*NEW* ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY REVIEW *NEW*

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Good film this is.

BUT cut pace they should.

Right, enough of that! In a nutshell, the Rebel Alliance makes a risky move to steal the plans for the Death Star, setting up the epic saga to follow.

If I could post a sound clip of that shrill Death Star siren for my spoiler warning, I would BUT I can’t . . .

So heads up, I may mention plot points.

When I heard that Gareth Edwards was at the helm, I had mixed feelings to say the least.

Monsters and Godzilla delivered on the special effects, creatures and set pieces but on characters and story . . .

Let’s just say Godzilla was in my worst films of 2014 (https://youtheman77.wordpress.com/2014/05/21/godzilla-review-2/)

I enjoyed The Force Awakens BUT felt the whole final act was one big retread of A New Hope(https://youtheman77.wordpress.com/2016/01/10/new-star-wars-th…akens-review-new/)

None the less, I was still excited for another Star Wars flick (Lucky because we’re going to be getting a whole lot more).

I sat down awaiting the infamous and iconic opening theme music. Ready for the credits to deliver those tiny chunks of back story that scroll up into the ceiling.

However, NOT THIS TIME! I know, whaaattt? Edwards got straight to business. No messing about.

The only problem was that it was all a little bit slow . . .

I found myself a little fidgety as we followed another rebel origin story. It felt like it was going through the motions. Loss of loved ones. Tough upbringing. Believe in the force. Been there done that. Got 7 movies now.

It didn’t help that I just wasn’t emotionally caught up in Jyn (Felicity Jones) and Galen’s (Madd Mikkelsen) relationship. A shame considering the two leads involved.

I mean, come on. Even Attack of the Clones left me with a little lump in my throat when Anakin finally reunited with his mother.

Edwards and co certainly delivered on the effects and the creatures.

It flicked about from one wonderfully shot planet to the next as our rag team bunch of dysfunctional rogues were introduced and inevitably united. And what a supporting cast?!

BUT as well as new faces, we had a new (and annoyingly quotable) phrase: “I am one with the Force; The Force is with me”

I’m sure you’ve seen that mantra all over the Twitterverse. I could have done a drinking game with the amount of times that quote was uttered.

All thanks to Donnie Yen’s blind Kung Fu fighting kick ass Jedi, Chirrut Imwe. A legend in the making. I will say no more.

Riz Ahmed has come a long way from Four Lions and was very good as the defected Imperial pilot Bodhi Rook (What a name!).

BUT there was another character that just stole the spotlight for me. No, not Felicity!

Alan Tudyk delivers his vocal gravitas to yet another memorable robot (Another? Sonny from I, Robot? No?).

I don’t know what it is with Star Wars movies BUT they always have a knack for making scene stealing robots.

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K-2SO was brilliant as the re-programmed Imperial droid. Every time the pace (tragically) lagged, this long-lost relative of The Iron Giant would stumble in with some quick-witted one liners and sarcastic jibes. C-3P Who?

Ben Mendelsohn (Mississippi Grind) wasn’t as strong or as memorable a villain as I’d hoped. Shame. BUT he was always going to play second fiddle when the darkest intergalactic duo in cinematic history were involved.

Oh yes, Grand Moff Tarkin and Darth are back!

Cudos to the visual effects team. A CGI’d Peter Cushing drew more chills than anything Mendelsohn’s Krennic could muster. The CGI was a little cartoony BUT what do you expect when bringing back an actor that has long passed? If anything, it made him even creepier.

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And as soon as that rift blared out of the speaker, goosebumps were on the back of my neck. Darth Vader proved in his minute and savage cameo why he is still one of the most iconic super villains going.

If it wasn’t for all the little nods and cameos that popped up in this, I don’t think I would have quite enjoyed Rogue One as much. It tried to stand on its own two feet BUT the story was still the same old guff.

BUT the last 30 minutes, however, had me in awe. It was racy, riveting, action packed and delivered a fitting finale that led perfectly to the next chapter.

It certainly pushed the 12A marker with its darker undertone. BUT SW films have never been afraid to take risks with characters (Jar Jar Binks, no! I’m kidding).

Felicity Jones played a solid heroine BUT I felt her character got lost in the mix. There was almost too much going on with the Scarif beach battle that I actually forgot what Jyn and Cassian (Diego Luna – The Book of Life) were up to.

Luna and Jones worked well together. I just wish there was more of that relationship between the two.

Forest Whitaker’s strange performance as Saw Guerrera left question marks. I mean what did he actually do? Seriously. We didn’t see anything. And for those who have seen Rogue; what was he inhaling in that mask?

It’s always tough to follow on from such an iconic trilogy (*COUGH* Ep IV, V, VI *COUGH* Obviously. Just making sure) BUT Rogue One does enough to stand out in this ever-growing series.

The final act was fantastic and delivered that emotional punch I was looking for and I have to say I enjoyed it just a tad more than The Force Awakens.

A little long at the tooth BUT the force is still very strong with this latest adventure.

3.5/5

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*NEW* INFERNO REVIEW *NEW*

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If The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons was just the beginning, this latest offering will hopefully be the last.

When Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) wakes up in an Italian hospital with amnesia, he teams up with Dr. Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones), and together they must race across Europe against the clock to foil a deadly global plot.

Burn baby burn. Reviewing Inferno. Burn baby burn. Moving on . . .

Funny enough, Inferno was the one book out of the Dan Brown series that I hadn’t read. After watching this, I don’t think I’m going to bother. BUT credit where its due, despite the lengthy running time, it was actually very watchable.

The opening 30 minutes had the mad page turning energy and intrigue of the novels as Langdon battled to fight his short term amnesia. The questions piling up. Those demented visions with feet in the ground and peoples’ heads twisted around. It was like something out of The Exorcist!

Apocalyptic. No, not a glimpse of Trump’s America (That’s as close as you’re going to get with satire with me).

What does Ben Foster have to do to get a good part? The minute role of the maniacal billionaire Betrand Zobrist didn’t do him justice. He delivered a memorable turn but after his stellar performance in Hell or High Water, I expected more. Anyone could have played him.

Zobrist’s theorizing on the overpopulation of the Earth was daunting stuff. Disillusioned and scared of the alarming rates of the ever-growing human race, the pragmatist takes matters into his own hands to find a cure. A plague.

Hanks always delivers and he certainly rocked the best hair do out of the trilogy. I just wish that momentum could have stuck. He does his darndest to make the history guff sound interesting BUT after 15 minutes of Dante the poet; I would have happily bribed this tour guide to shut the front door.

The lovely Felicity Jones (Soon to appear in the heavily anticipated and advertised Star Wars: Rogue One) was very good as Brooks. The doctor caught up in Langdon’s conspiracy. I thought she worked well with Hanks and they made a good little duo.

Salvatore Totino’s cinematography was divine in its own right. Capturing the picturesque Italian backdrops in all their glory. Florence has never looked so breathtaking.

The chase sequences were exhilarating (To begin with). Aided with another riveting Hans ‘Gladiator’ Zimmer score. BUT the sequences soon became repetitive and boring. A bit like the second half of the film, I’m afraid.

The anagram jumbling and endless history facts gave me a bigger headache than Langdon’s gun shot wound.

There was a couple of twists along the way which did surprise me but the path those twists took didn’t quite head in the direction I’d hoped for. If anything it made things even more far fetched. The self-explanatory flashbacks really didn’t help matters!

The drawn out finale put me into a mini coma. It went to ridiculous lengths to bring all these secondary characters to the fold (That weren’t that relevant or interesting) leaving Langdon and Brooks completely lost in the mix!

Sidse Babett Knudsen’s (Westwood) role was completely unnecessary by the closing minutes. Nothing more than a red herring. Irrfan Khan’s (Jurassic World) allusive Harry Sims had potential BUT it honestly felt like his character was in the wrong movie altogether.

Omar Sy (The Intouchables) was terrible. His acting and delivery was laughable. It didn’t help that his character was equally as weak and dull. Ana Ularu’s (Outbound) motorbike copper assassin was dreadfully bland. After I realized that she wasn’t the actress that played Tonks from the Harry Potter movies, she soon bored me.

In terms of ranking the film series, this has to be the weakest entry for me. Angels & Demons being the best. (If you’re wondering about my view on the books – The Da Vinci Code all the way!)

It started so well with a mad cryptic opening and some exhilarating chase sequences across some beautiful shot locations BUT the pace and story line soon dragged, ending with a mere whimper.

It killed the time BUT this might split the fans right down the middle. Shame.

2.5/5

STILL ALICE REVIEW

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Julianne Moore’s still got it!

A stand out performance from a talented actress.

A linguistics professor (Julianne Moore) and her family find their bonds tested when she is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. I knew it would have to take something special to stop Pike or Jones taking the gold.

A heartrending, emotional drama on a disease that really needs looking at. I know Moore’s Oscar win caused a little stir back in the UK. That was mainly because it hadn’t been released at the time!

BUT here we are at last . . . and it’s good.

Directors Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland allow for a slow burning piece as we join Alice celebrating her 50th birthday. It wasn’t long before you noticed her making little mistakes; answering the wrong question, forgetting words, etc.

At first glance, minor quibbles. Who hasn’t been guilty of mixing up the odd word or forgetting their train of thought? Innocently playing it down to age, Alice continues her work and enjoying time with her family.

There was a tense atmosphere around the film as the impending diagnosis lingered around the corner. Alice soon forgets where she is, people’s names, notes on her presentations. And the initial diagnosis came short and sharp.

Moore was perfect for the role and you really felt for Alice as she did everything she could to fight this challenging disease.

The range of emotions that she encapsulated were brilliant. Going from defiant to angry, confused to sad in a matter of a few frames. I couldn’t possibly imagine what that would feel like.

Alice was diagnosed with an incredibly rare stand of Alzheimers (I wasn’t even aware that were a variety of types). Her mental condition soon deteriorates much faster than she was prepared for. Or even ready to accept.

The original questions that Alice had to answer to test for Alzheimers threw me off. Something as simple as being told to remember a name and an address and being asked later about the details after a conversation was crazy.

The memory tests that Alice gave herself were quite interesting to watch. Writing three words on a chalkboard. Putting a timer on. And going back to write said words felt like a little game. I was trying to remember them as the family drama unfolded.

There was a talented cast involved in the family dynamic; Alec Baldwin, Kate Bosworth and Kristen Stewart.

Their reactions to Alice’s diagnosis and inevitable deterioration were unexpected. The discovery that the condition can be passed on to your offspring was a daunting prospect. The probability of one of Alice’s children carrying the gene being incredibly high.

Kristen Stewart, where has she been? Still donning the tom boy look and mumbling away. Her performance perfectly suited the role of Alice’s younger daughter. She worked well with Moore and you really felt for their relationship.

Despite all that’s going on for Alice, she was still concerned for her daughter’s carefree attitude and refusal to accept her failing acting career. Mothers never stop caring. No matter what.

Kate Bosworth was good as her snobby older daughter. An early revelation certainly spiked the tension BUT as the film progressed, her character seemed to disappear into the background.

Alec Baldwin didn’t seem to be in this as much as I thought. Obviously, the film was always going to be revolved around Alice BUT his constant disappearing act was a little irritating. Thankfully, there was a reason for this, which led to sombre viewing.

Despite a stellar performance on a serious condition and for all the hype, the film left me wanting.

I don’t think it helped that the ending was quite odd. I could see what the writers were trying to do BUT it came off a little abrupt and long at the tooth with Kristen Stewart mumbling away about looking down from the sky to her bemused mother.

It just seemed a little pretentious and fizzled out what had been an engaging story of one woman’s struggle.

It was still heartbreaking, dramatic and tough to watch. A scene involving a video message from a recently diagnosed Alice to an ailing ageing Alice certainly hit home.

Alzheimer’s Disease still needs to be looked into and I’m glad that films like these are getting made. The only other film that I could recall was the underrated Away From Her with Julie Christie.

This could happen to anyone. Worth a watch.

3/5

As a little side note for any Walking Dead fans; Seth Gilliam played yet another pointless role. Yes! Even more useless than Father Gabriel Stokes. I know. I didn’t think it was possible.

*OSCAR WINNER* THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING REVIEW

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It really did have a bit of everything. Phenomenal acting, heartfelt drama and an inspiring true story.

Can I pick fault at the Oscar winning of one of the most intelligent and courageous physicists in the world?

There’s only one way to find out.

No, I can’t. Brilliant.

It’s hard to rant about a film when it was executed so perfectly. Finally a good film!

Eddie Redmayne was outstanding. It didn’t feel like I was watching an actor doing an impression. I felt like I was watching Hawking.

He delivered sincerity and charm to the role with aplomb. A charismatic performance that deservedly earned that shiny Oscar.

The opening zips along and is relatively easy going with Stephen and Jane (Felicity Jones) first meeting and inevitably falling in love.

It’s a little schmaltzy if I’m being really picky but the pair have fantastic chemistry to make it more than bearable.

It is heartbreaking as we see a chipper lovestruck Hawking focusing on his studies. Completely unaware of what lurks around the corner.

Director James Marsh and writer Anthony McCarten handle the story delicately.

We see Stephen begin to stumble, clumsily drop things and struggle to write little bits of equations. That is until one little accident . . .

All it took was one trip on the pavement. It happened quite unexpectedly. A few people actually jumped in the screen.

This soon becomes something so much more. As does this story.

Hawking soon has to deal with being diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (ALS). An initial diagnosis that only gave him a life span of two years.

I couldn’t even imagine what it must have felt like and still feel for the man.

I won’t delve too much into the story because I want you guys to see this one.

What was interesting about The Theory of Everything is that it’s not just Stephen’s story. It’s also Jane’s story.

Both not fully prepared with what this diagnosis would do. The challenge it would become. The toll it would take.

Felicity Jones (Cemetery Junction/Chalet Girl) gave a fantastic performance as Jane and certainly earned that nomination. I expect to see more of her in the foreseeable future.

Doing everything she can for the man she loves and marrying him so they can enjoy whatever time they have left.

Heartbreaking, beautiful and inspiring.

If you are expecting more of the science stuff. Science stuff? Only the creation of the entire universe.

The film doesn’t really bog down too much on that aspect. It focuses very much on the people behind the science.

You could argue that a biopic always wins BIG. And just because it is a biopic, people will say it’s good and deserves an Oscar.

Not so! There’s a whole schedule of them on True Movies that will prove that theory wrong.

All it takes is a bad script, bad actor or bad execution and the biopic (No matter how inspiring or interesting it is) is ruined.

Luckily, there is never a doubt.

Hawking continues to miraculously defy his diagnosis BUT the condition take its toll NOT just on the man.

As well as seeing Hawking’s daily struggle, we also see Jane’s. By looking at how both Stephen and Jane are affected, we have a more rounded story.

Both aren’t painted perfectly in this tale.

It is tough to watch at times and you can feel for the pair. Jane made a sacrifice not completely aware of its full extent.

Redmayne really captures the expressions and movements intricately.

There is quite a bit of humour. Most notably being when Stephen is finally given a voice after losing his own. And the voice, we all know, being American. “Is that a problem?”, mutters the naive technician. A little grin flickers across the professor’s face.

Come on. Be honest. How many people thought he was American? No, just me. Oops.

I didn’t realise what Hawking had to endure. The constant battle with his body as it continues to shut down.

Things take an even more dramatic turn when Jane starts having feelings for another man.

The introduction of Jonathan (Charlie Cox) was an interesting development and was handled delicately.

It hits home a little harder when Stephen asks Jonathan to keep helping around the house because his wife needs him.

Charlie Cox (Boardwalk Empire) was very good. He had great chemistry with Jones and worked well with Redmayne.

The dynamic certainly sparked questions on Jane’s behaviour but at the same time you could relate and understand.

Even Professor Hawking seemed to be getting very close to his speech therapist (Maxine Peake).

The toll really starting to take a hold.

The cast cannot be faltered. Even the supporting cast was superb consisting of the likes of David Thewlis, Emily Watson, Harry Lloyd (Viserys Targaryen from Game of Thrones!) and Simon McBurney (The Vicar of Dibley).

It really is an inspiring story of one mans struggle to defy the odds. But no one can do it alone. Jane’s support and dedication is something to be commemorated.

The final moments were touching. An uplifting, easygoing and wonderful acted biopic. A little cheesy BUT it really did have a bit of everything.

One of the best films, if NOT the best film, of the year. SO FAR.

4/5

THE AMAZING SPIDERMAN 2 REVIEW

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The-Not-So-Amazing-And-Incredibly-Corny-Spiderman.

Stunning special effects and 3D trickery does not a good movie make.

Certainly made it watchable BUT with a gushy teen romance subplot dominating an overlong screen time, villains that hardly threatened or entertained and a plot that was nothing more than build up for another inevitable installment, you can’t help but question why they bothered rebooting it in the first place?

Now, I loved the Sam Raimi trilogy (well Spiderman 3 was watchable. Seen a lot worse. Let’s not forget Joel Schumacher’s Batman and Robin, guys).

Tobey Maguire was an excellent Peter Parker (although he has been subject to some hilarious memes for his infamous face pulling).

When I heard there was going to be a reboot, I was baffled. Why? No need. Just carry on from Raimi and replace the cast if they want to leave. However, Marc Webb’s first installment was actually quite good. For an origin story, it did something that quite a few comic book adaptations don’t and that’s go back to the source material.

Andrew Garfield was a very likeable lead and a cooler, more laid back version of Maguire’s Parker. For its two hour-odd length, I could have happily watched more. My only qualm was that the villain was a little naff and the story was rushed. BUT I wanted to see more. And here we are . . .

An exhilarating (if mental) opener delving into Peter’s parents “accident”, and Spidey dealing with a crime spree, delivered high hopes. Cheesy, watchable and entertaining. BUT that soon spiralled into mediocrity.

Garfield and Stone had great chemistry and were a likeable couple in the first part. Inevitably their chemistry turned out to be more and they’re a real life couple. However, this time, the teen angst and will-they-won’t-they?-back story felt repetitive, tedious and incredibly cheesy. The sort of syrupy stuff you’d expect to see in a Twilight movie.

The way the movie was promoted, I expected something bigger, darker, badder. Bigger? Certainly. Darker? Hardly. The pair do their best and the chemistry was still very much on. BUT it felt because of the teen gossip, Webb allowed a little too much time on them. I mean we had all that will-they-won’t-they? stuff in the Raimi trilogy with Dunst and Maguire. Been there done that.

This was supposed to be a reboot. Doing something different. I know Parker’s torn loyalty between the woman he loves and saving the city was always going to be at the forefront. BUT it felt slapped together. Even the uneasy tension between Parker and Stacey’s dad (Dennis Leary) went nowhere. He just kept popping up, grimacing menacingly.

The visual effects, the set pieces and 3D were fantastic with bits flying out (steady now) all over the place. The camera work as Spidey swung around the New York cityscape was fantastic. However when some of the bigger battles commenced, the CGI got a little much and cartoony in places.

Webb reduced Peter and Aunt May’s relationship to nothing. A shame considering he had Sally Field in the role. Anyone could have played her.

The lovely Felicity Jones (Chalet Girl/Cemetery Junction) was reduced to playing a stocky, generic secretary. The same can be said for Colm Feore (The Borgias/The Chronicles of Riddick). He made more of an impression BUT a nothingy role nonetheless.

The villains, on the other hand, in the words of George Takei, “OH MY!!”

Jamie Foxx did his best with the material. His nerdy counterpart Max Dillon was incredibly weird. If anything he reminded me of Jim Carrey’s Edward Nygma from Batman Forever. His obsession with Spiderman, after a brief life saving encounter, bordered on creepyville.

However, once he transformed into Electro  (Fantastic visuals by the way), he got better. But memorable? The best villain in Spiderman history? Hardly. He came off more like a demented electrolysed Mr Freeze with a sore throat.

Don’t get me wrong. The fight sequences were decent BUT the dialogue and exchanges left little to be desired.

Marton Csokas’ evil scientist came off more like a pantomine villain. Paul Giamatti? What the hell? Legend that he is. His part was incredibly irritating and OTT. A change from his usual roles but really? The money must have been good.

Fair play to Webb for reworking the Osbourns. BUT Chris Cooper was reduced to a passing cameo as Norman. I know we had the talented Willem Dafoe BUT I would have been happy to see his portrayal. At least the origin of the Green Goblin was different.

Dane DeHaan (Chronicle/Kill Your Darlings) wasn’t a bad Harry. He looked shady enough with his slimy grin and slick back hair. BUT even ol’ squinty eyed Franco did a more menacing job. Plus the Green Goblin? Really? Again? I suppose he was one of Spidey’s biggest adversaries.

My main problem was that Spiderman was rebooted for its silly, OTT, ridiculous third installment. BUT this very film did the exact same thing. Bar a redeeming closing act.

I’m fed up of films building up for another one. The film I’m watching should make me want to watch the next one.

Garfield was still a likeable Spiderman that delivered some cheeky one liners. BUT the quick-witted banter was very hit and miss. It was all a little tame (Spiderman light) until the finale. An unexpected twist gave me hope. But it wasn’t enough.

I fear this franchise is heading for Schumacher territory. This ship needs moving into Nolan/Raimi waters or I fear it will sink. Get some better baddies and this reboot might just prove it’s worth.

At its best, watchable guff with some decent visual set pieces. At its worst, overlong, schmaltzy and all done before and much better. This Spidey fan is reaching for his bug spray.

2.5 out of 5!