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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Lightyear – Movie Review

TL;DR – While a solid entry, it did feel like the narrative push to the end didn’t land    

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

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

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

Buzz looks into the reflection on his helmet.

Lightyear Review

I have made no secret over the years just how much I love the Toy Story movies. Toy Story 3 comes in at number 3 in my all-time favourite animated films, and I even thought Toy Story 4 worked in the context of being an epilogue for the series. But the question is, Can they turn Toy Story from a series of excellent films into a bonified franchise? Well, with today’s film, we are about to find out.

So to set the scene, in 1995, Andy got a Buzz Lightyear toy for his birthday, but this is the film’s story that inspired the toy. This means in uncharted space 4.2 million lightyears from Earth, The Star Command SC-01 exploration vessel with a crew of 1200 is looking for uncharted planets to … well, to chart. Captain Buzz Lightyear (Chris Evans) diverts the vessel’s course after finding a new world, and when they land, the rangers start to explore the planet. When they get attacked by vines and bugs, they must evacuate before the ship is destroyed. But Buzz needs to save the rookie (Bill Hader) from death as Alisha Hawthorne (Uzo Aduba) reboots the ship, and while they almost escape, they crash the ship and have to make an emergency landing. When testing a new propulsion device to escape the planet and go home, Buzz jumps four years into the future, feeling guilty for stranding everyone, he keeps making jumps until one day he comes back, and the colony is occupied by Zyclops robots led by Zurg (James Brolin).

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High School Musical (2006) – Exploring the Past

TL;DR – Much more serviceable than I was expecting, but with some very odd narrative and production choices that hold it back 

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is an end credit scene

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

Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens has some Karaoke

High School Musical Review

When it comes to cinema, we all have our blind spots. Whether that is films, we just have not been able to see or films that we presumed to be not great and never gave a chance. For me, one of those films is the one we will explore today. When it first came out, I was a touch older than the demographic it was looking at, while I also ran youth events for people who were 100% its target demographic, which gave me a very skewered view of the film. But now that I am older and wiser, it is time to take a look back and explore the film on its own merits.

So to set the scene, it is New Year’s Eve at a ski lodge, and while Troy Bolton (Zac Efron) would rather be playing basketball and Gabriella Montez (Vanessa Hudgens) would rather be reading a book, their parents independently suggest that they go to the young people’s party. They had never met before, but that did not stop them from getting lumped together in a surprise karaoke duet. While they exchanged numbers, they never saw each other again until on the first day back at East High School in Albuquerque, New Mexico, when Troy discovers that Gabriella has transferred to his school and that there is a new musical about to audition.

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The Sea Beast – Movie Review

TL;DR – You will probably see the shape of this film for the first couple of minutes, but that does not take away how delightful the time is as we go diving through a world of monsters.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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

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

Red stares down the crew.

The Sea Beast Review

I think animation, especially animation focused on younger audiences, gets a bad rap. Sure, there is a lot of nonsense out there made to fill time, but that does not mean that an animated film directed toward children will be inherently bad. There are films where you can see the artistry and craft that have gone into every moment. Well, today we look at just such a film with the nautical adventure The Sea Best.  

So to set the scene, for over a hundred years, there has been a war across the seas of this world. Great sea beasts stalked the oceans taking ships to a watery grave, even swiping people from the coastline as they were tending their gardens. To fight this menace, the royalty of Three Bridges hired great hunters to take the fight to monsters and keep the waters safe. The Hunters live by a clear code that all must follow, even those on the most famous hunting ship, The Inevitable. Under their Captain Crow (Jared Harris) and his forebears, they have kept the seas clear, with only the great red beast alluding them. Well, the King (Jim Carter) and Queen (Doon Mackichan) have become tired of paying Hunters to kill the beasts, so they make their own ship, The Imperator, to do the work for them. Seeing their future fall apart, Jacob Holland (Karl Urban) makes a deal with the royals, a race, and if The Inevitable gets the sea beast before The Imperator, well then, they keep working with the Hunters.     

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Minions: The Rise of Gru – Movie Review

TL;DR – While it might not hit as hard as its predecessors, it was still a joy to be back in this world.     

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

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

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

Gru and the Minions in the one bed.

Minions: The Rise of Gru Review

This may be due to my never having children, much to my mother’s chagrin, but I have always liked the Despicable Me films. Gru (Steve Carell) discovering who he is through the prism of his daughter’s love and then becoming a better person for it. Well, that is some compelling stuff. Heck, I even like those quirky little minions always up to mischief. I think I was the only one who laughed at their cameo in Mortal Engines. I am sure that would have changed if I had been subjected to them time after time. But coming in here, I thought that Despicable Me 3 might have started to show the limits of this story, and I wondered could a prequel help?

So to set the scene, it is 1976, and a very different set of villains torment the globe, which the film wastes no time showing as we see Belle Bottom (Taraji P. Henson) race through town, evading the authorities at every turn. In the lair of The Vicious 6, she reveals to their leader Wild Knuckles (Alan Arkin) a map to an ancient stone pendent of power. Well, one trip to Asia later, one betrayal, and one Bond-inspired title sequence later, there is now a free spot open in The Vicious 6, and a young Gru wants in.

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Sonic the Hedgehog 2 – Movie Review

TL;DR – A film that hits pretty much the same as the first, but I am not sure the first film was good enough to rest on your laurels    

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

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

Disclosure – I paid to see this film

Knuckles walks through a coin portal

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 Review

The first Sonic the Hedgehog film was one of those moments where you could tell that there was a good movie and idea out there, but that it had been so cluttered that it was hard to find. To let a spoiler out of the bag, I do think the sequel improves in some areas. However, on the whole, what we get here is more of the same than any actual development.

So to set the scene, Sonic (Ben Schwartz) has been living with Tom (James Marsden) and Maddie Wachowski (Tika Sumpter) for a while now, but secretly at night, he goes out to Seattle to try and fight crime. Tom is concerned that he is not mature enough for that, but as a test of faith, he leaves Sonic home alone while they go to Hawaii for the wedding of Maddie’s sister Rachel (Natasha Rothwell) to her new beau Randall (Shemar Moore). It is all going fine, but for the fact that on the Mushroom Planet, Doctor Robotnik (Jim Carrey) found a way to send a pulse into space, which summoned the Echidna with the fists and a feud with Sonic, Knuckles (Idris Elba) to the planet.

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Luca – Movie Review

TL;DR –  A film that is a pure delight from start to finish.  

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

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

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

Luca. Image Credit: Disney.

Luca Review

We have a longing for those moments in our childhood when everything seemed to come together. I think this is an almost universal drive in people, the place and location might be different, but that drive is still the same. Today we look at a film that captures this drive and crafts it into a narrative that will delight.

So to set the scene, once evening off the coast of the Italian Riviera, two fishermen decide to fish close to Isola del Mare even though the reputation that monsters surround it, which was sort of true because around the island live a village of sea people. Among the sea people/monsters is Luca Paguro (Jacob Tremblay), who lives with his family herding goatfish. However, one day in the fields, a human approached collecting the flotsam on the bottom of the ocean. Luca runs but soon finds that this is not a human but another sea person called Alberto Scorfano (Jack Dylan Grazer). Alberto lives on the surface in a tower because once a sea person leaves the water, they can turn into a human when they dry out. 

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Space Jam: A New Legacy – Movie Review

TL;DR – Take the first Space Jam, introduce it to Tron Legacy while giving Ready Player One a run for its money.      

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene but some pictures in the mid-credits

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

Space Jam: A New Legacy. Image Credit: Warner Brothers.

Space Jam: A New Legacy Review

When there are 25 years between entries in a film franchise, there is always a fear of who will be your target audience. Are you trying to bring in new fans, or are you catering for those who liked the last film? Today we get a movie that tried to bridge both groups with an entertaining film for kids but filled with moments that only the parents will get.

So to set the scene, we open in Akron, Ohio, in 1998. A young LeBron (Stephen Kankole) is practising, but his coach thinks his head is not in the game, and he has to ditch all the distractions. One montage of LeBron’s career later, and a now champion LeBron James (LeBron James) is raising a family. While he is all about basketball, his son Dominic “Dom” James (Cedric Joe) likes to code and has built a video game. This is heading towards conflict when at Warner Brother Studios, their inbuilt algorithm Al-G Rhythm (Don Cheadle) has devised a plan. A plan that pits son against father and makes the Looney Tunes fight for their very lives.

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Space Jam (1996) – Exploring the Past

TL;DR – A blast from the past that has unfortunately lost a bit of its sheen. 

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Post-Credit Scene – There is an End Credit scene

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

Space Jam. Image Credit: Warner Brothers.

Space Jam Review

When Space Jam first came out in cinemas, I was in primary school, and I can remember that it was a film that teachers would put on when they needed a break from us but not that much more. It has been over a decade since I have seen the film, and besides the occasional look at the old website, I hadn’t thought about it much. However, then they went and made a sequel. I felt I had to give it another watch for due diligence to see just what it was that captured people all those years ago.

So to set the scene, in 1973, a young Michal Jordan (Brandon Hammond) is practising at his home well after midnight. When talking to his dad, the one thing he wants to be is a champion and play on a championship team. One montage of Jordan’s career later, and a now champion Michael Jordan (Michael Jordan) is retiring from basketball to join baseball. But on a planet in deep space, a theme park boss is Swackhammer (Danny DeVito), is trying to find a new attraction, and he decides to steal all the Looney Tunes. But instead of being captured, Bugs Bunny (Billy West) cons them into playing a basketball game for their freedom.   

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A Sunburnt Christmas – Movie Review

TL;DR – A film that walks the line between charming and serious like a professional.     

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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

Awards

Nominated: Best Australian Film & Most Fun.

A Sunburnt Christmas. Image Credit: Stan.

A Sunburnt Christmas Review

When you have worked a long time in retail, it is difficult to ‘get into the Christmas Spirit’. Which does sort of extend into those classic Christmas films. But enough time has passed to dive back in maybe, and well where best to start is the new Christmas film on Stan.

So to set the scene, we open in a hospital as a man is brought in for surgery. We find out that he is a prisoner and that he is considered dangerous. A little time later, Daryl (Daniel Henshall) tricks the local hospital Santa (Alirio Zavarce) and escapes just before the illusive Dingo (Sullivan Stapleton) arrived to kill him. Running in the Santa’s truck, he crashes into the farm of Hazel (Tatiana Goode), Tom (Eadan McGuinness), and Daisy (Lena Nankivell). He pretends to be Santa to Tom and Daisy, in the attempt to find his ‘sack’ (full of stolen money) that is buried on the farm somewhere.

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