Dark Phoenix ★★☆☆☆

It’s been a long and ardours journey, but the latest instalment of the X-men saga has arrived. With the Disney merging fast approaching, can the franchise sign off in blaze of glory? Picking up 10 years after the events of Apocalypse our heroes find out there’s a threat much closer to home than they expected.

Directed by Simon Kinberg

Starring Sophie Turner, Jennifer Lawrence, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender,Nicholas Hoult


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Dirty God ★★★☆☆

Dirty God is a somber look at a young mother who has to suffer from the consequences of an acid attack on the streets of London. The lead, is played by a real life burns survivor, bringing an extra sense of realism to the film.

Directed by Sacha Polak

Starring Vicky Knight, Katherine Kelly


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Tolkien ★★½☆☆

Flying in under the radar, was this look back at the life of the legendary author, JRR Tolkien. Looking back at the events and experiences that shaped his life, which would go on to inspire his to write of books called Lord of the Rings………may sound familiar!

Directed by Dome Karukoski

Starring Nicholas Hoult, Lily Collins


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Rocketman ★★★★☆

Freddie Mercury got the big screen treatment last year, now it’s the turn for another musical icon to get on the silver screen. Can Rocketman hit the Oscar buzz? Taron Egerton takes up the role of the iconic Elton John in this flamboyant biopic!

Directed by Dexter Fletcher

Starring Taron Egerton, Richard Madden, Bryce Dallas Howard


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John Wick: Chapter 3 ★★★☆☆

Picking up right after Chapter 2, does the action packed revenge-fest deliver for a third time ? It’s a mixed bag from us….

Directed by Chad Stahelski

Starring Keanu Reeves, Halle Berry, Laurence Fishburne


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Review / Aquaman ★★★★☆

The DC Extended Universe is in such a state, that following on from their latest bust (2017’s Justice League), it’s literally last chance saloon. Apart from Wonder Woman, the franchise is seriously in need of another strong hero to carry some of the pressure. It’s not much of a shared universe if Diana Price is the only one who fans really care about.

Aquaman burst onto the scene in the much lambasted Justice League, although Jason Mamoa brought a level of gravitas not seen before from our Atlantean hero, the character always felt like an afterthought. A literal fish out of water. But will his solo outing finally give DC a much needed reprieve?

Directed by James Won, who is widely regarded as one of the best Horror directors currently around, does a stellar job, and even manages to throw in some horror elements, such as the wonderfully shot trench dive scene. The film sees our aquatic hero, Arthur Curry (Mamoa) go back to his home of Atlantis, in order to reclaim the throne from his half brother Orm (Wilson), who intends to wage war on the land above.

Visually, Aquaman is by far the most impressive and stunning addition to the DC universe. Wonder Woman did a great job in bringing in some much needed color to the world,  but Aquaman really steps it up another notch,  Aquaman really makes the most out its various kingdoms it has, each with its own tone. The film definitely has a Guardians of the Galaxy vibe,  when it comes to all the locations they visit. The CGI is also a massive improvement over some of the dire work seen in Justice League, the film is loaded with action scenes, so there’s always something happening.

Though visuals can only take a film so far, and it’s good to see a hero that actually has some charisma and charm. Jason Mamoa is clearly having a blast in this role, and is far more warming to fans, as opposed to the grim, brooding Bruce Wayne and Clarke Kent. The rest of the supporting cast also fit in rather well. Amber Heard as Mera is more than just a sidekick, with powers of her own, she more than manages to stick up for herself and proves to be a worthy ally. Patrick Wilson is surprisingly great in the role of the bitter resentful brother, with a backstory that really explains why he is doing what he thinks is right.  There are also pleasant appearances by Willem Defoe & a surprising Dolph Lungdren!

As mentioned, the villainous Orm does feel like an empathetic antagonists, from his perspective, you can see why he has his views.  Unlike Steppenwolf, who was evil…..for reasons. This is also supported by the presence of Black Manta, one of Aquaman’s adversary’s from the comics. His story is also one that is done very well, with his motives made very clear from the start.

But at a run time of nearly 2.5 hours, the film can really drag on at times, as they jump from quest to quest. The treasure hunt segments could really have been trimmed up a lot more. The story is rather basic, so such a prolonged movie can feel tiring at spots. The action scenes are also all too frequent, when its done well, it’s excellent, such as the rooftop chases in Sicily, otherwise after the 10th set piece, it does feel like filler.  The film does appear to separate itself from the wider DCEU, with very little references to the other movies. The romance between our leading duo did feel very forced, they could have laid the foundations of a relationship that could blossom in any future movies, they do jump the gun here, a strange decision as Mera is involved in with Orm.

Wonder Woman is still the benchmark for the DCEU, but thankfully, Aquaman is closer to that gold standard than the underwhelming releases they are usually involved with.  A wonderfully fun and vibrant movie, the only real issue bringing it down is the slow pacing and extended duration.

Review / Crimes of Grindelwald ★★½

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Directed by: David Yates
Starring : Johnny Depp,  Eddie Redmayne, Jude Law, Zoe Kravitz, Ezra Miller

Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them was a perfectly enjoyable movie, while it did have the charm & development of the Harry Potter franchise, it still worked well enough to provide a solid foundation to the adventures of our magical animal keeper, Newt Scamander. With the news that the Fantastic Beasts series will now span 5 movies, did concern some. Having to span the entire narrative over five films could dilute the end product, and unfortunately, it seems the sequel, Crimes of Grindelwald, is already feeling that influence.

The story picks up following the arrest of our villain from the last film, Grindelwald (Depp), as his transfer to the UK from the States is inevitably botched, and manages to escape to Europe, to start his own uprising. Credence, the estranged yet powerful orphan, managed to survive the events in New York, is the vital pawn in tipping the balance of power towards our villain. It’s down to Scamander (Goodmayne) to track down Credence before it’s too late.

What made the first film such a joy were the vibrant scenes , escapades of Newt, and all the various magical beasts that he interacts with. How he uses the animals to further help his own objectives was a nice change from simply using magic. The hidden world within his suitcase opened us up to a world outside of the iconic Hogwarts. Unfortunately, in this chapter, Newt is pretty much on the bench, and probably down in 4th in order of importance to the plot.  There are far too many subplots all going on in the film, Grindlewald, Credence and Leta (Kravitz) all have far more significance to the grant story. There’s also the Dumbledore, Queenie and Nagiri arcs, which simply creates a convoluted tangle of tales.

Even with all these story lines occurring, and a run time of over 2 hours to fit it all, it all still feels so dull! This has the feel of a political drama, rather than a magical escape. The finale of the film revolves around a political rally, thrilling! The entire Lestrange story really goes nowhere, and it could have been entirely removed, and would make no difference to the overall story. Which raises huge concerns, considering it was a vast chuck on the plot. To cap it all off, the final at the end, raises some serious inconsistencies, which will leave hard core Potter fans dumbfounded.

The interactions between Newt and Jacob (Fogler) are still as great as the first film, their chemistry really gives their characters a likability that a large majority of the cast simply don’t. Their journey and confrontations with the beasts are by far the strongest parts of the film. Sadly, Newt feels like an after thought, playing a support role to the grander scheme. Jude Law as a young Dumbledore is also rather good, and brings some charisma to a role mostly associated with an old respected scholar. The Hogwarts scenes also bring some nostalgic charm to the movie, and reminds us why the franchise is seen so fondly by many.

There is still lot’s of potential left in the series,  the magic and fantasy aspects are still there, and as part 2 of 5, things will drag on in some the films. Now that the ground works are well and truly set, hopefully the next release sees more of the fantasy, and less of the politics!

Review / Overlord ★★★☆☆

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Directed by: Julius Avery
Starring : Jovan Adepo, Wyatt Russell, John Magaro, Mathilde Ollivier

Curiously just missing the Halloween market, considering its zombie packed adventures, Overlord is one of the best video-game adaptations…that isn’t based off a video game! Set just before the D-Day landings, a group of soldiers are dropped in beyond enemy lines to take down a radio tower. What seems like a pretty routine mission soon turns into a survival mission, not from the battlefield, but from forces for more sinister.

The wartime zombie setting provides the film with a Wolfenstien vibe, a set of video games that also focus on defeating hordes of the undead during WW2.  This also feels like the Resident Evil movie we should have got, as opposed to what we ended up getting…….several times.

The cast here are pretty low key, there really isn’t a big name to give the movie some much needed star power. Boyce (Adepo) is out main protagonist, a young american dropped into a scenario he really isn’t comfortable with,  there isn’t much wrong with the character, but the constant reminder of how kind he is throughout does get a tad bit  annoying! He is supported by battle hardened Ford (Russell, son of Kurt!), and Tibert (Magaro) the sniper expert.  After a disastrous landing, they regroup and take refuge in  the home of local French civilian Chloe (Olivier), as they attempt to regroup and carry out their operation.

Though the film is marketed as a straight up horror film in the trailers,  that’s not the entire story. The first half has a very strong survival horror element to it,  from the tense battlefield segments, which involves an excellent opening parachute sequence, to the discovery of the secret enemy lab, containing several disturbing experiments. This is by far the strongest part of the film. The story balances the unknown terrors that lurk behind the walls of the enemy, and the constant threat of war.  Matching enemy soldiers is one thing, but dealing with the undead? Not so simple!

The second half, whilst still doing a decent job, switches things up, and it becomes an out and out action film.  Our villain, a generic German officer, goes from an everyday high ranking soldier, to a crazed maniac with a god complex seemingly overnight.  The film gets rather ridiculous and exaggerated once the zombies are released. but it definitely has a video-game charm to it, which makes it work.

While the story as a whole does enough to make the audience care for whats happening, it would have been better if they spent a bit more time in the lab, and the nightmares buried inside.  The horror parts are what this film does best, and it would have been more thrilling to see more of that, than what is going on between our heroes back at the hideout.

Overlord falls very much in the cheesy B Movie category,  with enough horror, gore and an extravagant villain to keep things amusing. While the movie could be open to a sequel, it thankfully doesn’t have any kind of sequel bait or tease at the end, so it feels like a closed chapter on its own. Whilst they could have added some more sinister elements to it, the zombie war shooter is a great watch, and with a run time of under 2 hours,  it won’t feel like a drag.

 

Review / Slenderman ★☆☆☆☆

Joey King

Seeing as it’s Halloween, it’s only appropriate to look back upon one of the slew of horror movies that have come out this year, but one in particular stood out, and it was so shambolic, it’s pretty much nailed on for one of the worst films of 2018!

Slenderman was all over the internet 4-5 years ago, the myth, the memes, the buzz, about our suited up stalker in the wood was at its peak, and of course there would be a movie cash in for it.  It’s now 2018, and the chance to capitalize on this trend has long gone, and unfortunately, it’s a horrendous effort that really should have been buried away in the archive room.

A group of teenage girls decide to summon our friend from the occult after hearing the rumors going around school. After one of the group suddenly goes missing, the friends realize maybe it wasn’t a prank after all.

The main issue with Slenderman was that it was coming off the Slenderman murder case which took place in the States back in 2014. With the film being released as that case was coming to a close, meant the studio was in an awkward situation.  What ended up happening is that vast chucks of the movie were removed. The trailers for this film are far more sinister and dark, compared to the toned down mess they ended up releasing, with key scenes missing, the film simply jumps all over the place, and they don’t even bother filming even the smallest of scenes to explain the jumps. You can see in the video below just how much of the film is removed.

Our main protagonist, Hallie, is totally unlikable, even while her friends start to go missing, she is far more interested in hooking up with her crush and making sure she looks cool.  Wren, her best mate, who ends up being driven mad, does her best to at least solve things at least, but Hallie, just yells at her to move on, ignorant to the ominous threat that her close friends are suddenly dying. While another character shows signs of being stalked/possessed, and everything builds up to a particular scene at school, but nope, nothing happens, and you never see her again. From the trailers you can see there was supposed to be a moment of dread here, but its cut, and the character is never addressed again! The scares are awfully weak too, if your neighbor was checking to see if you are safe, why would they be moving around the house in a creepy murderer like fashion? For drama?

It seems like the studio only had permission to film in the woods nearby, so the film spends a large chuck in the forest. School, forest, home, forest, school, forest. It’s almost comical how often they always end up back in the woods for some other reason. Slenderman himself is ok, but once he reveals himself totally, he loses all sense of dread, and is a CGI mess by the end.. He is far more sinister as a character when he is hovering in the background, looming. The movie also thinks showing clips of the clouds in the woods is scary, and constantly uses it as a transition between scenes!

All in all, there really isn’t anything good to say about this movie, but it’s worth a watch if you really want a scare on Halloween!!

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