Saturday, 6 May 2017

The Sands of Lost Time

Mark Spitz once said "if you fail to prepare, you're prepared to fail." My first instinct when reading that quote is to find Mark Spitz and give him a slap for being cocky, smart and successful but he's right because he's cocky, smart and successful.
As I wandered past a depressing Pontins migrant camp which once used to be entertaining the nations families, all I saw was stag and hen parties arriving for a long weekend of drinking and debauchery. They may have saw me and imagined that I was judging them by my slow walk and squinty eyes and I was...on the inside. On the outside, I looked that way only because of the nightmare I had just gone through on what was supposed to be a return to form 20 mile run and what will now be transcribed into this blog.
I had recently found the nerdy magic of Strava routes, for those not in the know, you can make your own running route on the popular app and the app tells you the best route to take to get there. Rather than my usual 10 miles one way and turn around to go back routine, I wanted a change and that change was mistake no.1 (Don't run into the unknown when there's a lot at stake). The stake is that I have my second ever marathon in 3 weeks and this was to be my final long run. I routed a plan to take me to nearby coastal town Southport. I knew I could get there easily by road but I needed more distance so I routed coastal paths and dirt roads. The problem came when the route planning came to Ainsdale. Two thirds into the route is a complex array of forestry and sand duneyness. The route showed a trail going though and along it so my fear of trapsing through sand was eased by my confidence in the app. Mistake no.2 - Don't believe in magic roads in between sand dunes.

So yesterday I began my 20 mile run. Through litherland, into Waterloo, Crosby, and Freshfield. All was fine, I was Facebooking, taking pictures, speed wasn't an issue just the distance. I got a slight discomfort on my foot so I pulled out a plaster, I thought I was the tits. I was prepared for anything. I passed a military base, well it looked like one but maybe it's just an elaborate military base showroom. I then start to find problems...

The route wanted me to cut through a golf course using a public path but I could see a better clearer route but a few heavies (rail workers) wouldn't let me go onto it so I U-turned and went through the golf course and into the forest. The trails were confusing and mucky. I mean, there was like old branches and grass and shrubs, like proper ewww and I looked at my map to see that it was proving tough to predict where to go. I stayed the course and eventually my actual feet met the route the app wanted me to take and so began the entry into the desert that would be my tomb...

The forest gave way to Fury Road and I was Mad Max. The trail was not as I had hoped a asphalt covered delight but instead was a 2 foot wide gully with weeds and nature partially blocking its intended path. My legs started to feel the thorns and prickles, the sand reached areas on my body that I didn't know exist. Middle aged ramblers passed me as if that this was their Mecca and I was a stubborn tourist attempting the impossible. My energy began to wane and the sand captured my feet but also my hopes of 20 miles. I stopped.

I walked, I worried, I looked for a way out. I could go backwards and run back. After all, I was barely half way through the run so logic dictates I could run home and do 20 miles. But to be honest, that thought didn't cross my mind. I had said I wanted to get to Southport and anything less was a failure. But I kept on walking and the further I walked the more I journeyed into the middle of the dunes. A man passed me along the trail which in itself isn't news except that he was wearing speedos...just speedos. He smiled as if I was the stupid one wearing human clothes and he waddled along out of sight. I began to worry. My battery was low (damn you Facebook live from 1 hour ago when I was happy), my drink had become dreg-city and i was still only halfway though the obstacle. I knew at this point my efforts were dead. Mentally, I have a hard time running if I have stopped at some point which is why nearly all my runs don't include walk intervals. This was the mother of intervals and the mission changed from Southport to simply getting out and telling my story. 
I recorded more video which was shoddy and cut out between signal loss but really i did it to make myself feel better and to distract me. It was whilst recording this that I saw the roof of a house, I was finally coming to the end. I left the dunes and stupidly imagined that I could continue my run. I ran 100 metres and gave up.
Around the corner I heard shouting and thug like behaviour. There was a line of cars with scallies enjoying the May sunshine with beers and music. A police car arrived no doubt to put an end to this Britain First nonsense but the car rolled into the next road and I ran again to cover up my weakness and project strength, after all, this seemed to be a place where the law has no control. I made it to a nearby train station and hopped on. On the journey home I could see glimpses of the route I had took, I saw the military showroom, the dunes and the forest. I also saw the trail where I had aimed to get to. There was runners and walkers galore on it, bypassing the forest and dunes in delight. They clearly knew how to use it effectively and I had not. 
I got home and showered off my disgusting body and the creatures I had adopted on it. I had ran 11 miles before I got in trouble, hardly 20. It was a harsh lesson but despite it all, one that I'm glad I was present for.

Adam Yates

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Merseyrail Track Renewal in a Nutshell



Not exactly the sexiest title to a blog is it? Where's the back button?

There's nothing sexy about this experience.

What's happening then?

Basically, the rail loop system in Liverpool and Birkenhead is ancient and needs a major work so the powers that be have decided to repair it without the hassle of being run over by a train every 4 minutes so that portion of the route is effectively closed.

Sounds sensible. I heard about this massive pothole in Japan or some shit in the middle of a busy road that just appeared from nowhere and 3 days later it was fixed. I assume this will only take a week or so? It is the 21st century after all

It's gonna take 6 months. 

That is disgraceful! I can't stand this bureaucratic nonsense anymore. This is all the European Union's fault. I hate those guys. I say we hold a referendum to get away from their grubby little rules and be a nation once more.

That already happened. The country is divided, tensions run high and women with expensive handbags are now in charge of our money. Things are becoming more expensive. Cars, electricity, beer...

I say we hold a referendum to get back into the European Union. I love those guys! 

So anyway...it will take six months overall. Some weeks we have to take buses over the Mersey and then catch a train. It's a real hoot.

What's Merseyrail doing to ease this tremendous burden whilst also making the track safer so you don't die in a fiery death under a river?

They lay on occasional snacks such as water and apples.

Sounds like horse food to me. Anything that humans eat like bacon butties or cookies?

Yes but I was off that day. 

Sad times. Maybe they don't like you.

Maybe they don't. I do tweet the company when things get out of control.

Oh. You're one of them.

I have a right to free speech and to voice my opinions.

When they wrote those laws I doubt it was to troll rail companies about the lack of unsmoked bacon rashers on a bap.

Are you on my side or not?

I'm on whatever side the bacon is on.

From next month replacement buses only operate only at weekends and the train starts and stops at James St.

James Street? Is that the station where all those tourists get off to visit a spoon that John Lennon may or may not have touched?

Yeah it's a real dive. That will be the scenario until May when phase three comes into play.

Phase three? As in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Hulk smash replacement track?

The word 'Phase' was around before superheroes.

If you say so.





Thursday, 29 December 2016

Sole Searching

Sole Searching

As the year draws to a close, I wanted to document my running memories to try and spur me into 2017. It's no movie list or a trip to the emergency room. It's just me putting one foot in front of the other. If you find that likely to be boring then I forgive you.

In both 2014/15 I had run the same three competitive races but I knew that a renewed sense of priority could take me to a new level if I applied myself and made sacrifices and that would allow more challenges and more races so in 2016 I made progress with a simple set of monthly vows.

Races

All in all I ran 6 races this year which is double what I've run previous and now that I can drive it does allow me a lot more freedom in my choices. For example, in July, I ran the Southport Half Marathon, which although not far, also gave me a chance to practise driving both before and after a race. Since running a marathon, I doubt my driving capability post race. I achieved a Personal Best in nearly every race I ran and in the one I didn't, I paced someone that did (Wirral 10K) and that felt just as good if not better. 2016 was also the year I finished a race in my own town. Having just started races in Liverpool I did the Half Marathon and also a similar if not near exact route in the Rock and Roll Half Marathon. My favourite race remains the Tunnel 10km as I love affecting traffic and adding to the woes of commuters. It was also the first and still only time I've come under 50mins for a 10km run. But the biggest challenge this year was obviously my first ever Marathon. The scene, Chester. The mood, scary. I had barely scraped in the car park by mere minutes before they closed it off and I wasted my prep time on stupid FB Live rather than stretching and going the toilet 3 times. Earlier in the summer I envisioned a time of 4hrs which I sensibly scaled down to 4"30. That being said, I was not prepared for the challenge of 26.2 miles. It was gruelling, it was hell, it was soul destroying and I can't wait to do it again next year. I couldn't run beyond 22miles and it then became a stop and start 4 mile nightmare but seeing family at the finish line was very emotional and I have to train harder this year to get my stats up.

Stats

This year I found a website that changed my running life and appeals to my very core. RunBritainRankings basically ranks everyone who's ever ran a race in the U.K. It is my new goal to the the top runner in the L20 area. In the summer I was 7th but after 2 runless months, I've dropped to 9th. I know it's not super scientific but honestly for a competitive man such as myself, it really did help me achieve better runs.

Eating

Firstly, I trialled not having McDonalds for a month and it stuck so then the next month (after a reward of McDonalds) I added more to the list. No maccies, no Coke, no Haribo. After that I noticed the weight slowly coming down. I ended up at my best losing a stone based on running and my core sins...Chicken Selects and soggy chips. Eventually although I was benefitting from this, I found a compromise in that I could have these urges...IF I ran that day. Skip forward to right now and Christmas feasting has caught up with me and McDonalds has been a salty mistress to me this winter. 

Swag

I bought a second hand Garmin running watch from a guy on Facebook and I love it. It's a great bargain. (Apologies to Sarah who had bought me a running watch that I didn't use - I've never lived it down). Add to that the following:

- Bluetooth Earphones- may come more in handy since Apple stole my jack port. 
- Stretchy bum bag for want of a better word. It keeps all my stuff handy, what can I say?
- A running magazine subscription. Each month I see a training plan and every month I never use it, one of 2017's many new years resolutions.

Park run

For those not in the know, Parkrun is a free 5k race held weekly near you, no matter where you are in the UK. This year I attended 4 meetings (2 in sandy Crosby and 2 in leafy Croxteth) and my best 5k time was 23:03 where I came 17th/86th. It really is a nice introduction to social running which I find difficult at the best of times.

Shoes

Depending on who you listen to, shoes can either be the 'be all end all' or you have to forget pronation and gait and run. I did both. I said goodbye to my pair of Nike DS Lite Run 'a which I loved but felt didn't give me enough support and soon after that, I got injured. I googled plenty and came up with the scientific explanation that "I had a funny bone in my foot." My new Nike Structure trainers seem to be going well and got me through my first marathon. I think I'll re-buy my beloved Lite Run's as maybe we were sole mates after all.

Races

13/03 Lpool Half - 2hrs20secs
29/05 RnR Lpool Half - 1hr56min29secs
19/06 Tunnel 10K - 49min42secs
03/07 Southport Half - 1hr54min49secs
11/09 Wirral HM - 2hrs5min33secs
02/10 Chester Marathon - 4hrs42min44secs

Friday, 23 December 2016

Films of 2016 - Runners up and Winner

The Final Three

From the get go, I'll be clear that it was a small struggle to pick the number one movie this year. All three were fairly equal and only the experience pushed one above another. Unlike last year where Whiplash would never be toppled, this year was tougher to choose. 
All three films in my opinion are five star films and should be watched and hopefully you will be inclined to watch them if you haven't already based on the post.

3. 

Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Heard of it? Don't worry about it but you missed the best comedy of 2016.
A tale about a troubled boy sent to the outback with a foster family, he quickly tries to get himself sent back to the orphanage but a series of events leads him and his new father figure into the wilderness and into the hearts of their homeland. They are explorers, fugitives, celebrities and legends to everyone else but to us they are simply two people looking for peace and quiet and acceptance with each other.
Made and filmed in New Zealand, the director, Taika Wahiti, is responsible in part for the success of 'Flight of the Conchords' and his last directorial effort 'What we do in the Shadows' was a vampiric spoof success. So much so that his next project is helming the new Thor movie which has been described as a interplanetary road buddy film with the Norse God and Hulk. Can't wait for that.
Back to the wilderness however.
This film is sweet as hell. You find the young lad (played by newcomer Julian Dennison) charming and likeable straight away but as the movie nears its end, you notice how perfect his performance is which is subtle and OTT at the same time. For this to come out of someone so young can only be described as natural talent. Whether he continues this journey or becomes a one hit wonder remains to be seen.
A film that came to mind whilst watching this was 'Son of Rambow' which was an inventive indie spirited film involving young actors with a sweet syrupy centre. If you saw that film, you should LOVE this one.

In a nutshell - if you don't laugh or smile during this, you need some severe film education pronto.

2. 

The Revenant

Also known as...
The role that finally got Leo the Oscar.
Also known as 
The Runner Up.

Although Leo got the statue he always wanted, he doesn't get the award that mattered...mine. But he came so close. The Revenant not only features a tremendous cast at the peak of their abilities performing in harsh conditions, it's a filmmaking masterpiece that will be deconstructed in film study classes for decades. Editing, cinematography, music, design, production. They are all used to their full potential to create a world and to make us believe that these characters are actually there. Some of that is simply because they were there. A lot of crew and even cast were unsettled by the locations used for The Revenant and I'd assume most stayed because of who they were working for.
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu is behind such works as Birdman, Babel and 21 Grams but I first saw his talent back in 2000 with Amores Perros. His skills were clear to see and his ability to match clever camera set ups, long continuous shots with camera trickery in locations that wouldn't look out of place in wintery Westeros is mesmerising. I felt cold just watching it. At least with Birdman, the countless long scenes could be redone in a warm sound stage but there were no safety nets on the side of a mountain. 
Enough about technical, what about story. It's pretty simply really. It's a classic tale of retribution. Avenging a death. Righting a wrong. The plot isn't rocket science, it's about the journey physically, mentally but also spiritually that Leonardo DiCaprio's character takes to give him the strength to make right on his family and his people. It's hard to say if Leo got the Oscar for simply this role or for all the times he's missed out in the past. The same was said for Martin Scorsese who finally won a statue for The Departed but should have won many times over before that and arguably not for the one he did win it for. DiCaprio's is more ambiguous and his role in this film was commended for his dedication to the cause and work rate perhaps more than his actual ability to emote. Which is a bit harsh as he actually does a great job in his character's despair. To say that he won Best Actor because he ate a raw liver on screen sounds laughable but based on the past decisions of Oscar voters in the past, sadly not too far a stretch.

In a nutshell - Arguably more style than substance but the style is beyond comprehension and the substance isn't all that bad either.


1.
....
....
....
....

The Hateful Eight

A January release tops the list for the FOURTH year in a row. It was also the first film I saw of 2016. 

A simple trading post in rural America post Civil War is the backdrop for nearly 3 hours of backstabbery, revenge, mystery, grudges and suspicion amongst multiple violent and aggressive parties who are forced to spend their evening together due to a treacherous blizzard. Sound like a play? Then read on...

The plot of its development is almost as interesting as the film itself. After Django Unchained, director Quentin Tarantino planned Hateful Eight as his next project but the entire script was leaked online and Quentin swore that he would not produce the film after such a blatant and personal attack. However soon after, an idea was hatched to perform the film as a stripped down play using well known actors and have them simply act out the dialogue on stage. The night was met with lavish praise and soon after, the film was announced to be back on course with nearly all of the actors who came to read for the stage version.

The film ended up with a cast including Tarantino veterans, Samuel L Jackson, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen and a slew of character actors (Kurt Russell, Walton Goggins and Jennifer Jason Leigh). There is also the odd cameo that can be quite distracting but I won't spoil that for those who haven't seen it. 

So why is it my film of the year? Well I give some credit to a variable that doesn't even invoke the film. Where I saw it. I saw Hateful Eight at the Odeon Liverpool in the gallery. For those not in the know, the gallery is an premium experience where you get a great seating area (over 18's only) with unlimited popcorn, drinks, toilets and a seating lounge. Not to mention a bar. It was also the first film in a few years where I went at a tremendously late hour. And it all just clicked into place. The screen was well behaved, the facilities top notch and the film capped it all off. But I think that the situation helps the film which is why cinema is the place to go over home viewing if you have the time, which I don't normally. The rest of the credit lies in the film of course. I can't say I'm a massive fan of Tarantino's last releases (Django and Inglorious Basterds) that is not to say I dislike them but they didn't make me itch to see them again soon). That streak ended with Hateful Eight. I'm a fan of films that are stripped down and use dialogue rather than force a plot. Although this has a basic plot, the real fun is how the characters interact whilst being confined to a small space and learning how their objectives are contrary to the others. Tarantino has basically done this film before with Reservoir Dogs but on a budget, a group of criminals and low lifes, confined to a space, learning truths and dealing justice. It's simply a western rather than modern jewel thieves. 

It would be curious to see if viewers who aren't fans of Quentin, end up liking this film but I doubt it. He can sometimes be his own worst enemy such as being unable to trim his running times (see:Judd Apatow) and sometimes he can concentrate more on music than plot (See:Dark Knight Rises) but on the latter, he struck gold in its composer Ennio Morricone. The master of the western score agreed to produce the music for Hateful Eight and it's another reason to fall in love with the movie. The music is hauntingly epic. He has had a hand in other Tarantino films before but not on this scale in a official capacity. 

Fans of theatre should give this a shot despite their opinion of its director as it is basically a play with bells on. Fans of Tarantino will have already seen it and will have their own opinions. Fans of this annual list should check it out to see if I'm right and be sure to tell me if you do.

2013 - Silver Linings Playbook
2014 - Wolf of Wall Street
2015 - Whiplash
2016 - The Hateful Eight

FIN

Adam Yates

2016 Movies

5* Hateful Eight
Revenant
Hunt for the Wilderpeople

4* Room 
Rogue One
Captain America : Civil War
Deadpool
Swiss Army Man
Eye in the Sky
Eddie the Eagle

Arrival 
Anomalisa
Spotlight
10 Cloverfield L
Hell or High Water
Sing Street

The Big Short
Jason Bourne
Finding Dory
3* Lights Out
Bastille Day
Money Monster
Trolls
Hannibal Takes Edinburgh
Popstar
Florence Foster Jenkins
Cafe Society
Midnight Special
Triple 9
where to invade next
Bad moms
Ghostbusters
Trumbo
Danish Girl
Creed
Blood Father
Secret life of pets
X men Apocalypse
Sausage Party
Captain Fantastic
Central Intelligence 
Zootropolis
Warcraft
2* batman vs superman
Sully
The Shallows
The Finest Hours
Suicide Squad
London has fallen
Miss Peregrines Home for Peculiar Children
Dirty Grandpa
Purge : Election Year
Star Trek Beyond
How to be Single
Elvis and Nixon
Daddy's home
Bad Neighbours 2
Our brand is crisis
The Greasy Strangler

1* Mechanic : Resurrection
Zoolander 2
Criminal
Marauders
Independence Day : Resurgence

Best TV of 2016 - 
line of duty, 
Atlanta, 
game of thrones, 
people vs OJ, 
stranger things 

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Films of 2016 - Part One


No 10-4

In reverse order, here are the films I most enjoyed in 2016. The term enjoyed is key here, in that some of these are Oscar contenders yes but some are simply good movies even if they may not raise the highest of highbrows. Please note that of course, I'm no Mark Kermode and I have not seen every film that came out this year. Feel free to ask if I have seen this and that and I'll say if I did and why I didn't include it on the list but there will be great films not here just because I didn't get to see them. 

Shall we begin?

STOP THE PRESSES!
Due to a late entry, the following film has been bumped from No.10 to the honourable mentions.

Bonus Honourable Mention.

Arrival

I'll make it clear from the get go, I LOVE this director. His last two films have comfortably made my list (Prisoners and Sicario) and this narrowly missed the list by mere minutes. Mysterious UFO's appear on random points of the globe and the army ask a decorated language expert (Amy Adams) to further their communications with the unknown life forms to ascertain their intentions. It's mature, doesn't talk down to its audience and for a science fiction film, doesn't rely too much on special effects to tell the story. In fact they could have painted a Pringle black and zoomed in real close and we'd still say it was good. The ending to the film is poignant, raw and leaves you with a question you may find asking yourself and whether you'd do the same as the characters would. 

In a nutshell...
Close Encounters meets Interstellar in a Pringle. 

10. 

Eddie the Eagle

"What!?" "I did not click your link for this drivel" 
Hold your horses. If you don't see Eddie the Eagle, you're likely to miss out on one of the cornerstones of cinema, the ability to sit back and enjoy. This won't win an Oscar, maybe perhaps not even a BAFTA. But it has more heart than most. For those not in the know, it's a true story about Britain's most famous ski jumper Eddie Edwards who tried to compete at the Winter Olympics and who became a bit of a laughing stock but won people over with his determination. 
The easiest but also truest comparison would be 'Cool Runnings' and this also uses the spine of a true story and injects comedic and drama into the scenes inbetween and there is no doubt there is some creative license given to the side plot but I'm sure Kate and Leo weren't really being shot at by Billy Zane as they bombed it around the Titanic but we lapped that up. It's true life tale even takes place at the exact same Olympic games as the Jamaican bobsleigh teams efforts. 
The role of Eddie and the main reason this has survived the top 10 is down to Taron Egerton who last made this list in last years 'Kingsman: The Secret Service.' His charm is undeniable, his ability to win us over no matter who he's playing is unquestionable. He makes you believe that he is who he's playing and it's not the role you'd expect someone coming off the back of kingsman to take as it's not glamourising enough to make studio bosses knock at the door. 
There are always curveballs on my list but it's not because I try to be surprising (although it's a bonus), it's because you can boil a movie down to one simple question...Did I enjoy it? And the answer to this was a resounding yes.

In a nutshell...

Cool Runnings with less Candy.

9.

Eye in the Sky

Drones. We all love a drone. Maybe 99% have never owned one but they can be used for a great manner of fun things that we sometimes see on Facebook. They also have the ability to change lives. Every week there's a news story about a near miss with an airline and one day it will happen, but this real time drone drama is based in it's more primary environment, warfare.
This is as solid a thriller as you'll see this year. It's not full to the brim of side plots, pointless monologues and chuffa. It gives us the target objective and then spins around the moral justifications of who we're spying on and what to do next. A known terrorist is hiding in a newly identified location and the film focuses on what action to take and how much collateral damage the government is willing to accept. To say that a bombing strike may kill some civilians may be easy to accept to some, but to see them actually go about their day before your decision changes or possibly ends their life and you second guess your choices. The other more common question of "kill one to save a thousand" also comes into play.
There's some weighty cast included also. Helen Mirren as the trigger happy Sergeant, Aaron Paul as the pilot with a conscience, Barkhad Abdi (last professing himself "the captain now" in front of Tom Hanks) as the undercover operative and in his last on screen role, Alan Rickman as the behind a desk General taking heat from mostly inept government officials who only see media angles and spin.
Eye in the Sky is essentially a thriller but unlike most, a good one, methodically made and with clear tension and realism. Order from Amazon and it may even deliver it by drone, oh the irony.

In a nutshell... A season of Homeland in 100 minutes.

8.

Swiss Army Man

Known in some circles as "the fart movie" or "that one where Daniel Radcliffe is dead in it" those two summaries aren't too far off the mark but Swiss Army Man is so much more.
Paul Dano plays a man about to end his life, seemingly alone on an island when a dead body (Daniel Radcliffe) washes up on the shore, the soaking corpse still releasing gas from its rotting corpse. To explain further would be a spoiler in my opinion except to say that the two castaways set out on an epic adventure to find their way home. The film is most definitely a two handed, almost in theatre form, by Dano and Radcliffe with Dano giving his usual excellent performance but Radcliffe handling the tougher of the two roles, restricted by movement and emotion, he still manages to 'act' and still manages to zig zag his choice of acting jobs so that no one could guess what role he'll go for next. To enjoy this film, it helps to enjoy indie film and the quirks that come with it as well as an element of disbelief. The filmmakers said about Swiss Army Man that "the first fart will make you laugh and the last will make you cry." I'd say that's fairly accurate.

In a nutshell... Where the Wild Things Are meets Castaway but on a budget.

7. 

Deadpool 

Quite often we hear of the comic book movie that turns the genre on its head (Guardians of the Galaxy, Watchmen, Scott Pilgrim) and this is the latest example to do so but to do so in such style and to dominate pop culture for a whole year is a feat in itself. 
The biggest R rated film...ever!
It did so by sticking to the source material, perfectly casting its lead role and marketing strokes of genius. But to do so, they had to reinvent the past and that past was messy. Ryan Reynolds had already played a mongy version of Deadpool already and this new iteration would technically exist in the same universe. How do they explain that away? By making fun of it, breaking the fourth wall and laughing at itself and it's predicament, the studio were so scared of Deadpool that they didn't support it with known X-Men characters so Deadpool made fun of that too. Above all else, Deadpool is hilariously funny even though the plot and in my view, the action is sub par. The best adaptations don't shy away from risky decisions and this was the risk of 2016 that paid off.

6. 

Captain America: Civil War

Rated above Deadpool!? Some will agree, some will disagree. Boil it down though and it's fairly easy, the action in Deadpool was low in quantity and in quality whereas with Civil War, the kitchen sink warehouse was bought and thrown at this film. Not only that, we have seen these characters on their various journeys for years now and it finally gives us some real meaty conflict amongst heroes. The villain merely sets up a few moral roadblocks and lets internal bickering ensue. The Captain America brand is becoming the most intelligent strand of Marvel and so much so, that the directors have been handed the reins from our Lord and Saviour, Joss Whedon, to helm the next two Avengers films (Infinity). 
If dividing a team of superheroes wasn't a challenge enough, the movie also uses it as a backdoor introduction to yet another interpretation of Spider-Man in the form of young British actor Tom Holland. The love we had for Andrew Garfield's turn as Peter Parker seemed to wane quite quickly although I don't think it was necessarily his fault but more of a case that we didn't even have time to mourn for Tobey Maguire (he never got to be Amazing!) but now we know the score and that studios can't keep their hands off making more money. This new Spidey is GREAT! Innocent, amateurish and helped along by Tony Stark to realise his potential, Spider-Man enters the landscape at just the right time when things are starting to seem quite dark and fruitless for the Avengers. 
In the end, the film throws you the same question that has divided its heroes. Do heroes need to be let loose to save the world or does there need to be accountability and consequence if things don't turn out the way we hope? Pretty deep stuff for a movie about people dressing up and punching each other. 

In a nutshell... The film Batman V Superman wished it was.

5.

Rogue One : A Star Wars Story

Also known as the film that made me stay up late to rewrite my list and push Arrival off the top 10.
The reviews led me to believe that this may happen but seeing as I'm no Star Wars fan, I wasn't convinced it would matter. But it did. I'm sure a Star Wars geek would rock out to this but as a fairly unbiased individual, this was a great entertaining film. I'd even go as far to say that I'm NOT a Star Wars fan but this is my favourite of the lot. You could go in having never seen one but you should catch up on the original trilogy to immerse fully. 
I won't bother to recap the plot as much as to say that rather than follow on from the god awful prequels it's more of a prologue to A New Hope. It has plenty for a geek to comb details and cameos from but why have I put it on the list?
It's a great action film. It's mostly bleak but had some real laugh out loud moments. It's not cheesy, it's not for kids, the last act isn't too far away from a war film. 
Cast wise, everyone does a solid job but no one stood out from the crowd aside from a cheeky truthful robot and some distracting motion capture from one particular character. (You'll know when you see it). 
I'm as surprised as anyone that this is no.5 and i may still be screen-drunk having just seen it 30 minutes ago but it was a real surprise, a solid film that (fingers crossed) will stand out in the Galaxy for years to come. 

In a nutshell - 
Star Wars without the politics.

4.

Room

So many films this year have been about surviving within the outdoors and nature itself (see Captain Fantastic, Swiss Army Man amongst others) but some survival stories come from the smallest of places and shine brightest of all. The penultimate adaptation on the list concerns the kind of story we witness more often on the nightly news than a mainstream film. Human beings being held captive in ordinary neighbourhoods for extraordinary amounts of time. This sounds like the most depressing plot for a film ever but it's on the list for being uplifting in its despair. A mother and child make the best of it whilst being locked in a small dark room and in that room they make a life whilst the mother shields the child from the worst of the truth. The second half of the film is almost a film in itself and I would not want to spoil it for anyone but of course it boils down to "do they get out the room or not?" The performance of the mother (Brie Larson) is testament as to why she received so much award acclaim back in the spring but the talent of the child is out of this world. How a young boy (Jacob Tremblay) can come up with a catalogue of emotions at such an early age is astounding and heartbreaking. It's not in the top three simply because I would have preferred the act structure to be different (sorry for being so cryptic) rather than what it became but it's a minor quibble. I recently spent 40minutes on a packed train home with a colleague and we found it quite claustrophobic. After seeing Room, I'd gladly spend an eternity on that train rather than go through what those characters had to go though. 

In a nutshell - Finally, Oscars glory not for a real life figure's stammer or disability but for powerful performances and a love of life no matter where that life is spent.


Next week - The Final Three.