Captain Marvel ramble-a-thon

I saw Captain Marvel, the latest frontier in the Marvel Extended Beach House Fund. It's gotten what you could call "mixed" reviews (81% on Rotten Tomatoes, but 65% on the more granular Metacritic), which instantly dampened by expectations since I apply a 20% reduction to the critic score of any Marvel movie (the elusive and mysterious Ronan Factor).

Well, surprise: I fucking loved Captain Marvel. It's now hands-down my favourite MCU movie, beating out last year's Infinity War.  To explain why, I have prepared a rambling, unstructured (spoiler-free!) list of thoughts.

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Grindelwald.mp3 (feat. unannounced guest appearance by my cat)

Merry Christmas, everyone! Please enjoy this extra bonus content, which I recorded on my phone and put very little effort into.

Trying something a little different for the dawning of a new year. Writing blog posts is great, but I rarely have the energy for it these days. So what if sometimes, I could just deliver my opinions directly from my brain to your face? Over the internet?

Let me know if you enjoyed this and I'll do more like it. Maybe I'll even get a real microphone! And a camera! 

Spoilers for The Crimes of Grindelwald by the way.

The existential horror of CG Pokemon

It was more or less inevitable that someone, one day, would make a live action Pokemon movie. Talk of such a thing has been doing the rounds since the late 90s when the franchise was at its cultural peak, but now it’s finally happening.

And it’s taking the form of…a loose adaptation of a 3DS spin-off where Pikachu is a detective. Voiced by the Deadpool guy.


I’ll say this for it, the Pokemon designs don’t look nearly as horrifying in motion as they do in the still images that have been doing the rounds on Twitter. That isn’t going to stop me from making fun of them.

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Ronan Wills x Ferretbrain

Ferretbrain has been one of my favourite websites for a long time. Hosting an absolute treasure trove of reviews and opinions, it’s seen me through a lot of boring commutes (and lately, time spent resting in bed).

Last year, I wrote most of a review on the Purge series, which I had to abandon due to Brain Issues. I managed to pull together enough energy to finish it off following the release of The First Purge a few weeks ago, and I decided to submit it to Ferretbrain in order to give back to the site.

You can find the post here. I’d like to contribute more content in future, so keep a close eye on the latest article feed for more of yours truly.

In which I over-analyse two seconds of a Harry Potter trailer

The final trailer for Warner Bros Presents JK Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (a Wizarding World™ Product) has landed, and it shockingly features a slimy, hideous creature whose inclusion in the movie is both capital-P problematic and a dubious decision from a creative standpoint.

But as well as Johnny Depp, it’s also got a big snake in it. In keeping with the strange and inexplicable-even-to-myself fascination I have with this spin-off franchise, I immediately gave it a look.

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Avengers: Infinity War spoiler hootenanny

I saw it. I actually liked it! I'm ambivalent at best about a lot of Marvel movies, and I was extremely bored by the first half of the last big cross-over movie they did, but this one kept me entertained. When the end came, I was surprised because I thought there was another forty minutes left; for a movie that's over two and a half hours long, that's impressive.

Below, find some spoiler-filled discussions of specific parts of the movie.

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Movies That Annoyed Me: The Open House

We're quietly going through a sort of horror renaissance at the moment. It made big bucks at the box office, and there's horror projects and adaptations and TV series getting green-lit all over the place. You can barely swing a cat these days without hitting a new horror project. 

At the forefront of all of this are the major streaming platforms, who now have the cash and resources to fund or purchase horror projects that the big studios might have been too risk-averse to take on. At least, that's how it works sometimes. Other times, they just scoop up some pile of crap that the traditional movie world didn't want to touch.

Which brings us to The Open House.

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Movies That Annoyed Me: Blair Witch

Apologies, y'all--I meant to write the next Kvothe post this week, but I'm lacking the energy at the moment. Please enjoy this horror movie rant instead.

I love 1999's The Blair Witch Project. I know it quickly became popular to dunk on it as an Actually Not Scary movie where nothing happens, but I watched it alone at night and it freaked me out like nobody's business.

If you're somehow unfamiliar with the movie, it's the popularizer (but not inventor) of the whole found footage thing, telling the story of three documentarians who venture into the woods, get spooked by a mysterious supernatural force, then disappear. The movie is semi-infamous for revealing absolutely nothing about the nature of whatever was menacing the characters ("you don't even see the witch" became a smirking complaint among people who don't get how horror works).

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Why Star Wars fans hate The Last Jedi

I saw The Last Jedi last night. I liked it. I liked it a whole lot. I might even go so far as to say that I loved it. A lot of people didn't love it. A lot of Star Wars fans seem to absolutely hate it with a burning intensity that I initially found baffling, but which I think I now understand. If you're one of those people, here's a spoiler-filled post where I explain your own thought processes to you in a mildly condescending way.

And hey, stick around to the end of the post, where I unload my space-guns on some parts of the movie that I also didn't like.

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My review of the first 40 minutes of IT

I tried to see IT last night, and had to leave after about forty minutes. Not because the clown was too spooky, but because of migraines. The human brain: sometimes it sucks.

So here's a review of that first portion of the film, and why I didn't like it very much.

Before we start, I should mention that I have never read the Stephen King novel (King being best--or possibly only--enjoyed in very small doses), nor have I watched the miniseries that a lot of people seem to remember fondly, so I really walked into this with no expectations or preconceptions beyond a desire for scary clown antics. And the movie delivered those, just not in the way I was hoping for.

I'm kind of a giant snob when it comes to horror movies, in that I think the vast majority of mainstream wide-release horror movies totally suck and aren't scary, mostly due to a reliance on jump scares over genuine fear. IT doesn't seem like it falls into that trap, but it's lacking in subtlety in a whole other way.

The part of the movie I saw repeats the same basic format over and over again: there's a scene with the characters hanging out or investigating something, a kid wanders off into an isolated area, they're confronted by a kind of goofy looking monster, then Pennywise runs at them going ARGLEBARGLEBARGLE. Then there's another bit where the characters hang out, then another arglebargle scene, and then another hanging out bit, and then...

It's a very strange structure, like being on a roller coaster that's composed of nothing but an endless sequence of climbs and drops, spaced out so you can always tell exactly when the next one is coming. The movie seems less interested in genuinely scaring its audience than in triggering an adrenaline rush, the "scare" scenes all being accompanied by a deafening score and intense imagery (note that I said "intense" and not "scary" or "disturbing").

The shame of it is that the movie does pull out a few moments of really great, subtle creepiness, as in this scene highlighted by Birth.Movies.Death. The opening encounter between Georgie and Pennywise is also played fairly low-key, at least until Pennywise activates his Monster Mouth and bites the kid's arm off.

Actually, that moment kind of encapsulates everything I didn't like about the movie. The scene ends on a shot of blood running down a storm drain, which I found way creepier and more affecting than the arm biting; I'm willing to bet the entire scene would have turned out much more memorable if you never saw what happened, and just heard Georgie's screams followed by that last, chilling shot.

But no, the movie wants to be VISCERAL and R-RATED and make audiences go BOY HOWDY THAT SURE WAS SCARY GOSH DARN IT (the audience turns into cowboys for some reason). 

Still, I'm glad it's doing gangbusters at the box office. For all its apparent flaws (and I am cognizant of the fact that I'm judging it based on a third of its running time), it's still an ambitious, relatively high-budget horror movie that was clearly created with a lot more care than your average disposable Halloween fodder. Given how trend-based Hollywood is, maybe it will be the impetus for studios to start putting more effort into horror movies from now on.