Blackhat – The Review

Contains possible spoilers

Cyber thrillers can fall flat if they slip into the realms of cliche, but thankfully Blackhat gets the cardinal sin out the way early: assorted close up tracking shots of data transfer through chips and microscopic tech landscapes.

Chris Hemsworth is terrific as Nicholas Hathaway, the ace hacker released from prison to help the US government find the villain responsible for a nuclear power plant meltdown in Hong Kong.
Chicago’s Mercantile Trade Exchange is also hacked, causing soy futures to soar. Okay, less urgent but relevant to the plot, which was reminiscent of 007 epic A View To A Kill.

With the aid of Nicholas’s old mate, Captain Chen Dawai, a military officer in China’s cyber warfare unit, and his sister Lien, they set off with Hathaway to find their man.

Hathaway is the world’s least likely hacker seeing as he looks like a Norse god, but it scarcely matters; viewers will be just itching for the moment he beats up a bunch of assailants in a restaurant.

The first act is nothing special as director Michael Mann sets out his stall and lets his tale unfold.

Viola Davis is terrific as FBI Agent Carol Barrett, the figure of authority keeping an eye on Hathaway and slowly developing respect for him. (There’s a back story about 9/11 shoehorned in to give her a little depth, but she does rather well in a generic role).

Tang Wei, who plays our hero’s love interest, is good not great. I’d have preferred Maggie Q or Gong Li in the role, but she looks nice, while the action scenes are okay.
A shootout at a dockside dragged on a bit, but thankfully not as long as the one in Michael Mann’s Heat.

That’s the last time I sat through a Mann movie at the cinema, 20 years ago, and given his hit-and-miss output, I’ve not been desperate to soak up his big screen output.
(For me he peaked with 1992’s The Last of the Mohicans, but this is possibly his best work since then).

It’s not perfect. There was some confusion over a character’s death in the second act, possibly intentional, and an incendiary scene was framed like many exploding car shots: long shot, characters on the left, vehicle on the right. Boom. Textbook.

Just once I’d like to see a car explode behind characters, instead of it being framed to capture the hard work of the pyro experts.
There’s also a scene when Hathaway makes his way through a procession with gun drawn, and nobody bats an eyelid. Personally I’d have run a mile.

Blackhat is not the best thriller of the past 12 months, but it ticks over nicely and sustains the interest. However, without Hemsworth dominating every scene, it would have been a weak rejig of Swordfish.

20 Thoughts on 50 Shades of Grey

The Fifty Shades of Grey adaptation was bound to generate a lot of controversy. If you’ve seen the film or don’t want to read any potential spoilers, then perhaps best go somewhere else. For those that have seen the movie, or just don’t care, here are some of my observations on the most talked about film of the year.

  • One: The amazing Rita Ora is sadly barely in it. She has about two lines, and the second one was unintelligible.
  • Two: Jamie Dornan (Grey) looks a lot like Andrew Garfield. Take note casting agents looking for a new Spidey.
  • Three: It reminded me of The Thomas Crown Affair remake, a game of sexual cat and mouse complete with dreamy glider sequence.
  • Four: I wished Anastasia had become more prepared for that interview in the first few minutes. Yes, she might have been filling in for a friend, but her lack of preparation really bugged me. Imagine Mark Addy commenting on Jennifer (Flashdance) Beals’ welding in The Full Monty and you get the idea of how I felt.
  • Five: Part of the interview reminded me of Superman: The Movie. If Christian had picked Anastasia up and flown off into the sky it would not have surprised me.
  • Six: This is probably the raunchiest A list movie to be seen on the big screen since Basic Instinct in 1992. It also has the same effect of scoffing a chilli.
  • Seven: That soundtrack is fabulous. The OST is bound to shift millions of units in the coming weeks, though if someone has an idea how to get Ellie Goulding’s track out of my head I’m all ears.
  • Eight: The NHS had better be ready for a baby boom in November. It’s that sort of a movie.
  • Nine: There’s no end of visual double entendres. Such as Christian Grey has got an amazing chopper. The fact he can fly himself is an added bonus.
  • 10: I guarantee millions will a) like the wallpaper (with a caged bird) in Anastasia’s ‘Recovery’ room; b) wonder if they sell it in Next and c) if it’s cheaper online.
  • 11) Why does Christian get rid of Anastasia’s Volkswagen Beetle and replace it with a really dull generic car? Is it because he is such a controlling freak, or does he have no sense for quirky cars that reflect a woman’s individuality?
  • 12) It’s based on Twilight fan fiction, which you probably already knew, but did you know that when Christian taps Anastasia on her derriere, it seems she has an internal buttock speaker that activates Beyonce? Technology these days!
  • 13) That ending will leave a lot of cinemagoers tutting into their popcorn as they realise they have to wait an age for the inevitable sequel. And no doubt the final book will be split into two so that filmmakers can generate even more cash.
  • 14) That ending also might have been better with the EastEnders drumbeats.
  • 15) The scene where Anastasia goes through Grey’s complicated contract would have been a lot less interesting if it was the iTunes agreement for her new Mac.
  • 16) The film is surprisingly funny. However, it might have been a lot funnier with the Benny Hill theme played over the top.
  • 17) The row of girls in front of me who thought it was fine to spend half the movie on Facebook really bugged me.
  • 18) QR codes are really handy for getting into a screen without having to mention the film’s name to the attendant.
  • 19) Callum Keith Rennie (Anastasia’s dad) wouldn’t tell me a thing about the movie when I interviewed him last year. Fair enough. He has one scene at a party in case you’re interested. Never has such a dull aspect about an actor’s role in a film been so closely guarded.
  • 20) Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but Anastasia almost being knocked down by a literally vicious cycle marks the beginning of another personal one.
    This is also one of the most unintentionally hilarious scenes in the film. It’s up there with Anakin’s seduction of Amidala in Attack of the Clones, but thankfully there is no cheesy dialogue about how Christian doesn’t like sand because it’s coarse. Though given his predilections he probably loves sandpaper, and luckily for him Anastasia works in a hardware store. I wonder if he bothers with a Nectar card?

50 Shades of Grey: The review

So that was the most talked about adult film of the year then, a long awaited version of the EL James best seller – S&M for the M&S market. (I imagine a few of their brass curtain rings and drape ties will fly off the shelves in the coming weeks.)

Of course Marks’s has nothing to do with the most designer dodgy movie since Mickey Rourke spent Nine-and-a-half weeks with Kim Basinger in the mid-1980s.

Instead we have assorted nice cars, aircraft and interesting hardware used in Christian Grey’s seduction game.
Back in the 1970s, this sort of movie was reserved for the dirty mac brigade. Now it’s more for Apple Mac aficionados.

50 Shades could have been one long designer advert with kinky bits, but like Fatal Attraction, this has more substance.
I’ve read a chapter of the book (couldn’t cope with any more of that awful dialogue), but thought the movie was solidly made and well cast (though Michael Fassbender would have been a better Grey).

However, newcomer Dakota Johnson is terrific as Anastasia Steele; her character’s journey from virginal English literature student to experimental submissive is a curious one spiked with lashings of humour; her giggles lighten the mood in all the right places, and when she does get her kit off she thankfully doesn’t look like a supermodel or a gym-obsessed narcissist with rock hard abs.

Admittedly after the third time she was sans kit I did get the urge to yell: “Put some clothes on love, you’ll catch your death”; I’m of that age when protecting your kidneys from chills takes precedence over eroticism.
Of course purists are bound to pick apart differences between the book and movie. As an outsider, 50 Shades was great entertainment which ticked the most important box for any movie: it had the courage of its own convictions.

It was also good to see an innocent female protagonist who thankfully wasn’t exploited in such a ’twilight’* world; she turned out to be Grey’s sexual equal.
Steele may have spent part of the movie tied up, but Anastasia was far more in control than her emotionally scarred tycoon boyfriend.
(He might be a kinky fetishist but he’s also gallant enough to hold a girl’s hair back when she’s throwing up on his designer shoes).

We’ve seen plenty of Young Adult franchises started in recent years, so good to see an adult literary saga make the successful transfer to the big screen and leave the viewer wanting more.
Hopefully the inevitable follow ups will be as edgy and entertaining.

20 Thoughts on 50 Shades of Grey
One: the amazing Rita Ora is sadly barely in it. She has about two lines, and the second one was indistinguishable.

Two: Jamie Dornan (Grey) looks a lot like Andrew Garfield. Take note casting agents looking for a new Spidey.

Three: It reminded me of The Thomas Crown Affair remake, a game of sexual cat and mouse complete with dreamy glider sequence.

Four: I wished Anastasia had become more prepared for that interview in the first few minutes. Yes, she might have been filling in for a friend, but her lack of preparation really bugged me.

Five: Part of the interview reminded me of Superman: The Movie. If Christian had picked Anastasia up and flown off into the sky it would not have surprised me.

Six: This is probably the raunchiest A list movie to be seen on the big screen since Basic Instinct in 1992. It also has the same effect of scoffing a chilli.
Seven: The soundtrack is fabulous. The OST is bound to shift millions of units in the coming weeks.

Eight: The NHS had better be ready for a baby boom in November. It’s that sort of a movie.

Nine: There is no end of double entendres. Such as Christian Grey has got an amazing chopper. The fact he can fly himself is an added bonus.

10: I guarantee millions will a) like the wallpaper (with a caged bird) in Anastasia’s room; b) wonder if they sell it in Next and c) if it’s cheaper online.

11) Why does Christian Grey get rid of Anastasia’s Volkswagen Beetle and replace it with a really dull generic car?

12) *It’s based on Twilight fan fiction.

13) That ending will leave a lots of cinemagoers tutting into their popcorn as they realise they have to wait an age for the inevitable sequel.

14) That ending also might have been better with the EastEnders drumbeats.

15) The scene where Anastasia goes through Grey’s complicated contract would have been a lot less interesting if it was the iTunes agreement for her new Mac.

16) The film is surprisingly funny. However, it might have been a a lot funnier with the Benny Hill theme played over the top.

17) The row of girls in front of me who thought it was fine to spend half the movie on Facebook really bugged me.

18) QR codes are really handy for getting into a screen without having to mention the film’s name to the attendant.

19) Callum Keith Rennie (Anastasia’s dad) wouldn’t tell me a thing about the movie when I interviewed him last year. Fair enough. He has one scene at a party in case you’re interested.

20) Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but Anastasia almost being knocked down by a literally vicious cycle marks the beginning of another personal one.

Wedding day – a screenplay

The camera is locked off and fixed on an oblong room, approximately eight feet high by 20 feet.
Sat huddled in mid conversation are JAKE, a 20 something Latino and Agatha (aka AGA), a forty something Caucasian woman. Also stood in the room, scraping away in the top right of the back wall is MOOT, a mute twenty something woman.
Very slowly, the camera starts to pull back. It’s almost imperceptible at first but during the course of the drama, we realise there is something beyond the frame.
The quality of the film also starts to degrade a little over the passing minutes until the reveal.

JAKE: …So we know there’s no way in through the walls. How about we try the floor and ceiling?
AGA: I tried that for three hours before you woke up. It’s sealed shut. I’ve no idea how THEY did it, but we’re locked in here.
MOOT gives up scratching away at the eroded panel on the wall. A letter O has been revealed. The other three letters are indistinguishable.
She starts pacing up and down the room.
AGA: Would you stop doing that? You’re using up the oxygen.
JAKE: How do you know she understands English?
AGA: She knows, regardless of the language. She may not talk, but she knows.
Beat
JAKE: So tell me more about this job of yours.
AGA sighs and puts her glasses back on.
AGA: I’m a particle physicist working on the Hadron collider in Geneva.
JAKE: Right: That thing that smashes particles together and creates black holes.
AGA: That’s the one.
JAKE: So tell me. I’ve seen that film about a space ship that creates black holes as a sort of warp drive. Is it true that if this collider thing gets turned on, it will create a black hole and a gateway to another dimension?
AGA: (Smiles) The first bit’s true…that it’ll create a black hole, but the second bit isn’t.
JAKE: So you mean life the universe and everything won’t get sucked into it?
AGA: Nope. We’ll recreate the effect of the big bang, or at least what happened a millisecond after the big bang.
JAKE: And we won’t get sucked into a world where everyone gets possessed?
AGA: Believe me, noone will be more surprised than me if we create a gateway to Hell.
MOOT is scratching around at the ceiling and gestures for the others to look.
AGA: What is it?
JAKE: Could be a way out?
They gather around staring at the ceiling.
The viewer can barely make out the numbers scratched into the ceiling, but AGA soon fills us in.
AGA: 1622
JAKE: What do you reckon that means. Our room number?
AGA: Could be. If we could just find a phone I could ring down for room service.
JAKE: 1622. Could be historically important.
AGA: Maybe. Could be the number of bricks used to make the room. Who knows?
JAKE: Sounds like the number of notches on my bedpost (laughs).
AGA doesn’t look impressed. MOOT sighs.
JAKE: Oh come on ladies. Lighten up. It could be worse.
AGA: We’ve been trapped in a room for six hours, maybe more, with two strangers. I have no idea whether you’ve kidnapped me for some sick game or you’re as innocent as me. Oh, and all I’ve eaten for hours is popcorn.
JAKE: Well I don’t want to be personal love but it looks like you could afford to lose a few pounds.
AGA: If this is your way of charming me, you might want to try another tack.
Beat.
MOOT starts searching the room again.
AGA: There must be air getting in here somewhere. I mean she’s been pacing for hours and I don’t feel too bad.
JAKE: So if there’s air, there’s an air vent. And you know what air vents mean…
AGA: That we can get out?
JAKE: Of course. Don’t you know that all air vents lead somewhere?
AGA: In the movies they might. Alas, this is the real world.
JAKE: Well I’m going to try and find it.
JAKE gets up and runs his hand along the walls trying to find a breeze. Eventually he finds a sealed off grill.
JAKE: This’ll be it then. Maybe if I chip away at it for a bit, we can loosen some of the other bricks.
AGA: I hate to break this to you but you’ll need a sledgehammer to get through that.
JAKE: Yep, maybe you’re right (sarcastically). Best just leave it then eh?
Beat
AGA: No, it was a good idea. But I’m betting there’s an easier way out than that.
Beat
JAKE: 1622. Do you reckon that’s how many days we’ll be here?
AGA: Could be the number of previous inmates.
JAKE: Or the number of hours.
Beat.
AGA, MOOT and JAKE all collect in the centre of the room.
AGA: What if it’s the time?
JAKE: The time we’re let out?
AGA: Maybe. Or the time something happens.
JAKE: Like me getting married. Actually that is 2pm. Or was.
AGA: Sorry my friend, but this is the mother of all stag night jokes.
JAKE: You’re telling me. Maybe Carrie’s dad did this. He’s never liked me.
AGA: With your reputation? I wonder why?
JAKE: Okay, I may have sown a few wild oats, but I think it’s important to try on a few pairs of shoes before you know what size you are.
AGA: And other such cliched analogies.
JAKE: Indeed. So, 1622. Something happened in the year 1622 that affects us.
AGA: Or at 1622. 4.22pm
Beat
Nodding all round.
MOOT returns to the wall and manages to scratch away some of the grime and filth from the wall plaque.
AGA helps her and after a few minutes the letter M is revealed.
AGA: OM
JAKE: Didn’t know you were a Buddhist.
AGA: Four letters…something OM something.
JAKE: Crosswords were never my thing.
AGA: Never thought they were.
MOOT takes a nail from the floor and starts scratching a picture on the wall.
AGA: What is it?
JAKE: It’s a nail.
AGA: Funnyman. I think our mutual friend has figured out the puzzle.
TOMB
AGA: Hmm. Not quite the answer I was looking for.
JAKE: Come on Ms Scientist. You make black holes for a living. This should be easy.
AGA: Yes, well sometimes I’m so focused on particles, I miss the bigger picture.
JAKE: Well, looks like the last letter is a B after all. Could be Tomb.
Beat

AGA: Or Bomb.
There’s a long pause. Panic sets in. JAKE starts frantically pacing.
JAKE: Oh man. That’s perfect. I get blown to kingdom come on my wedding day. It must be payback for the time I…
AGA: Calm down. It might not be bomb.
There’s suddenly the sound of ticking in the room.
AGA: Hear that?
JAKE: Sure it’s not your pace maker?
AGA: No, it’s ticking. It’s some sort of counter.
JAKE: Like a clock.
AGA: Could be.
JAKE: So if it is a bomb, we can diffuse it right?
AGA: Possibly. 1622 could be the detonation time.
JAKE: What time is it now?
AGA: About 30 minutes since you last asked me. Funnily enough, I haven’t managed to create a watch out of thin air since then.
JAKE: Okay, so what about if the ticking is actually a clock. We just need to find the clock, right?
MOOT nods.
Eventually they find a cheap radio alarm rigged up to plastic explosives. All encased in a sealed Perspex box.
AGA: C4.
JAKE: Looks like Plasticine to me.
AGA: Play with this and your wife will be opening you beer bottles for the rest of you life.
JAKE: So, how much do you reckon there is?
AGA: Enough to take out this entire room.
JAKE: I had a feeling you’d say that.
AGA: Well, at least we know what the time is now.
JAKE: 1600. 4pm.
AGA: So if we have 22 minutes left we can either stare at the clock for the rest of our lives or try and disable it.
JAKE: Sounds like a plan. All we need to do is get into the box.
AGA: I have enough problems getting into vacuum packed blister packs. This should be tricky.
MOOT picks up the box and gingerly examines it from all sides before slamming it against the wall in frustration.
The clock counter changes to 1610.
JAKE: Great.
So my last 21 minutes on Earth is now more like 12. Cheers,
MOOT collapses in the corner sobbing.
AGA comforts her.
AGA: It’s ok. The thing obviously has a trigger mechanism, like a pedometer. Moving it accelerates the clock. I suggest we don’t move it or make too many vibrations.
They sit in silence for a minute.
JAKE: Okay, we can’t move it. What about if we drown it?
AGA: With what?
JAKE: We could pee in a bucket.
AGA: If we had a bucket. That gets taken off us every time we go to the loo.
JAKE: Well I’d spit on it if I had any spit.
AGA: I don’t think that would help somehow but thanks for the suggestion.
JAKE: What time is it?
AGA: Time we came up with a plan. I have work to do outside this room and I don’t fancy spending my last few minutes being the speaking clock for you.
Beat
JAKE: So how come you know so much about explosives anyway?
AGA: Don’t you watch action movies?
JAKE: Not really. I’m usually too busy.
AGA: I have a wasted youth watching bad thrillers. First time I saw plastic explosive I wondered why the hero was shoving a metal thing into a lump of modelling clay. Then it went off. I thought it was amazing.
JAKE: Sounds like you have first hand experience.
AGA: I went to a military base once as field research. They were using it there.
JAKE: Research? Into what?
Pause.
AGA: That was a long time ago.
JAKE: You sure it was research?
AGA: Okay, it was a little more than that.
JAKE: Do tell.
Beat
AGA: Let’s just say I got in with a bad crowd while trying to pay off some debts.
JAKE: Ahaa,
AGA: No, Aga.
JAKE: Funnywoman. And you dabbled in explosives?
AGA: Maybe. I mixed with some shady outfit in London who said they were on a mission.
JAKE: Terrorists?
AGA: I didn’t ask. I had loan sharks breathing down my neck and had 24 hours to pay them or they were going to take my house; my car…
Beat
JAKE: I’m speechless. I thought you were the upstanding member of society and instead you’re helping ne’er do wells create black holes in the world.
AGA: It’s not something I’m proud of.
JAKE: Good. So it looks like we have your reason for being here. Why they want me and Marcel Marceau over there is anyone’s guess.
AGA: If I could turn back the clock…
JAKE smiles.
JAKE: Me too professor.
They start fiddling with the box, trying to create a gap in the Perspex big enough to crack open.
AGA: So what’s your story? Any skeletons in the closet?
JAKE: Nope.
AGA: You sure?
JAKE: I’m as pure as the driven.
Beat
JAKE: Though there was that one time…
AGA: Thought so.
JAKE: Look, she told me she was single.
AGA: Married woman?
JAKE: Sort of.
AGA: Married or not. There’s no sort of.
JAKE: She was estranged.
AGA: Ah. Jealous husband then.
JAKE: Sort of.
AGA: And he didn’t take kindly to you seeing his wife behind his back.
JAKE: She said it was over.
AGA: Guess she was lying. Or only half right. So what’s her husband do?
JAKE: He’s a designer.
AGA: Ah. Of what?
JAKE: Er…
AGA: Er? Of what Romeo?
JAKE: Bank vaults.
AGA smiles.
JAKE: You reckon?
AGA: Possibly.
JAKE: Hmm.
AGA: So that just leaves our silent friend.
By this time the camera has pulled back to reveal a white border. The tension is thick as the clock hits 16:21. JAKE and AGA desperately try to stop the bomb before it’s too late but they realise they can’t stop it.
As the clock hits 1622 they cover their faces.
Beat
Silence.
Nothing.
JAKE: Er, so what happened to the big bang?
AGA: Maybe it malfunctioned?
JAKE: Maybe it’s running late?
AGA: Or…
JAKE: Or…what?
AGA: Or maybe there’s more to this than meets the eye.
They both turn and look at MOOT.

AGA: What’s your story sweetheart. What is it you’re not…er telling us?
She looks up, sighs and comes over to them and starts scratching on the floor with a nail.
JAKE: Ooh I love charades. What is that? A computer?
AGA: You’re a computer programmer?
MOOT waggles her hand.
AGA: Web designer?
MOOT nods.
JAKE: Wow, you’re good.
AGA: I know. I smash particles together for a living. Charades is simple.
JAKE: Ok, sounds like…(Tugs his ear) someone has delusions of grandeur.
AGA: So you’re a web designer. What sort?
The border becomes a picture frame of whiteness. The film has become grainy and we realise we’re watching a YouTube style website.
AGA: Oh my God.
JAKE: What is it?
AGA jumps up and starts waving her hands at the fourth wall (aka us, the viewer).
AGA: STOP WATCHING!
JAKE: Did I miss something?
AGA: STOP WATCHING! TURN OFF.
MOOT sits sobbing.
JAKE: No, no, what is it?
AGA: 1622 wasn’t the time the bomb went off…
JAKE: What then?
The camera pulls back to reveal the hit counter:
1620.
JAKE: Oh. I see.
Ends

Jupiter Ascending – The Review

Popular culture has taught us many things about right and wrong over the years. We have learned that Bucks Fizz’s camera never lies, and neither do Shakira’s hips. Now, thanks to the glorious bonkersness that is Jupiter Ascending and Sean Bean, we discover that bees never lie either.

The latest movie from the Wachowski siblings is full of amazing lines such as that. Sadly, it is also full of absolute clunkers. If the talented double act need anything it’s a good script editor, but it seems they are the only two people in this multi million dollar production who had any idea of what was going on.

This in a nutshell is the plot: Mila Kunis is a drop dead gorgeous half Russian/Chicago cleaner. One day, her friend with rock hard abs who likes to parade around in her underwear is assaulted by diaphanous aliens.
Mila, a.k.a. the brilliantly named Jupiter Jones, takes a photo, but the split second she has she completely forgets all about it. We the audience are left wondering why she’s not reacted at all.

Her scumbag relative wants her eggs harvested so he can make money, and is gracious enough that she gets a lesser cut.
Jupiter wants to buy a telescope that her dad had once owned, before he is shot dead by muggers.

So she agrees to her relative’s idea and goes in to have the operation.
However, the doctors carrying out the procedure are actually aliens in disguise. But before they can execute their nefarious plans, half dog man Channing Tatum flies in on jet boots and defeats them. I am not making this up.

Then, in a scene reminiscent of the first Terminator movie, Tatum explains the bulk of the plot to an understandably bemused Jupiter.

Mila spends a lot of this movie in that state. Many people would probably be gobsmacked, screaming at the top of their lungs, or just in denial about the whole extraordinary enterprise. However, Kunis looks like she’s watching a magician who has just pulled a rabbit out of a hat, something she has probably seen 100 times before.

They go off to see Stinger (Sean Bean adding necessary gravitas to the movie).
Because bees never lie, we realise that Mila/Jupiter is a queen destined for great things.
In the hour or so that follows, Eddie Redmayne pops up as a posh intergalactic member of some royal dynasty… or something.

As this is a Wachowski siblings movie, it turns out that a malevolent race are obsessed once more with harvesting humans for their own ends. Talk about The Matrix… Reloaded.

The last time I saw Redmayne on screen was a few weeks earlier in The Theory of Everything, a movie that upset and affected me so much I could barely speak for the first 10 minutes afterwards. I really couldn’t believe this is the same actor.
His performance as Stephen Hawking was one of the most stunning turns I’ve ever seen. Here he delivers a massive ham and cheese sandwich of a performance with extra filling, while egg drips from his face.

For the most part, Jupiter Ascending is a lot of fun and a feast for the eyes; Michael Giacchino’s bombastic score accentuates the action, and the special effects are often superb.
I could have done with out the obvious homage to Terry Gilliam‘s Brazil. It’s no coincidence that he appears in a cameo; the filmmakers also reference Central Services – the company at the heart of his movie, as well as the integral 27B/6 form.

I could have also done with out the animal human hybrids such as the space pilot with the head of an elephant and lizard men who look like refugees from the Super Mario Bros movie.

I’d be amazed if this didn’t feature heavily in the next Razzie awards. The scene in the finale where a key character’s wings unfurl is one of the most laughable I’ve witnessed in a major film over the past 12 months.
However, the filmmakers deserve full marks for effort, even though the result was flawed.

I would have also changed that title to Jupiter Descending (and Asking Lots of Questions) as Mila spends most of the time screaming in freefall.

Kingsman: The Secret Service – The review

A few months ago I was on the set of a low budget British movie called Slapper and Me. Wandering around the soundstages was a young actor with the air of someone who was destined for great things. He looked like the sort of bloke breathing rarefied air.
After looking at his CV on IMDb, I saw he was set to appear in the new film from Mathew Vaughn and was intrigued.
Fast forward to now, and we have one of the most audacious British movies seen in many a year.
Thrilling fight scenes, dapper secret agents, gadgets galore and some of the filthiest dialogue to ever grace a Bond-inspired movie.
Welcome to Kingsman: The Secret Service, Vaughn’s splendid homage to classic gentleman spy capers such as John Steed’s Avengers, 007 and assorted other genre classics.
Colin Firth is a perfect fit as Harry Hart, the agent who owes a debt to his dead colleague.
So after paying his widow (Samantha Womack) a visit, years later, grown up tearaway ’Eggsy’ (Taron Egerton) calls in Hart’s debt; he gets Eggsy out of prison after a joy riding incident.
Every Bond-inspired fantasy adventure needs a megalomaniac ready to take over the world, and a lisping Samuel L Jackson clearly has a great time as the obligatory bad guy.
With his slinky female sidekick, and her lethal artificial feet, the duo are a formidable match for Hart and Eggsy as they plan a global cull via Sim cards.
The first half of the movie feels like Vaughn’s previous hit, X-Men: First Class. Training exercises to get the young protagonists up to speed, followed by a do-or-die mission in which they get to execute said skills.
But there are also standout set pieces that linger in the mind long after the closing credits have rolled. In this case there is a scene in a church that has to be seen to be believed.
Harry Hart’s assault on the congregation makes it one of the most jawdropping scenes of recent years, while you’ll never hear Lyrnrd Skynyrd’s Freebird in the same way again.
Then there is that thrilling finale. It clearly owes a debt more to Austin Powers or Keith Lemon rather than any Ian Fleming creation.
There are no Bond-style double entendres here. Vaughan and cowriter Jane Goldman set their juvenile stall out amid brilliant flashing lights just in case you didn’t get the innuendo.
Co-star Michael Caine clearly had it written into his contract that he could play the whole movie sat down, while there is good support from Mark Strong, Mark Hamill and Jack Davenport among others.
Halfway through Kingsman, I was having such a good time I thought I could watch this again. And although I probably would have changed that final derriere-centric scene, this is great entertainment made by a team at the top of their game.
It might not be by Royal approval, but judging by the fact my screening was almost sold out, I imagine it will go down a storm with the masses, even if some do come out shocked.

General Chaos, Ginger Cats And Gone Girl’s Emily Ratajkowski

So it’s a typical Tuesday morning. There’s a light frosting of snow on the ground, I’ve got an interview with one of the world’s most famous models in a few minutes. Having Dysoned up the telephone lead a few weeks ago, now it chooses the moment not to work.

I think wrapping tape around the damaged lead will do the trick, but it seems to just want to tease me, going off and on again.

The massive pack of batteries I bought for my dictaphone the other week, having been present in the drawer for as long as I can remember, has now done a vanishing act worthy of David Blaine.

Oh, and on top of all that, the cheeky ginger cat who regularly decides to break into my house has done so, and has brought most of my fridge top contents crashing down.

If wonderful things come from chaos, then this should be one of the greatest interviews of all time.

Thankfully, when my mobile finally rings and I manage to tread gingerly over the ginger cat – a lot more lively than the one in Gone Girl apparently – and the various power leads, and grab my iPad where I’d written a load of notes, normality is restored.

The interview goes off remarkably well. Ginger cat has vanished, my two dictaphones last the duration of our chat, there is no sudden knock at the door, earthquake, or emergency that interrupts my few minutes with Emily Ratajkowski.

I am one of the last people in the world, 67 million and counting, that saw her performance in the Robin Thicke video for blurred lines.

#controversial

Having just watched it, as research you understand, I can see why Ben Affleck thought she would be perfect for a role in Gone Girl, one of director David Fincher’s most financially successful films.

I’m not going to tell you who she portrays, in case you’ve not seen the film or read the internationally successful bestseller by Gillian Flynn. Safe to say she’s an integral part in the story.

It’s a few months since I first saw the movie, and because of the nature of the story, it’s one of those movies that deserves a second look so you can see it in a different context.

An added bonus on the Blu-ray special edition, aside from insightful commentary by Fincher, is a copy of Amazing Amy, One of the kids’ storybooks at the heart of the movie.
It’s one of the strangest marketing additions to any Blu-ray I’ve seen in recent years. An accompanying book on a 18 certificate movie seemingly targeted at a five-year-old.
A little like buying a copy of Child’s Play, the classic 1980s horror film, and getting a free Chucky doll your kids can play with while you’re being scared silly.

In case you didn’t know it, Ms Ratajkowski is one of the hottest actresses of her generation right now. Go into any newsagent around the UK and chances are you’ll see her staring back from one of the leading lads’ mags.

In person, she turns out to be far more than just a pretty face. Eloquent, smart, and clearly committed to her craft, it’s little wonder Fincher had nothing but good things to say about her during his commentary.

On a second viewing, Gone Girl is every bit as good as the first. Now seeing it in context, it’s a thriller that grabs from the word go and keeps you hooked until that OTT finale.

Ben Affleck treads the crucial tightrope needed so you’re not sure which side your fidelity falls on, while Rosamund Pike is splendid as his glacially beautiful wife, the eponymous victim at the heart of the story.
Recommended viewing.

:: Gone Girl is out now on BluRay, DVD and Digital HD.