Elvis – Movie Review

TL;DR – A film that is equal parts electric, chaotic, and uncomfortable       

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

Elvis about to perform

Elvis Review –

If there is one genre that has exploded across the screen in recent years, it is the Biopic. Everyone from Aretha Franklin to the Sparkes Brothers and all in between being brought to life in a dramatic presentation or documentary. Given the strengths of these films, it was only a matter of time before someone would attempt to contextualise the life of the “King of Rock and Roll”. This would be no easy task given the life and death of Elvis and the legacy he has left in the world. Today we look at a film that might still be flawed in many ways, but it excels in capturing his energy and passion. 

So to set the scene, we open in the 1990s, and a frail Col. Tom Parker (Tom Hanks) wants us to know the story of Elvis (Chaydon Jay), well, the story that he wants to tell. From here, we jump back in time as Elvis (Austin Butler), a young boy who discovers the power of music and movement and who incorporates it into his world. As he grows older, his sound spreads around the south when Parker runs a travelling show. Watching one show, Parker knew the skinny kid in the pink suit would be a star, and he needed to get in on the ground floor before someone else grabbed his meal ticket.    

Continue reading

Spiderhead – Movie Review

TL;DR – A bunch of ideas that never coalesced into a whole     

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

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

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

Miles Teller rides on a boat blindfolded while two goons sit on either side.

Spiderhead Review

Finding the tone is one of the most challenging parts of making a film, from the script to the filming to the edit. It is said a movie is made three times, and in that creation, a feeling can be discovered or a story lost. This week we look at a film that is trying to do many things, but in the mix, it never finds itself.

So to set the scene, in a remote location, accessible only but seaplane is the Spiderhead Penitentiary and Research Centre. Inside, the man in charge of the facility, Steve Abnesti (Chris Hemsworth), runs experiments on the inmates [with their sort of consent], and if they commit, they will get time off their sentences. One of the inmates, Jeff (Miles Teller), gets to go on field trips to test the compounds but coming off the high can impact his speech and cognition, impacting his attempts to flirt with Lizzy (Jurnee Smollett). But you can’t help but ask: the question in the background: Is everything what it seems?

Continue reading

Top Gun: Maverick – Movie Review

TL;DR – A glorious sequel from start to finish, filled with heart-pounding adrenalin and a boost to the more dramatic parts of the script.    

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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

Disclosure – I paid to see this film

A Jet over the desert.

Top Gun: Maverick Review

Two different reactions can happen when you try a sequel decades after the first film. The first is that you are trying to capture something whose time has passed, and you can’t walk back into that world. The second is that they tap into a nostalgia that is there and use it to propel them forward. Today we look at a film that lands with the latter as it soars across the screen. Because Top Gun: Maverick fixes those elements that did not work in the first film and then takes what did work and amps it up to 11.                           

So to set the scene, it has been decades since the first Top Gun, and after flying planes in Bosnia, Afghanistan, and both Iraq’s Captain Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Tom Cruise) now works as a test pilot for experimental jets in the Mojave Desert. When told that his unit is about to be shut down because Rear Admiral Chester “Hammer” Cain (Ed Harris) thinks that drones are the future. Well, one illicit test later and intervention of Admiral Tom “Iceman” Kazansky (Val Kilmer), Maverick is not grounded, but instead, he is sent back to Top Gun to be a teacher. Because they need to undertake a perilous mission, and only Maverick can teach them. The only issue is that one of the possible recruits for this potential suicide mission is Lieutenant Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw (Miles Teller), the son of Maverick’s late radar co-pilot.   

Continue reading

How to Please a Woman – Movie Review

TL;DR – A story that explores a part of life that rarely gets to make it to the cinema, even if it does take some wild turns and does not quite come together in places.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

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

Disclosure – I paid to watch this film

Swimming in the open ocean.

How to Please a Woman Review

I am not quite sure what I expected when I sat down to watch How to Please a Woman. I had not seen any of the trailers, and there was only the poster to go on that, at best, gives off a ‘Cougar Town after they worked out what Cougar Town was and regretted calling it Cougar Town’ energy. However, no matter what I would have thought, I am not sure I was ready for the wild turns this film takes.

So to set the scene, Gina (Sally Phillips) spends her mornings swimming in the ocean off the West Australian coast with her friends, which is the one part of her life that gives her purpose. Her marriage with Adrian (Cameron Daddo) is loveless, and her boss Gary (Ben Mortley), is more interested in his staff’s physical attributes than how good they are at their jobs. Knowing she is in a bad place, her friends buy her a stripper called Tom (Alexander England) for her birthday. They just didn’t realise that the ‘premium package’ meant they had actually paid for a prostitute and not a stripper. Not wanting to cheat on her husband, Gina takes his ‘I can do anything you want for two hours’ to instead clean her house, which is the point that she has an idea for a new business.

Continue reading

Top Gun (1986) – Movie Review [Exploring the Past]

TL;DR – Still a triumph, even if parts of it have not aged well in the years since.     

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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

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

F-14A Tomcat

Top Gun Review

Top Gun is one of those films that, even though it came out when I was young, I did see it thanks to it being on a constant rotation on local TV. However, as the new film was about to come out, I had to think about what did I remember from the film, and the answer was not that much. Sure there was the “I Feel The Need… The Need For Speed!”, the charged volleyball scene, the copious amount of Danger Zone, and the somewhat infamous way the US Military shaped the narrative and used it for promotion. Well, there is no better time like the present to dive back in and relive a classic.

 So to set the scene, on March 3, 1969, the United States Navy established an elite school for the top one percent of its pilots. Today it is called the Fighter Weapons School or TOPGUN. Over the seas, based off the USS Enterprise, pilot LT Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Tom Cruise) and Radar LTJG Nick “Goose” Bradshaw (Anthony Edwards) flying an F-14A Tomcat ping an unknown target and got to intercept. They think it was just one target, but it is a pair of MiG-28s. After some ‘fun’, they get the planes to disengage. But their wingman LT Bill “Cougar” Cortell (John Stockwell) freezes and is only saved by Maverick talking him down to a landing. It was a stupid stunt given how much fuel they had left, but it saved the day and booked them a ticket to TOPGUN at Naval Air Station Miramar.    

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

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