The Lion King ★★★☆☆

The relentless Disney train stops by in Africa for the latest remake from their archives. We go back to 1994, as The Lion King gets the 4k remake! With exceptional animations and a stunning cast, can it deliver?

Directed by Jon Favreau

Starring Donald Glover, Beyonce, Chiwetel Ejiofor, James Earl Jones


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MIB:International ★★☆☆☆

The Summer of Meh continues with another average remake. The latest in line is the latest chapter of the Men in Black franchise, can Hemsworth & Thompson recapture the chemistry from Thor Ragnarok?

Directed by F Gary Gray

Starring Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson, Liam Neeson, Emma Thompson


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Toy Story 4 ★★★★☆

 

It’s been almost 10 years since the last instalment, but the latest release of Pixars’ crown jewel is still just as good as ever. Acting as an epilogue to the Andy trilogy, Toy Story 4 closes things well, yet still , leaves the door open for more fun down the road.

Directed by Josh Cooley

Starring Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Annie Potts, Christina Hendricks


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The Wandering Earth ★★★★☆

Heading out of Hollywood for a moment, we take a look at one of the biggest movies of 2019 so far, hidden away on Netflix! Raking in a gigantic $700m, The Wondering Earth is a bold Sci-Fii epic produced in China, based on the novel of the same name. Don’t let the subtitles put you off! Managing to pull this off on a budget of $50m is hugely impressive!

Directed by Frant Gwo

Starring Wu Jing, Qu Chuxiao, Zhao Jinmai


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Godzilla: King of Monsters ★★☆☆☆

5 years after the underwhelming Godzilla, can the sequel make amends and set up the upcoming Godzilla v King King monster showdown? This time around, Godzilla is joined by  more of his monster friends……….

Directed by Michael Dougherty

Starring: Millie Bobby Brown, Vera Farmiga, Charles Dance, Zhang Ziyi


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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!

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