The Bad Guys


Viewed – 8 October 2022 online-rental

These days, the majority of animated movies are so beautiful looking that it’s easy to rate them all highly. So for me it’s a genre I’m particularly tough on. This latest Dreamworks effort follows a gang of career criminals; a sly wolf, a shark, a piranha, a snake and a tarantula. All creatures feared in society, so they find it easier to embrace being ‘bad guys’. However when their latest heist to steel a priceless award, goes wrong they’re given the opportunity to turn their lives around and go ‘good’.

This comedy-caper has a solid initial concept and is full of energy, action and personality. Voice acting is good, especially Sam Rockwell as the wolf. Add to this the slick, eye-melting animation, seemingly in that similar hand drawn meets CGI that worked so well in Spider-Man Enter The Spiderverse, and on paper this has it all.

However the script isn’t as sharp as it could have been, it leans a bit too heavily on the sentimental, and could have been a lot funnier. It’s never explained also, why animals live and talk like humans, alongside humans (!?). The villain is highly forgettable too. Overall well-made and fun, but not one to rush back to.

Verdict: Good

See How They Run


Viewed – 26 September 2022 Cinema

I recall enjoying the revival of the classic whodunnit with the other year’s Knives Out. This follows a similar blueprint but sticks even closer to the Agatha Christie style by setting the story at a theatre production of one of the author’s plays, where an arrogant movie director (Adrian Brody) is murdered. A world weary inspector (Sam Rockwell) and his prodigy constable (Saoirse Ronan) are called in to investigate and unmask the killer.

The trailer for this has strong Wes Anderson vibes, which is no bad thing and the inclusion of Ronan in the cast made this an instant must see for me. Thankfully this didn’t disappoint. It’s a gently, quirky comedy with bags of style and that sort of caricature approach to the performances that I often find really enjoyable. At the heart of the movie is Rockwell & Roman’s double act that’s fun and charming throughout. Support from Adrian Brody, Reece Sheersmith amongst others is also decent, making for a personality-rich experience.

The final reveal is a bit weak, and few more star names amongst the ensemble cast would have been welcome. Yet I had a great time with this and it kept a smile on my face throughout.

Verdict: Recommended

The Best of Enemies


Viewed – 17 April 2021 Netflix

It’s unfortunate that the awful history of racism in America can make for such riveting movies. Set in North Carolina in 1971, this explores the story of a female black activist who gets pitted against a leader of the local Klu Klux Klan. When forced to work together to pass a bill about racial integration in schools, the two rivals find themselves forming an unusual friendship.

This is the type of movie that really gets one thinking and questioning the world we live in. Immediately the setting and time period, aided by a great soundtrack pulled me in. This was also brilliantly acted, with the stand out being Taraji P Hensen (Hidden Figures), who delivers a powerhouse performance as Ann Atwater. Sam Rockwell as KKK leader C P Ellis is also excellent and delivers possibly one of his best turns in a challenging portrayal. Although the story might seem familiar and there’s certainly comparisons to be had with the acclaimed Green Book, this still really grabbed me. Direction from first-timer Robin Bissell was authentic and engrossing, and delivered a surprisingly feel good ending that really made the movie for me.

For such material it very much glosses over some of the worst the KKK were known for, although I’m guessing this was more a character piece focusing on how people can learn from one another … and in that respect it’s pretty damn great. One to check out.

Verdict: Recommended

Jo Jo Rabbit


Viewed – 17 May 2020. Online rental

A young boy living in World War II Germany idolises Adolf Hitler to the point of having an imaginary friend who bares more than a passing resemblance to the Fuhrer. With dreams of joining the German Army and hopes of becoming a Nazi, one day he finds all he loves thrown into question upon discovering a Jewish girl hiding in the walls of his house.

Directed by Taika Waititi (Thor Rsgnorok) who also takes on the role of Hitler, this irreverent and unusual approach to the WWII conflict boldly blends satire and surrealism with a profound commentary on the innocence of youth during war time. Coming off as a bit of comedy at first seems rather bad taste but as the story unfolds it became clear that the viewpoint is solely that of a ten year old boy, who’s young mind has been overloaded with propaganda. However the murkier aspects of the Nazi regime lurk in the background, and despite many an absurd moment, still manages to have an impact. This is down to solid performances across the board, especially Roman Griffin Davis as Jo Jo and Thomason McKenzie as Elsa, although support from Scarlett Johansson and Sam Rockwell are also memorable.

Waititi manages the inconceivable by delivering a light tone to the war without ‘making light’ of the war, leading to many effectively poignant moments such as when Elsa remarks about her parents ‘my parents went to a place they can’t come back from.’. A sharply written, brilliantly performed and unique approach to a difficult subject.

Verdict: Essential.

Cowboys and Aliens


Viewed – 19 January 2016  Netflix

Cowboys-and-Aliens-I haven’t a clue what’s taken me so long to get around to seeing this quirky-concept action adventure starring Daniel Craig as a mysterious stranger who wakes up in the wilderness with a strange device on his wrist.  Soon he attracts the attention of local shady big shot Harrison Ford who’s trouble-making son gets into a spot of bother with Craig.  Yet the two gunslinger’s problems are only just beginning when a race of aliens invade and begin abducting the locals.

It’s a solid idea and in the hands of Iron Man director John Favrau it’s fast and mostly fun, even if the pairing of the mumbling, serious Craig and the mumbling serious Ford grates a little (where’s the comedy side-kick?).  Thankfully we do get the lovely, if bland Olivia Wild (Tron Legacy) on hand as a mysterious beauty who seems to know Craig’s character even though Craig himself has amnesia.

olivia-wilde-cowboys-aliens

The aliens however are horribly typical fair and not interesting; their big plan to steal gold woefully under-explored.  Yet the effects are decent, and with a great flying space crafts verses cowboys (and Indians) on horseback sequence, the action proved thrilling at times.  We also get some enjoyable supporting characters including a wimpy bar tender played by Sam Rockwell.  Yet for such a cool idea, I’d have liked this to be a bit more tongue in cheek, and could have done with better western-themed atmosphere other than the setting and failed to go anywhere I wasn’t expecting it to.  Probably the reason the movie wasn’t all that talked about after it’s initial release.

Verdict:  2.5 /5