Avatar: Way of Water [17/december/2022] Score: 6/10 A bit generic and lacking in imagination, or, dare I say, intelligence, as the characters are faced with The Return of Evil Humans. Never mind they had twenty years’ to plan and prepare, no, they all went native and lived happy, happy lives until disturbed by Evil Humans. So now, in the fine traditions of all American Westerns, it’s time to run away to a distant part of the planet to save lives and join a water rodeo. It’s a hugely long film and justly deserves the length to explore another aspect of this world and all its characters and “green” people who are so in touch with their inner flower, along with some visits from Evil Humans. If you enjoyed the spectacular of the first then this is a great addition, but if you thought that just, perhaps, maybe, there would be a bit more intelligence in the story then sorry, this is lacking in the imagination it richly deserves in its wonderful potential. Never mind, there are sequels and sequels to-come, if all goes well. Verdict: Worth a paddle in these waters, but no serious depth.
Violent Night [8/december/2022] Score: 8/10 If you want your Christmas a bit more realistic, with something dark and bloody, something to scare your family to death, death, death and your sick of the BBC Death News each morning, then perhaps this will service as a suitable and welcome celebration of all things ho-ho-ho. Santa, the dark age mythic monster of your nightmares, not the cute gentle old gentleman selling tooth-rotting sweet drinks to every child. Santa, who really knows all about naughty lists and what to do with someone who falls into that particular place. Santa, who’s gifts include a bloody axe dripping in redness. And a cute child who desperately needs one Special Wish to be granted to make this her year to celebrate. And a family that drips acid with every smile. Welcome to a world that is best described as different. While it might tire at one or two places, with its switching between dark humour and sweet childishness there is much to find very familiar in this story on one dark, cold Christmas night. Verdict: Die Hard Home Alone.
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery [26/november/2022] Score: 8/10 Following the unexpected success of the first “Knives Out” film it was only time before another set of knives were sharpened to bring another dish of deadly delights to our world. This time another type of “family” gather, all swirling around the one wealthy “collector” who owns their lives and intends death. But death can be averted with the keen eye of an exceptional detective, and yet there is more to tell. The twisted cynical humour of the modern rich and their weird world, their obscure language to cover up vacuous talent and the way the modern world laps it all up as somehow a deeper truth, is a sight, and sound to behold, but may not appeal to everyone. The intelligence of the crime and its detection should hold everyone who enjoys a grand whodunnit. Verdict: Sharpen your wits on this.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever [12/november/2022] Score: 6/10 A standard tour of the Marvelous world of Marvel comicbooks, with a touch of sadness for the passing of Chadwick Boseman, and some sloppiness in the background special effects. Good character introductions for the forthcoming “Ironheart” teenager who builds her own Iron Man style flying suits (of course you can), and a tragically silly villain who you just cannot take seriously, plus the traditional man-on-man fight of warriors with spears and other silly whatnots as the fight it out just like kiddies on a school playground. Verdict: Wonky-kanda that deserves to sink with the ship.
The Banshees of Inisherin [28/october/2022] Score: 8/10 Insane dullness and the quiet, gentle sensation of Irish insanity on a lonely little island off the blank green coastline of the Emerald Isle. As the time slowly, inexorably passes towards doom there is nothing but the slow pace of the country and people, until violence erupts. If you are looking for all-out dramatic action then go away. If you seek to drown in the sorrows of sadness and stupidity then dip into these waters. Verdict: Right bunch of donkeys.
Black Adam [22/october/2022] Score: 5/10 There is a certain point at which the endless stream of a flood of comicbook screen violence tends to drown any hope for something better, something slightly more intelligent. And here we have yet another magically-empowered ancient hero who is driven by revenge and a Terrible Mission to Do Something, which often means flattening innocent buildings and just killing, killing, killing as many baddies as possible. As for the Good Guys bent on saving the world. Well here was have another nearly Suicide Squad humour that smacks its head into a wall of violence. And all this is supposed to be an example to younger, enthusiastic, audiences? Verdict: Black & Blue Adam.
Lost King [9/october/2022] Score: 10/10 A lone woman, pursues the insane idea of finding the lost grave of King Richard the Third, yes, the Shakespeare one, with the hunch. Despite all the barriers and obstacles she gathers clues from other stray researchers on the fringes of formal academia and achieves something no serious professional academic, even the ones living and working in the city of his burial, could achieve, and then they snatch away all her glory for themselves (yes Leicester University I’m thinking of you, you’re in the naughty book now), except for the glory in Her achievement. In pursuing her dream she sets an example for us all. Verdict: A crowning achievement by a lone heroine on a knight’s quest.
The Woman King [8/october/2022] Score: 6/10 Another popular theme in the rewriting and clarifying of history with this strong story from the early 19th Century when one African tribe had a force of powerful warrior women to defend their territory. Taking a brief moment in history is tells you what was and could have been in the world today and sets an example to follow in the future, if you are strong enough. Verdict: War story.
Amsterdam [8/october/2022] Score 5/10 Possibly, loosely, romantically and dramatically based on a true story of a Nazi-style attempted coup in the US before WWII to subvert the nation to the greater cause of fascist powers in Europe, but a long winding and twisted story to uncover the conspiracy by a small cabal of rich and influential men, none of whom appear to have been punished. If you are looking for a deep insightful revelation then look elsewhere, but for a bit of fluffy drama this should be entertaining. Verdict: Fantasy of history.
See How They Run [11/september/2022) Score: 8/10 If you love your humour quirky and love a great, and blackly comic whodunnit, then this theatrical tall tale should suit you perfectly. Ever so-slightly inspired by certain possibly true events (namely “The Mousetrap”) this bonkers story will keep you grinning, and corpses grimacing, to the end as the curtains close. And remember, as you leave the theatre, don’t tell anyone who done it. Verdict: Snaps, like a mousetrap.
Fisherman’s Friends: One and All [20/august/2022] Score: 8/10 About as predictable, and sweet, as the tide coming in, with only a mild storm to upset your voyage, and yet based on a true story, so has a touch of grit you won’t find in a pure fantasy. If you need to take seaside break from all the troubles of the world and don’t mind a gentle walk along a cliff path then this is a perfect drink to sip while enjoying the view. Verdict: Friendly.
Bullet Train [6/august/2022] Score: 10/10 A frantic race across Japan, the land of cute technology, mad killers and Deep Philosophical Meaning, insanely trying to kill each other in a competition of “Catch The Briefcase” while trapped on a bullet train which stops for nothing and no one. This is an insanely hilarious, desperately daft drama that will kill you with laughter if you’re not careful and a perfect antidote to the insanity out in the so-called real world. Verdict: Operatic.
Where The Crawdads Sing [22/july/2022] Score: 7/10 Mesmerising slush, soap opera and silly drama that hold your attention like a killer’s snare, for the scenery and the pretty actors as a murder mystery unfolds in the dank swamps of the Deep South. It slowly slips into your consciousness, not for high drama, not for over-loaded action scenery and special effects, but a simple story of survival in its many forms. If you want colourful, glamorous action and deeply-meaningful insights then seek a swamp elsewhere, here you find the basic values of life beautiful and brutal. Verdict: A fine scent that sticks with you like mud.
Thor: Love and Thunder [16/july/2022] Score: 9/10 Okay, to begin with a lot of critics seem to think this is over-bloated nonsense, poor special effects and much more. Yes, it is over-bloated spectacular, silly, colourful, dash fun, and a perfect addition to the Marvel universe for absolutely not, ever, taking itself so serious. And yet, if you look past the glamour there is a huge amount to laugh and cry at, something to bring a tear of laughter or heroic tragedy, right to the very end, of the end, of the end. Cramming in a huge scope of ideas into a couple of hours will always be a challenge, but here, with brisk narration, a whole decade of drama is brushed out of the way to get to the nub of the story, of change, transformation, growing up, finding yourself, protecting those you have to protect and loving all those you must love. Verdict: Bring a hankie.
Minions 2: The Rise of Gru [11/july/2022] Score: 6/10 You either love the little yellow munchkins or not. I’ll go for liking them, to a point, but there are limits and I think Gru and his Minions might be just about wringing the theme dry. As to be expected there is a lot of silliness and plenty of daftness to entertain everyone with their inner child needing a giggle, but in the end there is a sense of pushing a bit too far. Nothing specific, but you have to begin to wonder what you’re telling children who watch this that being a villain is “good” and “fun”. Verdict: Bananas!
Jurassic World: Dominion [11/june/2022] Score: 6/10 The last gasp of the big rubbery and highly intelligent, sometimes cute, dinosaurs, versus the hugely stupid over-stuffed greedy corporate humans and their grunge-wearing opponents who look “just way cool” in their battered clothes and still don’t know how to use a rocket launcher to bring down a very over-grown rubber chicken. This is it folks, the end, the very end (apart from sequels and spin-offers, remakes, etc., etc., for ever) of the Jurassic Age (movie edition) and how to resolve “living together” and “sharing our beautiful green world” and all lovliness and cuteness. Apart from all that we have returns from familiar old faces, wittiness and cuteness, plus at least one cute kiddie and pet dinosaur to retread those familiar well-worn out paths in storyland. Verdict: Awwwwww!
Top Gun: Maverick [27/may/2022] Score: 7/10 Nonsense. Complete, totally, beautifully daft nonsense as Top Guns from the good old USofA face up against each other and a frantic deadline to master their skills and push themselves to the limit of humour, hormones and happy days on the beach. Then they have to go and blow some Evil Empire and destroy some of those gold old evil WMDs. Stick a grin on your face at the complete silliness of it all and enjoy the ride. Just sniff those high octane fumes. Verdict: Sky High & Fly.
Everything Everywhere All At Once [14/may/2022] Score: 8/10 Hilarious, naughty, and very wild journey that begins slowly, making you wonder whether you’re in the right room, then throws you overboard into trans-dimensional insanity; and all the while keeping a core sensibility about love, relationships and tax. Verdict: Multiverse Kung Fu with the Heroine of a million faces all the same.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness [7/may/2022] Score: 6/10 A bit damp apart from all the eye-twisting effects and certainly one for the Marvel fans than the regular audiences? Alternatively this is the Fall & Redemption of the Red Witch, with Dr Strange acting as her magical therapist on a journey of painful self-discovery and enlightenment. If you’ve seen WandaVision then you will have a strong hint of the underlying theme here of her painful experiences and loneliness in the face of past tragic loss. Here then is the culmination of her journey. As for the multiverse. This is definitely one for the fans to play spot-the-hero from so many other moments flashing by, with the hope of further future appearances in various alternative (universe) disguises? Verdict: A Strange one.
The Unbearable Weight of MASSIVE TALENT [23/april/2022] Score: 7/10 You either love little “Nicky” (not the devil, the other one) or not. And Nicholas Cage has a varied career that has won some, lots, more or less fans, followers and other freaks along the rocky road that is a Hollywood film actor’s career. In which case this extreme exercise in tongue-in-cheek must be treated as filling the time between the last and the next of his peaks and troughs. Peaks vary according to who enjoyed that performance, and the troughs are universally agreed on, except the few absolute fans for whom Nicky can do no wrong. So here we have Mr Cage playing, erm, a kind of Mr Cage out on a limb when, apparently fact (or fictionalised fact) gets mixed up in reality, or a fictional version of what passes for reality in some people’s heads. Confused? Don’t be, just enjoy the daft ride and the standard over the top performance of a “deeply sensitive” actor. I have no idea how, where or why Paddington 2 comes into this, but I suspect there is “a message”. Verdict: Snuggle up with the big old bear.
The Northman [18/april/2022] Score: 6/10 For those who want more butchery and bloodbaths than a typical sitting of Parliament here’s an interesting ancient mythic legend from the dark times of Norse Legend. A prince lost from his crown. Dark magical portents and prophecies, blood, betrayal, blood, butchery and revenge. A mad twisted mother and dark murderous uncle. Hang on a minute, doesn’t this sound like Shakespeare’s Scottish Play? Turn out that The Bard got all his ideas from this tragic, heroic myth of murder and revenge. Verdict: Chop, chop, to see this before it’s cut off.
Operation Mincemeat [16/april/2022] Verdict: 8/10 There are drama stories, there is superheroic fantasy fiction, and then there is the reality that is truer, more down-to-earth and vastly more heroic than any fiction could dare tell. And this is the time of madness in the extreme as the British concoct one of the wildest plots in history to cause an enemy to divert his armies away from the battlefield, with a dead body. Most people will know of the story, whether from history of the times or the earlier film in the 1950s, but this is a new impression of this story. Perhaps a few more liberties have been taken to add dramatic elements, or perhaps there is even more to be told one day? Verdict: It’s really true!
The Lost City [15/april/2022] Verdict: 8/10 There’s treasure in the jungle! Quick, race there, find the treasure, escape the gang who are out to get it! Switch your brain off for a while and enjoy a completely daft jungle adventure treasure hunt with the traditional two unlikely adventurers, hero’s would be too much for these two, on a challenge to discover more than ancient gold. A perfect holiday escape from the insanity in the real world. Forget any holes in plots, they’re just to let you breath occasionally in this frantic race. Verdict: A little treasure.
Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore [8/april/2022] Score: 6/10 Not, quite, for younger children. As a slightly darker, more adult theme develops in the 1930s, the rise of fascism in its many forms and first hints at darker days to-come. So definitely not for the little ones who might have enjoyed the original Potter stories. But then this is more for all those over the years who did enjoy Potter and are now grown enough for more serious fare. With its various adult themes of love, betrayal, looming war and terror it can never match the Potter stories, but this is not a negative point. The Fantastic Beasts storyline adds a more adult dimension for all those wanting a richer history to this unique universe. And it still has some cute beasts along the way. Verdict: Beasts also walk on two legs.
Morbius [2/april/2022] Score: 5/10 It’s a dark gothic city, bats flock in the shadows, storms loom overhead and the rain falls like a monsoon. A miserable lonely man, well-supported by his very best wealthy friend, struggles to cure the incurable disease destroying both their lives. He’s got pouty angst falling around him like dandruff. And then, in a bout of insanity he takes a leap of imagination and scientific discovery that unleashes a dark monstrous horror he can’t control. He refuses to share this amazing discovery with his best friend, he refuses to ask for help in solving this nightmare, because HE’S A LONE HERO. Idiot. Writers needed more spark of imagination in creating and crafting such a character, but I guess this one is one of the second rank Marvel characters and the comic books are probably just as dark, miserable and daft. This is not bat-man. Verdict: Completely bats.
Ambulance [27/march/2022] Score: 8/10 I need to watch something to lift my spirits. How about something trashy and crashy? What do you mean? Something noisy and racy, something with a pretty girl and tons of toys, tanks, guns and bombs, something that will razzle-dazzle you and make you forget the world for a while, make your lips curl up with a smile, then pull at your heart strings. Hey! That sounds like something from Michael Bay! Hey hey! Verdict: Catch this Ambulance to heal the agonies of the world.
The Batman [5/march/2022] Score: 9/10 A dark brooding young man in a dark brooding city. A very distinctive Private Eye brought in to consult on a uniquely dastardly series of crimes. And a woman dancing on the edge of her inner fire, tragedy and destruction. Paths entwine and coil around each other in the dark nights of the twilight city. This is the way the Legend of the Batman, the caped detective was originally written and this is the way it is now, finally, portrayed. If you’re looking for glossy, colourful comicbook caped crusader in a leotard then you’re in the wrong decade. Verdict: At last: hope.
Death On The Nile [18/february/2022] Score: 7/10 I don’t know if you’ve heard this but there’s been a Death on the Nile. If you want to know who dun it then here is an elegant escape from the mundane world outside. With the Luxury Glamour & Gloss Dial turns full-on there is nothing to complain about this darkly gritty escapist sailing cruise in one of the most romantic eras and places on Earth. If you’ve know the story for years it may still be worth another trip through murder rather than all the nonsense going on in the so-called real world. Verdict: Clear sailing, in murderously good company.
Uncharted [16/february/2022] Score: 4/10 It’s a video game turned into two criminal loudmouths bantering each other, and us, almost to death while on a treasure hunt to steal valuable lost gold in the far remote corners of the world. It’s loud, it’s shouty, it’s nowhere near challenging for the average mind, and just bounced around from one caper and shouting to the next as all the smugness and predictable characters blank your mind. Verdict: You might want to move on to another level.
Moonfall [3/february/2022] Score: 8/10 It’s a Roman Emmerich movie, and he dose so love to destroy the world. And once again the world is going to hell and crashing into total destruction as the moon leaves its orbit and hurls down on us all. It’s loud, noisy, daft as a high-tech brush and perfect nonsense with total stupidity thrown in for fun, but it doesn’t grind as families and friends race to escape their doom and a tiny handful of odds and ends of humanity scramble to to do something to save the world and discover a cosmic secret. Which leads to a sequel at this rate. Verdict: The Far Side of silliness worth a happy afternoon to blank your mind.
The 355 [14/january/2022] Score: 5/10 Girl Spies R Us, sort of, as we follow an adventure around the world in search of a solution, and stuff. There are terrorists, confusions, traitors in the ranks of the CIA (normal, so no change there), and all sorts of international spies doing the usual stuff. So this is a basic “action spy” story with glamour and light humour, traitors, and all the usual mishmash. As for the 355 in the title, that is not really pushed out until the very end, so don’t expect a really clear answer. Or maybe that’s for a sequel? Verdict: Girls just wanna have fun with terrorists, and guns.