Idris Elba

The Take (a.k.a. Bastille Day) [2016]

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bastilleWhen this thriller was released in cinemas in April it went by the title of Bastille Day, but its story of bombings and racial riots on the streets of Paris became uncomfortably close to subsequent real life atrocities in France and it was even pulled from theatres after the Nice attacks in July. The home media release of the film was delayed and a new title, The Take, applied – all of which is really very unfortunate. Not only does that change cut the DVD release off from any positive word-of-mouth it might have garnered during its box office run, it also leaves it with a dull and unmemorable new name that makes it look like every other bit of sub-standard direct-to-video fare out there. Which is really rather unfair. Read the rest of this entry »

Star Trek Beyond (2015)

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startrekbeyond0August is invariably a quiet time for Taking The Short View in terms of items to review, the TV schedules having been swept clear of new material and left devoid of anything anything much worth reviewing, especially in a summer dominated by the Olympics. While I could have used all this sudden free time to go to the cinema instead, I increasingly find it difficult to find anything worth getting excited about in this age of big-spectacle but empty-headed superhero blockbusters.

However, there are always exceptions. Ever since I was a young kid, I’ve had a steadfast tradition of going to see the latest movies in three franchises in particular the minute they come out in the cinemas: James Bond, Star Wars and Star Trek. It was the turn of the latter to premier a new instalment this month and sure enough I maintained my tradition and saw it shortly after it came out. Which was, of course, some weeks ago now.

Why the delay in posting a review? I could say that an unexpected spike in work in the meantime has thwarted my attempts to write up a review, and there would be some truth in that, but it would only be part of it. The wider answer is that after seeing the film I just couldn’t get up enough enthusiasm to write anything, and that admission probably speaks as eloquently as to my feelings about Star Trek Beyond as any words that follow. Read the rest of this entry »

Luther S4

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Contains spoilers

luther-coverCan one really call a two-part special a ‘season’ these days? Apparently you can, although to be honest on this evidence I’m still far from convinced. Nor am I at all sure that the quick-hit brevity works for a show like Luther.

Despite coming very late to the Luther party, I was a big fan of the first season which consisted of a fully-formed six episodes. To be honest I did feel that the show lost its way somewhat over the ensuing two shorter four-part seasons that followed, but it nonetheless remained eminently watchable not least thanks to the towering performance of Idris Elba in the title role which was nicely counterpointed by the deadpan level-headedness of his likeable loyal sidekick DC Ripley (Warren Brown). Read the rest of this entry »

Thor (2011) [DVD]

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When I originally heard that Kenneth Branagh had been selected as the director of a Marvel Superhero film, I thought it was a very odd choice indeed. Still best known for his Shakespearian productions (both on stage and on celluloid), Branagh is hardly the person you would expect to be doing a big-budget all-action summer Hollywood blockbuster.

Having finally seen the end result this weekend, all I can say is that he still seems a very odd choice for it. But ‘odd’ is by no means necessarily a bad thing, and there are certain aspects to Thor that play impressively well to Branagh’s strengths and which few other filmmakers could have pulled off nearly as successfully as he does; but at the same time there are other parts of the film where his apparent lack of interest in empty bombast and action for its own sake really does tell, leaving some oddly hollow sections.

First the good stuff: the film’s version of Asgard, the legendary home of the Norse Gods, is truly spectacular. Beautifully and imaginatively designed and exceptionally well captured by Branagh, his director of photography and the SFX team, this was one of the most convincing and jaw-dropping creations I’ve seen on screen for many a year. The architecture is epic but moreover cohesive, and it has a real sense of grandeur to it while also looking like a true work of art. Read the rest of this entry »

Luther S1 E1-3

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I know, I’m coming very late to this particular party, but for some reason I never caught on to the BBC series Luther when it originally aired in 2010. Maybe I was busy doing something else, or perhaps the promotional campaign at the time simply didn’t appeal to me in that it looked like just another story of a troubled maverick cop breaking all the rules in his obsessive hunt for justice.

Having missed the first series entirely (and then naturally felt stepping straight into season 2 wasn’t a good idea) it’s taken a first-time re-run on the UK TV Alibi channel to finally get me to watch – and make me an instant convert.

What an excellent series. And the reason for just how good it is can be summed up in just two names – Idris Elba and Neil Cross, respectively star and creator/writer of the show. Elba of course made his name by being so impressive as part of the ensemble line-up in the already overwhelmingly brilliant The Wire, but here he’s given for want of a better description a star vehicle, a show completely built up around what he can do inhabiting a single character central stage. Read the rest of this entry »