Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse – Movie Review

TL;DR – A pure delight from start to finish in an absolutely stunningly realised world.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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

Disclosure – I paid to watch this film

Gwen and Miles sit upside down looking at the sky line of New York.

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse Review

If there is ever a tough act to follow, it is Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. A film that shifted an entire film production style that many movies like The Mitchells vs. The Machines and Puss in Boots: The Last Wish have taken onboard since. Indeed, I loved the movie so much that it sits on My Personal Top 10 Animated Films of All Time. There is no way a sequel could like up to that legacy … but hear me out … what if it could.

So to set the scene, It has been one year since the event of the last film, and Gwen (Hailee Steinfeld) has been struggling with being all alone again after finding a kindred spirit with Miles (Shameik Moore). However, when a Vulture (Jorma Taccone) from a Renaissance-style universe trashes the Guggenheim Museum, she discovers that the Spider-verse is not closed off. But also her dad George Stacy (Shea Whigham), finds out she is Spider-Woman, and tries to arrest her. This could have ended badly without the rescue from Miguel O’Hara / Spider-Man 2099 (Oscar Isaac) and Jessica Drew / Spider-Woman (Issa Rae), for a Spider-Society is protecting the Multiverse from all threats, and Gwen is the newest member.

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Ted Lasso: So Long, Farewell and Season 3 – TV Review

TL;DR – Builds upon everything that made the series great by focussing on the character development of every kind  

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Disclosure – I paid for the Apple TV+ service that viewed this episode.

Ted sits alone in the stands

Ted Lasso Review

If there has been one consistent feature over the last few years of that evert the 2020s has been so far, it has been the joy that has come from Ted Lasso. I know this show is stylised, so it could almost be magical realism like The West Wing. But I don’t care. Every moment, every kick of a football, had me on the edge of my chair, and this final season of the show that maybe/probably/we’ll see was no exception. With today’s review, we will first look at the final episode aptly titled So Long, Farewell, and then we will look at the season as a whole.   

So to set the scene, at the end of Season 2, the Richmond Greyhounds fount back from relegation to make it back into the Premier League. This is a triumph for the coaching staff Ted Lasso (Jason Sudeikis), Coach Beard (Brendan Hunt), and Roy Kent (Brett Goldstein). As well as team owner Rebecca Welton (Hannah Waddingham). As the season went on, there were struggles as “The Wonder Kid” Nathan “Nate” Shelley (Nick Mohammed) and his West Ham United team destroyed the team leading to a massive slump. However, as we come into this final episode, things are looking up, but in Mom City, Ted reveals to Rebecca that it is his time to drop a bombshell, and we open this final episode with Rebecca having breakfast in her house and Ted coming out to join her. Now from here, we will be looking at the episode and season as a whole, so there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead. 

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Renfield – Movie Review

TL;DR – At times, it is a delightful bloody mess, but it does struggle 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


Renfield Review

Some genres in cinema are almost timeless and resurge from time to time. The last time vampires surged to the front, they were sparkly and problematic for various reasons. But with the recent strengths of What We Do in the Shadows, it was only time until someone took that energy into the cinema space, and that is what we are looking at today.

So to set the scene, we open with Renfield (Nicholas Hoult) giving a little back history of his life since he rocked up to Count Dracula’s (Nicolas Cage) castle at the start of the 20th century. When Dracula gets injured by sunshine when hunters attack, Renfield moves the two to New Orleans to set up in the dilapidated Charity Hospital. Renfield needs to find victims to help Dracula heal, so he attends a co-dependent relationships self-help group where he hunts for abusers. However, one day while protecting Rebecca (Awkwafina) from Tedward Lobo (Ben Schwartz) and his henchmen, he saves many innocent lives, sending him on a crash course with his master.  

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Asterix & Obelix: The Middle Kingdom (Astérix et Obélix: l’Empire du Milieu) – Movie Review

TL;DR – While it captures the vibe of the original comics, some choices kept ripping me out of the film.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There are many mid-credit scenes

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

The village.

Asterix & Obelix: The Middle Kingdom Review

Growing up, one of my joys was going to the library and finding a new Asterix comic I had never read before. Then I got old enough to understand that all the names were puns, and a new world opened up. I know they have done a couple of live-action movies before, but now was a chance to see if they could capture that joy from the original comic.

So to set the scene, it is 50 BC, and all of Gaul has been concurred by the Roman Empire … well, not all of Gaul because on the coast, one village holds out. Four Roman camps at Totorum, Aquarium, Laudanum, and Compendium surround the village but still cannot concur. Out in the forest hunting for boar are the titular Asterix (Guillaume Canet) and Obelix (Gilles Lellouche), who show why the village can not be concurred thanks to the magic potion brewed by the druid Getafix (Pierre Richard). But one day, a surprise chariot arrives in the village carrying Princess Fu Yi (Julie Chen) from China escaping a forced marriage with Deng Tsin Qin (Bun Hay Mean), and our pair have to go off on a new adventure.   

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Book Club: The Next Chapter – Movie Review

TL;DR – While it might not stick the landing, it is still an improvement on the first film, and the friend dynamic completely works.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There are some photos during the credits

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

The Book Club ladies arrive in Rome.

Book Club: The Next Chapter Review

Sequels are always a tricky beast to approach. There are few things worse in cinema than a follow-up to a film you loved falling over. However, this is not the case for me because I was not that impressed with the original Book Club. This means it is a case of seeing if the second swing at the ball can hit.

So to set the scene, the members of the book club Diane (Diane Keaton), Vivian (Jane Fonda), Sharon (Candice Bergen), and Carol (Mary Steenburgen), were going well until they had to shelter in place due to Covid, but that is only going to last a week. Many, many months of Zoom later, the women finally meet up for their next in-person book club, but Vivian has a surprise, an engagement ring. The shock and surprise were strong, but after that passed, there was an opportunity. Because back in the day, the four of them wanted to go on a holiday in Italy, and well, a bachelorette party was a fantastic excuse to fix a past wrong.

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How Ted Lasso Perfected the Nothing/Everything Episode with Sunflowers – Article

TL;DR – This article explores how a show can have an episode focused on nothing, yet still be everything.  

Disclosure – I paid for the Apple TV+ service that viewed this show.  

Van Gogh's Sunflowers.

How Ted Lasso Perfected the Nothing/Everything Episode with Sunflowers

One of the significant shifts in the Television landscape was the move from more episodic episodes to more serialised outings. It started taking steam in the 1990s with shows like Babylon 5 and Deep Space Nine. But this would explode in the streaming era, with nearly every show you watch having some serialised component. Whether the show works with the serialised content does not matter. With the insertion of boilerplate narrative arcs becoming more of the norm, looking at you Wednesday. In this world, can you have a stand-alone, nothing episode anymore?

There was a time when shows like Seinfeld built themselves around being the show about nothing, where there was no character growth. However, today if you have an episode, let alone a series, where nothing happens, you will get a chorus of comments claiming condensation over there being filler. I have seen a claim championed time after time, whether the show was filler. But can you still have an engaging episode of TV that does not move the plot along in the current landscape? Well, you must trust your audience to come along with you if you want to attempt something like this. Trust which is something that is earned, not given.

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Aunty Donna’s Coffee Café: Season 1 – TV Review

TL;DR – It is a glorious, joyful symphony of comedic talent when it lands.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Disclosure – I watched this on the ABC iView service

Morning Brown Coffee Café

Aunty Donna’s Coffee Café Review

Back in 2020, the local absurdist Australian comedy troupe Aunty Donna who pioneered being a ‘Chuffed Dad’ and how to do a ‘Roll Call’ struck out from the local scene and made their way to Hollywood with Aunty Donna’s Big Ol’ House of Fun. Coming back to Australia, I was interested to see what they would do next, and the answer to that question seems to be opening a café in Melbourne. 

So to set the scene, it is Stephanie’s (Gaby Seow) first day on the job at the new café in town called Morning Brown. But this café does not have just one boss. It has three. Broden (Broden Kelly) is a pretty cool f-ing boss. Zach (Zachary Ruane) is the more classic professional boss, and Mark (Mark Bonanno) is the goofy one around here. It feels like an average trendy, overpriced Melbourne café. However, unlike the rest of the cafés, they don’t have a hook. Every café has a hook. You need to find a hook, just as long as that hook is not heritage-listed wasps. Now from here, we will be looking at the series as a whole, so there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead.  

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Cocaine Bear – Movie Review

TL;DR – It is a film about a bear high on cocaine running amok. I am not sure I need to say much more than that.     

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There are two mid-credit scenes

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

A Bloody phone hangs.

Cocaine Bear Review

There are many reasons why a film can capture your attention. Maybe it is the cast, a name that immediately makes you intrigued? Could it be the genre, another period romance, or a sci-fi epic? They are the only two genres, apparently. But in rare moments, a film’s title can immediately hook you. This week we have just a movie because, if nothing else, the name Cocaine Bear is instantly provocative and makes you want to work out what the heck is going on.

So to set the scene, it is 1984, and the small town of Knoxville, Tennessee, wakes up to bundles of cocaine that started falling from the sky after a drug drop went very wrong. While some landed in suburbia, most of the stash lands in the state forest near Chattahoochee, Georgia. When the drug runners catch up to the cocaine, they find a surprise waiting for them, a 500 lb (230 kg) American black bear currently consuming their property. But this is a public park, and there is more than just the drug runners walking around. I mean, what’s the worst that half a ton of muscle and claw do when high as a kite? Cue the fatalities.

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That ’90s Show: Season 1 – TV Review

TL;DR – While it had a rough start, it found its feet and became something full of charm.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Disclosure – I paid for the Netflix service that viewed this series.

The gang on the couch.

That ’90s Show Review

The wheel of nostalgia always grinds on, and I think that was why I didn’t think much of when they announced that they would be doing a follow-up to That ‘70s Show set in the 1990s. This was a nostalgia ouroboros. But today, I needed something on the TV as I cleaned and packed the house, and as time went on, I found myself becoming more and more entwined with the show.  

So to set the scene, it is an excellent day in the Forman household because Kitty (Debra Jo Rupp) is getting ready for a visit from Eric (Topher Grace), Donna (Laura Prepon), and their daughter Leia (Callie Haverda). Red (Kurtwood Smith) is happy with the quiet, but Kitty misses the sounds of the house being busy. While they were only meant to be there for the weekend, Leia found a bunch of friends, including her neighbours Gwen (Ashley Aufderheide) and Nate Runck (Maxwell Acee Donovan), Nate’s girlfriend Nikki (Sam Morelos), the sassy Ozzie (Reyn Doi), and of course a Kelso, Jay (Mace Coronel). Leia was meant only to stay the weekend, but after making connections, she cons her parents into staying for the whole summer. Now from here, we will be looking at the season as a whole, so there will be [SPOILERS] ahead for the show.   

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Magic Mike’s Last Dance – Movie Review

TL;DR – Third time is the charm, as the latest entry finds the right balance between fun and drama    

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

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

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

Warning – There is scenes with flashing lights

The Rattigan.

Magic Mike’s Last Dance Review

A press screening invite rarely comes with homework, but when I sent the invitation to see Magic Mike’s Last Dance, I realised that I had never watched the previous films Magic Mike and Magic Mike XXL. I had heard of them and seen moments like the petrol station dance. However, in all that time, I had not actually watched them. Well, this weekend, I fixed that oversite, and well, they were fine, but not exceptional, but can the third time be the charm?

So to set the scene, it has been years since Mike Lane (Channing Tatum) gave up the world of stripping, even longer since he made the fateful final ride with his friends from the Kings of Tampa. These days Mike is working as a bartender in Miami when he runs into Maxandra Mendoza (Salma Hayek Pinault) and lets her get a taste of his talents. Seeing his skill first-hand, she asks him to come to London to The Rattigan to help put together a performance that will stay with people for years to come. 

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