I rated Ready, Player One 6/10

www.imdb.com/title/tt1677720

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.

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I rated Tomb Raider (2018) 7/10

www.imdb.com/title/tt1365519

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

www.imdb.com/title/tt3721964

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 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.

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.