STAR TREK BEYOND 3D REVIEW

Star Trek be-yawwwnnneed.

The USS Enterprise crew explores the furthest reaches of uncharted space, where they encounter a new ruthless enemy (Ol’ Luther – I mean, Idris Elba) who puts them and everything the Federation stands for to the test.

I’m NOT the biggest Trekkie BUT I have really enjoyed the Abram reboots. Shaking up the cast, reworking the old story lines and tweaking the dynamic.

A breath of fresh air among the barrage of reboots, remakes and endless (and unnecessary) sequels. BUT it was always going to be a tough act to follow Into Darkness.

A new outing that didn’t rely on past plots. My confidence was restored when I discovered that Beyond was penned by an avid Trekkie (Simon ‘Shaun of the Dead’ Pegg!). A man who relished the dream role of playing Montgomery ‘Scotty’ Scott made famous by James Doohan.

BUT this time around, I felt this lacklustre sequel only just delivered a watchable actioner. From the director of Fast and Furious, I knew I could expect big explosions AND good set pieces.

BUT it was a case of either being too fast and furious with the action or drawn out and repetitious with barely any exploration of the characters. Even the laughs were few and far between.

The opening act didn’t really give me much hope with the crew acting as intermediaries between some silly CGI dog things. Yikes. It seemed to go through the motions with Pine’s Kirk going through yet another existential crisis as he questioned his purpose on the Enterprise.

Quinto’s Spock received some grave news which made the normally unfeeling extraterrestrial contemplate life and death. I just wished it wasn’t so tedious and uninteresting.

That’s NOT to say there weren’t moments to be had. The special effects were impressive. BUT that was only when you could actually see the set pieces. There were several scenes where I actually struggled to see a majority of the action.

I could see the Phaser rays blasting through the darkness BUT only just gather that it was Kirk and Chekhov sliding down a spaceship hanging off a cliff. Ridiculous.

The 3D was a waste of time. It didn’t bring anything to the experience. When the Enterprise was attacked by Krall’s death ships, it was a sight to behold BUT after 15 minutes of explosions and carnage, I found myself fidgeting.

I liked the dynamic between Spock and Bones as the pair were reluctantly put together. Karl Urban (Dredd) was the main scene stealer and kept things light when the pace drudged along.

Once Big Ears got over his nihilistic sulk, he was back on fine form. The banter between the duo was a much needed tonic; “You gave your girlfriend radioactive jewellery”.

The rest of the crew was a mixed bag. The late Anton Yelchin had quite a big involvement in the mix as he aided Kirk in the battle against Krall’s goons. His presence will be missed. Although rumours suggest that Abrams may try and do what they did with Walker in the Fast and Furious franchise.

Pegg’s muddled Scot accent really grated against me. And I was disappointed that his little green pal Wee Man (“Get down from there!”) was left on the sidelines.

There wasn’t any depth to the characters. Bar Dr Zulu’s sexuality. Hardly a revelation and thrown in without any exploration. Shame.

There might have even been a bad continuity error with the length of their journey to the age of Zulu’s child (For those who watched it – Did you notice this?).

Saldana’s Uhura was reduced to being Krall’s prisoner for the majority of the movie. If anything, her absence wasn’t missed. Disappointing, to say the least.

Sofia Boutella (Kingsman: The Secret Service) was the best character in the piece as the feisty Jayla. I wanted to know about her origins and why she was the only alien to evade Krall’s capture.

However it wasn’t long before she was pushed into the background for more mindless exposition. Only to be brought back for the frantic finale.

More could have made out of her. A missed opportunity.

Idris Elba did his best with the creepy Krall. The make up was brilliant. He really looked the part BUT Luther’s lines and delivery made him too comical for my liking. You try listening to him with that silly voice pronouncing Captain Kirk. Good lord.

He couldn’t match Cumberbatch’s tenacity or Bana’s bad-assery and was quite a tame villain by comparison. A twist about Krall could have been so much more BUT by the end, I couldn’t care less.

Captain’s Log; Beyond was a bit of a misfire for me. It tried to deliver a bit of everything and failed on all fronts.

A watchable effort that killed the time BUT I think Scotty better beam up a better script for the next endeavour.

2.5/5

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*NEW* BASTILLE DAY REVIEW *NEW*

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BLAST-ILLE DAY! Or Luther pick-pockets Paris with that guy from Game of Thrones.

An entertaining and explosive little actioner that does the job.

A young con artist (Richard Madden) and former CIA agent (Idris Elba) embark on an anti-terrorist mission in France.

An eye-grabbing opener certainly got things going as a naked woman (What?) paraded around the Sacre Coeur. A perfect distraction for Madden’s master thief as we watch him do what he does best; pick pockets.

It was quick to skim through the frankly dull and clichéd police guff as Elba’s wildcard Briar is assigned to France against his superior’s (A heavily underused Kelly Reilly) better judgement. You couldn’t get anybody better than ol’ Luther (I mean Mr Elba) to play a stern no-holds-barred copper that does what it takes to get results.

Elba certainly did his best with the wafer thin role. His gravelly voice and stern delivery making the most generic of lines sound not quite so terrible. Madden was a charismatic lead. He has popped up in a number of different roles since GoT. One to watch. At least his troubled pick-pocket had a little more depth.

Most importantly when the bag he steals contains a bomb. Completely unaware, our small time petty thief dumps the bag, triggering the bomb and unleashing a mad packed chase around Paris.

The plot delivered enough suspense and cryptic puzzle solving for the first hour. A bigger play always in the work. BUT once the unravelling began, there were more questions than answers by the closing minutes.

If anything, it was a little ridiculous and oh so dreadfully predictable BUT what did you expect from a shoot em up? The action sequences were well executed. Tense, frantic and violent as hell. A rooftop chase was choreographed brilliantly. Nail-biting stuff.

Madden and Elba weren’t a bad duo. They worked well together BUT it just felt that with a better script and some better characters, this could have been so much more. It could have done with a little more banter and humour.

Some of the jokes just didn’t quite polish off as well as they could have. That’s not to say that there weren’t moments to be enjoyed. When an angry Briar finally catches Madden’s Michael and demands why he ran. Michael simply responds: “Have you seen yourself . . . You’d run to”.

Charlotte Le Bon (The Walk) played the conflicted resistance fighter well. It was just a shame that her character was pushed into the background once Madden and Elba were united. Only re-surfacing for the the mad dash finale.

Anybody could have played Kelly Reilly’s (True Detective) handler. And despite trying to involve her character (in a highly predictable twist) three quarters of the way into the film, you soon realised how unnecessary her character was. Disappointing.

Just when I thought the pace was lagging and the cliched exchanges were beginning to rear their ugly heads, I was soon rewarded with a frentic, in-your-face finale that was everything I expected.

It may have missed an opportunity BUT it was still an action packed thriller that hit the spot and killed the time. If you were expecting anything else, then move on.

3/5 (Just)

SUITE FRANCAISE REVIEW

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Zuts alors! I’ve seen more drama and heartbreak in an episode of ‘Allo ‘Allo!

Two stars for two charismatic leads.

During the early years of German occupation of France in World War II, romance blooms between French villager Lucile Angellier (Michelle Williams) and German soldier Bruno von Falk (Matthias Schoenaerts).

Such a shame. I really wanted to like this. It’s not all bad. Just a little disappointing.

For all the hype, I expected something more hard hitting.

The opening 15 minutes were slow burning BUT engaging. The archive footage showing German bombers descending upon Paris. Evacuees fleeing to the countryside in fear and desperation.

Williams’ shy protagonist and her uptight mother in law (Kristin Scott Thomas) trying to stick to their daily routine of collecting rent from their tenants. The tenants including several rather talented actors. Shame they weren’t used to their full potential.

Thomas (The English Patient) was good as the snobby sour faced mother-in-law. Stuck with a daughter who wasn’t fit to marry her valiant son and despised by the tenants for her ever-inflating rates.

However, there is also a little respect for her refusal to accept that the advancing Nazis are encroaching upon their village.

Williams (My Week With Marilyn) was excellent. She played the naive Lucile perfectly. Desperate to have a friend. Reduced to playing for a few minutes on the piano for leisure.

A harrowing bombing sequence in the countryside was unexpected and heart in mouth stuff. Villagers running for their lives. The Nazis showing no mercy. The silence through the aftermath was unsettling.

However, it seemed to take some time for the Nazi regiment to turn up. Despite the radio broadcast declaring France’s surrender. We are left with mindless chatter with the villagers about what the Germans might do.

The sound of the tanks and footsteps from the soldiers was brilliantly juxtaposed against the church singing as the regiment finally arrive.

Schonaerts (The Drop) made an instant impression. A well mannered officer who only wants a room to sleep and the key to the piano.

I expected the inevitable relationship between Williams and Schoenarts to take some time. BUT there wasn’t much else going on in the hour while this innocent encounter blossomed.

The leads had great chemistry and certainly kept me watching.

That’s not to say there wasn’t things going on BUT I couldn’t help question a few of them.

I felt the mish mesh of accents a little off putting. Considering Thomas is fluent in French, I expected her to see to speak a little of it. The only actor who did speak another language other than the Nazis was Lambert Wilson’s (The Matrix Reloaded) Viscount.

Ruth Wilson’s (Luther) broad English and Margot Robbie’s Aussie-Brit accent were a little annoying but alas, that’s Hollywood for you.

Speaking of which, Margot Robbie (The Wolf of Wall Street). I couldn’t help but question her relevance by the end of the film. Other than modelling a fetching set of silk stockings that every villager commented on and scowling, she doesn’t actually do anything or contribute to the story in any capacity.

There were a couple of interesting turns. The bureaucracy jibes being one particular highlight. Wilson’s snobby Viscount desperately bribing the Nazi commander just so his wife doesn’t have to keep an officer at their home.

The letters of gossip that were sent to the Nazis to settle old scores among the villagers was an eye opener. Accusing neighbours of being homosexuals, Jews and thieves. Shocking.

Tom Schilling’s introduction as Lieutenant Kurt Bonnet certainly picked things up. His presence soon becomes a problem for Wilson and Sam Riley’s (Control) family. Riley was quite good as Benoit Labarie.

The inevitable tension between him and Bonnet brewing up to a riveting if highly predictable finale.

But for the 107 minute running length, I felt myself wanting more.

Lucile and Bruno’s relationship was dealt with tactfully. Their brewing romance bubbling over music. Lucille’s loyalties soon torn as she finds herself in a position of power to help the community by using Bruno’s feelings for her.

That dynamic was quite interesting BUT not a lot was made of it. Some of the villagers respecting her for the help. Others disgusted for her affiliation with the enemy.

It certainly captures the humanity behind a brutal war and their relationship certainly carried the film.

BUT it seemed to build to a frantic finale after such a juddery pace. Only for it to end so abruptly with Lucile providing a voiceover summarizing what happened after the war.

Thomas was pushed further and further into the background despite being one of the more interesting characters in the piece.

The ending was quite pessimistic without spoiling too much. I understand that there are no happy endings when it comes to war. BUT it was too open ended for my liking.

Arguably, it was as poignant a statement for the time but when you have invested your time into these characters, a little closure (no matter how open or ridiculous) would have been nice.

It was tough not to make comparisons to other war dramas. I still find The Book Thief one of the better war dramas that I have seen in the last few years.

I kept expecting something more to happen. A bigger impact. Anything.

It was all left until the final 15 minutes and then didn’t wrap up well enough.

Disappointing.

2.5/5

A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES REVIEW

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Or Taken To The Grave? Liam Neeson uses his particular set of skills. No, wait! His acting skills (Remember them?) and his gravelly gravitas for the hardened private eye thrown into the seedy underworld of a 90s New York City.

A return to form for the reformed action hero in a suspenseful, if drawn out, gritty neo-noir. If you’re expecting another Taken, then you may be left disappointed.

Now I loved Taken (the first one) and it was great to see Neeson back in the limelight. But I was afraid that he was going to be typecast in the action role indefinitely. Non-Stop (Taken on a Plane) proves my point. BUT I’ll always commend Neeson for Schindler’s List and Rob Roy.

However, Neeson plays the part to perfection. A grisly Philip Marlowe. To be honest, the 90s setting didn’t really provide anything additional to the film. Other than the fact he uses old computers in libraries and payphones. I don’t really believe in the whole “Based on True Events” spiel. Not since Fargo and every horror film for the last decade.

So what’s it about? Private investigator Matthew Scudder (Neeson) is hired by a drug kingpin (Dan Stevens) to find out who kidnapped and murdered his wife.

Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey) is really starting to make a name for himself and plays the part well. But to be honest, his character was a little weak and didn’t really do much until the closing moments.

Astro (Earth to Echo) played Neeson’s homeless sidekick well and the pair worked well together. Some will find his character incredibly irritating and their “bonding” conversations completely unnecessary and unsuited to Scudder’s loner.

At least we won’t be as annoyed as Ruth Wilson (Luther) whose part was completely removed from the film to make Scudder more of a loner. All she has attached to her name is a credit. And yet Astro made the cut? Strange.

However, the real scene stealer and adversary to Neeson’s Marlowe was David Harbour (End of Watch) as the maniacal killer. He was brilliant and sinister as hell. His creepy voice delivery was memorable enough. Olafur Darri Olafsson (The Secret Life of Walter Mitty) also made a memorable role as the strange but morally torn middle man.

My main quip with A Walk Among The Tombstones was the length. A zippy opening with Neeson doing what he does best was soon put on a slow boil. The story tries its best to keep you hooked but there isn’t enough to justify the running time.

The story barely scrapes the surface of the sordid underbelly that these dark antagonists lurk from. There are creepy and suspenseful moments and Neeson certainly carries the film but despite all its promise; Mihai Malaimare Jr’s grainy noir-esque cinematography, Neeson’s snappy one liners and Harbour’s menace, it falls short of your expectations.

The story line meanders along with the surprise abduction and punch-em-up from Neeson but it’s all a little by the book. Endless red herrings with leads that go nowhere slowing down and killing what mystery and suspense was brewing.

The finale was certainly tense and made up for the meandering middle act but it was all so predictable. I was little disappointed that it had to go for a big fist fight and shoot em up to keep in and bank on Neeson’s resurged action hero fame.

The first hour was engaging, tense and slow burning but we got to see Neeson do what he does best . . . Act. Don’t get me wrong, there were some decent punch em up moments that Sam Spade would be proud of but it seemed to run out of ideas, go on a bit too long and then end with a big action number to stop bums fidgeting in seats.

If you want Taken, watch . . . Taken. But if you want to see a return (of sorts) for a talented actor and have a taste for noir, then it’s worth a gander.

3/5

MRS BROWN BOY’S D’MOVIE REVIEW

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What the feck did I just watch?

Brendan O’Carroll is back as Ireland’s favourite Mammy, Agnes Brown. Better than ever and on the big screen? Tragically, no. Maybe Mrs Brown should have stayed on the small screen.

Now I know, that’s not nice. I am actually a fan of the TV show and got caught up in the craze that was Mrs Brown’s Boys. Critics slated it back then, despite huge success and ratings. However, this time round, this sluggish effort gives quite a few of the critics’ justification.

I went in, wanting to like this but my lord, I always thought that a number of sitcoms had that irritating canned laughter as an act of desperation to make the jokes sound better. Not the audience I was sitting with. I felt like I was sitting in an Andy Millman audience from Extras. Laughing at the littlest thing. I mean, they were just laughing at O’Carroll dressed as Mrs Brown, for fecks sake. I mean, come on. He’s been doing it for three years now.

If you are not familiar with Mrs Brown’s Boys, do not see this as an introductory course. You’ll just sit there thinking why do those crazy English like this so much? And that’s the problem with translating TV to film; it doesn’t always work.

So many sitcoms have tried in the past and failed, bar the Inbetweeners Movie (which wasn’t perfect), Mr Bean (minus the sequel) and Kevin and Perry Go Large. Unfortunately, this was a case of best bits in the trailer and even those bits weren’t laugh out loud or that particularly brilliant anyway.

O’Carroll had found a winning formula back on the small screen. It wasn’t subtle or particularly clever. But it was funny, entertaining and most importantly . . . FUNNY! It felt like he knew he would be onto a winning horse and just slapped anything together, thinking “Well, they’ll go see it anyway. Who gives a feck?”.

It has a couple of moments. But that’s it. Moments. Some of his zippy one liners still manage to crack a much needed smile in this stale treat. I mean the little bits may bring a tut but a guilty grin all the same. Dermot Crowley’s (Luther) character Keep a PRIC in power. Sloppy satire but a chuckle none the same.

To be honest, it was such a mess that for every good gag (and there weren’t many), we had to endure drawn out unfunny dialogue and a feeble attempt at trying to make social commentary. Even the family moments bar one scene with O’Carroll and Jennifer Gibney (his wife) who strangely plays his daughter Kathy, seemed hammy and desperate.

It was an endearing moment but didn’t seem to fit in this film. The format that brought three successful series didn’t really work. The scenes where they messed up their lines seemed forced to get a cheap laugh. One did get a guilty laugh.

Not even the OTT moments were that great, just desperate and still unfunny. The gag with some blind ninjas went on far too long. It was great to see some TV personalities showing up. I mean Eamon Holmes, it was a little obvious. Robert Bathurst (you may recognise him from Downton Abbey) as a solicitor with Tourette’s was unexpected and did bring the laughs.

Ironically, the last 20 minutes did seem to find a pocket for some gags that did manage to make me less angry and disappointed. The exact length each TV ep was, near enough. Maybe the feature length was a challenge and it felt like one.

Not even Winnie (Eilish O’Carroll) and Buster (Danny O’Carroll), two of the better characters, couldn’t save the day. Interesting, both are Brendan’s real life sister and son. Buster certainly got the most laughs but even his moments weren’t that great.

I just felt that O’Carroll went for lazy stereotyping. The shady Russians were incredibly clichéd and bland. His impression of a Chinese kung fu master got a few frowns. And the legendary Grandad reuniting with his old IRA cronies was a little stereotypical and felt a bit desperate that it had to lead to another IRA gag after avoiding it for all three TV series. But it did get a cheeky gag involving a colleague with Parkinson’s and a ticking bomb.

Rory and the Channel swim was cringeworthy and seeing running away, squealing again. It felt repetitive and that Borat swim suit. There’s an image that will haunt my dreams for nights to come.

The play on names worked to some extent. Guilty punnery. I mean, come on. Tom Crewes and Irma Byke. The moment in Ol’ Agnes is dripping wet then miraculously dry the next. Cue a cheeky exchange at the camera, “I love the movies” worked.

But for every little cheap titter, there’s just a bad gag or a pointless one. I mean the dance number at the beginning? What the feck was that all about? And that’s all I kept asking myself. At times, I felt like I was watching a really bad amateur adult panto.

Maybe it’s time for O’Carroll to hang up the wig. Stop milking the cash cow because the udders were well and truly dry on this one.

1.5/5

Currently ranked 183 out of 196!

LOCKE REVIEW

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Tom Hardy is back. Better? Definitely beardier. Along with another strange accent. Unfortunately boyo I had to Google that you were trying to be Welsh. I thought he was doing a broken South African mish-mesh of an accent. Anyway, I digress. A strange exercise that tests the acting abilities of the charismatic actor but unfortunately at times tests the very patience of the viewer. I am just sitting here. Driving a car. Okay? That is pretty much the premise of Locke.

85 whole minutes of our leading Locke talking, swearing, revealing not so dramatic revelations and dealing with the aftermath as he drives down the motorway. I can appreciate Steven Knight’s ambition with a talented lead actor, this had all the potential to be something so much more. Attempts have been done before with one actor, one scenario for an extended time. Buried, Cast Away, 127 Hours come to mind. I’m sure you can think of others, hell even better ones. Now I’m a huge fan of Knight. I loved his previous efforts; Dirty Pretty Things, Eastern Promises and the underrated BBC gangster series Peaky Blinders.

Interestingly enough Knight has recruited Hardy for the second series. However, Knight isn’t perfect by any means. Let us not forget the humdrum Hummingbird. However, he did get a convincing turn out of The Stath. I don’t really want to divulge into the story line. There is a dramatic incident that has caused Locke to drop everything he is doing and get on that motorway. When it is first revealed, it is quite suspenseful and tense. However, once the said incident or twist is revealed and Locke has to wait for the aftermath, we are left with his character talking to an empty seat supposedly possessing the metaphorical spirit of his dead dad or banging on about concrete.

I kid you not. I have now been educated in concrete. I did not know how important it was in the structure of a building. Consider myself told. The main problem is that even with Hardy’s conviction and stamina, it comes off almost like a parody. You feel like he is taking the mick out of himself. Random tantrums, weird accents, it’s all there. I was impressed with the cast. Well, the voices. They do their utmost to keep this project from flailing.

Olivia Colman provides the plaudits once again following an award winning turn in Broadchurch. Even if it is in reduced phone call tit bits. Ruth Wilson (Luther/The Lone Ranger) managed to make a mark, especially in the closing minutes as Locke’s wife. Ben Daniels’ character, appropriately labelled on Locke’s phone as the Bastard, brought the odd laugh. Intentional is another matter. The main scene stealer, however, is (Did You Miss Me Moriarity) Andrew Scott as the dimwit drunkard Donal. Scott manages to provide a much needed comic relief to something that just should be more dramatic but really isn’t.

Locke’s intentions and behaviour are bizarre but not completely unjustified but somehow it just doesn’t quite hit it for me. And for all his crazy driving, I expected a different finale but was left deflated and scratching my head. A topic that certainly has moments of well-acted, or well voiced moments, but really could or should have been put on Film Four as a TV movie. Nothing more.

Hardy manages to get this stuttering old (been there seen that) banger to its intended destination but I just wish they had given him a better vehicle on a better route if you get my drift. A missed opportunity for an ever growing prolific actor 2.5 out of 5!

Currently ranks #142 out of 182!