SUNDAY RUNDOWN – THAT’S WHAT SHE READ

book haul, books, currently reading, Kate McKinnon, recently watched, Ryan Reynolds

You may have noticed that I missed my weekly TBT review this week. That’s because this week I’ve been suffering from a deadly plague. Or the flu… same thing. Since Tuesday I’ve been feeling moments away from death so I haven’t really been up for anything other than moaning and lying down. I even watched fucking Van Wilder for the post, which was a terrible experience and it ended up being for nothing. I just wasn’t up to writing the post so I decided, this one time, that I would skip it. I’ve just not had the energy to do anything this week and, because we’ve been short staffed for months, I’ve been forced to keep working. So I’m not getting any better. It means I haven’t really been doing anything when I get home though. Reading is a think of the past. This is probably a pointless post but I want to try and get back on track. So, sorry for the last of exciting news. Next week I’ll be better or, at least, make something up for you.

Currently Reading

  • No reading this week. Too ill.   

Recently Purchased
  • Pocket Penguins
I bought two more for my collection this week and they are beautiful. They are: Monkey by Wi Ch’eng-en and Lust, Caution by Eileen Chang. It’s all part of my ongoing quest to diversify my bookshelf after I started to worry I was too focused on Western writers. I like to think I am open to writers of other cultures but I still only stick to the big names. I’m starting with the Pocket Penguins to help me ease my way into a more varied literary life. 
Recently Watched
  • Office Christmas Party
Saw this way after Christmas. It’s safe to say I wasn’t impressed. Read why here
  • National Lampoon’s Van Wilder
Watched this for the unwritten TBT post this week. It’s so hard, considering my love of Ryan Reynolds, to go back to his early days when he was starring in shitty films like this/ It’s so cringey and childish comedy. If it can even be called that. Most of the jokes fall flat and it’s just embarrassing. Especially when certain members of the cast have gone on to bigger and better things. I sort of wish they hadn’t ever done this shit. 

TBT – X Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)

comic book, fucking awful, Hugh Jackman, Ryan Reynolds, TBT, Wolverine, X-Men

I’ve read a lot of mixed criticism about Deadpool since I watched it last weekend. It’s upsetting because, whilst it does have its flaws, it was a refreshing addition to the comic book genre. Yes, it’s not going to change anything and, unless it comes up with a few stronger ideas, it won’t become Fox’s new big franchise. However, it should be said that it definitely made up for Deadpool’s first cinematic appearance. It’s been 7 years since the unrecognisable version of the character appeared in Wolverine’s origin story but the hurt still runs as deep as ever. Ryan Reynolds knew he had to get this movie made to apologise to fans like him for allowing Fox to fuck up such an iconic and loved character. If you ask me, he more than did… and, considering how much ground he had to make up, that’s a fucking huge achievement.

After all the of the success of the first two X-Men films it was Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine who stood out most for fans. Audiences loved Jackman’s portrayal of the straight-talking Canadian so it made sense, from a financial point of view, to make a standalone Logan film. Although, I question why we needed to revisit his origin story when we’d already seen that in X2. It’s a story we’ve been shown from the first film so it seems redundant to go over this ground again.

Still, it does give us a fantastic opening scene where we see Logan fighting in multiple wars, jumping through the years. It’s a stunning, if incredibly hard-to-follow, sequence that shows the sheer breadth of his life. Then we stop in a more recent year to revisit a story we already know. Although, this time Logan’s not alone. This time he’s joined by a half-brother in misguided and desperate attempt to utilise some of the previous films’ characters. Going against the canon already set by Fox and the comic books, turns out Logan is related to Victor Creed, aka Sabretooth. Yeah, it doesn’t make sense to me either but what the fuck can we do about it now.

Now during their many years of military service, Logan and Victor see a lot of death. Victor gets a taste for blood and the pair end up in front of a firing squad. As both have healing abilities, they are imprisoned and taken under the wing of William Stryker for his secret team. They are joined by a few fellow mutants (mostly forgettable and underdeveloped) and a wisecracking mercenary, Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds). They do a few jobs for Stryker before Logan sees the light and leaves. Opting out of professional killing and living in the middle of nowhere with his lady love, Kayla (Lynn Colins).

Although, it’s no big surprise to anyone that his perfect life goes tits up and Stryker pulls him back in for a mission of revenge. Along the way he undergoes the all too familiar experiment that bonds metal to his skeleton and meets a few new faces. Unfortunately, there is nothing in Origins that isn’t just a massive comic book cliché. It’s all just too familiar and, frankly, really fucking boring. None of the new characters are given any real introduction or depth. All of the returning ones are just floundering.

Even Logan, when you set him apart from the rest of the X-Men, doesn’t necessarily scream main man. He needs the rest of the team to bounce off. What made him so good in the first two was the way he argued with do-gooder Scott, flirted with Jean, and saw through Xavier’s slightly pompous image. When he’s leading the show he wears a little thin and the whole escapade just seems like its missing something. Not that Hugh Jackman doesn’t play the part well, it’s just that the character is too much of a side-kick to be able to handle a full-narrative.

This film makes so many mistakes that it’s just outrageous. Bryan Singer’s films were so successful because they revived the camp superhero genre into a serious and noteworthy affair. After The Last Stand undid most of that works, Origins almost destroys any credibility the franchise had left. The fight sequences are shot in the most absurd manner that means its almost impossible to follow, the CGI is more than a bit dodgy and the script is so cringe worthy you should probably watch with the sound off. No matter how hard Hugh Jackman tries to keep it together, Origins is just X-2‘s tired, bloated and embarrassing older brother.

To paraphrase the man himself, Wolverine may be the best there is at what he does” but, as Origins more than proves, what he does best isn’t very nice.

Tuesday’s Reviews – Deadpool (2016)

comic book, film, review, Ryan Reynolds, X-Men

You have to hand it to Ryan Reynolds. He’s been saying he’d get this film made for over 10 years and he bloody did it. I’m a Deadpool fan, like a lot of you out there, and I have been willing him to succeed for fucking years. There have been plenty of actors who belligerently stick to their hope that they’ll get to create the film they want. We quickly saw through Kiefer Sutherland constantly banging on about a 24 movie but Reynolds was the kind of person who could get it done. He pretty much is Wade and cares so much about the character that it made so much sense to give him what he wanted. To everyone but Fox, of course. Then when the test footage was leaked a couple of years ago it was like a fucking miracle. Deadpool is exactly the kind of character who needed a film and that’s not just to rewrite the injustice of X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

The final trailer for Batman vs Superman played before our screen of Deadpool on Sunday. All I could think whilst I sat through it was “we get it Synder, you’re taking this seriously”. It’s fucking ridiculous how high that film’s opinion of itself is. I’ve gone through stages with it and I think I’m firmly in the “can’t really bring myself to give a shit” camp. It’s exhaustingly earnest. The film industry was ready for a comic book movie to come along and fuck shit up. Nobody was better suited for the job than Deadpool.

It’s difficult not to watch Deadpool with a smile on your face from the opening scene. With its alternative credits including names like “British villain”, “moody teen” and “gratuitous cameo”, Deadpool isn’t pretending to be anything other than itself. This isn’t the shitty mute Deadpool that we last saw in Origins with retractable arm swords, ability to teleport, or eye lasers. This is Deadpool as he should be; the merc with a mouth. He’s talkative, witty and breaks the fourth wall at every given opportunity. Deadpool is set in the same world as X-Men but is as far removed from Byran Singer’s sensibilities as it possibly can. He’s not a superhero and will do anything he can to prove that.

Deadpool starts out life as Wade Wilson, a mercenary paid to deal out justice for a healthy price. After meeting beautiful prostitute Vanessa (Morena Baccarin) Wade decides its finally time to settle down until he is diagnosed with terminal cancer. A lifeline is handed to him thanks to a mysterious programme granting subjects mutant abilities. Of course, this comes with a price and Wilson loses his boyish good looks, which forces him to take up the mask. Newly suited and booted, he’s pissed and looking for revenge. British villains better watch their fucking backs.

Although, the film actually starts midway through the narrative after Wade has already accepted the Deadpool mantel and is tracking down his foe. An epic fight ensues where we get to see the characteristics that set this comic book movie apart. There’s plenty of sass, bloody violence, swearing and mid fight pauses to show us what makes this guy stand out. How many X-Men have you seen pause upside down in mid-air to muse about leaving the stove on or get shot up the arse during their first fight scene? The action then flashes back and forth between the present and Wade’s past, revealing to the audience what is driving him to such wanton destruction.

It’s a clever way of getting around the typical origin story problem of not seeing our hero in action until at least halfway through the film. Instead, our first shot is of the familiar figure in his red suit wielding his two blades. This film is action-packed from the word go. This format also masterfully disguises how thin the plot really is. When it comes down to it Deadpool is origin, fight, kidnap, fight. There is no typical superhero “save the world” plot because it doesn’t need it. Deadpool isn’t really about what the main man is doing but how he’s doing it.

This is a film built upon quips rather than intricate plot. Something that is both it’s saving grace and its biggest downfall. When the humour hits it hits hard. Like when Deadpool is showing self-awareness and questioning which Xavier he’ll be meeting or musing on why only two mutants (Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead) are ever present at the mansion. The knowing and clever jokes keep this film feeling fresh and exciting. However, in order to keep the humour constant, it mainly comes down to dick jokes, which, unless you’re a 12 year old boy, will eventually get old. Now I have nothing against the puerile nature of the film but I felt it needed something with a bit more substance to change it up a bit.

Although, I can’t deny that this is the happiest I’ve felt walking out of a comic book movie for a while. There was never a point when I felt that it’s lack of finesse ruined it. It is, after all, a flawed film but it makes up for that thanks to its very nature. Ryan Reynolds and co. made this film because they loved the character and it shows. It’s fun and, in an age of super dark superhero movies, that’s exactly what we needed. We don’t need Captain America’s righteousness; we need a hero willing to chop his hand off just to give you the finger. I can’t wait to see this film again… and again… and again. It’s fucking awesome.

THAT’S WHAT SHE READ – SUNDAY RUNDOWN

Batman, book haul, currently reading, Deadpool, Harry Potter, Ryan Reynolds, the sims, YA

You’ve caught me in an unusually joyful mood today. I’ve watched an amazing film, just started a weeks holiday and I’m feeling good about my chances of getting ahead blogging. I’ve already got my subject sorted for Monday and I can’t wait to start writing my Tuesday review. Sensibly, I’ve not arranged to do much besides sleep so I have time to read and watch things. I also, stupidly, decided to rebuy The Sims 2 for my laptop. I wasn’t sure The Sims 3 would play adequately and I was getting pissed of with the PS3 version. Despite having to get used to the shitty gameplay again, I’m loving this wave of nostalgia and can imagine losing hours to the game. At uni, I played it for so long one day that I wasn’t able to sleep that night. I was so fucking grumpy. Thankfully, adult life doesn’t really allow for these types of gaming binges so I’m able to approach the whole thing in moderation. I mostly spend hours creating my Sims and then decide it’s time for bed. Maybe one day I’ll actually get through an entire week. 

Recently Finished
  • What She Left by T.R. Richmond (Kindle edition)
This ended up being a pretty quick read but there were more than a few times that I felt it dragged. Some of the letters seemed to go on longer than they needed to for no reason whatsoever. It was an interesting idea for a novel but I felt the whole thing was just self-indulgent. There was no rush to get to the, again fairly obvious, ending and everything was dragged out to frustrating lengths in an attempt to create tension. I thought the first half of this book was alright but I cared less with every additional page. Could have edited out about a third and tightened up the plot to make this worthwhile. A misuse of a good concept. 

Currently Reading
  • The Life and Death of Sophie Stark by Anna North (Kindle Edition)
Very nearly gave up on this one immediately but, thanks to a shitty experience with public transport today I’ve kept going. I still have some issues with it, some of which I’ll possibly rant about tomorrow, but I’m going to push on. It’s an interesting concept and I’ve heard nothing but good things about it. I so want to like this.

Recently Purchased
  • Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
I’ve seen this book on Instagram for fucking ages and wanted it for myself. I love books that really mess with form. This is written as documents and communication and it looks fucking awesome. When I was a kid I remember reading a series of novels written through the letters/e-mails that a set of pen-pals sent each other. Since then I’ve lapped up anything that’s not written in a  traditional form. We’ll see how this YA sci-fi goes though.
  • Harry Potter Books 5 and 7
I really wanted to buy something on Amazon that was an add on item. Of course, this meant I HAD to buy other things to get my order up to £20. Decided it was time to finish my collection. These books are so fucking adorable and I think the artwork is just amazing. It really captures what I thought the characters looked like on first reading. Since playing Lego Harry Potter recently I’ve felt really nostalgic about this series so may have to re-read or re-watch them all. We’ll see. I might make a thing out of it. 
  • Adventures in Human Being by Gavin Francis
Saw this in WH Smiths on the way home for about £4 and it sounded really interesting. A book full of essays about the human body by ex doctor, Gavin Francis. It sounds informative but also quite literary. A perfect blend for someone who never quite feels ready for non-fiction. 

Recently Watched
  • Love
I wasn’t sure what to think of Netflix’s new series but, at about halfway through, I think I really like it. It’s a bit weird but really good. Interesting characters, bit quirky, kind of realistic: what’t not to like?
  • Gotham
I decided to give Gotham another chance recently and I’m really glad I did. I love it. I mean it’s a bit weird and play fast and loose with the source material but I’m okay with that. The cast is pretty spot on and it’s an interesting idea to show where the villains of Batman’s world came from. There are some that don’t quite work but the majority is great. I also think I’m pretty firmly in love with Sean Pertwee’s Alfred. I never thought I could love a portrayal of Alfred Pennyworth more than Michael Caine but I can’t resist this one. 
  • Deadpool
Fucking Deadpool man. Fuuuuuuuck. Finally saw it and I’m so ready to review it. See you Tuesday. 

R.I.P.D (2013)

buddy comedy, CGI, comedy, cops, cowboy, fucking awful, Jeff Bridges, Kevin Bacon, review, Ryan Reynolds, terrible

It’s really difficult to like Ryan Reynolds these days. I’m sure that there’s a good actor in there somewhere but he just keeps agreeing to star in shitty films. Just take a look at some of his past credentials (The Green Lantern, The Change-Up, The Proposal, Just Friends, The Amityville Horror remake) and it’s a sorry list of bland blockbusters and insipid romantic-comedies. Certainly, it’s a huge change from his early days when his presence would be a welcome addition to any cast-list. These days it’s starting to look as though his two major talents seem to be his rock-hard abs and his ability to get blonde women to marry him. Surely there’s got to be something fantastic hidden away and he’s just waiting for the right film to come along? Unfortunately, that film was never going to be R.I.P.D. Yes, number 3 in this week’s surprise buddy-cop season. Upon release in the US it was universally panned by critics and even given the title of worst film of the year… even with a full 4 months worth of terrible films still to come. So of course I had to check this out for myself. It surely can’t be that bad… can it?


I can imagine just how the first pitch for the R.I.P.D script must have gone: “Well it’s like the type of film you’d get when you mix Men in Blackwith Ghostbusters starring that cowboy from the remake of True Grit, and the Green Lantern… oh and it’s based on a comic book.” You can see why it was snapped up. The world was crying out for a film focusing on the Rest in Peace Department: a supernatural law enforcement agency that hunts down those pesky deceased souls who just aren’t ready to call it quits yet.

It is the unfortunate Boston detective Nick Walker (Ryan Reynolds) who finds himself as the newest member of the secret group when he is killed on duty. I say on duty but he is actually killed by his despicable partner, Bobby Hayes (Kevin Bacon), after Nick gets cold-feet about the pair helping themselves to stolen gold. Rather than finding himself in whatever afterlife awaits him, Nick is recruited by Proctor (Mary-Louise Parker), given a special Deado killing gun and introduced to his new partner, Roy Pulsipher (Jeff Bridges). Roy is straight out of the Wild West and a bit of a lone wolf. He reluctantly accepts his new partner and delights at throwing the rookie in at the deep-end. Which is where find themselves in possession of evidence pointing to a plot to bring utter chaos to the living world.
Instead of being a refreshing new take on the Men in Black format, R.I.P.Dis haphazard and certainly not breaking new ground. It’s the same old story that has been churned out in Hollywood time and time again: grizzled veteran cop meets cocky rookie in an utterly bewildering computer-generated world. The flimsy plot serves as a means to move the story forward but few of the characters or narrative components are given any time to develop beyond their basic function. It serves as nothing more than a means to hold together the various CGI sequences that are constantly being thrust in our faces.
A fact that would be less of a problem if the CGI was actually well-crafted. CGI has come a long way in recent years but R.I.P.D sets the entire area back at least 20 years. If it weren’t for the lead actors you could easily believe that this was an example of the plasticky creatures seen in films throughout the late 90s. Despite having a reportedly large budget, the effects just lack the polish of modern CGI and the longer sequences move at great speed in order to cover up these inadequacies. The downside is of course that everything just becomes so confusing and frantic that an audience will be unlikely to follow, let alone appreciate, any of the unfolding mischief.
Everything about this film just screams laziness. The script is littered with bland humour, awkward character interactions and general weirdness. When it comes down to it, R.I.P.D has only two real things going for it: Bridges and Parker are both fun to watch and do the best that they can with the material they are offered. She gives an interesting spin to the prim and proper manger figure and is the perfect foil to Bridges’ over-the-top Roy, who is pretty much an undead version of Rooster Cogburn. Bridges once again does his best cocky cowboy impression but whilst constantly being under threat of getting upstaged by his eyebrows and facial hair. He’s generally the most interesting character on screen (although that isn’t exactly a compliment in this crowd) and puts considerably more energy into the script than it really deserves. Constantly punctuating the lacklustre action with his physical comedy and comic timing, Bridges ensures that this film doesn’t fall on its face in the first 10 minutes.
Certainly it wouldn’t be able to hold itself up on the strength of Reynolds’ performance. He never really finds his place on screen and finds himself being consistently overshadowed, whether that’s by the much-more talented Bridges and Parker or the shocking CGI. Despite being the necessary plot-point that introduces the audience to the R.I.P.D, this film would have been much better off without Nick moaning about his death and mooning over his widow.  He has almost no personality and none of the stand-out material that Roy gets to play with. Kevin Bacon’s dismal villain aside, Nick is the most forgettable character in the entire movie… a huge triumph for both Reynolds and the writers considering just how long he is on screen for.
Overall, R.I.P.D. is a weak example of the action/comedy genre and will never stand-up against previous releases. It never finds high ground and offers a limp and rarely funny script, underdeveloped characters and awful visuals. Not even the energetic attempts of Jeff Bridges can breathe life into this film but, with the help of Mary-Louise Parker, he does offer some glimmers of joys to help you keep going. Whilst this may not be the “worst film of 2013”, it certainly isn’t making up for Hollywood’s recent filmic misfortunes.