They Live (1988)

Rating 18
Length 1h 34
Release 1h 34
Director John Carpenter
About Nada (Roddy Piper), a wanderer without meaning in his life, discovers a pair of sunglasses capable of showing the world the way it truly is. As he walks the streets of Los Angeles, Nada notices that both the media and the government are comprised of subliminal messages meant to keep the population subdued, and that most of the social elite are skull-faced aliens bent on world domination. With this shocking discovery, Nada fights to free humanity from the mind-controlling aliens.

Available on Netflix now.


The Good

  • The music has a similar quality to The Thing. That tap, tap, tap… a rhythmic beat that gets completely under your skin.
  • It is a film that will resonate with many people today. The themes of consumerism, political and moral bankruptcy and class divide. Other than the blatant 80s feel of the whole thing, this could be set today and I would not question it.
  • Roddy Piper is that brilliant 80s lead. I did want for Thomas Hayden Church at moments, but in reality Piper is perfect.
  • Keith David marks a welcome reunion between himself and Carpenter. Man, I love that guy and this portrayal is no exception.
  • The use of the glasses and the first time Nada uses them is like Dorothy landing on Oz. The contrast of the colour and the monochrome is just as breath-taking and mind blowing as the yellow brick classic. The visuals of the “they” really are iconic. I just love the whole aesthetic.
  • What an ending. What a brave ending that ensures there’s no sequel. Its a stand alone movie that is akin to something like Get Carter. (Edit: there’s apparently are not one, but two, sequels in the works. I shit you not, the titles are “They Laugh” and “They Love”. I had to check the publication date THREE times to make sure it wasn’t an April Fool’s joke.)
  • That fight sequence. Seriously, it’s such a beautifully crafted piece of cinema. Having a look online before today, it was the one thing I saw popping up time after time. I was a little sceptical and figured it was just fan boys. Nope, that sequence is a work of art. From the choreography, to the camera angles, everything works together.

The Bad

  • Meg Foster’s Holly was a little underused and underdeveloped. I’m not sure why Nada trusts her and I don’t think we’re given enough. The only thing that has me distrusting her is the fact that she’s Evil-lynn from Masters of the Universe, so that most definitely doesn’t count.

The Ugly

  • For how long it takes to set up, it really does race through to the ending. I feel like that once the fight between Nada and Frank the film is just a race to the finish line. I am happy with how it stands, but if I could change anything I would have a bit of a final show down.

Final Thoughts

I was absolutely blown away by this film and I cannot believe that I’d not seen this before. It cannot replace The Thing as Carpenter’s best outing for me, but it is certainly up there.

Godzilla Vs Kong (2021)

Rating 12a
Length 1h 55
Release 1.4.2021
Director Adam Wingard
About Kong and his protectors undertake a perilous journey to find his true home. Along for the ride is Jia, an orphaned girl who has a unique and powerful bond with the mighty beast. However, they soon find themselves in the path of an enraged Godzilla as he cuts a swath of destruction across the globe. The initial confrontation between the two titans — instigated by unseen forces — is only the beginning of the mystery that lies deep within the core of the planet.


The Good?

  • I do love the title sequence. It’s used throughout the franchise and is about the only thing that connects all the movies together.
  • It does have a pretty decent music score.
  • Some of the “Vs” in this film are quite cool. Especially in the final act. Except for the Godzilla laser. That’s never cool.

The Bad

  • I do not like the song choices which seem at odds with whatever this franchise is trying to be.

The Ugly

  • Godzilla is one ugly motherfucker, aren’t they? Like Godzilla is a beautiful creature, or at least they should be. This franchise seems to be stuck with a design that got stuck in the printer. Its just… off.
    And, please do not get me started on that stupid fucking laser and that charging sound it has… sometimes?! The glowing? what the fuck? The film’s so dark that if you’re watching at home you ain’t seeing that shit anyway!
    In my notes, towards the end of the film, I’ve written “Kevin Smith’s Golgotha Shit Demon looks better than Godzilla” and you know what? That’s bloody fair.
  • Its two prehistoric-ish animals beating the shit out of each other. You don’t need to make the story complicated. There’s about three film’s worth of plot in this mess and it feels so disjointed and as if I’ve missed an instalment or like the Godzilla aspect was written by one person and the Kong by another.
    As a result of this over stuffed plot, I don’t feel like everything is explained and I found myself lost very quickly. I don’t like films that make me feel stupid, and this franchise makes my brain feel like mud. For the simplest thing, like “who the fuck is that?”, “why are we following you all the way there?”, “How did your dad get halfway around the world in a blink of an eye?” and “How is there an actual fucking sun in the middle of the earth?”
    They’ve also blown their whole load with this movie. Where you going to go now?
  • What was with the mystical shit with the little kid? Actually, what the fuck was with the little kid?
    1. Why was she adopted by the interloper (Rebecca Hall) instead of being with someone in her community? You know, the people we see are there?
    2. Why the fuck does no one know that the kid and Kong had been signing?! Like, its not till much later that Rebecca Hall explains to Alexander Skarsgard that the girl has a bond with Kong, but that she didn’t know Kong had been signing to her. How the fuck do you MISS that? His hands can block out the sun!
    3. How is there never a conversation about safety?! She’s allowed on the boat, which you know could be attacked by Godzilla. riiiiiight. After that, we get the whole signing and trust thing which means she has to be on the platform in the Antarctic, but then you let her onto what is essentially a space ship into the centre of the earth (or to a different fucking universe, I haven’t got a clue.) which you know is going to be traumatic. What. the. fuck?
    4. She can ‘sense’ Godzilla?! Like, seriously she’s a Mary Sue.
    5. When you think it can’t get any worse; “she can feel his heart slowing down.” What is the need?!
  • Why give me Mecha Godzilla and then immediately make it shit?! Like, seriously?! It broke my bloody heart. He at least looked cool and showed promise.

Final Thoughts

My only advice is to play a drinking game. Take a shot every time the word Apex is uttered and you at least might not remember this turd of a movie.

Ghostbusters: Answer the Call (2016)

Rating 12a
Length 2h 14
Release 11.7.2016
Director Paul Feig
About Paranormal enthusiasts Abby, Erin, Jillian and Patty set out to capture ghosts when they realise that someone is attempting to cause an apocalypse by summoning ghosts in the city of New York.


The Good

  • Kate McKinnon is the best thing to come out of this movie. Jillian Holtzman is branded chaos and a hot geeky mess that anyone who watches is here to watch.
    From the outfits, to the zingers McKinnon was having a blast and living any girl’s (*cough* me *cough*) dream of being enlisted as a Ghostbuster. Holtzman was the love child of the OG’s. She has Stanz’ passion, Venkman’s dicey dry wit and Spengler’s geeky flair (and hair).
    Can we also please commend this film for its presentation of Holtzmann’s sexuality. She just… was. There was no conversation, no label. Perhaps (I doubt it) I’m reading too much into it, but to me it is clear she’s gay. I *know* this and it wasn’t made into a thing. I don’t know if I’m wrong to see this as a good thing, but I feel like that’s the way it should be. Had the film had *that* conversation, to me it would have felt like a check box being ticked and they might as well have put a neon sign shouting “we’re being diverse”. Its a fine line to be walking. To me I see her as clear representation, however I also know how Cursed Child was criticised for ‘playing it safe’.
  • I love the big bad plot. Its original, its well incorporated into the film and fully resolved. There’s a mystery there and while the audience is in on it, we don’t know the full plan.
  • The music is amazing. I think it was not long after my second cinema viewing I purchased the album and I’ve listened to it off and on ever since.
  • Must admit, I did like the cameos throughout the film. It was a nice geek touch. The best, by far, is the one that comes during the mid credit scenes.
  • As a group, McCarthy, Wiig, McKinnon and Jones work well together. If it was any other movie, there would never have been the backlash. As an origin story goes, these four women give us brains, family and humour. What else do you want?

The Bad

  • It is a SNL film. Saturday Night Live is an aquired taste. I’m not talking political affiliation here and it is really hard to call it a criticism given that most of the original cast were alumns. However, there’s a certain type of over acting that is glossed over a number of the company of Studio 8H. Cecily Strong is the best example, mainly because she grated from the start. It’s an almost pantomime kind of acting that sets my teeth on edge.
    There’s also the element of ad lib that just doesn’t suit a film like this. The jokes don’t always stick their landing and as an audience, we really want a polished product, not wooden zingers.
  • Kristen Wiig does an amazing job for about 80% of the time. Unfortunately that remaining time is so utterly over done and cringe that I hate it just that little bit more each time I see it. The biggest issue I have is her hysterics at the restaurant. It’s not funny at best and at worst, it allows for the digs about why there was no place for a ‘gender swap’ reboot.
  • Speaking of which, the digs at the expense of the ‘busters being women got old really fast. Especially five years later, its eyerolling and really serves no purpose as I’m pretty certain those who they were aimed at have never watched the movie.

The Ugly

  • Perhaps one of the biggest missteps was making this a reboot. If you had the OG cast on board, you pass the torch. The origins of these four women doesn’t surpass the original and while it was cool to watch Holtzmann and the evolution of the Proton Pack, she had so many other toys to show us.
    Also, there are way too many Easter Eggs. You cannot have that many and have it be its own thing. It feels so meta that my head hurts.
  • I don’t like the treatment of Patty. I don’t like that Leslie Jones is the only member of the Ghostbusters that isn’t a Scientist and its the role that goes to the person of colour, again. At least in the first one it is addressed (sort of).
    There’s a number of times the other three ‘tell Patty off’ and it really gets tiresome. Its always a put down that could be construed to be about her race too, which just stalls any progressiveness the film might have.
    I’m not sure if Feig stating that the character was originally meant to be for McCarthy, but to me, the fact that you wrote the character for a white woman who may, or may not, have refused the role for a ‘better’ part doesn’t sit right with me either.

Final Thoughts

This is not part of the franchise and it doesn’t do it justice either. This is a very expensive piece of movie fan fiction. An AU if it were. It does work well in isolation, and on the big screen, but 5 years on it’s not aging well.

The Mighty Ducks (1992)

Rating PG
Length 1h 44
Release 2.6.1993
Director Steven Herek
About Gordon reminisces the day he lost a crucial game for his team, but life gives him a second chance to redeem himself and find new glory, only this time as a coach of a weak hockey team.


The Good

  • Emilio Estevez. It is the Gin-named embittered lawyer who makes this film and its Emilio Estevez that makes Gordon Bombay. While the role may have initially been offered to his brother, Charlie Sheen, I’m not sure Charlie holds the same vulnerbility or disarmed charm that Emilio does. If Charlie, or Bill Murray for that matter (yes, he was on the short list), had uttered the words “I hate hockey and I hate kids.”, I’d have believed him and declared ‘curtains’.
  • The kid cast is brilliant. Some you’ll have an itch of familiarity. Others, not so much. However, they all give their everything to ensure that it doesn’t matter if its your first, or fiftith, time watching this film; you root for them.
  • There’s a girl on the team, from the very beginning. At no point is it questioned or suggest she doesn’t belong. This, of all the sports is one of the more physical, heated and volitile. Yet, there’s no toxicity or glass ceiling. Maybe 2021 needs to learn a thing or two from 1992?!
  • That puck-cam! Damn, its cheesy. However, I love it. Who doesn’t feel utterly joyful when you see that puck flying?!

The Bad

  • It takes a long while to get going. I do wonder if we could get rid of the opening scenes and start the film with the young boys setting the thief trap. You know, given that we flash back to young Gordon quite a few times through the film. That way, we have an immediate connection with characters in the present day and perhaps an immediate engagement with the target demographic of the film.
  • There’s one thing that Gordon does that is so shitty, it almost undoes the entire film. What appears to be an original plot point from a much darker, and less Disney-fied, version of the film sees Bombay bring the boundrey lines to the attention of the league so that Adam Banks has to join The Ducks. Not only is it unbelieveably shitty, any mindful person would know that it would cause issues in your own team.
    For me, the only way this works is if its a team member. Either team; The Ducks or The Hawks. Hell, have them blame Bombay and The Ducks believe it. Just don’t have Bombay do it.

The Ugly

  • Oreo Line?! Its clearly used as a racial slur when its first uttered. It shocked me. It didn’t sit comfortably that it wasn’t challenged. however, I accepted it for what it was. However, Bombay (who wasn’t there when it was first used) starts to use it to describe a lineup of the same three people on the ice. No! Not cool.
    Unless you show some way of those children taking ownership, or some fucking commentary on it, its not okay to casually throw it in. Why? It’s not me being a snowflake. Its seeing the two ways of it being used and wondering how a young kid could interpret that today. If you use slurs without context or commentary, they will get repeated out in every day life.

Final Thoughts

QUACK, QUACK, QUACK

Yes Day (2021)

Rating PG
Length 1h 26
Release 12.3.2021
Director Miguel Arteta
About Always feeling like they have to say “no” to their kids, Allison and Carlos decide to give their three kids a “Yes Day,” during which the kids have 24 hours to make the rules.


The Good

  • This is the sort of family movie I feel has been missing for the last few years; one that can be put on for everyone. While Jennifer Garner is the ‘name’, its an ensemble effort. It requires no grey matter and will charm everyone.
  • It is fun. Once it lays the groundwork and sets up the family dynamic, the film just allows everyone to have so much fun. It also gives a lighthearted lesson to everyone.
  • Its short, its a simple plot and perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon.

The Bad

  • The father, Edgar Ramirez, has a beautiful set up for a story arc. Not only at home, which does have some form of resolution, but work too. Unfortunately, that aspect of the story is left at the misway point. Its a shame because it wouldn’t have taken much in that final act.
  • I’m still not sure how I feel about the parent teacher meeting. I know it was there to be the catalyst that prompts the ‘yes day’, but what point was the teachers trying to make? Did they really think that the mother was endangering her children? It felt totaly forced.

The Ugly

  • I don’t know why family films still use the trope of a weird, bording on creepy, charater that becomes an almost running gag. That’s what happened to Nat Faxon’s Mr Deacon in Yes Day. School Councillor meets PE teacher, due to ‘budget cuts’. I’ll be honest, the last place I’d want to find this oddball is in a school changing room.

Final Thoughts

Its not a film I’ll rush to watch again, but I suspect those of you out there with children out there might just want to keep this as on of your go to movies.

Batley Grammar School has Demonstrated How Little the UK Understands the True Meaning of Islam

The teacher at Batley Grammar School was, and is, in the wrong. I completely support the school in suspending him. Not only from the school’s standpoint, but in terms of the damage this man has undoubtedly caused to the subject. I say this as an RE teacher of 12 years, a person with an ounce of common sense and a person who values human decency above all else.
I do not know what I am more ashamed of; the teacher who not only thought it was okay and has since claimed he’s expressing his ‘freedom of speech’ by presenting the Charlie Hebdo cartoon, or the flag flying Brits who have flocked to Twitter to insist Muslims leave the country, mirror the teacher’s sentiment of ‘freedom of speech, innit’ while also demonstrating that they fail to understand that this freedom voids their ‘they have no right to be offended’ rhetoric.


Muhammad (pbuh)

For those of you not in the know, it is an offence for any Prophet to be drawn within Islam. This includes Moses, Noah and Jesus. I must point out that very few Muslim students I’ve taught over the years have taken any issue with the presentation of the image of Jesus, being the most discussed Prophet who appears in many religions (including Hinduism). Why? They accept the culture of the UK and the fact that it is still a ‘Christian’ country which has displayed Jesus in many forms of art for centuries.
It is blasphemous to attempt to recreate the Prophets. Not having a law in place does not stop it being so, as some seem to claim. It just means that it is not a ‘crime’ here in the UK. Does it mean it’s okay to put young Muslims through distress because our country no longer frowns upon the use of ‘oh my God’ and ‘Jesus Christ’?!


The Intent of the Image


Since this news broke on Thursday, I have maintained that the biggest decider regarding the image is the intent by the artist. To a certain extent, is does not matter what the intent of the teacher was because if the image was intended to offend Muslims, you can give all the disclaimers you want; they will still be offended. It has been revealed that these students are in Year 9, that is a very hard age and year group to be presenting a controversial piece of artwork. I can only begin to image how distressful it could be..
It has been revealed that the image shown was the Charlie Hebdo one from January 2015. The one that caused extremists to kill many who worked at the office. They also recently came under fire for an appalling cartoon of the Royal Family. The intent of that image is clear; it is meant to cause hurt and distress.

The Teacher’s Intent


This is where I really find myself angry. I have thought long and hard about this over the last few days and I cannot imagine a rationale that would ever allow me to use that cartoon. Nor can I come up with a justifiable value that makes the hurt caused worth it. Any RE trained teacher, worth their weight in gold will tell you that it’s inconceivable to use an image of Muhammad (pbuh) in a lesson.
There is an online petition that is believed to have been set up by students. It is explained on there that the image was used to explain racism. Well, that proves that either the teacher is incompetent or that he failed in what he was really tying to teach because that image is not an example of racism. It is, however, an example of Islamophobia or, in a broader context, xenophobia.
Is it really a big deal?! Well, in my experience, yes, it is a big deal. Over the years I’ve lost count of how many times a child has wrongly shouted ‘That’s racist that’, so I do believe it is important to make a distinction between the different forms of discrimination and make sure it is understood that ‘Islam’ is not a race. While the religion has foundations in the middle east, your ethnicity does not exclude you from being Muslim.
I would also question the critical thinking skills of 13- and 14-year-olds and their ability to understand the image within the confines of its context. My professional opinion would be that even a high ability sixth former would struggle to understand and be able to detach personal belief to critically evaluate the image as the teacher wanted.

Robert Jenrick has weighed in and said “In a free society, we want religions to be taught to children and for children to be able to question and query them.”
Students don’t need to see an image created my someone who isn’t Muslim in order to question the faith. Once again, the views of those in charge of our education system prove they haven’t got a clue what we as professionals do.
He has also stated that issues should not be censored. What issue Jenrick? What issue was so important to discuss that no other resource could have been used? What issue could not be explored and questioned without breaching a student’s right to their religious expression?
Oh, and while we’re at it Jenrick (and Williamson), could you please show me where in any RE Agreed Syllabus is it stated a Year 9 class should discuss whether an image of Muhammad puts Charlie Hebdo at fault or Muslims? That’s the conclusion I’m coming to. At no point is it professional to attribute the actions of ISIS to Islam, nor is it appropriate to expect students to evaluate blame when it comes to terrorist actions.
With all due disrespect, Jenrick and Williamson, you have no place in commenting, you are a plague on our industry and the sooner you are out of every single teacher’s hair, the better.


The Xenophobic British and the Myths They Believe


“Blasphemy isn’t illegal here.”
“Your rules don’t apply here.”
“Go back home if you don’t like it.”
“We’ll never be an Islamic State for your voodoo cult.”
That is just some of the outrage from the Twitter-verse I encountered on Thursday. Every stereotype and mistruth I have tried to challenge over the years spat out by those who believe ISIS represent all of Islam.
I am not saying any religion is perfect, I’m agnostic for that very reason. All have a past that is embroiled in violence, corruption and behaviour they would rather forget, but they are not condemned for them in the way Islam is.
Isis (and any other ‘Islamic’ extremists) is to Islam what the KKK are to Christianity. After the attacks at Charlie Hebdo, the hashtag #NotInMyName trended, and it is worth remembering now.
Extremists use extensive censoring and cherry picking to come to the violent conclusions they do. They practice selective interpretations of their Holy Texts to justify the horrific acts and autrocities we are all familiar with. And despite the voices to the contrary, the British public believe extremism to be the status quo.
When the Qu’ran instructs

“That is why We ordained for the Children of Israel that whoever takes a life—unless as a punishment for murder or mischief in the land—it will be as if they killed all of humanity; and whoever saves a life, it will be as if they saved all of humanity.”

Verse 5:32

,an instruction many extremists choose to ignore, you must begin to question the true purpose of Islam and the information you’ve been missold.
I know many Muslims, I’ve taught many Muslims. I also accept that what I teach of Islam is far removed from what the living religion is (and that is down to the sanitation of the religion through the exam specifications. Some things we teach are in direct contradiction of what some students believe.) however, it is not a faith or community to fear. Islam is derived from the Arabic word “sal’m” which. literally means peace. Muslims know this. So should you.
One thing that has certainly come out of this, is that there is still work to be done to develop our multicultural country and foster a culture of acceptance. Between this, Brexit and the hatred focused on Meghan Markle it is becoming harder to be proud. It’s hard to not acknowledge how much like America we are when it comes to all forms of xenophobia.


When the Xenophobes Miss the Point


“It is only a F@@@ing Cartoon”

Twitter

“Cartoons don’t do any harm”

Twitter


You need to read what I say here carefully.
I am certain they said it was only a cartoon when the Nazis started printing cartoons of the Jews in papers. That is all they were after all, and cartoons don’t do any harm, right?
Yes, teachers use the Jewish cartoons today, but it is in a very controlled way in order to teach how those images were wrong, hurtful and damaging.
My argument still stands; the Charlie Hebdo cartoon has the same impact the Nazi Propaganda images had AT THE TIME.
This one of Muhammad (pbuh) will never have that expiry. The crux of the issue is not going away any time soon. So if you have a Muslim demographic, it really is cruel to expect them to engage in a debate about a forbidden artwork inciting violence in France.


Finally, I think the best way to simplify this. The teacher was an adult and pausing for thirty seconds could have resolved this. Not showing the image will not decrease the value of the lesson and, most importantly, will not cause harm, or do I show an extremely offensive image that will cause harm and distress to even one of the members of my class due to background while not adding much in terms of value to the lesson?!


https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/islam-muslim-terrorism-islamist-extremism-quran-teaching-violence-meaning-prophet-muhammed-a7676246.html

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-leeds-56548667

https://news.sky.com/story/batley-grammar-school-is-prophet-mohammed-caricature-offensive-or-freedom-of-expression-12257603

https://inews.co.uk/news/education/teachers-show-images-muhammad-robert-jenrick-batley-grammar-protests-931939

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2021/mar/25/batley-head-apologises-for-teacher-using-charlie-hebdo-cartoons

Book Review: The Infinity Files


Author S. M. Wilson
Length  416 pages
Release 4.3.2021
About
Ash Yang dreamed of being a starfighter pilot. But when she crashes out of her final test – literally – she somehow lands the most powerful job in the universe. As Guardian of the Infinity Files she must secretly planet-hop through the galaxies, stealing or returning treasures that have the power to stop wars…or start them.

But when her home planet is the one at war, can she get the job done?


Characters

Ash and Orius are two very different characters that dominate the pages. Ash is our protagonist, our eyes into this world and don’t be too alarmed if you feel very invested in her from the outset. There’s something about those first few chapters that will allow Ash to trigger all of your emotions. There’ll be so much about her that you will see in yourself. I certainly found that empowering and I’ll be surprised if others don’t either.

Orius on the other hand is all mystery and something that I loved and hated in equal measure. Orius is someone I do not think you’re meant to figure out and I love that we’re never get anything more than what Ash knows.

Story

This universe is awesome. As a child of Star Trek, Stargate, Doctor Who and Quantum Leap this story is all the best bits of the franchises and so much more. For a first outing of a series, it’s sometimes difficult to create a full story that doesn’t feel like world building or exposition. At no point does this feel like that. You are thrown into the adventure, with a thread of mystery running alongside. Its perfect.

Writing

Wilson’s writing makes her reads a comfort. I feel like I am reading a book made of Doctor Who’s Psychic Paper whenever I fall into her worlds. The way characters, action and reveals are dealt with reminds me of Michael Crichton’s work. It reads to me like it would be a dream to translate into film.

Final Thoughts

Its an amazing read and I cannot wait for more.

Infinity Files Blog Tour Q&A with S. M. Wilson

As we meet Ash, she is faced with ‘failing’ at the academy. It’s not something readers will be used to and is a big fear for those who tend to read YA fiction. Why was it important to have the protagonist experience failure so early on?

Failing was the whole motivation for the start of the story.  Ash had strived for this for so long, she’d thought that once she’d achieved her goal, she it would solve her problems and help how she felt.  As a young woman she was determined to wreak revenge on those who’d stolen her family from her.  But once she didn’t achieve her goal?  Well, it put her in exactly the position I needed her to be in for this story.  The reason she failed was important too.  She acted on her instincts.  And Ash’s instincts were good. That’s why she was chosen for the next role in the book!

Being a massive sci-fi geek myself, I loved how much this book read like a love-letter to those shows many of us will have grown up with. Which shows inspired you the most?

Where do you want me to start?  I’m a huge Star Wars fan (except the first three – they don’t count).  I also love Star Trek. Next Generation is my favourite.  I also loved Battlestar Galactica, the original series and the 2004 series alongside Stargate, the film and SG1 and Stargate Atlantis, and The Mandalorian.  As a kid I even loved Buck Rogers, and the Flash Gordon film, V (which was terrifying).  Finally, there’s ET.  I have a son called Elliott, enough said really!

The theme of isolation perhaps hit harder than it may have any other year. Was that struggle something you felt was important to thread through the story and were there any benefits of it not being about current events?

Ash’s aloneness was a key part of her character development, along with concept of ‘found family’.  It carries on into the second book too.  As a nurse, I’ve been at the heart of the coronavirus epidemic since the start, so for me, an escape is very welcome.  Space was definitely my escape, though there will always be elements of real life that bleed into anything that I write. 

If you had to create your own team of five Guardians from any Sci-fi franchise (you can mix and match), who would you choose and why?

You are literally asking me to choose between my children and that is exceptionally mean.  First and foremost, Captain Picard will always in my team.  I love how he always pretended to obey the Prime Directive but never actually did.  First Contact will always be my favourite film with the emotional damage the borg did to him revived.  With him in my team, I also need the character of Hugh from the borg collective.  I adored that character and loved they brought his fully formed version back in the Picard series.  Next, is my Star Wars favourites. Since Yoda has sneaked into both Extinction Trials and The Infinity Files it really should be him.  But instead, I’m picking Obi-wan Kenobi.  (The Alec Guinness version and not the Ewan McGregor version), alongside kickass Princess Leia.  Carrie Fisher brought such fire to the character and I loved the spark that was there. I suspect Picard and Obi-Wan might get a bit snotty with each other, but Princess Leia will kick them both to the kerb and keep them inline.  Whilst my childhood heart still hankers after Dirk Benedict as Starbuck in Battlestar Galactica, or fabulous Q from the Next Generation, I have to pick ET as my final team member.  Sure, he may not be very mobile, but I can carry him.  And he has a magic finger.  What more do I need?

Moxie (2021): Review and a Rant

Rating 12
Length 1h 51
Release 3.3.2021
Director Amy Poehler
About Inspired by her mom’s rebellious past and a confident new friend, a shy teenager publishes an anonymous zine calling out sexism at her school.


First Things First

I’m pissed. Not at the fillm, the film is an excellent adaptation. I watched it and I did what I never do; I checked the reviews. The first one on the list had the headline “Moxie, review: the only joke here is Amy Poehler’s idea of ‘inclusivity’”
I knew before clicking the link, this was going to be some white-assed dude taking issue with a film that wasn’t meant for him. Damn, I hate being right. Mr Robbie Collin, Film Critic, writing for the white middle-to-upper-class ‘The Telegraph’.
I actually took to twitter to admonish him; high on Moxie confidence. This is not a comedy. To boil it, and Amy Poehler, down to comedic elements and then slate it for its lack… it made my blood boil. Even worse, his response was to screenshot and circle the genre listings.
I’m a woman, I’ve read the book and I’ve spent the last ten years teaching the film’s demographic. Oh, and I have a film degree. Seeing it on a list, currated by white men, does not make it true. He watched the god damn film; events are triggered when a jock spits in a black girl’s coke and culminates with another classmate admitting she was raped.
How has this dude not paused, thought ‘it doesn’t really fit into comedy, so I’m not going to review it as if was misold as a comedy and failed to hit the mark.’ The irony, of course, is that Mr Robbie Collin completely missed the point of the story and, as a result, became the exact thing Moxie was fighting against.

As for Seth (Nico Hiraga), Vivian’s hunky male classmate, here is a figure with a valuable lesson for any teenage boys watching at home: if you’re an “ally”, girls will want to sleep with you, even if fealty to the cause comes at zero personal cost.

Robbie Collin. The Independant

Over the course of his 650 word review, 245 of those were simply retelling the plot (and the only place you’ll find any positive words), 325 were given to his lambasting of a film based upon its diversity, apparent stereotyping and expressing one of the most dangerous misinterpretations of a character i’ve ever seen.
Those last hundred and odd? Oh, he bitches about how Poehler and Tina Fey drew hearts and stars on their hands, as if political statements on the Red Carpet haven’t been a thing for years. From Emma Stone and Dakota Fanning wearing planned Parenthood pins to the Times Up movement that was commonplace at any carpet walk in 2018 and beyond.
Yes, to Collin, it seems a little less important and more fickle. However, as someone who watched it become a ‘thing’ in the school I taught at when the book was publish; its not a gimmick or publicity. There is sincerity when you get off your high horse.


The Good

  • The casting was incredible. Hadley Robinson had a hard job of being able to show this complex development of character; the introvert being pushed out of her comfort zone. It’s all there; a young woman frustrated at the sexism around her, the strength that comes from anonymity and the fallout from growing beyond what was there before.
  • Anjelika Washington has most recently been seen in DC show Star Girl. It was most excellent to see her in another role and, hopefully, an insight of things to come with her character in the show.
  • The film does well to cover all the bases from the book. the viewer will get an empowering narrative if they’re the demographic for the film. If you’re not a 14 year old girl, its not that this film isn’t for you. It’s more that its a lesson for you; should you be open minded enough.
  • The music and punk rock asthetic is such a wonderful sight. Yes, the book does have that element, but film is where it was always going to have its biggest impact.

The Bad

  • I want more. The one thing the aforementioned review got right? Outside of Vivian, there isn’t much development of the other characters. That’s not, for me anyway, a slight on the film. It’s the nature of the medium. Some things have to go for storytelling purposes. This probably would have worked much better, in terms of characters, as a tv series; limited or otherwise (but not tell this story in one season and make shit up for another 3 like 13 Reasons Why did). However, in terms of the story and the message, it did well for its 1h 50 runtime.

The Ugly

  • Be prepared for a rollercoaster of emotions. Frustration at the Principle, sadness at the environment young women are still faced with, heartbreak for so many reasons. I think any woman will identify with a lot of what happens during the course of the movie and if you’re a parent I think it will have an even deeper meaning to you.

Final Thoughts

I want more Punk! Please tell me this will lead to more punkish films!
Its a film I will most defintely watch again. It’ll be something I’d show my children (if I ever have them); male or female as I think there is a lesson for all in here.

Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989)

Rating PG
Length 1h 26
Release25.8.1989
Director Stephen Herek
About High School best mates are on track to fail their History class, sending one of them to Military school and potentially changing the course of the future. That is until they meet a time traveller who offers to help.


The Good

  • The music is awesome. All the way through, the story is complimented with a most excellent rock soundtrack.
  • Considering how dumb our two protagonists are, this film is very clever. However, I never once feel like I’m laughing at them and I most definitely do root for them all the way through.
  • It takes the fish-out-of-water trope and puts it on acid. That scene in the mall is just epic. It’s my favourite part of the movie outside of Bill & Ted freeing all of their historical figures from jail.
  • The very thing that makes this movie, outside of Reeves and Winter, is George Carlin. He doesn’t have much screen time, but boy that man has presence and charm. I truly couldn’t imagine anyone else in the role and you do feel his loss in the third instalment.

The Bad

  • I’ve never liked the Napoleon B-plot. I think it’s more that he’s kind of a dick, but without him I’m aware the story would be very different.
  • Did they really have to ruin that hug with calling each other ‘fag’?!

The Ugly

  • Bill & Ted’s actual musical ability. However, I trust Rufus when he breaks the fourth wall and informs us that they do get better.

Final Thoughts

A favourite of mine for a long time. I can’t imagine that changing any time soon.

The Faculty (1998)

Rating 15
Length 1h 44
Release 9.4.1999
Director Robert Rodriguez
About Students suspect that their teachers are aliens after bizarre occurrences


The Good

  • That cold opening is amazing. It’s something many of us growing up at the time would be familiar with,having watched X-Files and Buffy.
  • I love that the film challenges the stereotypes. While some aren’t as convincing as others, I like that it tried. My favourite being that Zeke isn’t a flunk or a burn out. He’s really intelligent. In fact, flunking out to remain in high school with his best clients is probably the smartest move he could have made. Each of the Breakfast Club ensemble challenge their own identity throughout the movie. I frigging love it.
  • The dialogue is clever, fast paced and so much of it has a pay off.
  • Stupid thing to notice, but I love that all the girls have chipped nail varnish. The film isn’t trying to be visually polished and perfect. It’s grunge and totally more Kerrang than the gloss of MTV.
  • The deaths, the violence and the gore is on point for Rodriquez’ more adult offerings.
  • This has one awesome soundtrack. From a reworking of Alice Cooper’s I’m Eighteen, to the vocal stylings of Oasis during the credits; this is a 90s soundtrack of the highest order.

The Bad

  • Salam Hayek is utterly wasted in this film. Her nurse who is saving her sick days for when she’s feeling well all but disappears after the first 20 minutes. It’s a total shame.
  • The CGI in places is really ropey. If you emulate a film that still stands up today; you really do need to bring your A-game. I’m not advocating for better CGI either. I think both The Thing (which The Faculty has many references to) and American Werewolf in London prove, that nothing beats practical effects.

The Ugly

  • Famke Jansen is not right as Miss Burke. I’ve never found her meek, weak and vulnerable portrayals all that convincing, but its even more apparent in this film when she is having to then play the opposite. With both, she is at the very extreme and its all a little too much, too panto and, based on that final scene, a little too rapey.
  • Do all things that hire Robert Patrick have to make him do ‘the run’?

Final Thoughts

What is not to love? It’s the best of horror and sci-if, with nods and Easter eggs for the geeks.

Snakes on a Plane (2006)

Rating 15
length 1h 45
Release 18.8.2006
Director David R. Ellils
About Sean Jones, a witness, is a on a flight to LA to testify against a mob boss, Eddie Kim. However, Flynn, the FBI agent accompanying Sean, must save the passengers from a disaster.


The Good

  • Samuel L Jackson. This film doesn’t work without Samuel L Fucking Jackson. I briefly entertained what it might be like had Nic Cage signed on. Then I remembered he’s done Tiger King on a boat and it just wasn’t the same.
    Jackson is that sensible chaos you need in this sort of situation. One who will have fun and work with all of the players around him.
  • I love our introductions to everyone. From the two kids flying without their parents for the first time and the Paris Hilton complete with cabin dog all the way to the cabin crew member on their last flight before law school and the snotty Brit who is so put-out by first-class being unavailable. Of course we also get a sexed-up couple and much more reserved Honeymooners. By giving us such economical meetings with them all, you’re invested and also predicting who’ll make it to the final destination.
  • Bobby Cannavale and his B-plot of being the FBI agent in charge of anti-venom really impressed me when I first watched it and that still hasn’t changed. I think this was one of the first things I saw him in and he left me wanting a little more of his narrative in this film.
  • It’s snakes, on a plane. They fuck that shit up and the only person left to land the plane is a man who has logged flying hours on a computer game! What is not to love about that? Okay, it’s not going to win awards, you’re not leaving the cinema with some life affirming wonderment. But you’re going to laugh. I mean, a snake biting a tit or a penis is funny when it’s not you.

The Bad

  • The barely-there plot really is laughable when you even pause for a second to think about it. I mean, I’m no Ian Malcolm, but I can tell you that there’s no way you can predict those snakes would have anywhere near that sort of impact.
  • We get creature feature cam. I’m not sure I ever really picked up on it so much before, but bloody hell it bugs the hell out of me now. At least for this, it was used sparingly.
  • Nathan Philips as Sean; the target who triggers all of the snakes, on the plane. He’s just a bit wet. There’s nothing really about him that stands out and really, he’s just a walking talking plot prop.

The Ugly

  • Some of the CGI snakes and dead passengers haven’t aged well. This was a movie done on a budget, so it is understandable.
  • It is a fun film, but it does, at times, come across as ‘how to hijack a plane’ film. I mean, how many weapons did they fashion from innocent items?! It actually doesn’t hit as hard as it did watching it back in 2006, but the memory of thinking this still sticks with me.

Final Thoughts

It’s a well-made bad movie. You need to switch your brain off and not look too deeply because if not, it’s so stupid your brain hurts. If you do switch off, you’ll enjoy this for the bat-shit crazy ride this is.