New year update


Well it’s 2020. I made it. It’s been a difficult Christmas as I was hit hard by a cold / man flu so didn’t get around to my usual Christmas Day prezzies post. I wasn’t feeling the festive spirit much, but at least I wasn’t in work and have been off since Christmas Eve. I’m back in tomorrow.

What did I get this year? Well a couple of games, namely Dragons Quest XI on the Switch and Jedi Fallen Order on the Xbox One X. Other than that I received the 4K Blu-ray of Alita Battle Angel, a Blu-ray copy of Rocketman as well as some clothes, vouchers etc and my usual Scarlett Johansson calendar. Not too shabby! Hope those I got prezzies for liked what I got them too!

As a new year gift to myself, I also picked up the iPhone 11. My phone is a major part of my daily routine, be it social media, internet shopping / browsing and also using it for work. So why not have a good one? So far I’m loving it and going from the iPhone 8 to this is quite the leap, especially with the bigger screen (important for me as I have ongoing issues with my eyesight).

Looking to the year ahead, as well as looking back at 2019, a highlight was obviously seeing my favourite band, Garbage for the fourth time, meeting various members of the band and getting a photo with lead singer Shirley Manson. I can see me attempting to repeat such an experience in 2020 with the band having a new album due out and most likely a tour to support it. Fingers crossed it happens!

As far as this blog is concerned, I’ll admit I haven’t been as prolific with posts as I have been in the past and haven’t chosen to review everything I watched. I’ve not written much about the TV shows I’ve been binging like Sons of Anarchy and Mister Robot. Life gets in the way and that’ll probably be the same in the year ahead so can’t promise there’ll be a ton of posts going forward… yet I’ll try and keep up with the various movie reviews as usual and the occasional surprise. Watch this space.

Well that’s all from me for now. Happy new year to anyone who has read and supported this blog. Hope 2020 is all you could hope for.

Craig.

Top Ten 2019


So we’re finally here. The Ten movies I appreciated the most during 2019. Please note that some I caught on rental or Blu-ray release so may have technically hit theatres in 2018.

10.

The House That Jack Built

9.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

8.

Doctor Sleep

7.

Avengers: Endgame

6.

Us

5.

The Mule

4.

Creed II

3.

Leave No Trace

2.

Green Book

1.

Joker

Jaoquin Phoenix’s mesmerising and layered performance aided by Todd Phillips’ bold direction makes ‘Joker’ my movie of the year.  And to think I wasn’t even expecting to like it initially.

Honourable mentions

The Irishman,  Glass, Bohemian Rhapsody, Stan and Ollie

Bottom Ten Movies of 2019


It wasn’t all home runs for the movies I watched in 2019. Not all here are ‘bad’ movies they just either underwhelmed or disappointed me compared to other movies in 2019. Listed in order of disdain

10.

Aquaman

 

9.

Men in Black: International

 

8.

The Highwaymen

 

7.

Cold Pursuit

 

6.

3 From Hell

 

5.

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile

4.

Blackkklansman

 

3.

Climax

 

2.

The Equalizer 2

 

1.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

The 2010s – a decade in movies


The 2010’s has been an interesting decade. I think the popularity of superhero movies has dominated and we also got the return of Star Wars so yes, Disney were raking it in these past ten years. The decade has also further cemented the popularity of streaming services and how Hollywood has looked to these services with a greater amount of seriousness than previously and that is why big name directors like Martin Scorsese and The Coen Brothers to name but two, have launched big budget movies on these platforms. Add to this major Hollywood talent taking TV and streaming exclusive rolls, and the future looks bright for these services. That’s not to take anything away from the big screen cinema experience which I still feels has a great deal to offer, and although gimmicks like 3D have begun to fall off, nothing can beat what is still such an immersive form of entertainment.

Looking back over the decade and the numerous top tens I’ve done at the end of each year (look out for my 2019 top ten tomorrow), it’s also clear there’s been many top quality movies released, some that have gone on to become firm all time favourites. Black Swan and The Revenant especially are two of my favourites of the decade. Alongside these movies I’d also place the much underrated Stoker, as well as Shutter Island and Nightcrawler, all movies with stand out central performances and directors with a unique vision.

When it comes to the massive onslaught of comic book adaptations I’d call the first Avengers movie as well as Avengers Infinity War, the brooding (and brutal) Logan and the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie all solid gold entertainment. Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Wonder Woman can also join that list. It’s a shame then that DC on a whole couldn’t live up to Marvel’s consistency with Batman V Superman and Justice League both disappointing.

Horror, so stuck in a rut for longer than I can remember began to finally discover a new lease of life with directors like Jordan Peele, Ari Aster and Fede Alverez delivering breath-of-fresh air experiences like Us, Hereditary and Don’t Breathe, and even remakes like Evil Dead and IT didn’t feel as stale as they could have done. Add to this Far Eastern gems like I Saw the Devil and Train to Busan delivered a high level of quality to the genre.

If I was to pick my personal favourite movies of the decade, I’d have to choose Christopher Nolan‘s mind-bending Inception, Alejandro González Iñárritu‘s utterly unique Birdman, the aforementioned Black Swan from Darren Arronofsky and Wes Anderson‘s captivating Grand Budapest Hotel, although the fan-boy in me might also place J J AbramsStar Wars: The Force Awakens on that list just because…

So yes the 2010’s has been a great decade. It further pioneered special effects, unique approaches to story telling and proved the blockbuster still could have depth beyond the avalanches of CGI. It also gave us career defining performances. We also have it better than ever for home entertainment. What the next decade has waiting for us I can only dream but know that the much delayed but highly anticipated Avatar sequels will be a good start.

Roll on 2020 and beyond…

Star Wars: Episode IX


Viewed – 23 December 2019 Cinema

The Rise Of Skywalker

If this wasn’t my most anticipated movie of the year, I don’t know what was. I struggled with the last entry, The Last Jedi a movie that with subsequent viewings has gone up in my appreciation but remains highly uneven. This final movie though and the conclusion of the Skywalker saga brings forth the return of a long suspected dead enemy … The Emperor! With a new threat to the galaxy, Rey and her friends intend to seek out and destroy him once and for all, whilst conflicted Kylo Ren intends to turn to him for guidance as the new supreme leader of the First Order.

I’ll admit this storyline comes a little out of nowhere and is a blatant attempt to steady the ship following some of Rian Johnson’s ill-conceived plot twists in Last Jedi … but the return of Ian McDiarmid‘s Emperor Palpetine was welcome and the ageing actor nails the necessary maniacal menace. The immediacy of the threat propelled the action from the off as we’re treated to some great battle sequences, mixed with solid character moments that showcase the chemistry this new cast still has. The psychic bond between Daisy Ridley‘s Rey and Adam Driver‘s Kylo-Ren turns out to be the big focus and is further explored and the movie used it in several creative ways. It proves the best aspect and is surrounded by many highly entertaining scenes including a plot thread involving C3P0 losing his memory and some (thankfully) well-timed humour as well as a perfect tone that took me right back to how it felt seeing Star Wars as a kid.

If I had to nitpick it would be the obviously forced Emperor plot, and the first act overly frantic. And like all Star Wars movies it has some silly bits, and there’s a couple of jarring character moments (General Hux!?!). Yet in the grand scheme of things it’s so damn enjoyable, such gripes can be forgiven. As a story that has spanned over 40 years, this felt like a fitting conclusion and ticked many of my boxes. There was a lot riding on this final movie and the conclusion of such a long running saga. There’s not a great deal here that makes this trilogy a story that had to be told other than to reintroduce Star Wars to a new generation and make up for the failings of the prequel trilogy. Yet with highly memorable characters, some great moments (and some questionable ones) I feel this has still been a worthwhile endeavour for the filmmakers and as a fan I am overall satisfied with what they achieved.

Verdict: 4 /5