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, hung-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 with compelling performances from the leads.

I rated Black Panther 8/10


For a superhero movie this is entertaining and a little different from the usual.

Some great casting, a brief history of Wakandia, and some good social commentary made this a bit deeper than other Earth-based Marvel movies.

The bad guys are suitably bad. And the main one is tough, ruthless, smart, and has a reasonably compelling backstory.

The conceit of Wakandia as a secret, highly-advanced place is wonderful.

The film goes on a little bit longer than I’d like but there’s only one period where it lulls slightly after the Korea events.

All in all this is a great superhero movie. While it has its fair share of blammo fighting and special effects it also has a few more diplomatic angles on resolving problems.

The end credit short scene is a very nice touch.

Go see it if you can.

I rated The Mercy 6/10


The tale of an amateur sailor who takes on a single-handed round the world challenge that hardened professionals balked at.

If this had been an entirely fictional story it would stretch the limits of credibility. As a dramatisation it is as similarly dull as the director’s ‘the theory of everything’.

The cast do a fair job of playing 2D versions of real people.

The big dream, the harsh reality, and the uncertain conclusion to the sailing adventure are fascinating and drawn out. Perhaps the best part of the film is the brief and lasting aftermath and effects on the family.

Sadly this is a dull movie. Catch it on TV.

I rated Detroit (2017) 4/10 #IMDb

It’s just a very long, drawn-out movie. In a way it is a few movies jammed together. No single movie could deal with the Detroit riots, the Algiers hotel, the trial, and the aftermath of events. It’s a tall order even for Kathryn Bigelow. And by trying to squeeze so much in it fails really to do much beyond open the door for the next movie. The end credits give some follow up on some characters. But not enough is made of these people and their stories. We’re presented with horrific events at length and yet because of the limited time we have to get to know these people we are marooned in the shocking events that unfold.

It’s worth seeing for its subject matter. Build up your stamina beforehand. It is disturbing. Despite its content, it seems oddly undramatized. Most of all though it seems very long.

I rated Hampstead (2017) 4/10 #IMDb

So promising. Great actors. ‘Based on a true story’ authenticity. And a chunk of London ripe for complex storytelling.

Instead it’s an insipid mash up of sitcom, farce, twee London scenes and characters, and indulgent cinematography.

There are lots of scene-setting shots showing off the intended beauty of the area. Most of these belong in tourist ads or on Gardener’s World rather than a character movie. But then you’d expect characters in such a thing. And they’re a bit weak on the whole. They’re not that credible for sure.

Most of the characters seem to be lazy stereotypes or caricatures: posh fakes, daft do-gooders, pompous asses, etc.

Even Keaton and Gleason don’t get to do much beyond play characters who should be complex but just seem vague and confused at best.

The film trundles along with its predictable story right up until its predictable and sickly end.

You’d be better off watching three weddings and a funeral again if you want some entertainment based in London.

I rated Transformers: The Last Knight (2017) 5/10 #IMDb

More of the same. Mythical nonsense, mech violence, moralising, and some sort of story.

After the events of the last movie folks don’t like Transformers. Apparently, devastating alien battles in populated areas go down as badly in this world as they do in Marvel’s Avengers.

As well as dealing with being an outlaw, ‘traitor’, distant father, widower, unsuccessful inventor, and unlikely hero Mark Wahlberg’s character lives in another junk yard with some guy he’s duped into joining him.

The myth weaving and back story take us back to Arthurian legends. Albeit in a shorter and more entertaining and convincing fashion than the recent ‘legend of the sword’. Cue Sir Anthony Hopkins doing irascible Lord and secret keeper. Together with his transformer batman/butler/companion he’s been protecting the ancient secrets of the transformer knights as part of a tradition.

The other characters don’t seem as well-developed (relatively) as these. Even the transformers seem a bit peripheral at times.

There’s some other story going on with Optimus prime on its way to cybertron to meet the maker. Somehow OP gets turned and pops back to earth to serve the evil intentions.

At a perceived 4 hours this movie goes on a bit. The different threads are woven together like a ball of string left in a drawer. The odd mix of myth, violence, and comedy is amped up a bit from earlier movies.

Go see it if you have to. It is more fun than some of this year’s movies but don’t expect a landmark.