Thursday, April 25

Film: Avengers: Endgame Click for more info

Avengers: Endgame is a film that fulfills what it set out to do - to be the conclusion to a saga spanning 21 previous films released over a decade. Although it manages this mammoth task perfectly, it doesn't quite manage to do so while being a technically good film in itself.

Of course, the film's making was unusual - Brie Larson has already told us that her first scene as Captain Marvel was from Endgame (spoiler: who is still a badass by the way), and you can almost see the seams in the patchwork of the way in which the film must have been shot. The acting is fine, the plot a little thin and the pacing off, but the action exceeds what we've seen before. Given the circumstances, it's all the best it can be.

But it would be useless to judge this as a film since it would never be seen as one. No, this is a final chapter, a deliverance, a closure of sorts, with a third act that's worth any flaws in not only this film but in the whole of the MCU altogether. The tears I shed and the communal cheers I joined in with weren't because of any technical quality in film-making but because it knew exactly how to push the button it's been building for so long. The term "fan-service" comes no where near in describing what this movie provides.

Before watching this tonight I was already planning my second viewing. And three hours later and I'm no longer sure if that will happen. This is not going to be a classic in itself, and probably won't even hold up as one of the better MCU movies. But what it is is an essential chapter in the Infinity Saga, and the perfect end to a classic series.

Tuesday, April 16

Film: Hellboy Click for more info

Hellboy is a mess. In fact it's more than that. It's an example of how, given an idea with lots of potential, that the making of the film cannot be taken for granted. We're firmly in the age of superheroes now, there really shouldn't be any excuse for doing it badly. Yet here we are. If anything it goes to show just how well placed the appreciation for a good MCU flick is.

To the point though: Hellboy is a confused, badly produced, and flat film. It's not even "so bad its good" - I fully expect the film to be forgotten within the next few months. As much as emotion shouldn't be present in a review, it is more sad than anything else.

Please avoid.

Tuesday, April 9

Film: Shazam! Click for more info

It's not that I dislike "silly" superhero movies - Aquaman was silly in the right way and there's plenty of further examples in the MCU - but there was something very childlike about Shazam! It wasn't the plot or the story (this is essentially a coming of age flick), but more about how the whole thing was put together.

I've recently started recognising the three act structure in films, and I think in those terms the biggest mishap in the film was the sloppy second and third act merging into one. This in turn threw off the pace of the film somewhat, and even took away from it's pretty good ending.

In conclusion then Shazam! was a decent watch if a bit forgettable - and although it's unclear if it resides in the DCEU it remains to be seen if this is a temporary misfire or a taste of what's to come.

Saturday, April 6

Book: The Five Love Languages, Gary Chapman Click for more info

Self help books are always going to be controversial. Some people will swear by them, others will see them as a con, or the monetisation of common sense. Add to this that the book might be about love and relationships and it's inevitable to be the centre of an explosive discussion.

The truth is that, as with a lot of non fiction books of this nature, they're not for everyone. If you're good at relationships or are clearly emotionally intelligent, then a lot that you'll see in a book like this will be obvious or even vacuous. Similarly I can imagine someone who is naturally and innately into fitness rolling their eyes at dieting advice.

As in previous books of this type, the main thing I took away from The Five Love Languages was a framework with which to think about the subject of relationships and marriage. From that perspective, I found the book to be great in its analysis, but perhaps a little lacking in the solutions it offers. This could be because the book is a couple of decades old now. I found the classification of the five languages pretty striking and perhaps even obvious, and was even able to go as far as to recognise which ones I would most associate with myself.

So in many ways the naysayers might be right - the stuff in here is pretty obvious. But so is most things that people don't know, and as a piece of informal academia (rather than a practical guide to saving one's marriage), I think the book was a useful one.

Tuesday, April 2

Film: Eaten By Lions Click for more info

I was always hoping for too much.

Looking at the trailer, I think it's fair to have expected something different - we have Omar and his half brother Pete, on a journey to find Omar's estranged Asian father. The set up is a strong one, but it was probably my own naivety and hope for a brown/Muslim British comedy that would actually hit the mark that convinced me to give it the benefit of the doubt.

But no, once again brown- and Muslim-ness was at times just used as a prop for other comedy but mainly not even used at all. The same film could probably have been made using any other context. That said, there was the Indian Wedding outro so at least we had that.

A film not worth watching I'm afraid.