FlashCallahan

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Reviews

Midway
(2019)

Mid-ling.....
The Battle of Midway was a clash between the American fleet and the Imperial Japanese Navy which marked a pivotal turning point in the Pacific during WWII.

When you see that a film is directed by the man who bought us Independence Day and White House Down, you know that the film isn't going to be very subtle, or have the greatest script in the world.

But at least it could pass two hours without causing too much concern.

And this is what the film exactly is, nothing to be too concerned about. It tries to compete with other WWII films released in the past 20 years, but emulates them, rather than try to supersede them, which in all fairness, is a plus point with this film.

What we have is your token WWII characters we have seen depicted on film since the fifties, melded with CGI that isn't too bad, but nothing we haven't seen before.

It's not saying much, but Skrein has never been this good in a film before (just besting 'If Beale Street Could Talk' but he's only in that for a hot minute), as the central character, Dick Best (insert joke here.....).

He's the Maverick of the film, a misunderstood cowboy who grumbles at rules, and then listens to them begrudgingly, we've all seen this character a thousand times before, and you can see what his outcome will be from a periscope.

Then we have Harrelson, in his most restraint role ever, he may as well be wearing a stars and stripes suit, he is the epitome of flag waving, just call him Mr. All American.

Wilson has the sixth sense with the bloke who played Mr. Dresden in the orange Wednesday adverts. Ten years ago, this would have been played by Kevin Spacey, and the role would have been so much meatier. But Wilson is quite watchable whenever he is on screen.

Eckhart pops in for a couple of minutes as the hard as nails Doolittle, and like his characters name, he has very little to do, other than land a plane, and run off.

Evans is the Iceman to Skreins Maverick, and although Evans is good, in the actual film, his character is given little to do.

Then there is the star of the show, Dennis Quaid, who literally grizzles and chew scenery whenever he appears. He is hilarious for all the wrong reasons, and clearly awful, but I couldn't help but get excited whenever he appeared on screen.

As for the rest of the film, it's just your atypical 'people discussing tactics around a table film, intercut with familiar action set pieces'.

It's not a terrible film by any means, there is just no cause for concern with this film, and unlike WWII, it's pretty harmless.

Terminator: Dark Fate
(2019)

I'm extremely funny.....
In Mexico, a newly modified Terminator the Rev-9 model arrives from the future to kill a young factory worker named Dani.

Also sent back in is Grace, a hybrid cyborg human who must protect Dani from the seemingly indestructible robotic assassin.

But the two women soon find some much-needed help from a pair of unexpected allies, seasoned warrior Sarah Connor and the T-800 Terminator......

The Terminator franchise has been rebooted more than a schoolboy, and they have been of middling quality. Salvation was terrible, apart from Bales Youtube breakdown, and Genysis was terrible apart from the 1984 sequence, which frankly, was a fine piece of cinema.

Cameron is Back, as is Hamilton, so instantly, the nostalgia bells start ringing.

And the outcome? It's a pretty good sequel to T2, and the rationale to carry the story on is wonderful, thanks to some wonderful writing, and some of the best deageing CGI I've seen in a long while.

Throw in a few in your face references, and some more subtle (Dwight Yoakam comes to mind) and you have a perfectly fine sequel that pays respect to the original duo, and it's so good to see Hamilton in her most memorable role, and she owns this film, from the moment she steps out of her truck, to the wonderful finale.

But even though Cameron is back, you can't help but think of T2 whenever there is an action sequence, or a bonding moment. It relies heavily on fans of the franchise to remember the second film.

And then there is the inclusion of Schwarzenegger. And to be frank, he is great as the augmented model 101, who literally has nothing to do, apart from raising a family, and give Sarah purpose. It's truly wonderful to see the pair back on screen, and once he appears, it's a blast until the final credits.

Anyone who is expecting something revelatory, this isn't it, it's just a fun nostalgia ride that will please fans of the original two.

Rambo: Last Blood
(2019)

A wonderful end to an iconic character....
Listen to the critics, I have a lot of respect for them, but if you are of a certain demographic, you will not listen, because for some people, Rambo has been a legacy since his first incarnation....

When a his 'Neice' is kidnapped, Rambo crosses the U.S.-Mexico border to bring her home but finds himself up against one of Mexico's most ruthless cartels..

Many are saying that this is simply a remake of 'Taken'. But people seem to forget that movie was just a depressed remake of 'Commando' which, ironically was a chance for Schwarzeneggar to try and usurp Stallone when 'Rambo: First Blood Part II' was released.

So it's irony all around, Stallone is metaphorically remaking a film that tried to usurp his status.

But is it any good?

Oh my gosh, this was a pleasure from beginning to end. Yes, it's political correctness is unethical, but the most successful film in the franchise 'Part II' was just pure propaganda for the Reagan era, and that film was basically saying, we really won the war, so knock off that PTSD soldier, you are a hero.

Rambo has a ranch, a pseudo niece who gets kidnapped, so he does what any person would do, and gets pummelled. And what would Rambo do when that happens? We all know that.

It's a slow burner for sure, but the final third is an orgasm for any action fan, and yes, it's brutal, but this is personal to Rambo, and the rationale is there for his acts.

Stallone is pretty wonderful as Rambo, yes, the bad guys are straight from the Cannon studios bargain bin of bad guys, but anyone paying for a ticket for a Rambo film will know what to expect.

I personally loved it, it's a perfect finish to a very ho-hum franchise.

Stallone has been phoning it in for a while, but when he cares, he gives the audience what they want, pure joy.

Crawl
(2019)

You're Luggage......
Starring that bloke who could have been famous but then he was in Battlefield Earth, Crawl should fail on every level, Deemed by some as 'Jaws with Alligators' or 'Snappy', I had some trepidation going into this, especially as Aja directed the awful Piranha remake. But then I remembered Switchblade Romance....

When a hurricane hits her Florida hometown, Haley ignores the evacuation orders to search for her missing father. After finding him injured in their family home, the two of them become trapped by the rapid floodwaters.

With the storm strengthening, Haley and and her father discover an even greater threat than the rising water level -- a pack of alligators.

From start to finish, this is a high concept B-movie, and wears it's badge proud. The jump scares for once are genuine, as the makers don't follow the trope of the quiet... quiet.... quiet.... Bang!! formula that recent horror films have followed for almost two decades. When these scares happen, there is no build up, no preparation, they just hit you, and this only goes in the films favour.

After a very brief first act, the film focuses on only sets that would make a claustrophobic run for the exit. These people are trapped, and not only are the Alligators getting closer, the water is rising, and desperation is setting in.

We have a few atypical supporting characters, rookie cops, looters, the sister from far away, but they don't really hinder the overall tension of the narrative, most of them are just an entree for our future handbags.

Oh, and just to add more to the tension, we have a dog called Sugar, who is in the mix. A really cute, lovable dog might I add.

The script is perfunctory, some of the action is pretty laughable in the 'how did they?....' sort of way.

But Aja keeps the running time slim and the tension at a relative unbearable level, that you forgive the jumping of the Alligator every now and again.

It's a fun creature feature that could have popped up via The Asylum or SYFY.

But luckily, someone gave the story and the concept a little bit of love.

Speed Kills
(2018)

You will not take your eyes off the hair or eyebrows....
Wealthy speedboat racer Ben Aranoff leads a double life that gets him into trouble with both law enforcement and drug lords....

Speed Kills is another straight to DVD release starring Travolta that had no reason to have been made at all. The cover states that it's 'The Wolf Of Wall Street on water' and has Travolta leering at you like Michael Myers with his destroyed face.

It's not a terrible film, well it is, but Travolta makes it watchable. Even though his face looks like a weather ravaged, fire burnt apricot, he still has that swagger that has made him an icon for over forty years.

Loosely based on a true story, the film basically tells you that you can't run away from your past, which is ironic because one of the first people you see in this film is Tom Sizemore, and my word, he really looks like he has no idea what he is doing in his two minutes of screentime. His dialogue is bizarre to say the least, and as soon as he enters the film, he leaves, without explanation. A truly worthless role from someone who had so much worth at one point.

Once the film turns to the racing, we are treated to some terrible CG water, and Kellan Lutz looking like a hulked out Noel Edmonds threatening Travolta like a petty schoolboy.

It's trash, but watchable trash, making it a sobering thought that Travolta was once Hollywood gold, and had a wonderful resurgence thanks to Pulp Fiction, when for four years, any film he starred in made oodles of money. Even Michael and Phenomenon.

We can never take that away from him, because he is John Travolta, and he knows he'll always be an icon, and people will always watch his films....

A bit selfish if you ask me.

The Lion King
(2019)

The recycle of life....
You can't blame Disney for recycling their classic movies in order to have them become more profitable by being 'live action'. But i really don't understand why the backlash is happening now. In 1996, they made a live action version of 101 Dalmatians.....

Yes, their output has increased in the last couple of years, but as they are making so much money (Dumbo aside, but that was terrible), can you really blame them for reaping the benefits?

Simba idolises his father Mufasa, and takes to heart his own royal destiny on the plains of Africa.

But not everyone in the kingdom celebrates the new cub's arrival. Scar, Mufasa's brother -- and former heir to the throne -- has plans of his own. The battle for Pride Rock is soon ravaged with betrayal, tragedy and drama, ultimately resulting in Simba's exile.

Now, with help from a curious pair of newfound friends, Simba must figure out how to grow up and take back what is rightfully his......

The film isn't a patch on the original, that was an amazing exercise in genius, and probably one of Disney's finest hours. Even the 3D upgrade in 2011 didn't fade any of it's beauty.

Now if you are of a certain age, like myself, you will see this as a pointless exercise, but imagine it in through the eyes of someone who has not seen the original? It must be as wonderful as when we first saw the animated original for them, and from that point of view, i have to respect the makers somewhat.

Yes, it's amazing to look at, attention to detail is painstaking, and at times, the film is extremely sinister, not as much as the original, but sinister nevertheless.

So all in all, it's a pretty pointless affair from my point of view, but there is going to be a new generation who are going to find a new love for this film, and kudos to them.

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw
(2019)

A champagne problem.....
This film is a divider, you're either going to love it, or you are just going to dismiss the fact that this film exists.

Ever since the dawning of the F and F franchise, each film has become more ridiculous as the budget and the stars have got bigger. The first film was about stealing DVD players, and now we have a bad guy who is enhanced by technology, a kind of Robocop/Terminator with a little G.I Joe thrown in for good measure, and it just never lets up until the final one liner.

Ever since Hobbs and Shaw first faced off, they have swapped smack talk and body blows as they've tried to take each other down.

When cyber-genetically enhanced anarchist Brixton gains control of an insidious bio-threat that could alter humanity forever - and bests a brilliant and fearless rogue MI6 agent, who just happens to be Shaw's sister - these two enemies must partner up to bring down their seemingly invincible foe.

If you were a fan of the buddy-cop sub genre that was rife in the eighties and nineties, then this has nostalgia written all over it. It resembles 1989's Tango and Cash more than any other film, as that film was purely tongue in cheek, never took itself seriously, and the stars were happy to send themselves up to get a laugh and to enhance the nonsensical narrative.

Statham and Johnson are clearly having lots of fun making this, and the first and final act are clearly the best parts of the film. When the pair are doing their separate things, it falters in the second act, which is a shame, because Elba's 'bad guy' is a true cinematic villain, full of speeches, protuberance, and envy, all the makings of a brilliant antagonist.

Add a couple of wonderful cameos, and Hobbs and Shaw is a fun action film that throws everything at the screen, hoping that something will stick, and most of it does.

It's a shame that most of the tentpole set pieces were offloaded on the spolierific trailers, but that really doesn't matter, as the final confrontation is pretty visceral and inventive, and one wishes fro once that it maybe would have been enhanced by the medium of 3D.

The film references The Rock, Escape from New York, G.I. Joe, The Terminator, and even Transformers in places, but it delivers exactly what you'd expect, a testosterone fuelled adventure that demands you take it with a big pinch of salt and just sit back and enjoy the ride.

Lots of fun, and instantly forgettable.

Spider-Man: Far from Home
(2019)

Nick Fury Just hijacked our summer vacation....
With Endgame still fresh in our memories (and our hearts), this film has huge shoes to fill, plus the fact that the whole Spider-Man franchise has gone through four different incarnations in the last 12 years, this film has a lot to prove.

Well it proves itself in droves, as Far From Home cleanses the palate of what was a heavy meal with the events of Endgame.

We know it has to have connotative elements to the rest of Phase 3, but the way it deals with it is light and breezy, and without sounding too macabre, downright funny in it's opening sequence with Betty Brant reading the school news.

And this sets the mood for the rest of the film, and it's a relief that although Iron Man and Stark Industries are pivotal to the narrative, it doesn't dwell on death or the finger-snap, it lingers on hope and the fact that we do not stop, we go on, no matter what has tested us.

Spider-man has always been the sunshine hero of the Marvel world, full of fun, colour, and vibrancy, and this is why Webb failed, and Marvel succeed, because this follows the winning formula of Homecoming.

Holland nails it yet again as Parker, and here, we focus a lot more on Parker, him dealing with the loss of a mentor/Father figure, and his coming of age, not just with his gift, but with the predictability of him being a normal sixteen year old boy.

When we join the class on holiday, this is where the film comes into it's own, the set pieces remind one of the heady days of the nineties, where there were probably only two or three tentpole films released in the summer, and these set pieces are just big, silly fun, and then we are introduced to Gyllenhall, who blows the film out of the water with Mysterio.

It's a genius move to have someone who was in the running to play Spider-man at one time as a pivotal character, and Gyllenhall is really having fun as the troubled Mysterio, really living up to his name at times in the film.

And then Far From Home goes from really good, to astounding, as the narrative turns on it's head. Yes, it may be a little predictable as to what certain characters motivations are, but their rationale is a wonderful inclusion that takes us right back to 2008.

Add Jackson in an extended cameo, and a sub-plot involving Happy Hogan and Aunt May, Far From Home doesn't let the viewer suffer with MCU fatigue, as it just goes along for the ride, and has a lot of fun while it does it.

You feel that a lot of weight has been lifted when you see this, it's what Spider-Man should be, a bright, fun-filled adventure, that never lets up, and keeps the viewer on it's toes.

There is one scene that is a little dark toward the final act, it almost feels like the Scarecrow level from Arkham Asylum, but it's inventive, and again, quite important to the film.

So all in all, it's a welcome sequel that is light in tone and heavy on set pieces.

And the post credits sequence is by far the most mind blowing one from the MCU.

Men in Black: International
(2019)

Marvel In Black....
The Men in Black have expanded to cover the globe but so have the villains of the universe.

To keep the world safe, Agent Thor and rookie Valkyrie join forces.

When aliens that can take the form of any human arrive on Earth, H and M (not the clothing company) embark on a globe-trotting adventure to save the world from their mischievous plans.

Oh, and there is a mole in the MIB, who could it be? could it be one of the A-listers guest starring in this??

MIB: International is a film made for people who thought the chemistry between Hemsworth and Thompson (not Emma) in Ragnarok was second to none. This is true, but they forgot to bring the writers this time.

But, the studio didn't forget the cheque book, as we are treated to some sumptuous visuals in Marrakech, which really make the film worth watching.

Other than that, it's just an excuse for Hemsworth and Thompson (not Emma) to have that buddy cop banter that we all loved in the eighties when Gibson and Glover were doing it so much better.

Plot wise? It's all about a big gun that can destroy the earth, and the bad guys want it, and H and M try throughout the film to keep it from them.

Every now and again, we have Liam Neeson barking Basil Exposition from his office, and Rafe Spall trying to get one over Chris Hemsworth every chnac ehe can.

It's all predictable stuff, but it looks good, and Hemsworth and Thompson (not Emma) are quite brilliant together.

And the film is book ended by a guest appearance from Thompson (Emma, not Tessa).

So it's not Thor-ful, but far from Marvel-ous....

Brightburn
(2019)

Injustice League.....
After a difficult struggle with fertility, Tori's dreams of motherhood come true with the arrival of a baby boy.

Brandon appears to be everything Tori and her husband wanted, bright, talented and curious about the world.

But as Brandon grows older, powerful darkness manifests within him, and Tori becomes doubtful about her son.

Once Brandon begins to act on his twisted urges, those closest to him find themselves in grave danger.

This high concept horror takes the best part of Superman 3 (The good versus evil Superman fight), and asks, what if the evil incarnation arrived on earth instead of a saviour? And expands on it.

And the results are a better than expected film that could have elaborated on some of the narrative aspects, but decides to go straight for the eyeball with a shard of glass.

Once Brandon Breyer (see what they did with his name?) hits his twelfth birthday, his first stages of puberty hit at a wonderfully subliminal rate.

As any parent of a teenager knows, we get the sulking and the loud voices, so his parents shrug off the diner blowout and put it down to coming of age, but we've seen the trailer, and we know that this is the beginning of the second act.

And the second act is when the film really takes off, the writers really want you to believe that Brandon will come good, that this is just a phase, but once the craft starts to beckon him, you always know that this is his calling, even though you hope he will become a saviour. The writers know comic book movies (especially Marvel/DC) and let the narrative sort of lead you on, even though every instance of perplexity from Brandon exacerbates a little bit more.

Brandon is a wonderful character, ticking all the boxes of a misunderstood teen (perceived as creepy, even though he's trying to reach out) and these misunderstandings add to his frustration.

Once the frustration takes over Brandon, this is when the film becomes it's own, and this in the UK is a top end 15 rated film. The set pieces int his are particularly nasty, especially the scenes in the diner, and the road scene.

Once his mother realises what Brandon is, it's too late for both of them, and desperation takes over, toward the end, Teri does something, and one was really begging her not to do it, just let him be.

The final third at the house is tense, but it relies heavily on jump scares to get its point across, which is a shame because the scenes with Brandon floating above the house from a distance are very eerie.

But all in all, this is a surprisingly successful spin on the Superhero film, and I hope they expand the film with a lot more Rooker next time.

solid stuff

Godzilla: King of the Monsters
(2019)

When the monsters are off screen, it's a monstrosity....
Another addition to the so called 'Monsterverse', and another damp squib of a film, with very impressive effects.

At least here, Dougherty sort of goes back to basics with the monster mashes, but they are few and far between, and all the filler is lots of incoherent exposition featuring a wealth of gifted actors who will be bad mouthing this film in the next couple of years.

Apart from the titular creature, and some 'remember me from the other film' cameos, this film is a totally different 'beast' from Evans 2014 in carnation.

Here we have thespian Charles Dance dressed for Jurassic Park, staring menacingly at people whilst holding a gun to someones head. That's him done in the film, and he's the best thing in it, because it's such a bizarre turn for him, even though he pops up in every turgid fantasy film released lately.

Obliviously, Nuclear family is a key component of the narrative, with father trying to find estranged wife and daughter, but it's handles so poorly, you just yearn for a CG beast to blow something up.

And when it happens, its impressive, but only if you catch it in on the biggest screen and in 3D, you may as well go all out for the spectacle.

But although the Kaiju look like they are fighting in the same world as Fincher's Se7en, you cannot help but feel a little excited when Godzilla finally goes thermonuclear.

But my word, it's a slog while the monster mash is absent.

When the King and the God finally face off next year, this franchise will be extinct.

John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum
(2019)

First gun-fu and now horse-fu. Keanu rules....
After gunning down a member of the High Table, John Wick finds himself stripped of the organisation's protective services.

Now with a $14 million bounty on his head, Wick must fight his way through the streets of New York as he becomes the target of the world's most ruthless killers.

Parabellum is one of the most zen like action films ever made. Its psychedelic cinematography and mise en scene is what makes this franchise stand out from other action films, and it also cements Reeves as one of the most iconic screen presences there is working in cinema today.

He says very little in the film, but action speaks louder than words, and my goodness, what sublime action there is in this beautiful film.

Picking up straight from JW2, Parabellum is an almost exhausting exercise in action, and you have to empathise with Wick, he rarely has a chance to rest during the film, and the physical and psychological damage he suffers only adds to the films tension.

Part 3 ups the ante with the set pieces, from the small intimate ones in a library, to the grand extended almost balletic extended shootouts in the second and third act, John Wick never fails to amaze the viewer, but with all this action, when we stop to breathe, especially when we have exposition starring Berry and Huston, the film really does stop in a jarring way.

Camerawork is wonderful, particularly when we are on the road, with the camera focusing on the long road, subliminally referencing Wicks never ending journey, just when will it all be over? How will this man ever rest? Will Wick ever get to the end of his journey, his goal to carry on living, so he can remember?

It's also great to see Dacascos starring in a major release again, his Zero is a formidable adversary, but his strange, almost camp like ways make him a very likeable presence, causing the viewer to let their guard down, and endear to him, making him one of the most dangerous villains.

It's a wonderfully crafted film, almost dreamlike in its nature, the desert scene is awe-inspiring and a genuine jaw dropping moment, that lets you almost feel the delusional state Wick must be feeling as he slowly dehydrates.

It's also very funny in places, with Macshane providing the biggest laugh by simply putting a phone down.

So all in all, it's a wonderful sequel, thanks to Reeves hypnotic presence, the amazing choreography, and some wonderful camerawork.

One cannot wait to see how the next film will top this.

Hellboy
(2019)

A studio churned abomination, don't blame Marshall....
If Marshall had his way, this would have been such a different beast. His imagination is beyond anything this film has to offer. Even his weakest films, such as Doomsday, have interesting concepts and are visually stunning, but this had so much studio interference, it wreaks of lost potential.

Hellboy is a behemoth of ideas, dark, sparse, and ideally funny, and whilst the gore quota is high, it's here only for exploitation, and adds nothing to the story or narrative.

The cast are fine, given the dire material they blurt out of their mouth, and Harbour makes for a fine Hellboy, but it's a soulless venture come the end.

CGI is okay, but it becomes overkill after a while, and the language isn't there because we all love an R-rated comic book film ala Deadpool, it's just there for pure titillation, and it becomes tiresome as the film goes on, especially from Graham, who must be regretting his contract signing.

Add McShane amd Jovovich as filler, and what you have is a desperate attempt to cash in on what is otherwise a fruitful genre that has plenty of legs on it yet.

A travesty.

Greta
(2018)

I tend to stick around....
Frances finds a handbag on the subway and promptly returns it to the titular character, an eccentric French lady who loves handbags and piano.

Having recently lost her mother, Frances strikes up a friendship with the lonely widow who enjoys her company.

But when Greta's behaviour becomes increasingly strange and obsessive, so Frances does whatever it takes to end the friendship before things turn sinister...

Knowing very little of the film, I tool great comfort in the fact that this was directed by Jordan, a wonderful director who has hardly made a mis-step in his almost forty year career, and the fact that this harks back to those heady times in the late eighties and early nineties, when a stalker film was released almost every week in the cinema.

At first, it would be easy to compare the film to Fatal Attraction, but this has many comparisons to other stalker films such as Fear, Unlawful Entry, SWF, Pacific Heights, Deceived, and even Kalifornia, and, much like the aforementioned films, it follows the same simple story arc and narrative, vut the fundamental thing about these films is the antagonist, and Huppert is quite wonderful as the unrelenting Greta.

Moretz plays the doe eyed innocent with ease, and here, she's as watchable as ever, her chemistry with Huppert is believable, and even when the friendship begins to falter, the chemistry is still there, albeit on the other end of the spectrum, but it makes the film that little bit more tense than it deserves to be.

There are times when the film gets a little schlocky, bordering on the ridiculous, but the film has enough tricks up its sleeves to make you wonder whether certain sequences are reality or merely fantasy.

Monroe lets the film down a little as Moretz's typecast room-mate, all against the friendship, and 'I told you so' speeches, and Stephen Rea turns up halfway through the film, as he does in several Jordan films, as a private detective whom adds nothing to the film.

And there is a genius move in the film which calls back from an earlier scene, but from another perspective. This scene would have been almost perfect if it wasn't for the ridiculous camerawork obscuring a character, giving a trick away

But these are minor quibbles in an other wise worthy entry into the sub-genre of the stalker film, and its nice to be taken back to the golden age of bunny boiling, Ice-Pick killings, and Michael Keaton doing late night DIY.

If you get those three references, you'll find a lot to enjoy in Greta.

Good, silly, suspenseful fun.

Avengers: Endgame
(2019)

I love you 3000......
Here it is then, after eleven years and twenty one movies of differing quality, we finally reach the Endgame.

But does it deliver?

Does it really live up to Infinity Wars sombre ending?

Yes, my goodness yes, and despite my expectations being stupendously high on the verge of me thinking that I would not enjoy it, it's easily one of the most satisfying cinema experiences that I have ever experienced.

The trailer would lead you to believe that this film would be emotionally draining, the most serious of the MCU, but there is as much humour in this than any of the other phase entries, and they are genuine laugh out loud moments.

But the humour does not pull the viewer away from the emotional pull that the characters pour on to the screen, and with every laugh out loud moment, there are some gut punches the film gives that will leave you reeling, if you've been even semi-invested in this behemoth of a cinematic universe.

At just over three hours, Endgame truly does not feel like that, and throws some wonderful curve-balls for almost every main character, and Kudos to the Russo Brothers, they give each character a goal, an ambition, that makes you care all the more for their quest.

The main meat of the film is the strained relationship between Stark and Rogers, reluctance, denial, guilt, anguish, and anger all play a part when they are together on screen.

The second act is the foundation of the film, it's genius, almost jaw-dropping in the fact that it shouldn't make sense, it could easily fail, but the writers have so much respect for the franchise, and filmgoers, that it works so effortlessly.

To say a lot about the third act would to give too much away, but viewers will not be disappointed. It delivers on a grandiose scale, almost delusional, but its awe-inspiring stuff.

You know not to read any spoilers, and unfortunately they are so easy to find, but everyone knows not to.

But rest assured, it left me stunned, satisfied and teary eyed.

Marvel have done something epic, and there will not be a film like this around for a very long time.

Shazam!
(2019)

A very deceptive trailer......Not for children...
Billy Batson is a foster child who is proving a nuisance to Child Services with his search for his mother.

In his latest foster home, Billy makes friends with Freddy, and finds himself selected by a Wizard to be his new protege.

Now with the ability to instantly become a superhero by saying the films title, Billy begins to explore his new powers with Freddy.

But Billy soon learns that he has an equal enemy, Dr. Thaddeus Sivana, who has accepted the power of the Seven Deadly Sins instead.

Now pursued by Sivana for his own power as well, Billy must face up to the responsibilities, and realising that family can be important....

Going by the trailer, you'd be forgiven for thinking that Shazam! would be a homage of Big and the current slew of comic book movies we have has since Stark first graced our screen.

DC more or less promised that this was the brighter side of their Universe, and the trailers promised that also, but my goodness, this has some very dark scenes, and connotations to the nuclear family that give the film a dark tone throughout.

The first 50 minutes of the film is way too long, and could have done with trimming at least the opening Gambit of Sivana as a child. This set the mood for the entire film, and stayed with you until the end. Potentially, it does make Strong appear as a more formidable foe, but a little flashback would have sufficed, so we could have spent more time on the 'fun' stuff.

And when we do get to Levi, the film does go up a gear, but again, it spends too long with the Queen song and the bumbling around with the super powers, which made it feel like a more comic 'Chronicle'.

Strong is good in his role, but as I've said before, some scenes with him in are very disturbing, and feel out of place for a film that should have a much more lighter tone.

For a universe that is universally panned because it's not Marvel, DC have taken a massive gamble with Shazam, and it sort of pays off, with some fun references to other films from the DCEU, and it does pick up after an hour, but that opening sequence is really too dark for this film.

Good, but it takes far too long to get to the meat of the story.

Await Further Instructions
(2018)

A traditional family 'christ'mas........
When the Milgram family awake to discover a mysterious black substance surrounding their house, their only clue is a single line of text on television.......

'Stay Indoors and Await Further Instructions'.

Unsure if they are victims of a cruel psychological experiment, or if the country is undergoing a genuine emergency, simmering tensions escalate into a deadly power struggle...

Harking back to the Techno-Punk films of the early nineties, AFI is a kitchen sink Science Fiction drama that feels like the most depressing Christmas day episode of Eastenders ever aired.

We start with the prodigal son returning with his new girlfriend to build bridges with his estranged family, although we never really find out just what the problem is, because as soon as we meet the father, he just becomes such a narcissist to everyone (apart from his own father), and he becomes the antagonist, rather than the strange force that surrounds the house.

The film centres on the television, and how it influences the family to do the acts that they do during the film, which is pretty reflective on a lot of households these days, so the science fiction element is swiped to one side right there, and one can focus on how television has evolved in the last twenty years.

Television, for some, is a pivotal point of their daily lives, it can take you away from the daily stress of being part of the grand human race, or, in turn, it can exacerbate how you are feeling, it can influence your well being, or even your day to day life. Some people cannot live with out television, which this films main narrative focuses on throughout.

Unfortunately, the film loses its way in the third act, going absolute bananas for no real explanation, apart from the time of year and the real reason why we celebrate Christmas, but for the first two acts, its a solid tension filled drama, with a curious element of science fiction thrown in for good measure.

See it, its a curious piece for sure, but the third act ruins all the tension that has been risen thanks to the first two acts..

Pet Sematary
(2019)

sometimes.....leaving a film alone is better....
Dr. Louis Creed and his wife, Rachel, move from Boston to Stephen Kings' favourite place in the world, Maine with their two young children.

The good-ish Doctor soon discovers a mysterious burial ground hidden deep in the woods near their new home.

When tragedy strikes, Louis turns to his neighbour Jud, setting off a chain of events that unleashes an unspeakable evil with horrific consequences.....

Made purely because IT was such a behemoth when released, Pet Sematary was the inevitable King film that was ripe for a remake....or so the studio thinks.

There is no way that they would remake The Shining, Carrie, or Misery, those films are bonafide classics that have stood the test of time, and will be fondly remembered for eternity.

The original Pet Sematary was a solid horror film, but released during a time when King had an adaptation released in the cinema every other month, and got lost somewhere in Maine.

And while this, as a standalone film, is worth seeing, and is a solid, if uninspiring horror film, one cannot feel that they yearn for the original and Miko Hughes, who was wonderful as Gage back in 1989.

Clarke is good as the torn Doctor, suffering from something that the film forgets to explain, and if you see the interactions between him and his Father-In-Law, you know that there are important scenes that were left on the cutting room floor in order to get those all important jump scares in, which to be frank, are not effective, because we have all grown numb to them.

Lithgow adds some much needed class to the film, and is the blood that pumps the rest of the narrative.

The writer has taken some liberties by changing the source material, and although it does add more tension in the final third, one cannot help but think that this story deals with unforgiving loss, and not being able to cope with the loss of a loved one. Now, I know that this still stands somewhat in this film, but harking back to 1989, the main arc of the film was so much more devastating.

With references to The Wicker Man, The Shining, J-Horror, and even The Terminator (the score during the final act is reminiscent of that films final act), Pet Sematary 2019 is a worthwhile horror film, with some effective tension, but it also feels ever so slightly lazy, ever so devoid of that black heart that is evident in the best King adaptations, that it won't be remembered as well.

Which is a shame, because the story is fantastic.

There is one thing though, expect a plethora of King Stories to be resurrected in the next few years

Dumbo
(2019)

1 down 2 to dumb-go....
So is this where the bubble bursts for the live action remakes of Disney classics?

If it is, then Aladdin and The Lion King should fear for their CGI, as Burton's creation is stillborn.

All CGI and actors from the directors better films does not make a good piece of work, and here is a prime example.

I was never looking forward to this film, It felt like a pointless exercise, but, with Burton at the Helm, it could have been something different, and given that Dumbo '41 is a pretty dark affair, Burton seemed like the right candidate.

But like Planet Of the Apes, and more or less everything he's done since Dark shadows, it feels like he has his hands tied behind his back, and Disney has said 'look, you can have Elfman, a couple of visual ideas, and those two blokes from Batman Returns, but anything else, has to come through us'.

And does it show.

The film is devoid of soul, emotion, energy, or empathy. And considering the film deals with subjects such as PTSD, loss, and coming to terms with body image, it just handles everything much like a monkey in a draw.

Farrell seems out of place, DeVito does his usual schtick he's being doing since 1974, and Keaton is emulating Depp in such a fashion, you really wish that Depp appeared in this film.

At least it would have added some much needed curiosity value to the piece.

All in all, it's a worthless dud, offering nothing but terrible CGI, and a bitter taste.

Edtv
(1999)

The True Man Show...
In a desperate attempt to boost ratings, a cable channel decides to document the life of someone on a daily basis and air the footage as a show.

That someone turns out to be Ed, a laid-back video-store clerk.

While the TV series makes Ed an overnight celebrity, it also begins to wreak havoc on his personal life, complicating his relationship with his new girlfriend, and causing tension with his brother.......

In a time when Hollywood thought it would be great to release two similar films around the same time (think volcano's and meteors), EDTV was a couple of years after Weir's grossly overrated Carrey love fest, but has a much more cultural relevance.

Just under a year later, here in the UK, we had the behemoth that was Big Brother, and in turn, that spawned numerous reality TV shows that have now plagued the once crucial family prime time part of the wonderful world of television.

Unlike The Truman Show, this is 'real' every fibre of Ed's life is scrutinised and celebrated, from the good to the bad, until he turns into a parody of himself, and in turn decomposing his family and friends subconsciously.

The film could be deemed as throwaway fluff, but if more people saw this, they would realise that like The Paper, Howard has stuck a big middle finger up to popular culture, and just how it can influence Joe public, the boring percentage of the world who have nothing relevant to say about themselves, and would rather talk about the latest trend that is hitting our internet today.

Which could say a lot about some of the characters that enter or are already part of Ed's life vying for that little bit of fame that all of us really wants just for a little while.

The cast are wonderful, especially Harrelson, as Ed's narcissist Brother who tries to exploit him and in turn, resents his fame.

But the film follows the three act rule of the whimsical. The first act is uplifting, the second starts to shoe cracks in the sublime before ultimately ending that act with the reality of it's all going wrong for those concerned.

But the final act always has the protagonist coming up 'Trumps' and we all live happily ever after....which dampens the proceedings just a little.

But all in all, it's an overlooked gem that was cruelly overshadowed by Carrey and his foray into the serious.

Seriously???

Us
(2019)

We are Americans.......
Accompanied by her husband, son and daughter, Adelaide Wilson returns to the beachfront home where she grew up as a child.

Haunted by a terrifying experience from the past, Adelaide becomes increasingly concerned that something sinister is going to happen.

Her worst fears are confirmed when four strangers appear at the house, forcing the Wilsons into a fight for survival.

When the strangers finally confront them, the family are horrified to learn that each attacker takes the appearance of one of them......

Take what you want from Peele's latest film, it could have many connotations, from the fearing oneself, as in self realisation, or it could simply be a homage to popular culture from yesteryear that now falls on the dead ears of a new generation.

The many references to eighties pop culture (notice the VHS tapes on the shelf at the beginning, all foreshadowing events that are about to follow, The Man With Two Brains, The Right Stuff, and most notably, C.H.U.D., which has a running arc throughout the whole film).

But the film also deals with the mysticism of Deja Vu, the events that occur with PTSD, living with a past event that will haunt you, follow you until the end of time.

Or maybe one is looking way too far into the cinematic abyss, looking for things that may or may not be there.

Other than that, it's a film that lives up to its expectations, its predecessor, and cements Peele as one of the most exciting directors working at the moment.

genuine scares are supported by genuine laugh out loud moments, that compel the viewer to question what on earth is going on, and the nuclear family element is a pivotal part of what makes the film work, from both ends of the spectrum.

seeing it for a second time makes the film that little more genius, but takes away a little of the crucial elements of what makes the film work so well.

The cast are great, N'yongo in particular gives two wonderful performances that are so different from each other that you could honestly believe that it's two different performers taking on the 'dual' role.

It scares without going for the cheap 'quiet-quiet-quiet....Bang!' shocks that are the bane of horror films of late, and references to The Shining and The Lost Boys, and even O.J Simpson, are subliminal, but imperative to the films overall narrative arc.

You'll be hard pressed to find a more satisfying horror thriller this year, and the ending is surprisingly beautiful, although ultimately disturbing.

Try and see it with minimal knowledge of the film, and then see it again, just to see how brilliantly obvious things are...

Alita: Battle Angel
(2019)

That.....looks........fatal.....
Abandoned Alita is found in the scrapyard of Iron City by Ido, a cyber-doctor who takes the unconscious cyborg to his clinic.

When Alita awakens, she has no memory of who she is, nor does she have any recognition of the world shes in.

As Alita learns to navigate her new life and the treacherous streets of Iron City, Ido tries to shield her from her mysterious past.

Much like Ghost In The Shell, Alita suffers from all style over substance. Yes, the film is amazing to look at, and there are some truly awe-inspiring set pieces in the film, but much like the desolate place Ido finds the titular character, the rest of the film is hollow and devoid of any soul.

Why Rodriguez directed this is baffling. There is none of the directors style to this film, it's just an empty vessel that feel like it has been shredded within an inch of its artificial life to make the running time slimmer.

Waltz is wonderful as usual, but his character seems to empathetic to be a hunter at night, and more interesting characters like Skrien or even Fahey, are pushed to set piece heaven and given very little to do.

If you have to see this, find the biggest screen, in 3D and lower your expectations, because this is nothing more than a charmless set up for a franchise that will never happen.

I'm pretty sure that this will be one of the biggest disasters of the year, but it won't affect the director or Cameron, because it's just too dull and boring for anyone to care about it's existence.

A shame, as it had so much potential to be a beautiful world builder.

And then Ed Norton turns up as a glam rocker come the end.

I only hope this doesn't Norbit Ali's Best Supporting actor nomination

Foreclosed
(2013)

This is my house.....
When a family move into a foreclosed home, the previous owner begins a campaign of intimidation and terror.

The deranged man will stop at nothing to get his home back....or be in another Scream movie....

This is nothing more than your atypical psycho stalker film, starring people who you recognise from other films, an young girl who looks like Neve Campbell, and special guest star Paul Sorvino not doing a lot other than giving people disappointing looks.

Jamie Kennedy has had a bizarre career just of late, and it seems that he will appear in anything. But even though he does do sinister well, the ghost of Randy Meeks will follow him until the day his agent gives up.

It's straight to the point, the hearing impairment arc is an interesting angle, even when it's treated badly. For instance, the scene where Matlin is expressing her frustration via an interpreter is unintentionally hilarious, as the interpreter is over exaggerating her voice.

It's well acted to a point, Sorvino is hilarious in every scene he's in, and there is the compulsory bad CG explosion at the end.

It's not going to amaze people with its originality, but it follows the traditional narrative of this sub-genre.

Holmes & Watson
(2018)

Where's the bar on this canoe?.......
Detective Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson join forces to investigate a mysterious murder at Buckingham Palace.

It seems like an open-and-shut case as all signs point to Professor James Moriarty, the criminal mastermind and longtime nemesis of the crime-solving duo.

When new twists and clues begin to emerge, the world's greatest sleuth and his trusted assistant must now use their legendary wits and ingenious methods to catch the killer before the queen becomes the next victim.......

Released when no one really bothers to go to the cinema, H&W came out of nowhere and had flip written all over it.

And while in some senses it is an unmitigated disaster, when you compare it to the casts other bodies of work, it's still a curiosity piece that needs to be seen, just so you know how ludicrous the whole film is.

But, and this is a very loose but, see the film with the lowest common denominator of expectations, and you can revel in the fact that the film has so much potential, and throws every aspect of it out of the window.

It's always good to see Ferrell and Reilly together in a film, and here they do have the chemistry that they always have, but as the old adage goes, they are clearly having so much more fun making the film.

Add a wonderful British cast, and a very bizarre cameo from Billy Zane, and you truly have one of the most mind blowing films released in 2018.

There are a couple of laughs to be had, but they are so childish, you can see the punchline coming before the chicken crosses the road.

It's not going to tarnish anybody's career, because it's never going to be remembered, but I feel it will become something of a cult classic in years to come, due to the awful PPV jokes, Trumpisms, and an amazing cast really trying hard to accomplish something

Welcome to Marwen
(2018)

The pain is a rocket fuel......
No one expects Mark Hogancamp to recover from a devastating assault that wipes away all of his memories.

Putting together pieces from the past and present, Mark meticulously creates a Belgian town and becomes a heroic World War II fighter pilot.

His astonishing art installation soon comes to life with breathtakingly realistic dolls, a testament to the most powerful women he knows.

Through this fantasy world, Hogancamp finds the strength to triumph in the real world and face his attackers.......

I can understand why the film has failed, it's a very acquired taste, but Zemeckis knows how to make reality the most fantastical thing, so it was an obvious choice for him to helm a film about Hogancamp.

Wether it was Hogancamps wishes, it would have been fundamental to have seen how he was before the attack, how his life was, but instead the only glimpse we get is of that fateful night.

Carrel is great as Hogancamp, and the fantasy scenes are the films highpoints, a real credit given the films relativly low budget.

But coming from the person who gave us BTTF, WFRR, and Gump, this is already expected.

Some characters are pointless, and could have been dismissed in favour of more of Hogancamps background, but as before, maybe we didn't see it due to memory loss.

Touching at times, fantastical, and never boring, Marwen will become appreciated in years to come.

It's well worth two hours of your time, even if it's for the fantasy sequences

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