In this month’s instalment; three excellent adventures and one bogus journey. 

Plus, is it time for Rambo to retire? Opinions may vary, but here’s Richard Booth’s take on things…

Keanu Reeves has rather unbelievably turned 55 this September. ‘Whoa’, as he would definitely say and has probably trademarked. Despite being officially pension age, Reeves is still one of the foremost action stars of today, with the John Wick series doing big business and seemingly set to continue indefinitely. I think he is arguably underrated as an actor but whatever your thoughts on that statement, he is undeniably a proper movie star. You know someone will be long remembered when their characters are household names: John Wick, Neo, Johnny Utah, Ted ‘Theodore’ Logan. The latter is set to make a long overdue return next year as well, with Bill & Ted Face The Music, so expect him to keep going strong. Air guitar solo!

Rambo's rotten tomatoes

Also still going, but not so strongly, is Sylvester Stallone’s Rambo, who has recently been wheeled out one more time in Rambo: Last Blood. To clarify, he isn’t literally wheeled out. Although Stallone is 73 years old, he is impressively far from being wheelchair bound. Having said that, perhaps Rambo in a wheelchair would be the breath of fresh air this series needs, as it seems to be struggling a bit as it is. A quick check on ratings aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes shows a franchise in deep trouble critically: the generally well liked First Blood (87% rating) has led to an average 35% across the next four, with the newest one coming in at a measly 27%. Ouch. Now that I think of it, I’m actually pretty sure I’ve never seen any of them. I think I was too busy rewatching Schwarzenegger’s Commando instead.

More positively, I did experience a nice surprise this month. And I love nice surprises. Like getting a good present that wasn’t even on your Amazon wishlist. Or opening your pension statement to see that you actually have a decent savings pot (at least, I imagine that would be nice). An even more pleasant surprise than both of these, and more achievable than the latter, was watching new low-key horror-comedy Ready Or Not. This came out of nowhere for me – this time last month I hadn’t even heard of it – but I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s thrilling, funny and freaky as hell, and contains the most badass bride since Uma Thurman killed Bill (uh, sorry… spoilers for Kill Bill). It’s especially gratifying because it sounds so bad on paper: grown-ups play killer hide-and-seek as some post-wedding hazing ritual. Actually, forget you read that and maybe just give it a go? At the very least, I guarantee it is more fun than opening that pension statement.

For your viewing pleasure:

The Handmaid’s Tale author Margaret Atwood turns 80 next month, and The Testaments -tv-60 her sequel to the original book - is just out, to rave reviews and award nominations. But I am a philistine, so have instead been ‘enjoying’ the TV show. And the recently ended series three has made me evaluate it as one of my favourite shows of all. Elisabeth Moss is nothing short of outstanding in the role of June (never ‘Offred’ or ‘Ofjoseph’, please) and special mention must also go to Ann Dowd as the morally confusing Aunt Lydia. But where the show truly excels is in the almost overwhelmingly depressing nature of the society it presents. I know that sounds bad, but the key here is that even the smallest victory becomes a fist pumping moment of triumph. You start finding wins in the darkest of places and from the tiniest acts of kindness. And when something truly positive happens, ever so occasionally, it is a thing of pure joy. Series three was as emotionally exhausting as ever, but there is a sense the dial may be edging a tiny bit in the favour of good. Series four can’t come soon enough for me.

Whilst I am a fan of all levels of sci-fi, my preference is for those films that attempt something a bit more existential – or ‘science thinktion’ as nobody but me is calling it. In fact, two of my top ten films of the last decade fall into this made-up category – Interstellar (2014) and Arrival (2016). My film of the month Ad Astra is another great entry into this genre and is well worth checking out. The star attraction is Brad Pitt’s brilliantly subtle performance as an astronaut heading into the deepest reaches of space to find his father Tommy Lee Jones, who may or may not be alive, may or may not be totally mad, and may or may not have decided to spend his retirement threatening the entire human race. Ultimately, it doesn’t quite reach the highs of those other two classics, particularly in an ending which lacks the emotional wallop of Arrival and fails to raise as many interesting questions as Interstellar. However, if, like life, a film should be about the journey rather than the destination, then Ad Astra is definitely one worth taking. Also: space baboons!

Posted by Richard Booth

Topics: Friday Fun

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