I rated Justice League (2017) 5/10 #IMDb

Oh dear. It’s very long. It’s not very engaging. It has some made for TV FX. It has a lame rabbit-from-the-hat ending. And it just doesn’t seem very original, very challenging, or very convincing.

It is though better than batman vs superman.

Of all the characters Wonder Woman shines out as being the most authentic and convincing. Gal Gadot does a great job. The other convincing character, oddly, was the flash. Out of his depth, suffering hero worship, and still coming to terms with his abilities he’s funny, effective, and, again, authentic.

Bruce Wayne isn’t bad but it’s a very cardboard character here. Cyborg? Well, he does a better character job than batman but he lacks something. Aquaman is amusing but there’s not much to him. And his littering the ocean with whiskey bottles is out of place in 2017.

‘Steppen Wolf’ and his flying vampire zombie skeletons is a joke. There’s no real menace or fear created by what should be a terrifying foe. Though being saddled with a repeated explanation and origin story doesn’t help him.

The whole film is riddled with the kind of pompous drivel for dialog that made comic movies so bad in the past. The dialog towers above the underlying plot devices in terms of quality though. The unity blah blah blah. Three mother boxes blah blah blah. Divided between the Amazons, Atlanteans, and ‘man’. Albeit man chooses to bury their ‘mother box’ in a shallow grave in the woods. The amount of exposition on the back story was just intolerable. Especially as it made little sense and didn’t really help the plot much.

Poor Alfred. Not only dressed in some dodgy army surplus gear but also relegated to a few ancillary scenes. A waste of a good character and a fine actor.

As for the Superman resurrection stuff. Well. Superman being invincible is bad enough but raised from the dead by magic mother boxes connected in ‘the unity’? Drivel.

This is a dire movie which is only redeemed by the boldness of Wonder Woman and the wise cracks of the flash. The rest is just very very disappointing given how good some recent superhero movies have been.

Only see this if you’re a DC completist or need an overly long soporific. I hope there are no more movies like this coming from the DC stable. The only thing that can save them would be a Wonder Woman 2 to match the quality of the last one.

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I rated Paddington 2 (2017) 7/10 #IMDb

A delightful family movie involving Paddington, the Brown family, a thieving villain, and quite a caper.

There’s some great CGI to create a credible fictional bear refugee in London. Add Hugh Grant playing an ageing, egotistical, thespian master of disguise and while it is childish at times it is also heartwarming and entertaining.

The strange dated, yet modern, London suited to the Paddington stories comes alive in some very neatly done scenes. And there are some real moments of despair with Paddington in prison. And some of real peril in the train chase.

Well worth seeing.

I rated Only the Brave (2017) 6/10 #IMDb

Slightly grander than the usual straight to TV ‘based on a true story’ tales of heroism, I was in two minds about seeing this. I’m glad I did.

It started as a pretty macho movie and I feared it would be all male banter, bonding, and beer. It’s not. I’m sure the real life fire fighters had far more depth than the characters portrayed on screen. Having said that I thought that though the characters are focused/accentuated for the drama there was more depth to them than is common for this type of movie.

The people around the firefighters – partners, friends, others are played very well and make this somewhat more than a heroic guy movie. Their relationships really add to the peril and tension I experienced when things got scary.

The bravery of these firefighters is apparent and this movie fittingly captures their heroism. The end scenes and credits also reflect the difficulty that survivors have of the aftermath of tragedies like this.

It’s a credible, well made dramatic tale of real life bravery.

I rated The Florida Project (2017) 5/10 #IMDb

This is one of those movies that seems interminable at times when you’re watching it but afterwards it seems more rewarding.

It’s a tale of the contrasting worlds within a world of children and adults in low income motel accommodation in Florida.

For the children it seems to be a summer of day after day adventure and play. Sure, there are some incidents of difficult behaviour like swearing, rudeness, and arson. But these are isolated things in the daily lives of children who seem to have few cares, almost endless sunshine, and enjoyable outdoor play. Nearly everything is an adventure. And the events and scenes are compellingly authentic.

For the adults it’s a different story. Low income jobs, precarious employment, and the expectations of adult life lead to some difficult, dangerous, and ultimately high-penalty choices for some.

I didn’t read much about the film’s background and set up. From appearances it seems very Ken Loach like. In that there are some known actors and a bunch of seemingly regular people. Either it was unscripted or the actors are excellent at translating lines into realistic-seeming mundane day to day dialogue.

Willem Defoe is remarkable as the motel manager. Both in his portrayal and in his character. Calm nearly all the time. Helpful and supportive even at personal cost. And protective and caring. The scene with the potential paedophile is unnervingly realistic and totally gripping.

Why 5? In part it is that while the film is glorious in its colours and cinematography and it has some real drama it just unfolds at such a normal life pace that it’s not that entertaining. And from the start you’re aware that this is like a train on a collision course. It’s going to end badly for someone.

If you’re used to slow moving arty movies and can enjoy the escapism the children’s adventures offer while handling the adults’ events then definitely see this. If you like arty films that elide mundanity then take your stamina tablets before walking in.

I rated Murder on the Orient Express (2017) 4/10 #IMDb

A warm-looking production with an all-star cast. Sadly the cast have some very weak and flat characters to play with. The story is not at all engaging and makes its way expository leaden route towards its tedious conclusion.

The all-star lustre cannot vivify this mummified corpse of a tale.

Some of the shots and green screen work are good but there’s rarely any sense of peril, intrigue, or drama. The colours and scenes have way more depth than any of the story and people.

Unless you’re an Agatha Christie fan or you like prettily-done old-style movies avoid this.

I rated Thor: Ragnarok (2017) 8/10 #IMDb

More amusing and entertaining than recent Avengers movies. There’s a risk that the quips and humour could have undermined this, but it’s done in such a way that it makes for a free-flowing and progressive superhero film. There are the usual Thor components but the inclusion of some reasonable peril and a cast of effective supporting characters made this a joy to watch. There are some very amusing moments and some suitable superhero action. Chris Hemsworth does a great job making the character likeable, sufficiently pompous, and suitably serious.

The scene at Dr Strange’s place is very neat. And the realisation of Ragnarok is a skilful change from a possible Avengers-like Pyrrhic victory.

Lots of fun and well worth seeing.

I rated The Death of Stalin (2017) 5/10 #IMDb

The difficult blend of very serious matters (hit lists, abductions, rape, corruption, summary executions) and a combination of farcical disorganisation and bureaucracy makes for an odd movie. Not much of the humour is LOL. And yet it is a film with masses of wry satirical bite.

At times it is a bit too ridiculous. For example the remaining committee members moving Stalin from the floor to his bed. Maybe this is accurate. And perhaps hat uncertainty of what’s genuine and what’s embellished is an inhibitor on engaging in the events.

It’s a well done, bitterly satirical movie about some very difficult events and some very unlikeable characters.