PROSPECT (2018)

A post-goldrush story on a micro budget that makes use of every dollar — the spacesuits and tech are charmingly analogue and cumbersome, medical treatment is harsh, the people are cruel and brutal and happy to kill for the possibility of a fortune.

Held aloft by the boundless charisma of a morally ambiguous Pedro Pascal and finding a resourceful lead in Sophie Thatcher, this is a frontier tale with a minimalist scifi angle.

Enjoyed it, worth a watch.

THOM’S TEENIES TV TOP 10

One of the things I struggled with most when compiling my top film picks for 2010-2019 was that the decade saw such a dramatic shift to a gilded era of television, much of which matched and even surpassed their cinematic bretheren.

There’s so much that is now possible in the episodic format that was unthinkable even a decade ago, and truly these last ten years represent a new high water mark.

As such, I’ve given my favourites their own list, in no particular order, here:

Continue reading “THOM’S TEENIES TV TOP 10”

THE WITCHER s01 (2019)

Takes a bit to come together properly, and in the end mostly establishes itself as a good base for more interesting seasons to come.

Cavill is pitch-perfect as the titular Witcher, the gruff and stoic Geralt of Rivera, and this would have worked well enough as a monster-of-the-week style creature feature show.

Better, then, that there is a whole dense world’s worth of politics and history and intrigue and lore running in parallel to all the magic and monsters, even if the arrangement of the first season sees parallel timelines come across a little jumbled.

If you’re a fan of swords and sorcery this is worth a watch, though be aware that it’s far more unabashedly fantastical than say, GAME OF THRONES is, so your mileage will vary based on your taste there.

Good action, mostly solid effects, brilliantly realised background/landscape artwork.

I liked it, I think it will get much better too. Lots of potential.

THE WOUNDED KING — vaatividya / Elden Ring Contest Entry, 2019

 

I’m thrilled to have made it into the Top 100 entries for vaatividya‘s ELDEN RING design contest, especially considering the absolutely staggering quality of the other entries.
You can watch the Top 10 announcement below to be as amazed at the caliber of work as I was:

(My entry appears in the video around the 28:24 mark).
The challenge was to come up with a boss design for the upcoming videogame collaboration between From Software / George RR Martin, ELDEN RING.

CLICK HERE to see the whole entry booklet I made, which includes some lore, battle and environmental descriptions plus a bit of extra detail about the inspiration and such.

Congratulations to the winners!

WATCHMEN s01 (2019)

Mostly lives up to the impossible task of following on from a legendary piece of graphic fiction.

Takes up in the modern day, following the trajectory of the world that was created after Ozymandias teleported an engineered giant dimensional squid into New York to unite humanity against a perceived common extraterrestrial threat.

Yep, this is a continuation of the comics, not the Zack Snyder film adaptation – because while that is a tonally faithful translation of the incredibly precise graphic novel, there are key mechanical differences that are relevant here that land in spoiler territory.

But even in doing an excellent and clever job of expanding the world, it ultimately only manages to be something of a paler imitation of a superior story that was designed to intentionally be complete in and of itself.

Still, plenty to enjoy. A great modernised take on a classic, well executed social commentary and some good turns. Recommended.

STAR WARS: RISE OF SKYWALKER (2019)

It’s fine.

Certainly not the best STAR WARS film, still not the worst.

Mostly felt like a series of loose ends and by-committee decisions dressed up in some of the most impressive, cool visuals of the whole franchise. The pacing is a mess, especially the first 45min, but eventually it levels out and becomes… fine.

Wastes too much time trying to backtrack over plot points from THE LAST JEDI (a movie which is also just fine, hyberbole aside) and doesn’t flesh out any of the interesting possibilities of The Force which that movie raised.

Adam Driver is great, everyone else does what they can at a breakneck speed through pinballing plot points and inconsequential Macguffins. But hey, it looks mostly fantastic even if everything amounts to a very medium scramble without any real tension or stakes.

People want this to be either amazing or awful and it’s really not either of those. Lucasfilm really should have planned the arc much more, but they did stick the landing even if they fractured an ankle doing so.

THE MANDALORIAN is doing much better, and now that I’m back from vacation I’ll have to get to get back to finishing that one up.

AD ASTRA (2019)

Part CONTACT, part GRAVITY, part 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, part SOLARIS, part INTERSTELLAR… and that’s kind of the problem.

Because for all its ambition to be a Terrance Malick-like space movie it doesn’t have anything to offer that hasn’t already been covered in more arresting fashion elsewhere.

The visuals are great and would have likely been impressive as hell on a big screen, but at the end of it all we’re left with a perfectly mechanical character performance from Brad Pitt that only ever threatens to become transcendent and ultimately doesn’t serve anything especially interesting.

Underwhelming.

JAY & SILENT BOB REBOOT (2019)

I’ll confess that there’s a lot of me that’s grown past much of the kind of humour particular to this slice of the View Askewniverse, and yet there’s an unassailable honesty and sincerety to everything that Kevin Smith makes and an infectious sort of fun to the rolling roster of celebrity appearances, self-aware jokes and cheap gags that makes it impossible not to get at least a little caught up in his enthusiasm.

Even better then to see it in a packed theatre while he and Jason Mewes regale a crowd of late-night fans at The Rio with tales of the journey that’s taken them from JAY & SILENT BOB STRIKE BACK almost twenty years ago forward into the same universe, with all the people who have grown up in the meanwhile (some forty-plus cameos??) and their now adult children too.

Smith himself claims the title of The Biggest Kevin Smith Fan, but that’s not for love of himself but for absolute joy of what he gets to do as Kevin Smith.

Who else could pull three Batmans into one dumb film and still have room for a last joke with the great Stan Lee?