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 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 Martian

Superb Story of Survival Told with a Positive Attitude

What it’s about

When astronauts blast off from the planet Mars, they leave behind Mark Watney (Matt Damon), presumed dead after a fierce storm. With only a meager amount of supplies, the stranded visitor must utilize his wits and spirit to find a way to survive on the hostile planet. Meanwhile, back on Earth, members of NASA and a team of international scientists work tirelessly to bring him home, while his crew mates hatch their own plan for a daring rescue mission.

My thoughts

One thing about this film right off the bat, the visuals are brilliant and it really does make you feel like Matt Damon’s character is trapped on Mars. In regards to the story, it is one of isolation but isolation with a positive attitude which means Matt Damon’s character never feels as isolated as he actually is trapped in hostile conditions one hundred and forty million miles from Earth.

Some could argue that that is a bad thing, but I’m not one of those as I believe that to survive such a situation a positive attitude would most definitely be needed and his positive attitude makes you truly believe that he can not only survive on Mars but make it back home.

That means that this is not one of those nitty-gritty doom and gloom I’m all alone films, this is one of those super positive attitude there is nothing I cannot achieve if I put my mind to it films. That means if anything goes wrong the lead character is just going to smile, get over it and solve the problem, then the next problem, then the next problem and so on. And I have to say a big fan of films like this as I do love a positive attitude.

In regards to the story, it is derived from the smash hit book of the same name which was written by Andy Weir back in 2011. What made the book so compelling was that it came about as a result of Andy Weir wanting to work out the logistics for a journey to Mars.

That led to him posting his chapters on his website as he wrote them, with his fellow science buff friends many of whom were highly skilled people nitpicking the science until the point that the book told a story that was extremely realistic in regard to both the science and the realities of both a mission to Mars and just how difficult it would be to save a person should they become stranded on Mars.

In one of the best things about the film, is that it has largely stayed true to the idea of using present-day science to tell a story of a person being trapped on Mars, along with how difficult it would be to save a person stranded on Mars, along with how difficult it would be for a person stranded on Mars to survive. That means this is to an extent a film which tells a realistic story. Meaning if you want to know how we would save a person trapped on Mars this film will within reason give you a good idea.

One thing I will say is that due to the type of story this is the main character spends the majority of the film alone, and one of the big dangers of doing this is that due to this fact it becomes a straight up bore fest, and what can make things worse is that often the character ends up talking to themselves but not in a natural way, in an exposition laden way. That means that rather than just showing us the story they end up having the main character telling us the story.

Thankfully director Ridley Scott has navigated this issue well, with the moments where Matt Damon talks to himself actually adding to the film, namely by not only showing just how positive he is but also by providing some excellent moments of comedic relief. And in a film that runs for close to 2 1/2 hours and in which for the most part the lead character is alone that is definitely a good thing.

All in all that means this is film with a positive attitude that uses realistic science to tell a story of how a man in the present day should he get trapped on Mars would both survive and be rescued, and the execution of the story is brilliant and for that reason along with the fact that this is good fun film to watch, from me it gets a big thumbs up.

​​Director: Ridley Scott

Writer: Drew Goddard, Andy Weir

Genre: adventure, drama, sci-fi

Year: 2015

​Runtime: 144 minutes

The Perfect Order in Which To Watch The Star Wars Movies

The order that makes the Star Wars movies that much better

There is much debate about what is the best order to watch the Star Wars movies, for example some people argue that they should be watched in chronological order which would be as follows:

Star Wars movies in chronological order

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (set ten years after episode one)

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (set three years after attack of the clones, and thirteen years after episode one)

Solo: A Star Wars Story (set about twenty years after episode one)

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (set thirty-two years after episode one)

Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (begins moments after rogue one ends, and thirty-two years after episode one)

Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (three years after A New Hope, and thirty-five years after episode one)

Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (set four years after Empire strikes back, and thirty-nine years after episode one)

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (set sixty-six years after episode one, and twenty-seven years after return of the Jedi)

Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (set in the same year as the previous film)

Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker (set a year after the previous film, and sixty-seven years after episode one)

Others argue that it is best to watch them in the order in which they were released which is as follows:

Star Wars movies in order of release

Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)

Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983)

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999)

Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002)

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2015)

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)

Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (2017)

Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)

Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)

But I don’t think either of the above orders are the best ways to watch the Star Wars movies, I believe that the following order is best:

The order that I think is best

Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)

Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999)

Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002)

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)

Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983)

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2015)

Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (2017)

Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)

Why this is the best order to watch the Star Wars movies

The first thing that you may have noticed about the above is likely that the Han Solo film, Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018), has been omitted. That is because it does not really feel a part of the main narrative and I only wanted to include films which are part of the main narrative.

The second thing you will probably have noticed is that Rogue One comes after a New Hope, when chronologically speaking Rogue One comes before a New Hope. The reason I prefer watching a New Hope first is because a New Hope sets the scene for the entire Star Wars saga.

It is this film that will most likely make a person either fall in love with Star Wars or decide that Star Wars is not for them. Therefore, in my view this film has to come first. It just has to. This film is what created the entire Star Wars world, so to not watch it first in my view just makes no sense.

In regards to why Rogue One should come second, Rogue One carries much more emotional weight when it comes after a New Hope, that is to say when you know the stakes and just what they really are up against the story of Rogue One really packs a punch. A much greater punch than if it is watched prior to a New Hope.

So for those reasons for me a New Hope needs to come before Rogue One. And after Rogue One needs to come the Empire Strikes Back, my reason for this is that again this is a massively important film in the Star Wars saga and a film which really brings the saga to life, so watching it early on in my view is really important.

What is also really important in my view is watching episodes 1 to 3 next. However, squeezing episodes 1 to 3 between Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi may seem questionable, but I assure you it is not and in fact makes perfect sense. Allow me to explain, in Empire Strikes Back we learn that Darth Vader is Luke’s father which perfectly sets up episode six, Return of the Jedi first – the film where Luke will try to bring his father back to the light.

And this is important, without episodes 1 to 3 we don’t know much about just who Darth Vader is, yet by watching episodes 1 to 3 after the Empire Strikes Back that changes, because we learn the tragic story of just how Anakin Skywalker became Darth Vader. And in doing so it sets us up perfectly for Return of the Jedi, which in my view carries much more emotional weight when you know just how Darth Vader became Darth Vader. And that’s because it tells us that there may just be some good in Darth Vader and that he might not be quite as bad as he seems, which perfectly ties in with the narrative of Luke believing that there is good in his father which is what the entire story of episode six Return of the Jedi is about.

But that’s not all, by watching episodes 1 to 3 at this point it gives us a proper look into the Emperor, just who he is and how he gained his power which helps to set the scene for just how much of a titanic battle it is going to be to overthrow the Emperor and free the Galaxy from his tyrannical rule. On top of that it also shows us just how much danger Luke is in regards to the Emperor’s attempts to turn him to the dark side. That is to say if he can turn Anakin maybe he truly can turn Luke.

So that’s why episodes 1 to 3 in my view are best watched squeezed between episodes five and six, they just carry so much more punch when watched at that point. In terms of what comes next, Disney’s contributions to the saga, episodes 7 to 9. The position of these are pretty much self-explanatory, though I have to be honest I was tempted to have these films at the beginning and that is because as enjoyable as the film’s are they are just not as good as the originals and you just cannot escape the feelgood factor that comes from finishing on episode six.

At the same time it is inescapable that story wise it just makes no sense to have them at the beginning hence why I somewhat reluctantly caved in and added them in their chronological place as the final three films. But if you’re not bothered about watching them in any form of chronological order I have to say I’m a big fan of watching these three films first so that you can finish on episode six.

And that’s because despite the lukewarm reaction to them by many, they are enjoyable films and they also are a great way to get yourself back into the mood for watching the original saga. And even if you’ve never watched the saga before they are a great way to introduce yourself to it in readiness to watch the originals.

I’m almost selling myself this order against the one that I have chosen, which is really the problem with the Star Wars films, there are many great ways in which to watch them. But in this post I want very much to focus on the best order story wise and that in my view is the order that I presented above.

With that said that’s me done, let me know if you agree or disagree!

Don’t Let Go

A Film That Will Pleasantly Surprise You

What it’s about

Detective Jack Radcliff gets a shocking phone call from his recently murdered niece Ashley. Working together across time, they race to solve the crime before it can happen.

My thoughts

The time travel genre has been done to death over the years which makes finding a new angle from which to use time travel difficult, but this film manages to do just that, the story feeling both fresh and unique.

However, it should be noted this film is a slow starter and many could miss out as a result by switching off too soon. That would be a mistake, because once this film gets going it doesn’t hold back, David Oyelowo and Storm Reid respectively putting in solid performances as detective Jack Radcliff and his niece Ashley.

It’s not a film that’s going to change your life, but it is a film that will pleasantly surprise you. The idea of getting a phone call from your dead niece who is alive and well in the past after all is a mind-boggling notion in its own right, and writer/director Jacob Estes does not miss a beat in using this to build a substantial amount of suspense.

It is perhaps let down a little by the ending where the bad guy played by Mykelti Williamson so freely chases after the young Storm Reid’s character with a shotgun seeming not to care about being seen.

But this should not be held against it as it is after all not a big budget film. Also unlike the majority of time travel films these days it completely avoids any forms of explanation about how the time travel works. This means there is zero technical jargon to be afraid of nor much exposition to worry about.

All in all this is a decent story with a great premise which makes for an entertaining evening watch, which means it gets a solid thumbs up from me.

​​Director: Jacob Estes

Writer: Jacob Estes and Drew Daywalt

Genre: drama, horror, mystery

Year: 2019

​Runtime: 107 minutes