Transcendence

Fascinating premise

What it’s about

After an assassination attempt Will’s desperate wife uploads his consciousness into a quantum computer to save him. He soon begins making groundbreaking discoveries but also displays signs of a dark and hidden motive.

My thoughts

Despite Johnny Depp and Morgan Freeman starring in this film along with Paul Bettany, to say that this film got a poor response would be an understatement, it’s Rotten Tomatoes score is just 19%, the question is though does it deserve such a poor response?

​Well in all honesty yes and no, on one level it did deserve its response, and that is because it was and continues to be billed as a very different film to what it actually is. Basically this is an arty film which has a very deep but also interesting premise which is in reality an exploration of the human mind, so basically this film is about delving into the ethics and philosophies of science and technology.

I imagine a lot of people simply from reading that will think that this is not a film for them. And you could be right, but that does not mean that this is not a good film to which. This brings me back to the question of does it deserve its poor critical score. As a commercial film without a doubt, but if it is watched with what it actually is in mind, an exploration of the human mind and the ethics and philosophies of science, this is for what it is a decent film. Or at least I think it is.

To say the least I’m a fan of films which are not afraid to ask the tough questions and follow through with answers that are truthful and honest to the world they have created. And that’s what this film does, you can argue that the world they have created is rubbish but you cannot deny they stay true to it.

The story itself is at its heart quite simple, a woman is in love with a man, but that man has been poisoned and has only weeks to live and she is desperate to save him.

They are great scientists and one of their friends has been experimenting with uploading a person’s mind onto a computer. One of the big questions of the film is is this actually possible, can you upload a person’s consciousness into a computer. Or, will it simply be a digital copy.

In this film they attempt to find out the answer, illegally of course, because Johnny Depp’s character, Doctor Will Caster, gets uploaded onto the computer. His wife played by Rebecca Hall and his friend Max Waters played by Paul Bettany are the ones who secretly upload Will Caster’s mind to the computer. But there is a bit of caveat, Will Caster had been working on creating a self aware computer and they used that computer as a means to upload his mind.

And this is a big factor in this film, is the uploaded Will Caster actually still Will Caster, or is it simply a computer program which on some levels appears to be Will Caster but in actual fact is not. Evelyn Caster thinks that it’s Will, Max Waters does not.

What muddies the waters is the fact the uploaded Will Caster seems to be on a mission to create a means to save the planet, and through technology is able to pretty much heal people from any injury or disease.

So in away think of it like the self-aware computer from Terminator, Skynet, but in this case rather than wanting to kill people, the uploaded Will Caster has good intentions. But the question is are those good intentions ethical and actually to the benefit of mankind.

Step forward a terrorist group who are against technology, and are afraid of the very technology that Will Caster had been working on. In fact they are the group who attempted to kill Will Caster in the first place. They kidnap Max Waters and turn him to their cause, and eventually through him reach out to Morgan Freeman’s character in an effort to finally take down Depp’s character.

So like said this is very much a film that asks questions about the ethics and morality of technology while at the same time asking philosophical questions about what it means to be alive. Are we simply a body and a mind, nothing more than chemical reactions and brain synapses, or are we something more, a mind with the body.

All in all this film is one of those films that if you’re looking for something for purely entertainment purposes then you may find this a disappointment, you may not but there is a high chance that you will, but if you’re looking for something that will make you think, this will most certainly do that. Whether you will think that it’s a load of rubbish or not is an entirely different story, but it will make you think. That means from me this film gets a thumbs up as like said I love films that make you think.

Director: Wally Pfister

Writer: Jack Paglen

Genre: sci-fi, drama, thriller

Year: 2014

​Runtime: 119 minutes

Tenet

A highly complex but enjoyable thrill ride

What it’s about

A secret agent is given a single word as his weapon and sent to prevent the onset of World War III. He must travel through time and bend the laws of nature in order to be successful in his mission.

My thoughts

Rumour is that it took Christopher Nolan five years to get the idea right in his head, then a further five years to term the idea that was in his head into a script. And considering how complex the plot for this film is it is understandable why it would have taken so long.

This is basically an espionage thriller about time travel, and in a way it feels a little bit of a throwback to classic Bond films, not in the time travel and complexity element, but in the spy battling the bad guy element.

In classic Bond films the narrative normally went along the lines of, Bond uses a girl to get on the inside, the bad guy has control of that girl and that girl finds herself aiding Bond under the belief that should she do so he will help her get away from the bad guy.

The fact that the bad guy in this film is a Russian who plans on destroying the world, just makes the link to Bond films of old even stronger. The fact that the bad guy initially invites the good guy to meet him on his yacht is a further throwback to Bond films of old.

Considering Christopher Nolan also is known to be a big fan of Bond films perhaps the similarities are understandable. Anyhow, I’m digressing, so basically this is sort of classic James Bond type narrative thrown into a world of the most complex time travel you will ever have come across.

Basically, John David Washington’s lead character, and I say lead character because the character never gets a name, all we know is that he is a CIA agent who has been enlisted by a mysterious organisation known only by the name of Tenet. Anyhow, John David Washington’s character, I’ll call him the protagonist, must do battle against Kenneth Branagh’s Russian baddie.

Like said a woman is in the middle of this battle, Kenneth Branagh’s characters wife, who is played by Elizabeth Debicki. She has fallen out of love with Branagh’s character, Sator, but he won’t let her go.

Washington’s character offers to help her in return for her helping him. Before talking about the time travel aspect I want to talk about the problem with the latter. In fact I am going to talk about the problem with this film full stop, and that is lack of characterisation.

Outside of Debicki’s character, Kat, it is really hard to buy into the characters motives, I have no doubt that Washington’s character would want to save the world, but there is just no connection to Debicki’s character, it just doesn’t feel like he has any sort of bond with her, least of all a bond that would make him go to the lengths he is willing to go to to help her.

Then there is Branagh’s character, and this is a little bit of a spoiler alert but not an important one, in fact there are a good number of spoiler alerts in this post but in all honesty spoiler alert won’t spoil this film, in fact you could be told the entire plot and story from start to finish and it likely would not affect your enjoyment of the film. Quite the opposite in fact it may help you understand it.

Anyhow, I’ve gone off track, Branagh’s character, Sator, basically he is planning on ending his life and when he dies the world will end, but his motive for wanting to do so is just not believable. In fact I watched this film with my father, and perhaps he said it best. Why would he want to destroy the world, it makes no sense. Especially considering he has a kid.

And that is exactly it, the character that Nolan has created just does not feel like a character that would be willing to destroy the world, I would buy he desired to rule it but not destroy it. And considering the entire premise is based around the protagonist, so Washington’s character, stopping this guy from doing so you have a big problem right there.

In all honesty this is why this film is not as good as Interstellar or Inception, both of those films had very strong characters, this film does not. And it is not the actor’s fault, they all put in solid performances, I’m not sure it is the fault of the script door the directing, I suspect the thing at fault is the plot. It is simply too complex to spend any real-time building up characterisation.

So this is a film which is completely and entirely about the plot, and the characters really exist as vessels in which to help drive the plot forward.

This brings me to the plot, or rather specifically the time travel, because considering that this film is all about the plot it better be good enough to justify the latter characterisation. Get ready for this, because this plot puts the complex into the word complex, basically people from the future have created a means of time travel. But this is no time travel like any you will have heard of before, this time travel uses basically reverse entropy.

Entropy is in simple terms the reason that time moves forwards rather than backwards. Imagine a vase being smashed, that is a form of entropy, it was a vase, now it has been broken down into shards of glass and once it has been broken down it can never be returned to its previous state.

That is of course unless you have a means to create reverse entropy. Reverse entropy is the opposite of entropy, it is that broken vase going backwards and repairing itself and becoming once more like it once was, a non-broken vase. So basically entropy is things breaking down and entering a new form, reverse entropy is things reverting to a previous form.

This brings me to the time travel in this film, which is basically of the inverted form, which is basically a form of reverse entropy but with the addition of the theory of cause and effect. That means when you invert time and so time travel in this film, you are still going forwards but you are going forwards backwards. So basically you start at the end and go back to the beginning. So imagine you plan to shoot a gun, with an inverted gun the gun has already shot, so when you pull the trigger the bullet returns to the gun. So the entropy is going backwards, rather than things breaking down into a new form, they are reverting into an old form.

Hopefully you understood all that, certainly takes a bit of getting your head around. Anyhow, the future has created this machine and sent it into the past, but in nine separate parts, Branagh’s character is attempting to find these nine parts in our time so that he can construct it. The reason it has been sent into the past is because the future are trying to take their world back into the past because they believe if they do so then they will be able to save their world.

Yes I know, another confusing notion in itself but bear with me. Their world has been destroyed due to climate change, so using basically reverse entropy they are trying to take their world back in time to the point before climate change destroyed the world. That means that they’re basically using reverse entropy to revert the world to a state a.k.a. time in which it was not destroyed.

However, by doing this they will destroy our world, which is our present, or they may do so they don’t really know. So basically they are risking the grandfather paradox – that is the theory where if you destroy the past then you will destroy the future. They are risking this paradox because either they don’t think it is a risk or are willing to risk it anyway to save themselves – we are never told which.

Branagh’s character is the person they are using to construct what is basically a nuclear timebomb, so literally a timebomb, not a timebomb as we know it, but a timebomb that is basically a bomb made of time (high five for originality right there!). This timebomb basically works by crashing a forward timeline into an inverted timeline, and the theory is that when time crashes into itself, it will be a bit like the immovable force crashing into the immovable object. Something which of course is not good.

Anyhow, with this all said, the question is what does this all mean in terms of the film you will be watching should you choose to watch this film? Well it means that there is a lot of things going forwards and backwards at the same time. In a way think of it like this, imagine a fight, you watch one guy fighting the fight from the beginning to the end, you watch the other guy fighting the fight from the end to the beginning. So you are watching the same fight, but you are watching one guy fighting it from the start and the other guy fighting it starting it from the end.

Hopefully that makes sense, if not if you watch the film I’m sure it will. Anyhow, needless to say because of the way the fights are i.e. the participants going forwards and backwards at the same time, this film is quite the spectacle, most people will probably have no idea what is going on, but few will dispute that it’s quite the spectacle.

All in all that means that this is basically a throwback to a classic Bond style film but a unique throwback, because it is a throwback in which the classic Bond style narrative has been merged with one of the most complex time travel style narratives that you will likely ever come across.

That means that this film will in all probability confuse the hell out of you, but all the same may still entertain you. That means some people will get it and some people won’t but whether you get it or not will not likely be the defining factor of whether you enjoy this film are not. The defining factor will most likely be whether you can tolerate the fact that characterisation has been sacrificed almost completely and entirely for plot.

All in all though, one thing is for certain this film will definitely give you something to talk about and it is quite a thrill ride, because of that, and because I love films that make you think, from me it gets a thumbs up.

​Director: Christopher Nolan

Writer: Christopher Nolan

Genre: action, sci-fi, thriller

Year: 2020

​Runtime: 150 minutes

Masters of the Universe

A Star Wars spoof posing as a He Man film that somehow manages to be both awful and brilliant

What it’s about

Skeletor has taken the sorceress prisoner, and is draining her of her power as he chases the power of the greyskull which he got would make him the most being in the universe. He-Man and his companions must stop him, but in their fight to do so they end up on planet Earth.

My thoughts

This is one of those fabulously awful films, one of those films that is so awful that it somehow manages to be hilariously brilliant. First thing’s first, though it is supposed to be a He-Man it is in fact more of a Star Wars spoof, though there are no light sabres there are what are basically storm troopers, just they are wearing black armour rather than white.

There are also laser guns which, just like in Star Wars, seem to be the most inaccurate weapon on earth and in fact despite the fact throughout it appears that it would be harder to miss than hit He-Man and his crew, the bad guys keep managing to miss.

Also though there are no light sabres, He-Man does repel lasers using his sword. And I’m going to throw in a little bit of a spoiler alert here, but the way the bad guy gets dealt with in the end, if you’ve seen the end of Star Wars episode six, then you’ll recognise the moment.

But somehow despite all of this, perhaps because of all of this, this film is simply hilariously brilliant. Dolph Lundgren plays He-Man and looks the part, also I suspect the reason for his muscles being so bulging throughout is because he never at any point holsters his sword, like literally no matter what he never puts that sword down.

Then there are his co-stars, Billy Barty plays Gwildor, a character who resembles a cross between the Lord of the Rings Gandalf and Gimli; Frank Langella plays Skeletor, Courtney Cox also stars in this film, so there are some decent stars in this film and all of them do their best to work with the script that they have.

Though despite Frank Langella putting in a Shakespearean esque performance as Skeletor (not sure if that is a compliment or not in this case), the star performer is without question Dolph Lundgren, like said he very much looks like He-Man (despite his outfit), there is no disputing that, but at the same time he manages to look throughout the entire film like he is thinking what the hell is going on here. He really just appears to be thinking that I can’t believe this is actually happening, have I really signed up for this film, and somehow that makes it brilliant. Maybe I just imagined this but I definitely felt like that was what the expression his face was saying.

The reason that this is so brilliant is because as you watch it, all you will be thinking is, what the hell is going on here, am I really watching this, has somebody really made this?

The answer will be yes to all those questions, and the reason you will keep watching it is because it is so awful you just have to keep watching. And I imagine the reason the actors kept on acting was because they were having a lot of fun – perhaps the actors being under contract played a part but it certainly looked like they were having fun.

It should be said at this point that if you’re not a fan of films that are so awful they are brilliant, and you don’t see the hilarity in them, you will really hate this film. But if you are able to take pleasure in films that are so awful they are brilliant, then you will in all probability love this film.

Of course the majority of He-Man fans hate the film, most likely because when they heard that their favourite cartoon character was about to hit the big screen, and that Dolph Lundgren was to be the star, they were probably imagining something quite different to what this film is, which is like said basically a pantomime style Star Wars spoof.

But this film is what it is, and like said I enjoyed it very much specifically because of how awful it truly was, and for that reason from me it gets a solid thumbs up. And I have to say I give much credit to the actors in this film for having fun with this film.

​Director: Gary Goddard

Writer: David Odell, Stephen Tolkien and Gary Goddard

Genre: action, adventure, fantasy

Year: 1987

​Runtime: 106 minutes

Romancing the Stone

A fun film that is the epitome of 80s escapism style cinema

What it’s about

After coming into the possession of a treasure map, Joan Wilder, a romance novelist and hopeless romantic, is forced to fly to Colombia to try to save her sister who has been taken by people who want that map. But after taking the wrong bus she finds herself partaking in an epic adventure through the jungles of Colombia with the dashing Jack Colton, all the while being hunted by all those who want the map and the treasure it leads to.

My thoughts

This film stars Michael Douglas along with Kathleen Turner and Danny DeVito, and is a bit of a cult classic which is especially legendary for the chemistry between Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner.

It is an action adventure romance, which means it’s one of those films that are more targeted at families and couples, specifically the type where one person likes action adventure and the other likes romance. This film merges the two creating a compromise, and if any person wanted to find a film that was a perfect example of an action adventure romance from the 80s, this would be the film they would most likely watch. In fact you could argue that this film was the epitome of mainstream 80s style escapism cinema.

The story itself is basic like many mainstream films from the 80s, but in that is its power, it makes for easy watching. Joan Wilder, played by Kathleen Turner, is a hopeless romantic who writes adventure romance novels, Jack Colton, played by Michael Douglas, is the smarmy but dashing Errol Flynn wannabe while Danny DeVito plays Irn, a sort of good guy bad guy – he wants the treasure but doesn’t agree with his brother’s methods of kidnapping to get it though of course goes along with it anyway.

And what happens is Joan Wilder receives a treasure map, which Danny DeVito’s brother wants, so they kidnap Joan Wilder’s sister and hold her to ransom for the map. But there is somebody else who wants the map, Manuel Ojeda’s Zolo, and he tricks Kathleen Turner’s character into taking the wrong bus.

From there she embarks upon an adventure of a lifetime through the Colombian jungle, the sort of which she has spent her lifetime writing about but never experiencing herself. But the question is is the man she has enlisted the help of the man of her dreams, the one she has been looking for, or is he just a con artist who wants the treasure for himself dum dum dum. I’m sure you can probably get the gist of what the answer is.

Truth be told find a person who enjoys this genre that can find a negative thing to say about this film and you’ll be lucky, even a person who does not like the genre would be unlikely to find anything negative about it, other than the fact that they don’t like films of this genre, and that is because this film has definitely found that magic spark, the unexplainable thing that some films find and just have which makes it a classic.

There is nothing wholly special about this film and yet there is something about this film that makes it special, on top of that perhaps the best thing about this film is the fact that not only does it have this factor it also has a great feel good factor, top of that it is a film that just has that great feeling of niceness about it.

Or rather there is nothing nasty or untoward about this film which a lot of modern-day films of the same genre struggle to accomplish. So it is 80s style cinema escapism at its best, and I can imagine that a hundred years from now this will be one of the films that will still be being watched. Not as a first choice, not even as a second choice but as that film that you watch with family when you can’t find anything decent to watch and just want to have a nice easy watch before bed.

And in reality that is the power of this film, it is such an easy watch that you can watch it again and again, not because it is an amazing film but because it does what it is supposed to do so well, that is give you a little escapism, leave you with a feelgood factor and above all entertain you, and in that is what makes it a classic. Which means from me it gets a big thumbs up, and if you can’t find anything to watch and are looking for a compromise film, an easy watch classic with action and romance from a time when the world was a lot less complex, this may just be the film you’re looking for.

​Director: Robert Zemeckis

Writer: Diane Thomas

Genre: action, adventure, romance

Year: 1984

​Runtime: 106 minutes

Outlander

Rubbish but of the good kind

What it’s about

A spacecraft crash lands in Iron Age Norway, there are only two survivors, Kainan, and a deadly creature called the Moorwen. If Kainan is to survive and save the Earth he must team up with a local tribe of Vikings and hunt down the Moorwen, before it hunts him down.

My thoughts

This film is based on the Norwegian film of the same name which was released back in 1987, and is one of those films that you would call rubbish but of the good sort. Basically it is a typical alien monster flick, so a superstrong alien creature is hunting people down and slaughtering them en masse et cetera et cetera. The difference is in this case it is set in Iron Age Norway rather than a future world.

And there are some relatively big stars in this, James Caviezel, Ron Perlman, Sophia Myles and of course the legendary John Hurt. So it’s good rubbish with some top-notch actors and I think it’s fair to say that you can tell that the actors would have enjoyed making this film.

In terms of box office response, it was a flop and it is obvious why and that is because it is more B-movie than blockbuster. But as a B-movie it is great fun, I have to say I especially love the game where James Caviezel’s titular character competes against his frenemy in a race in which the track is composed of people holding their Viking Shields over their heads. So in a way it is a bit like running over stepping stones but people holding shields make up the stepping stones.

Also and more importantly there are some solid fight sequences in which there is much blood and gore, which in a movie which is basically a typical sci-fi version of a monster flick mixed with a typical mediaeval Viking film, is a good thing. Also they definitely don’t hold back on the killing side of things, and to say the least once the Moorwen’s lair is found the pileup of bodies is quite the sight to behold.

The creature itself is acceptable and looks like it could do damage, and smartly the director, Howard McClain, does not throw his CGI creation in our faces, preferring a more nuanced approach which focuses mostly on showing its eyes and its scorpion like tail. I have to say when it comes to CGI monsters I’m definitely a fan of less is more and this is definitely a film which holds true to that mantle.

One moment where I did kinda go hang on a minute, was when James Caviezel’s lead character dived into the lake in which his ship had crashed, and collected some metal. Basically he needed to create a sword to kill the Moorwen but what I can’t understand is, considering the length of time he was down there, why he did not just look for another gun, like the one he lost in the beginning. Surely there would have been one and surely it would have been the more logical move.

But a fight with a sword is much cooler than a gunfight and it is what it is, with this in mind if you’re looking to watch a fun sci-fi alien monster flick set in Viking Norway, then you will probably enjoy this film, just remember to watch it with a pinch of salt mentality.

As I frequently watch films with a pinch of salt mentality from me it gets a thumbs up.

​Director: Howard McClain

Writer: Howard McClain, Dirk Blackman

Genre: action, adventure, sci-fi

Year: 2008

​Runtime: 115 minutes

The Pathfinder

Cool -looking Vikings and an all-round gorefest

What it’s about

A young boy, who is the lone survivor of a Viking expedition to the Americas, is raised by the Native Americans. Years later, he must defend his tribe when it is attacked by Vikings.

My thoughts

First things first, despite how it may appear in the film’s intro, to say this film is based on any form of true events is quite ridiculous. It is entirely fiction, the only real truth is the fact that yes Viking’s made it to the Americas in the year 1000.

With that out of the way, to say the least this film has some bad reviews and in all honesty it is understandable why. But that does not mean it is not a watchable film, it just means that before watching this film a number of factors need to be taken into account, specifically the problems with the film, the first problem of which is the fact that it suffers from white saviour mode. The one white guy amongst all the Native Americans is the only one that can save them, and he has to do it single-handedly.

There is nothing wrong of course with having a white guy as the hero, but the problem really is just how weak the Native Americans are depicted as. Even the greatest warriors are pretty much just just cattle to the Viking’s sword. Yes, the truth is at the time they would not really have stood much chance against the Vikings superior weaponry, but they would definitely have put up a better fight.

Then there are the Vikings themselves, they are pretty much genocidal maniacs in this film which of course in real life, despite popular belief, they very much were not. Then there is Kurt Urban’s titular character, Ghost, despite having no real combat training with his sword he seems to be a master with the sword. And he has to be considering all the Vikings he has to kill all by himself.

Then there is the fact that there is zero characterisation in this film, Moon Bloodgood plays the love interest and it has to be said she makes a titanic effort to try to make it seem that she matters and that there is love between her character and Kurt Urban’s, but she is given so little to work with that despite her great efforts there is just nothing. She exists, he exists, do they love each other, if they do we only know because they tell us as such.

And I could go on and on and on, listing all the many many problems with this film, but I am not going to. In fact I’m going to stop there and here is why, the reality is this film is simply a mediaeval gorefest with Kurt Urban fighting off super-sized genocidal Vikings – who I should add just look really cool. In fact, the wardrobe department though they get zero points for realism they get a ten out of ten for cool factor, the armour that the Vikings wear is just awesome.

Anyhow, I’m going off track. The good thing about this film is the fighting and gore, in fact this film is really just a mediaeval fight fest, and there are some great fights and cool action sequences in this film, especially the sledging down a hill using a Viking shield and the action sequence at the end which involves an avalanche.

With this in mind if you are able to watch this film as only a gorefest in which Kurt Urban brutally and single-handedly fights off really cool looking super-sized Vikings – I forgot to mention that they were giants, in fact they would probably make modern day WWE wrestlers looks small – anyhow if you are able to see this film only as that then you will probably like it. If you’re unable to do this then you probably won’t, with this in mind as a mediaeval fight fest with cool but very unrealistic Vikings it gets a thumbs up, as anything else it gets a thumbs down.

​​Director: Marcus Nispel

Writer: Laeta Kalogridis

Genre: action, adventure, historical

Year: 2007

​Runtime: 107 minutes

The Core

An Exhilarating Ride to the Centre of the Earth

What it’s about

When the Earth’s inner core stops spinning, it causes the planet’s electromagnetic field to rapidly deteriorate. The only way to save planet Earth is to set the core spinning again which means a team has to go where no man has gone before, to the centre of the planet where they need to kickstart the core, should they fail then the world will end.

My thoughts

Firstly, this is an entertaining film, secondly, its premise, which is along the lines of a team of experts must journey to the centre of the Earth to restart the planet’s core after an experiment gone wrong had caused it to stop, is brilliant. Thirdly, the journey to the centre of the Earth is an extremely imaginative journey and the writers, Cooper Layne and Jon Rogers, have done very well at imagining what such a journey would be like, what the different layers would be like. Also, the director, Jon Amiel, has done a great job at bringing their vision to life.

Really it just has to be said that, the best thing about this film is the journey to the core, it is exhilarating, imaginative and just downright fun. And considering that the film is about the journey to the core that is of course a very good thing.

But, with all that said, unfortunately it is not as good a film as perhaps it could have been. To explain, firstly there are the very American centric clichéd characters, the most clichéd perhaps being the computer genius who just so happens to be tall and very skinny and very geeky. Also there is a Russian character who is a little eccentric.

There is even the character who of course stole another character’s work and passed it off as their own and got super famous off the back of it, but now of course to save the world the two characters have to work together.

But the clichéd nature of the characters are pretty much an inevitability of the period in which the film was made, in fact when watching a film from the early noughties which was when this was shot you almost expect such clichédness.

However, where this film perhaps falls down a little is in regards to the character fatality rate of this film, without giving much away a good few of the main characters die, and in all honesty in a film like this so many of the lead characters dying just doesn’t really feel right.

To explain, this is very much a typical feelgood film, the world is going to end and the odds of stopping the world ending are so astronomical it beggars belief, but we should not be afraid because there are a team of people who are going to do something seemingly impossible and save us all.

So this is very much a pinch of salt the world is ending but we are going to save it type of film, so it’s a feelgood factor film with this in mind you would of course expect a character death but only one or at most two and you would expect them to die in a very dramatic way.

In this film like I say without giving anything away too many of the main characters die, and as such the deaths just do not feel like they belong in a film of the type they are trying to make. If this was a more realistic type of film, one that really delved into just how complex and how impossible their task was, so a film that was more a nitty-gritty type drama rather than a simple action thriller, then things would have been different.

But the fact is things were not different. Which means when the characters die in reality it just kind of feels like, blah, another one bites the dust. There is just no real connection to them to make you really feel like that death mattered, but then of course there is not it is simply not the type of film to build up those connections.

Like said though despite the overkill of the main characters it is still a highly entertaining watch, not the type of film that will set your heart on fire but the sort that will make you at least invested in what they are doing and will as such entertain, the finale is also quite dramatic and does provide a solid, come on you can do it moment. Because of this from me it gets a thumbs up.

​​Director: Jon Amiel

Writer: Cooper Layne, John Rogers

Genre: action, adventure, sci-fi

Year: 2003

​Runtime: 135 minutes

Chain Reaction

Won’t set your heart on fire but will entertain you on a Saturday evening

What it’s about

When a high profile scientist at the University of Chicago is murdered, Eddie, an undergraduate, and physicist Lily are framed and accused of stealing an innovative alternative fuel formula. With the police and the secretive organisation that framed them hunting them, they are forced to go on the run, and if they are to survive they must prove their innocence.

My thoughts

First thing’s first, despite the poor reviews this is an enjoyable and fun film and if you like Keanu Reeves and Morgan Freeman you’ll probably find it a decent watch; however, before watching it some points need to be taken into account. Firstly, it was made during the time period in which it was popular to believe that there was some secret government force, which was backed by the petrol barons, who were keeping a cheap green energy source from the world.

This film buys into that narrative, a scientist has come up with a way to create cheap and clean energy and wants to give it to the world, but a secret government body controlled by the CIA wants to stop him, the reason being that they argue that the technology would cause markets to crash et cetera et cetera.

So like said it plays into the popular belief of the time, and there are some big names in this, like said Morgan Freeman, Keanu Reeves, but also Brian Cox, Rachel Weisz and others. But despite the strong premise in reality this is nothing more than a typical action thriller.

Or rather the good guy gets framed by the bad guy, then goes on to prove his innocence, save the world, save the girl, and get the girl. The only questionable thing about this film is the fate of Morgan Freeman’s character, he plays a sort of half bad guy half good guy and for the type of film this is the fact he does not face any form of real justice for his half bad guy deeds is perhaps a questionable choice.

In fact it is most likely born out of the the fact producers suspected that cinemagoers wouldn’t like to see Morgan Freeman as the bad guy, or rather at least that they would not like to see him get his comeuppance in the way typical bad guy would. But in all honesty he didn’t have to get a typical bad guy ending, and with a little bit more creative thinking there could have been a better one, at least in regards to the plot.

But I don’t want to be negative because this film is an enjoyable watch, nothing special which the indifferent reviews are testament to, but most definitely an enjoyable watch, and if you are a fan of Keanu Reeves and Morgan Freeman, and are not the type of person who will sit there criticising every element of a film, it will entertain you on a Saturday evening and for that reason from me it gets a thumbs up.

​​Director: Andrew Davis

Writer: J.F. Lawton and Michael Bortman

Genre: action, drama, sci-fi

Year: 1996

​Runtime: 107 minutes

The Ghost Writer

A solid thriller with a great twist

What it’s about

When a successful ghostwriter agrees to finish the memoirs of a former prime minister after the previous writer suspiciously dies, his publisher assures him it’s the chance of a lifetime. Instead, he begins to uncover evidence that suggests his late predecessor knew a dark secret and may have been murdered to prevent it from coming to light.

My thoughts

This feels a very Roman Polanski -type film, which is inevitable as he directed it, but at the same time it is a very hit and miss sort of film. Ewan McGregor puts in a solid performance as the lead, the other big star name Pierce Brosnan also puts in a solid albeit reality fleeting performance.

And it is indisputable that there is much suspense and mystery in this film, also you definitely get the feeling that there is something sinister going on, and that McGregor’s character has well and truly found himself in the middle of it.

At the same time it is hard to avoid the fact that this feels like a bit of a dig at Tony Blair’s premiership and his close relationship with the US. In fact my first thought upon watching it was that this is a conspiracy film about Tony Blair. It is not but the parallels in the accusations directed at Pierce Brosnan’s Prime Minister and Tony Blair over his relationship with the US is pretty much impossible to miss.

But at the same time this is used to good effect with McGregor’s ghost writer coming to the conclusion that Adam Lang is not who he appears to be, and in fact may have some very troubling links to the CIA. This is of course where we step away from the parallels to Tony Blair and enter into the realms of fantasy, and it is when the film steps away from these apparent Tony Blair parallels that it really comes to life.

Obviously I won’t give away any spoilers but this is a very well done thriller, with McGregor’s character increasingly feeling in grave jeopardy as the film progresses.

The only real letdown is the ending, there is a brilliant twist which is a real aha moment, but that twist in a way is spoilt by what comes after. A little spoiler alert here so be warned, but McGregor’s character ends up getting killed but the lead up to how he gets killed and the way he gets killed just kind of feels unbefitting of how good the story was to this point.

It is not the fact that he dies that is the problem it is the way it happens, the filmmaking is clever but just feels totally illogical for the character. Really you just can’t help but be left feeling that the film deserved a better put together ending, or rather it feels like that the writers thought okay now we’ve revealed the big twist let’s just end things quick.

But I take nothing away from this film, it is an entertaining thriller and as the film progresses you really do feel that McGregor’s character is increasingly in grave jeopardy. For that reason all in all from me it gets a thumbs up.

​​Director: Roman Polanski

Writer: Robert Harris, Roman Polanski

Genre: thriller, drama, mystery

Year: 2010

​Runtime: 130 minutes

True Lies

A brilliant but equally hilarious action thriller

What it’s about

The life of a fearless globetrotting secret agent, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger, takes a shocking turn when he suspects his wife of having an extramarital affair with a used-car salesman who is posing as a secret agent. He must now not only save the world but also save his own marriage.

My thoughts

This has everything you want from an Arnold Schwarzenegger action flick, so full of one-liners, a good amount of comedy, and much ass kicking. But it is not a conventional action flick, it is in fact an action film combined with a domestic comedy, two genres that not many people would ever think of combining.

But this is James Cameron, a man who is indisputably the king of making great films. And this is a great film, and perhaps what makes this film one of Arnie’s best non-terminator outings is the relationship between Schwarzenegger himself and his on-screen wife, who is played by Jamie Lee Curtis.

Basically Helen Tasker, wife of Harry Tasker, has no idea that Harry is a secret agent and in fact believes him to be an extremely boring computer salesman. Their marriage is dull, so dull that when a snake car salesman pretends to be a secret agent in an effort to lull her into bed, she falls for it.

Arnie’s Harry Tasker though, gets wind of this cue hilarity. Anyhow while hilariously trying to save his marriage he loses sight of his main mission which is of stopping a terrorist from using four nuclear warheads which have been smuggled into the US.

This leads to both he and his wife being kidnapped by the terrorists. Much kick ass’ery then ensues, along with much hilarity, perhaps two of the funniest moments coming firstly when Jamie Lee Curtis’ Helen Tasker drops a machine gun and it falls down a flight of stairs, in the process taking out all the terrorists, and then secondly later on in the film when the terrorists find themselves in a precarious position in a van which hangs over the edge of the bridge. They think that they are safe and that they are not going to fall over the edge, but then a bird lands on the bonnet. Guess what happens next, goodbye terrorists.

The best one-liner and the one to watch out for in this film inevitably comes at the end, it is not one of his best but is still highly effective. (Spoiler alert) While flying a fighter jet, the terrorist gets hung up on one of the rockets, before releasing the rocket and sending the terrorist to his doom, Arnie says, “you’re fired”, and he says it in that way that only Arnie can.

All in all this is a highly entertaining watch, and without a doubt one of Arnie’s best in the more slapstick style action hero genre. For that reason, along with the fact that it’s an Arnold Schwarzenegger film (I’m a big fan), from me it gets a big thumbs up.

​​Director: James Cameron

Writer: James Cameron

Genre: action, comedy, thriller

Year: 1994

​Runtime: 141 minutes