Expend4bles [23/september/2023] Score: 6/10 Shoot, shoot, bang, bang, explosion, hot sex, shoot, shoot, bang, ka-booooom! Evil bad guys happen, once again in the generic Hollywood tradition carved in stone somewhere in Los Angeles, to be their own organisation bosses, oooo, what a surprise. This is a tall, tall, tale of men who are REAL MEN, and like hot sexy women they way they’re built, and big guns, and knives, and stuff, and lots of killing “targets”, just the way we’ve all come to know and kind of love/hate/love with these expendable characters. Oh, and there’s a story here about some Maguffin or other being stolen, agencies betrayed and heroes saving the day with lots of the aforementioned killing. And we all live happily ever after, except for all the dead bad guys they murdered, killed, shot, stabbed, cut, drowned, blew up and crunched under cars, ships and planes. Where do they find all the time? Verdict: I guess you could expend some time on it.
A Haunting In Venice [16/september/2023] Score: 6/10 An atmospheric period piece set just after the Second Great War (WWII), with the swirling mists and storms of war fading and the world still hidden under the clouds of distress and despair. Curled up in retirement our Great Detective is teasingly lured out and into “a mystery”, a spooky seance in a haunted mansion in that most elegant and archaic city of Venice. Things definitely go bump in the night, bodies fall, nightmares haunt the living, and the great detective peers into the mysteries of life and death; but, with a flourish of his intellect he manages to see the light in the darkness and uncover a twisting and twisted story of murder. And all that. Perhaps not one of the greatest investigations, as here we are taken where the spirit fears to tread with the suggestion, perhaps in the minds of so many millions at that time, there there “is more” to the world than a keen eye might see. Leaves an impression, but not impressive. Verdict: Haunting atmosphere.
Blue Beetle [22/august/2023] Score: 6/10 Fun, glossy, comicbook nonsense and perfectly silly antidote to the world’s misery this month as yet another weird creature character (First Spiders then Bats, and Ants, now Beetles) is born of “something alien” and “magical” to transform “ordinary man” into “hero”. So all the usual ingredients are there for any “superhero” fan to enjoy. Nothing life-changing but good enough for a couple of hours and the humour is sufficiently colourfully over-the-top to make you smile. Verdict: Scoot off to catch this bug before it escapes.
Meg 2: The Trench [4/august/2023] Score: 6/10 There’s a fish, a really, really big fish, and lots of other stuff. There is an Evil Baddie, and henchmen/women out to stop Our Heroes from fishing. There’s complete and utter nonsense and Big Fish, and laughs, and silliness and heroic daftness, so a perfect cure for a drab and dull world. Verdict: These fish have had their chips. Enjoy a munch.
Oppenheimer [22/july/2023] Score: 9/10 There’s a bomb, a big bomb, a really, really big bomb, and a band of bumbling politicians stumbling in the dark despair of WWII; and there’s a man, someone weak, someone they can control, someone they can manipulate into doing their bidding to keep it all secret. And this is just part of the story of one man, no bold clean superhero from comicbooks, but one with his own weaknesses and brilliance that will outshine all the politicians and politics for a thousand years. This won’t be for anyone wanting heroic adventure and dramatic action as so much focuses on the science and the men and women behind all that intense effort and struggle with no simple black and white answers. Verdict: Opt for this.
Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part One [10/july/2023] Score: 6/10 Fantastically over-the-top insane and daft stunts, wild chases and insane adventures in search of the “thingy” that powers all these tall, tall, tall tales, but at the heart of this is one definitive lesson: never be a strong female lead in this, you are going to die. Stupidly impossible “missions” are the norm as, once again, the Mission Impossible Team chose to accept the mission and discover that they are being betrayed by the very people they are supposed to trust. And here we go on the hair-raising merry-go-round of precipitous peril, dangling from a cliff, or a mountain, or a train, or something equally perilous, to expose “The Conspiracy At The Heart of American Government Of The Week”, again. But if you do savour something silly then this is your mission. Verdict: Your mission, should you chose – Yes.
The Flash [17/june/2023] Score: 9/10 (The second multi-verse tale in the same week, am I in a time loop!!??) If you, like most general audiences, do not know of The Flash it’s a really fast young man who’s sometime too fast for his own good. And this is clearly shown when he attempts the, seemingly impossible, of turning back time. Only in this case time turns on him and brings him, eventually, like all young adults heroes, to the realization that often what you already have is what you have to accept, it’s a Fate thing. It’s a joyously wild ride with the torments of coming-of-age and the responsibilities of (“with great power comes great-” stoppit!) dealing with your mistakes. With a few playful pokes at the Flash universe/multiverse/whateververse this is a seriously fun and wild ride that doesn’t let up from its humour and tragedy. Verdict: Zip off to catch it while you can.
Transformers: Rise Of The Beasts [16/june/2023] Score: 5/10 Yo! Let’s save the world! How do we do that? We FIGHT WITH GIANT ROBOTS!!! Fighting will save the world!!? YES, and REALLY LOUD! But can’t we use reason, common sesne or some really clever ideas? NO, I am ROBOTOCON, and I NEED TO SELL TOYS! Welcome back to the world that can only be saved with lots of vast violence and GIANT ROBOTS! Verdict: Stomp off to catch it, bring earmuffs.
Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse [15/june/2023] Score: 10/10 So, this kid gets bitten by a spider, and then his uncle dies and then he kills his girlfriend, and repeat… and repeat… and repeat… For this is the canon of the Spider-vese, and none shall say nay. Except, there’s this kid, called Miles, and this girl called Stacey, and they have a bit of a thing going on, and, anyway, they’re about to destroy the universe. And now things are about to get, Amazingly wild across a thousand universes and the Spider-web is about to be unravelled. Maybe like me you can enjoy this for the adventure, the humour the family, the animation, and playfulness and the out-and-out drama of Miles facing up to his role in the Spider-verse, and what he could do to it all. Verdict: Spot on action, humour, and gleeful silliness.
Fast X [20/may/2023] Score: 7/10 It’s a family thing, saving the world, and robbing banks, defeating evil and driving hugely powerful, tricked-up supercars and being admired by girls who wear clothes that cling, and this is the beginning of the last insanely wild ride to the brink of destruction, and beyond. If you’ve enjoyed them all then this matches up to most, with all the silliness that has increased over the years and all the slushy “family” sentimentality to wrap you up in snuggly seatbelts as you put the foot down. There may be a little too much sentimentality, but that’s to be expected as every last soulful drop of emotional fuel is squeezed from this powerhouse. Verdict: Take a ride.
Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol.3 [8/may/2023] Score: 10/10 It would be wrong to give it anything but maximum score for a fully entertaining, comic, tragic, brilliant, beautiful ending to the sage of this generation of Guardians. No, it is not perfect in a drama about a lone character’s journey because here we have a team, a huge cast of wild and wonderful characters, each bidding welcome and farewell in their own styles, each moment a flash of inspiration and light in the world. Yes, it contains a few of the generic Marvel features, wild chases across the galaxy, heroism of the most manic form, slightly insane plotlines, but at least it avoids the mandatory gang fight at the end, which is a real blessing and relief. But then Guardians has always been “different” and standing out there, alone in this glossy, colourful, Marvelous universe. If you need something to escape the mundane, and still bring a tear to your eye then this is it. Verdict: Rocket off to this now.
Renfield [15/april/2023] Score: 7/10 The Dark Lord Cage rises from the dead and stalks the Earth. But without his trusty familiar, Renfield, he is nothing but a burnt out husk! And this is a beautifully comic bloody, splashy, squishy, squashy, splattery, spewing stream of fun and gore. If you don’t take it seriously then here is a fun alternative to the lore of the Dark Lord (Cage), the Master, Dracula. There’s no serious drama here, and a lot of acting from the Dark Lord that takes you on a joyride of delicious delights. It can stall for a moment here and there as we try to establish the characters and the life, times and settings for Renfield’s endless efforts to feed the Master’s appetites. Verdict: Worth a bite of your time.
Air [9/april/2023] Score: 6/10 This is a true story, of a product. A new kind of biopic that has grown up in the world nowadays is that for the story of the invention or birth and world-wide success of some novel product or other. No really inspiring story of struggle and achievement against the odds, just business deals and wranglings, negotiations and a little touch of the magic of being in the right place at the right moment in time to capitalize on an opportunity. And here we have a little sports shoe company in American meeting up with a sportsman who might add a touch of glamour to their shoes. And they all got rich ever after. Not sure about living happily, but that’s the real world for you, not a good fairy tale in sight. However, if you love a story of business dealings and success then here’s an educational lesson for you today. Verdict: Run off to see it if you like that kind of thing.
Dungeons & Dragons Honour Among Thieves [5/april/2023] Score: 6/10 Magic was never so difficult as a very complicated role-playing board game translated into a Hollywood film with big budgets to turn a roll of the dice into gold, and a sprinkle of fairy dust. The only issue here will be whether the general non Dungeon & Dragony type audiences, will be able to grasp and be carried along on what is at heart a crime caper comedy drama, all about lost love, betrayal, family, magical accessories and the occasional dragon, oh, and an evil witch. But if you need a fix-up for all the bleak wickedness in the real world, then perhaps this will be worth a stab. Verdict: Roll your dice and see whether you win this one.
John Wick: Chapter 4 [1/april/2023] Score: 7/10 Are you exhausted yet, John? Has your mind got twisted with the elaborations and rituals of this dark side community of assassins, criminals, conspiracies, within conspiracies and more, John? Do you need to lie down and rest for a bit before dancing with death again and again, John? Need more bullets and stabby things? Let’s open the book and see your account, who owes you favours or a deal to be done to finish this once and for all in this crazily twisted world of high glamour locations, mythical luxury hotels for a “certain clientele”. Shall we just toss a gold coin and see which way the fates fall, John? Let the games begin. Verdict: Satisfactorily scored. Or maybe not?
Shazam! Fury Of The Gods [31/march/2023] Score: 7/10 What could be an over-the-top insanity of “gods” facing up to a family of childish orphans (of course it’s orphans, this is a superhero story) gradually turns into a family adventure story (of the Fastly Furious style of “Family”) to hold back dark alien forces that could destroy the world (of course they can) and restore power and happy easter goodness to the world, and grin a lot, while riding demonic unicorns. This is the standard kind of coming-of-age for all superheroes, where they come to realize, after receiving their powers in the first chapter, of the responsibilities they must shoulder, to save the world (of course). If you enjoyed the first outing of the SHAZAM family then this should be good enough for you. Verdict: Eat the rainbow-
65 [11/march/2023] Score: 5/10 Have you ever crash-landed on another planet only to find yourself surrounded by dinosaur-like monsters to struggle to rescue another lone survivor, and all that? Maybe you too were travelling on a spaceship designed for crashing, made of tin foil and good at tearing up in shreds, as if it could handle million of miles on space yet not avoid the huge asteroid field land safely on any planet, pick one, any one. Perhaps you have a few skills, just enough, and a handful of scraps salvaged from your totally-wrecked spacecraft, just enough to maybe call for help and help you struggle for survival, before you get eaten by a Gigantic Dinosaur? Or stuff like that? Well here’s another go on another world, in another wreck, again as yet another survivor has to stumble through a score of absurd obstacles to the only way off the planet, which is the rest of the spaceship that, for some weird reason landed many miles away, just across that jungle, swamp and herd of dinosaurs, on the side of a mountain. Thankfully there is one real reason for this film to exist – to prompt me into writing a better story. Verdict: Journey elsewhere?
Cocaine Bear [24/february/2023] Score: 6/10 This is an old true story that’s got a big long in the tooth with much telling and has been elaborated upon in a silly, daft, fun and sometimes slow and tedious fashion. I can see where the writer was trying to go, making tremendous fun out of a completely coked-up drug-crazed bear on the wild rampage for its next fix of cocaine in the forest; but I found a lot of the build up to be a challenge with the need to hang a few good characters and build their structure before fighting head-on with the Big Bad Bear. There were times when I lost attention while waiting for the blackly comic action to bite as there was more attention than expected to the human characters and not a bear on the rampage as we might have expected form the trailers. A few good moments make up for it but not a classic. Verdict: Snort on it for a little fix but not the big jolt.
Ant-Man and The Wasp Quantumania [18/february/2023] Score: 6/10 A quantum of creativity and a lot of unoriginality as we appear to be in a microscopic universe somewhat modelled on some other show called Star Wars, complete with low-rent dive bar, a secret rebellion against an all-powerful overlord, and all that. Good for giggles and fun, but if you seek something more meaningful, original, creative and distinctly Ant-Man(ish) then you’re almost out of look. You’d have to use a microscope to find the distinct bits, but still good to pass the time. Verdict: A fraction of fun.
Plane [30/january/2023] Score: 5/10 If you want a quick take-off to Nonsense Island then this flight is ready and waiting for you to take a break from the nonsense of reality. A “traditional” action-man adventure of generic heroes, silly cast of characters and the usual walking targets of “terrorist/freedom fighters” to blow away with an endless supply of guns and ammo. Yes, children, they still make them like the good old days. Verdict: Ho-kum to see this if you’re really bored.
Unwelcome [27/january/2023] Score: 7/10 A bit rough around the edges for something that begins like a typical middle-class nightmare of vicious neighbours in the modern urban environment, then turns in to a wry little trip to a remote Irish village and remote Irish cottage with a few of the less friendly “wee people” living at the bottom of the garden. And then all Hell and Demonic Goblins breaks loose until a final revelation. Verdict: Gobblin it up.