__Sometimes I neglect to write reviews on my blog for a long time, to the point where they pile up and I have no inclination to do anything more than copy and paste from my Twitter feed. But recently, I’ve started pushing myself to not put off writing for so long, so my “first impressions” posts are starting to become more frequent and hopefully more earnest and detailed. I’m not sure what’s changed lately – maybe it’s the fact that I recently joined a Discord server (basically a chat room) that’s given my almost nonexistent social life a bit of a boost – but in any case, I seem to have found my drive for writing once again. 🙂 I’m not sure how long it’ll last, as I tend to lose that drive again sooner or later, but until then, let’s make the most of it.
__I always start these compilations with the films I’ve seen in the cinema, which number two in this case.
Baby Driver (2017)
__After being coerced into working for a crime boss, a young getaway driver finds himself taking part in a heist doomed to fail.
__As this is a heist drama, the only way I could do justice to the story would be to describe the whole plot, and obviously I’d rather not do that. 🙂 But it’s not so much the details of the heist that hold your attention: it’s the characters. Every single character is so brilliantly written and realised that you remember and grow attached to every single one. And on that note, the performances are all top-notch. Ansel Elgort is great as the eponymous Baby: he’s equal parts funny, aloof and vulnerable, and his chemistry with Lily James is superb. One of my favourite cast members is Jon Hamm as Buddy, who’s probably the character who changes the most over the course of the narrative.
__But what makes this truly special is Edgar Wright’s direction. He’s simply one of the best directors working today, and his flawless eye for camerawork and editing is once again on full display here. Just don’t go in expecting the full-on comedies he’s done before. Yes, there are comedy elements, but they’re there to enhance the connection to the characters so that we fear for them later on.
__And yes, they do play the Simon & Garfunkel song the movie’s named after. 🙂
__I loved this movie. I’d say it’s definitely a top contender for my favourite movie of the year so far.
__My rating: 85%.
Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
__After the events of Captain America: Civil War, Peter Parker tries to balance his life as an ordinary high school student in New York City while fighting crime as his superhero alter-ego Spider-Man, as a new threat, the Vulture, emerges.
__Like many others, I was glad when I heard Marvel Studios would be doing a Spider-Man movie; I hoped they’d show Sony how it was done. And for the most part, they did. 🙂 This is, hands down, the best depiction of Spider-Man we’ve ever seen in a movie: Tom Holland perfectly captures both the humble high school geek and the wisecracking hero.
__The narrative is streamlined and focused, too. The overall theme is of a lowly hero trying to prove he’s good enough for the big leagues. I also noticed that Spider-Man was at his most competent when he was trying to help people; while fighting criminals, he consistently got his ass kicked. And, while I appreciate that focus on valuing life, it did get kind of frustrating seeing the hero constantly fail. I’m all for imperfect heroes, but this movie went way too far.
__However, my biggest complaint with this movie is, during the action scenes, there were some moments that were filmed so hectically that I couldn’t see what was happening. I’m really getting sick of that!
__Overall, it’s not perfect, but still a solid, terrifically fun adventure that kept my interest thanks to a hugely likable cast of characters, led by hero who unquestionably felt like Spider-Man.
__My rating: 85%.
__For the next section, the rental season has started up again for me. 🙂 This is where I rent a pair of DVDs every week to catch up on the movies I missed earlier on in the year.
Don’t Hang Up (2017)
__An evening of drunken prank calls becomes a nightmare for a pair of teenagers when a mysterious stranger turns their own game against them – with deadly consequences.
__I think this movie might have set a record: literally the moment I saw the main characters, I immediately despised them! I hated their habitual prank calls just for online popularity, and I hated them all the more for being so loud and rambunctious. So at first, I was fully supporting the stranger when he started punishing Brady: he deserved it. I drew the line at the kidnapped parents, though – which also made me think, “Well, Brady, now your antics have put innocent lives in danger! I hope you’re proud of yourself!”
__I had slightly more sympathy for Sam because he seemed to have much more of a conscience, plus he was smart enough to spot the clue that gave the game away.
__I’ll give the movie some credit for trying to buck the trend of horror characters acting stupidly. Our heroes try to do the sensible things almost immediately, but they’re prevented from either calling the police or leaving the house. But the things the villain pulls get to the point of absurdity; you start to wonder, how exactly did he hijack the cell phone signal, and how does he have that much control over the house’s power?
__Overall, it’s just another disposable horror flick. It tries to be smarter than the genre’s average, but that also ends up being its undoing.
__My rating: 45%.
The Lego Batman Movie (2017)
__A cooler-than-ever Batman must deal with the usual suspects as they plan to rule Gotham City, while discovering that he has accidentally adopted a teenage orphan who wishes to become his sidekick.
__I was actually dreading watching this movie, because I found the trailers distinctly offputting. I wanted to see Batman, not a spoof of him. And at first, the movie was exactly what I feared: the character was a complete show-off.
__But when the movie calmed down and the family-themed story emerged, I ended up really getting into it, finding it engaging and even kind of touching. It allowed me to easily stop thinking of this character as Batman, but just a grief-ridden guy trying to find something he could call family again.
__Another big surprise that I really took to was the gallery of villains the Joker recruits in the Phantom Zone.
__I have to say, I love this movie’s take on Barbara Gordon: a highly skilled cop who’s her father’s replacement as commissioner.
__Another highlight for me was seeing Alfred don a Batsuit – and one reminiscent of the Adam West one, so it’s like the old Batman fighting alongside the new.
__One reservation I had still holds true, though. Why did this even have to be Lego? It barely has anything to do with building or imagination.
__In conclusion, I have mixed feelings on this movie: I hate it when it’s spoofing Batman, but I love it when it’s doing its own thing.
__My rating: 65%.
__And finally, I’ve got back to playing video games in my spare time. Here’s the latest one I’ve completed…
Far Cry 4 (PS4)
__To fulfil his mother’s dying wish, Ajay Ghale travels to Kyrat to scatter her ashes. Before he can accomplish this, though, he must end a civil war between the Golden Path and Pagan Min’s forces.
__Far Cry 3 is one of my favourite games of all time (I never played any of the others), so I confess myself somewhat disappointed in this follow-up, mainly because the story is just not that interesting. In Far Cry 3, the story was all about an ordinary guy finding his true calling as a hunter and a warrior, and as the tale progressed, you could tell just how much he was enjoying it. But here, Ajay is basically forced into fighting for these people despite no indication that he wants anything to do with it, just because they expect him to follow in his father’s footsteps. So, while it was still superficially fun to do all the same activities from the last game – liberating outposts and so on – it rang hollow because I never cared about why I was doing that.
__Still, it does have several cool new elements of its own. I always loved riding elephants, for example, and flying in the buzzer was my favourite way to travel.
__Now, the ending… Let’s just say the one I got gave me mixed feelings, inspiring both great respect and great anger.
__I still enjoyed this game, but it just seemed like a pale imitation of the one-of-a-kind experience I had with Far Cry 3.
__My rating: 70%.