In Time: Not Enough Time To Sit Through This

2/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

In the future people stop aging on their 25th birthday with a one year countdown then beginning until their death, however, this death can be averted if someone has the means to find and secure more time; usually through connections or cash.

My, my what an uninspired science fiction tale this is. Throughout the film it feels increasingly like the director is trying to shove a message down your throat, what of is hard to say, maybe something to do with seizing the day or capitalism being bad, but ultimately whatever the film’s message is it just comes across as tired and cliched. This is not deep science fiction despite it really wanting to come across like that.

Moreover, after watching I am left asking the question of if this film could have been better had someone else starred in it. The answer to that question is probably, I have never understood the appeal of Justin Timberlake as an actor as often he struggles with even the simplest of roles, as such if a more skilled actor had taken the lead here who knows maybe it wouldn’t have been so underwhelming.

The pacing of this film is also a major issue, it feels far too drawn out and indulgent. The second act feels like a slog that goes nowhere and only exists to kill time, it ruins any excitement you might have after the opening of the film, which is actually okay.

Overall, a lame science fiction film that was all style and no substance.

Pros.

An interesting idea

A few well put together sequences

Cons.

Timberlake

The pacing

The limp message   

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The Social Network: Was Mark Zuckerberg Ever Human?

4/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

The story of the founding of Facebook.

I have seen this film well over 5 times it is just so good. The team of Fincher and Sorkin really come together to deliver something amazing here. The dialogue scenes are so impactful and tightly done that each one feels like its own mini action sequence, Fincher keeps the stakes up throughout the film and in my mind does justice to his subject.

I think this film for the most part doesn’t show Mark Zuckerberg, played by Jessie Eisenberg, as either good or bad but rather as just a human being who has seen some troubles in his life. I think Eisenberg is near perfect in the role and I don’t see how anyone else could have played the part, this is probably Eisenberg’s finest performance to date. Moreover, this film features Andrew Garfield which is always a good sign and he too has a strong turn here.

My main issue with the film is that the Napster stuff with Justin Timberlake feels quite like filler and doesn’t really need to be in the film, I think the piece as a whole would be tighter without it.

Overall, a magnificent biopic let down by a needless sub-plot

Pros.

Fincher

Sorkin

Eisenberg

The drama

Cons.

Timberlake and the Napster side plot

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Firestarter: The Remade Stephen King Universe

3.5/5      

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A remake of Stephen King’s Firestarter. The plot follows Charlie, played by Ryan Keira Armstrong, a young girl hunted down for her supernatural powers.

A lot of reviewers out there are giving this film very low scores and personally I can’t see why. I don’t know if they were very attached to either King’s original novel or the previous film, but I haven’t read or seen those so I can only judge this film based on its own merits and not compare it to anything else.

I thought for the most part this film was good, the tension was well done and I got vibes of Doctor Sleep in this regard. I thought John Rainbird, played by Michael Greyeyes, was fantastic until the final 10 minutes, he gave off a strong amount of supernatural intrigue as such you constantly wanted to know more about his character but the film didn’t reveal anything which I thought was a smart move. Moreover, Zac Effron also did a great job here further proving his serious acting chops, I thought during the psychic battle sequences he was incredibly.

Another highpoint for me was the score composed by John Carpenter, his son Cody Carpenter and David Davies. It felt like the perfect 80’s call back mixed with just the right amount of excitement and intensity.

However, it wasn’t all roses. I thought the CGI fire effects were poor, to make matters worse whenever Charlie used her powers the camera would cut to a close up of her face with the fires happening off screen which felt cheap and obvious. In addition, there were several moments in this film were it became unintentionally hilarious and made me laugh out loud in the cinema, I don’t think that is what the filmmakers were going for. Finally the ending of Charlie forgiving Rainbird and then going with him despite all the trauma he has inflicted upon her makes no sense and just seems forced in so that the film can have a happy ending.

Overall, above average and certainly with redeemable elements despite not being a great film.

Pros.

The score

Effron

The mystery of Rainbird

The tension

Cons.

The ending

The cheap CGI

It is unintentionally hilarious

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The Cellar: Apparently Hell Can’t Afford A Lift

3.5/5      

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A family move into a house in rural Ireland and not long after their daughter goes missing.

This won’t win any awards for originality, as the above premise suggests. However, I do think this was a surprisingly effective horror film and it left me feeling suitably unsettled. I would say the scares landed for the most part, and I liked some of the more out there visuals they went for. The ending was quite intriguing as well and it left me with a number of questions, which is always a good thing if done well.

My issues with this film boil down to one simple thing, Elisha Cuthbert. Cuthbert is the lead of this film so that American audiences can have a familiar face to cling to, I think this is a bad move. It makes no sense that the rest of the family have Irish accents and sound the part and Cuthbert blatantly doesn’t. Her performance is also not good and certainly holds the film back in a number of ways.

Overall, despite not really being anything new what is here works well, bar Cuthbert, and produces some good scares.

Pros.

The ending

The scares

The wider mystery

Cons.

Cuthbert

The pacing

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Fantastic Beasts The Crimes Of Grindelwald: J.K Rowling Is No Screen Writer

2/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Grindelwald, played by Johnny Depp, breaks out of prison and begins his reign of terror.

There is just so much wrong with this film. There are far, far too many characters for a start most of them do nothing and add very little to the film existing either as background colour or to advance one very specific plot point before fading into obscurity.

Eddie Redmayne’s Newt is again not needed here, really what these films should have been is firmly centred around a young Dumbledore and telling the tale of his love affair and eventually war with Grindelwald, there was no need to make these films about the beasts other than to sell toys. Newt could be removed entirely from this film and very little would change one way or the other.

I thought both Jude Law as Dumbledore and Johnny Depp as Grindelwald gave good performances and tried desperately to inject this film with some life and substance, sadly it was all too little too late.

Overall, there is no reason for this film to exist, it tells a tale that doesn’t really need to be told with about one hundred characters too many.

Pros.

Law

Depp

Cons.

Redmayne

It is too long

There are too many needless side characters

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Will Required Viewing And Disney + Homework Hurt The MCU’S Hold Over Hollywood?

Written by Luke Barnes

In this piece I want to talk about something I noticed within Doctor Strange 2 that I think could be a big problem for the MCU going forward and that is the over use of integrated and interconnected storytelling.

I understand that from a corporate standpoint Disney is pushing Disney + as hard as they can and, part of that push is having the various Marvel shows on the platform feeding into the wider MCU, however, this creates a very real problem for the MCU as a whole. Though there are plenty of diehard Marvel fans who watch every piece of content that comes out, there are also others who are far more fair-weather, you might follow a specific character or who might watch some of the films here or there. The Disney + approach only account for those first lot of people, for the second they won’t be familiar with the Disney + shows or at least not all of them and as such will have a hard go of it keeping up with the films.

In many ways the Doctor Strange sequel is an epilogue to Wandavision, the film makes numerous call-backs and references to the show, though Sam Raimi claims he never even finished it. As such you can see the problem, to fully understand Doctor Strange 2 you have to have firstly seen Wandavision and for those you haven’t seen it well they will miss out on a lot of the context and not really understand why these two Avengers are fighting, and therein lies the problem. Through truly integrating the Disney + shows The MCU is creating homework for viewers, and saying that if you want to understand what is going on you have to firstly pay for this streaming service and secondly watch all these shows, which becomes too much for some people. As the Arrowverse went on people were put off my how interconnected those shows got, to understand the latest crossover event you had to watch all these shows even if you didn’t like them, at that point it no longer becomes entertainment but an obligation and I have a feeling the MCU is heading the same way.

I believe that as these smaller shows become more and more vital to understanding the plots of these big movies then more and more mainstream audiences will check out, not wanting to have to commit 6 + hours of their life to watching a series they may not even care about simply to understand the plot of the latest movie. As such, I think attendance at Marvel films will go down, not becomes of superhero fatigue, not because of the ‘liberal agenda’ that some people say they are trying to push, but because of that fact that they no longer want to commit to watching all these shows and films and may even be coming to the conclusion that there are too many.

I think dear reader that this is what will halt the ever expanding dominance of the MCU, and though it won’t ever kill the franchise all together it will cause it to contract in on itself.

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iCarly: iBuild A Team

2/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Very much a filler episode that brought back Josh in a desperate attempt to bait audiences with nostalgia.

What more do I need to say about this episode? The a plot is a rivalry between Josh Peck’s Paul and Freddie, played by Nathen Kress, and the b plot is about Harper, played by Laci Mosley, losing her mojo and Spencer, played by Jerry Trainor, facing off against a food critic who is actually an art critic. My, my what delights.

The a plot has a few amusing quips from Carly, played by Miranda Cosgrove, but basically boils down to a cliché jealous love triangle, not in a romantic sense, and a vague excuse to bring back Cosgrove’s co-star from Drake and Josh which reeks of desperation; but hey at least it wasn’t the other one they brought back.

The b plot goes nowhere and does nothing interesting with Spencer or Harper, it basically just kills time until the end. Spencer’s silliness is again dialled up too high to try and make this subplot more interesting but it doesn’t move the needle.

Overall, a weak episode that is clearly filler.

Pros

Carly has a few amusing lines

It is fine to have on in the background whilst doing other things

Cons.

The gimmicky return of Josh Peck

The jealousy arc is cliched and dull

The b storyline feels like filler

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Star Trek Strange New Worlds: Strange New Worlds

3/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Star Trek finally starts being about exploration again.

I thought this first episode was miles better than anything coming out of either Discovery or Piccard however, it was not entirely perfect.

I thought Anson Mount made for a great lead and really sold the character. I enjoyed the cut aways to his character trying to process knowing his own death that was an interesting side plot that I think can be used to great effect over the course of the season. Moreover, I thought Pike’s relationship with Spock, played by Ethan Peck, was a lot of fun the two have great chemistry together.

The adventure of the episode was ultimately fun, even if the speech Pike gives does seem a little too referential to contemporary politics. I dislike how the other Star Trek shows of the newer generation feel the need to force in ideology at every turn they get as it takes me out of the show and forces me back to reality, hopefully this show can avoid that. One would hope this show could be different to the other new shows as it was made to go back to basics and avoid the criticisms and complaints of those shows.

Another thing that I thought was strange and didn’t notice until someone pointed it out to me, but the entire bridge crew bar Spock, Pike and one guy in the back is made up of women. Now on the surface this seems fairly like a non-issue however, it seems like in a quest for representation the show has over done it a little bit as it seems to be quite obvious. It is noticeable how few men there are on the show in general which again seems like it is being done for the purposes of agenda rather than good storytelling. Again hopefully later episodes can fix this.

Overall, a fine first episode lets hope it is only up from here.

Pros.

Mount

Peck

Romijn

Cons.

A creeping sense of identity politics

The speech took me out of the show and brought me back to reality

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Downton Abbey A New Era: Everyone Likes A Trip To The South Of France

4.5/5      

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Two interconnected stories of a trip to the south of France and a film shoot.

I never watched the Downton Abbey series and only went to see this film and the one before it because my girlfriend likes the show, but I have to say I did find a lot to like about this film. Most notably it has just the right amount of heart, making you laugh and making you cry in equal measures even I who have no attachment to these characters found it hard to not well up in the end.

Moreover, the film moves along at a nice pace and never starts to feel slow or boring you are constantly being entertained from start to finish. By that same token the performances across the board are fantastic with everyone involved giving it their all, if I had to pick a favourite I would probably say Hugh Dancy’s Jack Barber as he was a very welcome addition to the usual line-up.

I also enjoyed that this film gave Barrow, played by Robert James-Collier, a love interest and was not afraid to pursue an LGBTQ+ romance, I thought not only was it very progressive for the film but it also became the main source of heart in the film, by the end I was really hoping they could be happy together.

Overall, a good time and a lot of fun, even if like me you aren’t a huge Downton fan.

Pros.

The jokes

The emotion

The performances

The LGBTQ+ representation

The ending

Cons.

The brother sub-plot really goes nowhere

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Vengeance Turns Vol 1: New Life In The Old West

4.5/5      

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A female led western revenge film that sees a woman, played by Paola Luelmo, lose her husband and child and then go on a quest for revenge.

When you think about the wider Western genre it can be hard to name many films that are female led, there are a few like Jane Got A Gun, Bandidas, Calamity Jane, and True Grit, the last one is debatable, but on the whole the genre is fairly male dominated. As such it is nice to see a female led Spaghetti Western it feels so refreshing. I thought Paola Luelmo did a great job in the role and you really ended up buying her character transformation across the film.

I thought there were some elements of the exploitation genre here and I got a lot of hints of Revenge the French film from a few years back now. I liked that the film never strayed away from the gritty violence and maintained a fairly consistent tone and momentum across the entire runtime of the film.

I enjoyed the ending a great deal, and was left wanting more for sure. My one criticism of this film would be that it could have done with an extra 10 or so minutes just to give everything the breathing room it needed, but I suppose there is a sequel coming in which to unpack the unanswered questions of this film.

Overall, a very enjoyable western film with a nice exploitation esque edge to it.

Pros.

Luelmo

The ending

Nice to see another female led Western

The stakes and tension

The violence

Cons.

 A little more needed

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