Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015) – 7/10 science fiction fantasy action adventure movie review

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)

Luke Skywalker has disappeared. No-one knows why. In his and all Jedi’s absence, the evil First Order has risen to be within a hair’s breadth of taking control of the galaxy. No-one knows why. At this critical stage, both the Resistance and First Order are after one thing: a map containing the location of Luke Skywalker. No-one knows why.

7/10

J.J. Abrams treads accurately in the sandy footprints of George Lucas with this fan service-packed remake of Star Wars. While it’s action is immediately forgettable due to Abrams choosing not to give it a shape or story of it’s own and suffers badly in comparison with the Death Star attack from the original (which remains one of the greatest action sequences of all time; it’s always clear what they’re trying to do and why this piece of action on screen now is helping to accomplish that while naturally building and focusing on the one critical path), Abrams has come up trumps with Daisy Ridley and John Boyega and gone the extra mile with the three lead characters (the aforementioned and Harrison Ford) and villain Kylo Ren. He also oversaw a perfect trailer campaign with no story spoilers or even hints. While he doesn’t keep temporal or spatial control of his story (people can do anything in any amount of time and appear wherever they need to) and fumbles the codas, Abrams has otherwise made an efficient, furiously-paced, fun adventure. (As a side note, I don’t know why it’s 12A, PG would have been fine)

Content Summary

This movie contains violence, violent interrogation scenes

Classified 12A by BBFC. Persons under the age of 12 must be accompanied by an adult.

Cast / crew

Director, Producer and Writer: J.J. Abrams
Writer: Lawrence Kasdan
Writer: Michael Arndt
Characters Creator: George Lucas
Producer: Kathleen Kennedy
Producer: Bryan Burk
Music: John Williams
Han Solo: Harrison Ford
Luke Skywalker: Mark Hamill
Princess Leia Organa: Carrie Fisher
Kylo Ren: Adam Driver
Rey: Daisy Ridley
Finn (Star Wars): John Boyega
Poe Dameron: Oscar Isaac
Lupita Nyong’o: Maz Kanata
Supreme Leader Snoke: Andy Serkis
Domhnall Gleeson: General Hux
C-3PO: Anthony Daniels
Max von Sydow: Lor San Tekka

Ex Machina (2015) – 6/10 science fiction movie review

Ex Machina (2015)

Hot-shot programmer Caleb is taken to super genius Nathan’s subterranean glacier hideaway to see if Nathan has managed to produce an artificial intelligence-driven robot that can be considered indistinguishable from a human.

6/10

I can see why this received an enthusiastic critical reception as it is a slow burn science fiction movie that takes a big idea (can an AI perform in a manner indistinguishable from a human) and packages it for a mass audience. The problem, for me, is that it overlooks making any character whom you want to watch. Domhnall Gleeson speaks in movie sound bites, Oscar Isaac is an uncharismatic and repulsive genius with a silly beard and Alicia Vikander is, impressively, unreadable and manipulative as the plot demands. (It also forgets it’s own plot point at the end whereby all the doors unlock when the power goes out.) However, the Oscar-winning visual effects work is flawless and I suspect it is going to be quietly memorable.

Content Summary

This movie contains sexual swear words, strong adult dialogue, full female nudity, graphic violence

Classified 15 by BBFC. Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over.

Cast / crew

Domhnall Gleeson: Caleb
Alicia Vikander: Ava
Sonoya Mizuno: Kyoko
Oscar Isaac: Nathan
Director and Writer: Alex Garland
Producer: Andrew MacDonald
Producer: Allon Reich

The Jungle Book (2016) – 7/10 adventure movie review

The Jungle Book (2016)

When Shere Khan learns of the prescence of mancub Mowgli – who has been brought up by wolves after being discovered in the jungle – he vows to kill him as soon as the current drought-enforced peace treaty ends. When the waters return, so does Khan with a terrible fury.

7/10

Slightly subdued but otherwise very nicely executed adaptation of both Rudyard Kipling’s 1894 book and Walt Disney’s 1967 film The Jungle Book. Neel Sethi is great as Mowgli while the animal cast is uncharismatic (especially when compared to the 1967 film) but fine. The two songs are integrated well but performed without much life or energy. The main talking point is how wonderful the visual effects achievement is; while not perfect (Kaa is not up to the standard of the furry animals, every animal’s but especially Shere Khan’s face looks too big and his entrance has some slightly wrong animation of him dropping down ledges), it instantly suspends disbelief, the flora and fauna are completely convincing and the furry animals (especially the wolf Raksha) look stunning most of the time. I also very much liked the opening multi-plane-esque hand-drawn animated Walt Disney logo. A highly worthwhile remake which may become a touchstone for a new audience.

Content Summary

This movie contains violence

Classified PG by BBFC. Parental Guidance.

Cast / crew

Director and Producer: Jon Favreau
Screenplay Writer: Justin Marks
Book Writer: Rudyard Kipling
Mowgli: Neel Sethi
Baloo: Bill Murray
Bagheera: Ben Kingsley
Shere Khan: Idris Elba
King Louie: Christopher Walken

PS4 vs Xbox One Head-to-Head Face Off: May 2016

Every so often, Eurogamer run a series of technical comparison reviews for games released on both PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

This is the latest update to the full list and you can hover over the web site icon for a very quick summary.

  • PS4 / Xbox One equalXbox One / PS4 equal Gaming Bolt favicon Dirt Rally
  • PS4 logo 75x16 Transparent 16x16 Doom (2016)
  • Xbox One better than PS4 Transparent 16x16 Homefront: The Revolution
  • PS4 logo 75x16 Transparent 16x16 Lichdom: Battlemage
  • PS4 logo 75x16 Transparent 16x16 Overwatch

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) – 5/10 superhero action movie review

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)

When the Superman / Zod battle causes his Metropolis tower to collapse, Bruce Wayne knows that, even though Superman is clearly benevolent, Batman needs to kill him because Superman might go bad one day. Meanwhile, the US Government give Lex Luthor the keys to the crashed Kryptonian spaceship in return for him crafting a silver bullet to keep Superman in check but then they don’t let him import the kryptonite to make the bullet but continue to let him play on the spaceship even though that was payment for something they won’t let him do.

5/10

We should seriously consider the possibility that Zack Snyder is incapable of telling a story via the medium of film which, for a film director, might be expected to be a problem. Instead of conversations, he has people speaking words in close proximity to other people and occasionally changes the background if you squint and look over people’s shoulders. Ben Affleck’s Batman is good. Henry Cavill is fine as Superman and gets a couple of useful super-moments when the Batmobile bounces off him and when he catches a giant bullet. This movie had potential and Snyder does allocate enough time to story and character and motivation but doesn’t make any of it stick. Why does Batman want to kill Superman? Why does Lex Luthor want Batman dead? I suspect Snyder has shot enough footage to make a really good movie but he hasn’t guided it successfully through the editing process. And, to be honest, I don’t think he can.

Content Summary

This movie contains bad language, extreme violence, non-sexual nudity

Classified 12A by BBFC. Persons under the age of 12 must be accompanied by an adult.

Cast / crew

Director: Zack Snyder
Superman / Clark Kent / Kal-El: Henry Cavill
Batman / Bruce Wayne: Ben Affleck
Wonder Woman: Gal Gadot

PS4 vs Xbox One Head-to-Head Face Off: March 2016

Every so often, Eurogamer run a series of technical comparison reviews for games released on both PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

This is the latest update to the full list and you can hover over the web site icon for a very quick summary.

  • PS4 logo 75x16 Gaming Bolt favicon Dark Souls 3
  • PS4 / Xbox One equalXbox One / PS4 equal Gaming Bolt favicon Hitman (2016)
  • PS4 logo 75x16 Gaming Bolt favicon Resident Evil 6
  • PS4 logo 75x16 Gaming Bolt favicon The Division
  • PS4 logo 75x16 Gaming Bolt favicon Trackmania Turbo

Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014) – 2/10 action movie review

Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014)

A Texas inventor buys a fully busted truck that was inside a derelict cinema and pulls a missile out of it that allows it to turn back into Optimus Prime but an inter-galactic bounty hunter, Lockdown, is working with the CIA to capture Optimus Prime and so the glistening, muscular inventor / robotics engineer / elite hacker and his good-looking daughter / really, really good-looking daughter / rally co-driver go on the run with Prime and end up saving the world. And there will be robot dinosaurs. The end.

2/10

This is an atrocious film on almost every level except visual effects and Mark Wahlberg. It would be a challenge to find more than a few subsequent lines that are coherent let alone compelling characters, involving storylines or comprehensible action sequences. Somehow, Wahlberg rises above all that and remains a quality, likable presence despite what the movie bafflingly puts him through. I don’t know what kind of secret sauce ILM keep back for Michael Bay but however Bay photographs his plates and however ILM’s artists up their game for him results in some utterly remarkable visuals: convincing, photo-realistic and extremely good-looking. Between them they produce the best visual effects explosions in the business; you cannot tell which explosions are real and which are not. Now, it would be accurate to state that the movie didn’t need to be good in order to fulfil it’s purpose – make money – but there was also no need for it to be this derisory.

Content Summary

This movie contains a single sexual swear word, bad language, strong violence, sensuality

Classified 12A by BBFC. Persons under the age of 12 must be accompanied by an adult.

Cast / crew

Director and Executive Producer: Michael Bay
Writer: Ehren Kruger
Producer: Lorenzo di Bonaventura
Producer: Tom DeSanto
Producer: Don Murphy
Producer: Ian Bryce
Mark Wahlberg: Cade Yeager
Stanley Tucci: Joshua Joyce
Kelsey Grammer: Harold Attinger
Nicola Peltz: Tessa Yeager
Jack Reynor: Shane Dyson
Sophia Myles: Darcy Tirrel
Li Bing Bing: Su Yueming
Titus Welliver: James Savoy
T.J. Miller: Lucas Flannery
Peter Cullen: Optimus Prime
Frank Welker: Galvatron
John Goodman: Hound
Ken Watanabe: Drift
Robert Foxworth: Ratchet
John DiMaggio: Crosshairs
Mark Ryan: Lockdown
Reno Wilson: Brains