Film Review: Star Trek Beyond – 6/10

‘Fear of death is illogical…’

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Historically, I was never really a fan of Star Trek. Indeed, at one point I saw it as a direct competitor of my beloved Star Wars and so became smarmily dismissive of Trekkies and the franchise they followed. It was JJ Abrams who converted me with his 2009 reboot but I don’t have the requisite background knowledge to really appreciate the new Star Trek movies as I should. I enjoyed Into Darkness but that is probably related to my undying love of all things Cumberbatch.

As we reach the third instalment I don’t think there is enough going to really capture and hold my interest. The introduction of Idris Elba, the world’s most boring and overrated actor, only added to my growing sense of ennui whilst watching Star Trek Beyond.

The casting of the main Star Trek crew has always been the reboots’ secret weapon but there isn’t enough humour or panache in the script to make the most of the talent available. Many people complain about the Marvel movies feeling ubiquitous and samey, watching Star Trek Beyond I understand how they feel. I don’t know whether it is my lack of interest in Star Trek on the whole or diminishing returns in terms of quality (or both), but Star Trek Beyond took me three sittings to sit through. I kept being distracted by pictures of cats or my actual cat or other cat related shenanigans.

There are a few genuinely memorable scenes in Star Trek Beyond and the main cast once again perform admirably but when you are constantly being upstaged by both real and fictional cats it is probably time to stop making new Star Trek movies for a while.

 

Film Review: Split – 6/10

“You like to make fun of us, but we are more powerful than you think…’

I really try my best to be positive about every film I watch. Apart from The Mothman Prophecies. Or Die Hard 5. Or Vanishing on 7th Street. Ok, so maybe I don’t try my very best to be favourable but I would like to think I attempt to at least be fair. I should say that I am a fan of M. Night Shyamalan generally. I consider The Sixth Sense to be one of the greatest horror films of my generation. I even enjoyed The Happening for chrissakes so I went into Split fully expecting to enjoy it. Let’s kick off with the positives…

Split is a nasty but effective story about a man with 23 split personalities who kidnaps three teenage girls and locks them in a labyrinthine underground maze. The scenes in his nefarious lair are interwoven with appointments with a psychiatrist to help to flesh out back story and provide a bit of exposition.

James McAvoy has a lot to aim at in any actor’s dream role as he portrays numerous characters in the same film. While he is certainly competent and the different personalities are easily identified, there is a nagging feeling that a more charismatic actor could have done more with the role. Anya Taylor-Joy should be recognisable to horror fans after her all conquering turn as Thomasin in The Witch, a far superior film that came out in 2015. The rest of the cast are forgettable but that is par for the course in the genre.

I consider Shyamalan to be the master of the lingering scare. He is a genius at, not only making you jump once, but also creeping up on you again later when sleep remains elusive. Split has few of these moments, and even The Visit, his last film before Split, is much more frightening than this.

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Of course, as we all know Shyamalan lives or dies based around the inevitable twist in the final act of all his movies. Bruce Willis being revealed as a ghost is still one of cinemas most shocking moments. The problems with forever using this technique are twofold. Firstly, it removes any element of re-watchability as the all the impact has been removed. Secondly, and perhaps most pertinently, the audience is always waiting for the twist to come, robbing it of any real shock value. Taking all that into account, I can safely say that Split has comfortably the worst ending of any M. Night Shyamalan movie. The final scene in which Bruce Willis himself reveals that the main character not only exists in the same universe as Mr Glass from Unbreakable but also that he shares the same condition as Samuel L. Jackson’s character in that film. What a fucking cop out. Who wants to see a film defined by a call back to a 17-year-old movie that was only ever mediocre in the first goddamn place.

It is incredibly self-indulgent to be believe that people will be shocked or thrilled by this ending. Most people will just be confused or mildly annoyed. I was both.

 

Film Review: Snatch – 8.5/10

‘You should never underestimate the predictability of stupidity…’

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It’s been many years since I last watched Snatch but I have seen it so many times that watching it again felt like slipping into an old shoe. Unfortunately, I have that same feeling every morning when I slip into some actual old shoes because I can’t afford new ones. I digress. Snatch is what happens when loads of disparate but brilliant elements come together to form one glorious whole. It is difficult to think of a film that boasts a cast as eclectic as Benicio Del Toro, Brad Pitt, Vinnie Jones, Jason Statham and Frank fucking Butcher from Eastenders. Snatch uses this madcap collection as a strength rather than a hindrance however and Guy Ritchie’s razor sharp script is as hilarious as it is ingenious.

Watching Snatch, it is easy to see why Brad Pitt was once the biggest movie star in the world. More importantly however, it is also obvious why Pitt was also considered one of the best actors of his generation. His powerhouse performance in Snatch is as good as any in a hugely successful career and is also one of his most unique. Pitt would be nothing without the rest of his cast though and they have as much fun as the viewer.

One of the reasons that Brad Pitt doesn’t totally steal the show is that Jason Statham is so compelling. After making a career out of starring in the same one word titled film over and over again (TransporterCrankRedemption etc etc) it is easy to forget why Statham became such a global star in the first place. The Derbyshire born actor has the comedic chops to go with his ridiculous good looks and it’s a shame we haven’t seen him in more challenging roles.

Snatch is rightly considered one of the best gangster films of all time and it is Guy Ritchie’s finest achievement. You know something is a cultural milestone when people quote it without knowing what they are quoting from, even years later. Snatch is one of those films. A true classic.