Clifford The Big Red Dog: The Worst American Accent You Are Ever Likely To Hear

1.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

An unpopular girl, played by Darby Camp, becomes friends with a gigantic dog.

This was one of those times when you go into a film with low expectation and they are met. There are so many baffling issues with this film and in reality it was doomed from the beginning. Chief amongst these is why does Clifford, the gigantic dog, look like that?

Indeed, I don’t know if it is become of covid limitations or budgetary ones but Clifford looks bad, there is something about the CGI render of him that looks at best uncanny at worst like something out of the early nineties. As a result of this Clifford is always shot in a very specific way, which if you know what to look for with good CGI just shows how poor it is, and suggests that maybe the filmmakers were aware of it.

I think the greatest crime that this film commits is that it wastes your time. Basically there was no reason for this film to be made, the story wasn’t there and neither was the audience, it was a cynical effort to cash in on decades old IP and one that looks set to backfire badly.

What upsets me the most about this film is what it does to Jack Whitehall. Whitehall can be very funny and can be a good actor, look at Good Omens for proof of that but here…….. Firstly they give him a god awful American accent that really doesn’t work and that there is no reason for this as his character’s  sister, played by Sienna Guillory, is English and has an accent reflecting that so why can’t he?

Overall, your kids deserve better than this so don’t take them to see it.

Pros.

It is short

Whitehall has one or two good jokes

Cons.

Whitehall’s horrid accent

There is nothing new about it and it has no reason to exist

The Clifford CGI

It is a slog to get through

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What If: The Watcher Broke His Oath?

3/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Uatu, voice by Jeffery Wright, assembles the Guardians of the Multiverse to fight back against Ultron.

This was a good episode, but it wasn’t as good as the previous week’s episode and that is the crux of why I feel disappointed.

There was infinite possibilities for what they could have done here, but the no new characters rule again hamstrings the series. Instead of new characters and abilities we get the same old same old, Thor, voiced by Chris Hemsworth, using his hammer, Gamora, voiced by Cynthia McWilliams, using a sword, etc- we have seen that before. The only interesting part of the battle was seeing the various monstrosities that evil Dr Strange, voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch, could summon out of him.

I thought the ending had promise, though was also a little bit sloppy. The ending sees the evil Dr Strange holding the warring factions in a pocket dimension never to be allowed out, they will obviously escape. I just think they could have done so much more with it, with Zola and Ultron and maybe a combination of the two, but no.

I liked that this episode brought back a lot of characters from most of the episodes of the show and helped it feel connected together, rather than just a series of one-offs.

Overall, a strong ending but not as good as the penultimate episode.

Pros.

Assembling a new team

The animation

The promise of what the ending brings

Cons.

The ending feels a bit too easy

It would have been nice to see some new characters feature

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What If: Ultron Won?

4.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Ultron, voiced by Ross Marquand, is not defeated and has achieved his aim in removing life from the universe, now he has his sights set on the multiverse.

This was what I wanted from What If right from the beginning. Finally, after almost the entire season the show gets me to stand up and take notice. Why? Well for two important reasons. Firstly, this episode fixed one of my biggest issues with the show as a whole namely that Uatu, voiced by Jeffery Wright, is barely a character and has no purpose beyond reading out exposition. Here he had a central role, and we explored his character further. Secondly, this episode also bucks the trend of keeping things self-contained and brings in characters from other episodes.

I am very excited to see where the show can go from here because with it now becoming a whole narrative rather than separate individual tales it means we could see a new team arise in the final episode, a defenders of the multiverse perhaps; that will of course carry over to live action.

Furthermore, I think this episode does justice to Ultron. The threat is very present here and Ultron becomes a rival to Uatu himself which highlights just how powerful and intriguing the character can be when Joss Whedon is not writing him.

Overall, a stellar episode and one which has me excited for what is to come next week.

Pros.

Getting Ultron right

Having characters crossover

The ending

Giving Uatu focus and exploration

A strong sense of threat

Cons.

The human story was less interesting and felt like a distraction

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What If: Thor Were An Only Child

3/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Thor, Chris Hemsworth, comes to Earth to party.

This was a very watchable episode of What If, it was by no means the best, but it had its moments. I found this to be the funniest of all the episodes so far and it made me laugh quite a few times, Jane Foster, Natalie Portman, and Darcy Lewis, Kat Dennings have all the best lines.

Moreover, I enjoyed the back and forth battle scenes between Thor and Captain Marvel, Alexandra Daniels, they were very reminiscent of Tom and Jerry or Looney Tunes and had a good escalation. I found Captain Marvel to again be too self-righteous and dower to be any real fun, the only time I found her character amusing was during the final scene when she has the joke about helping Thor study. The MCU really needs to go out of its way to make the Captain Marvel character more fun and likeable because right now she is a buzzkill, though maybe that was the point of the episode.

I did not like the ending and I felt like it came out of nowhere, indeed having Ultron show up with a completed infinity gauntlet simply to end the episode seems like a silly and needless decision, they could have just ended it neatly at the wrap up of the party sequence.

Overall, a fun episode but not one without its fair share of issues.

Pros.

Thor

The comedy

It’s fun

Cons.

The ending

Captain Marvel

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The Witcher Nightmare Of The Wolf: Netflix Needs A New Animation Style

2.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Vesemir, voiced by Theo James, becomes wrapped up in a frightening series of monster attacks that seem different to anything he has ever encountered before.

Why do all of Netflix’s animated offerings look the same? I am not saying the art style doesn’t work, but I am saying that I want more diversity and variation within their animated output. I don’t like the fact you can’t tell this apart from Castlevania.

Moreover, the storyline here is so trite that I question anyone’s need to watch this film as they have seen it all before. Hated group has to work with those that hate them and then those that hate them turn on them it is so played out. I am a big fan of the Witcher books/games/TV show and as such I know that this storyline could have been done better. The evil mage who is anti-Witcher is so clear cut the twist reveal of oh actually she is evil doesn’t work as you already knew it, and it feels like the film gives it away early on.

Whatsmore, the tag at the end that showed Geralt felt ham-fisted. We all know where the story is going, we all know that Geralt is coming, however stuffing him in here feels like badly done fan service.

Overall, deeply bog standard.

Pros.

The fight scenes

A deeper look into Witcher lore
Theo James as Vesemir

Cons.

The end sting

The animation style and its overuse

The bland story  

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The Green Knight: Someone Needs To Learn To Wash His Hands, Or At least Wipe Them

4/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Sir Gawain, Dev Patel, sets out to meet the challenge of the sinister and mysterious Green Knight in a reimaging of King Arthur mythos.

The biggest pro this film has going for it is that it is original. I have never seen anything quite like this before, it is not quite a fantasy film, not quite a horror film- it is hard to place. To describe the film in a word would be to say ‘strange’, however in the best sort of way.

I enjoyed the exploration of masculinity, heroism and religion, whereby the film questioned the value of and then further examined each. Furthermore, I liked that film did do much to explain or define what the Green Knight is, it kept things mysterious which works a lot better and allows our collective imaginations to have over and fill in the blanks.

Moreover, Dev Patel is perfectly suited to the role and the film itself extracts his best qualities as an actor and put them proudly on display. It plays off the idea that Patel may not be the traditional leading man, his character is often overlooked by the other knights and seen as lesser because he hasn’t been on gallant adventures, this need to prove himself will prove his downfall. Patel manages a full gambit of emotions here and his performance never fails to both shock and delight.

My only real issue with the film is that because of the artsy way it presents itself it can often be hard to tell what is going on. There were a number of scenes where I was slightly puzzled as to what was happening as it didn’t seem to line up with other parts of the film, this is a deliberate choice, but it wasn’t to my taste.

 Pros.

Dev Patel

The Green Knight

The horror elements

The message

Cons.

The artsy confusing elements

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Space Jam 2: Blatant Product Placement Strangely Works Here

4/5

Written by Luke Barnes

I will admit I went into this with very, very low expectation. However, the film completely took me by surprise and I actually ended up really enjoying it. Yes, the film is a blatant excuse by the higher ups at WB to constantly advertise all their various properties, and yes it is excessive with the product placement, but in a strange way it all works well.

I think the reason this film works so well is because of how self-aware it is, it knows what it is, it knows what it is doing, and it makes a joke out of it. Honestly, this film is quite funny in a lot of places and it often has you laughing or at least smiling. Yes, there are a few cringey lines here and there, but they aren’t bad cringe and some of these lines prove to be amongst the funniest.

Lebron James is by no means a natural actor, but he is very watchable, and I would say he does a better job than Michael Jordan in the first film. I believed his bond with his son and in that respect I found the ending of the film to be surprisingly touching. Additionally, James has strong chemistry with the Tunes and him and Bugs are a good pairing. I would like this film to get a sequel so we can get more of them together.

In terms of being a Looney Tunes property this modernised the characters well and gave them a compelling motivation to help James and in doing so return to the court. The one comment I would make in this regard is that this is very much a Bugs Bunny film, and though the other well known characters appear he gets pretty much all of the screen time. Bugs ending runs the gambit between heart breaking and cheer-worthy, and you feel every minute of it.

Overall, the strongly negative response this film has brought out from a lot of people seems to be out of a sense of nostalgia, they are comparing this to the first film that they make have childhood connections with and viewing it like that this film never could have lived up. However, I think not only is this a good film, but I would say it is even better than the first.

Pros.

James

The Tunes characters

The emotions

The jokes

Cons.

It is a little blatant with the product placement

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Gods Of Egypt: I Don’t Remember The Egyptian God’s Having Scottish Accents Coming Up In History Class

2.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

I remember when this came out and instantly joined everyone’s worst of that year lists, I didn’t see it at the time, but now years later I have finally got around to seeing it and it wasn’t as bad as I was expecting.

So firstly lets get this straight off the bat the film is problematic for a number of reasons. All the Egyptian characters with the exception of a few are white, and to be even more insulting these Egyptian gods are also white for the most part; and in one case Scottish. Moreover, one of the few female characters in the film Elodie Yung’s Hathor is trotted around like a piece of meat barely wearing anything at all. The character even comments on what they are wearing, but that does not make it better or the film any less creepy.

That said, if you view this film more as a comedy than an actual action film then this film is passably watchable. It all makes no sense and the characters themselves are all over the place, but if you turn your brain off it is dumb fun.

I found Nikolaj Coster-Waldu to be as entertaining as ever, and I thought he was easily the high point of the film. The other male lead was widely forgettable, and I can barely remember anything about him to put in this review. Yung has good chemistry with everyone on-screen, but you can’t shake the feeling the film wants her to be ogled in the creepiest way. Butler is just playing his usual on-screen persona now just with more fake tan and eye liner.

Furthermore, a final thing to note, I found the decision to have all the God characters be bigger than their mortal counterparts to be oddly jarring to look at especially when both were on screen together. It did not look right and though I think it is a nifty idea it does not work out well in practice.

Overall, mindless popcorn action weighed down with some troubling production decisions.

Pros.

It is dumb fun

Yung and Coster-Waldu are fun and give good performances

Cons.

Yung’s character is objectified

It is whitewashed to hell

Butler is miscast  

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Luca: Life On A Vespa

4.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Luca delights me by signalling that after a few wilderness years Pixar are back on form. I very much enjoyed Soul, check out my review, but this film is just slightly better: both films, however, are leagues above everything Pixar has made over the last few years with the exception of Toy Story 4– so heading in a positive direction.

All the conversations that have been floating around since release about this being an LGBTQ+ love story or a hidden romance are wrong, as confirmed by people at Pixar. Frankly, it is slightly alarming to even be hearing these sorts of conversations considering the leads are children, who are have not reached the romantic stage of their life yet. Anyway.

I found this film had a good deal to say about our own world and how we view other people, like all good Pixar films this feature was quick to tap into our emotions and once it did it didn’t let go. The final scene is heart-breaking. However, what I enjoyed most about this film is that there are no scenes where the film feels overly like it is trying to make you cry or manipulate your emotions, it is far more organic than that and is better for it.

I found the sun-soaked world of Italy that we are introduced to transformative and lush. Immediately there are so many interesting characters to explore and meet and places to go, when you combine this with the under the sea areas, the scope of this film is truly colossal. I think it would be apt for this film to get a sequel as there is a lot left to explore and unpack.

I found the fantastical elements helped the film to explore the idea of outsiders and those shunned by society very well and brought the themes of the film to centre stage without them feeling forced down your throat.

Overall, a beautiful film.

Pros.

The characters

The world

The distinctive feel

Pixar is back

The final goodbye scene

Cons.

A little predictable plotwise

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Loki: The Variant

3.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

So, the second episode of Loki is good, there is no doubting that, however it does slump a bit when compared to last weeks mostly stellar opener. Mainly this is due to what I would argue is a rushed story decision on the part of the episode’s ending, but I can see why with a limited six episode run they chose to do it this way.

I am of course talking about Loki’s decision to chase after his evil variant and effectively leave the TVA. Like I said plot wise it makes sense, but I would have liked more time with the Loki and Mobius buddy cop dynamic, Owen Wilson and Tom Hiddleston have great chemistry together- hopefully they will still get to share a lot of scenes together.

As for the who the internet have dubbed prematurely Lady Loki, who is more likely Enchantress, it is far to early to cast any kind of judgement on her: though I will say it was a neat development to have it be her that truly begins the destruction of the Sacred Timeline it makes her vital to the narrative going forward.

Overall, a solid episode though one that is slightly in the shadow of its better predecessor.

Pros.

Loki and Mobius

A few very funny scenes

The destruction of the timeline

The things it sets up

Cons.

The plot feels a little rushed

It underwhelms after a strong first episode

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