I rated England Is Mine (2017) 5/10 #IMDb

70s manchester is grim in this movie. Though without it we would perhaps not have seen the invention of Morrissey and the Smiths.

The movie goes up to the point where Johnny Marr goes to Morrissey’s front door. Everything before then is about the genesis of Morrissey.

With cuts to the water in the canal, documentary-style shots, and some tedious detail this is a slightly arty film. Few of the characters appear fleshed-out and despite the soundtrack it’s all a bit dull in appearance sand content. Perhaps that’s the point? The experience of watching this movie was a little like a 70s/80s childhood week: drudgery in the week, a highlight on Saturday and then the dullness of Sunday.

OK, but there are other films out now that offer more entertainment.

I rated Atomic Blonde (2017) 7/10 #IMDb

Better than I expected. Lots of action, some intrigue, a period sound track, good costumes, and evocative of 80s Cold War culture.

The oddest thing was that the first few scenes I wondered if I had 3D glasses in they’re so dark. Either I got used to the grimy appearance or it got brighter later.

It’s a typical Berlin spy story. A mole. Limited trust. The Berlin Wall. And some urgency.

Surprisingly violent with some intense fight scenes for Charlize Theron. This is worth watching if you like grimy spy/action thrillers.

I rated The Hitman’s Bodyguard (2017) 8/10 #IMDb

A slightly odd mix of serious material, violence, love, and comedy. Despite looking like it was shot on VHS at times this was real fun to watch.

A formerly successful bodyguard is tasked with getting a wise-cracking hitman to The Hague by his former girlfriend who is an Interpol agent.

Brilliant chase scenes on canals and narrow Dutch roads. Some shockingly violent fight scenes. And some genuinely hilarious exchanges. This is worth watching.

I rated Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017) 6/10 #IMDb

It has more of the effects and spectacle of ‘the fifth element’. It just lacks the stellar characters. Sure, valerian and laureline are credible sci-fi special agents but there’s not much to them in this. All other characters are similarly OK, if a bit lacking depth.

It is l o n g. With snappier editing, some of the simplicity of the characters might have worked OK. As it is, they all get a lot of screen time to show that there’s not much there.

Despite some reasonable moralising and an attempt to contrast the human vs Alien morals and methods, the story doesn’t have much sophistication. Which is a shame. I’d rather have fewer FX and a better story with deeper characters.

See it if you liked fifth element and want more Alien FX. It’s a simple story told with simple characters in a beautifully illustrated world at great length.

I saw it in 3D. Like all 3D movies it adds nothing but a few jazzy FX.

I rated Cars 3 (2017) 6/10 #IMDb

A bit obviously worthy compared to the first movie. Mainly enjoyable if a bit long and drawn out in places.

Lightning McQueen needs to give way to a new generation of racing cars. After a few false starts he does this on his own terms.

Some of the steps on this quest are funny (the wreck race), and some are poignant (catching up with Doc Hudson’s contemporaries).

After Cars 2, this is a return to form.

I rated Dunkirk (2017) 7/10 #IMDb

A mundane and shocking beginning to a dramatic, disturbing, gut-wrenching, and emotional movie. Its drawbacks are that it seems too long, it is chopped up, there’s far too much exposition, and it fails to effectively show some of the dissonance between the patriotic action and the deadly hanging around.

The loud and disturbing sound effects and the gripping Hans Zimmer soundtrack combine to lend empathy and emotion to a greater extent than the dialog and acting convey.

Poor Kenneth Branagh is under-used. Being either a narrative device, or a foil for other commentary.

Most gripping are the RAF scenes. The technical flying details and the combat render these credible and engaging.

The principal small boat scenes are good and create their own story in the whole. Though again, there’s a bit too much saying rather than showing.

Overall, it’s well worth seeing for its illustration of the deadliness of war and the lack of separation of heroes and regular men with regular concerns. ‘Men’ because there’s a mere handful of women in the whole picture.