Rocketman


Viewed – 06 January 2020 Blu-ray

I’ve always appreciated the music of Elton John and consider several of his songs all-time classics. Following on from Bohemian Rhapsody this similarly tells the life story of one of the UK’s most iconic stars, this time with less of a tragic ending.

Told in a surreal musical style that takes those famous songs and matches them with key events in Elton’s life… this has Taron Egerton on amazing form, delivering all the nuance, emotion and flamboyance of the man himself whilst also singing all the songs as well. The musical approach is done very well even if at times I wished certain favourites were just delivered normally instead of other cast members stealing certain parts as way of delivering the story. Jamie Bell is very good as Elton’s writing partner Bernie, although Bryce Dallas Howard proves a bit forgettable as Elton’s disapproving mother.

The focus here is mostly Elton’s struggle to be accepted by his parents or find love. It’s occasionally a little overly stylish, and despite showcasing many famous songs, the omission of Candle In The Wind is puzzling. Yet this still delivers an occasionally moving, often eye-opening story with some seriously feel good moments, aided by a killer soundtrack.

Verdict: Recommended

Jurassic World


Viewed – 20 October 2015  Online rental

I never got around to seeing Jurassic Park 3, I think the reason why was that by the time it came out, I was pretty burnt out of my fascination with dinosaurs, and the second film, The Lost World didn’t entirely blow me away.  Although I do regard the original as a classic.  So after a long break, the prospect of a new movie in the franchise was finally appealing again, even if I missed this at the cinema.

Jurassic_World

Hot off his star-making turn in Guardians of the Galaxy, Chris Pratt plays a former Naval officer turned park ranger at an all new, very successful and open to the public ‘Jurassic World’.  He could be what you might call a Dinosaur-whisperer, with a close bond with a pack of Velociraptors.  Lauding it over him is the park’s manager, Bryce Dallas Howard, a blunt, money-minded career woman and sort-of love interest to Pratt.  Her day to day routine is complicated however by the arrival of her nephews, just as the park is about to unveil their latest attraction – a hybrid dinosaur cloned from various different species.

JurassicI’d heard some mixed things about this, and agree it lacks some of the awe and wonder of the original.  Also Chris Pratt, so charismatic and funny in ‘Galaxy whilst still very likeable proved less fun than expected.  Yet the movie’s characters all go on a journey of sorts and develop as time passes, most notably Bryce Dallas Howard.  Initially too the nephews were like walking clichés but became much more interesting after a while.  Add to this an immediately more perilous setting with thousands of lives in danger as the (inevitable) shit hits the fan, and I was quickly transported back to the feel and the adrenaline that worked so well back in the day.  This was so much more than just another sequel and you can tell the writers and production team wanted to make a film both worthy of the name and worthwhile after such a long gap.  They succeeded.  The action is exhilarating, the new ideas bring the concept to life and when you get the dinosaur action, it’s at times shocking, intense and epic.

Familiarity does the movie a bit of a disservice in places and some attempts at humour fall flat, but with solid performances and excellent CGI (bar a couple of obvious green screen bits) this really was a lot better than it might have been.  Recommended.

Verdict:  4 /5

The Help


Viewed – 18 January 2014  Netflix

Set in Mississippi during the 1960s, this drama follows the story of Skeeter (Emma Stone) a young woman in a high society family who’s observations of the mistreatment of hired, African-American ‘help’ leads her to write a book detailing interviews by the various maids and giving a voice to their people.  Such an idea during a racially tense time in American history was controversial but as the movie progresses, Skeeter manages to persuade two maids to get involved.

THE HELP

Based on the novel by Kathryn Stockett and with a strong central performance by Stone, one of my favourites – this was a lengthy but absorbing tale.  The thought-provoking subject really drew me in, and Viola Davis as the narrating Aibileen and Octavia Spencer as Minnie are both excellent, as is a sneering, spiteful Bryce Dallas Howard. This is a movie about performances and getting one up on stuck up, narrow minded snobs – which made for quite a few feel good moments.

At times little details like one maid’s abuse by her husband is only hinted at and sometimes the dialogue and events were a touch vague, not helped by the thick southern dialects.  Yet the cinematography is very attractive with the setting filmed beautifully … wow those houses!  Acclaimed at time of release and having won several awards (most notably Octavia Spencer’s deserved Oscar) this was an enjoyable and educational experience that’s an easy recommendation.

Verdict:  4 /5