stevenrotherforth

IMDb member since July 2012
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Reviews

The Hustle
(2019)

Despite this movies two magnificent leads, it's a film I can't recommend
The Hustle

With two immensely talented actresses at the forefront, this movie should have hit a home run. Sadly this film soon falls into unfunny territory. 'The Hustle' tells of two con-women, one of high class the other a little low rent. They team up to swindle all kinds of rich men out of their money. This could be considered as a remake to such movies as 'Dirty Rotten Scoundrels' and 'Bedtime Story'. I've not watched either of them but can confirm that this judged as its own movie just doesn't work. Most of the jokes fall flat. Even from a seasoned professional such as Rebel Wilson, this for the most part just ain't funny. It is with surprise that it is Anne Hathaway that gets most of the few and far between comedy moments. Once again proving that she has it all. Talent, beauty and now comedic timing. Her range of accents bring the occasional smile but I rarely if ever found myself chuckling. It's all a bit predictable in terms of comedic delivery. Hathaway's laugh out loud moment when her Butler gets shot is perhaps the funniest part of the movie but that's even included in the trailer. As a matter of fact the trailer has all the best bits. Just watch that instead!

I believe both Wilson and Hathaway could have delivered more belly laughs if the movie was more tightly crafted. There's a dithering romantic subplot that goes nowhere and by the time credits roll you'll feel disappointed. This is yet another modern comedy that has no real substance other than the initial premise and that soon wears thin.

Sadly despite the films two magnificent leads, this is a film I can't recommend.

Geostorm
(2017)

Seen it! Done it! Got the T shirt!
Geostorm

Dean 'the Disaster artist' Delvin returns with yet another carnage fuelled fun ride entitled 'Geostorm.' Sadly though the fun seems to have been left behind and swept up by the bad weather in yet another cliched effort. Delvin is proving to be a one trick pony. He once wowed us with 'Independence Day' but now it's a case of "Seen it, done it, got the T-shirt!"

'Geostorm' tells a ludicrously silly story of weather gone haywire. Humans fix the problem with a network of satellites that can control the climate down on Earth. Without this creation that is named 'Dutch boy' (this was explained why but to be honest I wasn't paying attention) the weather goes catastrophically out of control causing global disasters. Scientist Gerard Butler ( yes you read that correctly, Butler plays a scientist) must save the day when 'Dutch Boy' is sabotaged and turned into a weapon of mass destruction.

Ok so I understand that this is a take your brain out to enjoy type of movie but you would have to remove your brain and flush it down the toilet for this film to be any good. It's not the silly story that's the problem it's the unimaginative retread of better movies from the 90's. Sure this effort has better special effects than those of decades gone by but no amount of visual splendour can save this film from the humdrum. It truly is a case of 'Seen it all before!' So much so that when the VFX carnage kicks off you'll find yourself glancing at your watch or scrolling through Facebook on your phone. To add to the bland and banal. The characters are forgettable and this makes the audience not care what happens to them. When disaster strikes the audience aren't connected or even remotely interested in the fate of those onscreen. 'Independence Day' had memorable and likeable characters so we cared about what was happening. Not so much here. Apart from Butler none of the cast strike a lasting impression. There's a subplot about Butler's character and his brother but it's tedious and cliche. In fact the most entertaining part of the movie is the beginning when Butler's character is verbally battling a bunch of government officials in a court room environment. That's not saying much for the millions spent on special effects.

'Geostorm' is a film that is ok as background noise. Something to watch whilst you prepare dinner or do the ironing. Not really what was intended for a movie with a budget of one hundred and twenty million dollars.

Best of the Best
(1989)

A forgotten classic of the martial arts genre
Best Of The Best

At the heart of this film lays a credible drama just trying to get out. 'Best Of The Best' tells the story of a group of men selected to represent the U.S.A in a full contact martial arts competition against a formidable team from Korea. Director Bob Radler tries his best to develop his characters within the lean 1hr 37min runtime. The script is pure 80's action cheese but it does have its moments. There's an impressive cast too consisting of Eric Roberts. James Earl Jones and Chris Penn. The martial arts scenes are a little pedestrian with Phillip Rhee as Tommy being the only true martial artist actor among the American team. Moves look awkward and forced especially from Chris Penn who's portly frame doesn't really shout out gold winning athlete. Eric Roberts fairs better but his choreography is kept simple with mainly hand attacks and straight forward kicks to the mid section. It can be said that Roberts's over acting nearly spoils the show. Especially when he takes a devastating blow to the shoulder. It is only when Simon Rhee as Korean Champ 'Dae Han' takes on his real life brother Phillip Rhee in the final match that we do see some truly spectacular martial arts. The Korean cast do look like real fighters and Director Bob Radler keeps their acting minimal and allows their fists and feet do the talking. That said all the fights leading up to the main event are still hugely entertaining due to the choreography being mostly grounded and believable. We the audience are invested in the characters by this point so to see them succeed is nail biting cinema. There's rousing spirit a plenty with obvious influence taken from 'Rocky' and 'The Karate Kid'.

'Best Of The Best' is a rarity among the genre. Of all the martial arts movies made in the 80's with exception of 'The Karate Kid' it's the moments without the chop socky that is just as entertaining. The cast are supremely likeable. When Roberts dials his performance back he's a wonderful actor. James Earl Jones as Coach Cusso brings the gravitas and surprisingly it is Phillip Rhee that carries most of the movie. Chris Penn is the comedy relief leaving the remaining members of the team. John Dye a Buddhist that unintentionally gets the ladies and David Argesta as lovable Italian Sonny Grasso who believes he can get the ladies but to no avail. Also there's Sally Kirkland who is subtly believable as spiritual coach Catherine Wade.

The scriptwriters have tried to deliver a rounded story of a teams growth and unity. It works in parts but as aforementioned the short runtime does this movie no favours. That along with some ham fisted dialogue that is out of place and jarring.

'Best of the Best' is a movie that I grew up with and it inspired me to study Karate. It's a movie that deserves a reboot. After all we got the abysmal 'Kick-boxer' refresh that was both unnecessary and far inferior to the original.

On DVD this movie looks tired and dated. With a mono sound mix and a 4.3 aspect ratio. This movie is in need of a restoration. It boasts a wonderfully cheesy 80's 'Rocky' inspired soundtrack. It's a forgotten classic of the genre. One that I still love today.

Robot Jox
(1989)

From a time when 'Pacific Rim' wasn't even a glint in Guillermo Del Torro's eye
Robot Jox

This movie came from a time long ago when 'Pacific Rim' wasn't even a glint in Guillermo Del Torro's eye and it just can't be helped but to draw comparison to Del Torro's 2013 Robo-blockbuster.

Robot Jox was made in 1989 and is set in the future where humans do battle with each other in giant tower sized robots. War is outlawed and settles are scored by the smashing of metal against metal. The acting and dialogue is woeful but the concept is rather impressive and stop motion effects were pretty good. This film unlike the comparable 'Pacific Rim' didn't have a mega budget and it is commendable how the special effects team have managed to stretch the cash. Made when filmmakers needed to be more resourceful. 'Robot Jox' is lemonade pretending to be Champagne. Whilst the special effects may be ambitious the acting and screenplay certainly are not. Gary Graham stars as our hero. He's a recognisable face but I can't put my finger on just what else I've seen him in. He tries to do his best with the poor script and imitate the whole hero swagger but sadly he's no Eastwood, Stallone or even Van Damme. It comes as a surprise that Director Stuart Gordon almost cast Jean Claude Van Damme in the lead role of Achilles but opted for Graham instead. The fact that the studio went bust half way through filming this movie is just as well they didn't pay big bucks for the muscles from Brussels. Gary Graham is the best of a bad bunch when it comes to the amateur cast. The villain played by Paul Koslo named Alexander is laughably bad but still manages to charismatically add something with his hammy acting and cheesy dialogue. His Russian accent is so over the top that it makes the movie all the more entertaining. Just like this film, he is so bad he's good. This is a movie that can be likened to that old saying "Never meet your heroes!" I loved this as a kid. Robots were big business back then. What with the Transformers cartoon, The Terminator and Robocop. Now as a forty three year old I couldn't help but cringe when I rewatched. That said if like me you can forgive this films flaws there's still fun to be had. Sure it's a product of its time but without this we probably wouldn't have got Pacific Rim. Another interesting fact is that a sequel was planned where Achilles and Alexander team up to take on an invading alien race. Hang on a minute that is the plot of Pacific Rim! Perhaps we did sort of get that sequel after all.

The Hurt Locker
(2008)

If you like your war movies raw, realistic and gritty
The Hurt Locker

This movie directed by Kathryn Bigelow is a stunningly crafted piece of filmmaking. One that doesn't present a story in the conventional method. More of a character study of a group of men at war. The camera follows these soldiers around and the audience can witness the strength of character needed to endure the events of day to day life. Bigelow lets her movie slowly unfold but still there's some supremely staged action and nail biting tension in many a set piece scattered throughout the movies 2hr 11min runtime.

None of this would work if it wasn't for the masterful performances by Jeremy Renner and Anthony Macklie. Each of them dealing with their life in the baking hot sun very differently. Renner plays Sergeant James, a soldier who seems to relish the intensity of his job. Tasked with disarming bombs on a day to day basis. Mackie plays Sergeant Sanborn. Both men have seen enough death to change them and as the film progresses it is Sanborn who wishes to return to civilian life.

Bigelow's film is completely engrossing. One that entertains by creeping up on you unexpectedly. The sublime camera work is unsettled but still coherent. Editing is punchy and direct. Cinematography conveys the searing heat very effectively.

On 1080p Blu-ray Image quality has a noticeable amount of grain. This gives the film a gritty cinematic appearance. It's never distracting, just note that this film isn't digitally slick. The picture quality has a raw texture. Abrasive almost. The audience will feel the soldiers discomfort as the dust and dehydration gets the better of them. Black levels and detail are mightily impressive. On SDR Blu-ray the colour palette fluctuates. There are some colourful scenes. Mainly the blinding fireballs and explosions. Dynamic range is splendid and really accentuates the scorching sun and exploding bombs. Skin tones look natural, sun baked faces with beads of sweat and dirt clearly visible. Other scenes appear to be bland allowing the dusty environment to be hyper realistic.

On Blu-ray the DTS HD Master audio sound mix is an absolute belter. I believe this is a reference quality mix. LFE is spectacular. Explosions and gunshots have real impact. You can feel the thud of fifty cal machine gunfire rattle your viewing environment. Surround sound effects are wide and immersive. Bullets wizz from speaker to speaker and helicopters soar through the soundstage. This is fantastic considering it's not object based like a Dolby Atmos or DTS X mix. All these technical attributes add to an already effective cinematic experience. If you like your war movies raw, gritty and realistic then this is up there with the best of them. I'd love to see this movie make its way on to 4K Blu-ray. HDR will only elevate the already sublime visuals and a Dolby Atmos sound mix could improve on near audio perfection.

Spider-Man: Far from Home
(2019)

My Peter tingle tells me that this is a hugely enjoyable movie
Spider-Man Far From Home

A sequel that outshines Tom Holland's first outing as your friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man. 'Far from Home' is immense fun as the story follows the events after 'Endgame'. It's not meant to better the Avengers movie but help continue the Marvel universe after Tony Stark snapped his fingers.

They say a hero is only as good as his nemesis. Here the villain doesn't obviously present himself. Jake Gyllenhaal is absolutely splendid as Mysterio. Creating a memorable character due to a performance that he obviously relishes playing. Holland once again puts in a great turn as both Peter Parker and his alter ego. I think now Tom Holland is the definitive version of the character, even surpassing the brilliant Tobey Maguire.

'Far From Home' is a hugely enjoyable film blending a teenage road trip movie with that of the Superhero genre. The laughs are sprinkled throughout with also a lot of heart. All the characters in this movie get great development allowing the audience to care. MJ and Peter's relationship blossoms and this film is just as entertaining during the quieter moments as it is when the tremendous action set pieces are lighting up the screen.

'Far From Home' is also a sublime looking film. I rented the movie via streaming and even when compressed the image quality still pops. I can only imagine just how good this film is going to look on 4K Blu-ray. Sound quality is also mightily impressive. Surround sound effects are constant and bass is deep. LFE rumbles particularly during scenes involving the Elementals.

Like I said this is a better movie than 'Homecoming!' Could it be the best live action Spidey movie? Give it a watch and make up your own mind. It's a great movie and promises that the Marvel cinematic universe is going to continue to knock the ball out of the park.

Fractured
(2019)

A solid thriller that tiptoes carefully around plausibility
Fractured

Fractured is a solid mystery thriller available on Netflix. Starring the once bright star Sam Worthington as Ray Monroe a father desperately searching for his missing wife and child after he takes them to hospital. Following an injury at a construction site Ray Monroe's daughter vanishes along with her mother in the confides of the hospital building. The audience are left guessing if the sinister events did actually transpire or is it all a figment of Ray's imagination. Suffering what seems to be a minor head injury himself after taking a fall whilst trying to protect his little girl. 'Fractured' tiptoes around the border of plausibility and the plot only just manages to shy away from being convoluted. This is mainly down to the believable and frantic performance by Sam Worthington. This really is his show as he conveys a range of emotions expected from a man in his predicament. Director Brad Anderson keeps the story from flinging out of control and the 1hr 39min runtime is just enough not to allow this film from outstaying its welcome. The audience will be fully invested from start to finish due to excellent pacing and the way the intriguing plot unfolds.

Presented in Dolby Vision. This movie is another splendid offering from Netflix in terms of cinematic quality. Sure some of the darker scenes appear a little muddy possibly down to the films depressing colour palette but there is a crisp digital image for the most part. Sound is adequately handled with a Dolby Atmos mix. I personally listened to this film with a pair of movie headphones. Still audio was clear and LFE was punchy. Dialogue is steered effectively and Anton Sanko's musical score comes through with spine tingling authority. By no means is this an effects laden mix but the soundstage does broaden when drama and action ignite.

'Fractured' is a movie that can be enjoyed if expectations aren't set too highly and it's nice to see Worthington in a film that doesn't dissipate from memory as soon as credits roll. A film that I can wholeheartedly recommend.

Anna
(2019)

Come on movie people! Get more creative with naming your female assassins
Anna

We've already had Hanna the movie about a young woman raised to be an assassin and also the excellent Prime Original TV show adaptation. Come on movie people. Think of a new name to give your female super spy assassins There's plenty of names to choose from! What about Mary, Gladys or even Mable?

So now we drop the 'H' and get a new offering from Luc Besson creatively entitled 'Anna'. This has nothing to do with the movie and TV show named 'Hanna'. Or that spooky doll with the similar name! This movie is about a beautiful Government assassin named ( yes you guessed correctly) Anna! Starring the gorgeous Sasha Luss in her first lead role and with an impressive supporting cast. This action thriller has more twists than a bowl of Fusilli pasta.

Down and out Anna is recruited by the KGB with promise of a brighter future. It soon becomes clear that Anna has no means of escape. She just wants her freedom but is forced to follow orders assassinating anyone who her KGB boss (Helen Mirren) commands her to. Luc Besson's script is one that jumps back and forth sometimes becoming a little fatiguing but ultimately is a movie that is enjoyable. This is mainly down to the performance of Sasha Luss. She is convincing as the Super assassin and pulls off the action scenes along with the movies more tender moments. Luss looks like a supermodel but still portrays the competent killer to dramatic effect. It is sad that this film didn't get the publicity it needed to really launch Sasha Luss's career.

Luke Evans supports as the man who recruits her. Cillian Murphy also lends a hand as CIA agent Lenny Miller. This movie has everything going for it but failed to light up the Box Office. It's a typical Besson movie but it doesn't shine bright like his earlier work. 'Leon' being his stand out for me. Still 'Anna' is a solid action thriller and for those who enjoy movies like 'Atomic Blonde' and the 'Bourne' movies', there should be fun to be had with this film. It's not the best offering the genre has to give but a movie still worthy of your time.

Arena
(1989)

Rewatched after thirty years. Cringe worthy but still cheesy awesome goodness.
Arena

I fondly remember watching this movie as a kid with my dad. The good old days when you had to go down to the video store and pick your Friday nights entertainment. Funnily enough I rediscovered this gem from my childhood on Netflix. It's not the same as having the physical videotape cover in your hand and being all excited as a youngster. As an adult I was hesitant at revisiting this movie but I'm glad I did. 'Arena' is best described as being a mashup of both 'Rocky' and 'Star Wars'. Set in the distant future where intergalactic species battle one another in an Arena designed to make the fights fair. It's all a bit silly but still hugely entertaining if you don't expect too much from this 80's cheesefest. Because cheesy this movie certainly is!

Starring Paul Satterfield as Steve Armstrong, the first human contender in fifty years. He takes on all kinds of weird looking creatures in an attempt to become champion of the universe. Managed by Quinn played by Claudia Christian, Armstrong soon works his way up the ranks and heads for a showdown with the menacing champ called Horn played by Michael Deak. He was menacing when I was thirteen, now he just seems like a bit of a tit. This film is ludicrous and I cringed several times throughout my revisit. The supporting cast also consists of Hamilton Camp as Shorty. A four armed alien who is Steve's sidekick. Armin Shimerman and Marc Alaimo play the villains dead set on stopping Armstrong from becoming champ. The cast is completed by the utterly gorgeous Shari Stattuck as Jade, the villainous love interest with a heart. I remember after watching this film as a teenage boy I had a major crush on her. That said the acting by everyone is terrible but not as bad as Shari Shattuck's singing and the nauseating musical score that sounds constantly high pitched and out of tune. Direction is also feeble as is editing and dialogue.

This film is in truth poorly made. But who cares! What isn't poorly made Is some of the makeup and prosthetic effects. It is obvious that this movie had a measly budget but some of the creature effects are pretty decent. Set design is ok for the time of production even if the special effects would look dated for a film produced in the 70's never mind the late 80's when this movie was actually made.

On Netflix this film was presented in 4:3 aspect ratio but did look like it may have had a minor restoration. Image quality wasn't as bad as to be expected baring in mind the last time I watched this was on VHS thirty years ago. Sound was also ok. There was plenty of stereo effect from the crowd during the Arena scenes. Also Shari's out of tune singing came through loud and clear. I forgive you Shari because I think I'm in love again!

All jokes aside 'Arena' is a film that has a place in my heart. Call it Nostalgia. The young audience of today would laugh at how bad this film is. But for those of us who grew up watching it. It's a nice trip back down memory lane. With all the pointless remakes and reboots Hollywood is churning out. Why not give this movie a new lease of life?

Dolemite Is My Name
(2019)

The legend is back. Bring on the new Stand up material
Dolemite Is My Name

A return to form for the legendary Eddie Murphy! 'Dolemite Is My Name' is a superbly crafted comedy with a wonderful ensemble cast and a charismatic lead performance by one of the all time great comedians. Based on the life of a legend who probably influenced Murphy's career. Rudy Ray Moore was a pioneer of comedy and rap. His hilarious alter ego 'Dolemite', a street talking, Kung Fu fighting bad ass mother ******, defied all odds to become a success during the Blaxploitation era. In this wonderful film directed by Craig Brewer, Murphy owns every scene he's in as Rudy Ray Moore. That said his supporting cast is spectacular with stellar turns from the likes of Wesley Snipes, Keegan Michael Key and Mike Epps. Every single performance in this movie adds to the magic and produces one of the cinematic highlights of the year. Shown in selected theatres, 'Dolemite' is a Netflix offering and the streaming service has scored big time with this excellent comedy. The jokes land on target every single time mainly down to Murphy's genius but this is a film with tremendous heart and a tightly written script. Dialogue is punchy and precise. You may need to rewatch several times to keep up with the rapid fire comedic delivery.

I'm a fan of Murphy's career. His heyday back in the 80's with such gems as 'Delirious' and 'Raw' was followed by blockbuster such as 'Beverly Hills Cop' and 'Trading Places' to name but a few. His career waned through the 90's with only the odd jewel such as 'Life' and 'Bowfinger'. 'Dolemite' is a movie that once again reaches the lofty heights of the movies from earlier in Murphy's career. It really is that good! You can tell that he's having fun with this role and there's much of his soul gone into his performance. It's great to see and with news of a return to stand up, fans such as myself are getting rather excited. If this movie is a sign of things to come. We're all in for a treat.

Terminator: Dark Fate
(2019)

More reboots than an old PC. Is this franchise still relevant?
Terminator: Dark Fate

A couple of weeks ago right before the theatrical release of 'Terminator: Dark Fate I was in my local DVD store browsing through the Blu-ray section when I heard a teenage boy say to his friend that he'd never seen any of the'Terminator' movies. I was a little disturbed to say the least but it did get me thinking. "Is this franchise even relevant anymore?" After T3 which was an unimaginative retread of T2 then 'Salvation' which had flashes of brilliance but ultimately had no heart or soul. The final nail in the franchises coffin came in 2015 with 'Genisys'. A film that was trying to be too clever and failed to capture the audiences attention. Hence this attempt at yet another reboot. This time around 'Dark Fate' is a story written by creator James Cameron. Should we get excited because of this? I was sceptical at first. After all he did give 'Genisys' his blessing and we all know how that turned out. Attaching Cameron's name to 'Dark Fate' seems nothing more than just a publicity stunt and the first trailer didn't wow me at all. I don't believe Cameron devoted much time to this. Mainly down to some questionable plot points that are criminal and don't pay off.

Directed by Tim Miller it can be said that 'Dark Fate' is the best sequel since 'Terminator 2' but that could be like saying it's the least ugly duckling in a brood of really ugly ducklings. Thankfully this isn't fake praise and 'Dark Fate' is a decent but not great attempt at trying to continue the story after the events of 'T2: Judgement Day'. In fact go ahead and forget those other lacklustre sequels. They're no longer recognised.

'Dark Fate' works in places mainly down to the old saying "If it ain't broke, don't try fixing it!" But by the same yardstick it also means that this film is devoid of anything original. Except some bold but not thought through choices. There's going to be many a fan that won't appreciate how a certain major character is treated and it could be said that this film takes a massive dump on the memory of T2. 'Dark Fate' is essentially just another chase movie where a robot is again hunting someone and someone else is trying to protect them.

It is 22 years since Sarah and John Connor prevented Judgment day. Now a newly advanced Terminator is sent back to kill a young girl named Dani. An augmented super soldier is also sent to intercept the Terminator and protect the young girl. Like aforementioned it's the same formula as previous movies. Cameron's supposedly penned story follows the tried and tested 'Terminator' format and whilst it's not breaking any new ground it is the best attempt yet at revitalising the franchise. A key ingredient to this films success is going to be the return of Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor. She's still bad ass and It is apparent that this is her story and Arnold Schwarzenegger isn't the key to this movies appeal. Arnie does return and is sparingly but effectively used. His character arc is in some ways clever but you do get the sense it could have been explored and explained a little further. Arnie's aged Cyborg has somehow developed a conscious even without the chip in his head being meddled with. Anyone who's seen the Directors cut of T2 will know what I'm referring to. However Arnie eats up every moment he's on screen. Natalia Reyes as Dani does a good job at conveying the growth and development of her character but it is without doubt Mackenzie Davis that steals the show as enhanced super soldier Grace. She's even more bad ass than Hamilton. We could have a new action star here. Davis is totally convincing in some wonderfully staged action set pieces. This is perhaps the main attribute that this film offers. The action scenes are some of the best in the franchise. Gabriel Luna as the new Rev-9 Terminator is great. Not quite as good as the menacing Robert Patrick as the T1000 but still a believable killing machine with the ability to better interact with humans.

'Terminator: Dark Fate" is an improvement on previous sequels for a franchise that's had more reboots than an old PC. It's not going to win everyone over. My opinion of this movie like that of 'Last Jedi' has altered with time to reflect. Director Tim Miller has crafted a film that moves along at an exciting pace. At 2hrs 8mins I do feel more could have been added. The story that Cameron and his co-writers have created does need more screen time in order to truly flesh out this new world and its Eyebrow raising character arcs. The opening scene is jarring and choices made are never truly justified or earned with regards to a decent payoff at the end of the movie. Edward Furlong fans beware! That said I was pleasantly surprised just how much better this film was as the trailers didn't do it any justice. Perhaps this franchise is still relevant? I'm not so sure. Even with the supposed help from the creative mind of Cameron himself. This franchise just seems to be fresh out of original ideas. Can it continue? Only the box office numbers will tell.

Toy Story 4
(2019)

Magically brings out the inner child in all of us
Toy Story 4

When Toy Story 3 ended it pretty much brought the tale of the worlds most famous toys full circle. We said our goodbyes with a tear in our eye and that was that. However when a studio owns a mega money franchise such as this it would be ludicrous for them not to churn out another. Thankfully the creative minds at Pixar haven't just churned out another movie. Toy Story 4 is a great entry into the franchise and hopefully we will continue to see more. There's always a way to tell another story.

This time Woody and his buddies must rescue a lost toy named Forky when they embark on a family road trip and the new edition to the toy family is accidentally left behind.

Whilst probably not the strongest entry, Toy Story 4 is still a huge amount of fun. Returning voice cast including Tom Hanks as Woody and Tim Allen as Buzz Lightyear are joined by a whole host of new talent. Keanu Reeves is splendid as Canada's greatest stuntman Duke Caboom. As are Keenan Michael Key and Joran Peele as Ducky and Bunny. Annie Potts also returns as Bo Peep. The list of excellent characters could go on, so I'll just say it. Every one here is great and clearly having a good time.

The most impressive thing about this movie is how far animation technology has advanced. The opening scene with rain pouring down is photo realistic. This is a sumptuous looking film. As a Hi-Def/4K experience this is a feast for the eyes. HDR really allows colours to pop. The fairground scene is HDR demo worthy with sublime colours and inky blacks. With the added resolution of UHD each character has added sheen. Bo Peep in particular looks polished and vibrant whilst environments are also spectacularly detailed. Grain on wood looks very real and certain areas of the screen is often hyper realistic against the contrast of the animated fictional characters. Toy Story 4 is a marvellous technical achievement. Sound is also impressive with the punchy musical score at the forefront. Surround sound effects are immersive and constant allowing for a truly engaging cinematic experience. I had a great time with this movie and putting aside that this is clearly aimed at kids. Us grown ups will find much to relish.

In the Tall Grass
(2019)

Great concept poorly executed.
In The Tall Grass

Maybe it's just me but don't you feel modern horror movies are high in concept but low in execution? (And I don't mean execution in the physical sense!;)

In The Tall Grass immediately grabbed my attention due to its simple yet effective premise. Two young adults stop at the side of the road adjacent to a field of tall grass. They hear the cries of a small boy lost in the vegetation. They go into the field to try and find him and also become lost. Boom! Simple as that! Think 'Jaws' with grass. Think 'The Blair Witch Project' but without the witch. Whilst this movie starts out rather promising it like many of today's horror movies soon falls into madness. What ever happened to less is more? This is perhaps why I referred to 'Jaws' Not seeing the shark was the most frightening part of the movie. Not knowing what's going on is the most terrifying thing for those onscreen and the audience. Hence 'The Blair witch' comparison. Why does Hollywood feel it has to over explain and explore everything? The very fact that these characters are lost in a field that is obviously haunted is frightening enough. Just let the audience go along for the ride. Make us feel that we are there with these scared and confused people onscreen. The fact that we don't know why these things are happening is much more terrifying.

With strong central performances from its young cast we also get support from Patrick Wilson who was probably added to the cast to add a little weight to the project. Whilst his performance is good his character was never really needed. Instead focusing on the frightened youngsters trying to escape may have made for a more gripping piece of entertainment rather then the OTT path the film eventually takes down. That said this film does offer much enjoyment. Mainly in the first half.

What is most impressive about this movie is something I constantly bring up in my reviews of Netflix material. Picture and audio quality. This movie looks absolutely stunning. Presented in Dolby Vision the image is crisp and vibrant. Resolution is off the chart with a digital grain free image. Every blade of grass is rendered to perfection with HDR bringing out the subtle colour changes in the surrounding vegetation. Night time scenes are beautifully lit with no loss of detail. Skin tones look natural with every bead of sweat and dirt visible. The heat of the sun can be felt as the characters on screen perspire. This helping give a sense of claustrophobia as they become increasingly trapped amongst the undergrowth.

Audio quality is also fantastic. The Dolby Atmos mix is very effective. The use of surround and height channels project voices all around the soundstage. Because the characters can't always see each other amongst the grass this gives the audience the sensation that they too are lost within the confides of the field. Many a time the impressive mix had me looking over my shoulder wondering where the voices were coming from. Bass is used sparingly here. This is a sound mix that impressed with it's wide soundstage. It's not thunderous. It is eerie and unsettling.

Overall 'In The Tall Grass' fails as a movie. The concept is good in theory but is never utilised to full potential. But due to some wonderful 4K imagery and a sublime Dolby Atmos sound mix. If you are a fan of the genre and have a dedicated Home theatre system. This is a film worth checking out.

The Hot Zone
(2019)

A good show that may slip under the radar.
The Hot Zone

I discovered this show whilst channel hoping. I must admit that my attention was initially grabbed by the trailer due to the immediate comparison of the 'Chernobyl' mini series. Possibly those who had crafted the trailer had this as their intention. After all it couldn't hurt.

However this show tells a completely different story. Set in the 80's and based on the novel by Richard Preston. 'The Hot Zone' is inspired by true events. An Ebola breakout on American soil is chillingly presented and despite a few raise your eyebrow moments regarding plot and script, this is a rather gripping piece of television. After a strong opening the first twenty minutes or so are soon hard to digest as the story moves to a mainly laboratory environment with actors all talking scientifically. This becomes tedious for the layman but if you stick with it the drama soon takes hold.

'The Hot Zone' features good central performances from Julianna Margulies and Liam Cunngham. There's a very good supporting cast too from the likes of Topher Grace and Noah Emmerich. Whilst this show may not have the grand scale or polish of 'Chernobyl' it does offer much for fans of this genre. Aired in the UK on the National Geographic channel this show may slip under the radar. That would be a shame as it is well worth the audiences time.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters
(2019)

Best sounding 4K Blu-ray of 2019 so far
Godzilla: King Of The Monsters

Okay so let's not go on too much about the plot of this movie because for what there is of one it's a bit of a stretch. Not the monsters! Anyone going to see this are already onboard with the premise of Skyscraper sized beasties battling each other. It's the reasoning how we get to the showdowns that takes a lot of swallowing. Even Godzilla himself would struggle to digest the lunacy of this films story. But if like me you just want to see big ass monsters beat the snot out of each other then you are in for a treat.

Expanding on the already established Monsterverse this latest instalment sees the titular Kaiju take on a whole host of unearthed mega beasts. That's as far as I'll go in terms of the actual movie. What you wanna know is if this is any good? Well the answer is for those who couldn't wait to buy a ticket or purchase this film on Blu-ray, it's a resounding yes! Absolutely! A 2hr 12 min fun fest of pure action and carnage. If you are one who craves a good script and fine character development, then you will be massively disappointed. Acting is adequate in delivering poor dialogue. Characters are purely there to provide exposition and to fill in the gaps between CGI creatures kicking the crap out of each other. This is not Oscar worthy material. However what is Oscar worthy are the special effects and sound design.

On 4K Blu-ray this film is of reference quality. Presented in Dolby Vision this is one stunning looking movie. Specular highlights are often blinding as this is a predominantly dark movie. Scenes with car headlamps, explosions and Godzilla's atomic breath are very vibrant. Dark scenes have immense shadow detail due to the advanced HDR that Dolby Vision offers. This is a noticeable upgrade in terms of overall clarity compared to the 1080p Blu-ray. It's not a 4K crisp image due to a layer of grain added in post production but this does give the movie a more cinematic look.

It can't be denied that this movie is of epic scale. The battle of the beasts is further elevated by a demo worthy Dolby Atmos sound mix. This is the best 4K Blu-ray I have heard so far in 2019. Bass is certainly the dish of the day and it's served up in Kaiju sized portions. Every moment of this film offers some sort of aural perfection. For those of you who have a dedicated Home Cinema system then prepare to have the plaster removed from your ceilings. Right from the opening credits this movie rumbles with violent impactful sound. Prepare to strap your Subwoofer down as it will probably move around the room. If the LFE is rocking then surround sound effects are equally impressive. Fighter jets pass from speaker to speaker. Missles wizz pass the ear. This is surround sound heaven. The Atmos technology is utilised perfectly with Godzillas roar heard from above. This is a treat indeed for the Home theatre enthusiast.

The movie may lack in some areas such as having a logical plot and characters with any substance. I don't want to go into spoilers. Just watch and see. However as a 'Take your brain out and have fun' piece of entertainment, 'Godzilla King Of The Monsters' is an absolute atomic blast.

Dark Phoenix
(2019)

Not as bad as going on a date with your Ex!
X Men: Dark Phoenix

This movie is not as bad as those expert critics would have you believe. It is enjoyable in a throwaway sense. However it's not great. Better than 'Last Stand' and 'Apocalypse' this movie is somewhat of an anticlimax to the promising start 'First Class' and 'Days of future past' had made. The problem with 'Dark Phoenix is that it all seems a little rushed and underwhelming. The script is a muddled mess. A film that has been edited within an inch of its life. Too many important scenes left on the cutting room floor leaving a final product that seems disconnected and unable to flow. Basically the same storyline as 'Last Stand'. Mutant Jean Grey played by Sophie Turner discovers her true powers to catastrophic effect and consequence.

The usual crew are all back onboard. All except Wolverine. Probably another reason for this movies lacklustre box office performance. Fassbender and McAvoy do what they can but none of the cast seem to be relishing their turns. (Spoiler Alert) Even Jennifer Lawrence's Mystique takes an early exit in what seems to be a performance that is just going through the motions. This time we also get a bunch of under developed cosmic villains led by a white haired Jessica Chastain. Once again the sensation that this film was simply just churned out cannot be ignored. That said the visual effects are impressive. The train wreck finale is rendered realistically but this feels like a reshoot or an add on when the filmmakers realised that they could be dealing with a turkey. Sound is also impressive with deep bass throughout and good surround sound immersion. On Home media 'Dark Phoenix' has a crisp digital transfer. It looks sharp in 4K resolution with eye popping HDR. A shame then as a movie in its entirety it falls short. Not a complete failure but a weak entry to round off a franchise first made famous by Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart. It's almost as if 20th Century Fox was glad to hand over their hot property back to Marvel.

Bad Boys II
(2003)

Beats the fantastic original as a movie and on 4K Blu-ray
Bad Boys II

Having watched the DVD a gazillion times I was excited to see how 'Bad Boys II' would look on 4K Blu-ray. Sumptuous! But we'll get on to the technical aspects later.

Bad Boys II sees Will Smith and Martin Lawrence return in an action packed comedy thrill ride. Directed once again by Michael Bay. This time the two Miami narcotics cops are on the tail of a Cuban drug cartel led by Kingpin Johnny Tapia played by Jordi Molla. From start to finish this movie is an absolute blast. Packed full of gunfights, car chases, explosions and side splitting comedy. Michael Bay surely knows how to direct action. Often not given the credit he deserves. He can thank the countless crap 'Transformers' sequels for that. However this film is masterfully helmed. There's some sublime moviemaking here. A particular gunfight in a drug dealers house springs to mind. The camera constantly swooping around the green painted room as it transfers through walls and broken windows allowing the audience to see the action from the perspective of all carrying a gun. There's so many breathtaking moments A car chase involving a Ferrari and a boat is jaw dropping. I could go on. There's countless big screen big budget moments that will leave the audience gasping. When the action does dissipate the onscreen chemistry between Smith and Lawrence is joyful. Their comedic timing and ability to bounce off one another propels this film onto another level. A certain scene in a Audio Visual store is hilarious.

Speaking of Audio Visuals this film is a Home Cinema nerds dream. As I aforementioned on 4K Blu-ray this film looks sumptuous. Like all Michael Bay movies colours are rich and over saturated. Blacks are inky and the implementation of HDR make specular highlights blinding. Shot on 35mm we can expect a level of grain and here lays the only negative. I certainly don't have a problem with grain. In fact I believe it can enhance the cinematic experience. But on this marvellous transfer the grain fluctuates in severity. It's never off putting but one moment the image is 4K crisp the next it's just above standard DVD quality. Some scenes are reference quality but overall this 4K transfer falls short. HDR sometimes aggravates flaws in the image as well as elevating some wonderful shots. I'm nitpicking. This is a film made better by 4K HDR. It's just a little inconsistent.

If the picture is great. The audio is equally stunning. Again it's not reference. Those reviewers who say it is are being a tad too generous. The Dolby Atmos mix is a welcome upgrade. I'm only used to hearing this movie in 5.1. Whilst there's nothing that jumps out of the height channels the object based audio is subtly immersive. What am I saying? There's nothing subtle about this mix. Bass gets deep down and dirty. Explosions shake the living room. Gunfire has that delicious thud you can feel in the chest. Surround effects are working seamlessly to envelop the listener into the world onscreen. It's a great mix but more modern movie sound mixes have that extra layer. That little more extension in every department. Still it's a great listen and worth purchasing on 4K for the Atmos track alone.

Bad Boys II is superior over the already great original. Both as a movie and as a audio visual experience. I can't wait for the long overdue third instalment.

Rambo
(2008)

So that's what happens when you get shot with a fifty cal!
Rambo

With the latest instalment 'Rambo: Last Blood' now tearing up a theatre near you I thought I would revisit the previous film. Like 'Last Blood' this 2008 offering simply titled 'Rambo' wasn't favourable with so called expert critics upon its release but fans worldwide lapped up John J Rambo's return.

Set in Burma where a group of aid workers are trying to get supplies to those in need. The group are kidnapped by a ruthless local infantry and it's up to Rambo and a team of mercenaries to save the day.

Once this film gets going it is a relentless slaughter fest where the bad guys get obliterated. A certain scene involving a fifty calibre machine gun realistically depicts this. Stallone has directed some rather impressive action scenes here. He shows the audience what really happens to the human anatomy when it is subjected to extreme violence. The action is brutal and pulls no punches. Stallone also puts in a tremendous performance in front of the camera. His brooding persona slowly simmers as the loud mouth mercenaries around him talk the talk whilst he silently weighs up the situation.

In terms of filmmaking 'Rambo' has some wonderful cinematography and the editing is fast paced but always coherent. There's some shaky cam but it is well utilised and heightens the sense of carnage. CGI is used cautiously considering the budget is only modest. The Claymore explosion scene was well staged and looked authentic. Some scenes of CGI Blood are a little jarring but I've yet to see convincing blood made by a computer. Just use raspberry syrup! However practical effects are very good and exploding heads and severed limbs look totally realistic.

Perhaps the most impressive attribute of this movie is Brian Tyler's sweeping musical score. He blends his own work with that of Jerry Goldsmith's original themes. A piece entitled 'Battle Adagio' is rather emotive like the calm before the storm. The original 'First Blood' theme gets a rework evoking nostalgia from the hardcore fan.

In terms of audio and visual quality 'Rambo' looks great on Blu-ray. Relatively grain free the 1080p transfer is crisp. Colours are rich and the entire movie has a warm palette helping to convey the intense jungle heat. Black levels are controlled well and even in dark rainy scenes detail is never lost.

Sound is offered in DTS HD Master Audio 7.1. It's not a bad mix. I remember it sounding great on standard DVD in Dolby Digital 5.1 but I think I may have set my expectations a little too high. The DTS HD mix lacks bite. LFE is a little underwhelming and doesn't offer the punch of modern sound mixes. A character known as School boy played by Matthew Marsden has a rather large rifle that I always remember making a thud I could feel in my chest. On Blu-ray I expected more. Of course the new DTS mix is superior but gunfire in particular just didn't have the elevated aural impact I was hoping for. From other reviews I've read on audio quality on the Blu-ray some say sound is reference quality. I wasn't getting that. Like I said the mix isn't bad but I think some Blu-ray reviewers are just a little too generous.

'Rambo' is a fine war movie. In my opinion it is beaten by 'First Blood' and comes in second place in the franchise. Stallone dialled back the over the top heroics. He doesn't run around shirtless. Instead he simply just despatches the bad guys. Usually with a machine gun. A very large machine gun.

Rambo: Last Blood
(2019)

Stallone has given his fans what they want. Thank you Sir!
Rambo: Last Blood

At the end of Rambo's last instalment the Vietnam Vet went home finally bringing his story full circle. With that we said our goodbyes just as we did with Rocky in his supposedly last instalment 2006's 'Rocky Balboa' only to see him return again in the excellent 'Creed' and 'Creed 2'. Guess what? Good old Sly has dusted off the survival knife and bow to allow his weary war machine to draw some more blood. A couple of years back in this movies early development stages 'Last Blood' was on and off more than a celebrity wedding. With Stallone saying he was done with the character. Thankfully he had a change of heart. 'Rambo: Last Blood' is here. Stallone is one shrewd guy. He knows what his audience wants and while he still can he's gonna give it to them. Those who aren't fans of the franchise will sneer and mock the movies lack of political correctness and stereotypical views. The Snowflakes of this world will cry out that this film is way too violent. Toxic Masculinity is a phrase I've heard thrown around to describe this movie. Sounds like a cheap brand of shower gel to me.

For the fans however. We just want to see our hero pile up the corpses in ever increasing inventive ways. Think of 'Last Blood' as a cross between 'Taken' and 'Home alone'. This supposedly last instalment ( yeah right ;) sees John J living the quiet life on his family's ranch. All is well until his niece decides she wants to go into Mexico to find her real father. When she goes missing it's up to Rambo to unearth those particular set of skills and exact revenge on the wrong doers. Rambo: Last Blood does indeed play out like a ultra violent remake of 'Home alone' with Rambo setting up booby traps all around his property to kill the intruders in some rather gruesome but highly entertaining ways. This film is probably not for the soft skinned millennials who will complain that Rambo is a mean and nasty Mr. That said the violence is earned. He does very bad things to very bad people. If you are a fan of the franchise then you're in for a good time. If however you had booked to see 'Downton Abbey' and accidentally sat in the wrong screen room. Then you're going to have a heart attack. When the third act kicks into gear it's twenty minutes of pure carnage. I thoroughly enjoyed 'Last Blood '. It sits somewhere in the middle in terms of being the best in the franchise. "First Blood" being the ultimate classic followed by the fourth instalment.

At 89 minutes 'Last Blood' is paced moderately until the finale. Stallone's performance is universally recognised as being the stand out attribute. He gives a heartfelt performance here. There's a rather touching seen midway which will bring a tear to the eye. You see it's not all macho!

So to sum up. If this is to be the last then I'm fine with that. But should Stallone decide to do more then I'd welcome another.

Brimstone
(2016)

A fine piece of filmmaking that's appreciated not enjoyed
Brimstone

This is a depressing movie that is often unsettling and hard to watch. That said It's still boasts some fine filmmaking. Martin Koolhoven has crafted a movie that has a unique style of storytelling. Played out in reverse order for the most part Koolhoven's style is truly engaging. His film tells the tale of Liz a young woman trying to build a new life after escaping the evil clutches of her abusive and rather psychotic father. Guy Pearce is terrifying as Liz's father and gives a chilling performance as the Reverend. He constantly pursues Liz eventually catching up with her as she tries to live a peaceful life. Pearce is almost demonic in appearance with black eyes and scarred features. When ever he is onscreen he commands attention. Dakota Fanning plays the adult version of Liz but it is Emilia Jones as the younger version of the character that almost steals the show. Only Pearce's performance is more captivating. There's strong support from Game Of Thrones veterans Kit Harington and Carice van Houten. Their screen time is limited but their contribution adds much to the story. Brimstone is violent and doesn't shy away from scenes showing morally wrong acts. At times it can be hard to watch and I wonder if the actors, Guy Pearce in particular were unnerved by their performances.

Brimstone is a good looking movie with excellent cinematography, fine editing and a fantastic musical score by Junkie XL. This film has excellent visual quality and audio is cinematic making for a enthralling experience I truly appreciated this film. It's very good but to say I enjoyed the events transpiring onscreen would not be the correct choice of words. It's a fine addition to the genre and well worth your time.

Green Book
(2018)

Heartwarming, heartbreaking. One of my celluloid highlights of the year
Green Book

'Green Book' is a truly captivating story of a blossoming friendship between two men from very different worlds that over the course of the movie realise they have more in common than they initially believed.

Dr Don Shirley played by the brilliant Mahershala Ali is a world-class African-American pianist, who is about to embark on a concert tour in the Deep South in 1962. Shirley recruits Tony Lip, a tough-talking bouncer from an Italian-American neighbourhood in the Bronx. In need of a driver to help him get from gig to gig so Shirley can fulfil his contract he realises he needs someone to protect and guide him through the racial prejudices he meets along the way. Viggo Mortensen plays Tony Vallelonga or known as 'Tony Lip' to his friends. Mortensen gives a spellbinding performance here which is often hilarious. This movie isn't a full blown comedy but Tony's approach to life is often comical. His sometimes crass and blunt outlook clashes with the soft spoken subtly of Dr Shirley's persona. Ali is equally good and the chemistry between the two lead actors is what really drives this road trip movie. Each other's character rubs off on one another creating a strong bond as the film progresses. 'Green Book' completely surprised me and by a third way into this film I was giving it 10/10.

This is perhaps one of Hollywood's greatest onscreen friendships and by the time credits are about to roll I didn't want to say goodbye to these two engaging characters and their exploits. Often heartwarming but equally heartbreaking as Shirley struggles to fit in. Set in a time of extreme racial prejudice. Dr Shirley didn't fit in with his own people and wasn't truly excepted by the rich white people that paid to hear him play. A scene in a restaurant was upsetting and disappointing. It saddens the audience to think that not so long back we had very primitive and racist views. To such an extent where people of different colour could not dine in the same room. The Green Book featured in the movie is actually a small publication that informed of establishments where people of colour could stay whilst in the Deep South.

'The Green Book' boasts a wonderful soundtrack and is masterfully directed by Peter Farrelly. There's strong support too making this movie one of the celluloid highlights of my year. I urge you to watch this film. Even if like me this isn't your go to genre. I was mesmerised by this fantastic film, enjoying every second of it. One that I can't praise highly enough.

Between Two Ferns: The Movie
(2019)

Ali G did it much better
Between two Ferns

Between two Ferns starts out promising but soon runs out of ideas very very quickly. Starring Zach Galifianakis as a online celebrity talk show host, this movie reminded me of 'Da Ali G Show' from the early noughties. However Sasha Baron Cohen's offering was much more cerebral. There's even a subtle nod to Baron's work but this film pales in comparison. In 'Da Ali G show' it appeared that the interviewed participants weren't in on the joke. Here everything feels terribly staged and obvious.

Galifianakis and his oddball crew travel across country interviewing and insulting celebrities along the way with the promise of making it big time if they deliver ten interviews. The novelty soon wears off and the jokes land few and far between. Sure there's the odd laugh out loud moment here and there but much of this movie is just too silly to laugh at. I found this movie tedious but stayed with it just to see which celeb would pop up next. Sadly though once this movie begins to descend it sinks into a unfunny hole too deep to get out of.

Revenge
(2017)

What's with all the stellar reviews? This movie is stupid!
Revenge

I wanted to love this movie. In some aspects director Coralie Fargeat has created a film that is unique in the rape/revenge genre. There's some wonderful artistic shots and cinematography here. The use of sound is cleverly used but for me I think I missed the point. I didn't hate this movie but I just couldn't get on with it. Disbelief is meant to be suspended to enjoy this ultra violent romp. Whilst I did enjoy some. I personally was unable to look passed many elements I believe to be flaws. Let me explain. For the most part this film is an illogical far fetched mess. I don't mind a movie that pushes the realms of reality. As long as that's what the filmmaker and the storytelling intends. If I'm watching Spider-Man or Star Wars then it's a given that they're going to be a little unbelievable but a film based in reality such as this? If Revenge is trying to be a realistic horror thriller then it is littered with inconsistencies and unrealities. I am missing the point aren't I?

Jen played by Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz is the mistress of a wealthy man. He invites her along to his annual hunting getaway with two of his buddies. Jen soon catches the eye of the two men and is raped. When she escapes into the desert and is left for dead this movie becomes a fight for survival and revenge.

If only this movie could have remained grounded this could have been a more njoyable experience. Instead this film in most parts is down right stupid. After Jen is pushed off a cliff and impaled on a tree she miraculously survives and proceeds to run around the scorching desert half naked, bare foot and with a tree branch protruding from her abdomen. I did warn you that this film is ludicrous! There's a scene where she performs first aid on herself whilst under the influence of a strong hallucinogenic. Removing the tree branch from her stomach and then cauterising the wound. If you thought the scene from Rambo III where Rambo cauterises his own wound with gunpowder was far fetched then just wait until you see this! Further more she only treats the front of the wound and not the hole in her back. I couldn't believe how far removed from reality this film is. Ok I know it's fiction but come on! Jen then goes from scared pretty little thing to a cross between Rambo and Laura Croft. She's more than accomplished with a shotgun. In fact she could teach John Wick a thing or two. Her proficiency is never explained. Jen then spends a few days running around in the sun with no means of hydration other than a can of warm beer. Her serious wounds seem to heal faster than Wolverine and she never suffers sunburn or blistered feet.

Characters make stupid decisions at every turn. Wait for the scene where the rapist takes his boot off so he can use his sock to tend to a gunshot wound. Why? Why wouldn't you put your boot back on? Instead he decides to hobble around the desert with one boot! "Idiot!!!"

The climatic scene is equally dumb as the remaining bad guy gets shot in the gut. Let's just say if you had lost that much blood you would not be running around the house naked with shotgun. There was so much blood the living room looked to have been redecorated. I could go on but let me just say that this film could and should have been epic. It had flashes of brilliance with all the right ingredients. Good acting, good direction. Some thoughtful dialogue. But instead Coralie Fargeat decided to throw all that good work to the wind in favour of soddening her movie with ridiculousness.

The I-Land
(2019)

There's definitely two reasons to watch this show!
The I Land

Yet another Netflix original to grace our screens and yet another inventive concept butchered by poor execution. What is it with these originals and their ability to fall short? The I-Land tells the tale of a group of people waking up on a paradise island with no memory of how they got there and of who they are. As the show progresses the characters uncover that the island is not what it seems. What starts out as intriguing soon becomes marred with amateurish acting and some insanely cheesy dialogue. The I-Land manages to stay engaging but only just. The filmmakers are more interested in sneaking a close up shot of Natalie Martinez's cleavage rather than focusing on developing the promising storyline (I'm not complaining though). Lead actress Martinez who plays Chase does what she can with the woeful script but this really is B movie, straight to DVD material. It's not all bad though. Support from Kate Boswell who was once a shining star in Hollywood can't illuminate this show despite her best efforts.

As with most Netflix originals the production values are strong. Special effects and set design are decent and cinematography is breathtaking in some scenes. The island on which this show takes place is truly paradise.

The most impressive thing about this show is the audio visual presentation. Once again Netflix continues to knock the ball out of the park in these terms. If like me you are a Home Cinema enthusiast then you will probably see this show to the end due to how splendid it looks. Presented in Dolby Vision the paradise environment is sumptuous. Bright vivid blues of the ocean. Lush greens of the jungle and textured golden sands pop from the screen. Sky and clouds are nuanced and fine details of skin and clothing are well presented. Beads of sweat and dirt on characters are clearly rendered. This show is pure eye candy. The Dolby Atmos mix is also impressive with a wide impactful soundstage. Height effects are sparsely but effectively used. Bass is deep when needed and the cheesy dialogue is sadly never lost. Surround effects and musical score is blended seamlessly with the front and centres channels making for an enjoyable aural experience.

The I-Land may be a mediocre season of television in terms of acting and storytelling but the strong production and audio visual experience makes this show worth watching.

Les frères Sisters
(2018)

There's gold in them there hills!
The Sisters Brothers

Starring John C. Reilly and Joaquin Phoenix, This movie tells the tale of Eli and Charlie Sisters. Two brothers who are notorious assassins chasing a gold prospector and his ally across 1850's Oregon.

Jacques Audiard's film is captivating for the most part due to the four lead performances. Riz Ahmed plays Hermann the gold prospector with a revolutionary substance that can illuminate the gold in them there hills. Jake Gyllenhaal is his unlikely ally when he sees the lucrative potential of Herman's potion. There's also a brief but dialogue free appearance from the late great Rutger Hauer which rounds off an impressive cast.

'The Sisters Brothers' won't be for everyone. This is not an action packed western. This film burns slowly and is subtle in terms of its storytelling and conclusion. Humour is delivered occasionally by Reilly and Phoenix but I wouldn't suggest that this film is a comedy. However a scene involving a spider did have me chuckling. There's some wonderful cinematography, costume and set design. This movie bristles with authenticity. Characters are grimy and unwashed. The harsh times are presented effectively onscreen. I admired more than enjoyed this film. At 2hrs 2mins this movie is a little overly long but I wouldn't say that it out stayed it's welcome.

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