4. There’s no problem so big it can’t be solved with an airstrike.

5. Birds fly at the cruising altitude of a military cargo plane.

6. There’s only one parachute on military cargo planes.

7. Medieval England is back in vogue (see also King Arthur and Transformers: They Keep Coming).

8. There’s a secret hideout for monster hunters under Aldwych.

9. It’s not an easter egg if it gets a close-up.

10. The only way to establish the setting is a female public toilet is through a prominently placed tampon dispenser.

11. The words ‘sarcophagus’ and ‘hieroglyphics’ are impenetrable archaeological jargon.

12. Having four irises is scary, apparently.

13. Big Ben is in the Square Mile.

14. In the midst of an apocalyptic, city-destroying sandstorm London’s tubes will continue to run.

15. There’s always an ancient ritual.

16. Which will always be interrupted.

17. Tom Cruise cares too much.

18. Russell Crowe cares not at all.

19. Charlie Day wasn’t picking up the phone (but Jake Johnson was).

20. It’s ok to ‘liberate’ precious antiquities from the Middle East with no consent, care, or paperwork.

21. It’s ok to be a total liability as long as you’re in charge.

22. It's not ok to copy the Marvel Business Model with a completely unrelated series of properties in another genre and expect an automatic hit.

Friday, 10 February 2017

22 Things I Learned from Resident Evil: The Final Chapter

1. It’s easy to find a working Humvee lying around in the post-apocalyptic wasteland. The keys will even be in the ignition.

2. Ditto dot matrix printers, which will be fully equipped with paper and working electricity.

3. Previous franchise entry cliffhangers can be gesturally honoured but logistically and emotionally ignored.

4. Alice is a fickle friend, and cares nothing for K-Mart, Chris Redfield, Jill Valentine, and Ada Wong. But then, neither do you.

5. Tanks are way bigger on the inside.

6. Milla Jovovich never met a vehicle she couldn’t wreck.

7. Pharmaceutical company Umbrella manufacture and ostentatiously brand their own cufflinks, motorcycles (with BMW), and chainsaws.

8. Arbitrary deadlines do not make for compelling deadlines.

9. Ali Larter is the only one of the gang returning the producer’s phone calls.

10. Shawn Roberts isn’t worth the gym membership card his face is printed on.

11. You can never have too much Iain Glen.

12. But you can have too many clones.

13. That laser corridor deserves its own variety show.

14. Editor Doobie White (yes) apparently gets paid by the cut.

15. There are zombie hordes everywhere! Except when there aren’t.

16. Zombies are flammable! Except when they aren’t.

17. A devastated Washington DC, a businessman plotting an “orchestrated apocalypse”, relentless nepotism… this film may be prescient political satire.

18. Writer-director Paul W.S. Anderson has been watching Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes movies.

19. And RoboCop. And the latest Bourne fiasco. And, er, Daylight, I think?

20. Switching from native 3D to a cheap conversion is never a good idea.

21. If you like endless one-on-one combat filmed with swooping cameras and cut to ribbons so you cannot for the life of track what is going on, then boy is this the movie for you.

22. Alice doesn’t live here anymore. And neither do I.

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

22 Things I Learned From John Wick

1. Contrary to expectation, Keanu Reeves is chock full of awesome.

2. This film’s trailer has more plot than this film.

3. Assassins have their own hotels.

4. Assassins have their own gold-coin based economy.

5. Assassins never fight in anything other than immaculate three-piece suits.

6. Stabbing yourself is a reasonable fight move.

7. Aggressive stunt driving is a great way to work off widower grief.

8. New York City is jam-packed with actors from HBO TV shows.

9. Dogs get delivered at night by courier.

10. The most exclusive nightclubs require you to shower before entry.

11. When in doubt, blame a nepotistic Russian crime syndicate.

12. Ornate churches are reasonable cover for money laundering.

13. You can never have enough gunfights, until you can.

14. You can always have enough chrome.

15. Michael Nyqvist may very well be able to act, and possibly to act well, but we see no evidence of this here.

16. The handcuffs can always be picked.

17. The best friend always gets tortured.

18. The villain always has a chopper waiting.

19. Don’t hang around Bethesda Fountain after dark.

20. It’s acceptable to kill approximately 6,567 people one-by-one in gruesome ways if you’re avenging the death of a cute puppy.

21. Since Reeves’s rhythmic, slightly off-tempo and quite beautiful fight manoeuvres make up exactly 96.7% of the running time, perhaps John Wick would have worked better as a ballet.

22. In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. In the land of mediocre action thrillers, the one that can string together a halfway adequate fight scene is disappointingly hailed as a masterpiece.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

22 Things I Learned From Spectre

1. It’s acceptable to recklessly endanger civilians so long as they’re Mexican.

2. Long takes are a cheap way of making your film seem technically accomplished.

3. Rooftops are like Super Mario levels.

4. Spy laptops come with instant DNA scanners.

5. The villainous and endlessly resourced Spectre organisation only have the one branded ring, and they share it around.

6. The word ‘cuckoo’ is not scary.

7. Dave Bautista paints his fingernails.

8. Daniel Craig is a big fan of Roger Moore.

9. James Bond carries a tux everywhere, but not necessarily a gun.

10. You don’t need wings to pilot a plane.

11. There’s no point introducing magic nano-blood if you then don’t do anything with it.

12. Sam Mendes never conceived of a visual motif he couldn’t run into the ground.

13. Everyone massively overdresses for dinner.

14. There’s always a soft landing.

15. Unless you’re a villain.

16. In 2006 interrogations were being recorded on VHS tapes.

17. Truly evil people don’t wear socks.

18. One bullet is all it takes to blow up an entire building.

19. Hack writing deploys bland references as though they had inbuilt emotional and dramatic weight, and weren’t the cheap gimmicks they actually are. (See also: Star Trek Into Darkness)

20. It’s acceptable for a black female field agent to hang out with the white men during the mission planning stages, but she has to wait in the car while the important stuff happens.

21. Spending $300m and being two-and-a-half hours long doesn’t make you big.

22. Quoting past franchise outings in illogical ways and giving a character a Proustian name doesn't make you clever.

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation Alternate Take

Some more wittering on from me about Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation, plus the rest of the franchise:

Friday, 7 August 2015

Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation Review

The opening of this fifth Mission: Impossible film gives us Tom Cruise taking a running leap onto the wing of an enormous cargo plane and holding on for dear life as it climbs into the sky. It is tremendous fun, but it does not really serve as a model for what follows [full review at over at]