Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – 3/10

Producer Michael Bay and director Jonathan Liebesman continue to flog dead horses whilst ruining people’s childhoods.


Contrary to popular belief I actually think that Michael Bay did a decent job with the first Transformers movie. It was pretty faithful to the cartoon and the child in all of us fulfilled an ambition to watch robot behemoths battling it out. The problem with taking on the turtles project isn’t just the execution but the source material itself.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles had already spawned four feature length movies, various TV shows and endless merchandise before this project begun. There was a clamour to see a return of the Transformers by the time it was rebooted in 2007 but is anyone really interested in seeing the ailing TMNT brand rebooted? (apparently yes according to the box office results).

Anyone hoping for a nostalgia trip back to their childhoods will be bitterly disappointed. Some characters such as April O’Neil and Shredder are unrecognisable from the cartoon whilst others such as Casey Jones, Krang and Bebop & Rocksteady are absent entirely.

The only constant is the turtles themselves who are still stuck in a time warp of pop culture references and horribly dated 80’s pastiche. Even with comedic genius Will Arnett featuring prominently, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is never intentionally funny and the script throughout is unforgivably cheesy and cringe inducing.

People don’t particularly act in Michael Bay films but even with such low standards Megan Fox continues to be an annoyance and is woefully miscast as April O’Neil while William Fichtner and Whoopi Goldberg look faintly embarrassed throughout.


All this equates to a franchise that didn’t need rebooting filled with rubbish acting and corny dialogue. Possibly the worst reboot of all time.

Kingsman: The Secret Service – 7.5/10.

Colin Firth plays tinker, tailer, soldier and spy as Matthew Vaughn continues his hot streak.

colin-firth-at-event-of-kingsman -the-secret-service-(2014)-large-picture

With 2010’s Kick Ass, director Matthew Vaughn turned the comic book genre on it’s head with gritty realism and unfamiliar character arcs and story line. After continuing his good work in that area with X-Men: First Class (one of the finest films in the whole comic book genre), Vaughn has turned his talents to the classic espionage genre and if not reinvigorated it then certainly made it interesting again.

I wasn’t that taken with the Bourne franchise, despite my undying love for Matt Damon, and I flat out dislike Bond films so the only reason I ended up watching Kingsman was for the excellent cast and because of Matthew Vaughn’s track record (Layer Cake, Stardust, Kick Ass and X:Men: First Class to date).

Heading up a mostly British cast are Colin Firth and Mark Strong who always collaborate well together and it is nice to see Strong as a supporting hero rather than as a stock British villain. Firth is a touch of class as ever and he has more of a twinkle in his eye in Kingsman than in some of his recent work which has appeared a bit phoned in since The Kings Speech.

Alongside Firth and Strong, relative newcomer Taron Egerton does a brilliant job as the protagonist in what is a tough role to pull off. The cockney wide boy can so easily become caricature but Egerton is equally at home in trackie bottoms or a smart suit and he could be one to keep an eye on for the future.

KSS_JB_D11_01307 - Harry (Colin Firth), an impeccably suave spy, helps Eggsy (Taron Egerton) turn his life around by trying out for a position with Kingsman, a top-secret independent intelligence organization.

Slightly worrying is the inability to escape completely from genre trappings with tired plot devices like a ticking clock and also cartoonish villains (Samuel. L Jackson is disappointing as the antagonist) unfortunately present. Another concern is the action genre in general is still guilty of failing to find interesting roles for woman with Sophie Cookson little more than a prop in her supporting role here.

With Joss Whedon, JJ Abrams, Gareth Evans and to a lesser extent Zack Snyder doing great work on similar projects we could be entering a new golden age for big action blockbusters and Matthew Vaughn should be able to pick whatever project he wants next after such a strong start to his directing career.

SUPER – 7/10

The weird B side to 2010’s other real life super hero flick Kick Ass.


When Kick Ass hit four years ago people sagely stroked their beards, pulled on their pipes and proclaimed ‘This is what would REALLY happen if somebody tried to become a super hero in real life’. This was to be revised almost instantly upon the release of Super a few months later.

Super is as close as you will get to a realistic superhero film and even then that realism only really stretches to the midway point of the film. To concentrate on this though is to miss the point. Super is a weird film almost to the point of distraction but it also contains enough laughs and heart to be labelled a success.


Rainn Wilson overacts in all the wrong places but is still hilarious as always and makes for a good protagonist. Ellen Page channels Juno in slipping back into the more annoying forced quirkiness seen in some of her earlier performances but also raises a smile here and there.

Director/Writer James Gunn (currently taking over the world with Guardians of the Galaxy) doesn’t seem to know what he wants Super to be. The brutal depictions of rape and violence don’t really sit that well with Rainn Wilson shouting ‘SHUT UP CRIME!!’ over and over, although this is easily the greatest superhero catchphrase ever, and the ending seems a little rushed and ill conceived. On top of that antagonist Kevin Bacon plays that same villain he plays in every film these days. I think maybe that is just who he is in real life now and he doesn’t realize that he is acting in a film at all…

Super would make a great real crime fighters trilogy with Kick Ass and God Bless America but on second viewing I would probably say it is the weakest of the three.

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For – 7.5/10.

Same characters. Different faces.


Nine (!) years after the original Sin City, director Robert Rodriguez finally gets round to releasing a sequel and it is mostly worth the wait.

Right off the bat it is pleasing to see Rodriguez and Miller are not resting on their laurels visually. Sin City: A Dame to Kill for not only matches the original in terms of looks it easily surpasses it adding a number of visual flourishes that work better than anything Rodriguez has previously attempted.

New additions Josh Brolin and particularly Joseph Gordon Levitt impress, the former stepping into Clive Owen’s shoes ably and the latter providing the best storyline of either film. Jessica Alba is also a big positive given more to do than just erotic dancing this time round and Mickey Rourke is on top and worryingly comfortable playing psychopath Marv.

The problem here is just how long it took to get this film made. In that time Michael Clarke Duncan and Brittany Murphy have tragically passed away, Clive Owen has lost interest and Devon Aoki who was so great as Miho in the first instalment has all but quit acting to start a family. This leaves A Dame to Kill For feeling disjointed and frustrating. This could have been every bit as good as Sin City but nine years is a long time in Hollywood.

Sin City – 8.5/10

Robert Rodriguez gets the balance right between B Movie weirdness and Hollywood blockbuster with his adaptation of Frank Millers Sin City.


Sin City’s breathtaking visual style literally brought graphic novels to life and paved the way for 300, Watchmen and others.

Sin City was not just a trail blazer in this regard it is easily still the best in the genre. Visually it really is an impressive achievement with every shot looking like the pane of a comic book. Sin City was part of a golden age of comic book adaptations with Spider-Man 2 and Batman Begins also released in the same time period and it deserves to be spoken of in the same breath as those mentioned.

Basin City is like Gotham but drenched in the film noir of the forties and the Americana of the seventies. This makes stars like Bruce Willis and Clive Owen perfectly fit this world with their classic leading men persona’s. The rest of the varied and talented cast don’t miss a trick with Rosario Dawson every inch a femme fatale and Mickey Rourke a revelation as the now iconic character of Marv.

Sin City is maverick director Robert Rodrigeuz’ masterpiece and if you haven’t seen it already now is the perfect time on the eve of the release of Sin City: A Dame to Kill For.

Thor: The Dark World – 8/10.

Comic book fans constant clamoring for film adaptations to be ‘darker, darker, DARKER’ culminates in directors actually putting ‘dark’ in the title.

Thor: The Dark World film still

Jane Foster is filled with a malevolent power putting her at the centre of a battle between Thor and a great evil.

A lot of people think we have been overwhelmed with the deluge of comic book adaptations in recent years, particularly those related to Avengers. I personally think the Avengers series has maintained an unlikely and very impressive high standard throughout and this very much continues with Thor: The Dark World.

Chris Hemsworth has improved as the series has gone on and seems much more at home as the eponymous hero. One of the attractions of Thor was revered director Kenneth Branagh bringing serious actors such as Anthony Hopkins and Stellan SkarsgÄrd on board and they bring a touch of class to the sequel as well (particularly the always excellent Hopkins as Odin) despite the absence of Branagh at the helm.

Tom Hiddlestone again has lots of fun as panto villain Loki. Only a subdued Natalie Portman disappoints but that is understandable as she didn’t want to be appear but couldn’t get out of her contract.

Post Avengers the Marvel films really seem to be hitting their stride with Iron Man 3 also impressing. If you liked the other Marvel films you will not be disappointed with Thor: The Dark World.

Kick Ass 2 – 5/10.

Brilliant, game changing film spawns rubbish sequel.


Kick Ass 2 picks up where Kick-Ass left off. Kick Ass has found some new friends to fight the good fight whilst Hit-Girl tries to adapt to life in her new high school. Meanwhile Red Mist has re-badged himself as ‘The Motherfucker’. Obviously.
Kick Ass 2 is neither great or terrible but it has great moments and it has terrible, terrible low points, unfortunately the latter outweigh the former. The whole Hit Girl plot line of hanging out with the ‘popular kids’ and going on her first date is as excruciatingly awful as it sounds and feels as unnecessary as Peter Parker going emo in Spider-Man 3.
The new superhero’s are pretty good, featuring Donald ‘Turk’ Faison and Jim Carrey, the new super villains less good, being completely forgettable other than a terrible soviet stereotype named ‘Mother Russia’. A disappointing sequel that brings nothing to the original, seriously not worth watching.