Films of the Week #7

Films of the Week goes thematic once again, and this time the spotlight is on two airborne films that simply amazed me in how good they are. I already can’t wait to watch them again.

Starship Troopers‘ (1997) – Dir. Paul Verhoeven

After watching the much maligned Showgirls and struggling to understand why it’s been frequently labelled one of the worst films ever made, I found myself thinking it was time to watch the last of Verhoeven’s four big films that was left on my watchlist. Having thoroughly enjoyed Total Recall whilst thinking RoboCop and Showgirls were fine, my reaction to his anti-war satire could have gone either way. To be perfectly honest I never expected to be as blown away by it as I was. A massively eccentric and outlandish story, for two hours I couldn’t help but be enthralled and captivated by the world building (and destroying) and characters onscreen. Telling the story of the very cool Johnny Rico (Casper Van Diem) on his conflicting rise to the top ranks of the Mobile Infantry, we follow him as he suffers great loss, learns to love – and lose again – and use the pain he faces along the way to battle and try to defeat the truly terrifying antagonists: The Arachnids. Yes, on paper the idea of big, killer bugs is bizarre enough to emphasise just how ridiculous this film actually is, but the threat they pose is immense, and they don’t half make for several brutal, gutting death scenes – one towards the end featuring a proboscis is still freaking me out!
Since I’ve started watching films more frequently there’s been many an occasion I’ll put a film off and then rue why I waited so long to watch it. Starship Troopers is one of those films, so here’s to making up for lost time!

Rating: 5/5

Top Gun: Maverick‘ (2022) – Dir. Joseph Kosinski

In the build up to the release of this film I took the opportunity to properly watch Top Gun. I may have seen the 1986 film before, but if I had it was many years ago, and while watching it I realised several scenes had escaped my memory in that time. I enjoyed it, but it didn’t strike me as anything more than just okay, and upon its conclusion – knowing how hyped up this sequel has been – I pondered ‘How good could a Top Gun sequel be?‘. The answer is very. A rare sequel in the year 2022, this is one that does call back to its original, however it doesn’t lean on nostalgia, nor does it disappoint us as a blatant attempt to propel a money-driven franchise. Rather, it follows on, thirty-six years down the road by continuing the story of Tom Cruise’s Pete “Maverick” Mitchell as he is called back to Top Gun to help train the pilots of tomorrow for a dangerous mission against a threatening (unnamed) foe. It’s a straightforward story on its face, however the task becomes all the more personal for Maverick, and all the more compelling for us as one of the pilots he must train is Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw (Miles Teller), the son of Goose who holds a big grudge against Maverick for his father’s death. This leads to fantastic performances from Cruise and Teller who have good chemistry as two people desperate deep down to appreciate one another, but struggling to find that moment to connect. They front a film that succeeds in stunning us with some of the most gorgeous visuals and action sequences I’ve seen in a cinema – they’ll take your breath away alright – and one that doesn’t falter in making us care about our characters (old and new) with a lot of effort put into crafting the relationships of Maverick and our young pilots; Maverick and Penny (Jennifer Connelly) as a believable, likeable new couple; and of course, Maverick and Iceman (Val Kilmer) in an emotional scene that reminds us how eternally cool Kilmer is.
For all we know sequels are in the works for this film – Miles Teller and Glen Powell certainly strike us as two people who could carry a franchise – but right now I can’t help but feel this will be something special. Cruise is the last true film star, and he strikes me as someone who greatly values his projects, so he’ll want this to remain as special as it’s been received to be. It took two years to be released, and it was really worth any wait. Go see it on the big screen as soon as possible.

Rating: 4/5

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