Matilda the Musical (Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical) – Movie Review

TL;DR – While I was mixed on the musical part, the rest of the film was a delight.     

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

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

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

Revolting Children

Matilda the Musical Review

Rarely have I seen a film with just such a windy road to completion. You have the original book, which then becomes a movie, influences a musical, and is turned back into a film. I have to say that I have a fondness for the original book and film adaption, and I had never seen the musical, though friends of mine had said it was a delight. This means that I come into this film with an odd perspective because my central question is ‘does the musical elements add anything to the story?

 So to set the scene, no one was more surprised that they were about to imminently have a baby than Harry Wormwood (Stephen Graham) and Mrs Wormwood (Andrea Riseborough). How dare this thing, a girl no less, come and ruin their lives. As little Matilda (Alisha Weir) grows up, she lives in a world of books because there is no love from her parents. Well, one day, the school comes around and asks why she wasn’t enrolled. Well, one fine later, they reluctantly send her to Crunchem Hall, run by the evil Miss Agatha Trunchbull (Emma Thompson). But in this hellhole is one ray of light, the joy that is Miss Jennifer Honey (Lashana Lynch).

Continue reading

See How They Run – Movie Review

TL;DR – A delightful romp through post-WW2 London as a murder reaches into the heights of polite society.    

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

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

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

Mousetrap

See How They Run Review

We are seeing a resurgence of the Murder Mystery on our screens, which I have generally found to be an absolute delight. We have witnessed straight adaptations like Murder on the Orient Express, musical romps like The Bob’s Burgers Movie, and genre deconstructions like Knives Out. Today we’ll look at a film that is a lover of the genre and dances with a light touch while delving into some delightful meta-commentary.    

 So to set the scene, we open on London’s West End in 1953, where Agatha Christie’s Mousetrap is playing its 100th performance. Hollywood has tasked Leo Köpernick (Adrien Brody) to create a film adaptation of this dull play. After flirting with the star of the show Richard Attenborough’s (Harris Dickinson) wife, Sheila Sim (Pearl Chanda), Leo ends up backstage, where he is brutally murdered by someone dressed in black. But as Leo states as the narrator, it is always the most unlikeable characters that get bumped off. Now Inspector Stoppard (Sam Rockwell) and Constable Stalker (Saoirse Ronan) are on the case, but as Leo laments, if you have seen one Whodunit, you have seen them all.

Continue reading

Enola Holmes 2 – Movie Review

TL;DR – While it is not much more than a fun romp through this universe, sometimes that is all you need.    

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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

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

Enola looks at a map.

Enola Holmes 2 Review

When the first Enola Holmes rolled around, I wounded if they could bring something new to the Sherlock Holmes world, given its many adaptations recently. The answer was a resounding sort of. Some moments landed, even if it was a relatively straightforward story. However, the characters shone through, and it was clear that Millie Bobby Brown was giving it their all, making the thought of a sequel a good idea. Now we are here, well it was a fun time.    

So to set the scene, since Enola Holmes 1, Enola (Millie Bobby Brown) has started up her own detective agency. The only problem is that no one believes she can be helpful, and they just want to see her brother Sherlock (Henry Cavill). However, when she is about to throw in the towel, a young Bessie (Serranna Su-Ling Bliss) comes with a month-old newspaper clipping. Because her sister Sarah (Hannah Dodd) is missing, and no one cares because they work in a match factory. She is poor and not worth the time for many, but not Enola because a case is afoot.    

Continue reading

The Phantom of the Open – Movie Review

TL;DR – It is an absolute delight. Mark Rylance completely encapsulates the character bringing warmth and nuisance to the role. Overall, I found the film to be an utter delight and filled with charm from start to finish.

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.

Maurice reveals his golf clothes under his work uniform like superman.

The Phantom of the Open Review

One of the best parts of this recent biopic resurgence has been discovering stories about people I had never heard about before. I am not much of a golf person, so while I knew the British Open was a thing that existed, I had not heard about one of the quirks in its history. However, cast Mark Rylance in your film, and you already have me on board, and what a delight it was.  
                          
So to set the scene, Maurice Flitcroft (Mark Rylance) was born in Barrow-in-Furness on the coast of northern England and much like his father before him, he was destined to work in the local shipyards until he was carried out on a box. But when he met Jean (Sally Hawkins), he knew his life would be focused on her and, eventually, his three children, Michael (Jake Davies) and the twins Gene (Christian Lees) and James (Jonah Lees). However, as the shipyard looks to be nationalised and Maurice has a genuine chance of getting a redundancy, he has to look to what he wants to do for his future. Well, one night, while watching the TV, he sees a game of golf being played and thought he’d have a crack at that and give the British Open a try.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore – Movie Review

TL;DR – While there are some moments where it excels, the overall story never clicked with me, leading to many frustrations.    

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

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore. Image Credit: Warner Bros Pictures.

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore Review

When it comes to films that have had been waylaid by the behind the scenes issues, I can think none have been so publicly shown like this since maybe Justice League. Its main star was fired and replaced after one day of shooting. Another was arrested a week out from release, all while the series creator dug themselves deeper into the hole one Tweet after another. It is such a debacle that many of my colleagues are not covering the film, which I respect. But given that we are looking at the movie today, I have to say that now I have seen it, our official opinion is … eh.

So to set the scene, at the end of the last film, Gellert Grindelwald (Mads Mikkelsen) managed to make his case against the muggles and move a lot of Wizards and Witches to his side. One of these was Jacob Kowalski’s (Dan Fogler) love interest Queenie Goldstein (Alison Sudol). Now while Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) and Gellert Grindelwald can’t move against each other, they still make plans. One of which was sending Newt (Eddie Redmayne) out to help a sacred magical animal. However, Credence (Ezra Miller) kills the mother and steals the child, dramatically improving Grindelwald’s position. Unless, of course, there happens to be a pair of twins.

Continue reading

The King’s Man – Movie Review

TL;DR – A war film that does not know what it wants to say about war   

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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

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

The King’s Man. Image Credit: 20th Century Studios.

The King’s Man Review

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the first entry into this universe with Kingsman: The Secret Service. I even liked the follow-up Kingsman: The Golden Circle, though I may be alone on that front. So when I heard that there was going to be a prequel, I was interested but also concerned because revisionist histories can land like a thud. And after watching it all, I’m still not sure.

So to set the scene, we open in South Africa, 1902 with Orlando Oxford (Ralph Fiennes) and his wife Emily Oxford (Alexandra Maria Lara) arriving at British Concentration Camp during the Boer War. They were inspecting the facilities for the Red Cross and meeting Lord Herbert Kitchener (Charles Dance) when a sniper kills Emily in the crossfire. 12-years later, the world is careening towards war because a mysterious force is pulling strings behind the scenes, pushing King George of Britain (Tom Hollander), Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany (Tom Hollander) and Tsar Nicholas of Russia (Tom Hollander) into conflict.

Continue reading

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.   

Continue reading

Last Night in Soho – Movie Review

TL;DR – Well Last Night In Soho is a film that threatens to go off the rails at any moment yet somehow manages to hold on just by its fingertips   

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene, but there are images during the credits

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

Warning – This film depicts scenes of abuse

Warning – This film features sequences with flashing lights

Last Night in Soho. Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

Last Night in Soho Review

Some directors out there have built up such a strong reputation that you know you will be checking out their next film no matter the genre/tone/story. For me, one of those directors is Edgar Wright, who has never once bored me with one of his films. Indeed, we have already gotten his take on a talking-heads documentary this year with The Sparks Brothers, and I was not going to turn down the chance to see two new films from him in the one year. I will say that this is a film that is best seen with as little information as possible, so if you are intrigued, you may want to stop reading here.

So to set the scene, Eloise “Ellie” Turner (Thomasin McKenzie) lives in rural Cornwell but has always dreamed of being a major fashion designer in London. She is obsessed with the style of the 1960s and capturing that time in her work. It was good news for Ellie when she got accepted into the London College of Fashion; thus, she made the long trip into the big city. After some interesting interactions with her roommate Jocasta (Synnøve Karlsen), Ellie moves into a bed/sit in Goodge Place being rented out by Ms Collins (Diana Rigg). This old lady had owned the property for decades. It is perfect for Ellie, but as she sleeps, she visits an apparition from the past, Sandie (Anya Taylor-Joy), a singer and dancer in 1960s London. 

Continue reading

No Time to Die – Movie Review

TL;DR – A solid ending for Daniel Craig’s run as Bond, giving James the most to play with as the world explodes around him.     

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

No Time to Die. Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

No Time to Die Review

Well, it has been a long time, getting from there to here. Eighteen months since it was meant to be released, and Bond is finally making its return. Part of me was concerned that we would never get to see the film out in the real, another part of me was concerned given how Spectre turned out, but here we are. There is always a trepidation going into the film where you know it is an actor’s last. Thankfully, I should not have been concerned because this film almost knocks off Skyfall as my favourite of the Craig era.  

So to set the scene, we open in the middle of the Norwegian winter as a young girl (Coline Defaud) is looking after her sick mother (Mathilde Bourbin). As she is cleaning up a spill, she sees a man in the window wearing a mask. He is here to kill Mr White, but his family is an excellent second choice since he is not there. In the present, Bond (Daniel Craig) and Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux) are enjoying their retirement travelling down the Italian coastline arriving at the town of Matera. Swann is concerned that James keeps looking over his shoulder, but that seems fortuitous given that soon bullets start ringing out across the countryside. 

Continue reading