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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Everything Everywhere All at Once – Movie Review

TL;DR – You may have been told how wild this film is, but trust me, whoever was talking to you was completely underselling it.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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

Disclosure – I paid to see this film

Everything Everywhere All at Once. Image Credit: A24.

Everything Everywhere All at Once Review

The word surreal gets thrown around quite a bit and usually means something that might be a bit cerebral or weird or maybe both. But for something to be genuinely surreal, it needs to challenge the nature of reality, to contest the very bedrock we live our lives on. Films will often dip their toes into the surreal, but every now and again, a film will dive in headfirst. Today, we are looking at just such a film that just might nail everything it sets out to do.

So to set the scene, in a city in America, Evelyn Wang (Michelle Yeoh) lives above the laundromat that she runs with her husband Waymond (Ke Huy Quan). Things are pretty stressful for Evelyn at the moment. The IRS is auditing the business. She is trying to put together a party for he estranged father, Gong Gong (James Hong), she is feuding with her daughter Joy (Stephanie Hsu), and Waymond is about to drop divorce papers on her. As they arrive at the IRS to be audited by Deirdre Beaubeirdra (Jamie Lee Curtis), Waymond suddenly changes into a completely different person. He declares that Evelyn is in trouble because a force from another universe is hunting her down, and it just might have found its prey, and that is when the alarms go off.

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Deep Rock Galactic – Video Game Review

TL;DR – Every part of this game build upon each other to create one of the best four-player co-op games out there at the moment

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Disclosure – I purchased the game

Deep Rock Galactic. Image Credit: Ghost Ship Games.

Deep Rock Galactic Review –

For a while now, me and my friends have been dipping in and out of this odd mining survival game from Ghost Ship Games. But recently, we have been going into a deep dive, exploring everything the game has to offer. Well, as their Season Two event is about to launch, I thought it would be an excellent time to jump in and have a look at the game as a whole. Before we start, I want to thank my friends Johan, Nikola, and Chris for helping to run through the game with me.

So to set the scene, in the far future, the Creus solar system is inhabited by Dwarves thanks to the powerhouse that is the planet Hoxxes IV. The planet is smashed apart, and its surface is a desolate wasteland. However, underneath, it is full of wonders, full of minerals, and full of dangers. Under the surface are great biomes that exist in the planet’s many interconnecting cave systems. These caves are full of life adapted to the rocky and dark world. However, those very lifeforms do not like large sounds reverberating through the rock, for example, the sounds miners make while digging up their booty.     

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Moon Knight: Summon the Suit – TV Review

TL;DR – An intriguing opening, more tease than substance, which could be a good sign for the future

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

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

Moon Knight: Summon the Suit. Image Credit: Disney+.

Moon Knight Review

One of the best things about coming into Moon Knight is that I have absolutely no idea what to expect. With other areas in the MCU, I have some vague understanding, and when they finally get the X-Men running, well, that will be my jam. But for better or worse, Moon Knight is an entirely blank slate.

So to set the scene, at the end of The Goldfish Problem, Steven (Oscar Isaac) finds himself stuck in a bathroom with an approaching Egyptian jackal and, honestly, not a lot of choice as to how he will get out of there alive. In that last moment of desperation, he lets Marc (Oscar Isaac) take control of his body, leaving carnage in its wake. Steven wakes up the following day, hoping the last night was a dream. Which almost worked right up until he got into work and saw the carnage unfold.

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All the Old Knives – Movie Review

TL;DR –  While it might not stick the landing, it did engage me right up to that point

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

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

Disclosure – I paid for the Amazon Prime subscription that viewed this episode.

All the Old Knives. Image Credit: Amazon Studios.

All the Old Knives Review

Some films spark your interest from the cast list alone. One of those combinations is Chris Pine, Thandiwe Newton, Laurence Fishburne, and Jonathan Pryce, all working together in a film. Add a layer of spies, subterfuge, regrets, and loves lost, and you have the groundwork for something interesting or at least something that speaks to me.  

So to set the scene, we opened in Vienna, where terrorists hijacked a Turkish Airlines plane, Flight 127. At the CIA-Vienna outpost, all the team look in horror as the carnage unfolds. 8-years later, one of the terrorists involved was captured in Afghanistan, who let it be known that the terrorists had help from inside the CIA-Vienna station. Vick Wallinger (Laurence Fishburne) tasks Henry Pelham (Chris Pine) to investigate his former team, the second in command Bill Compton (Jonathan Pryce), his old love Celia Harrison (Thandiwe Newton), and the whole team. They need to find out if there was a mole in the department and if it caused the deaths of all those people.

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