Rocketman (2019) – Hello Yellow Brick Road

Released: 30th May
Seen: 25th May (Advance Screening)

Last year I reviewed a little indie film called Bohemian Rhapsody, you might have heard of it. At the end of that review, I gave the film a 3 and a half rating, a good score for a good film but the more I’ve ruminated on it, the more I realise how the film just isn’t that good. If I were to review it today it’d probably get a 2 and a half star rating. That’s kind of the fun thing about reviewing, as you watch more films you build up a bigger library of references and can spot flaws easier. So when I saw the trailer for Rocketman, I was ready to be a lot more critical about the film. I was ready to not be won over by whimsy but to actually do this properly, and when I found out that the director of Rocketman was the same man who was brought in to replace Bryan Singer on Bohemian Rhapsody after everyone finally realised that Bryan Singer is a bit of an asshole (to put it lightly) I was excited. This is it, a do-over, a chance to try again and make sure that this time I spot a gaudy mess for what it is… and then they just had to screw up my plans by actually producing a fun enchanting film that put the biggest smile on my face. I swear, it’s almost unfair.

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Aladdin (2019) – Friend Like Meh

Released: 23rd May
Seen:23rd May

When we think of the Disney Renaissance we think of this brief period between 1989 and 1999 when Disney was putting out hit after hit, some of the best films that appear in their catalogue. Right in the front end of that list, dropping in 1992 is the film Aladdin. Based on the Arabic folktale, Aladdin remains one of Disney’s most beloved films. It’s a simple love story, enchanting tunes and, of course, its legendary performance by the late Robin Williams has cemented it into cinema history. Even today the original film holds up with great comedy and award-winning songs that everyone knows. A Whole New World, Friend Like Me, Prince Ali, these are some of the best songs ever put on film. The movie was such a hit it led to two direct-to-video sequels (one of them is actually good) and a TV series that everyone who was a child in the 90s watched. There’s even an adaptation of the show on Broadway but one thing that there will never be is a live-action film remake… at least, that’s what I thought until we inexplicably let Disney think that it would be acceptable to plunder their vaults and turn their classic animated films into subpar live action drivel, but apparently we’re allowing that now so guess what I have to do right now? That’s right, weep and cry because I had to watch this bland lifeless thing that alleges to be a movie.

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Brightburn (2019) – Look, Up In The Sky!

Released: 23rd May
Seen:22nd May (Advance Screening)

Later this year we’re going to be getting an animated TV series focussed around the What If comic series. A very simple setup, the series would ask questions like “What if Iron Man had been a traitor?” or “What if Sgt. Fury had fought World War II in outer space?” It’s a fascinating idea that allows for some potentially funny and potentially silly results. It’s also an idea that would allow Superheroes to appear in something other than a big bombastic action film. It’s with this in mind that I walked into Brightburn with a general sense of excitement because the promotional trailers told me right away that this was going to be answering a “What If…?” question that I didn’t even know that I wanted the answer to… What if Damien from The Omen turned out to be Superman?

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Red Joan (2019) – Communism Is Just A Red Herring

Released: 6th June
Seen:22nd May (Advance Screening)

Do you know what’s the hardest part of these reviews to write? This opening paragraph that is always placed above a cut so when you look on the main page you get this little paragraph that provides a little bit of context, either context for the series the movie is part of or maybe a personal story so you can understand where I’m coming from when I talk about a certain film. The idea behind this format is that if you were to scroll through and read the opening paragraph, it might catch your eye and make you read it. It provides a jumping off point, like an introduction to an essay and they’re insanely hard to write because it requires me to find a way to hint at my feelings about the film without going into detail. It’s a taste-test that I offer you to get you to read on and when a movie is great they can be a lot of fun to write and when a movie is awful, they’re even more fun to write. But what about when a film is so middle of the road and so pointless that not only do I not have anything interesting to say about its inception, but its lack of purpose makes me spend a two-hour train ride pondering “Just how the hell am I going to talk about this?”. Well, Red Joan is here to test just how much I can get out of one of the most boring films I’ve seen in a while… which is weird to say about a film with Russian spies stealing nuclear secrets but that’s what we have.

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The Hustle (2019) – Don’t Do It!

Released: 9th May
Seen:17th May

In December of 1988, Frank Oz released his first film to not include a puppet. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, based on the 1964 film Bedtime Story, followed two conmen who make a bet to see who can get fifty thousand dollars out of a wealthy heiress. It starred Steve Martin and Michael Caine, the latter of which would go on to be nominated for a Golden Globe for his performance (which he would lose to Tom Hanks for Big). The film was a rousing success, netting $42 million at the box office, letting it land in the top 25 grossing films of that year. To put that in perspective, if you adjust for inflation that comes to $94 million… which is a box office total that I highly doubt The Hustle would achieve even if they weren’t releasing it when Avengers, Detective Pikachu and other good movies were owning the box office.

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Someone Great (2019) – Something Very Above Average

Released: 19th April
Seen: 13th May

Someone Great Info.png

Is it just me or does Netflix have a weird habit of hiring actors from the CW network and giving them a cheesy romcom to play around with? We had that very recently with The Last Summer and The Perfect Date, two movies that were certainly watchable but nothing really worth writing home about (but totally worth writing a thousand words on the internet about because that is apparently my life now) and both of them have already been basically forgotten. There’s even another one coming out later on this month called Always Be My Maybe and heck, maybe that one’ll end up being the one that is just a little bit better than “Ah, it’s pretty good” because we’re still at “Ah, it’s pretty good” levels right now with another film in this genre.

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Wine Country (2019) – *Insert bad wine pun here*

Released: 10th May
Seen: 11th May

Wine Country

Sometimes, in order to make a good comedy, you just need a good comic actor and let nature take its course. Half of the movies by people like Robin Williams or Eddie Murphy are testaments to just what you can do when you get someone who is naturally funny and let them loose on film. So when the basic description of a film can be boiled down to “half a dozen of the funniest women on SNL go to Napa and drink wine for 90 minutes” I was all in, it’s a simple plot that is basically designed to have the actresses show off just what they can do and to come up with some good comedy… I mean, I’m sure that was the intention but let’s talk about the execution of that idea.

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