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Valerian movie posterOh dear. Where to start with this one? Luc Besson directed one of my all-time favourites, Fifth Element, so I had every hope this would be good. Visually it's imaginative (though I'm glad we saw it in 2-D)

But...

You knew there's be a but, didn't you?

This whole thing was so badly miscast that it was ridiculous. Major Valerian (Dane DeHaan) who is 31 in real life, looked like he'd just stepped out of a high school movie. I'd be generous if I said he looked anywhere close to eighteen. Cara Delevingne, model turned actress, looked about the same age. They were a pretty pair, but totally unbelievable as the leads, and the chemistry between them was nonexistent. Clive Owen as the villain, was dialling it in. I hope they paid him well because it won't look good on his resumee.

I kept wondering whether it would have been better with Bruce Willis in the lead role. (Yeah I get that it's adapted from a comic, so BW doesn't fit the bill, but surely they could have found someone with a bit more gravitas.)

That's a couple of hours of my life that I wish I could get back. Give this one a miss. Save up your cinemoney for The Dark Tower or Kingsmen 2.

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Spider Man HomecomingHaving been integrated into the Marvel Cinematic Universe and into The Avengers in the recent Captain America Civil War, Peter Parker has to return to school like any ordinary kid. Unlike ordinary kids he has his spidey powers and though this is not a return to (yet another) origin story it is a coming of age story where Peter learns to use his powers responsibly (by making a few colossal mistakes, of course). He's too eager, too cocky and - well - a pretty typical teen, really.

Mentored by Tony Stark/Iron Man Parker comes face to face with Vulture, Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton), whose salvage company has been sidelined and business ruined when the government decides that independent contractors can't be trusted to clean up the alien tech after the Battle of New York. Toomes keeps the tech and turns it into super weapons, selling them to foreign buyers illegally.

I wasn't sure the world needed yet another Spiderman reboot, but I'm absolutely convinced by this one. Parker carries the film well. Robert Downey Jnr. puts in a solidly charismatic performance as Iron Man, but perhaps the most interesting aspect in Michael Keaton's semi-sympathetic portrayal of the Vulture. You can see how a good citizen turns bad, but Adrian Toomes is a villain, but he isn't all bad. It's a nuanced performance that adds another dimension.

I enjoyed this movie immensely.

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Wonder Woman MovieGal Gadot is Wonder Woman. She wears the part naturally and fulfils the promise of her appearance in Batman v Superman. This is the origin story. Diana of Themyscira, princess of the Amazons, reared on a paradise island inhabited by a society of warrior women is unaware of the rest of the world until the First World War, in the shape of Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) come crashing (literally) on to the island. It's 1918. Diana is determined that she should leave the island to end the conflict. Believing Ares is responsible for the war, Diana arms herself with the "Godkiller" sword, the Lasso of Hestia, and armor before leaving Themyscira with Trevor to find and destroy Ares (whom she believes to be masquerading as German General Ludendorff).

Full marks also to Lucy Davis who plays Steve Trevor's secretary, Etta Candy, a woman in a man's world, competent and capable

I've never seen Christ Pine in anything I didn't like and his supporting role in this move hits the mark perfectly. There's good chemistry between the two leads, but Trevor never steals Gadot's thunder.

This is a movie of firsts (first superhero featurting a female lead, first Marvel superhero movie directed by a woman (Patty Jenkins). Diana is a badass without surrending her femininity. Sure the movie isn't perfect, but I enjoyed it immensely and look forward to the next.

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Movie poster - The MummyTom Cruise in a remake of The Mummy should have been good, but somewhere along the road it lost the sense of humour that made the first Brendan Fraser Mummy movie so good. Don't get me wrong, this is a perfectly acceptable action flick, with some good special effects (the kind we take for granted these days) but it's not memorable.

Does anyone else think that Mr Cruise has a picture in the attic?

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Anyone can save the Galaxy once... so second time around Star Lord has some additional help from old foes who become new allies - Nebula, Yondu and Mantis. Add to that a delightful Baby Groot. (How can an animated twig be so appealing?) Of course the original team - Peter's family -  is still on board, Rocky, Gamora and Drax.

The opening sequesnce is merely a warm-up for the main tale as our hereoes battle the Abilisk - something that looks like a space octopus -  to protect some super-shiny batteries for their current employers, the Sovereigns (Nice cameo from Ben Browder in gold paint.) Of course they manage to upset the Sovereigns and after a space battle end up crash-landing on a planet where Peter Quill/Star Lord meets his father (Kurt Russell as Ego - the clue is in the name) and discovers he's half a god - unfortunately not the all-powerful half. In the process he learns more about the true meaning of family.

This is fun all the way with hijinx and mayhem plus some smart one liners. I found it just as enjoyable as the original. Highly recommended.

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Gemma Arterton plays Catrin Cole, a newly appointed script writer working on wartime propaganda films in the middle of London in the Blitz. The Ministry of Information wants a film that the public will relate to, so when Catrin finds a tale of two sisters who took part in the Dunkirk evacuation they jump on it as a possible storyline. Working with fellow writer Tom Buckley (Sam Claflin) and over-the-hill actor Ambrose Hilliard (Bill Nighy) they gradually pull it all together, though not everything goes their way. Catrin faces many challenges, personal and professional but succeeds. The overall tome of the movie is sweet.
jacey: (blue eyes)
Beauty & the beastA live action remake of Disney's animated Beauty and the beast, complete with talking household knick-knacks and singing furniture. Emma Watson apparently turned down LaLa Land and that was a very wise decision. Her singing is excellent and she makes a very fetching Belle. Kevin Kline is very sweet as her dad and Luke Evans takes the mickey out of himself beautifully as the self-absorbed Gaston. Dan Stevens is the Beast/Prince, but to be honest it's hard to tell how much is him and how much is CGI.

Yes, we all know the story, so no recap of that, except to say that the Beast gives Belle a whole library! Wow! Who cares what he looks like? He's a man with a library!

Yes, of course they all live happily ever after, even the kindly teapot (Emma Thompson), the annoying animated candlestick with the cod French accent (Ewan McGregor), and the stuffy old Ormolu clock (Ian McKellen). It's sweet and the singing is qualiity. Now if only I could get rid of this damned earworm.

Recommended.
jacey: (blue eyes)
Kong Skull IslandTom Hiddleston takes the weight of this film making a good action hero. A team of scientists go on an expedition to explore a hitherto uncharted island taking with them Hiddlestone as a jungle tracker, Brie Larson as a world-class photographer and a military flotilla of helicopters with a somewhat unstable commander. Of course, nothing goes according to plan. There are people on the island already - and the inevitable ape the size of a skyscraper who isn't the monster the military types suppose him to be. There's also a pilot who crashed there in World War Two who provides information and a boat (of sorts) when the mission turns into 'get out alive'. It's all a frothy bit of fun with explosions and dismemberments and the sort of thing you expect from a movie called Kong: Skull Island. Leave your critical brain at the door and collect it again on your way out.
jacey: (blue eyes)
LoganPossibly the best Logan outing of them all featuring Old Man Logan after the rest of the X-men are history. Logan (Hugh Jackman) is trying to live as unobtrusively as possible, working as a driver to support a ninety year old Charles Xavier, Professor X (Patrick Stewart), who is frail and liable to dangerous psi-fits if he's off his meds. Caliban (Stephen Merchant) is helping out as a babysitter. Logan calms Charles with stories of the boat they'll buy when they have enough money, but of course this is just a pipe dream.

Logan is essentially the gunslinger archetype, trying to hang up his six guns, and, of course, something happens to make him take one last X-shaped chance.  Following a shady breeding programme a bunch of mutant kids have escaped from custody, helped by their nurses who didn't want to see them put down like animals. Dafne Keen plays the child who is like Logan, claws and everything. (She's brilliant, by the way.)

Charles, not as senile as he sometimes appears to be, persuades Logan to help the child and thus begins Logan's (and Xavier's) last journey to take her to safety.

It's a thoughtful film, eschewing the flashy CGI super-hero mode for camera work that's more personal. This is a Logan who is more Logan than Wolverine. More human that super-hero. We all know he's going to suffer for his efforts, but that's OK because in the end Logan is going to do what he has to do, and do it well.

Highly recommended.
jacey: (blue eyes)
great_wallA couple of European mercenaries, journeying to China to find the secret of (or supplies of) black powder get embroled in a battle on the great wall to keep out creatures that rise every 60 years. Matt Damon plays William who finally finds a cause worth fighting for after many years of being a mercenary. It's a slight plot with lots of monster action and some breathtaking visuals. Despoite what I read in one review it's not 'white man shows the locals how to save themselves'. The locals are doing just fine on their own. Matt Damon is always worth watching so this was a good way to spend a wet Wednesday afternoon on the two-for-one deal.
jacey: (blue eyes)
No, I haven't--dropped off the face of the earth, I mean. I've been writing, and I'm just in the throes of finishing 'Nimbus' with the deadline rushing towards me like an oncoming train.. I will catch up with my booklogs and my film logs, just as soon as I've written The End, but in the meantime, these are the books that I need to log:

  1. Julia Quinn: And Offer from a Gentleman (Bridgertons #3)

  2. Lisa Shearin: Wedding Bells, Magic Spells (Raine Benares)

  3. Lisa Shearin: Treasure and Treason (A Raine Benares World novel)

  4. Nnedi Okorafor: Binti

  5. Nnedi Okorafor: Binti - Home

  6. Lisa Shearin: The Grendel Affair

  7. Ben Aaronovitch: Rivers of London (Peter Grant #1)

  8. Ben Aaronovitch: Moon Over Soho (Peter Grant #2)

  9. Ben Aaronovitch: Whispers Underground (Peter Grant #3)

  10. Ben Aaronovitch: Broken Homes (Peter Grant #4)

  11. Ben Aaronovitch: Foxglove Summer (Peter Grant #5)

  12. Ben Aaronovitch: The Hanging Tree (Peter Grant #6)

  13. Diana Gabaldon: I give you My Body

And the movies:


  1. Star Wars Rogue One (again)

  2. The Great Wall

  3. Logan

jacey: (blue eyes)

Hidden FiguresWe had to go to Sheffield to find a cinema showing this in an afternoon. (Wakefield, our usual venue) only had it on for one week in the evening.) It was worth the effort - well worth it. Based on the book by Margot Lee Shetterly, and starring Taraji P Henson as Katherine Johnson, Octavia Spencer as Dorothy Vaughan and Janelle Monae as Mary Jackson, this tells the true (more or less) story of three of the black women mathematicians (known as 'computers') who worked for NASA (pre electronic computers) and calculated the trajectories for the Americans first flights into space in the 1960s.

Great quote from the script:

KATHARINE JOHNSON: On any given day, I analyze the binomial levels air displacement, friction and velocity. And compute over ten thousand calculations by cosine, square root and lately analytic geometry. By hand. There are twenty, bright, highly capable negro women in the west computing group, and we're proud to be doing our part for the country. So yes, they let women do some things at NASA, Mr. Johnson. And it's not because we wear skirts. It's because we wear glasses.

Held back from senior positions by their gender and their colour these women eventually succeeded to become leaders in their field. It's easy to forget that the 1960s in America still had separate toilets and drinking fountains for 'coloureds', separate sections in the library, separate schools, and that racism was endemic with a kind of casual, unthinking cruelty that passed over the heads of white folks who believed they were enlightened, but who really weren't. This movie brings it all back:

Kudos to Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst and Jim Parsons for playing second fiddles so well in order to let the real story shine through.

Go and see this movie. You won't regret it.



jacey: (blue eyes)
SingAn animated movie from the creators of Despicable Me about a struggling theatre impressario in a city of humanoid animals, who dreams up a singing competition to bring in an audience and get his theatre out of a deep financial hole. From there we break out into the individual stories of the aspirants from Johnny (voiced by Taron Edgerton), the young gorilla  who doesn't want to be in his dad's gang of robbers to Meena (Tori Kelly), the shy young elephant and Rosita (Reese Witherspoon) the pretty but put-upon pig housewife and mum who is so thoroughly taken for granted by her husband and kids that they don't even notice she's not there as long as her chores are done. Told as a live action movie without the animal aspects this would still be a pretty neat story, but the animation is delightful.

Spoiled only by the mum who brought two children way too young and let the older of the two kick the back of our seats all the way through. Yes, it's a movie for children, but not exclusively so and the guidelines suggest age seven. No wonder the two and five year old kids were bored.
jacey: (blue eyes)
La La LandHonestly, if you want to see a 'good old Hollywood musical like they used to make, skip La La Land and buy a video of Singing in the rain instead. I'm not sure how LLL got all the hype - well, actually I am. Hollywood loves a self-referential movie. My cinebuddy H and I took a friend to cheer her up. Unfortunately I had to wake her up halfway through this as she was starting to snore. That's how riveting La La Land is. The singing is lacklustre, the songs both tiresomely repetitive and intantly forgettable at the same time. The story... well there isn't one really. Aspiring actress meets aspiring jazz musician. The ending? Somewhat downbeat, I thought. And it's about 30 minutes too long. Altogether it hasn't got much going for it. Kudos to Ryan Gosling's piano playing. They claim that the onscreen fingers are really his and that he learned jazz piano especially for the movie.
jacey: (blue eyes)
AssassinsCreedWith plot holes you could drive a bus through this game-to-movie outing featuring Michael Fassbender in a 'shirt-off' role is what it is. I don't play the game (or any games) so whether it will suit game players who already know this world remains to be seen, but as a one-off cinematic event the action fairly rips along. There is - as you would imagine - a lot of posing on rooftops, hand to hand fighting and a plot with Jeremy Irons (always worth watching) as the villain of the piece. There's a cameo by Charlotte Rampling, and I'm always reminded that someone once famed for her looks has matured to be a fearsome older woman. Of course she does only get cameo roles now, but she acts her socks off in them. Worth watching? Yes if relentless action is your thing.
jacey: (blue eyes)
PassengersNot what I expected at all, but enjoyable and interesting for all that, if a little low-key. When there is a glitch on board an automated passenger ship carrying five thousand cryo-passengers heading out to a colony, one passenger, Jim Preston (Chris Pratt), is woken up 90 years too early and has no means of resetting his cryo capsule. He has a whole luxury liner to himself, but his only companion is Arthur, a cybernetic bartender (an eerie Michael Sheen) unable to leave his place behind the bar. Eventually, after a year of loneliness, he gives in to the temptation to wake another passenger, Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence), a writer. He thinks he knows her after reading her writing, and believes that they will be soulmates.

It all goes well at first, though of course he hasn't told her that he's deliberately woken her... but then the ship starts to glitch a little and then seriously malfunction. A third person wakes, luckily, this time, a crew member. The three of them have to save the ship...

But that's not everything - the chatty android bartender has let slip Jim's big secret to Aurora, i.e. that he woke her deliberately and scuppered her life plans

This is as much a study of the effects of loneliness and a relationship which progresses in extreme isolation. It could be set in any closed environment, but having to save the ship adds a touch of drama  and tension to the otherwise fairly static plot.
jacey: (blue eyes)
Rogue OneRogue One - very enjoyable. In the space battles they used archive footage of Red Leader and Gold Leader from the original Star Wars Movie, which was great for continuity. Some interesting CGI to create supporting characters from the right time period. (Actors long since gone!) Some of it (Peter Cushing) was a bit 'uncanny valley' but largely it worked. There's been a lot of online discussion about whether they should simply have recast characters like Tarkin, with opinion divided. I didn't mind the CGI. The whole thing was visually excellent, of course, and there's a new robot K-2SO voiced by Alan Tudyk. The plot held together reasonably well. It's a standalone story set just before the events in A New Hope, in which our heroes go after the plans for the Death Star. This is a one-off story, with one-off main characters. We kinda knew how it would go from knowing the status at the beginning of  A New Hope, so no complaints from me on that score. The ending was wholly appropriate and bringing in a fravourite character at the end was a great 'lifter'. Felicity Jones is good as Jyn Erso. Only complaint, why have two actors who looked so physically similar? I'm not that good with facial recognition and it took me a while to sort out Bodhi (Riz Ahmed) and Cassian (Diego Luna) in the early scenes.

I write this on 27th December, the day that Carrie Fisher's death has been announced. RIP Princess Leia. Taken far too young.
jacey: (blue eyes)
Fantastic_BeastsRight off the bat I'll say that Eddie Redmayne is not generally an actor I'd pay to watch just because it's him, but he makes a pretty good stab at the deferential Newt Scamander, champion of strange magical creatures. Newt arrives in New York with a suitcase full of magical beasts. (Yes, like hermione's handbag, Newt's suitcase holds a veritable zoo.) Unfortunately the American magicians are a bit uptight about magical beasts - in fact they've more or less banned them altogether. So when one of newt's beasts escapes he's immediately arrested by Demoted Auror, Tina Goldstein. At the offices of the Magical Gongress of the USA (MACUSA) we encounter senior auror Percival Graves who dismisses Tina out of hand. Back at Tina's aprtment with  a no-maj (and American Muggle) more beasts escape and the hunt is on. This is all complicated by Mary Lou Barebone, the head of the New Salem Philanthropic Society, who claims that witches and wizards are real and dangerous, and something with an incrdible amout of power that seems to be wreaking havoc. Graves is after the power. Newt is after the creatures. It all gets terribly complicated, but, of course, is sorted in the end. And the ending ties in to what we know of a certain magician whose name was linked with Albus Dumbledore's darker past.

There's a lot riding on this film. A Harry Potter spin off without Hogwarts and without the Boy Wizard. Can the franchise reboot itself? It largely carries it off, and Potter fans who've been with the Potterverse from the beginning will not mind the darker tone. Does it succeed? Mostly. Yes, though I think it might be easily forgotten unless there's going to be a whole string of Fantastic Beast movies or further Potterverse spinoffs. (Which seems likely.)
jacey: (blue eyes)
ArrivalThis movie got good reviews. It was labelled as 'cerebral', which closely translated into my understanding means 'no car chases'. That indeed is the case. There are no car chases (thank goodness) but plenty of tension. When twelve alien ships hang in the air over various points around the earth, twelve different governments rush to get their best translators on the job of 'talking' with the aliens, despite them having nothing in common on which to base language. It's an interesting problem. Linguistics professor Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is called in, alongside physicist/mathematician Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner). Based on Ted Chiang’s 1998 short story “Story of Your Life” this is a smart and thoughtful movie, upping the stakes as other nations' interactions with their alien vessels are conducted with varying degrees of success (or failure). Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner are well cast. There is some wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey stuff going on which only makes sense in retrospect. I thought there was a big plot-hole and then I had a lovely ah-ha moment. Recommended.
jacey: (blue eyes)
Dr StrangeI loved this! I'm not a comics reader, so I went into it with no preconceptions at all, and nothing to compare it against. It's an origin story - starting us off down another tributary which will eventually join up with the big river that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This time it's an earthly superhero who taps into magic. That works for me.

The visuals are great. Stephen Strange's transformation works. He goes from brilliant, but arrogant surgeon, to broken man, to someone with a deeper understanding of the supernatural world and a new direction in life. When Strange's hands are almost destroyed in a completely avoidable car crash, modern medicine fails him. A surgeon without his hands is nothing, so he goes searching for alternative therapies, ending up in Nepal being taught by the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton at her bald best) to tap into magical energy. Chiwetel Ejiofor has a strong supporting role as Mordo and Benedict Wong (as Wong) adds a dash of welcome humour. But, of course, Benedict Cumberbatch is the show's star and he makes an appealing Strange. I'm not a Cumberbatch fangirl, but he's a good actor, well-cast.

Having been introduced to the world of sorcery, Strange has to decide where his path lies, when Kaecilius, a renegade former disciple of the Ancient One, makes a bid for world domination. That kind of thing rarely ends well when there's a superhero-in-the-making around.

Highly recommended.
jacey: (blue eyes)
Girl with All the GiftsI was going to read the book (by M.R. Carey) until a friend put me off by saying he thought the book was mostly great but he didn't like the ending. I don't know if the film followed the book closely, so you'll have to tell me whether it's the same ending if you've seen/read both.

I wouldn't normally go for zombie movies, but this isn't a normal zombie movie.

In a dystopian near future a fungus has infected a large proportion of the population turning them into flesh-eating, slow moving zombies. A group of children have been infected, but they still have intelligence and can control their bloodlust to a certain extent. Melanie is one such child, living in a government research facility where Dr Caldwell (Glenn Close), a research scientist, is conducting experiments on them, trying to find a cure. Gemma Arterton is Miss Justineau, Melanie's sympathetic teacher and the only person who treats the child as an individual to be nurtured. Colm McCarthy directs.

When the situation outside the compound gets worse as the 'hungries' overrun the uninfected, Miss Justineau, Melanie, Dr. Caldwell, Sgt Eddie Parks (Paddy Considine) and squaddie Kieran Gallagher (Fisayo Akinade) go on the run in a world filled with people who only see them as a meal. Melanie, polite, intelligent, caring, yet terrifying, is the only one who can bridge the gap between the zombies and the unaffected humans. More clues than that would plunge this into spoiler territory. There aren't a whole raft of CGI effects, and it's not all thrill, spills and excitement - though there is action and tension. It does well with what's probably a smallish budget. Some of the aerial footage was shot by a second unit in the ghost town of Prypjat, near Chernobyl, in the Ukraine, so if the post-apocalyptic imagery looks realistic, it is. (Thgough some was also shot in Birmingham, so what does that say?) Though it's not exactly a fun movie, it is interesting and worth watching. Sennia Nanua plays Melanie in a nuanced performance that bodes very well for her acting future. The film takes the zombie theme and does something different with it, driving it to a different conclusion than the one we might expect.
jacey: (blue eyes)
Bridget Jones babyBridget is now 43 and once more living the single (and more-or-less celibate) life. She's a successful news producer by day, and a couch potato by night... until she's dragged to a music festival and after promising to shag the first man she meets, does just that. Luckily the shagee is Jack (Patric Dempsey). Just a week or two afterwards she meets old flame Mark (Colin Firth) who is on the verge of getting a divorce from his wife. More shagging ensues.

So, knowing the title of the film, you can see where this is going. Bridget is pregnant, but which one of the two gorgeous men in her life is the daddy and how is she going to explain to each one of them exactly what the situation is. There's a great love triangle vibe with stuffy, uptight Mark and easygoing, freewheeling Jack each vying for paternal recognition. There a hilarious dash (or not) to the hospital when the time comes.

Renee Zelweger is brilliant as Bridget, but Emma Thompson as the obstetrician easily steals every scene she's in. Very enjoyable.
jacey: (blue eyes)
miss-peregrines-homeVisually stunning (with a lot of CGI), this is a Tim Burton movie about time loops, strange children and scary monsters. Jake (Asa Butterfield) has grown up on his Grandpa's (Terence Stamp) stories about his life fighting monsters wothout actually giving any of it much credence, until his grandfather is murdered by a monster that only Jake has seen.  He goes in search of the orphanage (on an island off the coast of Wales), and finds the ruin of the Victorian Gothic house, bombed during the Second World War... or was it? Jake finds the time loop and is introduced to Miss Peregrine (Eva Green) and the peculiar children with a variety of talents (not all of them useful). He also discovers that the monsters are real.

I felt as though this was a movie I should love. It's quirky and imaginative but somehow Jake should be the emotional centre of the movie, and he isn't. I'm not sure whether to put it down to the director or to Butterfield himself, but he simply doesn't cut it. There's an excellent turn from Terence Stamp as Grandpa Abe and a brief appearance by Judi Dench (always good value) but the children themselves are a bit underdeveloped, character-wise. It's not a movie that's going to stick in my mind for very long.

It scores bonus points for having Blackpool (and Blackpool Tower) as one of the settings.
jacey: (blue eyes)
Swallows-And-Amazons-posterWhat can I say about this? Well, I expected it to be a nostalgic trip back to the type of books I read in my childhood (though I admit I never read this one). Sadly it wasn't enough to hold my attention. I have to say that my enjoyment of this was severely curtailed by the audience. Why on earth someone would think it was a suitable movie for a two year old I have no idea, but said two year old was then allowed to run up and down the aisle for the duration. Couple that with a fidgety family kicking my seat at frequent intervals and I may not have been in the most receptive of moods. Yes, I know you can expect children in the audience at a children's film during the school holidays, but is a certain level of good behaviour (from the parents) too much to ask? Am I just a grumpy old git?

Ok, back to the movie... Setting: the Lake District. Time period: 1930s/40s (unspecific, but the book was written in the 30s). The Walker children (the Swallows) are given permission to camp on an island in the middle of a lake. When they get there, they have to battle against a pair of local girls (the Amazons) for control of the island. There's no health and safety rubbish, just four kids in a boat squabbling like kids do until you want to bang their precious little heads together. The book character Titty has been coyly turned into Tatty for obvious reasons. There's a 39-Steps type spy drama grafted on to the original, but I'm not sure it rescues the film. Pity.
jacey: (blue eyes)
Petes DragonIt's that time of year again. Most of the new movies are kiddie films. Thankfully Pete's Dragon was better by miles than last week's offering: Suicide Squad. I didn't see the original cartoon version of Pete's Dragon, so no comparisons. This was live action with a CGI dragon featuring Bryce Dallas Howard, Robert Redford, Karl Urban and Wes Bentley in the adult roles and a very cute Oakes Fegley as Pete. You probably know the story. Small child is orphaned by a car accident wonders into the forest and is looked after by a dragon (whom the child names Elliott). Six years later the child is found and the dragon revealed (to a timber cutting crew) whereupon unsympathetic adult (Karl Urban) captures the dragon and sympathetic adults help Pete to release him.
Pete's Dragon 2
Robert Redford continues to be magnetic on screen despite wrinkles. Oakes Fegley, as Pete was supposed to be ten years old but looked about seven. (His bio doesn't give a definitive age, but he was approximately nine or ten at the time of filming. For a child of that age he has an impressive acting resumee already.

The dragon was a bit... lumpy and it had fur. Was that to make it less scary for kids or with a view to marketing plush toys?

Your kids might well enjoy it. The car crash at the beginning in which Pete was orphaned, was sensitively handled. No blood, no dead bodies and a quick move to 'six years later'.
jacey: (blue eyes)
Suicide SquadThe trailer looked quirkily amusing with plenty of action and a cast of interesting characters. How wrong can one trailer be? Yes there was a plot (as much as there is ever a plot in this type of movie) which involved a lot of action (expected) but the pacing was off. There was way too much character set-up, way too little chartacter development and everything was deadpan straight. The whole thing just felt like a joyless mishmash.

Honourable mentions go to Viola Davis as Amanda Waller; Jay Hernandez as Diablo, Will Smith as Deadshot and Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn for making the most of a lame duck. H and I got the Meerkat two-for-one ticket deal and I still felt as though we'd been robbed.

Avoid.
jacey: (blue eyes)
Jason BourneMore of the same from the Bourne franchise. It's ten years since Matt Damon's last appearance as Bourne. Now we're on a post-Snowden/post Wiki-Leaks era, and technology has given the CIA the ability to sit in a room in Virginia and track Bourne and his associates in real time through Athens, Rome, London and Las Vegas. In the ten years since we last saw him Bourne appears to have been making his living as a bareknuckle fighter. When an old colleague looks him up to offer information Bourne is drawn back into conflict with the Agency.

There's a lot of fast camera work as Bourne goes through several chase sequences (the last one being about three years too long) and the final fight with 'The Asset' is fast, blurry and confusing, but all in all it's an entertaining couple of hours.

Matt Damon's looking good for 45. Alicia Vikander succeeds in walking a line between symapothy and ruthlessness. Tommy Lee Jones is... Tommy Lee Jones (but that's OK).

The big question is: did it move Bourne's story forward? Considering a lot of this is about backstory Bourne (or David Webb as his real name was) and his father, then it's not a story with a lot of forward momentum, even though it has a lot of fast action.
jacey: (blue eyes)
Star Trek BeyondH and I have been so looking forward to this for months, and we were not disappointed. H thought it was possibly the best of the three ST reboots so far. maybe I wouldn't go that far, but I did enjoy it. The Enterprise is three years into her five year mission, with both Kirk and Spock starting to wonder if they need a new direction. When they stop over at Yorktown, a massive Federation city in space they get involved in answering a distress call that leads them into a nebula to rescue shipwreck survivors. It's a trap. Enterprise is attacked by a swarm of ships and the survivors end up on the planet Altamid where Krall has enslaved a variety of survivors (from the Enterprise and various other wrecks). The Enterprise crew is split up: Scotty is recued by a loner called Jaylah (who has escaped imprisonment by Krall and is repurposing a crashed federation ship); Spock and McCoy have adventures with emergency surgery; Sulu and Uhura are enslaved, and Kirk, Chekov and the somewhat devious Kalara end up together. It takes all of them to beat the forces ranged against them. Star Trek works best when the ensemble cast comes into full play as it does here.

There's lots to like, good action, fine effects, a more or less logical story and some character development. All the main actors turn in good performances, especially Simon Pegg who has some good snarky lines with Jaylah. (Pegg co-wrote the script, so perhaps not surprising that Scotty plays a pivotal role.) Sofia Boutella is great as Jaylah. Chris Pine's Kirk seems to be growing into his role as captain.

Sadly, during production, the film saw the passing of Leonard Nimoy (probably while the film was still in pre-production) and Anton Yelchin (just before the film opened). Nimoy's passing was acknowledged with the 'death' of original timeline Spock on New Vulcan (which affected new-timeline Spock). and both actors were acknowledged in the credits. The film is dedicated to the memory of both Leonard Nimoy (“In loving memory of Leonard Nimoy”) and Anton Yelchin (“For Anton”).
jacey: (blue eyes)
GhostbustersThis week has been busy at the cinema and because we know we'll be seeing Star Trek next week, we did two consecutive days at the movies this week with Tarzan and Ghistbusters (and we still haven't seen 'Now You See Me 2').

So... Ghostbusters.

A remake with plenty of nods in the direction of the original movie. This Ghostbusters has an all-female team with Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones sitting easily in the lead roles. (I don't always like Melissa McCarthy in movies, but I did here.) Two physicists, an engineer and a native New Yorker are pitted against creepy Rowan (Neil Casey) and a hoard of vengeful ghosts. There's a lot here that's familiar (proton packs and slime) and a lot of nods to the original movie including cameo appearances by all the major (surviving) stars.

It's good-hearted and downright funny in places with plenty of euwww-slime moments. In itself that's not enough to sustain the humour, but Chris Hemsworth, playing against type as the dumb beefcake receptionist (Clark Kent strippogram!) who can barely answer the phone adds charm. In fact he gives a very creditable performance.

Expect lots of pop-culture references as the ladies 'go for the ghoulies' and enjoy this movie for what it is - a summer popcorn flick. It's never going to replace the original and it certainly can't deliver any real surprises, but it was a fun way to spend Wednesday afternoon and - hey - the cinema has air conditioning! Sit through the credits, because there's an easter-egg right at the end.
jacey: (blue eyes)
X-men ApocalypseFor some reason I missed blogging this back in May, so in the interests of providing a full and complete record, here it is, now, except...errr... it's a couple of months since I saw it and...it hasn't left much of a lasting impression. So that says something for starters. What does stand out is an interesting personal story for Eric (Magneto) who is incogneto Magneto working in a factory in Poland. When his wife and daughter are killed it turns him to the dark side (oops wrong movie, but you know what I mean). Michael Fassbender is once again, top-notch as Magneto. We also get to see the transition of Xavier from hirsute to egg-head. I still can't quite get my head around James McAvoy as a young Patrick Stewart, but - hey - that's my problem, not his. It was nice to see Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark in Game of Thrones) kicking arse as a young Jean Grey and Evan Peters did a decent turn at Quicksilver.

Apocalypse is a god-like entity, not an event, BTW, and it takes all the X-Men working together to stop him. There are a few twists and turns along the way, but any more an that would be a spoiler. What the movie gains in action it generally loses in characterisation. This followed on from the other X-Men prequels but it falls into the more-of-the-same-but -different category. There was nothng earth-shatteringly new in here.
jacey: (blue eyes)
TarzanJohn Clayton (Alexander Skarsgard) is settled in England, married to Jane and seems to be well adjusted coinsidering he grew up wild in the jungle. Backstory in interspersed with the ongoing film plot which revolves around Belgian agent, Leon Rom (Christoph Waltz - everyone's favourite villain lately) luring Clayton back to Africa to the tribal chief who wants to kill him. Accompanied by American George Washington Williams (Samuel L Jackson), the Claytons soon discover a wicked plot to enslave the whole of the Congo for its diamonds and ivory.

Sadly Skarsgard is muscular but unremarkable, and Samuel L Jackson seems out of place as the token representitive of the American government, though Margot Robbie impresses prettily as Jane. There are some strange editing leaps. Journeys that are not only over in a flash, but are chopped out altogether leaving logic holes. This is more noticeable towards the end of the movie, as if they're trying to reduce screen time - though it didn't seem overly long even at 1 hr 50 mins. There are some action sequences athat are so impossible they are more reminicent of animation than live action.
jacey: (blue eyes)
Independence Day ResurgenceQuite by chance I saw the original Independence day on TV just a few days before going to see Resurgence at the cinema, so I had the original movie firmly fixed in my brain with it's starry ensemble cast. Very pleased to see most of that cast reprising their roles. i can only speculate that Will Smith didn't want to play himself twenty years on, but everyone else aged relkatively gracefully, especially Goldblum and Pullman.

For anyone who'd had their head in the sand the original Independence Day saw our heroes fighting off all powerful alens by blowing up the mother ship from the inside in a suicide mission that didn't kill off the heroes. Now, a generation down the line mankind had been scavenging and using alien tech in an effort to beat them at their own game next time. Of course, Resurgence is the story of Next Time. The aliens are back, and they've had twenty years to get ready, too.

This time our hotshot heroes are the next generation, sons of the original heroes: Liam Hemsworth (Gale in the Hunger Games and brother of Chris) acquits himself well as Jake Morrison, the young pilot who has a problem with authority and Jessie T Usher as Dylan Hiller, the golden boy of flight school, son of the character played by Will Smith in the original. Jeff Goldblum reprises David Levinson, the scientist who is now in charge of preparing for the next time and Judd Hirsch, once again the comic relief, is his aging father. Brent Spiner reprises Dr Okun (no it appears he wasn't killed in the original; he's been in a coma for 20 years).

There are absolutely no surprises. This is pure hokum, but it's entertaining hokum. Don't expect any Oscar nominations for this one.
jacey: (blue eyes)
Capt America Civil WarI read a review that called this movie: the single most complex, thematically and ideologically chewy movie Marvel have produced to date, and that's pretty much on the nose. Despite being a Captain America title this is really an Avengers movie featuring an ideological split between those Avengers who agree that the UN should have oversight and those who believe that the Avengers themselves are in the best position to decide when superhero action is required. Leading the opposing forces are Captain America and Iron Man, friends who find themselves on opposite sides.

When the team tries to take down a villain there are civilian deaths, collateral damage. On top of the massive death-toll in Age of Ultron - which Stark still feels responsible for (in that he created Ultron, albeit unwittingly) - Iron Man, seemingly against type, agrees to the Sokovia Accords, accepting oversight. Steve Rogers, seemingly against type, because as an ex military man you would expect him to accept the chain of command, refuses to sign. Possibly he would have done it anyway, but when his friend Bucky's life is on the line he barely hesitates.

Each one of them takes superheroes with them, for and against the accord. Black Widow, War Machine, Vision and (introducing) Spiderman are with Iron Man while Cap has not only Bucky, but Falcon, Hawkeye, Ant Man and the Scarlet Witch. The Black Panther (also newly introduced) is on his own side for much of the action.

The action sequences are suitably... err... active - though there is some annoying 'shaky-cam'. I'm glad I didn't see it in 3D. Where this film wins out is in its characterisation. It's not really a Captain America and Iron Man movie, it's a Steve Rogers and Tony Stark movie. Each is affected by the past, from their childhood to the recent movie adventures.
jacey: (blue eyes)
Jungle Book 2016My friend H and I agreed to disagree over this version of Jungle Book. I thought it seemed over-long, dragging in the middle section - H didn't. That apart, we both agreed that it's a visual treat. The CGI and live action is seamless. Once again a Brit voices the bad guy, with Idris Elba's version of Shere Khan bringing a chilling menace to the part. Neel Sethi is the only live actor, playing Mowgli very well, though I wasn't too sure about the American accent at first, though I quickly ceased to notice it.

One oddity is the use of music from the animated (classic) Jungle book, though not in quite the same format. Homage? Re-tread? I'm not sure, but I don't think it was necessary to reintroduce I wanna Be Like You and Bear Neccessities - it just served to highlight the fact that this was Jungle Book with all the cartoon humour removed. There's no reason why a darker, more narrative Jungle Book  isn't equally valid, of course, in which case why the songs?

SabuBut song choices apart, the climax of this was gripping and really well done.

It's a long time since I've seen the original Jungle Book Movie with Sabu (right) as Mowgli. I'd like to see it again for comparison's sake. All live action, of course in 1942.
jacey: (blue eyes)
Eddie the EagleI don't remember too much about Eddie Edwards, Eddie the Eagle, in the Calgary Winter Olympics of 1988 except that for a short time he was a phenomenon, loved for coming last, for just being there and competing, the only British ski-jumper in the Olympics. The film lived up to the trailer's promise. It's a piece with tremendously good heart. Taron Egerton plays the misfit Eddie joyously as he overcomes all obstacles just to compete. His life's ambition to be an olympian, finally realised with the (fictional) help of alcohol-fuelled former ski-jumper Peary, generously played by Hugh Jackman. This unlikely 'odd couple' succeed in coming last, but that's not the point. The point is that Eddie, despite all odds, competes because he's willing to take the knocks and get up every time he falls down. It's the underdog story that was a sensation (briefly). The Olympic committee later changed the rules to make sure that no independents of Eddie's like would ever again be able to compete in the Olympics. Sad that.
jacey: (blue eyes)
HuntsmanBoth a prequel and a sequel, this movie wraps itself around Snow White and the Huntsman, made better by the lack of Snow White, who is not on screen. It's a kind of grown up 'Frozen' with two sisters, each with different magical powers. Ravenna is the evil queen from Snow White, not quite as dead as we thought. Her sister, Freya, horribly betrayed by her lover, turns out to have ice magic. She runs off and sets up her own kingdom (queendom?) harvesting children and turning them into warriors to be her army.

And that's where Eric, the Huntsman, comes in. He's one of Freya's children - along with Sarah, fellow warrior, whom he eventually falls for. They are separated and, believeing her to be dead, he goes off, gets drunk and the whole of the Snow White movie happens. And then there's the aftermath when Ravenna and Freya meet and eventually clash - with Eric and four dwarves caught in the middle.

I'm trying not to give away too many spoilers. Chris Hemsworth is suitably rugged as The Huntsman. Charlize Theron reprises her role as Ranvenna. Sheridan Smith, Rob Brydon, Nick Frost and Alexandra Roach play the short-stature parts. Sheridan Smith and Rob Brydon are particularly good.

While it won't set the world on fire, it was an entertaining Wednesday afternoon, slightly better than its predecessor.
jacey: (blue eyes)
batman_vs_supermanWhat can I say? This movie has received auch a lot of hype coupled with abuse, that it's difficult to take it at face value. There was a lot wrong with it, but overall I wasn't bored and it worked on some levels. It wasn't as bad as I feared, but it was certainly not as good as I'd hoped. Unfortuantely it was a mishmas of a mashup.

Yes, it covered the making of Batman yet again as the Wayne parents were killed in an alley and young Master Bruce, traumatised by bats, was left in the care of Alfred, this time played by the delightful Jeremy Irons (bonus), who is hardly the typical butler. Ben Affleck makes a surprisingly decent Batman, though I still can't take to Henry Cavill as Superman, but then I'm of the Christopher Reeve generation and no one will ever better that.

Despite the fact that it's Batman versus Superman, there's only one actual fight and the rest is Lex Luthor playing the psychology game, making sure that the two of them are ready to fight each other. It all starts to improve when Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) turns up

There are one or two weird things going on. Clarke and Lois are obviously in a physical relationship, and she's well aware of his 'secret.' Re the imbalance between human physiology and the Kryptonian physiology, I'm not quite sure how Lois has survived nights of passion. Read Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex by Larry Niven for more speculation about Superman's sex life.

So if I've read this movie right, its the set-up for the Justice League movie
jacey: (blue eyes)
Hail CaesarIt's the 1950s. Hollywood superstar Baird Whitlock (George Clooney at his bewildered best) is kidnapped in the middle of filming a blockbuster movie about a Roman centurion who finds God. It's up to studio fixer Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) to find him while juggling smaller dramas happening on other movie sets at Capitol Pictures. Brolin is the heart of this movie but there are excellent performances from the aforementioned Clooney, and from Ralph Fiennes as camp director Laurence Laurentz. I'm not usually fond of Fiennes but he has a superbly light touch with comedy.  Alden Ehrenreich, playing contract singing-cowboy actor Hobie Doyle, whose normal repertoire consists of 'Howdy', is delightful when dropped into a movie part that's way beyond him. There are subplots involving Scarlett Johansson as an Esther Williams style swimming star, Tilda Swinton playing a set of rival gossip columnist twins, and Channing Tatum in an all-male song-and-dance set-piece that could be straight out of a Gene Kelly movie.

No slapstick, but lots of smiles. This is, after all, a Coen Brothers film which sends up Hollywood, the fifties, and itself at the same time. Highly recommended.
jacey: (blue eyes)
Zoolander2Don't, just don't. Go and see anything else.

I enjoyed Zoolander on some level. Sure it was corny and more than a bit bonkers, but it was basically good hearted. They should have left it at one. There were one or two laughs in this as Derek Zoolander dragged himself out of retirement and back into the limelight of the modelling world, but most of it was groanworthy, and not in a good way. It was full of gratuitous appearances by stars appearing as themselves. Only Sting had a part to play.

I'd tell you the plot but... life's too short. Though it does start with the murder of Justin Bieber. Make what you wish of that.

I'm really pleased we did Meerkat Movies and didn't pay full price for this.
jacey: (blue eyes)
DeadpoolWe've missed several weeks at the cinema. There's been little to attract us for almost a month, but this week we thought we'd give Deadpool a go.

Starting in the middle and covering the origin of Deadpool in flashback, this is a riot of action, quips, gore and bad language. Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) is a former Special Forces operative with a twisted sense of humour who's been hiring out as a mercenary.He gets into a relationship (Morena Baccarin looking even younger than she did in Firefly) but his world comes crashing down when he's diagnosed with terminal cancer. To save his life he signs up to a programme to create super-soldiers, finding out too late that it involves being tortured by evil scientist Ajax (Ed Skrein). He's left disfigured, but invulnerable. Believing he can't go back to his girlfriend he hunts Ajax to get revenge. With help from mutant allies Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand), Deadpool uses his new skills to hunt down the man who nearly destroyed his life, but Ajax is hunting him, too.

Taken at face value this is tongue-in-cheek fun, taking time to laugh at itself, but it's neither deep nor meaningful. Worth a trip to the cinema on a wet Wednesday afternoon.
jacey: (blue eyes)
In_the_Heart_of_the_Sea_posterThe story of the account on which Melville based his classic story of Moby Dick. A man-against-nature movie with both the sea and a great white whale batting for nature while on the man team is Chris Hemsworth, Cillian Murphy, Ben Wishaw, Benjamin Walker and Tom Holland batting for the crew of the New England whaling ship the Essex. The story itself is bookended in 1850 by Melville (Wishaw) hunting down the last survivor of the Essex, sunk thirty years before in 1820, to get the true account. And get it he does, in all its gory detail.

The tale describes a voyage already fraught because the first mate, Owen Chase, (Hemsworth) has been passed over for captaincy of the Essex in favour of an inexperienced but well connected George Pollard (Walker). The two are at odds almost at once and this continues through months of finding no whales.

Eventually they head hundreds of miles out to sea in the pacific in search of fabled whaling grounds and that's where their troubles really start. The white whale is a tenacious enemy and this is the story of how they (some of them at any rate) survive.

It's beautifully filmed. The whaling sequences are truly awful, sparing no detail of his the creatures were hacked to pieces and boiled for their oil - a valuable commodity used to light streets and homes. Ron Howard directs and the pace is tense. It had me riveted. Apparently it received mixed reviews, but I'd recommend it.
jacey: (blue eyes)
Victor FrankensteinYou might think that the Frankenstein story has been mined out over the years, but this time the film industry has come up with Victor meets Igor, It's not quite a porequel because it does see the story through to the end, but much emphasis is put on Frankenstein rescuing the downtrodden hunchback, Igor, (Daniel Radcliffe) from a desperately bad life as a circus freak, hence Igor's devotion to Frankenstein despite his better judgement.

Radcliffe is a surprisingly effective Igor, particularly in the circus scenes. James McAvoy is the driven (and quite bonkers) Victor. The story does have a different take on the story and was well worth watching on a wet Wednesday afternoon on the Meerkat Movies two-for-one offer.
jacey: (blue eyes)
Mockingjay Pt 2I was only half looking forward to this. I enjoyed the first two films (and the first two books), but Mockingjay Part One suffered from being the movie of the first half of the final book in the trilogy, depicting the period where Katniss, suffering from PTSD, has no agency. Frankly her agency is limited for part of this movie, too, until she takes it back in the final moments in an act which is flagged up so heavily that it comes as no surprise,

There's no doubt that the acting is excellent (particularly Jennifer Lawrence, but also the supporting cast) and the cinematography/world-building well realised, but oh how I wish they'd not succumbed to splitting the last book. One movie would have been quite sufficient.
jacey: (blue eyes)
PanHow can something that is a visual delight be so boring? Pan has everything going for it - including Hugh Jackman as Blackbeard, the villain - but manages to miss the mark by a mile. I'd read bad reviews. I should have believed them.

Okay, it's not all bad news. Levi Miller is an effective lead as Peter Pan and largely holds the movie together. Garrett Hedlund is an engaging Hook (who has not yet lost his hand and fallen out with Peter), though he plays it straight out of the Star Wars book with so many Han Solo momentds that you almost wonder which film you're watching. Rooney Mara is a very cute Tiger Lily and gets some pretty cool swashbuckling action scenes. Sadly Hugh Jackman plays Blackbeard as if he were in pantomime. Very occasionally there's an 'acting' moment, and you see a real person behind the character, but I suspect the director kept him firmly two-dimensional because this is certainly not his usual standard of acting. It has to be deliberate.

There's some good CGI with flying three-masted sailing ships, and one or two slightly tacky moments, but mostly the visuals are good, if a little 'Avatar' on occasions. I'm deeply relieved that we saw the 2D version, however.

What lets the whole thing down? Poor script and lacklustre direction/editing. It takes a long time to make its point and to get from event to event. On the whole, I spent the last half of the movie checking my watch because I'd seen enough by that time.

Do yourself a favour, go and see The Martian instead.
jacey: (blue eyes)
MartianFor various reasons we missed a few weeks of regular cinemagoing, so were delighted to be able to see The Martian last Wednesday. I'd heard good things about it and - thenkfully - they were all true. Great plot tension, absorbing problem solving and an engrossing storyline on Mars and the parallel story on Earth with the NASA crew.

And (bonus) Sean Bean didn't die!

By now most people know the basic theme. Astronaut is left for dead on Mars when the crew has to abandon the base due to a storm that's threatening to destroy their ride back home, but astronaut (Matt Damon) survives and then has the problem of keeping himself alive until a) more supplies can be delivered or b) a rescue team arrives.

I am informed by my friends who know more about the science than I do that the science in this is plausible, which is gratifying, but also the storytelling is excellent. It's a man-against-the-environment story told with an interesting 'voice'. While Matt Damon's character is sciencing the shit out of his situation, the NASA crew are working out ways to bring him home. Disagreements surface and are dealt with - one way or another - which leads to a dramatic rescue attempt thanks to the cooperation of the Chinese.

Matt Damon is an effective lead. The Martian landscapes are beautifully realised. Visually satisfying.

Highly recommended.
jacey: (blue eyes)
Scorch TrialsWhat a mess this movie is. I saw Maze Runner, but still spent the first half hour of this wondering what the hell was happening. I hope the book has more clarity. I suspect it does.

Visually it has some good outdoor settings, though it retreats to the obligatory derelict factory for a fair bit of the movie. And when will moviemakers read the Evil Overlord list? In particular the point that it makes: "When I am Evil Overlord I will not have air ducts big enough for a perspn to crawl through."

Plotwise, the kids who escaped the Maze in the first movie (all boys except for Teresa) now have a new set of trials to face. The good guys who rescued them at the end of the Maze Runner turn out not to be so good after all and they have to go on the run into the scorch - the wasteland peopled by zombie-like victims of a plague to which our kids are immune and therefore very valuable (biologically).

Aidan Gillen (Littlefinger from Game of Thrones) plays the chief bad guy, channelling Gary Oldman. The lead character, Thomas is played by Dylan O'Brien and Teresa is played by Kaya Scodelario who looks like a bland version of Evangeline Lilly (who I like). Sadly, neither actor is memorable or even particularly noticeable. Thomas Brodie Sangster (Game of Thrones, Wolf Hall) is a more interesting actor, but gets little to do here, though the little he does, he does well. Sangster could probably have played the lead in this with one brain cell tied behind his back. Ditto Rosa Salazar as Brenda. Hopefully she'll be in the third movie in the trilogy (Please, gods, I hope they don't make the last book into two!)

In the current trio of teens-against-dystopia trilogies/quartets: Hunger Games, Divergent/Insurgent and Maze Runner, Maze Runner comes a very poor third. Pity because i would have so liked to like it.

The only upside was that the set of trailers they showed with this bodes well for the rest of the year: Star Wars (yay!) Bond - Spectre, Pan, The Martian and Mockingjay. in particular I've been waiting for the theatreical trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Hopefully Disney has done it justice and we can all forget about Episodes 1, 2 and 3 and reset to 4, 5 and 6 (i.e. the original three) and beyond.
jacey: (blue eyes)
HeroWhat a delight this movie is - well worth its Oscar. I'd seen a few mixed reviews, but today is the last Orange Wednesday, so there was no way H and I were going to miss our cinema trip. With Fifty Shades of Domestic Abuse showing there really wan't much choice, so Big Hero 6 it was, and it would have been a shame to miss it. Funny and serious in turns the manga/anime style is attractive without being over-exaggerated and the setting (a Japanese version of San Francisco) works well. The story is tight, the characters appealing and the moral is obvious without being heavy.

Ostensibly it's about the bond that develops between robotics prodigy Hiro Hamada and blimpish inflatable robot Baymax, a medical robot created by his dead brother, but it's about much more than that. It's about the effects of loss, the emptiness of revenge, and the value of friendship (and also the value of nerdship).

After the death of his bother Tadashi in a fire, Hiro is rescued spiritually (and often physically) by Tadashi's robot creation Baymax, and Tadashi's nerd-college friends, as he investigates the fact that the fire may not have been an accident after all.

Highly recommended.
jacey: (blue eyes)
JupiterThis is a film that poses one huge question: how will Sean Bean die?

I read a couple of bad reviews of this which almost put me off going, but that would have been a pity because although it's fluff, it's entertaining fluff with gorgeous visuals and a sequenmce of events (maybe i won't call it as plot) that fairly zip along. The bad review complained of the plot being hackneyed - poor earth girl, Jupiter Jones, is actually alien royalty: hijinks ensue - but it works on an entertainment level, which is exactly what I was after on a chilly Wednesday afternoon. Yes, Jupiter has to be rescued a few times, but to be fair she's not set up as a kick-ass heroine. She's an illegal immigrant in Chicago who cleans toilets for a living. And when it comes down to it she does manage to rescue herself a couple of times.

There's a lot of explody chase sequences and not too much soul searching even though it's mostly about Jupiter trying to stop her inherited family from harvesting Earth's humans for less than great reasons.

Eddie Redmayne is the scenery-chewing pantomime villain, only slightly worse than his two screen siblings. Mila Kunis does well enough as Jupiter. Channing Tatum is the hero/space cop/love interest, which is a pity because, well, Channing Tatum. Sorry, but personality-wise and everything else-wise he doesn't do it for me, but Sean Bean just about rescues it as Tatum's one time seargeant in the military. He still has a Sheffield accent of course, and I'm reminded of the Dr Who episode in which we were reminded that: 'Every planet has a north!'

So this is a Wachowski sibling movie, so Jupiter's life changes, but ultimately she has a choice of whether to buy into that or to go her own way.

And the big question? Does Sean Bean die? Sorry, you'll have to go and see it for yourself.
jacey: (blue eyes)
KingsmanSince I'm not a comics reader, i didn't know in advance that this is yet another comic-to-movie project, but that certainly didn't spoil the fun. I really enjoyed this. It's fluff, but well-executed fluff, which suits me fine.

The film's blurb says: Gary "Eggsy" Unwin (Taron Egerton), whose late father secretly worked for a spy organization, lives in a South London housing estate and seems headed for a life behind bars. However, dapper agent Harry Hart (Colin Firth) recognizes potential in the youth and recruits him to be a trainee in the secret service. Meanwhile, villainous Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson) launches a diabolical plan to solve the problem of climate change via a worldwide killing spree.

Colin Firth is nails it as the posh spy, Harry Hart, suave and sophisticated with a very dangerous edge. Playing a character who can kill you with his umbrella requires a deft touch not to tip it over the edge into cartoonish comedy, and Firth is pitch-perfect.  Egerton gives an excellent perfomance, as the dodgy London layabout who is transformed into a mini James Bond. Spies don't usually have mums, but there's a good sub-plot about Eggsy's mother and baby sister and the street gang Eggsy is leaving behind. (Don't dash out the instant the credit6s roll or you'll miss the payoff scene.) There's a potential for this to turn into a series, though as a set-up film or a standalone this works well. Potenial Kingsman recruits have to go through intensive training and a rigoroius selection process. It's lovely to see Marc Strong for once not playing a villain, but rather playing 'Merlin', the recruits' trainer. The villainous Valentine's 'muscle' is Gazelle, a lithe and dangerous young woman with artificial legs, played by Sofia Bputella. It was also nice to see Mark Hamill in a cameo role as a university professor, barely recognisable, looking like an old man and with a credible British accent, which reminds me that I'm so looking forward to seeing what Disney does with Star Wars 7.
jacey: (blue eyes)
IntoWoodsI generally like musicals, but where does a musical stop and an opera begin? Into the Woods has lots of music, but no good songs and only one memorable (9 note) musical hook, which recurred. I confess I'm not a great Sondheim fan (you guessed, huh?). Having said that, the singing was good, especially since most of the participants were actors not usually known for singing roles.

The plot is an original strand about a baker and his wife (the surprisingly effective pairing of and impressive James Corden and Emily Blunt) who can't have a child until they've lifted a curse by collecting three items for the witch next door (Meryl Streep). Into this is twisted a collection of Grimms' fairy tales such as Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, Rapunzel and Little Red Riding Hood (with a cameo by Johnny Depp as Mr Wolf). The fairy tales were all twisted, of course, deliciously so in some cases. (The prince who was raised to be charming but not sincere, for instance.

I've watched too many Dr Whos recently because I confess that when James Corden's baker eventually got his baby I had to woner whether its name was Stormageddon.

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