The Martian Movie Quick Review



The Martian is a pretty good Movie. Not a great movie. Just a decent watch. End of review.

Only Joking. This maybe a short review but I'll try my best to include enough content to fit on the back of a postage stamp. I'm going to start off by admitting that I missed out seeing The Martian on the cinema. I'm pretty gutted about that since the big screen experience is made for Movies such as this one. Thankfully it has been added to the Now TV library of movies.

Here I go with the not quite so mini movie review.

Matt Damon is Mark Watney, the man stranded on Mars after a Nasa mission goes a bit awry. Just a bit of an understatement there. Mark has to survive the harsh Martian environment and find a way to remain alive, in the blind hope that he will be rescued. Of course, in my little review I will not be giving away any such titbits of information. I will divulge however that that film was directed by Ridley Scott and that it won several awards including a golden globe for best motion picture. Those two points were enough nudge me into the open arms of The Martian. The movie has Ridley Scott stamped all over it, the look, the characters and the action reek of Scott style. An overhead shot of the Hermes spacecraft reminded me of Alien. A touch of nostalgia. Apparently the team behind the movie consulted Nasa on many of the technical aspects of the story.



The action kicks off early in the movie and from the point that Watney is left alone it never really stops. The plot is pretty straightforward. There are no major twists and turns but it's interesting to see how Watney copes with the harsh Martian environment and also the isolation. So to surmise, the Martian is a good solid watch, a reliable companion to a evening indoors. It doesn't claim to be anything other than a well acted survival movie. With a Mars setting and an element of Apollo 13 thrown in for good measure.

Film highlights

Potatoes. (You'll see)
Cool science stuff.
Realism. Thanks to the cool science stuff.

As I have already said. It's not a great movie. It felt a bit run of the mill in places. But it's more than worth a watch. On that note. I bestow the following rating upon The Martian.

7.0 / 10


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Star Wars Rogue One Trailer: Opinions and Thoughts


Now then. I like Star Wars, all the Movies, even Episode One. Yes, Even Episode One. It's not a masterpiece but it is a pretty decent start to the Star Wars saga. Anyway, I'm not here to talk about the beginnings of Anakin and the physical comedy (ho ho, that numb tongue bit kills me every time) of Jar Jar Binks. But I am here to talk about my reaction to the trailer for the latest Star Wars Movie, Rogue One.

Rogue One A Star Wars Story follows a group of resistance fighters, led by Jyn Erso (played by Felicity Jones), as they embark on a daring mission to steal plans for the Death Star. So where does the story take place in the word of Star Wars? Well, it leads up to the events of Episode Four A New Hope, before Luke was embroiled in the whole rebel thing and before the Death Star was a widely known threat. So, now I've got the timeline bit out of the way I can move on to the trailer, and perhaps drone on about some of the finer details.



Does it look any good?

Silly question. Even though the question came from me. Anyway, of course it looks good. The trailer has many of the Star Wars elements that make it, well, Star Wars like. There are several iconic vehicles from the Star Wars universe including AT AT Walkers, Tie Fighters and Star Destroyers. All very welcome additions I for one will be taken back to my childhood when the Walkers stomp across the big screen. Hopefully the old vehicles won't be overused after all it would be nice to see a few new one's in the mix. I'm sure we won't be disappointed. Let's face it, new vehicles in the movie translates to a cool new range of toys. Of course to someone my age the word collectables is more of an appropriate word. Vehicles and ships aside, the trailer for Rogue One also sports an interesting range of characters. The standout characters for me are a cool looking monk type guy and a rather tall robot. There is an appearance by Mon Mothma, a character who first appeared in Episode three Revenge Of The Sith. Another nice touch that should please the nostalgic's like myself. And and at the end of the trailer we have a very nice surprise indeed. Darth Vader himself makes an appearance albeit only briefly. But it was enough to generate excitement and draw out my inner geek.

What can I say. I can't wait for the release of Star Wars Rogue one. When I first heard about the Movie I assumed that it would be a cheap cash in to fill in the gaps. But so far, judging from the trailers, it looks like so much more than that. I'm expecting great things this December.

We will take great pleasure in reviewing Rogue One A Star Wars Story on the day of release. UK 16th December.





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Suicide Squad Review

One of the things that drew me to Suicide Squad was the notion of seeing a new incarnation of the Joker. The first trailer intrigued me for this reason alone. But over the past year or so since that first trailer my intrigue has soared. And now I've seen the movie and well, I wasn't disappointed. So here I go with a review of the movie that has caused a storm in the media, partly because of the low rating on rotten tomatoes. And partly due to the fact that the DC movie universe is in need of a hit. According to the critics anyway. Personally I enjoyed Man of Steel and Batman v Superman. So there.

What I like about the film 

Harley Quinn of course. Well among other things. The comraderie between the main cast of villains is fun to watch. Most of them are fleshed out, each with a decent backstory. And that's the first thing that struck me about Suicide Squad. The interaction between the characters is a joy to watch. Will Smith is on fine form as Deadshot, a hit man who never misses his target. He, along with Margot Robbie are the standout characters but that's not to say that they steel the thunder from the other villains. Not at all. Captain boomerang, an Aussie with a strange unicorn fetish provides plenty of quirky moments and a few laughs.

I liked Letos take on he joker. Do I think he should have had a bigger role. No. Not at all. The focus was not on his character, it was more about the screwed up relationship with Harley and how that affected her involvement with the other members of the Suicide Squad. It's not a movie about the Joker. And as far as I'm concerned it was never meant to be. I appreciated his appearances and they added gravitas to the Harley Quinn dynamic and for me that was enough.

Now that I've got the Joker out of the way I can move on to Deadshot and Harley. For me will smith was on top form. Charisma. Check. Fun one liners and cool action moments. Check. Check. No problem there. And Margot Robbie as Harley. She managed to be menacing and endearing particularly as she bonded with her team.

The other characters share the screen time pretty well with one another. Diablo, the man who can shoot fire from his hands, also has a past that humanises the character. Slipnot and Boomerang are the only characters from the main bunch who don't have any story to tell. Katana comes a close third with a brief mention of a problem that bogs her down somewhat. But said woe doesn't really go anywhere. 
Finally we come to the Enchantress, an ancient witch with supernatural abilities. Although she has an important part to play in the story, at times it seemed as if her role in the story came at the expense of the other characters. I couldn't help but think that she was a bit out of place compared with the more down to earth nature of the Suicide Squad members. Yes, I know, a guy who shoots fire and a croc man are pretty hard to find in the real world, but hey, compared to Enchantress they are pretty average. Having said that, I think the Enchantress manages to bind the story and the Squad together.

And now for the bad 

I had a few minor gripes with the movie. The first fifteen minutes or so was a bit of a mess as the Suicide Squad members were introduced one by one in a rather uniform manner. A little bit of creativity wouldn't have gone amiss. As I've already mentioned the Enchantress could have been toned down just a notch. Right then, what else is gripe worthy. I suppose I could get really petty and pick out some of the minor plot holes. But I'm not going to do that. No film is rock solid script wise and this one is no exception. The good parts far outweigh the bad. And that's it. Two gripes is pretty good going.

Conclusion

So how would I rate this movie. Let's see now. Think of it as being akin to a favourite soft toy from childhood. A unicorn for instance. Or to sound a bit more manly, erm, a classic car that has a collection of knocks and scrapes. It's a tad beat up but it's got heart and plenty of charm. You get the idea. Basically it's a flawed movie but it has massive entertainment value under its belt. Or should I say bat belt. The acting is spot on, the story is good and there are some genuinely memorable scenes. A good few of them involving Harley Quinn. The hype surrounding the film has been pretty intense and untimately it falls short of greatness. It had the potential to be a classic but it didn't quite make it. But don't get me started on the criminally low rotten tomatoes score. Grrrrr. Anyway. I'm going to grit my teeth, puff out my chest and give it the following score. Ok, here goes.

 8.0/10

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Score Review: Transformers Age of Extinction

It's true that since I first heard about the fourth film in the Transformers series, I've not been interested in the film in the slightest. I've watched one trailer, but I haven't followed the progress in any other way.

And yet, over the past few weeks, I've begun to feel this overwhelming urge to go see it.

My favourite aspect of the series so far has - quite predictably to anyone who is a regular reader - been the soundtrack. Steve Jablonsky's score, teamed with the roaring soundtrack with Linkin Park at the helm, have been dramatically brilliant. So, it was a little disappointing to discover that Linkin Park had not provided the film with it's title track.

Don't get me wrong, I am a huge fan of Imagine Dragons and I love their music, I do really like "Battle Cry" as well, but I don't know, it's just not Linkin Park, and it's definitely not "What I've Done". There is something lacking from the track, and I think that - for me, at least - it's because the sound of the track just doesn't suit the style that I know from Imagine Dragons. It feels like they're trying to replicate what Linkin Park have done with their previous three songs, but not really lived up to the expectations.

Steve Jablonsky has kept the score for Age of Extinction very much in the same vein as the previous three films: it's big, it's boomy and it drives headlong with a great sense of drama that replicates what Michael Bay is best known for (they don't call him Big Bang Bay for no reason, afterall!).

The addition of vocals from "Battle Cry" into several of the song feels a little strained at times. The song features most prominently - to me - in the theme "Tessa". It seems quite cliche that the song should feature in the main girls theme, y'know since Imagine Dragons are probably a band that are most popular amongst girls.

It was good to hear the familiar tones of our favourite "Arrival to Earth" from the first Transformers with the track "Autobots Reunite", even if it didn't quite have the same flare as the first film. Nevertheless, it is still an awesome track.

"Lockdown" starts with quite an eerie vibe, and builds up into yet another epic track, before changing direction at just over three minutes, when it gets even creepier. It's actually quite an intimidating piece of music.

Overall, the score - from what I have heard so far - is exactly what I would expect from both Jablonsky and the Transformers film. I do miss the addition of Linkin Park providing the lead song, however.

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Vintage Film: Little Miss Sunshine

Back in the summer of 2006, this delightfully quirky film from writer Michael Arndt (Catching Fire) was a huge indie success, winning two Oscars, two BAFTAs and a multitude of other awards.

Eight years later, I finally get around to watching it - yeah, I'm always the one to know!

For anyone else who managed to miss this film, Little Miss Sunshine is the story of a dysfunctional family, made up of dirty magazine-loving Grandpa (Alan Arkin) who got himself kicked out of his Care Home; obsessively positive-thinking Dad Richard (Greg Kinnear); trying to keep everyone Mum Sheryl (Toni Colette), number one in the field of Proust Uncle Frank (Steve Carell), the depressed, silent son Dwayne (Paul Dano) and the innocently sweet daughter Olive (Abigail Breslin), who is going to win the Little Miss Sunshine Beauty Pageant....if the family can get there on time!

I'm not going to lie, if you throw a quirky family into a road trip film, then the chances are that I am going to love it. But what I really love about this type of family film, is that they relay the idea that no family is perfect, that we're all dysfunctional and it helps to make our own families feel more "normal". Dysfunctional is definitely quite endearing.

The fact that all of the little girls who feature in the Little Miss Sunshine pageant (other than Breslin) are actual, genuine contestants is a little bit disturbing, especially considering how repulsed they were at Breslin's "sexy" routine - seriously, compared to the real contestants, Olive's routine seemed fairly fame...at least she wasn't pushing out her chest, pouting and wearing more make up than most women own!

Little Miss Sunshine is a sweet and quirky film, with plenty of heart some partly unlikable characters (which kind of made me like them more).



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Top Six: Most Interesting TV Guest Appearances

Famous people. They like to crop up everywhere don't they? If they're not promoting their next project in magazine and TV interviews, they're advertising perfumes, shaving products etc. But over the years, there's been a rise in the number of star guest starring in TV shows, so it's something that most of us have become accustomed to seeing. However, sometimes these stars crop up in the most bizarre and intriguing places. Here, we celebrate six (okay, seven) of them:

Six. Norman Mailer as "Himself"

Popular mother-daughter drama "The Gilmore Girls" was never that well-known for it's guest appearances - sure, many of it's main cast were already famous and/or have gone into do some pretty big things, however, the guest stars weren't really a big deal. So, when Norman Mailer become the thorn in Sookie (Melissa McCarthy)'s side, in the episode "Norman Mailer, I'm Pregnant", as a guest at the Dragonfly Inn who wouldn't order any food only iced tea, it seemed a little weird, that's for sure.

Even to this day, I'm still completely flummoxed as to why the famous writer appear in the show, and the whole storyline that he featured in, was a little bit strange too, but there you go!

Five. Brad Pitt as "Will Colbert"

Back in 2001, Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston were one of Hollywood's most loved couples, and Aniston's TV series "Friends" was at the height of its fame and popularity. So, it wasn't completely crazy that Pitt would agree to take a guest spot in his other half's show.

What was a little "whoa", however, was the character that Pitt played; Will Colbert turned up as the hot school friend of Ross (David Schwimmer) and Monica (Courtney Cos) who had once been fat. Despite also going to school with him, Rachel cannot remember him, which is probably a good thing, as Will was the co-founder (alongside Ross and a foreign exchange student) of the "I Hate Rachel" club.

The character was critically panned, however I loved how out-of-character Pitt was in the role, and I actually thought that the idea of him hating the character played by his then wife, was hilarious (I was 17, at the time okay!?). Allegedly, Pitt only took the role to promote "Spy Games", but I don't care - I still love him as Will!

Four. Katy Perry as "Honey"

Katy Perry was - it's fair to say - absolutely delightful as the cousin of Ted's arch-nemesis and eventual girlfriend Zoe, whose name Ted couldn't remember, but nicknamed "Honey" due to her naive nature. Perry played the ditzy character so well, that you couldn't help but fall in love with her, even if her actions did leave you wanting to say "Oh...honey!"

Honey is most definitely one of my all-time favourite guest characters on "How I Met Your Mother", because she was just so endearing.


Three. Madonna as "Liz"

Other than her role as Evita Peron (which doesn't really count, because it was more singing than actual acting!), Madonna isn't really renowned for her acting ability, in fact, she's better known for being a little bit rubbish when it comes to acting.

Yet, when she guest-starred in the "Will and Grace" episode Dolls and Dolls, as Karen (Megan Mulally)'s roommate Liz, Madonna proved more than a match for the feisty character, and proved critics that she could act - sort of. Okay, so her acting wasn't absolutely amazing, but there is no denying that the connection between Madonna and Mulally was genius and led for a lot of laughs as the roommates inevitably clashed and fell out.

It is alleged by various magazines, that Will and Grace proved to be Madonna's favourite acting role, which is good to know, because it's the only one she has - so far - excelled at!

Two. Britney Spears as "Abby"

Pop starlet Britney Spears is another songstress who has never really been known for her great acting abilities, and yet when she appeared as "Abby", the receptionist of Stella in several episodes of "How I Met Your Mother", for me, she absolutely proved that she is capable of proving us wrong.

Abby was completely cuckoo, but Spears managed to make her actually quite lovable and you felt sorry for her, even if she wasn't really the brightest of people (Ted and Barney seem to attract that kind of woman, don't they?).

One. Sir Ian McKellen as "Mel Hutchwright"


The legend that is Ian McKellen appearing in Coronation Street has got to be the most "WTF" guest appearance in the history of television. It's not very often that Hollywood-level actors appear in soaps after they have become famous, as soaps are traditionally an intitial stepping stone.

But, the thing that made Ian McKellen such a unique guest role was that it wasn't just a small bitty part, like a member of royalty visiting a local pub, or an opera singer visiting a village fair, McKellen had an actual storyline, and to be fair, it was a pretty good one.

McKellen appeared in the soap in 2005, as "author" Mel Hutchwright/Lionel Hipkiss, who conned several members of the older residents, and irritated Ken Barlow (which probably isn't that difficult).

Who have been your favourite TV guest appearances?

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Score Review: The Great Gatsby


When I think of Baz Luhrmann films, there are generally two things that spring to mind: 

1. Stunning visuals that are bright, often garish but dazzle all the same;
2. A sweeping rollercoaster score from composer Craig Armstrong.

And the score for The Great Gatsby really does not disappoint, dipping between solemn, thoughtful pieces such as "Overture and Sanitarium", to the carefree nonchalance of "Buchanan Mansion and Daisy Suite", to the beautifully emotional "Hotel Sayre", featuring Lana Del Rey's "Young and Beautiful", which acts as the perfect centre piece for this film.

Armstrong's score captures the raw emotion of the story, which is - ultimately - a sad, love story and whilst I'm often a little sceptical of composers incorporating tracks by other artists into their scores, I think it works incredibly well with both the works of Lana Del Rey and band The xx.

It's just a shame that the film soundtrack doesn't - in my opinion - quite fit with the film, as beautifully as the score does. I get what Baz Luhrmann and Jay-Z were trying to achieve, and I know that Luhrmann is notorious for using modern music in period settings, however, it didn't feel right in the same way as it did for Moulin Rouge.

Overall


I am totally besotted with the gorgeous and delectable score from Craig Armstrong. However, the modern soundtrack is completely wrong and ill-advised for this 1920's-set classic. I think I would have preferred modern artists taking more of a role in updating older pieces of music, rather than trying to force covers of modern classics to fit.

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