T2 Trainspotting (2017) Review

T2 Trainspotting (2017)

Directed by Danny Boyle

Based on Trainspotting and Porno by Irvine Welsh

Starring: Ewan McGregor, Ewen Bremner, Jonny Lee Miller, Robert Carlyle, Kelly Macdonald, Anjela Nedyalkova, Shirley Henderson, Irvine Welsh

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
20 years after the previous film, Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor) returns to Scotland to make amends with his friends, Daniel “Spud” Murphy (Ewen Bremner) and Simon “Sick Boy” Williamson (Jonny Lee Miller), whilst avoiding the psychopathic Francis “Franco” Begbie (Robert Carlyle).

My Opinion:

I enjoyed this sequel more than I thought I would and it was better than I expected. It’s interesting that just last week I reviewed The Hustler (1961) and its sequel The Color Of Money (1986). It doesn’t always work to revisit characters with films that are 20+ years apart. However, in the case of both The Color Of Money & T2, I did thoroughly enjoy seeing what our much older characters are now up to and I don’t think either film ruined its (admittedly superior) predecessor.

Let’s face it – the Trainspotting sequel was never going to be better than the original. Trainspotting was so of its time and it captured a mood, time & place in a way I don’t think could ever be replicated now. All I wanted was a sequel that wasn’t embarrassing & didn’t ruin the characters as we remember them and I think Danny Boyle has managed to deliver this to Trainspotting fans. I’ve actually been extremely disappointed with some of his films I’ve watched lately (Trance, Slumdog Millionaire) so am very happy to say that this sequel met & even exceeded my expectations. I still like these characters. (Other than Begbie, of course… What an asshole!)

I really like the first film and think it deserves its acclaim for being something quite unique. When I first saw it years ago, it was when I was first starting to really get into films and it was unlike anything I’d ever seen before (and probably one of the most shocking I’d seen at that point in my life). I was also still in America at that point so I suppose it was very foreign to me as well. I’ve only watched it once more since (just after moving to the UK over a decade ago) so, while I think it’s a very good film, I’m not one of its obsessive fans and had even forgotten bits & pieces of it. More than anything, it was the soundtrack from the original that stuck with me (Excellent soundtrack!). I probably could’ve done with re-watching the first before the sequel but, with the help of some flashbacks which I thought were well done, it filled in a few blanks in my mind.

My point is this: I’m no expert or obsessive Trainspotting fan and I’ve never read the books so I don’t feel very qualified in reviewing this sequel. I know I personally enjoyed it and it was great revisiting the characters and seeing them together again (especially Renton & Spud. I’d forgotten how likable Spud was – he’s easily my favorite character in the sequel). This is a more grown-up film and certainly not as intense as the original but it feels “right“. These guys are 20 years older – they’re not going to be exactly the same. However, they still stay true to their characters and, though older and supposedly wiser, still make bad decisions and mistakes.

Immediately after watching this, I was mostly curious what fellow blogger Mark of Marked Movies thought of it as I know he’s a big fan of the original (and he’s from Scotland, I should add). He kindly reviewed the original a couple of years ago for my IMDB Top 250 Project HERE (Thanks again, Mark!). I figure that his opinion on this sequel is far more relevant than mine so, if you’d also like the opinion of a big Trainspotting fan, you can read his review of the sequel HERE. It looks like we both feel quite similar about the sequel so Boyle seems to have done a good job keeping loyal fans (as well as casual fans such as myself) happy. Oh yeah – The soundtrack is also okay but it’s not as awesome as the first film’s!

My Rating: 7.5/10

Swallows And Amazons (2016) Review

Swallows And Amazons (2016)

Directed by Philippa Lowthorpe

Based on Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome

Starring: Rafe Spall, Andrew Scott, Kelly Macdonald, Jessica Hynes, Harry Enfield, Dane Hughes, Orla Hill, Teddie-Rose Malleson-Allen, Bobby McCulloch, Seren Hawkes, Hannah Jayne Thorp

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film chronicles the story of the Walker children on their adventures in the Lake District with the goal of claiming a remote island for themselves. Heading over there on the boat “Swallow”, they soon discover they’re not alone. A gang of rebellious children, the Blacketts also known as the “Amazons”, have set up camp there and a battle for the island begins. But with Britain on the brink of war and a “secret agent” looking for the Blackett children’s uncle, real battles aren’t far away and their childhood paradise is turned upside-down.

My Opinion:

This movie is based on the classic book by Arthur Ransome. Okay, I admit it – I’ve never heard of this book. I’m sorry. Maybe it wasn’t famous outside the UK when I was growing up?? Well, we saw the trailer for this before Pete’s Dragon and my kid really liked the look of it. She actually didn’t like Pete’s Dragon at all (I did!) but she seemed genuinely excited about going to see this one after watching the trailer so we went the next week. Success! She really liked this one. Think the hubby quite liked it too. What a relief after they both pretty much hated Pete’s Dragon (I didn’t!). Swallows And Amazons is a great “family” movie & a nice break from the endless stream of animated kids’ films that come out every month.

My kid is seven & a good age for this one – I’d probably recommend it for ages seven & up. Ha! 7 Up… I only drink that if I have a stomach ache. Does anyone here drink it for pleasure? Seriously – I’m curious! And I’m trying to get out of doing a review. I’m finding movie reviews a chore at the moment.

There’s nothing inappropriate in this so you’re safe to watch it with the whole family. I just think that it may not hold the attention of those under seven & the really young wouldn’t follow the story (but it’s not aimed at that age group anyway). It’s set in the lovely Lake District area of the U.K. in 1935, which appealed to me as I think it’s good for kids to see how different life was in the old days. There’s no way that today’s kids could sail across a lake, set up camp, and fend for themselves alone on an island for a few days! Well, okay, I couldn’t do that either…

I read somewhere that, as this was a series of books like Harry Potter, they’re wanting to set up a series of films in the same way. Well, there’s no way they’d be as big as Harry Potter as the stories are obviously going to be far more simple but it’s a shame that I can’t see any more being made anyway. Maybe! I’d like to see more but it feels like this movie really wasn’t promoted at all & the showing we went to wasn’t very busy.

It feels like kids might not have the patience for a series of films set in the 1930s but that’s probably not fair to say as my own kid liked it far more than I was expecting. With the kids in this film being a range of ages with different personalities, I think those watching this will find at least one character they can relate to. The story of a group of kids trying to claim a deserted island as their own while also dealing with an angry & mysterious man who claims to be pirate should have fairly wide appeal, even to today’s youth. The movie isn’t perfect & I don’t think we get to know the kids as well as we could (especially the “Amazons”) but this would be remedied if they made more films. Which I doubt they will. But, hey – hopefully there’ll be a renewed interest in the series of books now.

My Rating: 6.5/10

*I did this movie as a double feature with Lights Out (which I went to alone afterwards without the kid, obviously!). How do you like that combo?? I’ll review that one next week. Have a nice weekend, everyone! 🙂

Trainspotting (1996) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Mark of Marked Movies. He’s also reviewed Heat (HERE) and Argo (HERE) and The Big Lebowski (HERE). Thanks for all the reviews, Mark! 🙂 Now let’s hear his thoughts on Trainspotting, IMDB rank 151 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE.

Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB Review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos I’ve used at the top of any of these guest reviews. I know I’ve made a few that are specific to the movie being reviewed. I’ll also do an IMDB update post soon & will post some more logos.

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Director: Danny Boyle.
Screenplay: John Hodge.
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Robert Carlyle, Ewen Bremner, Kevin McKidd, Jonny Lee Miller, Kelly MacDonald, Peter Mullan, James Cosmo, Eileen Nicholas, Shirley Henderson, Pauline Lynch, Stuart McQuarrie, Keith Allen, Kevin Allen, Dale Winton, Irvine Welsh.

Director Danny Boyle’s marvellous debut “Shallow Grave” was always going to be a hard act to follow but to attempt an adaptation of the ‘unfilmable’ Scottish novel “Trainspotting” by Irvine Welsh, seemed like lunacy. Boyle, however, captures Welsh’s book brilliantly and despite “Slumdog Millionaire” gathering him a best director Oscar, this still remains his best film.

It follows the lives of a group of friends from Edinburgh as they experience the high’s and low’s of life through heroin use. Renton (Ewan McGregor) decides to go clean and rid himself of his affliction and his low-life chums but finds that’s easier said than done. Spud (Ewen Bremner) is too needy, SickBoy (Jonny Lee Miller) is too controling, Tommy (Kevin McKidd) has just taken some bad direction and Begbie (Robert Carlyle) is just plain pychotic. Renton, however, enters into making a one off drug deal with his old pals, so as to make a new life for himself altogether.

Boyle’s film has often been criticised as glorifying drug use. Glorifying drug use? Really? People who believe this must have been watching a different film. The characters involved all behave despicably. They are responsible for thefts, fights, deaths – including the death of a baby. Get imprisoned. Contract HIV. Ruin their lives and others’, all because of their drug habit. What this film has in depth, vibrancy and fun, is the reason it could be mistaken for being pro-drug use but having these qualities is more of a testament to the filmmakers involved, in making a bleak and depressing subject matter, very entertaining. The characters are extremely well written (kudos to writer Welsh) and acted by an ensemble of excellent actors. It made a star of Ewan McGregor, who’s character, although likeable – and brilliantly played – is essentially the person responsible for the downfall of many of the other characters. Notable other performances are Ewen Bremner as “Spud”, the most endearing of the group and a character too gentle for his lifestyle. The best of the bunch though, is Robert Carlyle as the psychotic “Begbie”, who’s choice of drug isn’t heroin but violence – and he’s just as destructive with it. He’s a dangerous and highly volatile person and Carlyle perfectly captures the on-edge feeling of his terrifying unpredictability. It’s an award worthy performance that was sadly overlooked. Everything about the film reeks of class. From it’s rollicking soundtrack, to the rich, snappy dialogue, with great characters in hilarious situations and kinetic fast paced direction. This film has everything going for it and stands as one of the finest films of the 1990′s.

A relentlessly energetic experience that leaves you craving for more, much like the habit of it’s protaganists.
Pure uncut, Class A.

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Mark Walker

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