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.

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Shadow and Bone: Season 1 – TV Review

TL;DR – This is a messy series at times, yet also oddly compelling, and had me watching through all the way.  

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

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

Shadow and Bone. Image Credit: Netflix.

Shadow and Bone Review

As I mentioned in my A Wheel of Time review, I have been struggling to avoid slipping into despair recently and aimlessly scrolling through things on streaming, trying to find something. However, instead of this spiralling behaviour, I decided to focus on something, which was catching up on the Fantasy TV shows I missed from 2021. The next cab off the rack is from another books series I have been meaning to look at but have not had the time.

So to set the scene, a long time ago, the nation of Ravka was a single whole. However, with the manifestations of a powerful Shadow Summoner, a great veil of evil called the Fold now splits the nation in two. One can cross it, but it is dangerous, and many get lost to the things that hide in the dark. In the current day, Ravka is at war and needs all the skilled warriors they can get, including childhood friends Alina Starkov (Jessie Mei Li), who is an assistant cartographer, and Malyen “Mal” Oretsev (Archie Renaux), who works as a tracker. When Mal is chosen to accompany a group through the Fold, Alina manipulates the situation so she can come along too. However, when the convoy is attacked, Alina accidentally reveals that she is a Sun Summoner, the only Sun Summoner. Meanwhile, across the ocean in Ketterdam, there is a contract going for one million kruge, and The Crows, made up of Kaz Brekker (Freddy Carter), Inej Ghafa (Amita Suman), and Jesper Fahey (Kit Young), are trying to outmanoeuvre the competition. Now we will be looking at the season as a whole, so there may be some [SPOILERS] ahead.     

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The Wheel of Time: Season 1 – TV Review

TL;DR – This is a show that looks amazing but always feels like it is just about to click together but does not quite get there

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Disclosure – I paid for the Amazon Prime service that viewed this episode.

The Wheel of Time. Image Credit: Amazon Prime.

The Wheel of Time Review

I have been at a bit of a loss for a while now, leading to me spending nights just binge-watching Alone, which is not a good headspace when you live alone in the middle of a global pandemic. Realising that it was probably not good for me to continue down that road, I decided to focus those energies elsewhere and catch up on some of the Fantasy shows that I missed last year. The first of the three is Amazon Prime’s dive into the 14-book world of Rober Jordan.

So to set the scene, 3000 years before the start of the series, there was a battle to lock The Dark One (Fares Fares) away for good, only it backfired. The Dragon was tainted and, as legend stated, ‘broke the world’. This legacy is felt to this day as men still can’t channel the One Power without being driven insane eventually. However, prophecy has stated that the Dragon will be reborn again and will heal the world or break it apart again. This is the mission that Aes Sedai Moiraine Damodred (Rosamund Pike) and her ward al’Lan Mandragoran (Daniel Henney) are on as they race to find the Dragon before others of her sect, or even the Dark One finds them. As fate would have it, five people fit the bill for the Dragon, Nynaeve al’Meara (Zoë Robins), the Wisdom of Emond’s Field, her apprentice Egwene al’Vere (Madeleine Madden). Egwene’s love interest Rand al’Thor (Josha Stradowski), and his best friends Perrin Aybara (Marcus Rutherford) and Mat Cauthon (Barney Harris). However, before Moiraine could tell which of the five could be the Dragon, an army of Trollocs attacked the village. Now we will be looking at the season as a whole, so there may be some [SPOILERS] ahead.     

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Reacher: Season 1 – TV Review

TL;DR – What we get here is a solid action series that hits all the beats it needs to do, not revolutionary, but still solid.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Disclosure – I paid for the Amazon Prime subscription that viewed this series.

Reacher. Image Credit: Amazon Studios.

Reacher Review

When I first heard there would be a new Reacher series, my first impressions were ‘meh’. I had watched the films starring Tom Cruise, and while Jack Reacher: Never Go Back was okay, it was never more than okay. But then that trailer dropped, and I went from ‘meh’ to ‘hmmm’, and now that I have seen it, I have gone from ‘hmmm’ to ‘nice’.

So to set the scene, one fine morning Jack Reacher (Alan Ritchson) or just Reacher got off the bus from Tampa at the small town of Margrave, Georgia. As he walks into town, his first stop is the local diner for coffee and a slice of peach pie. The only problem is before he can even touch his pie, multiple police cars pull up and take him into custardy. For you see, there was a murder in the town, and someone matching his description was seen at the crime scene. The only problem is that Reacher did not do it, and the person who did confess to the crime also clearly didn’t do it. So the question is ‘what is going on in Margrave, Georgia’? Now from here, we will be looking at the season as a whole, so there will be [SPOILERS] ahead.  

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Dune (2021) (Dune: Part 1) – Movie Review

TL;DR – A cinematic work of genius and masterclass in literary adaptation     

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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

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

Dune. Image Credit: Warner Bros Pictures.

Dune Review

Few films have filled me full of trepidation and promise, like the prospect of another Dune film. Dune is a book series that means a lot to me, and the miniseries fits in as one of those foundational moments where you discover the joys of filmmaking. Add to this the spectacular run of films from Denis Villeneuve from Sicario, Arrival & Blade Runner 2049, one of which was my top movie in 2016. Look, this is a long way of saying I came into this with very high expectations, and can I say that this film exceeded all of them.  

So to set the scene, in an empire that spans the galaxy, the most valuable commodity is The Spice Melange. It extends life, allows intergalactic travel, and can only be found on one planet in the entire galaxy: Arrakis, Dune. The brutal House Harkonnen runs Dune, though its cruel Barron (Stellan Skarsgård) and his nephew Glossu Rabban (Dave Bautista), commonly called “Beast Rabban”. But their time running Arrakis is up, as the Emperor has decreed that House Harkonnen’s mortal Enemies House Atreides, led by Duke Leto Atreides (Oscar Isaac), manages the planet. All is well, but Leto is fearful for him, his son Paul (Timothée Chalamet) and consort Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson). Because while this is a great opportunity, it could also be a trap.

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News of the World – Movie Review

TL;DR – A compelling ride through the 1890s with a man trying to his best in difficult circumstances    

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

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

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

News of the World. Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

News of the World Review

There are few actors around that you know going in will always give their best performance no matter what film they are in. One of those few is Tom Hanks who gives his all even in movies that are not that great. Today we get to explore a film that puts him right in the centre of a world going through a difficult transition.

So to set the scene, we open in Wichita Falls, North Texas, 1870, on a cold a rainy night. Here we find a Captain Kidd (Tom Hanks) speaking with the fine folks of the town. They are cut off from most of society, so he lets everyone know the news of the time, like a local fever going around or river crossings being cut, for a fee of 10c. On the way to the next town he stumbles across a black man who had been lynched, and the young girl Johanna (Helena Zengel) who he was carrying. She had been taken in a raid by the ‘Indians’, and she had been brought back to what was left of her family. When some Cavalry riders arrive, we discover that Captain Kidd served with the Confederate Army in the Civil War. They tell him to take the girl to the next town, but things are never as easy as that.

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The Midnight Sky – Movie Review

TL;DR – A film with a premise that does not hold up and then undermines the rest of the narrative   

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

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

The Midnight Sky. Image Credit: Netflix.

The Midnight Sky Review

I think it is safe to say that I am a fan of the Science Fiction genre. Indeed I try to watch as much as I can get. However, sometimes you come across a concept that just does not work. Unfortunately for all the star power, good acting, and exciting design, today we look at a film that just does not work.

So to set the scene, we open in on the Barbeau Observatory in the Arctic Circle in February 2049 where we are told it has been three weeks since ‘The Event’. The Observatory is being evacuated chaotically, but Augustine (George Clooney) stays behind as menacing red circles appear over cities on maps on the computer monitors behind. Augustine is trying to contact the last mission away from the planet Æther to warn them when he finds that not everyone evacuated with a little girl Iris (Caoilinn Springall) being left behind.        

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True History of the Kelly Gang – Movie Review

TL;DR – A visually stunning film that unfortunately left me feeling hollow at the

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Warning – Contains significant strobe lighting

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

Awards

Nominated: Best Australian Film

True History of the Kelly Gang. Image Credit: Stan.

True History of the Kelly Gang Review

Well, there are many aspects of Australian life I just don’t get, and one of those is the veneration of Ned Kelly. But then it does have the distinction of being the subject of the first feature film ever made. Today we look at a movie that explores the life of Ned Kelly, the true story of the bushranger … well maybe not the whole truth …or even a little bit of it.

So to set the scene, in 1867 Australia, and a young Ned Kelly (Orlando Schwerdt) is trying to find his place in a rural world with no education and a mother Ellen (Essie Davis) with an ‘interesting’ view of raising children. She sells the boy to  Harry Power (Russell Crowe) a bushranger who introduces the boy to the violent world, including shooting Sergeant O’Neill (Charlie Hunnam) a member of the constabulary. After spending time in jail and away from his family Ned (George MacKay) returns home and gets brought back into the world he once escaped.

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The Expanse: Churn – TV Review

TL;DR – An episode where we delve into Amos’ past, and my heart breaks a little

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Disclosure – I paid for the Amazon Prime subscription that viewed this series.

The Expanse: Churn. Image Credit: Amazon Studios.

Churn Review

We dive straight back into the second episode of the season which continues to build the tension for the potential coming disaster. However, this episode is more of a character piece as we get to see what motivates many of our cast of characters.

So to set the scene, in the first episode Exodus we focused on all the crew going their separate ways as they flew to different parts of the Solar System. Amos (Wes Chatham) landed on Luna and after chitchat with Chrisjen (Shohreh Aghdashloo) made the trip back to his home on Baltimore. Alex (Cas Anvar) arrived on Mars and faced a frosty reception from everyone including Bobbie (Frankie Adams), and Naomi (Dominique Tipper) made her way to Pallas Station. This departure left James (Steven Strait) all alone on Tyco Station, which was the perfect time for Monica Stuart (Anna Hopkins) to arrive with tales of intrigue. Now from here, we will be looking at the episode as a whole, so there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead. 

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The Expanse: Exodus – TV Review

TL;DR – An episode that moves everybody and more importantly everything into place

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Disclosure – I paid for the Amazon Prime subscription that viewed this series.

The Expanse: Exodus. Image Credit: Amazon Studios.

Exodus Review

To be honest, 2020 has not been the best of years, and that might be an understatement. However, there was one ray of light on the horizon for me, and that was a new season of The Expanse, and well now it is here, it has so far not disappointed.

So to set the scene, it has been about 100+ days since the end of Season 4 and all the drama that happened on Ilus. In that time the crew of the Rocinante, James Holden (Steven Strait), Naomi Nagata (Dominique Tipper), Amos Burton (Wes Chatham), and Alex Kamal (Cas Anvar) have made their way to Tyco Station for refit and repair. Only it is time for reflection, and for many, it is time to close some personal demons. Now from here, we will be looking at the episode as a whole, so there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead. 

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