John Constantine is trying to save his soul by hunting down and… MoreJohn Constantine is trying to save his soul by hunting down and "deporting" demons who intrude on human affairs when he stumbles across a psychic whom the son of The Devil intends to use to escape from Hell. Keanu Reeves revisits Neo as the chain smoking anti-hero of Constantine, a film that can be thought of as "The Matrixorcist". It's a comic book adaptation that blends religious mythology with superhero conceits and the format of Noir thrillers. Since The X-Files, this idea has been done a hundred times, but rarely so well; the plot is a lot more involving than most of this type of thing, Constantine is a far more interesting central character than that of the usual super hero schtick and the mythology is used very creatively. The visual effects are also great having a really nice interpretation of Hell which looks like those old videos of nuclear blast zones and the quality cast (including Pruitt Taylor as Constanine's alcoholic priest side kick, Tilda Swinton as Angel Gabriel and Peter Stormare's wonderfully creepy Satan) draw you into this dark underworld of demons and angels. Stylish, inventive and with a lot of atmosphere, Constantine still stands up as one of the best films of its type. If you're a fan of Guillermo Del Toro then you should definitely check it out.
The Romulan Empire acquires a new ruler in a military coup d'etat and… MoreThe Romulan Empire acquires a new ruler in a military coup d'etat and this mysterious figure offers an olive branch to the federation which promptly dispatches the Enterprise to investigate. I hated Nemesis when I first saw it; once again Brent Spiner is saddled with some mawkish sentimentality and weak slapstick (his interpretation of a prototype data resembles an autistic Stan Laurel), some blatantly irrelevant action sequences and the script seemed superficial and little more than an excuse for CGI infested space battles. Now I've seen it in the context of the JJ Abrams reboot, it makes rather more sense and in fact feels like it has more in common with the new direction than the old franchise. The special effects in particular are rather better than the previous films, the battles are more epic and spectacular and the scenes between Picard and his doppelganger are quite powerful and intriguing. Unfortunately the themes of nature vs nurture are only superficially realised and it soon settles back into the inevitable CGI orientated battle of wills which strangely echoes The Wrath Of Khan to the point where it almost feels like a remake at certain points. Not the tragedy I considered it at the time but it also never quite fulfils its potential either. An entertaining sci-fi blockbuster nonetheless that once again relies a little too much on Trek lore for casual viewers.
The crew of the Enterprise are sent to rescue three diplomats from the… MoreThe crew of the Enterprise are sent to rescue three diplomats from the neutral zone, but their captor's true motive is to steal the ship to aid his quest to find God. The Final Frontier is widely regarded as the worst example, but Star Trek films are very much like the series; the ones you thought were brilliant at the time date really, REALLY quickly, yet the awful ones just seem to become more and more endearing! The laughable script, naive direction and iffy effects also echo the TV show, but somehow the likable cast, knockabout charm and sense of humour win through. William Shatner is clearly not an experienced director, but the pacing is fine and the enduring friendship between the central characters that forms the core of the film shines through. It does suffer for the fact that the actors are clearly refusing to grow old gracefully, the action scenes being more than a little embarrassing and watching a middle aged, portly Nichelle Nichols doing a fan dance still results in carrot chunks reappearing in my mouth. But just like Shatner himself, its sense of humour and fact that it doesn't take itself remotely seriously make for a lot of kitsch entertainment value and a few genuinely laugh out loud moments. Anyone who still laughs at "Double dumb ass on you!" cannot fail to like this too!
The crew of the Enterprise rebel against the federation when they… MoreThe crew of the Enterprise rebel against the federation when they discover a conspiracy to forcibly relocate an idyllic community in order to exploit their planet's unique natural resource. Following the triumph that was First Contact, the franchise once more gets a little too comfortable with itself and offers a very generic sci-fi tale of good v.s evil set firmly within the confines of the TV series universe. The premise of the plot is very interesting as the previously establishment-orientated characters become revolutionaries and battle against the system they until then saw as sacrosanct, but the family friendly script lacks teeth and it soon degenerates into the usual CGI spaceship battles and running around with laser guns. Certainly not a bad film, it just lacks the inspiration of the best examples and those who aren't fans of the series will find little reason to care. In the end, Insurrection feels exactly like what it is; a solid feature length episode of the series.
Playboy and weapons manufacturer Tony Stark is captured by terrorists… MorePlayboy and weapons manufacturer Tony Stark is captured by terrorists and builds a robotic suit of armour to escape. When he returns to find his company has been selling its arms to the bad guys, he sets about making things right. Iron Man was the first comic I bought as a kid, and I must say the big screen version really does do the character justice. Robert Downey Jr. does such a great job as Tony Stark, within 10 minutes I couldn't imagine anyone else playing the part. The suit looks fantastic and has a really cool manga-esque functionality about it. The action sequences are also really well staged, especially Iron Man's first "mission" in which he returns to take out the terrorist cell who imprisoned him, Iron Man coming across a super-cool, updated badass version of Robocop. The only real weakness of the film is the predictability of the plot; there's little here I hadn't seen before. The idea of a millionaire using military technology to go vigilante was covered by Batman, and it lacks the dark tone and intelligent psychology of Batman Begins. The comedy aspect involving his learning to use his new "powers" was very reminiscent of Spiderman, and the climactic battle bears more than a passing resemblance to the final battle of Robocop II. It also lacks a really strong villain, Jeff Bridges coming across as a kind of less charismatic version of Lex Luther. But one thing it most definitely is, is entertaining. A tried and tested formula executed with real panache.
An alien scientist obsessed with returning to a temporal nexus… MoreAn alien scientist obsessed with returning to a temporal nexus threatens the destruction of an entire planetary system and so Captain Picard enlists the help of the previous Captain of the Enterprise, Captain Kirk. The most obvious difference between the Next Generation's first big screen outing and the earlier films is a certain sense of professionalism; although it is still hokey sci-fi, the script is rather more adult (the embarrassing sub plot concerning Data's emotion chip aside), the performances have more dramatic gravitas and the effects and action sequences far more polished and exciting. The contrived excuse for Kirk appearing rather anachronistically in the Next Generation universe stretches credulity to breaking point and the whole nexus sequence drags the pacing down to a snail's pace but otherwise Generations injected a refreshing new energy into the flagging franchise. Hardly a game changer but still an entertaining sci-fi pot boiler with plenty of fan pleasing moments.
Captain Kirk and Bones are arrested for the assassination of the… MoreCaptain Kirk and Bones are arrested for the assassination of the Klingon Chancellor during a diplomatic mission and so Spock and the rest of the crew of the Enterprise set about proving their innocence and preventing the outbreak of war. Very much preparing the ground for the crew of The Next Generation, the sixth instalment of the Trek franchise is a far more po-faced affair than the high camp previous offerings. The knockabout charm and self-deprecating humour that was the hallmark of the series is glaring in its absence, leaving us with a rather workmanlike and sterile cold war style sci fi thriller. The plot is simplistic and cliched, the effects are variable at best and the amusing banter between the crew mates is replaced by tedious soul searching. There's even little in the way of action, the only notable sequence only arriving after an hour and a half of drearily directed, pompous waffle littered with literary references pilfered from Shakespeare and Conan Doyle. The Undiscovered Country makes the critical error of taking Trek seriously and as a result it is, in my opinion at least, the dullest and most forgettable entry in the franchise.