The Happytime Murders

The Happytime Murders is a crime comedy film featuring puppets. That is all you need to know. The main plot focuses on former partners, Philips voiced by, (Bill Barretta) and Edwards, (Melissa McCarthy), who have to work together again to solve a series of murders. The film’s main aim seems to be to disprove the idea that puppets are synonyms with family-friendly fun, why it wants to do this is anyone’s guess. Does it work? Well, that I can answer for you, no it most certainly doesn’t.

Before I carry on, I want to say that I had low expectations for this film; in that regard, the film did manage to surpass my ideas about it, even making me laugh a few times. However, it is not a good film or one I would recommend, simply put, when compared to McCarthy’s other 2018 work, Life of the Party– it is merely a small step up.

First, this is a film no one asked for, throughout the film’s entire runtime it never gave any justification for its existence; beyond being solely for the money. Feeling needless in the worst way.

The plot and story feel like a rehashing of genre tropes, with nothing new added to them, lacking all the charm of other genre films such as the Nice Guys. The screenplay places an emotional significance on the fallout between Edwards and Phillips, even having flashbacks. These are to little effect as each emotional beat of the arc feels played out and predictable. This is not helped at all by the fact that Edwards and Phillips have no chemistry, none, watching their back and forths is often painful and unfunny.

Melissa McCarthy is forgettable and mildly annoying here, she brings very little to the role; with her jokes feeling straight to DVD quality. Conversely, Elizabeth Banks’ portrayal of Jenny, Phillips old flame, is one of the highlights of the film; though she is in my opinion sorely underused. To me, that is the criminal issue with this film, the good elements, such as Banks’ character and the world building, are ignored in favour of the formulaic, generic buddy cop cliches that have been done a million times before.

Finally, the humour of the film is needlessly profane, feeling done just for the sake of it rather than for the comedy. A lot of the jokes in the film will not make you laugh; with it being the serious moments that are often the funniest.

Overall this film fails as it tries overly to be edgy, being bland and boring in the process; nothing more than a collection of the Pulp Detective genre’s worst tropes. Not worth your time or money.


Reviewed by Luke         

Slender Man

Slender Man is a horror film based on the notorious, internet creepypasta. Slender Man for those of you who don’t know is a being who torments, targets and in some cases kills people, mainly children. The plot of the film focuses on a group of friends who summon Slender Man, swiftly things begin to go wrong. The screenplay suffers from incredibly poor writing, with baffling, nonsensical decision making; such as the reasoning behind why the girls summon Slender Man: being another group of people are doing it, so they think why not. That’s it.    

On a positive note, the film did make some welcome additions to the Slender Man lore; this is only thing the film gets right. However, even this is a double-edged sword as the mythology they set up also serves to demystify Slender Man to a dulling effect.

What’s more, the film fails to make Slender Man creepy, which is laughable as they had so much to work with, instead, he is forgettable; even when he is in his full form he doesn’t inspire thoughts of fear, rather disappointment.

The dialogue in the film is not even laughably bad, that would be too warm a term, it is a collection of the most out of touch, cringey, maddening lines you will ever hear– with the writer trying and failing to capture the essence of Teenage lingo. Said, Teenagers are so bland and forgettable it is hard, even during the film, to remember their names; let alone care about them.   

Overall this film reeks of meddling, with absent sequences and has character’s storylines going unresolved; despite a resolution being central to the narrative. To me, this a cynical attempt to cash in on a brand with very little thought given to anything else; Slender Man deserves better than this.


Reviewed by Luke

Black Klansman

BlacKkKlansman is a crime drama film, focusing on how police officer Ron Stallworth, (John David Washington), infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan.

This film is riveting on many levels right from the beginning, while the plot and the dialogue also being superb throughout. Furthermore, all the characters featured are complex, this is something to be praised as it could have devolved into a collection of caricatures, but this film avoids that. The arc and emotional journey we see Ron go on is both believable, while also feeling very raw. Ron is a fantastic character and one you root for from the beginning. It is this bond that helps to elevate the tension in the film, as there are sequences where Ron and his partner Flip, (Adam Driver), are in real danger, and you can’t help but worry about them.

The political nature of the film is its greatest strength.  The message that screams out throughout is one of, is this the society we want to live in. The film brings you face to face with uncomfortable truths- no apology given. Perhaps best emphasised by the closing montage sequence, which may be one of the pieces of editing all year, during this sequence it is made clear that the issues depicted have not just gone away.

The performances are top rate, with John David Washington and Adam Driver both being outstanding. However, it is not only the main actors who shine, Corey Hawkins’ performance as Kwame Ture is also superb. BlacKkKlansman is a film that proves you can have fully developed, interesting side characters, who can have small roles and a clear narrative significance.

The only minor issue of the film is the amount of time it dedicates to the Ron Patrice relationship subplot, which doesn’t lead anywhere. Both characters are great with Patrice, (Laura Harrier), being outstanding: it is because of how good the characters are that this romance sub-plot almost feels like a disservice.

To conclude this film works so well because the passion behind it is evident. It is striking and thought-provoking, in the best way; moreover, it serves as both a fantastic film and social commentary; leaving you with a lot to think about for days after seeing it. A must watch.


Reviewed by Luke

The Spy Who Dumped Me

The Spy Who Dumped Me is a comedy spy film, focusing on Audrey, (Mila Kunis), who after breaking up with her boyfriend later learns he is a spy. Hijinks ensue. The premise alone is not terrible, though it does feel oddly dated, it does seem like there are some laughs to be had here- there is potential. However, it is never fully implemented. The film is a mostly meh affair, being serviceable but not a whole lot more.
The script is weak, with the character work being likewise. The characters lack any motivation and, the film itself has very weak stakes. You never really care about the characters; even to the extent that you will remember their names when you leave the cinema. Kunis gives the best performance of the whole film, being the only likeable character; the rest are variants on either bland– or incredibly annoying. That brings us nicely to the other main character Morgan, (Kate McKinnon). Morgan does have some funny lines, let that be said, however, for the majority of the film her character is irritating. She is needlessly over the top and, a vast amount of her jokes don’t land. This poor character work is also present in Drew, (Justin Theroux). Drew is the titular spy, however other than a few brief sequences, some of which are devoid of any real meaning, he is absent. What’s more Theroux character is also very unlikeable, primarily because once again he is another annoying character.
The main positive of the film is the stunt work and the action choreography, both of which were far better than I was expecting. Said sequences aren’t on par with the likes of Bond or Mission Impossible, but they are still impressive in their own right.
Conversely, the film’s comedy is a collection of hits and misses, far more of the latter than the former. With the humour often being cringey and woefully off the mark.
To conclude, this film is, in essence, a complete waste of potential. It is never either good or bad, instead quite content in being meh. Additionally, the likeability of Kunis is tarnished and, eventually destroyed by the plethora of irritating characters.
Reviewed by Luke

Christopher Robin

Christopher Robin is a film that answers the question of what happened after the 100 Acre Wood, what happened when Christopher Robin became too old to play with Winnie the Pooh. The reality of that being that Robin has lost his ability to have fun, his work consumes him and, he is neglectful of his family. Of course, the re-emergence of Pooh in his life changes all that.

Though the plot may sound formulaic, it is surprisingly deep. If you can read past the simple premise, this film has a lot to say about growing up- about life. However, it is not a deep meditative affair, merely, a children’s comedy film with surprising insight. Furthermore, there are plenty of warm moments that remind you why you feel in love with the 100 Acre Wood gang in the first place, as well as many laughs to be had.

The CGI on Pooh and his compatriots is all done to the calibre you would expect from Disney-truly outstanding. Pooh himself has all the best lines, many of which you will remember long after you leave the cinema. What’s more the performances from Ewan McGregor, (Christopher Robin), and Hayley Atwell, (Evelyn Robin), are both fantastic; with both bringing emotional weight and a sense of whimsey to their respective roles.        

The only minor issue with the film is that Evelyn, along with some of the members of the 100 Acre Wood gang, were not developed as much as they could have been. The reason for this is because the relationship between Pooh and Christopher takes centre stage, as it rightfully should, so I can’t be too angry about the underdeveloped side characters. The dynamic between a grown-up Christopher Robin and Pooh is superb, to sum it up acutely it is the relationship between an adult and a child, which is both fascinating and also able to work on many levels; given the context of the narrative.

Overall, this film greatly surprised me, vastly exceeding my expectations. With it being both feel-good family fun and, also having an ability to make you think and even reflect.


Reviewed by Luke        

The Equalizer 2

The Equalizer 2 is an action film and sequel to the 2014 film. This entry takes place sometime after the events of the first film, and other than a few minor supporting characters returning doesn’t connect. The main plot this time around focuses on Robert McCall, (Denzel Washington) as he investigates the death of his last remaining friend Susan, (Melissa Leto). What follows is a mostly predictable mystery. You will realise who is the villain about 20 minutes before the film reveals it; it is that obvious, in that, we are shown the main issue with the film- the writing.

The film’s first act is painfully slow; there are a few teases for things to come, and some very well-choreographed action sequences, but on the whole, there is nothing of substance for the first 30 minutes. As well as this we are introduced to a lot of supporting characters, all of whom have nothing to add to the main story, outside of showing that Mr McCall still helps people. As you can imagine they are all paper thin; serving as little more than filler.

Moreover, the film’s villain Dave York, (Pedro Pascal), is about as bland as they come, with his motivations never rising above the generic,” I’m doing it for the money”, his character also seems woefully insignificant when compared to McCall; making it hard to believe they are supposed to be on the same skill level.

That is another thing about this film, McCall’s skillset seems to vary wildly throughout the film, sometimes to almost a superhuman degree; being at points more than a little unbelievable. This film if you think about it too closely makes little sense, but that’s a good thing. In this case, a lot of the enjoyment comes from the cheesy, nonsensical things that happen, such as the strange almost at times out of place editing; at one point in the film as McCall walks down a street the camera flips upside down for no real reason.  It is in these moments that the film shines, becoming something more akin to a cheesy action B movie, revelling in the weird and the bizarre. However, these moments are few and far between.

Denzel Washington gives a superb performance always elevating every scene he is in; being by far the best actor in the film.

To conclude there are moments where this film shines, where the B movieness slips out. However, the rest of the film rots within the confines of a generic action thriller. Featuring the most needless supporting characters possibly ever.


Reviewed by Luke                  

The Darkest Minds

The Darkest Minds is a young adult film, taking place in a world where a disease has killed most of the child population; those who have survived have it the worst of all they gain superhuman powers- at the cost of their freedom. So far so standard YA dystopia.

I want to say that the YA genre is dead, to me Maze Runner Death Cure was the genre’s last gasp, The Darkest Minds proves me right at every turn. What this film amounts to is a collection of YA tropes, all the worst ones at that, seemingly lacking anything original. What this film strikes me as is a cynical attempt to resurrect a dead genre, probably because: some executive still thought there was money to be made.

Everything about this film feels forced, from its needless romance subplot to the even more unnecessary love triangle. The most egregious example of this: being how this film is trying to set up a franchise, that no one wanted.

The similarities between this film and 21st Century Fox’s other property X-Men are more than a little obvious. However, where X-men mostly get social commentary and feelings of isolation correct, Darkest Minds does it in the most hollow, cheap way possible. In many ways, this film is a second-rate X-men.

The acting and the script are also both incredibly weak. Having not read the source material, I don’t know to what extent the poor writing is the fault of the film, I also can’t say, if this is a faithful adaptation. The dialogue feels overly teenage angsty, with it often resulting in cringey, or offensively terrible scenes. The “acting” doesn’t ever amount to more than brooding.

Perhaps worst of all is Amandla Stenberg’s Ruby. Stenberg’s character doesn’t have a lot to work with script wise, but what she does get often feels annoying- to be blunt she may be the worst character in the film.

I’m not even going to go into how a lot of the decisions the characters make are bafflingly stupid, or how they waste a great supporting cast.

Overall, don’t go and see this film, don’t waste your time, money or effort- let the YA genre die in peace.


Reviewed by Luke 

Unfriended: Dark Web


Unfriended: Dark Web is a horror film and sequel to 2014’s Unfriended. However, it is a sequel in name alone: as none of the characters from the first film are revisited. The main similarity with the first film is its layout, with most of the film taking place online. This layout is initially jarring, but over time becomes more and more natural. The plot of this instalment centres around Matias, (Colin Woodell), as he starts using a strange laptop, he stole. Once, he begins using the laptop things quickly devolve, with him and his friends finding themselves in one of the darkest corners of the internet- thus beginning a life or death struggle.

Something that hugely benefits this film is the change in threat. Where the first film had a restless, malicious spirit seeking vengeance, this one has an altogether much more real menace. This menace is, of course, a group of depraved dark web dwellers, who hire people to slowly torture and kill, unsuspecting victims. This choice of focus makes the scares all the more terrifying: the fact that something like this could happen in real life makes the threat far more- intimate. This film didn’t make me scared in the traditional sense; instead, it made me anxious.

The anxiety of the film comes from the fear of what might happen to the characters. The film achieves an incredible task, it makes you care about the protagonists, all of whom are boring and in one case very annoying. The characters are the usual collection of stereotypes, and you’ll forget about them as soon as the credits roll. To call them bland would be an understatement, they are devoid of personality; with the character development being all but non-existent. The romance between Matias and Amaya, (Stephanie Nogueras), is well done to a degree and is convincing, though is still not all that memorable.

Finally, the film has two different endings, which I won’t spoil here, but I just wanted to make a note of it: because I think it is an ingenious move that makes this film unique.

Overall, the uneasy tension and the feeling of dread throughout makes up for the poor character work. A must see for all genre fans!


Reviewed by Luke     

The Festival

The Festival is a British comedy film centring around two friends who attend a musical festival. One Nick, (Joe Thomas) goes to the festival to recover from a messy breakup and the other Shane, (Hammed Animashaun), goes to meet his hero DJ Hammer Head- hijinks ensue. Those who are familiar with the Inbetweeners, (a British comedy tv series), will find a lot of similar tissue here, due to similar creative teams. These similarities are my biggest issue with the film, many of the gags and jokes seem a little too familiar, and Thomas’s Nick is a near replica of his character of Simon from the Inbetweeners. However, that said, these similarities are not wholly a detriment to the film. If anything, they show this film for what it was a missed opportunity, as it could have easily been called the Inbetweeners 3 and it would have gained more fanfare.

The film’s humour is a perfect mix of cringe comedy and hilarious moments; working to great effect throughout. The standout character in this regard is Shane’s stepfather Robin, (Jemaine Clement), who steals every scene he is in; never failing to make me laugh.

As well as the film’s humour it also shares what the inbetweeners did so well, relatability. A false Hollywood esque studio comedy this is not.  The film also manages to make most of the characters memorable and likeable, with the obvious example here being the effortlessly charming Amy, (Claudia O’ Doherty). Amy easily has some of the best lines of the film, and the relationship between her and Shane felt very genuine; O’Doherty is the breakout star of the film. Sadly, this likeability is not shared by the film’s lead. Thomas’s Nick is an annoying character in many ways, as such he is hard for root for; though I do think this was a conscious choice on behalf of the writers.

Finally, this film is a treasure trove of cameos from British comedians, with the likes of Nick Frost and Noel Fielding making terrific appearances.

Overall, if you loved the Inbetweeners, this is more of the same. The film’s greatest sin is that some of the side characters, like Amy, don’t get the attention they deserve, but this pales in light of the funny and relatable tale told.



Reviewed by Luke

The Meg

The Meg is a film that could have been the goofy fun blockbuster of the summer, sadly though it never lives up to that billing. The plot focuses on Jonas Taylor, (Jason Statham), a diver tasked with manning a rescue mission to a new and previously unexplored part of the ocean, wherein a terrifying threat lurks- a prehistoric Megalodon. That premise alone suggests a dumb B movie esque action thriller, but in actuality, this film is just another generic blockbuster. My praise for this film is all based around its lead, Statham. The Meg has Statham in an unusually charming role; with it being obvious he is enjoying every minute of it. Furthermore, the interactions Statham’s Jonas has with the other characters are also quite amusing. Shown in Jonas’s surrogate father role to Meiying, (Shuya Sophia Cai), who, unlike most other child actors, is always a welcome presence.

However, even with Statham’s likeability in the role, the romantic subplot between Jonas and Suyin, (Li Binging), is dead in the water. There is no chemistry between the two characters, making their romance feel forced throughout. What’s more, in a bizarre script idea, Jonas ex-wife Lori, (Jessica McNamee), is also at the station. Lori amounts to little more than a plot device; and the star of more than a few awkward scenes. Sadly, though McNamee’s character is just one of many paper-thin characters; whose removal would not have an impact on the film overall. By the time the credits roll you will be lucky if you can remember a single character name, that is how developed and memorable they are. A clear example of this is Jack Morris, (Rainn Wilson), who starts out as the billionaire investor and main comedic relief character, but then for no explained reason turns into a maniacal almost supervillain in the films third act. Therein lies the film’s biggest and most egregious problem- it’s script.

The script doesn’t seem to know what it wants to be, serious action film, or a dumb pulpy B movie. To the former, the film takes itself very seriously in many of its scenes, which is why when it tries to include humour in certain places it doesn’t work. To the latter, there are ridiculously over the top spectacle sequences; that end up coming across as eye-rollingly dumb as opposed to fun in any way. An example of this would be when the crew has one of its many fights with one of the Megs, during this sequence people needlessly keep falling into the water, but no one seems to notice. Furthermore, at one point in the film, the crew are trapped on a sinking boat, during which time they don’t know how to escape; somehow, they ignore the escape raft that is right in front of them- in a groan-inducing moment of stupidity.

More to the disservice of The Meg’s script, the dialogue is horrible. At its best, it is corny and cliched, at its worst, it is annoying and cringey. Some examples include a cringey rap song, the whole character interactions between Jonas and Dr Heller and perhaps worst of all the line, “it’s not about the people you lose, but the people you save”. Additionally, the humour in the film always feels out of place; in my opinion, added as an afterthought.

Finally, the film suffers from severe pacing issues, with the first act especially being boring and uninspired.  Ultimately, boring and uninspired sum up acutely what this film is. Not even likeable performances from Statham and a charming Ruby Rose can save this film from sinking with the ship.


Reviewed by Luke.