The Pale Blue Eye: Satan Riding Large In Rural New York

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A man, played by Christian Bale, investigating a string of grisly murders finds unlikely assistance from a young Edgar Allen Poe, played by Harry Melling.

There is plenty to enjoy about this gothic mystery film though I don’t think anyone would call it perfect by any means either. The atmosphere and central two lead performances certainly create an engaging world, and Bale as always delivers masterfully, however it is with the mystery that things begin to come unstuck.

The mystery itself is not bad, I didn’t see it coming and the twist did feel satisfying at the time it was revealed, however, since then the twist has started to feel far too familiar it is a twist common to this sort of film and narrative and though it does work within the context of the film I criticise it for its over familiarity.

Moreover, I think as with many films the greatest thing going against this picture is its pacing which is nothing short of abominable. The film feels very exciting in the first and third acts but the second feels like an incredibly long slog and becomes more of an endurance test than anything else. Though I will say you should stick it out as the third act is quite lively.

Overall, the cast, atmosphere and mystery do bring something special to this film, however, the familiarity of the twist and the awful pacing make it a taxing watch.

3/5

Pros.

Bale and Melling

The atmosphere

The mystery

Cons.

Though the twist works it feels far too overly familiar and lazy

The pacing is simply awful

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The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty: Jumping On A Fish Boat And Heading Out To Parts Unknown

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Walter Mitty, played by Ben Stiller, is a boring office drone, who spends half his life in a day dream until one day adventure comes calling.

I enjoyed this film quite a bit, I found it to be uplifting and an incredible force for positivity which in these dark days we all need. It certainly isn’t an original premise, both because it is based on a book, and also because the idea of the stiff finding his spirit of adventure has been so done to death over the years, though Stiller certainly tries to put his own spin on it.

Having watched many, and I do mean many, of Ben Stiller’s films over the years I have to say this is one of his best and certainly more nuanced: think The Royal Tenenbaums Stiller. There is a certain degree of emotion to his performance that will make many people sit and reflect on their own lives, Walter Mitty feels like the ultimate everyman but that is the point. I also thought that Sean Penn was great even though he only had an incredibly small role.

I will say that this film leans more towards being an earnest yet uplifting drama and take on human life and the spirit of adventure rather than a Ben Stiller comedy film. It really isn’t goofy and the laughs are not forthcoming a lot of the time and that is okay, in a sense stupid dumb jokes would break the wholesomeness of the film in a sense.

Overall, a sweet life affirming film that is only let down by a fairly generic plot.

4 /5

Pros.

It is truly feel good

It reminds you of the good in the world

Stiller is fantastic

It is paced to perfection

Cons.

The plot does feel a little familiar to a lot of other projects

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The Amazing Maurice: The Pied Piper Was A Cat

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A cat called Maurice, voiced by Hugh Laurie, and his human companion, voiced by Himesh Patel, travel town to town working a racket wherein they pretend to rid each town of their rats when in fact they have brought them.

I thought this was quite a charming animated film, what’s more the setting in the wider world of Terry Pratchett opens it up for all manor of possibilities if there ever was to be a sequel. I found the film to be fairly easy to watch with some likeable characters, but that is not to say everything about it was great.

The film certainly has some lulls wherein it slips into being boring and this is made worse by the pacing of the film. Furthermore, this issue is compounded by the fact that Patel’s Keith is never given much in the way of personality and is fairly bland so any section focusing on him on his own away from Maurice drags on. This is somewhat alleviated by Emilia Clarke’s Mallica who serves as both the narrator of the tale as well as the female lead and is in every respect the stand out character of the film. Clarke makes the character have so much life and charisma that it is hard not to be excited when the film is focusing on her.

Hugh Laurie as the titular Maurice is fantastic but then again you always knew he would be.

Overall, a fun animated film though one that could have worked better if the pacing was tighter.

3.5/5

Pros.

Clarke

Laurie

It is a lot of fun

The world of Pratchett

Cons.

The pace

It drags at times

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Matilda The Musical: Netflix Doesn’t Seem To Understand How To Adapt Books

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A reimaging of the classic Roald Dahl story.

Yes, this is yet another case wherein the original is vastly better than the remake, and I don’t even mean book to film, no what I mean is that the original Matilda film with Danny DeVito was vastly, and I do mean vastly better than this film.

My main issue with this film is that it loses a lot of the cheeky sense of fun from both the original film and the book, this film fundamentally isn’t fun but is instead depressing. Within the DeVito version we never really got a sense that Matilda’s parents were outrightly abusive towards her, yet we get that here. In addition Miss Trunchbull in the original film is a sinister villain at times but also has a core of cartoonish silliness to her that makes her actions seem less outrightly sociopathic and cruel, again this is missing here.

Another thing I disliked about this version of Matilda is the songs. There is no getting around the fact that the songs in this film are not strong, worse yet the film goes out of its way to repeat the same songs or lines from them over and over again to the point wherein you question whether the film is trying to force you to like them.

I will give this film praise for a stellar performance from Lashana Lynch who does make a great Miss Honey, but her performance isn’t enough to save this film.

2.5/5

Pros.

Lynch

It is watchable

It has one or two funny moments, but it is by far not enough

Cons.

Pacing issues

It is depressing and no fun

The songs make everything worse

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Pinocchio: More Disturbing Then It Had Any Right To Be

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

The classic tale of Pinocchio, voiced by Gregory Mann, but now with added nightmarish creatures and fascist leaders.

Well this film achieved the impossible, it managed to make the Disney take on Pinocchio, animated not the trash live action, look tame by comparison. That is no small feat considering the fact that the animated Disney film has it fair share of deeply unsettling moments, but this film pips it by having some truly quite disturbing moments. Whether it is Pinocchio’s frequent deaths wherein he goes to an underworld like land and has conversations with frightening looking creatures, in most cases voiced by Tilda Swinton, or in the design of Pinocchio himself that never quite lets you settle down. In all honesty I found Pinocchio himself and the way he looked and acted to be the most scary thing about the film.

Writing this review for you now I can’t honestly say whether I enjoyed watching this film, it was certainly an experience viewing it though I don’t think wholly pleasant. Instead of giving it slap bang in the middle marks I have given it an above average score as whilst a lot of things in the film didn’t work for me or I found a little jarring, I like how far Del Toro pushed the concept and the risk he took with it, the Mussolini stuff he did was really quite daring and funny and fit the film in a way I wouldn’t have expected it to.

The ending will also be a source of contention for many as it is not by any account a happy ending, if anything it is fairly melancholic, it reminded me of the stylings of Tim Burton if that is any indication for you, but hey Ewan McGregor does a great job as the cricket and mostly keeps things light.

Overall, I can’t say I enjoyed the film but it is bold and some of it works really well.

3/5

Pros.

A risky and more adult approach

The setting and time period

McGregor    

Cons.

It is incredibly sad

Pinocchio himself is hard to warm towards because he looks unsettling

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Lady Chatterley’s Lover: Netflix Throws Another Book On The Bonfire

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Yet another classic work of British literature is given the Netflix treatment and soiled.

Netflix and for that matter most non-British production studios just can’t ever seem to get right the very British sentiment behind these books, be it this or the works of Jane Austen, the themes and ideas that in many senses are timeless. So what do they do instead? They do what all hacks do they modernise, they take something timeless and they date it in the current year, they make yet another Bridgeton which some people like sure but that is also a million miles away from the spirit of the text.

The central romance, if you can call it that, is incredibly stunted and at times just plain awkward, it is fairly clear neither of the leads have any chemistry with the other, or even seem to like each other, and all of the forced romance scenes comes across as incredibly cold, emotionless and a little silly. I would say of the two Emma Corin has the far worse showing, with this and My Policeman really starting to make me question how they were ever able to get into acting in the first place as they clearly lack talent. A rich parent is probably the answer.

Overall, Netflix needs to realise that they can only push their Bridgeton esque pap so far.

1/5

Pros.

I’m struggling

Cons.

It doesn’t understand the spirit of the text at all

The romance is awkward and cringe

The leads have no chemistry

It is boring and a slog to watch

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Enola Holmes 2: Back By Algorithm Demand

2.5/5      

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Enola Holmes, played by Millie Bobby Brown, is back for an all new tedious mystery that you will immediately forget about the second the film ends.

So I will say that this film is watchable, and does have a few good moments. I liked the furthering of the romance between Enola and Lord Tewkesbury, played by Louis Partridge, and thought that it was very sweet and I also liked that Enola is now out on her own and is not still at the beck and call of her brothers.

However, I would say that is where the positives for this film end. Mainly my problem with this sequel is that it is totally unneeded, the mystery is far more dull than the first, you don’t care about it and it all just feels like Netflix were screaming for more of the same. Indeed most of the aspects that worked well in the first film, such as the fourth wall breaking, are turned up to the max here and in almost every case they are pushed too far and to a point wherein they become annoying.

Moreover, though Henry Cavill was a strong part of the first film, here he feels pretty aimless. Maybe that is the point, but they force in Moriarty Holmes’ famous nemesis to try and give him something to do and even that ends up boring. In many sense I feel like this film was forced into production before they had a good idea as to what they wanted the sequel to be and so a lot of it comes off as generic.

Finally, a lot of the commentary and messaging of this film is not as insightful or as fresh as it thinks it is, and instead ends up bring out the same old same old feminist lectures that have been done better before. It comes off as try hard and wannbe, if they are going to give the film a message lets at least have it be timely and fresh.

Overall, a fairly needless sequel.

Pros.

Enola is finally her own boss

It is watchable

A few entertaining moments

Cons.

It doesn’t justify its existence

The commentary is tame and tepid

It can’t find an interesting story to tell

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The Rings Of Power A Rethink And A Changing Of Opinion

Written by Luke Barnes

I want to use this piece to talk about The Rings Of Power, now as some of you may know I reviewed the very first episode of this show and gave it a trashing, however, for one reason or another I decided to give the next few episodes a try and see if the show picked up and not only did it do that but I ended up really liking the show as a whole. In this piece I want to talk about my changed feelings about The Rings Of Power and also the ability to change opinions and have opinions evolve over time.

Many civilised people know that you can have an opinion on something one day and change it the next, however, there are some out there who call you a hypocrite for changing your opinion or for having a rethink of something in a renewed context. These people are silly and their criticism invalid.

Anyway, I had a strongly negative reaction to the first episode of the show, but I found almost all of my issues with the show were fixed entirely in the remainder of the season. The issues with cannon really weren’t as big as many made them out to be and in some case the issues were actually nonexistent, Galadriel, played by Morfydd Clarke, does think she is better than everyone but she is brought down a peg over the course of the season and humanised. Indeed Galadriel ends up being one of the best characters of the show and a lot of that is to do with Clarke’s performance.

Moreover, what the show does with its wider cast really brings the show together in a nice satisfying way, the finale pays off almost all of the mysteries of the season and gives each character their due. In this regard I particularly like the twist reveal of who Sauron is and how they end things with him.

I suppose the point of this piece is to say I was wrong, The Rings Of Power is a good show and you should check it out.

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House Of The Dragon: The Black Queen

3/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

War finally breaks out.

Sorry readers that summary is in some ways misleading, as you see therein lies my big issue with this finale. The whole season has set up this big war between the Blacks and the Greens, but do we get to see any of it? No, we don’t. In essence this whole episode is just yet more set up and filler.

I suppose you could claim the dragon battle counted as some action, but frankly after all the slow talking scenes and set up I was expecting far more action in the finale. I thought Rhaenyra’s order of no fighting until she gives the word was basically the writers way of saying let’s leave it all to next season as it allows for the episode to drag out the threat and prospect of war without actually delivering much of anything.

There are still some good scenes, including the dragon fight, as don’t get me wrong this isn’t a bad episode it is just sorely disappointing.

Overall, yet more teasing.

Pros.

Matt Smith’s performance

Showing the childbirth scene and pushing that boundary on screen

The dragon fight and what it sets up for the next season

Cons.

It is disappointing

The season long build up doesn’t lead to much of anything  

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House Of The Dragon: The Green Council

4/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Viserys, played by Paddy Considine, finally dies and sides are formed across the nation.

I enjoyed this episode for the most part, it really does feel like we are getting close to the action and to the start of the war, with the opening shot of it maybe being fired in the final moments of the episode.

I liked all the scheming and backstabbing and thought that a lot of things that had been set up earlier in the season really came into their own and made the episode work. In many ways this episode does all that a penultimate episode of a series should it sets the stage for the finale.

Something that I was less keen on in the episode was its efforts to humanise Alicent, played by Olivia Cooke, who by this point is turning into one of the major villains of the show. Now I am not saying there is anything wrong with a nuanced and layered villain but sometimes you just want to see them be evil.

Overall a good set up episode for the finale.

Pros.

The ending

The set up

Bringing in elements from across the season

The excitement to come

Cons.

The show needs to just let Alicent be a villain

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