Death on the Nile – Movie Review

TL;DR – A sequel that boosts in individual performance while lacking in the ensemble.     

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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

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

Poirot sitting in front of the Sphinx.

Death on the Nile Review

When COVID struck, nearly every major film was bumped from the schedule. For many, this gave them a moment to release in a time when people could see them safely. However, for others, the delay meant that it was released after a significant scandal decoupled one of its major stars. Alas, with this outing, we get a film that was the latter. But the question I had when going in was, could it overcome it?  

So to set the scene, we open in the trenches of WW1, where a well-moustachioed Captain is told that they need to take a bridge, a death note. However, a young Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) tells of a different way to attack the bridge that won’t leave them exposed. It worked, but a tripwire kills the captain. After the events of Murder on the Orient Express, Poirot finds himself in Egypt and the company of his friend Bouc (Tom Bateman) and Bouc’s mother Euphemia (Annette Bening) as they tour down the Nile. They are part of a wedding party, of a whirlwind marriage of Linnet “Linny” Ridgeway-Doyle (Gal Gadot) and Simon Doyle (Armie Hammer). But there is more danger on the Nile than the crocodiles lurking under the water.

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Murder on the Orient Express (2017) – Movie Review [Exploring the Past]

TL;DR – A perfectly pleasant presentation of Poirot’s perceived peculiarities as he pertains the proceeds of a pernicious passing.     

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

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

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

The Orient Express on a mountainside.

Murder on the Orient Express Review

Every year, you intend to see one or two films, but they manage to slip out of your hands like the one fish they need to eat in Alone. In 2017, one of those films was Murder on the Orient Express, a modern adaptation of the classic book and film. Indeed, if nothing else, the cast list alone merits giving this one a watch. Today, given that I am about to watch the sequel, it felt like a better now than never prospect, so let’s dive in.  

So to set the scene, it is 1934, and we start in Jerusalem at The Wailing Wall, where hotel staff are making eggs for a painfully precise Poirot (Kenneth Branagh). A Rabbi, a Priest, and an Iman are accused of stealing a relic, and the city is about to explode into a riot. Well, one arrested police chief later, and a boat ride to Istanbul, Hercule Poirot and an assortment of colourful characters board the famous/infamous Orient Express, three days of peace and no crime, bar for a bit of murder discovered after an avalanche derails the train. A train full of people, one of them a killer, and the threat that more may die before the snow is cleared.

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The Drover’s Wife: The Legend of Molly Johnson – Movie Review

TL;DR – A heart-wrenching look at life in Australia on the cusp of the 1900s and at issues that are just as relevant today.    

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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

Warning – This film depicts scenes of abuse

Disclosure – I paid to see this film

Sheep being headed across the plains

The Drover’s Wife: The Legend of Molly Johnson Review

There are many touchstones in Australian literature that you must look at in school, and one of the big ones from the 1800s is Henry Lawson. One of their more famous works is that of The Drover’s Wife, a story of life on the ‘frontier’ in 1983. It is an interesting tale of survival against the elements, but it also glosses over many realities of the time. Today we are looking at a film that takes that central premise and then reinterprets the story from a different perspective.

So to set the scene, it is 1893, and high up in the Snowy Mountains, a lone mother, Molly Johnson (Leah Purcell), is watching over her home and four children while her husband is away droving sheep on the high plains. Her husband is away for months at a time, so she has to be resourceful, like when she takes out a wandering bullock that was about to attack her kids. But as she is cooking the meat, the new town Sergeant Klintoff (Sam Reid) and his wife Louisa (Jessica De Gouw) arrive destitute after losing it all in the river. Molly helps them and sends them on their way because they can take her kids to town, so she can give birth uninterrupted.

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Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness – Movie Review

TL;DR – This is a perfectly okay film, it is not one of Marvel’s best, playing it safe, but solid visuals and cast bring it together.    

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

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

Disclosure – I paid to watch this film.

Wanda/Scarlet Witch floating over some candles

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness Review

Back all the way in 2016, pre-covid times, Marvel released this new film based on a wizard and full of magic. That first Doctor Strange film was full of beautiful visuals and a bunch of fun once Benedict Cumberbatch found his feet. Since that time, we have had 18 different entries into the MCU, and now it is time to jump back into the weird world.

So to set the scene, since the fallout from Spider-Man: No Way Home, Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) has tried to find some normalcy even though he is famous after the events of Endgame. However, he has to deal with the legacies of his actions or inactions,  including being a guest at Christine Palmer’s (Rachel McAdams) wedding and not a part of it. To say it was awkward, well, that is an understatement. Thankfully the wedding is interrupted by screams from the street as there is a disturbance in New York. Which turns out to be a giant one-eyed tentacle monster chasing after a girl. This is normal for an Avenger, and Wong (Benedict Wong) shows up for the team-up. The only difference is that Strange has seen this girl before, in his dreams, and she was there when he died.

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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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The 355 – Movie Review

TL;DR – While this is a good concept, unfortunately, production and narrative issues feel like an anchor dragging the film back at every moment.    

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

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

Disclosure – I paid to see this film

The cast walk into an auction in fancy dress.

The 355 Review

One of the more frustrating things to see is when you have a narrative with an exciting hook that just plods along with a generic presentation. Today we are unfortunately looking at a film that does just that, and given what they were trying, it feels like a real missed opportunity.

So to set the scene, 150 Miles south of Bogota, Colombia, there appears to be a drug deal going on, but it is much worse. They are there to make a trade for a back door key into any of the world’s secure communications. At this point, a gunfight explodes out between the two cartels and the Colombian military and the key is lost in the melee until it is picked up by the last man standing (Édgar Ramírez). The last man standing is an operative for the CIA and immediately goes into hiding in Paris. It is up to CIA agents Mason “Mace” Browne (Jessica Chastain) and Nick Fowler (Sebastian Stan) to secure it, which is where things start going wrong.

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Sonic the Hedgehog 2 – Movie Review

TL;DR – A film that hits pretty much the same as the first, but I am not sure the first film was good enough to rest on your laurels    

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

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

Disclosure – I paid to see this film

Knuckles walks through a coin portal

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 Review

The first Sonic the Hedgehog film was one of those moments where you could tell that there was a good movie and idea out there, but that it had been so cluttered that it was hard to find. To let a spoiler out of the bag, I do think the sequel improves in some areas. However, on the whole, what we get here is more of the same than any actual development.

So to set the scene, Sonic (Ben Schwartz) has been living with Tom (James Marsden) and Maddie Wachowski (Tika Sumpter) for a while now, but secretly at night, he goes out to Seattle to try and fight crime. Tom is concerned that he is not mature enough for that, but as a test of faith, he leaves Sonic home alone while they go to Hawaii for the wedding of Maddie’s sister Rachel (Natasha Rothwell) to her new beau Randall (Shemar Moore). It is all going fine, but for the fact that on the Mushroom Planet, Doctor Robotnik (Jim Carrey) found a way to send a pulse into space, which summoned the Echidna with the fists and a feud with Sonic, Knuckles (Idris Elba) to the planet.

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The Lost City – Movie Review

TL;DR – While this is not charting any new ground narratively, the solid work from the cast makes it an enjoyable romp through the jungle.    

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

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

Disclosure – I paid to see this film

Sandra and Channing tied up surrounded by snakes.

The Lost City Review

There is a group of films that fit within the ‘romantic-comedy’ genre that I think you may have watched before. This is where two people not in a couple are dropped into a life-or-death situation and must learn how to get along with each other or more by the time the film has finished. They can be good like Romancing the Stone and My Fellow Americans, and well, they can be not so good. Today, we are looking at a film that hits all the main points of this world and manages to shine due to a cast committed to the chaos.

So to set the scene, Loretta Sage (Sandra Bullock) is a prevalent romance author. However, she has been stuck with writer’s block since her archaeologist husband passed away. She put together a new book for her agent Beth Hatten (Da’Vine Joy Randolph), but her heart was not in it, and even less so in the book tour that she had to go on to promote it. Sensing this, Beth asks the popular model Alan Caprison (Channing Tatum), who has been the cover model for all of Loretta’s books, to come along to boost attendance at the events. That also goes poorly, but as Lorretta is leaving, she is kidnapped by reclusive billionaire Abigail Fairfax (Daniel Radcliffe). For you see, as an undergrad, Loretta was an expert in a small Indigenous people’s group in the Atlantic and incorporated that work into her novel. Abigail is after a lost treasure from those people, and Loretta might be the only one who can help him.

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The Northman – Movie Review

TL;DR – The Northman is unrelenting, uncomfortable, unyielding, and uncompromising

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

Bjork as a witch in a wheat headdress

The Northman Review

When I heard that Robert Eggers was making a new film, I was interested because his last work, The Lighthouse, well, it was ‘a lot’, but it was also fascinating from start to finish. Then I heard it would be a Norse epic tale of revenge and carnage. Well, I was intrigued. But when I heard that early reviews were calling it ‘impenetrably Norse’, I had to check it out because that is my jam.

So to set the scene, in 985AD, on the Atlantic coast, young Prince Amleth (Oscar Novak) looks out into the sea and sees that his father, King Aurvandill War-Raven (Ethan Hawke), has returned from his raids. With his Mother, Queen Gudrún (Nicole Kidman), he greets his father and discovers that he was wounded in the last battle. After Aurvandill’s brother Fjölnir (Claes Bang) arrives, Gudrún counsels her husband that Amleth needs to start the process of becoming a man. Aurvandill takes Amleth to the Heimir (Willem Dafoe), the fool and seer, to have a vision. But as they leave the temple, Aurvandill is ambushed and murdered, and as Amleth runs, he sees that the murderer is his uncle Fjölnir. Many years later, in the Lands of the Rus, Amleth (Alexander Skarsgård) is a berserker taking out villages when he is reminded of his duty to avenge his father’s murder.

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The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent – Movie Review

TL;DR – A bombastic blast of a film that holds its meta-commentary together by the skin of its teeth as it explodes across the screen    

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

Nicolas Cage by the pool

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent Review

Some actors can pique your interest by their very presence, and I think Nicolas Cage is high on that list for many people. You can just call your film Pig, and people will go see it out of sheer interest [also, you should go watch Pig]. Today, we look at a film that does not just lean into that phenomenon but makes it the central premise of its narrative.

So to set the scene, Nicolas Cage (Nicolas Cage) is at a precarious point in his professional and family life. He is dead broke, his marriage has fallen apart with Olivia Henson (Sharon Horgan), and therapy is not helping his estrangement from his daughter Addy (Lily Sheen). At his lowest point, he is given a lifeline from his agent Richard Fink (Neil Patrick Harris). A wealthy Spanish benefactor, Javi Gutierrez (Pedro Pascal), is willing to pay a million dollars. All Nic has to do is show up at his party, and surely nothing else will go wrong on the Islands of Mallorca.

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