So very, very late this week that it’s actually now “next week” but hey, at least it’s here, right? Let’s cut out the chit chat and get straight to it: Steve Norman hosts (and edits) this week as Owen Hughes and Brian Plank join for a review of the MCU’s latest fantasy adventure with Thor: Ragnarok. In the absence of the news section, the trio run through some Netflix stuff, chat about what else they’ve been watching, and recommend you some stuff to watch during the week that’s just been so is now entirely useless. Sorry about that.
Another episode of the Failed Critics Podcast where hosts Steve Norman and Owen Hughes are left on their lonesome to review the week’s major new release. With no news to discuss nor quizzes to, er, quiz, it makes space for both a spoiler-free and a post-credits Spoiler Alert, all about Spider-Man: Homecoming.
Unfortunately there are no instructional videos presented by Captain America to teach us how to write a good wholesome film review of the latest attempt at repackaging Spider-Man. Alas, you’ll just have to make do with Owen Hughes’s thoughts on this Sony / Marvel concoction.
Awight you pwopa nawty boys, oi oi! Brian Plank joins Steve Norman and Owen Hughes for a top, top podcast this week. We’ve got a review of Guy Ritchie’s new movie, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. It’s sick, bruv. Banterific. As well as the Kaiju drama(?) comedy(?) action(?) indie(?) flick, Colossal, starring Anne Hathaway.
Another month into Andrew Brooker’s self-imposed challenge to watch 365 films in 365 days. See how he’s been getting on below.
Where does a pirate keep his buccaneers? Apparently on the bucking Failed Critics Podcast this week, as Steve Norman and Owen Hughes are joined by both Andrew Brooker and Brian Plank for some jolly rogering – and to talk about Marvel’s latest space adventure movie, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2!
Ooga-shaka, I’m hooked on a Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise and it keeps getting better. Owen Hughes reviews James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
Look at me, listeners! I love you! It’s all for you, Damian— I mean, whatever your name might be! Happy birthday to us.
Yes, backs are slapped and circled are jerks as we celebrate reaching the fifth year of the Failed Critics Podcast. Hip, hip…
And so, as the first month of 2017 comes to a close, the first big video game of the year to make waves has finally arrived. But unlike Resident Evil VII’s intrepid hero, Character Unlock is bringing back-up.
Poached him from his regular seats on both Failed Critics and the Retro Gaming Discussion Show, hosts John Miller and Andrew Brooker enlist the help of Matt Lambourne in their exploration of the Baker Family House.
The gaming trio also wade through the swampy undergrowth of the last week’s gaming news. There’s plenty to talk about: Between theorising the possible ups and downs of a Marvel/Square Enix collaboration, there’s a brief chat on the soon-to-be-released Prey remake, and a trip down memory lane reminiscing on old Namco games in honour of the company’s recently departed founder. Brooker finds himself in Hell as John talks more on his Mass Effect series playthrough and Matt discusses the pitfalls of being a FIFA Ultimate Team player to the detriment of all other games.
In this week’s main feature the team discuss their history with the world renowned Resident Evil series. From its humble beginnings, through its bloated action phase, and finally on to the newest first-person frightener: is it a return to form for the series? Has Resident Evil lost its way entirely? Is it possible to finish the game without staining your trousers? We answer all the burning questions (and a few more) in episode 11 of Character Unlock.
Apologies for this week’s podcast being so late. It took us a little while to master the art of manipulating time and space, unlike a certain Marvel wizard who can montage his way through ancient texts on the topic. Steve Norman was closely guarding the FC library which meant Owen Hughes, Brian Plank and Andrew Brooker had to use all their cunning to get past him.
You know what, I’m just going to end that metaphor there. It’s possibly the worst one I’ve ever come up with and I’ll just tell you what’s on the podcast this week.
The big new release this week is – as you’ve probably ascertained – the new Marvel movie, Doctor Strange, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Mads Mikkelsen, Tilda Swinton, Benedict Wong, Chiewetel Ejiofor amongst others. (Scott Adkins!)
In What We’ve Been Watching, Steve stays quiet as Brian declares Hot Fuzz the best of the Cornetto trilogy, Brooker quenches his appetite for all things gruesome and grotesque with The Woman, and Owen doesn’t watch anything at all, but reviews the BBC Radio4 horror The Stone Tape by Peter Strickland (of Berbarian Sound Studio fame).
Brushing the cobwebs out of the way through the passage right at the back of the Failed Critics library, where nobody has been for centuries or more, we’ve found an ancient book containing spells for raising the dead.
Using our powers wisely, we let Steve Norman, Owen Hughes and Tony Black conjure up some deceased actors, putting them straight back to work in brand new movies pitched on this very episode of the Failed Critics Podcast Halloween special.
Resurrecting the dead in a triple bill is about as creepy as it gets this year, with What We’ve Been Watching ditched in favour of reviewing the new release Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, and a quick chat about the brand new semi-biographical comedy The Comedian’s Guide to Survival, starring James Buckley (The Inbetweeners). Comedian’s Guide is co-written by and based on the life of our very own James Mullinger from Underground Nights – check out their latest episode for some great background information on the making of the hilarious film.
Elsewhere on this podcast, the Failed Critics found time to bring back the quiz with Owen in the driving seat. News was trailer heavy, packed with discussion about the new Guardians of the Galaxy 2 and Logan trailers.
We’ll be back as normal next week with a review of Doctor Strange, but in the meantime keep an eye out for a brand new episode of our sister gaming podcast Character Unlock – as well as a round-up from this year’s Cambridge Film Festival, the longest running film festival in the UK!
The Earth still spins, the sun still shines and Hollywood still makes trilogies that nobody in their right mind wants, with Ron Howard’s third Dan Brown adaptation, Inferno, hitting cinemas last weekend.
Rather than expend any amount of energy reviewing the Tom Hanks led mystery thriller, the Failed Critics instead run through a triple bill of film franchises that should have ended before getting to the trilogy stage. Boy, were there plenty to choose from!
With regular host Steve Norman off celebrating his birthday, we drafted in Matt Lambourne to swivel on the comfy high-backed armchair and guide Owen Hughes, Brian Plank and Tony Black through another podcast. There’s no quiz this week, but a discussion about the new Star Wars: Rogue One trailer arose, as did a short summary of this year’s London Film Festival.
In What We’ve Been Watching, the team cover Netflix series Luke Cage and half of their newest feature-length comedy, Mascots. There’s even time for a chat about HBO’s latest smash hit, Westworld, up to episode three (spoiler free!)
Join us again next week as we’re back with a Halloween triple bill, resurrecting the dead… Spooky!
As chaotic as ever, Owen Hughes and Paul Rutland stumble through another podcast edition of their Bucks101 Radio show, Front Row, replete with all the usual bumf.
There’s a very slight twist on the movie review, with Owen taking a leaf out of Paul’s sports round-up (which this week focuses primarily on Leicester City’s Premier League triumph) to live-review Marvel’s latest blockbuster, Captain America: Civil War. Also, prepare yourself for a full-on rant from Paul as they ‘roll the dice’ in the final section of the show.
Thanks to Andy Alcock for his suggestion for the musical theme on this week’s show, as Owen and Paul tried to pick songs that mention famous people. The songs were as eclectic a mix as ever – but you still don’t get the music on the podcast! You’ll need to tune in to Bucks101 Radio every Tuesday at 5pm to hear their selections or alternatively, listen to all the tracks from the show on the YouTube playlist below.
- Billy Joel – We Didn’t Star the Fire (Paul)
- Ash – Kung Fu (Owen)
- Queen – Bicycle Race (Paul)
- Stump – Charlton Heston (Owen)
- Gregory Porter – Puttin’ on the Ritz (Paul)
- Billy Bragg – Sexuality (Owen)
- Vance Joy -Riptide (Paul)
- John Grant – Sigourney Weaver (Owen)
Battle lines have been drawn. Treaties are being drafted. The U.N. were informed.
It’s Steve ‘Captain Anyway’ Norman on one side, using his sense of justice and principles to determine what’s right. Opposite is Owen ‘Irony Man’ Hughes, putting his logic and rational thinking to the test. Listeners, choose your side as Civil War erupts on this week’s Failed Critics Podcast!
Andrew Brooker and Brian Plank are caught in the crossfire, therefore rather than being referred to as “guests” this week, you can legitimately call them Failed Critics collateral damage.
If you haven’t guessed what the main review on the latest episode is yet, then go speak to your doctor. But just for clarification, it is indeed the latest Marvel Cinematic Universe blockbuster, Captain America: Civil War – and boy do we talk, and talk, and talk about this one. We have our usual spoiler-free review later in the show, followed by a Spoiler Alert after the end credits, where the team go into more depth without worrying about ruining the plot, twists, characters… or anything else for that matter.
It’s not only Marvel on the pod this week, although the show does kick off with a chat about a potential Punisher solo-series on Netflix after a short hastily prepared quiz. Speaking of, Steve sinks his teeth into the latest Netflix movie Special Correspondents, starring Ricky Gervais. Owen and Brooker also review the latest James Cullen Bressack / Zack Ward indie-thriller Restoration (out today (3rd May!)), before Brooker also tackles video-game adaptation Ratchet & Clank and Brian has a look at cult classic Rollerball.
Join us again next week as we pray that our cinemas show something, anything, other than just Civil War for the next three months.
“Sorry” might always seem to be hardest word, Elton, but “accountability” might be the most unsexy. Particularly so if you’re trying to build a 147 minute long action movie around such a concept.
Let’s chuck in a few more terms, shall we? How about “legislation”, “treaty” and “U.N.-Accord”?
Captain America: Civil War could easily have suffered from dry, phlegmatic, po-faced earnestness, wallowing in miserableness as a collection of dumbfounded superheroes sit on the naughty step and think about what they’ve done.
Instead, fresh from the Sokovia fallout of the dreary misstepping Avengers: Age of Ultron, our eclectic band of merry super-powered chums begin the third instalment of Marvel’s Captain America trilogy with a skirmish in Lagos. As perpetually happens around these unregulated vigilantes / brave protectors (delete as applicable), chaos, destruction and collateral damage is never too far behind.
Just as they were after the hundreds of deaths from the New York alien-attack in Avengers Assemble, the crashing helicarriers in Washington DC during The Winter Soldier, and of course the omni-shambles of Age of Ultron‘s Sokovia rescue, it’s the Avengers who are held responsible for the loss of innocents’ lives in Nigeria. Thus begins a slow dissection of the role played by a group existing outside of the law, punctuated by enormous and often exceptionally well paced inter-fighting punch-ups.
Policing the planet as they see fit in this fantasy world of magic crystals, impenetrable metals and super soldiers, it takes no time at all for
General Secretary of State Ross (William Hurt) to step in on behalf of a world scared half to death by a rogue, unregulated group of suited, walking, fighting nuclear bombs, tick-tocking their way towards a potential armageddon.
Although in name this is a Captain America sequel, it certainly feels much more comfortable as the Avengers follow-up many hoped for last year. Returning after a successful stint helming The Winter Soldier, directors Anthony and Joe Russo’s wizardry with a camera has thankfully kept consistency in tone with the franchise, as Civil War continues to be a hard-hitting, politically-charged commentary with genre-defining action sequences and equally solid performances from a cast slotting back into place like a well-worn suit made of iron with a robot friend called Friday inside of it.
Friends and ideologies clash frequently during the blockbuster – and only some of the time by using their words and not their vibranium inventions. OK, most of the time the hullabaloo breaks out into bouts of armour-clad blows, rather than democratic discussions. But it’s still much more “talky” for a blockbuster than perhaps one is used to. And, crucially, it just isn’t boring. It’s full of engaging and often thought-provoking dialogue. Quips and visual gags worm their way into some of the more serious conversations, but it still attempts to raise some tough topics.
Just as Mark Millar’s 2006 comicbook series (upon which this film is loosely based) dealt with a post-9/11 society, fearing a self-appointed world-police, too powerful to stop – or even if stopping them was the right or wrong thing to do – so too does the Russo’s version relate events to the real world. Civil War could quite passably be an analogy for gun control in the US, amongst other things.
For example, on one side, there’s Tony Stark’s (Robert Downey Jr) position as the man doing his best to negotiate a fair deal for his pals, arguing that the best way to arm is to disarm and sign the UN’s proposed Sokovia Accord (akin to the “superhero registration act” in the comics). On the opposite side is Steve Rogers’s (Chris Evans) team who feel it’s their duty to step-up whenever they need to, operating without the bias of any government agendas.
It could be argued that one side represents the regulation and control of firearms, with the other in support of the people’s right to bear arms (albeit briefly). The moment that the two teams clash in an epic showdown – the likes of which we haven’t seen performed as accomplished as this since Whedon’s Phase One concluding team-up some four years and six movies ago – puts paid to this exact notion from that point onwards. But there’s still a lot to be read into this movie. Prepare for more astute observations crossing your path in the weeks and months to come from thousands of other bloggers and writers.
Anyway, let’s take a quick look at the teams on either side of the scrap:
Against the idea of becoming United Nations controlled agents, restricted to fighting only the causes upon which they determine suitable
- Captain America / Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) – Leader of the movement and the main protaganist for whom the film’s perspective is mainly viewed from. Evans appears to be having a blast and his enthusiasm is infectious – but my God those are some seriously intimidatingly large muscles.
- Falcon / Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) – Cap’s best friend and winged companion has an increased role in Civil War and benefits greatly from it. The first time that Falcon has been more than a bit-part character and Mackie handles the responsibility with aplomb. He actually appears to have a purpose on the team rather than being Cap’s fluffer.
- Winter Soldier / Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) – Previously the ex-Hydra assassin was a feared villain, but Stan’s portrayal of the man, turned into a complex and emotionally fragile victim with an edge of danger, sees him sit comfortably alongside his former buddy in Rogers’ motley crew.
- Scarlet Witch / Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) – The only Sokovian in the Avengers; traumatised and emotionally scarred by the events in her home country and those in Lagos, Wanda adds an extra dimension to the story, even if it is somewhat unrealised potential.
- Hawkeye / Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) – Thank Christ there’s no longer any weak attempts to puff out Hawkeye’s background with side-plots about his family that go nowhere and add nothing. He’s about as close to writer Matt Fraction’s version of the character that we’ve had so far and, although brief, is Renner’s best turn as Hawkguy yet.
- Ant Man / Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) – Continuing to surprise, despite only a small (excuse the pun) part to play in Civil War, what Rudd does, Rudd does well. Fantastically well, even. He’s a highlight in what was already the best scene in the entire movie.
Team Iron Man
In favour of the UN’s Sokovia Accord, ensuring the Avengers are regulated by defence experts in order to limit the civilian casualties from their endeavours to save mankind
- Iron Man / Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) – For all intents and purposes, RDJ might as well share equal billing. It’s as much Iron Man 4 as it is Captain America 3. His role shows just how much the former weapons manufacturer has developed since first outing himself as a superhero in 2008’s Iron Man, bringing things full circle.
- War Machine / James Rhodes (Don Cheadle) – If Falcon plays the role of Captain America’s sidekick, then War Machine fits as Iron Man’s. Provides the logos to the debate relative to Falcon’s pathos. But man, Don Cheadle is looking old.
- Black Widow / Natasha Romanov (Scarlett Johansson) – The cynical may say Black Widow is only on this side of the fence to balance the teams’ female quotas. Nevertheless, the role she plays provides a contrarian narrative and further develops her relationship with Rogers from The Winter Soldier.
- Vision (Paul Bettany) – The suave-voiced red-skinned being is reduced to the role of babysitter for much of his screentime, but twice Bettany gets to show off his acting talents with moments of profundity that keep the near God-like being grounded and relatable.
- Black Panther / T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) – Making his debut, the Prince of fictional African country Wakanda is forced to pick a side in his pursuit of vengeance. Boseman’s suitably unplaceable accent aside, he makes as much of an impact as one could hope for (if not more) in such a role. Bring on his solo film in 2018!
- Spider-Man / Peter Parker (Tom Holland) – Yes. Yes, yes, yes. This is how to do Spider-Man. It’s only taken 14 years, but this is it. Holland is perfect as the web-slinging wall-crawler in a larger role than perhaps expected. Currently in pre-production ahead of release next year, Homecoming looks set to be the fun adventure that the character deserves, if Civil War is any evidence to go by.
Regardless of the fact that we already have twelve characters squished into the two-and-a-half-hour long film, some people might be wondering where the other chaps are. Where’s Thor, Hulk, Fury, Maria Hill, Phil Coulson (still) – heck, why are Ant Man and Spider-Man being invited to the big leagues but Daredevil, Jessica Jones, et al left un-namechecked?
It’d be pure speculation to suggest answers. It could have been a creative decision made by the Russo brothers or writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, with Thor and Hulk especially deemed too over-powered for a film like this.
It could have been Marvel big cheese Kevin Feige laying down the law. Ruffalo and Hemsworth might have been too busy with other projects. Who really knows? The same principle applies as it always does in these situations: It really doesn’t matter. These are the characters selected. This is all you’re getting. Deal with it, as the meme goes.
The biggest issue lies not with who isn’t in it, but with who it does include. Incorporating Daniel Brühl as Baron Zemo (an arch-nemesis of Captain America’s in the comics) structurally speaking makes a lot of sense when you lay out a blueprint for the entire movie.
However, the motivations behind his actions are at best understandable and at worst weak, predictable and a disservice to the character’s history. Also, he doesn’t wear purple pyiamas. What’s up with that?
Oh, right, yeah. It’s a bit naff.
Realistically, Zemo is somewhere in between the two, languishing around the “ordinary” mark. Hats off to Brühl for a competent account of himself as an actor, but Zemo is far from necessary in a film already overstuffed with characters. He adds nothing that couldn’t have been done equally well with, say, the returning Frank Grillo in a beefed up role as Crossbones.
Either way, it’s irrelevant as Captain America: Civil War is still very much worthy of your time. With a larger cast than any previous Marvel film, it somehow manages to balance screen time to an extraordinarily even degree, putting much of Phase 2 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to shame.
Yes, it may gradually escalate towards a big climactic fight scene, as happens in every
Marvel superhero comic book action film ever, but the route it takes to get there combined with the rationale behind it makes the deciding brawl more meaningful than your average crash-bang-wallop finale.
Civil War is interesting, exciting, often fun and slightly unconventional. It goes straight into the top tier of the studio’s output and will doubtless only improve on future rewatches.