Monster


Viewed – 13 August 2022 Blu-ray

I can’t believe I never watched this movie until now. Telling the true story of serial killer Aileen Wuornos, this follows Aileen (Charlie Theron) during the period in her life where she worked as a prostitute and befriended a girl at a bar (Christina Ricci) who she develops a relationship with. However as they struggle to get by, Aileen descends into serial murder after life kicks her down one too many times.

Hooker with a heart of…

A fascinating story is brought to life by Patty Jenkins’ gritty, authentic direction and especially an amazing performance by an unrecognisable Theron, who makes Aileen sympathetic, sad and chilling. How she portrays a likeable if rather trouble woman who becomes incredibly unhinged is powerhouse acting. She every bit deserved the Oscar. Christina Ricci is also layered and interesting, turning in one of her best roles to date.

The story of Aileen Wuornos is a unique one, as she was not a typically ‘evil’ killer, more a victim of society, upbringing and clearly mental illness. This captures all that, and although I never condoned her actions, especially as the murders progressed, I always felt sorry for her – such is the power of this movie. A must see.

The newly released collector’s edition from Second Sight is something to behold. Packaged in a hard back case, it comes with a nicely detailed booklet with essays by Anton Bitel, Hannah Strong & Shelagh Rowan-Legg. You also get 6 art cards. On the Blu-ray the movie is presented in fine shape. It’s often a dark, grainy movie but detail is very good throughout. The soundtrack is in DTS 5.1 HD Master Audio and although a mostly tally movie, dialogue is very clear. The occasional music cues also sound decent. Extras consist of several featurettes and documentaries exploring the making of and the real life person. There’s also a commentary from Director Patty Jenkins, Charlize Theron and producer Clark Peterson. An essential purchase for fans of the movie.

Verdict:

(the movie) Essential

(the Blu-ray) Essential

Ambulance


Viewed – 10 August 2022 online rental

For some reason, people like to hate on Michael Bay. However I’ve enjoyed his movies, the ones I have seen – and consider movies like The Rock and Transformers classics. This latest is about a guy trying to get money for his wife’s operation who turns to his brother, and gets pulled into doing a bank robbery.

One of my favourites, Jake Gyllenhaal stars here as the career criminal brother who talks his brother into aiding him steal millions. Of course things don’t go to plan. This is every bit a Michael Bay movie, stylish and packed with action, explosions and a sun-drenched Los Angeles. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, who I didn’t recognise is very good as the other brother just trying to do the right thing, and Eiza González as a straight-talking paramedic also proves decent. Gyllenhaal of course steals it though and is manically charismatic throughout.

This felt like Speed, being mostly a never ending chase sequence and is both exciting and rather intense. The action is slick and well executed, and the movie’s only real let down is a ton of overly stylish camera work, using I’m guessing drones to capture some shots. It gets a bit much after a while. It also felt a bit too long, due mainly to the intensity. Overall though this was great fun and had enough character and energy to give this an easy recommendation.

Verdict: Recommended

The Lost City


Viewed – 03 August 2022 online rental

A popular romance fiction writer who has lost the passion for her work (Sandra Bullock) finds herself whisked away on an adventure when a wealthy tycoon (Danielle Radcliffe) believes her fantasy adventure books hold the secret to finding a lost treasure. However her good-looking but dim witted cover model (Channing Tatum) sees an opportunity to prove himself a real hero.

Some movies are easy prospects. You’ll know exactly what you’re getting, and can sit back and simply enjoy the ride. This is one such movie. I’ve always liked Sandra Bullock and she’s perfectly fine here, delivering a likeable lead and once again proving her comedy chops. Same goes for Tatum, perfectly cast due to his Hollywood good looks and proves a likeable co-star. Radcliffe surprises in the villain role and is again fine. That’s the perfect word for this move – fine. It doesn’t do anything surprising, is funny enough and had a few fun action bits, and the exotic locations are nice enough to look at (even if they’re probably neatly all green screen).

Yet its also very throwaway. Bullock & Tatum’s parring is enjoyable but also very cheesy. An appearance from Brad Pitt is memorable. But with a clear influence from Romancing the Stone (a better movie) this just feels too safe and familiar to be anything more than ‘see if if there’s nothing better and you like the cast’.

Verdict: Good

The Northman


Viewed – 30 July 2022 online rental

The last Robert Eggers movie I saw was The Witch, a movie that took two viewings before I could fully appreciate it. This latest effort follows a young Prince who grows up to become a Viking warrior, out to avenge his father’s murder at the hands of a ruthless uncle.

A simple set up is given a very (I’m guessing) authentic approach similar to The Witch, meaning that at first this could alienate some viewers used to the more Hollywood interpretations of history. However if you can get past some of the dialect and more unusual aspects, what Eggers has delivered here is a visually powerful, at times brutal and engrossing revenge tale. Camera-work is particularly effective and how shots are framed really impress with their other-worldly beauty. Performances are decent, including memorable (if brief) turns from Ethan Hawk and Willem Dafoe. Nicole Kidman is quite good too. Also as is often the case, Anya Taylor-Joy is again great. Yet the star here is Alexander Skarsgard in an uncompromising, animalistic performance.

At times some of the Nors mythology and weirder aspects went a bit over my head, and some of the rituals like howling like a wolf were a bit too theatrical – but overall this was gripping and a treat to simple take in.

Verdict: Recommended

The Princess


Viewed – 09 July 2022 Disney+

This turned up on Disney+ so I thought I’d give it a go. This tells the story of a young princess (Joey King) who has been locked away in a tower after refusing to marry a powerful lord who wishes to become king. After her refusal however he’s chosen to attack the kingdom and imprison the current king and his family.

This was a fun and energetic movie. The story is very simple but the concept of the princess having to battle her way down the floors of the tower is an interesting one, paving the way for plenty of action. Joey King shows off some skilful sword fighting too and overall it’s a physically demanding role. I also appreciated that the violence wasn’t watered down, and although not graphic, it still packed a punch.

Support is mostly just ok, with the stand out being Dominic Cooper’s evil lord. Also a reliance on exaggerated style and fancy camera work for some of the fighting felt a little out of place – in addition some CGI moments looked a bit silly. That said, King is the star and delivers a convincing badass heroine. Worth watching even if this had potential to be even better had more been put into its story and also the world it inhabits.

Verdict: Good