A short trip through the new releases, the old classics and the horrendous tripe that I subject myself to on a weekly basis.
This week there are killer cowboy robots, a baby driving and a red monster from Hell killing monsters from Hell.
Baby Driver – 5/5
I saw Baby Driver when it first came out in the cinema and I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought that I would, or how much everyone else seemed to enjoy it. I think it’s because I was expecting a serious and dramatic thriller like the trailers had shown and spent the opening ten minutes in complete bewilderment as the title character danced and sung his way through car chases with reckless abandonment.
If you haven’t already seen it, Baby Driver follows the story of Baby (Ansel Elgort), an expert getaway driver working to pay off a debt owed to a criminal kingpin (Kevin Spacey, probably in the last role we will be able to enjoy him in) while preparing to run away with Debora, a local waitress (Lily James).
Knowing what to expect the second time around allowed me to settle into the film much more comfortably and I found it to be as funny, tense and entertaining as I should have done the first time. It really is a film (much like Edgar Wright’s first two films, Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz) that you gain more from with every re-watch as you pick up jokes and lines that you may have missed previously. Featuring one of 2017’s best soundtracks and stellar performances from Ansel Elgort, Lily James and the especially menacing Jamie Foxx Baby Driver might already be in my top three favourite Edgar Wright films, which is no mean feat.
Recommended for: Everyone.
Not recommended for: People who can longer bear the sight or sound of Kevin Spacey.
Hellboy – 4/5
I’m not sure why it’s taken me so long to become introduced to Hellboy – I think because of the runaway success of Marvel and the MCU that any comic book films that came before sometimes get forgotten about. In some cases this is with good reason (Ben Affleck’s Daredevil, Halle Berry’s Catwoman) however, it’s worth remembering that Christopher Nolan’s excellent Batman Begins came out a full three years before Marvel even began their assault on the box office. Hellboy is lucky in the respect that he represents neither DC or Marvel which allows him to smoke cigars, violently murder monsters from Hell and bizarrely, play with kittens.
I can’t explain the plot completely accurately because I’m not entirely sure what was going on to begin with – there was a portal to Hell opened by Nazi’s during World War Two, apparently in Scotland somewhere. This allows Hellboy (Ron Perlman), a red monster with one hand made of stone to enter through the portal where he is adopted by John Hurt and utilised by the ‘Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defence’ as a weapon.
The character of Hellboy was a refreshing change from the Marvel superheroes that we have come to take for granted and while the plot was a little nonsensical at times (yes, I am aware that it is a comic book film and that it is not real) it was still extremely enjoyable and highly watchable. Special mention must go out to the incredibly creepy, gas-mask wearing Karl Ruprecht Kroenen who is one of several villains for Hellboy, but is by far the most nightmare inducing.
Recommended for: Fans of comic-book anti-heroes.
Not recommended for: Anyone fed up of comic-book films.
Westworld – 3/5
Not the TV series starring Thandie Newton and Sir Anthony Hopkins that aired on Sky Atlantic in 2016 but the film that inspired it. Written and directed by Michael Crichton, the author of a similar tale featuring an amusement park that goes awry, Jurassic Park, Westworld follows two visitors to the amusement park of the future which features stunningly life-like robots acting out the American Wild West of the late 1800’s. Where Westworld of course gains it’s notoriety is when the robots rebel against their programming and begin to fight back against the guests they are supposed to be unable to harm.
Westworld is of course a superbly original premise and is well acted by Yul Brynner in particular, playing the Gunslinger robot who eventually goes rogue and stalks one of the guests across the park. It actually seemed to be too short unfortunately – I think the film would have benefited from an extra half hour explaining why the robots were beginning to fail and to detail the park’s attempts to stop them rather than the feeble excuse that “the robots were made by machines and we don’t even know how they work” which was offered up at one point.
Westworld is also somewhat dated in it’s technology, which is perfectly understandable and explainable given the film turns 45 this year. Despite it’s short run time and lack of explanation over some key plot points there were still some excellent set pieces that did their best to paper over the cracks – a bar fight scene almost hand-picked from a Western, the initial introduction to the Gunslinger character and his final chase scene with the park guest played by Richard Benjamin were the highlights for me.
Yul Brynner as the Gunslinger
Recommended for: Fans of sci-fi.
Not recommended for: Anyone with a fear of robots.
Film of the Week – Baby Driver