The Noel Diary (2022)

Rating PG
Length 1h39
Release 24.11.2022
Director Charles Shyer
About When a best-selling author returns home at Christmas to settle his mother’s estate, he finds a diary that holds secrets to the past.
Moon: no moon sighting
Where to Watch: Netflix
Trailer:

Naughty List

  • Hair! Oh I know it’s stupid to be getting on my nerves, but close the end of the film and on the return leg of the road trip, Rachel’s hair goes from curls to salon straight.
    1. I’m pissed off with the implication that straight hair is more attractive.
    2. There’s no way, that character, would have packed the essentials to get that salon finish.
    Seriously, it’s Winter Soldier’s Black Widow scene all over again.
  • Why does the woman always have to cheat?! Or rather, why did she have to have a fiancé? Okay, most who watching this will get swept away with the romance and I agree, it’s not that deep.
    Except it is. It’s a trope for that reason; its a formulaic characterisation to put in an “obstacle” or ‘tension’. On the surface, that’s fine. But spend more than a second on it, and they’ve trashed their leading woman.
  • It’s rather bloated and tries to almost tell the story of two films in one. Normally the two leads each having something to resolve is no bother, even adding in the romance… I think it is the added complication of her not being available is the proverbial wafer thin mint this film could have done without.

Nice List

  • Two very beautiful, and charming, leads. Both Barrett Doss and Justin Hartley are wonderful in their own respects, but when they are together they make this film joyful. You know, until the script gets in the way.
  • I really found some comfort in the scenes with James Remar. Someone who has always improved anything I’ve watched, there was something powerful in his performance as an estranged father.
  • Despite the sadness that sets the film in motion, it is rather uplifting by the time the credit call time on this Hallmark-lite story.

Final Thoughts

Easy to believe the romance, leave your brain at the door and enjoy it for what it is: a PG Mills&Boon by way of the Hallmark channel.

Black Adam (2022) Film Review

Rating 12a
Length 2h05
Release 21.10.2022
Director Jaume Collet-Serra
About In ancient Kahndaq, Teth Adam was bestowed the almighty powers of the gods. After using these powers for vengeance, he was imprisoned, becoming Black Adam. Nearly 5,000 years have passed, and Black Adam has gone from man to myth to legend. Now free, his unique form of justice, born out of rage, is challenged by modern-day heroes who form the Justice Society: Hawkman, Dr. Fate, Atom Smasher and Cyclone.
Moon: Full moon in mid-credit sequence
Where to Watch: Limited screenings in cinemas nationwide
Trailer:

The Good

  • I really quite enjoyed Pierce Brosnan hamming it up as Dr Fate. He was one of very few saving graces of the film.
  • Bodhi Sabongui was phenomenal as Amon Topaz. He gave the character his all, he won me over from the start; to the point where I thought this film was going to be a rehash of Shazam and he was going to be our Black Adam.
    I truly look forward to seeing where this kid pops up next, because he is most definitely one to watch.
  • There’s a fight sequence “in the rain” and that is incredibly well filmed.

The Bad

  • The plot is clunky and it’s even debateable whether it’s not a Justice Society film and not Black Adam.
  • My boy Dwayne Johnson. I get that there’s meant to be this reserved persona about Black Adam, but why’d you make him a Vulcan?! It’s just wrong.

The Ugly

  • I spend most of the time at odds with the title character. That shouldn’t happen and that was plotting choices. In an attempt to make Black Adam a mystery, the audience is alienated and made to feel like he’s the bad guy.
  • I’m also not meant to dislike the Justice Society. Like, seriously?! I’m hating the bad guys, I’m hating the good guys and the main guy…. this movie is not leaving me with much to like.
  • It’s CGI is shit! Beyond shit. It certainly isn’t going to age well.

Final Thoughts

Stop trying to make DCMU happen!

Christmas With You (2022)

Rating PG
Length 1h29
Release 12.4.2017
Director Greg McLean (Writer James Gunn)
About Follows a pop star who’s got a career burnout and escapes to a small town where she finds not only inspiration but a shot of love.
Moon: no moon sighting
Where to Watch: Part of MGM subscription on Amazon Prime
Trailer:

Naughty

  • It’s not only predictable, it’s paint by numbers plotting. Take out the Christmas setting and I’d be out within the first few scenes.
  • The set up all feels a little too contrived for my liking. It’s only because of how good it is once you’re past the set up that it can be forgiven.

Nice

  • Freddie Prinze Jnr! How awesome it is seeing him back as a leading man. He may have grown up, but he certainly hasn’t lost his charm. Not only that, but this is a rare occasion in which his Latino heritage has been utilised in this way and he kills is from the start.
  • Amiee Garcia, the wonderful Ella Lopez of Lucifer. It’s amazing to see her give us a better J-Lo than J-Lo! She’s funny, she’s charming and sincere. The only thing I didn’t buy was the idea that she was old and out of touch. Seriously, she looks younger than me, not her 47 years of age.
  • The chemistry, the comedy and the Christmas-ness of it all really will keep everyone entertained. There’s a true sense of family that will hit even the coldest of hears.

Final Thoughts

Not only is this a decent Christmas outing, it’s better than the other “super famous popstar falls for super regular DILF” 2022 has to offer. Switch off your brain and enjoy.

Disenchanted (2022)

Rating PG
Length 2h02
Release 82.11.2022
Director Adam Shankman
About Years after her happily ever after, Giselle, Robert and Morgan move to a new community and Andalasia and the real world are thrown off-balance.
Moon: Full moon in final animated shot before the credits
Where to Watch: Disney Plus
Trailer:

The Good

  • Gabriella Baldacchino really holds her own as Morgan. I almost wish the film had allowed her to be the protagonist. Watching it everything unfold from her perspective would have allowed for more of a fresher take.
    I’d have loved it if she’d gotten to save her love interest too. Really play around with convention.
  • Amy Adams does well playing wicked. Who’d have thunk it? She certainly looked to be playing the part and the film really warms for me once she’s no longer playing sickly sweet miss perfect.
  • The musical (score, that is. Although kudos on the Frozen reference) and visual cues to other fairy tales was quite good. From the on the nose, to subtle I expect people will be compiling an “all the Easter Eggs and references in Disenchanted” over the coming month.

The Bad

  • Gah, the singing. I hate musicals.
  • Giselle’s fish out of water and unrelenting pep had me reaching for the remote. This is why the fish out of water genre/clique does not do well with sequels. It’s only charming the first time out.

The Wicked

  • How do you have two amazing singing talents like Yvette Nichole Brown and Jayma Mays and waste them?! In a film about calling out the conventions in song, how did our wing-women not get a number? I’d have taken that over Dempsey’s ham fisted cringe-worthy attempts.

Final Thoughts

A film that perhaps too way too long to be released and feels a little too been there, done that.

Spirited (2022) Film Review

Rating 12a
Length 2h07
Release 18.11.2022
Director Sean Anders
About A musical version of Charles Dickens’ story of a miserly misanthrope who’s taken on a magical journey.
Moon: There was a waxing crescent towards the end of the film
Where to Watch: Part of Apple TV and selected cinemas.
Trailer:

Naughty List

  • Some of the green screen is really ropey. I like what it is trying to achieve, however if I’m noticing on a first viewing? I hate to think what it’ll look like a few years down the line.
  • The concept set up is a little tedious. Could be the number of songs that are crammed into the set up (I’m not a fan of musicals), but I really needed some of the fat trimmed one way or another.
  • It’s a tad too long for me. I like my Dickens, and my musicals, like I like my cocktails. Short. Yes, this does break out of the standard one night, three ghosts, formula. Still not sure it justifies the screen time.

Nice List

  • I adore the ‘Monsters Inc’, behind the scenes on the supernatural, vibe that this Christmas Carol outing presents.
  • Ryan Reynolds man! Seriously, he gives his best Reynolds performance, showmanship, with his “Scrooge” in need of turning. Not only that, but he gives the audience Broadway chops! He sings, he dances, he taps!
    He also has amazing chemistry with Wil Farrell.
  • The songs, while I’m not a massive fan, have that whimsical Jim Henson for adults gloss. They’re uplifting, clear and annoyingly catchy. Anyone without my aversion will love them.
  • It’s nothing you will have ever seen from a Christmas Carol before. It has that meta-ness that Reynold’s Free Guy gave everyone last year, while this actually throws in a few curveballs.

Final Thoughts

It’s a decent film, with its own spin on the overtold classic. It might take a moment to get into, but it pays off in ways you won’t even expect.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022)

Rating 12
Length 2h41
Release 11.11.2022
Director Ryan Coogler
About Queen Ramonda, Shuri, M’Baku, Okoye and the Dora Milaje fight to protect their nation from intervening world powers in the wake of King T’Challa’s death. As the Wakandans strive to embrace their next chapter, the heroes must band together with Nakia and Everett Ross to forge a new path for their beloved kingdom.
Moon: no moon sighting
Where to Watch: Cinemas Nationwide now.
Trailer:

The Good

  • How the film handles the passing of Chadwick Boseman is touching, tasteful and by shifting the protagonist focus from the start means there is no offensive Star Wars type CGI to fill in the narrative gaps.
  • Winston Duke is the perfect scene stealer, as as always, however what I loved most in this outing was that he held his own for the emotional scenes as well as the comedic.
  • The commentary on politics and the passing of a monarch was not lost on me. It was obviously filmed long before the passing of the Queen of England, but the message still resonated.
  • How the film handled grief was powerful. I liked the exploration of different ways to grieve. Not only as a film that embodied the grief for Boseman, but for the character of T’Challa too.
  • The film is fucking stunning

The Bad

  • I’m not sure about the inclusion of a quasi-hindu culture for the anti-hero Namor and his aquatic community. I am aware that its meant to be the Mayan culture, however the blue skin makes it hard not to make parallels with Hinduism. Whether it was about ensuring diversity, or setting them apart from the DC counterparts, it just didn’t land right.
    It could also be that there’s upcoming blue bastards that irk me somewhat. I mean, why do they always have to be blue?
  • Weren’t the Enternals fucking about with the Mayan culture back in that shit show? Or are we just pretending that movie never happened now? I mean, we pretty trotted all over the globe in this movie…. why was there no glimpse of that celestial corpse. Could have easily been that body that disturbed the vibranium and started this all off.
    You know, so that there’s literally *one* tiny thread connecting this phase’s movies together! Fuck, did MCU really peak with the Infinity Saga?!

The Ugly

  • It was about forty minutes too long and lacked enough action sequences to balance out the emotion. Kids can take the emotion, hell we’ve all been through enough Uncle Bens by now to know that. However there’s the web slinging to counter balance.
  • I think the film tried to fit too much into this movie. I also think that Phase Four should have had this as a limited series and gave Falcon and Winter Soldier the movie.
  • Getting very tired of the queerbaiting bull shit from the House of Mouse. If you’re going to go gay, go gay. Don’t do the hint to keep your conservative viewers happy. You can’t pay lip service any more. I’m all for making it clear without the neon sign, but this ain’t that. This is called being a pussy!

Final Thoughts

It did it’s best with the story it *had* to tell. It also attempts to tackle such a mountainous topic like grief but it essentially boiled down to being yet another Marvel origin.

Enola Holmes 2 (2022)

Rating 12
Length 2h10
Release 04/11/2022
Director Harry Bradbeer
About Enola Holmes takes on her first case as a detective, but to unravel the mystery of a missing girl, she’ll need some help from friends — and brother Sherlock.
Moon: no moon sighting
Where to Watch: Netflix
Trailer:

The Good

  • Millie Bobby Brown is rather good as Enola. This is the kind of actress who is not only comfortable in her own skin, but it able to show vulnerability within the characters she’s playing.
    This is no exception and, a perfect example is when she is able to, in character, break the fourth wall. Not many actors of her age could pull it, let alone with such an impact on the story.
  • All returning actors play their parts as excellently as they had previously and we have new comer David Thewlis who is a delight as always, even if he was playing rather typecast. But then, I always have preferred his Lupin to his Freddie May.

The Bad

  • I felt as if the film relied a tad too much on Henry Cavill in this outing. Perhaps it was the lack of Claflin as the second Holmes brother, or just the Cavill of it all but it was one scene away from being a Sherlock Holmes story and that rankled me.
  • Which I partly feel was down to the story. Perhaps one that works better in the book, but on the screen I felt that it was trying to be a clever nod to Doyle’s original works while still attempting to be canon. I loved the Matchstick girl storyline, but as it became a larger story and clearly weaved into the elder Holmes’ case, I felt underwhelmed.

The Ugly

  • I must say I felt that the protest scene was mishandled. For a film, it felt twee and too scripted. Knowing the protest and strike was a real event made it even harder to swallow. The script and staging was just too clunky, too inactive and then a switch was pressed and it changed.
    I wish they’d played it differently is all and built the scene up rather than have it stagnant and switch.

Final Thoughts

A perfect autumnal watch as the light draws in. It’s wonderful to see Brown holding her own and growing as an actor.

The Curse of Bridge Hollow (2022) Halloween Advent 2022

Rating 12
Length 1h29
Release 14.10.2022
Director Jeff Wadlow
About A man and his daughter must team up to save their town after an ancient and mischievous spirit causes Halloween decorations to come to life and wreak havoc.
Moon: full moon 25 minutes in
Where to Watch: Netflix
Trailer:

Trick

  • Lauren Lapkus. I struggle with her style of acting at the best of time, but this one was over the line. Whatever that accent was, was too fake and too forced. I hated every second she was on screen.
  • The CGI, other than the skeletons was really bad. Like cheap, bad. I get that visual effects are better than practical but it really does suck.
  • There’s a little bit of that ‘we’re building a franchise’ feel to the film. It’s not in the moment with the audience, but instead looking to the future. I don’t like it, but I stuck with it. Other’s won’t do the same. What’s worse is that if no sequel appears, the effort could have been put into making this a better movie.

Treat

  • Marlon Wayans has major DILF energy in this. He’s hot, he’s funny in a dad-joke way and I am loving it.
  • Priah Ferguson really carries this film, bringing with her that scene stealing realness from Stranger Things. The best part of this role is that she spends a lot of the time acting against the adults and I’m not sure there are many others her age who could do that.
  • The plot is perfectly silly and all-round family fun. There’s enough humour among the PG scares to entertain everyone.
  • The skeletons look like they’re inspired by old-school Jason and the Argonauts. Which helps improve what could have been otherwise shoddy looking CGI.

Final Thoughts

A solid offering from Netflix and certainly an improvement from Hubbie’s Halloween. A good watch with kids and a must see for anyone who loves Stranger Things.

Halloween Ends (2022) w. spoilers Halloween Advent 2022

Rating 18
Length 1h51
Release 14.10.2022
Director David Gordon Green
About Four years after her last encounter with masked killer Michael Myers, Laurie Strode is living with her granddaughter and trying to finish her memoir. Myers hasn’t been seen since, and Laurie finally decides to liberate herself from rage and fear and embrace life. However, when a young man stands accused of murdering a boy that he was babysitting, it ignites a cascade of violence and terror that forces Laurie to confront the evil she can’t control.
Moon: full moon around an hour in
Where to Watch: Cinema and and streaming through Peacock in the US
Trailer:

Trick

  • While there’s a certain strength in the Corey storyline, I do wonder why it takes up so much of the plot and why it doesn’t feel right for a resolution and final instalment of a trilogy.
    It makes it hard to believe they had a plan in place for a trilogy and that the two additional movies weren’t a cash grab after the success of the 2018 outing. For me, to truly make the storyline work as part of the trilogy, the seeds need to be planted in the previous two movies. It’s too much to have the kid’s origin story, his insertion into Allyson and Laurie’s lives and his unravelling in this one movie that is meant to be about endings.
  • Speaking of which, yeah okay Corey’s hot! However, would Laurie really set her granddaughter up with someone with such a loner, creepy vibe and would Allyson really get such an instant wide-on for him?!
    It’s too neat, too Twilight love and again screams “we didn’t have a plan”.

Treat

  • I love the Corey storyline. While I don’t like the way in which he’s brought into the Strode family circle, and I personally would have liked his presence throughout all three movies, I truly loved the exploration of psychosis upon a person who is being punished for something they hadn’t done.
    The reason why this, for me, works so well is that there is some truth to it. In Trondheim, 1994, two 6 year old boys killed a girl. They were never issued with criminal charges nor were their names released. The argument was that if you were to punish the boys for something like this, being as young as they were, it could cause split personality disorder to protect themselves from the punishment.
    Because the act Corey is being outcast for was not intentional, this is what happens to him. He begins to disassociate.
  • Jamie Lee Curtis truly gives her all in this instalment. That’s not to say she hasn’t been a powerhouse in all of the others, but there was something finite about this performance and I truly loved it.
  • The return to the POV shots for the evolution of Corey was genius. It was over used and really gave use a sense of unravelling. Perfect.
  • Another unusual like for me, but I truly enjoyed the narration that bookends the film. It felt almost like a nod to older horrors, but also acts as a goodbye from Laurie.

Final Thoughts

Case of everyone being a critic. If you wanted more of the same, but a *little* bit different, you are out of luck. However, it is a psychologically chilling look at trauma and is certainly worth a watch.

Jurassic World: Dominion

Rating 12
Length 2h27
Release 26.4.2012
Director Colin Trevorrow
About From Jurassic World architect and director Colin Trevorrow, Dominion takes place four years after Isla Nublar has been destroyed. Dinosaurs now live – and hunt – alongside humans all over the world. This fragile balance will reshape the future and determine, once and for all, whether human beings are to remain the apex predators on a planet they now share with history’s most fearsome creatures
Moon: no moon sighting
Where to Watch: Not telling you, I’m saving you. Trust me.
Trailer:

The Good

  • We get the original trio back to massage our nostalgia. Not only that, they play a massive part in the story.
    Yup, that’s it. That’s all I’ve got for you.

The Bad

  • It’s bloated. Not only in terms of length, but characters. Too many brought in just for lip service. While it was nice to see them, it came at the expense of a quality film. Wu, ever shit upon as a character, is pulled off the board early in the proceedings to have him ushered back on just when everyone had forgotten about him.
  • The dilophosaurus. From iconic, to hammy. Again, the problem is over use. Boba Fett was a fan favourite because he was teased, he was shrouded in mystery and left the audience wanting more. The key being wanting more. Second Lucas gave a backstory in the prequels, the illusion was broken.
    Same here. That one film deal was, chef’s kiss, perfect. All that was done with this incarnation was prove that it’s a one trick pony.

The Ugly

  • While some of the action sequences are amazing, the overall feel is that they’re more important than the plot.
  • The plot itself, for me, was appalling. Firstly we have the retcon of Maisie, Charlotte and Lockwood. The ease in which they do this is infuriating. Yes, this version works better for the ‘faulty DNA’ plot, however it requires a complete 180 turn of Dr Wu’s character.
  • How on earth do you waste such a blank slate that Fallen Kingdom offered?! Instead of exploring mankind co-existing with dinosaurs, this film gives us the exact same set up of the first and forth in the franchise.
  • Too many nods and winks to the original. From having Ellie set the breakers, to Malcolm’s act of heroism… maybe one or two would have worked, but directing an Oscar winning actress to take her sunglasses off the exact same way she did almost three decades earlier?! Trevorrow, you’re trying too hard.

Hellraiser (2022) Halloween Advent 2022

Rating 18
Length 2h01
Release 28.09.2022
Director David Bruckner
About A young woman must confront the sadistic, supernatural forces behind an enigmatic puzzle box responsible for her brother’s disappearance.
Moon: no moon sighting
Where to Watch: Hulu
Trailer:

Trick

  • Well, they removed all the Britishness from it. I’m bummed about this because Clive Barker is a Scouser and also wrote Candyman. We have a growing film industry here in Liverpool so I would have loved to have seen it being filmed/set here. At least with Candyman there is a rational and the story is utilised in a way that the environment comes into play.
    This, it could literally be anywhere.
  • It takes a tad too long before we see any of the Cenobites. I think it is a good haldway through. Which would work if it was a new film and we’d not seen the designs. We had, the suspense didn’t work.

Treat

  • The Cenobites here have a much more organic look to them. Gone is the BDSM latex and they’ve passed on the chains to Mr Grey. Now they’re sporting a more steampunk look and flayed designs.
    Now, I’m not saying the original was bad, but this is bad ass!
  • The film is not about fan favourites and call backs. Yes, it takes what works from the original concept, but this is it’s own realisation. There’s a much more cohesive story, a clear protagonist and no questionable motivation to kill for a cause.
    It’s cleaner and it’s a solid foundation for any sequels to be built should this be a success.

Final Thoughts

A vast improvement in that I wasn’t feeling physically sick and I certainly like that it wasn’t a reboot, but a reimagining.

Mr Harrigan’s Phone (2022) Halloween Advent 2022

Rating 12
Length 1h44
Release 05/10/2022
Director John Lee Hancock
About Craig, a young boy, befriends the elderly billionaire John Harrigan. Craig then gives him a mobile phone. However, when the man dies, Craig discovers that he can communicate with his friend from the grave.
Moon: no moon sighting
Where to Watch: Netflix
Trailer:

Trick

  • Since when did the early noughts become so far away that they can be done in flashback. I felt personally attacked at this retrospective narration like it was decades ag…. oh!
  • It’s a very slow burn. From the premise, I didn’t think we’d see much of Donald Sutherland. While there’s no complaints of having the legend on the screen, I do feel as if many audience members would have preferred more of the post-death phone mystery than the character build up.

Treat

  • It certainly tapped into my fears and nightmares. It is atmospheric and chilling, rather than an out and out horror.
  • Jaeden Martell makes not only a strong impression as a lead, but as an actor who is able to portray the character of Craig from teen years into the cusp of adulthood.
  • Donald Sutherland. While it was, I cannot deny, upsetting to see the man so frail, he gave an performance that chilled me to the core. As with many of Stephen King’s characters, there’s an element of ambiguity surrounding them. Mr Harrigan is no exception and Donald Sutherland is able to play the character to a tee.
  • Weirdly, the film gives me Stand by Me and Simon Birch vibes; something which warms the coldness of an October day.
  • Kirby Howell-Baptise is as on-form as ever in her role as the teacher, and mentor, to Craig. I’m actually only sad that while we seem to be getting her in everything at the moment, no one is recognising the talent and giving her a larger, leading, role.

Final Thoughts

All in all a very well made fill, but due to a number of scenes that caused me to recall my own father’s passing I didn’t enjoy it as much as I wanted to.