Friday, 6 January 2017

Ross Bishop’s Most Anticipated Films of 2017

As with previous years I’ve pulled together a list of my most anticipated films for the upcoming year.

Last year I had a pretty small list in that I’d only had 3 films I really wanted to see, and two of those ended up being underwhelming to out-right terrible (Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad respectively).

Now 2017 promises a return to form with lots of big blockbusters that I can’t wait to see, just writing this list made me realise how many huge franchise films are out this year. It really puts 2016 to shame.

So here we go…

FYI - with the exception of the top 3, the rest aren't in any particular order.

1) Star Wars: Episode VIII
I was never a huge Star Wars fan, I’ve seen all of them several times and I like them (I’ve just never loved them like so many people do), however I ABSOLUTELY LOVED “The Force Awakens” and therefore I’m very excited to see where Episode VIII takes us.

2) Spider-Man: Homecoming
My (joint) favourite super-hero (Batman is the other one), back in the hands of a Marvel Studio’s led movie. Good times. I’m really hoping for great things here, however this will be the sixth Spider-Man film within 15 years, so hoping it brings something new to the table rather than just more of the same.

3) War For The Planet Of The Apes
Absolutely loved the first two films, they're easily some of the best blockbusters in recent memory. So a new entry that potentially closes off the trilogy(?) has me very excited!

4) Thor: Ragnorok
I wasn’t a huge fan of the first Thor, but really enjoyed the 2nd film and the dynamic between Thor and Loki. That topped with the confirmation that Hulk and Doctor Strange are both in the movie, and Marvel saying this is the equivalent of Phase 3’s “Winter Solider” – I can’t wait!

5) Guardians of the Galaxy 2
The original is undeniably one of the strongest Marvel movies in terms of quality story-telling, and the sequel seems to be in keeping with what made the first one great. Count me in on day one!

6) John Wick 2
More Keanu Reeves being bad-ass.
More Gun-Fu.
Take my money.

7) Logan
A gritty R-Rated take on the Old Man Logan story. Yes please.

8) The LEGO Batman Movie
Need I say anymore? It's Batman. It's LEGO.

9) Fast and Furious 8 (Fate of the Furious)
I’ve always enjoyed the Fast & Furious movies, but they really came into their own after Fast Five. They’re the biggest budget pure action blockbuster’s we get these days, so I’m all for it. However this film does have to overcome the lack of Paul Walker, so hoping it doesn’t just become the Vin Diesel show, and that the remaining team are all included equally.

10) Dunkirk
The masterful film-maker Christopher Nolan returns with his take on a WWII epic. This should be very special indeed. 

There’s a few more films I really want to watch, however these are more wait and see…

Justice League / Wonder Woman
Look... Justice League should be on my most anticipated list and if you asked me a few years ago, it would have been. However, Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad were so disappointing, I’m stopping myself getting excited for these 2 new DC films. I’d love for them both to be absolutely amazing, but I’m not overly confident at this stage.

Alien: Covenant
Again, not sure here. Ridely Scott films has been pretty touch and go in terms of quality in recent years, Prometheus was terrible and the recent teaser trailer makes it look like a remake of the original Alien film.

Blade Runner: 2049
Same reason as above really, Ridely Scott isn’t directing but heavily involved as producer and not sure if picking up on such a cult classic 40 years later will be good or bad. Saying that, the first teaser trailer looks promising…

Ghost in the Shell
It’s rare that a live-action version of anime ends up being any good, but again the first teaser trailer looks very good, so fingers crossed.

Finally we have two big franchise films that of course I’m going to see, but whether I’m really excited for them is debatable….

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man Tell No Tales
I quite enjoyed the original trilogy of Pirates film (even if they got consecutively worse), but wasn’t a fan of the fourth outing. It seems like the fifth film is going to link more directly to the trilogy and continue from where they left off, so here’s hoping a good fun summer movie.

Transformers: The Last Knight
I’m sure the special FX and action will be incredible, but in terms of an overall quality film, well…

And that's it! I'm sure I've forgotten something, but here’s hoping the majority of the above films deliver.

Friday, 23 December 2016

Ross Bishop's Favourite Films Of 2016

It's been an odd year for films, although there have been some stand-out films it does seem like 2016 was quite light on quality (blockbuster and indies alike).

This was somewhat expected in my most anticipated films of 2016 list (of which there were only 3), and two of those films don't even make the top ten, yet the other one is my favourite film of 2016.

So before we start the list, let's just say DC did not do well this year with both Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad being massive disappointments. BvS Ultimate Edition is an improvement but still has problems, and both versions of Suicide Squad are pretty terrible. Hopefully Wonder Woman and Justice League next year make up for it.

Anyway on to the top ten of 2016...

10. Zootopia
I started watching this with no real expectations and quickly realised this was going to be a very good film indeed. One of the best animations in recent years.

9. Finding Dory
It's good to finally have a quality Pixar film again, and one that almost lives up to the original.

8. Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them
I've seen this getting mixed reviews, but for me I really enjoyed the re-introduction to the wizarding world and the slightly more adult themes. Excited to see where this franchise goes...

7. Room
A gripping film that spends much of it runtime in the aforementioned "room". A smaller film that I highly recommend you hunt out and give a watch.

6. The Jungle Book
I was surprised at how good this "live-action" remake is, and the CGI animals are all incredible.

5. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Not quite on par with The Force Awakens, but a very good movie none the less, with a spectacular final act that puts the WAR in Star Wars.

4. Dr Strange
A great new character joins the MCU, with some of most spectacular special effects and action in any film I've ever seen.

3. Deadpool
Despite some interesting time jumps with how the story unfolds, Deadpool is a pretty standard superhero origin film, however Ryan Reynolds portrayal of the "merc with the mouth" elevates this to one of best superhero movies around.

2. The Revenant
Leonardo DiCaprio isn't in bad films. A visually stunning, captivating revenge and survival story told with magnificent direction. Love it.

1. Captain America: Civil War
At the moment it seems Marvel can do no wrong, Civil War is an absolute triumph of a movie. Juggling multiple characters, outstanding set-pieces, great humour and introducing 2 new characters to the MCU. They make it look easy. And next year we get 3 new Marvel movies - yay!

Side note - Disney are absolutely killing it at the moment, 6 out of the 10 are made by them!

Friday, 15 January 2016

Ross Bishop's Most Anticipated Movies of 2016 (sort-of)

So I usually write one of these every year, but this year I’d put it off as when I first thought about it there’s was only a few films I was excited about enough to even consider writing about them. However getting further into January, it felt like I could at least write a list of my top 3, so here we go…

Captain America: Civil War
I absolutely cannot wait for this! The Winter Soldier is my favourite (non-Avengers) Marvel film so to get a direct sequel to that by the same writers/directors, which also introduces Spider-Man to MCU has me very excited.

Suicide Squad
I really liked the “comic-con” trailer for this, so interested to see how it plays out and the introduction of a new Joker and Harley Quinn is great. It will also be good to see a villain-centric superhero movie, which mixes up what we’ve been used to seeing and see how this fits in with the new DCEU.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
Mixed feelings about this.

Of course I’m excited to finally see a live-action Batman v Superman movie, however from everything we’ve heard so far this film seems like it’s in danger of being very over-stuffed. If it was purely the story of introducing Batman, the conflict between the titular characters and having Lex Luthor so they have a reason to join forces at the end, I could see that working. However, we know we’re getting that plus an introduction for Wonder Woman, Doomsday, most likely Aquaman and rumours of the Flash, Cyborg and a third villain?! Unless it’s 4 hours long, I can’t see all these elements being included successfully. I’m getting a very “Amazing Spider-Man 2” feeling about it – but hoping I’m wrong.

At this point, it’s more anticipation of finding out if it’s actually good, rather than excitement because I think it will be!

And the rest…

These are other movies I want to see this year - The Revenant, Creed, Deadpool, Rogue One, X-Men: Apocalypse, Doctor Strange, Hateful Eight, Fantastic Beast, Finding Dory, The Jungle Book, Ninja Turtles 2, Warcarft and Assassins Creed.

So have I missed anything obvious, let me know your thoughts.

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Ross Bishop's Favourite Movies Of 2015

Well 2015 has been one heck of a year for movies, filled with huge franchises and bucket loads of nostalgia. This is very much reflected in my favourite movies list for 2015, whereas in previous years I'd usually have a mix of blockbusters and independent films - this year is very much dominated by the tent pole movies. Not just because I love these type of films but because I genuinely felt they delivered.

For me it's really interesting to look at this list and compare it to my most anticipated of 2015 list, because eight out of ten of those films are now on my favourite list! It's great to be looking forward to something and not being disappointed.

So on to the list: -

10. Snowpiercer
Although technically never released in the UK (and released in other territories last year), I managed to see this magnificent film in 2015 and really enjoyed it. With a great concept and great performances, I highly recommend you hunt this out.

9. Ant-Man
A pleasant surprise, after all the controversy with Edgar Wright leaving the directors chair weeks before filming began this could have been a disaster but instead ended up being a very entertaining movie.

8. John Wick
Keanu Reeves as a retired hitman getting revenge for the death of his puppy (left to him by his late wife), whilst also creating a new fighting style called Gun-Fu which leads to some awesome action sequences. Great action film.

I enjoyed the 24th Bond film a lot, however it has its problems - it's overly long and simultaneously takes itself too serious (but then doesn't at the same time). Despite this, it was great to finally see Daniel Craig in a Bond film that felt like a Bond film, not trying to mimic Bourne or such.

6. Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation
A great spy film, it gets the edge on SPECTRE because it knows exactly what it is and delivers its story and action at an quick pace to keep you constantly entertained. Also, Tom Cruise again amazes with his stunts and even with all the hype around the opening airplane sequence I think the motorbike chase is even more exhilarating.

5. Avengers: Age of Ultron
Another film in my top ten where I will acknowledge its flaws despite still loving it, it's too short and as a result skips over some fairly major plot points. However, the action is great and the character banter between the heroes is extremely clever, which only gets better on multiple viewings. Not quite as good as the first film, but still one of the stronger entries in the MCU.

4. Mad Max: Fury Road
A very unique action film which is essentially one long car chase, spectacular sequences that magnificently blend practical effects enhanced by CGI that make your jaw drop. George Miller is a crazy genius.

3: Kingsman: The Secret Service
Matthew Vaughn does for secret agents what he did for superheroes (with Kick-Ass), creating one of the best and most entertaining films of the year. Oh and that Church scene?! Sequence of the year!

2. Jurassic World
I came out of Jurassic World as giddy as a school boy, I absolutely loved it. Masterfully paying homage to the original but at the same time creating a sequel / reboot that makes sense some twenty years later in the context of the story. Nostalgia probably gave this some extra love as well!

1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Well I wouldn't have thought a Star Wars film would have been at the top of my list, but there's no denying what a stunning job JJ Abrams did with The Force Awakens. Successfully reinvigorating  the franchise, whilst introducing new characters and building on the existing saga, magically combining old with new and just generally producing a great movie. I've never previously been excited for Star Wars, but I can't wait to see this again (and see what happens next in Episode 8).

Monday, 27 April 2015

My Thoughts On Avengers: Age of Ulton With Spoilers

Rather than rushing a review as soon as I’d seen it for the first time, I decided to wait until I’d seen Avengers: Age of Ultron a couple of times before writing up my thoughts. You see with most big summer blockbusters I want to see, I get lost in the hype and my own expectations can sometimes subdue the impact of a great film. So I tend to need a second viewing with reset expectations to really appreciate a film for what it is (not what I wanted it to be). That may sound like I’m pre-empting  a negative response for Avengers: Age Of Ultron, I’m not, but just wanted to set the scene…
Ok, big question “Is it better than the first Avengers?”. Not really, but then it was never going to be – the first film was a great film in its own right but also had the huge novelty factor of getting all of these heroes together on screen for the first time. Saying that, A:AOU is still one amazing film so let’s get into the detail…

First of all, this film is dense. It is jam-packed with action set-pieces, interesting story-beats, character development and set-up for future films in the MCU. Yet there is no fat, every sequence or piece of dialogue has a purpose and either drives the story forward, explains a character motivation or lays the ground work for a pay-off that comes later. The fact this is shorter than the first film is down-right incredible.

This density is the films greatest strength, but as a result means character motivations or plot threads are sometimes explained in one line of throw-away dialogue and if you’re not paying attention you could miss it (the second viewing helps keep up with this). Secondly, because there is so much going on (especially in the action sequence) there isn’t any real stand-out moments (i.e Hulk punching Thor out of the screen, or Hulk using Loki like a rag-doll) instead we get a boat-load of little ones which are all great but don’t quite leave the same impact!

But the fact we live in a world where we get to marvel at all of this on screen really is incredible, this is my child-hood dream. The opening sequence with The Avengers fighting in tandem throughout the snowy forest is a comic book panel come to live. The banter and interactions between all the different characters is masterful, clever and witty.

Now on to specifics, so they’ll be MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD and some of it won’t make sense unless you’ve seen the film…

The Hulk vs Iron-Man/Hulk-Buster fight is incredible! Filled with great action beats and funny dialogue “Go to sleep, go to sleep, got to sleep…” I was surprised how early this occurred in the film, as I was expecting this to be part of the climax.

Thor’s side story feels rushed and it’s not overly clear what he sees in his dream that makes him take the decision to support bringing Vision to life(?). I know it had something to do with the Infinity Gems, the destruction of Asgard and an impending threat, but not 100% clear on it all exactly. Rumour has it that there is an extended version to be released on the upcoming blu-ray, so hopefully this section of the film is fleshed out.

On the whole Thor seemed to have the least amount of screentime this time around, with more time dedicated to Black Widow, Dr. Banner and Hawkeye. I get why they did this as they don’t have their own solo films, but it’s a shame, as I’m not overly interested in these three and would have preferred more time with Thor.

The hammer scene is being referenced a lot as one of the stand-out scenes for when The Avengers are having some down-time, but honestly all of the scenes when it’s just the group having banter among themselves is great.

I was actually surprised how happy and the complete the ending felt, knowing that Civil War is coming I was expecting the film to end with more tension between Cap and Stark. But as it stands they ended on pretty good terms.

The new Avengers… so we end with a new team; Captain America, Black Widow, War Machine, Vision, Scarlett Witch and Falcon. It’ll be interesting to see how Marvel handle this transition with general audiences as it may feel like we’ve now got the B team in place (a result of the big 3’s contracts coming to an end). I think we’ll see how this works soon though, as we have Civil War coming and with Captain America leading the squad I assume all these characters will be in the that. By the time we get to Avengers 3, we’ll most likely have Spider-Man, Ant-Man, Black Panther and Dr.Strange floating around too!

I would have also liked a bit more variety in the action sequence, as although we travel the globe - all the big sequences tend to take place in the middle of a city in the middle of the day, so they all look a bit samey.

Shame to see Quicksilver go so soon, really liked the character and don’t think we got enough time with him. Though you never know he might be back soon!

I thought Ultron was a good villain, his witty banter made him quite unique for an AI robot but his arc is pretty standard affair. AI is created to protect humanity, decide humanity needs to be destroyed. Again, may be a result of the editing, but I don’t think we ever really spent enough time with Ultron to fully understand his motivations or hatred towards the Avengers.

Based on the trailers, I was expecting a very dark and sombre film however the film had its fair share of laughs and witty banter. Ultron himself was also much more comedic than filled with dread as we were led to believe…

The opening shot with all the Avengers fighting through the woods was incredible and the obligatory money shot of the camera revolving around our heroes in the climax was insane.

I could go on for hours about specific pieces of dialogue or sequences, but there’s only a  finite amount of time. So overall I’d say, Avengers: Age of Ultron is a solid movie but it never quite surpasses the original.