V (2009-2011 TV Series)   (Parody)

This parody covers the first three episodes or so, before some pesky mortals distracted me and it got buried under their carcasses for several years, until now …

Through the Eyes of The Red Dragon





The pilot opens with the pontifical asking of ‘Where were you when JFK was assassinated? Where were you on 9/11? Where were you this morning?’ establishing the show as being as momentous as those events.

FBI AGENT : Hey son, are you ok? I heard you were in a fight again. I am semi-disappointed in you
SON : Hey mum. Yeah, I have no injuries even though I’m in hospital so don’t worry.

SON establishes himself as a caring yet angst ridden and impulsive virile male, which polls suggest most teenagers, and especially teenage girls, will find appealing.

SON : I love you mum.

FBI AGENT establishes her ex husband as a self-centred douchebag, which polls suggest most women will relate to and find appealing.

FBI AGENT : I’m glad you’re ok. Your father called to talk about himself again. Sometimes I wish he’d just get abducted by aliens or something…

Alien ships descend over every major city on Earth, and hover menacingly above them, exactly like in Independence Day.

RANDOM EXTRA : Hey, this is just like in Independence Day!

ANNA THE ALIEN QUEEN : We come in peace. We just need to ‘borrow’ something from you, just a little something that you won’t miss, don’t worry. In return we’ll give you, hmm, something wonderful that you need like, hmm, hey look at the shiny light display we can make and how sexy we all look! Did I mention we come in peace? I simply cannot stress enough that we come in peace. I tell you what, we’ll make one homeless guy in a wheelchair, get out of his wheelchair and walk around for a while, how does that sound to you? We think that’s pretty generous really. Oh ok ok we might let you mix with our gene pools too since that seems to turn you on so much, but you drive a hard bargain, especially what with none of you asking why we look like you guys and all. We conquer in peace. Always.

COLLECTIVE HUMANITY APART FROM PRIEST : Aliens! Thank goodness, they’re friendly, panic over! Well they might have ulterior motives, but they’re hot so who cares?

FBI AGENT and her partner ALAN TUDYK track down what they believe to be a terrorist cell meeting whilst everyone else jacks off to the aliens on TV.

FBI AGENT : Ok I’m going in, you wait here and play with those dinosaur toys you had on Firefly.

ALAN TUDYK : Ok. I’m an alien by the way.


ALAN TUDYK : Oh nothing. That was just for the few people in the audience who aren’t quite so savy on sci-fi clichés and hadn’t realised yet.

FBI agent continues into the secret meeting where she is met with no security of any kind and learns…

CONSPIRACY GUY : Aliens have been here for years, broiling political unrest, starting wars…

The audience recalls the episode’s opening queries and links this information with those events, much like the cancer man episode of the ‘X-files’.

… invoking religious hatred, causing financial meltdown, and giving pop stars accidental drug overdoses. Just look at Brittany’s ‘All the way’ video, and LMFAO’s ‘party rock anthem’ – they know the score people.

FBI AGENT : So wait, you’re saying that those aliens that just arrived looking exactly like normal humans, have been here already, looking exactly like other humans!


FBI AGENT : You must be very clever. I don’t think that’s occurred to anyone else on the planet.

CONSPIRACY GUY then goes on to explain that after some years of having this knowledge, he has used time and surprise to his advantage and has managed to amass the some twenty or so people hearing this for the first time, and that the only possible way he has fathomed to detect these alien infiltrators is to surreptitiously slice a highly visible ‘V’ shape into their neck and have a look at the tissue underneath. He explains this must now be done to everyone presently there. No one complains. The camera fades out as FBI AGENT is chosen to receive her V so that the audience will forget about it and not mind when FBI AGENT never sports the V mark henceforth. ALAN TUDYK ALIEN jumps in and attacks with a bunch of his alien friends and a flying spy-cam much like the ones in Terrahawks.


FBI AGENT : I’m shocked you were the traitor in our midst. I mean, you intercepted every piece of intel on these guys and still failed to put an end to them, even when they didn’t make any real effort to conceal what they were doing.


FBI AGENT, having inflicted a revelatory head wound, continues to administer what we are led to believe is a killing blow to ALAN TUDYK ALIEN, though is very careful not to show where this wound is to the camera so as not reveal anything else about the alien anatomy should ALAN TUDYK ALIEN come back to life. Which he will. Enter GOOD ALIEN who helps win the fight, along with the GOOD PRIEST, who was also present at the meeting.

GOOD ALIEN : Don’t worry, I’m an alien and I like you guys. Some of the others do too, but our artificial skin opens up real easy – look.

FBI AGENT : Ok, I’ve gotten up to speed and already guessed you were a good alien. But kudos for coming straight out with it to people you’ve never met before.

GOOD ALIEN goes on to have his arm healed by an alien grease monkey and has INTERNAL CONFLICT about whether or not to leave his potential fiancée in the firing range of anyone trying to find him. The concept of his love and interspecies sexual/marital affairs is not deemed relevant to discuss. FBI AGENT recruits GOOD PRIEST as a replacement for her partner and the new recipient of her latent, divorcee, sexual cravings. The perfect choice as his faith will prohibit him from reciprocating in any way that is likely to annoy her. FBI AGENT also deals with her duplicitous, horny, teenage son.

FBI AGENT : You wouldn’t join that group of incredibly hot young alien girls would you? I mean, even though it’s obvious to me you’re still a virgin and will remain so as long you continue to only hang around your equally uncool friend. But you wouldn’t go, for me, right?

The concept of interspecies sexual affairs is not deemed relevant to discuss.

SON : Em, nooooooo….. ‘Even though I’ll probably find out pretty soon that they are in fact lizards under cloned human skin, I can probably get on board with that. I mean, the rest is all fully functional right? Not that I’m shallow or anything…

Meanwhile ANCHORMAN meets with ALIEN QUEEN ANNA for a live interview, having commented that she is a hottie and thus established himself as someone to be used, but also that ALIEN QUEEN ANNA is more than a little vain and that this will probably lead to problems for her schemes.

ALIEN QUEEN ANNA : Before we start, you do know you can’t ask anything I don’t want you to right? I mean, I want to look good you understand? It’s all about me, me, me. I want my slaves to love their queen.

ANCHORMAN : What? Are you kidding me? This was going to make Frost/Nixon look like a Charlie Sheen interview. But I am on your ship. By myself. And I do intend to have sex with you at some point.

ALIEN QUEEN ANNA : I’m glad you see the position you’ve put yourself in.

Anchorman paints the aliens in a favourable light, but then tries to play them by running his own interviews on Earth, which apparently also paint the aliens in a good light. This attracts the sexual attention of ALIEN QUEEN ANNA as she finds a new toy to play with and secretly regrets adhering to Lee Strasberg’s method acting and installing human sex drives directly into their own reptile brains instead of just sticking with the cloned skin.


Everyone wisely avoids illegal alien jokes as it becomes evident the visitors are trying to obtain passports. Specifically US passports, as this is the only country that matters, and, naturally, the FBI are the only ones the V think can stop them.

SON : I’m going out mom

FBI AGENT – otherwise known as ERICA : You will remember to be careful around those aliens won’t you?

SON : Oh for the love of, talk about mother paranoia! It must be tough thinking everyone’s a terrorist all the time mother. I mean, if you can’t trust unknown aliens in a huge ship over the city then I think we’ve reached a very bad place don’t you? What does that tell us about ourselves? It’s like you’re using this ship as some kind of metaphor for puberty, and you’re going to use the aliens to play out all my need and guilt and your trust issues, again and again and again. I’m already tired of it! Oh, I might have been fired from my role as peace ambassador after I punched someone in the face anyway. He called me a name so he totally had it coming.

ERICA has bigger reptiles to fry, namely a would-be terrorist that she spots closing in on ALIEN NO.2 at the next public event. Fortunately her ninja training comes in handy and she is able subdue the armed gunman, who allows her to as not only is it a set up, but it also means he can avoid the alternative of being shot. Erica uses this opportunity to find the conspicuous alien monitoring station, conspicuous both because no one is there to watch the monitors and also because Erica guesses the alien password, intimating she may in fact be the world’s smartest mom, or an alien herself. This fact is not dwelled upon. Erica discovers the V shirts are mini-cameras and leaves before she has an opportunity to perv her son on a date with another V.

ALIEN NO.2 : I see that you’re going after the wife of one of the pilots we inadvertently killed. I note this with my usual tone of slightly alarmed incredulity.

ALIEN QUEEN ANNA : She is the only one besides the FBI that can stop us. Do you know why? Because she’s angry, that’s why, and everyone else thinks we’re wonderful. I also fear her because she’s a woman and I know how I would react – wait and see what I do at the end of this season. That kind of all consuming hate after your life has been destroyed is contagious. I should know, I have caused enough of it on countless other planets. It’s so tiresome. Luckily most humans prefer to look the other way. Nevertheless I will mind fuck her until she shuts up. Would you like to watch again No.2?

Meanwhile RYAN chases up an old friend who left his calling card mysteriously in his flat and who then tries to hand him over to the V, allowing RYAN the possibility of escape instead of just telling the V where his flat was in the first place.

RYAN : Why are you doing this? I trusted you!

CYRUS : I just need that bliss again man, y-you know when you just gotta have it reeeal bad. I need to get reconnected, I tried it with these human girls, but they’re nothing compared to ANNA! I got tired of being her bitch, but she was right, I am worthless – and you are too! You know it don’t you, you know you’ll end up back with her.

RYAN : Man, now I’m gonna have to torch you alive.


GOOD PRIEST ‘JACK’ : Hmm, I don’t really know what’s going on here, but Erica seems nice. I think the best thing to do would be to leave a voicemail on her FBI work phone about how we were at that warehouse where her partner got killed. I sure hope those aliens with super-advanced technology can’t find us and finish the job. Hmm, looks like this other guy who was there doesn’t use voicemail, so I’ll just leave my church card with my address and name on it instead. I can’t remember why I have these church cards in the first place. It’s a bit odd. Is it to lure unsuspecting women into the church, then I swap my priest’s collar for the army dog tags I always carry in my pocket, and unleash the flood of testosterone that builds up every day behind my broken faith. Probably.


ALIEN QUEEN ANNA convinces the air force widow to have a few words with her in private, and proceeds to fuck the shit out of her mind until all she sees is rainbows.

AIR FORCE WIDOW : Wow, that was amazing. I literally came as soon as we went off camera. They don’t call it grace for nothing. My husband never made me feel like that. Now that I know such orgasmic power exists in this universe I will be eternally grateful and consider it A-Okay that you had to murder my husband in order to reveal it to me. Unless of course I’m a clone…


ALAN TUDYK ALIEN : Blaaaarg – Oh, hang on, what’s this?

JOSHUA : I am Joshua, your new best friend. I created this cerebral prison – I mean convalescence centre so that …

Creed  (2015)    71/100

Rating :   71/100                                                                     133 Min        12A

‘Creed’ marks the seventh instalment in the Rocky franchise, after Sylvester Stallone wrote, directed and starred in the original back in 1976 – guiding it to Oscar glory for the best picture win, and giving him his one and only acting nod for his iconic turn as Rocky Balboa, beaten posthumously by Peter Finch for ‘Network’. His only nod until now, that is, as his emotional return to the character saw him deservedly nominated for a best supporting actor Oscar, whilst Michael B. Jordan takes the lead playing the titular Adonis Creed; illegitimate son of Rocky’s original opponent Apollo Creed, who was of course wonderfully portrayed by Carl Weathers in the first three movies.

Written by Ryan Coogler and Aaron Covington, and directed by Coogler who worked previously with Jordan on their hit ‘Fruitvale Station’ (13), the film suffers initially from a lack of any emotional connection to the central character. Taken out of juvie and the foster care system to be raised in opulence by Apollo’s widow, Adonis shows a determination to fight just as his father did, but as the screenplay points out he has all the advantages in life that his father before him did not, giving him many more avenues to explore. In the beginning we see him receiving a promotion and promptly leaving his office job to pursue his fighting career, and whilst his office job presumably wasn’t all that fulfilling, he is wealthy and educated enough to try his hand at any sport or endeavour, there’s no need to pick one that could leave you fatally wounded or brain damaged.

The screenplay acknowledges this conceit, and there’s a wonderful piece of dialogue from Phylicia Rashad (playing Mary Anne Creed) where she explains she had to wipe Apollo’s ass because he couldn’t do it himself after some fights. The whole premise is that Adonis is trying to prove his own self-worth given his roots and his never having even met his father, but lack of emotional depth early on still leaves this feeling like a struggle foisted onto the main character by a plot blind to its weaknesses in its eagerness to make and justify another Rocky film.

Similarly, we find the young character of Bianca (Tessa Thompson) who is working as a singer, her passion in life, but suffering from permanent gradual hearing loss, although she seems quite content to listen to music full blast in her apartment; without so much as a thought for her neighbours let alone herself. Later on a key theme of the movie is anchored when Adonis tells someone who is sick to fight it and not give in – but this is completely at odds with the character of Bianca, as she says she just wants to do what she loves for as long as she can, and yet is actually caving in to her condition by propelling it ever forward at the fastest rate possible, doing things that would stand a good chance of damaging anyone’s hearing.

From a writing stance all of this fails and comes across as far too naïve, good general concepts poorly realised, but then enter Stallone, who reluctantly agrees to train Adonis and the two develop a father-son relationship that is both convincing and touching at times, and it looks for all the world like that very relationship had its effect on the performers too, as all the raw nerves that were only really there in print in the beginning exist on the surface by the end. Jordan delivers not only a likeable, and believable given how ripped he is for the role, performance throughout, but also a vulnerable and sympathetic one by the end, with Stallone on top form and really operating as the pulsating heart behind the movie.

Coogler has managed to shoot the film in such a way as to make it feel modern and down-to-earth, perfectly in keeping with the original, but also reasonably cinematic where it needed to be, although they’ve tried too hard to fit in bites of the original soundtrack into the new one and it usually feels out of place. When the story gets going though, the pace and momentum is such that it’s easy to be carried along with it, and Stallone’s guidance grounds and carries everything forward, not particularly hindered by the weaknesses of the first half.

It’s well shot throughout, although some scenes don’t come off as well as intended – such as a fight ambitiously done in one take, all the rage these days, that sees the camera in all the wrong places and a distance created between us and the action, and although the performers have done the scene well, the nature of it being a fight means the slightest of hesitations and going through their paces is really noticeable. Comically, the ending sees Adonis given an affectionate shove by Thompson, who unintentionally pushes him back several feet – at the culmination of that arduous and probably stressful scene, the irony isn’t lost on the cast.

Oddly enough, they watch ‘Skyfall‘ just afterward, which not only has a parallel with a protagonist deemed physically below par compared to his task, but also had Sam Mendes in his next instalment, ‘Spectre‘, attempt his own one-take scene.

‘Creed’ marks the best instalment in the Rocky story for decades, and although it doesn’t have the thrills and spectacle of ‘Rocky III’ or ‘Rocky IV’, its character based realism, for the most part, delivers a very ‘real’ feeling film.

Spotlight  (2015)    70/100

Rating :   70/100                                                                     128 Min        15

Drama documenting the true story of The Boston Globe’s ‘Spotlight’ feature department, who hit upon the wide-reaching scandal of Catholic priest paedophilia in the area, and, more exactly, its long running cover-up by the clergy which was to instigate revelations and repercussions throughout the world. Indeed in 2008 Pope Benedict XVI publicly apologised for the damage caused, but what this film will be remembered for is the sheer scale of the problem, which is simply overwhelming.

Alas, it’s not a great film it has to be said, it relies entirely on its subject matter wherein it can hardly fail to interest and captivate, but most of the first two-thirds lacks any real relationship with the audience and it has all been pieced together in a very straightforward way, with multiple scenes feeling like the actors are fumbling together through them. Eventually more of an emotional connection arrives, largely via a great performance from Mark Ruffalo’s dedicated and understandably outraged reporter Mike Rezendes, which leads to a suitably impactful finale.

It plays the whole thing a little safe though. Given the horror that it’s covering, we only feel a tiny bit of the evil at play – this film should really have taken no prisoners, with what the victims went through at the forefront of everything, and the church put much more on the stand than we see – the focus here is on the reporters mincing around most of the time and it’s an opportunity lost, delivering a good film but not one that’s going to hit where it really hurts, although you are still likely to remember the distaste and anger it’ll leave you with.

Up for numerous Oscars (winning best film, and best original screenplay for Josh Singer {‘The Fifth Estate‘} and Tom McCarthy), it was probably the best of an uninspiring bunch, though some of the nominations were a bit of a surprise, including for the eminently watchable Rachel McAdams in support – note the several obvious shots framed to specifically show her ass off in the film (which I did appreciate to be fair). Important to watch because of the story, but average at best in terms of its execution. Not without its effect in the real world though, with the inevitable sparking of debate about an ongoing issue.

The Big Short  (2015)    66/100

Rating :   66/100                                                                     130 Min        15

This is an important film detailing, or attempting to, what led up to and caused the financial crash in America and most of Europe in 2007/08. Focusing on the corruption in the banking sector wherein people had financial incentive, in terms of bonuses, for bankrolling increasingly dubious clients for mortgages, the film delivers a narrative charting events from the point of view of several characters trying to profit from the collapse by spotting what was going to happen and betting against the system – that system being the, until then, rock solid sub-prime mortgage stability.

Curiously, then, we have protagonists that we ought to despise and yet the movie is partly successful in having us want them to succeed, or it is up to a point – Christian Bale’s Michael Burry, and to a lesser extent Steve Carell’s Mark Baum, have us root for them, but the others fall rather flat.

Indeed, I can’t think of another film off the top of my head that is so constantly dragged down by the support work, and a large portion of the blame lies with director Adam McKay, who not only has random camera movements all over the place in an attempt to make it look like he knows what he’s doing, but he also has support characters eat, and chew gum in a really audible way all through the movie.

From a performance point of view, it can be one of the most disgusting things asked of an actor – those who are driven mad by the sound of people eating in the cinema (a sizeable percentage of the population) already have to contend with people treating the place like their own living room, with a never-ending selection of the most irritating and noisy confectionery there is, but now McKay thinks it would be a good idea to put it on the screen in front of them too, where we can not only see and hear it at a high decibel level, but it will actually interfere with the dialogue as well. It’s unbearable, and if you are put off by this notion in any way, then, simply put, I’d advise avoiding this film entirely.

Perhaps this is connected to Brad Pitt? He stars and produces here and is known for his trademark of eating onscreen, but he always manages it in a way that isn’t annoying. His role is reminiscent of his brief and messianic appearance in ‘12 Years a Slave‘, also produced by his company Plan B, as here, after aiding two undesirables to become rich via other people’s gross misfortune, he turns around to berate them for celebrating, telling them that it’s going to mean bitter hardship, homelessness and death for huge swathes of the population, and the others are all ‘hmm, I never thought of it that way ..’.

The dialogue is also problematic – we have several interjections from famous faces such as Margot Robbie and Selena Gomez (and some chef most people have never heard of before and who is really hard to make out), explaining in supposed layman’s terms what all the financial jargon actually means. Initially, this does help, but as the film continues it delves back into a mire of confusion – grasping the initial introductory section is critical to understanding the rest of the film, so try to pay special attention to the first ten minutes or so explaining the history of banking as a business.

Undeservedly nominated for lots of Oscars, including for director McKay which must surely be an aberration, although support nominee Bale is one of the few people that save the film from becoming an acting monstrosity. The film is both poorly crafted and written (despite winning the best adapted screenplay Oscar for McKay and Charles Randolph: their script is based on the 2010 book ‘The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine’ by Michael Lewis), but as a movie attempting to chronicle one of the biggest financial stories of our time it is still one worth paying attention to, maybe just bring earplugs for some of the scenes …

Room  (2015)    55/100

Rating :   55/100                                                                     118 Min        15

Completely ridiculous. A piece of absolute nonsense that somehow garnered nods for best film, actress (Brie Larson), director (Lenny Abrahamson, ‘Frank‘ 2014) and adapted screenplay (Emma Donoghue) at the Oscars for 2015 – I’m not sure I want to divulge the central story as parts of it are only revealed after time, but the plot is focused on a mother’s relationship with her young five-year-old child (Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay respectively) within the context of a dramatic scenario they have to try and resolve. Suffice it to say, when you find out what that scenario is you will be left thinking, really? You couldn’t find a way to solve that problem with all the means at your disposal, and all the time you had to work on it?

To make matters worse, the solution hit upon has so many aspects that could head south fast it effectively buries the suspension of disbelief and the film from then on. Larsen carries the role (she was the only win at the Oscars) but not in any particularly resonant way, I didn’t feel anything for her character from start to finish, and I thought her young son was actually a girl for the majority of the film as well – visually he looks like a girl, and I thought there are reasons the mother might want to pretend that it was a boy, but no, it actually is a boy, so confusing. Basic changes to the details and the entire movie could work, but what they’ve ran with in the end is just preposterous.

Similarly, they hint at deeper and darker sexual themes, but then pull back before they’ve even begun to be explored. Ultimately, the entire thing is basically a waste of time, although Tremblay is quite convincing, despite looking like a girl (he can blame his mother for that).

Our Brand Is Crisis  (2015)    71/100

Rating :   71/100                                                                     107 Min        15

Much maligned but actually delivering a very astute, interesting and accurate dissection of modern-day politics, possibly why it was shunned by the Oscars, in a way that’s very easy to follow, and within a story that’s interesting and moves everything along at a very decent pace – only really falling down when it tries to deal with its characters outwith the confines of its central arc, where it mostly feels a little cold and flat.

Sandra Bullock stars as ‘Calamity’ Jane Bodine, the political strategic ace, brought out of retirement to help flagging ex-general Pedro Castillo (Joaquim de Almeida) try to become Bolivia’s next president, and who’s rival in the arena is being coached by Jane’s old archnemesis Pat Candy (Billy Bob Thornton).

Fictional, but based on Rachel Boynton’s 2005 documentary about American campaign tactics in the 2002 Bolivian presidential election, the movie feels very real with, on the face of it, connections to British politics, as we hear one story of someone spreading a rumour about their rival having fucked pigs purely so they could hear them deny it – in Britain the former Prime Minister, David Cameron (who resigned after declaring ‘why should I do the hard stuff?’), apparently actually did fuck a dead pig, or at least he inserted his penis into it’s mouth (there is reputedly photographic evidence of this). The pig probably had a tag on it that read ‘Poor People’. Similarly, we watch as Jane’s team runs with the ‘crises’ dialogue, with their candidate the only one that can save the country – here the Tories used the word ‘chaos’ relentlessly when talking about what would happen if they lost the vote, effectively assuming the voting populace were of a combined intellect equivalent to that of a herd of cattle (or swine perhaps). Lo and behold, they won all the elections.

Bullock is immense in this film, utterly convincing in the moments when she has to appear commanding and equally convincing when displaying restrained emotion. I was dead against her Oscar nomination for ‘Gravity‘ but I don’t understand why she didn’t get a nod for this, especially given some of the performances that did sneak in that year. Directed by David Gordon Green (‘Stronger’ 2017) and with Anthony Mackie, Zoe Kazan and Scoot McNairy in support, this is a really clever and understated film that deserved more attention that it received – it only lasted a single week on release here, which really smacks of political intervention given even a crummy film with Sandra Bullock that gets universally slated and bombs at the box office will still last at least two weeks normally.

The Revenant  (2015)    54/100

Rating :   54/100                                                                     156 Min        15

A fairly horrid disappointment, as director Alejandro G. Iñarritu follows up his Oscar win for ‘Birdman‘ the year previous, which I was rooting for, with this, a period piece set in the wilderness of America’s Dakotas in 1823, replete with as many arty shots as you can shake your fist at, but no amount of landscapes and visceral clenches of the environment can mask that at its core ‘The Revenant’ is just an extremely poorly written action film that makes no sense at any point, and whose bloody excess is endorsed by a director playing around with cameras so much that he operates as a character himself, which is exactly what a director shouldn’t be doing, to the extent that the only thing of any merit is the technical quality of the equipment and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki’s use of it, delivering crisp and lucid images throughout, but even they are interjected far too often, and with a run time of 156 mins this is one film where you’ll be glad to see the credits role and signal the experience is finally over.

Leonardo DiCaprio stars, and indeed finally won his first Oscar for the role (Iñarritu and Lubezki were the other winners from a total of twelve nominations; including best film and a best supporting nod for Tom Hardy), playing one of a group of fur trappers (Hugh Glass) dealing with Indian attacks and basic survival against the elements. At its heart, the film is as predictable as could be, with an essential plot element revealed in the trailer (aiding its predictability), a continuously unbelievable central arc and a litany of character decisions that make no sense at all – whilst trying to be vague, a non-exhaustive list of these include:

Indians attacking a group because they believe the chief’s daughter might be held captive by them, they don’t think to check first of course and the ensuing slaughter could easily have killed her had she been there in the first place, the Indians then decide to doggedly harass the remainder of the group, still with no actual evidence the girl is with them, whilst at the same time completely ignoring the possibility that the other groups of whites around may be the culprits; a bear attack that presumably has some relationship with something the scriptwriter seen on the discovery channel at some point but still looks completely ridiculous and should have by rights killed the recipient right off but instead mangles him for the sake of rubbish plot lines; a character that has the use of lots of men at his disposal but instead heads off without them to deal with a lone gunman; a shootout with someone firing at range when they know the other person cannot possibly reload in time so they could have leisurely walked up to them and fired with no chance to miss; someone committing murder and not killing the only witness – even though they were about to originally murder said witness so they obviously have no qualms about it; someone deciding revenge is bad but giving a person over to other people knowing they will immediately kill them; someone stealing a horse from a large armed group in broad daylight when they could have at least waited until dark …

… and these are just the ones off the top of my head, I have no doubt there are many others. It starts off really promisingly (incidentally, opening scenes are sure to remind anyone who has ever played ‘Myst’ of one of the lands in the game, and curiously the symbol drawn on a canteen at one point is the same used throughout Myst online, maybe they are fans …) but it isn’t long before it becomes tedious and ridiculous, and it’s all downhill from there as we watch the inevitable play out in the most indulgent and drawn-out fashion imaginable. Iñarritu takes to several moments of providing 360 degree spins with the camera, presumably trying to put the audience into the scene but in reality removing us from it and instead creating a somewhat dizzying effect.

It’s a very physical role for DiCaprio, and as is ever the case with this kind of part, if you’re actually there freezing your bollocks off and getting wrecked by the environment, are you really acting? Although not really his finest hour, and he deserved a much better screenplay, few could begrudge him his long overdue Oscar win. For anyone who has seen ‘The Big Sky’ (52) starring the late, great Kirk Douglas (it’s a much better film incidentally), then you will undoubtedly notice some large-scale and not-so-subtle parallels with ‘The Revenant’, and indeed here the scene where someone guts an animal and climbs inside its carcass has almost certainly been taken directly from ‘Headhunters’ (2011). Massive disappointment from the director and writers – Iñarritu and Mark L. Smith, who based their work partly on Michael Punke’s 2002 novel of the same name detailing the adventures of the real-life Glass. I remember a surge of gratefulness when this finally finished that definitely made it a memorable entry in my log of long and painful cinematic experiences.

I almost forgot – show of hands, who actually knows what ‘revenant’ means? Hmm, I don’t see many hands going up out there – apart from you, but you are lying to yourself. Here is the definition I’ve swiped from Dictionary.com:


Revenant –  noun  1) a person who returns
                              2) a person who returns as a spirit after death; ghost

              Brit. dic.  noun  1) something, esp a ghost, that returns  

  ORIGIN: C19: from French: ghost, from revenir to come back, from Latin
revenīre, from re- + venīre to come

The Graduate  (1967)    80/100

Rating :   80/100                                                                     106 Min        15

A film primarily famous for its music (scored by Simon & Garfunkel – including their famous ‘Mrs. Robinson’ – who became household names after the success of the movie) and for the central concept of an older woman, Mrs Robinson (played by Anne Bancroft), seducing a younger man, Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman). This is quite unfair on the film though, as we soon realise we are actually watching Mrs Robinson living in her own personal version of hell, while the young Ben, a creature of great impulse but no real design, processes his angst and feelings of isolation and ennui into an all consuming and obsessive ‘true love’, one befitting the film’s iconic status.

Hoffman shows why he is one of the finest actors of any generation not just his own, and director Mike Nichols won the best director Oscar for his avant-garde and experimental work here – which features a lot of individual expression helping shape the audience’s connection with Ben and his disconnection with the adults around him, even if sometimes if feels like they just thought – ‘Ok let’s put the camera up here and see what happens’. A story with a lot of depth, great performances (also from Katharine Ross in support – all three would garner Oscar nominations), and some wonderful comedy perfectly sewn into the darkness and urgency of the drama. One not to miss.

The Breakfast Club  (1985)    63/100

Rating :   63/100                                                                       97 Min        15

One of the most famous films of the eighties from writer/director John Hughes, ‘The Breakfast Club’ is so named for the five central characters (played by Emilio Estevez, Judd Nelson, Ally Sheedy, Molly Ringwald and Anthony Michael Hall) who are all called into high school detention on a Saturday, for the entire day, and all for a variety of reasons which are revealed as the story progresses. Each character represents a stereotype – respectively; the Jock, the aggressive outsider, the emo/’alternative’ chick, the beauty and the studious nerd. Each proceeds to both antagonise the others and also demonstrate values and thoughts identifying them with their stereotypes, before bonds are formed, barriers broken, and the suggestion that they have more in common than they would otherwise have believed is made. Largely, this is courtesy of the teacher assigned to watch over them from his nearby office (played by Paul Gleason, who may be equally familiar as the hopeless police sergeant in another eighties’ powerhouse, ‘Die Hard’ 88) who operates as the cement that will unite them all together.

Although the cast are good and have a combined strong screen presence, one can’t help but feel a certain conceited smugness to the whole thing – as if everyone in American high schools must somehow conform to one of these primordial divisions. And whilst the film tries for the most part to break down the preconceptions and animosities, arising from insecurity, that each of them have, it ultimately ends with a very, very traditional pairing-off of certain characters whilst the geek is hoodwinked into writing everyone else’s report, and this is sold to us as a victory for everyone in the group, as if he gets the same level of satisfaction from writing extra essays as the others do from sexual gratification. It’s borderline bullying from the others, and the effective subjugation of the fifth person – something which nowadays would probably be reversed, since the concept of the geek scoring with the hot girl is very much in vogue.

Also famous for immortalising Scottish band Simple Mind’s classic ‘Forget About Me’, which you can listen to below:

A Civil Action  (1998)    69/100

Rating :   69/100                                                                       115 Min       15

John Travolta leads in this true tale depicting one team of lawyer’s fight against the corrupt practices of big business – in this case Beatrice Foods and W. R. Grace and Company, who stood jointly accused of dumping toxic waste into the water supply for the town of Woburn in Massachusetts, leading to a stark rise in cases of Leukaemia in the area during the 1980s. Initially motivated by the potential for a large financial payout at the expense of said companies, Travolta (playing lawyer Jan Schlichtmann) soon begins to realise the true extent of the human tragedy and all but runs his business into the ground trying to get justice for the families involved, much to the chagrin of his practice associates (William H. Macy, Tony Shalhoub and Zeljko Ivanek).

Robert Duvall has a memorable (and indeed, Oscar nominated) turn as the eccentric, but skilled, opposing lawyer, as the story exposes the inherent difficulties of proving such corporate wrong doing in a court of law, and also some of the machinations of the American legal system and the legal profession itself as a business – will definitely remind modern viewers of the more recent, and just as noteworthy, ‘Dark Waters’ (2019) starring Mark Ruffalo. With support from the late James Gandolfini, Kathleen Quinlan, John Lithgow, Sydney Pollack and Stephen Fry.