*NEW* WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES REVIEW *NEW*

The best one of the bunch?

Let’s ask our pal Caesar . . .

Not quite. BUT a decent effort all the same.

After the apes suffer unimaginable losses, Caesar (Andy Serkis) wrestles with his darker instincts and begins his own mythic quest to avenge his kind.

I remember my reaction when I heard that the Planet of the Apes franchise was being rebooted/remade (again). It was very similar to ol’ Caesar’s.

However, Rise of the Planet of the Apes was a welcome addition. I was completely surprised and engrossed. Completely caught up in the origin story of the super intelligent ape.

BUT Dawn of the Apes on the other hand . . . NOT so much. A complete misfire. Bar Caesar’s fractious relationship with the ultra-violent Koba, I felt the sequel was hampered by poor pacing and a flimsy plot line.

Needless to say, I was a little anxious on watching War. Wondering if it would suffer the same flaws and ruin what could have been an impressive trilogy. Luckily, I’m not saying that today.

A visual masterpiece.

Andy Serkis was fantastic. How the hell that man hasn’t received an award for all the work he’s done surprises me (I mean, come on. Gollum, Kong and now Caesar!).

It takes a lot more than wearing a green leotard and making monkey noises to bring life to these creatures.

The movements, the expressions. I know it’s CGI BUT for two to three hours, you could almost believe they were real. The effects were impeccable. The detail. They deserve an Oscar nod for that alone.

The first person PoV perspective as Caesar makes his introduction was brilliant. All his various monkey brethren bowing down and raising their hands in respect to their leader.

The slow burning pace actually worked for the (majority of the) film and allowed the characters to develop quite nicely as Caesar fought against the advancing troops. Desperate not to cause a war. Only wanting to exist in peace.

BUT of course, the humans have another plan in mind. There were a few twists and turns I didn’t expect as Caesar seeks vengeance.

However, his clan won’t let him go it alone. And what a bunch of characters. Or should I say monkeys? Maurice the orangutan. Caesar’s overbearing conscience and protector. Forever keeping the angry ape in check.

There was such a great dynamic between the group. I loved how the conversations flicked back and forth from sign language to talking.

With Caesar as the only ape that can speak. Or so he thought . . .

Steve Zahn, take a bow! Sorry, Mr Serkis BUT there was one little chap that nearly stole the show and that was Bad Ape.

It was at the 90 minute marker that I could feel my patience wading BUT once Bad Ape made his introduction. I was back in the mix.

A loner chimp that escaped one of the compounds during the start of the outbreak. Picking up words in order to survive.

A much needed comic relief to the sombre affair as he struggles to understand why Caesar would want to face the Colonel.

I could easily watch a Maurice/Bad Ape spin-off. Those two were a fantastic duo.

Things took a more interesting turn when Caesar and co stumbled across a mute girl named Nova (Amiah Miller). Flagging up all sorts of questions; why can’t she speak? A side effect of the virus? Will Caesar show mercy?

And what a game changing performance from Woody Harrelson. I wasn’t sure if the Cheers star would be able to pull it off BUT once Caesar and The Colonel come face to face, I was on tenterhooks.

There was a striking contrast that developed between these two stubborn leaders as they fought for their kind. Both suffering losses.

BUT the Colonel (or Colonel Kurtz as I call him) was a man truly on the verge. Deluded in his own mission for finding the cure by wiping out all the apes.

The action set pieces were exhilarating to watch. I just wish the length could have been cut by 30 minutes. The elongated Great Escape style compound sequence was too drawn out for my liking.

There was only so much of Caesar wallowing in self-loathing that I could take.

Don’t get me wrong, it set up a fiery finale BUT after all the build up, it all ended a bit flat. Almost abruptly.

It was a fitting one BUT I still had questions that were hinted in the other efforts. For those who have seen it, I will impose my SPOILERIFIC question further down.

I don’t think it goes without saying that you might need to watch Rise and Dawn to appreciate the little nods.

BUT in all fairness, my mate got the gist and he chose to watch this one without seeing the others. So take your pick.

It may have fell short of Rise BUT this was still a riveting visual masterstroke with some stellar turns. One of the better ones.

3.5/5

I was just glad that I fought the urge not to sing this little gem.

 

NOW *POSSIBLE SPOILERS* After Rise introduced the Liberty 1 expedition (Well, Icarus 1 – a reference to Heston’s spaceship in the original Planet of the Apes), will that still fit into this story line? Is there going to be another one? The girl was called Nova. A hint, maybe?

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*NEW* BEAUTY AND THE BEAST REVIEW *NEW*

And the remakes keep on coming . . .

BUT if they can keep up this standard then be my guest (I couldn’t resist).

An adaptation of the fairy tale about a monstrous-looking prince (Dan Stevens) and a young woman (Emma Watson) who fall in love.

After complaining for the last five years about reboots and remakes, I was livid that even Disney were revisiting their backlog. I mean is that hard to find original stories? If you are going to remake movies, can you at least tackle the bad ones? Leave the classics alone!

However, I was pleasantly surprised with Kenneth Branagh’s rendition of Cinderella. The less we say about the Alice in Wonderland movies, the better. While The Jungle Book fell short of the classic by a country mile.

So my feelings about watching the new Beauty and the Beast were mixed, to say the least. Especially when I discovered that there was an extra 45 minutes on the running length to the 1991 animated hit!

BUT after all my griping, I finally gave it a go and you know what? It wasn’t too bad at all.

The opening surprised me from the get go. Expanding on the origin story of the curse. The overture fell a little flat but the lavish set designs, costumes and Tobias A. Schliessler’s beautiful cinematography took my attention away from that bum note.

The Belle sequence was literally a shot for shot live action re-enactment. Emma Watson was the physical embodiment of Belle. Her singing wasn’t the strongest but a lovely voice all the same.

Luke Evans and Josh Gad were fantastic. Evans played Gaston with aplomb. He was Gaston, nailing the shallow womanizer perfectly.

Who better than Olaf from Frozen to take on Gaston’s long suffering, and incredibly flamboyant, partner in crime LeFou. Gad was equally as entertaining. Prancing and pouting about the place.

The controversy about the gay subtext was misplaced. If there was one, I didn’t notice and it didn’t ruin the story in any capacity.

Belle was always a strong feminist character that wanted more from the world and her role. Her confrontation with a villager over teaching a young girl to read was a little heavy handed.

I was disappointed with Kevin Kline’s performance as Maurice. He was far too deadpan for the role. Belle’s father was always the quirky crackpot.

A shame considering you had the best man for the job. I mean, he was in A Fish Called Wanda?! He didn’t even have Rex Everhart’s delivery. Too stern and frail.

The pace kept things moving along and the film was easy-going and highly watchable.

From the trailers and teasers, I thought the effects on the Beast looked dreadful BUT once Belle entered that haunting Gothic castle, I was impressed.

The special effects and CGI were brilliant. The Beast actually looked quite good. Stevens did well and I could understand his gravelly voice. Not quite Lance Henriksen’s gravitas BUT he still delivered a sterling performance.

I think what helped (and had to) was that the pair had great chemistry. The extra running time fleshed out the pair’s blossoming romance and made it a little more believable that this stubborn and unloving beast would take some time to get over his hurt ego and learn to love again.

The supporting cast had tough acts to follow BUT what a cast?!

Ewan McGregor and Sir Ian McKellen played Lumiere and Cogsworth perfectly. They were a great duo and kept things entertaining.

Even if I couldn’t help but laugh at McGregor’s ‘Allo Allo accent. The Moulin Rouge maestro excelled with his rendition of Be Our Guest.

Stanley Tucci was wasted in his small role as Maestro Cadenza. While Emma Thompson was so-so for me as Mrs. Potts.

Her mockney accent grated against me in parts. She was always going to have a tough act following in Angela Lansbury’s footsteps. BUT as soon as Beauty and the Beast came on, and Belle strolled down those labyrinthine stairs for that infamous dance, it still worked a treat and Thompson excelled.

Composer Alan Menken thankfully kept the original soundtrack and added new entries.  The only problem was that they weren’t really that memorable. Days in the Sun wasn’t a bad song BUT the others have . . . already slipped my mind.

The story was still the same BUT the extra fleshing out wasn’t a bad approach. Especially when they played on the magic of the Rose and the flashback to Belle’s childhood. It was different. Just a shame that it led to the same old result BUT why stray away from a winning formula?

Thankfully, there was enough heart, charm and cheese to make this an entertaining affair that complimented the original Disney classic and just about stood on its own two feet.

3/5

*NEW* KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD REVIEW *NEW*

I don’t know what was worse; David Beckham’s cameo or the movie altogether.

Thy verdict is in and its all apples and pears, san.

Robbed of his birthright, Arthur (Charlie Hunnam) comes up the hard way in the back alleys of the city. But once he pulls the sword from the stone, he is forced to acknowledge his true legacy – whether he likes it or not.

The opening 20 minutes was better than I thought with Eric Bana (Troy) bossin’ it as Uther Pendragon. The murky Sherlock Holmes style backdrop may have put a dampener on things but there was action, sword fights and creatures with enough cheese to keep things entertaining.

Ritchie regular Jude Law did his best as the slimy Vortigern. BUT he spent the majority of the film sulking, pouting and pulling faces. His dialogue was bland bar one exchange with a tortured prisoner that delivered an unexpected ear gag.

What annoyed me the most was that Ritchie and co skimmed through the origin build up. Flash forwarding Arthur’s upbringing in a brothel with a quick montage of Sons of Anarchy’s Charlie Hunnam screaming and pounding on his well toned abs.

I wouldn’t have minded the build up as we might have had better connections with Arthur’s band of cockney geezers. I might have actually cared about them.

By the 30 minute marker, it felt like Ritchie had copped out and tried to work his Lock, Stock magic on the thing. An interrogation sequence with the King’s Guard tried to deliver that quick witted humour BUT it just didn’t work.

“Which Mick? Flat Nose Mick, East End Mick or Chinese Mick?” Really? Taking the mick, more like. I preferred the darker Game of Thrones undertone.

I know this wasn’t going to win plaudits for groundbreaking cinema. It was a blockbuster retelling the legend of Arthur BUT it was a bit of a hot mess.

Hunnam just about pulled off the charm offensive as Arthur BUT he came off as such a cocky tool.

I could understand his initial behaviour (at first) BUT he didn’t get any better and grew considerably more childish as the agonizing pace fumbled along.

The tone was was all over the gaff. Silly and laughable one second and relentlessly dark and brooding, the next. Failing to work on any level.

Now, don’t get me wrong. There were chunks that were highly watchable and there was fun to be had . . . in places. I loved the street chase sequence with the Rock ‘n’ Rolla style handicam perspective.

Some of the exchanges delivered the odd quip and drew a smile. BUT not as much as Golden Balls’ squeaky Sarge. His voice and laughable dialogue did nothing for him. Eric Cantona may have been bitten by the acting bug. BUT not everyone can make that transition. Sorry, Becks.

The female roles were terrible. I don’t know who Katie McGrath (Jurassic World) has upset in Hollywood BUT she always plays characters that never last. Annabelle Wallis (Peaky Blinkers) was weak. Anyone could have played her. If they needed her character altogether.

Astrid Berges-Frisby (Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides) was dreadful as The Mage. Her deadpan delivery and pasty faced complexion did nothing for the role. There was zero chemistry between her and Hunnam. The “friendly” banter was so awkward to watch that I was screaming for Merlin.

It didn’t help that the story (for all its “re-working”) went through the motions. The majority of the supporting cast were highly unmemorable.

NOT even Game of Thrones’ Little Finger (Aiden Gillen) could save the day. Utopia’s Neil Maskell was the only “knight” who made an impression.

The film picked up by the 75th minute marker and delivered an entertaining 30 minutes BUT I could still feel my eyes wandering to my phone as we waited for the (rushed) finale.

The mixed special effects delivered impressive visuals and disorienting mayhem. Especially when Arthur finally got to use Excalibur in all its horrifically CGI ‘d glory. Blasting knights left, right and centre in a horrendously dusky haze of carnage.

Arthur and Vortigen’s fight was disappointing after all the build up and endless dreams/flashbacks revisiting Arthur’s past.

Frustrating doesn’t come close. Ritchie kept skimming through the good bits and leaving us with the chaff. The Dark Island training montage had giant creatures; bats, snakes and god knows what else. Felt like an excerpt from a different movie. Why couldn’t we have more of that?

Watchable guff BUT nothing to shout home about. I actually preferred the Clive Owen re-working instead.

2.5/5

*NEW* ALIEN: COVENANT REVIEW *NEW*

Even in space, no one should see this dreadful Alien prequel.

The crew of a colony ship, bound for a remote planet, discover an uncharted paradise with a threat beyond their imagination, and must attempt a harrowing escape.

Sound familiar? It should.

For the love of God, Ridley Scott. Just stop.

I can respect the man and the writers for trying to expand the Alien universe and explore the mythology behind the xenomorphs but if this is the answer, then I think some mysteries were better left unsolved.

They should have learned from Prometheus. But for all its imperfections, I preferred that to this meandering mess.

For all its beauty, brooding score and captivating cinematography; beneath the surface there wasn’t much else.

Scott still can’t get over Cameron perfecting a classic. Alien set the bar high. No one knew how iconic that film would become. Without that slow burning sci-if thriller, there wouldn’t be the monster franchise that followed.

Aliens (for me) took things up a notch and actually delivered some character development and progression for the iconic sci-fi heroine Ellen Ripley.

I had to try and remember what happened in Prometheus (Watch out, spoilers): wasn’t David just a head? What happened to the girl with the dragon tattoo?

The fiery opener certainly piqued my interest. Especially when Fassbender returned as another android called Walter.

BUT after 30 minutes of Scott panning from one lavish set design to another. Picturesque frame by picturesque frame. I thought to myself: “When is this going to pick up?!”

The writers tried to make amends for Prometheus by creating more mystery and questions BUT it just didn’t work.

What’s the title of the film? What is it about? Where are the frickin’ aliens?!

Patience. The slow burning tension and existential debates boring me into a mini-coma.

We had Prometheus for all that. Give us something different. If anything, the questions Covenant tried to answer only made bigger plot holes that undermined the whole thing. Especially on the origin of the aliens altogether.

The special effects on the aliens were excellent and creepy as hell.

That was until they attacked. The stop motion movements and overindulgent CGI was disorienting to look at. The scuttling and wrestling looked so fake. Like something out of a dated Harryhausen flick.

The talented supporting cast were highly unmemorable.

Katherine Waterston (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) spent so much of the film moping and brooding.

By the time, she finally woke up; her character was nothing more than Ripley 2.0 (Yes, I know this is a prequel so she would actually be Ripley 1.0 BUT I digress).

She didn’t deliver a bad turn BUT the film was always going against her.

Danny “Kenny ducking Powers” McBride should have nailed the space trucker role BUT was heavily underused. Billy Crudup’s protagonist was so weak that I was screaming for a face hugger to dispose of him. Waste of an actor.

Speaking of wasted actors, Guy Pearce had the easiest job going. A completely needless role. Woeful.

I think there was only one reason why Prometheus got a follow up. And that was down to one man’s performance.

Michael Fassbender stole the show yet again. BUT despite a stellar turn, I found his efforts failing to reprieve this mind-numbing disaster.

It wasn’t all bad. It was watchable. Just very disappointing.

When Scott delivered the tension, I could feel myself wincing in dreaded anticipation. He delivered a demented introduction from the aliens with a gory entrance I didn’t see coming.

I still flinched and cringed (as did the audience) as we all knew where it was going when one crew member stumbled across a dormant egg.

The different alien hybrids were a nice touch and looked brilliant. BUT they didn’t go anywhere. A quick gory death to make up for mindless “Do androids dream of electric sheep? chit chat from Fassbender. Not good enough.

It went through the motions, relying on old formulas and retreading old ground that had been done before and much better. By Scott (ironically).

The actual alien screen time probably tallied up to 15/20 minutes. Out of a 2 hour movie? Come on!

The finale was dull, uninspired and a retread of Aliens with a much weaker and predictable twist. It built things up. Only to let me down.

I really hope there won’t be another. To think this prequel trilogy stemmed from a few Alien fans asking about the giant space jockey found on the Derelict (Yeah, I’m a fan. Could you tell?). I wish they hadn’t.

A movie of mere moments. Some finger biting tension here. One jumpy bit there. Some gory and inventive deaths does not a good movie make.

Would I rush to watch it again? (Maybe reassess and see if I missed anything the first time round?) NO.

Give me Alien, Aliens and hell even Alien 3 any day. But this?

Let this stop.

It needs to end.

2.5/5

*NEW* PASSENGERS REVIEW *NEW*

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One ride I didn’t expect to enjoy.

Two passengers are awakened 90 years early after a spaceship malfunction en route to a distant colony.

From all the negative press, I was bracing myself for something horrific. A loved up but incredibly naff Gravity rip-off.

Oh no! The opening act was completely different to what I had expected.

For the first 30 to 40 minutes, we had just Chris Pratt. Lost in space. 

After his stellar performance in Guardians of the Galaxy, I was worried that Pratt was becoming a one trick pony. Delivering his usual comedy shtick. BUT he delivered a much more serious turn.

A little slow burning BUT riveting as Jim wandered the vast and empty vessel. His confusion rapidly turning into hysteria as he realised he was the only one awake.

His only companion, a slick and highly entertaining robot bartender. And who better to play the role than Michael bloody Sheen?!

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Even if his attire reminded me of Lloyd from The Shining.

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Don’t worry, it’s not that type of movie. No murderous androids here. 

Sheen was sublime. His rapport with Pratt was brilliant. Desperately searching his bartending database to strike up conversation and offer advice.

As much as you felt for Jim’s frustration and isolation as he came to his wit’s end after a year (A year?!) of playing around with robots, virtual dancing, getting smashed and wondering around the endless hallways naked (Yeah, the ladies will love that), the pace was testing by the hour marker.

And that was the only real issue for me. Don’t worry, lads. We have J-Law in a space bikini (Whaaat?!)

Doomed to travel in space alone. Unable to break into the captain’s quarters after months of trying. Contemplating the end. Jim was truly a man on the verge.

That was until Katniss Aberdeen made her introduction.

Pratt and Lawrence were brilliant. They had fantastic chemistry and were a great duo. Crucial when the film revolves primarily on just two people.

The special effects were pretty impressive as the pair orbited the ship in anti-gravitational body suits, admiring the interstellar landscape. The inevitable sparks flying as the couple inevitably fell for each other.

However, all was not as it seemed. The reasons behind Aurora’s (The lovely Jennifer Lawrence) pod failure made things a little more intriguing and certainly changed the dynamic of the film.

Without spoiling too much, it pondered a surprisingly moral argument. Especially when Aurora discovered the truth. BUT it was never going to be that type of movie either.

Thankfully, the ship’s increasing power surges soon created more noticeable issues than just some robots going haywire and broke the schmaltzy hokum as the pair had only a matter of time to save the ship and its comatose inhabitants from impending doom in the form of a dying star. Yikes.

Pratt and Lawrence’s chemistry smoothed over some of the rougher edges of the film. Most notably, the giant plot holes; if an asteroid belt did that much damage to the ship, why was only one pod disturbed?

Some of you might even laugh at the convenient arrival of Laurence Fishburne’s character (The Matrix) as the sh*t finally hit the fan; “We can’t get through these doors without clearance!” Guess who has and knows exactly what to do? Come on .  . . 

I actually didn’t mind Passengers. The explosions and set pieces did overindulge with the CGI too much by the end with everything getting a little too cartoony for my liking.

The frantic (Though highly watchable) finale tragically ended on such a flat and corny note that it spoiled things a bit. BUT it was better than I expected.

A slow burning romantic sci-fi drama. Just take it with a pinch of salt.

If you’re expecting a hard-hitting thought-provoking sci-fi flick, go watch Arrival. If you want a big, dumb Hollywood sci-fi love story, then give it a go. It ain’t that bad.

3/5 (Just)

*NEW* HACKSAW RIDGE REVIEW *NEW*

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Brutal, gripping, hard hitting.

The true story of WWII American Army Medic Desmond T. Doss (Andrew Garfield), who served during the Battle of Okinawa, refused to kill people, and became the first man in American history to receive the Medal of Honor without firing a shot.

I was a little worried at first that Garfield was going to come off as a bumbling Forrest Gump with his bashful demeanour and Southern accent BUT he delivered enough charm and charisma to win me over. A strong performance.

The first 40-odd minutes was corny but easy going enough as we followed Desmond through his childhood years right up to his enrollment.

A good portion of that time was spent on wooing the local nurse Dorothy (Teresa Palmer – Lights Out). It may have been a little schmaltzy BUT the pair had good chemistry and I was happy to watch.

The flashbacks flicking back and forth into Desmond’s past broke up the cheesy romance as we discovered the reasons behind his refusal to carry a firearm.

It was great to see Hugo Weaving as Doss’ embittered drunken vet father. He played it with aplomb. A tormented man who had already “died” with his men in the Great War.

His survival nothing more than a curse. Punishing himself and his family. I was surprised at his reaction when he discovered that his two sons had enlisted.

The boot camp training montage was a little predictable. Especially when Doss had to compete with the macho hot head Smitty Ryker (Luke Bracey – Point Break).

BUT it still hit home as Desmond fought against the military hierarchy. Reserving his right to serve as a medic:

“No less danger, just . . . while everybody else is taking life, I’m going to be saving it. With the world so set on tearing itself apart, it doesn’t seem like such a bad thing to me to wanna put a little bit of it back together”.

I wasn’t sure whether Vince Vaughn would cut it as Sergeant Howell. I was hoping this role would be a change from his usual spiel.

BUT his Wedding Crashers style drill call and endless shouting was hit and miss. It was a little too OTT for my liking as he gave the privates nicknames. However, there were a couple of clever one liners.

BUT as Doss’ struggle worsened, Howell soon won me over as he realised the stubborn Virginian wasn’t going to back down. Fighting for his beliefs.

Sam Worthington (Avatar) was brilliant as the callous Captain Glover. Embarrassed to have a “conscientious objector” in his ranks. Ordering Howell to force the boy’s resignation.

Doss’ treatment was shocking. Beaten until he was black and blue by members of his own infantry. Pushed to the very edge. He was even denied a day pass to attend his own wedding. Unbelievable.

It went right up to a military tribunal and even during the first attack on Hacksaw, troops were still weary of the medic. The second half of the film was something to behold. A true act of honour and dedication.

I had no doubt on ol’ Blue Eyes taking the helm. We had already seen a return to form with his stellar turn in Blood Father and this latest entry from the Braveheart and We Were Soldiers director was a step in the right direction.

The violence was ridiculous. Gibson definitely didn’t hold back the punches. It was visceral, gory and bloody as hell. He really showed the true extent of what war can do to a soldier.

The only problem with all the CGI (especially with the flamethrower attacks) was that it came off like something out of Starship Troopers! And when Doss kicked that grenade like a football, I couldn’t help but tut. Hollywood had to put their stamp on it somewhere.

“Just give me one more”

I was on tenterhooks right up to the emotional and fitting tribute. As every one else had climbed back down off the ridge, Doss stayed to tend to the wounded.

Covering up the injured from the lurking Japanese. Evading capture and sniper fire. Discovering their hidden trenches.

Tense, gripping. I was completely transfixed as this young man, with no firearm, saved 70 soldiers who were already deemed lost by their superior officers.

He even tried to save several Japanese officers who didn’t quite make the journey back to the medical tent.

Despite a 139 minute running time, the pace didn’t test. Garfield impressed yet again, giving one of his best performances to date.

It was nail biting and enthralling. That final act when Glover apologizes to the crazy Virginian was heartbreaking.

The real life interviews and footage in the closing credits really brought it home.

A compelling drama as one man defied the odds and fought for what was right.

While not the greatest war film, Hacksaw is still worthy of your attention.

4/5

*NEW* THE SIEGE OF JADOTVILLE REVIEW *NEW*

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Gripping, shocking and a bloody good watch!

Irish Commandant Pat Quinlan (Jamie Dornan – Fifty Shades of Grey) leads a stand off with troops against French and Belgian Mercenaries in the Congo during the early 1960s.

How did this not get a better release? Well, at least this movie established one thing. Netflix are funding the right scripts.

Any one can film a true life event BUT that doesn’t mean that it’s going to be any good. Come on, we have the True Movies channel that says otherwise. There’s some real gems on there.

I was recommended this little war flick after my family were bored one evening and “borrowed” my Amazon Fire Stick. I’m glad they brought it to my attention.

It got straight to business throwing us right into the befuddling chaos with the Congo in dispute and heavy pressure from the USSR and USA forcing the UN to intervene.

UN ‘peacekeepers’ choosing Ireland as a neutral force to provide security to a dilapidated compound. Open for attack with only two exit points.

The first 30 minutes was slow burning BUT intriguing. We followed the backhanded deals between the UN Secretary General (Mikael Persbrandt) and Conor Cruise O’Brien (Mark Strong fetching a very bad wig).

The hypocrisy as the officials passed the buck. Ordering the clueless troops to protect important vantage points in a feeble bid to stop the ruthless and calculated Moise Tshombe (Danny Sapani).

It was good to see Sapani (Penny Dreadful) get a meatier role as the slimy general playing the officials off against each other.

Jamie Dornan was superb. At first, I wasn’t sure that his performance would be strong enough for the character BUT it worked.

A clever academic that can quote Rommel and Caesar with the drop of a hat BUT has never fought in a battle before. The troops just as unconvinced with their commandant as the audience.

I loved how SoJ didn’t mess about with the cliched build up that has tragically become the norm in war films of late.

We didn’t need a back story for every character. We cared for them and the situation that they had unwittingly stumbled upon. Soldiers merely following orders.

Outmanned, outgunned and out of time. I still couldn’t believe that this was a true story as the troops discovered their limited supplies, shoddy equipment and lack of coverage.

The tension as Quinlan encountered the French legionnaires in a rundown bar. Nail biting. Guillame Canet (Tell No One) was very good as the shady Rene Falques. A mercenary respectfully warning the Irishmen to stand down.

The verbal sparring as the pair shared a glass of Cognac was brilliant. Kevin Brodbin’s dialogue was fantastic; “Not many Frenchmen like German tacticians. It only took them two weeks to take over your entire country”.

150 vs. 15,000. It was a 13 Hours: Secret Soldiers of Benghazi set up without the agonizing pace. The odds growing against them as they endured wave after devastating wave.

Emmanuelle Seigner (The Diving Bell and The Butterfly) was wasted in her role as Madame LaFontagne. Her character nothing more than a plot device. Confirming Quinlan’s suspicions that Jadotville was a vital mining area for minerals and uranium.

The action was frantic, fast paced and enthralling. I was hooked. The CGI and effects were pretty impressive for a limited budget.

“What’s it like getting shot? I wouldn’t recommend it”. I didn’t expect the humour as the lads tried to make sense of it all. Fantastic.

The only thing I could mark the film down for was that there were only several faces other than Dornan and the equally brilliant Jason O’Mara (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D) that we actually stuck with. The rest were lost in the chaos.

BUT I was completely caught up in this. I wasn’t fidgeting or messing about on my phone. I was rooting for them from the get go.

I was even yelling at the legionnaires as they cheated at every obstacle. Faking a ceasefire to pick up the wounded and launch mortar attacks!

Mark Strong was excellent as O’Brien. Sitting on the sidelines and churning out all sorts of rubbish to Quinlan in desperation as the plan failed. Telling him to hold his ground. Despicable.

The finale was unbelievable and emotional as our heroes returned to an empty airfield. No one to welcome them home. Branded cowards in a battle they should never have had to fight.

It took 40 years for the ‘A’ Company to receive their medals of honour. Shocking. The credits and figures really hit home.

I cannot praise this film enough. Worthy of your time. This might even creep into my top war films list.

If you haven’t got Netflix, get it, steal it and watch this. If you have, why aren’t you watching it?

4/5