Fantastic Beasts : The Crimes of Grindelwald – Film #100

True Crime or Criminal Act?


The Wizarding World is back with avengeance.

Following on from the first FB movie, we find Newt Scamander banned from travelling abroad after his antics in New York…and very early on, we find Grindelwald escaping prison, and ready to set his evil deeds upon the Muggle world….but first he needs to find a man who can help him.

At the same time, Albus Dumbledore (remember him?) sets Newt on a mission to stop him.

FB2 is a good film. There’s some ridiculously good and elaborate setpieces as well as some phenomenal special effects from the very beginning to the end.

The slight problem I have with it though is that there’s so much exposition throughout that it gets a little bit “eye-rolling-ly” repetitive, but I can see beyond that.

It’s the second in the series, so very much like Two Towers, Empire Strikes Back, and Rocky 2 – we all enjoy them but they aint the best in the series….OK, Empire is….haha

But this suffers from that “lets set up the rest of the series” moment where it needs to bridge a gap between the fun of the first movie and what is yet to come down the line.

Still, its fun and there’s some amazing moments where it links into the Potter movies so well…keep your eyes peeled for all the little nuggets and gems of nods to the future years.

Eddie Redmayne is great, and I am actually pretty impressed by Jude Law as Dumbledore…having never been a massive fan of his work before, and initially worrying he wasn’t the right person to play such an iconic character, he put me at ease pretty early and I think he’ll be great going forward.

Solid, but not the best in the series so far


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The Grinch – Film #99

A good miserable, or a miserable bad?


Everyone’s favourite Christmas misery is back…no, not Scrooge….OK, maybe everyone’s second favourite Christmas misery is back….the Grinch.

Its been 18 years since Jim Carrey donned the rubber face to cover his…erm…rubber face for Ron Howard’s live action working of Dr Seuss’s 1957 book.

This time, the Green Grump is back in full animation, with polished edges, brought to you by the studio that gave us Despicable Me, and those yellow things.

Benedict Cumberbatch is behind the voice of the Grinch, with Pharrell Williams as the Narrator.

I really enjoyed this movie, and the atmosphere in the cinema was really good too so it was clear everyone was having a good time. It was very funny in parts and really well done.

Cumberbatch carried most of the film himself, having a non-speaking sidekick of a dog. He did really well and it never felt like the Grinch was on screen too much. At 86 minutes, it felt like just the right length.

Its not a spoiler to say that this is a Grinch story, sticking with the story’s ending, so you can always figure out where its going to go and its satisfactory when it ultimately gets there.

One of the elements I loved was the gadgetry involved in the film that The Grinch used in order to “steal Christmas”. It was ingenious at times and a clever use of what animation can do.

It’s fast approaching Christmas and this is the perfect film to get you into the mood for it. Its smart and clean and very much worth a watch.


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Overlord – Film #98

Overlord or Underwhelmed?


Sometimes a trailer jumps out and gives you a certain feeling for how a film is going to play out.

Overlord is a film I had seen the trailer for numerous times over the previous few weeks.

Here’s the trailer…before you read on…watch it and have a think about what you think the film will be like:

Every time I have seen that trailer, my thought have been expressed through a snigger and a “That’s going to be so shit it’s going to be barely watchable…but I will watch it”.

Tonight I watched it.

So here goes…


Yup, one of the biggest surprises of the year for me was the way this film came across. Firstly, lets address the “War” element of the film. It’s phenomenally done. The opening scene in the plane prior to the parachute jump is literally breathtaking. I felt like I hadn’t taken a breath in about 7 minutes by the time that scene was over. It felt real and horrific all in one. It had a sense of realism I haven’t felt since that opening scene of Saving Private Ryan.

The war story continued with the small band of soldiers in behind enemy lines, attempting to take down a radio tower. There’s some genuinely tense moments when Pilou Asbæk’s “Wafner” is searching house to house for the hidden soldiers. It threw me back to THAT scene in Inglorious Basterds.

There’s many elements of the war scenes that are just so well done, I actually started thinking that the trailer has been misleading us.

But when the “Zombie” part of this Zombie Nazi movie began to kick in, I found it actually all fit into the story really well. They never massively overplayed it, and the effects were all on point. Physical effects were actually used rather than CGI in most of the parts, something that is to be truly admired in this day in age.

For me, J.J. Abrams absolutely nailed the whole film. Really well put together, fantastic acting, from serious to the comedy moments that broke up the story nicely, to everything in between.

Also, there’s one scene where someone is running towards the camera in a prolonged shot, with loads of things going on around him, that is simply stunning and a joy to behold.

Don’t let this film pass you by…it won’t be on at the cinema for much longer.


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Widows – Film #97

Hot Heist or Cold Prison Walls? Widows-Poster-Header_1050_591_81_s_c1

I have always loved a decent Heist caper, despite not having seen many of the classics from yesteryear. The most recent heist films I can remember were the Oceans movies, and this year’s American Animals. Both showing great scenes of heists being pulled off, one with slickness and a certain debonair charm, the other with an air of bumbling and stumbling luck.

So here is another movie billed as a heist film. But when it’s a heist movie not a heist movie? When the actual planning and attempt at streaming anything is such a small part of the story. .. And that’s what happens with Widows

Firstly, Viola Davis is great as the lead. Her flawed confidence with that underlying hint of tragedy and hurt comes across great.

The problem however comes from the story itself. What you have is a very slow paced drama, filled with political out cries and racially motivated actions. You have 4 grieving Widows who are all coming together to hopefully set themselves up for life.

Because of this though, and some of the actions through the latter parts of the film, I struggled to find sympathy or compassion for most of the group,with the exception of Elizabeth Debicki’s Alice who struggles to make real life work after being trapped in a violent relationship previously and not being able to piece her life back together enough.

Adapted from the Lynda La Plant novel which some may remember had a UK TV adaptation done previously, this version feels very much like a low budget TV movie which could have been about half an hour shorter and not lost anything from it.

Not necessarily one you need to rush out to see at the cinema but catch it when it hits TV or Netflix eventually.


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Assassination Nation – Film #96

Top hacking, or hacked off?


Well…what a film this was!

I ask that you all go and see this when it comes out…it’s great.

We were at a preview tonight and I am so glad I caught it.

It’s the story of a whole town literally going to shit when a hacker starts to release texts and photos of people in the town, destroying lives and turning the residents on each other. It starts with the Mayor, then moves onto the school with everyone having their intimate conversations relayed to everyone.

It’s gritty and gory. Its also perverse in a sexual and gory sense. There’s a LOT of talk about sex…an insane amount. Its open and crude and definitely earns it’s 18 certificate. In fact in the very early stages of the film, it flashes up all the things that are about to be shown in a quick list…you know what kind of ride you are along for.

Once everything goes crazy, and it seriously does do so, everything is fair game.

What you have is a sadistic mashup of The Purge, and a well written Black Mirror episode, swiping at modern technology and how easily it can ruin lives and expose people if a hack like this happened. It feels very real, and the fact they reference Russia, and then even the President gets a mention, you feel like you’re only one step away from real life.

There’s one scene which was incredible too, with a camera panning around the outside of a house, showing all the events in all the different rooms in a really clever scene which is better to see to understand.


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The Nutcracker and the Four Realms – Film #95

A cracker…or just nuts?


Let me start by saying I haven’t known much about the Nutcracker story before going into this film. I had heard the music and that was about it. The trailer made it look fantastical and engaging.

Oh if only it was.

This was pure Disney churn-fest…churning out another half-assed film which just misses the mark so much. Earlier this year they seemed to do the same with A Wrinkle in Time…but they’ll have a huge hit somewhere and all the fodder will be forgotten about.

And thats the main problem…this is very forgettable. It’s just not that great. It’s literally like someone watched the Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe and thought “Oh I’ll recreate that but make it a little darker”.

Its not great, and its not very engaging.

In fact if you ever say that Kiera Knightley is the one good thing about a film, you can only imagine how the rest will be.

Bit pointless, but not overly terrible


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Bohemian Rhapsody – Film #94

Real Life, or just fantasy?


Playing a little bit of catchup for the films I have seen recently, so I am writing this about a week after seeing it.

I enjoyed Bohemian Rhapsody…if you can overlook the fact that so much of it has been dramatised for effect.

It was lacking way too much for me. It always felt a little clunky and a little too much like they were putting scenarios together in a way that worked on film, but not necessarily an accurate representation of how it actually went down in real life.

A lot has been said about them kinda glancing over Freddie’s battle with AIDS but it wasn’t a film about Freddie. It was a film about Queen and their music. It didn’t need a Philadelphia ending.

The reconstructions of certain scenes were mind blowing though… And that whole Live Aid set and scene was out of this world… And this, along with the music scenes really helped the film move well.

I just felt it needed a little more realism to make it better.

Wierdly enough, I felt like the portrayal of the fictional Jackson Maine by Bradley Cooper in A Star Is Born was more realistic than Rami Malek’s Freddie Mercury in this. His casting is superb though… But the story behind him needed fleshing out a little more.



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