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.

I rated King Arthur: Legend of the Sword 6/10 #IMDB

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1972591

Not sure I’ve seen a great King Arthur film since Excalibur. I’m still waiting.

This is a laddish caper-like movie with strong touches of The Lord of the Rings. There’s a lot to enjoy. The unreliable accounts of antics in ‘Londinium’ to the black legs are amusing. The wheeling and dealing establishes Arthur as a king o’ the people. And some of the fighting and fleeing scenes are marvellous. But it is all in an overly long rambling jumble of action flick meets sword and sorcery via geezer culture flow.

The Mage’s animal magic is done well. Sufficiently so that it really suspends disbelief. The cuts and acting and effects could be a good reference for a future Judge Anderson PSI Division movie.

It’s long, it has some great moments, but it is no epic and is not legendary. See it if you’re passing.

I rated xXx: Return of Xander Cage (2017) 2/10 #IMDb

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1293847

I wasn’t expecting much. But this was so bad I almost didn’t stick it out.

Avoid it at all costs unless you can endure a hackneyed plot, some risible events, 2D characters, and a level of ridiculousness zoolander could not carry off. Though if you do stick it out there are some amusing, juvenile one-liners. And in the mix up of nonsensical stunts there is some occasionally crisp action.

It’s a sort of kedgeree action movie: made of a variety of ingredients from many parts of the world. There are some talented action-movie people in it. There are (too many) exotic locations. Sadly though the flavour is a bit off.