Crash landing on an uncharted planet was never going to look anything but spectacular when the minds behind the last two Star Trek films and the director of Fast & Furious 3–6 got together. Star Trek Beyond doesn’t wrap up as spectacularly as its bold initial vector, but this sci-fi adventure still manages to be rip-roaring fun.
History has taught us that anybody attempting to revive a film series as monolithic and beloved as Star Wars was doomed to fail. There is too much legacy, too much expectation and too many stakeholders to please, the naysayers said. JJ Abrams and crew have just proved them wrong, because The Force Awakens revitalises the series with the spirit and spectacle many have longed for.
The James Bond series’ legacy casts a long shadow. And we felt that shadow last Friday when Sam Smith’s theme song, ‘Writing’s on the Wall’, for the forthcoming 007 film, Spectre, premiered on BBC Radio 1, and instantly garnered responses of delight and derision from listeners.
No modern James Bond film has appeared without a babble of disagreement over its accompanying theme song. Though some, including Sir Roger Moore, have praised Smith’s song, others have labelled it “bland”, “excruciatingly wimpy”, and suggested it “doesn’t seem to fit the possible theme of the film”.
Whether Smith’s (over)emotional outpouring makes it to number one or not, a hit theme song can do wonders for the life of a film, and the singer who performs it.
From pumpkin pasties and Elven Lembas bread, to hot spiced wine and elixir soup, she has formulated some 80 recipes from beloved books, films, TV shows and video games on her blog, The Geeky Chef. Her home for succulent-sounding delicacies from the likes of Harry Potter, The Legend of Zelda, Game of Thrones, Fallout 3, Portal and more, offers step-by-step instructions, themed photography and brief backgrounders on the origin of these recipes. And it’s become something of a web sensation.
Director Joss Whedon and crew are having so much fun with Avengers: Age of Ultron. And it seems like, from the parade of CG neutron explosions, dismemberments and collateral damage that make up this globe-trotting comic adventure, when faced with the decision of whether they should do something simply because they could – much like Robert Downey Jr’s Tony Stark in the film – their answer every time was an emphatic: “How could we say no?”
The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel isn’t a film targeted at the more-than-catered-for 20-something with plenty of free time on their hands. In fact, you’d be right to be suspicious if anybody under the age of 30 told you this film – the sequel to a 2012 sleeper hit about a group of kindly, mature ladies and gents, living out their twilight years in an Indian hotel – was on their must-see list.
So how did I end up seeing this film, when under different circumstances, I would have opted for It Follows, Selma or even Shaun the Sheep? Quite simply, my grandmother requested I accompany her to see a film at the cinema, and, naturally, she left the choosing of the film up to her web-literate grandson, who in turn looked to see what grandmother-appropriate films were showing.
That’s how I ended up choosing to see comedy-drama, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, yesterday evening. And, you know what? It’s not bad. As light and somewhat predictable as the story is, the characters and plotlines here are entertaining and will delight most of those old enough to feel their youth is fading or behind them.
They don’t always need to be comfortable or straightforward. In fact, they shouldn’t be. No matter what the medium, you expect the author to fulfil a sort of unwritten agreement that, at the end of it all, you will have gained something from taking the time to engage with their story. That could be as simple as learning something new (as the classic parables of old do) or it could be more personal (learning deep truths about the nature of life or society through the eyes of a character you identify with).
Endings and why some of them leave us dissatisfied have been on my mind recently, since finishing the finales to several video games and fiction series. Both mediums have presented me with examples of endings that livid up to my expectations and others that fell short.