Gnomeo & Juliet: The Cracks Are Showing

Gnomeo and Juliet is an animated family film directed by Kelly Asbury. The plot is basically a retelling of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, but with garden gnomes and a huge amount of dated references.

You know a film is going to be good when it opens by slagging off Shakespeare. This is one of the most mind-numbing films I have ever seen; it is so dumb I can’t see how anyone would be entertained by this.

It is not funny or charming in any way, at least bad kids’ movies like Peter Rabbit have a so bad it’s good factor to them, this one is just aggressively average. Not a single one of the actors seems to be trying. I don’t blame them for just taking the cheque on this one though to be fair, but it will hardly be the highlight of their resumé.

Another thing that I found off-putting was how often the film tried to ram the music of Elton John down your throat. Yes, I like Elton John, Yes he has good songs, do I want to hear them bastardised and put on repeat? No, no I don’t. What makes this more egregious is that it forces in songs when they don’t even need them just for the hell of it, almost as though they’re trying to torture the audience.

Overall, this is incredibly low effort and it shows. There are plenty of animated family films that standout for their storytelling or for their animation or their message, but this just seems corporate, cynical and cheap. Don’t waste your time.


One good unintentional laugh


It is so dumb

It’s lazy

None of the actors are trying

It is boring


Reviewed by Luke   

Smallfoot: Bring Back Channing Tatum!

Smallfoot is an animated family fantasy film directed by Karey Kirkpatrick and Jason Reisig. The plot follows Migo (Channing Tatum), a young yeti who dares to think differently. Migo believes that creatures called Smallfoots (Humans), exist, a view that gets him banished from his village. So, he sets out into our world to capture and bring back a live Smallfoot to prove himself right.

This film is made good by the never-ending charm of Channing Tatum. Tatum hasn’t been in anything for a while, so I had forgotten what a fabulous on-screen presence he has. I kid you not, if a lesser actor has the role in his stead then the film would never have been able to rise above average. This film owes a lot to Tatum.

What I really enjoyed about this film is its heart. The inter character relationships are particularly strong amongst the main cast, with the bond between Migo and Percy (James Corden), perhaps being the most heartfelt of all. This is furthered by the fact that Corden is playing a toned-down version of his usual ‘character’, which really helps the character to be likeable and not grating.

The one area where the film falls down is in it’s supporting cast. There are plenty of talented names amongst this films’ supporting cast, but most of them have little more than one or two lines and leave no impression on you at all. It is an insult to the craft to even call a lot of these minor characters and they’re so paper thin that they might as well be non-existent.

Overall, a happy family film that will leave you feeling good.



Character relationships

A toned down Corden

Feel good message


The side characters aren’t even characters


Reviewed by Luke

Let Me In: Fresh Blood

 Let Me In is a horror film directed by Matt Reeves. The plot follows a young abused boy Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee), who befriends a reclusive neighbour girl Abby (Chole Grace-Moretz). The two form a bond, and then it is revealed she is a vampire. It is an American remake of the Swedish film Let The Right One In.

I think this film is genuinely quite creepy and well done. Vampire films have been done to death, so they need to be novel and inventive to stick out to me and this did. Yes, there are some elements of it that seem a little familiar, but the idea of a vampire who is trapped in the body of a 12-year-old girl falling in love with a 12 year of boy who then becomes her familiar is something I have never seen before. It is horror romance done right, take notes Twilight.

There are some pretty gnarly scenes and some of the gore is wince inducing, that is a pro in my book. The scenes where we see Abby hunting and killing are also well done and Moretz does a hell of a job making us scared of a tween.

My one complaint would be that the runtime was too long and that at almost two hours the film feels oppressive, there is no reason this couldn’t have been an hour and a half. Films need to be tighter.

Overall, a great vampire film that proves that there is still fresh blood in the subgenre



The gore

A unique spin on the genre

An intriguing ending


It is way too long


Reviewed by Luke

The Gentlemen: Ritchie Is Back

The Gentlemen is a crime film directed by Guy Ritchie. The plot details the British criminal underworld and one man’s fight to stay on top of it against rising factions.

I enjoyed Ritchie’s foray into blockbusters, they were enjoyable enough, but I am glad that he has returned to his roots in the crime genre. No one and I mean no one makes a stylised crime drama film like Guy Ritchie and this film proves that.

My one issue with the film is the way it is structured, there is a lot of jumping around in the timeline and a lot of the film is set to a conversation between gangster Ray (Charlie Hunnam) and tabloid creep Fletcher (Hugh Grant). Now all this jumping around does have a great pay off at the end that brings everything together nicely, the time jumping is not my issue. What I think the problem is, is that the interacts between Ray and Fletcher get boring after a point and feel repetitive, they weigh the film down.

Fletcher is by all means the worst character in the film, incredibly one note and annoying and Grant is given the least to work with of all the cast.

However, this is offset by the fact that most of the other characters are great and leap off the screen at you. Hunnam is magnificent and has a few very memorable scenes, but the two that really steal the show here are Matthew McConaughey as the man who has it all Michael and Colin Farrell as Coach. Farrell’s performance is easily the highlight of the film and he is the most interesting and intriguing character by far; his fight scene in the kabab shop is also fantastic.

Overall, this is a return to form for Ritchie in a big way. The pay off makes the film and solid performances from most of the cast back it up. A must watch for genre fans!


Farrell, Hunnam, McConaughey

The style of it

The pay off

The kebab shop scene


It doesn’t make the most of all of its characters as Grant and Golding’s characters are cut short.


Reviewed by Luke

Downhill: Never Has A Title Been More Accurate

Downhill is a black comedy film directed by Nat Faxon and Jim Rash. The plot sees a dysfunctional family head to a ski resort to try and reconnect, things slowly descend. It is an American remake of the Swedish film Force Majeure.

The words an ‘American remake’ should have been a red flag. This film is not terrible, but it is pretty bad. I found it very hard to finish.

The key issue with this film is that it is trying to do two things. Firstly it is trying to replicate the darker Swedish sense of humour, but crucially it does not understand it and so fails. Secondly, it is also trying to appeal to a more mainstream audience and have some more obvious jokes, this also fails. So the issue this creates both of these failures serve to make the other worse and more blatantly off-putting.

Furthermore, this film has a very talented cast with Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Will Ferrell as co-leads. Sadly it wastes them, it does not just waste them it also makes them incredibly unlikable and irritating; Dreyfus especially. Dreyfus’ character becomes so neurotic and annoying that you just want to mute her when she comes on screen, she is no way likeable, was that the point? Ferrell isn’t much better, but we have come to expect bad things from him.

Overall, this film fails on multiple levels and has no redeemable qualities. Don’t watch it.


The brief scene with Kristofer Hivju


The tone doesn’t work

It is not funny

The characters are hateable

It is a waste of time


Reviewed by Luke

The Princess Diaries 2: Formulaic Isn’t A Good Thing

The Princess Diaries 2 is a fantasy romance family film directed by Garry Marshall. The plot sees Mia (Anne Hathaway), searching out someone to marry so that she can become Queen, once her Grandmother (Julie Andrews), steps down from the throne or dies.

So this is just more of the same from the first film, if you liked that you will like this, that’s it.

However, I didn’t like this very much, in fact I thought it was painfully average. I thought that the jokes and charm of the first film are gone and the gimmick of the American girl who is not like everyone else in a foreign country gimmick gets old fast. This film really needed some new material, but fatally it doesn’t have any and sticks too closely to the first film.

The romance plotline doesn’t help matters as it feels a bit too mushy and sickly sweet, I rolled my eyes more than a few times. Usually, I believe a good romance side plot or main plot can save any film, but here it proves to be its undoing.

The actors Hathaway, Andrews and Pine are trying their best, but sadly they have nothing to work with from a script the feels cobbled together from a child’s fairy princess tea party material.

Ultimately this film can’t shake the feeling that it was solely made for the money and no one on the creative side really cared about it; those two things are painfully apparent.


The actors try

It is more of the same


The romance is too cheesy

The script is a train wreck

It is one of the most cynically made for the money type films I have ever seen


Reviewed by Luke    

Rio: Feeling Blu?

Rio is an animated family film directed by Carlos Saldanha. The plot sees nervous Blue McCaw Blu (Jessie Eisenberg), go on a trip to Rio to save his species. One he is there; he is kidnapped by poachers and must fight to return to his owner as well as save the other birds.

This film worked for me in a lot of different ways, right from the beginning when we see Blu as a little baby bird I was on board; it was so cute. Couple this with the fact that two of my favourite actors provide their voices to this film (Eisenberg and Jeamaine Clement), it was always going to be a hit for me.

I think the story of his wild animal learning to be wild again was really well done and I think the role was cast perfectly with Jessie Eisenberg. He has the shy, timid, neurotic nerd who will rise to the occasion and save everyone vibe down to a tee and it was perfect for this role. His Blu was loveable and relatable despite being an animal. He also had a lot of on-screen chemistry with Anne Hathaway who voiced the other Blue McCaw Jules.

Clement was everything that I would want him to be in this. He was the villain and evil Cockatoo with a chip on his shoulder and evil in his heart. Clement was wonderfully hammy and milked the role for everything it was worth, my one complaint would be that he only got one song; said song was excellent though.

Overall, this is a sweet film that really appealed to the animal lover in me, the voice cast did a really great job and I ended up really liking it!


Blu himself



Eisenberg and Hathaway have great on-screen chemistry


It just needed a little bit more


Reviewed by Luke   

The High Note: That Is Inaccurate

High Note is a music romance film directed by Nisha Ganatra. The plot follows Maggie (Dakota Johnson), a personal assistant to a former worldwide star who dreams of more. Then one day she meets David (Kelvin Harrison Jr.), a young talented musician who might be her big break. A romance follows.

To me this is A Star Is Born but without the chemistry. We have seen this before, similar films that show a romance blossoming to the backdrop of the music industry and I don’t know why, but I expected more from this film, the first half an hour told me to expect it, but it just feel apart.

The only two good things about this film, that I almost turned off three times, are Johnson and a rare great performance from Ice Cube. Johnson and Ice Cube are both trying to make something out of what they have been given, but they can’t change the fact that what they have is cliché tripe that is so laughably predicatable you can turn it off after 15 minutes and know the ending.

It gets worse, this is one of the most melodramatic, overly mushy films I have ever seen. The filmmaker and writer seem quite set on making every little thing into a huge dramatic event, in such a way that it would put the finest soap opera to shame.

Overall, this is contrived and overly familiar with no charm or chemistry to make it worthwhile. Much like Johnson’s 50 Shades films there is no chemistry here and the romance and plot fall apart.



Ice Cube


It is too mushy

It is too melodramatic

The leads have no chemistry

It feels like a retread of about 100 different rom-coms


Reviewed by Luke

Hotel Transylvania 3: Dead And Loving It

Hotel Transylvania 3 is an animated fantasy family film directed by Genndy Tartakovsky. The plot sees Dracula (Adam Sandler), and family go on a summer cruise as a means to unwind and spend more time together as a family. Dracula himself is on a quest to find love after he realises how lonely he is, however, the woman he wants to spend the rest of his life with turns out to be the great granddaughter of his worst enemy.

The Hotel Transylvania trilogy is one of ups and downs, the first film was strong and had a keen emotional arc that worked, the second abandoned this and instead decided to focus on cheap jokes and walking back the character development of the first film. The third film, however, is the best of the 3, it loses the ensemble of the previous films, they are still there just not focused on, and instead tells a very personal story focusing on Dracula coming to terms with moving on after his wife’s death 100 years ago.

The concise storytelling allows for us to really go on the journey with Dracula and connect with him. Much like the first film the emotional heart of this film is strong and powerful, it made me feel something. I also thought having Mavis (Selena Gomez), come to terms with her dad dating again, to get another perspective on the issue, was a touch of genius from a writing point of view as it brought it all together.

Overall, this film learns from the mistakes of the previous films and betters them in every way, creating a film with something meaningful to say that will hit you with the same emotional weight as a good Pixar film.


The focus on Dracula

The strong emotional connection/ message

Mavis and how they use here

Moving the character development to interesting and new places


I wish we got more of Dracula and Jonathan, Samberg and Sandler have great on-screen chemistry


Reviewed by Luke

Pirates Of The Caribbean, Curse Of The Black Pearl: Yo Ho

Pirates Of The Caribbean, Curse Of The Black Pearl is an action adventure film directed by Gore Verbinski. The plot sees a ghostly pirate crew go searching for the key to remove their curses, the only things standing in their way are a blacksmith, a lady of means and a dazzling pirate captain.

I have been a fan of the Pirates Of The Caribbean movies since I was young, I saw all the films from 2 onwards in the cinema, they were a big part of my early life. Yes, they dipped in quality after 3, rather dramatically so, but there is still a lot of quality to be found in the early entries of the franchise. I decided to rewatch the very first film and see if it still holds up; conclusion, it does.

The reason this film works so well is twofold, firstly the writing is sharp and well thought-out. Things are mentioned early on that come to be important later on and on repeat viewing this becomes all the clearer and you see the merit more. The character dialogue sparkles and the chemistry between the three leads is really built on and developed.

The other part of the reason is the scene stealing performance by Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow. Sparrow for better or for worse is one of the most significant pop culture characters of the last 20 years, he has appeared everywhere from spoof movies to videogames and it is all because of the fact that Depp’s’ performance stole our hearts and captivated our imaginations.

Overall, this is a great adventure film that stands the test of time, my one complaint is that there is no reason it should be as long as it is, and it really should have been cut down in editing.


The sense of fun/mischief

Depp’s performance

It makes pirates cool again

The trio work well together


It is way too long


Reviewed by Luke