Based on the Valiant comic book, the sci-fi movie Bloodshot is an updated Universal Soldier, which of course is an updated Frankenstein story, which is of course an updated Pinocchio story, which of course is an updated Satan-rebelling-against-God-as-maker story. But Frankenstein is the Ur science fiction story that seems most conspicuous here. Vin Diesel plays the animated corpse – and he’s quite convincing as a corpse. All the actors around him have to work particularly hard to keep him animated, as it happens. The fact that he’s incapable of any inflection or intonation in his voice does make you wonder if he’s even capable of any emotion (or thought) behind those tiny eyes of his. The mad scientist of the piece is played by Guy Pearce, who really doesn’t have much to work with.
Now, you may say that I should have expected the film to be pretty pants, given that it’s a Vin Diesel vehicle. But I’d have to come back with Pitch Black and the Chronicles of Riddick – both decent sci-fis with the big guy in the lead role. Bloodshot‘s all a bit of a shame, really, because some of the early plot twists are quite decent, and the action sequences are visually impressive (although without any genuine jeopardy). Were it not for VD, it could all have been that bit better.
Plot? There is one of a sort. A dead soldier is resurrected by a scientist and used as a self-repairing (nanobots/nanites) killing machine. The machine is driven by a desire for revenge based on false memories. But the machine then becomes properly self-aware and wants to break free of its murderous programming! There’s one decent scene between monster and maker, where the maker nearly convinces the monster that having clear orders, purpose and direction in ‘life’ is far better than being entirely free. VD grunts and groans his way through it all, failing to grasp the more complex philosophical implications of it all, and then kills everyone and everything. The end.
Is there any point watching it at all? Should you save yourself 1hr40mins? Well, fans of Eiza Gonzalez will find the movie pleasant viewing, so there is that. Otherwise, it scores 5 out of 10 from me.
Fans of The Good Place and the Matt Damon movie Downsizing will love Upload. It’s got some lovely near-future ideas in it, intelligently balancing the potential positives with the satirically dystopian, and serves up ten tightly-plotted half-hour episodes. I know people who watched all ten episodes back-to-back!
An app developer called Nathan (played by Robbie Amell) is in a driverless car accident and dying. Fortunately, his rich girlfriend is on hand to offer him a digital afterlife – if he’ll just sign here so his consciousness can be uploaded. Against his better judgement, he wakes up to find himself in the hotel of Lake View – a sort of eternal hotel full of awful people. He realises that the afterlife is effectively a prison. But how can he escape the machine? Is there a way to be downloaded back into a living body? And why does he have particular gaps in his memory.
He finds there are precious few ‘people’ he can trust. He has a ‘handler’ who seems nice, although she’s employed by the owners of the Lake View app/digital platform. He’s monitored at all times. And everything seems ‘loaded’ against him.
Sounds dark, right? Actually, it’s very funny and bitter sweet. They’ve got the tone and sense of wonder spot on. Amazon Prime, you’re really leaving Netflix for dead at the mo. During lockdown, the big stuff I’ve been watching has been the Bosch new series, all the series of Elementary and now Upload. I’ve not switched on Netflix in ages. Upload is a 9.9/10 for me.
You’ve been kidnapped. You wake up gagged, in the middle of countryside. There are others in a similar state to you. You come together in the middle of a field where there’s a crate of guns. You free and arm yourselves, and then the snipers start picking you off one-by-one. You realise you’re are being hunted for sport!
It’s a reality TV show sort of start to the new movie called The Hunt. And it’s a very clever start, as we are not sure who we’re meant to be rooting for. The narrative perspective starts with a group of the kidnapped people, and we instinctively root for the underdog, but they’re all killed off. We follow more of the kidnapped, but then they’re all killed too. It’s properly disorienting… and deliberately so. The viewer feels as turned-around and frantic as those being hunted. It’s immersive and engaging. We implicitly understand how we, ourselves, are manipulated and abused by the rich in society. And it makes us angry, and self-righteous. We might long for revenge, and blood, ourselves.
We come to learn that rich, left-wing elites have decided to teach the right-wing working-class of America a lesson, almost as a form of self-defence. The satire about the entirely partisan and self-defeating politics of modern America may be far from subtle, but it’s certainly effective, and darkly humorous/ironic. And hugely enjoyable, come to that!
There have been a fair few tepid and negative reviews of this movie, but it works extremely well in my opinion. Some have accused it of opting out of any sort of positive morality (in the sort of way South Park used to take the piss out of everyone and every thing)… but that’s to miss the movie’s point, really. The Hunt apportions blame to both sides of the divide. It describes the current state of the factionalised and polarised US, offering clear messages about what’s actually important at the same time. And the movie does understand good from bad: there is no doubt which characters lack morality, and which have been done an injustice.
The reveal (and casting) of the big baddie at the end is perfect. And the very end scenes of the film are a triumph. And it’s also female-empowered. I’d definitely recommend it. It scores an 8 out of 10 from me.
This year’s final is set for Saturday 16 May (8pm onwards). It’s coming to us from Rotterdam, the Netherlands (last year’s winners).
What’s the British entry like it? Who even is it? James Newman, with a song called ‘My Last Breath’. Let’s hope it’s not his last breath… cos otherwise he’ll ‘die on stage’! LOL.
But is it any good? Well, the promo video starts with too much heavy breathing from a dirty old man, if you ask me. But there are some nice hounds in some sort of aspen forest – pretty enough. Then young James pops up and starts rasping away – not surprised – it all looks a bit chilly to be honest, although it doesn’t deter the dirty old man from getting his clothes off. Beyond that, there are some very odd lyrics like ‘If we were deep sea divers, I’d give you my last breath.’ [Well, we’d both be dead then, wouldn’t we?] The song is blandly inoffensive, and then there’s a massive musical build based on a chorus of going woah ooo ooo ooo woah. By the numbers, my friends, by the numbers. Formulaic in the extreme.
Does it matter? It’ll be about Brexit maybe… and countries that still want to trade with us. Remember, last year, only Ireland gave us points. Pray, therefore, that you don’t get the UK in the sweepstake.
If you wanna judge the song for yourself, here you go: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6iS-lV909T4. Be warned, though: once you’ve heard it, you won’t be able to unhear it.
Here’s a curious one. Had a tin of this quaffable stuff yesterday. It’s beer that is aged in a bourbon barrel. And the ale actually has a whisky note! Sounds horrible, right? Actually, I really rather liked it. Hurrah!
A ship of mercenary police called the Judoon turn up and surround Gloucester. And start killing grannies, as you do – their knitting needles are classed as weapons, you see. The Judoon are space rhinos who have been tasked with finding a particular fugitive for their client.
Captain Jack Harkness then comes bobbing through with warning of a lone cyberman – in an episode yet to come.
And Jodie is fretting about the Master – who’s still out there somewhere.
A black tour guide called Ruth turns out to be who the Judoon are looking for, but her bio-shield allows her to avoid the scans and escape with the Doctor. Turns out (spoiler)… Ruth believes she’s the Doctor (a bit like ‘the black slayer Kendra in Buffy moment’). And Ruth has her own TARDIS. Jodie-Whittaker-as-Doctor gets all confused, believing Ruth to be a future version of herself, but Ruth says she has no memory at all of Jodie-as-Doctor.
There seems to be a split in the timeline. In Jodie’s timeline, Gallifrey has been destroyed… but not in Ruth’s. And the mysterious ‘client’ who’s after Ruth is from Gallifrey!
And that’s the episode. It comes at you from all angles. There are twists and turns – but remains coherent (mainly). It’s the best episode of the series by a good chalk. There are jokes, some terrible acting, the Doctor (Ruth) knowingly using a gun to kill someone, and more. It all works! Hurrah!
Doctor Who has suffered the worst viewing figures since Colin Baker was Time Lord in 1986 – but star Jodie Whittaker insists she is not ready to quit yet. Sunday’s episode, Nikola Tesla’s Night of Terror, was watched by 4.04m people – the eighth worst showing in the show’s 57-year run – as fans (including 12-year-olds!) branded the new series ‘badly written’. But Whittaker vowed to carry on, saying: ‘I absolutely adore it.’ [Story as reported by The Metro and a local school.]