MacPsych at the movies: La La Land

I think I went to see La La Land at just the right time. Let’s face it: the first few weeks of 2017 have been pretty miserable from an international perspective and the news shows haven’t held back in delivering a steady stream of doom, gloom and bigotry on a nightly basis.

I also need to preface my review of the movie with an admission that I’m a massive fan of musicals. Always have been. My favourites are probably the classics staring Gene Kelly, whose voice and footwork still give me footsteps. There’s something about people singing and dancing on film that lightens my mood and gets my feet tapping.

Infectiously light-hearted and optimistic.

And that’s La La Land in a nutshell. It reflects and pays tribute to so many musicals, I lost count. There are the ‘dream sequences’ we came to know and love in Gene Kelly’s American in Paris, and the skirt-swinging, stamping attitude of West Side Story.

I was, quite simply, in heaven for the entire film.

But if you’re not a fan of musicals, you’ll probably be more critical and won’t enjoy the (apparently) random songs and dances. You’ll spot the slight ropiness of some of the singing and some of the (slight) mis-steps.

And that’s precisely what I loved about it. In a world where over-produced music is flavour of the month, to see two people skip through a song was a welcome change. The soundtrack has been bouncing around in my head ever since and I think it’ll become one of my most favourite Spotify albums.

The whole experience was a welcome palate-cleanser, helping me forget the shit-show the world has become in the last six month, just for a couple of hours. I haven’t lost my mind completely. I don’t think it’s worth 14 Oscars, it’s just a well-made, fun and light production.

There are better musicals. There are far better soundtracks. And there are definitely better singers! But the combination of song, dance, enthusiasm and timing got me where it counts. If you’re a hopeless romantic like me, sit back and prepare to smile.

MacPsych at the Movies: Rogue One

So. This was a long time coming. Or at least that’s how it felt. A new Star Wars movie, this time another prequel, just one year on the heels of  Star Wars sequel.

Confusing, perhaps, for those of us not steeped in the Star Wars universe and its complex history. But Rogue One does a great job of existing as a standalone movie – you don’t really need to have an encyclopaedic knowledge of Star Wars to enjoy it.

Continue reading “MacPsych at the Movies: Rogue One”

Here comes Spider-Man (again)

The first trailer for the new Spider-man film has finally been released and it’s a doozie! If you’ve seen Captain America: Civil War, you’ll know it (spoiler alert!) featured a certain Peter Parker in a cameo role.

It looks like Spider-Man: Homecoming picks up after that, as the trailer features the ever-suave Tony Stark (a.k.a. Iron Man) who seems to have adopted a kind of mentor role for Peter. I think it’s a nice overlap with the rest of the Marvel cinematic universe and will make sense to people who saw Spider-Man’s last outing.

Continue reading “Here comes Spider-Man (again)”

The Guardians are back!

Oh how I’ve waited for news of the sequel to ‘Guardians of the Galaxy‘. Finding the trailer online this morning was a great start to the day and had me laughing out loud in seconds. Baby Groot! Baby Groot!

Drax still doesn’t get subtlety and Star Lord remains an adorable sleaze-bag. The sociopathic genetically altered raccoon called Rocket is still looking after Groot. Add to this Gamora’s intensity, propensity for violence and Daddy issues and you’ve got the perfect team. 

And look at that cameo of Mantis – hope she’s joining the team for good. 

God I can’t wait to see this. I might even watch the original again this afternoon. It’s just the kind of antidote to 2016 that my brain needs. Some good quality comedy Sci-fi featuring comic characters I love. A shame it’s not coming out until next May. 

MacPsych at the Movies: Doctor Strange

I’ll fully admit that I went to see this film out of a sense of obligation. I’m a massive Marvel Comics fan and have enjoyed nearly all of the movie adaptations they’ve made in the past few years. But I was worried about Doctor Strange, as it represents such a change in tone from it predecessors.

Let’s recap. Whereas Captain America is a war hero, Stephen Strange is an arrogant and selfish neurosurgeon. Whereas Captain American makes the ultimate sacrifice (spoilers?), Stephen Strange turns away needy patients if he doesn’t think he’ll attain a successful outcome – and get the glory that follows.

So he’s not instantly likeable.

And whereas Tony Stark is also arrogant, he lives the millionaire playboy lifestyle and uses incredible technology to battle his enemies. Stephen Strange is cerebral, intelligent, a professional, doesn’t use gadgets and actually wears a cloak. Yes, a cloak.

However…

This step into the world of magic and the mystic arts is handled so well, it really feels like a continuation of the Marvel Universe story – we’re just seeing another chapter unfolding. Yes, he’s a pretty awful person, but as always in these situations, he experiences a disaster, comes out the other side and is a (slightly) better person for it.

I’m not a Harry Potter fan nor do I enjoy fantasy stories. That said, this film had me hooked from the outset. I was very familiar with the Doctor Strange story from the comics, so I was keen to see how they’d adapt it for the screen and a 2016 audience.

In short, very successfully. Benedict Cumberbatch was BORN to play Strange, just as Robert Downey Jr was born to play Tony Stark / Iron Man. The resemblance is uncanny. And while there are some interesting changes to the profiles of other characters (e.g. “The Ancient One”, now played by Tilda Swinton) the characters work.

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There’s an excellent mix of exposition and back-story, combined with humour, action and some resolution. It’s basically the origin of Doctor Strange, but immediately makes him part of the shared Marvel Universe that also contains Captain America, Thor and the Hulk. It does this really skilfully and no prior knowledge of the Doctor Strange mythos is required.

(Also, you have to stay for two excellent post-credits scenes that set up future films. Honestly, if you’re a Marvel fan, you’ll love them.)

I can really recommend this to any fans of fun, action and adventure. You need not be a comics fan or a fan of magic (I’m not, I’m really not!). In fact, there were moments in “Doctor Strange” where I was transported back to my first screening of “Raiders of the Lost Ark”. It’s that fun and that full of adventure.  And the special effects are very impressive – and quite psychedelic!

I can’t wait to see more of Doctor Strange in future Marvel movies.

And if you’re interested in learning more about the character, check out this wikipedia page or some recent comics. And now, a bonus recent comic appearance of Tony Stark and Doctor Strange – I love how disdainful Strange is of everything Stark represents.

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Coming soon: The Siege at Jadotville

This looks excellent! A new film about the Irish UN force who served in the (then) Congo during the 1960s. It’s a true story about how a tiny Irish force took on a massive attack from mercenaries and local rebels.

From the Irish Times review:

“Few will sit through Richie Smyth’s stirring action film without thinking of Zulu. The 1961 siege at Jadotville in The Congo, during which an Irish battalion resisted repeated attacks from Katangese secessionists, bears comparison with that heroic defence of Rorke’s Drift. The contexts are, however, very different. Adapted from a book by Declan Power, Kevin Brodpin’s script works hard at explaining how a UN force ended up entangled in one of the era’s messier post-colonial disputes.”

I’ll definitely add it to my Netflix queue, but agree that this is the kind of thing that needs to be seen on the big screen. Hopefully somewhere near me will be showing it.

For those interested in the history that lead to Irish soldiers fighting in the heart of Africa in the 1960s, here’s the Wikipedia entry. Veterans of the siege were only this month formally recognised by the Irish Government.

This has me so excited

The new trailer for Rogue One dropped the other day and I’ve watched it over and over since. Such a geek, such a Star Wars fan.

The trailer is so well cut – it’s tantalising and dramatic. Fleeting shots of characters and scenes you just want to know more about. It’s already being examined for clues about the wider story.

I go to the cinema a lot and some of the trailers just tell you the entire story. I always thought trailers were suppose to tease, to make you so excited about the film that you couldn’t wait to get out and see it. The creative team behind this know exactly what they’re doing here!

From Lucasfilm comes the first of the Star Wars standalone films, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” an all-new epic adventure. In a time of conflict, a group of unlikely heroes band together on a mission to steal the plans to the Death Star, the Empire’s ultimate weapon of destruction. This key event in the Star Wars timeline brings together ordinary people who choose to do extraordinary things, and in doing so, become part of something greater than themselves. In theaters December 2016.

Roll on December and another series of trips to see a Star Wars film again and again!

A spoiler-free Captain America: Civil War review

Want the shortest version of this? Captain America: Civil War is excellent for fans of comics, super heroes and action films.

However, if you don’t know what S.H.I.E.L.D. is or how it’s different from Captain America’s shield, you may find it hard to keep up with this one. Indeed, if you can’t accept that it’s perfectly reasonable for two World War II soldiers to have experienced different forms of suspended animation and still be able to smash down doors and leap through walls, then maybe you should give it a miss.

But I hope you don’t as it’s tremendous fun. Continue reading “A spoiler-free Captain America: Civil War review”