Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

One thing you can say about Marvel Studios … they looooooves their artifacts, especially if they come in a set, and if they can destroy the entire universe then so much the better.

In this surprising outing for one their lesser know players, the world’s greatest KungFu master is pitted against his own father who intends to use the ten rings he acquired hundreds of years before to bring back his dead wife (so at least his heart was in the right place).

There’s no point changing a winning formula, so the film is high-octane, pretty violent, but doesn’t take itself too seriously. I wasn’t convinced by the plot, but with great performances from Simu Liu (the hero) and Awkwfina (the non-romantic sidekick), Michelle Yeoh (who, let’s face it, is brilliant in everything) and Tony Leung, the plot didn’t actually matter so much.

No expense was spared on the special effects, the set design was brilliant, and the fight sequences? … Wow! I mean, yes, it’s a fight film, but some of the sequences were visual poetry; some bits were very much Crouching Tiger – which happens to be one of my favourite flicks.

If I had one complaint, I’d say that maybe the film was a little bit too long; a bit of editing could have shaved off a good twenty minutes in my non-professional-and-so-should-probably-be-ignored opinion. I dunno, is it possible for a finale to overdo it? If it can, then this might be the case study.

Still, a dream of a movie all the same. As I said, a strange choice for the opening of a new phase, but it worked. Oh, yes; it worked.

Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel

I read the first book from the Themis Files trilogy a while back, and I might’ve said (or I might not) that it’s one of the writing styles you either get on with … or you don’t.

The book picks up ten years after Sleeping Giants left off; the giant robot left by an alien race, and commandeered by a collective of Earth’s scientists and the military, has become something of a global celebrity (parades, tours, that kind of thing …), though very little is known about the race that created of this.

And this lack of knowledge becomes a bit of a stumbling block when another robot appears in the middle of London, and lays waste to half the city within the space of a minute. And from then on, it just gets worse: twelve more giant robots materialise in the most densely populated cities on the planet, while key members of the planetary defence force struggle to mount a response …

Like Book #1, Waking Gods is told through a series of reports, conversations, email messages between two (sometimes three – which can get confusing people), news broadcasts, even chatroom messages. This sometimes makes it hard work to keep track of what’s going on, but it does make it feel as though you’re right in the thick of it with the characters. There are no descriptions of surroundings, no omniscient viewpoint to tell you how the characters are feeling; but that doesn’t seem to make it any less of a great read. Some of the dialogue comes across as unrealistic because every so often, the reader needs something explaining that you character wouldn’t take time to do if the world was coming to an end.

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Film review: Nobody

Picked this up on Sky for the eye-watering sum of £13.99 (rental!) are my friends kept raving about it. Was it worth it? …
It’s the same fella who wrote John Wick, and it shows. We’ve got the same slow start, then about twenty minutes in, the movie finds its pace and its pretty much non-stop knives and bullets until the final showdown, when it really lets loose.

So, here’s the upshot: Hutch Mansell (brilliantly played by Bob Odenkirk) lives a somewhat mundane life as a book-keeper for his father-in-law’s manufacturing business. The aforementioned mundane life takes a turn for sadistic when Hutch’s house is burgled and he slowly unravels, bringing to bear the skills from his former profession: clean-up specialist for the CIA.

Needless to say, if you love John Wick then you’ll get along with Nobody, just fine. Thinking about, I think I preferred Nobody; it has a raw, visceral quality about, whereas John Wick was more stylised.

Definitely worth the £13.99 (rental!) sticker fee if you’re really into this sort of thing.