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Black Panther watercolourWhat’s it all about?

T’Challa, the King of Wakanda, rises to the throne in the isolated, technologically advanced African nation, but his claim is challenged by a vengeful outsider who was a childhood victim of T’Challa’s father’s mistake.

Why did I want to see it?

Seriously? Have you been paying attention to what’s going on in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? There was no way I was going to miss this!

What did I think of it?

I’ll be upfront about this; I ADORED THIS FILM.

As context, this was our film for Valentine’s Day. We one to the cinema, thoroughly enjoyed the film, then went and had a really nice late lunch. There may have been alcohol. There was certainly a lot of discussion about the film.

So, it’s fair to say that I have enjoyed all of the MCU films, but that the ones that have stuck with me the most are those that feature the characters that I know the least about, which means Thor, Ant-Man, Guardians and now Black Panther.  I was really impressed with how the character was introduced in Captain America: Civil War and keen to see how the whole Wakanda thing was going to develop.

There is so much to appreciate in Black Panther. For a start, the story makes sense; what I mean by that is that the place feels that it might actually exist and the society as it’s presented has an internal logic that underpins all of the character and plot developments. It looks amazing, the whole cast delivers excellent performances and I was very invested in the story.

The cast was uniformly excellent and it seems unfair to single anyone out (so I won’t), but of course the number of amazing women involved was really wonderful to see. Actually, I will say that I was really very much taken with Letitia Wright who played T’Challa’s amazing sister.

So much was riding on this film and so many articles have been written about how important it is culturally because of the predominantly POC cast that it’s a real pleasure to be able to note that not only is it a great movie that will bear re-watching but it’s also making all of the money. I can’t wait to see this again!

Dazzling details: directed by Ryan Coogler, Black Panther is 134 minutes long and in the UK is rated 12A for moderate violence, injury detail, rude gesture (that last one made me laugh so hard)





MV5BNzE1OTczNTc1OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMzgyMDI3MDI@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_What’s it all about?

Callum Lynch explores the memories of his ancestor Aguilar de Nerha and gains the skills of a Master Assassin, before taking on the secret Templar society.

Which makes it sound like cause and effect when in fact he only does the latter because of being forced to do the former. At least I think that’s what happened….

Why did I want to see it?

So here’s the thing. I remember being quite impressed by the trailer when it first came out, but we never made it to the cinema to see it. By the time we thought about picking it up again I had already heard word of mouth that suggested it had fallen prey to the Curse of the Computer Game Adaptation and wasn’t actually that good. Fast forward to earlier this year and a bout of insomnia; as is my habit, I was flicking through the channels and came across a scene between Messrs Fassbender and Gleason (the elder) and thought it looked interesting, and decided to record and watch it later.

What did I think of it?

I’m not going to say that the clip that led me to watching this film was the only interesting bit, because that wouldn’t be true, but I was fairly underwhelmed by the final result. It was OK but I found it confusing, perhaps because I’ve never played the game so didn’t really understand what the point was. The visuals were pretty impressive and I much preferred the historical bits to the modern-day stuff. Michael Fassbender is always watchable and Jeremy Irons was in full untrustworthy mode which is great fun, but it just didn’t click with me (as you can tell by my lack of anything to say almost two months after I watched it).

Dazzling details:

  • Directed by Justin Kurzel
  • 115 minutes long (but it seemed longer)
  • 12A for moderate violence and infrequent strong language. Rating not affected by the presence of Torquemada.


MV5BNjQzNDI2NTU1Ml5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTAyMDQ5NjE@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_What’s it all about?

As the war of Panem escalates to the destruction of other districts, Katniss Everdeen, the reluctant leader of the rebellion, must bring together an army against President Snow, while all she holds dear hangs in the balance.

Why did I want to see it?

I had worked my way steadily through the first three films (although I think I only saw the first one at the cinema) and as Mockingjay Part 1 (which I reviewed here) ended without  proper conclusion it made sense to watch the last part. As I had never made it past the first few chapters of Catching Fire I had no idea of how the story would be resolved and I just wanted to find out.

What did I think of it?

Not a bad film at all, although I think that it suffered from both the law of diminishing returns and from being one story split into two. It was interesting that the film reverted back a little bit to the first two in the franchise and introduced more Hunger Games type obstacles for the characters to overcome, and I liked the complexity of the adult characters, especially Coin and Snow. I think it’s fair to say that they both got something close to what they deserved.

Jennifer Lawrence is of course excellent as Katniss, with my only quibble being one that I think I have raised before, namely that she seems too mature for the role. What I mean by that is that her reactions to the events of the story work for someone much younger (or at least more immature), and that jars occasionally.  And the wholelove triangle thing is still deeply annoying, but at least it gets resolved.

So I enjoyed it, am glad I saw it but don’t think this is a series that I will revisit.

Dazzling details:

  • Directed by Francis Lawrence
  • 137 minutes long
  • 12A for moderate violence, threat



MV5BMjM3MjQ1MzkxNl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODk1ODgyMjI@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_What’s it all about?

After being coerced into working for a crime boss, a young getaway driver finds himself taking part in a heist doomed to fail.

Why did I want to see it?

Just about everyone I follow on social media had been singing the praises of Baby Driver from the time it was released, and although I normally resist popular opinion I was entertained by the trailer sufficiently to put this on the to-watch list. Missed it in the cinema as other things came along.

Then one of our friends praised the movie so much that the Book God put the DVD on his Christmas wish-list, so of course I took that as A Sign.

What did I think of it? 

I thought this was enormously entertaining. Yes, it’s one car chase after another but the vehicular stuff is just done so well and to such a fabulous soundtrack that I didn’t care (full disclosure – I have recently been bored by car chases….) The music is so important that it’s led some to describe the film as a musical; I wouldn’t go that far. It is definitely a romance, and as the central characters of Baby & Debora, Ansel Elgort & Lily James are convincing as a young couple falling in love.

The bad guys are suitably nasty, with Kevin Spacey at his creepy best (though it feels weird to say that given all the stuff coming out about him recently).

So as you may have guessed, I absolutely loved this, and it will definitely be a film that we will re-watch. Recommended.

Dazzling details: Baby Driver was directed by the awesome Edgar Wright, is a smidge under 2 hours long and rated 15 because guns, swearing blood, dangerous driving and did I mention the guns? Watched on DVD at home.

Anthropoid [1 October] Earlier this year I read HHhH by Laurent Binet which tells the story of the plot to assassinate Heydrich, and I adored it so much (my review is over on the Book God blog here) I was keen to see the latest film version of this astonishing story. Very well done, I would recommend it to anyone interested in this aspect of WW2 history.

Blade Runner 2049 [8 October] This was such a good film. Having seen Arrival I knew Denis Villeneuve would do a good job but it was just what I hoped it would be, building on the original but not undermining it. Ryan Gosling most excellent, Harrison Ford as grizzled as he has ever been. Lucky enough to see it on an IMAX screen. A Film Club outing, all of us loving the experience and having lots to talk about afterwards. On the To Buy list.

Thor: Ragnarok [25 October] This is IMHO the very best Marvel movie. So much fun, brilliant new characters, good development of existing characters, excellent villainy from La Blanchett and Hiddles, Tessa Thompson is my new hero and it was a super cool evening out. I loved this so much and continue to be Team Thor. Also on the To Buy list. I might review this more full when I watch it again, let us see.

The Death of Stalin [5 November] Based on a graphic novel and (of course) the death of said dictator, this is the darkest of black comedy, giving a real taste of the paranoia and brutality of living under Stalin’s regime. Simon Russell Beale is genuinely frightening as Beria. Really worth watching.

Murder on the Orient Express [8 November] I went into this with high hopes. It’s one of my favourite Christie stories, I was hugely impressed by the 1974 version with Albert Finney, and I have a long-standing crush on Sir Kenneth Branagh.


I found it really disappointing. I wanted to love it but the changes, which I understand were designed to make the story a bit more palatable to modern audiences just didn’t work for me. I get that the Unfeasibly Large Moustache is probably more accurate in bookish terms than the neat little ‘tache a la Suchet, but the action man development of Poirot’s character left me cold. Sigh. If they make a sequel I will almost certainly go to see it, but with an air of melancholy.

Bridge of Spies [19 November] The Book God selected this as a Sunday night watch at home and I thought it was a very old-fashioned (in a good way) traditional drama. Hanks is excellent but Rylance is rightly the stand-out and deserved his Oscar. Most enjoyable.

And that’s it for 2017. Except it isn’t really, because I also saw Star Wars: the Last Jedi but don’t want to right about it until I’ve seen it a second time because there was just so much to take in. But all positive!

The Assassin [13 August] This film gained a lot of critical acclaim when it was released, and before I watched it I was aware that it was not in the vein of Hero or Crouching Tiger. It is undoubtedly a beautiful film, but I found it difficult to follow narratively. I think that if I had knowledge of the historical events on which this was based it would have helped my understanding of the plot developments hugely. Glad I watched it though.

Atomic Blonde [17 August] There should be more films in which Charlize Theron beats up everyone within a five-mile radius of where she happens to be. This was huge fun albeit extremely violent; in fact there is one scene which afterwards the Book God and I felt should definitely have led to this movie being rated 18. I liked the story, I liked the performances, James McAvoy was deeply sleazy and John Goodman continues to delight. All good here.

The Limehouse Golem [3 September] I read the book by Peter Ackroyd on which this was based many years ago and sadly cannot put my hands on it at the moment as I would like to compare the story with the action in the film. Not because there is any problem with the film itself, because it was a gloriously mad gothic confection with heaps of blood and gore and “acting”, and I loved every minute. Bill Nighy continues to be a National Treasure. So good I got the DVD and I expect this to become a regular and firm favourite.

Mother! [19 September] Well. More than three months after seeing it I still don’t know what I think of Mother. parts of it are astonishing, parts of it are horrific, in many ways it’s a complete mess but the performances are remarkable. Images from the film are still popping into my head every couple of days. I have NO idea what it’s actually about, but I’m glad I saw it and surprisingly I want to see it again. Not surprised that Jennifer Lawrence and Darren Aronofsky are no longer a couple.


MV5BNzgyMDcyMjMwMV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNjY5MTA1MjE@._V1_UY268_CR1,0,182,268_AL_What’s it all about?

Jacq Vaucan is an insurance agent of ROC robotics corporation who investigates cases of robots violating their primary protocols against altering themselves. What he discovers will have profound consequences for the future of humanity.

Why did I want to see it?

I have absolutely no idea but apparently I something clicked (possibly a trailer?) because I asked for the DVD as a gift for (I think) Christmas last year.

What did I think about it?


Automata was hard work, and seemed much longer than its stated running time. It’s hard to avoid comparing it with Blade Runner and I Robot (my review of the latter is at the link) in terms of its themes, but it doesn’t stand up well to the comparison, especially with the former.

Though it takes a very European approach to its material and is often visually arresting, it asks the same questions about artificial intelligence and whether humankind should be afraid of robots (and given the way they are treated in this film I would say yes), without coming to any meaningful conclusions.

Banderas is always watchable but he looks perpetually puzzled by what is happening around him. Everyone else is pretty much a stereotype, from company executives with secrets to hide, to corrupt cops (why is Dylan McDermott so angry – we never really find out why) to the loyal company foot-soldiers who have no idea what’s really going on. Though it’s always good to see Tim McInnerny, here giving one of his most sneering performances.

This promised much but really didn’t deliver; there was just something missing. Too much brains, not enough heart.

Dazzling details: Directed by Gabe Ibanez, this was 1hr 49 minutes long and rated 15 in the UK (for strong language, violence and sexual images) I watched this at home on DVD.

SolaceWhat’s it all about?

A psychic works with the FBI in order to hunt down a serial killer

Short and to the point. Very pithy, IMDb.

Why did I want to see it?

I have absolutely no idea where I heard about this film, but I came across it somewhere recently and it was on my Netflix or Amazon Prime Watchlist;  then I noticed it was on one of the free to view film channels, so that was that – no excuse not to watch it. Also, in case you haven’t noticed here and on my other Bride blog, I am a sucker for anything serial killer related.

Don’t judge me.

What did I think of it?

Before I get started, it’s important to note that I did not dislike this film.

There is a lot that’s unfortunate about Solace. There is a significant amount of over-acting, though for once (using the Silence of the Lambs scale of prime ham) Sir Anthony is not the main culprit, although he certainly does his best to hold his own, complete with very distracting hair. The honour goes to Jeffrey Dean Morgan whom I like as an actor but whose character was so underdeveloped that his big emotional scenes felt completely over the top. And as the only real female character, Abbie Cornish does her absolute best with some really dreadful dialogue and the plot’s requirement for her to be more manly than the men.

Having said all of that, I actually rather enjoyed this utter hokum. It didn’t really have anything that I hadn’t seen before (I refer you to Red Lights, for example) but it had some interesting images and Colin Farrell was very enjoyable when they finally allowed him to turn up as the Big Bad Guy, and deliver the obligatory explanation for his actions.

Oh, and I guessed the emotional pay-off within a few minutes of the explanation of why Hopkins’ character no longer worked with the FBI; I clearly have seen too many of these films.

So if you like a classic “my psychic ability is bigger than your psychic ability” stand-off then this is for you.

Dazzling details: Directed by Afonso Poyart, this is 1hr 41 long, and in the UK is a 15 (for strong violence, bloody images, sex and strong language – though tame compared to some 15 certificates I’ve seen this year). I watched it on TV at home on a Thursday evening which feels about right 🙂



ValerianSo, as you will have noticed I haven’t been around here for a while (I was aghast to see my last post was in April so nearly 4 months have gone by). This doesn’t mean that I haven’t been watching movies. In fact, I have a backlog of 16 films that I want to write about, not including Valerian.

The reason for me not being around is that I left my job for health-related reasons (my last day on the books was 19 July) and spent the last few months getting ready for all of that so my mind wasn’t really on anything else. But now that I’m a retired person I have time to do something with my blog. But oh, that backlog is a bit of a killer, so I have decided to start afresh with the first movie I saw in August, and catch up with the others as I feel able.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets 

What’s it all about?

A dark force threatens Alpha, a vast metropolis and home to species from a thousand planets. Special operatives Valerian and Laureline must race to identify the marauding menace and safeguard not just Alpha, but the future of the universe.

Why did I want to see it?

It looked spectacular. I loved The Fifth Element and hoped this would be more of the same. My husband loved the comics and was champing at the bit to see this. If you have been here for any length of time you will know that I can’t resist this sort of thing.

What did I think of it?

Sorry to disappoint anyone looking for a takedown of this film (there seems to be a lot of that going on) but I loved it. It’s huge fun, glorious to look at, profoundly silly in all the right ways and so packed with astonishing visuals that your eyes don’t quite know where to look. The plot is the basic mismatched law enforcement partners summoned to investigate an anomaly but of course it’s not what it seems and of course they are being kept in the dark, and of course they do the Right Thing in the end.

Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne are really good in the lead roles and there is a lovely cameo from Rihanna. The bad guy is obvious but this is not about the story, it’s about bringing a comic book to life, and in that Besson has more than succeeded. Already looking forward to seeing it again!

Dazzling details: Luc Besson directed, it’s a 12A certificate in the UK {for moderate violence, sex references, language} and is 2hrs 17 mins long. I saw it in 2D because that is how I roll.


MV5BMjA1MTA4MzU4Ml5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNjUxNjczODE@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_What is The Shallows all about then?

A mere 200 yards from shore, surfer Nancy is attacked by a great white shark, with her short journey to safety becoming the ultimate contest of wills.

Why did I want to see it?

I thought the trailer look fun. I have a soft spot for Blake Lively. Shark.

What did I think of it?

I thought this was really well done, tightly directed and not expanded beyond the time needed to tell the story (under 90 minutes) which is refreshing in this day and age when everything seems to be over 150 minutes. Blake Lively is a very personable leading character and I liked the fact that she didn’t panic and wasn’t relying on a man to come and save her, using her intelligence and skill to deal with a horrible situation.

Of course a lot of it is nonsense. Would a shark really want to go to the bother of hunting and eating people when there is a huge dead whale just sitting there waiting to be devoured? And although I enjoy animal revenge movies, would one of the most efficient hunters in the sea really take stuff sufficiently personally to launch multiple attacks on a person because it’s bit miffed? But if you can swallow all of that then this is a nice little thriller. The shark is very well done. I don’t want to give anything away but there is a point where Nancy (Blake Lively’s character) is defending herself in a particular way I wanted to yell a warning about what had happened to Robert Shaw.

It’s not Jaws, but then we already have Jaws so who needs another one, but it is a good addition to this genre of movie. Worth some of your time.

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March 2018
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