The Dark Tower (2017)

Stephen King’s epic fantasy series has had a long troubled road to the screen. Going through creative teams such as Abrams/ Lindelof and Ron Howard/ Brian Grazer, eventually landing at the trustworthy hands of Danish director Nikolaj Arcel and Akiva Goldsman. Yes. That Akiva Goldsman. Writer of Batman and Robin. 

Let that sink in. 

They trusted this huge, potential franchise to the guy who wrote all those ice puns and gave Batman a credit card with Forever as the expiry date. 

Tom Taylor plays Jake Chambers, a troubled young boy  having visions of a Gunslinger, Roland Deschain (Idris Elba)  and his battle against the Man in Black (Matthew McConnaughey). The Man in Black wants to destroy The Dark Tower, which protects the multiverse. We never really find out his motivation other than he’s a bit evil. 

Getting critically mauled on its release, I expected very little to enjoy, so imagine my surprise when it turned out to be a fairly enjoyable, sci-fi romp. Landing somewhere between Thor and Masters of the Universe, The Dark Tower is a kind of cheesey, entertaining fantasy/western/pulp/sci-fi film. It’s short, so wastes no time in getting the story going and rarely pauses for breath. It’s also a Stephen King greatest hits collection, with constant references to Shining and people who Shine as well as dropping hints to Cujo, IT and a few other King classics. 

Of course there are some faults. The plot is fairly basic, and quite messy in places, missing out some key details, leaving the audience to try and figure out things for themselves. Oh and McConnaughey sounds overdubbed and slightly louder than everyone else, maybe an Adam Sandler/Little Nicky situation requiring a re-recording. He’s…. not up to his usual standard by the way, sort of flat. I wanted crazy scenery chewing and didn’t get it. Elba is fantastic on the other hand. Deserved much more of a meaty role than he was given. Roland’s scenes on our Keystone Earth were hilarious, Elba’s deadpan delivery was impeccable.

The Dark Tower should have been the next Harry Potter series. Huge scale epic fantasy movies, filled with real stakes and humour. What we get is a canonical sequel to the books that is sort of a remix of the entire series. Now, I’ll admit I haven’t read TDT series yet, but it’s on my to read list. If anything the film has made me want to read them more than ever. 


For Fans of:


Masters of The Universe 




Death Note (2017)

Shall we begin? 

Adapting an already beloved property is a difficult thing. Adam Wingard’s Death Note has been victim to accusations of whitewashing, being an unnecessary remake and pre-release bad press. Death Note is based on a legendary manga wich has been adapted into both and anime and some live  action films in Japan. Was any of this pre-criticism justified? 

I feel I need to get this out of the way up front, I’ve never seen the original anime or live action movies. My opinion is purely based on this new movie. Feel free to educate me in the comments or over on twitter

Netflix’s Death Note is actually pretty, pretty good. A dark, moody, nightmarish movie, lit in neon signs and police lights, Death Note takes us on a journey of conflicting emotions and difficult choices. 

Light Turner, played by Nat Wolff, has recently lost his mother. He’s disaffected and acting up in school. During an unexpected windstorm, Light comes across a book. A book that kills anybody who’s name is written within its pages. Along with the book comes Willem Dafoe’s Ryuk, a Death God, he’s eight feet tall and as creepy as he is hilarious. Light also gets involved with Mia (Margaret Qualley) who may have ulterior motives. It’s not long before Nat and Mia start killing people under the name KIRA and attract the attention of L (Lakeith Stanfield) who is one of the worlds foremost private investigators. 

I had no preconceptions of what a Death Note film should be like. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I am however a fan of director Adam Wingard, ever since seeing his contributions to the VHS movies. After seeing You’re Next, The Guest and Blair Witch it was apparent Wingard is a director to watch, so I did expect some of his stylistic trademarks to shine through. 

The pulsing electronic score provided by Oscar winner Atticus Ross and Leopold Ross perfectly compliments Wingard’s dark, rain-drenched, neon lit streets, giving everything a very 80’s feel. In fact, it comes across very John Carpenter in both tone and style, which is never a bad thing.

I do have some criticisms, the scriptwriters have crammed in an awful lot of story into a relatively short run time, which worked but at the expense of some character development. Both Light and Mia’s introductions were shorter than I’d have liked, missing out on some backstory, particularly about the death of Light’s mother and I’d have loved more scenes with L. 

Lakeith Stanfield as L was a particular highlight for me. An odd character, the world’s greatest detective, L comes across as Batman meets Sherlock Holmes and probably should have been made a bigger deal of in the story. I really like Stanfield, who could have been given more to do, but did great with what he had. I do hope Netflix commissions a sequel as I am not quite ready to be done with these characters. 

The special effects were great, Ryuk is shown sparingly but to great effect. His realistic (to an extent) design is incredible. Dafoe’s voice perfectly suiting this porcupine quilled demon. Ryuk is never overused and is probably the highlight of the film, each one of his appearances bringing dread and hilarity. 

Death Note is a lean, tight, supernatural thriller with plenty of twists and turns along the way. Packed with dark humour and some fantastic gore, it’s a blend of Peter Parker style “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility” and the karma killer of Final Destination. 

Death Note is now streaming on Netflix 

For Fans Of:
Final Destination 

The Craft 

The Ring


Atomic Blonde (2017)

Coming as no surprise to anyone who saw Fury Road a couple of years ago, Charlize Theron cements herself as a bona fide action hero in Atomic Blonde. Kicking ass, drinking hard and romancing a beautiful lady, Charlize ticks all the 80’s action boxes, becoming 2017’s equivalent of 1987 Bruce Willis. Just a lot better looking. 

Directed by John Wick’s David Leitch, Atomic Blonde is a taut, neon,  80’s-set noir action spy thriller. Despite the mix of genres, Leitch retains tight control over the story and we’re dragged along on a wild, twisty ride. 

I suppose I’d better talk about the plot before I go on about the soundtrack and the visuals. 

Willkommen in Berlin mein freunde! It’s November 1989 and the Berlin wall is weeks away from falling. British spy Lorraine Broughton is sent to Germany to retrieve the body of a dead agent and lands in a Web of intrigue and deceit. Who is the double agent Satchel? Where is the missing list of all of the secret agent’s real names? Along the way she encounters rogue agent David Percival, played by James “I’m having a great 2017” McAvoy, not wholly trustworthy but her key to survival. 

Look, I can’t elaborate on the story any further. I’d break my cover. Oh and I would ruin the film. Based on The Coldest City, a graphic novel written by Antony Johnston and illustrated by Sam Hart, Atomic Blonde retains near enough the whole story, just adding a few new details and swapping a character’s gender. The book is fantastic and well worth a read, Johnston and Hart should be proud of this adaptation. 

The supporting characters are fleshed out by some incredible actors, John Goodman, Toby Jones, Til Schweiger and Eddie Marsan all showing up and bringing their pedigree to the film. Fresh off being The Mummy Sofia Boutella plays Delphine Lasalle, a French agent agent gender swapped from the books, still being bedded by Broughton, adding a new level to the story. Despite being very much the co-star McAvoy comes close to stealing the show, getting all the best lines and hamming it up gloriously. He’s always been a great actor but since Split, I feel like he’s gone to that next level. Also look out for the future Pennywise, Bill Skaarsgard! He gets a few good scenes, but all I could see was that scary clown face every time I saw him.  

David Leitch has crafted a gorgeous film, contrasting scenes bathed in neon lights with the icy blues of the debriefing room. It’s comparisons to his own John Wick are justified and I’m looking forward to his Deadpool sequel more than ever. The fight scenes and action choreography are simply stunning. There’s one 10 minute scene towards the end shot as if it’s one take. Mind blowing. Makes that legendary hallway fight from Netflix’s Daredevil show look like a schoolyard slap-fest. 

So let’s talk about the music. The soundtrack is very, very cool.  A mix of 80’s classics and, well, covers of 80’s classics, the right songs dropped at the right time. New Order, Bowie, A Flock of Seagulls, Depeche Mode. Some absolute classics and not always the obvious choices. Tyler Bates‘ score is also fantastic, acting as a heartbeat to some of the film, the pulsing electronica fitting so well to the visuals. 

A well paced, action packed spy romp, not too over the top and never too po-faced, Atomic Blonde is in cinemas now, it’s very much worth your time. 


Find my podcast interview with Antony Johnston here or search iTunes podcasts for Supernerds UK. He talks about Atomic Blonde and all of his other works!
For fans of:

John Wick 



Kingsman: The Secret Service 

Top 10 Twin Peaks Characters NOT in The Return. 

We’ve all been losing our mind over Twin Peaks: The Return this summer. So, as Mark Frost and David Lynch’s oddessy into terror, hilarity and the surreal heads towards its conclusion, I’m taking a look at some of the best Twin Peaks characters who haven’t returned. 

This is, of course, a personal list, but if you think I’ve missed anyone or you disagree with my reasons, leave me a comment below or find me on twitter! BOB isn’t on the list as despite Frank Silva having died in 1995, his character and likeness have made it onto The Return, similar to Major Briggs, played by the late Don S Davis. 

Obviously this will include spoilers for the original two seasons and Fire Walk With Me

Also. Let’s get some business out of the way, my podcast recently had a Twin Peaks themed episode featuring an in-depth conversation with David Patrick Kelly, who plays Jerry Horne. David even played the Twin Peaks theme on the mandolin to open our interview. It’s truly breathtaking and something I am very proud of . If you use apple devices you can search iTunes for Supernerds UK or if you’re on Android just click here

Let’s Rock. 

10. Catherine Martell 

Piper Laurie’s Catherine Martell was the source of a lot of the soap opera storylines in the original series, shouting abuse at her long suffering husband Pete, conducting shady business deals and having illicit trysts with Benjamin Horne. Well. Until she died. Then there was the reveal that she was actually alive and posing as the secretive Japanese businessman Mr Tojamura. Because of course she was. 

Which leads me nicely to 

9. Pete Martell 

The late Jack Nance, who sadly passed away in 1996 in strange circumstances, fitting of a Twin Peaks storyline, played Pete Martell. Jack was a long time Lynch collaborator, appearing in most of his films, even being the iconic star of Eraserhead. Arguably the show’s everyman and its heart, Pete was the fisherman who found Laura Palmer’s body, in that legendary first scene. 
 “She’s dead, wrapped in plastic!” 

Nance’s offbeat persona gave Pete life and he was a delight to watch. Whether butting up against Catherine, trying to look after Josie Packard or accusing the Log Lady of stealing his car, he always raised a smile. 

8. Josie Packard. 

Sticking with characters associated with the Mill is the beautiful and mysterious (I feel I will need to thesaurus another word for mysterious soon) Josie. The wife of Andrew Martell, Catherine’s dead brother and the heir to his fortune. Romantically involved with town Sheriff Harry S Truman, Josie was often swept up in other people’s greed. She ended up as Catherine’s maid at one point, then was the subject of a business rivalry between the no longer dead Andrew and Thomas Eckhardt. Oh and she was the one who shot Coop in the season one finale. 

Her final fate is pretty terrifying.  Josie, about to be arrested, suddenly stiffens and dies. As Harry cradles her body, Coop sees BOB, appearing from nowhere, taunting him about Jose’s death. Then the Man From Another Place appears, dancing on the bed. Jose’s spirit seemingly ended up trapped in a draw knob, but more likely trapped in The Great Northern Hotel for eternity. 

7.  Donna Hayward 

A curious omission from the new season was Donna Hayward. Laura Palmer’s best friend and James Hurley’s true love, Donna was a key part of the original show. Her father is the town doctor and her involvement with James and Maddy is at the forefront of the season one mystery. Played by Lara Flynn Boyle in the original series, Donna was smoldering intensity buried beneath a small town girl next door. Boyle refused to return for Fire Walk With Me, the role recast with Moira Kelly. I’m not sure whether this show of disloyalty prompted Lynch and Frost to leave the character out this time round or with no real focus on Laura, they simply just didn’t find room for Donna. 

6. Annie Blackburn

Heather Graham’s Annie wasn’t in our beloved Pacific northwest portal to insanity for very long, but she made a big impact. Cooper quickly fell for the lovely Annie, who was as wholesome and optimistic as him. Unfortunately the diabolical Windom Earle decided to insert himself into their relationship and exact his twisted revenge by taking her into the Black Lodge. Despite a time-disjointed Annie appearing to Laura in Fire Walk With Me, I think she’s firmly dead and not returning.

5. Windom Earle

When we’re told Dale Cooper’s former partner has escaped from prison early on in Season two, I don’t think many people would have expected where that would lead us to. Initially appearing as a disguise wearing,  hammy villain, Windom kidnaps Leo Johnson, freshly woken from his comatose state. Clearly relishing his performance, Kenneth Welsh is the villain we didn’t know we  needed, adding urgency and pace to the second season. Windom,  we realise has been driven insane, both with his desire for revenge on Coop and his obsession with the Black Lodge. Meeting a truly awful end at the hands of BOB, I’m fairly certain Windom isn’t coming back, but who knows?! 

4.  Leo Johnson

A terrifying figure in Season one due to his abuse of his wife Shelly and his possible involvement in Laura’s death, Eric Da Re as Leo should have been a huge part of season 2 and beyond. Unfortunately for him, he ends up comatose in a wheelchair wearing a party hat. Later, freshly woken and acting as Windom Earle’s pawn, Leo was last seen in a precarious situation, trapped in a cabin, having to hold a rope with his teeth to stop spiders dropping on his face. Sadly, he’s probably still there. 

3. Dick Tremayne. 

I get that this may not be a great choice for a lot of people, but I truly don’t care. Ian Buchanan as heelish menswear salesman Dick Tremayne was a slimy, awful character and that’s why I loved him. Lucy’s one time love interest and possible father to her unborn child, Tremayne gets a fair amount of screen time in season two and thoroughly chews the scenery. 

His scenes with Andy were pure comedy gold, both of them competing to be the best potential father. At one point the two of them end up looking after an increasingly mischievous child named Nicky, who Dick eventually thinks may be the devil. 

Dick is a hilarious addition to the cast and fits in marvellously, antagonising some of our most  beloved characters. Probably best not to mention Pine Weasels though.

2. The Man From Another Place 

“! kcor s’teL” 

Michael J Anderson’s backwards talking Black Lodge inhabitant is arguably the most iconic Twin Peaks character ever, possibly only topped by a plate of Cherry Pie. 

His appearances were few and far between, but every time he’s on-screen, he’s electric and you just can’t take your eyes off him. His red suit and reversed  dancing were simply unlike anything ever seen before.  Sadly, after Anderson wasnt offered enough money for his liking to return, he decided to slander Lynch with some truly bizarre and libellous claims and was replaced onscreen by a talking, monstrous tree.  

1. Sheriff Harry S Truman 

The town Sheriff, leader of the Bookhouse Boys and Cooper’s new best friend, Sheriff Truman is one of the only characters in the whole of Twin Peaks not to be bizarre or surrreal. A straight laced officer of the law who only has everyone’s best intentions at heart. Michael Ontkean had second billing on the credits too, reflecting his importance to the show. 

Truman’s stoic nature and sly humour endeared him to the audience just as much as it did Cooper. His reaction to Coop disappearing into the trees and the Black Lodge at the end of season 2 finally gave him a “What the hell?” realisation of just how crazy this town really is. 

Michael Ontkean has now retired from acting and lives in Hawaii, clearly preferring the sun and tropical island to the rainy Pacific Northwest. His part was not recast, instead Robert Forster plays Sheriff Frank Truman, Harry’s brother. A welcome addition but not a replacement.


So that’s the list! As I said at the start, leave a comment or tweet me if I missed anyone you would have added. 

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this list please check out my articles on the original series, the feature film Fire Walk With Me and my reviews of Episodes 1&2 and 3&4 of the Twin Peaks: The Return. 

Sharknado 5 : Global Swarming (2017)

Every summer, director Anthony C Ferrante treats us to the new installment in SyFy’s now legendary Sharknado franchise. If you’re unfamiliar with these films you’ve been seriously deprived of some wonderful entertainment.

 The story of Fin Shephard (Ian Zeiring) and his estranged wife April (Tara Reid) accompanied by a multitude of amazing cameos as they all bid to save the world from random tornados, somehow filled with ravenous sharks. Sharknado is pure, glorious trash with awful special effects. Cheap and cheesey and never po-faced, the Sharknado series is just about having fun and seeing which C-Lister is gonna be eaten next. 

Which brings us to Sharknado 5: Global Swarming.  Opening simultaneously with both an Indiana Jones inspired tomb-raid under StoneHenge and a Sharknado attack on London,  you get the feeling that this is a lot more over the top than you were expecting. Which, for a series that put sharks in space and turned Tara Reid into a robot superhero is saying a lot. 

This fifth movie uses the Sharknado’s new found power of teleportation (yep, I’m serious) to enable closely shot, inexpensive action scenes all around the world. Visiting London, Rome, Sydney and Tokyo, we see each country and their respective terrible local celebrities. Representing the UK we get Sam Fox, Katie Price, Jedward,  Louis Spence and for some reason, Brett Michaels. Yikes. Australia fares slightly better with Olivia Newton-John.

The plot is completely bloody ridiculous, Fin and April’s son has been taken into a Sharknado and they have to chase it around the world to get him back. Fan favourite character Nova ( the stunning Cassie Scerbo) returns as part of a secret sisterhood of the Sharknado, who at one point transform the Sydney Opera House into a flying battle station. Look out for the cameo of Fabio as the Pope, an especially odd scene that I didn’t think would be topped. Well. Until the final scene melted my brain. 

I love these movies. Each year we get the gift of a trash masterpiece surely to go down in history as a camp classic. 

Look, I’m not going to pretend it’s a high budget masterpiece. I’m not even going to pretend it’s art. It is however, genuinely hilarious and totally over the top entertainment. All five of these movies just want to make you smile and laugh and judging by the latest cliffhanger ending, Sharknado 6 will be even more insane and fun.  I can’t wait. 

10/10 (it couldn’t be any lower) 

For Fans Of: 

Jaws 4


Shark Night 3D

Scary Movie 4

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017)

Luc Besson returns to epic sci-fi with Valerian and The City of a Thousand Planets , 20 years after his masterpiece, The Fifth Element. Does he manage to recapture the magic?

Lets get real. I really liked Valerian. I feel like I maybe shouldn’t have, but it definitely worked for me on a lot of levels.

I’m a long time fan of Luc Besson, the French director behind Valerian. Since the 90’s Besson has been making truly bold, original and exciting films. From Léon (The Professional) and The Fifth Element through to Lucy, Besson has always given us something different. He may wear his influences proudly, but always gives all of his films his unique touch.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is an adaptation of a 1960’s french comic, that has apparently been a huge influence on Besson’s work. Having not read the books, I can’t really assess that, however, I did see a lot of The Fifth Element in Valerian.

Hundreds of years in the future, humans are exploring the universe and are part of an intergalactic government. Dane Dehaan’s Valerian is a Human Federation agent, who, along with his partner Laureline (Cara Delevigne) are basically the space FBI.

Valerian and Laureline are given a mission to retrieve stolen property, which leads them into a web of mystery, deception and CGI Aliens. The story is pretty thin, so revealing too much would almost certainly spoil it for you. However, Valerian is one of those movies where it’s more how things happen that makes it enjoyable. Everything is leading to Alpha, the titular City of a Thousand Planets. The opening titles of the film show Alpha’s creation and evolution set to Space Oddity by David Bowie, which really sets the tone for the next two hours. Spaced out and trippy.

There’s an extended scene of a heist that takes place in Big Market, a shopping market in an alternate dimension, only visible with special glasses. It’s fantastic and crazy and totally wonderful. It also introduced some alien villains, Jabba the Hutt-esque and surely planned for a potential sequel.

Paper thin plot aside, Valerian is a pulpy space opera. Besson is clearly having a great time behind the camera, even if Dehaan’s Valerian comes off a little flat. He comes across like Keanu Reeves-lite. Cara Delevigne seems to have had some flack in the press, but I really liked her as Laureline. She’s impossibly beautiful, of course, but comes across more as a self assured hero than I expected. Besson always has strong female characters, even when they’re portrayed as a sidekick. (Leeloo Dallas Multipass anybody?)

The supporting cast was strong, yet filled with baffling choices. Herbie Hancock as the head of the Federation, Ethan Hawke as a super flamboyant, sassy pimp and Rihanna as Bubble the shape-shifting alien were all great but so randomly placed. It was great seeing Clive Owen pop up too, a great actor who elevates every film he’s in. Bonus points go to Besson’s casting director for a Rutger Hauer cameo too, still criminally underused these days.

I do understand why not everyone would like Valerian. It’s slow. It’s weird. The chemistry between the leads is a little flat and the dialogue is unrealistic and odd. However, its very stylised and totally unapologetic for what it is. Sadly, as it looks like it’s going to flop, we wont get to see any further adventures of Valerian and Laureline. Which I think is a great shame. I do think we will see a critical reappraisal of Valerian in a few years, this is a film that will find its audience eventually.

Packed full of amazing creature design, glorious visuals and Alexandre Desplat’s beautiful score, Valerian and The City of a Thousand Planets is a stunning Sci Fi adventure, retro futurism at its finest.


For Fans Of:

The Fifth Element

Star Wars

Blade Runner

Hellboy II: The Golden Army