GODS OF EGYPT (12)
D: Alex Proyas
Summit/Thunder Road/Mystery Clock (Basil Iwanyk & Alex Proyas)
🇺🇸 🇦🇺 2016
W: Matt Sazama & Burk Sharpless
DP: Peter Menzies
Ed: Richard Learoyd
Mus: Marco Beltrami
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Horus), Gerard Butler (Set), Brenton Thwaites (Bek), Chadwick Boseman (Thoth), Elodie Yung (Hathor), Courtney Eaton (Zaya), Rufus Sewell (Urshu), Geoffrey Rush (Ra)
Sword & sorcery garbage in which two gods measure dicks over who gets to rule over Egypt like a king.
As his father abdicates the throne, Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) is betrayed by his uncle, Set (Gerard Butler) and left blinded and without his god-like powers.
The plot following pretty much magpies from Gladiator, Ben-Hur and throws in a little bit of Thor for the magical element, but it's nothing more than a slapdash amalgamation of ideas which don't quite come off and some truly terrible CGI.
The film received criticism for the casting, especially the portrayal of Egyptian gods by white actors. In honesty, the performances aren't all terrible. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau doesn't do a bad job, but Gerard Butler just waltzes into the film with his thick Irish accent ready for his paycheque.
It was obvious with the popularity of TV shows like Game Of Thrones and Vikings, that Hollywood was going to churn out movies like this, but they don't all have to be rubbish.
THE GOLD RUSH (PG)
D: Charles Chaplin
United Artists (Charles Chaplin)
🇺🇸 1925 [sound version*: 1942]
72 mins / 69 mins*
W: Charles Chaplin
DP: Rollie Totheroh
Ed: Charles Chaplin / Harold McGhenn*
Mus: Charles Chaplin / Max Terr*
Charles Chaplin (The Lone Prospector), Mack Swain (Big Jim McKay), Georgia Hale (Georgia), Tom Murray (Black Larsen)
The Gold Rush is among Charles Chaplin's most iconic films, and it can be enjoyed in two versions. The original 1925 silent, with title cards to show the dialogue, or a 1942 re-release, complete with a new music score and narration.
The story follows the adventures of a lone prospector in the Yukon valley during the great Californian gold rush.
The most memorable scene, where Chaplin cooks and eats his own boots, would even be known by those who haven't even seen the movie.
On balance, the silent version is much better than the 1942 'talkie', but either version is recommended to fans of Chaplin's work or Hollywood golden age comedy.
THE GOOD SHEPHERD (15)
D: Robert DeNiro
Universal/Morgan Creek/TriBeCa/American Zoetrope (James G. Robinson, Jane Rosenthal & Robert DeNiro)
W: Eric Roth
DP: Robert Richardson
Ed: Tariq Anwar
Mus: Bruce Fowler & Marcelo Zarvos
PD: Jeannine Oppewall
Cos: Ann Roth
Matt Damon (Edward Wilson, Sr.), Angelina Jolie (Margaret Russell Wilson), Tammy Blanchard (Laura), Robert DeNiro (Gen. William Sullivan), Alec Baldwin (FBI Agent Samuel Murach), William Hurt (CIA director Philip Allen), Joe Pesci (Joseph Balmi), Eddie Redmayne (Edward Wilson, Jr.)
Robert DeNiro directs this American political thriller charting the birth of the CIA, from its inception through to the Kennedy Administration and the Bay of Pigs Invasion.
Seen through the eyes of the laconic and staid head of CIA operations, Edward Wilson, throughout his own life, from his father's death, his experiences at Yale University's Skull & Bones society, a shotgun marriage and his first missions, cutting his teeth as a spy in London.
Though the performances are all excellent and the production design and photography flawless, the narrative of this film does drag, especially through the mid-section, as it attempts to be an American version of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.
This was a pet project for Robert DeNiro, and you can tell that a lot of care went into the production itself, but it really could have been half-an-hour shorter without losing too much narrative drive.
Fans of spy movies will certainly enjoy it, but for everyone else, you could take it or leave it.
GOODBYE CHRISTOPHER ROBIN (PG)
D: Simon Curtis
Fox Searchlight/Gasworks (Steve Christian & Damian Jones)
W: Frank Cottrell-Boyce & Simon Vaughan
DP: Ben Smithard
Ed: Victoria Boydell
Mus: Carter Burwell
PD: David Roger
Cos: Odile Dicks-Mireaux
Domhnall Gleeson (A.A. Milne), Margot Robbie (Daphne de Selincourt), Alex Lawther (Christopher Robin Milne), Kelly MacDonald (Olive)
When a film claims to be "inspired by true events", it usually transpires to be mostly fictional. Goodbye Christopher Robin is a victim of its own dramatisation, but this doesn't stop it from being a pleasant film, albeit schmaltzy and a little too manipulative at moments.
The story follows the creation of Alan (A.A.) Milne's Winnie The Pooh, a beloved piece of literature for children and adults alike. Milne, an aristocratic playwright and veteran of the First World War, moves to a country retreat with his high society wife so he can cope with PTSD and write his new work, an anti-war piece. He and his wife, Daphne, also suffering from post-natal trauma, hire nanny Olive to look after their son, Christopher Robin, who they call Billy Moon as a pet name.
When Daphne moves back to London and Olive has to spend time with her dying mother. Alan forms a relationship with son and his toys which inspires the world of Winnie The Pooh, which comes at a price when fans of the book realise that Christopher Robin is a real person, robbing the young man of his childhood as he is thrust into a world of fame.
The film is at its most powerful when it tells a lesson of too much too soon, and the price of fame at the expense of childhood, but turns its back on this sentiment for a manipulative final act.
Domhnall Gleeson gives a good performance as the stuffy author, but Margot Robbie is given a very two-dimensional part as an antagonistic mother. The best performances of the film belong to Alex Lawther, whose cuteness may infuriate some, and Kelly MacDonald, who quite possibly steals the entire film as young Christopher Robin's nanny and best friend.
GRAND ILLUSION (LA GRANDE ILLUSION) (U)
D: Jean Renoir
World Pictures/RAC (Albert Pinkovitch & Frank Rollmer)
W: Jean Renoir & Charles Spaak
DP: Christian Matras
Ed: Marguerite Renoir & Marthe Huguet
Mus: Joseph Kosma
Jean Gabin (Lt. Maréchal), Marcel Dalio (Lt. Rosenthal), Pierre Fresnay (Capt. de Boeldieu), Erich Von Stroheim (Capt. Von Rauffenstein), Dita Parlo (Elsa)
Jean Renoir's 1937 classic war movie is considered a masterpiece of French cinema, and for very good reason.
During WWI, three French officers plot an escape from a POW camp, but are captured and re-sentenced at another location, deemed inescapable from and overseen by a German officer who the three men were once friends with.
Considering the film's age, the technical aspects still hold up brilliantly over 80 years later (it's certainly aged better than Hollywood movies released the same year). All the acting is excellent, particularly Jean Gabin & Pierre Fresnay, and Renoir's direction and screenplay (co-written by Charles Spaak) cannot be criticised.
The film was nominated for Best Picture in 1938, becoming the first film not in the English language to do so. The film must be considered a masterpiece, even if you are averse to World Cinema.
The title is a reference to war itself being an illusion, conflict produces no winners and no country is better off due to it.
D: Paul Weitz
Sony Pictures Classics/1821 Media (Terry Dougas, Paris Kasidokostas-Latsis, Andrew Miano & Paul Weitz)
W: Paul Weitz
DP: Tobias Datum
Ed: Jonathan Corn
Mus: Joel P. West
Lily Tomlin (Elle Reid), Julia Garner (Sage), Marcia Gay Harden (Judy), Judy Greer (Olivia), Sam Elliott (Karl), Laverne Cox (Deathy)
Lily Tomlin steals the show as the belligerent grandma of the title in this quirky comedy-drama.
Elle Reid is a lesbian poet who has just split from her partner when she is visited by her granddaughter, who requires money to pay for an abortion. Over the course of the day, they visit various people from Elle's past in an effort to raise the necessary money.
The low-key plot fits snugly into the modest running time, and it's made all the more watchable by Lily Tomlin's excellent performance, which saw her deservedly nominated for a Golden Globe award for Best Actress.
THE GRAPES OF WRATH (PG)
D: John Ford
20th Century Fox (Darryl F. Zanuck & Nunnally Johnson)
W: Nunnally Johnson [based on the novel by John Steinbeck]
DP: Gregg Toland
Ed: Robert Simpson
Mus: Alfred Newman
PD: Richard Day & Mark Lee Kirk
Henry Fonda (Tom Joad), John Carradine (Casy), Jane Darwell (Ma Joad), Charley Grapewin (Grandpa), Dorris Bowdon (Rosasham)
Quite faithfully adapted from John Steinbeck's literature classic, John Ford's big screen version of The Grapes Of Wrath perfectly captures the austerity and mood of The Great Depression.
Paroled from prison for a homicide sentence, Tom Joad returns to his family's Oklahoma ranch to discover they've been thrown off the land which had been in their possession for generations.
After reuniting with them, he joins them on a gruelling journey to California, where they hope to find work as transient migrants.
However, when they arrive in California, they find the attitudes and treatment towards them increasingly hostile and the conditions in the work camps equally as bad.
As a film, it's not designated to entertain, but to inform, which it does so unequivocally powerfully, with a masterclass of a leading performance by Henry Fonda and excellent support.
The film is actually a little perkier than the novel, tweaking the ending slightly for something a little more upbeat. One of the most powerful films ever made.
THE GREAT DICTATOR (U)
D: Charles Chaplin
United Artists (Charles Chaplin)
W: Charles Chaplin
DP: Karl Struss & Rollie Totheroh
Ed: Willard Nico
Mus: Meredith Willson
Charles Chaplin (Herr Hynkel / A Jewish Barber), Paulette Goddard (Hannah), Jack Oakie (Napolini), Reginald Gardiner (Schultz), Henry Daniell (Garbitsch)
A Charlie Chaplin classic, although it is quite heavy-going in parts, as it pokes fun at an incredibly difficult subject (although it should be noted that the whole truth of the Nazi regime was not fully apparent when the film was released in 1940).
Chaplin does a great job aping Adolf Hitler in this satire, in which he also has a Jewish barber fighting oppression from the streets of the Ghetto.
The slapstick does work, but it's in the serious moments that the film becomes onerous, especially in the lengthy speech at the end which almost breaks the fourth wall as Chaplin instructs us all to love each other, or whatever and turns this into the very propaganda piece that it set out poking fun of in the first place.
THE GREAT WALL (12)
D: Zhang Yimou
Universal/China Film Group/Legendary East/Atlas (Thomas Tull, Charles Roven, Jon Jashni & Peter Loehr)
🇺🇸 🇨🇳 2016 (released 2017)
W: Carlo Bernard, Doug Miro & Tony Gilroy
DP: Stuart Dryburgh & Zhao Xiaoding
Ed: Mary Jo Markey & Craig Wood
Mus: Ramin Djawadi
Matt Damon (William Garin), Jing Tian (Lin Mai), Pedro Pascal (Pero Tovar), Willem Dafoe (Sir Ballard), Andy Lau (Wang), Zhang Hanyu (Shao)
Matt Damon, sporting a ridiculous ponytail, protects Ancient China from terrible CGI dragons. That's pretty much the long and short of this film.
Zhang Yimou was once among China's most highly respected filmmakers, but his English-language productions have not been as impressive as those in his native tongue.
The film isn't quite as bad as some reviews would suggest, it is entertaining enough to pass time adequately, but Matt Damon is hugely miscast and the visual effects look 20 years old.
THE GREATEST SHOWMAN (PG)
D: Michael Gracey
20th Century Fox/TSG/Seed (Laurence Mark, Peter Chernin & Jenno Topping)
W: Jenny Bicks & Bill Condon
DP: Seamus McGarvey
Ed: Tom Cross, Robert Duffy, Joe Hutshing, Michael McCusker, Jon Poll & Spencer Susser
Mus: John Debney
PD: Nathan Crowley
Cos: Ellen Mirojnick
Hugh Jackman (P.T. Barnum), Zac Efron (Phillip Carlyle), Michelle Williams (Charity Barnum), Rebecca Ferguson (Jenny Lind), Zendaya (Anne Wheeler), Keala Settle (Lettie Lutz)
"The critics got it wrong" screamed the many moviegoers who not only enjoyed this movie, but called it one of 2017's best. These polarising views happen from time to time, but since enjoyment of anything is subject to opinion, it's impossible to please all of the people all of the time.
Personally, I really didn't enjoy this film. As a biopic it takes way too much creative licence with the truth about P.T. Barnum, sugarcoating the truth to the point where this film would become hazardous to diabetics. As a musical, I liked it even less, feeling this was more High School Musical at the circus than anything with any substance. In fact, the 1989 farce The Tall Guy (qv) features a musical parody of The Elephant Man, which was intended to poke fun at Lloyd-Webber productions. It seems that 28 years later, someone in Hollywood didn't understand the joke and made this instead...
I'm not a fan of musicals anyway, especially the garish, gaudy, in-your-face variety like Moulin Rouge, 2013's The a Great Gatsby and this, which feels as though the virtue-signalling moral of equality and acceptance is so blatantly shoved down your throat, it's actually quite choking.
Though the costumes and production design are decent, the CGI visual effects are incredibly poor and many of the songs are bland, except perhaps the showstopper "This Is Me", an Oscar nominee for a Best Original Song.
Yes, it may have been popular with people, but so is McDonalds, and it will be a cold day in hell when a restaurant critic writes about them serving the best food in town.
I'd like to give this film less than the rating below, but I can't really call it a terrible film, it just wasn't my cup of tea.
GRIMSBY (aka THE BROTHERS GRIMSBY) (15)
D: Louis Leterrier
Columbia/Village Roadshow/Working Title/Lstar (Sacha Baron Cohen, Peter Baynham, Ant Hines, Nira Park & Todd Schulman)
🇬🇧 🇺🇸 2016
W: Sacha Baron Cohen, Phil Johnston & Peter Baynham
DP: Oliver Wood
Ed: Jonathan Amos, Evan Henke & James Thomas
Mus: Erran Baron Cohen & David Buckley
Sacha Baron Cohen (Nobby Butcher), Mark Strong (Sebastian Graves), Isla Fisher (Jodie Figgs), Rebel Wilson (Dawn Grobham), Penelope Cruz (Rhonda George), Gabourey Sidibe (Banu), Ian McShane (Cmmdr. Ledford)
Having made a mockery of Kazakhstan in the 2006 film Borat, Sacha Baron Cohen turns his attentions to mocking the coastal British town of Grimsby in this lowbrow Bond spoof.
Football hooligan Nobby Butcher (Cohen) discovers his long-lost brother Sebastian Graves (Mark Strong) is a secret agent for MI6 and the two of them have to foil a terrorism plot during the 2016 World Cup football final.
The jokes are largely dick and fart jokes, with some bestiality thrown in with fat girl humour.
There are a couple of moments which may make you chuckle, dependant on how puerile your sense of humour, but Cohen's main focus here is to cause shock rather than make jokes.
D: Nash Edgerton
Amazon/STX/Denver & Delilah/Blue Tongue (Nash Edgerton, Rebecca Yeldham, Charlize Theron, Beth Kono, A.J. Dix & Anthony Tambakis)
W: Anthony Tambakis & Matthew Stone
DP: Natasha Braier & Eduard Grau
Ed: Luke Doolan, David Rennie & Tatiana S. Riegel
Mus: Christophe Beck
David Oyelowo (Harold Soyinka), Joel Edgerton (Richard Rusk), Charlize Theron (Elaine Markinson), Amanda Seyfried (Sunny), Paris Jackson (Nelly), Sharlto Copley (Mitch Rusk), Thandie Newton (Bonnie Soyinka)
Gringo is a rather muddled attempt to emulate the style of Quentin Tarantino, pitting an American business empire against a Mexican drug cartel, with David Oyelowo as the African-American stranded between both parties.
The film opens with a telephone call to seedy businessman Richard Rusk, leading us to believe that his assistant Harold Soyinka (Oyelowo) has been kidnapped and held for ransom in Mexico. There's a set up that the company they work at is producing a new medicinal drug, utilising the vast cannabis crop south of the border. What follows is an over-convoluted affair with a lot of obnoxious, unlikeable characters. Far too many of them, in fact.
The underlying message that nice guys finish last is shoved down your throat in a very obvious way, and although David Oyelowo gives a good performance in the lead, every other character in the film are simply way too repugnant.
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 (12)
D: James Gunn
Disney/Marvel (Kevin Feige)
W: James Gunn [based on characters created by Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning]
DP: Henry Braham
Ed: Fred Raskin & Craig Wood
Mus: Tyler Bates
Chris Pratt (Peter Quill / Star-Lord); Zoe Saldana (Gamora); David Bautista (Drax); Vin Diesel (voice of Baby Groot); Bradley Cooper (voice of Rocket); Michael Rooker (Yondu Udonta); Karen Gillan (Nebula); Kurt Russell (Ego); Sylvester Stallone (Stakar Ogord)
The Guardians of the Galaxy return for this sequel which ups the comedy and action quota, but the story isn't quite as good as the original film.
Recognised as heroes, the Guardians are separated as Star-Lord learns the truth about his parentage, and a new enemy arises for revenge for what they consider betrayal.
As with the original film, the visual effects are top notch and excellent makeup effects & CGI bring the weird and wonderful to life on the big screen.
All the cast are as good as can be, though Sylvester Stallone is wasted in a needless cameo.
The soundtrack is also worth a listen to on its own merits.
THE GUNS OF NAVARONE (PG)
D: J. Lee Thompson
Columbia (Carl Foreman)
🇺🇸 🇬🇧 1961
W: Carl Foreman [based on the novel by Alastair McLean]
DP: Oswald Morris
Ed: Alan Osbiston
Mus: Dimitri Tiomkin
Gregory Peck (Capt. Keith Mallory), David Niven (Cpl. Miller), Anthony Quinn (Col. Andrea Stavrou), Stanley Baker (Pvt. 'Butcher' Brown), Anthony Quayle (Maj. Roy Franklin), Irene Papas (Maria Pappadimos)
One of the classic war movies manages to convey a powerful anti-war message along with it as well as being a wonderfully entertaining adventure.
A small group of commandos are given the mission of sneaking into the impenetrable fortress of Navarone on a (fictional) Greek island, where Nazi soldiers harbour the powerful guns of the title.
Considering the age, the special effects are quite masterfully done, with exceptional model-work and some impressive stunts.
The ensemble cast are all perfectly placed in their roles, especially Gregory Peck, David Niven and Anthony Quayle.
The film was deservedly nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, and won the Golden Globe for Best Dramatic Film of the year.