True Lies (1994) – Exploring the Past

TL;DR – While some parts of this have aged as well as blue cheese in the sun, you can’t help but feel the pull and allure of a story swinging for the fences at every opportunity. 

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is a mid-credit scene

Disclosure – I paid for the Disney+ service that viewed this film

True Lies Review

When getting ready for my 2022 best of lists, I discovered that I had revied 99 films this year. Which made me wonder, what could be the lucky number 100? Just as I pondered that, True Lies finally made its way onto streaming. I have not seen this in years, but while I loved it when I was younger, the years are rarely kind to films like this. But given the year that James Cameron has had with Avatar, it was all the better time to jump back to one of his classics.  

So to set the scene, an exclusive party is taking part on a snowy cold night at Lake Chapeau, Switzerland, at a heavily guarded chalet. But not all the guests are coming in the front door. Some are cutting through the gates to the lake under the ice. Harry Tasker (Arnold Schwarzenegger) works for a secret US counterterrorism unit called Omega Sector and is investigating the billionaire art dealer Jamal Khaled (Marshall Manesh) as a possible front for laundering money to Islamic Terrorists. But no one outside of the agency and his team, Albert “Gib” Gibson (Tom Arnold) and Faisil (Grant Heslov), not even Harry’s wife Helen (Jamie Lee Curtis) and daughter Dana (Eliza Dushku), knows what he does. One tango later, Harry must make a less-than-quiet exit from the party. But while his work and home life are separate entities, they are about to come crashing together.   

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Fall – Movie Review

TL;DR – Captures that tension of being isolated from the world with rescues just being out of reach at all times.  

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Disclosure – I paid to view this film.

The tower from afar.

Fall Review

As we get closer to the end of the year, there has been one film that I have been avoiding. I have a deep fear of heights, and seeing an epic tale of survival (maybe) half a km up in the air on the big screen was a bit of a stretch. But on the small screen, where I can pause and walk away, well, it is now time to give it a go.   

So to set the scene, on a sheer cliff face, two married climbers Becky (Grace Caroline Currey) and Dan (Mason Gooding), make their way up the side of the mountain with their friend Hunter (Virginia Gardner). But just when they are going to make it to the top, Dan gets spooked by a bat and falls off the mountain. He tries to swing back when his anchor gives way, and he falls to his death. Fifty-one weeks later, Becky has cut herself off from the world and is at the bottom of a deep bottle pushing everyone, including her father, James Connor (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), away. Trying to help her friend get out of their funk, Hunter gets Becky to come out and climb a decommissioned 2,000-foot (610 m) B67 TV tower in the middle of the desert. The accent went well, but coming down is always the most challenging part.      

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After Yang – Movie Review

TL;DR – There is a beautiful sadness to After Yang as you connect with the characters on the screen while also becoming introspective of your own life.   

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Disclosure – I paid to watch this film.

Yang's memories.

After Yang Review

At the start of the year, one of my colleagues recommended that I should check out After Yang, and well as is clearly apparent, I have been quite tardy on that request. But a promise is a promise, and also, a soft-science fiction film exploring the nature of sentience in a shifting world should be 100% my jam, so it is silly that I missed it up until now.  

So to set the scene, we open with a family in a green field trying to take a photo together. While things look fine on the surface, with father Jake (Colin Farrell), mother Kyra (Jodie Turner-Smith), and kids Mika (Malea Emma Tjandrawidjaja) and Yang (Justin H. Min) coming together to join in on a family dance-off contest. But Yang is an android built by the company Brothers and Sisters bought to help connect Mika with her Chinese culture. However, something has gone wrong with Yang’s central core, and he has shut down, and now Jake and Kyra have the difficult job of finding out what to do next.

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Samaritan – Movie Review

TL;DR – This is a perfect film for Stallone, but it becomes hampered by many factors, including one of the weakest villains in an age.    

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Disclosure – I paid for the Amazon Prime service that viewed this film.

Joe on his back after getting hit by a car.

Samaritan Review

As we come crashing towards the end of the year, there is still a genre dominating the cinema landscape, superheroes. However, while the DCU flounders and is about to go through a massive rejig, and even the MCU has lost a touch of its lustre, there is space for someone else to do something grand here. With that in mind, we head to the good v bad narrative of the Samaritan.  

So to see the scene, two boys discovered they had extraordinary powers a long time ago, but while learning to control them, people got hurt, and soon the town came and lynched the boy’s parents in a fire. While one boy became Samaritan, a protector, the other became Nemesis, driven by their thirst for revenge. After duelling for years, Nemesis leads his brother into a trap to save the town. Samaritan sacrificed himself to take his own brother down. People still wonder if Samaritan died that night, but Sam Cleary (Javon’ Wanna’ Walton) knows he is alive, or at least hopes so. But when he gets caught up with Cyrus (Pilou Asbæk) and Reza (Moises Arias) and gets stuck in the middle of a beatdown, only one person can save him, his neighbour, the surprisingly strong Joe (Sylvester Stallone).

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Mapping The Troll Trek in Troll – Map-It

TL;DR – We map the route the Troll took in Troll

The destruction of a house.

Mapping Troll

Earlier today, we watched a genuinely delightful Kaiju film from Norway about a Troll being woken from its slumber and making its way down to the capital. We enjoyed the film, and you can read our full review HERE.

One of the things the film did so well was giving you an understanding of the geography involved with the travels, and after watching, I wondered – did that work in real life? You may think that is an odd question, but as a map in the future will show, that is not always the case.  

However, everything lines up here (even topographically if interested). With that in mind, I thought I would have a little fun and map it out for you. Of course, whenever I make a map of Scandinavia, I always forget about the fjords before I start, which is probably for the best because they would probably scare me off. Also, there are some spoilers for Troll, so view it at your own risk.   

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Troll – Movie Review

TL;DR – A fantastic monster film that crashes through the Norwegian countryside, leaving very little in its wake.    

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is a mid-credit scene

Disclosure – I paid for the Netflix service that viewed this film

The destruction of a house.

Troll Review

I have wanted to explore more of world cinema for a while, and one area where I have been trying to expand my knowledge is Scandinavia. I have not visited a film from this region in a time, and never one from Norway. With reports of a new Kaiju film out of that region all about a troll on a rampage, I knew that this was the perfect time to jump back in.

 So to set the scene, at Trolltindene, Romsdalen, in Norway, Nora (Ameli Olving Sælevik) and her father Tobias (Gard B. Eidsvold) climb up a cliff face. Once they reach the top, they see The Troll Peaks, and Nora relates the fairy tale of a big troll wedding where 13 trolls got too drunk, and when the sun rose, they were turned to stone. Twenty years later, on the Atlantic coast of Norway, Nora (Ine Marie Wilmann), now a palaeontologist, is rejoicing because they finally found a fossil. But in the village of Hjerkinn, in the Dovrefjell mountain range, a rail tunnel is being controversially cut through the mountain. But the last explosive charge does not just blow up some rock. It wakes a creature from its slumber, an angry beast.

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7 Women and a Murder (7 Donne e un Mistero) – Movie Review

TL;DR – A whimsical romp of a film that I wish just had a touch more substance.    

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There are some mid-credit scenes

Disclosure – I paid for the Netflix service that viewed this film.

A murder most foul.

7 Women and a Murder Review

The stampede of new murder mysteries comes onto the scene. I have gotten a chance to see a lot of English-language films dancing in this space. But it is time to branch away from that and explore how the rest of the world is dabbling in this space. Our first stop is Italy, where the bigger scandal is not that someone is having an affair but that someone has an unrequited love.  

So to set the scene, it is a cold and wintery Christmas Eve as several women make their way to an estate in the Italian countryside. There are seven different women in that house that day. The Daughter Susanna (Diana Del Bufalo), The Maid Maria (Luisa Ranieri), The Mother-In-Law Rachele (Ornella Vanoni), The Wife Margherita (Margherita Buy), The Aunt Agostina (Sabrina Impacciatore), The Little Sister Caterina (Benedetta Porcaroli), and The Lover Veronica (Micaela Ramazzotti). But when they wake up the patriarch of the house, Marcello (Luca Pastorelli), The Maid finds him dead with a knife in his back. A murder most foul. But who is the killer? Is one of them? Or is someone else prowling the house, waiting to strike? Which is right when the electricity starts to flutter.   

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The Contractor – Movie Review

TL;DR – A sadly predictable story with some good performances.     

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Disclosure – I paid for the Amazon Prime service that viewed this film

Warning – Contains scenes that may cause distress.  

A Military Cemitry.

The Contractor Review

If there is one group of people you can reliably know will be the bad guys, it is a private military outfit. I mean, take Angel Has Fallen, Black Adam, and Secret Headquarters, to name three of many examples. And when you look out at the world, it is not an entirely unearned reputation. When I heard that Chris Pine would be playing PMC in a film as the main lead, I had to give it a look.  

So to set the scene, James Harper (Chris Pine) is a Green Beret in the US Army who has had to take illegal steroids to treat a keen injury. When he is discovered and discharged from the army, he has few choices left, and he needs to take a private military contractor job for a fellow veteran Rusty Jennings (Kiefer Sutherland). Rusty was recommended by a former squadmate Mike Hawkins (Ben Foster), because he is not like one of those other PMCs. James and Mike must head to Berlin for a black mission because it is not officially signed off on. But things fall apart when the Berlin Police show up.

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Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio – Movie Review

TL;DR – A work of art that hits on every emotional level from start to finish.    

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is a mid-credit scene

Disclosure – I paid for the Netflix service that viewed this film.

Pinocchio but just a puppet.

Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio Review

Some names instantly intrigue you when you hear they are attached to a project. Which is entirely what happened when I heard that Guillermo del Toro was going to make a Pinocchio film. This alone was enough to interest me. Then you discover that it will be an animated film, not just that, a stop-motion animation film, and the masters of puppets, The Jim Henson Company, will produce it. Well, that is a combination that could not be missed, and I am fundamentally glad I watched it.   

 So to set the scene, master craftsman Geppetto (David Bradley) lost his only child Calro (Gregory Mann), during the Great War when he was only ten years old. A stray bomb destroyed the church that they were working in, and it is a loss that he has never recovered from. Sometime later, Sebastian J. Cricket (Ewan McGregor), a travelling cricket, came to live in the tree planted at Carlo’s grave and watched as a drunk Geppetto laments over his lost son. But as that is happening, some old spirits from the forest who typically ignore humanity hear the pleas of the grieving father and when he cuts down the pine tree that was planted at the grave to turn it into a puppet. So The Wood Sprite (Tilda Swinton) looks over the creation and then brings that puppet Pinocchio (Gregory Mann) to life.   

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Matilda the Musical (Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical) – Movie Review

TL;DR – While I was mixed on the musical part, the rest of the film was a delight.     

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Disclosure – I paid for the Netflix service that viewed this film

Revolting Children

Matilda the Musical Review

Rarely have I seen a film with just such a windy road to completion. You have the original book, which then becomes a movie, influences a musical, and is turned back into a film. I have to say that I have a fondness for the original book and film adaption, and I had never seen the musical, though friends of mine had said it was a delight. This means that I come into this film with an odd perspective because my central question is ‘does the musical elements add anything to the story?

 So to set the scene, no one was more surprised that they were about to imminently have a baby than Harry Wormwood (Stephen Graham) and Mrs Wormwood (Andrea Riseborough). How dare this thing, a girl no less, come and ruin their lives. As little Matilda (Alisha Weir) grows up, she lives in a world of books because there is no love from her parents. Well, one day, the school comes around and asks why she wasn’t enrolled. Well, one fine later, they reluctantly send her to Crunchem Hall, run by the evil Miss Agatha Trunchbull (Emma Thompson). But in this hellhole is one ray of light, the joy that is Miss Jennifer Honey (Lashana Lynch).

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