The Kid Who Would Be King: The School Play Version Of King Arthur

2.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A new retelling of the King Arthur legend.

I am very mixed on this one, on one hand I enjoyed that it felt like a fresh take on the King Arthur legend apart from all the other adaptions of the story, it also had an incredibly distinct British charm and sensibility to it that I thought added a lot to the film. Moreover, it featured Patrick Stewart and I find it hard to not like something with Stewart in it.

However, on the other hand this film lacked any fun or imagination it needed to really come to life. There are some sections in the film that feel imaginative and well-executed perhaps even Harry Potter esque, but then they end and the film replaces them with a long drawn out beige scene in which the film progresses but doesn’t make you feel anything whilst doing so.

Additionally, what may be the greatest crime of this film is that it wastes Rebecca Ferguson in a villain role wherein she is given nothing to do and is kept off-screen for most of the film. This is an incredibly baffling decision as Ferguson is an incredibly strong performer so by not including her the film shoots itself in the foot.

Overall, it has potential but does nothing with it.

Pros.

The British feel to the film

A number of imaginative scenes

Patrick Stewart

Cons.

It doesn’t execute on its potential

It splits into dull

It wastes Rebecca Ferguson

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Metal Lords: Yet Another Film About High School Outcasts Forming A Band

2/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A group of high school outcasts form a metal band.

My, my the originality of this film is honestly a little shocking, I am being sarcastic if that wasn’t obvious. How many films before have had this exact same plot, I would find it very hard to say but I would say it is a very large number.

I understand D.B Weiss, yes one of the Game Of Thrones writers who you thought had faded away into infamy, wrote this based on his own personal high school experience but there is so little love or personality here that it just sort of fades into the shadow of other better films like Deathgasm.

Adrian Greensmith was well cast and does manage to give us a truly haunting performance of a deeply troubled young man who is lashing out at a world that has never shown him any kindness. He and an oddly perfect cameo from Joe Manganiello do help to make the film somewhat more enjoyable, however it simply isn’t enough.

Overall, this is the sort of film that will be promptly forgotten about 10 minutes after watching.

Pros.

Greensmith

Manganiello

Cons.

It is generic

It adds nothing new to the genre

Most of the cast are deeply milquetoast

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Turning Red: No One Fears This Hormone Monster

4/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A young girl, voiced by Rosalie Chiang, confronts her coming womanhood through the form of an ancient curse that turns her into a giant red panda.

I will admit this film was a lot better than I was expecting it to be. In many ways I was expecting something more akin to Wish Dragon, a blatant effort to pander to the Chinese box office with a sprinkling of pro party propaganda forced in, usually as a means to secure a release. However, this film stayed well clear of that and instead stuck to what Pixar do well telling stories about parent-child strife and familial disfunction.

I thought the narrative and message of this film was beautiful, the notion of embracing change and your coming hormones whilst also trying to do right by those you love was conveyed in such an expert way that it would be impossible for you to feel nothing at it. Furthermore, I think it is highly commendable that this film tackled coming of age issues that are often not talked about, especially not in animation, I think it is vital we see more films like this that approach the same old story structures but from different, less-covered, points of view.

My only issue with this film is that there are a few lines that feel quite cringe, these are particularly present in Mei’s, voiced by Chiang, introductory scene. This came off to me as an ageing writers room struggling to write for a youthful modernish voice, luckily as the film goes on this becomes less of an issue.

Overall, a sweet film that reminds us all of the power of Pixar.

Pros.

The message

The emotion

The coming of age journey

The characters

Cons.

A few cringe lines early in the film

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The Tender Bar: An Earnest An Emotional Performance From Ben Affleck Saves The Day

3/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A young boy, played by Daniel Ranieri as a boy and Tye Sheridan as a young man, turns to his surly uncle, played by Ben Affleck, for life advise in place of his absentee father, played by Max Martini.

Not too long ago in a review I was saying about how actors who then become directors don’t usually end up becoming good at it, I even gave George Clooney, the director of this film, as an example and whilst this film doesn’t prove me wrong it does show a nice upswing for Clooney’s filmography and suggests that maybe there is hope for the actor turned director.

That is not to say this film is perfect, it really isn’t. From a structural point of view there aren’t any stakes, things just happen and then it is on to the next thing. I understand it is supposed to be autobiographical to some extent and life isn’t like a film there often aren’t great stakes and battles to be won, but this film’s narrative needed that. As it stands it’s just one thing then the next, happening one after another without any real consequence.

Furthermore, Sheridan was probably the wrong actor to cast for this role as he seems incapable of emoting. Mud was a good film, but Sheridan wasn’t the main focus there, however in everything that has followed wherein he is the lead he seems incredibly one note and like he is pulling the same face throughout regardless of what is happening on screen- this is true here, painfully so.

However, rather surprisingly this film is saved by an incredibly emotional and earnest performance from Ben Affleck. There are several moments in this film where I would say Affleck’s performance is worthy of awards consideration, one that springs to mind is the emotion on his face during his final scene in the film as he watches his nephew, who is basically a son to him, drive away into the sunset: his face is so full of emotion, happiness and sadness, pride and loss it is quite moving. Sadly, it also points out just how poor of a job Sheridan is doing.

Overall, there might be hope for Clooney yet if he keeps working with Affleck.

Pros.

The emotion

Affleck

It was well paced

Cons.

No stakes, things just sort of happen and then are moved on from

Sheridan  

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Diary Of A Wimpy Kid: Disney Coming In To Ruin Another Franchise

1/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A new animated take on the Diary Of A Wimpy Kid books by Jeff Kinney.

Where to begin on what went wrong with this film.

I think the most obvious place to start is that this film is a carbon copy of the much better live action version, it lifts scenes and lines of dialogue from that film and that just serves to remind you how needless this film really is, it is an animated reskin of a better product that came out just long ago enough for kids today to not remember it.

Speaking of the animation there is something noticeably off with it. I can’t quite put my finger on what is wrong, but there is certainly something going wrong with the lighting and the framing of it a lot of the time throughout the film. The animation style itself is fairly ugly, I understand they have chosen it to look closer to the books however it looks cheap and low rent.

The voice cast for the most part is doing their best to mimic the performances from the beloved live action films, and whilst in a few cases the effort is valiant, it never really rises to the occasion and lacks a lot of the charm and the warmth that made the performances in the live action films what they were.

Overall, entirely needless.

Pros.

It is short and if you close your eyes at times it feels like you are watching the live action version.

Cons.

The animation is off

It feels wholly unneeded and unoriginal

It is unfunny

It lacks any charm or warmth

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Belfast: Personal Yet Familiar

4/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

The life and times of a young boy, played by Jude Hill, from Belfast whose family has to come to terms with leaving the area to escape the Troubles.

Do I think this is a good film? Yes. Do I think it should be inevitably nominated for Best Picture? No. This is a good film in many ways but it is not spectacular, and despite this being a very personal journey and reflective of a certain time and place there is an element over familiarity here, meaning you have seen this film before the plot is not quite as fresh as it really ought to be.

I thought this film particularly came into its own when dealing with emotion. I thought there were a number of stirring scenes here, the final scenes we get with Ciaran Hinds’ Pop and Judi Dench’s Granny and both powerful and the shop looting sequence is also quite harrowing. I was impressed with the film in that it both manages to show the danger of the Troubles whilst also presenting it from the point of view of a naïve child and keep the lens being from his perspective but at the same time not losing any of the perceived danger.

I thought the performances were good across the board however, I think Caitriona Balfe should be spotlighted for any awards nomination from this as she was excellent here- easily stealing the show.

Overall, a powerful yet familiar film.

Pros.

A strong cast across the board

Managing childlike nativity with the grim reality

The ending

Balfe especially

Cons.

The plot feels a little bit overly familiar  

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Big Mouth: Season 5 Overview

4/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

The kids face off against love and hate.

I thought after last season this was an improvement, that is not to say that last season was bad more that it went a bit too heavy on its themes of anxiety and future dread, this I felt did a better job as it tackled and did justice to its themes whilst keeping things moving at a fairly nice breezy pace.

Moreover, I thought the jokes were more on point this time around as it returned to the comedic ability of earlier seasons having me laughing quite a few times per episode. In terms of emotional weight I think this film tackles teenage love, unrequited love and hate all quite well having the characters go on believable journeys throughout the season. I enjoyed the scene where Nick, voiced by Nick Kroll, ventures into the monster world to find out who the boss is only for it to be the real life actor Nick Kroll, I thought the metaphor of you being in control and being the boss of your emotions was apt and quite poignant for the show.

If the show was going to end I would say that scene should have been the last of the show.

Moreover, I enjoyed the Christmas episode quite a bit as well. At first the idea of an anthology of stories seemed to be irritating as it was taking us out of the action, however it actually served as quite a nice pallet cleanser and had a number of great segments.

Overall, a strong season that saw a closer return to form for the show.

Pros.

It is funny

It is heartfelt

The Christmas special

The live action scene

Cons.

On occasion it belabours its points and drags them out for too long

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Our Ladies: Life In A Small Scottish Town

3/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A group of Scottish school girls head up to the big city, in this case Edinburgh, for a school choir competition, however they are far more interested in drinking, partying and hooking up.

Damn this one is an unexpected punch in the feels, get ready so it doesn’t take you by surprise as it did me. You have been warned.

The premise as I described it to you above seems pretty breezy and fun, and though the film has elements of that there is far more going on below the surface. The plot of this film is far deeper than you might give it credit for and it runs the gambit of commenting on such issues as terminal disease, inequality, homophobia and many more. In many ways, this film tackles both the high points and the low points of life and doesn’t shy away from either.

I found this film to be depressing, but maybe that was the point, maybe you were supposed to leave it reflecting on how these girls have less life opportunities than other people based on their location, gender and class background. However, that is not to say I didn’t find any moments of enjoyment in the film, I did. There are several moments in the film that are not only enjoyable but cheer worthy.

I thought all the performers herein were entertaining and endearing and by the end of the film I cared enough about the characters that I wanted them to have a happy ending, sadly that is not how it pans out.

Overall, a surprisingly dark tale of teenage angst, love and life.

Pros.

A few funny moments

Likeable characters

Well-paced

Cons.

It is too dark

It leaves you feeling depressed

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The Exchange: In Search Of A Similar Soul

4/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A small town teen, Ed Oxenbould, sets out to get a sophisticated French pen pal in order to find someone else like him. However, the exchange student he gets proves to be more than he bargained for.

Beneath the teen coming of age comedyiness of this film there is actually something quite soulful and human there. For every joke about sex, or some other teenage cliché, there are several deep comments about self-acceptance, racism and finding your place in a world where no one is like you.

I thought the cast across the board was strong, Oxenbould has come a long way since his days rapping in The Visit, and here he manages to capture acute social anxiety and embody the outsider better than any other actor I’ve seen in a teen film in a long while. Moreover, Avan Jogia is a delight here, he is the heart and soul of the film, and his character is beautifully written. Though he might seem like a young man with everything he could ever want in the world, he is actually far more troubled than that. I thought it was an ingenious choice to never really elaborate on what Jogia’s Stephane has experienced back home, but rather elude to it.

I would say the film’s humour is hit or miss. For the most part I didn’t find the teenage humour particularly funny, but I did find Justin Hartley to be hilarious. Hartley is truly an underrated talent; I found his man child character to be easily the most broken and most amusing character of the whole film.

Overall, a surprisingly insightful comedy film with a lot going on under the surface.

Pros.

Jogia

The deeper trauma

The coming of age elements

Oxenbould

Cons.

Not all the jokes land

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Plan B: ‘Save Your Car For Your Husband’

4/5

Written by Luke Barnes

On the surface the similarities between Plan B and the HBO Max exclusive Unpregnant are hard to ignore. Both feature young women seeking out a way to get rid of their unwanted pregnancy, which takes the form of a cross country road trip with their best friend, both differently cover a lot of the same ground, however, both are unique, and both are good in their own right.

Plan B steers away from some of the more social conscious, politics heavy areas of Unpregnant and focuses more on the leading pair coming of age and what that means for girls in this day and age. That is not to say there aren’t some heavier moments peppered in, there are, but widely this film is more comedy focused.

I found this film to be quite funny, it made me laugh out loud on a good few occasions and had me chuckling throughout. I thought both the leads had moments to shine in this department and were well balanced, avoiding a one’s funny one’s trying too hard style situation.

Overall, a strong comedy film about coming of age and female friendship, only spoilt by a few slight pacing issues.

Pros.

The humour

The leads

It feels real and lived

You care about the characters by the end

Cons.

The pacing

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