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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)




MV5BMjU4NDExNDM1NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMDIyMTgxNzE@._V1_SX214_AL_So here we are again, 19th century American wilderness in (most of the time) lots of snow where hairy-faced men are violent and bloody and brutal (though in a very different way from the last film like this I saw – was it only the previous week?)

The Revenant is inspired, we are told, by true events:

A frontiersman on a fur trading expedition in the 1820s fights for survival after being mauled by a bear and left for dead by members of his own hunting team.

Anticipation for this film has been high chez Bride since we started seeing trailers alongside recent movies, and only slightly dented by the silly suggestion that Leo gets (as my friend Silvery Dude put it) “shagged by a bear” (more about that later).

And it was really impressive. I’m not sure it’s a film I could say I enjoyed because it is pretty grim throughout; there’s a lot of suffering on screen and a couple of bits where I actually winced. But in my opinion it can’t be faulted as a story of survival through sheer force of will. I was not an admirer of DiCaprio until I saw him in Gangs of New York, but I’ve come to appreciate him over the years (and he definitely saved The Great Gatsby for me as I believe I may have mentioned elsewhere) and I think he’s brilliant here, especially considering that for huge chunks of the film he isn’t actually able to speak (or has no-one to speak to) so it’s physical acting that gets his character’s emotion across, whether they be fear, anger or awe (the bit with the stampeding bison is brilliant). But boy, his character has no luck at all.

He’s supported by a really excellent cast. Tom Hardy is always worth watching and does a good turn as the main nasty, and as others have pointed out Domnhall Gleason seems to be in everything at the moment but that’s because he’s really very good (I like him a lot – is it wrong to have a bit of a crush on General Hux?) But it’s definitely Dicaprio’s film, and I will be cheering him on at the Oscars.

I also want to give a shout out to the bear; found out later how they filmed that attack which is bloody and relentless and you do wonder how Leo’s character survived. It is actually easier to believe that they did indeed set a bear on him. And the whole sexual assault rumour was just so stupid; female bear defending her cubs, and that’s it.

So, grim and relentless and beautifully filmed with a lead character hell-bent on extracting his revenge all against beautiful epic scenery. Well worth watching.

MV5BMjI3MDY0NjkxNl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTM3NTA0MzE@._V1_SX214_AL_What’s it all about?

The defiant leader Moses rises up against the Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses, setting 600,000 slaves on a monumental journey of escape from Egypt and its terrifying cycle of deadly plagues.

Which you should know all about if you were paying attention at Sunday school.

Why did I want to see it?

Full disclosure: this was the choice of the Book God who can’t resist anything remotely sword-and-sandal adjacent, but I was quite happy to go along because I enjoy these epic movies when they are done well (and possibly even more when they are done really badly). I was also brought up on a diet of epics which my Dad really loved – The Robe, Quo Vadis, Ben Hur, The Ten Commandments, Samson and Delilah – you name it, I’ve seen it more than once.

What did I think of it?

Exodus: Gods and Kings is the latest movie from Ridley Scott, a director who can be absolutely brilliant or pretty meh IMHO, and I wasn’t quite sure which version we were going to get – *whispers* we didn’t get the brilliant one.

Oh, and there will be spoilers. For the movie obviously, not The Bible. And my comments are about the film only and its representation of the story as it is generally portrayed, and nothing else.

So when it comes to the story of Moses I have a checklist based on what I was taught as a child, the various movies I’ve seen in the past, and a quick refresher course on the plagues with some assistance from the Book God who has an A level in Divinity (Cambridge syllabus 1969).

I therefore expect any Mosaic epic to contain:

  • basket in the bulrushes
  • burning bush (God, representation of)
  • plagues, various
  • parting of the Red Sea, spectacular
  • the Ten Commandments

And it’s fair to say that we got the lot in varying degrees, all except for the bulrushes. And that’s where the problems with the film start; we come across Moses as a fully grown man and I have to agree with other reviewers who have raised this point, it’s difficult to build a connection with him because of that. He arrives fully formed and we’re not sure what makes him tick. But that would be a minor point if it wasn’t for the fact that none of the human elements of the story really work, though the set pieces are epic in scope.

Before I launch into the detail it’s worth sharing that after the screening when the Book God asked me what I thought, the two things that immediately sprang to mind were heavy-handed and humourless. The palette was drab and murky and apart from the two leads, Christian Bale as Moses and Joel Edgerton as Pharaoh, the other roles were beautifully cast but for the most part underused.

So, the detail:

  • John Turturro was very entertaining as the old Pharaoh but there wasn’t enough of him, likewise Sigourney Weaver as his Queen – she looked spectacular but was there basically to be horrible to Moses
  • the reason for Moses’ exile was more complicated than it needed to be
  • the suffering of the Hebrew slaves was handled in an almost throwaway manner; not that I was looking for horror as such but there was no real sense about why it mattered to Moses so much that he would give up his family to lead them into freedom
  • and following on from that there was no sense of righteous anger on the part of Moses at any point; he gets a bit peevish with God but never downright furious at anyone which I’ve always thought was one of the key traits of an Old Testament patriarch
  • which brings me to the portrayal of God – excellent burning bush effect, but really creeped out by the young English boy as the manifestation of the Almighty (the kid was good but it made me think a tiny wee bit of The Omen and I’m pretty sure that’s not the effect the director was aiming for)
  • Pharaoh – petulant, spoiled, no air of greatness, of course he didn’t believe in all that prophesy nonsense (until he did) but felt a bit sorry for him over the whole firstborn thing (though only a bit)
  • Ben Kingsley in his standard man-of-wisdom role (he was actually quite good, he does do that air of gravitas very well)
  • the plagues were very well done, though I’m pretty sure they told me in Sunday school that the turning of the Nile to blood was because Moses plunged his staff into the river at God’s command rather than because of an attack of giant man-eating crocodiles chomping on fisherman as we have here
  • in fact Moses and his followers were almost entirely passive throughout the whole plagues thing
  • I would have preferred the parting of the Red Sea to have been more traditional walls of water than bigger than usual tidal wave, but still well done (and always one of the best bits)
  • The Ten Commandments and the eventual fate of Moses was a bit of an afterthought

So it was all a bit disappointing really. I think I preferred Noah, even though that was totally bonkers. And I never thought I’d miss Charlton Heston. Missed opportunity.

ku-xlargeWhat’s it all about?

The world’s most famous monster is pitted against malevolent creatures who, bolstered by humanity’s scientific arrogance, threaten our very existence.

You don’t really need details of the actual plot, surely this is enough?

Oh, OK then.

So we start off in Japan with Bryan Cranston (for it is he and aren’t we glad?), wife Juliette Binoche and little boy. All employed at local nuclear power plant (except for small boy obvs) where apparent natural disaster occurs, stuff destroyed, wife dead, terrible upsets. Leap to present day, wee boy all grown up into Aaron Taylor-Johnstone, soldier type, has to go to Japan to get Bryan, who is now total and utter conspiracy theory nut job, out of trouble, cue modern-day repeat of original disaster as nasty beasties escape. Cue Godzilla to the rescue (though it takes everyone a bit to work out that’s what’s actually going on). Result =mayhem, extreme damage (Golden Gate bridge gets it again) and a body count off the scale.

Why did I want to see it?

Did you actually read what I said above? Why wouldn’t anyone want to see this? 🙂

Please do not refer to the 1998 version, that’s just unhelpful.

What did I think of it?

I just loved this, got caught up in the whole thing, very satisfying mega-giant-monster-things knocking all sorts of crap out of each other, it was very very cool.

Yes, if you wanted to quibble then there was insufficient Bryan Cranston (at least compared to what the trailer suggested) but his role is key and he is brilliant whenever he’s on screen.

And yes, you could argue that Aaron T-J’s character was a bit of a cypher who was just there to give us POVs of the action once it all hits the US, though I think that’s unfair, he was perfectly fine.

And yes, if you were being really, really, really picky then you could argue that we could have done with more actual Godzilla, but I thought that he was well-used, teased nicely throughout the film and enormously (pun intended) effective when we got to see him doing his thing. And he was genuinely enormous, which is only right and proper. And the nasties were really very nasty indeed.

And there was Ken Watanabe and David Strathairn to add gravitas.

And it all just goes to prove that although you may be a conspiracy theory nut job that doesn’t mean they aren’t really hiding something.

It was a wonderful film to look at, creature design excellent and some of the set pieces (especially the one everyone mentions, the army guys parachuting out of the clouds with flares etc.) were really remarkable.

I liked Gareth Edwards previous film Monsters very much indeed and was very pleased to see him tackle a big big movie so well. And thrilled to see that there is going to be a sequel.

Fabulous stuff and straight onto my To Buy list.