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Reviews

The Mandalorian: Chapter 11: The Heiress
(2020)
Episode 3, Season 2

A tremendously entertaining slice of classic Star Wars
Chapter 11 is possibly the strongest episode of "The Mandalorian" to-date. Harking back to the more traditional "Empire" themed tales, this was a fantastic piece of science fiction.

Design wise, "The Heiress" was stunning. This was true chewing gum for the eyes.

The cast was perfect. The real treats were Katee Sackhoff as the stunning Bo-Katan, and Titus Welliver as the Imperial Captain.

10 out of 10. Pitch perfect. I had to pinch myself afterwards. I never imagined, in my wildest dreams, that we'd be watching "Star Wars" of this quality in 2020.

The Mandalorian: Chapter 10: The Passenger
(2020)
Episode 2, Season 2

Tremendous fun
With a tip of the hat to another science fiction franchise, this episode is a whole bundle of fun.

With cuddles more of Baby Yoda, this episode avoids political correctness and delivers good old fashioned fun.

In space, no one can hear you munch eggs.

The Mandalorian: Chapter 9: The Marshal
(2020)
Episode 1, Season 2

A truly epic start to the long awaited second season
Episode 9 simply exceeds any expectations the viewer can have for a season opener.

With epic scale, this science fiction spaghetti western is a delight. There's rarely a chance to take breath, such is the pace of this instalment

10 out of 10.

The Walking Dead: World Beyond: Brave
(2020)
Episode 1, Season 1

Uncertain beginnings
Deep on characterisation and high with production values, this new off-shoot of the zombie franchise shows promise. However, I'm not sure the adventures of teen adventurers will have the attention grabbing draw of the main series, or "Fear".

A diluted "16+" offering, I've my fingers crossed that this series builds its own fan base

Umbilical World
(2018)

The stuff of nightmares, a bad trip, or surrealistic comedy gold?
"Umbilical World" is the creative compendium of David Firth's work.

A masterpiece of indie animation, this film feels like early Lynch. Its finale is a mind-binding instalment of "Salad Fingers", Firth's most well known creation.

8 out of 10. Creepy, unwholesome and disturbing. I liked it a lot.

Two Weeks to Live
(2020)

Engaging and fun comedy drama
"Two Weeks to Live" is a genuine treat and addictive television. I devoured all six episodes in one evening; it's easy and light viewing and ticks all the boxes.

The cast are excellent. Fans of Maisie Williams and Sian Clifford will savour every moment when the two share the screen. It's always brilliant to see Sean Pertwee, too.

9 out of 10. I dearly hope there will be another season.

The Hat Man: Documented Cases of Pure Evil
(2019)

Genuinely spine chilling
"The Hat Man" documentary is a superbly made movie that presents the shared phenomena of the mysterious entity in a riveting, and spine chilling, way.

A mix of interviews, movie clips, recreations, art and photographs is used to present the material in a captivating manner.

I was genuinely spooked as the end credits rolled. Director Kyle J. Macias has made a memorable film and turned a light on a global mystery.

9 out of 10. I may sleep with the light on, tonight.

Mandy
(2018)

A deliriously psychotronic and psychedelic shocker
"Mandy" is the perfect midnight movie; a crowd pleasing, glorious tour de force from directors Panos Cosmatos and Casper Kelly.

Nicholas Cage is fantastic as Red Miller, a man whose life is turned upside down by a fanatical cult, led by Jeremiah Sand (Linus Roache).

This is a beautifully shot, disturbing nightmare with a pounding soundtrack that will linger in the viewer's mind.

10 out of 10.

Out of Shadows
(2020)

Ripping the lid off the dark secrets of Hollywood
A gripping, current, and punchy documentary that focusses on the darker side of Hollywood.

This is essential viewing. Mike Smith's film covers everything from 1940s propaganda and MK-Ultra through to Pizzagate, Satanism, and Epstein.

9 out of 10.

Extraction
(2020)

Solid and violent action flick
"Extraction" is fast, vicious and simple. With a death count that's approaching John Wick 3 levels of bullet ballet, the movie hardly pauses for breath.

Chris Hemsworth is excellent as the haunted mercenary Tyler Rake. This is a very physical role and Hemsworth delivers in spades.

8 out of 10.

After Life: Episode #2.6
(2020)
Episode 6, Season 2

Curse you, Gervais! You made my cry!
A truly emotional finale to a pitch perfect second season.

I love "After Life", it's simply a beautiful show. A solid script and a wonderfully talented cast make this unmissable viewing. I ended up devouring the whole of this season in two viewings.

10 out of 10. Bless you, Ricky. This is life affirming television.

Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness
(2020)

A bonkers off-the-wall documentary series with claws
"Tiger King" is a ridiculous, truth-is-stranger-than-fiction documentary series that will dig its camp claws into the viewer at an early stage and not let them go until the final credits roll.

The epic feud between the larger than life Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin is thoroughly gobsmacking. Only in America could this level of "freedom of speech" exist.

8 out of 10.

Knives Out
(2019)

An entertaining whodunnit
"Knives Out" is an entertaining whodunnit with a stellar cast.

Ana de Armas gives a standout performance as the honest Marta Cabrera.

Daniel Craig's accent was a major distraction, though. I really couldn't adjust to his Southern drawl and it took me out of the viewing experience.

8 out of 10.

The Outsider
(2020)

Superior horror
"The Outsider" is a near perfect television series. Beautifully crafted and executed brilliantly, the series doesn't make one wrong step over its ten episode span.

Edge of the seat and unpredictable viewing, this is genuinely unmissable.

For Your Eyes Only
(1981)

Classic Bond
I was probably too young to really appreciate "For Your Eyes Only" on its original theatrical release. 39 years later and I've realised this is a slice of classic Bond.

The funky disco-esque Bond soundtrack from Bill Conti dates the music, as does the brief appearance from Janet Brown as the Prime Minister at the time, Margaret Thatcher. However, the rest of the movie is as gripping now as it was back in 1981.

The cliff assault is absolutely riveting and guaranteed to give vertigo sufferers a few nightmares.

Moore himself, 53 years old when he made this film, is excellent as always. Retaining his boyish good looks, he is on top form here.

9 out of 10. Back to the original Bond formula, this is a very strong movie.

Moonraker
(1979)

The natural successor to "The Spy Who Loved Me"
"Moonraker" is definitely an underestimated instalment of the Bond franchise. It's a natural successor to "The Spy Who Loved Me" and shares the same epic scale and sense of fun. The first three quarters of this film are magnificent; only when the story transfers to space does the action become less engaging.

It's a beautifully shot adventure which moves at a cracking pace with many memorable scenes.

Covering several exotic locations in seven countries and featuring one of the most ambitious pre-credits scenes ever attempted, this is true escapism.

Corinne Cléry is one of the most beautiful Bond girls, playing the ill-fated Corinne Dufour.

8 out of 10. Tremendously entertaining.

The Spy Who Loved Me
(1977)

A brilliant slice of Bond from Moore's era
"The Spy Who Loved Me" is a thoroughly entertaining instalment from the 007 franchise. By his third film, Moore was well and truly settled in the role as Bond and is clearly enjoying every minute of his tongue-in-cheek screen time.

There are so many moments of genius and a wealth of talent on the silver screen.

Barbara Bach proves that female secret agents were very much alive and kicking before "No Time To Die". Bach is beautiful and memorable as Agent XXX.

Richard Kiel's Jaws is a classic henchman whilst Curd Jürgens is chilling as the web-fingered Stromberg.

With so many excellent set pieces, a throbbing soundtrack from Marvin Hamlisch, and great pace, this is one of the all-time highs from the series.

10 out of 10.

Doctor Who: The Timeless Children
(2020)
Episode 10, Season 12

A divisive episode; is Chris Chibnall the Meddling Monk?
Undoing the legacy of "Doctor Who" is not something to be done lightly. However, Chris Chibnall is hell bent on reinventing the series, putting his own indelible mark on the show and making it a lot worse in the process.

Despite its feature length and promises that this was going to shock viewers, the episode largely played it safe. I'm praying that a future season will begin with Peter Capaldi waking from a long and fevered dream and we can forget what has been a low period in Who history.

The Man with the Golden Gun
(1974)

A fun Bond flick and a natural successor to "Live and Let Die"
There's plenty to enjoy in "The Man with the Golden Gun". Moore had settled into the role by the second of his movies and there's a high fun factor throughout this instalment.

Christopher Lee and Hervé Villechaize are magnificent as Scaramanga and his diminutive, but potentially deadly, assistant Nick Nack.

Bernard Lee is more grumpy than ever as M. There's a sense that he genuinely dislikes Bond in one scene.

Maud Adams is beautiful and memorable as Andrea Anders, Scaramanga's love interest. Britt Ekland is enjoyably irritating as the rather rubbish Goodnight.

The Bond producers relied on Clifton James' return as J.W. Pepper to bring extra laughs to the film. It was a bold move but I was happy to see the return of this character.

8 out of 10.

Live and Let Die
(1973)

Vintage Bond with a blaxploitation twist
Roger Moore's first outing as the suave 007 is an entertaining instalment in the spy franchise.

With not a tuxedo (or Q) in sight, Bond is plunged into an adventure where the stakes are lower than normal but no less interesting. There are no politically correct sensibilities here, Bond is very much a '70's incarnation of Fleming's creation.

There are a lot of things to enjoy in this movie. The pace is spot on, there's a memorable speed boat chase, and some classic characters grace the screen.

Veteran actor Clifton James gives a standout performance as the frustrated Sheriff Pepper, and Geoffrey Holder steals every scene as the voodoo master Baron Samedi.

Yaphet Kotto is a solid Bond villain and this movie gives him the opportunity to stretch his acting chops with not one but two performances!

Jane Seymour is truly stunning as Solitaire.

8 out of 10. A Bond film that has me grinning from ear to ear.

Curb Your Enthusiasm: Insufficient Praise
(2020)
Episode 5, Season 10

A top drawer instalment of this latest season
"Insufficient Praise" is classic "Curb". Multiple fun plot lines interweave marvellously and there's a real sense of mischief with the script.

Clive Owen is marvellous as an ultra sensitive version of himself whilst Vince Vaughn makes his first appearance as newsagent Freddy Funkhouser, son of Marty (the late Bob Einstein).

Isla Fisher brings chaos to this episode as the professional cryer, Carol.

Brilliant fun.

Doctor Who: Ascension of the Cybermen
(2020)
Episode 9, Season 12

Fantasmagorical or just confusing? Is this the end of the franchise as we know it?
This penultimate episode of this latest season will stand or fall depending on the delivery of the final instalment. This is either a great piece of writing by Chibnall or a confusing mess, it's all down to the next episode to either fill in the blanks in a satisfying way or leave the viewer realise they've been led astray by smoke and mirrors.

There's much to enjoy about "Ascension of the Cybermen" but there is a smorgasbord of unanswered questions, too.

I'm on tenterhooks for next week's finale. Not because the cliffhanger was particularly gripping, more the nagging feeling that the series is going to be rebooted / revamped in a way that will forever damage its legacy.

7 out of 10.

Doctor Who: The Haunting of Villa Diodati
(2020)
Episode 8, Season 12

A messy script with a few redeeming elements
Despite its spaghetti-like script, there were moments when "The Haunting" provided some hope for the series.

Mary Shelly's appeal to the remnants of humanity left in the lone Cyberman was moving and a standout moment in this busy but average episode.

The idea of the lone Cyberman trying to save its fellow creations was an interesting one but the overall execution was confusing and convoluted.

6 out of 10. I desperately wanted to like this episode but the delivery of ideas was too messy.

Joker
(2019)

"Taxi Driver" for the 21st Century
A modern classic, "Joker" is dark, uncomfortable and uncompromising.

The perfect origins movie.

9 out of 10.

Doctor Who: Can You Hear Me?
(2020)
Episode 7, Season 12

This episode has me torn
I'm unsure of my feelings towards this episode. Whilst there are traces of classic "New Who" about this tale, the overall episode feels somewhat disjointed in its tone and pace.

Seeing Whittaker's Doctor travel on her own demonstrates how unsubstantial her performance is. However, there's a genuine sense of unease over most of the episode and I feel that the positives outweigh the negatives.

A cautious 7 out of 10.

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