iCarly: iStart Over

4/5

Written by Luke Barnes

I don’t know if I’ll be covering this series regularly, but I wanted to review the first episode for old times sake. iCarly and Drake and Josh were a huge part of my childhood growing up, I watched the hell out of each time and time again, so when I heard that iCarly was coming back for a revival series I knew I had to check it out.

I truly do think that the adult orientated approach to this series is a stroke of genius, the audience has grown up with Carly and we like her have very different trails and tribulations then we did when we first watched the series. Though the series has a bit more adult humour I would still say it was child friendly as there is nothing that unsuitable there.

Moreover, I think the knowing self-aware aspects to the series really help to enhance it and add to that link between those on screen and us watching. There were no actual forth wall breaks, at least not in this first episode, but there were a number of winks to the camera so to speak and each time it made me smile.

Miranda Cosgrove anchors the series masterfully, and it is nice to see her back centre stage again. Likewise Jerry Trainor as Spencer is also still excellent and has a nice back and forth with Cosgrove and the rest of the cast. Though Jennette McCurdy’s absence is felt, Cosgrove and the rest of the cast do such a good job that it makes up for it.

Overall, so far a good and well done revival series.

Pros.

Cosgrove

Trainor

The self-awareness

The adult tone

Cons.

The studio audience canned laughter is distracting  

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The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard: Ryan Reynolds Needs To Move On From Deadpool, This Is An Intervention

1.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

I think the world’s love affair with Ryan Reynolds might be coming to and end. There was a time, when Reynolds was popping up in every film with his Deadpool esque zany comedy- that got old quick. Nowhere is that more true than in this film.

The Hitman’s Bodyguard is a perfectly fine film, not spectacular in anyway, really quite forgettable: it did not need a sequel. Yet for some reason the same jokes and cliches are forced back out of the woodwork again for this film. We get it Reynold’s character doesn’t like confrontation and is very into safety and Samuel Jackson’s character is the opposite, we get it. Yet the film feels like it needs to repeat this over and over again, to make matters worse it thinks this is funny.

Where this film differs from its predecessor is its focus on the wife, hence the name. Salma Hayek’s Sonya is the very loud wife of Samuel L Jackson’s Hitman, and though in the first film she had a few breakthrough moments here she is quickly rendered nothing more than a one note caricature. Sonya is probably the least annoying of the main three characters though she only has a few moments where she is anywhere near likeable. This is by no means a fault on Hayek’s acting, but rather a script that thinks yelling loudly in Spanish is both badass and hilarious at the same time; sidenote it is neither.

To return back to my earlier points about Reynolds, he really needs to come up with something fresh as he can’t keep riding the snarky Deadpool coat tails forever, this film is proof of that.

Overall, definitely not worth going back to the cinema for this film is made for the bargain bin.

Pros.

Salma Hayek has a few moments of good acting that connect

The cringe humour made me laugh a good few times, though I don’t think it was deliberate on the film’s part.

Cons.

It is loud in the worst sense of the word

It is not funny at all

It is incredibly poorly written

It is repetitive

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Loki: The Variant

3.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

So, the second episode of Loki is good, there is no doubting that, however it does slump a bit when compared to last weeks mostly stellar opener. Mainly this is due to what I would argue is a rushed story decision on the part of the episode’s ending, but I can see why with a limited six episode run they chose to do it this way.

I am of course talking about Loki’s decision to chase after his evil variant and effectively leave the TVA. Like I said plot wise it makes sense, but I would have liked more time with the Loki and Mobius buddy cop dynamic, Owen Wilson and Tom Hiddleston have great chemistry together- hopefully they will still get to share a lot of scenes together.

As for the who the internet have dubbed prematurely Lady Loki, who is more likely Enchantress, it is far to early to cast any kind of judgement on her: though I will say it was a neat development to have it be her that truly begins the destruction of the Sacred Timeline it makes her vital to the narrative going forward.

Overall, a solid episode though one that is slightly in the shadow of its better predecessor.

Pros.

Loki and Mobius

A few very funny scenes

The destruction of the timeline

The things it sets up

Cons.

The plot feels a little rushed

It underwhelms after a strong first episode

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The Brothers Bloom: Just Like Wes Anderson Without Any Of The Charm.

2/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Rian Johnson is such a hit or miss filmmaker, for every Last Jedi you have a Looper, the quality of his films is unpredictable: sadly this was not one of his stronger efforts.

Firstly I did not like the humour of the film it seemed dumb and annoying to me, trying far too hard to be kitschy and oddball. The best way I can describe this is to take the stylings, writing and wit of Wes Anderson and gut the emotional heart of it, take out any real meaning and mash it back together again. This film felt like a poor rip off of both the previously mentioned Anderson as well as the Coen Brothers.

The one thing I did enjoy about the film, and that I saw as the saving grace was Adrien Brody. Brody brought his usual outsider charm to the role and managed to deliver and memorable performance, whilst also having great on-screen chemistry with Rachel Weisz; the two should definitely do more films together. Sadly, the other of the titular brothers played by Mark Ruffalo was far less likeable and was instead annoying for most of the film, this is most likely due to the fact he was often instigating the bad comedy.

Overall, I am glad that Johnson has moved away from this kind of film.

Pros.

Brody

Weisz

Cons

Ruffalo

The comedy

It feels like a rip off of better films    

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Interview With Director Alexander Jeremy: Crowning

Hey Everyone. I recently got the chance to talk to Alexander Jeremy for the second time, my first ever follow up interview, about his new film Crowning, which sees a young pregnant women adapt to her changing life. In our interview we talk about silent cinema, corner shops and hiding in bushes.

Q: How would you describe this film in a word?

A: Weird.

Q: What do you feel this film says about pregnancy and the idea of it?

A: I guess it kind of challenges our presumptions, you think she’s one thing and then she’s not. We see pregnant women as sacred and in need of care, but we thought we’d play with this.

Q: A few of your films have heavily featured a corner shop is there a deep meaning or wider connection there?

A: It doesn’t have a deeper meaning other than its the corner shop closest to my house! I know the guy who runs it, and he lets me film in there!

Q: How did you find filming this film in lockdown compared to the experiences of Milkrun earlier?

A: I’d learnt a lot from Milkrun, mainly that i can’t do everything by myself! I still wanted it to be no-budget (about £500 budget all in!) but I wanted it to have more polish than Milkrun did. So I got in some great people to help me out.

Q: When the character enters her home and says something to the effect of ‘I’m home’ who is she talking to?

A: She’s talking to her imagined husband. She creates a dreamworld for herself, the perfect pregnant woman with the perfect house, home, jewellery etc. She’s a bit mad – but I guess it’s a comment that the writer Hannah was trying to make about desperately trying to live or aspire to a certain life, even if it causes you much pain and makes you delusional.

Q: Do you have any funny on set stories?

A: I mean, there were so many shots in the rushes where I was just in the background, using my phone as a wireless monitor. I just stand there in the background like a freak. We’d have to cut a lot because I just kept popping up. What a fool!

Q: Sparse dialogue is used with deliberate intent here, what were you trying to convey with it?

A: It’s a style I’m playing with at the moment, sort of a development of silent cinema, but then combining that with modern equipment, cameras – ambient sound etc. It also helps us with budget, so there is no need for sound recording! How does the Crowning make you personally feel? I don’t know. Again, I like playing with style, trying things – I often don’t really know what it means but it definitely makes me feel something. I just try to follow that (whilst maintaining a somewhat coherent narrative.)

Q: Sequel plans, what’s next for you?

A: No sequel plans, but I’m potentially thinking of developing this kid of style into a feature film! An almost silent feature. I think it could be cool, using the low-budget approaches I’ve been developing, trying new things etc. I also have a more conventional bigger budget short I am in post with at the moment called The Spaceman, which stars Amanda Abbington, Woody Norman and someone else I can’t mention yet! Stay tuned.

You can check out Crowning on Youtube now, and as always my review is also up on the site now.

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Crowning: A Spoiled Sandwich

4/5

Written by Luke Barnes

This film is quietly unnerving, there is something about it that lingers. The sheer randomness of the events, how nothing is quite like it seems and when you think you finally understand what is going on you are left with more questions- it is maddening.

I think part of the genius of this film is that it is able to communicate a lot, about its themes, ideas and sense of self without the need for large amounts of dialogue. The opening scene of the lead eating a prawn and crisp sandwich, minus the prawns, speaks volumes and does a lot organically for character development.

I enjoyed the ending twist, though I needed to watch it a few times and even pause it to make sense of it. I applaud the film for trying something different and for not being afraid to leave you with more questions than answers.

Overall, an interesting film that strives to do something new, but that can also be confusing at times.

Pros.

The minimal use of dialogue

The ending twist

The unnerving building sense of tension

The central performance

Cons.

Won’t be to everyone’s taste

It is confusing and requires multiple viewings

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Profile: Never Trust Someone Who Takes Selfies With Kittens

4.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

After watching the trailer for this film a while back I have been quietly excited for it, after now watching it I can say that was entirely founded- this film is superb.

The idea of a journalist pretending to be a radicalised teen online to try and secure and connection and series of interviews with an ISIS recruiter is a terrifying premise, made more so because this film is based on true events. However, the film builds on that premise perfectly and delivers one of the tensest thrillers of the year.

The performances are very well done, and you truly believe the fall from pretend radicalisation to real romantic involvement. You believe it so much it becomes a little frightening. It becomes clear why so many young women are brainwashed into leaving their country for a life that often turns out to be sexual slavery.

The ending is perhaps the best part as it magnificently raises the stakes and ramps everything up to max.

Overall, this film deserves all the attention it is getting as not only does it draw light to a frightening trend happening online which is largely going ignored by big social media companies, it also provides us with a thrilling viewing experience.

Pros.

The tension

The ending

The acting

The message

Cons.

Slightly bloated around the second act  

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Wish Dragon: Subtle Propaganda Very Obviously Disguised

1.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

This film wants so badly to be a DreamWorks’ or a Pixar film, but it is nowhere even remotely close.

So firstly there is an odd amount of subtle pro-China stuff in here, not as bad as something like Abominable which though a good movie featured a map of the Chinese claim over the South China Sea on it, come on guys really, but there were a few lines that made me cringe with how blatant they were being. Please stop putting government propaganda into your films, we all know what you’re doing.

Moreover, the idea itself feels heavily inspired by Aladdin, yes I know the idea of wish granting deities also exists in other cultures as well, but the way the film handles itself and more importantly the relationship between the lead and the Wish Dragon feels clearly more than a little ripped off.

The voice cast didn’t do much for me either. The best of a bad bunch would be John Cho as the Dragon, who I thought did the best with what he had though that wasn’t very much. The worst was probably Constance Wu who is playing a very similar character to the one she did on Fresh Off The Boat, the show she hated, and lacks anything even remotely resembling range.

Overall, this film is blatantly clear in what it is and try as it might, it can’t disguise it.

Pros.

John Cho

A few feel good moments

Cons.

The propaganda

The lack of any kind of originality

The voice cast aren’t given much to work with

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In The Heights: A Rare World Where People Cannot Converse Unless In Song

2/5

Written by Luke Barnes

I am not a fan of Hamilton……….. I’ll leave that to sink in.

When trailers for this film came out and a lot of people started to get very excited for it, I remained cool. After watching I am decidedly more so.

Firstly this is not a film that needs to be seen in cinemas; I am still waiting for a film that will make me say ‘wow this is better than watching it at home’ whilst in the cinema. The sound mixing much like Nolan’s Tenet serve to undermine the film some what and the loudness of the music itself makes the sung dialogue within it almost hard to hear.

Moreover, I don’t like that everything in this film is sung rather than said. Yes, I know it is a musical, but plenty of musicals have scenes of dialogue in between songs- it doesn’t all need to be sung. Almost every conversation in this film is done to music and in a song-like way, which honestly lessens any sort of dramatic impact.

Perhaps most damning of all the songs themselves are not even that good. The first song, the one that has been in all the trailers is passably okay, but after that they take a steep nosedive in quality to a point where it feels like they have given up trying.

Overall, maybe Hamilton fans or diehard musical lovers will be able to get something out of this, I for one just got my time wasted.

Pros.

It is a loud and colourful and easy to turn your mind off to

It doesn’t really require you to pay attention

Cons.

Too many songs

Most of these songs are of an average or poor quality

It is on for far, far too long

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Festen/ The Celebration: The Family Reunion From Hell

4/5

Written by Luke Barnes

This film will not be to everyone’s taste, it’s sense of humour is incredibly dark, and some may even find it in bad taste: I however did not.

This is such a bizarre film tonally as you have these incredibly distressing scenes, of suicide and child abuse, cut with other far lighter and almost comedic scenes: both are existing along side the other and both have equal importance. Whilst one would assume this would not work and the two types of scenes would clash horribly, they actually don’t instead working well and nicely complimenting each other.

I found moments in this film to be funny, though the jokes were morbid and will almost certainly not be to everyone’s taste, as I often say comedy is subjective.

What I appreciate the most about this film is how it handles the abuse storyline; it treats it with sombre reverence and shows the often too common reaction to it; disbelief. I thought that the ending of the film where these matters were forced to a head felt strongly emotional and satisfying. Though I found myself depressed by the ending, I would not change it.

Overall, a bizarre film in a lot of ways but one that needs to be seen and experienced.

Pros.

The emotions

The bizarre meshing of dark and light

The dark comedy elements

The ending

Cons.

Some will find it very hard to watch

If you enjoyed this review, then please head over to my Patreon to support me, I offer personalized shoutouts, one on one Q and As, the ability for you to pick what I review next and full access to my Patreon exclusive game reviews. Check it out!

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