Avatar (2009) – Exploring the Past

TL;DR –. A tour de force in worldbuilding that still hits those emotional moments even after all this time.  

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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

Disclosure – I paid to watch this film.

The fly through the floating mountains.

Avatar Review

When Avatar first came out, I, like nearly everyone else I knew, went and saw it, and it might have been the only film ever truly worth paying extra for those 3D glasses. But as the sequel approached, I realised I had not watched the movie since I watched the extended edition when it came out on DVD. I knew I had to catch up again, and there was no better time than when it was back on the big screen.

So to set the scene, it is 2154, and while the Earth is a hollow mess, humans have found a new world to wreck in the Alpha Centauri system on a moon called Pandora that orbits the gas-giant Polyphemus. Even though Pandor looks like a lush paradise, the high carbon dioxide content means you will be unconscious in 20 seconds without a mask. Jake Scully (Sam Worthington), the former marine that lost the use of his legs, has just made the 6-year trip to the planet in cryo-sleep, but he was not meant to be there. His twin brother, a scientist, was killed, but because they shared exact dnd, Jake could sub in for him on the planet as part of its avatar program with the local population, the Na’vi. All Jake has to do is convince them to move from their sacred home because underneath it is the biggest supply of Unobtanium on the planet, and the RDA needs to make their money.

Continue reading

Don’t Worry Darling – Movie Review

TL;DR – While it nails the style, and the cast is giving their all, there is a lack of substance.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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

Warning – Some scenes may cause distress.

Cars drive out to the headquarters.

Don’t Worry Darling Review

I am not sure any film has quite had as rough a publicity tour as Don’t Worry Darling for quite a while. It felt that every week there was some new drama going on behind the scenes, real or imagined. While this could have derailed the film for me, I quite liked the first trailer, I enjoyed Olivia Wilde’s first directorial work with Booksmart, and look Florence Pugh, and Chris Pine always give great performances. Which meant I was intrigued to see just how this would all play out.

So to set the scene, we open in The Victory Project, a company town in the middle of the desert where all the women stay home manning the house while their husbands go to a mysterious headquarters working on secret new materials. In a perfect house filled with every modern convenience, Alice Chambers (Florence Pugh) gets breakfast ready for her husband Jack (Harry Styles) and watches with the neighbourhood as all the men leave for work simultaneously. She spends her days cleaning the house, making dinner, rehearsing ballet, and drinking with her best friend and neighbour Bunny (Olivia Wilde). The couple enjoys being young and fun, days drinking with friends, and nights partying with the neighbours. Things are going well for both of them. But as they chat at a party held by the boss Jack Chambers (Chris Pine) and his wife Shelly (Gemma Chan), their former friend Margaret (KiKi Layne) questions everything, and soon it has Alice wondering too.  

Continue reading

Jurassic World Dominion (Extended Edition) – Movie Review

TL;DR – While a clear improvement, those improvements are but like sticking band-aids to a broken bone.    

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

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

Disclosure – I paid to watch this edition of the film

A Dead T-Rex.

Jurassic World Dominion Review

Earlier this year, the newest edition to the Jurassic World franchise was released in cinemas. While it went on to make just over a billion dollars at the box office, Jurassic World Dominion fell thematically flat with me. However, the original Jurassic Park still ranks as part of my favourite films of all time, so when I heard the was an extended edition that fixes many of the issues with the film, well, I had to give it a watch.

So to set the scene, at the end of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, the team had a choice to kill all the dinosaurs off or release them into the North American continent, and they chose the latter. We saved them from a second extension, but maybe at the cost of our own lives, which is shown in stark relief as a T-Rex smashes through a drive-in theatre. As the world starts to work out how this new existence will play out, Owen (Chris Pratt), Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), and Maisie (Isabella Sermon) live a quiet life out of the way, right up until Blue’s child is kidnapped and Owen swears to her that he will get that baby back.

Now, we will not be giving a full review of this film as you can read the original coverage for it HERE. However, we will look at the areas where the extended edition improved the film and where it didn’t.

Continue reading

Ticket to Paradise – Movie Review

TL;DR – It shows why casting is so important because if you cast a divorced couple, picking good friends that swing for the fences helps sell everything.      

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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

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

Love in the seaweed fields

Ticket to Paradise Review

Many components go into making a film. Might you need to dress up one location to look like another? You might need to manage a large crowd in the background. Maybe make a set look like it is outside while filming it on a soundstage. Yet you could have the locations, script, and crew, but if you get the chemistry with the cast wrong, it could all fall apart. Today we look at a film that nails all of those factors you need when your main protagonists high-key hate each other.    

So to set the scene, there was one time when David (George Clooney) and Georgia (Julia Roberts) were deeply in love, but that was a long time ago, and unfortunately not in a galaxy far, far away when they had to come into contact with each other at their daughter Lily’s (Kaitlyn Dever) graduation. Wanting to get away from the stress of the upcoming job in a law firm in Chicago, Lily and her friend Wren (Billie Lourd) head out to Bali to chill for a couple of weeks. But when they get left behind by the boat in the middle of the ocean and get rescued by the charming Gede (Maxime Bouttier), Lily thinks there may be more for her here in the country. Hearing of the pending nuptials, David and Georgia dash out to the country and put aside their differences for their daughter’s sake, but it is hard to let bygones be bygones.  

Continue reading

Moonage Daydream – Movie Review

TL;DR – This documentary is a psychedelic kaleidoscope, but you should come into it preparing for a marathon rather than a sprint    

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

Warning – This film contains strobing lights in places.

Glitter falls from the celling into Bowie.

Moonage Daydream Review

While I have been enjoying this current resurgence of musical biopics, I have connected the most instead when films have dived into the more traditional documentary form to explore someone’s life, like Gurrumul. Today we look at a documentary that might also be an experimental artwork in its own right.  

So to set the scene, well, actually, I am not sure that works in this particular situation because this is a film that does not follow a traditional or even non-traditional form of narrative structure. What we get here is a snapshot of different parts of David Bowie’s life, works, and art, as well as what inspired him and how he inspired so many.

Continue reading

Three Thousand Years of Longing (3000 Years of Longing) – Movie Review

TL;DR – While it might meander to the end, it shines when it delves into stories and vignettes of the past.    

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

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

Disclosure – I paid to see this film.

Three Thousand Years of Longing the book.

Three Thousand Years of Longing Review

Few films have ever captured my soul quite like Mad Max Fury Road, a movie that changed and shaped my engagement with cinema. It made such an impact that when I heard that the team behind the film, including director George Miller, were back for another ride. Well, I had to check that out on the opening day.

So to set the scene, once upon a time when humans flew through the skies on metal wings while pulling stories out of the air on their glass pads. A Narratologist called Alithea Binnie (Tilda Swinton) is making her annual trip from her gloomy home in England to a more exotic land in Istanbul to attend a conference of peers. But when she arrives, she starts to see things that are not quite right. Ignoring them as artifacts of her over-active imagination, she spends some time in Istanbul’s Grand Bazar, and she picks the one junk pile, in one of the rooms, in one of the thousands of shops and finds a glass jar whose life told a story. But she got more than what she wished for when in her hotel room, she decided to clean the jar up and inside was a powerful Djinn (Idris Elba) who gave her three wishes.   

Continue reading

Beast – Movie Review

TL;DR – It starts strong and has genuinely terrifying moments, but it does not have the legs to make it to the end.   

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.

A truck drives through the South African bush.

Beast Review

A long tradition of films can be summed up as ‘an unknowable antagonist hunts down our plucky protagonists’. If we slip into horror, this can be a slasher hunted down kids at a summer camp, dinosaurs running amok in Jurassic Park, or you could flip it, and the unstoppable force is the protagonist as in John Wick. However, one of the more popular scenarios in this realm is animals, and while sharks may have been king for a while, today’s film looks to unseat them with the big cats that roam the savannah.

So to set the scene, it is late a night as a group of poachers stalk through the bush to a trap they have set up. Letting loose a barrage of gunfire, they kill all the lions there, bar one that gets away. The next day, Nate Samuels (Idris Elba) and his daughters Meredith (Iyana Halley) and Norah (Leah Sava Jeffries) arrive at Mopani Game Reserve in South Africa to spend time with Martin Battles (Sharlto Copley), an old friend of Nate and his late wife. Nate is a ranger at Mopani, and in the morning, he gives the group a tour around the preserve, even in the areas the public doesn’t usually see. But when they see a man running out onto the road covered in blood and go to help, they soon realise that there is something out there in the grass coming for them.

Continue reading

Secret Headquarters – Movie Review

TL;DR – It surpasses its generic premise with some absolute joy until it hits a point where it can’t decide on the tone it wants to go for.    

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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

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

Owen Wilson looks into a glowing orb.

Secret Headquarters Review

If there is one genre that is king at the time of writing, it is the superhero movie. But in a world dominated by one genre, you rarely see films that are not coming from the big two titans of Marvel and DC. Today, we look at a movie that breaks that duopoly, as long as you don’t look too closely at the Iron Man-ish details.   

So to set the scene, one night in the backwoods of America, Jack (Owen Wilson) and his wife Lilly (Jesse Williams) were enjoying a fire by their campsite when there was an explosion in the sky. Soon a jet fighter and something else fall out of the sky. Given how remote they are, Jack races to help when he finds a stranded Captain Irons (Jesse Williams) and a crashed UFO. An orb comes out of the ship, scans the two, and picks only Jack to be its guardian before self-destructing. 10-years-later Jack and Lilly are divorced because Jack spends too much time “at work,” almost always ignoring his son Charlie (Walker Scobell). On Charlie’s birthday, Jack flakes out again but unknowingly leaves Charlie alone in his house. When Charlie invites his friends Berger (Keith L. Williams), Maya (Momona Tamada), and Lizzie (Abby James Witherspoon) over, they accidentally stumble on his secret lair because Jack is not just a delinquent father working at an IT company but The Guard, a superhero saving the world from calamities.   

Continue reading

Nope – Movie Review

TL;DR – This is a film that swings wildly, where you have moments of pure terror, but I am not sure it all comes together in the third act.    

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.

Warning – This film contains scenes that may cause distress.

a feild of waking inflatable men

Nope Review

Today, I look at a film that is quite difficult to review. Challenging in that from a production perspective, I have rarely seen a movie that works as well as this. But from a narrative perspective, there were moments that negatively impacted me that I am still trying to process the day after. It is also a film that is hard to talk about without immediately heading into spoilers that might impact your time with the film. Well, it might be difficult, but I’m still going to take a solid crack at it. As such, it is time to dive into our review of Nope.

So to set the scene, we open on a TV set in the 1990s, a sitcom with rows for audience seating, but only there is no one there even though the applause signs still flash. But we see a chimpanzee sitting with blood on its hands while a lifeless body lies in the background. Flash forward to the current time, and we are introduced to Otis Jr. “OJ” Haywood (Daniel Kaluuya), who works with his father Otis Haywood Sr. (Keith David) at Haywood Hollywood Horses. A ranch that trains horses for TV and movie productions. While OJ is doing all the work and wondering where his sister Emerald “Em” Haywood (Keke Palmer) is, he hears something odd coming from the sky. Then what looks like hail starts hitting the ground on a clear day, but it is not hail but metal shrapnel like keys and coins, one of which strikes Otis Sr. in the head. While the siblings struggle to keep the ranch going in the wake of this tragedy, the story of the objects falling out of a plane just does not hold up, and they start to wonder what else might be out there in the sky.

Continue reading

Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997) – Exploring the Past

TL;DR – While it works as a time capsule of the 90s, so much of this film was left back 30 years ago  

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There are mid-credit scenes

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

A henchmen and the Steam roller.

Austin Powers Review

When you have had a bad week, one reflex you do is go back to old films from your youth. The only issue is that the movies of your youth might often not have the narrative legs you once thought they did, or you are just looking at them with new eyes. This week, the film in this situation is the James Bond spoofing Austin Powers.

So to set the scene, in 1967, somewhere outside of Las Vegas, Dr Evil (Mike Myers) is holding court with his minions, frustrated that none of them has been able to kill the famous British agent Austin Danger Powers (Mike Myers). Meanwhile, in London, after a significant musical number during the credits, Mrs Kensington (Mimi Rogers) lets Austin know that Dr Evil has set a trap for him at the Electric Psychedelic Pussycat Swingers Club. Not wanting to be left out, Austin goes to the club, but Dr Evil is about to escape and has himself cryogenically frozen. In 1997, NORAD is looking at their scopes, and suddenly an object appears, and they discover that Dr Evil has returned, and it is time for the world to need Austin Powers again.   

Continue reading