November 2017~ Justice League

This film has been a long time coming!


Following hot on the heels of this Summer’s blockbuster, Wonder Woman, Justice League is easily better than any of the previous DC films with the exception of Wonder Woman.


This next chapter in the DCEU once again stars Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne/Batman, Henry Cavill as Clark Kent/ Superman and the ever-awesome Gal Gadot as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman. This time they are joined by Jason Momoa as Arthur Curry/Aquaman, Ezra Miller as Barry Allen/The Flash and Ray Fisher as Victor Stone/Cyborg. Back as Alfred Pennyworth, Bruce Wayne’s loyal butler is Jeremy Irons, with Amy Adams returning as Daily Planet reporter and Superman’s love interest, Lois Lane. Connie Nielsen reprises her role as Queen Hippolyta from Wonder Woman.


The film is an origin story for The Justice League and Cyborg, with only a snippet of information being given on the backgrounds of Aquaman and The Flash. This makes me think we will see individual films for them at some point (they may already have been announced and I’ve missed it!).

After the events of Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, Bruce Wayne has found new faith in humanity. He is also feeling a lot of deep-rooted guilt about his part in the death of Superman; a death that is being mourned worldwide. An old enemy from the past has been awakened and threatens the very existence of the human race. Inspired by Superman’s selfless sacrifice, Bruce enlists the help of Diana Prince to create league of heroes to stand against this threat. Despite encountering problems in creating his team, the newly formed Justice League (a phrase never heard in the film), it may be too late to save humanity from extinction. But there is always hope…..


The film is much more light-hearted than previous DCEU films. It was great to see Gal Gadot reprising her role as Diana/Wonder Woman for a third time (yes, I’m a huge fan), and it’s good to see that by the end of the film, her character is finally coming out of the shadows thanks to Bruce Wayne. She is a real leader and openly interacting with the public as well as being a huge inspiration to all. We also were treated to a brief visit to Diana’s home. The paradise island of Themyscira and the Amazon warriors- I’ll write no more as it will spoil things.


Until now, I have not been a fan of Ben Affleck as Batman, but this movie has changed that opinion. Bruce is much more reflective in this movie; he’s showing and feeling his age. 20 years of fighting crime in Gotham City and the death of Superman has taken its toll. I’m predicting he recruits another Robin at some point.


The new characters that we were introduced to worked well on the whole. I had a bit of an issue with Aquaman seemingly liking a drink a bit too much; I like a drink, just didn’t like the way it came across. Blatantly stealing items from the Batcave in front of the team didn’t sit well either for a superhero, but on the whole he was a likeable character. It was good to see his tough facade broken down, albeit unknowingly, by Diana’s Lasso of Hestia.


Cyborg was well portrayed as an angry, untrusting, unwilling victim of experimental medical procedures by his father. Out of all the characters, Cyborg probably has the most development over the movie. I thought he was a bit of an ass when the film first started, but that soon changed.


Ezra Miller’s Barry Allen/The Flash was the one character I didn’t like in the trailers. It goes to show how misleading trailers can be. Yes, Barry was used a lot for comic relief, but there was so much more. The backstory with his dad, who is in prison for murder, and Barry’s mission to save him sits nicely in the background for future use I believe.


If I had one criticism, it’s that we didn’t see enough of Mera, Aquaman’s Atlantean counterpart. What we did see of Amber Heard in the role was good, I just wish there had been more.


It’s obvious which scenes were shot by original director, Zack Snyder and which were shot by Joss Wheedon. It doesn’t detract too much from the movie and when you think of the reason for change of director, you can understand it.

The ending was a bit rushed, but I have seen that in lots of films of late so it seems to be a trend. It did its job and told the story, so won’t mark it down too much for that.


I would happily see this film again and can’t wait to add it to my blu-ray collection. It is definitely worth seeing on the big screen, so catch it while you can and make sure you stay for the two mid-credit scenes!

Finally, here’s a random Wonder Woman from the film. Just because I can…..


November 2017~ The Death of Stalin

The Death of Stalin is a period comedy that tells the story of the aftermath of the death of Russian dictator, Joseph Stalin.


The story begins at the studios of Radio Moscow where a Mozart concerto has just finished. Stalin calls and demands a recording which means that they have to start all over again. This opening sequence sets the scene well and shows how the Russian people were terrified of Stalin and lived in fear of his death squads. The film continues with his death and the power struggle that ensues amongst the high-ranking officials in Moscow. The story is based on true events, though those events took place over a matter of months, not days as it is in the film.


The performances by the lead actors is what really makes the film. Adrian McLoughlin briefly plays Joseph Stalin as a bit of an east-end thug, very Kray like. Michael Palin plays Vyacheslav Molotov, a noted diplomat who comes across as a bit weak but in reality is very manipulative. Jeffrey Tambor as Malenkov, Stalin’s weak-minded deputy and successor brings an incompetence to the role that is at times cringe worthy and also hilarious. Simon Russell Beale does a stellar job as the bad guy, Lavrentiy Beria. Also making appearances are Paul Whitehouse, Paddy Considine, Dermot Crowley, Richard Brake, Andrea Riseborough and Rupert Friend.


Two people stood out for me. Steve Buscemi as a very Americanised, Russian-Nucky Thompson Nikita Khrushchev, whilst Jason Isaacs plays General Georgy Zhukov as a brusque Yorkshireman type. Jason also had the best line in the film- “Did Coco Chanel take a shit on your head?”

If you like period comedy, or any of the actors in it, then go and see it. It’s well worth it and you’ll be laughing (sometimes inappropriately) from the outset.

Footnote: I saw the film at the Odeon Covent Garden.


I’ve not been to this cinema since it was an ABC. It’s a great little cinema with pleasant staff. Its also one of the nicer Odeons, as some that I have been to have fallen into disrepair or have been demolished (RIP Odeon Marble Arch).


There are a few classic posters on display as well as two quirky model hands. One belonging to Robert Carlyle and the other to Sir Michael Caine.


I must find out more about these at some point.


If you are in the West End and don’t want to deal with the mad crowds in Leicester Square, then take a ten-minute walk to the Odeon Covent Garden on Shaftesbury Avenue- you can’t go wrong!

October 2017~ Blade Runner 2049

Set 30 years after the original film, Blade Runner 2049 is a worthy sequel to what is now considered to be a cult-classic.


This film focuses on Officer K, a Blade Runner in LA in the year 2049. K stumbles upon something when ‘retiring’ a replicant that was on the run. Something that makes him question who he really is and leads him in search of one of the most successful Blade Runners- Rick Deckard, played once again by Harrison Ford.


As with the first film it leaves the viewer with questions. It is a story that yet again makes you question what it is to be human and have a soul.


The visuals in this film are amazing and the creative team have done well to match the dystopian look of LA from the first film and also make it look environmentally worse. Denis Villeneuve has done an amazing job thanks to Hampton Fancher’s (co-writer of the original Blade Runner) screenplay. The story itself fits nicely into the world originally created by Philip K Dick in the book ‘Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep’ on which the original movie was based. Apart from Harrison Ford, Edward James Olmos briefly returns to the role of Gaff, complete with origami unicorns but minus the cityspeak. Sean Young also puts in a brief appearance as Rachel.


This epic film needs to be scene on the big screen to do justice to all the visuals and the great soundtrack. If you haven’t seen it and you loved the original, then what are you waiting for?


August 2017 ~ War for the Planet of the Apes

I’ve been a fan of The Planet of the Apes franchise from a very young age as you can see from the picture below…


….and I still have a few Simian friends right now.


Back in 2001 I was happy to hear that Tim Burton was attempting to reboot the series, however, like many others I was very disappointed with the film. Then in 2010, Rise of the Planet of the Apes was announced and like many, I was very dubious.

Luckily, the film turned out well, and had lots of nods to the original film with Charlton Heston. You can find a list of those easter eggs here:

ROTPOA Easter Eggs

Then a couple of years later came the sequel, which only had a few callbacks, mostly just repeats of the previous film. It didn’t follow on straight after the events of the first film but instead used a time-jump to explain the story in between films and to introduce the Simian Flu backstory in full.

In 2016 another sequel was announced. War for the Planet of the Apes. It was released in July 2017. Again this film utilised a time-jump at the start and to move the story on a few years.

By now the apes have established a settlement in the forest outside of San Francisco. Caesar has re-established control over the ape population after the events of the previous film with Koba and the ape-coup. That is until humans rear their ugly heads and start causing trouble.

I’m not going to go into the full plot details as that would spoil it, but suffice to say the story was enjoyable with lots of action. There is also a great deal of humour from a new ape character called ‘Bad Ape’ who reminds me of US comedian, Jerry Lewis.

bad apeb

Even though this rebooted series of ‘Apes’ films was supposed to stand alone from the originals, I can see it all tying in nicely with the original Charlton Heston film from 1968.

The CGI gets better with each film and I look forward to the story being wrapped up in the as-yet-untitled fourth film.

There were lots of easter eggs in this film too, including the introduction of a new character, a mute-human child who is rescued by Maurice the Orangutan. The child (played by Amiah Miller) was named Nova which is a call back to the original Nova played by Linda Harrison.


The Alpha/Omega military group led by Woody Harrelson links back to the Alpha-Omega cult in ‘Beneath the Planet of the Apes’.

In the original film, all of the humans (except the three astronauts) were mute. In the new film it is starting to happen to humans.

Obviously Caesar is a callback to Roddy McDowall’s other ape character from ‘Conquest of the Planet of the Apes’ but in this new film, the latest Caesar has a son called Cornelius- McDowall’s character in the original movie.


Then there is the beach scene at the end which harkens back to the original scene with Taylor/Nova or horseback, only this time it’s the apes and Nova on horseback. In both scenes the main character (Taylor/Caesar) is riding toward their destiny.


Finally, there is the doll, which in the original, serves to prove to Dr Zaius that there was an older, human civilisation before the apes. In the newer film it serves a much different purpose.


If you are a fan of the ape films. go and see it. If you like action/sci-fi films, go and see it. It’s a good solid movie that I would happily see again. It probably won’t win any major awards (unless it’s for CGI) but nevertheless it’s worth a watch!

July 2017 ~ Dunkirk

“Rolls-Royce Merlin engine. Sweetest sound you could hear out here.”

I don’t claim to be a professional film critic, quite the opposite. I like to talk about my views on films that I have seen. Sometimes I agree with others, sometimes not. Filmgoing is a very personal experience for me (which is why I like to go alone) and I know that films affect people in different ways and that is what makes them special.

I always see films more than once. If I don’t it normally means that I disliked it so much it’s not worth a second viewing. The first time I see a film I concentrate on the story. Does it make sense? Are there huge, gaping plot holes? That kind of thing. The second time I pay more attention to how it was shot, the acting, soundtrack etc. If I do see a film multiple times (For example: Rogue One 7 times and Wonder Woman 9 times) then I must REALLY have enjoyed it!

On to Dunkirk by Christopher Nolan (Director of Interstellar, The Dark Knight Trilogy, Inception) It will be short, spoiler-free review (I hope!).

I really enjoy war films based on real events, providing they are as accurate as is possible. I know that time constraints mean that events have to be condensed or altered slightly and I’m fine with that as long as they are accurate as possible. One example of this are two films based on the same event, The Battle of The Alamo. One of the most popular films based on this event was the 1960 movie starring John Wayne. Whilst this was a good, entertaining movie, it was highly inaccurate. The 2004 version of the story, directed by John Lee Hancock (No relation) was much more accurate. The director had taken the time and effort to do his research. It wasn’t perfect, but it was a lot more accurate than The Duke’s version.

My initial worry with Dunkirk was that it would be sensationalised like many of today’s films, so I purposely avoided any teaser/trailer, right up to the final 4-part trailer that was released back in April this year. I was able to see the film without knowing a great deal which was a bonus.

My first screening was in 70mm at The Odeon Leicester Square. I can wholeheartedly say this is the best way to see the film. There is so much going on over such a wide area that it needs 70mm to do it justice.

What struck me first about the film was the soundtrack by Hans Zimmer. There wasn’t a loud score, drowning out dialogue as can sometimes happen. Don’t get me wrong, it works for certain films like Star Wars but with Dunkirk I think it would have taken away from the story. There was a soundtrack, but it was subtle enough to not distract. The volume was just right. For example, the track “Supermarine” which played over the dog-fight was at the perfect level to really enhance the scene.

The second thing that  struck me was the dialogue, or should I say lack of. Sometimes I’m sure that scriptwriters and directors put in dialogue just for the hell of it and it can come across as cheesy (ahem George Lucas!). Not here. There was dialogue when needed. I don’t want to say more as it will spoil it.

The story was great. It takes place over three time periods, based on different locations. The first was ‘The Mole’ (Similar to a breakwater, to protect harbours) which took place over the course of a week. The second was ‘The Sea’ which focussed on the Small Vessels Support and takes place over the course of a day. The third and final location was ‘The Air’ which focussed on a small group of fighter pilots and takes place over the course of an hour. By the end of the film, these three intricately woven stories have all become one and makes, for me, a moving, accurate as possible, story about sacrifice, loss and the stubbornness of the British people during World War 2 and Operation Dynamo.


The visuals are breathtaking. From the scenes on the beach or at The Mole, to the sky and down to the sea. There are times you will find yourself holding your breath.


Stand out performances by Sir Kenneth Branagh, James D’Arcy, Mark Rylance and Aneurin Barnard. But, the best two performances throughout the whole film, for me, were Cillian Murphy as the shell-shocked soldier, and Tom Hardy as Farrier, the Spitfire pilot who could give across so much emotion during this film with just his eyes…


The one performance that I thought was hyped-up by the media was Harry Styles. He just didn’t do it for me. It wasn’t that it was a bad performance, it was that anyone could have done it in my opinion.

Keep an ear out for a special voice-cameo by Sir Michael Caine.


If you can, see it in 70mm at The Odeon and receive a free-film strip!

I’ve seen it twice. Will I see it again? Most definitely!


May 2017~ Wonder Woman

SPOILER FREE REVIEW-I do mention some things seen in the trailers but that is it!

I’ve thought about adding Film Reviews to my site for a while now so why not start with my most recent viewing.

Warner Bros. have struggled to bring the DC Cinematic Universe to successful fruition over the past few years. Man of Steel was ok at best. Batman Vs Superman was, to be honest, awful. Ben Affleck was not bad as Batman, Lex Luthor was doing great up until the last quarter of the film and then went terribly wrong. Wonder Woman’s brief appearance helped immensely. Don’t get me started on Suicide Squad- let me just say Harley Quinn saved that movie from be totally rubbish. Jared Leto as the Joker? No thanks. I preferred the Lego Batman version!

I was hoping that Wonder Woman might reverse the trend and start being on-par with Marvel’s best.

Gal Gadot, a former Miss Universe and Israeli Army soldier was cast in the role and made a brief appearance in Batman Vs Superman. She is also slated to continue the role in the first Justice League movie.


The film had its UK premiere on 31st May 2017. It was supposed to be a star-studded, red carpet event, but the Manchester Bombings the week before caused WB to cancel the event and downgrade it to a charity gala with some (very) minor celebrities and contest winners. They had a good display of costumes from the film inside the cinema, but they would be gone by the time I went in for the midnight screening.


The film begins on the island paradise of Themyscira, which is hidden from the outside world, stuck in time. We meet a young Diana, headstrong and adventurous, who receives training in various forms of combat from Antiope (Robin Wight). There are no men on the island and all of the women are warriors! We see Diana as a young girl (aged around 6/7) then as a teen and finally as a grown, but naive young woman.


Diana sees a airplane crash into the ocean and soons rescues its pilot, Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) and he tells her of a Great War taking place. Diana decides she must go to help end the war.


What follows is a great film filled with humour, action and a touch of romance as well as the usual over-the-top finale fight scenes you expect to find in any big-budget superhero or sci-fi film.


On the whole the script is good. There is an amazing scene on a boat between Diana and Steve. I won’t say anything else but it is great. There is also an awesome fight scene that takes place on the island beach.

The fight scenes are amazing and it’s almost like you are watching Diana dance rather than fight as her movements are so smooth and fluid-like. Excellent fight choreography!

The costumes are also excellent, both for the Amazon women, Diana’s main costume (what’s not to love) and the period costumes for the early 1900s. The VFX are pretty much awesome!

It was also great to see Etta Candy, a badly underused character in general through the history of Wonder Woman being brought to life by Lucy Davis.

Gal Gadot as Diana should prove to be a great role model to all young women out there. She is strong-willed, ambitious yet caring and has a strong sense of justice. Just like how I would like my niece to be (She’s halfway there!)


Yes, it has its flaws as does any film. Some of the supporting cast are underused and there is the aforementioned fight scene where German soldiers just stand around whilst all hell breaks loose around them but that is about it. To counter what one “critic” said, this film is not about Diana/Wonder Woman (a name never mentioned in the film) ending the war. That is what she sets out to do, but she is young and naive. It’s about the growth and change in her character, set against the backdrop of The Great War. It’s about trust. It’s about love.


I LOVED this film. You may not, it’s up to you. As I said I would happily rate this alongside Ant-Man or Guardians of the Galaxy and fully intend on seeing it more than once (or twice!)

I look forward to the Justice League movie, due out in November 2017 and also hope that Patty Jenkins signs on to direct a sequel as she did an amazing job. (Update: She has! Wonder Woman 2 comes out December 2019!)