Don’t Look Up


Viewed – 19 January 2022 Netflix

You got to give it to streaming giant Netflix… they certainly can get the big names to star in their movies. So naturally it was only a matter of time before Leonardo DiCaprio appeared. This end of the world satire has the acclaimed actor alongside such stars as Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchet and Jonah Hill.

When two scientists (DiCaprio & Lawrence) discover a huge comet heading straight for earth – they race to warn the powers that be (including Meryl Streep’s President). However in a world obsessed with public image, social media etc they are met with a resounding lack of interest. This movie asks the question: what if an apocalyptic threat to the world happened today in our disassociated, materialistic culture? Granted some of the ways the people in charge treat the threat is exaggerated, but when you consider the likes of Donald Trump can be a world leader and an oddball like Mark Zuckerberg can become one of the wealthiest people on the planet – much of the satire here is at times unnervingly believable.

DiCaprio is decent once again even if that freaking out act is becoming a bit too much his ‘thing’. Lawrence is also very good. The movie does get a little side tracked in a subplot involving DiCaprio & Blanchett, and it feels a bit long at 2hrs 11 minutes. Overall though, this was well done, entertained and made me think about just what sort of world we’re living in.

Verdict: Good

Encanto


Viewed – 25 December 2021 Disney+

A family living in the Colombian mountains have been blessed with the magic of the Encanto, all except Mirabel. However, she soon may be the family’s last hope when she discovers that the magic surrounding the Encanto is now in danger.

An interesting premise drew me in and although it kind of falls into typical Disney tropes after a while, I was totally absorbed by the setting and the wealth of ideas and visual spender. Just to look at, this is nothing short of stunning, full of colour and imagination. The character designs, showcasing the multi-cultural people of Columbia is top notch (aided by some great song & dance numbers). Main character Mirabel will also likely become a personal favourite – and I loved the family members and their various magical abilities.

It’s a shame then that it’s in its story where this stumbles. As a Disney movie with no actual villain, the stakes never really seem high, and the reasoning surrounding why Mirabel didn’t receive her magic ability, I was left scratching my head about. However the ending was really feel good and I still managed to have a good time with this.

Verdict: Good

The Suicide Squad


Viewed – 11 December 2021 online rental

Unlike some, I didn’t hate the previous Suicide Squad movie, so another attempt under the direction of Guardians of the Galaxy ‘s James Gunn – was more than appealing. This entry has a group of misfit incarcerated villains forced into a mission with the promise of a reduction to their sentence. However mess up, try and make a run for it, and a press of a button could mean their deaths.

Like the last movie, the show stealer here is once again Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn… and even in her third movie appearance is just as much fun as ever. Along for the ride is Idris Elba, (a dead pan) John Cena and even Sylvester Stallone voicing a half-man-half-shark character.

The story’s nothing special – basically a mission to destroy a secret experiment before it falls into the wrong hands – but what brings this to life is a combination of the often very funny banter between the characters, and bombastic action that’s very violent and suitably over the top. James Gunn just really went for it here, delivering a gory, energetic action flick that’s purely focused on being entertaining. It doesn’t worry about having a message, or like many movies these days force ‘woke culture’ into its narrative, and is all the better for it.

Verdict: Recommended

Love Hard


Viewed – 03 December Netflix

It’s time for a Christmas themed movie… and I’d heard this one, a Netflix original was good so I thought I’d give it a go. A romantic comedy following unlucky-in-love journalist, Natalie who falls for a guy on a dating app. However when choosing to visit the guy’s home to surprise him for the holidays – she has a surprise in store.

Ho Ho Ho?

A relatively interesting take on the rom-con may not exactly do anything that original, this still managed to hold my interest, mostly due to the very likeable performance from Nina Dobrev – who bares more than a passing resemblance to a friends-era Courtney Cox as well as Elizabeth Olsen. The cast in general are all decent.

With some funny situations along the way, a worthwhile message about having ‘confidence to be yourself’ and an utterly charming ending – I enjoyed this quite a bit, even if it has little in it to stand out in a crowded Christmas movie genre. If you’ve seen most of the classics, certainly give this a watch. Oh and Die Hard is a Christmas movie!

Verdict: Good

Jumanji: The Next Level


Viewed – 10 November 2021 Netflix

This sequel to the ‘reboot’ of the classic Robin Williams fantasy, has the same cast of high school now twenty-something misfits who find themselves returning to the mystical video game world. Choosing to return that is only after one of them decides to go back of their own free will.

A rather weak set up this time gives the previous movie’s concept of unlikely personalities trapped in the bodies of their video game avatars, that being The Rock, Karen Gillan, Jack Black and Kevin Hart … a slight twist by swapping characters around and also throwing in Danny DeVito and Danny Glover. Meaning it’s occasionally a bit confusing who’s who. Thankfully banter between all the characters is consistently engaging and funny.

Plot-wise the quest within the game is nonsensical, and is just an excuse for several set pieces including an ostrich stampede and an elaborate sequence involving suspended bridges. However the real-world backdrop that includes a touching subplot between two old friends almost makes up for this. As a sequel it adds nothing to the first movie, failing to build on the mysticism of the game and its origins. For fans of the first movie – give this a watch. It’s still a lot of fun but very little else.

Verdict: Good