Lightyear: Back In The 90s This Would Have Been A Good Idea

2.5/5      

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

The film that inspired Andy to buy Buzz in Toy Story.

I think this film makes a pretty clear cut argument for how Disney has slowly corrupted and ruined Pixar, forcing the studio to make sequels, prequels and spin-offs that don’t need to exist and to sacrifice their heart and soul in doing it.

I am not going to say this film is awful and needless all the way through because that isn’t true, it does have good moments here and there, but by and large the biggest issue here is that this film never justifies its existence.

I thought the writing was exceptionally weak, which is a shock coming from Pixar. This can be seen with lazy storytelling choices such as having the important crystal be destroyed but then moments later they just have a new one and can go back out into space, with no mention as to how that is. Moreover, the character journey of Buzz having to learn to trust other people and then having an older version of him be the villain of the piece just feels insultingly obvious and on the nose. I understand that this film is for kids so it is not going to have the best writing, but come on this is just so lazy.

Chris Evans is fairly fine as Buzz Lightyear, you forget it is him after a while and the difference between his voice and Tim Allen’s become less noticeable over time.

Overall, fairly meh. Nothing special.

Pros.

It is watchable

It has a few sweet moments

It is fairly short

Cons.

It doesn’t justify its existence

The writing is poor

It is very forgettable

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It’s A Wonderful Afterlife: Ghosts Of Girlfriends Past Got Real

3/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A mother, played by Shabana Azmi, becomes so obsessed with who her daughter, played by Goldy Notay, is going to marry that she starts killing people who she views as getting in the way or to have slighted her daughter. Sadly for her these people later come back as ghosts that haunt her every waking moment.

I thought this film had a lot of charm, is it the best film ever? No. However, there is more than enough to enjoy here. I liked the spin this film put on the idea of the traditional mother worried about daughter being single storyline and thought the added horror comedy elements really helped to bring it all together in a strong way.

I thought a lot of the jokes landed and I found myself laughing a fair bit throughout, I thought Sally Hawkins’ best friend character had all the best lines, though maybe some would say these days there was an element of cultural appropriation within her character.

My main issue with this film is as it so often is the pace of the film. I thought the film was overly long and had too many needless asides and sub-plots, it could have been a lot better if it had been half an hour shorter is what I would say.

Overall, above average though not quite up to the level of Gurinder Chadha’s later work Blinded By The Light though few films are.

Pros.

It is a lot of fun

The performances are good

Sally Hawkins

Cons.

It is too long

A few of the jokes don’t age well

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Star Trek Strange New Worlds: Spock Amok

4/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Spock, played by Ethan Peck, swaps bodies with his betrothed, played by Gia Sandhu.

Many people may dislike this episode because it is a lot more light hearted and silly and whilst there is a somewhat unavoidable feeling of filler to it, I actually really enjoyed it.

I liked that we got to see a more human side to these character than we normally would if they were off fighting in space wars or exploring doomed worlds. Though the premise is silly it gave us a great insight into Spock at this time in his life and allowed us to see his perspective in a more clear sense. Further, the episode did not use a lot of the cheap jokes and plot lines of the body swap writing device and largely tried to do something new with it, playing it mostly straight, I enjoyed this as I feel handled differently it would have become trite and played out fast.

I thought the b plot and the later subplot about the negotiation with the new alien race were both inferior in a lot of ways to the body swap idea though one was better than the other. The La’an, played by Christina Chong, and Number One, played by Rebecca Romijn, shore leave b plot was fun and fairly light, Romijn’s acting felt a little forced during this part of the episode but maybe that was the point as her character is supposed to be a fun killer so having fun wouldn’t come naturally. The later subplot about the negotiation mostly felt flat, boring and like a convenient way to include both Pike, played by Anson Mount, in a meaningful way as well as to do something with the body swap.

Overall, mostly a fun episode with a lacklustre b plot and a boring resolution.

Pros.

Seeing Spock’s perspective

The fun of the body swap

It is nice to see a more human side to the characters

A few funny moments

Cons.

The sub plot about the negotiations was boring and the b plot felt forced      

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Ms. Marvel: Crushed

4.5/5      

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Kamala, played by Iman Vellani, starts to use her powers whilst also crushing on the new boy at school.

This show continues to be excellent.

So many times I criticise films and TV shows for not understanding the youth of today and for not being able to write for it, however, this show proves that it can be done and gives me hope for the future. I really enjoyed all of the teen angst of this episode, and thought that once again Vellani was just excellent in the role.

It was fun to see Kamala learning more about her powers, it is interesting to note that in the episode they make a point to say how her powers are a product of her and not the bangles, which means her being an Inhuman might still be on the table. I also thought the sequence of her saving the kid was really well done and I liked that it did not go perfectly first time, it feels like good character progression.

Moreover, I thought the scenes with Kamala’s friend Nakia, played by Yasmeen Fletcher, about her Muslim identity and fitting in were really powerful and well written. It also serves to highlight the importance of good well written representation as it can take someone’s innermost thought or struggle and showcase it on screen showing others who might have the same issue that they are not alone.

My one criticism of the episode is that the clearly villainous DODC agent, played by Alysia Reiner, feels incredibly on the nose. I am fine with it if she is just going to be a throw away villain of the early part of the series, but it would really be a disserve to the show if she were to stick around until the end or serve as the shows main villain and she feels like a cliché walking.

Overall, this continues to be one of Marvel’s best TV shows.

Pros.

Vellani

The music

The representation

The teen voice

It is a lot of fun

Cons.

The DODC agent feels almost cartoonishly evil

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iCarly: iThrow A Flawless Murder Mystery Party

4/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Carly, played by Miranda Cosgrove, takes over party planning for Freddie’s birthday after everything Pearl, played by Mia Serafino, has planned goes wrong. This leads to issues within Freddie, played by Nathan Kress, and Pearl’s relationship.

Since the first season it has been obvious that the show was setting Freddie and Carly up and I for the most part have been onboard with it. I don’t like the fact they have dragged it out this long, with the characters only really talking about it in the final moments of this season finale, with the will they won’t they decision happening in the first episode of the next season if it gets renewed. I would have preferred to see them get together in the final frame of this season and then have next season be primarily focused on them as a couple, but no they just had to end with a cliff-hanger.

I thought the emotional stakes of the episode felt right, the scenes wherein Pearl is realising that her and Freddie aren’t a good fit are tough to watch and do feel sad. Though the show wants you to care about the possible Carly Freddie relationship, it also wants to give Freddie and Pearl and earnest send off.

The side plot about Spencer, played by Jerry Trainor, and Harper, played by Laci Mosely, both trying to leave the party to meet their blind dates, with it actually turning out they were going to meet each other, was fun if very obvious.

Perhaps this show is gearing up to do a Friends and have most of its main characters in relationships with one another.

Overall, a good end to the season that leaves us wanting more.

Pros.

Will they won’t they Freddie and Carly

The drama

The jokes

Spencer and Harper’s B plot does provide some much needed comedic relief at times

Cons.

The cliff-hanger

It was very obvious Spencer and Harper were each other’s dates

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Obi-Wan Kenobi: Part V

4/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Vader closes in on Kenobi, played by Ewan McGregor, and Reva, played by Moses Ingram, has her origins explored.

First things first, the flashback scenes wherein we finally got a return from Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker weren’t great. What I mean by that is twofold, firstly not a huge amount happened in them and secondly the de-aging CGI used on Christensen wasn’t good, there was something deeply uncanny valley about it.

My other issue with the episode was that the ending implies that Reva will go and hunt down Luke Skywalker if she survives her injuries, this makes no sense as in the episode she was helping Kenobi to a degree and had a heel turn so to go after a kid would not make sense in terms of character progression. However, that aside I do think that this episode is probably the best one for the character of Reva as the youngling theory is confirmed and we get to see more nuance from both the writing and Ingram’s performance.

I thought the final fight with Vader was pretty strong, it was fun to see just how powerful Vader is and the return of the Grand Inquisitor, played by Rupert Friend, satiated the part of my brain that needs things to stick to cannon. I would say the highlight of the siege was probably the death of Tala, played by Indira Varma, as it felt incredibly powerful emotionally.

Overall, another good episode though I do wish they would stop using this de-aging tech as it doesn’t look good.

Pros.

The Vader fight at the end

The death of Tala and its impact

Reva’s origins

Kumail Nanjiani’s return

Cons.

The ending

The de-aging tech

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The Boys: Glorious Five Year Plan

4/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

The Boys go to Russia to try and track down a weapon that will stop Homelander, played by Anthony Starr. Meanwhile, Starlight, played by Erin Moriarty, tries to recruit more supes to her anti-Homelander resistance.

I am glad to see that Soldier Boy, played by Jensen Ackles, didn’t actually die and will not instead be a rival to Homelander in the supe game. I think that the season finale will be a battle between the two that likely Homelander will lose causing him to snap, and honestly I am very here for it. I enjoyed seeing more of the Boys get powers with Hughie, played by Jack Quaid, this time being the one to juice up. I hope more members of the gang do so it can be closer to the comics.

The Starlight sub-plot is again weaker, with everything he has done it makes little sense that she stays working alongside Homelander, but I will say it was cathartic to see Homelander put a definitive end to the love triangle between Starlight, Hughie and her old flame.

Overall, I think this episode brought the action and was firing on almost all cylinders.

Pros.

More of the Boys on V

The return of Solider Boy

The ending

Lots of action

Cons.

It makes little sense why Starlight is still in the Seven   

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The Boys: Barbary Cost

3.5/5      

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

After a very public rant Homelander, played by Anthony Starr, rises in public ratings and starts to feel like he can take on his Vought overlords. Meanwhile, the Boys ask Mallory, played by Laila Robins, about her time in Nicaragua wherein she saw the supposed death of Soldier Boy, played by Jensen Ackles.

A slight step down from the second episode, but still quite strong. The octopus eating scene will stay with me for a while it is all kinds of messed up and really highlights The Boys at its obscene best. I do still strongly believe this season is pushing Homelander to an extreme wherein he is going to go fully off the rails by the end. In that vein I don’t like the idea of the quasi forced relationship between him and Starlight, played by Erin Moriarty, I know he is just doing it to mess with her but I don’t see why the character would care enough to fake a public relationship with her, especially after she just walked the red carpet with Hughie, played by Jack Quaid. This again feels like more forced relationship drama.

The Nicaragua stuff handles better and the flashbacks for the most part work well, we get to see Payback in action and see more of Jensen Ackles Soldier boy who is quicky starting to steal scenes. I also thought the Butcher, played by Karl Urban, side plot wherein he is suffering withdrawals from the temporary compound V was interesting to see and his scene with his surrogate son was quite powerful.

Overall, a very good episode but the Homelander/ Starlight relationship announcement at the end just feels like forced in drama and the action is a bit lacking in the episode as a whole.

Pros.

The flashbacks

More of Solider Boy

Homelander going further off the rails

Seeing Butcher destroy Ryan and the drama of it

Cons.

The episode as a whole lacks action

The Homelander Starlight relationship twist at the end feels forced, more needless drama for padding

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Jurassic World Dominion: This Is What Killed The Dinosaurs

2/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Yet another shady biotech company is causing trouble for the world and all the leads of the Jurassic series must rise up and stand together to stop them.

It wasn’t so much that this film was bad just totally unneeded.

It was fun seeing the old cast again but the film never really gave them an interesting or compelling reason to be there. When pondering why they have returned to the series the answers given are not because the plot needed them, as the giant locus could have been defeated by the newer cast, no the clear answer is they were just brought back for the sake of nostalgia.

I thought this film would focus far more on how the dinosaurs have now been let lose on the world but really that gets swiped under the rug fairly early on, yes we see the odd dinosaur attack here and there but the locus plot seems to be all that the film focuses on. This is obviously disappointing.

Also seeing yet another evil biotech company just makes one roll their eyes as hasn’t the series had enough of that old chestnut? The biotech baddies even build a park esque location to house the dinosaurs which comes under attack towards the end of the film meaning we came dangerously close to the double cliché of having the dinosaurs once again escape into the world.

I am not saying this film is entirely bad there are a few good scenes and I think Jeff Goldblum, DeWanda Wise and Bryce Dallas Howard do manage to salvage the film to a degree, but there are just too many issues with this film. An example of one you would think easy to fix is the incredibly poor CGI when Claire, played by Bryce Dallas Howard, is ejected from the plane: it makes bad Youtube greenscreen work look good.

Overall, the franchise goes out on a meh.

Pros.

Goldblum, Howard and Wise

A few fun moments

Cons.

It feels cliched

The bad CGI

The boring locus plotline

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Dashcam: Triggering Libs And Running From Demons

3.5/5      

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Annie Hardy, played by Annie Hardy, live streams her travels to England wherein she comes into some demonic trouble after pretending to be a food delivery driver.

I had been excited for this film for some time, then I read that some cinemas in the UK were banning screenings of this film as it was so offensive, naturally this made me want to see it more even though it proved to most likely just be a marketing tool, and now after seeing it I would say it mostly lived up to my expectations.

I don’t think this film is a homerun in the same way Host was, I think there is a lot to like for sure but it is not without its issues. My main issue with the film was the fact that the shaky cam got a bit too much at times with it going here there and everything to the point that it was hard to see what was going on. Moreover, the film is further made hard to follow by the fact that it never gives concreate answers to anything that is happening and you don’t know what is going on a lot of the time.

That said, I do think this film is scary and has a number of good scenes that stick with you after watching. The abandoned world of night time England made for a refreshing setting and also somewhat of a novelty.  

Hardy’s lead is supposed to be unlikeable, I would assume, to give you mixed feelings as she comes into trouble. On the one hand you want to see the monsters get her but then again you also sympathise. I think there is some commentary trying to be communicated through that depiction within the film but it is not strong enough that I could tell you what it is.

Overall, a strong and refreshing horror film only held back by too much shaky cam and a lack of concreate answers.

Pros.

Strong scares

A novel and refreshing setting

The tension

The ending

Cons.

Too much shaky cam

It is never clear what is going on

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