Polar (2019) – Sub-Zero-Par

Released: 25th January
Seen: 22nd February

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On the 1st of February in 1982, the television sketch comedy series Not the Nine O’clock News aired an episode that contained a song called “Nice Video, Shame about the Song”. The song was a satire of the recently created MTV and in particular the music videos that had begun littering it with insanely strange yet interesting imagery that accompanied substandard songs. This was the era when all you needed to make it in the music industry was a confusing “artistic” music video that ran through every new tool that was made available at the time. The Not the Nine O’clock News team satirized this by making the most garishly elaborate video they possibly could, complete with images of comical satanic rituals and Elizabethan dress-up, all set to a song that was intentionally designed to be confusingly bad. It’s one of the most gloriously pointed critiques of the music video genre and the phrase “Nice video, shame about the song” became a bit of a personal shorthand for films that worry so much about looking cool that they don’t bother thinking about things like plot, character or dialogue. Films like Avatar or Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets are films that I would put into this category… and now, we can throw Polar into that very specific group of films

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Alita: Battle Angel (2019) – ROBOTS FIGHTING!!!

Released: 14th February
Seen: 15th February

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In 1991 the first volume of the manga Battle Angel Alita, or Gunnm as it’s known in Japan, was released. The series would follow the titular Alita, a cyborg with no memories except for a very particular fighting style that she ends up using to become a bounty hunter. The series ran 9 volumes between ’91 and ’95, with several follow up series continuing the story of Alita. The series is actually still being released today with an English release date for the latest one meant to come out at the end of April this year… and, as if always the case with these adaptations, I never read the original manga. My research tells me that this movie comprises of the first 4 volumes in the series… you can tell, you can seriously tell.

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Cold Pursuit (2019) – The Plow King

Released: 8th February
Seen: 8th February

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When I was picking what film to go see this week, I put a poll up on my twitter account to ask what to see out of the multiple options available at my local cinema. The movies available to choose from were On The Basis Of Sex, Cold Pursuit and Ben Is Back. By the end of the poll, it was a tie between Cold Pursuit and Ben Is Back. A randomiser then picked the winner, so it’s not my fault that I went to see Cold Pursuit, it was fate… horrible, horrible fate

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Dragon Ball Super: Broly (2019) – [SCREAMING INTENSIFIES]

Released: 24th January
Seen: 29th January

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In 1984, Akira Toriyama created the first Dragon Ball comic and started a multimedia franchise that has survived for three decades. Multiple TV series, specials, video games and manga comics have been made. It even got turned into a live-action film that we won’t talk about in any great detail because I can’t bring myself to acknowledge the existence of that film any more than I need to. This series is older than I am… and I am sad to say, I barely watched it. Sure, I watched a few episodes of the Dragon Ball Z series when it aired because it was usually on while I was eating breakfast before going to school and it was a bright colourful distraction but I was never really a huge fan of the show. My only memory of Dragon Ball Z is the theme tune that literally everyone in my generation had hammered violently into our heads because it was obscenely catchy.  In fact, I’m not even that big an anime fan. My limit with anime was watching Deathnote about 5 years after the TV series ended, and of High School Of The Dead, which is the stupidest zombie-related thing that I’ve ever seen in my entire life and I’m very much including (Insert topical political reference here). I am, in no way, the target audience for this film SO, this film presents an interesting question that I hope I’m able to address… can a person who doesn’t know anything about the series, or indeed this entire genre, still get something of value out of this film adaptation?

Oh, a major piece of info, I watched the dubbed version of this film. I do not know if a subbed version is showing near me so I cannot tell if that changes anything about it.

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How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (2018) – We Had Dragons!

Released: 3rd Janurary
Seen: 8th January

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How to Train Your Dragon is one of the best animated films of the decade. I know, starting on a subtle statement is a great way to open one of these things but it’s accurate. Even with so many years between the original How to Train Your Dragon and the sequel we’ll be talking about today it’s impossible to understate how amazing the original film is. Not only is the original film a visual marvel but it has one of the most touching stories put in a kid’s film, a story about a kid trying to get the respect of his father who believes in killing every dragon while the kid wants to be kind to the creatures. It’s a touching tale even without the part that is just the adventures of a young boy and his dragon (a night fury named Toothless). The film was an instant hit that was absolutely beloved by everyone who saw it, and then the sequel came out and was even better. The story got darker, the animation was some of the most glorious to be put on the screens and it didn’t seem like it was possible to top it. Now, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World has come out and… OK it’s not better than the second movie, but its close.

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Aquaman (2018) – It’s Better, Down Where It’s Wetter

Released: 26th December
Seen: 26th December

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DC has really had something of a bad time with their attempt at a cinematic universe. While the hardcore DC fan base have enjoyed the films so far, with general audiences they’ve been critically panned and have such a horrible reputation that the massive team up movie Justice League is the worst performing film in the franchise. That’s almost impossible to contemplate, the film where every major DC superhero was meant to team up in an event that we have been building too for four movies and it didn’t make as much money as Suicide Squad. The audience is effectively done with what the DC universe is offering now. There were serious talks for a while that the upcoming Flashpoint movie might be used just to try and erase the entire franchise and start again from scratch, it’s not looking good for the DCEU who not only have a failing franchise on their hands that can barely bring them a return on investment, but the franchise is now so far behind the juggernaut MCU that it seems unlikely they’ll ever catch up. For this franchise to still have legs it needs this film to be good. All they had to do was make something that didn’t hurt to watch and they might actually put themselves on the right track… and oh thank god they pulled it off.

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Peppermint (2018) – Not Exactly Minty Fresh

Released: 15th November
Seen: 21st December

You know what’s really difficult about writing these reviews? Figuring out how to start them. Sometimes it comes easy, there’s a really good comparison I can make to give the reader a quick idea of the direction I might go in or there’s a half decent joke I can build too. Sometimes though, there’s nothing. Sometimes, there is no really good comparison or a bit of weird history, sometimes a film just pops up out of nowhere and surprises you with its release, mildly impresses you with how it’s telling a well-told story and then… nothing. It’s not that it’s awful, it just kind of happens to be there and there isn’t exactly that much to say about it that would make a good lead into the main portion of the review.

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Once Upon A Deadpool (2018) – Once More, With Savage

Released: 12th December
Seen: 19th December

One of the most infamous bad horror movies of the ’80s was a film called Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2. The internet knows it mostly because of the infamous “GARBAGE DAY” scene that was a meme a while ago. The movie itself is a barely repackaged copy of the original movie, edited down with interstitial scenes featuring the brother of the main character from the first movie and a psychiatrist who literally go over the events of the original film in detail before moving onto a new story in the second half of the film. Beyond the Garbage Day sequence, there wasn’t much about it that was memorable. At best it was a mediocre cash in that barely tried to differentiate itself from the original and was trying to bank on the media uproar that surrounded the original film in the franchise… so, what if someone took the “Repackage an old movie” idea, used a good movie to do it, but didn’t bother to add any new story elements of any kind and just relied on a marketing gimmick in order to make some money? Turns out, that might work but only up to a certain point.

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Bumblebee (2018) – More Than Meets The Eye

Released: 20th December
Seen: 14th December (Advanced Screening)

Last year the film Transformers: The Last Knight was released to cinemas on June 20th. On July 3rd I walked into a cinema and saw it and I can safely say it was the worst cinematic experience I had in 2017. I hated so much about it, I hated its drab colour scheme and shoddy editing. I hated its stupid dialogue and insipid story. I hated its stupid attempt at using Arthurian mythology. I hated how it wasted legendary actors, and also Mark Wahlberg. I raged about the aspect ratio and the transitions and every aspect of the filmmaking. I raged about that so much that I literally stated that Michael Bay does not know how to make movies. I labelled it the second worst film of the year, and I STILL think I was being very generous when I gave it that title because I don’t know if I should’ve called it a film! So you can imagine how I was not in any way excited about a new Transformers movie. I was prepared to sit there raging in anger and broiling in my own hate-juice while I vomited bile all over the seats around me… and then I went to see the movie, and I got a Christmas miracle.

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Robin Hood (2018) – They Roam About The Forest Looking For Fights

Released: 21st November
Seen: 12th December

 A little over a year ago I watched a film called King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, a retelling of the iconic tale of King Arthur and how he became the legend that we know him as. It was a very fun, albeit critically panned, film that utilized the director’s style to try and breathe some new life into a tale that’s been told so many times that it’s almost comical to think that someone decided that they really needed to retell it… it also bombed spectacularly. SO, what if we did the exact same thing, didn’t use Guy Ritchie as the director and picked that other famous and well-retold story about the medieval era hero who’s pretty good with a weapon? Oh, that would be a bad idea because of obvious reasons? Well, screw that, let’s do it anyway because there is no possible way this could go badly.

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