Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) Film Review



Man creates a robot with artificial intelligence that then threatens the existence of humans. What a refreshing and new concept! Oh, sorry, was that sarcasm? See, my problem with this film is just that I saw it only a few days after seeing Mad Max: Fury Road. And after seeing something with that grit and darkness, the Avengers just seem stupid and whatever.

So, in this film, the man is Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) and the robot is Ultron (voiced by James Spader). And the robot uses the internet to expand and take over everything. Then there are the side stories. Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) surprises them all by having a wife and kids and a life that most of them had written off because of their superhero-ness. There’s some romance brewing between Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) and Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) and we all want that to happen. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Captain America (Chris Evans) are just standing around and being buff with the odd sarcastic comment here and there.

Look, I liked it enough, but I am totally aware that the studios have various sequels and stuff for all of these films set up for the next ten years or so, and I feel like they should be better than this. But that could be just the Mad Max factor. Here’s a challenge – I know you’ve got all these films written, and there is a lot of stuff that probably is expected to tie in with the comics. But how about we do some decent stuff with Black Widow, and let’s get some better female characters. And heaps more. And not like that one that Gwyneth played who simpered around in tiny denim shorts and ended up in bed with Tony Stark. Let’s all be better at this, hey?


The Blacklist – TV Review


Former government agent Raymond “Red” Reddington (James Spader), who left and became a master criminal, walks in to the FBI and offers himself up provided he can deal with new agent Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone). He tells them that he will help them deal with his Blacklist – a series of very, very nasty people who have managed to fly below the radar, doing terrible things.

Most episodes deal with one target but then also follow the bigger story – what was the story with Elizabeth’s past, and what’s the story with her husband, Tom (Ryan Eggold)?

I thoroughly enjoyed this series – it wasn’t a high-brow series like most of the HBO series, but it’s ace fun times, exciting and dramatic. A more serious Chuck and on par with one of my favourite series, Alias. And it’s always wonderful to see James Spade doing almost anything – or at least, anything with a decent script.


Mannequin (1987) Film Review


Jonathan Switcher (Andrew McCarthy) is a bit of a loser. A sculptor, he’s not found a way to make a living, and keeps getting fired from all manner of jobs, to the chagrin of his professional woman girlfriend, Roxie (Carole Davis). Then he saves the life of a CEO, Claire Timkin (Estelle Getty) and ends up working in a department store. But when he comes across a mannequin that he created in his previous job, his life takes a magical turn.

I reckon it still totally holds up. McCarthy is fun, Kim Cattrall is fun and then there is James Spader. Anytime, I will watch James Spader doing almost anything anytime. I also wonder if the character of Hollywood (played by Meshach Taylor) is the first light-hearted representation of a gay man in a Hollywood film which is generally respectful, and the only negative aspects reflect poorly on the bigots. Or perhaps there have been many more. Who knows.

Mannequin was nominated for an Oscar for Best Music, Original Song for “Nothing’s Going to Stop Us Now”.

Lincoln (2012) Film Review


The American Civil War was a war to end slavery. That was the key issue, as was my understanding. The thirteenth Amendment to the US Constitution made slavery in the United States illegal. These things happened around the same time; they were related to each other, but not actually connected. Who knew? Not me.

To be fair, I have very little knowledge of US history. There are some things I know, but a lot I don’t

The film Lincoln follows US President Abraham Lincoln in his second term as President as he and his colleagues work to get the amendment passed. It’s not a rip-roaring action flick – if you want to see a film relating to slavery that is, see Django Unchained. This is a political drama, and for that reason, it’s pretty slow-paced and borders on boring. What stops it from being boring? I think for me it was the fact this was such an important moment in the world, deciding on the level of humanity to be shown to a group of people. Yet, it was all decided in such a political way, with votes being bought with jobs and political promises. Politics – such a dirty business.

Daniel Day-Lewis is an actor notorious for his research into his roles, so I believe that he did a lot of work to bring Lincoln to life as much as possible. Still, I find it hard to believe that he walked with such an unusual gait – it made him look like some kind of a puppet, and really distracted me from the importance of the story at hand.

I felt as though the story structure was a bit misguided at times; for me, the story was the politics. There were other parts that were connected in some way, but not totally crucial that the story would not have suffered if they had been left out of the film. For me, the whole storyline involving Lincoln’s son, Robert, was not all that relevant. Of course, that would mean losing Joseph Gordon-Levitt from the cast, but it wasn’t the most exciting role anyhow. He’s done lots better.

Overall, I enjoyed the film, but I don’t think it was necessarily worthy of the many nominations it has received. I sometimes wonder if you get a cast like this with a story of such great importance to the US directed by Steven Spielberg and it would be considered wrong for it to not be nominated. Is this how awards work?

Daniel Day-Lewis has been nominated for a Best Actor in a Leading Role Oscar, won the a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama and won the BAFTA for Leading Actor

Tommy Lee Jones has been nominated for a Best Actor Supporting in a Supporting Role Oscar, a Golden Globe for Best Performance of an Actor in a Supporting Role, and was nominated for a BAFTA for Supporting Actress

Sally Field has been nominated for a Best Actress in a Supporting Role Oscar, a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture and was nominated for a BAFTA for Supporting Actress

Janusz Kaminski has been nominated for an Oscar for Cinematography, was nominated for a BAFTA for Cinematography

Joanna Johnston has been nominated for an Oscar for Costume Design and was nominated for a BAFTA for Costume Design

Steven Spielberg has been nominated for an Oscar for Directing, a Golden Globe for Best Director – Motion Picture

Michael Kahn has been nominated for an Oscar for Editing

John Williams has been nominated for an Oscar for Music (Original Score), a Golden Globe for Best Original Score – Motion Picture and was nominated for a BAFTA for Best Orginal Music

Lincoln has been nominated for an Oscar for Best Film, an Oscar for Best Production Design, a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Drama, was nominated for a BAFTA for Production Design

Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom and Ronald Judkins have been nominated for an Oscar for Sound Mixing, was nominated for a BAFTA for Best Film

Tony Kushner has been nominated for an Oscar for Writing (Adapted Screenplay), a Golden Globe for Best Screenplay – Motion Picture and was nominated for a BAFTA for Best Adapted Screenplay