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We have spent a lot of the 21st century gazing at the stars, or at least CGI versions of them.  The century started with the second and third movies in the Star Wars prequels trilogy, Attack of the Clones (2002), and Revenge of the Sith (2005).  A series of films that are constantly being revaluated, I’m not sure if they are officially good or bad at the moment.  Star Trek ran out of steam, with the last movie from the Next Generation Crew Star Trek: Nemesis (2002) not being very good.  But then in J. J. Abrams came along and with the help of some wibbily wobbly timey wimey stuff (if I may quote a TV series in an article about movies) created a new timeline to retell the story of the original crew of the enterprise.  The first film Star Trek (2009) was excellent, the second Star Trek Into Darkness (2013), then Abrams jumped ship and the third film Star Trek Beyond (2016) directed by Justin Lin was a partial return to form.  There may be a fourth film in the series eventually, it keeps getting pushed back or going into turnaround.  There may also be a further film in the universe that by Quentin Tarantino, that is looking less and less likely. Star Trek Wars

The reason J. J. Abrams jumped (space)ship, was to go and work for the enemy, Star Wars.  The director of the first and final movies in a new trilogy, a third and final trilogy to bring the Skywalker saga to an end.  The films came about after Disney’s acquisition of Lucas Film (for a staggering amount of money).  All three films have their fans and detractors in a hugely polarized and quite amusing social media battle among a certain type of fanboy.  For me, the middle film, The Last Jedi (2017) written and directed  by Rian Johnson is the best (and the most controversial).  The Force Awakens (2015) is the safest of the three, but good fun and it introduces some great characters, and brings back some old favourites.  The Rise of Skywalker (2019) is certainly the weakest but is still good fun and gets to a satisfying end (except for that certain group of fanboys).  Along the way, we also got two Star Wars Anthology films, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016) tells the story of the events leading up to the origonal 1977 film, and for me is the best film outside the original trilogy.  The flipside to that, Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) is totally unnecessary origin story of fan favourite Han Solo.  it isn’t terrible, just pointless.The end of the Skywalker sagaNot satisfied with just Star Wars, Disney went to space with their other big acquired property: Marvel.  They started in 2014 when they took a less well know Marvel property Guardians of the Galaxy and had a smash hit with a more, fun and comic take on the superhero genre.  a sequel Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2 (2017) followed.  To be fair parts of The Avengers movies were also set in space, and Thor is from another planet.  It wasn’t until Thor: Ragnarok (2017), Taika Waititi’s brilliant but bonkers take on the character that you would call it a space adventure.  After a decade, and about 20 movies Disney finally gave a woman a leading role in a Marvel movie.  While a lot of the movie is based on earth, Captain Marvel (2019) is an intergalactic character, as is Marvels big bad Thanos.  All the characters of the MCU came together to fight an intergalactic battle with the big purple one in Avengers Infinity War (2018) and the biggest film of all time (if you don’t adjust for inflation) Avengers Endgame 2019.  That brings us nicely onto Avatar (2009), with an even higher boxoffice if you adjust for inflation.  James Cameron’s first movie since 1997 when he made a little film about a shipwreck.  As you would expect from Cameron, it made great advances in effects and technology, especially in 3D.  I am not a fan.  As yet he hasn’t made another film yet, but understand he is filming about 100 sequels back to back with the first due for release in about two years. Marvel goes to spaceDC’s ventures into space were less successful.  The Green Lantern (2011) about a group of intergalactic supper powered policemen was rubbish.  Man of Steel (2013) was a reboot of a 1970’s movie about a man called Kal-El who is sent to earth as a baby before his home planet is destroyed.  He ends up fighting against bodies from his home world.  It isn’t bad, but not as good as the 1978, and 1980 movies, and like those movies, all subsequent sequels are terrible. DC and AliensRidley Scott decided that we were all wrong, the most interesting thing about his Movie Alien (1979), and James Cameron’s sequel to it Aliens (1987), wasn’t the Xenomorph, or Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley.  It wasn’t the brilliant world building of the story where corporations are more powerful than countries.  He decided the derelict alien ship, and how the Aliens got there was more important.  He then gave us two extremely average films, Prometheus (2012), and Alien Covenant (2017).  There are some excellent characters that aren’t used very well, and some who don’t know how to run to the side.  almost realLets not be too tough on Ridley Scott, he has given us an excellent movie in the genre, The Martian (2015).  The story of a man left behind on Mars.  This is part of a crop of Sci-Fi movies that feel more realistic and closer to where we are now than Star Wars or Star Trek.  The pick of these for me was Gravity (2013).  A film so spectacular in IMAX 3D (the only good 3D experience I have had) that I have not re-watched it again, it just won’t be the same on TV.  Other films in this sub genre could include Christopher Nolan’s excellent Interstellar (2014), Danny Boyle’s underrated Sunshine (2007), Claire Denis bleak but brilliant High Life (2018), and James Gray’s disappointing Ad Astra (2019).   A film doesn’t have to be fiction, or particularly outlandish to be compelling, providing it is told well, and there are two such examples from the last two years: Damien Chazelle’s telling of the first man on the moon, Neil Armstrong in the film First Man (2018), and the documentary on the same subject: Apollo 11 (2019).  The latter is breathtaking look at the mission using stunning NASA images, no talking heads, or voiceover. smerfs monkeys aliens and the sunI wouldn’t include Passengers (2016) in the list of realist sci-fi movies, as it is too glossy and Sci-Fi, it is however worth seeing for the interesting plot, that is more disturbing the more you think about it.  Part of the premise of the film is people in hypersleep on their way to a distant planet.  Obviously something always goes wrong in these movies.  Others worth watching are: Pandorum (2009) a film that takes these ideas, and gives them a horror and survival adventure spin.  Pitch Black (2000) is an even better take on the horror space adventure, possibly the best and most original since the first two Alien films.  It’s sequel The Chronicles of Riddick (2004), was terrible, but the third film Riddick (2013) isn’t bad, although its attempt to recreate the original are a little forced.  Life (2017) has the almost real world setting, a fictionalised version of The International Space Station, it rapidly turns into Alien when an alien life form gets loose.  It isn’t Alien, but it isn’t bad. Horror in spaceThe man who gave us The Fifth Element (1997) Luc Besson, was back this century, with another bold and bonkers tale: Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017).  The film had mixed reviews, as Besson’s work often does, I liked it.  The title is a little misleading and under serves one of its characters, based on the French science fiction comics series Valérian and Laureline; Laureline is the more interesting character and probably has a larger part in the story than Valérian.  That asside, it is bright and bold and like nothing else, except maybe The Fifth Element!a mix of fact and fantasy (1)Saving the best for last.  When I went to see Joss Whedon’s Serenity (2005), I had not seen (or even heard of) Firefly, I have since watched the whole (short) series more than once.  The movie is nothing short of a masterpiece.  It works whether you have seen the TV show or not.  It is all the more impressive, as it was Whedon’s feature debut as a director.  The budget was less than $40million or about a quarter of Revenge of the Sith that came out the same year.  This doesn’t show, as the film looks amazing, largely thanks to clever photography and practice sets/effects over CGI.  Ticking every box for a space adventure, and a western, the film is fun, and often very funny, but there is a far deeper message about society, about right and wrong, but it is far more nuanced than anything you will get from Disney or Star Wars, it isn’t black and white, or light and dark, The Alliance is not The Empire!SerenityI have probably missed lots, but these are the ones that spring to mind.  I pleased to say the genre is in good health at the movies, and on TV, but that will have to be an entire article in itself. 

I normally post my Movie of the Month on the first of each month, this was pushed back as I decided to look at my top ten of the year, and spoiler, one of this month’s movies crept into my top ten.  Here are the nine films I saw at the cinema in December bringing my screening total for the year to 104:

Knives Out – Rian Johnson’s homage to whodunit movies in the vein of Agatha Christie works both on the surface as a frothy thriller but more importantly as an hilarious parody.  The all star cast is fantastic especially Daniel Craig as the detective Benoit Blanc. Knives out

Motherless Brooklyn – Writer, director and star Edward Norton has been working on this passion project for about two decades.  Based on contemporary novel from the 1990’s by Jonathan Lethem, Norton has transported the story back to the 1950’s.  The period setting gives it a strangely more relevant story both tonally and thematically certainly more so than a 90’s or contemporary setting would have given.  The setting also helps the film to look fantastic, and sound even better thanks to a jazz soundtrack. Motherless Brooklyn

Jumanji: The Next Level – More of the same from Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.  As you would expect from a sequel, it lacks the originality, and therefore the surprise of the previous film, but is still tremendous fun largely thanks to the fantastic cast particularly Karen Gillan, and Dwayne Johnson.Jumanji The Next Level

A Beautiful Day In the Neighbourhood – I had never even heard of Fred Rogers until this film was made, but understand he was a big deal in America.  The brilliance of Marielle Heller’s movie is all the exposition is neatly handles by the character of Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys), a journalist writing about Fred Rogers.  Tom Hanks is outstanding as Rogers.Tom Hanks (Finalized)

JoJo Rabbit – A satirical comedy about a ten year old member of Hitler Youth, whose imaginary friend is an incarnation of Hitler, sounds like a bad idea.  But when the Writer, Director, Hitler is Taika Waititi it all strangely works.  The film is light and very funny, that makes it even more hard hitting in the serious moments.  An absolute masterpiece. JoJo Rabbit

The Nightingale – I have been waiting five years Jennifer Kent’s follow up to The Babadook, it was worth the wait.  What has been tagged as a revenge thriller, but it is so much more than that, a damning indictment of colonialism it is brutal but never gratuitous.The-Nightingale

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker – The end of the Skywalker saga, again!  Not as good as The Last Jedi, but has some great moments and a fitting end to the trilogy. Star Wars The Rise of Skywalker - Copy

Judy & Punch – Punch &  Judy dates back around 500 years, and is certainly not what you would call politically correct, it therefore sounds like a strange thing for director Mirrah Foulkes feature début about domestic abuse.  It bizarrely works, and is a hugely satisfying feminist fable about empowerment.  Mia Wasikowska is amazing as ever!Judy & punch

Little Women – Many of the best films set in the past tell us about both how things are not just how things were, films like Motherless Brooklyn! But some films go beyond that, they also gives us a glimpse of how they could be, Greta Gerwig’s adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s often told story is one such film.  Saiorse Ronan is getting a lot of praise for her performance, but Florence Pugh absolutely steels the movie.  An early career masterpiece from Gerwig makes me wonder what she will do next!Little Women

A fantastic month of movies; Knives Out, and A Beautiful Day In the Neighbourhood, Motherless Brooklyn  are good enough to have won in many other months.  JoJo Rabbit, Judy & punch, and Little Women are even better, but also miss out to the outstanding movie of the month, that also made my top ten of the year: The NightingaleThe Nightingale Poster

  • Inception
  • The Secret in Their Eyes
  • Monsters
  • Winter’s Bone
  • Kick-Ass
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
  • The Social Network
  • Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
  • The Road
  • The Ghost
  • Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans
  • Another Year
  • Shutter Island
  • Up in the Air
  • A Prophet
  • Whip It!
  • Made in Dagenham
  • The Disappearance of Alice Creed
  • Easy A
  • 4.3.2.1
  • The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest
  •  The Kids Are All Right
  • The Killer Inside Me
  • [•rec]2
  • Valhalla Rising
  • Chico & Rita
  • Toy Story 3
  • The Town
  • Green Zone
  • Micmacs
  • Cemetery Junction
  • Four Lions
  • The American
  • Unstoppable
  • Robin Hood
  • Crazy Heart
  • The Hole
  • Let Me In
  • Precious
  • Buried
  • Predators
  • Machete
  • Tron: Legacy
  • The Brothers Bloom
  • The Book of Eli
  • Heartless
  • Love and Other Drugs
  • The Girl Who Played With Fire
  • A Single Man 
  • We Are What We Are
  • Salt
  • Resident Evil: Afterlife
  • Splice
  • Iron Man 2
  • Centurion
  • Brooklyn’s Finest
  • Chloe
  • Daybreakers
  • The Crazies
  • The Karate Kid
  • The Twilight Saga: Eclipse
  • Remember Me
  • The Blind side
  • The Runaways
  • Invictus
  • RED
  • Gainsbourg
  • London Boulevard
  • Letters to Juliet
  • Alice in Wonderland
  • Youth in Revolt
  • Mr. Nice
  • Frozen
  • The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud
  • Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
  • F
  • Prince Of Persia: The Sands of Time
  • 44 Inch Chest
  • The Expendables
  • The A Team
  • The Losers
  • The Tourist
  • Knight and Day
  • Brothers
  • Tamara Drewe
  • Hot Tub Time Machine
  • The Sorcerer’s Apprentice
  • Solomon Kane
  • Black Death
  • Legion
  • Burlesque
  • The Warrior’s Way
  • Piranha
  • The Joneses
  • Due Date
  • Takers
  • Clash of the Titans
  • Skyline
  • Valentines Day
  • Edge of Darkness
  • From Paris with Love
  • The Lovely Bones
  • Ninja Assassin
  • The Wolfman
  • Devil –
  • Repo Men
  • Shelter
  • Hugo
  • Drive
  • The Guard
  • Black Swan
  • Senna
  • Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
  • True Grit
  • We Need to Talk About Kevin
  • Midnight In Paris
  • The Skin I live in
  • The King’s Speech
  • Moneyball
  • Stake Land
  • Kill List
  • The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
  • Another Earth
  • Melancholia
  • Warrior
  • 127 Hours
  • The Way
  • Julia’s Eyes
  • Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol
  • Troll Hunter
  • 50/50
  • Source Code
  • Submarine
  • Super 8
  • 13 Assassins
  • A Lonely Place To Die
  • The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec
  • The Adjustment Bureau
  • X-Men: First Class
  • Thor
  • Captain America: The First Avenger
  • Limitless
  • My Week With Marilyn
  • The Inbetweeners Movie
  • Take Shelter
  • The Rum Diary
  • Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 2
  • The Ides Of March
  • Real Steel
  • Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
  • Fair Game
  • Never Let Me Go
  • Blue Valentine
  • Tree Of Life
  • The Lincoln Lawyer
  • The Help
  • In Time
  • The Awakening
  • Sucker Punch
  • Fast Five
  • Hanna
  • Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark
  • Wuthering Heights
  • Contagion
  • The Fighter
  • Paul
  • Animal Kingdom
  • NEDS
  • Rabbit Hole
  • One Day
  • John Carpenter’s The Ward
  • Drive Angry
  • The Beaver
  • Beginners
  • Bridesmaids
  • Red State
  • Cowboys and Aliens
  • Rise of the Planet of the Apes
  • The Conspirator
  • The Art of Getting By
  • I am Number Four
  • Fright Night
  • Henry’s Crime
  • Blitz
  • Priest
  • Red Riding Hood
  • Oranges and Sunshine
  • Faster
  • 1920 The Battle of Warsaw
  • Win Win
  • Colombiana
  • Water for Elephants
  • Immortals
  • Battle: Los Angeles
  • 30 Minutes or Less
  • Hereafter
  • Biutiful
  • The Mechanic
  • The Thing
  • The Three Musketeers
  • Anonymous
  • Tomorrow, When The War Began
  • The Debt
  • Green Lantern
  • The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1
  • Footlose
  • Justice
  • Attack the Block
  • Apollo 18
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
  • Unkown
  • Scream 4
  • The Silent House
  • The Eagle
  • The Resident
  • Season of the Witch
  • Transformers: Dark of the Moon
  • The Hangover: Part II
  • Sanctum
  • Skyfall
  • The Artist
  • The Dark Knight Rises
  • Moonrise Kingdom
  • Argo
  • Moonrise Kingdom
  • Haywire
  • Rust and Bone
  • Café de Flore
  • End of Watch
  • The Avengers
  • Killer Joe
  • Life of Pi
  • Looper
  • The Hunger Games
  • The Master
  • The Raid
  • Wild Bill
  • Headhunters
  • Young Adult
  • The Descendants
  • Killing Them Softly
  • Prometheus
  • The Cabin in the Woods
  • Untouchable
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower
  • The Woman in Black
  • Shame
  • Seven Psychopaths
  • Lockout
  • Silver Linings Playbook
  • On the Road
  • Ruby Sparks
  • The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
  • Lawless
  • Cosmopolis
  • Marley
  • Sightseers
  • The Amazing Spider-Man
  • The Last Projectionist
  • The Impostor
  • The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
  • Frankenweenie
  • Beasts Of The Southern Wild
  • Dredd
  • Chronicle
  • Shadow Dancer
  • The Sapphires
  • Storage 24
  • The Grey
  • In Darkness
  • Jack Reacher
  • Liberal Arts
  • COSMOPOLIS
  • A Dangerous Method
  • Like Crazy
  • Premium Rush
  • Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
  • The Expendables 2
  • 2 Days in New York
  • How I Spent My Summer Vacation
  • 21 Jump Street
  • Savages
  • Ted
  • Fast Girls
  • Total Recall
  • Pitch Perfect
  • All in Good Time
  • How I spent my summer vacation
  • Brave
  • Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2
  • Red Tails
  • Gone
  • Rampart
  • Carnage
  • Contraband
  • The Raven
  • Hunky Dory
  • Snow White and the Huntsman
  • The Bourne Legacy
  • Underworld: Awakening
  • Resident Evil: Retribution
  • Gambit
  • Safe House
  • Safe
  • Dark Shadows
  • J. Edgar
  • War Horse
  • Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
  • Rock Of Ages
  • The Man with the Iron Fists
  • Silent House
  • Battleship
  • Cold Light of Day
  • Wrath of the Titans
  • Man on a Ledge
  • John Carter
  • Taken 2
  • Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
  • Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance
  • Mirror Mirror
  • The Iron Lady
  • The Darkest Hour
  • QuartetQuartet
  • The Impossible
  • Les Misérables
  • Gangster Squad
  • Django Unchained
  • The Last Stand
  • Zero Dark Thirty
  • Sep
  • Hyde Park on Hudson
  • Hitchcock
  • Lincoln
  • Flight
  • Beautiful Creatures
  • Bullet to the Head
  • A Good Day to Die Hard
  • Warm Bodies
  • Amour
  • Hansel & Gretel Witch Hunters
  • Mama
  • Cloud Atlas
  • Stoker
  • Arbitrage
  • Side Effects
  • Oz the Great and Powerful
  • Parker
  • Welcome to the Punch
  • In The House
  • The Paperboy
  • Vinyl
  • Compliance
  • Trance
  • Stolen
  • G I Joe Retaliation
  • The Host
  • Jack the Giant Slayer
  • Dark Skies
  • Spring Breakers
  • Papadopoulos & Sons
  • Oblivion
  • The Place Beyond the Pines
  • Olympus Has Fallen
  • Evil Dead
  • Iron Man 3
  • I’m So Excited
  • The Look Of Love
  • Dead Man Down
  • Star Trek Into Darkness
  • Mud
  • The Great Gatsby
  • Fast and Furious 6
  • Byzantium
  • The Purge
  • Populaire
  • The Ice Man
  • After Earth
  • Behind the Candelabra
  • Now You See Me
  • Man of Steel
  • Before Midnight
  • World War Z
  • Snitch
  • The East
  • The Bling Ring
  • Chasing Mavericks
  • Pacific Rim
  • The Frozen Ground
  • The Worlds End
  • The Wolverine
  • Frances Ha
  • Only God Forgives
  • The Conjuring
  • RED 2
  • Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa
  • Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters
  • The Lone Ranger
  • 2 Guns
  • About Time
  • Kick-Ass 2
  • The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones
  • Elysium
  • Rush
  • You’re Next
  • Riddick
  • White House Down
  • Ain’t Them Bodies Saints
  • The Call
  • Prisoners
  • Blue Jasmine
  • Runner Runner
  • Girl Most Likely
  • How I Live Now
  • Metallica Through The Never
  • Rurouni Kenshin
  • Filth
  • Captain Phillips
  • Sunshine on Leith
  • Machete Kills
  • Prince Avalanche
  • Escape Plan
  • Ender’s Game
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street
  • Thor: The Dark World
  • Philomena
  • Gravity
  • In Fear
  • The Counsellor
  • Flu
  • The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
  • Saving Mr. Banks
  • Carrie
  • Kill Your Darlings
  • Nebraska
  • Homefront
  • Getaway
  • Oldboy
  • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
  • 47 Ronin
  • All Is Lost
  • The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
  • American Hustle
  • 12 Years a Slave
  • Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
  • The Wolf of Wall Street
  • Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
  • August: Osage County
  • Inside Llewyn Davis
  • Out of the Furnace
  • Dallas Buyers Club
  • I, Frankenstein
  • Robocop
  • Lone Survivor
  • The Monuments Men
  • Jack Strong
  • Her
  • Only Lovers Left Alive
  • Stalingrad
  • The Lego Movie
  • 300 Rise of an Empire
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • The Zero Theorem
  • Need For Speed
  • Under The Skin
  • Starred Up
  • A Long Way Down
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  • The Double
  • DivergentNoah
  • The Last Days on Mars
  • The Raid 2
  • The Amazing Spider-Man 2
  • Locke
  • Transcendence
  • Brick Mansions
  • Pompeii
  • Blue Ruin
  • Sabotage
  • Next Goal Wins
  • Two Faces of January
  • Godzilla
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past
  • Maleficent
  • Edge of Tomorrow
  • 22 Jump Street
  • Belle
  • Oculus
  • 3 Days to Kill
  • Jersey Boys
  • Cold in July
  • Chef
  • Transformers: Age Of Extinction
  • Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
  • Boyhood
  • Begin Again
  • The Purge: Anarchy
  • Hercules
  • Guardians of the Galaxy
  • What If
  • The Inbetweeners 2
  • The Expendables 3
  • The Rover
  • Lucy
  • Deliver Us From Evil
  • Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
  • Million Dollar Arm
  • As Above, So Below
  • The Guest
  • The Guvnors
  • Before I Go to Sleep
  • The Hundred-Foot Journey
  • A Most Wanted Man
  • 20,000 Days on Earth
  • Pride
  • A Walk Amongst the Tombstones
  • Magic in the Moonlight
  • The Riot Club
  • The Giver
  • Maps To The Stars
  • I Origins
  • What We Did on Our Holiday
  • The Equelizer
  • Gone Girl
  • Dracula Untold
  • The Imitation Game
  • The Maze Runner
  • ’71
  • The Judge
  • The Babadook
  • Annabelle
  • Nightcrawler
  • Fury
  • Serena
  • Mr. Turner
  • The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman
  • Say When
  • Interstellar
  • The Drop
  • The Hunger Games: Mockingjay
  • The Homesman
  • Get On Up
  • Paddington
  • Black Sea
  • The Grandmaster
  • The Pyramid
  • The Hobbit
  • Big Eyes
  • Unbroken
  • Exodus: Gods And Kings
  • Birdman Or (The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance
  • The Theory Of Everything
  • Into the Woods
  • Taken 3
  • American Sniper
  • Whiplash
  • Wild
  • Ex Machina
  • A Most Violent Year
  • Kingsman: The Secret Service
  • The Gambler
  • Inherent Vice
  • Trash
  • Jupiter Ascending
  • Selma
  • Focus
  • Fifty Shades of Grey
  • Blackhat
  • Project Almanac
  • It Follows
  • Predestination
  • The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
  • Kill The Messenger
  • X + Y
  • Still Alice
  • Suite Française
  • The Divergent Series Insurgent
  • The Gunman
  • Run All Night
  • Wild Card
  • Seventh Son
  • Fast & Furious 7
  • While We’re Young
  • John Wick
  • Cinderella
  • Good Kill
  • The Woman in Gold
  • The Salvation
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron
  • Child 44
  • The Falling
  • Far from the Madding Crowd
  • Unfriended
  • Big Game
  • Top Five
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • Pitch Perfect 2
  • Spooks: The Greater Good
  • Tomorrowland
  • The Connection
  • Man Up
  • Danny Collins
  • Survivor
  • Mr Holmes
  • The Longest Ride
  • Knock Knock
  • Amy
  • The Terminator
  • Terminator Genisys
  • Love & Mercy
  • Ant-Man
  • Self/Less
  • Southpaw
  • Inside Out
  • Maggie
  • Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation
  • Fantastic Four
  • The Gift
  • Precinct Seven Five
  • The Man From U.N.C.L.E.
  • Trainwreck
  • Paper Towns
  • Hitman: Agent 47
  • No Escape
  • We Are Your Friends
  • Straight Outta Compton
  • The Transporter Refuelled
  • Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
  • American Ultra
  • Ricki And The Flash
  • Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials
  • Legend
  • Everest
  • The Visit
  • A Walk in the Woods
  • Sicario
  • The Martian
  • McFarland
  • Macbeth
  • The Walk
  • The Intern
  • Regression
  • Suffragette
  • Crimson Peak
  • The Program
  • Black Mass
  • The Lobster
  • The Last Witch Hunter
  • SPECTRE
  • He Named Me Malala
  • Brooklyn
  • Kill Your Friends
  • The Lady in the Van
  • The Hallow
  • The Hunger Games Mockingjay part 2
  • Steve Jobs
  • Bridge of Spies
  • Carol
  • True Romance (BFI Love Season)
  • Krampus
  • Victor Frankenstein
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  • Doctor Zhivago (BFI Love Season)
  • joy
  • The Danish Girl
  • The Hateful Eight
  • The Revenant
  • Creed
  • Room
  • The 5th Wave
  • The Big Short
  • Our Brand Is Crisis 
  • Spotlight
  • Youth
  • 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi
  • Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
  • Point Break
  • Goosebumps
  • Deadpool
  • Concussion
  • A Bigger Splash
  • Triple 9
  • The Secret in Their Eyes
  • Hail Caesar 
  • How to be Single
  • The Witch
  • Divergent Allegiant
  • Anomslisa
  • 10 Cloverfield Lane
  • High-Rise
  • Batman v Superman Dawn of Justice
  • Disorder
  • Eddie the Eagle
  • The Huntsman: Winter’s War.
  • Midnight Special
  • The Man Who Knew Infinity
  • Eye in the Sky
  • Bastille Day
  • Louder Than Bombs
  • Miles Ahead
  • Captain America Civil War
  • Zootropolis
  • The Jungle Book
  • Sing Street
  • Our Kind of Traitor
  • Everybody Wants Some!!
  • Florence Foster Jenkins
  • Green Room
  • X Men Apocalypse
  • Whisky Tango Foxtrot
  • A Hologram for the King
  • The Nice Guys
  • Warcraft: the Beginning
  • Race
  • The Conjuring 2
  • Independence Day Resurgence
  • Now You See Me 2
  • The Neon Demon
  • Ghostbusters
  • The Legend of Tarzan
  • Star Trek Beyond
  • Jason Bourne
  • Suicide Squad
  • Nerve
  • The Shallows
  • Julieta
  • Lights Out
  • Swallows and Amazons
  • The Purge: Election Year
  • The Mechanic: Resurrection
  • Brotherhood
  • Hell or High Water
  • Morgan
  • Cafe Society
  • One More Time With Feeling
  • Don’t Breathe
  • Anthropoid
  • The Girl With all the Gifts
  • Blair Witch
  • The Hunt for the Wilderpeople
  • The Infiltrator
  • Kubo and the Two Strings
  • The Magnificent Seven
  • Swiss Army Man
  • Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children
  • Blood Farther
  • The girl on the Train
  • War on Everyone
  • American Honey
  • Deepwater Horizon
  • Inferno
  • Jack Reacher: Never Go Back
  • The Accountant
  • Doctor Strange
  • Train To Busan
  • I, Daniel Blake
  • Nocturnal Animals
  • Arrival
  • The Light Between Oceans
  • The Beatles: Eight Days A Week – The Touring Years
  • Fantastic Beast and Where to Find Them
  • A United Kingdom
  • Paterson
  • Allied
  • Edge of Seventeen
  • Sully
  • Snowden
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars story
  • Passengers
  • Silence
  • Assassins Creed
  • Live by Night
  • Manchester by the Sea
  • Donnie Darko 15th anniversary Re-issue
  • Underworld Blood Wars
  • A Monster Calls
  • La La Land
  • Trainspotting
  • XXX: Return of Xander Cage
  • Split
  • Jackie
  • T2 Trainspotting
  • Denial
  • Hacksaw Ridge
  • Resident Evil: The Final Chapter
  • Hidden Figures
  • Loving
  • Fifty Shades Darker
  • Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk
  • 20th Century Women 
  • John Wick: Chapter 2
  • Lion
  • Logan
  • Trespass Against Us
  • Moonlight
  • The Great Wall
  • The LEGO Batman Movie
  • Kong: Skull Island
  • Viceroy’s House
  • Fences
  • Free Fire
  • Personal Shopper
  • Get Out
  • Life
  • Power Rangers
  • Ghost in the Shell
  • Raw
  • Table 19
  • Fast and Furious 8
  • The Handmaiden
  • I Am Not Your Negro
  • The Belko Experiment
  • Rules Don’t Apply
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
  • Their Finest
  • Mad Max: Fury Road – Black & Chrome
  • Lady MacBeth
  • Lowriders
  • Sleepless
  • Unlocked
  • Miss Sloane
  • Alien: Covenant
  • Colossal
  • King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
  • Wonder Woman
  • Gifted
  • The Mummy
  • My Cousin Rachel
  • Baby Driver
  • Churchill
  • The Book of Henry
  • Transformers: The Last Knight
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming
  • It comes at Night
  • War for the Planet of the Apes
  • The Beguiled
  • Dunkirk
  • The Big Sick
  • Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
  • Atomic Blonde
  • A Ghost Story
  • Overdrive
  • The Dark Tower
  • Annabelle: Creation
  • American Made
  • Logan Lucky
  • Detroit
  • Patti Cake$
  • Wind River
  • Gods Own Country
  • Mother!
  • Kingsman: The Golden Circle
  • IT
  •  Borg vs Macnroe
  • Home Again
  • Goodbye Christopher Robin
  • Blade Runner 2049
  • The Snowman
  • Double Date
  • The Death of Stalin
  • The Party
  • Happy Death Day
  • Thor: Ragnarok
  • Breathe
  • Murder on the Orient Express
  • The Killing of a Sacred Deer
  • Professor Marston & the Wonder Women
  • The Florida Project
  • Paddington
  • Justice League
  • Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool
  • Battle of the Sexes
  • Ingrid Goes West
  • Molly’s Game
  • Good Time
  • The Man Who Invented Christmas
  • Blade of the Immortal
  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi
  • The Disaster Artist
  • Pitch Perfect 3
  •  Jumanji: Welcome yo the Jungle
  • The Greatest Showman
  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
  • Hostiles
  • All the Money in the World
  • Happy End
  • Darkest Hour
  • The Commuter
  • The Post
  • Coco
  • Downsizing
  • 12 Strong
  • Early Man
  • The Shape of Water
  • Maze Runner: The Death Cure
  • Phantom Thread
  • Roman J Israel, Esq
  • I, Tonya
  • Loveless
  • Black Panther
  • Fifty Shades Freed
  • Lady Bird
  • Dark River
  • Game Night
  • Red Sparrow
  • Wonder Wheel
  • You Were Never Really Here
  • Gringo
  • Mom and Dad
  • Love, Simon
  • Tomb Raider
  • Ready Player One
  • Martyrs (10 year anniversary screening)
  • Unsane
  • Pacific Rim: Uprising
  • Isle of Dogs
  • A Wrinkle in Time
  • A Quiet Place
  • Thoroughbreds
  • Ghost Stories
  • Death Wish
  • Beast
  • Funny Cow
  • Every Day
  • Wildling
  • Avengers: Infinity War
  • Battle Royale
  • Audition
  • Tully
  • Journeyman
  • Breaking In
  • Revenge
  •  Deadpool 2
  • Filmworker
  • Solo: A Star Wars Story
  • On Chesil Beach
  • Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
  • Bobby Robson More than a Manager
  • Animal World
  • Leave no Trace
  • Sicario 2: Soldado
  • Hereditary
  • Ocean’s 8
  • Whitney
  • Mary Shelley
  • The First Purge
  • Hotel Artemis
  • First Reformed
  • Mission: Impossible – Fallout
  • Ant-Man and The Wasp
  • Pandora’s Box
  • Equalizer 2
  • In The Fade
  • A Prayer Before Dawn
  • Unfriended: Dark Web
  • The Darkest Minds
  • BlacKkKlansman
  • The Children Act
  • Searching
  • Hearts Beat Loud
  • Yardie
  • American Animals
  •  The Miseducation if Cameron Post.
  • Cold War
  • King of Thieves
  • The Rider
  • The Predator
  • A Simple Favor
  • Climax
  • Mile 22
  • The Little Stranger
  • Black ‘47
  • A Star is Born
  • The Wife
  • The Hate U Give
  • Halloween
  • Bad Times at the El Royale
  • First Man
  • Mandy
  • Night of the Living Dead
  • Halloween
  • Venom
  • Bohemian Rhapsody
  • The Fog
  • The Evil Dead
  • Juliet, Naked
  • Some Like It Hot
  • Overlord
  • Widows
  • Wildlife
  • Assassination Nation
  • Suspiria
  • Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
  • The Girl In The Spiders Web 
  • Escape From New York
  • Robin Hood
  • Disobedience
  • Green Book
  • Creed II
  • Tulip Fever
  • The Old Man and the Gun
  • Beautiful Boy
  • Mortal Engines
  • Aquaman
  • Bumblebee
  • Sorry to Bother You
  • Stan and Ollie
  • Spider-Man: into the Spider-Verse
  • Colette
  • The Favourite
  • The Front Runner
  • Vice
  • Glass
  • Can You Ever Forgive Me?
  • Mary Queen of Scots
  • Mary Poppins Returns
  • Escape Room
  • Schindler’s List
  • If Beale Street Could Talk
  • Destroyer
  • The Mule
  • Alita: Battle Angel
  • Happy Death Day 2U
  • A Private War
  • Wild at Heart
  • Burning
  • Fighting With My Family
  • The Aftermath
  • Alien
  • The Hole In The Ground
  • Free Solo
  • Captain Marvel
  • The Kindergarten Teacher
  • Gräns (Border)
  • Everybody Knows
  • Wild Rose
  • Under the Silver Lake
  • Us
  • Mid90s
  • Shazam!
  • Lords of Chaos
  • Out of Blue
  • The Sisters Brothers
  • Eighth Grade
  • A Clockwork Orange
  • Greta
  • Avengers: Endgame
  • Hellboy
  • Long Shot
  • Booksmart
  • Beats
  • Vox Lux
  • John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum
  • Asbury Park: Riot, Redemtpion, Rick & Roll
  • Rocketman
  • High Life
  • STYX
  • X-Men: Dark Phoenix
  • Brightburn
  • I Love My Mum
  • Society
  • Diego Maradona
  • Apollo 11
  • Yesterday
  • Spider-Man: Far From Home
  • Anna
  • Midsommar
  • The Dead Don’t Die
  • Animals
  • The Matrix
  •  Toy Story 4
  • The Intruder
  • Crawl
  • Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw
  • Oldboy (15 Year Anniversary Screening)
  • Blinded by the Light
  • Pain & Glory
  • Apocalypse Now, Final Cut
  • Once Upon A Time In Hollywood
  • Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
  • Fleabag – NT Live
  • Hustlers
  • Rambo: Last Blood
  • Ad Astra
  • Ready Or Not
  • Roger Waters Us + Them
  • Joker
  • It: Chapter II
  • Downton Abby
  • The Day Shall Come
  • Zombieland: Double Tap
  • Official Secrets
  • Terminator: Dark Fate
  • The Peanut Butter Falcon
  • Luce
  • The Last Black Man in San Francisco
  • The Aeronauts
  • Le Mans 66
  • Sorry We Missed You
  • Doctor Sleep
  • The Irishman
  • Blue Story
  • Charlie’s Angels
  • 21 Bridges
  • Harriet
  • Knives Out
  • Motherless Brooklyn
  • Jumanji: The Next Level
  • A Beautiful Day In the Neighbourhood
  • JoJo Rabbit
  • The Nightingale
  • Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
  • Judy & punch
  • Little Women

Top Ten Movies 2019

It’s that time of year again, my top ten movies of the year.  The criteria for selection: All films to have been released in the UK during 2019,  and seen by me in a cinema. 

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood – The film I was most concerned about turned out to be my favourite of the year. I didn’t particularly enjoy Quentin Tarantino’s last film, The Hateful Eight, do we really need another movie about Charles Manson, and most significantly, is he capable of the sensitivity needed to tell the story of the horrendous murder of actress Sharon Tate?Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

The Irishman – Martin Scorsese’s epic tale of mob hitman Frank Sheeran based on the novel I Heard You Paint Houses by Charles Brandt.  This is not Goodfellas part 2, it is more thoughtful and sombre film than Scorsese’s previous entries into the gangster genre.  A masterpiece by a true master of cinema, the three and a half hour runtime is justified! The Irshman

Styx – Unbelievably this is just Wolfgang Fischer second feature, and more than a decade after his debut.  If All Is Lost is an existential crisis, Styx is a commentary on one of the biggest world issues today.  The title tells you all you need to know: In Greek mythology Styx is the river between the land of the living and the land of the dead.  Passengers must pay the ferryman, if they have no money they must remain on the river for 100 years.styx

Midsommar – I visited rural Sweden for midsummer a few years ago, while I’m pleased to report there was no murder or mutilation, it is a really big deal.  If you hated Hereditary, you will really hate Midsommar!  I was mixed on Hereditary but loved Midsommar.  The film looks amazing and is disturbing rather than scary, the near two and a half hour runtime flew by.  Once again Florence Pugh proves she is the most exciting and talented young actor working today.Midsommar

Apollo 11 – The rare inclusion of a documentary on my bets of year list.  Made up of NASA footage shot at the time of the moon landings.  Much of it on 65mm.  With no voiceover and no talking heads, it’s a wonder the film can hold the attention for its 93 minute runtime.  The key word here is wonder, because the film is filled with wonder, it is nothing short of stunning.Apollo 11

Burning – Its best to go into Chang-dong Lee’s Korean thriller with as little background information as possible.  Wonderfully ambiguous that keeps you guessing until the end and ultimately asks a lot more questions than it answers.Burning

Can You Ever Forgive Me? – True story of celebrity biographer Lee Israel based on her own memoir detailing her decent to rock bottom.  Written and directed by Marielle Heller with both flair, and humanity.  Melissa McCarthy’s gives her best performance to date, Richard E. Grant is as brilliant as ever.Can you ever forgivr me

If Beale Street Could Talk – Barry Jenkins adaptation of James Baldwin’s novel.  Brilliantly conveying a novels internal monologue in a way that last years On Chesil Beach failed to do. The acting is first rate throughout,  but the true triumph of the film comes in its direction and construction.If Beale Street Could Talk

The Nightingale – I have been waiting five years Jennifer Kent’s follow up to The Babadook, it was worth the wait.  What has been tagged as a revenge thriller, but it is so much more than that, a damning indictment of colonialism it is brutal but never gratuitous.The Nightingale

Under the Silver Lake – The downside to David Robert Mitchell’s follow-up to It Follows is that it has a feel someone trying to emulate David Lynch or the Coen brothers.  The plus side, is that it looks amazing and has some great moments of flair.  It doesn’t always work but it so bold it deserves to be seen.Under the Silver Lake

I preparation for No Time To Die I have been re-watching the Daniel Craig Bond films. It’s the first time I have watched them all back to back. A few things sprang to mind watching them.Daniel Craig Bond Posters

  • Casino Royale stands alongside From Russia with Love as the best films about Bond, rather than the best Bond Movies, in that they can be appreciated on their own merits away from the franchise and its baggage.
  • Quantum of Solace is the misunderstood and underappreciated masterpiece that I always suspected. A direct sequel to Casino Royale, it takes virtually nothing other than its title from Ian Flemings novels, but in its tone it is probably the closes in style and tone to the source material.
  • Roger Deakins should have won the cinematography Oscar for Skyfall, he was robbed by a CGI spectacular.
  • Spectre is a better film than I gave it credit for, despite the Blofeld reveal that was even worse than I remember.

But, on thing stands out over all of this.  There is a missing film between Quantum of Solace and Skyfall.

Let me explain; Casino Royale gives us the Young upstart. Quantum of Solace is a direct sequel pick it up moments after Casino Royale’s epilogue.  A slightly jaded, almost broken man working through the loss and apparent betrayal of Vesper, coming out the other side, moulded rather than healed,   the complete Bond, cold, cruel, detached, but able to appreciate, if not enjoy life.  Something akin to the best of Cornery, Dalton or Brosnan, but more importantly the character seen on the pages of Fleming’s books.

But then Skyfall has an older Bond past his prime, fighting for relevance, we are missing a movie. We need to look at M (Judi Dench) aka Basil Exposition for to explain this.  It was M after all who on her first screen meeting with Bond (Pierce Brosnan in GoldenEye) called him “a sexist, misogynist dinosaur. A relic of the Cold War“.  In Casino Royale (2006) just after giving Bond his 00 status, his licence to kill, she told him “I knew it was too early to promote you” but just six years later in Skyfall (2012) she said “You know the rules of the game. You’ve been playing it long enough“.  Future M, Gareth Mallory (Ralph Fiennes) tells Bond “It’s a young man’s game.” Craig’s Bond has always been on his way up, or past his best.

The speculation for No Time to Die is that Bond has retired and his 007 codename has passed to Nomi (Lashana Lynch).  This in itself could be problematic, as I can’t see Bond being retired, by the end of the film this means they have to find a way of giving him back his 007 code.  If Nomi is indeed 007, how will this pas back to Bond?  Kill, demote, or incapacitate her, or even worse something akin to 006 Alec Trevelyan (Sean Bean).  Let’s not forget, she is potential not only the first female 00, but the first none white one.  Her fate is far more significant than that of 006, 002, 004 (The Living Daylights), and 009 in (Octopussy). Some of the Fun Bond Movies

I’m getting off track; the Daniel Craig movies are the best Bond movies, and I don’t want to see the character turn into the Roger Moore or Pierce Brosnan versions of the character, who had far more misses than hits in terms of the quality of their movies.  However, I would have liked to have seen Craig have a film as an established character, not one on the way up or down, and one where he gets to have a little fun with the part, think: You Only Live Twice (1967), The Man with the Golden Gun (1974), The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), or GoldenEye (1995).  Sadly this will not happen, but we may get to see the other thing I want to see, Bond coming out of retirement, sadly it won’t be an older Bond; Timothy Dalton, or Pierce Brosnan but it’s still an idea with real millage.  One thing is certain,

James Bond WILL return!

The rise of skywalker posterBe careful what you wish for!  There was a small but very vocal group of fans who called for The Last Jedi to be remade, and, or expunged from Star Wars canon.  To a certain extent, The Rise Of Skywalker does that, winding back on some plot points, and conveniently forgetting others.  It is certainly a film that doesn’t seem to like Rian Johnson’s entry into the series.  Chances are if you are reading this you have seen both The Last Jedi, and Rise of Skywalker, if you haven’t be warned there are SPOILERS ahead.  For the record I really like The Last Jedi, it is bold, brave, and my favourite of the three sequels.  The Rise of Skywalker is probably the weakest, that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it.  It is largely a fun watch.  To begin, here is a brief synopsis:

An unmentioned time after the events of The Last Jedi, the resistance have regrouped.  Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), now Supreme Leader of The First Order is hunting for Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) who appears to have survived the events of Return of the Jedi.  Rey (Daisy Ridley), breaks off from her Jedi training with Leia (Carrie Fisher) to go on a quest with Finn (John Boyega), Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), and Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo), also to find Palpatine , and save the universe one last time!

Lucasfilm, Like Marvel Studios is now owned by Disney, there is significant difference with the way they are run.  Kevin Feige President and CCO of Marvel Studios oversees all Marvel Cinematic Universe movies.  While each film is written and directed as a standalone film, they all have to fit in with Feige’s overriding vision.  This has resulted in very few missteps, and less militant fans than Star Wars have experienced in recent films.  The whole approach to the Star Wars sequels has been somewhat haphazard.  J. J. Abrams was hired to write and direct The Force awakens, a satisfying if unadventurous start.   Rian Johnson, was then hired to write and direct The Last Jedi, and write a story treatment for the then unnamed Episode IX. Colin Trevorrow was announced as the director, and was also to write a script based on Johnsons treatment.  Then things started to go wrong, it was announced that Johnson wasn’t involved in the writing and Trevorrow had left following “creative differences” to be replaced by J. J. Abrams.  The result of this is a very disjointed trilogy.  To be clear I enjoyed all three movies taken on their own merits, but they don’t work together the way the original trilogy, ore dare I say it, the prequels do.Endgame Portals

Going back to the original Star Warts from 1977, sequels were not a guarantee, the film had to exist on its own merits and have a self contained story.  I remember back in the 1980’s around the time of the release of Return of the Jedi (1983) George Lucas saying he always intended Star Wars to be three trilogies.  By the time of the prequels (1999 – 2005) he hat retconned this and said that it could only ever be two trilogies, the story was complete, and the story was always going to be the rise, fall, and redemption of Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader.  Despite this rather fluid attitude to the truth of the matter, Lucas did always have a through narrative, he may not have been sure where he would stop along the way but he seemed to know where the story was going – how it got there was sometimes better than others!  What would the harm of Disney giving one person (possibly Abrams, or Johnson) the job a writing a treatment for the trilogy giving the other writer directors a clear point where their movie needed to start and end to fit with the overarching narrative?return of the jedi

As mentioned, I did enjoy Rise of Skywalker, so let’s begin with the film does get right? The first thing is the characters.  Rey (Daisy Ridley), and Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), have always been excellent characters.  Finn (John Boyega), was great in The Force Awakens but had outgrown his usefulness by The Last Jedi.  Finn benefits most from keeping the triumvirate together for prolonged sections of the film.  Given the small amounts of unused footage from previous films, Leia (Carrie Fisher) is used well within the narrative.  Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) works well as the big bad following the removal of Snoke (Andy Serkis) from the table in the previous film.  Snoke wasn’t the most animated of characters (pun totally accidental), so is largely interchangeable with the new incarnation of Palpatine.  There is an issue with the cast, there are lots of new faces, and some returning from past movies, many of these are unnecessary, and are wither cheesy fan service, or who hint at stories that are not developed.  The biggest looser is Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran) who could be an amazing character, but is given little to do.  While is Jannah (Naomi Ackie) is a strong presence with a couple of good scenes, most her characters part could have been taken by Rose, trimming a little of the runtime in the process.  Zorii Bliss (Keri Russell) is also an interesting inclusion,  aside from an excellent silent exchange with Poe, she again has little to do.  She could however make an interesting spinoff character in her own movie/tv show?  All in all, the plot moves at such a breakneck pace that there is no time to develop characters or relationships.  This shouldn’t be a problem, we are in the final act, it’s a little late for character development.  This goes back to the disjointed shift in narrative between the three movies.  Ben Solo/Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), is just a few beets away from being the most interesting character in the Star Wars universe, he along with Rey suffer the least from the narrative inconsistency, as they are torn characters who are drawn, not just to each other, but to the others side of the force.  In the week since the movie came out twitter has been awash with Ben/Ren fans unhappy with his demise.  This for me in lunacy, given his role in mass genocide, his personal sacrifice was the characters only hope of redemption!the rise of skywalker rey fin poe

Back to the positive, the film also looks and sounds amazing.  Both the score (John Williams music has all the pomp you would expect) and the sound design are spectacular.  The look of the film is up with the best Star Wars has to offer.  It is as much about the production design as the effects and photography.  The Lightsaber against the Knights of Ren is a nice counterpoint to the throne room fight in The Last Jedi, and looks almost as good.  The final space battle recaptures the excitement of attacks on the Death Star’s in the first and third movies, but with better effects.  However, they don’t match the tension of the ticking clock of A New Hope, or the potential despair of Return of the Jedi.  The arrival of the rebel fleet looks spectacular, but doesn’t have the emotional heft of the similarly constructed portals scene from Avengers Endgame, simply because it doesn’t earn it!Luke Stywalker

The real issue goes back to what I mentioned before about no overriding narrative for the trilogy.  Not only is it disjointed as a trilogy, but The Rise of Skywalker has enough plot for a trilogy on its own.  The original Star Wars aka A New Hope is a classic example of a Hero’s journey:

  1. Departure – Luke sets out on adventure prompted by the message held within R2D2
  2. Initiation – Initially refusing the call to adventure, he faces loss and adversity (his first step into the unknown, and the start of his transformation to hero).  He rescues Leia, and faces more loss.
  3. Return – He destroys the Death Star completing his journey and returning to his (new) home.

The beauty of it is that you could break the original trilogy up the same way

  1. Departure – A New Hope – Luke (and friends) rescue the princess and win a battle against a feared enemy .
  2. Initiation – Empire Strikes Back – The group are divided, they face loss and adversity.
  3. Return – Return of the Jedi – The group reunite to fight a final battle before returning home victorious.

Try and fit this film, or this trilogy to that structure, you will be jumping backwards and forwards all over the place, it simply doesn’t fit.  You may be asking why it should?  The reason is simple, that is what Star Wars is, was, and should be.  The origin of the idea goes back to George Lucas wanting to make an epic space adventure like the Saturday Matinees he used to watch as a kit.  He wanted to make Flash Gordon, or Buck Rogers.  Fortunately the rights weren’t available so he had to come up with a new adventure.  Whether intentional or not this classical structure made the story work, it grounded the  fantastical and made it something everyone could understand and more importantly love.  Never underestimate the power of simplicity.

So where does that leave us?  In truth I’m not sure!  The final outcome of the movie is about where you would expect it to be, and probably where it needed to be following the events of The Force Awakens, but could its journey to this end have been better? Almost certainly!  To put it another way, I enjoyed the film and the trilogy, but with reservations.  It could have been better, but the thing I can’t reconcile, does the fact I can see where it should have been better mitigate or enhance the issues?  I just don’t know.  Unlike the Skywalker Saga, this question is:

To Be Continued!

Three years ago I started writing an article about all the great movies that have come from EU countries, most of them co-productions of two or more countries.  It was to be posted on Friday 24th June 2016, the day after the referendum, when the UK announced that it was staying in the EU.  Sadly, we didn’t vote to remain and that article never got finished.  I decided to finish it and post it on 31st October 2019, the new date set for us to leave.  Despite prime minster Boris Johnson’s insistence that he would “rather be dead in a ditch” than agree to extend Brexit, Brexit was extended.  As I read my words about European movies, they seemed somewhat inadequate, I have therefore deleted them and replaced them with this, a slideshow of movie images.  One image per EU member (some are co-productions attributed to more than one nation), all produced since the founding of the EU, most from this century.  I am setting this to auto-publish on the morning of the general election, the most important election in my lifetime.

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