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

X-Men: Dark Phoenix


Viewed – 18 October 2019 online-rental

I’ve always enjoyed the X-Men movies but in recent years they seemed to have fallen out of favour with the critics. I stood alone it seems in my liking of Apocalypse and I think going by the reaction to this latest offering, I remain in a minority on this one also.

With mutants more accepted into society and Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) able to continue running his school for gifted children … all seems well. That is until a fairly routine mission to rescue some astronauts goes bad and Jean Gray (Sophie Turner) gets caught in a blast that drastically increases her powers to an uncontrollable level.

This might not have the epic scale of say, Days of Futures Past and with the focus (mostly) on a single character, some of the series’ most memorable characters are sidelined (especially Jennifer Lawrence‘s Mystique / Raven). However with decent turns from McAvoy and the always dependable Michael Fassbender as Magneto as well as Sophie Turner delivering an occasionally menacing Jean Gray – I still found myself absorbed. There is some terrific action too (particularly the train sequence) and the effects work throughout is great.

There’s just something missing. It lacks the drama and depth of previous movies and Jessica Chastain‘s villain is woefully under written. Turner despite best intentions just can’t carry the movie either. She was wooden in Game of Thrones and isn’t that much better here. So, a lesser X-Men movie but if you’re a fan as I am there’s still much to enjoy.

Verdict: 3 /5

Passengers


Viewed – 16 May 2017  online-rental

I don’t think it can be argued that Chris Pratt is currently on a role.  He’s pretty much the darling of Hollywood right now and has delivered enjoyable performance after enjoyable performance, most notably in his two Guardians of the Galaxy outings.  The same can probably also be said of Jennifer Lawrence who also seems to do no wrong.  Both are charming, good looking stars so sitting down to this space-set adventure was an easy prospect, helped I must add by my love of all things sci-fi.

Passengers

A space station on a 90 year journey to reach an earth-like planet suddenly starts to malfunction, and one ‘passenger’ on board (Pratt) wakes up decades too soon, and quickly realises he might be doomed to a life of solitude and possible madness.  However as time progresses, he’s joined by fellow passenger Aurora (Lawrence) and together they try to exist and adjust to their potentially grim fate.

This is a great premise and I was easily absorbed into both character’s plight.  Think Robinson Crusoe in space and you get what this one’s going for, whilst also throwing in some heart-breaking dilemmas and powerful emotional drama that really surprised and pulled me in.  Pratt is excellent as is Lawrence who are supported well by an android Michael Sheen who brings his inimitable style and class to proceedings.  Helps also that Pratt & Lawrence have convincing chemistry, which made later scenes even more effective.  However amongst the drama there is also a lot of fun to be had, especially with the amusing ways Pratt initially tries to cope (although thankfully Pratt’s gratuitous butt shots are counter-balanced by a couple of lingering Lawrence swimsuit moments) … and with some superb CGI and an epic, at times ominous setting I really got a lot out of this.

The only real issue is pacing, as the story tends to drag its heels a little here and there.  For such a large space station too, it failed to really develop as a setting you haven’t seen a dozen times before, perhaps in need of a bit more eeriness.  However, with solid performances and a thrilling final act … I just have to recommend this one.

Verdict:  4 /5

Merry Christmas


It’s that time of year again and how fast it seems to have come around.  Doesn’t feel like twelve months.  I’m having a really nice day and have been spoilt rotten so thank you so much to those that have got me anything and I really hope you like what I got you!

This year I have had a couple of box set, namely the Blu-ray set of the cult TV series (due back in 2017…) Twin Peaks which comprises of the full, re-mastered versions of the two seasons of the show as well as the movie, Fire, Walk With Me.  Another box set I got is it has to be said, well overdue and a series of movies I intend to fully review on this blog…yes, its Harry Potter!!  I confess I have never watched a Harry Potter movie but I am actually really looking forward to delving into this much acclaimed and popular world.  In addition to the box sets, I have also had a very nice book, namely ‘The Secret History of Twin Peaks’ by series co-creator Mark Frost and am excited to read through that as a great companion-piece to my Twin Peaks collection.  I also received the much anticipated (and long awaited) The Last Guardian for PS4.  In the picture below you’ll also find an R2D2 mug, and well, I love novelty mugs so that was a nice surprise.  Oh yes, and a Jennifer Lawrence calendar – don’t judge me!  ha ha.  As well as the above, I also got the usual smellies, clothing etc and have to say I’m really humbled by what I’ve received this year.

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I’ll take this opportunity to also thank you, my readers / visitors to this blog.  All year round I write it as a hobby, a continued interest and next year will mark 10 years that I’ve been running Craig’s Movie Report.  I’m not particularly popular or put that much content on here, but I love running this blog and love any feedback or interest I get.  So thank you all.

Merry Christmas and here’s to a wonderful Happy New Year!

X-Men Apocalypse


Viewed – 08 November 2016 Online-rental

An ancient Egyptian mutant, said to be the very first mutant finds himself resurrected in the eighties after thousands of years and is hell-bent on rising up against humanity. However when Dr Xavier stumbles upon his plot, a somewhat disbanded collection of X-Men must unite to save the world.

X-MEN: APOCALYPSE

I wasn’t expecting much from this and wasn’t the biggest fan of the previous movie, Days of Future Past which everyone seemed to love (?). However presented with a rather formidable villain from the off and with plenty of colourful and recognizable characters I soon found myself enjoying an X-Men movie again.  Director Brian Singer seems to have swapped that rather convoluted time travel plot-device this time around in place of a more coherent good versus evil battle with a threat of global genocide thrown in for good measure.  It works much better having a simpler narrative in such a complicated universe with so many characters and their various back stories.  Yet the movie cleverly weaves in nods and often funny references to past movies and the comics without beating the viewer over the head.  It made for an experience that was more comfortable and easier to simply enjoy.

Cyclops and Jean GrayThe story took time to build tension, focus on key characters, explore individual motives and convincingly bring them together when required.  Standout performances came from Jennifer Lawrence who this time is more character driven and less kick-ass as Mystique and James McAvoy as the always fascinating Xavier.  I also enjoyed Oscar Isaac as Apocalypse, perhaps his first bad guy role and he nails it – sinister, powerful and visually bad-ass.  It was also fun to see an origin story of Cyclops and to an extent Jean Gray (Game of Thrones’ Sophie Turner – still not much of an actor, sadly).  However Michael Fassbender’s Magneto whilst good has a character ark that purely services the plot and doesn’t entirely ring true, and well the whole end of the world stuff is particularly clichéd. Yet with often stunning action, some excellent CGI and plenty of energy this 2hr 20min+ movie still zipped along.  For me it’s the best in the franchise since X2 … and probably the most satisfying blockbuster of the year.

Verdict: 5 /5