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Reviews

Ryad 19
(2021)

A slow film with a poignant end....
Row 19 is a very much a slow burn film. Indeed I'd go so far as to say it could have done and said, a little more. It feels at times, almost as empty, as the plane its set in.

That said, its ending, although brief is poignant enough to make up for the films other shortcomings.

Worth a watch if you are a patient. For those craving jumps scares and lots of action, Id suggest this is not for you.

5/10.

Omerta 6/12
(2021)

Questionable but watchable....
Viewed as a pure action flick, Attack on Finland is moderately watchable. Viewed in the context of the current political situation between the EU and Russia, I personally found it somewhat questionable.

Lets start with a few basics of ethics. I'd say its not alright to kill a child, nor is it alright to illegally break into someone's home. If they are a criminal, get a search warrant.

Taking that as a starting position, its also not alright for anyone including governments or governmental organizations to do this either. Its also not alright for individuals or groups to kill heads of state, the innocent and abduct people.

So getting that out of the way whats this film like from an entertainment perspective? Its quite watchable. I did like the international vibe it brings and the police/special forces cross over.

Action wise, it flows well and the story although pretty basic, holds together decently enough. Acting is solid but this really runs for the most part, on exposition.

In summary quite acceptable if viewed as an action flick.

5/10.

Krakowskie potwory
(2022)

Could have been more....
What to say about Cracow Monsters?

For myself, the biggest short coming with this series is its pacing. Its about monsters but I did not find it terribly exciting. Nor, for that matter, is it especially scary. The story and setting lends itself to terror but the series somehow fails to cash in.

I suspect this is down to its deadpan delivery. I get the "out of place in the everyday" thing but for me, it overemphasised, depriving the series of a much needed, sense of mystery.

Characterisations don't help either. I found the lead character is largely un-relatable and unlikable. The remaining cast of characters don't really lift things either. Everyone comes across as bland and neutral, often unfriendly. Any potential for a sense of comradeship in the face of monstrous terror is, for me, lost.

The acting is of a high standard. Characters are believable and the settings atmospheric if a little over dark. Cinematic's are top notch but special effects, I felt, needed a little more polish.

All in all, not an awful series but I felt this series needs "a certain something". A more upbeat treatment, a sense of hope, comradeship and more excitement could have seen this series really shine. Its material is inherently interesting, the tie in with Poland's mythology, offers a clever twist.

5/10 from me.

The Boys
(2019)

Can't see the story for the splatter.....
I really liked the first season of The Boys, I was still moderately enthusiastic about the second season but by the time I'd reached the third, well, I feel I've probably had enough.

Good writing not gory sensationalism, is what defines a decent series. The Boys has always had both but when one overrules the other, which is what I feel has happened with season 3, it gets tiresome, fast.

I was, quite frankly, bored by the first three episodes of season three. For me, it lacked the direction, pace and sense of urgency, of the previous season. Perhaps in an attempt, to balance this out, we get lots of pretty cheesy and at times, downright "yukky", gore. Mixed with outrageous over the top comments, that really do nothing, I can see, to enhance, this series.

As it stands, I'm on the fence about whether I'll take this any further or walk away. My instincts, tell me to walk away, so that's the more likely outcome.

In summary, season one's a cracker, two's still has some punch but season three, to me at least, feels like its spark has been extinguished. Buried as it is, beneath gore soaked, cheesy visual "death" gags, that might, at a stretch, amuse a gormless teenager.

5/10.

Obi-Wan Kenobi
(2022)

Who is this series about?
Who is this series about? In spite of the title, the main character Obi Wan or "Ben", feels to me like a secondary player, in their own mini trilogy.

Overridden and out classed by a precocious Princess Leia and readily intimidated by a relentlessly ambitious, inquisitor villain. All the while described as one of the "greatest Jedi".

In my view this should have been played with the lead as someone with power who is reluctant to use it, given past tragedies. Instead, Obi Wan comes across as weak and bumbling.

In terms of overall story, unlike The Mandalorian, this tale lacks pace and excitement. Its about Jedi but thus far there is no light sabre swash buckling and use of the force is downright anaemic.

Special effects are excellent and this is a well produced series. Acting is predictably of a high calibre, given the strong casting.

That said, in closing, what are we supposed to take away from this? Why no strong male lead characterisation? Why does the story not appear to be focused on Obi Wan?

Suffice to say, after two insipid episodes, I'm pretty confident, I wont be back for a third.

4/10.

Memory
(2022)

Unmemorable....
Like the main characters degenerating memory, this film leaves no lasting impression.

Its sports a decent cast but fails to really cash in on that fact. Instead, it delivers a "by the numbers" thriller that lacks any depth of characterisation and genuine personality, it could call its own.

An alright watch that might help fill in a slow, wet afternoon.

5/10.

Eraser: Reborn
(2022)

Eraser knock off
The new take on the Eraser is not in the same league as the original film.

This knock off has a made for streaming platform feel. Everything is "alright', its competently done but hardly an immersive experience, either.

One perhaps for a slow day or evening, just don't expect anything close to the Arnie original.

5/10.

The Northman
(2022)

Not a viking saga......
The Northman seems to be riding the recent wave of Viking sagas, kicked off by the highly successful television series, Vikings.

Regrettably, for me, this is hardly a worthy successor. The Northman, mixes sensationalist, often ugly scenes of violence and cruelty, simplistic story telling and historical inaccuracy.

Its not a pleasant mix and left an impression of Viking life, that was hardy representative of who these people, really were.

Acting wise, its solid and production values are high. Neither of which comes as a surprise. That said, so much else, is skewed, its not a film, I'd personally revisit or recommend.

5/10.

Ju ji shou
(2022)

Taking aim at China's rivals....
Loaded down under the weight of Chinese Patriotic fervour, Snipers, takes aim at its global rivals, the USA.

This is a well made film with high production values, decent acting and polished special effects. The story is a little one dimensional and at times, implausible but still quite watchable. Spurred along, as it is, by unrelenting action.

The story follows a familiar patriotic trajectory, encouraging national pride, sacrifice and military prowess, when faced with an external threat.

In summary, is easy in the West, to poke fun at this kind of politicised film. That is, until you stop to consider the West makes them all the time, too. If you can put aside the rather obvious, political overtones, this remains quite an enjoyable, fast paced watch.

6/10.

Feria: La luz más oscura
(2022)

Lost opportunity......
Feria could have been inspired. It starts out well with a novel story that's creepy, complex and atmospheric.

Regrettably, the story fails to pursue its complex story line and narrative. Its as if it simply runs out of breath, two thirds of the way through and gives up. What left is simplistic, inconclusive and annoying.

On the upside its well acted, with decent production values. CGI is only passable but does the job, so to speak.

In short, moderately watchable, well acted but ultimately truncated and somewhat frustrating.

5/10.

All the Old Knives
(2022)

All the old rehashes.....
Quality authors like John le Carré, have, indelibly put their stamp on the spy genre, with truly excellent espionage thrillers, turned to film.

Of course, everything of quality has its imitators and aspirants. That's not necessarily bad, just not as inspired as the original.

"All the Old Knives", for me, at least, sits comfortably, in beige mediocrity, within the scope of that definition.

Everything in this film, I've seen before and quite frankly, I've seen it done better. This is a by the numbers "i-spy", with the predictable, "mean old Russian's" stick, that's currently doing the rounds.

Acting, for me, is alright, just as everything about this film is "alright".

So if you fancy a set of knives, not Ginsu or German but a not so bad facsimile, give this one a go.

Unremarkable but moderately watchable.

5/10.

Death on the Nile
(2022)

"Death" on the Nile.......
Loaded down with anachronistic inconsistencies, more tiresome woke finger wagging and dismal dialogue. For me, this truly is, "Death" on the Nile.

Its regrettable, as this film has a decent cast and high production values. That said, I could not endure more than 25 minutes, before enough, was more than enough.

Suffice to say, the 1978, Death on the Nile remains my "go to" adaptation of Agatha Christie's "who dun-nit".

The superlative performances, by the likes of Peter Ustinov, David Niven and Bette Davis, bring this work to life.

In summary, I'd rather spend an hour in the sarcophagus with the mummy's misuses, than watch more of this.....

2/10 for casting and production values, which are very high.

The Batman
(2022)

Batman meet Sin City
This is essentially a film noir, Batman meets Sin City, mash up.

Its experimental and in its own way, quite daring. For that and the fact it mostly works, I give it kudos. I'm equally impressed, by the suitably downbeat performances, from Robert Pattinson and Zoë Kravitz.

The actors understand the kind of film they are in and adjust their performances, accordingly. That's not as easy as it sounds, given the glitzy, action packed handling, of previous "Batman" outings and the expectation, it creates.

I'm afraid however, there is a "but" coming. This film basks a little too long, in its dark, fantasy world. Its a beautifully shot world, the cinematic's moodily excellent. That said, it could have been 30 minutes or so shorter and worked just as well.

I think too, its clever in so much as they re-create old characters like the Penguin and Riddler, making them more human and relatable. That said, I would have used new characters, with a fresh perspective. This is after all, a departure from what Batman has been in the past, for the most part.

Lastly, a there's little dash of throw away, anti "white" rhetoric, I could have done without.

In summary, a mixed bag. Experimental in a positive way but lingers a little too long. Inexplicably, still sticks to the Batman character universe script, even when departing from it.

6/10.

Gerry Anderson: A Life Uncharted
(2022)

Compelling......
I grew up in the 1970's, on a television diet, partly comprised of Gerry Anderson's work.

Many of my happiest, early memories, comprised me plonked down in front of "the box' watching series like Space 1999. It was then, fascinating to get a glimpse into the life of the man behind behind the magic.

This documentary, offers up insights into the inspiration, that led to many of Anderson's iconic series, like Thunderbirds.

What really surprised me, was how touching and at times, really quite sad, this story could be. I personally, was left with the sense of a man, who got to do everything in adulthood, he might have wanted to do as a child. Creating worlds filled with adventure and fun.

In summary, this is a compelling look into the life a remarkable man, who was a real ground breaker in television and science fiction. I doubt we will see his like again, in an age of soulless CGI and bad writing. Much loved and much missed.

10/10.

No Time to Die
(2021)

Cinematic blasphemy....
No time to Die. There's no small amount of irony, in that title.

There really is not time, for James Bond, the pivotal, quintessential, iconic character, in the Bond 007 franchise, to die.

To do so, is, in essence, bring's Bond's decades long, larger than life, secret agent hi-jinks, to an end. That is, essentially what this rather by the number's Bond outing, has done.

No Time to Die is well acted, competently directed, with lashings of cinematic action. This is married up to a formulaic, rather unremarkable, by the numbers back story. Its sad to see this once lively, fun franchise, go out on such a beige note.

That said, lets be honest. The "cult of woke" hates James Bond. They have been slowly eating away at what his character stands for, over the last few films. It's unsurprising therefore, to see Bond finally sacrificed, on their humourless, alter.

I expect many other franchises 's, who don't tick their narrow little woke box of "inclusiveness", to also be thrown on the heretical fire, in the not too distant future.

In summary, I suspect this is the end of the franchise. Any attempts to revive it, at this point, will, I predict, ring hollow with long time fans, like myself.

The Outfit
(2022)

Cleverly contrived.....
The Outfit, really "fits up" its characters.

Its tailored to a sequence of cleverly dressed up events and outcomes. On first inspection, its quite cleverly contrived, but that's also its shortcoming.

The story is complex with lot of twists, turns and "ah ha!" moments, you might not have seen coming. Its superbly acted too, so its easy to be swept along, as things unfold.

The problem with this "cut to measure" drama is, its just that. It relies, on an exact series of inexplicable events coming together "just so", for things to play out as they do.

Its only at the end, that the wheels of unimaginable good fortune fall off for the main protagonists and even then, only a little.

In summary, fantastic acting, a 50's vibe done to perfection, let down somewhat by a decent but heavily contrived story, that seems unrealistic, when viewed dispassionately.

7/10.

Kazn
(2021)

intriguing but let down by incoherent storytelling....
Kazn or The Execution, is reminiscent of films like Silence of the Lambs. Not so much in terms of story but overall treatment.

Its grainy, bleak and gloomy, with an equally depressing subject, the search and capture of Russian serial killers. There's a grotesqueness about this film. It does not shy away from the, at times, revolting, world these killers occupy.

Balancing this, is a story of police corruption and scape goating, that's just as troubling.

Unfortunately, in spite of its dark promise, Kazn, is simply too incoherent, as a film to amount to anything meaningful. You really have to pay close attention, to try and bring together the loose strands of this story.

This shortcoming, is not helped by constant leap frogging between earlier periods and 1991, when everything comes to an head.

In summary, a quality production with a strong cast and interesting, if depressing, material. Its let down by excessive complication and a non linear approach, that makes following what is happening, no small task for the viewer.

NOTE: Why can't this title be found easily by searching IMDB?

5/10.

Halo
(2022)

Another iconic franchise bites the dust.....
Halo has had success, not only as a games franchise but moreover, also two to three reasonable, if not exceptional, films....

I was excited when I came across "Halo" the series and then instantly, disappointed. This woke obsession needs to end. People come to a series for escapism, not political and social, indoctrination.

To top off the clumsy woke-ness, is a unsurprisingly bland, story. Suffice to say I'm three episodes in but I doubt I'll be back for a fourth.

In summary, lecturing, beige and boring.

3/10.

The Cellar
(2022)

Throw away children.....?
"The Cellar" has some promise, its atmospheric and its visuals are creepily, compelling. That said, it's utterly spoilt by the unrealistic reactions, of the main characters.

The idea of self preservation, in the face of escalating and utterly terrifying revelations, that threatens the family, is met with a suicidal degree of calm. The remaining child, for example, is allowed to wander the house from hell, mostly unsupervised. An ancient predatory demon, who has a track record of hellish abductions, including his sister, stalking the hallways.

Most sane people would be pushing said child out the door and burning rubber to the nearest motel. One ideally, with a church, equipped with a demon hunting priest, right across the road.

But not these idiots. Nope, they are happy to stick around, blithely looking to solve "the mystery", as if its an episode of Nancy Drew or The Famous Five. "Oh bother, the demon ate Timmy!"

In summary, the lack of realism undermines any promise The Cellar, might have had. Its watchable but feels, wooden and wholly contrived.

Killing Eve
(2018)

Still killing Eve?
I tend to find series based on successful novel's, fare better, than screenplays. "Killing Eve" is a case in question.

There's a really serious dose of "on acid" about this story. The characters have a real "way out", kinda but not really, funky 60's vibe. Like bacon ice cream, it really shouldn't work but does anyway.

Acting is excellent. Jodie Comer, in particular steals the show. Her assassins banal brutality, is married up with a conflicted, sentimental eccentricity. Its an appealing mix and really carries this show forward.

That said, all good things come to an end and I'm left wondering why this series did not wind up, with season three?

The fourth season seems a little redundant. The story is not really going anywhere it hasn't already been. This is most demonstrated by the drifting relevance of established characterisations and the introduction of new one's, who add little that's new to the story.

Kill Eve (or not)? One way or the other, its time, I feel, for this series to end, whilst it still has something of merit to offer the viewer.

From
(2022)

Its not where its "from"...its where its "going"
"From" started out with a promising premise, reminiscent of series like "Lost".

Its cause was helped by solid casting and well rounded characterisations. Where it falls down, as is so often the case, is in its storytelling.

From feels like its written itself into a corner, with logic pot holes that can be not be filled in or explained away.

In other words, its not where this series is from its where its going. As its stands, there appears to be no clear destination in sight. Which might help to explain the rather aimless end to the first season.

I'll take a look at a second season, if there is one. I do predict, however, its going to be hard to overcome the unnecessary literary chains, this series has wrapped itself in.

Professionals
(2020)

Strike Out......
I'm sure any fan of military action series remembers "Strike Back". Not too serious but well played, with lots of action and a modest degree of charm.

Well, the "Professionals" is its poor cousin. It strikes out on most points. Its action has a limp lettuce quality. Everyone is simply going through the motions. There's no energy or sense of urgency.

Acting fares little better, with by the numbers narrative, that convinces no one. To make matters worse there's a clumsy pitch for Western exceptionalism. Its the usual stick about US/Europe and its corporate overlords role as world police and global benefactors. Does anyone still buy this pitch, assuming they ever did to start with?

The only real upside is decent sets, some imagination in locations and an occasional dash of inspiration, in story telling.

In summary, for me, this series is formulaic fare, that's very much a marginal watch. So if watering the garden and painting the fence has gotten old, this might just fill in the gap. That said, I'd prefer an ice cold beer and a re-run of "Strike Back" myself.

An uninspired 5/10.

Musudan
(2016)

A rather dull take on the Predator premise....
"Musudan" borrows aspects from the film "Predator" to craft a tale that's not terribly exciting or even interesting.

The pacing is wrong, the action flat and unenthusiastic and the key villain, mostly absent.

I could say more but aside from decent acting and sets, there's not a lot more on offer here.

3/10.

Tenet
(2020)

Shame they can't "invert" the script.....
I'm not going to mix my words when it comes to "Tenet", its horrible.

The script is, in my opinion, an incoherent mess, with a story line that defies reason and logic. Of course there's no fixing this core failing, so the train wreck just grows bigger and uglier, as this rather tedious tale unfolds. Or is that "infolds".

Acting is mostly reasonable but the bad Russian character, in particular, is a Western mainstream media cliche. A misogynistic boogeyman, who might just destroy the world. If you can't read between the lines there, then you might not have been watching the MSM's current take on Russia. Not that I would blame you.

Sets are expensive and special effects are above average. That said, there's not a lot going on under the hood, so to speak, so that really doesn't fix this film in a meaningful way.

In short, if this one leaves you feeling confused its not you, its the story or perhaps the overall absence of one.

3/10 from me.

La belva
(2020)

Doesn't really ring true.....
"The Beast" as the title translates, doesn't really ring true.

Akin to films like "Taken" (which is also implausible) the primary issue with this film is one of realism. The key protagonist is apparently a highly skilled, special forces operative. Yet his situational awareness is poor, as is his judgement. Of course, we are told he has PTSD. Even so, that level of experience becomes instinctive, so this is a thin excuse.

He blunders into multiple hostile situations. His combat skills look more like those of a simplistic street fighter. They lack polish and precision. No one with that kind of background would go in unarmed, either. A hammer, a box cutter, kitchen knife, or even a crow bar, can make a huge difference.

Just as improbable, his adversaries leave him for dead at one point, rather than finishing him off. All this after he proves he is at the least a tangible, if disorganised, threat.

Acting by contrast, is excellent. The main character is believable but he's let down by a script that fails to seriously ask how a soldier with this degree of training and experience, would really perform in this kind of scenario.

The outcome is a film that's more or less watchable but for anyone with any real training, it offer's up far too many "yeah right' moments to be convincing.

5/10 from me.

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