Resident Evil Welcome To Raccoon City: Sony Isn’t Even Trying To Hide The Product Placement

4/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

The first two games in the Resident Evil series are mashed together in what serves as another cinematic reboot of the franchise.

Oh boy this one is going to be divisive.

For the most part I really enjoyed this film, not as much as the earlier Resident Evil films with Milia Jovovich, but those hold a special place in my heart.

The biggest pro I can give this film is that I found it to be genuinely quite freighting, I don’t scare easily but this one did a number on me and stayed with me after I left the film. I thought the film did a lot of good atmosphere work as well as showing how much of a threat the mutants and Umbrella themselves are. I also thought the film was very tense throughout which only heightened this.

The casting… This is where things will get dicey for some. For the most part I thought the casting was good, many won’t like the portrayal of Leon S. Kennedy here, some for bigot reasons as Avan Jogia is playing a race swapped version of the character and others for the fact that he is constantly proven by the film to be inept and a bit of a loser. To those who Leon is there favourite character this will annoy them to no end, however, I was never that attached to Leon. Personally, despite him being a screw up character I actually thought Jogia did a lot with the role and I really liked him, he was probably my favourite character in the entire film.

Kaya Scodelario is great as Claire Redfield and Robbie Ammell is okay as her brother Chris, I think Scodelario is the start of the show throughout and would love to watch a Claire solo film with her in it. However, where the casting falls apart for me is with Tom Hopper as Albert Wesker. Firstly Hopper doesn’t look the part and looks distractingly miscast throughout, and moreover the characterisation of Wesker is all wrong with the film trying to portray him sympathetically despite him being one of the big bads of the Resident Evil universe. I didn’t like it.

The mashing together of the first two games stories worked for me and I felt like they gave both justice and didn’t rush through it. I would have liked Mr X to make an appearance but hey maybe in a sequel. I think there is enough there for both long time fans of the series, like myself, as well as for newcomers who might be unfamiliar.

Two other smaller issues I had with the film was the blatant product placement, it is everywhere, and the drawn out flash back opening, which I found to be quite slow. Personally I would have opened it with the police investigating Spencer’s mansion, but that’s just me.

Overall, I enjoyed myself I thought it did justice to the series and it scared me. Hopper was miscast badly and the product placement and opening put me off to a degree but the good vastly outweighs the bad.

Pros.

Jogia’s Leon

The scares

Scodelario’s Claire

The ending

Cons.

A slow opening

Hopper

The product placement

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Hawkeye: Echoes

3.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Clint, played by Jeremy Renner, and Kate, played by Hailee Steinfeld must escape their bondage whilst being pursued by new character Echo, played by Alaqua Cox.

I think this episode was a big step up from the previous two mainly because Kate’s parents were barely in it and it focused on action and advancing the plot rather than mindless teen angst filler.

I thought Echo was done marvellously well and can see why she is getting her own show. Her origin story immediately makes the audience warm to her and hate Clint, honestly the series as a whole makes Clint worse as he faces no consequences for being a mass murder; hopefully he will face some kind of justice by the end of the series.

I also enjoyed the series continuing the tease out Vincent D’Onofrio’s Kingpin returning the MCU, I hope they actually deliver on this and don’t full a Boner with this one as well, as I think that would really start to annoy the fans as the series clearly knows what it is doing.

I think the downside of this episode for me was the action sequence as tonally it was all over the place. The most teased trick arrows feel naff and also Kate seem unphased at the prospect at blowing up a truck full of people with one such trick arrow which I thought was a strange bit of character development.

Overall, better than the first two hopefully it keeps this pace and we don’t have to suffer through anymore family scenes with Kate’s parents.

Ps. When I say parents I mean mum and step father, just thought I would specify.

Pros.

Echo

Clint’s emotional moment with his kids

Echo’s back story

The use and restriction of sound

Cons.

Issues with the action sequence   

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Hawkeye: Hide And Seek

3/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Hawkeye, played by Jeremy Renner, briefly teams up with Kate Bishop, played by Hailee Steinfeld in order to defeat The Track Suit Mafia and free themselves from the grip of New York’s Underworld.

This episode was better than the first, not hugely so, and certainly nowhere near the level of other Marvel shows but it was a small step in the right direction. Why? Well because things actually happened here and the series covered more than just the inner squabbles of Kate’s family. I would very much like the series to leave her family behind and focus on her and Hawkeye taking down the mob.

Thankfully for the most part they ignore the murder mystery aspect and focus more on Hawkeye’s efforts to stop the Track Suit Mafia and get the suit back, which leads to two entertaining scenes. The first being the larping scene as having such a self-serious character as Hawkeye pushed into this silly situation is just funny no matter how you slice it. The other is of course the final scene introducing us to Echo, played by Alaqua Cox, which is fun as it teases out further heroes in the MCU and expands out the coming Daredevil mythos.

I still truly believe the major thing holding this show back is the family melodrama. Whenever I see Vera Farmiga’s mother character or her finance come onto the screen I turn off as I don’t want to watch another family spat, it was tiresome to begin with, now it is just annoying.

Overall, slightly better but still a long, long way to go.

Pros.

Echo

The larp sequence

The wider universe teases

Cons.

Still too much family drama

The pace is still deathly slow

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Red Notice: Gal Gadot Outshines Ryan Reynolds And Dwayne Johnson

3/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Two art thieves, played by Ryan Reynolds and Gal Gadot, and one former FBI Agent, played by Dwayne Johnson compete against one another in order to pull off a multimillion dollar heist.

I think there is something deeply generic about this film, however the charm of its leads is enough to keep you watching particularly Gadot.  Gadot gets a lot of unwarranted criticism for one very obvious reason and that is the fact that she is from Israel and Jewish which is abhorrent and anti-Semitic. Honestly, Gadot is the highlight of the film and though used sparingly she really does a lot with the scenes she is included in.

Johnson and Reynolds have a good back and forth, as Hobbs and Shaw proved, however there is nothing new for either here. Though both are charming I would like to see them take more risks Reynold’s especially, I am starting to get bored of the Deadpool shtick. The scenes with all three performers are certainly the strongest.

In terms of the story there is nothing really new here. As I said in my review of Netflix’s Army Of Thieves once you have seen one heist film you have seen them all, and that is very true here. Almost everything that happens here has been done before.

Overall, a very mediocre film made better by its leads.

Pros.

The chemistry between the leads

Gadot

The ending

Cons.

It is very generic

There are no surprises    

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Dangerous: Lacking The Charm Of His Father

1.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A dangerous young man, played by Scott Eastward, goes on a killing spree after the death of his brother.

I just want to preface this piece by stating nice and clearly that you can like someone as an actor in films without condoning their real life actions, yes I am talking about Mel Gibson, I thought that was a fairly self-explanatory concept but some out there think it makes one a hypocrite- ah well.

I think Scott Eastward is going to struggle to ever be anything even remotely close to what his dad was/is in the action genre. He does not have his dad’s charisma in any way and frankly I just don’t think he is a good actor, he seems ill-suited to any role he is cast in, but hey nepotism so he keeps getting work.

On the whole I thought this was an incredibly cheesy, not in a good way, and generic action film. All of the characters have the depth of a shallow puddle and felt entirely made out of cliches, with Famke Janssen probably getting it the worst: nearly every line that comes out of her mouth is groan worthy here.

 The one redeeming factor of the film is the performance from Mel Gibson who is being wonderfully odd and either intentionally or unintentionally hilarious. The film picks up whenever he comes back on screen.

Overall, this one is destined for the bottom of the bargain bin.

Pros.

Mel Gibson being strange

It is short

Cons.

Eastwood

It is generic

The dialogue is generally terrible

It is dull

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Star Wars Visions: Lop And Ocho

3.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

On a distant world a family is driven apart by the influence of the Empire, with one young alien Lop, voiced by Seiran Kobayashi, forced to take up arms to keep her family together.

I enjoyed the focus on family here, I always think Star Wars is at its best when it is telling familial tales of fractured families. In that regard I really bought the father daughter dynamic. However, I struggled to believe the sister dynamic as I thought it did not receive enough development. In the final shots of the episode when such a key focus is placed on family and sisterhood the payoff doesn’t land as the two characters have not really spend much screen time together.

In terms of animation I thought this one looked good and I enjoyed how stylised the battle scenes were, particularly the when the lightsabre got involved. The battle sequence felt just the right length to convey the importance of the moment and the emotion, without beginning to feel repetitive.

My main gripe with this episode comes back to things I have already said here, the pacing is off. This episode could have done with being ten minutes longer, it could have scored higher if it had been as it could have devoted more of its runtime to the sister dynamic and shown the sway of the dark side more than just implying it. However, as it is it just feels like it is missing something.

Overall, a good episode, but one that could have been improved by being longer.

Pros.

The father daughter dynamic

The animation style

The focus on the Jedi and Lightsabres significance

The ending

Cons.

The sister dynamic needed more work

It felt like it was missing something on the whole

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Star Wars Visions: The Elder

4/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A Jedi and his Padawan discover a Sith whilst investigating a disturbance in the force.

I am a big fan of Studio Trigger and was disappointed with their other episode The Twins, so I am glad to see that they make up for it here. The Elder is easily one of the best episodes in the series, as it meditates on what it means to be Jedi and Sith, and explores how easy it is for one to fall down a dark path.

Furthermore, this is also the best episode from an animation standpoint as it is the most visually interesting and unique, the animation of the former Sith lord is incredible especially what they do with the facial animation. Moreover, the battle scene and later the dissolving scene are also really well done and striking. I would say of the seven episodes I have seen so far it probably has the best fight scenes, or is certainly in the same league as the first episode in this regard as they both have great sequences.

I think the concept of exploration is often underused in Star Wars as a whole, with the same few worlds recurring, as such I like the idea of this Jedi and Padawan just exploring the Outer Rim looking for dangers and I think it would make for an excellent solo TV show. Each week a new planet and new characters.

Overall, a strong episode that nails the animation and perfectly taps into the spirit of Star Wars.

Pros.

The fight scenes

The animation/ particularly the facial animation   

The ending

The sense of exploration and freshness

Cons.

It leaves too many questions unanswered

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The Eternals: The New Gods Of The MCU

4.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A race of space faring beings known as Eternals have been on Earth for thousands of years and now they are finally stepping out into the limelight in order to save the world, naturally.

Major Spoilers Incoming

The trailers for this film did it no favours. Then the critics reviews came in and savaged it for the most part. I went in with incredibly low expectations, however I was pleased to say this might have been one of the best MCU films so far.

To address the main concern up front the action in this film is used sparingly, as in to say there is less here then in other Marvel films, however what is here is used well. The action scenes often carry with them a large amount of tension and stakes that help them to feel more than just the standard mashing of two CGI figures together. A good example of this is the jungle action sequence in which the Deviants have tracked the Eternals down and ambush them this feels incredibly tense.

A lot of people have said that this film has pacing issues, is too long, and is too talking heavy. I disagree with all of those statements. I enjoyed the character focus, it was a nice change from the bang bang nature of most MCU films, the conversations were mostly always incredibly impactful either to establish MCU lore, which this film does beautifully, or to create a connection between us the audience and the characters.

Speaking off, every character here is done well and you become attached to them. Over the course of the film you really do become enamoured with the character drama and are excited to see where it goes. Even bit characters like Kit Harrington’s Dane Whitman aka Black Knight are given moments to shine. Speaking off make sure to stick around until the second post credits scene as there is an incredibly exciting one teasing out the future of Harrington’s character and Blade?

My one complaint of this film would be the Deviants. This complaint is threefold, firstly the Deviants all look the same, bland CGI heavy baddies that feel cut and paste with a deeply uninspired design. Secondly, the film does nothing interesting with them, midway through it plays with the idea of Deviants being a sentient race who are just trying to stay alive, just like the Eternals themselves which creates a nice dichotomy however the film does nothing with it. Thirdly, in the final act of the film they just abruptly kill off their leader and that is the end of the Deviant threat as other characters and beings rise up to become villains of the piece.

Overall, one of the most meaningful and impactful films in the MCU a real gem in its hat, if only the Deviants could have been used better.

Pros.

The characters and performances

The post credits scenes, mainly the final one

The emotions and the powerful dialogue scenes

Using action in a smart way

Breaking the MCU formula

Cons.

The Deviants

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The Amazing Spider-Man: Why Do The Police Always Hate Spider-Man?

3.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

You all know the story by now, Peter Parker, played by Andrew Garfield, gets bitten by a genetically altered spider and becomes Spider-Man, this time facing off against the Lizard, played by Rhys Ifans.

I would say that of all three of the big screen adaptions of Spider-Man these films are probably the ones that the least amount of people like. That is not to say they are bad films, this one certainly isn’t, but really they never could live up to the Tobey McGuire films and that is what killed them.

Many people say that Andrew Garfield is too cool for the awkward nerdy role of Peter Parker, however I think he does fine.  I enjoy his outsider/loner persona and think he does a good job of nailing both the heart and the comedy of the character. I thought Garfield’s Spidey had a number of good one liners that land well. Moreover, I think that Peter and Gwen Stacy, played by Emma Stone have terrific chemistry, better even than McGuire and Kristen Dunst did in the previous version of the character. I think Stone really makes the character her own and I would like to see her show up in the MCU through multiverse shenanigans.

It is nice to see this film move away from using the Green Goblin, even though the sequel would, and instead feature a lesser known Spidey baddie in the Lizard for the film’s villain. I thought the effects of the Lizard were quite good, and I enjoyed the fact that the finale had more to it then just a big CGI punchout.

However, that is where the positives end.

This film has a real issue with pacing, I know they were trying to cram a lot in but honestly watching this film in one sitting is oppressive, it doesn’t feel like two hours and a bit instead it feels more like five. I am left asking did we really need to see Uncle Ben’s, played my Martin Sheen, death again so soon after we saw it in the McGuire films? Surely there must have been ways to trim this down.

Overall, a good Spider-Man film but no one’s favourite.

Pros.

Garfield

Stone

The Lizard

The heart

Cons.

Uncle Ben’s death again

Pacing issues    

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Star Wars Visions: T0-B1

1/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

In the days after the Jedi Purge a droid dreams on a distant world of one day becoming a Jedi Knight.

This along with Tatooine Rhapsody are the worst episodes of Star Wars Visions for sure, this is mainly due to the fact they don’t seem to understand the tone of the show, and instead try and pitch a small children alternative. I am not saying Star Wars isn’t for kids but a lot of the franchise’s content has a certain grit to it, think of The Mandalorian or the live action films, this just doesn’t translate into fare for toddlers which is what this episode goes for.

This is furthered by the art style which again doesn’t fit the aesthetic of the series, of the first six episodes this is easily the worst as everything just looks too clean. Of all the art styles across the episodes I have seen so far this was the hardest one to adjust to.

The story itself aims for heart, but there is nothing of substance here that you have not seen before, and done better. I didn’t really care about any of the characters and found myself questioning just skipping the episode several times over whilst watching.

Overall, poorly judged and certainly a lack of understanding of what Star Wars is.

Pros.

It is watchable

Cons.

None of the characters are memorable

The plot feels been there and done that

The art style is jarring

It doesn’t fit  

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