King Richard: The Beginning Of A Smithissance


Written by Luke Barnes


The previously untold story of Richard Williams, played by Will Smith, the father and coach of two of tennis’s biggest stars.

To me at least, Smith has been treading water for years, I can’t remember the last time I watched a Will Smith film and thought wow, it is a real shame as in the nineties and early noughties he really was putting out good quality content, but in recent years it has dropped off. However this can be viewed as a return to form in a big way for Smith.

I think this film could be the start of a renaissance for Smith, similar to the sort of late in the game career revitalisation that Matthew McConaughey had, and still to an extent continues to enjoy. Smith is terrific here, he plays the man to whom family is the most important thing, a man who will suffer and bleed for those he loves, and he does it with such gusto that it is hard to look away from. Quite frankly you can see the amount of effort and passion that Smith is putting into the role throughout the film and it really makes for something special.

I would say the greatest hinderance of this film is its length. There is something really quite special here but the film almost loses that amongst the bloat of it’s runtime and that really is a problem.

Overall, proof that Will Smith is nowhere near done.


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The Eyes Of Tammy Faye: Preaching To The Converted


Written by Luke Barnes


This film details the rise and fall of televangelist preachers Tammy Faye Baker, played by Jessica Chastain, and Jim Baker, played by Andrew Garfield. Based on true events.

For the most part this film is an interesting look into the world of televangelists, showing a behind closed doors look into their world of power, abuse and infighting. It also has a few strongly emotional scenes that do land well, and strike chords within you. However, that is not to say this film is great by any means, there certainly are issues with bias and pacing throughout.

 The performances are strong from the central duo, with Chastain giving one of the best performances of her career, and Garfield having some really strong moments of quiet intensity. Moreover, Vincent D’Onofrio steals scenes as Jerry Falwell and is incredibly menacing whenever he is on screen, he is well cast in the antagonist role to the Bakers.

Something I noticed whilst viewing it is this film is very favourable to Tammy Faye, so much so that I was expecting it to have been produced by some of her relatives. I find it hard to understand why the film is so content to go after everyone else involved in this greedy story yet leave her blameless. I think by making her into this blameless angel the film risks losing any kind of realism and instead becomes an effort in aggrandisement.

Moreover, the pace is quite off here. There is no real reason for this film to be on for over two hours, as it could be wrapped up nicely in a tight hour and a half, the only reason I can see for this bloated runtime is because the film likes to indulge itself. A good example of this is the botched ending that sees Tammy sing again for the first time in years, and we see how in her head there is a backing bad and a flag and various other elements, and the song just goes on and on. The film doesn’t know when to end.






The ending

The bias

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Black Mass: The Comeback That Never Quite Panned Out


Written by Luke Barnes


This film recounts the life of ‘Whitey’ Bulger, here played by Johnny Depp.

This film always feels like a shame to me. Not because the film is bad but because it could have been the start of a big comeback for Depp and yet it never panned out.

I think that this is one of Depp’s finest roles, he manages to capture the ruthless killer whilst also making us somewhat like/understand him. The character that Depp brings to life in a nuanced and multi layered way reminds us that no character is simply good or bad but shades in-between.

Moreover, this film is also strengthened by a terrific supporting cast with Benedict Cumberbatch, Jessie Plemons and Joel Edgerton all giving terrific performances and really helping to bring the film together. Cumberbatch in particular steals the show here.

I also think the score of the film adds a lot and serves to nicely compliment the film and reflect the emotion of the scenes. I would say of all the gangster films I have seen this one’s soundtrack was the only one to stick with me after watching.

My main criticism of the film would be the pace, the film takes a long time to get where it is going. Though his early life is interesting the film spends far too much time there and not nearly enough time on his later life.

Overall, a strong Johnny Deep fronted gangster film.



The supporting cast

The score

The ending


The pacing

A very slow start

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Respect: Musical Biopics Have Been Done To Death


Written by Luke Barnes


We follow the life of Aretha Franklin, Jennifer Hudson, and see the highs and lows of parts of her career.

Since release this film has been much maligned, and my review is decidedly in the middle.

Do I think this is a good film? No not really, average but certainly not good. There are positive aspects to this film, the story is interesting, and it keeps you hooked for about two thirds of the film. Moreover, Hudson and Forest Whitaker both grace us with terrific performances, that really help to bring these characters to life and elevate the film.

However, that is where my list of pros runs out. There are many issues with this film, the most glaring of which is the run time. There is no reason for this film to pass the two hour mark, none. Earlier I said, the film keeps you entertained for two thirds and that is very true as by the final third you have already lost interest and are ready to leave or turn it off if you are watching it at home.

Moreover, try as it might this film can’t escape the fact that at its core it is just a very average biopic film. There have been many, many musical biopics over the last few years, but truly this one feels the most soulless and lifeless. There is so much more the film could have done with it’s subject matter, but instead decides to settle for mediocrity.

Additionally, for as good as Hudson and Whitaker are Marlon Wayans is bad. Seeing Wayans appear as a serious actor is always a gamble, more often than not a bad one. That is proven thoroughly by his performance here where he stands out for all the wrong reasons.

Overall, Franklin deserved better than this.


It is interesting at times

The songs are still powerful

Hudson and Whitaker



It is generic

It has huge pacing issues

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Lansky: Even Mass Murdering Gangsters Have A Sensitive Side


Written by Luke Barnes

In many ways this is a deeply average crime/biopic film. There is nothing about the rise to infamy story told here that you have not heard before. However, there is something of an emotional nuance here that really takes the film in an interesting direction. We see the character as not just a cold blooded gangster but also as a man who cared deeply for and ultimately was unable to help his disabled son. There is a duality here, the film allows us to see outside the black and white and see a more accurate grey in regard to the situation.

Sam Worthington has not been in something in a while, or at least that’s how it feels to me, the last time I remember seeing him on screen in a big way was Avatar. However, this is not the comeback film or performance fans of his would want. Worthington is entirely forgettable here, and just about anyone could have played his role. Harvey Keitel fares better as the titular Lansky, it is nice to see him on our screens again and he does manage to leave an impression with his performance: proving once again why he is such a big force in the genre even now.

Furthermore, the film has pacing issues but not the ones you would expect. Indeed, the issue with this film is that it feels rushed, there is a lot going on and then bang it’s the credits. It all just feels rather abrupt and skipped over, there are a lot of unanswered questions left behind and the whole thing feels sloppy pacing wise.

Overall, Keitel and some nuance manages to push this film into being a slightly above average gangster affair that fans of the genre will fine pleasing.


The emotional nuance


The ending and the emotion



It feels rushed

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Percy Vs Goliath: The Breadbasket Is Under Attack

Percy Vs Goliath


Written by Luke Barnes

I am a big fan of Christopher Walken, he is one of those few actors who is near always great even if he is only in a film for a short cameo, and this film is no different. Walken makes the character of Percy feel very human and sympathetic and does a lot to honour and capture the spirit of the real man himself.

Moreover, I think it is the performance of Walken that puts this film above a lot of other similar films, and believe me there are a lot of them, the idea of a regular person standing up to a large corporation is a very popular type of narrative that can be seen throughout the history of cinema, and back further into religious cannon: it taps into our universal love of the underdog. However, despite Walken being good this film does end up fading in with the rest of them, and the story itself is very predictable in this regard.

Furthermore, Walken is supported by a very talented cast as well with Zach Braff and Christina Ricci giving scene stealing performances, and easily holding their own with such a veteran performer as Walken.

Overall, despite a lot of high calibre actors giving good performances the film ends up feeling a little too predictable and familiar.






It is predictable and feels a little too similar

It has pacing issues

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Steve Jobs: Seth Rogen Should Do More Dramatic Roles

Steve Jobs


Written by Luke Barnes

This film is a testament to the writing prowess of Aaron Sorkin. The film is simply two hours of Steve Jobs, here played by Michael Fassbender, having conversations with people, however what could easily have become boring and lost in a sea of tech speak actually sparkles and flies by. Sorkin perfects the art of the conversation, and as we see these moments in various different eras of Job’s life we are taken on an emotional rollercoaster and learn and feel far more about the former CEO of Apple then we ever have before.

Moreover, this film reminded me what a talent Michael Fassbender is, he perfectly sinks into the role of Jobs to such a point where I started to believe he was him. Furthermore, Seth Rogen is wonderfully muted and impactful in his performance as Jobs’ long-time friend and jilted business rival Steve Wozniak. Rogen plays the role straight, not going for dumb laughs, and manages to prove to us all that he can be a talented dramatic actor when he wants to be.

Though the film may have too slow of a pace for some, I do believe the film is near perfect in terms of pacing. The film does not feel like it is on for just over two hours and mostly flies by as you are so engaged with the subject matter

Overall, a riveting  film that will easily entertain those who appreciate its slower pace.


The writing

The sparkling conversation

Michael Fassbender

The near perfect pace


A slow pace that some may find off putting

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Son Of The South: Anyone Can Be A Hero

Son Of The South is a biographical drama film directed by Barry Alexander Brown. The plot retells the early life of civil rights activists Bob Zellner (here played by Lucas Till), showing his early struggles and triumphs.

There have been many films where Till has been good, but he never stood out enough with a film to deserve awards and to break through into wider Hollywood, this however is that film. Till deserves awards for this one, this is his breakout film or should be at least.

This film was near perfect in every way, there was only one slight issues with it, can you guess what it is? Anyone who has been following my reviews for a while know damn well how I feel about Lucy Hale, (she can’t act and ruins any film that features her prominently, with Fantasy Island being the one film that made me question that statement), and the same could have been true here: thankfully after the first half an hour this film ditches here. Her half an hour performance isn’t good, but that almost goes without saying.

This film is important as it shows that no matter where you come from in life, you can help to better the world. Zellner’s own grandfather was in the Klan and threatened to kill him for helping the civil rights struggle, but despite his family Zellner went on to help change history. We truly can all be heroes.

There were a number of powerful scenes here, including the lynching scene and the riot at the bus station, that hit hard and leave an impact; this was not long ago in our history and have we come all that much further since? Really? So a mixture of despair for the monster that is the human race, but also a hope that the good can beat the bad in our world to a point where words like the Klan and White Supremacy lose their meaning and can be forgotten about permanently.

Overall, I can’t recommend this film enough, please watch it.


Lucas Till

The powerful message

The emotional impact

It leaves you thinking after watching


Lucy Hale


Reviewed by Luke

A Street Cat Named Bob: One For The Cat Lovers

A Street Cat Named Bob is a biopic, drama film directed by Roger Spottiswoode. The plot tells the real-life story of recovering homeless drug addict James (Luke Treadaway), and the cat that gave him a new lease on life.

I loved the book this was based on, so I went into the film with high expectations. The film seems far more down beat than the book, though the friendship and eventually turn around is inspiring and uplifting a lot of the moments along the way are deeply, deeply depressing. I have to say when the film ended I was left feeling bummed out.

I enjoyed seeing the bond between James and Bob (the titular street cat), I thought their relationship was very endearing, as someone who has had many cats over the years I can say that it is very effecting and will strike a cord with any cat owners.

Treadaway seemed convincing in the role, I enjoyed him and his characters emotional arc. However, I would say his Australian accent was inconsistent, it came and went sometimes you could hear it and it was believable but other times he seemed to forget to do it.

Overall, this film packs an emotional punch, if you can bare some of the more intense moments of despair then there is a beautiful film here.


The James/Bob relationship

The ending

The emotion

As a cat lover I found it even more impactful

It is very sad

Treadaway accent comes and goes


Reviewed by Luke

Ham, A Musical Memoir: An Ode To The Past

HAM: A Musical Memoir is a biographical, comedy, musical film directed by Andrew Putschoegl. The film serves to tell the story of Sam Harris’ rise to fame.

This is a very effecting film, in multiple sense of the word. While watching it I became fascinated with this persons rise to stardom, not only was I rooting for them I also became invested in them as a person.

During my time with the film I was frequently smiling, also there were quite a large amount of laughs to be had over the run time as well; not laugh out loud sorts of laughs but definitely a few strong chuckles. Moreover, the complexity of this film’s emotion transitions comedy and becomes something more. Quite a few times while watching I could feel the film pulling on my heart strings, I found the character plight effecting, the film did not need to be overt in this, it never felt manipulative with its emotional delivery, yet it had a strong impact.
I also enjoyed the musical elements of this film I thought they worked well and added a nice flavour to the standard biopic format. I think in many ways this film seems destined to change the format of the biopic genre as a whole or at least pump some fresh blood into it, as it takes the best elements of something like Rocketman and distils them into a more refined product.

Overall, a must watch, it will make you laugh it will make you cry and most importantly it is a great way to kill a few hours.


It is funny

It nails the emotion

I was invested in the story

The musical elements work well


The first act is quite slow


Reviewed by Luke