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After reading two of Mark Kermode’s books (and thoroughly enjoying both of them), I was really looking forward to reading this one – where Kermode discusses (or rants) about the state of cinema today, or at least the state of Hollywood blockbusters today. I wasn’t disappointed – when it comes to film criticism or film discussion, Mark Kermode is pretty much my go-to author. He’s funny, honest, self-deprecating, and makes a lot of valid points.

In various chapters, Kermode talks about how blockbusters basically cannot fail to make a profit, no matter how bad they are, and crucially, no matter how bad their reviews are. He uses the much maligned film Pearl Harbor as an example – as much as it was trashed by critics and the public alike, it still turned a profit. Basically if a film has a big name star, and appears in cinemas even if only for a short time, it will make money – if not on the big screen, then certainly on DVD. So, if blockbusters can’t really fail no matter how bad they are, then why not make a really good one?

In other chapters, Kermode discusses 3D, which has been trialled and trashed several times before, but which keeps rearing it’s ugly head (thanks for that James Cameron), and even questions what use film critics actually are to the industry. The most entertaining chapter for me was where he discussed the recent trend for Hollywood to remake foreign language films – often drastically changing characters, setting and indeed storylines – and why the often vastly inferior remakes still do better in cinemas than the original ‘source’ movies.

Anyone who has listened to Mark Kermode will be able to hear his voice in their head while reading this book – he is an intelligent and passionate narrator, and makes his points eloquently, and with a lot of humour. He is clearly in love with his subject, despite all his complaints about the current state of cinema, and this makes for an engaging, entertaining rant, all in the style of a conversation which you could imagine having in a pub while downing a few pints.

In essence – if you like Mark Kermode’s radio show, or have enjoyed his previous books, or indeed just enjoy reading about cinema or Hollywood in general, then I would definitely recommend this book.

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