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

 

 

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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.

But.

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.

 

The Accountant [16 July] Ben Affleck is The Accountant who is also a hitman (this should not be a spoiler, he’s got a gun on the poster). According to IMDb the phrase to be used is “math scant” which I will try to insert into a sentence at some point in 2018. Anyway this was way way better than I thought it was going to be. Affleck is a problematic actor for me but he is ideal here. Enjoyed it and will watch again I’m sure.

Despicable Me 3 [18 July] Just as funny as the previous two outings. Minions are still hilarious to me and Agnes is still my favourite character and I still want a fluffy unicorn. I am 55 years 11 months old.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children [21 July] I have been a fan of Tim Burton for a really long time but for some reason it took me a long time to actually get around to watching Miss P. It’s really good stuff, benefitting greatly from the presence of Eva Green (I love her so) and the lack of any Johnny Depp. Lovely story, wonderful imagery, worth watching.

Spiderman: Homecoming [23 July] Spiderman has never been my favourite Marvel character and yet I cannot keep away from movie versions. I have seen two of the three Maguire ones (totally fine), both Garfield ones (I liked him a lot, excellent hair) but Tom Holland is the best incarnation of the character I have seen. Right age for a start. Love his appearances in the wider MCU also. Excellent villain in Michael Keaton of course. Love Zendaya. All good.

The Magnificent Seven [28 July] Wasn’t sure about this as I grew up with the 1960 version and worshipped Steve McQueen and Robert Vaughn. This re-make isn’t at all bad, with some good performances and the bitter-sweet feel of the original.

Moana [30 July] Very enjoyable indeed. Don’t know why I took ages to watch this, but glad I did. Lovely story, excellent music and Jemaine Clement as a giant singing lobster-thing.

Dunkirk [31 July] This was an amazing experience, intellectually and physically. It is SO LOUD that I felt very single explosion in the centre of my chest. The performances were excellent and it was truly epic in scale.I was very moved by the whole thing, especially talking to the Book God afterwards; his father was evacuated from (probably) La Rochelle at the same time so for him this gave a sense of what his Dad must have gone through. Reminds us all that war is hell (if we needed reminding, that is).

 

The Mummy [11 June] If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time you will know that I have a Thing for Tom Cruise (as an actor – don’t judge me), so there was no way that I wasn’t going to see his version of The Mummy. It is a deeply silly film which I enjoyed with reservations, namely:

  1. Mr Cruise is my age and therefore too old for this nonsense
  2. Given this is called The Mummy there was insufficient Sofia Boutella as said Mummy (though when she was onscreen she was awesome); I would happily watch a version of this movie entirely from her point of view
  3. Russell Crowe might just have got away with being Dr Jekyll but good lord his Cockney (presumably) accent as Mr Hyde was genuinely appalling

I think it’s probably a good think that the Monster Universe this was going to kick off is not now happening. Still love the Cruiser though 🙂

Wonder Woman [15 June] – there are no words to describe how much I adored this film; it’s exactly what I had hoped it would be – bright and colourful and full of amazing female characters and a decent man who doesn’t push the heroine out of the way so that he can take centre stage. I have a girl-crush on Antiope. I like Chris Pine in a beard. I think Gal Gadot is luminous. This gives me hope.

John Wick: Chapter Two [18 June] I watched the first John Wick last year (I think) and I reviewed it here; thought it was great. The second instalment is just as good and equally if not more violent and it’s so so good. I’ve never been a huge Keanu fan but he is at his best here. Looking forward to the third instalment.

The Wind Rises [25 June] This was the Book God’s choice and the (at the time) final directorial outing by Hiyao Miyazaki. On paper it looks to be an acquired taste – the life of the man who designed Japanese fighter planes during the Second World War, but it’s a beautifully told story of love and friendship and personal achievement. Well worth watching if you enjoy animation.

I’m really keen to start 2018 with a clean slate but don’t want to ignore (almost) all of the films I’ve watched since the end of April (I have reviewed a two or three). So between now and the end of the year I’ll be posting my thoughts, however brief!

Guardians of the Galaxy 2 [30 April] – I totally loved this movie, and was really pleased that it was as funny (if not funnier) than the original film. Some excellent new characters, some astonishing cameos, the development of Peter’s story, and Groot being awesome. Did the stuff on Ego the Living Planet’s planet seem to be a little too long? Sure but hey, it is Kurt Russell so I can cope. All this and we saw it as a recliner screening so all very enjoyable. Enjoyed it so much that I’ve already got the DVD and watched it again. Won’t be the last time 😀

Jason Bourne [7 May] Matt Damon (for it is he) comes out of hiding (again) to confront stuff from his past (again) with no guarantee that this will be the last time he has to do this. It was aggressively fine. Given how much I disliked the very first film I have been pleasantly surprised by how much better the later films have been. Prefer John Wick though (more of that in another post).

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword [18 May] Couldn’t resist this, though I probably should have! Actually, there was a lot to enjoy; after the Lost City of Z I have become quite fond of Charlie Hunnam and he is very personable as Arthur. Jude Law makes a great villain, but this is very much Lock, Stock and Knights of the Round Table. A couple of the cameos (they know who they are *cough* Beckham *cough* Richie*) took me out of the film but it was a proper romp.

Ghost in the Shell [22 May] This was a Film Club outing with chums and under the cloud of the casting controversy and poorest reviews we turned up with some trepidation. But it was OK, I guess, largely because of Scarlett Johansson’s performance (for some reason I loved the way she walked, strange, I know). It has grown on the Book God since then, and we now have the DVD though we haven’t watched it again as yet. May be damning with faint praise, but it wasn’t as bad as I expected but not as good as it might have been.

Colossal [26 May] I knew nothing about this film until just before we booked the tickets and I’m so glad I went in cold, because I absolutely adored Colossal. I’ve never been a huge Anne Hathaway fan but I loved her in this. I loved the fact that the story started in one place and I thought “I know where this is going” and then it went somewhere unexpected. Also, Dan Stevens is my new favourite thing. I asked for and received this as a Christmas gift and I’m looking forward to watching it again soon. If you haven’t seen this you should – it’s one of the highlights of this year!

Coming up next: the Movies of June……

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?

Well.

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 🙂

 

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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.