Top Gun: Maverick – Movie Review

TL;DR – A glorious sequel from start to finish, filled with heart-pounding adrenalin and a boost to the more dramatic parts of the script.    

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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

Disclosure – I paid to see this film

A Jet over the desert.

Top Gun: Maverick Review

Two different reactions can happen when you try a sequel decades after the first film. The first is that you are trying to capture something whose time has passed, and you can’t walk back into that world. The second is that they tap into a nostalgia that is there and use it to propel them forward. Today we look at a film that lands with the latter as it soars across the screen. Because Top Gun: Maverick fixes those elements that did not work in the first film and then takes what did work and amps it up to 11.                           

So to set the scene, it has been decades since the first Top Gun, and after flying planes in Bosnia, Afghanistan, and both Iraq’s Captain Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Tom Cruise) now works as a test pilot for experimental jets in the Mojave Desert. When told that his unit is about to be shut down because Rear Admiral Chester “Hammer” Cain (Ed Harris) thinks that drones are the future. Well, one illicit test later and intervention of Admiral Tom “Iceman” Kazansky (Val Kilmer), Maverick is not grounded, but instead, he is sent back to Top Gun to be a teacher. Because they need to undertake a perilous mission, and only Maverick can teach them. The only issue is that one of the possible recruits for this potential suicide mission is Lieutenant Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw (Miles Teller), the son of Maverick’s late radar co-pilot.   

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Downton Abbey: A New Era – Movie Review

TL;DR – While it does suffer from pacing issues when it finds its grove, it becomes a true delight    

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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

Disclosure – I was invited to a press screening of this film

Downton Abbey

Downton Abbey: A New Era Review

As we said back in our review of the first Downton Abbey film, I have never watched any of the TV Show that is the basis for these films. It was a pop-culture phenomenon, so even without watching, you picked up things like one character’s untimely death via car crash after visiting his newborn son. With that in mind, I am approaching these films and these reviews as someone who has not seen the supporting show and thus present how it works or does not work for those who have not watched the show.

So to set the scene, we open with a wedding as Tom Branson (Allen Leech) and Lucy (Tuppence Middleton) as the whole family comes to share in the nuptials. However, as they return to Downton, Robert Crawley, 7th Earl of Grantham (Hugh Bonneville) and his daughter Lady Mary Talbot (Michelle Dockery) are called into a meeting with Violet Crawley, The Dowager Countess of Grantham (Maggie Smith) and her lawyer. For you see, Violet has inherited a villa in the south of France in a surprising and disputed way. Half the household makes the trip down south to work this all out. Meanwhile, those who stayed back at the Abbey must contend with the mansion being used as a location site for a film. It is a big imposition, but the appearance of Guy Dexter (Dominic West) and enough money to fix the roof help ease the pain.

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Cyrano – Movie Review

TL;DR – While there are some hard turns throughout this film, it is a true delight when it soars.    

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

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

Disclosure – I was invited to a press screening of this film

Cyrano. Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

Cyrano Review

For me personally, I don’t need a film to be perfect. It can be filled with flaws, but as long as it still reaches me emotionally, that is fine. That emotion can be joy, sadness, wonder, or even anger. Today we look at just such a film that enraptured me in places and frustrated me in others.

So to set the scene, we open in France, which has been at war for an age. Roxanne (Haley Bennett) is getting ready to be taken to the theatre by De Guiche (Ben Mendelsohn), a man she does not love, but he paid for the tickets. The theatre was a joy right up until a voice calls out from the shadows decrying the leading actor. The voice head of The Guards and childhood friend of Roxanne, Cyrano de Bergerac (Peter Dinklage). Cyrano is profoundly in love with Roxanne but has never declared his intentions. Later that night, Roxanne’s attendant Marie (Monica Dolan) invites Cyrano to a private meeting with Roxanne. Cyrano is ecstatic, but this is short-lived when she asks him to look out for her love Christian de Neuvillette (Kelvin Harrison Jr.). Christian doesn’t know how to confess his love for Roxanne, so Cyrano makes a deal. He will write romantic prose for Roxanne but under the name of Christian.   

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Belfast – Movie Review

TL;DR – A delightful film that has the ability to surprise you with its emotional content, even when you know it is coming.    

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

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

Disclosure – I was invited to a press screening of this film

Belfast. Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

Belfast Review

When I trace my lineage back in time, half of me comes from Ireland and the other half from England, which makes any film set in Northern Ireland this odd combination of interests and concern. I honestly did not know what to expect when I walked into the cinema, which was for the best as I got sucked into this narrative and world.

So to set the scene, on the 15th of August 1969, it was a quiet day in the suburbs of Belfast. Ma (Caitríona Balfe) calls out across the street for Buddy (Jude Hill) that it is time to come home for dinner. As the request gets passed up the road, Buddy comes galloping home only to crash into a riot in progress. As the violence increases, a barricade is put up on the street, and Pa (Jamie Dornan) comes rushing home from overseas because soon, the family will have to make some hard choices.   

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Station Eleven – TV Review

TL;DR – This stunningly beautiful show is about the connections we make and how love can triumph even in the darkest of worlds.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Disclosure – I paid for the Stan subscription that viewed this series.

Station Eleven. Image Credit: Stan.

Station Eleven Review

I came into Station Eleven not knowing anything really about what I was getting myself into. I had heard vague mentions that it was pretty good, and I knew it was post-apocalyptic, but not much more than that. So I was completely unaware that I would inhale this show in the space of a week and everything about it. It has been a long while since a show has affected me like this, and goodness, what a ride it was.

So to set the scene, one night in Chicago, Jeevan Chaudhary (Himesh Patel) is seeing to opening night of the play King Lear. However, halfway through, something odd happens on stage and star Arthur Leander (Gael García Bernal) collapses on stage. Jeevan rushes to help, but Arthur dies of a heart attack. As chaos erupts around him, Jeevan finds one of the child actors, Kirsten (Matilda Lawler), has been forgotten, so he offers to walk her home. But after finding no one home at Kirsten’s house, Jeevan got a call from his sister (Tiya Sircar), that works at the hospital. The flu spreading across Europe is not usual. The death rate was 999 in 1000, and a kid had arrived in Chicago from Moscow that day. The flu is here, and it will rip through the population in 24 hours. Jeevan has to get supplies and head to his brother Fred’s (Nabhaan Rizwan) apartment, don’t talk to anyone because society is about to collapse. Just one problem, what does he do with Kirsten? Now from here, we will be looking at the season as a whole, so there will be [SPOILERS] ahead.     

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Minari – Movie Review

TL;DR – It captures a snapshot of a life so perfectly that it is almost difficult to watch sometimes because you feel like a voyeur eavesdropping on someone else’s life.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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

Disclosure – I paid for the Stan subscription that viewed this movie.

Minari. Image Credit: Madman Films.

Minari Review

Some films you can tell are works of personal nature because of the breath intimacy at every turn. You feel it in the story, the world, and the characters. This makes it a more intimate film, but it also can be more challenging to watch. Today we look at a movie that might be the most personal film I have ever seen that wasn’t a direct autobiography.

So to set the scene, in the 1980s, the Yi family make the trek inland from California to Arkansas. Jacob (Steven Yeun) picked the house because of the land, but his wife Monica (Han Ye-ri) is less than impressed that Jacob bought a trailer and not a house. Jacob wants the land to be a farmer to grow Korean crops for the diaspora, while Monica is fearful that they are too far away from the cities as their son David (Alan Kim) has a heart problem. Things get better/worse when Monica’s mum Soon-ja (Youn Yuh-jung) arrives to watch David and his sister Anne (Noel Kate Cho) as Monica and Jacob spend their days sexing chickens in a local factory.  

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Luca – Movie Review

TL;DR –  A film that is a pure delight from start to finish.  

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

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

Disclosure – I paid for the Disney+ subscription that viewed this movie.

Luca. Image Credit: Disney.

Luca Review

We have a longing for those moments in our childhood when everything seemed to come together. I think this is an almost universal drive in people, the place and location might be different, but that drive is still the same. Today we look at a film that captures this drive and crafts it into a narrative that will delight.

So to set the scene, once evening off the coast of the Italian Riviera, two fishermen decide to fish close to Isola del Mare even though the reputation that monsters surround it, which was sort of true because around the island live a village of sea people. Among the sea people/monsters is Luca Paguro (Jacob Tremblay), who lives with his family herding goatfish. However, one day in the fields, a human approached collecting the flotsam on the bottom of the ocean. Luca runs but soon finds that this is not a human but another sea person called Alberto Scorfano (Jack Dylan Grazer). Alberto lives on the surface in a tower because once a sea person leaves the water, they can turn into a human when they dry out. 

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Finch – Movie Review

TL;DR – An emotional journal to find safety in a world that has fallen into disaster.     

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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

Disclosure – I paid for the Apple TV+ service that viewed this film.

Finch. Image Credit: AppleTV+.

Finch Review

One genre I have always found interesting is that of the lone survivor. Why they were left alone could be from them being forgotten, marooned, left behind, well, anything. Fighting against the elements and even time to survive. Indeed, Tom Hanks is famous for playing a similar situation in Cast Away, so you knew it had to be an exciting premise to get him back into this realm.

So to set the scene, in the not-so-distant future, a solar flare wiped away Earth’s ozone layer exposing the globe to a massive surge of radiation and also setting off a global EMP. This baked the planet, killing nearly all the plants, animals, and of course, humans. One of the last people alive is Finch (Tom Hanks), who has survived in St Louis in the basement of the robotics company he worked at. He has one mission, to finish building Jeff (Caleb Landry Jones) an android, so there would be someone to look after Goodyear/Dog (Seamus) after he was gone. Things were going well until a supercell arrived. It will last for over 40 days, 40 days too long. So they all have to make a trip across the country to safety.  

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Ted Lasso: Season 2 – TV Review

TL;DR – Builds upon everything that made the first season great by focussing on the character development of every kind  

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Disclosure – I paid for the Apple TV+ service that viewed this episode

Ted Lasso: Season 2. Image Credit: Apple TV+.

Ted Lasso Review

When I came into the first season of Ted Lasso, there was so much praise and hype around the show that there was no way it could ever live up to those expectations. But not only did the show live up to them, but it also exceeded them. However, surely now with its sophomore season, it can’t strike lightning twice? Well, can I just say, in the echoes of T2: Judgement Day or Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, the second helping is even better than the first.

So to set the scene, at the end of Season One, things were not looking great for the English Premier League team, AFC Richmond. After a gruelling season under new coach Ted Lasso (Jason Sudeikis), the team was moments away from saving themselves from relegation when a play from ex-teammate Jamie Tartt (Jeremy Swift) sealed their fate. Relegated, the team tries to fight back to the Premier League only to start their season with seven tied matches. But just when it looks like they will turn a corner, the win is stolen from them when the penalty Dani (Cristo Fernández) kicked accidentally kills the team mascot. Now we will be looking at the season as a whole, so there may be some [SPOILERS] ahead.

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Ted Lasso: Season 1 – TV Review

TL;DR – Heart-warming and sincere without ever being saccharine.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Disclosure – I paid for the Apple TV+ service that viewed this episode.

The Media Conference in Ted Lasso. Image Credit: Apple TV+.

Ted Lasso Review

When I first got Apple TV+ for Foundation, I knew that I would probably take the chance to check out what else was there because nothing had called me before. Well, if I was going to start somewhere, I thought I might as well go with the series that just obliterated the Emmys. However, I went in with a thought that it could never live up to all the hype … I was wrong, it could, and it did.

So to set the scene, Ted Lasso (Jason Sudeikis) is working as an NFL coach in America. He led the Wichita State Shockers to a Division II NCAA championship, an impressive feat. While that win put him on the radar of several NFL clubs in America, an offer right out of left field caught his attention. Rebecca Welton (Hannah Waddingham) was the new owner of AFC Richmond, an English Premier League Football club, and she offered him the job of team manager. Ted jumps at the chance and brings along his coaching partner, Coach Beard (Brendan Hunt), all the way over to London only to get thrown in the deep end and demolished by the press like Trent Crimm for The Independent (James Lance). However, he soon finds his feet. Unfortunately for Ted, Rebecca got the team from her ex-husband Rupert (Anthony Head) in the divorce, but she has no intention of letting it thrive. She wanted the one thing her husband truly cared about to go down in flames. Now we will be looking at the season as a whole, so there may be some [SPOILERS] ahead.

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