Category Archives: Movie Review

Review: The Secret of Marrowbone (2017)

Stars: George MacKayAnya Taylor-JoyCharlie HeatonMia GothMatthew Stagg.

Director: Sergio G. Sánchez

The plot:

Fleeing to the United States, four siblings and their Mother look to put the events of the past firmly behind them and begin new lives in a remote manor.  It doesn’t take long for the past to catch up with them and, after what was the happiest summer the children had ever had, events take a tragic turn for the worst and shortly afterwards their mother also dies leaving the oldest child, Jack (George MacKay), to keep the death of their Mother secret until his twenty-first birthday and keep the promise to his late mother that the siblings would not be separated.  

Hollywood Reporter

The cast:

I was very impressed with all of the young cast.

George MacKay (11.22.63) led them very well showing a compassionate side towards his sister and two brothers but as he builds a relationship with Allie (Anya Taylor-Joy – Split) he becomes more and more protective of them and his despite his feelings for Allie he keeps the two sides of his life apart.  This is much to the behest of second eldest brother Billy (Charlie Heaton – Stranger Things), his frustration at his freedom being limited spills over into shows of anger and impulsive behaviour which Heaton conveys very well.  Mia Goth‘s (A Cure For Wellness) role was almost a more maternal one as she tended to the much younger brother Sam (Matthew Stagg) as she home schools him and essentially brings him up after the passing of their mother.  Goth shows a very nice bedside manner and also tries to mediate between the family when tempers become frayed, another side she also played with some ease.  Anya Taylor-Joy has something of a supporting role here but she just slides through the role effortlessly and again shows she is certainly going places.


The Film:

The Secret of Marrowbone (originally just “Marrowbone”) is not a high pace horror movie so if you’re looking for that sort of thing maybe try The Purge.  What it is, is a very well though out character based story of tragedy within a family coupled with some quite sinister overtones.  It pays a lot of attention to the building of the characters and letting the viewer into just about every corner of their lives but keeping the most harrowing of secrets until the very end.  It’s not a jumpy or scary movie in any form.  I did feel that at some points the film spent too much time opening the characters up before anything really developed in terms of the story but when it finally did it all seemed very worthwhile.  Whilst the story didn’t go anywhere totally unexpected it also isn’t that obvious where it would end.  Set in the late sixties the surroundings of the film certainly seemed to catch the essence of the period and when the movie did venture into the more creepy periods it was well conceived and played out.  A more intelligent scary movie.

The Verdict: 3.5/5 Stars – Well handled tale of terror

The Secret of Marrowbone on IMDb

The Secret of Marrowbone Official Website


Review: Sicario 2: Soldado (2018 – UK Title)

Stars: Benicio Del ToroJosh BrolinIsabela Moner.

Director: Stefano Sollima

The plot:

The US government take a move to change their approach to handling the Mexican Drug Cartels by considering them terrorists which would give them unprecedented controls to be able to tackle the problem.  They call in Matt Graver (Josh Brolin) to get “dirty” as he puts it and start a war within the cartels themselves.  Graver calls in Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro) and gives him the opportunity to get even for the deaths of his family.  The film also tells the tale of a young Mexican boy with intentions of becoming a Sicario and these tales naturally cross paths as story unfolds.

The cast:

I think without the distraction of Emily Blunt, Sicario 2 is allowed to build more heavily on the relationship between Alejandro and Graver and how their stories progress from the first film.  Brolin is in good form as Graver who relishes another chance to get in amongst the dust and dirt and tackle the rise in drug and people trafficking.  He’s still the larger than life character exuding confidence from every orifice possible yet when the time comes is also able to show signs of compassion and a reluctance to follow orders he is equally efficient in doing so.  Alejandro, on the other hand, despite being handed the chance to avenge his family shows his more paternal instincts as he is charged with the safety of a drug lord’s daughter.  Del Toro rarely disappoints and he certainly doesn’t here with another accomplished turn. There isn’t really a lot of support to speak of in any depth as the film really does centralise on the two male leads.  The film relies on the chemistry between the two to really absorb the viewer into the film, although there is a good outing for Isabela Moner as Isabel Reyes, the drug lord’s daughter with which Del Toro has to protect.  She plays a bullying teen who is soon affected the horrors of her Father’s life.

The Film:

Sicario 2: Soldado stands exceptionally well on its own, you don’t really need to have seen the first film to be able to watch this even though the story does build on that which has already passed.  Despite a lot of the film taking place in open desert areas of land it still feels very claustrophobic, as if the desert was trapping the cast.  It is, in parts, quite brutal and provides the sort of explosive action you would expect from a film of this nature.  When you have two such excellent leads, particularly Del Toro, you can’t go far wrong in terms of the acting and the story comes at the viewer from two different angles which meet quite tidily in the closing stages.  It’s a solid two hours in which I was fully focused and Soldado 2 didn’t allow anything to distract from the movie’s events.  It paints a harsh picture of the horrors or people trafficking and the suffering handed out by the hands of mercenaries who will look to profit from these desperate people.

The Verdict: 3.5/5 Stars – Hits the mark

Sicario 2: Soldado on IMDb

Sicario 2: Soldado Official Sony Website


Review: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018)

Stars: Chris PrattBryce Dallas HowardRafe Spall.

Director: J.A. Bayona

The plot:

A few short years after the events of previous film, the dormant volcano upon the island that was home to Jurassic World erupts into life again threatening all the remaining dinosaurs inhabiting it.  Owen (Chris Pratt) and Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) embark upon a mission to rescue the creatures with the aid of a partner involved with the original Jurassic Park alongside its creator John Hammond.  The assistance is not all that seems and sinister intentions become apparent.


The cast:

Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard slip very easily back into their roles as Owen and Claire.  Let’s face it, these aren’t the most challenging role they’ll ever play.  Pratt remains the knowingly dashing hero but Claire has now become more the animal rights activist than the business person she was in the first film.  Rafe Spall and Toby Jones weigh in with some undesirable effect to their characters, Jones featuring a very denture heavy voice to his role!  James Cromwell also makes a welcome appearance as John Hammond’s former partner.


The Film:

I’d only recently watched the first film (Jurassic World) in this series of the dinosaur saga so it was fairly fresh in the memory.  The dinosaur thing never really pulled me in with the first series of films either.  Jurassic World, for me, was just a remake of the very first film.  Not scene for scene but it might as well have been.  I felt it was ok without being anything approaching being that good.  So, how does Fallen Kingdom measure up?   It’s more of the same really but to be fair, the film has more of an identity of its own rather than rehashing anything that had gone before.  There’s plenty of lively action and to a younger viewer some scenes that could be considered quite scary.  The film just isn’t anything special though, there’s a lot of unwanted characters that could have been overlooked and the series continues to rely on youth to make the right decisions.  It does have a curious ending though and it will be interesting to see where is goes next as I’m sure more is to come from the franchise.

The Verdict: 3/5 Stars – You won’t need the priority pass.

Jurassic World on IMDb

Jurassic World Official Website

Review: Hereditary (2018)

Stars: Toni ColletteMilly ShapiroGabriel Byrne

Director: Ari Aster

The plot:

When the most senior member of a family passes away, Annie’s mother, the remaining family members become embroiled in a series of bizarre and tragic events whilst they are in mourning.  The main focus of the events is the young Charlie (Milly Shapiro), already a deeply troubled child but this is just the beginning as all members of the family begin to suffer.


The cast:

Toni Collette really throws herself into this role as the Mother of the family , Annie.  As the events unfold and become more disturbing the more hysterical Annie becomes, sometimes to comical effect rather than actual terror.  Hats off to her though, she certainly immersed herself deeply into the part.  Milly Shapiro‘s Charlie is certainly a key focal point for the movie and her troubled soul is very well put across.  Gabriel Byrne puts in a trademark performance as the most balanced member of the family, Steve.  His normal quite calm demeanour soon turns to that of desperation as his family is cast into hugely traumatic events.  Unfortunately Alex Wolff doesn’t really do anything for me as Peter, I found him unconvincing and false throughout the movie.  Eagle eyed viewers of The Handmaid’s Tale will be happy to see Aunt Lydia actress Ann Dowd make an appearance as well.


The Film:

When someone builds up a movie as a new generation’s “The Exorcist”, then said movie has a lot of work to do in order to impress cinema goers the way that classic did upon its release some forty-five years ago.  In fact, it’s almost an impossible task to get close.  Granted, The Exorcist has not aged well but even so the pressure is firmly placed on Hereditary to be a great horror movie.  Does it manage the task?  Well, not quite.  On the plus side it builds the story well, the horrific events are evenly spaced and steadily bring the movie to its final events although some of the story itself is a little lazily pieced together.  There are some genuine moments of tension and peril and they are very well presented to the audience.  The problem is that all the good work it puts in is almost totally wasted by a poorly constructed conclusion.  The essence of the ending is fine but when it looks the way it does it’s more absurd than it is horrifying.  I was also a little disappointed with how much one of the main characters was actually used or rather not used.  It is still a better horror movie than the standard teen slasher films that come out by the dozen but it’s by no means a classic, just slightly above average.

The Verdict: 3/5 Stars – Inherits absurdity

Hereditary on IMDb

Hereditary Official Website

Review: Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)

Stars:  Alden EhrenreichWoody HarrelsonEmilia ClarkeJoonas SuotamoDonald GloverPaul Bettany.

Director: Ron Howard

The plot:

As the title would suggest, Solo is a stand alone tale linked to the Star Wars saga and deals with the earlier adventures of a young Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreichfrom his time on Corellia to his very first smuggling escapades.  We see him first meet with Chewbacca and Lando Calrissian as well as taking in his first flight aboard the Millennium Falcon and a certain card game involving that said legendary ship.

Screen Rant

The cast:

I think they just about got it right with casting the younger version of Han, Alden Ehrenreich gets the essence of Solo down quite well.  Some of the mannerisms shown where the very trademark of Harrison Ford but without the arrogance and cynicism that comes with age.  The same can be said of Donald Glover as Lando.  Also known under the stage name Childish Gambino, Glover gave Calrissian all the charm and swagger you would expect from the younger incarnation of Lando with just that extra bit of cockiness for good measure.  Outside of Game of Thrones I’ve never been all that impressed with Emilia Clarke, I’ve always found her to give quite insincere performances.  She does a little better here but not to any particularly high standards.  With Woody Harrelson and Paul Bettany, of course, you’re in safe hands and they play their parts with their usual professionalism and attention to detail.


The film:

I had massive reservations about Disney taking over the Star Wars franchise and was very concerned that quantity over quality would be an issue when I saw the schedule of releases.  After the prequel debacle, origin stories very rarely sit well within the Star Wars franchise.  That said, Rogue One was superb and, in my opinion, is vastly superior to Episodes VII and VIII.  Solo, however, was one of those characters we hoped would remain untouched so when this film was announced the worry began about destroying the legacy of Solo.  I needn’t have worried.  Solo is a great adventure story which plays out some of the events we’d heard so much about in the original trilogy.  The film includes as many of these said events as it can and joins them together into one very satisfying overall story.  As my cast review says, they’ve got it just right with the characters and everything links together very nicely under the watchful eye of Ron Howard.  It’s an exciting ride from start to finish and this is really the world you’d expect the young Han to be running around in.  It’s a very fun movie and steers clear of anything too dark for most of its running time but still throws in a couple of curveballs to keep it from being too predictable.

The Verdict: 3.5/5 Stars – Solo works

Solo: A Star Wars Story on IMDb

Solo: A Star Wars Story Official Website

Review: Deadpool 2 (2018)

Stars: Josh BrolinRyan ReynoldsMorena Baccarin

Director: David Leitch

The plot:

Deadpool (Ryan Reynoldsreturns to action, now a global operator, and is alerted to the coming arrival of Cable (Josh Brolin).  He sets about putting together his own group of superheroes in order to protect a young boy with powerful abilities from the advancing Cable.


The cast:

I’m pretty sure everyone enjoyed making this movie, not least Josh Brolin, but that doesn’t guarantee a good movie.  Brolin certainly looks the bad ass and meats out his own forms of destruction in fairly lively fashion. I think, however, that he won’t look back on this with too much pride.  Reynolds is just Reynolds, not much more to be said in his regard except maybe to say that this is only good in small amounts.  Eddie Marsan weighs in quietly with some menace as an evil headmaster. Zazie Beetz adds a little bit of class where there is none.


The film:

After enjoying the first Deadpool (review here) movie I had felt that this sequel could offer more of the same.  A more adult orientated superhero tale.  What I got just felt like an episode of a TV show that didn’t warrant my full attention.  The joke has worn off already and the story wasn’t really what I was expecting and went somewhere that I just found desperately dull.  The “to camera” spots are just so old now and the running joke about lazy writing made me wonder if they were really taking the mickey out of the viewer because the writing was just that, lazy!  In its defence there is some good action and the occasional laugh but nothing laugh out loud.

The Verdict: 2/5 Stars – Dead Poor

Deadpool 2 on IMDb

Deadpool 2 Official Website

Spoiler Free Review*: Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

Stars: Robert Downey Jr.Chris HemsworthMark RuffaloChris EvansBenedict CumberbatchJosh BrolinChris Pratt, Chadwick Boseman and a whole host of others.

Directors: Anthony RussoJoe Russo

*Review is spoiler free in the opinion of the author

The plot:

After the destruction of Asgard Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Loki (Tom Hiddleston) encounter Thanos (Josh Brolin) on his quest to acquire the six infinity stones that will give him complete control of the universe.  Two of the infinity stones reside on earth with Vision (Paul Bettany) and Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) so the earth based Avengers set about protecting them whilst the currently spacebound team try to deal with the seemingly unstoppable Thanos.  Differences between the defenders have to be shelved as the superheroes face their stiffest test and there are sacrifices to be made.

The cast:

We’ve talked about so many members of this cast in these roles for so many years now that it would not serve a great purpose to evaluate them here.  What is worth noting though is how so many superheroes in one film work with one another and what sort of chemistry can be noted.  Having so many of these comic book heroes crammed into a one hundred and fifty minute movie was always going to be a problem and I’m not convinced it was worth the hype this would create when the final movie was cut.  It’s almost as if Infinity War has been sliced in two.  A lot of characters do not share any scenes and they’re pretty much set up into two teams. In fairness, they seem to gel reasonably well within those dimensions but the film jumps from sequence to sequence without any real-time to build up relationships although Rocket and Thor enjoy some amusing moments and Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and Peter Parker (Tom Holland) build on what I presume they started in the Homecoming movie which I have not seen.  There’s also some verbal tennis between Strange and Stark which brings some more wry grins.  For the rest of the cast I will say that they gave what was required without putting any bells on it with the only real standout performance from Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff / Scarlet Witch.


The film:

I think I’ve highlighted what went wrong with Infinity War in my notes on the cast but it isn’t all bad.  As you would expect it’s a visually stunning movie and the only other fault I could mention is that it does feel long especially when a lot of the time isn’t used to better mix the characters but rather to squeeze more characters is.  Things are bleak for The Avengers and the film certainly puts that across not least in the concluding stages that really do make the leaving viewer wonder what can possibly come next.  I’ve always had an issue with the amount of MCU movies there are and how they all link together and whilst this may be quite a clever in terms of marketing it can be frustrating to the casual viewer.  That said, this is a film you can watch and be totally immersed in without really having seen another Marvel movie previously.  It is a spectacle that really should be see at the cinema and I don’t consider the movie a disappointment by any stretch of the imagination I just feel some of the volume in characters could have been sacrificed in favour of character interactions and development.

The Verdict: 3/5 Stars – Too many superheroes spoil the broth but the taste isn’t sour

Avengers: Infinity War on IMDb

The Avengers Official Website