Been catching up with a few things via iPlayer/NetFlix. Not got a lot to say about most of them, but don’t read anything if you’re unspoiled and fussy so to remain.
X-Men: Days Of Future Past
Really enjoyed this, having only seen the Bishop-centric cartoon version before. Time travel done right, bone-clawed Wolverine, Dinklage great as Trask, film exactly as long as it needed to be and appearances or cameos from the entire X-Men cast. Only real complaints are that Jennifer Lawrence looked a bit bored and the redesigned Liberty Prime Sentinels lacked something. I’m still waiting for some proper chunky busting-out-of-the-frame, Kirby-krackle-tastic designs on film, as well as some Grant Morrison reinterpretations. Time for a newstyle hard reboot IMHO (not yet seen Age Of Apocalypse).
Watchmen [Theatrical version]
Stevenger‘s Journal. Yet another instance of me “accidentally” consuming media. I let this start playing, then couldn’t switch off, like how you can’t stop watching if you happen across Pulp Fiction when channel-hopping. The well-rehearsed flaws are still there (most awkward sex scene in movie history? Check!) yet sequences such as Dr Manhattan‘s origin/perception flashback or the interweaving of the mourners’ memories of The Comedian are really well done. Jackie Earl Haley‘s Rorschach is great. It’s surprisingly easy to forget that Zack Snyder did Watchmen on the cheap.
Big Trouble In Little China
Before watching I would have sworn I’ve seen this a few times (although not this millennium). As it was it rang few bells beyond the classic visuals. Kim Cattrall‘s character had more to do than I’d expected and was neither screamy nor feisty. I was also particularly amused by Kurt Russell getting Bilbo-ed out of a big fight. Main takeaway is how strange it was to see a heavily Chinese-American cast supporting a couple of whitebread stars.
Stranger Things [NetFlix Exclusive]
Not entirely sure about this eight-part series. It starts out necessarily leaning heavily on its influences, the ’80s, Stephen King, E.T., etc. It seems to want to be all things to all people at first, it’s supernatural, it’s a government conspiracy, it’s other worlds! Gets really good once it settles down and I particularly enjoyed the way Winona Ryder played her distressed mother character painfully straight, as opposed to most other characters more genre-pitched performances. The kids are believable and never cringy, which sounds like faint praise but is definitely the opposite. The ending is what it is. Not terrible, many people online seemed to love it. Certainly sufficient if they never make a second series, but I’d definitely prefer to have an ending and a Carrie-hand tease. Good, not great.
The Secret Agent
Had high hopes for this three-part Joseph Conrad adaptation with Toby Jones in the titular role. The first episode was solid but didn’t catch me, consequently I missed the other episodes. Watched them on catch-up though and very glad I did. Ian Hart‘s self-aggrandizing Mad Bomber character is fun to watch. The real joys come in the final episode though, which begins with Toby Jones being called to account and playing grotesque reminiscent of his biting turn as Mr Quilp in The Old Curiosity Shop. Performances through this episode are great and elevate a fairly-predictable self-contained story. Vicky McClure‘s character comes to the fore and is astounding in this episode. Suspect she must be tired of comparisons to Susan Lynch (Cracker, Ivanhoe, all sorts) by now. If you’ve only seen part of the series or can otherwise live with only a long recap give the final episode a watch.
Small UK comedy film set in a petrol-station robbery gone wrong starring the always good Adeel Akhtar who you know from Four Lions, Murdered By My Father and the wrong end of a grapefruit spoon in Utopia. Definitely enjoyed this, there were a few plot/dialogue touches which will tickle anyone unfortunate enough to have worked in a comparable position in their time, but it didn’t lean hard on the role like Clerks does. Manages to be funny without being trite and doesn’t outstay its welcome. The sales assistant is also Vicky McClure (see above). Apparently I’ve “discovered” a new actress, result!
And don’t call me Shirley!