True Spirit – Movie Review

TL;DR – An impressively acted story that is let down by forced conflict and unnecessary padding.     

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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

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

The Pink Lady leaves Sydney Harbour.

True Spirit Review

There are these moments that you remember because they touched all of society when they happened. Usually, these are moments of tragedy that cut through the world, but for Queensland and Australia, we had the moment built on triumph. Today’s film is based on that long journey by Jessica Watson across the planet.

So to set the scene, Jessica Watson (Teagan Croft) grew up on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland, Australia, where water was always on your doorstep. She learned how to sail on the open ocean, catching the wind and riding the waves here thanks to her coach Ben Bryant (Cliff Curtis). Jessica had one dream: to sail around the world by herself, which took a bit of a beating when her boat was severely damaged by a cargo ship in the 2009 trail run. But with everything going against her, Jessica is determined to make the trip before the government legislates that she can’t go.

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Mummies – Movie Review

TL;DR – While there are moments here, nothing saves this film that stumbles in all the most odd places.     

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is an end-credit scene

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

the land of the living dead.

Mummies Review

Whenever you translate a film from one language to another, there is always a danger that something can get lost in translation. At least with an animated movie, you can edit the lip flaps and lose the synch issue that happens with dubbed films. Today we look at a movie that had its moments, but something did not make the jump from Spanish to English.

So to set the scene, thousands of years ago in Ancient Egypt, Thut (Joe Thomas) was racing around a stadium in a chariot. It is a brutal race with cheating and wheels full of spikes. Through some clever manoeuvring, Thut almost gets over for a win, that is, until his chariot disintegrates, sending him flying. Today, Lord Carnaby (Hugh Bonneville), a pompous archaeologist, is looking for the tomb of Princess Nefer (Eleanor Tomlinson). But when he opens the sarcophagus, he finds it empty. Because for some of the mummies, death was not the end.

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Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio – Movie Review

TL;DR – A work of art that hits on every emotional level from start to finish.    

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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

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

Pinocchio but just a puppet.

Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio Review

Some names instantly intrigue you when you hear they are attached to a project. Which is entirely what happened when I heard that Guillermo del Toro was going to make a Pinocchio film. This alone was enough to interest me. Then you discover that it will be an animated film, not just that, a stop-motion animation film, and the masters of puppets, The Jim Henson Company, will produce it. Well, that is a combination that could not be missed, and I am fundamentally glad I watched it.   

 So to set the scene, master craftsman Geppetto (David Bradley) lost his only child Calro (Gregory Mann), during the Great War when he was only ten years old. A stray bomb destroyed the church that they were working in, and it is a loss that he has never recovered from. Sometime later, Sebastian J. Cricket (Ewan McGregor), a travelling cricket, came to live in the tree planted at Carlo’s grave and watched as a drunk Geppetto laments over his lost son. But as that is happening, some old spirits from the forest who typically ignore humanity hear the pleas of the grieving father and when he cuts down the pine tree that was planted at the grave to turn it into a puppet. So The Wood Sprite (Tilda Swinton) looks over the creation and then brings that puppet Pinocchio (Gregory Mann) to life.   

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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).

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Slumberland – Movie Review

TL;DR – A film that might have some of the most out-there performances I have seen but was missing a bit of substance in places.    

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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

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

Flip and Nemo dance in the streets of a glass city.

Slumberland Review

Grief is always a complex emotion for a film to land. Sure, you can phone it to get some emotional engagement from your audience, but if you want to tap into something more profound, that is a lot of work. Add to this the nuance needed when building a film directed towards a younger demographic, and you get the film we are looking at today.

So to set the scene, we open on a lighthouse on an island where Nemo (Marlow Barkley) lives with her father, Peter (Kyle Chandler). Nemo knows everything about the lighthouse, and every night Peter tells her stories of Flip (Jason Momoa) and the adventures they had when he was a kid. But when Peter is lost at sea during a rescue, Nemo must leave the lighthouse and live with her uncle, whom she never met and who lives in the city. No one is happy with this move. However, when Nemo goes to sleep, she is surprised when her soft toy pig comes alive, and even more so when her bed wakes up and smashes out of her window, taking her back to the lighthouse, but not quite as she remembers it, and someone from her father’s past is waiting for her.     

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Strange World – Movie Review

TL;DR – A visually stunning romp through an unknown world with danger at every turn    

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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

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

The airship descends into the unknown.

Strange World Review

There is always a particular joy when you sit down to an adventure film and get to be taken into a majestic new world with wonders at every turn. It is where danger and joy can switch in a moment or be intertwined. It is easy to give lip service to this genre without exploring the depths necessary to bring it off. But today, we look at a film that plums those depths both literally and figuratively.  

So to set the scene, we open in Avalonia, a beautiful land cut off from the rest of the world due to a ring of impassable mountains. Many people have tried to find a route, but all have failed, and most of them gave their lives in the process. But one family, The Clades, decided to buck that trend as father Jager (Dennis Quaid) and son Searcher (Jake Gyllenhaal) fight through every obstacle to find a way through the mountains. However, one day when finding the way through the mountains, Searcher finds a green plant brimming with energy that could be Avalonia’s future. The two fight, and Jaeger walks into the icy gloom alone. Twenty-five years later. Searcher has married Meridian (Gabrielle Union), and they have a son Ethan (Jaboukie Young-White) and make their lives farming and selling Pando. But when the Pando starts dying off, Callisto Mal (Lucy Liu), the president of Avalonia, arrives at the farm to go on an expedition to discover why, and Searcher, son of Jaeger, gets roped in, as does a stowaway or two.

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DC League of Super-Pets (Super Pets) – Movie Review

TL;DR – A generally fun film, even if it does lack some of the substance of its contemporaries    

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

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

Disclosure – I paid to watch this film

Krypton pokes Clark Kent.

DC League of Super-Pets Review

To say that DC has had a rough couple of years at the movies would probably be a tremendous understatement. In the last couple of years, we have entered a phase where it has felt like they were throwing everything at the wall, seeing what would stick. Well, when you do that, eventually something will land, and today we look at just such a film.

So to set the scene, as Krypton starts collapsing, Jor-El (Alfred Molina) and Lara (Lena Headey) stuff their son into an escape pod so that one person may escape their doom. But as the capsule closes, the little child’s puppy jumps in unexpectedly. Many years later, on Earth, that little boy Kal-El is now Clark Kent, better known as Superman (John Krasinski), who fights crime with his trusty companion Krypto (Dwayne Johnson). However, when Lulu (Kate McKinnon), an old lab guinea pig of Lex Luthor (Marc Maron), captures some Orange Kryptonite and talks all the superheroes hostage. Krypto and a ragtag team of animals, Ace (Kevin Hart), PB (Vanessa Bayer), Merton McSnurtle (Natasha Lyonne), and Chip (Diego Luna), have to fight back and save Metropolis.     

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Puss in Boots: The Last Wish – Movie Review

TL;DR – A fun delight of a film that goes hard thanks to the charisma of Antonio Banderas   

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is something after the credits, but you do not need to stay for it

Disclosure – I was invited to a screening of this film

Goldilocks and the three bears.

Puss in Boots: The Last Wish Review

When I think back, there will always be a soft spot in my heart for the Shrek series, even the later films that did not quite hit the same mark. The characters and world were always a delight as they took what was familiar and made a modern twist to it. One of those characters that shined was Puss in Boots, and today we see if they hold a whole film together with the sheer force of will that is Antonio Banderas’ charisma.

So to set the scene, Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas) is galivanting around the world and is having a ball drinking, dualling, and having many musical interludes. In one such town, he usurps a Governor’s mansion and would have gotten away with it had it not been for a forest giant and a misplaced bell. Puss is on his last life, which should not be a problem until the Big Bad Wolf (Wagner Moura) arrives, wanting to take that final life. Running from the threat, Puss becomes an average lap cat which almost works until he hears of a fallen star and a hope that the one final wish could restore his lives. But he is not the only one out for that wish.

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Christmas Ransom – Movie Review

TL;DR – A thoroughly charming film when it is working and a bit overwrought when it is not.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There are mid-credit scenes

Disclosure – I paid for the Stan service that viewed this film.

emerging from a ball pit

Christmas Ransom Review

It is the time of year when Christmas films are a plenty. Indeed 5 Christmas films got added to a streaming service just today. But if I am to dive into what can be a mess of sentimentality, I want to spend some time with a local production. Well, it is good timing because the Stan Christmas film just dropped, and it is time to find some joy in the world.
 
So to set the scene, at Harrington & Sons toy store run by Clarence Harrington (Cleave Williams) and famous all through the country and the place to visit for toys. But as time marches on, Clarence’s son Derrick (Matt Okine) now runs the store. Christmas does not hold the joy it once was after doing it alone for so long, and even Gladys (Miranda Tapsell), the store’s security guard, can see something missing from Derrick’s life. Even more so given the store is about to close because of a lack of finance. But once the store is closed for the evening, we discover that not everyone has left. Two members of the naughty list, Wombat (Evan Stanhope) and Brady (Tahlia Sturzaker), are here. But before Gladys can finish integrating the little brats, two actual crooks, Nan (Geneviève Lemon) and Shez (Bridie McKim), come into the store with guns. Soon all the staff are tied up with tinsel, a ransom call has been made, and the question is, who can save them?

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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.   

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