Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania

Stars: Paul Rudd, Kathryn Newton, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Douglas, Michelle Pfeiffer, Jonathan Majors
Director: Peyton Reed
Writers: Jeff Loveness, Jack Kirby

As Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) embraces his new normal after the events of Endgame, we catch up with him as he promotes his autobiography “Look Out for the Little Guy” whilst rebuilding his relationship with his daughter. At a family pizza night Cassie (Kathryn Newton) surprises her Dad when he finds out she has been studying the Quantumrealm and in a sudden accident the 5 Lang/Pyms get sucked into the whacky world of the Quantumrealm. 

Freak event after freak event causes the party to be separated and Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer) leads Hank (Michael Douglas) and Hope (Evangeline Lilly), whilst Scott and Cassie find themselves caught up in a rebellion uprising against “The Conquerer”…

Enter Kang. 

Jonathan Majors returns to the role of Kang the Conquerer after his cameo in the season one finale of the Disney+ series Loki. Kang has one ambition, to conquer all multiverses because of the horrors of his past. 

Scott and his big team work together to find a way out of the Quantumrealm, whilst battling Kang and supporting the socialist uprising along the way. 

Majors performance holds the entire film together in an unexpected way and develops the character in both his past but also his future. Kang is joined by comic book favourite M.O.D.O.K, who has a somewhat familiar face and is used as a violent pawn in Kang’s vicious game. 

Cassie, now brilliantly played by MCU newcomer Kathryn Newton, is a rebellious teenager who supports the rights of those whose lives were ruined by the blip.  However, this socialist behaviour leads her into sticky situations, both in the Quantumrealm and in her reality. Newton is fantastic in the role and embodies the sass and confidence that Cassie has yet to bring to the Ant-Man stories. 

The visual effects and world building bring an almost Star Wars edge to the MCU, the closest we’ve seen to this point is from Guardians of the Galaxy 2, however this time it is all consuming. Parts of this film was shot on the MCU volume and kudos to all involved in creating this wild and whacky world. Although occasionally ropey, the effects are vivid and fast paced, keeping up with the energy of the film and its pivotal characters. 

Despite the ambitious surroundings and storytelling, ultimately the film felt like a character piece. Focusing on the relationships between Scott and his family and Kang and his past. 

The full title of the film is Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania, although including The Wasp in the title is unjustified as, yet again, Hope Van Dyne is completely underused. She has one epic moment towards the finale of the film but otherwise she is forgotten about and pushed to the side. A disservice to both character and performer. 

Ultimately, I had a lot of fun with this film, it is completely different to anything seen in the MCU so far and manages to utilise the great character performers at its disposal. Majors and Newton are absolute standouts and Rudd manages to continue Ant-Man’s legacy with both humour and heart. I can’t wait to see it again and thanks to the TWO credit stings, I can’t wait to see what’s around the corner for Phase 5 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 

Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania

Animation Roundup 2022

2022 has been a great year for film, cinema’s have boomed thanks to the huge release of Top Gun: Maverick, Jurassic World: Dominion and closing the year with Avatar: The Way of Water. But, despite the exciting live action films that have graced the silver screen, I think it’s time we celebrated the explosion of animated films we have been gifted this year. From the return to the Toy Story universe in Disney/Pixar’s Lightyear to the gruesome battle between teddy bears and unicorns in Unicorn Wars, I’m going to delve into some of the animated highlights of the year. 

If you can, I ask you to cast your minds back to the start of the year. We’d just seen Disney’s Encanto take home the Oscar for Best Animated Feature, which came as no surprise to anyone. In an Oscar’s first, Danish animated documentary Flee was awarded Best Feature Length Documentary at the Academy Awards and The Windshield Wiper from Spanish filmmaker Alberto Mieglo wins best animated short. After the celebrations of the 94th Academy Awards we waved goodbye to the animated films of the last 12 months and looked forward to 2022 and what it had in store.

Disney/Pixar were straight off the mark with the release of their highly anticipated coming of age animation about a young teenage girl Meilin who reaches a stage in her adolescence and finds herself turning…ahem…red. Turning Red is up there with my favourite animated films of the year and celebrates everything great, and at times not so great, about being a teenage girl. With the addition of boy band 4-Town and her awkward best friends, it resonated with audiences of all ages and thanks to its stunning CG animation (what else would we expect from Pixar?) Turning Red should be celebrated. 

Turning Red was Pixar’s first outing of 2022, followed just a few months later with Lightyear which was Pixar’s first cinema release since before the COVID pandemic. Lightyear tells the origin story of the beloved Toy Story hero Buzz Lightyear, this time round voiced by the perfectly cast Chris Evans and supported by a gabble of other well known voices. From the likes of Taika Waititi, Kiki Palmer and James Brolin as fan favourite Zurg. Lightyear is great fun, and with the addition of the fun robot cat sidekick SOX, despite slightly lacking the whimsy and nostalgia of the Toy Story series, still managed to capture our hearts.

The end of 2022 has seen the release of Disney’s Strange World, which despite its weak marketing, is absolutely stunning. The adventurous tale of Searcher (voiced by Jake Gyllenhaal) who goes on a rescue mission to save their home with the companionship of his son, wife and three legged dog. Meeting bonkers creatures and fantastical surroundings along the way, Strange World is bright, colourful and vastly enjoyable to watch. Quirky in all the right places with a wonderfully original story that pulls it all together, Strange World is making its way to Disney+ by the end of the year and I highly recommend giving it a watch.

From one major streaming platform to another, Netflix have also had their share of animation releases this year. Apollo 10 ½ : A Space Age Childhood was released in April this year and tells the coming of age story loosely based on the childhood experience of writer/director Richard Linklater. Supported by its stunning visuals and ambitious animation style, Apollo 10 ½ is favourite for an Oscar nomination at this year’s Academy Awards. 

The Sea Beast was also released on Netflix this year and sits as the third biggest Netflix film of the year. The stunning tale of an outcast sea creature who is victim to hunting, only until a bond is formed between it and a young stowaway. The animation is bold and beautiful and, quite frankly, deserved a cinema release. Hopefully in the future, Netflix decides to get their original animations on the big screen. 

With the Christmas season upon us, Netflix have jumped on the bandwagon of retelling the classic Charles Dickens novel, A Christmas Carol in the new animated musical Scrooge: A Christmas Carol. The animation technique of sharp angles and block colours could be considered intelligently creative, however, at times it comes across as lazy and over-stimulated. However, thanks to the musical soundtrack, the voice acting is fantastic. Luke Evans as Scrooge, with his bellowing tones, was a brilliant choice and brings a depth to the ever familiar role. 

2022 was a treat for stop motion animation fans, Henry Selick (director of the stop motion giants The Nightmare Before Christmas and Coraline) made his long awaited return to the medium in the shape of Wendell & Wild, a stop motion animation horror adventure from writers Keegan Micheal Key and Jordan Peele. Released in time for Halloween, Wendell & Wild bares the same spooky, gothic fantasy style as Selicks previous works whilst incorporating a modern twist with relevant music styles, fashion and character design. 

Jumping back to Disney+, the summer of 2022 was jam packed with fun family friendly films, and Disney+ was the place to be for some of the best of them. May 20th saw the release of Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers, a rollocking comedy following the parallel lives of the now retired Chip and Dale after their successful career on TV’s favourite show, The Rescue Rangers. From comic con appearances to reality TV gigs, this part animation/part live action comedy is an absolute blast for all ages.
For the slightly more mature audiences (in age, not sense of humour!), Disney+ released The Bob’s Burgers Movie. A musical animation spin-off of the hugely popular adult animation series, The Bob’s Burgers Movie was loved by critics and fans alike and is looking likely to pick up some nominations in this year’s awards season. 

Although Disney and Netflix dominate the animation circuit year after year, that’s not to say there isn’t room for independent animation studios to make their mark. Irish animation company Cartoon Saloon, who have previously graced audiences with the likes of Wolf Walkers, Songs of the Sea and The Breadwinner, returned this year with their family fantasy My Fathers Dragon. After receiving positive reviews from the London Film Festival, My Fathers Dragon made its way to Netflix in November and is a hidden gem. Beautiful animation, teamed with a stellar voice cast and the whimsy that Cartoon Saloon always brings to their projects makes this fantasy adventure film one to watch. 

Spanish animation studio Abano Productions also brought their most recent project to the London Film Festival. Much less a family favourite, and more a dark adult comedy, Unicorn Wars is a brutal interpretation of the misfortune of war and the battle between…ahem…teddy bears and unicorns. Full of crass humour and gory visuals, Unicorn Wars definitely won’t be for everyone, but is ambitious and should be celebrated for that alone. 

Also released on Netflix this year was Studio Colorido’s Drifting Home from Japanese filmmaker Hiroyasu Ishida. Drifting Home follows a group of school children who find themselves floating in the middle of the ocean on top of a block of flats, between friendship dynamics and coming of age dilemmas, the group must navigate themselves back to land whilst working together as a team to find food and supplies. Powerful, emotional and visually stunning Drifting Home should not be overlooked. 

Saving the best for last, I am finishing my Animation roundup with the hugely anticipated and thus critically acclaimed stop motion animation from Guillermo Del Toro. Pinocchio had its world premiere at the London Film Festival in October and has gone on to receive rave reviews and Oscar predictions since its global Netflix release in December. Del Toro has teased about bringing the story of Pinocchio to life in his own dark fantasy style for some years now and the end result didn’t disappoint. The animation is intricate and beautiful, the changes to the original fairytale are dark and powerful and the voice cast is flawless. Bursting with passion and style, GDT’s Pinocchio is favourite to wipe the board on animation awards this season and rightly so. A huge achievement from everyone involved, and as always with Del Toro’s work, I can’t wait to see what he does next. 

And there we have it, 17 films, multiple animation styles and a shed load of voice acting talent, we have the 2022 round up of animated feature lengths. Bring on 2023.

(Special shout out to A24’s Marcel The Shell With Shoes On which I have already seen but is scheduled for major release in February so will undoubtedly make the list next year!). 

Happy New Year everyone. 

Animation Roundup 2022

Avatar: The Way of Water

Cast: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Kate Winslet, Stephen Lang
Director: James Cameron
Writer: James Cameron, Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver

Let’s cast our minds back to 2009. The summer blockbuster season is upon us and we have already been transported back to Hogwarts (Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince), into the skies with Karl and Russell (Up) and to gloomy Forks in another adventure with Bella and Edward (Twilight: New Moon) and James Cameron hasn’t even made his mark yet. Avatar opens with a groundbreaking opening weekend, with the use of 3D and motion capture technology, audiences are collectively astounded. And rightly so. People go back again and again to be immersed in the beauty of Pandora and all its glory. 

James Cameron’s passion project is ambitious, expensive and fascinating and takes audiences on a rollercoaster of discovery, scientific study and an emotional character journey for lead character Jake Sully (played by Sam Worthington), Avatar is a phenomenon. Skirting around the 3 hour run time it falls into the same category as each of the epic Lord of the Rings saga, the cinematic classic Gone with the Wind and Cameron’s previous groundbreaking achievement, Titanic. It is an investment, both emotionally and physically (there’s no time for toilet breaks in this perfectly paced epic!). 

After battling the greed and brutality of the American humans that are attempting to colonise Pandora, we leave Jake and Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) in the trusted hands of her people as Jake makes the permanent transition from human to Na’vi. 

13 years later and audiences around the world are being transported back to Pandora to catch up with some old and new friends in Avatar: The Way of Water

From the opening shot to the closing music, Avatar: The Way of Water is everything a sequel needs to be. Cameron hasn’t shied away from the powers of the original whilst injecting the plot with new characters, new settings, new lore and a powerfully emotional story. Jake Sully is back with his young family, sons Neteyam (Jamie Flatters) and Lo’ak’s (Britain Dalton) and young daughter Tuk (Trinity Jo-Li Bliss). Also amongst the Sully brood is Kiri, voiced by returning cast member Sigourney Weaver, who, despite her troubled and confused past, has become the adopted daughter of Jake and Neytiri. As well as the 4 Na’vi children, Jake and Neytiri have welcomed nomad Spider to their midst, a human boy that was born on Pandora and despite knowing his father, believes he is to be a part of the Na’vi tribe and lives with the Sullys when he can. 

A family of 7, living at peace with Pandora and their people. Until ghosts from their past show there ugly faces in a plot to seek revenge for Jakes mistakes. Quaritch (Stephen Lang) returns to the Na’vi bodied version of his previous character who was killed at the end of the first film, and finds himself on a revenge mission, to kill Jake Sully. With his family to keep safe, Jake leaves their home in the forest and flee to the water people who after some convincing, welcome the Sullys to their home. 

A bold and ambitious third act allows the family to work together with their new tribe and battle the ghosts of Jakes past. 

After 13 years, a lot rides on this being a successful sequel. And after James Cameron’s success with sequels in the past it seemed like a sure deal. And for me, it is everything I hoped it would be and more. It seems an obvious thing to point out but the visual effects are like nothing seen before, the introduction to the world of water allows the creative team to embellish what we have already seen in the original. New characters and new creatures encourage the vast creativity of this seismic world that Cameron and his team have created. The transition from daytime to nighttime is a feast for the eyes and encapsulated the audience with every frame. 

Powerful performances throughout encourage the audience to suspend their disbelief and fully engage in the dynamics and relationships between the family. Despite the 3+ hour runtime, the pacing of the storytelling is careful and delicate where it needs to be and jam packed with epic action sequences where the story requires it. 

James Cameron holds on to the standard 3 act structure, which helps drive the film in the right direction and allows for immense world building techniques throughout. Just as the first one challenged the way visual effects can be used to tell a story, the sequel continues to hold the mantel for what a blockbuster can be, and what technology allows performers and filmmakers to achieve. 

Avatar: The Way of Water is magnificent, both visually and emotionally. I urge anyone who wants to see this film to see it on the biggest screen possible, and run to the loo as close to the start time as you can! Because you will not want to miss a second of it. 

Avatar: The Way of Water

My Policeman

Cast: Harry Styles, Emma Corrin, David Dawson
Director: Michael Grandage
Writer: Ron Nyswaner

Michael Grandage directs My Policeman, the love story of Policeman Tom (Harry Styles), museum manager Patrick (David Dawson) and primary school teacher Marian (Emma Corrin). Set in 1950’s Brighton, Tom and Marian meet, fall in love and get married. What Marian doesn’t know is that Tom is having an affair with Patrick and after catching them as they have a steamy shack up in a …ahem… shack, Patrick gets arrested, Tom loses his job and Marian floats along as a heart broken bystander. 

Running parallel to the 1950s is the 1990s where we see Tom (Linus Roache) and Marian (Gina McKee) living in a sleepy seaside town. When in a peculiar turn of events, Patrick (Rupert Everett) is wheeled into their home after suffering a stroke and Marian becomes his full time carer. 

A plot that shows such promise and potential could have excelled in an emotionally charged romantic drama, sadly, falls short when trying to project any form of emotion or excitement. 

The cast, packed mostly full of celebrated performers, is served a boring and cliched script leaving no room for creativity. Styles, who leads the cast, struggles to control his northern accent and leaves the majority of his scenes dry and lifeless. Everett is completely wasted in his role and is a forgettable addition to the cast. 

The score is unfitting, the plot is completely flat with absolutely no pay off and the character development is missable. 

A failed effort, 1 star because it has a cute dog. 

My Policeman

Fantastic Beasts and the Secrets of Dumbledore

Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Jude Law, Mads Mikkelsen, Dan Fogler, Ezra Miller, Callum Turner
Director: David Yates
Writer: Steve Kloves (Story by JK Rowling)

It feels like a century since we last went on an adventure with Newt (Redmayne), Tina (Katherine Waterstone), Queenie (Alison Sudol) and Jacob (Fogler). At the end of Fantastic Beasts and the Crimes of Grindelwald we left the gang in Paris where they fought Grindelwald (then portrayed by Johnny Depp) in an elaborate battle, and in the process lost one of their own, Leta LeStrange (Zoe Kravitz). 

In a dramatic cliff hanger, Credence (Miller) was left traumatised when he found out he was in fact part of the Dumbledore bloodline, a plot point that fans across the world questioned with strong arguments based on the already established history of the Dumbledore family. 

The third instalment of the supposedly five-part series has had a lot of obstacles to overcome along the way. After Warner Bros. made the decision to recast Johnny Depp’s Grindelwald with the highly celebrated Mads Mikkelsen, the production was put on hold. The production team then recruited Potter favourite, screenplay writer Steve Kloves to take over from JK Rowling who penned the first two instalments. JK Rowling herself was then centre of controversy, leading to actress Katherine Waterstone distancing herself from the role. And, if that wasn’t enough, in the weeks leading up to the films release, Ezra Miller has been arrested, restrained and the topic of conversation relating to an assault accusation. 

So to say the film has been through the ringer is an understatement. 

The second part of the spin-off franchise (Fantastic Beasts and the Crimes of Grindlewald) received varied reviews and led people to lose faith in the series. Leading fans to question its position in Warner Bros. Wizard World Cinematic Universe. 

Has Secrets of Dumbledore done enough to restore that faith? Probably not. Is it more enjoyable than it’s prequel? Most definitely. 

I suppose it makes sense for me to approach the Grindelwald in the room first. As a life long Johnny Depp fan it is going to take me a few watches to get used to the dramatic change, not only in actor, but in character. Mads Mikkelsen is a fantastic actor, there’s no doubt about that, but his stripped back, sinister take on the super villain is a completely new vision compared to Depp’s crazed, evil portrayal. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the performance, if Mikkelsen had owned the role from the start it would have worked a charm, it just seems like quite a dramatic jump from what we saw of Depp previously. 

Jude Law and Eddie Redmayne don’t miss the target in their wholesome portrayals of the two main characters. Introducing Richard Coyle as Aberforth Dumbledore was inspired casting, he embodies the inner turmoil of the character that we originally witnessed in Deathly Hallows part 2. The return of Jacob and Queenie gave the film the softer touch it needed, it’s a lot of doom and gloom without the forbidden love story that the Muggle and witch have to tell.

Despite the title “Secrets of Dumbledore” being fairly ambiguous, considering there are three Dumbledore’s in this film, I was expecting more from Credence. I always enjoy Ezra Miller’s performances (despite his behaviour off screen) and I’d have liked to have seen more of his characters tortured tale.

In the same way as the two previous films, the plot is over complicate and attempts to follow the story of too many characters, leaving the audience loosing track of who’s who and where everyone is. 

Kloves managed to pull the body of the film back to the original brief, this film is not short of a Fantastic Beast or two. Teddy the Niffler and Picket the Bowtruckle are, without a doubt, scene stealers. And thanks to the improved visual effects, both have the desired presence in every shot, resulting in (most) audience members audibly “aww-ing” every time we see them. 

Character developments are both crucially important and feverishly risky when writing prequels, even more so when telling stories of characters that are so incredibly beloved as those in the Potter-verse. I think Kloves and Rowling have managed to hone in on the character relationships and personalities enough to keep audiences watching and (in my case) hoping for more, whilst sprinkling the script with enough fan service to keep the Potter-heads interested.

I thoroughly enjoyed it, anyone expecting these films to be as good as the Harry Potter series are fooling themselves, but it’s worth a watch and it’s redeeming qualities from the second film allow it to captivate the audience, heart warming, shocking at times and most importantly, entertaining. 

I can’t wait to see what’s next for Newt, Teddy and Picket. 

Fantastic Beasts and the Secrets of Dumbledore

Dune – First Look

After completing Frank Herbert’s gigantic sci-fi novel for the first time this time last year my excitement for this film grew to a gargantuan level. Not only is Dune being directed by one of my favourite directors Denis Villeneuve (Arrival is in my top 5 films of all time) but it also features a selection of some of my favourite actors. I have been a fan of Timothee Chalamet since his great supporting performance in Greta Gerwigs 2017 hit, Lady Bird and thus have now seen every one of his films multiple times, he’s a force to be reckoned with, with a range above any young actor of his calibre. Alongside Chalamet are many other big screen favourites of mine, Oscar Isaac (Star Wars), Josh Brolin (Avengers Infinity War and Endgame), Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men), Jason Mamoa (Game of Thrones) and of course the incomparable Zandaya (Spider-Man: Homecoming and Far From Home). It’s just an absolute power force of talent and massive performers who are undoubtably going to bring so much life to this epic story. With cinematographer Greig Fraser (Rogue One, The Mandalorian), who is proving himself to be one of the best sci-fi cinematographers of the age, in the mix we really are being set up for a Christmas release that could be something incredibly special. So, to say I’m excited would just be a total understatement.

Dune bring up economical, political and environmental issues that was way ahead of its  time with an original publication release date in 1965, a time when people chose to ignore these important themes if they were able to. I’m very excited to see what modern cultural references Villeneuve will be ballsy enough to include in the film (without straying from the original source material, of course).

Chalamet is portraying the role of Paul Atreides, the son of the great ruler of Arakis, Duke Leto (portrayed by Isaac) who must overcome challenges expected of a young heir to a powerful thrown, and eventually takes on challenges unbeknown even to him. Paul’s mother, Lady Jessica, is played by Rebecca Ferguson (Mission: Impossible, The Greatest Showman) and has to aid her son in the decisions he makes whilst dealing with her own demons and strong abilities she must keep hidden.
Arakis faces challenges which all come from the desired ownership of Spice, the most valuable substance in their universe, causing debate and battle between different settlements.

That’s probably the most basic summery of the plot I can give you without either confusing everyone reading or giving away way too much of the plot. 

It really is a mind blowing novel and it’s clear that sci-fi greats like Star Wars, Stargate, Alien, Blade Runner and so many other beloved fictional worlds have taken their inspiration and influence from Herbert’s masterpiece. I can’t wait to see this work of art on the big screen.

These newly released production stills are all we need to increase the hype, I honestly haven’t stopped looking at them since they made their highly anticipated appearance on social media yesterday.


Dune is currently scheduled to be released on December 18th, all being well and the world reawakens in time, it’s going to be a very happy Christmas.

Dune – First Look

Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)

Dir: Cathy Yan

Margot Robbie
Ewan McGregor
Rosie Perez
Mary Elizabeth Winstead
Jurnee Smollett-Bell
Ella Jay Basco


To say I’m not a DC fan would be the biggest understatement of the century, I am yet to enjoy a DC comics film that isn’t the Joker (and lets face it, Joker doesn’t count as a “DC comics film”) or Shazam! (and I really only enjoyed Shazam! because it was so dumb). I find the stories painfully predictable, the overuse of slow motion painfully forced and the character development just painful.

It gives me great joy to say Birds of Prey is an exception.

Set after 2016’s Suicide Squad, Birds of Prey tells the story of Harley Quinn dealing with her recent break up from Mr. J (The Joker) and realising that without the protection of her boyfriend, who also happens to be the most feared villain in Gotham, she is vulnerable. And it just so turns out that many, many people in Gotham want her head on a sharp stick. In a bid to buy back her protection she finds a group of super kick-ass women to fight her corner. There is a background plot involving some valuable diamond or something but I kind of didn’t care much about that, I just wanted to hear Robbie’s eccentric accent and watch some women kick some male ass.

Margot Robbie’s performance as “the one Harley Quinn” is almost addictive to watch, something I don’t remember at all from Suicide Squad. She’s quirky, messed up and totally reckless all in a weirdly endearing, captivating way.

The plot is patchy in a few areas but that’s expected for me, as it’s a film adapted from a series of comics I know next to nothing about. The introduction to the new characters could have been a bit stronger, it took me a really long time to work out who the actual “Birds of Prey” were. It helped that I had read before seeing the film that Harley herself isn’t actually part of that group. I wasn’t expecting the GCDP detective to be a Bird so that was a nice surprise at the end, they also totally got me with the surprise reveal of Black Canary’s vocal powers, similar to that of Banshee in Marvel’s X-Men.

Ewan McGregor as super villain Roman Sionis was comical and camp with enough fright in his character to terrorise the audience. The face slicing was like something straight out of a Quentin Tarantino film and was quite simply, gross.

My heart literally ached when that delicious all day breakfast sandwich hit the floor and I found myself aww-ing at Bruce, the domesticated Hyena. The film is totally new and cleverly put together with some whoop-ass women at the helm, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)


Director: Tom Hooper

Idris Elba
Taylor Swift
Judy Dench
Ian McKellen
Rebel Wilson
James Corden
Jennifer Hudson
Jason DeRulo
(the list goes on…)

I’m not entirely sure what monstrosity I have just witnessed but I’m concerned I won’t ever be able to listen to the original cast recording of Cats the same way again. I’m going to give it 1 star, and it pains me because really a film made to this low standard doesn’t deserve any stars but that 1 star goes out to the supporting cast who gave brilliant dance performances, it’s a shame that for some of them this will be their big screen break, they deserve some recognition for that. If one member of the “star studded” lead cast even thinks about claiming that 1 star as their own, they can think again. 

Cats is renowned by thespians as being a bit of a weird musical, with not much plot to speak of and tight lycra costumes galore it’s a bit of a spectacle. That being said, I first saw it when I was about 7 years old and have loved it ever since. Based on the book of poetry, Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, by T.S Eliot, it is first and foremost a dance show with next to no storyline. Tom Hooper and his team decided to take that work of art, manipulate it to try and appeal to a wider audience by casting some of the biggest celebrities of recent years and “inventing” a new form of CGI to transform his cast into human-like cats, but it did not pay off.

I’m going to dive straight in and discuss the CGI. When we were shown the first production stills of the film I was hoping it was some kind of unrenderred cut that they just had to share with us because their marketing team were breathing down their necks. Turns out I was wrong and that CGI that they shared with us back in 2019 was the finished product. The finished product that has made all the facial features of the creatures completely disproportioned, some of them had “fur” on their faces, some of them didn’t. I’m sure there was a wide shot where Taylor Swifts face was just Taylor Swifts face and they’d forgotten to “catify” her.
I need to just have a vent about the feet. *deep breath* When CGI is put over an image it commonly looses all the weight in the performer/subject. When the actor places their feet on the floor (in this case on the green screened sound stage) you should be able to feel the weight of the body, as you would if it’s a live action performance. A film franchise that manages to keep the weight of the subject after the mo-cap process is applied is the Matt Reeves Ape’s trilogy and they were fully grown, heavier than human, apes. These were tiny cats and mice (oh god, don’t get me started on the mice). There was zero to no weight to these characters, when they placed their feet down they didn’t even keep stationary with the floor, like they were floating in some weird uncomfortable realm, neither on the floor or in the sky.
This is something that I notice all the time with CGI’d characters and this was easily the worst I’ve seen it. And as for the sizing, I’m not sure who measured but I’ve never seen a cat small enough to fit a wedding ring on their wrists or be able to walk down one track of a railway line.

We’ve all complained about Judy Denches wedding ring, the weird breakdancing twins wearing high tops, not to mention everything about Rebel Wilsons’ Jennyanydots. But really, these are things that on a film with this size budget should not slip through. Not to mention, they were in post production on this film right up until the day of the world premiere, so to say it was rushed is an understatement. They’ve since had to re-release the film with a new vfx edit, which after a bit of research turns out to be the version I watched, I’d be scared to see just how bad it was before the new edit. 

Actually, lets go back to Jennyanydots. I’m not a Rebel Wilson fan as it is, truth be told, but this scene when introducing Jenny made me feel all new levels of uncomfortable. Those cockroaches?? “Don’t get cocky!”….I mean, really?? The script was full of these terrible cat related puns, I’m not sure what audience that kind of humour is aimed at but it fell painfully flat with me. Jenny’s segment of the film was the hardest for me to watch.

Performance wise it wasn’t bad from the lesser-known cast members, Victoria (Francesca Hayward) was ok, obviously she is a phenomenal dancer and her general expressive performance wasn’t bad. I didn’t like her singing voice, she sounded like she really struggled with the higher harmonies, but as it goes in the original production Victoria doesn’t have any singing parts, so I’m willing to let this slide.

Jennifer Hudson didn’t do it for me, there was something almost flat about her portrayal of Grizabella the glamour cat, shame really, she’s a really interesting character. She was swamped by the ensemble cast in this rendition. I’d have liked to have seen them play a bit more freely with Grizabella’s story, out of all the cats her past is the most interesting and it would have been nice if they’d been a bit more daring with her.

A lot of the other big names in the cast were just painful name selling, Taylor Swift’s new character Bomberlarina was a waste of time and, I’m assuming, money. Jason Derulo ruined my favourite character, so I’m going to move swiftly on from that. I hated everything about Idris Elba’s attempt at playing Macavity, no idea why they made him so present and comical. The whole point of Macavity’s character is that you’re not supposed to ever see him and because it was Idris Elba playing the role he had one of the highest screen time counts. 

I’m a bit concerned Judi Dench didn’t really know where she was or what she was doing most of the time. I do not need to see a highly acclaimed 85 year old classically trained actress doing some sort of leg stretches whilst wearing a onesie and lying in a cat bed. 

Ian McKellen did a good job, I would assume he can relate quite heavily to Gus the Theatre Cat and luckily it didn’t require too much singing. His performance probably had the most heart out of all the characters in this insane ensemble cast.

The most enjoyable performance to watch was big screen newbie Robbie Fairchild as Munkustrap, as in the stage production this character holds the entire piece together and he did a great job. Mr Mistoffelees (Laurie Davidson) was also strong, he didn’t have a great singing voice which isn’t usually a problem for that character as he’s not supposed to sing his own song! But considering the material he was given, he did well. 

With a predicted loss on $70mil, making it one of the biggest box office flops of 2019, it was a train crash from the get go. I was very close to walking out of the cinema when James Corden graced the screen, I’ve never seen anything like it. It took me a long time to forgive Tom Hooper for what he did to Les Miserables, I can’t imagine I’ll be forgiving him for this any time soon. 


Twenty Nineteen

2019 has been such an exciting year for me in the world of film, I attended my third BFI London Film Festival, broke my PB for number of films watched in the cinema in one year, attended a whole bunch of film premieres and made it onto the press line for the first time. I have also started writing for The Film Magazine which is so exciting for me, to be able to write for someone else is a huge achievement. Safe to say it’s been a year of ups and downs, but I guess it wouldn’t be new year’s eve if we didn’t start looking at the things we’re proud of and the things we’d do differently. I ticked off two bucket list items this year, one was to visit Nashville, anyone who knows me knows how much I love country music and to visit Music City was a dream come true. I also got my first tattoo, obviously it’s film themed, ‘whatever it takes’ is now permanently inscribed onto my left ankle, one of the most powerful lines from my number one film of the year, Avengers Endgame. Whatever it takes originally refers to the Avengers doing exactly that to defeat Thanos, for me, it means I will do whatever I can to find true happiness and success.

For me, true happiness comes in many forms, but one of those is pure escapism. Anything I can do to avoid mundane, every day life, is a must. Which is where cinema comes in and 2019 did not fail in finding some amazing (and not so amazing) escapism.

My top ten of 2019 consists of  superheroes, Jedis, little women and kings, but most of all it consists of heart and gumption and all things that are important to me.

Screenshot 2019-12-31 at 12.35.01.png10. The Peanut Butter Falcon

The first film I saw at this years BFI London Film Festival, The Peanut Butter Falcon is exactly what I wanted to see from an indy film, heart and soul is oozing out of this beautiful low budget production. Shia LeBeouf makes a couple of appearances in my list this year and I can’t wait to see what he pulls out of the bag next, his performance in this particular film is compelling and addictive.

Screenshot 2019-12-31 at 12.35.33.png9. Ad Astra

I saw somewhere that someone dubbed 2019 ‘The Year of Pitt’ and I am absolutely fine with that. What with this and Once Upon A Time In Hollywood gracing our screens this year, I think it’s safe to say Pitt is finally being taken seriously as an actor and not just a pretty face (even though he absolutely does have a pretty face). I loved Ad Astra, it’s breathtaking cinematography will be with me for a long, long time. The story might have fallen a tad short in places but soon picked itself back up with the stunning visuals and powerful performances.

Screenshot 2019-12-31 at 12.35.55.png8. The Farewell

Safe to say I’m totally obsessed with Awkwafina so when I first heard about The Farewell I made sure I wouldn’t miss it. A beautifully powerful story about wealth, language barriers, cultural differences and above all family. Awkwafina is incredible in it, as is her on screen grandmother, Shuzhen Zhao, the two of them bring something totally real to the story and anyone who has had a close relationship with their grandparents will be able to relate.

Screenshot 2019-12-31 at 12.36.18.png7. Le Mans ’66

James Mangold is a film maker I will always go out of my way to see his latest work. Walk the Line still remains in my top 5 favourite films of all time and Le Mans ’66 didn’t disappoint. A fairly comfortable plot is perfectly combined with stunning cinematography, a beautiful score and absolutely breathtaking sound design. Damon and Bale have a formidable on screen chemistry which makes you laugh and cry in all the right places.

Screenshot 2019-12-31 at 12.36.45.png6. The Lighthouse

Earlier this month I went to a surprise screening at Picturehouse Central hoping I would get an early look at Little Women. When the title credits came up for The Lighthouse I was close to leaving, I had heard cautious reviews about it from the film festival that made me not want to see it. I figured I was already in the cinema and it would be embarrassing to leave before it starts. So I sat through it, after 10 minutes there was no chance I was leaving until the credits rolled. Two of the best performances I’ve ever seen and the most intricately confusing, messed up and compelling script I’ve witnessed in a long time. Up until this point I would never have rated Robert Pattinson as much of an actor, it’s moments like this I love to be proved wrong.

Screenshot 2019-12-31 at 12.37.09.png5. The King

You didn’t really think I’d make a top 10 of 2019 without including a Chalamet film, did you? The King is the last film I would expect this cast to star in, Timothee Chalamet is the king of indy coming of age films, Robert Pattinson (again!) is a sparkly vampire, Ben Mendelsohn is Star Wars, Ready Player One and Captain Marvel. Not the gabble of actors you’d expect to see in an epic costume drama, but it worked. I don’t know how or why but it worked and I have watched it 3 times since October.

Screenshot 2019-12-31 at 12.37.35.png
4. Honey Boy

Shia LeBeouf makes the list for the second time, working alongside the great Lucas Hudges and Noah Jupe in this semi-autobiographical drama, written by Shia and directed by upcoming documentary maker Alma Harel, Honey Boy is powerful and charming, heart breaking and joyful and above all, full to the brim with heart and passion.
Screenshot 2019-12-31 at 12.38.30.png3. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

I don’t care if people don’t agree with me on this one, in fact, I don’t care if people agree with me on any of them. I loved it, I also loved The Last Jedi and I also loved Force Awakens. The Rise of Skywalker is the perfect ending to the greatest film franchise in the galaxy. Imperfections? yes of course, find me a Star Wars film without imperfections. Full of passion? Absolutely. In JJ we trust.

Screenshot 2019-12-31 at 12.39.03.png2. Little Women

Obviously. Why wouldn’t this be on my list? It’s perfect.

I actually didn’t know this story at all before seeing this new retelling of it, but I’m quite grateful for that. I think if I’d been able to compare it to any past production of it I may not have loved it as much as I did. The performances felt so wholesome and really resonated with my relationship with my sister. I see myself in each of the March sisters, as I’m sure most viewers do. Florence Pugh was, yet again, a stand out for me in this film, she really is one to watch and I can’t wait to see her in Black Widow next year.

Screenshot 2019-12-31 at 12.39.34.png1. Joker

Joaquin Phoenix has been one of my favourite actors before it was cool. When I heard he was going to be playing The Joker I probably audibly groaned and said something contrived like ‘he’s too good for a batman film!’. Well, I was wrong wasn’t I? I actually do still agree that he’s too good for a batman film, which is why I was ecstatic when Joker was exactly the opposite of that. I homage to some of the great films of the late 70’s/early 80’s and easily one of the best performances I’ve ever seen, Joker is a perfect film.

Screenshot 2019-12-31 at 12.41.47.png1. Yep – I’m having two, it’s my blog, you can’t stop me.

Avengers Endgame, obviously.

Probably my favourite film of the decade, I saw it 8 times at the cinema. I’ve watched it multiple times since the cinema. I actually watched it last night.

I got a line from it permanently printed on my skin.

Need I go on?

2019 has been wicked, I can’t wait for 2020. Be prepared for me to go on, and on, and on about Dune because that’s easily my most anticipated film of the next 12 months.






Twenty Nineteen

The Lighthouse

Dir: Robert Eggers

Willem Dafoe
Robert Pattinson

Eggers takes audiences on an utterly twisted journey in this astounding character film about two lighthouse keepers suffering with severe cabin fever. Robert Pattinson supports Willem Dafoes lead in this experimental, black and white, mess of a film. But when I say mess, it’s meant as the biggest compliment possible, this film is a work of art. 

I genuinely don’t know where to start. It was both everything I expected it to be and also nothing like I imagined. I have to start by highlighting the absolutely mind blowing performances from both Pattinson and Dafoe. Unbelievable. To the point that I actually exhaled in that way football fans do when their team nearly scores when Dafoe finished his first monologue. I’ve never seen anything quite like it. The script was so intricately created, the amount of research that must have gone into the dialogue, particularly for Dafoe’s character, was mind blowing. Spoken with such honesty and so fluently, it really is such a powerful collaboration from both director and actor to perfect this character and his mannerisms.

There were moments throughout that I thought I’d sussed the plot and then we were taken down a completely unexpected path. The pace was perfect and smooth whilst also being completely discomforting. Eggers has an extraordinary talent to keep the audience guessing whilst also knowing exactly what’s going on. 

Filmed in 1:1 aspect ratio there are moments that the camera is completely out of focus, the framing is off or it’s so dark you can’t even tell which character is on screen but something about all these sloppy, well thought out decisions is completely captivating. There are moments when the actors look straight down the lens which is so unusual but so compelling.  

With his beautiful Chaplin-esque moments and nods to Hitchcock and Kubrick it really is a masterpiece, Eggers has proved himself as an unbelievable auteur and true master of his art. Absolutely outstanding and instantly iconic.


The Lighthouse