Elevating high concept to dizzying new heights, director Chad Stahelski returns us to the world of John Wick exactly where he left us last time: having broken the assassins’ creed, Wick (Keanu Reeves) faces excommunication from The High Table, with a bounty large enough to tempt every assassin between New York and Timbuktu to have … Continue reading John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum (2019) is the Ming vase of action cinema
Have you seen “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels”? If you have, then you’ve pretty much seen “The Hustle”, a good-natured, luxuriously indulgent but unnecessarily faithful remake of the well-liked Steve Martin/ Michael Caine remake of 1964’s “Bedtime Story”. Running out of boob-job funding rubes to fleece in New York, low-level grifter Penny Rust (Rebel Wilson) heads to … Continue reading The Hustle (2019) delivers comedy iron pyrite
When police detective Harry Goodman is apparently killed in a car crash, it's up to his son Tim (Justice Smith) to find out what happened. Luckily, Tim will have the help of his dad’s Pokémon partner, a wise-cracking Pikachu who only Tim can understand. Together, the two best friends find a world they must defend … Continue reading Pokémon Detective Pikachu (2019) Review
Like its subject, “Vox Lux” is demanding, pretentious and self-congratulatory, although the film takes these traits to the point of cinematic onanism. Occasionally arrestingly shocking, it almost feels like, having grabbed your attention, it doesn’t really know what to do with it beyond hitting you over the head with its achingly obvious allegory for American … Continue reading Vox Lux (2019) kinda sucks.
Long before "Movie 43", there was... “The Kentucky Fried Movie”, a zany, madcap collection of irreverent, puerile and often tasteless skits and sketches from David Zucker, Jim Abrahams, and Jerry Zucker, who would go on to bring us “Airplane!”, “Top Secret” and “The Naked Gun”. It would also launch the career of legendary director John … Continue reading The Kentucky Fried Movie (1979) offers a bargain bucket of bawdy comedy
Heavily leaning into the tone of Netflix’s “Making A Murderer”, Joe Berlinger’s shallow but still absorbing biopic of notorious serial killer Ted Bundy places us firmly into the perspective of Bundy’s long-time girlfriend Liz Kendall (Lily Collins) by using all the tricks and tropes of the ‘innocent man accused’ documentary style to constantly confound the … Continue reading Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil And Vile (2019) is extremely well acted but shockingly superficial
Eleven years. Twenty-one movies. All leading up to this. In the wake of Thanos’ victory, the remaining Avengers regroup to figure out how to live up to their name. But there are no easy paths to setting things right and its only through the unexpected return of Ant-Man that an opportunity presents itself – one … Continue reading It’s the end, but the moment has been prepared for. Avengers: Endgame (2019) Review
An utterly implausible B-movie thriller transformed into an effective thriller by the power of its cast, “Greta” just wants to be liked and will go to any lengths to do it. When Frances (Chloë Grace Moretz) finds an abandoned handbag on the subway, she resolves to return it to its owner, Greta Hideg (Isabelle Huppert) … Continue reading Greta (2019) is a dark urban feminist fairy tale masquerading as a B-movie potboiler.
In the pantheon of superb directorial debuts, you’d be hard pressed to find a more unexpected and delightful entry than “Eighth Grade”. Directed by YouTube comedian Bo Burnham, he has fashioned an achingly authentic, poignant and emotionally resonant coming of age story for the 21st Century, grasping the truth of growing up in the 21st … Continue reading Eighth Grade (2019) will make you remember what it’s like to be 14 again – and very glad you’re not!
When hot-headed young singer Rose-Lynn Harlan (Jessie Buckley) is released from prison, she reluctantly returns to her mother’s house to be reunited with her two young children. Nursing a grudge against the world and a burning ambition to make it as a country singer, she struggles to reconcile her dreams with her reality. It’s a … Continue reading Whether or not you’re a fan of country music, Wild Rose (2019) will work hard to win you over.
Available now on Amazon Prime, “Guava Island”, the latest Childish Gambino project, is a joyous, beautiful, bittersweet gem of a movie, balancing a carefree joie de vivre with a pointed, if slightly heavy-handed, critique of the ultimately self-destructive nature of capitalism thrown in for good measure. Guava Island is a paradise but those who live … Continue reading There may be trouble ahead, but while there’s sunshine and music and love and romance…let’s watch Guava Island (2019) and dance.
Hellboy (2019) is notably the movie Ed Skrein got the best notices of his entire career for – and he’s not actually in it. Unfortunately, it’s probably going to be the only good reviews this botched, bad-faith reboot is likely to get. During the Arthurian age, Nimue the Blood Queen (Milla Jovovich) is betrayed just … Continue reading Well I’ll be damned. Hellboy (2019) is a special form of purgatory.
Perfectly charming and, as ever, exquisitely animated, the latest offering from Laika Studios (“Kubo And The Two Strings”, “The Boxtrolls”) is nonetheless feels like the lesser of their efforts so far. While it’s acknowledged inspirations include “Raiders Of The Lost Ark” and the stories of Sherlock Holmes, there’s no escaping it’s an almost complete lift … Continue reading Missing Link (2019) is certainly lacking something.
Handsomely produced and atmospherically shot, this re-adaptation of Stephen King’s powerful exploration of grief serves to underline the key message of the original novel: it’s best to let dead things rest. Louis Creed (Jason Clarke), a doctor from Boston, moves to the small town of Ludlow in Maine to enjoy a quieter life and spend … Continue reading Pet Sematary (2019) just goes to show that when it comes to certain stories, sometimes read is better.
Years and years ago, when Mertmas was a newborn, we’d always be on the lookout for something to watch during those early morning feeds. We’re talking way before the advent of on-demand entertainment although we did have Sky+ so we could watch previously recorded stuff but thankfully we didn’t have to. For some reason, the … Continue reading The live action Kim Possible (2019) ends up more two-dimensional than the animated original
BEHOLD! I am the Craggonder and I have scoured time and space to gather together 128 of the finest Super Hero Movies Earth has to offer. Here, in my Battle Blog, they will fight each other until only one emerges triumphant – but which movie that may be...will be up to you! My Super-Movie Secret … Continue reading Behold! The Super-Movie Secret Wars are about to begin!
Starting with arguably one of the darkest openings of any DCEU film to date, it initially looks like “Shazam!” is charting a path back to the bad old grimdark days of the DCEU but, it’s not too long before someone says the magic word and a brilliant bolt of magical lightning illuminates the path to … Continue reading The Shazam! (2019) movie is the Billy Batson of the DCEU
Creepy, disturbing and deliciously, irresistibly open to multiple interpretations, Jordan Peele’s follow up to “Get Out” brings us another mischievously deep dive into the shameful psyche of America with a psychological sci-fi thriller of identity politics through the looking glass. As a young child, Adelaide Wilson (Lupita Nyong'o) wandered away from her parents on the … Continue reading If you wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and then make that change. Start with the man in the mirror. Us (2019) Review
There are nice nods to the twee opening of the original “Dumbo” as we’re treated to knowing shots of storks flying across the sky to portend the less romanticised arrival of baby Dumbo but in nodding to the animated classic so soon, this live-action remake tips just how weak its hand is. When circus impresario … Continue reading Dumbo (2019) has a surprisingly metatextual moral for the House of Mouse
The film which saved Disney Animation Studios (it would go on to need saving again, cyclically, in the future) after the unprofitable indulgences of “Fantasia”, “Dumbo” - released in 1941 mere weeks before the United States would find itself dragged into the Second World War – is a charming if slight fable of exceptionalism, a … Continue reading There’s no ignoring this elephant in the room. Dumbo (1941) Review
Relentlessly charming, funny and constantly surprising, “Dave Made A Maze” mixes comedy, horror and fantasy for a richly rewarding, stylistic treat. Dave, an artist who has yet to complete anything significant in his career, builds a cardboard box fort in his living room while his girlfriend is out and finds himself trapped within it. Despite … Continue reading Bill Watterson boxes clever with quirky comedy horror Dave Made A Maze (2019)
A notoriously chaotic and troubled production – not that that distinguishes it particularly in Gilliam’s oeuvre – “The Adventures of Baron Munchausen” saw the idiosyncratic director coming off the back of a bitter but ultimately successful battle with Universal over the release and distribution of his previous film, “Brazil”. Once again, he found himself at … Continue reading There’s no proxy for how much I love The Adventures Of Baron Munchausen (1989) 30th Anniversary Review
Pity poor Marvel. Their greatest enemy isn’t Thanos, or the Red Skull, or Loki. It’s not even the whiny bitter minority who somehow take offence at the very idea of a female superhero, or at least one that hasn’t been Zack Synder-approved. No, their mortal foe is Kano and with every passing movie, his model … Continue reading Oh Captain! My Captain? Marvel’s Cinematic Universe re-begins in Captain Marvel (2019)
In a world of ever-increasing mining of existing properties for prequels and spin-offs, never in my wildest dreams did I imagine someone would set out to make a whole movie about the opening sequence of “Star Trek V: The Final Frontier”. Of course, that was fantasy and “Free Solo” is reality and although the climbing … Continue reading The best view comes after the hardest climb. Free Solo (2019) Review
Lightweight, superficial and oddly unfocused, this biopic of celebrated Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg might qualify as a legal brief but it fails to assemble a substantive case despite the abundance of available evidence. The film charts her rise from freshman law student at Yale, through her professorship and advocacy up to her pivotal … Continue reading On The Basis Of Sex (2019) fails to make its case
There’s a gently subversive streak to Netflix’s latest ‘original’ offering “Isn’t It Romantic” as it sets out to undermine the worn-out romcom tropes while simultaneously adhering to the framework of the genre in this bright and breezy comedy that reunites Rebel Wilson and Adam Devine after “Pitch Perfect 3” cruelly tore them apart. Having had … Continue reading Isn’t It Romantic (2019)? Yep, it’s also pretty damn funny.
Hardly the frozen “Taken” we were promised by the marketing, this remake of the director’s own 2014 film "Kraftidioten" has moments of sublime black humour but is too disjointed, derivative and haphazard to do justice to its cast or premise. Hard-working snowplough driver Nels Coxman (Neeson) is a pillar of the community of Rocky Mountain … Continue reading Cold Pursuit (2019) isn’t worth following
Long before John Keating inspired a wave of desk mounting defiance, another teacher was sticking it to the system and drawing their pupils into a beguiling and bewitching cult of personality. Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, let’s go back to when a free-thinking, free-spirited and, admittedly, worryingly pro-fascist Miss Jean Brodie was in her … Continue reading There’s no school like this old school. The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie (1969) 50th Anniversary Review
Planting its tongue firmly in cheek, the sequel to 2017’s delightfully peppy “Happy Death Day” takes the timey-wimey slasher story and gives it a decidedly sci-fi twist that sees it play out like an over-caffeinated mash-up of “Back To The Future Part II” and “Russian Doll”. Finding himself trapped in a time loop on Tuesday … Continue reading Happy Death Day 2 U (2019) brings us a happy return to the big screen for Jessica Rothe
Opening with exactly the same set-up and opening thematic point as “Justice League”, Joe Cornish takes the idea of a country and a world which has lost hope and, with a keen eye for contemporary resonance, weaves a wonderfully affirmative and inspirational tale from the ancient cloth of legend and the modern social fabric of … Continue reading The Kid Who Would Be King (2019) pulls contemporary adventure from the stone of legend.
Posted as part of Realweegiemidget's Adoring Angela Lansbury Blogathon Far better than the “Mary Poppins”-lite it’s often dismissed as, “Bedknobs And Broomsticks” takes the more famous nanny’s Disnified spoonful of sugar and stirs it into a shot of absinthe before knocking it back in one go and heading off to war. A curious and yet … Continue reading There’s no substitutiary for Angela Lansbury when it comes to giving Bedknobs And Broomsticks (1971) its locomotion!
Coming off the back of the Oscar-winning “Moonlight”, director Barry Jenkins returns to the big screen with his adaptation of James Baldwin’s novel “If Beale Street Could Talk”. In 1970's Harlem, Tish (Kiki Layne) is in love with a young sculptor, Fonny (Stephen James), the father of her unborn child. When Fonny is falsely accused … Continue reading If Beale Street Could Talk (2019) conveys its most powerful messages without using words
Powered by a heartfelt and deeply human central performance from Melissa McCarthy and enlivened by a gregariously louche turn from Richard E Grant, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” delivers a plaintive plea for clemency on behalf the embittered, the flawed and the dismissed. There’s not much about author Lee Israel (McCarthy). She’s stubborn, cantankerous and … Continue reading Accept no substitutes. Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2019) is the real deal.
Continuing the irreverent, pop-culture saturated craziness of the first movie, Emmet, Wildstyle and all your favourites from “The Lego Movie” are back picking up mere moments from the end of the first movie as the Duplo aliens attack. With the previously harmonious world of Bricksburg transformed into the post-apocalyptic wasteland Apocalypseburg by the repeated invasions … Continue reading Not everything about The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part (2019) is awesome but, as the movie itself is at pains to point out, that’s okay too.
Knowing nothing of the original Manga on which it’s based (the closest I can claim is that I quite enjoy the 2009 animated movie “Astro Boy”, which shares a surprising amount of story with this film), “Alita: Battle Angel” still held a strong appeal thanks to the names behind and in front of the camera. … Continue reading Alita: Battle Angel (2019) slices, dices and occasionally surprises.
There’s a laziness to “Escape Room” that’s hard to shake off. From its cookie-cutter characters to its predictable checkbox approach to disposing of its cast, it can’t seem to find the will to try and differentiate itself from its obvious influences. When six strangers receive mysterious invitations to participate in an Escape Room, they quickly … Continue reading Escape Room (2019) will have you searching for the nearest exit too.
Delivering a satisfying conclusion to one of cinema's most touching and genuine friendships, “How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” sees Hiccup and Toothless take their place alongside Buzz & Woody at the pinnacle of animated movie history. As Hiccup nears achieving his dream of a peaceful dragon and Viking utopia, he realises that … Continue reading The How To Train Your Dragon trilogy soars to a triumphant close with The Hidden World
It’s someone disingenuous for something this uninspired to proclaim it's ‘inspired by a true story’ but that doesn’t seem to discourage notorious empty chair haranguer Clint Eastwood from making a film for reactionary old men who like to yell at clouds. It’s a wannabe “Sicario – The Greatest Generation”, or the demographic antithesis of “Black … Continue reading The law may be an ass, but The Mule (2019) is a real donkey.
*SPOILERS* Closer in tone and intent to “Unbreakable” than its immediate predecessor “Split”, “Glass” sees filmmaker M Night Shyamalan returning to the world of comic book super heroics, not to homage or reimagine them, but to deconstruct them - especially their latest cinematic incarnations. With The Beast/ The Horde/ Kevin Wendell Crumb (McAvoy) still on … Continue reading Glass (2019) sets out to shatter the superhero paradigm.
What if “The Happening” but actually, you know, pretty good? That seems to be the starting point for “Bird Box”, an apocalyptic horror from producer/ star Sandra Bullock and director Susanne Bier, adapted from Josh Malerman’s novel by screenwriter Eric Heisserer (“Arrival”, “Lights Out”). When a malevolent force manifests on Earth, it causes a wave … Continue reading It’s the blind leading the blind in Netflix’s post-partum apocalypse thriller Bird Box (2018) Review
In taking on the story of Dick Cheney, the apparently unassuming bureaucratic Washington insider turned Vice Presidential master of the universe, Adam McKay seeks to shed light on the breathtaking constitutional chicanery which saw the executive branch of the American government vastly increase its own power whilst at the same time enormously enriching those in … Continue reading Christian Bale piles on the pounds for Adam McKay’s The Waist Wing. Vice (2019) Review
Focussing in on the twilight of their illustrious careers, “Stan & Ollie” pays tribute to the beloved entertainers by taking an affectionate and bittersweet look behind the scenes at their last great collaboration: a music hall tour of the UK while trying to pull together one last motion picture deal. With the collective baggage of … Continue reading Coogan & Reilly disappear into Laurel & Hardy in the gentle biopic Stan & Ollie (2019)
Jason Reitman’s dull but dutiful checkbox biopic rakes over the long-dead ashes of the run-up to the 1988 US Presidential election but fails to find anything to really say beyond a milquetoast critique of the current personality politics which dominates American public life. Charting the rise and fall of charismatic Colorado Senator Gary Hart (Hugh … Continue reading The Front Runner (2019) stumbles right out of the gate.
Taking a few liberties with the Libertine life and times of celebrated French novelist Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, “Colette” is a sumptuous and sensual but occasionally aimless and indulgent biopic that’s perhaps a little too interested in signposting the contemporary resonances than in providing a wider historical context to its subject’s life. After marrying the famous Parisian … Continue reading Colette (2019) sees Keira Knightly ghostwriting for Willy while enjoying fanny by gaslight.
Move over Bess (and, I suspect, pre-emptive apologies to Margot Robbie) there’s a new award-baiting Queen on the block: oft-overlooked 18th Century sovereign Queen Anne. England, 1708. A frail Queen Anne (Olivia Coleman) occupies the throne, disinterested in matters of state and instead consumed by her various ailments and an ongoing quest for distraction and … Continue reading Yorgos Lanthimos brings a sense of Blackadder to the big screen in sumptuous art house comedy The Favourite (2019)
Inspired by the true story of Mark Hogancamp who, having suffered a horrific attack, finds solace and support in an elaborate fantasy art installation, Robert Zemeckis sets out to convey a poignant story of the healing power of art and the dangers of the artist becoming too enraptured by the art itself but never once … Continue reading Zemeckis’ real life toy story lacks buzz. Welcome To Marwen (2018) Review
The 1988 Michael Caine/ Ben Kingsley movie “Without A Clue” asked what would happen if Holmes was actually an idiot and Dr Watson was the genius but "Holmes & Watson" dares to ask what if they were both imbeciles, in a crass and witless farce? The answer is excrementary, my dear reader. When the trial … Continue reading Holmes & Watson (2018) Review
Assembled more like one of Disney’s current ‘live action’ adaptations of their animated back catalogue than a genuine sequel to the 1964 original, “Mary Poppins Returns” brings back cinema’s premiere Nanny to answer another Banks crisis. In Depression-era London, a now-grown Jane (Emily Mortimer) and Michael Banks (Ben Wishaw), along with Michael’s three children, face … Continue reading Mary Poppins Returns (2018) is an exercise in Lucasian poetry
It may seem something of an oxymoron, but “Bumblebee” is a genuinely good “Transformers” film. Now, I’m happy to admit I’m heavily biased, having grown up loving and watching and reading the Gen 1 toys, cartoon and Marvel comic series but my tinted glasses just make the rosy nostalgia of “Bumblebee” even rosier. With the … Continue reading Bumblebee (2018) Review