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Reviews

Friday Night Dinner: Mr Morris
(2012)
Episode 2, Season 2

Rage addict
The Goodman family get a shock when Grandma brings her new boyfriend to dinner. They find he is already married, has bizarre ideas about about what goes for dinner conversation and less than honouraable intenatiobs for Grandma. This episode is one of the best in the show's run. The regular cast on top form with special mention for Harry Landis as Mr Morris a simmering bag of rage forever causing havoc.

Only Fools and Horses....: Tea for Three
(1986)
Episode 4, Season 5

What about brotherly love?
Tea for Three can lay claim to being one of the episodes of OFAH thanks to David Jason and Nicholas Lyndhurst being at the top of their game.

When Trigger's niece Lisa visits Peckham both Del and Rodney engage in a series of infantile stunts against each other with it culminating with Rodney giving Del an unwanted journey. We then get one of the best scenes In UK sit com as Del recounts the misfortunes he suffered on his trip.

Special mention must go to Gerry Cowper as the innocent Lisa stirs strong emotions in the brothers.

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw
(2019)

Slam bang
If you are wanting an essay on the meaning of life then this film is not for you. If however you are looking for some fast paced action then this is the film for you. Filled with high standard action set pieces Hobbs & Shaw keeps you on the edge of your seat. As the titular pair Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham sparked off each other very well. Idris Elba bad guy has cool moments and for the series has some twists for his motives (namely a global cull) Hobbs & Shaw is perfect mindless entertainment..

Per qualche dollaro in più
(1965)

Having a partner
For a Few Dollars More sees Clint Eastwood don the poncho again. This time he is on the trail of a very evil bandit. Also on the bandit's trail is a vengeful ex Army man played by Lee Van Cleef. The best scenes are those in which Eastwood and Van Cleef have an uneasy partnership. That is not to say the film does not have shoot outs as Eastwood and Van Cleef outdraw the bad guys. The film's finale features a highly tense stand off between Van Cleef and the bandit that is played to the chimes of a watch. All in all a very entertaining watch.

The Salton Sea
(2002)

Through the mist
The storyline for The Salton Sea may read as a standard revenge thriller but thanks to many touches it is more than that. First and most important of them all is a powerful performance by that of the most underrated actors in the last 3 decades Val Kilmer. He brings us the pain of a man who has lost himself in a world of lost souls in his quest for juistice. Full of remarkable images that leave a mark. In addition Kilmer there roles for the likes of Peter Saarsgard, Vincent D'Onofrio and Anthony LaPalgiia. There is the unique moment where one TV law man LaPalglia (Without a Trace) kills another in D'Pnofrio who was then starring in Law and Order: Criminal Intent. The Salton Sea is a rewarding view experience.

Mindhorn
(2016)

He has the power
Richard Thorncroft was the star of Mindhorn a cross of Bergerac and The Six Million Dollar Man, only he has fallen on hard times. When Richard is asked by the Isle of Man police to help them catch a murder he sees it as a chance to jump start his career. Not only Juian Barrett stars but he also co-wrote it with Simon Farnby who plays Richard's one time stunt double. While Richard may do some things that might make him hard to like Barrett makes as car for him. Featuring numerous TV crime show vetarns including Miss Fisher herself Essie Davis as Richard's one time on and off screen love interest. Mindhorn is a laugh from start to finish

Aquaman
(2018)

Who is making Fish jokes?
Long a joke for many non comic book fans thanks to the film bearing his name Aquaman is now a much more respected character. Jason Moama gives the character a sense of place. There are an number of great action set pieces. the first of which is Arthur fighting priates on a submarine while another has Arthur and Mera (played by Amber Heard) have to fight and elude an number of baddies. With support from the likes of Nicole Kidman, Willem Dafoe, Dolph Lundgren and Julie Andrews providing the voice of a giant sea monster. Aquaman offers great entertainment.

The Incredible Hulk
(2008)

It is time to smash
After the 2003 angst ridden Hulk things took a change for a better with this more thrill laden movie. Ed (in the only time he played the role sadly) Norton plays Bruce Banner on the run from William Hurt's General Ross who is seeking to extract the blood that will give him super soldiers. Bruce turns to his old girlfriend (and Ross's daughter) Betty played by Liv Tyler. The General then brings in Emil (Tim Roth) Blonsky a British special forces operative who after his first confrontation with Banner's alter ego starts his own path to a transformation into a monster. The Incredible Hulk is full with amazing action scenes such as a chase through Rio and the final fight between Banner and Blonsky in their alter egos. This one fun ride of a movie.

Porterhouse Blue
(1987)

You call this further education
Based on the novel by Tom Sharpe, Porterhouse Blue is a dark farce about an ancient Cambridge college and it's arcance ways confronted by the modern world. David Jason in a BAFTA winning performance plays Scullion whose devotion to the college even extends to calling the rowdy students 'gentlemen' all because it is the college's way. Things are given a major shake up when an new master of the college and sets to change against the will of the set in their ways staff. The scenes of Scullion and the master confronting each is the showcase of 2 fine actors, Jason and in the role of the master Ian Richardson. Porterhouse Blue is full of moments of dark humour such as the couple killed in the middle of an erotic tryst because one of them had stuffed a chimey full of condoms in order not to be discovered only for them to explode! Also in the cast are Charles Gray, Griff Rhys Jones and playing the unfortunate male half of the doomed couple John Sessions. Porterhouse Blue is scathing of both rigid tradation and PC culture and a great laugh with it.

Green Lantern
(2011)

The power of the Oath
SORRY RYAN BUT I ENJOY THIS FILM!

This is film that has taken a bit of a knocking down the years, even from it's own star making quips in the Deadpool films. But for me it is a great film to kick back and watch. Ryan Reynolds is Hal Jordan the test pilot who comes into possesion of a ring that inducts him into the Green Lantern Corps, an Intergalatic Police Force. Hal must come through a gruelling training process in order to face the evil entity known as Parrallax. Green Lantern features some of most exotic alien worlds ever to hit the screen. Reynolds makes for a great Jordan in particuar the films cilmax where in one moment where Parrallax tries to bait Hal who in response recites the Green Lantern oath which will send a shiver down your back. with a supporting cast that includes Mark Strong, Blake Lively, Peter Saarsgard, Tim Robbins and Angela Bassett with voice work by Geoffrey Rush and Michael Clarke Duncan Green Lantern is a blast to watch.

The Wild Bunch
(1969)

God less Men bring forth God like wrath
The Wild Bunch is film that has become known for it's highly visual (the opening bank robbery, the train robbery and the final shoot out cum massacre) action set pieces that it is easy to forget the more subtle character performances that rank among the stars (William Holden, Ernest Borgnine and Robert Ryan) best. Holden is Pike a man who always talking about keeping a code of honour yet never really holds to it, Borgnine is Dutch who always backs up Pike no matter the situation and Ryan is Thornton Pikes former right hand who finds himself hunting his former comrade with a bunch of trigger happy morons. Why The Wild Bunch has stood the test of time is through it's of character study and staging of razor sharp action set peices that i0 testament to the skills of Director Sam Peckinpah.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Fun & Games
(2018)
Episode 6, Season 5

Fight Club in space
Clark Gregg steps into the director's chair besides his normal starring duties. Fun & Games is a well paced as Fitz inserts himself into the ruling class under the guise of a ruthless trader, Daisy and May find themselves in gladatioral combat and Coulson and the others have to protect an new Inhuman. The best scenes are those in which Fitz has to mingle with Intergaltic scum yet finding time to declare his undying love to Simmons by proposing marriage and the final fight which has Daisy facing off against the fearsome Kree Sinara. This fight is a well put together as you can fell every hit. In my view the best episode of Season 5 so far.

Ready Player One
(2018)

A visual blast
In the early 2000s Steven Speilberg made 2 future dystopia movies. A. I. Artificial Intelligence and Minority Report that to be fair left auidences cold. However his return to the sub genre is unlikely to suffer the same fate. From when the first bars of Jump by Van Halen plays we get an adventure that is a blast from start to finish. Much has been made of the use pop culture references in the film, I quite enjoyed them in particular The Shining sequance which faithfully recreates the film. Tye Sheridan makes for a dashing hero and Oliva Cooke more than holds her own as the girl of his dreams. Ready Player One is up there with the best of Spielberg's entertainments.

Doomsday
(2008)

Disunited Kingdom
Doomsday as others have remarked is a cross of many SF classics, Mad Max, Aliens and Escape from New York to name just 3 The plot sees Scotland cut off from the rest of the world due to a killer virus. However when the same virus rears it's head in London a team of special forces ops and medics are sent into Glasgow when signs of life may mean that there is a cure. What they find is a savage society where canibalism is the norm. Doomsday is filled with action set pieces of the highest order plus a cast that includes Bob Hoskins and Malcolm MacDowall. This is a film that gives your money's worth.

Blade II
(2002)

A different kind of jaw jaw
Blade II may be the trashiest (in the best sense of the word) to be directed by a Best Director Oscar winner. Wesley Snipes returns as the vampire hunter who is part vamp himself as facing a new breed of blood suckers who are a greater threat to humanity. Guillermo Del Toro brings his trademark eye for the weird in the form of the Reapers (and their nightmare jaws that open for to suck on victims) who lead by Jared (80's pop idolLuke Goss) Nomak. There are sequances that have a slow burn of suspense unfolding before exploding into dynamic action including one (typical of Del Toro ) set in a sewer system. That is not to say that bad guys are not dispatched in fun ways, one is vaporised by a bomb and another is sliced upwards. Ant there fight scenes that show off Snipes martial arts skills to the max. Blade II may not be high art like The Shape of Water but it is a lot of fun.

Strike Back
(2010)

Absurd Yes but No less enjoyable
Season 6 review

I have a confession to make, I had not seen Strike Back before. So I went into the series without really knowing what I was in for. And oh boy I was missing out on a lot. Strike Back is a fast paced that never lets up and with the odd sex scene thrown in. The plot revoles around a S.A..S sergerant who is recruited into a top seceret section in order to track down a female ISIS terrorist. Helping him are a US opertive and 2 sassy female agents. The plot takes many twists and turns with the team going up against Hungrian Ultra Nationists, Gangster, Arms Dealers and Russian Special Forces. Featuring appearences from the likes of Peter Firith and Trevor Eve to name just 2, Strike Back is an entertaing watch. I should hunt the other seasons on DVD

Black Books: The Blackout
(2000)
Episode 4, Season 1

What did I do last night?
The Blackout stands as one of the top 5 funniest episodes of Black Books. Which marks it out as a very funny piece of Television.

When married friends of Bernard pass him on the street thereby 'blanking' him, he starts to think what he had done to earn such treatment meanwhile Fran is having boyfriend troubles and Manny after an all night marathon of watching The Sweeney starts to think he is a Policeman.

Featuring advice on where not to go to do the toilet when drunk, asking your boyfriend on what is going and why you should never pass yourself as a Policeman. The Blackout see the regulars Dylan Moran, Bill Bailey and Tasmin Grieg all on top form.

Conan the Barbarian
(2011)

Behold Conan
Jason Momoa has eked out a career in playing Alpha Males such as Khal Drogo and very soon as Aquaman. In 2011 he gave us his take on Robert E Howard's creation, a certainly more witty take than many would expect. That is not to say this one does not racks up a body count on a quest of revenge against those whose who wiped out his village. Director Marcus Nispel keeps the film to a brisk pace with a succession of fast moving action set pieces. Stephen Lang makes for a hissable bad guy while Rose McGowan plays his creepy daughter who are on a quest to bring their witch wife/mother back from the dead. Rachel Nichols plays a character who might have been played as the typical damsel in distress if were not for the fact that she can handle herself in a fight. 2011's Conan the Barbarian may not be high art but it is more than entertaining.

Atomic Blonde
(2017)

Pop Spy
Atomic Blonde is loosely based on the graphic novel The Coldest City by Anthony Johnston and Sam Hart. Charlize Theron plays Lorraine Boughton a MI6 agent who is being debriefed on her most recent mission.

The plot revolves around a list of double agents that various parties want to get their hands on. And it is played out to the fall of the Berlin Wall. Atomic Blonde has a standard espionage plot but there are many touches that elevate beyond the norm. First of all is the main character who will probably be the closest that we will get to a female James Bond, not only in her ability to dispatch her foes but also her sexual conquests though she is bisexual. The film features fight scenes that will make you wince including one that seems to have be in one take for at least 10 minutes. Then there is use of songs by the likes of David Bowie, Queen and New Order etc that ties into the atmosphere of the time.

Atomic Blonde is a film that gives you a great night entertainment.

Captain America: Civil War
(2016)

Family squabble
Captain America: Civil War is the most overrated film I have ever seen. I will outline in bullet points.

Plot devices posing as character. The most obvious of these being Daniel Bruhl's Zemo who seems to be at the right place at the right time to move the plot along. There was also the woman who blamed Tony Stark for her son's death who was never mentioned or seen after that scene.

The airport fight. This is mostly played for laughs. Sometimes I thought I was watching a super powered take of an Anchorman fight but then that's what you get when you cast Paul Rudd. When it tries to be serious you are taken out completely.

Tom Holland as Spider-Man. Sorry I found him to be incredibly annoying that I have not watched his solo film because of him. I hope he has a lesser role in Avengers: Infinity War.

Only for die hard Marvel fans.

Man of Steel
(2013)

The big boy scout grows up
Man of Steel has been at the centre of some critical brickbats with some claiming it is nothing but grim and gritty. I do wonder if any of these people had seen Bryan Singer's misjudge Superman Returns. Zack Synder gives a Kal-El that we can look up to through his actions.

We see his struggles to cope with his powers as a child, learning when to use them and discovering his Kyprton roots. Finally we get to see him use his powers to save the world from General Zod and his followers. including the much discussed neck breaking.

Henry Cavil gives the most multi-faceted take on the role of Superman. Amy Adams plays Lois Lane as the prize winning journalist that she is in the comics. Michael Shannon as General Zod is a villain worth the match up. While Russell Crowe, Kevin Costner, Diane Lane and Laurnce Fishburne excel in their small roles.

Yes Man of Steel has about the same amount of scenes of city destruction as other comic book movies. but it has much more heart.

Doctor Who: The Happiness Patrol: Part One
(1988)
Episode 5, Season 25

Why the glum face?
A review of all 3 parts

It has been said by many Who fans that many of Sylvester McCoy's stories during his brief tenure were ruined by over reliance on a camp factor. The Happiness Patrol does indeed have it's camp elements but you will also find many references to the politics of the day, the most obvious being the character of Helen A as played by Shelia Hancock a heavy nod to the then UK Prime Minister Margeret Thacter. There is reference to totalitarian states like Chile, Argetina and South Africa with talk of large numbers of who have been disappeared and riots being brutally been crack down. When you look at it through the prism of today The Happiness Patrol is perhaps one of the most searing looks at the politics of the time, it is curious to think that at the time Doctor Who was officially a childerns programme made by the BBC's adult Drama department, such a shame that BBC1 was being run by the snob Jonathan Powell who did not take in such bravura story telling. For those who fancy a different take on late 1980's politics then The Happeniess Patrol is for you.

Baby Driver
(2017)

Speed to the music
Baby Driver is by far the most mature film Edgar Wright has ever made, that is not to say it is not with out it's moments of humour (the Myers mask mix up)but for the most part is a film made up of suspense. action and even pathos.

Music is at the heart of the film as Baby (Ansel Elgort) uses it as a way to get through his life even when on getaway driver duties. There even scenes where the dialogue is in synced with the music soundtrack in particular one scene Kevin Spacey's character Boss lays out plans for the latest robbery. Baby Driver features some of the best car chases that the cinema has seen in years

With it's sense of style Baby Driver is one of the most unique experiences that you can get in the cinema.

Wonder Woman
(2017)

All hail Diana
Wonder Woman is the film to make those scornful of the DCEU sit up and take notice. Patty Jenkins has crafted a film that will be enjoyed by people regardless of age and gender etc,

When Diana (as played by Gal Gadot) daughter of the Queen of the Amazons rescues American agent Steve (Chris Pine) from pursing German forces it is the start of an adventure that will see Diana make discoveries of many kinds.

Jenkins brings in many kinds of genres into the film that kick it up a notch from other entries in this field. There is course Action as Diana and Steve aim to stop a plot to change the course of WW1, the set pieces which see Diana take on multiple opponents at a time are eye catching. There is comedy in particular from Lucy Davis. And romance as Diana and Steve develops feelings for each other.

Gaadot is more that up to task of showing us the development of Diana as someone who goes from sheltered innocent to someone who is confronted with the harshness to the outside world.

As I said at the start of this review Wonder Woman has something for everyone.

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
(2017)

By the power of Excalibur
King Arthur:Legend of the Sword is the first film about the Arthur legend to really go into the mystical element since John Boorman's Excalibur to focus on the fantasy elements of the myth.

Charlie Hannam's Arthur is a cross of Hamlet, Moses and He-Man. Sent into exile by the murder of his family by his evil Uncle played by Jude Law. The film kicks into gear when that famous moment when Arthur pulls the sword out of the stone, we get a succession of set pieces that catch the eye. This must be the first film to show that Excalibur is more than just a sword as when Arthur lays waste to scores of enemies when wielding it.

This is a film that is a good time if you are in the mood for it.

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