I rated Ad Astra 5/10

www.imdb.com/title/tt2935510

Slightly guilty at giving this 5/10. It has some really good high-concept sci-fi stuff, a sterling performance from Brad Pitt, and some persuasive effects. Why 5/10? Well, the backstory: dad’s missing/out of touch on Neptune; 16 years ago; drones haven’t found him but sending his son on a jaunt out there will? Mmm. Plus, moon-pirates in moon-buggies? Really? And a variety of nonsense scattered about. Brad’s dad is played hilariously by tommy lee Jones. Maybe being out at the edge has broken him, but his character doesn’t really work for me. The ending is also a bit of a non-event. Resolution, but not very…dramatic.

My enjoyment was also marred by a man-child in the front row who kept checking his huge, super-bright iPhone every few minutes, taking time to read and update his social circle. Well, that was when he wasn’t checking his super-bright Apple Watch. 🙄

Joker 8/10

www.imdb.com/title/tt7286456

Wow. No superheroes. No video game-like CGI. And wonderfully misleading at times.

A great Joker origin story that sits in a grim Gotham not far from Frank Miller’s Dark Knight.

Really compelling character arc that brought me along with it and left me feeing admiration and disgust.

You really have to see this.

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.

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.