Hey, so you might have noticed my reviews haven’t been as frequent this year. Well, due to both professional and personal reasons, I’ve not been able to give the site as much attention as I would like. Your girl has got a lot of plates spinning right now, and as much as I love doing it, Alternative Lens isn’t as important as my ultimate career aspirations or my mental health.

However, that didn’t mean I stopped seeing as many movies. In fact, I’ve seen so many more so far this year than I had by this time in 2021. So as a result, my bi-annual attempt to catch up on everything I didn’t have time to do a full review of, or didn’t have much of a take to warrant doing one, or just saw way too late, is now MUCH larger than it’d usually be.

But if you REALLY need to know my thoughts on a movie as soon as I’ve seen it, give me a follow on Letterboxd here: I’ll often do my quick thoughts on movies straight after I’ve seen them, including first watches of older films or revisiting movies I’ve seen before. So if you’ve been missing me on here and looking for more AltLens content, head on over to Letterboxd. It’s where all the cool kids are these days.

Now, on with the show!

Death on the Nile

Kenneth Branagh returns to the world of Agatha Christie in front of and behind the camera once again in this star-studded sequel to his Murder on the Orient Express, and it’s a mild but noticeable improvement over the first. All the characters are given a bit more dimension (Emma Mackey is especially great at balancing the line between camp and tragic), Branagh’s Poirot is less of a cartoon character, and the final reveal is far less preposterous and unintentionally hilarious. That said, it’s still a mostly style-over-substance affair that’s fun in the moment but doesn’t at all stick in the mind. Also, the fact half the cast has been cancelled to varying degrees between filming and release makes it an awkward watch at points. 5/10

The Duke

Directed by the late Roger Michell, this dramatization of the true-life caper of a working-class pensioner stealing a famous portrait and holding it for ransom in exchange for free TV licenses is a simple but charming cup of Northern goodness. You can never go too wrong with Jim Broadbent and Helen Mirren as your leads and, given the current economic climate in the UK right now, this hits close to home in just the right way. It’s still too formulaic and old-fashioned to be anything remarkable, but it’s a solid Sunday afternoon watch. 6/10

Texas Chainsaw Massacre

How many times do we need to reboot Texas Chainsaw Massacre before we get one that understands the original? And if you can’t do that, just don’t make it all or, at the very least, don’t call it Texas Chainsaw Massacre! Whilst I do appreciate the attempts at cultural commentary by touching on gentrification and school shootings, they are exploited in an uncreative and borderline tasteless manner, and its attempts to tie back into the original are just unnecessary. Elsie Fisher is the main thing keeping this whole enterprise from being completely unwatchable, and at least it has to decency to be mercifully short; only 74 minutes excluding credits. 3/10


An interesting premise for a low-budget speculative drama with strong performances and some intriguing moral dilemmas, but it unfortunately doesn’t play the few good cards it has very well. The key twists are too telegraphed due to some non-linear storytelling cues and obvious foreshadowing, and it’s yet another example of a film trying to use the COVID crisis (allegorically this time, thankfully) to its advantage and rush out something “timely” instead of focusing on its far more interesting ideas regarding ecological collapse and doing whatever it takes for the greater good. 5/10


Channing Tatum makes his directorial debut alongside longtime collaborator Reid Carolin in this animal-based dramedy that is the definition of a perfectly OK movie that doesn’t do anything badly, but doesn’t do anything particularly well either. It’s highly predictable for the most part, and it knowingly treads into areas of outdated ableist and racist humour, but it at least acknowledges it and turns these tasteless gags into a learning moment. It’s simply one of those movies that has enough heart to be entertaining in the moment, but you’ll forget about within a month. If you like Channing Tatum and cute dogs, you’ll probably enjoy it fine. Also, Tatum’s character shares a name with a Mortal Kombat character. I don’t think that was intentional, but it did distract me everytime they said his full name. 6/10

No Exit

Wow, this was a surprise! A great bottle premise: a bunch of folks trapped during a snowstorm, at least one of them is a kidnapper, and it only intensifies from there. Solid performances from the whole cast, and its expert pacing constantly had me on my toes. Every time you think you have it all figured out, it throws another curveball. It doesn’t do anything particularly ground-breaking or emotionally resonant, but this does do a stellar job of being “pretty damn good”, and that’s all you really need for a thriller like this. Also, this was written by the same guys who wrote Ant-Man and the Wasp. I don’t have anything to say about that but…yeah, bit of trivia. 7/10

The Quiet Girl

A wonderful little Irish-language drama that gets across a lot whilst saying very little at all. The lead performance from young Catherine Clinch is astonishing; one of the best child performances I’ve ever seen, and worth seeing the film for her alone. It’s an incredibly bleak and yet wholesome little movie about finding family that should resonate with anyone who had a touch upbringing, and another great example of how cinemas can tell great stories on the micro level as well as the macro. 8/10

Good Madam

Basically the South African answer to Get Out, Good Madam is a brilliantly dark and effective horror about internalised racism and the continuing effects of apartheid on the country even decades after it ended. It absolutely lacks the slickness and sense of humour that made the Jordan Peele’s seminal film such a crowd-pleaser, but it also has more subtlety and a pervading sense of dread that makes you question whether anything untoward is happening at all or if its all in the character’s head. Tighten this up a bit and get it to the horror soon, and this could have been a bona fide cult classic, but as is, it’s just pretty good. 7/10


A historical fiction queer-coded rock opera anime?! Do I need to say anything more? This is a movie quire unlike any other I’ve ever seen, and its idiosyncrasies may make it a hard watch for someone, especially those unfamiliar with anime, but its quirky and unorthodox is what makes it so enthralling. The animation is wonderfully stylised, the music is catchy as hell, and the story is simultaneously joyous and heart-breaking. If you’re looking for something completely out of the box, go see this one at your earliest convenience; it’s getting a US theatrical run in August, and a UK one soon after too. 9/10

The Adam Project

Shawn Levy is an incredibly inconsistent director, and so after a career-high with Free Guy, it was only natural he fell back down to the mediocre-to-bad realm with this time travel action-comedy. Never have I heard such hyperactive dialogue so painfully lacking in wit that I often struggled to even follow the basic plot. Ryan Reynolds is just doing the same thing yet again, and whilst he’s good at it, it’s starting to get annoying. Even worse is Walker Scobell as the young Reynolds, whose precociousness as he tries to imitate the banter of his older self is tiresome from the word go. Also, just a stunning waste of Catherine Keener, and whatever deaging they’ve done to create her younger self is some of the worst this side of X-Men: The Last Stand. For a movie packed full of this many stars and effects, the whole thing just feels cheap and lazily designed. Only Mark Ruffalo and Jennifer Garner made this thing worth watching, and they’re barely in it, so it’s far from enough. 3/10

Turning Red

If people thought Luca was a strange change of pace and style for Pixar, it has absolutely nothing on Turning Red, which similar takes far more influence from eastern animation than western. Whilst Luca took obvious notes from the Studio Ghibli playbook, Turning Red is more like if The Farewell was also a shojo anime, but it’s an absolutely joyous, relatable, and heartfelt experience. Rosalie Chiang and Sandra Oh give stellar vocal performances, the original early-00s-style boy band tracks from Billie Eilish are spot-on, and its story is the honest and necessary reflection of what it really feels like to grow up that kids’ movies rarely show…just with, you know, a giant red panda. My only annoyance with this movie is that I had to watch it on Disney+ instead of getting to see it in a cinema. 8.5/10


Daisy Edgar-Jones and Sebastian Stan star in this dark comedy-horror that’s subtextually about toxic relationships and the commodification of women, but on the surface is about a relationship with a quirky cannibal gone wrong. This is one of those movies that feels like it was written with no plan of where it was going beforehand. It starts off really well with strong Hard Candy-like vibes but with a more twisted sense of humour, but then when it reaches the third act it all starts to fall apart as it haphazardly dashes towards an ending that leaves basic questions unanswered and completely fumbles the pacing. All the performances are great, the soundtrack choices are inspired with an eerie score that compliments them perfectly, and there are some very clever subversions of expectations. I just wish it all flowed together a bit more cohesively instead of feeling scattershot. 6/10


Now this is the modern-day answer to The Texas Chain Saw Massacre we’ve been waiting for! It understands that a slow build and uncomfortable tension needed to pull off such scares rather than just gore, and all the set-up involving the porn film production is compelling in its own “Boogie Nights Does Dallas” kind of way; I wouldn’t have actually minded if they just never got to the horror part. The exploration of female sexuality and empowerment is well done and overdue in a genre where women’s bodies and agency are often exploited, and whilst once the blood starts flowing it’s entertainingly done, it doesn’t quite hit the same cathartic pleasure spot of something like Ready of Not. Still, Mia Goth and Jenna Ortega continue to prove themselves worthy of being the modern scream queens. More of them please! 7/10

The Bad Guys

An adaptation of the children’s novels by Aaron Blabey, The Bad Guys is a return to form for DreamWorks Animation, yet also the promise of a bold new direction for the prolific studio. After a few experiments breaking away from their house style like Captain Underpants and Spirit Untamed, this embraces the stylism of the illustrations that inspired it to create a beautifully-realised and exaggerated anthropomorphic world and pays homage to the great crime films of yesteryear. Yes, it touches on a lot of the same themes as Zootopia in how it uses animal breeds as metaphors for discrimination, and some of the humour is can be crass and outdated (including a recurring fart gag and the oh-so-tired “man-disguises-himself-as-woman-and-does-high-pitched-voice” routine), yet the charm of the characters and the strong voice cast including Sam Rockwell, Marc Maron and Issa Rae keeps it enjoyable. It ultimately did well at the box office, but nowhere near as well as it deserved to, and with this and the upcoming Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, it’s great to see DreamWorks taking more risks on an animation level. 7.5/10

The Lost City

We haven’t had a great romantic adventure movie in decades, and The Lost City seems like a perfect movie to fill that gap in the market. Whilst its stars are all perfectly cast, including a wonderfully camp villain turn from Daniel Radcliffe, as well as Brad Pitt stealing the show in his brief supporting role, it doesn’t quite thread the needle. The story and pacing are ultimately a bigger threat than the dangers of the jungle, with scenes that are over either way too quickly or are stretched far beyond the point the joke stopped being funny. There’s just a disappointing lack of consistency as it can’t quite decide whether to weigh more in the direction of action or comedy, and the treasure hunt that should keep things moving along is mostly done before the plot starts and is resolved by figuring out only one clue; where’s the sense of adventure and discovery in that? Still, the charms of its cast, some solid knee-slapping gags and dialogue, and the exploration of themes like lost passion and self-doubt keep it more than entertaining, but this is honestly barely a step above the fine-but-forgettable pablum Netflix puts out every other week. Also, not enough Patti Harrison. 6.5/10

The Bubble

I wanted to stop watching The Bubble within the first 20 minutes, and almost did at least five times. If that isn’t a sign of its poor quality, I don’t know what it is. Making it all the more frustrating, I love everyone in this cast. I can tell they’re really, really trying, and it’s great to see up-and-coming British talent like Harry Trevaldwyn and Ben Ashenden & Alexander Owen getting their shot, even if much of their material is utter drivel. What really sinks this interesting set-up for a farce about Hollywood film production in the COVID era is the utterly abysmal script and amateurish direction, made even more baffling when you find out it was co-written and directed by Judd Apatow. It pushes the adage of “comedy is misery” to its worst extreme, and it keeps thinking by getting grimmer and even more extreme it’ll be funnier, but it’s just soul-destroying. There’s no real logical structure or pacing, the cast seem utterly lost and just try to adlib their way through pointless scenes, and then in the climax they all just change motivations and start working together. Other than one bizarrely funny scene involving Daisy Ridley as a holographic personal trainer, there is nothing particularly amusing about this so-called comedy. 1.5/10

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore

(Disclaimer: I only saw this movie because I had time to kill and was able to see it for free. I would never have bothered otherwise, ‘cos I ain’t giving any of my money to Mumsnet Anita Bryant.)

Well…at least it’s better than the last one…slightly? The Fantastic Beasts series continues its slump into irrelevance with an entry that, given the amount of controversies that happened during its journey to the screen, probably should never have even made it to cinemas. Whilst the incidental dialogue and humour is better thanks to veteran Harry Potter screenwriter Steve Kloves, The Secrets of Dumbledore admits early on it has no structure and then just spends two hours meandering about, pandering with obvious fan service and swiftly tying up so many loose plot threads that you can tell the filmmakers don’t expect the fourth and fifth entries to happen. There are far too many characters to keep track of, none of this adds anything of relevance to the Wizarding World lore, and what should be a fun fantasy blockbuster is instead a tedious bore about rigging a wizard election where we don’t know any of the candidates or their political positions. There are honestly worse movies this year, but on a moral level I’d rather you watch them than this, because at least there you don’t have to give a portion of your purchase to Prosecco Orson Scott Card. 2/10

The Northman

It was only a matter of time before Robert Eggers got a Hollywood budget after a string of niche indie hits, but instead of being pulled in to do a Marvel film or something first, he’s gone for broke with this epic arthouse blockbuster that mixes Hamlet and Gladiator through the lens of a hardcore metal album cover. Whilst its tale of revenge is pretty familiar on a structural level, The Northman is anything but ordinary on every other, mixing Eggers’ love for period-appropriate attention for detail and haunting imagery with the high drama scope befitting a Norse folk tale. All the performances are strong, particularly from the stoic Alexander Skarsgård and a wonderfully twisted Nicole Kidman, but it’s the visual splendour and rawness that make this a real once-in-a-lifetime experience for Eggers and the audience. It’s certainly not a crowd-pleaser, but if this seems like you’re kind of thing, you owe it to yourself to give it a whirl. 9/10

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent

Nicolas Cage is back (not that he went anywhere…) with this meta-comedy where he plays himself hanging out with a rich mega-fan that slowly turns south. Cage is clearly having a blast playing on all of his meme-worthy eccentricities, especially when portraying his inner id Nicky, but the film only works thanks to Pedro Pascal matching his level of bonkers as his fan Javi; a sequence where the two get high together is utter comedy gold. The sense of humour is very self-referential but it always manages to pull back before it gets overbearing, and thankfully puts much of its weight in a more emotionally-driven tale of a man attempting to rediscover his passion. It’s a little disappointing that the action portion of the film can’t live up to its comedy, as its limited scope and tepid set pieces makes it feel more like one of Cage’s direct-to-DVD efforts from the early 2010s, but it far from ruins the experience. It’s a shame this one bombed on theatrical release, but The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is ultimately one for the hardcore Cage aficionados, and I’m sure enough of them will give it the cult status it was clearly intended for. 8/10

Everything Everywhere All at Once

Most films end up being overhyped and can’t help but be disappointing once you finally see them. This is one of those rare exceptions. Everything Everywhere All at Once takes advantage of every aspect of the cinematic form to tell a story you couldn’t do justice in any other medium. It’s up there with Mad Max: Fury Road, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and The Matrix, in that it’s a movie that fully embraces the spectacle and artistry of cinema whilst never forgetting about what really matters: story, character, and theme. Michelle Yeoh has never been better. Stephaine Hsu is a revelation. Ke Huy Quan: truly a star reborn! I hope this is just the start of a renaissance for him. And who could ever say a bad thing about James Hong or Jamie Lee Curtis? But the real stars here are the Daniels. The screenplay and direction are just pure perfection. Yes, one could nitpick about certain logic gaps, but if you’re focusing that much on those insignificant details, then you’re watching movies wrong. The way they’ve balanced all the genre elements and absurdist comedy whilst also tackling some pretty dark and serious subject matter is the stuff of legends; the kind of excellence that will be studied and gushed over by film academics for decades to come. If there’s a better movie than this in 2022, then 2022 will have been a bloody landmark year for cinema. 10/10!

Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers

This meta follow-up to the 80s cartoon is both better than I feared it would be, and not as good as it clearly could be. It’s easily one of the most twisted things Disney has ever released, and the legal department at the studio probably went through a lot of headaches to pull off some of these blink-and-you’ll-miss-them jokes. The mix of animation styles is off-putting at time, and despite the advances in technology this still looks nowhere near as good as Who Framed Roger Rabbit, which it clearly aspires to be the modern successor to. The pacing is a bit off, making it feel more like a really long TV episode rather than a feature film, and despite a fair few red herrings, the mystery itself is way too simple and foreshadowed to be compelling. That said, whilst John Mulaney and Andy Samberg are basically just playing themselves but as cartoon chipmunks, the real scene-stealers are Will Arnett and J.K. Simmons. Also, there is a really nice heartfelt turn near the end that got me a little weepy, and any movie that gets me even close to crying can’t be all bad. I have no idea how or why Disney greenlit this, which is essentially a Lonely Island movie that happens to feature a bunch of Disney IP, and as much as I like Hot Rod and adore Popstar, I think a more focused and steady hand like Lord & Miller might have pushed this into legendary status. 6/10


The only film this year that comes even close to matching Everything Everywhere All at Once is this modern Tollywood masterpiece of historical fiction that is the definition of “extra”. Like a lot of mainstream Indian cinema, RRR encompasses every genre and mushes them all together into a cheesy feast for the eyes and ears and doesn’t hold back. The action sequences are utterly out of this world, the dance numbers are better than any western musical in recent memory, and the melodrama is so overblown and intense that it crosses ridiculous and loops back around to earnest and powerful. This is easily the best pacing I’ve ever seen in a film over three hours, and it somehow always finds a way to top itself just when you think it couldn’t get more ridiculously awesome. It’s a shame the most easily accessible version of this on Netflix is the Hindi dub rather than the original Telegu language version, but even in that form it’s an absolute joy. Hopefully, this film’s success crossing into western recognition will help more audiences discover the joyful insanity of Indian cinema. 9.5/10


Men? More like Meh. Alex Garland’s latest is unfortunately very much less than the sum of its parts. Jessie Buckley is as great as she’s ever been starring as a woman coming to terms with the suicide of her abusive husband, whilst Rory Kinnear shows off a range he’s never gotten a chance to playing a cavalcade of male characters who each embody the worst traits of masculinity. It’s great to see Garland return to horror, and he crafts some really unnerving moments and haunting imagery; it prefers to low-key creep you out throughout rather than with sudden bursts of fear. The cinematography is ace, the score is really effective, the practical and digital effects are brilliantly meshed…so why am I still underwhelmed? Ultimately, it’s the exact same problem I had with Last Night in Soho: it’s a movie that has a lot to say, but has no real depth or insight about any of it. It may intensify as the story builds, but it doesn’t actually lead to much; it’s like it thinks just saying the same thing but increasingly louder will be enough to get the point across. Maybe for audiences who don’t relate as much (i.e. cishetero men without traumatic histories), this might be something to inspire some introspection, but for me I was just nodding along going, “Yep, that is indeed what men are like. I agree, they tend to suck, but…what’s your point?” 6/10

Fire Island

The trend in the late 90s and early 00s was to do adaptations of Shakespeare and Austen works but set in contemporary American high school. Let’s make the 2020s the era of adaptations of Shakespeare and Austen works but starring a bunch of messy millennial queers. Fire Island takes the basic beats of Pride & Prejudice and transplants it to the modern gay mecca off the coast of New York, and it’s a wonderfully fluid translation of the classic tale. Joel Kim Booster (who also wrote the screenplay) makes for a wonderfully messy Liz Bennett stand-in as Noah, Bowen Yang shows a more sensitive side than his usual Saturday Live Persona as the story’s Jane with Howie, and Conrad Ricamorra is a revelation as the stoic Darcy-like Will. Just some good chill comedy fun, but one that also highlights BIPOC queer voices in a way rarely seen in mainstream cinema. 7/10

Good Luck to You, Leo Grande

I like the title they went with, but I have no idea how they resisted not calling it Let’s Talk About Sex, because that is 80% of the movie. This dramedy about a widow discovering self-pleasure through a series of encounters with a sex worker may resemble a play more often than it does a film, but its limited cast and locations only helps to amplify its cracking dialogue and mesmerising performances. We of course all know Emma Thompson is a national treasure, but Daryl McCormack shows so much raw charm and personality that he has the potential to become one should he so choose; I honestly couldn’t get enough of both of them. Given how sexually repressed much of British society is, it’s so refreshing and eye-opening to see a British film not only discuss these topics, but openly advocate for a more sexually liberal society and better rights for sex workers, all whilst not being too eye-popping for the older audiences just there for Emma Thompson. I loved every awkward, horny moment of this movie, and I honestly got a better and more affirming sex education from this movie than anything I got in a secondary school classroom. 8.5/10


It’s rare to see a director release two films in one year, but even rarer that one of those films is their best work whilst the other is easily their worst. Whilst Joseph Kosinski gave us the smash-hit of the summer with Top Gun: Maverick, he also made this intriguing but ultimately underwhelming sci-fi thriller starring Chris Hemsworth, Miles Teller and Jurnee Smollett. There’s a really good movie in somewhere in Spiderhead, and it has all the right ingredients to be one, but it fumbles the ball in too many make-or-break moments. The story is good, but the pacing and structure is abysmal; it’s far too episodic and with no clear direction until we’re almost at the climax. The actors are all well cast, but their performances are generally either too muted or over-the-top. The visuals, as expected from a Kosinski film, are bloody gorgeous, but they get super, SUPER repetitive. The pop soundtrack is a nice touch, but it’s a crutch that’s way overused and some of the choices are way too obvious (still, the recurring use of Thomas Dolby’s “She Blinded Me with Science” is a stroke of genius). All in all, I can’t say I hated the experience, but it’s certainly not something I would actively encourage anyone to watch. 5/10

Cha Cha Real Smooth

This Sundance darling about a recent college grad who falls in with a young mother whilst working bar/bat mitzvahs is certainly worth the festival hype. This is one of those movies that’s so deceptively simple that you constantly think you know where it’s going, and yet it always finds a way to surprise you. A brilliant new take on a well-worn postgrad coming-of-age tale, and one of the most brutally accurate depictions of being in your 20s ever (and I say that as someone who’s only got a year of my 20s left). More than anything though, I’m so goddamn jealous of Cooper Raiff. I mean, you can write, direct, produce and act this damn well on your second feature, AND you’re only 25?! I would do so many terrible things just to as good as you at ONE of those skills. Also, I unironically want that oversized T-shirt Dakota Johnson wears in that one scene. It looks comfy. 9/10


Let’s not waste any more time. I saw so many movies last year, plus a whole bunch still to catch up on, but if I delayed these reviews any longer I’m gonna end up not covering them at all and I’d feel super guilty about it so…here ya go!

Yeah. That feels like a totally cogent intro…


A fantastic cast and an intriguing premise can’t save this dystopian noir mystery from getting off the ground. It’s really telling when offhand details about the societal collapse and war that led to this water-damaged future are far more fascinating than the actual plot, but it leads to Reminiscence feeling like a bad episode of an otherwise solid TV show. As hard as it tries to differentiate itself, it really is just Inception but with memories in place of dreams; apt, considering it was written and directed by Christopher Nolan’s sister-in-law. Only real reason to watch it is for Thandiwe Newton, who consistently steals the show in a way that makes you wish the movie was about her instead. 5/10

The Night House

Note to Ari Aster: this is how you make a horror movie about depression and suicidal ideation. Rebecca Hall has never been better in this deconstructive twist of both psychological horror and haunted house tales, creating a chilling mystery that leaves you guessing until the end…and long after too. Whilst the ambiguity of what’s really going on adds a lot to the suspense for much of the story, as well as it mostly just being in service to discussing grief and trauma, but there’s a few too many dropped threads and tangents to make it feel totally cohesive. Still, Hall’s haunting performance makes it more than worth the watch, and the fact the filmmakers behind this are now tackling the Hellraiser reboot gives me confidence that they’ll nail the core of Clive Barker’s most famous work. 7/10


Can we please just ban James Corden from appearing in musicals now? Please? I mean, he’s not in this one that much, but he did produce it and so it really is his fault more than anyone. There’s certainly nothing wrong with yet another live-action Cinderella movie, and this one does try to set itself apart in a lot of promising ways, but the execution is absolutely dreadful in nearly every way. Despite its extravagant sets and costumes, the whole production feels cheap and the direction is of an incredibly poor standard for a musical; Kay Cannon may have written the Pitch Perfect movies, but she sure didn’t direct them and that’s obvious here. Camilla Cabello feels completely miscast and she’s not a strong enough actor to make herself even slightly convincing in the lead, the film absolutely wastes much of its cast of British comedians (seriously, how do you make James Acaster unappealing?), and even with his tiny role Corden is more than irksome enough; only Billy Porter and Doc Brown come out of this looking any good. If that viral video of Corden humping on a guy’s car wasn’t enough to scare you away from this movie, allow my words to confirm it: it’s really, really bad. Also, who decided to let Pierce Brosnan sing again? What did we do to deserve that? 2/10

The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It

Most of the Conjuring spin-offs have never risen above OK, but the mainline series was always what held the whole enterprise together and that can mainly be owed to James Wan. Well, he was too busy making the batshit glory that is Malignant, so instead this third main instalment ultimately feels like a workmanlike spin-off that happens to star Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga. More than ever, the real-life inspiration feels just like window dressing to another generic exorcism flick, and Michael Chaves just utterly lacks the gonzo style of Wan to make it all tick. Still, Wilson and Farmiga are as engaging as ever, there are a few well-handled sequences here and there, and I’m always happy to see John Noble in anything, so it’s far from a total wash. If you’re invested in the franchise or just want some easy scares, it’s a fine but forgettable Friday night rental. 6/10

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie

Remember that movie The Prom from the other year? Yeah, this is basically that, but the good version. Bringing the hit West End musical to the silver screen, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is a fun and timely musical about being yourself, defying the norm, and looking bloody good while doing it. Whilst Richard E. Grant constantly threatens to steal the show as the veteran queen Loco Chanelle, with his number “This Was Me” being the emotional highlight of the film, it’s young Max Harwood as the titular Jamie who ultimately makes the whole production work. There are plenty of hackneyed moments and forced conflicts, but it’s all so breezy and enjoyable that it’s hard to care if it’s a little trite. 7.5/10

Those Who Wish Me Dead

Taylor Sheridan’s last directorial effort Wind River was a marvellous hidden gem back in 2017, so it’s great to see him get another shot behind the camera, but this Western-influenced thriller is unfortunately a little lacklustre. Angelina Jolie is easily its strongest asset, playing the lead role of a traumatised smokejumper with a compassionate but bitter disposition, and there’s some decent supporting work from the likes of Aiden Gillen and Jon Bernthal. However, the storytelling is muddled and far too understated for a plot with apparent larger consequences, the pacing is all over the place, and as thrilling as the climax is at points, the horrendous flame effects turn what is otherwise a beautiful and grounded film into a cheap CG fest. 6/10

The Last Duel

The first of two Ridley Scott films this year, The Last Duel’s long runtime and grim subject matter may make it a difficult watch, but if you’re in the right mindset this is a brutal and highly effective historical drama that explores gender dynamics and egomania in a way that’s depressingly still topical. Matt Damon and Adam Driver give strong performances as the former allies turned bitter rivals, whilst Ben Affleck puts in a memorably pompous show as the debaucherous Count Pierre, but this film ultimately belongs to Jodie Comer and her devastating role as Marguerite. The script by Nicole Holofcener and Damon & Affleck is also wonderfully constructed, using a Rashomon-style structure that recontextualises and renews each scene as we see the events from three separate perspectives, all leading to the titular duel that is as biting as it is vicious. If you missed this one in theatres and can stomach its more trigger-worthy moments, do yourself a favour and catch up. 9/10

Red Notice

The most expensive and successful Netflix original film yet, watching Red Notice is like watching the feature-length version of a fake movie inside another movie; it’s cliched, over-the-top, and plays out like a parody of itself. Whilst Dwayne Johnson and Ryan Reynolds are two of the most charismatic actors working in Hollywood today, their charms ultimately cancel each other out as they charmless bicker for over two hours, whilst Gal Gadot feels horribly miscast as the main villain. It has all the pizzaz and style you’d want from a big action movie, but it all feels so calculated and unreal that it might as well have been written and directed by the same algorithm that decides what’s next in your Netflix queue. Apparently, we’re getting two more of these. Yay, sarcastic joy! 5/10

tick, tick… BOOM!

Andrew Garfield delivers what may be the defining performance of his career as the man who would go on to create Rent in this fraught but hopeful musical drama directed by Lin-Manuel Miranda. The life and lyrics of Jonathan Larson leap onto the screen with a nervous exuberance that make you want to dance but also may induce a panic attack, all buoyed along by the phenomenal cast that also includes Robin de Jesus, Alexandra Shipp and Vanessa Hudgens; it’s like Uncut Gems with jazz hands. As a struggling writer approaching my 30s without any major success to speak of myself, this one hit home pretty hard but was also an incredibly satisfying kick up the backside to keep going, and one I’m sure I’ll revisit whenever I need to remind myself to keep going because you never know how much longer you’ve got. Miranda had a phenomenal year in 2021, and whilst I prefer both Encanto and In the Heights to tick, tick… BOOM!, this is one that would have snagged the gold in a far less competitive year. 8.5/10

Home Sweet Home Alone

Yeah, this…this is pretty bad. The plot is a meandering mess, the characters are underdeveloped and/or unlikable, the comedy is all based on awkwardness and excessively violent slapstick, and it seems to think just playing the Home Alone theme is enough to make it heartwarming without, you know, actually doing anything but pay lip service to the concept. Archie Yates is clearly a good young actor, but his Max comes off as a selfish and arrogant twerp, whilst the story spends too much time focused on Rob Delaney and Ellie Kemper as this entry’s equivalent to Harry & Marv, and making the burglars sympathetic is just flatly missing the point. Ailsing Bea is totally underutilised in the role that was the emotional centre of the original, whilst great comedic talents like Keenan Thompson, Pete Holmes and Chris Parnell are wasted on cameos. In stronger and more creative hands, this could have been at least some harmless fun, but instead this just feels like a 90 minute SNL skit without a good punchline. 2.5/10

House of Gucci

Whenever Ridley Scott puts out two movies in a year, usually one is good and the other…not so much. For 2021, despite receiving far more attention, it’s House of Gucci that ends up being the far weaker of the two. Swinging between camp melodrama and sophisticated family politics, it can’t decide if it wants to be The Godfather or The Wolf of Wall Street, and its hodgepodge middle-ground approach makes it a disappointment on both fronts. Lady Gaga is admittedly phenomenal as Patrizia Reggiani, mainly because she is the only actor who is able to bounce between its tonal extremes without looking ridiculous. Adam Driver and Al Pacino are pretty good too, but Jared Leto’s performance is such an absolute travesty that he threatens to derail the entire production. He disappears into the character, yes, but he’s a laughable stereotype who’s more cringeworthy than funny or interesting. It’s far from an intolerable watch, but there are very few surprises and it has a bit of a damp squib ending. Also, the needle drops are pretty gratuitous and all over the place; when “Faith” by George Michael started randomly playing over a wedding, I thought the cinema speakers were on the blink. 5/10

Sing 2

I only have vague memories of watching and mildly enjoying the first Sing, and so even I’m honestly surprised by how much I enjoyed Sing 2. Yeah, it’s cheesy and its musical taste isn’t always to my liking, but it has this infectious energy I can’t quite put my finger on. The story has perhaps a few too many subplots, but the core narrative is on-point and sends a solid message about pursuing your art in spite of what those with power and influence say. The cast are all really going for it (I got to the end credits and was like, “Wait, that was Bono and Halsey in those roles?!”), the animation is a step above the usually safe Illumination style, and at least a few of the musical numbers are genuinely a lot of fun on either a visual or auditory level. Defo a solid recommendation for the kids, but also an entertaining enough one for all the adults in the audience too. 7/10

West Side Story

This new adaptation of the classic musical is honestly about as good as the seminal 1961 film version; better in many aspects, but worse in a few others. Spielberg is perhaps not born to be a musical director, but he shows an impressive hand for a first-timer and Janusz Kaminski’s cinematography is *chef’s kiss*. How did this man make a man standing in a puddle look so beautiful? Rachel Zegler and Ariana DeBose are the easy standouts here and are now easily now the definitive versions of Maria and Anita to me. Mike Faist is a great riff, Brian D’arcy James is an inspired choice for Krupke, but I especially love everything they did to update Anybodys (trans headcanon confirmed!). The real sticking point here is Ansel Elgort. It’s a shame, because I do really like how they’ve reworked Tony as a character to be less wide-eyed and more remorseful guy with a troubled past he can’t seem to get away from, but Elgort’s performance is a bit flat and forgettable; if the writing and direction in his scenes weren’t so strong, it would threaten to tank the whole production. Whether you prefer this one or the ’61 version is going to come down to preference. If you put a gun to my head, I’d go with the original, but there is so much I do love about Spielberg’s that I wish I could combine the best of both to make the ultimate version of this show. 8.5/10

Single All The Way

Well, it’s a Netflix Christmas romantic comedy, but gay. That’s honestly all you really need to know. Speaking not facetiously though, this is a silly but cute little bit of holiday nonsense. The script is incredibly tacky and it’s padded to high heaven and there’s a lot of cringeworthy moments, but what ultimately makes it work are the lead performances from Michael Urie and Philemon Chambers, who remain completely earnest and actually manage to pull off the “will they, won’t they” bit without obviously telegraphing where it’ll go. Also, it’s got Barry Bostwick, Jennifer Coolidge and Kathy Najimy in it; how could any queer at least ironically love this. Sure, if I was to genuinely recommend an LGBT+ Christmas movie, I’d say go for Happiest Season, but this…is OK enough too. 6/10

The Worst Person in the World

I’ve never seen a Joachim Trier film before this one, but watching this has made me want to go back through his whole filmography, because this is such a beautiful yet melancholic portrait of millennial angst. Everyone has either been or known a Julie in their lives, and Renate Reinsve brings her to life with such a relatable amount of dissatisfaction and empathy. Her story is not some grand life-affirming tale of what it means to discover your calling or truly find love, but a meditation on how messy and complicated and honestly underwhelming being an adult is and, to not-so-subtly drop the title, that disappointment can make you feel like the worst person in the world. There’s such a simple beauty to this film that reminds me of Richard Linklater’s Before trilogy, but one that reflects today’s anxieties. An absolute gem. 8.5/10

Dear Evan Hansen

I don’t think I’ve ever empathised with a movie so much whilst simultaneously hating it so much of it. First off, Dear Evan Hansen is frustratingly incompetently staged as a musical film. Most of the numbers are delivered whilst sitting down or standing still with next to no visual flair. The only exceptions are “Sincerely Me” and “You Will Be Found”, which just so happen to be the best songs. Like, if you took away the music and let the characters just say the lyrics as dialogue, not very much would change. That’s a bad sign. And then there’s Evan who, putting aside how unconvincing Ben Platt is in the part both age-wise and acting-wise, is badly portrayed in regards to perspective. I’ve heard he’s got more of a sociopathic anti-hero vibe in the stage show, which makes a lot more sense, but here he’s just a weeping mess who does some really messed-up stuff purely out of anxiety-fuelled politeness? Yeah, that makes him very hard to like even if I relate to some of his mental health struggles. Some of the cast are pretty good, like Kaitlin Dever and Colton Ryan, and whilst Amandla Stenberg is trying they are left with an underdeveloped character does a pretty shitty thing for poorly motivated reasons and gets no real comeuppance. Also, Amy Adams’ character is supposed to be grieving, I know, but she comes off as more deranged than sad; I half-expected to explode into a homicidal rage at some point. So yeah. It’s bad. The only thing is has to be thankful for is that Cinderella exists, thereby not making it the worst musical this year. 3.5/10

Don’t Look Up

Right up front: I absolutely believe and support the message of this film, and am just as frustrated with how the selfish idiocy and capitalistic lust of our world leaders is leading us right towards disaster…but just because I agree with its politics does not mean I think it’s a great movie. Don’t Look Up is honestly just OK. The performances are overall pretty strong, there’s some great gags spread throughout, that one Ariana Grande song is a bop, and as with Adam McKay’s previous satires he does a fantastic job of translating complex topics into easily digestible comedy. That said though, the movie makes its point pretty quickly and then just continues to hammer it home over and over for two hours plus, most of the supporting characters are caricatures so far removed from reality that it stops being biting and starts getting annoying, and its final conclusion is telegraphed a mile away. This could be a movie that ages better with time and distance, but it also just as easily could seem incredibly dated in mere years. Overall, its intentions are too noble to call it a flop, but I still can’t understand how so many awards bodies are slobbering all over it with accolades. Not everything with Leonardo DiCaprio and Meryl Streep in it is immediately Oscar-calibre, folks. 6/10

Till Death

Can we please try and make a Megan Fox renaissance happen? Honestly, this woman really got done dirty simply for the crime of being attractive, starring in some bad movies, and calling out a director in an admittedly tactless but prescient way; c’mon, there’s people in Hollywood who’ve done far worse we’re still making excuses for. But anyway, Till Death is a solid little horror/thriller that shows Fox has solid scream queen chops if Jennifer’s Body hadn’t already made that clear to you. It takes a little too long to get going, but the basic Gerry’s Game-inspired premise is immediately engaging and works in some very tight but gory and satisfying set pieces. If you’re looking for a solid bit of Friday night schlock, you wouldn’t go wrong picking this. 7.5/10

Licorice Pizza

Is this the best Paul Thomas Anderson movie? No, but it’s quite possibly the most Paul Thomas Anderson movie. It’s a movie very much about the journey rather than the destination, and what a wild ride that journey is! Cooper Hoffman is a revelation; he mirrors what made his late great father so charming and fascinating, but he’s still very much his own man. Alana Haim is equally astounding and her love/hate relationship with Hoffman is what keeps the movie going on track even as it keep going off on tangents. Bradley Cooper, Sean Penn and Tom Waits are absolutely nuts in their all-too-brief roles, with Cooper’s performance especially being such a perfect capture of the bizarre lunacy of the very-real Jon Peters. Honestly, just so any side characters just screaming out for movies of their own. They’ve truly created a living, breathing world in this nostalgia-fuelled reimagining of 70s California, and I loved every minute. This is what I wanted from Once Upon a Time in Hollywood! 9/10

Nightmare Alley

Stellar performances, beautiful sets and costumes, stunning cinematography, a moody and gothic atmosphere so thick and creamy you could cut it with a butterknife, grotesque and haunting imagery. There is so much to love about Nightmare Alley…but a movie is nothing without a story, and the story here is easily its weakest element. The first act at the carnival is really solid; a great ode to Todd Browning, as you’d expect from a cinephile like Del Toro. The second act though overstays its welcome and eats into what should be a more beefy climax. The biggest tell? I predicted the ending within the first five minutes. That is never a good sign. It’s a gorgeous movie, and that counts for a lot, but it’s not enough. But goddamn, Cate Blanchett is hot in this! 6/10


If you were disappointed by Tom Hooper’s Les Miserables, I’d highly recommend giving this one a watch because everything that film got wrong, this one gets right. Yes, it has its moments of grit and sadness, but it’s also grand and unabashedly romantic and so full of life, and such a perfect translation of the stage experience to the screen whilst taking advantage of the best of both mediums. Joe Wright’s direction is strong, the aesthetic of the film is exquisite down to the last detail, and the songs by The National are all brimming with emotion and pain, but the real reason to watch this is just for Peter Dinklage and Haley Bennett. These are honestly probably the best performances I’ve ever seen from either of these actors, and the fact Dinklage especially has been snubbed an Oscar nom for this is a crime. Yes, I know he’s swimming in Emmys at this point, but dammit the man deserves at least to be recognised! Whatever. Just go watch it, because it feels like right now nobody is. 8.5/10


Yes, I know the middle of the year was almost two months ago.

Yes, I know at this point I could have just waited until the end of the year like I did in 2020.

However, there are great movies here I want to recommend but I didn’t have time to before, and I want to get my thoughts out before I completly forget about them come the end of the year. And hey, if you’re the type who’s still been avoiding cinemas for now, most of these are available on streaming or will be soon, so there’s definetly some gold here to add to your pandemic watchlist.

Outside the Wire

A promising premise and a solid performance from Anthony Mackie unfortunately can’t save this otherwise forgettable sci-fi actioner. There’s some attempt to make this a story with moral conflict and social commentary, but by its climax it falls back on old technophobic cliches and pseudo-intellectual speeches about war and what it means to be human that make Hideo Kojima dialogue seem cogent. Sorry if this review is a bit barebones, but I honestly barely even remember watching this one. 3.5/10

Outside the Wire | Netflix Official Site

Psycho Goreman

An 80s throwback that asks the question, “What if E.T. starred Pinhead?”, Psycho Goreman is a bonkers horror comedy that lovingly sends up the cheapo genre flicks of the era. Steven Vlahos is an absolute delight as the voice of the titular monster, as is Adam Brooks as the hilariously pathetic dad, and the obviously minimal budget only adds to its charming retro aesthetic. Its biggest drawback is easily Nita-Josee Hanna as our protagonist Mimi, whose cloying performance turns her into an annoying control freak, rather than the lovable rapscallion the script clearly paints her as. Otherwise, this is a prime example of how you do “bad movies on purpose”: make them with a clear love for the material. If you have a Shudder subscription and haven’t watched this yet, why do you even pay for it? 7/10

Psycho Goreman Review - HeyUGuys

I Care a Lot

It’s a damn shame Rosamund Pike hasn’t been getting the roles she deserves after her stellar performance in Gone Girl, because this is exactly the kind of character she excels in. A dark comedy about a predatory legal guardian conning the elderly out of their wealth is such a perfect set-up for a timely satire, but I Care a Lot only grows more elaborate from there. This is simply a fantastic acting showcase for not only Pike, but also its stellar supporting cast including Peter Dinklage, Eiza González and Dianne Wiest, and a well-deserved return to form for writer/director J Blakeson. Now please, casting agents: hire Rosamund Pike. I want to see her play a maniacal supervillain eventually. 9/10

Netflix's I Care a Lot: Premiere Date, Cast, Trailer and More


Amy Poehler’s sophomore directorial effort is clearly an attempt to copy her friend Tina Fey’s seminal classic Mean Girls but with a modern, socially-conscious twist. What we instead end up with is essentially “White Feminism for Teens: The Movie”. The screenplay reads like a middle-aged woman trying to write for Generation Z kids, and the disconnect immediately makes any kind of positive statement it’s trying to make seem immediately fake. The story at least attempts to call out its protagonist for being a white saviour, but she never seriously learns from this and all of the marginalised characters still ultimately feel like props. Just go watch Booksmart again and pretend this never happened. 4/10

Moxie (2021) - IMDb

Me You Madness

Gaudy, overproduced, gratingly unfunny, amateurish direction, incessant dialogue, endless 80s pop needle drops, scenes that drag on and on and on, and porno-grade acting from everyone involved. I honestly can’t tell whether it’s trying to be campy on purpose, or it’s just plain incompetent.It’s the vainest of vanity projects I’ve ever witnessed. A student film stretched to feature-length. A movie that wants to be glamourous and decadent, but instead lands somewhere between New Jersey mob wife and drag queen. In other words: it’s The Room for Republican girlbosses. If you love watching awful, awful movies for fun, this might be one to add to your late-night riffing playlist. Otherwise, just stay away. 1/10

Me You Madness' is made by bad people with more money than sense. I almost  loved it.

Operation Varsity Blues

If you don’t know too much about the 2019 college admissions scandal, this might be an interesting watch, but what ultimately hampers this film far more than its lack of depth are its re-enactments. Featuring Matthew Modine in a bad wig playing counsellor/con man Rick Singer, it plays out like an odd mix of a documentary and a TV Movie of the Week, and it might have been better off picking one or the other. If you’ve watched the rest of Netflix’s true crime docs, this might be of interest, but you’d probably get a lot more intrigue and nuance by reading a few articles on the subject instead. 6/10

Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal | Netflix Official  Site

America: The Motion Picture

A purposefully anachronistic retelling of American War for Independence through the lens of OTT action movies sounds like a laugh riot, and at times America: The Motion Picture is exactly that kind of Adult Swim random madness. However, it’s a bit too scatter-brained and tonally inconsistent to be enjoyable as a feature film; the story may have been served better as a series. The voice cast is certainly game (with standouts including Bobby Moynihan as an intellectually-challenged Paul Revere and Olivia Munn as a gender-and-race-flipped Thomas Edison) and a lot of the jokes are so ridiculously stupid that you can’t help but laugh, but this is one of those movies that’s unfortunately less than the sum of its parts. The ending is on-point though. 6.5/10

America: The Motion Picture | Netflix Official Site

Barb & Star Go to Vista del Mar

If you’ve missed the gonzo comedies of the 90s and 00s that barely had a plot and just vibed on their stars’ inherent funniness, this is the movie you’ve been waiting for. Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumulo turn characters who could easily be annoying into charming and relatable weirdos, who both seem normal compared to the mad world they live in. I’d advise going into this one as cold as possible, because that only makes the insanity that ensues that much funnier, so I’m not going to say much more other than WATCH IT. Also, Jamie Dornan is an absolute delight and I can’t get this musical number out of my head. Yes, really. 8.5/10

Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar' Review: Kitsch Fever Dream - The New  York Times

Locked Down

I’ve avoided watching any of the various attempts to make a movie about the pandemic whilst the pandemic is still happening, but even I was intrigued by this one. A heist film directed by Doug Liman, written by Steven Knight, starring Anne Hathaway and Chiwetel Ejiofor, set against the backdrop of the early days of lockdown? If they had spent more than a week writing the script and weren’t obviously limited in scope by COVID restrictions, this could have been something. Instead, this is mostly two hours of watching Hathaway and Ejiofor argue about their relationship, followed by the most underwhelming heist ever put to cinema. You’d probably have more fun just watching its all-star cast hanging about in their flats learning how to make bread. 3/10

Locked Down': How to Watch the New Anne Hathaway Movie Online

Trollhunters: Rise of the Titans

The Tales from Arcadia series is honestly one of the best animated kids’ shows to come along since Avatar: The Last Airbender, and to see its saga finally conclude with a feature film was certainly a sight to behold. Though obviously limited by its runtime, Rise of the Titans does a pretty satisfying job of at least paying tribute to its universe if not necessarily closing up every lingering plot thread. The stakes are high, the character dynamics are as strong as ever, and the voice cast all do a fantastic job playing their now-iconic characters. It all pays off in an emotionally satisfying climax that ends the story on a hopeful but bittersweet moment that genuinely shocked me…and then they had to ruin it! Seriously, Rise of the Titans loses a lot of points exclusively due to its last five minutes, which not only cops out on its ending but renders much of the entire saga worthless. The movie up until then is pretty damn good, but it so intentionally shoots itself in the foot that it ends up averaging out as just, well…average. 6.5/10


It’s been over a month since I saw it, and yet I’m still in turmoil about whether Old is a good movie or not. On the one hand, the premise is far-fetched but captivating and has fun playing with its rules, the unhinged cinematography does a great job of creating tension and uneasiness, and there are some genuinely creepy moments that evoke the body horror of Cronenberg and Barker. However, Shyamalan’s dialogue is as stilted and bewildering as ever, with characters making weird observations and spelling out the obvious; who else would create a character called Mid-Sized Sedan and expect to be taken seriously? The story on the whole is meandering and full of holes, with a final twist that is simultaneously obvious and yet absolutely preposterous in how it all fits together. Top it all of with some moments that cross the line from horrifying to just futilely tasteless, and it’s easy to see why so many hated Old. Me on the other hand? There’s just enough chills and suspense here to give it a trepidatious recommendation, even if only so you can make up your own mind, because I certainly can’t. 6/10

Judas and the Black Messiah

Some movies are carried entirely by their performances, and without its stellar cast Judas and the Black Messiah would be a fairly generic and unfocused biopic. However, the performances here are so captivating that it’s hard to care, elevating the whole movie and giving extra weight to its ultimately timely and necessary message. Lakeith Stanfield, Dominque Fishback and Jesse Plemons are all fantastic in their respective roles, but of course the standout here is Daniel Kaluuya as Black Panther Party icon Fred Hampton. It’s easily his best performance to date, and more than worthy of his Best Supporting Actor Oscar win; the only fault with it is that he isn’t in the movie nearly enough. 8/10

Judas and the Black Messiah' New 2021 Release Date - Variety

The Sparks Brothers

Whether you’re a major fan of Sparks or don’t even know who they are and are simply here because Edgar Wright’s name is on the poster, this is a stellar rockumentary chronicling the music world’s most elusive band. It dives not only into the history of the eccentric Mael brothers and their eclectic songs, but also how their music has left a pop culture impact in ways you may never have realised. Wright’s predilection for rhythmic editing and silly asides translate effortlessly into the documentary format, perfectly complimenting the Maels’ unique brand of humour. That’s not to even mention the soundtrack, which packs in as many Sparks songs as it can, alone demonstrating the wild evolution of the band over the years. If you don’t come out of this movie interested in checking out Sparks’ back catalogue and becoming a fan yourself, you will at least understand why so many have fallen in love with their music and why they deserve so much more credit than even they’ll admit they want. 9/10

The Sparks Brothers Reviews - Metacritic

Shadow in the Cloud

Disclaimer before I say anything positive about this movie: fuck Max Landis! He’s a manipulative sexual abuser, and the fact his name is attached to this is a serious demerit no matter how much the filmmakers have tried to distance themselves from him. Otherwise, this is a surprisingly well-executed genre flick with a lot of tension and an absolutely bonkers third act. Chloe Grace Moretz feels a little miscast but holds her own, and Rosanne Liang’s direction is top-notch. I wish more action movies had this one’s sense of pace and efficiency: 75 minutes excluding credits, and not a single second wasted. Call me when Liang gets herself a project that isn’t weighed down by the baggage of Hollywood’s own predatory gremlin. 6/10

Shadow in the Cloud Trailer: Chloe Grace Moretz Fights Monsters in WWII

Pray Away

Far too reserved and clinical to have the impact it clearly wants. I’m sure audiences who haven’t heard much about conversion therapy will be moved, but I’ve read so many stories that were far more detailed, harrowing and emotionally hefty than those told here. Despite most of its interview subjects being the literal former heads of these ministries, you don’t learn all that much about how and why they did these horrible things; you only get the barest of basic details. There’s far too much focus on the practitioners and lobbyists and not enough on the survivors, who have the far more relatable and sympathetic stories to tell. Also, the film is seriously lacking in trans representation. This would be OK if the film stayed totally focused on LGB conversion, but the film opens on and keeps cutting back to the story of a born-again detransitioner who says and does some awfully transphobic things. It’s obvious what he’s doing is wrong, but it would have been really helpful to have a trans voice in there to balance out and counteract all of that awfulness. As is, it just really left an awful taste in my mouth to see the only trans-adjacent voice in the film be framed as essentially its defacto villain. 5/10

How tragedy led Netflix director to shine a light on America's relentless  ex-gay movement


Sometimes, a story doesn’t need to be hugely complex, be set in some far-off exotic locale, or say something that completely changes your perception of the world. All you need is to put the audience in a unique pair of shoes and get you to fall in love with its characters. CODA at its core is a simple coming-of-age story but executed as flawlessly as you can expect, whilst also putting a much-needed spotlight on the deaf community without misunderstanding or pandering to them. Marlee Matlin, Troy Kotsur and Daniel Durant are all fantastic supporting players to Emilia Jones’ star-making turn as Ruby Rossi, demonstrating that not only should deaf actors be cast in deaf roles, but they add authenticity, visibility, and can collaborate seamlessly with their hearing co-stars. Are there times that the movie falls back on formulas or treacly sentimentality? Yes, but not only does it avoid as many clichés as it indulges in, those moments are earned and executed with such effortless precision that it’s impossible not to feel something. If you’re lucky enough to have a theatre near you playing CODA, go see it. Otherwise, sign up for Apple TV+ and give it a watch. You can always just cancel your subscription before the trial ends, though I’m hearing great things about Ted Lasso too… 10/10!

CODA Soundtrack Music - Complete Song List | Tunefind

Werewolves Within

Here’s a new way to adapt a video game into a movie: buy the rights to a property barely anyone has heard of and has next to no story, and then just do whatever you want with it. Why the filmmakers felt the need to base their film on an obscure Ubisoft VR game that’s just another play on the well-worn premise of Werewolf, I have no idea, but the final product is a pretty fun little horror-comedy. Sam Richardson continues to impress with his surprisingly malleable “earnest but highly anxious good guy” routine, and it’s fantastic to see Milana Vayntraub get the chance to shine she has been overdue for some time; the two of them just bantering and flirting is entertaining enough on its own. The final reveal may be obvious early on to anyone paying attention, but despite that the film’s suspense elements to a decent job of making everyone a viable suspect and making you question whether there even is a werewolf to begin with. The comedy doesn’t always strike gold, but the characters are well-defined enough to create some entertaining exchanges as allegiances and theories clash, creating a vibe best described as “What if James Gunn directed Clue?” 6.5/10

Werewolves Within Trailer Teases A Lycanthropy Murder Mystery


This is basically a direct-to-video action movie from the 2000s, but they had the budget to hire name actors and maybe a few extra neon lights. Kate Beckinsale makes for a good Jason Statham-alike in the lead role and is clearly having as much of a blast here as she did in Underworld, and the stellar supporting cast do a lot to elevate it; even Jai Courtney comes out of this one looking decent. Unfortunately, the script is utter tripe that’s barely coherent with characters repeating the same information over and over again, and the action is incredibly inconsistent and nowhere near as crazy as all the electronic music and saturated lighting wants you to believe. All in all, I’d rather have watched the buddy cop movie with Bobby Cannavale and Laverne Cox that’s happening in the background. Also, not enough Stanley Tucci. You can never have too much Stanley Tucci. 5/10

Jolt': Film Review – The Hollywood Reporter


You might have noticed that I didn’t post as much throughout 2020, and it’s easy to guess why. I honestly do wish I had written more reviews last year, because I still watched plenty of movies; I mean, there wasn’t much else to do while we’ve all been stuck inside besides doomscrolling and learning how to make bread. There are so many films I’ve wanted to talk about and tell people to go watch, but for a variety of reasons I just didn’t get around to it very often. But with 2021 now lying ahead and movies hopefully getting back to a more regular schedule soon, I wanted to make up for lost time and give you the rundown on every movie I saw in 2020 (that I haven’t already done a full review for). Now let me take a very deep breath…and let’s begin!

The Gentlemen

Guy Ritchie returns to his British crime caper roots with this fun but disposable bit of malarky. The plot isn’t much to write home about, but the performances across the board are strong and keep the fun banter flowing. Hugh Grant, Colin Farrell and Jeremy Strong ultimately make this worth a watch, and hopefully this marks a return to form for Ritchie after trying his hand at blockbusters. Still, I’d love a sequel to The Man from U.N.C.L.E. when you get the chance, Guy. 6/10

The Gentlemen' Review: Guy Ritchie's Return To The Genre Leads To  Underwhelming Results

Miss Americana

Modern documentaries about current pop stars are usually nothing more than marketing exercises for concert tours made only for the diehard fans, but Miss Americana is a fascinating film for even those who don’t like Taylor Swift. It successfully humanises Swift without trying to convince you she is “just like you”, giving you a glimpse of the pressure and impact of fame on a celebrity’s health and voice. The standard all future pop docs should hold themselves to. 8/10

Taylor Swift: Miss Americana' Review: A Star, Surprisingly Alone - The New  York Times


Despite being a massive fan of Clueless, I’ve never read or seen any prior version of Emma, but this was a delightful way to be introduced to this Jane Austen tale. Anya Taylor-Joy is so perfectly cast as the titular character, along with great supporting turns from Bill Nighy and Miranda Hart, and the film on a visual level is just a gorgeous pastel-vision. Considering this is a feature film debut from director Autumn de Wilde, it’s a truly extraordinary bit of filmmaking on an aesthetic level. 8/10

Emma.' star and director on updating Jane Austen's text through blood and  tears | Fortune

The Hunt

After the horrors we’ve all witnessed over the past year, the controversy surrounding the release of The Hunt seems quaint and practically dated by comparison. Still, this politically-charged horror-thriller-satire is some solid B-movie fun, anchored by a brilliantly understated performance by Betty Gilpin. The commentary sometimes comes off a bit too on-the-nose and the ending fails to live up to the film’s promise, but there’s still a lot of fun action and topical humour along the way. 7/10

The Hunt (2020) - IMDb


2020 was not a good year for superhero movies and, despite trying so hard to set itself apart from its peers, Bloodshot ends up being utterly forgettable. Yet another attempt to start a new cinematic universe, this feels like a comic book movie from at least ten years ago, and even the stoic charisma of Vin Diesel can’t save it. Bland characters, a predictable script, and action sequences involving nanobots and cybernetics that are somehow made boring, this superpowered action flop makes The New Mutants look awesome by comparison. I’m sceptical they’ll actually make a sequel, but hey: it took them until the fifth Fast & Furious before they got genuinely good, and they did eventually get around to doing xXx 3, so anything’s possible. 4/10

Bloodshot (2020) | Film Review | This Is Film

The Lovebirds

With Big Sick director Michael Showalter at the helm, the brilliant pairing of Kumail Nanjiani and Issa Rae as stars, and a quite literally killer premise, it’s a shame The Lovebirds is ultimately a bit of a non-starter. The plot is scattered and unfortunately predictable, whilst the jokes often strain to hold the whole enterprise together. Fortunately, the haphazard chemistry between Nanjiani and Rae ultimately make it worth a gander if you need some mindless light-hearted fun, but it still falls far short of the promise it had. 6/10

The Lovebirds' Review: It's a Turkey - The New York Times


If you know me or have watched any of my video essays, you know transgender representation in film & TV is incredibly important to me, and this account of the history of the community on screen is a perfect encapsulation of every problem with representations of the marginalised in popular culture. It’s a great entry point for cis viewers looking to better understand the issues, but it hits on a deeper level for trans viewers seeing both the mockery and hatred we’ve endured on screen but also the joy and hope for a better future. Easily the best documentary I’ve seen all year. 10/10!

Disclosure Review: Laverne Cox's Moving Survey of Trans Representation |  IndieWire

Da 5 Bloods

Spike Lee hits it out of the park again with this time-hopping Vietnam War drama. Much like BlacKkKlansman, it is both a brutal account of past events but also an incredibly timely story about race, war and colonialism, whilst also balancing that fine line between truth and entertainment. The cast across the board is excellent, but Delroy Lindo is easily the film’s MVP in a career-best performance that, in a just world, would net him all of the Best Actor awards. Also, that minefield scene. Holy hell, that was intense! 8.5/10

Is Da 5 Bloods based on a true story?

Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga

This is an inherently stupid movie, but it’s a Will Ferrell comedy about Eurovision, so you really shouldn’t be too surprised. Though the plot is incredibly cliché and overstretched, it’s an undeniably fun ride with hilarious comedic turns by Rachel McAdams and Dan Stevens and some brilliantly catchy songs. Seriously, “Jaja Ding Dong” fucking slaps! If you’re in need of something to cheer you up and you love cheesy European pop music, you cannot go wrong. 7/10

The Story of Fire Saga Review: Netflix Eurovision Comedy Is Too Pitchy |  IndieWire


I hesitate to count this a film, considering it’s just a filmed version of the Broadway show, but just to get it out of the way: yeah, Hamilton is as good as all of your theatre friends say it is. Even without the magic only a live performance can illicit, this is an astounding piece of theatrical art that is now more accessible than ever. If you’ve been missing your local theatre during the pandemic, there is no better cure than watching Hamilton. 9.5/10

HAMILTON (2020) • Frame Rated

The Old Guard

Whilst new blockbuster action movies were hard to find this past summer whilst they we wait for box offices to reopen, The Old Guard more than scratched that itch for gunfire and punching. Charlize Theron again shows herself to be a stellar action heroine, and the John Wick-meets-Highlander action is a lot of brutal genre movie fun. Also, that scene in the prison transport is beautiful and a brilliant example of how simple and naturally gay characters can be incorporated into a story. This is easily the best attempt at a blockbuster genre movie Netflix has ever attempted, and hopefully this blossoms out into the franchise it clearly wants to spawn. 8.5/10

The Old Guard (2020) directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood • Reviews, film +  cast • Letterboxd

Project Power

The premise of a drug that gives you superpowers is absolute dynamite, and although Project Power does have some fun with the idea, it ultimately feels unfocused. Jamie Foxx does a decent enough job as lead Art, but the storyline for Joseph Gordon-Levitt as cop Frank Shaver feels woefully underdeveloped, and instead the real star of the movie ends up being Dominique Fishback as the street-smart Robin. Honestly, I would have rather watched the movie about her ambitions to be a rapper rather than her being thrown into yet another “grounded” superhero movie. 6.5/10

Project Power': Film Review | Hollywood Reporter

The King of Staten Island

Pete Davidson finally gets his chance at breaking out of Saturday Night Live in this semi-autobiographical dramedy from Judd Apatow. There’s some great supporting turns here from Marisa Tomei, Bel Powley and Steve Buscemi, but Davidson’s unique personality and brutally honest performance is what keeps it chugging through its overlong runtime. It ends up as a middling entry in Apatow’s filmography, but is easily his most earnest. I hope he continues to further mature as a director and evolve into the new James L. Brooks like he clearly has the potential to be. 7/10

The King of Staten Island' Review: Pete Davidson Tells His Story

Pretending I’m A Superman

As a huge fan of the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series of video games, I was really hoping there’d be an interesting story behind it worthy of a feature documentary. Unfortunately, Pretending I’m a Superman ends up feeling like a few disposable DVD featurettes stapled together. The film takes up so much time at the front talking about the history of skateboarding and other mostly irrelevant background info available in more focused docs, and then barely skims over the history of the franchise and dodges answering questions about the later entries that led to its downfall. There’s some resonance in realizing how much a video game not only greatly impacted the sport but pop culture in general, but in the end this doc is one for only the most diehard of THPS fans. 5.5/10

Relive the Phenomenon of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater in Trailer for Pretending  I'm a Superman


Dr Dolittle hasn’t had much luck on screen with either the Rex Harrison or Eddie Murphy versions, but this new incarnation has now convinced me that this franchise is cursed. Robert Downey Jr gives a frankly embarrassing performance as the titular animal-conversing doctor, surrounded by a bloated cast of celebrities voicing one-note animal characters rendered with terrifyingly uneven CGI. The story is barely comprehensible, clearly patched together after extensive reshoots, and the final result is a bloated, expensive mess. Michael Sheen is the film’s only saving grace, camping it up as the film’s moustache-twirling villain in his most entertainingly bad performance since The Twilight Saga ended. 3/10

Dolittle' Review: Downey Does Less With Hollywood's Favorite Vet - Variety

Bill & Ted Face the Music

This has been a movie in the works for decades and, for once, a long-belated sequel was more than worth the wait. Rather than a rehash of lost glory, the return of Bill & Ted takes an adult and reflective perspective on the story of two friends who never lived up to their dreams and turns into a time-hopping laugh riot. Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter slip back into the roles effortlessly, ably backed up by Samara Weaving and Brigette Lundy-Paine as their equally bodacious daughters, and there are too many other great characters and cameos to sum up in such a short review. Overall, this is the kind of heart-warming fun we needed in 2020, and perfectly caps of a most excellent trilogy of adventures. 8.5/10

Shot by Shot with the 'Bill & Ted Face The Music' Trailer

Enola Holmes

Millie Bobbie Brown proves herself to be a worthy leading lady in the making with this young adult take on the Sherlock Holmes formula. The plot feels suitably ripped from the world of Arthur Conan Doyle but with an added flavour of classic English children’s literature, making the mystery an entertaining ride for both young and old. Sam Claflin and Henry Cavill make great turns as Mycroft and Sherlock respectively, but the film’s success lies entirely with Brown, and that hopefully means we’ll see more adventures with young Enola sooner rather than later. 7/10

Enola Holmes': Netflix's #1 Star Outshines Netflix's #2 Star

Secret Society of Second-Born Royals

Disney Channel movies are rarely ever stellar productions, but with a bigger budget and the Disney+ platform behind it, this has no excuse to be as lazy and chintzy as it is. The film’s premise is basically a haphazard combo of The Princess Diaries and X-Men with half the charm and an eighth of the budget, but the Sharkboy and Lava Girl-level effects could be excusable if not for the stilted dialogue, overcomplicated world-building and amateur performances from even the film’s seasoned stars. With decades of great kids’ entertainment readily available on Disney+ already, why would you ever choose to watch this? 1.5/10

Secret Society of Second-Born Royals - Plugged In


Though this new take on Scooby-Doo rightly abandons live-action of previous cinematic efforts, it’s the only smart decision the film ends up making. Scoob! tries to build a cinematic universe around the characters of Hannah-Barbera, but in the process turns a story about teenagers solving mysteries into yet another generic superhero send-up. The film is redeemed somewhat by some fun action sequences, an adorable opening sequence with young Shaggy and Scooby, and a delightfully OTT vocal performance by Jason Isaacs as Dick Dastardly, but this is otherwise a pretty forgettable animated flick that wouldn’t be out of place with the dozens of straight-to-DVD Scooby movies pumped out every year. 5/10

Scoob': #ScoobDance TikTok Challenge Nears 4B, Warner Bros. Lines Up Movie  Theater Partners – Deadline

Saint Maud

It’s hard to come by good British horror these days, and Saint Maud feels like a true modern answer to the classics of old. Morfyyd Clark gives a haunting performance as the titular Maud, creating a character that is grounded and sympathetic but disturbing at the same time. As a directorial debut from Rose Glass, this is a fantastic example of what low-budget British filmmaking can do when it plays outside the box, and Saint Maud already shows potential to be a future cult classic. If you love a truly twisted psychological horror, this is a must-see. 8/10

Saint Maud Review | Movie - Empire

Vampires vs. The Bronx

Harnessing the spirit of films like The Goonies and The Monster Squad but with a modern-day flavour, Vampires vs. The Bronx is both an entertaining horror-comedy and a clever commentary on whitewashing and gentrification. The young cast of newcomers carry the film with the confidence of pros, with the more recognisable faces like Sarah Gadon, Shea Whigham and Chris Redd simply there to bolster and support their hijinks. It feels hampered at times by its low budget and PG-13 rating, but otherwise this is a solid addition to your Halloween movie playlist. 7.5/10

Vampires vs the Bronx trailer: The neighborhood is at stake |

Hubie Halloween

Now this is a rare sight: a Happy Madison production that is not entirely terrible? Whilst suffering from many of the same problems Adam Sandler’s films have had for years, Hubie Halloween manages to overcome them through the strength of its supporting cast and a lot more earnestness than his past productions. It’s by no means a Halloween classic, but it has enough laughs and genuine moments to make it seem like it was actually made with some degree of effort. I know that’s a low bar, but by Sandler’s usual standards it’s quite an achievement. 6/10

Hubie Halloween' Star Adam Sandler Reveals Spooky On-Set Secrets |  Entertainment Tonight

The Trial of the Chicago 7

Aaron Sorkin’s sophomore effort as a director takes a humorous but honest look at one of America’s most publicized trials, delivering the sizzling dialogue and airtight tension that the famed West Wing writer is known for. The ensemble cast across the board is well cast no matter the size of the role, but the film’s biggest standouts are easily Sacha Baron Cohen and Jeremy Strong as Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin respectively, livening up what could have easily been a dry courtroom drama into something almost absurdist. If Sorkin ever gets to write that Social Network sequel, I hope the inevitable scene where Mark Zuckerberg gets questioned by Congress can at least match the grandeur and farce of the court scenes here. 8/10

The Real Story Behind Netflix's The Trial of the Chicago 7

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

In the most surprising film of 2020 on multiple levels, this belated follow-up to the infamous 2006 mockumentary is perhaps the first comedy sequel that arguably surpasses its predecessor. The film is an irreverent and often uncomfortable skewering of Trump’s America, taking target at the GOP, COVID-19 scepticism and its overall culture of backwards bigotry that has bubbled to the surface since Borat’s last trip to the USA. Baron Cohen is as entertaining as ever as the titular Kazakhstani reporter, but Maria Bakalova is the film’s true revelation as his feral daughter Tutar. She is a comedy mastermind in the making, and comedy filmmakers would be foolish not to give her more opportunities to shine in the future. If you need something cathartic after a year of absolute bullshit, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm is just what the doctor ordered. 8.5/10

Borat 2's Maria Bakalova breaks silence over Rudy Giuliani scene

The Craft Legacy

The Craft has managed to stand the test of time despite its overwhelming 90s-ness to become a perennial favourite for goth girls and wannabe wiccans the world over, and this 2020 sequel/reboot serves its target generation admirably. Though on a skeletal level a rehash of the first film, Legacy is at its best when it is exploring contemporary topics through the lens of its female power fantasy. The storytelling feels a bit restrained by budget, as do its lacklustre special effects, but this is a welcome and tasteful approach to revitalising a story for a new generation, even if this year’s Bit did a much better job of the “supernatural intersectional feminists vs. the patriarchy” premise. 7.5/10

The Craft: Legacy' Review: More Dull Carbon Copy Than Cult Classic - The  New York Times

Happiest Season

Though Happiest Season isn’t quite the gay Christmas classic all the Ls, Gs, Bs, Ts and beyond deserve, it’s regardless a heart-warming and hilarious step in the right direction. Kristen Stewart makes for a unique rom com lead stuck in an incredibly awkward family situation, with a relatable reticence and frustration that’ll speak to anyone who’s felt conflicted about their relationship, no matter your orientation or identity. The supporting cast is a smorgasbord of great comedy talent too, with Aubrey Plaza, Mary Holland and the always-iconic Dan Levy keeping the laughs coming fast. Sure, the ending is a bit rushed and as a result doesn’t quite feel earned, but its heart is absolutely in the right place, and that’s what matters more than anything. 8/10

Happiest Season Is a Queer Fantasy—And Almost the One I Need Right Now

Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey

Another solid addition to your holiday watchlist is this musical fantasy adventure from Netflix. Featuring music co-composed by John Legend and some boisterous performances from Forest Whittaker and Keegan Michael-Key, Jingle Jangle is a bold and imaginative throwback to the classic Christmas tales of our childhood with a modern perspective, blending old and new to create something distinctly familiar and yet completely refreshing. It can at times stretch your suspension of disbelief as it indulges in its fairy tale logic a little too much, but the jaw-dropping visuals and toe-tapping musical numbers swiftly help you forget how non-sensical some of the storytelling can be. 7/10

Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey movie review (2020) | Roger Ebert


God’s Own Country helmsman Francis Lee returns with this sophomore effort and, though its historical accuracy remains up for debate, its emotional resonance is far from questionable. Kate Winslet’s performance as famed palaeontologist Mary Anning is among her best, portraying a character who is bitter and terse but still sympathetic. The complicated relationship she forms with Saoirse Ronan’s Charlotte Murchison, who herself gives a chilling but brutally honest depiction of depression, is subtle at first but blooms frankly, delivering a romantic drama that isn’t afraid to show the bleak side of star-crossed lovers. Whatever Anning’s sexuality actually was, after centuries of historians erasing and straightwashing queer lives from our collective memories, I think it’s fair to allow this ambiguous case a little creative license. 8.5/10

Ammonite (2020) - IMDb


This psychological horror from Brandon Cronenberg (yes, son of David) is a gruesomely kaleidoscopic trip that explores identity, morality and empathy through a murky sci-fi lens. Andrea Risborough has never been better as a body-swapping assassin on the verge of mental collapse, which is beautifully mirrored in Christopher Abbott’s performance as her latest avatar. This is a shocking and often disturbing piece of filmmaking, with haunting visuals and graphic depictions of sex and violence that shows the Cronenberg apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree. 7/10

Possessor Review: Brandon Cronenberg Births a Gory Techno-Thriller |  IndieWire

The Boys in the Band

The language may be dated and the story a bit meandering, but this seminal piece of queer theatre has received a new cinematic adaptation worthy of its legacy. Though yet another example of a stage show struggling to shed its origins in translation, the witty dialogue and distinctive characters remain the true stars. Jim Parsons has never been better than here, finally making me forget he spent over a decade of his talent on a sitcom that had enough jokes for maybe two seasons. Sorry, slightly bitter tangent. The Boys in the Band is pretty good! 7/10

Meet the Gay Pioneers Who Made The Boys in the Band Happen

The Prom

I think we all needed a big gay musical pick-me-up as this dreadful year came to an end, but this adaptation of the Broadway show is like a supermarket celebrating Pride with a rainbow cake or your straight work colleague throwing around drag slang they don’t understand. There is clearly a beating soul to the film’s message, making it hard at points not to get swept up and go with the flow, which is made easier by fantastically camp turns from Meryl Streep and Andrew Rannells, and an endearing debut performance from Jo Ellen Pellman. On the other hand, that sweetness quickly turns sickening, and not just because of James Corden’s frankly cloying performance that is only made less embarrassing by remembering he was also in Cats. 5.5/10

The Prom (2020) - IMDb

The Spongebob Movie: Sponge on the Run

The third cinematic outing for the favourite marine-based cartoon of children and stoners everywhere, Sponge on the Run is a chuckle-worthy adventure that unfortunately falls short of its superior predecessors. The new CG animation style is an inventive change of pace that luckily doesn’t rob the classic characters of what makes them unique, and there are some standout characters here courtesy of the likes of Matt Berry and Keanu Reeves, but the whole affair feels haphazard and unstructured even for a Spongebob cartoon. This is especially obvious in the much-marketed flashback sequences, which feel like they’ve been cut up and repurposed from some previous version of the movie and then thrown in at the last minute. 6/10

LeftLion - Film Review: The SpongeBob Movie - Sponge on the Run

Trolls World Tour

The first Trolls was a pretty generic and forgettable kids movie that has only stayed in the popular consciousness thanks to the incessant catchiness of its tie-in Justin Timberlake song. However, they’ve cleverly leaned into its only relevance being a pop song by retrofitting this sequel into a music-themed adventure and…to my utter surprise, it works. It’s still a film aimed at very young kids and can be annoyingly twee at times, but there’s a sense of spectacle and cleverness here that was rarely present in its predecessor. The world design is bright and distinctive, there’s some funny vocal performances from Rachel Bloom and Sam Rockwell, and it even throws in some unexpectedly adult messages about strength through diversity and reconciling with the sins of your ancestors. It’s certainly not a kids’ movie that transcends the genre like the best animated fare, but if you’ve got children there are far worse films for them to be watching over and over again. 6.5/10

New TROLLS WORLD TOUR Trailer Features an Epic Pinky Promise and Poppy  Singing the Most Important Songs in History — GeekTyrant


I’m definitely not the most qualified person to judge the subject matter of Antebellum, and it’s hard to even adequately explain my issues without spoiling it, but suffice it to say that this is a highly problematic movie. It is an incredibly misguided attempt to ape the success of Jordan Peele but without his sharp comedic timing, intricate plotting, or reverence for genre. The premise is a solid one packed with potential for both horror and social commentary, but the plotting is poorly constructed and the characters underdeveloped and flat, and with such heavy subject matter you can’t really afford to be this sloppy. Some of the performances are good, especially Gabourey Sidibe as this film’s clear answer to Lil Rel Howrey in Get Out, but they can’t save it from leaving a bad taste. Antebellum ends up feeling like the Green Book of horror movies, and in a year that brought racial inequality to the forefront, that makes it feel extra insulting. 2.5/10

Antebellum Release Date Taken Off Calendar | Den of Geek


While you wait for the sequel to Enchanted, here’s a Disney family comedy that might as well be a spin-off to it. Godmothered is the very definition of an inoffensive film, never particularly surprising or amazing you but delivering decent laughs and charm nonetheless. Jillian Bell and Isla Fisher make for a decent enough bickering duo, and the film’s commentary on the sleaziness of trend-chasing news networks gives it some edge, but it’s the kind of movie you’ll probably forget not long after you watch it. 6/10

Godmothered movie review & film summary (2020) | Roger Ebert

Promising Young Woman

Wow. I mean…wow! I kind of want to wait and give this one a full review at some point, maybe closer to its UK release, but for now I’ll say this: go see Promising Young Woman as soon as you reasonably can. This is the kind of filmmaking we so rarely ever see: audacious, savage, completely bonkers and yet brutally honest. Carey Mulligan delivers the performance of a lifetime, whilst the biting screenplay and tight direction by Emerald Fennell here is instantly iconic. There’s not a single aspect of this film I can critique without it feeling like a nitpick, and just writing about it right now makes me excited to watch it again. It is absolutely my favourite movie of 2020, and I cannot recommend you see it highly enough. 10/10!

Opinion: 'Promising Young Woman' reveals roiling dark river of anger - CNN


2020 was a double dip year for Pixar, and whilst Onward was a pretty decent animated adventure, it looks absolutely basic in comparison to Soul. While on the surface it may seem like a repeat of Pete Docter’s own Inside Out, Soul brings the same emotional nuance that film brought to growing up and applies it that greatest question of all: what is our purpose in life? What follows is easily Pixar’s most adult film to date, and one that is likely to make you ponder and even question your own life choices. It is still ultimately a film for all ages, but it doggedly refuses to dumb itself down whilst still providing enough gags and heart to keep the younger set entertained. 2020 was a year that made many of us reassess what we were doing with our lives, and Soul perfectly captures those feelings of inadequacy and doubt and turns them into beautiful art. 9.5/10

Pixar's Soul Is Philosophical to a Fault | Time

Feels Good Man

Whether you know his true origins or even his name, Pepe the Frog has been an internet meme for what feels like as long as memes have existed, and not in a good way. This captivating documentary is not only an excellent dive into how an innocent cartoon frog became a symbol of the alt-right, but an examination of how the darkest corners of the internet have taken control of real-world discourse. It’s an emotional rollercoaster of a story that starts with the carefree life of creator Matt Furie and sends him on a reluctant journey to battle internet trolls, and serves as a stark reminder of how easily media can be taken out of context and warped into something evil. 8/10

How Pepe Was Martyred by the Right: Austin-linked SXSW doc Feels Good Man  liberates the frog - Screens - The Austin Chronicle

An American Pickle

Seth Rogen takes on a double role in this odd comedy about an immigrant who wakes up in modern day New York and is reunited with his great-grandson after 100 years of being preserved in pickle brine. Yep, it’s about as weird as it sounds. The film is mostly a two-hander between Rogen and himself, bickering back and forth in an escalating routine that quickly becomes repetitive. It’s a very distinctive and often fascinating film on a visual level, which may be owed to director Brandon Trost’s background in cinematography, but on a comedy level it is incredibly hit-and-miss. Your mileage may vary, as the film is admittedly very niche, but it’s easy to see why this one ended up being chucked onto HBO Max. 5.5/10

An American Pickle movie review (2020) | Roger Ebert

The Croods: A New Age

The lovable caveman family that is not The Flintstones returns in this breezy and imaginative animated adventure that asks questions about class, cultural differences, and the values of a sidekick that doubles as a wig. The returning cast are all spot-on once again, with Nicolas Cage once again stealing the show as the lovably stubborn Grug, but it’s the new characters that add a welcome change of dynamic. Peter Dinklage and Leslie Mann make for a wonderfully smug holier-than-thou couple Phil and Hope Betterman, whilst Kelly Marie Tran is an energetic delight as their daughter Dawn. Combine that comedy with some vibrant visuals, creative action and a rocking soundtrack, it all adds up to a film that more than matches the quality of its predecessor. 7.5/10

The Croods: A New Age' Opening Day B.O. Near $2M; Promo Partners Set –  Deadline

The Witches

This new adaptation of the Roald Dahl classic is yet another example of how a film can end up being so much less than the sum of its parts. A children’s fantasy film directed by Robert Zemeckis, co-written by Guillermo del Toro, and starring the likes of Anne Hathaway, Octavia Spencer, Stanley Tucci and Chris Rock? The potential for something great was all laid out for us, but what we’ve got instead is an overblown mess of a film with cringe-worthy dialogue, uneven pacing and startlingly inconsistent visual effects. The film may have been envisioned with the intention of being campy and over-the-top, but Zemeckis’ overly-slick direction and its cast clearly not all on the same page about the tone leads to the whole thing falling apart. 3/10

The Witches (2020) - IMDb

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

This adaptation of the August Wilson play may wear its theatre origins on its sleeve, but it carries itself of as a movie far more cohesively than prior Wilson production Fences. Viola Davis is as magnetic and captivating as ever as the titular Ma Rainey, and there’s some strong supporting turns from Colman Domingo and Glynn Turman, but the performance here by the late Chadwick Boseman here is truly the film’s shining achievement. Not just because it’s his final role, but because it is easily his best. The acting world won’t see another like him for some time, and here he puts on display every ounce of his talent. Farewell, king. We will miss you. 8/10

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom review – Chadwick Boseman glorious in his final  film role | Film | The Guardian


Trust David Fincher to turn a movie about the creation of Citizen Kane into a film just as inventive, witty and culturally biting as the movie it is about. Written decades ago by Fincher’s late father Jack, Mank is one of those movies that feels like it was made to win Oscars. The film perfectly captures the look and feel of a classic Hollywood movie, from Erik Messerschmidt’s beautiful black-and-white cinematography to how the sound has been mixed to give it that 1930’s touch; there’s even “cigarette burns” to indicate reel changes. The performances are all top-notch, from Gary Oldman’s drunken mess of a screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz to Arliss Howard’s pitch-perfect portrayal of movie mogul Louis B. Mayer, though Amanda Seyfried ends up being the film’s surprise star as Hollywood legend Marion Davies; it may prove to be her best work yet. The film is a tad overlong and doesn’t have much screen time for William Randolph Hearst despite him being at the centre of the film’s conflict (though Charles Dance absolutely relishes in what few scenes he does have), but regardless this is one every lover of classic cinema should give a watch. It’s certainly far from Fincher’s best, but even his lesser works are masterpieces compared to most movies. 8.5/10

Mank' Review: David Fincher's Immersive Old Hollywood Drama - Variety


I saw a lot of movies in 2019, with still plenty more to see over the next few months catching up with what I missed and the slew of awards releases still trickling into UK cinemas at the start of 2020. There are so many I simply did not have the time to do full reviews of, but better late than never I say. Here’s my much-longer-than-anticipated End of Year Surplus Review Extravaganza Thing of 2019:

*deep breath*

Escape Room

With the popularity of escape rooms as a pastime in recent years, it was only inevitable that horror movies would start capitalising on this. Though not the first to exploit the concept, Escape Room was the most prominent and delivered a competent but unremarkable take on the idea. Essentially just a slightly less sadistic play on Saw, it had enough interesting ideas and an underlying commentary on classism to help it stay afloat, but it was ultimately too forgettable to leave an impact. With a sequel due out in 2020, let’s see how long it takes for this burgeoning franchise to truly drop the ball. 5.5/10


Alexandre Aja is something of a connoisseur for refreshing the B-movie concepts of the 70s and 80s for the modern day (see Piranha 3-D and the remake of Maniac), and Crawl is a prime example of his skills. A premise of two people trapped inside a flooding home with alligators in the midst of a hurricane is one prime for both close-quarters scares and high concept action, which the film admirably delivers on in both terms. The core store may be fairly cookie-cutter family redemption stuff, but the imagination of the film’s set pieces are more than enough to make this a worthy piece of Friday night entertainment. 6.5/10

The Farewell

Awkwafina has been shining as the comic relief in the likes of Ocean’s 8 and Crazy Rich Asians, but the young star proves she has dramatic chops too in this feature from Lulu Wang. Based on the writer/director’s own experiences with her Chinese relatives, The Farewell is an equally hilarious and heartbreaking examination of grief, family and tradition. I’d rather leave it at that and allow you to discover the rest for yourselves, but you are likely to laugh and cry in equal measure. 8/10

Ready or Not

Samara Weaving has slowly been building up a reputation as one of the new scream queens, but Ready or Not goes beyond that and certifies her as a cult movie icon. A modern-day spin on the Most Dangerous Game concept, this is a hair-raising and gut-busting skewering of the privileged through the lens of a horror-comedy, and Weaving’s transformation from distressed newlywed bride to determined survivor is one of the ages. Be prepared to have a new favourite to add to your midnight movie collection. 8/10


Biopics are a pretty expected way for actors to fish for an Oscar nomination, and it’s certainly worked this year for Renee Zellweger and her performance as the legendary Judy Garland in this picture. However, Judy is far more than just a vanity project, delivering beyond that a sobering portrayal of a star on the decline and an insight into the toll sexism, sexual abuse and the celebrity machine can have on someone’s mental health. Zellweger is of course brilliant in the role, but 2019’s underrated star of the year Jessie Buckley also puts in a sleeper hit performance as Garland’s beleaguered but dedicated assistant. 8.5/10

Dolemite Is My Name

Many thought the day would never come, especially after it came and went so quickly last time, but Eddie Murphy is back! This slick and hilarious biopic of the infamous Rudy Ray Moore and the production of his underground hit Dolemite is the best film of its kind since Ed Wood, and it’s only fitting that it was actually written by the writers of Ed Wood! There are great performances abound from the likes of Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Keegan-Michael Key and Wesley Snipes, but it’s Murphy himself who shines brightest as Moore and reminds us why he’s a comedy legend in the first place. 9/10

The Aeronauts

There’s always a few Oscar bait movies that completely fail to get any notices every year, and this might as well be the poster child of that sub-genre. Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones reunite from The Theory of Everything for yet another story of a revolutionary scientist, but despite being a high-flying adventure in a hot air balloon The Aeronauts falls flat fast. The film’s non-linear structure harpers the film’s attempts at effective character development, and it never quite does a good enough job of explaining the impact this experiment had on meteorology. The film’s flying sequences are breathtaking and Jones delivers a capable performance, but there’s very little to write home about. It’s hard to believe director Tom Harper made both this and Wild Rose in the same year, but it just goes to show you that a good story beats out stars and spectacle every time. 5/10

The Addams Family

It’s been so long since America’s spookiest family graced the big screen, and now in animated form it can fully capture the zany and morbid vision of Charles Addams’ comic strips. However, despite a strong voice cast and a few charming gags, the film’s simplistic and episodic plot put a major dampener on what could have been a welcome breath of fresh air for family animation. Not really much more to say than that. It’s fine, I guess. 5.5/10

Last Christmas

Paul Feig has had a fascinating decade of comedy hits from Bridesmaids onwards, but he now ends the 2010s with one of the most baffling and unintentionally hilarious romantic comedies every conceived. The entire premise of Last Christmas is built around an incredibly obvious and saccharine twist, taking an incredibly literal reading of the words of George Michael and telling a festive tale that will make you feel as sick as you would after eating too many mince pies. The talented and intersectional cast is a fine touch, as are the topical messages about the state of the world, but they are simply well-intentioned flourishes to a sickly and otherwise irrelevant core. It’s likely to become a Christmas classic, but for all the wrong reasons. 4/10

Queen & Slim

Queen & Slim can be very simply described as Bonnie & Clyde for the Black Lives Matter generation, and the film is very aware of that comparison. It’s a timely and brutally honest reflection of American culture and the fraught relationship between morality and race, and taps right into the cultural veins of our increasingly xenophobic culture. Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith both deliver subtle and nuanced performances, and music video veteran Melina Matsoukas proves she has filmmaking chops with this feature debut. However, it’s ultimately a little too blatant and simplistic in its messaging to make any points that anyone aware of the problem doesn’t already know. 7/10

The Irishman

Martin Scorsese’s long-gestating epic about Frank Sheeran finally made it to the big screen…in only select theatres due to being a Netflix production. Still, this is a gargantuan piece of cinema that would be a fitting conclusion to the master filmmaker’s career if he was ready to stop here. Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci all deliver career-best performances, and it contains so many already iconic sequences sure to become classics to the crime genre. Its strenuous length and lack of development for anyone outside its three main stars (especially its few female characters) hold it back slightly from Goodfellas greatness, but this is still a primo bit of filmmaking we rarely get to witness anymore. 8/10

Honey Boy

Shia LaBoeuf had something of a crazy decade, with him still at the forefront at one of the biggest blockbuster franchises at the start, sputtering out in the middle in a slew of creative and personal mishaps, and now here on the other side as an eccentric but self-aware curiosity. Honey Boy is the cinematic translation of that character journey. A semi-autobiographical odyssey based on LaBoeuf’s childhood relationship with his father, this is a captivating and gut-punching portrayal of mental health and self-destruction bolstered by astonishing performances from Noah Jupe and LaBoeuf himself. If you still think the man is worthy of a punch line, give this a watch and have your perspective shifted. 8.5/10

Black Christmas

The third incarnation of the slasher film often credited with inventing the genre, this version of the tale of sorority sisters being harassed over the phone by a knife-wielding murderer has been given an intersectional makeover. Whilst it clearly has noble intentions as it tackles topics like sexual abuse and toxic masculinity, the execution leaves much to be desired. Its lack of subtlety is deafening, its third act dive into mysticism is self-defeating, and withholding the timely subject matter this is just another generic horror movie. We need more feminist genre cinema, but that doesn’t mean we have to accept half-baked films like this. 5.5/10

The Hustle

A comedy dud of epic proportions, this gender-flipped remake of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels again aspires to be female empowerment but ultimately only proves that women can make terrible comedies just as well as men. Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson are clearly trying but completely flounder with a terrible screenplay that meanders from set piece to set piece, to the point where the main conflict isn’t even established until over halfway through the film. It’s a gaudy and baffling film that makes both women look absolutely ridiculous, and to see director Chris Addison lower himself to this level is frankly disappointing. 2/10

6 Underground

It may not be the best Michael Bay movie, but it is certainly the most Michael Bay movie. 6 Underground is Mountain Dew in cinema form, bursting with energy and ridiculous ideas that is occasionally entertaining but mostly just exhausting. The premise is preposterous and socio-politically disconcerting after only a moment’s thought, and whilst Netflix certainly gives Bay the freedom to play to his greatest strengths it also allows him to fester in his worst excesses. At least Ryan Reynolds lends the film a lot of charisma, because this would be far less tolerable with someone like Mark Wahlberg in the lead… 5/10


From the makers of Gurren Lagan and Kill la Kill, this bonkers film about futuristic firefighters in mechs battling fire-wielding mutant revolutionaries is that will delight anime fans and blow the socks off anyone new to the art form. Featuring a hyper-stylised gorgeous art style and action sequences to die for, Promare is simultaneously also a fascinating examination of anti-facism, hero worship and how the ends rarely justify the means. If you are looking for a film unlike anything you’ve ever seen before, this is it. 9/10

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This is a pretty standard buddy comedy with a basic plot and not much interesting character introspection, but it’s ultimately held together by the fantastic chemistry between stars Kumail Nanjiani and Dave Bautista. That’s all I really have to say about. I guess it’s an OK watch if you stumble on it on streaming and have watched everything else. 6/10

Weathering with You

Makoto Shinkai’s follow-up to the excellent Your Name, this fantasy romance set in a rain-drenched Tokyo is a heartfelt tale of unconditional love and finding your own feet in a depressing world. The animation is gorgeous, the music is heartfelt and enchanting, and the story is melancholic yet hopeful. It may not be as emotionally resonating as Your Name, but this is a prescient and uplifting film about learning to find the silver lining in a bleak climate. 8.5/10

Little Women

Greta Gerwig knocks it out of the park again, adapting one of the most well-known novels in American history and finding yet another new perspective on the story after numerous previous versions. The entire cast is pitch-perfect, but Saorise Ronan and Florence Pugh especially stand out as they portray two different but valid interpretations of womanhood. Ultimately, it is Gerwig’s writing and directing that is the film’s true star, giving its source material the utmost respect whilst also twisting it in ways to give it modern and self-deprecating heft. This is the kind of literary recontextualisation I absolutely love to see. 9.5/10

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The Roger Ailes scandal at Fox News is the perfect event to make a commentary on #MeToo and the current political climate, and whilst Bombshell has a lot to say it doesn’t always say it well. The performances are all around strong, especially from Charlize Theron and Margot Robbie, but its portrayal of sexual harassment still has a noticeable air of male gaze in the way it is contextualised. Jay Roach and Charles Randolph clearly have a handle on the political satire, but when it comes to discussing women’s issues they both still have a lot to learn. Combined with the inconsistent tone, this is an OK film that ultimately deserved way better. 6/10

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Sam Mendes. World War I. Roger Deakins. All in one shot. If you love cinema, you are already hooked, but 1917 is worthy of those selling points and then some. This is one of the best war films in recent memory, capturing the scale and the horror of its setting through its epic lens whilst also focusing on the human and emotional impact of the conflict. There are so many little touches to 1917 that make it so masterful, and the one-take gimmick is there to accentuate them rather than distract. Fantastic direction from Mendes, a strong lead performance from the underrated George Mackay, excellent attention to period detail in sets and costumes, and some of the best work in the careers of both cinematographer Deakins and composer Thomas Newman, this is an experience that needs to be seen on a big screen much in the same vein as Avatar or Gravity were in their day. 10/10!


So I see a lot of movies, but I also kind of have other life commitments, and as such I don’t always get round to reviewing every single one I see. This was among many reasons I didn’t get out many reviews last year, but now I’ve refocused my efforts and am cranking out content far more consistently, but there as still some that slip through the cracks for whatever reason.

However, to try and stay on top of it, I’m now going to bi-annually share my abbreviated thoughts on every film I didn’t get round to doing a full review for. It’s probably far too late to catch most of these on the big screen, but many of these are already available on streaming services or should be out on home release soon, so maybe these reviews aren’t so belated after all.

Anywho, enough rambling. Here are my thoughts on:

Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened

A raw unmasking of a social media blitz gone horribly wrong, Fyre covers the baffling events before, during and after the infamous Fyre Festival in revealing detail. The interviews range from shocking to heartbreaking to outright despicable, painting a vivid portrait of everything wrong with excessive FOMO culture; it’s no wonder so many moments from this documentary have become memes. The involvement of culpable marketing team Jerry Media as producers is worrisome on a production level, but the film itself is easily the definitive account of these embarrassing events. 8.5/10

Fyre Fraud

With Netflix putting out Fyre, Hulu decided to compete and simultaneously released their own doc. Fyre Fraud is a less polished and more clinical examination of the events with far less overall access to insider details, but it does delve into areas of the story Netflix’s doc overlooked. Most distinctively, Fyre Fraud does interview festival mastermind Billy McFarland, who never once breaks his own façade that he is innocent, and watching him squirm whilst making excuses adds a whole new level to the story. Overall, Fyre Fraud works better as a companion piece to Fyre than a full documentary in its own right. 7/10

Velvet Buzzsaw

This is a psychedelic horror movie that takes inspiration from the works of Henry Darger and turns it into a gory and bitingly satirical examination of art itself. This film feels like it was made for me. Featuring an all-star cast with some particularly fantastic performances from Jake Gyllenhaal and Toni Collete, Velvet Buzzsaw often at times feels more like a really good episode of Tales from the Crypt than a fully fleshed-out feature film, but its campy approach to horror and morbid sense of humour make up for its shortcomings. More horror movies like this, please. 8/10

Happy Death Day 2U

The first Happy Death Day was a disposable but amusing and self-aware horror movie spin on the Groundhog Day premise, mostly held together by an engaging lead performance by Jessica Rothe. This sequel doubles down hard on the comedy and delves deeper into the mythology of the time loop, rendering it less a horror movie and more of an outright sci-fi caper, but the transition is surprisingly seamless. It’s still all very silly and doesn’t fully make sense if you think about it, but in the moment Happy Death Day 2U is a fun distraction and another welcome change of pace for the genre. 6.5/10

The Kid Who Would Be King

Film fans have waited eight years for Joe Cornish to make his follow-up to Attack the Block, but The Kid Who Would Be King is unfortunately a tad underwhelming. It’s got a lot of spirit and a good British sense of humour, and Angus Imrie’s performance as Merlin should be a star-making turn, but the story is far less imaginative and original than it thinks it is. This is definitely more of a film for kids than a successor to Cornish’s previous work, but there are still plenty of other kids films like The Lego Movie and Kung Fu Panda that have done better deconstructions of the chosen one narrative. 6/10

Fighting with My Family

Stephen Merchant directing a biopic of WWE superstar Paige? The mere idea sounds absurd, but Fighting with My Family is a surprisingly charming and heartfelt rise to stardom story that bucks the formula. Florence Pugh once again cements her status as one of cinema’s rising stars playing the underdog wrestler, but Jack Lowden’s performance as brother Zak is equally strong and shines a light on the struggles of the working class shooting for stardom. Sure, there’s a fair bit of tinkering with history here (mainly as an excuse to shoehorn Dwayne Johnson into the story, who is as charismatic as ever), but the core premise is so feel-good that it’s easy to ignore. 8/10

High Life

Famed French cinema darling Claire Denis finally makes her English-language debut with this haunting and bizarre sci-fi horror. Robert Pattinson once again proves himself as one of cinema’s most underappreciated stars, whilst Juliette Binoche and Mia Goth deliver equally eerie performances. The film’s retro aesthetic intentionally evokes 70s genre classics like Silent Running but with a modern sense of existential dread, combining old and new to create an experience truly unlike any other. Whilst hardly a comparable role, if you have any doubts about Pattinson being the new Batman, watch this movie and then try and tell me he’s just another pretty boy. 8.5/10

Knock Down the House

An inspiring portrait of how to fight back against an unfair political system, Knock Down the House not only shines a light on now-congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s unlikely rise from bartender to congressional candidate, but on the many other women across the United States who attempted the same. Though at times the documentary lacks focus, its succeeds in showing how democracy requires everyone to step up and make a stand, even if only one voice ends up slipping through the cracks. 7/10


Octavia Spencer once again proves she’s more versatile than most give her credit for in this unnerving and fiendish psychological horror. After fumbling the ball with dark subject matter in The Girl on the Train, The Help director Tate Taylor steps up and delivers a welcome throwback to horror oddities of the 70s and 80s, and Spencer’s manic performance as the titular Ma is sure to go down as one of her most iconic. Ably supported by a strong stable of young new talent and Taylor regulars, along with some devilishly dark humour, Ma is destined to become a midnight movie favourite. 6.5/10

The Wandering Earth

This is one of the highest grossing films of 2019 so far, and I’m sure many of you haven’t even heard of it. China has made several attempts over the years to replicate the success of Hollywood blockbusters, and though The Wandering Earth blatantly takes inspiration from every big sci-fi disaster movie of the last thirty years, it’s easily one of the better imitations. The premise is patently ridiculous and the characters are one-note, but it matches the insanity and spectacle of a good Roland Emmerich movie and is far more consistently imaginative with its bizarre premise. If you want some ridiculous B movie fun and don’t mind reading subtitles (there is an English dub on Netflix if you want, but I almost always prefer foreign films with the original audio), step out of your comfort zone and experience The Wandering Earth. 7/10

Isn’t It Romantic?

Parodies of the romantic comedy genre are nothing new, but Isn’t It Romantic? does more than just point out the obvious clichés and ultimately has something to say larger than “Hollywood romance is unrealistic”. Rebel Wilson finally avoids her usual typecasting and actually delivers a nuanced and hilarious lead performance, and supporting turns from Liam Hemsworth and Betty Gilpin are consistently amusing too. The film isn’t always the most focused, lampooning certain rom com tropes whilst indulging in others without comment, but its heart is always in the right place and is never mean-spirited in its satire. Basically, if you liked the idea of last year’s failed Amy Schumer vehicle I Feel Pretty but were let down by its flawed execution, Isn’t It Romantic? may scratch that itch. 7/10