Morbius (2022)

I don’t really know how this came about. I guess in some conversation somewhere the topic came up about the rather sub-par state of the comic book universe right now. We had so many highs in the Infinity Saga, and the Batman films are continuing strong…we have the Flash coming out later this year which will be absolutely average, and there are a couple of MCU’s that might prove cathartic. But really, theres been some controversially rubbish films of late. Quantumania was okay, marred by the truly awful Modok; Wakanda Forever was a wonderful tribute to the great Chadwick but other than Angela Barret’s tremendous performance was largely forgettable. The travesty of the DCU and poor Henry Cavill is still giving me sleepless nights.

Naturally, Morbius was cited; an absolute car crash of a movie, apparently. So rubbish it was nearly cancelled after it had already come out. Jared Leto’s worst hour and an abomination of cinema.

Surely not, I say. I mean, can it be THAT bad? The two Venom movies have hardly been classics, yet Tom Hardy is able to lift them from true mediocrity. Does Jared have the same clout?

Well. I’m known for my controversial film opinions. So I thought, I might give this a go. Whats the worst that could happen? Well, you could choke on the doctor pepper bottle and die a slow, agonising death. That’s what.

Doctor Michael Morbius has a blood condition that will eventually kill him and his best friend, played by Doctor Matt Smith. He discovers that vampire bats have potentially a dna-fragment that may fix the issues and save them from premature death. So what does he do? Of course, he injects himself with bat blood and turns into a vampire.

Sorry….what? Really? Its spider-man but with bats. And vampires…really? Is this not a little…cliche? I mean, yes, its based on a comic series from ages ago so we can’t really blame the film for this – but.. oh I don’t know. It just sounds a little unoriginal. We already have a Bat man… do we need a man-bat? (That said, if I found out Matt Reeves was going to bring Man-Bat into The Batman 3 then I’d be over the moon. Feck it, get Marc Singer to play him. There’s a ref few will get.)

Anyway. Obviously when Matt Smith finds out the serum works but turns you into Count Dracolytes he cares not, and takes it himself, thus becoming the films villain. The two clash, theres loads of silly fighting and shouting and too much talking, and then the film ends.

Now. I actually didn’t hate it. Its terrible, cliché, lacklustre and, as immortan joe might say, mediocre. But its better than Thor: Love and Thunder. Jared Leto is okay, I guess, but Matt Smith is an absolute legend. Okay so I’m biased; he was a tremendous Dr Who and equally tremendous Daemon Targaryen, and an equally tremendous Prince Phillip. In actual fact, I am happy to say he probably saved the movie from utter unwatchability.

The ending? I mean, yep, lets set things up for a potential sequel – all well and good – but Michael Keaton of all people? A team up against Spider-Man? Aren’t we getting ahead of ourselves? Don’t get me wrong, if Morbius was to turn up in a later movie alongside Vulture i’d be okay with that. But… is Morbius a villain? Surely the film we’ve just watched is trying to tell us otherwise. Why then, does he have beef with Peter Parker’s webslinging Avenger? Methinks this was not thought out: they just wanted to tag something on at the end to fit with the usual comic book film rules…

A funny story. The film tanked on release. Got that? So then following an internet sensation regarding the made-up phrase “It’s Morbing Time!” the film was released again, hoping to cash in on its new popularity. It didn’t work, and the film tanked again. Is this the first time a film has tanked twice on release? Interesting. Famous for its infamy.

Bottom line is, its not the worst use of two hours. Its just far from the best. I mean, the limescale in your shower is needing cleaned…?

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022)

This was / is the only Marvel MCU film i didn’t see at the cinema. Work and anxiety issues prohibited me from it. So on its release on Disney +, it was a necessity to sit down and digest it over a seafood salad. Which was lovely, btw.

The tragic loss of our hero and friend Chadwick Boseman threw the fate of this sequel into indefinition but the writers have very fondly crafted his loss into the movie. The opening, silent Marvel Studios logo pays a wonderful homage to the fallen legend. Of course, the trailers have all spoiled the reveal of the new Panther, but if you ask me, the film would have stood happily by itself without the Panther character – its far more about Wakanda, and the greif of T’challa’s mother and sister.

Its first stumbling block is its choice of antagonists. Namora is a Hermes-style flying fish person. His people are BLUE. Live UNDER THE SEA. They may well have called the film “Aquaman: Avatar Forever”. They ride around on whales (like Aquaman), they live in an underwater city (like Aquaman), and Namora himself has the acting range of a coral reef (like Aquaman).

Basically a genius child prodigy (exactly like America in Dr Strange) has invented a Vibranium-detector and it turns out that Wakanda isn’t the only place on Earth you can find it. So us nasty humans try to steal it, get caught up in a huge revenge plot by the sea people and then Wakanda has to get stuck in the middle.

Plot is silly, check. Its MCU. But then the child builds a Mighty Morphin Power suit. “Ironheart.” Jeez. Talk about a drop in quality. In fact, the CGI throughout is awful. I mean, obviously, compared to films of ten years ago its good, but this is the MCU. This is post -Avatar: Way of Water – i really would have expected more from this cartoon of terrible.

Angela Basset and Letitia Wright absolutely steal the show – and make it worth the watch. My particular highlight (there weren’t many) was the banter between Shuri and her royal bodyguard Okoye (Danai Gurira); a classic double act.

The rest of the film is startlingly forgettable. The Queen gets some excellent scenes and theres a smattering of decent lines, but other than that is a bit average. Its nice exploring the world a bit more, but, ultimately, its a just another film in the franchise, and hardly stand out. Come on Marvel, you’re better than this.

That said, it truly is a love letter in memory of Chadwick, and for that it excels.

And…what the hell with Martin Freeman?

Avatar: The Way of Water (2022)

The first Avatar came out in 2009 and made box office history with a global taking of $2.9 BILLION DOLLARS. Utterly insane. With that, obviously we’d get a sequel. But, contrary to Hollywood’s usual trope of shoving out a follow up with nary a care for quality, James Cameron’s highly anticipated sequel has been 13 years in the making. Not doing things by halves, though, Cameron is releasing another (rumoured) THREE of these CGI extravanganzas, bringing the total to five. Its hardly a rival to the likes of The Fast and Furious franchise or James Bond, but its certainly more than we expected.

Avatar (2009) is a hippie high budget metaphor for the value of nature and Humanity’s mindless aim to eradicate our world’s rainforests in the search for rare wealth. It could have been dismissed as a load of nonsence with an awful script and in-your-face environmentalism – but somehow the world was captivated. Perhaps it was the spectacle; the ground breaking realism of the computer generated moon of Pandora was mindblowing. Enough to dwarf the wooden performance from its lead, Sam Worthington.

Avatar 2 exceeds my expectations. Read on.

We are treated to a wonderful introductory sequence that covers what has happened since the events of the first movie. This feels right, seeing as we have waited 13 years for the film, it fits that the events are set a similar number of years later. In the intervening years Sully (sam) and Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) have given birth to three kids (two boys and a wee girl) and have adopted a female girl who is the child of Sigourney Weaver from the first film. Interestingly, Sigourney also voices the teenage child. And her parentage is…well, i’ll leave that to your theories. Oh, and theres a young boy on the base “Spider” whose father is stupidly obvious but who is brought up Na’vi-friendly.

The film then delivers a nasty gut-punch. The humans return to Pandora and on landing, devastate the World Tree and half the rainforest. fast forward a year…

the Na’vi are raiders, let militaristically by Sully to upset the human supply lines.

The villain of the piece is Quaritch (Stephen Lang) – but he was killed in the first film!! Yes – this time we have a Na’vi “recombinant”, a clone bred from Quaritch’s DNA and embedded with the memories before he died. A terrific sci-fi idea and one that is not wasted.

Quaritch retains his death-grudge with Sully, and vows to kill him. So Sully and his cliched family up sticks and head to the oceans of Pandora, seeking asylum with the turquoise water Na’vi.

And there we have. The next two hours are a mix of family drama, children fighting and bullying, outcast cliches and beautiful underwater imagery. Oh. And did i mention a massively upsetting moment when a f*cking hovercraft butchers a huge Pandoran whale in order to drain its brain fluid. I was close to tears. Its a powerful message about the evil of the whaling industry.

Its by no means perfect. The script is dire; cliched, textbook dialogue. The plot is cookie-cutter and almost identical to the first film: characters arrive in new place, become friendly with the intitially unhappy locals, then get attacked by a battalion of humans searching for some rare material (this time age-stopping whale brains).


Its shockingly beautiful. The underwater scenes, the pandoran creatures, the rousing music, the explosions…amazing. Cameron knows he has a very very high standard of special effect on show here – so he sets whole action scenes in rain, underwater and gleaming with lightshows from sunrise to sunset, and even through the night.

And the best thing… i forgot the Na’vi were fake. They are astoundingly realistic. From the minutest of facial ticks, ear twitches and nose-scrunching to their ridiculous height and alien movement. Its only when you see them next to humans you go, “oh shit they’re not real!”

The occasional moment of humour shines too. Sam Worthington proves that despite a face as beige as a vauxhall corsa, his alterego Na’vi is oscar worthy.

A tremendous achievement in cinema. Don’t wait till DVD or stream. See it now on the big screen. The biggest you can find.

Pinocchio (2022)

Disney’s original Pinnochio (from 1940, would you believe it) was one of the strange Disney classics from my childhood, along with Oliver and Co, Fox and Hound, The Rescuers, The Aristocats – Obviously I’d seen them… I think. Musical numbers – of course i’d heard and seen all of them, but had i actually seen the films in question? From Pinnochio i remember the Whale scene and the Donkey scene. But beyond that? Had i actually seen the whole film start to finish? I question it.

Anyway, i came to watch this live-action remake with some trepidation. Let me explain why: 1) its going straight to Disney +. Now why would this be? 2) I’d heard so little about it until about a month before its release and then BAM theres a teaser trailer and a release date. Alarm bells.

However, its got Tom Hanks as Gepetto (excellent casting) and it “looks” gorgeous (as in the pinnochio CGI looks fine). So i’m probably just being pessimistic.

Well. I was right to be.

Unfortunately this tale of father-son love and the adventures of a little wooden boy amounts to not much more than a soulless, heartless, narrative-less and ultimately pointless story. I hate saying it because there are moments of sheer Disney gold – Honest John, for example – but otherwise its flat as a pancake. Which is a shame. Robert Zemeckis gave us such classics as Back to the Future, Contact and Cast Away, and arguably his live-but-CGI cartoon movies like The Polar Express, Beowulf and A Christmas Carol have been visually stunning. But this? Figaro the Cat looks like he was drawn on with a crayon and even Tom Hanks’ eyeline doesn’t match his ersatz puppet son’s. It looks rushed together – which…is strange, given that its a streaming release and not a cinema release, with a more concrete deadline.

It feels that with a bit more money and… well, i hate to say it, but… with a bit more attention, this could have been brilliant. Its certainly not the worst of the Disney live-actions – that particular accolade lies with the truly hideous Lion King, which still has me wishing my ears had been torn off and my eyes clawed out by the dead-eyed CGI aberrations and insults to nature that we were expected to love. Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast may be shot by shot remakes but theres still a bit of Disneyesque love about them; the cast look enthused and excited. Luke Evans takes his screen-stealing Gaston and even tries to make an impact in Pinocchio but his performance is lost in that murk.

Its scary; Pinocchio’s obvious discomfort through the whole Pleasure Island sequence is genuinely disturbing, saying a lot about the quality of acting if the little fake puppet outshoots everyone else. The black clouds of infinite darkness with streetlamp eyes are frightening and the whole ‘turning into Donkeys’ is the stuff of nightmares.

I really want to like it, but the failings vast outweigh the positives. And when i start to question why i dislike it, i remember. To have a more enjoyable time, have a look through an album of telesnaps from the film, because it is really a beautiful looking film…sometimes.

Oh…and just finally – why didn’t they make it a whale? Why did it have to be some hideous space monster that looked more like Clash of the Titans’ remake Kraken, or even the Kraken from Disney’s own Pirates of the Caribbean? OR is that it? Its set in the Pirates universe?

There is one moment i can share that i did enjoy: spotting the various Disney films represented by clocks. And a random joke about Chris Pine (personally i would have extended this to also include Edward Woodward, Sycamory Weaver and Holly Valance, to name a few).

But in conclusion; this is a film that is let down by the simple fact that the least wooden of all the performances is the fake wooden puppet child. A disappointing shame.

Prey (2022)

I literally only heard about this about two / three weeks ago; i had no idea it was in production. A sad time when how much out of contact i am with the film world, when a bleeding Predator film can creep on me. Next you’ll be telling me a National Treasure TV show is in development and will literally be out soon. That would knock me for six. I used to be so in tune with the heartbeat of entertainment, knowing years in advance when films were coming and allowing the formation of pre-opinions. (ie that Dungeons and Dragons film is going to be great. Even if its rubbish. I have decided.)

Anyway, i digest.

Hearing about a new Predator movie is like…i don’t know. Hearing someone is making you dinner, tonight, and ‘its your favourite’. Because it means you’ll either go home to a pile of absolute nonsence that someone completely misinterpreted about what you liked and didn’t like (Tuna Salad, AvP: Requiem), or you’ll get something flatline generic (spag bol, The Predator), or you’ll get something fetchingly close to what you want but not good enough (cod fishcakes with dauphinose potatoes and greens, Predators / AvP). What you won’t get is Mackerel goujons, hand cut southern fried wedges and tossed vinegarette salad.

The problem is of course, if i wanted that i’d watch the original Predator. Or at a push Predator 2. What i don’t want is a rehash of the original, nor do i want something trying something new with the franchise that will ultimately lead to failure.

Prey could easily have fallen into a pit trap of terrible. It could have been stupid, cheesy, silly, a barrel of nonsence filled with too many nods to the original that would make you turn it off and watch the original.

But no. Theres something oddly attractive about watching a native american fight against a more primal version of the scary multiple-mandibled monster. All the lead actors are of native american ancestry so theres a fair level of authenticity; there’re subtle hints to the bigger picture unfolding in the wider world (the mass slaying of buffalo on the Great Plains by fools from Britain and Europe), and history happening nearby, but none of that’s relevant. This is a claustrophobic action piece about survival.

…yet also a hard hitting story about coming-of-age, spiritually and socially, in a culture quite unique to the Native Americans.

I am worryingly close to saying this film is a pitch perfect 10/10. What i can tell you without a shadow of a doubt: its the best Predator film since Predator. And Predator IS flawless.

But the franchise couldn’t produce another strike of lightening. So lets hope they won’t try.

The Gray Man (2022)

Ryan Gosling is one of those actors. Most people love him, a small portion think of him as stony faced and boring. I’m in the former category. Chris Evans. Most people love him. I don’t think there is a second group. The Russo directors are given a f**king massive budget (for a Netflix film) and so they get both the above superstars plus a couple hundred thousand to spend on immense explosions and car chases. The dialogue is punchy and often funny. But the plot was lost somewhere in the CIA archives, probably nestled next to the Ark, or the Book of Secrets, or something. So instead we get the generic macguffin plot of every spy / government conspiracy time since time immemorial.

But I cared not.

If I was looking for the most stonking original plot of all time I’d maybe begrudge it a complaint; but in this instance I am not. It’s a hugely enjoyable blockbuster with leads positively glowing with charisma and chemistry, and the fight scenes are simply sublime john wicky-wicky-wa-wa.

Every bad guy fires with the aiming skill of a blind stormtrooper and the main villain isn’t even the primary villain – no, that honour falls to ‘the old man’, who never makes an appearance. Sorry, cliché meter just went off the scale.

What annoys me about these kind of films is that someone was actually hired and paid good money to write the plot. And yet its so full of cliches. Now, I refuse to believe the writer was genuinely unaware of just about every other film in the genre so why did he/she write, knowingly, such a generic slice of cinematic nonsense. I struggle to write short stories daily simply because I suddenly hit a moment when I’ve repeated a plot twist from another movie, and can’t keep going.

However, theres a bottom line here, and that’s this film is highly enjoyable. Don’t go in expecting it to make Oscar history. Expect an annoying amount of CGI-enhanced stuntwork (this is no James Bond film, so this is going to be Fast and Furious nonsence).

But again, cut away all the silliness and allow your brain to enjoy Hollywood’s trope – meaningless escapist action. From the thunderous opening music cue to the rapturous kick-ass finale, its mindless awesomeness.

Give the sequel a plot and you’ll blow the roof off.

Thor: Love and Thunder (2022)

We’re back in the MCU again and this time no multiverse nonsense, which is nice. We don’t have to expect cameos from other variations of the franchise or anything. BUT that’s because the franchise is messy enough at the moment. The last time we saw Thor he was off with the Asgaardians of the Galaxy…

…and that’s where we join him. On another classic Thor adventure. In my opinion we’ve descended into too much self-parody; Thor isn’t a superhero we can adore and worship – he literally turns up, steals the thunder from the Guardians and then proceeds to wreck the place as he kicks the ass of some awesome looking bad guys. It reminds me of the scene in Ghostbusters when they went, saw and kicked Slimers ass – absolutely no care for the collateral expense. Now, if played for comedy value then okay, I understand…but what if you were the head of the people who’s entire city is rendered a pile of shattered glass simply because Thor wanted to make a spectacle of his victory.

The plot then: Gorr has a daughter, whom he loses to the desert in a rather harrowing scene, as he pledges faith to the Sun God via a pilgrimmage. Unfortunately, upon meeting the God, it turns out he’s an arrogant sod and cares not for his followers. Embracing a scary looking weapon called the Necrosword, Gorr slays the sun god and pledges himself to a dark cause; to rid the universe of Gods.

Of course, with Asgaardians being Gods, things start heating up for Thor as he then is called upon by Sith (yep, same actress) to help battle this God-Butcher. And so he has to return to New Asgaard on Earth, as Tessa Thompson (established in Ragnarock) needs help. Except she already has help… for Jane Foster is back, and has Mjolnir.

Thus beguns a romantic comedy. Doesn Thor still love Jane? Does Jane still love Thor? Does Thor still love Mjolnir? Where does that leave Stormbreaker? Can we all just be friends and stop the God-Butcher before he reaches “Eternity”, where his one wish will be granted? (presumably to rid the universe of Gods?)

DO NOT GET ME WRONG: the film is thoroughly entertaining in the way only Marvel can be. It draws the right line between true drama and utter silliness; its provides us with genuinely ridiculous concepts – the God Palace of Omnipotent City, the Rainbow-riding skyboat pulled by Goats – but you consume it all with nay a nod to sense because all the actors are so believable.

Chris H is obviously so comfortable in the role and loving every second of it. It was nice to see Natalie Portman back, certainly, and Tessa Thompson was amazing. But it was Christian Bale, throwing aside that stereotype of arseholiness to be both genuinely creepy and insane comic book villain. Russel Crowe’s cameo is both unforgettable and outrageous, as he proudly displays comedic timing and a sense of humour that would surprise you. Plus he retains his now trademark choice of awful accents. I’m looking forwards to the inevitable Russian submarine movie where he plays a Scotsman. Or something equally masterclass.

The films major success however falls to two things – 1) the use of the kids in the plot. They are central. Giving each and every one of the poor wee tots the power of Thor for the finale is a stroke of genius. All the kids watching are going to go home, immediately pick up something in their house and run off screaming, imaginary lightening streaming from their eyes and them embracing every moment of their wonderful childhood.

2) Stormbreaker. Steals every scene its in with more character presence / comedy timing / dramatic stares than the entire cast of Zack Snyder’s Justice League. You’ll think i’m mad reading this, but wait till you see the movie.

But its imperfect. Annoyingly so. The wackiness is so at odds with some of the more dramatic moments that you’re brought out of the flow; Jane is given amazing powers and yet those powers are killing her. Oh – we said something serious, quick, have the rock man say something funny to counter it. And if you didn’t think screaming goats are funny ten years ago then you’re going to have a whale of a time here.

Its an enjoyable dance of jokes and silliness, but it falls far from classic marvel. Its certainly nowhere near as good as its predecessor. It does however, standalone. It doesn’t set things up for a sequel until the traditional mid-credits scene, and even then we’re not sure whats being said. No hints as to what might happen in the future – in fact… I don’t even know what the next Marvel film is? Is there another one this year?

Willy’s Wonderland (2021)

A man is driving a fast car. Its wheels blow out after driving over a police spike strip. The man gets a lift from a local mechanic, who then charges a couple of hundred. Yet, he has already done all the work, THEN states he won’t take card and that (conveniently) all the cash machines are dysfunctional. (they didn’t even bother getting the internet – but the cash machines are all there anyway for some reason). So he demands that this poor newcomer has to ‘work for the fix’; he’s put in touch with the owner of a disgraced theme park called Willy’s Wonderland. Spend one night as the cleaner, and the car will be waiting in the morning.

Little does the man know that inside the wonderland lives a terrible secret, and the souls of psychopathic child molesters are living inside a troop of grotesque animatronic creatures.

Thus plays the plot of Willy’s Wonderland.

Its utterly utterly stupid. Who the hell are we going to get to play the loner with literally no lines in the entire film. It would need to be someone of zero calibre, zero care and zero fucks. The film is a guaranteed shitfest with the Oscar quality of a mouldy watermelon.

Nicolas Cage? Aye. Sounds right.

Quite why Cage’s character doesn’t speak is one thing; it actually makes for some of the best non-dialogue acting we’ve seen in a man. But what surprises me even more is the man’s tendency to GO ABSOLUTELY BAT SHIT CRAZY during fights with the aforementioned animatronic bad guys. It’s a completely unexplained phenomenon. He just starts screaming and hitting the things with two batons made from a mop as if…and maybe this is a thing… he’s playing a character with an established image, previously unknown to the audience. Kind of like in a film about…say, Half-Life, there would be a secret proportion of the viewers that would grin like idiots when the man dispatched a monster with a wrench. Know what I’m saying? Is Nicolas Cage’s “janitor” from a comic book origin story who used wooden batons in a previous medium? Well, the real answers No, but who knows what crazy back story Cage created for the role – and then forgot to inform the filmmakers.

Unfortunately, the opening salvo of film-time is actually quite good. We’re given some good leering comedy moments of non-dialogue, then when Cage enters the wonderland we get some truly creepy horror film moments of tension. Then the first fight – the Ostrich – starts and it all goes to shit, because the direction falls into a pit of gore / oil and doesn’t get out. The editing is erratic and unchoreographed nonsense, the music is poorly chosen and Cage’s stoic action hero becomes his stereotype loony.

And then the story gets explained in the awful subplots with the ‘supporting characters’ – demonic possession of child molesters into the animatronics and such.

45 minutes later, you just want it to end – but then it does end after a further 45 minutes of awfulness, and you wished it had done something different.

The big problem is that with a bit of time and a bit of effort, this could have been good. It could have been a cult classic-in-the-making (like…The Guest, maybe?) But it really isn’t. And we have to live with that. Please, Nicolas. More Pig. More Joe. Even more Mandy.  Batshit crazy is brilliant, but batshit rubbish is just disappointing.

Jurassic World: Dominion (2022)

The ‘final’ instalment of the sequel trilogy hits cinemas and… well, i read a review entitled ‘why the new Jurassic World is a dumpster fire”. Wow.

I wouldn’t class it as a dumpster fire. It has pyrotechnic elements, certainly – but its better than its predecessor by a long shot.

So the plot follows on from that dumpster fire that went before; little clone girl releases dinosaurs into the world and now the giant reptiles that used to inhabit the Earth pre-massive-planet-killing-meteor and most child’s imagination are melding with our own lives. Huge prehistoric whales are devouring sharks, Velociraptors are running untempered through what looks like Canada… its a nightmare.

Except its not, apparently. Its all being normalised, really. Which is, lets be honest, what would probably happen.

But this isn’t the plot of a film, its the backdrop. We need a decent, boiling plot to hook our interests and keep us awake and invested. And that, boys and girls, is not what we get.

The last remaining character from the franchise whom we haven’t seen – Dodson ; yup the five minute appearance from the beginning of JP who is working for Ingen and wants Nedry to steal dino-DNA, is back, and is a seemingly outright psychopath who cares for no one except himself. 2-dimensional villain of a comic book.

JW: Dominatryx’s problem is that it presents too massive a scope and then retreats into clasutrophobic environments with characters we care little about. I still don’t know what Chris Pratt’s character name is, nor do i care. Owen…Teale? Owen…king? Larry Owen? The original JP was a bright, scary action film whose scenes leapt from MASSIVE to small scale kitchen claustrophobia because there were a limited number of dinosaurs about, and it felt connected. Intense. Edge of your seat.

Its a film of three halves. Unfortunately the first half is a boring slump through world-building and then some annoying setup regarding Dr BD Wong and his grasshoppers and some stupid financial / legal / TV movie idea about selling products to fix a problem the corporation set up. Ummm… aren’t there meant to be…ah, dinosaurs…in this dinosaur movie?

The second and third halves are unfotunately mashed together, and without further editing cannot be watched seperately in the cinema. So we have to sit through every dull and contrived scene with Captain Clean and the Little Clone Girl before we get the genuinely film stealing awesomeness of Sam Neil, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum, back being the characters they were AND being developments there of. Trust seasoned character actors to return, and immediately become the best things in the movie.

The VERY cleverly judged moment with Ian Malcolm and that fire torch – oh my heart was thumping louder than T-Rex footsteps.

Its not rubbish and it needs to be seen, even if only for the aforementioned trio and the various awesome looking dinosaurs.

Line; “No, the phones aren’t working because everything is on fire.” CLASSIC.

As Ian Malcolm himself might put it, here is an explanation of the JP franchise in a way a mathematician might see it.

Jurassic Park – one T-Rex = film is brilliant.

Lost World – 2x T-Rex = film is brilliant.

Jurassic Park III – Spinosaurus is bigger than T-Rex, film is bad.

Jurassic World – Abdominous Rex is bigger than T-Rex – film is bad.

Fallen Kingdom – Indoraptor is bigger than T-Rex – film is bad.

Dominion – Giganoughtasaurus is bigger than T-Rex – film is bad.

The moral of the story is simple. Steven Spielberg should ALWAYS direct jurassic park movies.

Top Gun: Maverick (2022)

The Danger Zone – sequels to established classics, many years later. Indy 4 tried it and failed, and no doubt as will Indy 5. The ‘sequel trilogy’ of travesties have devastated the Star Wars franchise. Even the Fantastic Beasts series is struggling to recreate the magic of the original Harry Potters. Its a difficult line to tread.

Of course, you could remake. But thats a whole other minefield, and is only likely to succeed if a) the original wasn’t actually that good (like Oceans Eleven), or b) not well-recieved (like Dune) – but trying to remake classics is simply a no no. Total Recall, Conan the Barbarian, Ben Hur, Robocop…no. Simply, if you don’t mind me saying so, f*ck off.

However. Rise of the Planet of the Apes and its two sequels proved something. You could make follow ups to old classics and have them still be good. And more recently than that, Ghostbusters: Afterlife showed us that it can be done well if you’re clever – enough nods to the past but some of its own energy, and you might be on to something. Jurassic World’s trilogy is currently hovering between awful and great but thats another story.

Its been a hell of time since Tom Cruise first donned the aviators of Pete Maverick Mitchell: 36 years, in fact. Top Gun is a classic movie; love it or not, its a milestone of moviemaking. Fast paced dogfights, classic quotes and unforgettable music, not to mention the birth of Tom Cruise as an outright movie star, the film has a legacy. (its just not as good as Hot Shots).

Can a sequel NOW, so much later, come remotely close to its predecessor? Or more to the point, can it be any good?

The answer is simple. Yes, it f*cking can.

Top Gun: Maverick is a stunning achievement. It recreates all the magic of cinema; a bombastic score that you will literally use to narrate your life for about six hours after the cinema trip, a desire for all men to don aviators and act like American Assholes in uniforms and get away with it. Its a throwback to the 80’s much in the same way as Rambo (2008) – lets not mock the way 80’s movies were dunked in synth and had enough cheese to feed a churchful of mice. Even the ham is fully roasted, and thats an acting joke, not a reference to Jon Hamm. Although he does get roasted by Maverick’s afterburners in the punch the air start to Act III.

However look beyond the initial mumbo-jumbo (jet) and there is something far better at its core. The opening moments show us a wonderful “touching the void” scene where Maverick becomes the fastest man alive. Eye wateringly beautiful cinematography takes the film to a new level. And, excuse my french, fuck me when the Top Gun anthem kicks in. I could’ve cried. I did, in fact.

Then the second kicker – the heart. You think you’re being bowled over with the visuals, and then we have the (admittedly cliche) plot just tug at your heartstrings. Maverick is an asshole, but he’s no bastard. The loss of Goose in the original film has left him a broken man. A man who is happy to play his superstar card but hides his guilt behind Tom Cruise’s boyish veneer. This man is in search for something beyond glory, beyond speed. He needs forgiveness.

Val Kilmer’s cameo is tastefully cautious; showcasing the legend but not shy of portaying the ravages of life as an inescapable enemy. Val – heres to you. The hero i didn’t know i had.

Its a hell of a film. I don’t see it being topped for film of 2022.

I’m going to put on my aviators and dance about my life playing an invisible guitar. This is the film i need in my life right now.

“The end is inevitable, Maverick. Your kind are heading for extinction.”

“Maybe so, sir. But not today.”