Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings – Movie Review

TL;DR – The cast was terrific, the action was tight, and it was funny to boot.   

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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

Disclosure – I paid to see this film

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Image Credit: Disney.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings Review

I walked into Shang-Chi with a little bit of trepidation. Marvel has not had a good track record when delving into this realm, with Iron Fist being the low point, but even Dr Strange didn’t get everything right. But this time, Marvel was not just dipping their toes into this genre. It was diving all the way in. Thankfully those trepidations were for nothing as they have nailed it.

So to set the scene, we open with the story of Xu Wenwu (Tony Leung), who discovered a mystical set of ten rings. These rings gave him tremendous power and eternal life, and he used that to take control across the world, both actively and from the shadows. In 1996, he started his mission to claim the one realm he had not concurred, but his expedition to Ta Lo failed with him being the only one alive. At the gates to Ta Lo, he expected to find a guardian. He didn’t expect to find one that outclassed him in every way or that he would actually find love. He and Ying Li (Fala Chen) go home and start a family, but it ends in tragedy. In the modern-day, their son Shang-Chi (Simu Liu) goes by Shaun and works as a valet in San Francisco with his best friend Katy (Awkwafina). It is a quiet life, right up until they get attacked on a bus by a bunch of goons sent by his father.

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Free Guy – Movie Review

TL;DR – A film that works through the sheer charisma of its cast but left me feeling hollow when I left.    

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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

Disclosure – I paid to see this film

Free Guy. Image Credit: 20th Century Studios.

Free Guy Review

I had wanted to catch Free Guy for a couple of weeks now, but schedules never lined up, well that was until today when I managed to slip in just in time for the start of the film. I was intrigued because I like Ryan Reynolds as an actor, and I enjoy the video game/streaming intersection that the game is delving into. However, as I walked away from the cinemas there felt like a lot of opportunities were not taken. 

So to set the scene, every day, Guy (Ryan Reynolds) wakes up, wishes his goldfish a good morning, gets a coffee, and goes to work at the bank, where he gets robbed multiple times a day. Because Guy is an NPC (non-player character) in the video game Free City. However, one day he notices one of the player characters in the game is humming a song that he loves, and it breaks him from his gameplay loop. It is here where he discovers a whole new world is just under his fingertips … or glasses.

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Candyman (2021) – Movie Review

TL;DR – A film that is haunting, captivating, terrifying, but also a bit frustrating.    

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is a mid-credit scene/sequence.

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

Candyman (2021). Image Credit: Universal Studios.

Candyman Review

When the first Candyman arrived on screens, I was a bit too young to watch horror films, with my introduction coming a little later with movies like Scream. But when I talk to people a bit older than me, they speak in almost hushed tones about the film. That it made them fear reflections, indeed one friend suggested that I pre-emptively leave a couple of lights on for when I got home after seeing it. I thought it was all a bit silly, but now I am kind of glad that I did.

So to set the scene, we open in the 1970s in the Cabrini Green neighbourhood of Chicago, Illinois. Billy (Rodney L Jones III) is taking his family’s washing to the laundry room in the basement while cops ask everyone if they have seen a man with a hook for a hand. Ignoring them, Billy goes down into the basement, where a piece of candy comes from nowhere and lands on the floor. Within moments a figure appears from a hole in the wall, candy in one hand, a hook in the other. The boy’s screams could be heard for miles around. In the present, the Cabrini Green neighbourhood has been gentrified, and Anthony (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), an artist, lives with his girlfriend Brianna (Teyonah Parris) in a new apartment. Anthony is trying to find inspiration for his next artwork when Brianna’s brother Troy (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett) lets slip about the Candyman urban legend, and Anthony goes off to explore if it was true.

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Reminiscence – Movie Review

TL;DR – It creates a fascinating world and engaging plot, but unfortunately, the story gets lost in places.   

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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

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

Reminiscence. Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures.

Reminiscence Review

Tonight is one of those rare occasions where I got to walk into a film with a minimal idea of just what I was going to see. All I had to go on was the poster, which told me who was staring, that the people behind Westworld created it, and that it gave me big Sci-fi vibes. Now that I have watched it, well, that was pretty spot on.  

So to set the scene, the ice caps have melted in the not too distant future, causing the sea to rise, inundating cities like London, New Orleans, and Miami. In some places, they have built giant levees to hold off the water. In others, people live on the ruins of the old world. In the chaos of the rise, wars were fought, and it is here where the technology for extracting memories first was found. Nick Bannister (Hugh Jackman) and his technician Watts (Thandiwe Newton) were veterans of that conflict. They now run the reminiscence technology to help people find what was lost or remember the better times. While it is not going swimmingly, it is enough to stop them from starving, but then one day, Mae (Rebecca Ferguson) walks in looking for her lost keys, and Nick’s world changed in an instant.

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Respect – Movie Review

TL;DR – A film anchored by a transcendent performance that captures you from the start and never lets you go.      

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

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

Disclosure – I attended a Press Screening of this film

Respect. Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

Respect Review

It has been the era of the musical biopic, with Elton John, Freddie Mercury, and even the Sparks Brothers getting a film all about them. But if one person is missing from this list, it would be the seminal Aretha Franklin. Her voice is like no other, and you get taken to another world every time you hear it. Today, we get to look at a film that not only fixes that glaring gap but does so in a way that left tears in my eyes.

So to set the scene, we open in Detroit, 1952, in the house of Reverend C. L. Franklin (Forest Whitaker). He is hosting a party for several influential people in the African-American community. Making his way to the back of the house, he finds Aretha ‘Re’ Franklin (Skye Dakota Turner) asleep in her bed. He asks her if she wants to sing, and the answer is, of course, yes. Even at a young age, she leads the choir at her father’s church, but as Aretha (Jennifer Hudson) grows older, she wants to do more to help Martin Luther King Jr. (Gilbert Glenn Brown). But at a party, her father surprised her with a ticket to New York to meet with John Hammond (Tate Donovan), a famous music producer, who could make her into a star.

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The Suicide Squad – Movie Review

TL;DR – A film that finally made me care about these characters but one that also suffered from some narrative bloat    

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

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

Disclosure – I was sent a screener of this film.

The Suicide Squad. Image Credit: Warner Brothers Pictures.

The Suicide Squad Review

In life, you rarely get the chance to make a second first impression. For every Parks and Rec that gets to find its feet in its second season, many more fall by the wayside after their first attempt. Well, today, DC gives us a film that is a second chance to bring a set of characters and scenarios into the DCEU to see if they work, and the answer to that question is yes … mostly.

So to set the scene, we open in with Savant (Michael Rooker) in prison attacking birds with his bouncing ball. But before he has time to finish his time off, Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) tells him that he has been conscripted into a mission. Within moments he is rushed to the island of Corto Maltese, with Weasel (Sean Gunn), Javelin (Flula Borg), Blackguard (Pete Davidson), TDK (Nathan Fillion), Mongal (Mayling Ng), Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman), and Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie). Their mission is to infiltrate the island and get past the military patrols, as the island recently suffered a military coup. It is all going well right up until Weasel dies because he can’t swim, and Blackguard immediately sells them out.     

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Black Widow – Movie Review

TL;DR – A film with a great cast, strong banter, engaging action, but the third act does not capitalise on all these.     

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

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

Disclosure – I paid to see this film.

Black Widow. Image Credit: Marvel Studios.

Black Widow Review

Back when Spider-Man: Far From Home came out in July 2019, I don’t think anyone knew just how long it would be before we got another Marvel film up on the big screen. Well, just over two years later, it is time to dive back into this world by going back to a time just after Civil War.

So to set the scene, we begin our film in the deep dark days of the far past, the 1990s. In Ohio, we are introduced to a completely average family, normal except for the fact that it is entirely manufactured and the father Alexei Shostakov (David Harbour) and mother Melina Vostokoff (Rachel Weisz) are Russian spies. They are here to steal secrets from SHIELD (well, HYDRA pretending to be SHIELD). One emergency flight to Cuba and the family is split up and forced into the Soviet machine. Years later, Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) is now on the run after Civil War, and it just so happens to be time for a family reunion.  

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Old – Movie Review

TL;DR – A film that is equal parts engaging and unsettling      

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

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

Disclosure – I was sent a screener of this film

Old. Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

Old Review

If there is one filmmaker who knows Hollywood’s very heights and depths, it’s M. Night Shyamalan. But no matter if his films work or not, they are always impeccable shot and are at least trying to be more than the sum of their parts. So when you hear that he is diving back into the horror world or at least the supernatural world, well, it makes you want to see at least what he has made.     

So to set the scene, we open in on a family as they make their way by coach to the Anamika Resort on some tropical island. While the parents, Guy (Gael García Bernal) and Priscilla (Vicky Krieps), put on a good show for their kids Maddox (Alexa Swinton) and Trent (Nolan River). This was, in fact, the last holiday before the parents separate, so they are trying to make it a good memory. While at the resort, the manager suggests that they all go to a private beach that they are only opening for select guests, all you have to do is walk through a small canyon, and you are there. It is a beautiful day at the beach, right up until a body floats ashore.

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Gunpowder Milkshake – Movie Review

TL;DR – Stylistically fascinating, tonally inconsistent, and yet still engaging      

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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

Disclosure – I paid to see this film

Gunpowder Milkshake. Image Credit: StudioCanal.

Gunpowder Milkshake Review

There has been a real struggle for independent stories to break through in a world of franchises and sequels. So when you see a new film emerge, you want to see it thrive. However, there are still as many hits and misses when you have new ideas as what happens when you are working with a solid franchise base. Today, we look at a film which has aspects of both sides, both the good and the bad.

So to set the scene, we open with a phone beeping off the hook as blood and bullets scatter the room. It is here where we are introduced to Sam (Karen Gillan), who is a cleaner for a secret organisation called The Firm. 15 years ago, a young Sam (Freya Allan) was abandoned at a diner by her mother Scarlet (Lena Headey) after a shootout with the Russian Mob. Now, Sam is here with her handler Nathan (Paul Giamatti), and she is on the last legs with the organisation. All she has to do is hunt down some missing money. What could go wrong?     

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Space Jam: A New Legacy – Movie Review

TL;DR – Take the first Space Jam, introduce it to Tron Legacy while giving Ready Player One a run for its money.      

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene but some pictures in the mid-credits

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

Space Jam: A New Legacy. Image Credit: Warner Brothers.

Space Jam: A New Legacy Review

When there are 25 years between entries in a film franchise, there is always a fear of who will be your target audience. Are you trying to bring in new fans, or are you catering for those who liked the last film? Today we get a movie that tried to bridge both groups with an entertaining film for kids but filled with moments that only the parents will get.

So to set the scene, we open in Akron, Ohio, in 1998. A young LeBron (Stephen Kankole) is practising, but his coach thinks his head is not in the game, and he has to ditch all the distractions. One montage of LeBron’s career later, and a now champion LeBron James (LeBron James) is raising a family. While he is all about basketball, his son Dominic “Dom” James (Cedric Joe) likes to code and has built a video game. This is heading towards conflict when at Warner Brother Studios, their inbuilt algorithm Al-G Rhythm (Don Cheadle) has devised a plan. A plan that pits son against father and makes the Looney Tunes fight for their very lives.

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