I rated Ready, Player One 6/10


only 6/10? Well it could have been so much more in a somewhat shorter time.

This is a good children’s movie that gets across a lot of the content of the novel on which it is based.

However, like many such properties it fails to capture the essentials only and instead rumbles on in a long literal exposition. Think later Harry Potter movies: all well and good but…

Like most Spielberg films for children it touches on mawkish at times but also has a gentle touch when it comes to peril and violence.

As you’d expect, its video game influences are wide ranging and very strong. And yet after a few minutes of Oasis-based footage you get used to it. The frequent back to the future references, the different pop culture content, and the stylised VR look all join together to make it pretty consistent and slick.

The bad guys are bad and yet not vicious. The good guys remind me of the goonies. And the ending is suitably Spielberg and reassuring.

This is a fair interpretation of the novel. It won’t satisfy folks wanting a darker, Matrix-like interpretation but it will satisfy and perhaps delight Spielberg fans and folks wanting a pop-culture inspired tale of good over evil.

I rated Tomb Raider (2018) 7/10


surprisingly good and action-packed children’s adventure movie based on the games of the same name.

There’s an urban start that grounds Lara Croft’s taste for thrills and adventure. It also establishes her as more real than many characters in similar movies. The bicycle courier fox hunt is an entertaining and exciting change from tedious vroom vroom car chases.

Possibly the tensest scenes are when Lara has to avoid falling down a waterfall by scrambling through a rotting plane. Though I’m unsure that planes rust what with being made of aluminium and suchlike the heights and the peril are well played.

The movie has very strong video game influences as you’d expect. For example, the evasion scenes in the jungle are Temple Run in movie form.

The bad guys are surprisingly mean, callous, and violent. For a 12A this movie had some brutal violence and dispassionate killings. Nothing too horrible, just different from the usual TV-like 12A stuff.

All in all this is an enjoyable and thrilling adventure/quest movie based clearly on its video game heritage. It establishes Wikander as a credible Lara Croft and Lara Croft as a very credible adventurer/action character. I hope any subsequent movies in the series maintain this standard.

I rated Gringo 5/10


the comedy action genre can be tough to make work. Gringo does OK but could’ve been better with fewer moving parts, a better trailer, and less farce.

In part this is an underdog story. But then ‘in part’ a lot.

There is some genuine comedy. Especially with the principal character’s continued misfortune. Some of the reveals are inevitable but I’ll not spoil it for you.

The characters are too consistent and are caricatures too often.

The premise of tablet-based marijuana seems almost irrelevant and could have been more or less anything.

Catch it on streaming as it does have some fun, some action, and ends suitably for what it is. It could reasonably have been spun into a mini-series where some of the many character arcs might have made good diversions. Here they make something of a mess of what could have been a simple narrative.

I rated ‘Red Sparrow’ 5/10


I rated it 5/10 and think I might be a little generous. Jennifer Lawrence plays a dead-eye, cunning spy after being forced into a brutal regime of psychological reconstruction following a ballet ‘accident’.

The ending was surprisingly good, albeit somewhat predictable. I’m unsure if there was meant to be any real suspense for it. The rest of the film is a mish-mash of old spy-thriller standards (there’s a mole, dodgy ‘Russian’ accents, gung-ho CIA agents) and some weird blend of 1970s-style soviet stuff and modern day pieces.

Thankfully there are no ‘ultrasonic’ glass-smashing signet rings or the like. But there did seem to be floppy discs holding US-government secrets. Maybe these are popular in spy-circles for the difficulty they might present an adversary in finding something to read them with?

Joel Edgerton isn’t amazing at the best of times but he clearly had some very thin material to work with here. His character is tissue-thin compared even to Lawrence’s.

The film is way too long. It is gratuitously peppered with nudity. And it all seemed a bit dated and too contrived.

A shame, as Jennifer Lawrence is a strong screen presence.

I suggest this is a late night streaming one that you won’t mind falling asleep in front of. Watch Nikita (either version) instead.

I rated ‘Lady Bird’ 8/10


A teenage rites of passage story with stubborn, anarchic, and entertaining characters. Well worth seeing.

Lady Bird is trying to grow up. It’s tough when you think you’re in the wrong place, when your family is as weird as any other, and you literally come from the wrong side of the tracks.

With high school traumas, boyfriend trouble, and changing cliques Lady Bird triumphed for me as a great tale of growing up. It’s told both tenderly and hilariously directed with compelling performances from the leads.