Opinion – Is Daniel Craig A Little Too Shaken And Stirred To Play Bond Anymore?

So, following well over a year of speculation about whether he will return to the role of 007, it has been confirmed that Daniel Craig will play James Bond for a further two films.

After all the injury problems experienced during the production of Spectre, the actor’s most recent outing as the spy, Craig’s future was very much in question. During the promotional work for Spectre, everyone kept asking the big question – will he do another film? At the time, it looked as though we had seen the last of him. Craig seemed to have had enough; looked as though he had completely fallen out of love with the character. However, over a year and a half on after the release of the last film, the news has surfaced that he is signed not for one, but for TWO more films.

Now, inevitably, everyone has their take on the announcement. It has received a somewhat mixed response and has definitely polarised cinema-goers and Bond fanatics. Some have been overjoyed to hear that Craig will be in the role for the foreseeable future, and others have been… less so.

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Recap – Game of Thrones S7E4: “The Spoils of War”

More like “The Spoiled of War”, am I right? Eh?

Oh, god. I’m so sorry.

Putting aside the fact that HBO’s international distribution partners are leakier than the Titanic, the title does seem fitting; this fourth episode of Game of Thrones’ seventh season opens up with Jamie Lannister handing Bronn – sorry, Ser Bronn – a bag full of gold. The Lannisters always pay their debts, of course, which is why the Kingslayer is hiking across the continent with all the pilfered spoils of Highgarden. If the Iron Bank is going to fund Cersei’s world-conquering revenge campaign, they need to be placated. That was the plan all along, it seems, although I guess Jamie didn’t quite anticipate Lady Olenna dropping that bombshell about Jeffrey’s welcome demise. Bronn put it better than I could: “Did the Queen of Thorns give you one last prick in the balls before saying goodbye?”

Yes, quite.

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Review – Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox

What’s this?

As I’ve noted before in this very series, the idea of alternate timelines and universes and all their attendant paradoxes is largely what has prohibited me from becoming what one might describe as a “fan” of comic books, which some would consider a rather egregious oversight given my line of work. When I reviewed Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, another direct-to-DVD feature courtesy of Warner Bros. and DC, which also concerned a superhero team who ventured into a mirrored dimension to battle their doppelgangers, I expressed concerns about the futility of the endeavour, which I still hold. That movie surprised me, though, and it must be said that this one, which is based on the 2011 comic book crossover event “Flashpoint”, by Geoff Johns and Andy Kubert, surprised me just as much, if not more so.

Why’s that?

A couple of reasons. The first, rather obvious one is that a standalone feature-film is a very different proposition from a concerted effort to mangle and merge a dozen characters’ established continuities. In comic books, these events are permanent – until, that is, the next one happens, or the whole line is arbitrarily rebooted, though even then the ostensibly clean slate still contains the sticky residue of versions past. It’s a nightmare. Something like Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox has the distinct advantage of having no obligation to a broader continuity. You can enjoy its hypothetical rearranging of DC’s stalwarts secure in the knowledge that by the time the credits roll, none of it will have mattered.

The second reason is that, unwieldy title notwithstanding, it isn’t a movie about the Justice League.

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Review – Icarus 

What’s this?

This is a Netflix Original documentary created by filmmaker Bryan Fogel. He is trying to uncover doping in sports. What it turns into is something else entirely. Usually, when I write reviews of documentaries, I warn that there will be spoilers because it is based on actual facts. However, for Icarus, it is an exception. It needs to be watched for the surprise turns and revelations. There will be no spoilers in this review.

What’s it about?

Icarus is not your usual documentary. How it starts and what it becomes are two separate subjects. It starts off with Bryan wanting to understand doping, how the system works and how it can improve performances in cycling. We all know cycling is one of the biggest sporting travesties in history. It is baffling how anyone would want to genuinely support this sport after a number of systematic doping programs it has become submerged in. Bryan wants to replicate what many of the cyclists did and, in order to do that, he needs to subject himself to a doping cycle. The challenge for Bryan is that he needs to find an expert that is willing to liaise with him to achieve this. Initially, he finds one. Unfortunately, the expert could not continue to help due to his leading role with anti-doping, so it was an obvious conflict of interest. Fortunately, this expert connects Bryan with a scientist who specializes in the subject. That scientist being Grigory Mikhailovich Rodchenkov, the director of a Moscow laboratory, the anti-doping center of Russia.

This is where the documentary morphs into something else.

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Ready Steady Cut EP53 – The Conjuring 1 and 2

Click Here To Download Or Play The Episode

This is Episode 53 of the Ready, Steady, Cut! Podcast. On this episode, with the upcoming release of Annabelle: Creation, we discuss The Conjuring Series. Please note that this is Laura’s first horror episode. How did she handle it? Find out!

Trailer Talk is IT and as always, we answer questions raised by our listeners and play another game of You Can’t Beat Me!

Episode Summary:

00:00 – Introduction and Episode Summary
02:10 – Announcements
03:30 – Trailer Talk – IT
09:33 – Thoughts on The Conjuring Series
11:14 – The Conjuring 1
39:57 – The Conjuring 2
1:01:39 – Questions from Listeners
1:11:13 – You Can’t Beat Me! – Gangsters
1:34:14 – Final Comments

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Review – Kidnap

What’s this?

A perplexingly bad new thriller that follows Academy Award winner Halle Berry as she pursues her kidnapped son through Louisiana while talking, crying, screaming, whining and praying to herself in medium close-up for 90 agonising minutes. It is asinine, unabashed garbage, and made with such an absence of skill or dramatic consideration that the reliable incompetence of its writing, direction, editing and acting make for one of the most unintentionally hilarious puddles of genre slop I’ve seen all year.

Well, it is August. What’s it about?

Berry plays Karla Dyson, a single mother making ends meet by working a thankless job as a diner waitress. The diner, needless to say, feeds only rude and difficult clientele, and her son, Frankie (Sage Correa), frequently sits inside while he waits for her shift to end. This is, as far as I can tell, tantamount to child abuse. It’s no surprise then that Karla’s off-screen husband is divorcing her in favour of an upscale new squeeze, and while he’s at it he’d like Frankie full-time, thanks very much. While negotiating the terms of this arrangement in a local park, Frankie is snatched by a couple of scruffy, fat hicks, and bundled into the back of a teal Ford Mustang; Karla gives chase. This pursuit takes up most of the movie and is wonderful, laugh-a-minute stuff. Most of it is filmed an inch or two from Berry’s nose, which is far enough away to take in her bug-eyed, teeth-gnashing overreactions, but too close for the audience to see all the automotive mayhem that’s apparently happening outside the car. At one point Karla leaves the Chrysler to pursue the Mustang on foot, and this strikes me as perhaps the funniest movie moment of the year.

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Review – Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets 

What’s this?

After many apparent hesitations, director Luc Besson and his wife decided to write an English-language French science fiction action-adventure film titled Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. It is based on the French comic series Valérian and Laureline. I am not familiar with the comics but in the past couple of months, I have admired the trailers from a visual standpoint. Then again, the movie did have a budget of 197 million Euros, so it should look mightily impressive. The movie has nowhere near matched the budget in the box office, and it is the most expensive European and independent film ever made. Ouch. I would hate to deliver that news to the board.

What’s it about?

Close your eyes for a minute and imagine a space station. Wait, this will not work. Instead, clear your mind for a minute and imagine a space station in 2020. Then years later, leading countries of the world attach their station to this one. Then many years later, other species from different planets send their station to join in on the action. This continues to happen until the 28th century. We now have one large planet made of cities (named Alpha) with a multitude of peace agreements. Still with me? Good. Now, imagine a planet far away with pale looking, peace loving Avatars, who are living in harmony amongst powerful energy-containing pearls, in a tropical paradise. All of a sudden, huge ships crash into their planet and they are wiped out. Lead male character Valerian wakes up. He just had a dream about this decimated planet and he is about to embark on a mission with Laureline ordered by his commander to retrieve a converter. They are later told that Alpha is infected by an unknown force and they must investigate and protect the Commander, suspiciously performed by Clive Owen.

Can you see why I told you to close your eyes? This narrative has so many obstacles to jump around that, at times, it felt mentally challenging.

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