Category Archives: The Grand Tour

My Top 10 film moments of 2016

I’ve missed a few of the major films this year (notably Arrival slipped by me) so instead of doing a top 5 films I’ve instead decided to pick out my favourite moments from films this year, as even the weaker blockbusters like Dawn of Justice had their moments. Enjoy.

Warning: Minor Spoilers for Fantastic Beasts and Rogue One, Major Spoilers for Batman vs Superman.

10. Jacob and Queenie (Fantastic Beasts) While Newt and Tina were the lifeblood of the film, Jacob and Queenie stole every scene they were in and were undoubtedly its soul, and their pairing was both sweet and believable. Jacob’s smile at the end when Queenie strolls into his bakery and seemingly restores his memory is the icing on the cake for arguably two of the best characters JK Rowling has given us. They better be back in the sequels!

9. Wolverine’s Cameo (X:Men Apocalypse) The X-men series is always accused of over-using Wolverine, and somewhat ironically, his best two appearances have now been cameos (him telling Xavier and Magneto to fuck off in First Class and here, where Wolverine’s psychopathic rampage through Stryker’s bunker reminds us of just how badass/terrifying/awesome the character is). Hugh Jackman now is so intrinsically associated with the character I doubt anyone else will be able to play him for a good 20 years (and they shouldn’t, hopefully next year’s Logan is a worthy send-off to both the character and the actor). Anyway, while Apocalypse was a very fun movie, this was the sequence that will stick in my mind the most.

8.Doomsday battle (Dawn of Justice) Doomsday may have had a completely different origin from the comics, but his threat level was actually genuinely impressive for a superhero film in 2016 (he wasn’t easily beaten in 5 mins in a final confrontation – looking at you Enchantress in Suicide Squad and Kaecilius in Doctor Strange!!!) as Wonder Woman, Batman and Superman team up to stop him and barely survive… and Superman doesn’t. We all know he’ll be back in some form for Justice League but his heroic sacrifice, backed by Hans Zimmer’s haunting ‘This is My World’ still made this a very emotional moment. Also nice to see a superhero film where not every hero makes it out alive (basically EVERY MARVEL FILM EVER apart from X-men), bold move DC, bold move. Even if the first half of the film was a total mess, you did nail the ending.

7. Inside the Case (Fantastic Beasts) The beasts were appropriately the centrepiece of the film, from the cheeky niffler to the amorous Erumpent to the magnificent Thunderbird, with those and many others stunningly showcased in the heartwarming sequence where Next shows Jacob around the inside of his travelling case where he keeps the animals for their own protection. A very sweet interlude in this loveable film.

6.Vader Returns and Kicks Ass (Rogue One) After the tremendous battle of Scarif sequence, Rogue One could have easily ended as the Death Star opened fire. But it didn’t, instead giving us the best scene with Darth Vader since ‘No, I am your father’. Vader’s first scene in the film where he threatens Krennic was tense/awesome in its own right, but the second is full-on terrifying as Vader is unleashed on a group of rebels and scythes through them with brutal ease. It might be the best 40 seconds of cinema in 2016, hell maybe ever. If it wasn’t so short a scene it would have been much higher up the list, but still, damn that that was awesome!

5. The Fight in the Cistern (Inferno) Inferno may have been a relatively weak film, but was saved by its riveting climax as a betrayed Langdon allies with the WHO to try and stop a viral breakout in a cistern in Istanbul. Hans Zimmer’s superb track ‘Cistern’ really makes this a heart-stopper and the divergence from the book really leaves you with no clue how it will play out as Langdon and co fight with Zobrist’s extremists. Hell of an action scene.

4. Everything K2 does (Rogue One) K2 was easily the best character in Rogue One (not that that was easy or anything) and made the film sassier and more hilarious that I’d have ever expected it would be. His constant deadpan humour and the brutal way he took down imperial soldiers were the icing on the cake in one of the best films of the year.

3. Airport Battle (Captain America: Civil War) Civil War was the best superhero film of the year, and its highlight was the fight between Team Cap and Team Iron Man in a deserted airport, which was both highly amusing and seriously cool. Spidey and Ant-Man arguably stole the show, but every character got a chance to shine even if, as usual with Marvel, there weren’t really any lives at stake here. Still, this was a high point of an excellent film – shame they bottled out on giving it a memorable ending afterwards, but still, perfect popcorn cinema here.

2. Batman takes down Superman (Dawn of Justice) Despite the controversial way the fight ended with the whole ‘Martha’ scene, the fight itself between the two giants of the DC universe was the high point of the film. Batman uses a state of the art battlesuit and some Kryptonite gas-grenades to not only pose a genuine threat to superman, but after a titanic struggle, actually beats him. The whole ‘Man VS God’ thing the film was going for paid off beautifully here, even if the film as a whole still has a wealth of problems, this scene alone was worth it.

1. The Battle of Scarif (Rogue One) Wow. Now that is how you do a finale! The battle between the Rebels and the Empire had everything: awesome visuals, high stakes, tension and good direction. An epic way to cap off the first Star Wars spin-off film and without doubt the best sequence in film this year. Well done Gareth Edwards, Felicity Jones et al, this was simply amazing!

I’ve seen a fair few films that don’t have appearances here (Deadpool, Star Trek Beyond, Doctor Strange etc.) but I couldn’t think of any stand-out moments in those films – they are entertaining throughout, but there aren’t any moments of greatness. Suicide Squad was too poor to merit a place here, and I haven’t seen many other films this year, so there may be some omissions.

My Film Awards 2016:

Best Film: Rogue One
Best Director: Gareth Edwards (Rogue One)
Best Script: Captain America Civil War
Best Special Effects: Doctor Strange
Best Soundtrack: James Newton Howard(Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them)
Best Actress: Felicity Jones (Inferno/Rogue One)
Best Actor: Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool)
Best Voice Actor: Alan Tudyk (Rogue One)
Worst Actor: Jesse Eisenberg (Dawn of Justice)
Worst Actress: Holly Hunter (Dawn of Justice)
Worst Script: Suicide Squad
Worst Director: David Ayer (Suicide Squad)
Worst Soundtrack: Suicide Squad
Worst Film: Suicide Squad (noticing a pattern here? Well done DC…)

The Grand Tour, Episode 1 Review

Clarkson, Hammond and May are back!

After the critical and ratings failure that was Chris Evans pathetic attempt to keep the show running (whoever hired that twat should have been fired the instant they made that decision) Amazon brings back the original presenters in their re-imagined version of Top Gear, the Grand Tour.

The main news: it’s bloody good. The enhanced budget, lack of BBC oversight and a general acknowledgement that the 3 presenters can basically get away with saying anything this time around breathes fresh life into the show. The opening has Clarkson balefully leaving the rain-soaked BBC offices in London and catching a flight to the US, only to smile in joy as his colleagues join him in a trio of American muscle cars to the song ‘I can see clearly now’. Its a very direct statement to the trio’s former bosses: Good riddance! You don’t miss the old track, the theme music or the studio because essentially, Top Gear was always about the interactions between the 3 presenters. And the Grand Tour nails that.

The first stop on the tour is the middle of a desert in California, and putting the team up next to an American studio audience (in their mobile tent which serves as a admirable replacement for the aircraft hangar) leads to some predictable comedy gold (Clarkson educating Americans on the correct ‘English’ terminology for car components was classic Top Gear). The studio segments in general are pretty funny, mainly in how the trio savagely tear into both the bbc and new top gear (including a bizarre studio segment where they not only laugh at James’ stupid suggestion of having celebs drive round their new racetrack, but proceed to accidentally ‘kill’ all of their celebrity guests).

Speaking of the new racetrack, it’s a lot more gimmicky than the old one, with fields of sheep, electric generators and an unexploded bomb featuring, though as it’s only used for car tests and setting fast car times it does add something to a potentially bland section of the show. The only disappointment is new racing driver ‘The American’ who is a poor substitute for the copyrighted Stig, who is neither as iconic as his predecessor nor particularly funny (though he is suitably fast and only onscreen for 2 minutes) which is almost certainly down to Amazon’s insistence on hiring a US driver.

The main event in the first show is a series of car tests at a racetrack in Portugal, with Clarkson in a McClaren P1, Hammond in a Porsche 918 and May in a Ferrari LaFerrari. Its a very familiar set of tests, with drag races, professional racing drivers doing fast laps in the presenters cars and a typically cocky Clarkson joking that if the McClaren loses May and Hammond can demolish his house… While it wasn’t the most memorable challenge the three have ever done, it was quintessential top gear all the same and a trailer for the rest of the series hinted that the best is definitely yet to come.

Overall, the show we all love no matter how foolish or manic it gets is back with a bang. It proves once and for all the chemistry between the 3 leads was the foundation of Top Gears success, and not only sinks any hope the BBC may have had that the amazon re-imagining would fail, but actively blows the shit Chris Evans version out of the water. A very promising start, which while not a classic episode in itself, was a great teaser of things to come. Bloody good work Amazon.

Rating: 4 out of 5.