Puss In Boots The Last Witch: Don’t Fear The Reaper Fight Him

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Puss In Boots, voiced by Antonio Banderas, is back after a long wait and is facing the end of his life, is retirement on the cards or one last tale of glory?

I was very pleasantly surprised by this film, the first Puss In Boots was very much meh and on the duller side of meh at that and lived firmly in the shadow of Shrek. However, this film has so much going for it, whether it is the genuinely quite stunning at times animation, or the character of the Wolf/Death, voiced by Wagner Moura, who is downright menacing and is also a fantastic on-screen presence.

I thought the story did justify the need to come back and revisit these characters and that the tale on the whole was surprisingly mature and sombre, it was a reflection on life, love and making the most out of the time you have left. The ending was basically just a massive tag for Shrek 5 Now With Teenager Ogres, and though I should be angrier about how blatantly this is done I think I am fine with it.

The main area where for me this film let itself down is with the supporting cast, they bring back Selma Hayek as Kitty Softpaws, Puss’s partner in crime and love interest, but they give her little new to do and that is without getting into Florence Pugh’s Goldie and the massively wasted opportunity that was. In my mind a lot of the backstory and dynamic between Goldie and her Bear family was most likely left on the cutting room floor and that is a shame, no one would begrudge this film being a few minutes longer.   

Overall, a surprisingly needed sequel that does some really interesting things with its animation.

4/5

Pros.

Death

The surprisingly adult tone

Puss’s arc and journey throughout the film

The ending

Cons.

The side characters are wasted

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Slumberland: Hanging Out With A Pet Pig

3.5/5      

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

After losing her dad, played by Kyle Chandler, Nemo, played by Marko Barkley, ventures into a world of dreams and nightmares in order to see him one last time.

I think the strengths of this film lie on the shoulders of Jason Mamoa and Chris O’Dowd, Mamoa for his effortlessly charming nature and surprisingly endearing turn and O’Dowd for just how much human realness he brings to his role as a guy suddenly forced into being a father. Of the two I would probably give it to O’Dowd as I think a few of his scenes where he is opening up emotionally with Nemo are quite powerful, as is the ending when he is racing to save her.

In terms of wider fantasy, the film has a few interesting set pieces but is mostly by the numbers. There is nothing that you won’t have seen done before especially if you are a fan of the genre. However, I did appreciate the gothic sense of style this film has which is almost certainly a by product of its source material, there is something very ancient and other worldly about this film, especially as it rarely features smart phones.

Overall, a surprisingly good Netflix film with some strong performances

O’Dowd

Mamoa

The heart

The gothic sensibilities

Cons.

It is nothing new

The CGI is a little patchy in places

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Disenchanted: It Is So Much Fun Being Badder

3/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Giselle, played by Amy Adams, makes her long awaited return.

I thought this film lacked a lot of the same heart the first film had, that is not to say this film is soulless but rather it feels more cynical than the first did. Obviously this film was made to tap into the nostalgia market, because legacy sequels are all the rage right now, and for the most part in that regard it just left me cold. It couldn’t evoke a lot of the same emotions as the first film and often I found it to be nothing more than just fine.

Adams is still trying and that is nice to see, other actors might have just phoned it in and spent Disney’s check. Her and James Marsden, for the few minutes he features, are the two stand outs of the cast for me. I liked that this time around they let Adam’s Giselle explore her evil side, and become a wicked step-mother I think it gave a greater sense of genre parody and also gave Adams more to do acting wise.

Overall, watchable and slightly above average for Disney + fare, but nothing great.

Pros.

It is watchable

Watching Giselle break bad

Adams

Cons.

Pacing issues

It never justifies its existence

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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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House Of The Dragon: The Lord Of The Tides

3/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Families are brought round the dinner table to try and mend fences

I thought this was a slower episode for sure but I did like the fact that it highlighted Rhaenyra, played by Emma D’Arcy and Alicent, played by Oliva Cooke used to be friends. There are moments in the episode where you almost think maybe this is all going to work out okay, maybe they can put their difference aside and be friends again, but then you realise the show that you are watching.

I thought Ser Vaemond felt very villain of the week like and it was clear from the offset that something bad would happen to him. However, I can’t complain too much as this storyline did give us an immensely satisfying Daemon, played by Matt Smith, moment in which he cuts Vaemond head in two and also allows for Viserys, played by Paddy Considine, to have one last strong moment and go out on top.

Overall, a fun episode but certainly not the best of the series.

Pros.

Daemon splitting heads

Viserys going out on top

Reminding us of the friendship between Rhaenyra and Alicent

Cons.

It is a bit slow

Sir Vaemond felt like a villain of the week

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The Curse Of Bridge Hallow: Marlon Wayans The Family Film Star

3/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A family moving into the suburbs are surprised to find that Halloween decorations are coming to life all over town.

Marlon Wayans in a family comedy? The phrase seems wrong doesn’t it, when I think of Marlon Wayans I think of his plethora of adult focused parody films or perhaps some of his surprising dramatic turns, but never once do I think of him as being a family film star. That said I actually liked him in this and thought that he was the best part of the film, without him this film would have been a lot worse that’s for sure.

I think the premise of the film feels very familiar and nothing new is added to it here, for the most part everything is incredibly predictable and you know where it is heading. Obviously as this is a family film the scares are fairly light on the ground, but Wayans does bring one or two laughs to make up for it.

The wider cast outside of Wayans might as well not even be there because none of them even register. For the most part they are a collection of phoned in performances and cliches lacking anything even remotely resembling character or personality, this is why Wayans and his character anchor this film so well as they at least bring some charm to proceedings.

Overall, a fairly average film made slightly better by Marlon Wayans.

Pros.

Wayans

A few funny moments

It is watchable

Cons.

It is very familiar and predictable

Most of the cast here aren’t very good

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The Winchesters: Pilot

2.5/5      

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

The CW is in desperate need for successful shows so now we are being given a spinoff/prequel about the Brothers from Supernatural’s parents.

So this episode was a mixed bag, in some senses it is nice to be back in the world of Supernatural again, in addition I also like the very active role that Dean, played by Jensen Ackles, is taking in the show being both the narrator and also turning up at the end, I think for this prequel series to work it needs to be tied in heavily to the original series. I think it is a shame that Ackles is still mainly acting through this franchise and think that he is a talented actor that deserves to breakout more, I hope he can return to the Boys next season.

Moreover, I think that Meg Donnelly, who plays Mary Winchester, is doing a hell of a lot of the heavy lifting here. She was the only new character who was both interesting and also charming the rest struggled to be either. I think that John, played by Drake Rodger, is a wet blanket and cannot possibly hold a candle to the Jeffery Dean Morgan version of the character we saw in Supernatural. The sidekicks were instantly annoying and one note, hopefully they don’t stick around beyond this opening arc.

Lastly I think that the opening mystery that this episode tries to set up is pretty boring all things considered and doesn’t really inspire confidence for where the series is going to go, however, it is worth noting that pilots are often quite rough and hopefully the later episodes will be better because if they carry on like this I will be checking out soon.

Overall, It is nice to see Dean again and be back in that world but ultimately this feels needless.

Pros.

Dean

The return to the world

It is watchable

Cons.

Most of the cast outside of Mary are dull and or one note

It has major pacing issues

The mystery doesn’t feel particularly interesting

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House Of The Dragon: Driftmark

4.5/5      

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Things come to blows at a funeral.

I think this may have been the best episode of House Of The Dragon yet. The tension throughout the episode was palpable, and the coming war is just screaming out at this point. Through out the whole of the episode you feel as though you are on a knife edge just waiting to fall over the other side, but that never comes which in my mind was disappointing.

I liked that Alicent, played by Olivia Cooke, finally made her feelings for Rhaenyra, played by Emma D’Arcy known openly and I thought the scene where she tried to stab her was, pardon the overused phrase, edge of seat viewing. However, my issue with this scene was that it felt anticlimactic, as though the show knows what we all want and told us to wait till after dinner. The fact that nothing was done about Alicent trying to kill a princess is shocking, and I for one was screaming at the TV ‘are you really going to let her get away with that’.

In other developments House Of The Dragon much like its forbearer Game Of Thrones is again pushing another incestuous pairing front and centre, but unlike with GOT here you are actually rooting for the couple far more. Matt Smith’s Daemon is great here, as always, and I really enjoyed his sneaky cloak bad scene towards the end of the episode; it is always fun to see him get into mischief.

Overall, I came damn near close to giving this 5, but I felt the ending was just a little anticlimactic.

Pros.

The tension

War is brewing

It is edge of seat viewing

The ending

Dameon and Rhaenyra finally get together

Cons.

It is a little anti-climatic

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