From the quadruple-bill of Hollywood freight-trains; Baywatch, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, Alien: Covenant and Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar's Revenge... to the smaller-budget offerings like Miss Sloane, War Machine and late arrival Berlin Syndrome, it’s been busy, and there’s certainly been a spread (amirite?) of movies. But what’s the best from May, 2017?
Olly's Choice: Wonder Woman
I’d practically decided that Mindhorn was going to be my choice for May’s GOFPFOTM at the end of April, when I had the good fortune to catch a preview of it in Coventry: the 11th most something city in the UK, Iain could probably make some stat up here. [Iain - “11th most unexceptional city in the UK”]
This was before May had even commenced, before I had seen the very highly anticipated Alien:Covenant. As previously mentioned on the June Lookahead episode of the podcast, I did get a lot of enjoyment out of Alien:Covenant, however Mindhorn was still clear of the competition.
This was before Baywatch which by all accounts would be a criminal offence to talk about in such a positive light, and even before Max 2: White House Hero, a tale about an ex Marine dog that gets promoted to chief of security at the White House, or something. Look I don’t know, I’ve seen the front cover and that’s what it looks like.
Mindhorn at this point was pretty much clearing a space on the shelf for this almost prestigious award.
Nice one Wonder Woman, you gone and messed it RIGHT up by being all really good.
Just so I don’t have to do any explaining of the plot at all, here’s THE OFFICIAL SYNOPSIS: Before she was Wonder Woman she was Diana, princess of the Amazons, trained warrior. When a pilot crashes and tells of conflict in the outside world, she leaves home to fight a war to end all wars, discovering her full powers and true destiny. Sounds alright doesn’t it.
For the first 40 minutes I didn’t think Wonder Woman was going to trump Mindhorn and it was pretty much just being...alright. The CG was problematic, the accents were a bit iffy, and the “jokes” were falling flat, case in point; Chris Pine’s downed fighter pilot lays in a milky spa pool, having a good old relax, enter Diana Princess of the Amazons, given that the pair had only just met and this is the 1930’s, well before unsolicited dick pics - it seemed odd that he would instantly stand up, revealing his genital area. It’s almost like he did that just so Diana Princess of the Amazons could say “Wow, what’s that?” as she looks wide-eyed towards his presumably dripping length. Ahhhh she meant his watch that he’d left on the side of the spa and NOT his penis. We aren’t getting big laughs here, Ant-Man this is not.
As the film soldiers on and leaves for a WW1 battered London things pick up in a big way, especially once you get past the California Man/fish out of water scenarios, and onto the frontline of the “war to end all wars”. The action achieves levels of jump out your cinema chair intensity, even if it does suffer a couple of cases of the burly brawls with a very unrealistic CG Wonder Woman in one or two chaotic scenes.
The stakes are quickly raised both on a global and personal level without feeling like it’s forcing you to care, and the eventual emotional payoff was masterfully delivered and fully earned. I’ve read otherwise but personally, I loved the villains, they were your classic Indiana Jones military baddies with a mythical/fantasy twist and it gave Wonder Woman motivation to get MEGA pissed off in the films most rousing firestorm of a sequence.
It could have messed it all up at the last minute, but it holds firm until the credits and provides something I did not expect; a timely and well handled message on the causes and effects of war. Diana’s earlier naivety in believing a single being could cause the all the ills of the world giving way to understanding a “war to end all wars” isn’t so easily resolved, it takes more than just facing off against the big bad.
I left the cinema happy to bestow the most Wondrous of hero’s my second ever Film of the Month award, sorry Mindhorn, the whip of truth just pipped the eyepatch of truth this time.
Iain's Choice: Alien: Covenant
Well, whilst I have actually managed to see a few releases this month (we’re upping the quality since The Belko Experiment last month) truth be told, I’ve still not seen loads of movies. But, hey! This isn’t intended to be an encyclopedic movie-watching be-all, end-all. Here’s what can simply be described as a single person’s opinion based on a highly incomplete data sample.
This month I saw:
I missed out on the bulk of the big-hitters, but feel that Baywatch was going to be vacuous nonsense with some unwarranted, unmerited sexist and racist jokes, King Arthur was going to be male-fantasy [Olly - Certainly your male fantasy], fighty garbage and that Pirates was going to be… Pirates. If I’m unfairly tarring any of these with a brush, let me know and I’ll take the time to go see them and untar them.
I mention both The Other Side of Hope and The Red Turtle in the Tom Hardy episode. So I won’t detail here. Both highly enjoyable, but not GOFPFOTM material.
So, hey… it’s Alien: Covenant.
I will attempt not to re-tread too much of what you can hear in the full review on the June lookahead episode. So here goes -
Don’t let the fact I saw it twice suggest I fell in love with this. It wasn’t because I thought it was earth-shatteringly amazing or an Oscars-contender. I love the Alien movie universe enough that I’ve even watched Alien: Resurrection a good twenty or so times, so this is expected behaviour. I mean… I’ve even seen Prometheus twice and watched about 6 hours of special features for it, so I’m in a particular demographic here.
I have a detailed gripes list, which I go into in some, but not full detail in our podcast. So I’m no fanboy here either [Olly - Sure].
But I liked it.
Listen, it has a story that moves and develops the overall franchise forwards. That’s what I was most cynical about before seeing it - a rehash of Alien wouldn’t have cut it. In many ways it’s a rehash and amalgam of all of the previous films, but the scenes with David and Walter move the story forwards significantly enough.
An additional note on that: “I’ll do the fingering” aside, Fassbender absolutely smashed it here, and is the reliable backbone of this whole movie.
So, despite a by-the-numbers story structure, some shoddy dialogue and from a cast of many, an extremely low number of characters I remember or care about, Alien: Covenant is exciting, at times tense and shocking and for the most part looks visually stunning. It’s worth your time! So it get’s the gong.
Lastly, I haven’t seen my most anticipated film this month, which was Berlin Syndrome. It hasn’t been on at any nearby cinemas at the time of writing, so let’s discount it until next month shall we?