Long Shot

I’ll get two things out of the way before I start this review:

  1. I am a huge fan of Charlize Theron and she can pretty much do no wrong in my eyes (Yes, I even forgive her for the awful Aeon Flux)
  2. I think thought Seth Rogen is a bit of a one trick pony that can’t really act.

The pairing of these two struck me as rather odd, but then that’s the whole point of this film: two people from very disparate walks of life get together and find love. Yup, it’s a millennial version of Pretty Woman (but better and less sleazy).

This one of of those films that I figured they’d put all of the best bits in the trailer and the rest would be fluffy filler material that lead from one gag to the next.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

This film is a laugh-riot from start to finish – I can’t remember the last film that had me chortling through the whole movie rather than just select parts.

The story revolves around journalist Fred Flarsky (Rogen) who quits his job after his newspaper his bought out by an aging Australian Media tycoon (remind you of anyone?) who’s got quite a close relationship with the President of the USA who used to star in a popular TV show (remind you of anyone?)

Theron plays Charlotte Field, the put-upon Secretary of State who has sacrificed her ideals and life in order to get to a position of power within the government. When the President announces to her that he won’t stand for a second term  as he wants to get into the movies (let’s hope life imitates art on this one) Field seizes the opportunity to stand for President.

A chance meeting with Flarsky at a benefit evening brings together the former babysitter with her ward and she signs him onto her team to pep up her speeches and comedy and romance ensue.

Now, as I said, Theron can do no wrong in my eyes and that’s certainly true with this role. She plays Field with a warmth and depth that really brings the character to life on the screen and her comic timing really shines through as well.

When I saw the trailer I thought “Here we go, Rogen does prat falls and that’s his role in the movie.” Well, I will freely admit that I sorely underestimated him and his acting ability.

Rogen plays Flarsky as a bristly but lovable character that likes to rail against big media and has deeply rooted principles. This causes him a few issues with not only his career but his relationships with friends too.

And, while there are a couple of hilarious prat falls from Rogen, the chemistry he has with Theron and the depth he brings to Flarsky really make you invested in his character and the relationship he has with Field. I have to say I was truly surprised at his acting in this film and will certainly look at him in a different light from now on.

While this film is a comedy there are some serious undertones to it. Sure, it doesn’t go into the depths of political manoeuvring that the excellent TV Series Madam Secretary does, but it does give insight into the types of sacrifices people in places of power have to make in order to achieve at least part of their goal – although I can’t imagine Hillary Clinton or Condoleezza Rice negotiating a terrorist deal while high on illegal substances!

It’s not often I say to people that they need to see a film but this is one of those rare films that you have to watch. If the preview audience I saw the film with is anything to go by you’ll love it – there was even clapping which I’ve only ever heard once before (and that was a Michael Moore documentary!)

Watch this film if you’re in need of a pick-me-up and fancy a romantic comedy that’s actually comedic and not as soppy as hell.

Captain Marvel

As someone who has been quite a big fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe since it first hit our screens back in 2008 with Iron Man (and has read a fair few comics in my time too), the one question I had was “When are we going to see a female lead?”

Sure, the X-Men had given us the powerful Jane Grey (Famke Janssen) and fiesty Storm (Halle Berry) and the “reboots” put female characters front and centre but these were very much ensemble movies with (as usual) the men taking centre stage.

When the Avengers first assembled back in 2012 there was hope of a Black Widow movie but as the franchise moved on this seemed less and less likely – especially after the release of the Jennifer Lawrence lead Red Sparrow in 2018. Even D.C got in on the act before Marvel with their wonderfully received “Wonder Woman” released in 2017.

While Kevin Feige would probably argue that a female-led movie was always on the cards for the MCU, I can’t help think that the success of Wonder Woman helped pave the way for (or move forward) the production of Captain Marvel.

So, was the wait worth it?

Captain Marvel stars Brie Larson as “Veers”, a Kree soldier with anger management issues who is sent to rescue a spy. The mission turns out to be a trap and leads Veers down a path of deception, self-doubt and self-discovery.

Veers ends up on Earth in the mid-1990s which leads to some great moments for audience members of a certain age – the appearance of Blockbuster and Radio Shack brought a nostalgic tear to my eye and I think I showed my age when I laughed as Veers Googled searched the internet using Alta Vista, there’s also a great moment featuring a Windows 95 PC loading a CD ROM – kids today don’t know the agony!

Anyway, nostalgia to one side, the story is pretty good and moves quickly. It’s one of the shorter films in the MCU at just over 2 hours so they had to cram a lot into the runtime but it’s handled well and you don’t feel as though there are many things that are left out. Being short it also passed the watch test – I didn’t look at my watch once during the course of the movie!

That being said, it would have been nice to have seen more of the relationship between Carol Danvers (as she was before she became Veers/Marvel) and Dr. Lawson (played by a sorely underused Annette Bening). It’s obvious from the beginning of the film what an important role this character had in Danvers’ life and how she viewed her role in the Air Force and beyond. I think an extra 30 minutes of run time (bringing it to the length of a “standard” Marvel movie) would have allowed this relationship to have been developed more fully, along with Dr Lawson’s important back-story.

The majority of the film is set on Earth with Veers/Danvers/Marvel (I think she has a few identity issues) teaming up with a young Nick Fury to stop a supposed Skrull invasion of the planet, which comes with a few twists – not only because the Skrulls are able to shapeshift into anything they see – “Can you become a filing cabinet?” “Why would I want to do that?”.

There’s plenty of humour – most of which comes from Nick Fury’s interaction with Goose the Cat (I wonder if the name is an homage to Goose in Top Gun), and in fact Goose steals most of the scenes he’s in and certainly made me look at my two cats with a sideward glance when I got home!

Jude Law gives a pretty average performance as Yon-Rogg – and there are reasons for this that I can’t divulge without giving out a big spoiler. It would have been nice for him to turn it up a notch in the final third of the film, instead I was left feeling like I was watching a young Albus Dumbledore in a Space Suit rather than one from Savile Row but it’s a passable performance (even if it lacks the necessary “oomph”).

The effects are pretty good although I think the majority of the budget went on de-aging Samuel L. Jackson and as a result a couple of the scenes of a glowing Captain Marvel in space are slightly ropy to say the least. This is only on the screen for a few seconds though so can be forgiven (and I hope not repeated in Avengers: Endgame).

Captain Marvel In Space

So, do I recommend the film – I certainly do! While the couple of plot “twists” were obvious to me almost from the start of the film I found it very enjoyable couple of hours and it’s not often I wish a film could have been longer.

Was it as good as Wonder Woman? Not quite. Given Wonder Woman’s 30 minute extra run time I felt it was able to explore that character a bit more than Captain Marvel, that being said Captain Marvel is still a great film and it’s wonderful to finally have a strong female role model in the MCU – Sorry Black Widow and Scarlet Witch, your background role antics just don’t cut it any more.

Instant Family

You need to bear with this film – the first 20 minutes will either have you wanting to leave or throw something at the screen thanks to the “fostering and adoption is so important. Here, have loads and loads of facts that will make you feel super guilty but you won’t remember the minute the funny business starts.”

Okay, we get it. Having kids in the care system is horrible and if we’re childless we should all feel horrible about ourselves and immediately rush out and foster 90 bajillion kids. The things that makes this brow-beating bearable is the hilarious onscreen chemistry between Karen (Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures, The Shape Of Water) and Sharon (Tig Notaro who I’d not heard of but is in a lot of American TV stuff).

Once you get over the “you should all be ashamed of yourselves” message, the film moves into more familiar comedic territory where we meet Pete (Mark Wahlberg) and Ellie (Rose Byrne) who feel something is missing in their lives but, as they have left having kids a bit late, think that adoption might be the best way to get an “age appropriate” family.

The couple finally settle on mouthy teenager Lizzy (played by the fantastic Isabela Moner who previously starred with Wahlberg in Transformers 5: The Last Knight – but don’t let that put you off). The problem? She comes with baggage – emotional in that her real Mum was a crackhead and physical in that she has a younger brother and sister and they all come as a package.

Pete and Ellie decide to take the trio on and there’s your typical comedic “getting to know you moments” from temper tantrums over not having crisps for dinner to playing with the boxes and not the presents during their first “family” Christmas.

There isn’t anything hugely adventurous or standout about this film, it’s pretty standard stuff. What is does do well however is deal with the sense of displacement and loss that children feel from being moved around the foster system, how it’s difficult for them to trust anyone for fear of being let down by the system and their own biological parents, and what it’s like from the foster parent’s point of view when dealing with the “you’re not my real parents” arguments and potential loss of the kids that they have grown to love.

That being said, while I did get a bit teary-eyed at parts (you’ll want to take some tissues), the film doesn’t take itself too seriously. Pete is worried that he and his white middle-class wife Ellie adopting 3 Hispanic children may be seen as white savior syndrome (we’re looking at you Madonna and Angelina Jolie) and in order to voice his fears he likens it swooping in to help the blue guys in Avatar which the Karen and Sharon assure him it’s not.

Wahlberg and Byrne are good as the put-upon parents but the standout performances are from the 3 children; Isabela Moner’s petulant teenager Izzy, walking accident waiting to happen Juan (Gustavo Quiroz) and the crisp loving Lita (Julianna Gamiz) – they all really hit the mark with their various roles and are a joy to watch on screen, I’m sure they’re all destined for great things.

The supporting cast are also well chosen, and well used. The teacher in the hallway trying to stop the floor polisher is hilarious, and keep an eye out towards the end of the film for a cameo from Joan Cusack who does steal a rather emotional scene between Pete, Elie and a distraught Lizzy.

Instant Family won’t win any awards but it Is a fun film, even if it’s a bit heavy handed on the foster and adoption message.

Oh, and stay through the end credits as the end credit track is sung by the talented Moner and it’s well worth a listen.

Watch this film if you’re looking for some fun, clever comedy with an emotional touch, or if you enjoy seeing people get kicked in the nuts by an irate Mum.

Vice

It’s usually hard to get the balance right in films about politics; there are a lot of facts that you need to get across to the public, situations that need to be covered without the necessary time for a full backstory and, more often than not, a large cast of characters that need to be portrayed fairly and accurately.

When you think of political films, you might think of Michael Moore’s documentaries that rely on his personality to get the facts across or perhaps All The President’s Men which is quite a heavy-going film and relies heavily on the casting of Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman to keep audiences engaged. When I first saw the trailer for Vice, I was intrigued as I wondered how they would manage to tell the story of Vice President Dick Cheney when the cast of surrounding characters (George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld etc.) are so well known and Cheney was more of the quiet man in the background.

Christian Bale stars as Dick Cheney, part of American Politics “Royal Family”. Cheney’s life started out on a rocky path after being kicked out of Yale for partying too hard, receiving two DUIs in quick succession and generally going off the rails. It took a stern talking to from then girlfriend (and later wife) Lynne to get him back on the straight and narrow and out of his dead-end job as a powerline fitter and into the world of politics.

What I found surprising was the sheer length of time Cheney had been involved in politics in and around the White House. I had assumed that he’d just been brought in to George W. Bush’s team because of this business experience and Bush’s fondness for cow-towing to big industry. It turns out that Cheney’s start in politics dates right the way back to the Nixon administration (and if that doesn’t speak volumes then I don’t know what will!)

Far from being a dry retelling of his rise to immense power, this story is an engaging and often amusing look and the inner workings of the American political system and how it can be manipulated if someone wants to abuse that system and gain ultimate power.

Bale, to me, is one of those performers who is either excellent (The Machinist for example) or terrible (Terminator Salvation) and I’m happy to report that he’s outstanding in his portrayal of Cheney – both in terms of physicality and his voice. Also outstanding are Amy Adams as Cheney’s wife Lynne who is as ambitious as Dick (if not more so) and Steve Carrell as Donald Rumsfeld and all 3 deserve Oscar nominations for their performances. If there’s one weak link in the Cheney (ha!) that’s got to be Sam Rockwell as George W. Bush.

Rockwell just doesn’t seem to capture the mannerisms of Bush, the only physical nod to him is the hairstyle and he doesn’t even attempt to imitate Bush’s way of speaking – I have to wonder why he was chosen for this part when everyone else is so very close to the characters they are portraying and it’s just like he’s showed up and gone “Oh, okay, I can be myself then”.

The story is weaved together through a series of important events – Nixon resigning, Ford losing the election, Regan getting elected, 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq – and these are explained and narrated by an unnamed man who says that he’s “sort of related to Cheney but I’ll explain that later”.

If you’re not American, you don’t need to worry that you won’t understand the political goings on as our narrator explains the complex points with the incredulity that you’ll feel yourself once you realise what Cheney and his cohorts did once he got into the White House.

He’s been described as “The most powerful Vice President in history” and, if the events of this film are as they are portrayed, I’d go even further to say he’s probably the most powerful American politician in history.

I’d like to think that everything that Cheney did was for the good of the people however this film does make me question his motivations – especially given his links to Halliburton. Perhaps a revisiting of Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 9/11” is in order after viewing this.

I’ve given this film 9/10 and it’s certainly well deserved. It may even have gotten a 10 if Sam Rockwell hadn’t let the side down and if Steve Carell’s Rumsfeld had recreated the “Known Unknown” speech.

Watch this film if you’re fed up of all of the arguments over Brexit and want to realise how lucky we are in the UK to have the political system we do.

 

Bumblebee

Bumblebee is an origin movie, but with a slight twist. Unlike most superhero origin films where they go right back to the very beginning of our hero’s story this one starts slap-bang in the middle of the war of Cybertron. The Decepticons appear to have the upper hand and Optimus Prime is sending the Autobots out into the galaxy where they can meet up later – all except for B-127 who is sent to Earth to prepare a forward base for the Autobots to regroup and find safety.

Unfortunately for B-127, his arrival on Earth immediately pits him against the U.S Military and a Decepticon who has followed him. During a battle with both forces, the Transformer barely escapes with his life and we are left unsure of his fate.

We then cut to our heroine, Charlie Watson (a girl by the way!), a typical teenager on the cusp of adulthood who hates to get up in the morning, put any deodorant on (apparently) and is a big fan of The Smiths (there’s no accounting for taste I suppose). Welcome to 1987, when we were allowed to ride mopeds with no helmets on but it was okay to wear headphones so we couldn’t hear any traffic, music came on tape and Judd Nelson was the greatest thing since sliced bread.

Charlie is gifted a beat-up old VW Beetle as a birthday present from her Uncle Hank who waves her on her way with a smile while his friend comments what a death trap the car is. “I know,” he says, “but look at her, she’s happy!”

The great thing about setting this film so far in the past (Goodness that makes me feel old now!) is that there are fun cultural references that us “grown-ups” will get as well as letting the kids of today know how lucky they have it (they don’t have to listen to The Smiths for a start). It also means it’s not going to be stepping too much on the toes of the Transformer movies that came before it (or should that be after it?).

If this film had been made in 1987 then Charlie would have been a boy, the “love interest” would have been a hot blonde and not a geeky black guy with a cool Afro and the army probably would have saved the day. If that were the case then there would be really no point in making this movie as we had all of that with Shia Lebeouf and his Transformers movies. Thankfully though, with a female writer at the helm  (Christina Hodson who has written the Harley Quinn movie which I’m now really looking forward to thanks to her writing talent) the characters are handled exceptionally well and are rounded unlike the usual two-dimensional affairs films of this genre seem to offer us – even the Decepticons have some personality traits that are quite amusing.

Staying with amusement, this film has buckets of laughs – I can’t remember a recent film where I laughed pretty much from start-to-finish and the whole audience was chuckling away throughout, especially as Charlie tries to teach the newly named Bumblebee about music (he feels the same way about The Smiths as I do) and his obsession with The Breakfast Club is hilarious. That being said, make sure you take a couple of tissues with you as there are some truly touching moments where Charlie tries to deal with past losses and Bumblebee tries to comfort her without being able to speak.

I won’t spoil the plot too much but needless to say that the Decepticons are up to no good (“They literally call themselves ‘Decepticons’. That doesn’t set off any red flags?” asks Agent Burns in a humorously self-aware moment) and there are plenty of fight scenes. The good thing about this movie is that you can actually see the fights and what’s going on whereas I felt in past films it was all a bit hidden – that may be because there aren’t that many CGI characters in this film so the budget may have stretched to allow this.

I have to say that I think this is probably my favourite Transformer movie to date – although I think I’ll go back and watch the original 1984 transformers TV series and 1986 Movie as I’m not convinced they got the evacuation of Cybertron quite right!

Watch this film if your feeling a bit nostalgic and want to relive the 1980s (minus the bad hair) or teach the youth of today what a Walkman and decent music was.

Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse

Okay, so let’s be clear here: the Spider-Man universe is a bit of a mess as well as our “traditional friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man” there’s Spider-Cat, Spider-Monkey and even a zombie version – wow!

While Sony has always taken their ownership of Spider-Man quite seriously in the past, Marvel has a more light-hearted take on their property which comes across in this version and thankfully Sony are happy to go along with the ride.

The film starts with us meeting Miles Morales (Shameik Moore), a typical teenager who isn’t happy with going to a school for gifted children and would prefer to go spray graffiti with his Uncle than do his homework. It’s on one of these graffiti trips that Miles is bitten by a strange looking spider and his transition into becoming Spider-Man begins.

Of course, there can be only one Spider-Man and during a battle with Wilson Fisk Peter Parker’s Spider-Man is killed while Miles looks on helplessly, unsure of his new powers and certainly not in control of them.

All is not what it seems however, Parker’s death was caused when Fisk switched on his Super Collider which caused a rift in space-time and spider-characters from alternative universes are pulled in to Miles’ world and it’s up to him to help get them back home and defeat Fisk’s plans.

The fantastic thing about this film is the way it handles all of the different Spider-Characters it introduces, they all have an irreverent look at their origin stories including “that” strut

(They don’t talk about it apparently)

While we don’t see Spider-Cat or a zombie Spider-Man we do have Peter B. Parker – a washed up version of Spider-Man, Spider-Man Noir who is black & white and likes to punch Nazis, Spider-Woman who is a young Gwen Stacy, Peni Parker who’s a Japanese anime character and fights in a robot inhabited by her radioactive spider friend and…. wait for it…. Spider-Ham, a cartoon pig (they must have been on drugs when they came up with that one)!

All of the Spider-Folks join forces while Miles comes to terms with his new abilities and as he helps them to overcome their origin issues, they help him become a hero.

This animated film is brought to the screen by the team behind the Lego movie and they certainly bring the same sense of humor and fun to their take on the complicated world of Spider-Man.

The animation is great – I saw this in 3D and while I’m usually not a big fan of 3D films (a lot of them are a waste of time) this really worked well and I’d highly recommend seeing this in 3D if you can as it really adds to the way that the movie is presented on screen.

There are some wonderful little nods to the way that the comics are laid out, from Miles’ thoughts being shown on screen to a couple of Bams! and Aaaaaaahs! There’s also a cameo from Stan Lee which was very moving.

The soundtrack is also fantastic, it matches the tone of the film brilliantly and isn’t too over-powering or distracting which can be a problem with animated films.

You need to make sure you stay to the end of the credits as there’s a little Spidey song you need to hear plus two extra Spider-Men make an appearance in a rather amusing pastiche of the original 1967 cartoon. It’s a shame a cartoon Spider-Man couldn’t show up in the 1977 version of the TV show that I grew up watching (repeats of course!)

It’s nice to see a franchise that can embrace the silliness of some of their on and off screen attempts to reach all audiences and I would have given this film 10 out of 10 but I docked a point for them not using Spider-Ham enough (although Spider-Noir trying to learn colours was amusing).

Watch this film if you’re looking for something that’s really funny and need an alternative to all of the Christmas stuff that’s out at the moment – you don’t even need to know anything about the Spider-Man universe as it’s all explained for you!

A Simple Favor

I’m really struggling to decide what to make of this film! On the one hand it’s a story about friendships and their boundaries and on the other it’s a dark tale of deception and deceit.

I’m not going to go too deeply into the story as I don’t want to give the plot away – and well done to the editor of the trailer, it’s refreshing to go into a film without the entire thing already having been played out in the previews – but the basic premise is that Mommy vlogger Stephanie (Kendrick) meets Emily (Lively) as their children are at school together. They start to hang out and over Martini’s Stephanie talks about her life. One day Emily asks Stephanie to do her “A Simple Favor” – pick up her son after school and she then vanishes. Stephanie is then left to investigate Emily’s disappearance and there are lots of twists and turns as she delves deeper into Emily’s past.

The story is an interesting one: we all have dark secrets that we keep hidden, even if we look like we’re the sweetest person on the planet. We have friends, but how much so we really know about them? What boundaries should be pushed, and what should be left well alone?

Director Paul Feig is usually better known for bawdy comedies (Bridesmaids, Heat) and there is a hint of dark comedy in the film which adds to the story rather than detracting from it.

The style of the film is very reminiscent of early Hitchcock and there are nods to fifties film noir from the style of Emily’s home and outfits to the chic French inspired soundtrack.

I haven’t read the book but I guessed one of the main plot twists quite early on, this didn’t detract from my viewing though as there were plenty more twists to come.

I did really enjoy A Simple Favor. I think my difficulty in deciding what to make of the film comes from the fact that it’s not easily compartmentalised as one particular genre: it’s a thriller, romance, drama and buddy movie all in one. I think I would have preferred the film to be a little darker in place, but overall it’s a great movie and well worth a watch.

The Predator (2018)

If you’re looking for the suspense of the first Predator film, or the goriness of the second film then you’ll probably be a bit disappointed in this new take on the franchise in Shane Black’s directorial debut.

Don’t get me wrong, the film doesn’t deviate from the Predator story that we all know and love: Predator arrives and a bunch of people die horrible deaths but it does seem to suffer from not knowing where it wants to be – comedy horror or sci-fi horror.

With the introduction of a 12 year old boy as one of the main characters, I was wondering whether the studio was aiming for the youth market however with the level of gore in some scenes (decapitation by wire anyone?)  and the bad language from tourette’s suffering Baxley (played by Thomas Jane doing an exceptional job) it was never going to get a 12A certificate – in fact I’m surprised it’s only rated a 15, 10 years ago it would have been an 18 for sure.

The story centres around Quinn Mckenna, a sniper embedded in an unnamed South American country who witnesses a Predator crash land and take out his team. Mckenna realises no one will believe what he saw so he steals some of the Predator’s tech and – somehow avoiding all US customs inspections – mails it back to a P.O box in his hometown for “safe keeping”. Co-incidentally he’s not paid for his P.O box for a while so the Post Office dumps the package at his home for his 12 year old son to open.

Rory Mckenna – played by a fantastic Jacob Tremblay – has Aspergers (or Ass Burgers as his bullies call it) and because of his unique view of the world he’s able to operate and understand the Predator’s equipment which leads, obviously, to a collision course with the Predator.

All in all the film is reasonable – as long as you don’t go into it with your expectations set too high – and it seems to be geared towards introducing a new audience to the Predator in order to set up a sequel.

My main gripe? The Predator in this film wasn’t as cunning as we’ve seen them to be in past films, it was more of a “Hulk Smash” creature rather than something you could see as being a stealthy hunter. The introduction of a Predator “dog” and it’s fondness for fetch was a nice touch, as was a more comedic tone which added to the movie rather than detracted from it.

Overall, an enjoyable hour and 40-odd minutes but if you’re a die-hard “Get to the chopper!” fan then you may want to wait for the DVD or streaming release.

 

King Of Thieves

King Of Thieves is the telling of the true-life Hatton Garden Robbery which took place in April 2015 where a group of “over the hill” thieves made off with up to £200 million in cash, diamonds and other jewels in a clever raid on a vault in London’s Hatton Garden Jewellery district.

There’s an all-star cast in this film – Michael Caine, Jim Broadbent, Paul Whitehouse, Ray Winstone, Michael Gambon and Tom Courtney star as the “old time” criminals who are joined by young “Basil” (Charlie Cox) who enables them to get into the vault and disable the security.

The first two thirds of the film centres around putting the gang together and the heist itself, with the final third showing the aftermath of the robbery, the squabbling that ensues and the police investigation.

I was a bit surprised to see King Of Thieves come out, after all the well received

Hatton Garden Job

starring the ever-grumpy Larry Lamb was only released a year before in 2017 and covered the robbery in detail.

If you’ve seen The Hatton Garden Job then The King Of Thieves isn’t going to shed any new light on the subject, although I did find the way that the police pieced together the investigation interesting (note to self: when casing a joint don’t do it in your own vehicle – especially if it’s a flashy Mercedes!).

My main issue was that there were 3 women in the film but two of them (playing police officers) never even spoke a line and the wonderful Francesca Annis was only there as a way to keep Michael Caine’s character on the straight-and-narrow. The Hatton Garden Job had Joely Richardson tearing up the scenery as the evil Mafia connection and I think King Of Thieves could have done with a stronger female performance from one of the Police Officers.

If you’ve seen The Hatton Garden Job then I’d give King Of Thieves a miss, but if you haven’t then it’s worth a look if you have a spare hour and a half on a Sunday afternoon.

The Happytime Murders

For some reason I find puppets hilarious. I don’t know why, perhaps I had a problem at a Punch and Judy show as a kid. When I first saw the trailer for The Happytime Murders I was intrigued – I mean who doesn’t love a swearing muppet?

The Happytime Murders is set in an alternate world when humans and puppets co-exist (although the puppet’s aren’t seen as equals). The “Happytime” of the film’s title refers to the name of a popular TV show that’s about to enter syndication and make it’s cast a lot of money – until they start dropping dead that is!

Melissa McCarthy stars as Police detective Connie Edwards who has to reluctantly team up with her former police partner turned private detective Phil Phillips (voiced by Bill Barretta) to solve the murders.

There’s not much of a storyline, although there is an amusing twist at the end, and the plot is basically a series of linked sketches a la Sesame Street but with a lot more swearing.

McCarthy is phoning in her part a bit – but that’s not really surprising considering the lack of story and the fact she’s acting opposite felt, and I can’t say that there are many laugh-out-loud moments. There is however an extremely gross scene that puts the “Puppet Sex” scene from Team America: World Police to shame!

If this film happens to be on the TV you could give it a watch but I wouldn’t actively go out and watch it, I’d pick Team America instead.

Crazy Rich Asians

I have to admit, I was a bit disappointed with this film. From the trailer I thought that there was going to be a lot more humour than there was, instead the plot was rather heavy going and plodded along.

Crazy Rich Asians centres around the relationship between Nick Young (Henry Golding) and Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) who have been dating for a year in New York. Young’s best friend is getting married and he asks Rachel to accompany him back home to attend the wedding and meet his family.

Part of the problem with this film is that I didn’t feel any sympathy towards the characters. Nick Young acts like his family having a load of money is a massive burden, and Rachel Chu deserves all she gets for not doing some research on Nick’s background – she’s not met his friends or family? Doesn’t this guy have a Facebook profile?

There are two standout performances in this film that save it from going totally down the drain. The first is by the ever-magnificent Michelle Yeoh (Young’s mother) who carries herself with elegance and poise, she was the one character that I felt any sympathy for and through her great acting you really feel for her character and why she is acting the way she is to protect her son.

The other great performance is by Awkwafina who plays Rachel’s friend and advisor to the world of the rich Peik Lin Goh. She brings much needed comedic relief to an otherwise heavy script and lights up all of the scenes that she’s in.

I don’t know if I went into this film with my expectations set too high, but I was rather disappointed with the lacklustre storyline and  character development. I think this film is one to miss.

The Spy Who Dumped Me

The Spy Who Dumped me centres around Audrey (Mila Kunis) and her madcap friend Morgan (Kate Mckinnon). Audrey’s recently been dumped by her boyfriend Drew (Justin Theroux) who, unbeknown to her, is a spy and has left an important item in her flat for safe-keeping.

Drew makes a surprise return to Audrey’s flat which kicks off an amusing set of events that sees her and Morgan travelling to Europe to fulfill Drew’s mission.

I wasn’t expecting a lot from this film – I had a feeling that all of the best bits had been shown in the trailer and the rest of the film would just be filler around these scenes – how wrong I was!

Kunis shows great comic timing as the downtrodden Audrey who slowly realises that she doesn’t need a man and can cope on her own and Mckinnon is hilarious as the weirdly wacky Morgan.

For a comedy, the film is quite violent so should be avoided by those with a sensitive disposition but the action sequences are well handled and provide laughs in all the right places.

I highly recommend this film – it’s worth the price of admission just to see the trapeze fight scene!