Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Star wars: The Last Jedi (Rian Johnson, 2017) 4/5

The middle film in a trilogy can always seen like a place card holder from the first and the last adventure. Star wars has traditionally been able to avoid this with each film in it’s canon exhibiting it’s own individual story, whilst successfully adding a new narrative to the overall structure. The Last Jedi continues in this vein, as Rian Johnson’s follow-up to the fantastic The Force Awakens allows both new and old fans of the franchise to experience the spectacle of this space opera.Star_Wars_The_Last_Jedi

In a sense, narrative wise, this film is a lot paired back than the previous film and gives the audience a lot more interaction with older characters. Most notably Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia, whose individual story arcs are really what holds everything together here. It’s just so rewarding to see Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher (May she Rest in Peace) interact and further instil their acting chops!

Following directly where the last film left off, The First Order are continuing their attack on the resistance, causing mighty havoc in the process. As you can imagine, there are some mighty good fight sequences here and the special effects are amazing. However, it is Johnson’s screenplay that really enables the adventure to keep at fast enough pace to forgive the rather long 150 minute screen time.

I guess what is so fascinating about this new trilogy of films is how Disney has approached them. Everything seems to be meticulous so as to welcome a younger fan base, whilst at the same time, not ostracising the audience of the previous films. The Last Jedi walks this tightrope successfully and there are enough references to the past narratives, as well as, new character additions to enthral the younger – Disney-fied – crowd.

In sum, Rian Johnsons middle film in this trilogy is successful in terms of storytelling, action, acting and special effects. It never feels lumbered and is fast paced for it’s running time. Overall, it doesn’t quite live up to the magic of The Force Awakens, however it is a very good addition to the cannon and sets up for the action packed finale.

Transformers: The Last Knight

Transformers: The Last Knight (Michael Bay, 2017) 2.5/5

Michael Bay has two specialties. Blowing up stuff and, well, blowing up stuff bigger. In the last four Transformer movies the story has taken a back seat for amazing special effects and extravagnt fight sequences. Is the latest instalment any different? Absolutely not.

However, I refuse to grill this film compNieuwe-poster-Transformers-The-Last-Knightletely, simply because, Anthony Hopkins is present (Hello, it’s friggin’ Hannibal Lecter!). Indeed, it is quite clear that he is having a whal of a time here, providing some great comic moments.

Following on from the last film, Optimus Prime is now floating through space to go home and meet his creator. However, when he reaches his home planet, he encounters Quintessa, a sorceress who wants to destroy Earth to rebuild their own planet. Upon meeting her, Optimus is brainwashed and forced to do her bidding. Back on Earth, Mark Wahlberg is forced to contend with new Government agencies who are hating on all Autobots.

In essence, this addition to the franchise has everything an 8 year old would love. Loud noises, flashy cars, explosions and naughty robots saying silly things. As it progresses, it becomes clear that Bay and his crew are making it up as they go along. So far, as to entrench the mythology of the films with King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table (sigh).

In sum, this latest installment will deplete your braincells, but it’s quite flashy and fun in parts. Although be prepared for a eye watering time length as it stands at 149 minutes.

Dredd (3D)

Dredd 3D (2012, Pete Travis) 4/5

Crash. Bang. Wollop. These are the three words that best describe Pete Travis’s reimagining of the metal helmeted comic book hero, known to us as simply Judge Dredd. Rising from the ashes of the average Sylvester Stallone starrer Judge Dredd (1995), where the Rocky actor seemed ill at ease in the role and downright wooden. Many would have predicted Karl Urban’s portrayal to be much of the same; they were – thankfully – proven wrong. Urban shines in the role as the hero of Mega City One, where crime has become rife and earth a barren wasteland where law and order is only controlled by the robotic like humans known as judges. His dead pan delivery of the script makes the film extremely enjoyable to watch and through this the narrative succeeds, not only in reminding the audience of its predecessor, but also of enhancing its tongue in cheek persona.

The plot is well paced and simple; indeed the majority of it takes place in a block of apartments known as Peach Trees. Nowhere near as sweet as its patronage, this dingy high rise is the headquarters for the films villain ‘Ma-Ma’ (portrayed by the excellent Lena Headey) who is creating the new party drug called Slow-Mo. This ‘appening narcotic slows down the bodies movements to the millisecond where users can enjoy the world in pitch perfect HD quality. However when Dredd and his newly appointed student sidekick under trial Cassandra Anderson (Olivia Thirlby) arrest her right hand man, she is none too pleased and shuts down the entire building in order to massacre them both. Generally speaking films that limit themselves to a single locale are at risk of losing the viewer to boredom. However through the non-stop action and use of 3D, they are immersed in every blood splattering duel. Now, I am not a great lover of this new technological addition to the film industry but in this case it works perfectly. A key example of this is at the beginning of the film where Ma-Ma has injected herself with the new drug and is in the bath, as she flicks her hands, every tiny particle of water leaps into the air in an almost balletic fashion. This simple action, mixing with the slow motion and 3D is simply jaw-dropping; in fact the entire film is so slick and beautifully done that you almost take no notice of the bloodshed that is occurring!

However, due to the films length (only 96 mins), there isn’t time for a sufficient back story development of the characters. Indeed, Dredd almost seems like that he has literally arrived in the city that day without much interaction with anybody. That being said, the films brashness and raw sensibilities override this in an attempt to omit any schmaltzy superhero emotions that are so prevalent in others like Spiderman. All for the better in my opinion as Dredd and Anderson rip through Ma-Ma’s henchmen to get the right to be judge, jury and executioner. You almost don’t want the fury to end, alas as Dredd walks over to his now certified sidekick and his voiceover ends the film with a quick cut, the only thing left on your mind is….sequel?!