Unsatisfactory Comic-Book Movie Sequels (Part 1)

It used to be that, as a rule of thumb, sequels weren’t as good as the first film. The exceptions to this were so small that you could easily list them (The Godfather Part II, Terminator 2: Judgement Day, Aliens) and stay confident in the generalisation. However, there was a slow turnaround in the fortunes of sequels so that it was no longer a small list, and the rule of thumb was no longer a rule. In comic-book movies, this trend had significant outliers – Blade II was better than Blade, X-Men 2 was better than X-Men, and Captain America: […]

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Notes On A Film: Ant-Man

If you are even slightly pop-culture literate, you’ll know that Ant-Man was going to be directed by Edgar Wright, from a script by him and Joe Cornish; it was a project that Wright had been developing for several years, only to leave at almost the last minute due to ‘creative differences’, to be replaced by the less stylistic Peyton Reed, and with a script polish by star Paul Rudd and Adam McKay (who has written and directed many funny films with Will Ferrell). The question of ‘What if Edgar Wright had directed Ant-Man?’ hovers over the film – like a […]

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Notes On A Film – Avengers: Age Of Ultron

I felt sorry for Joss Whedon, the successful, talented, smart, funny, creatively satisfied man. A little bit. Not only did he have to follow up his own success by writing and directing the sequel to the third largest grossing film so far, but he also had to contend with the myriad of other factors involved in making a blockbuster film with a huge cast with huge stars that is also a lynchpin for the Marvel cinematic universe, the entertainment behemoth that has completely changed the way franchise films operate. And he also has to make a really good film in […]

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Notes On A Film: Guardians Of The Galaxy

[Note to self: moving house, filling it with flat-pack furniture and getting kittens really get in the way of blogging. Apologies for tardiness.] I don’t know if it was because of the cinema I was in (my first visit to Peckhamplex, the independent multiplex located in Peckham, obviously) or it was the film itself, but Guardians Of The Galaxy was the first film I’ve watched in a cinema in a long while where people spontaneously applauded at the end. I think that’s a pretty good indicator of how enjoyable Guardians Of The Galaxy is, how crowd-pleasing it is, how entertaining […]

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Notes On A Film – X-Men: Days Of Future Past

(I saw this film on opening weekend, so this is very late but real life has intruded: we are in the process of trying to buy and sell a house, so at least I have a decent excuse.) I still feel I have to pinch myself sometimes – I’ve been a comic book fan for a while now, but despite The Avengers being one of the most profitable films of recent history, I find it incredible that we’ve got really good films being made that are based on superhero comic books from my youth. Case in point: this film uses […]

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Notes On A Film – Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Let’s start with the summary – Captain America: The Winter Soldier is the best second film of the Marvel studio films so far. It is better than Iron Man 2, obviously, and even better than Thor: Dark World. It manages the trick of bringing out what worked well in the comic books (in this case, the modern espionage/conspiracy style of the recent Ed Brubaker/Steve Epting run) with what works best in film, namely massive action mixed with good acting and snappy dialogue. The story is a good, modern-day conspiracy thriller, contrasting the post-Snowden whistleblowing world of the NSA spying on […]

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Notes On A Film – Thor: The Dark World

Do comic book sequels suffer from the problem that the origin story for superheroes is always the most interesting? This is the not necessarily unwanted problem that Marvel Studios now have, after the success of developing the films leading up to The Avengers and beyond. Iron Man 3 tried to close the circle for Tony Stark, but what to do with Thor 2? First, the prologue exposition dump – the Dark Elves of Svartalfheim, led by Malekith (Christopher Eccleston), trying to destroy the universe during a convergence of the Nine Realms long ago using the power of the Aether, stopped […]

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Notes On A Film – Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa

The fact that I am writing some notes on an Alan Partridge film is thing of happiness in itself. From starting out on radio in On The Hour, then his own chat show on radio (Knowing Me, Knowing You … With Alan Partridge), then moving to television in The Day Today, then his own chat show (a TV version of his radio show), before two series of his own misery-com, I’m Alan Partridge (before Ricky Gervais became famous with The Office), there was always the possibility of a movie. The long gap between the TV shows and the return on […]

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Notes On A Film: The Wolverine

I’m beginning to worry that I keep coming across as a grumpy old fan when reviewing geek-related movies, because lately I seem to be unsatisfied with the results of loose adaptations of existing work, particularly comic books. The Wolverine is very loosely adapted from the mini-series Wolverine, by Chris Claremont and Frank Miller, and it is a mostly enjoyable piece of cinematic entertainment until the disappointing climax of the film, which leaves you with a feeling of discontentment after all the hard work. If it weren’t for the credits teaser scene (20th Century Fox steal the idea from Marvel Entertainment […]

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Notes On A Film: The World’s End

I wish I could have seen The World’s End without any prior knowledge, if just for the scene in which the film completely changes direction. It’s a great scene – set in a pub toilet – that is both unexpected and hilarious, but that giddy feeling that rippled through me would have been magnified exponentially if I didn’t know what the film’s twist was. Not that I could have seen the film without knowing – the adverts on buses, let alone the trailer, made it blatant what was going on – but a man can dream. Which is part of […]

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