Wonder Woman 1984


Diana Prince aka Wonder Woman, working as an archaeologist in 1984, stumbles upon a magical crystal that can grant wishes, and inadvertently brings back her dead former lover, just as the crystal falls into the hands of a power hungry oil tycoon and a nerdy colleague.

A lot of the negativity surrounding this has been a bit much. Granted, the writing can seem rushed, at least initially, forcing plot threads to develop rather lazily and convenient (Kristen Wiig’s Barbara / The Cheetah at first discovers she’s developing powers – because she can suddenly walk in heels?!). There’s also forced wokeness (because, of course), supposedly pointing out ‘toxic masculinity’ in two blatant scenes involving a woman walking alone and getting approached by leering men. Yet when the movie steps away from such elements, it’s actually a lot of fun. Gal Gadot is great, and continues to be a wonderful find as Wonder Woman – she just exudes charisma and presence every second she’s on screen. Pedro Pascal is also enjoyably nutty as villain Maxwell Lord. I’m also a fan of Kristen Wiig who again proves very watchable, even if her character takes a little too long to get going.

Patty Jenkins’ sequel struggles to live up to the first movie and the story is rather silly and not exactly grounded, but still entertained me and as wishes are granted and the world started to fall into anarchy … I was glued. Gal Gadot and Chris Pine again have good chemistry, and the action is decent, even if for my liking there was too much swinging around and flying (similar to the first movie). Yet it was exciting in places (with a stand out White House sequence) and with a message about being careful what you wish for – the closing moments had a lot of heart. Yeah it’s a bit cheesy at times and a touch over the top – but I still had a good time. Worth a watch.

Verdict: Good

Spenser: Confidential


Viewed – 23 March 2021 Netflix

An ex-cop who has been serving time in prison gets paroled and stumbles upon a mystery revolving around the murder of a corrupt Police Captain. Although wanting to lead a quiet life the ex-cop chooses to begin an investigation into the Police department he was once a part of.

Mark Wahlberg has always been a likeable presence and he’s no different here. However this has a bit of a strange tone throughout, part gritty thriller, part Beverly Hills Cop style comedy. Yes, Wahlberg is adept at both genres but here they don’t mesh together all that well. Once again teaming up with Director Peter Berg (Patriot’s Day, Deepwater Horizon) this is a fairly typical knock-about thriller with little to make it stand out. Even the main villain I figured out as soon as they appeared.

Support from Winston Duke (Black Panther) and screen veteran Alan Arkin along with Wahlberg, make for a fun trio, but an overly convoluted script isn’t funny enough, or thrilling enough to deliver on any potential. This overall was by the numbers and rather forgettable. You get the impression this might be the start of a franchise involving Wahlberg’s character – but on this evidence it’d be better off as a short run tv show.

Verdict: Poor

Booksmart


Viewed – 06 March 2021 Netflix

Two straight-laced best friends (Kaitlyn Dever & Lady Bird’s Bernie Feldstein) who have always put studying and grades before fun and games … decide to have a night to remember on the eve of graduation. However, they end up learning more about themselves and the world around them than they could have anticipated.

Imagine a woke version of Superbad. Yeah I said it and that’s ok. Although actress turned director Olivia Wild’s teen comedy might be quite obvious from the off, unlike that forced girl-power moment in Avengers: Endgame this manages to deliver a message more naturally through an engaging, occasionally touching story of friendship, high school and one wild night.

At first this was trying too hard to be hip and self-aware, and the two friends come across a bit obnoxious – yet as I eased into the movie’s style I began to relate to the friend’s outsider image and found myself pulled into their story. It fails to be as funny (or as quotable) as it clearly wants to be (except for an animated sequence that is great) but that can be forgiven as eventually the movie revealed a heart to it I wasn’t expecting and the closing moments worked well. Feldstein can’t escape comparisons as a female Jonah Hill yet proves entertaining regardless … but for me the star was Kaitlyn Dever, who first caught my eye in TV mini series Unbelievable and is just as watchable here. Overall quite effective stuff, flipping teen movie conventions on their heads whilst retaining what makes a teen movie work. One to check out.

Verdict: Good

Game Night


Viewed – 02 March 2021 online-rental

I must admit I like Jason Bateman. Other than his excellent turn in the Ozark tv series, he’s always enjoyable in most things he appears in. This comedy has him as one half of a couple who once a week get together with their friends for ‘game night’. However one such night, Bateman’s arrogant elder brother turns up to propose a new game that will involve a kidnapping and nobody will know what is real and what isn’t.

Just fun and games?

Co-starring the equally reliable Rachel McAdams, initially I wasn’t sure what to make of this. The characters are all drawn a little larger-than-life and could’ve got obnoxious until that is, the story kicks in and quickly the movie got really interesting. This is helped by a solid script with many funny lines and unexpected twists and turns. McAdams & Bateman are a good pairing and I was always invested in what was going on. Support comes from Kyle Chandler as the elder brother and the increasingly enjoyable Jesse Plemons (Breaking Bad) as the a creepy neighbour.

It gets a bit silly towards the end and I did get a bit lost amongst the plot twists at one stage, but overall this was still highly entertaining. Well worth a watch.

Verdict: Recommended

News of the World


Viewed – 16 February 2021 Netflix

Following Apple TV’s Greyhound, actor Tom Hanks once again embraces the streaming platforms, this time Netflix and like that earlier battleship thriller, there’s little dip in quality compared to his usual, reliable output. This eighteenth century set western has him as a retired army veteran who now travels from town to town reading news articles to paying audiences. However one day he stumbles upon an orphaned young girl and decides to help return her to her family.

Directed by Paul Greengrass (The Bourne Identity) based on the novel by Paulette Jiles, this boasts eye catching cinematography that brings the setting and time period to life. Although slow burning, the gradual bond that forms between Hanks and the girl is of course the heart of the movie … this is a very simple tale but one that’s done with a lot of feeling and authenticity.

At times some details of the girl’s background can be a bit too vague (not helped by a language barrier) and where Hanks was heading to lost me at one stage. The movie also feels a little too understated at times. Yet with some nail biting scenes, including a tense shoot out and a sand storm, this was still quite gripping. Again Hanks is great, conveying all the necessary emotions and brings the character to life. Helena Zengel as the little girl is also memorable. That ending really got me too. Worth a watch.

Verdict: Good