Film Reviews – all mostly not that great, apart from one – Gifted, My Cousin Rachel, Hampstead and Baby Driver

My reading has been slow of late as I’m busy writing, but even busy writing minds sometimes need a break, so here’s my round up of recent film releases I’ve seen.

Gifted – the story of an Uncle trying to raise his gifted seven-year-old niece. Plus points – it stars the lovely Chris Evans (Captain America) and Kiefer Sutherland’s daughter from Designated Survivor, McKenna Grace.

I have to be honest, I wasn’t expecting this to be a great film but of the four I’ve seen recently, this one wins the enjoyability factor hands down. Rare for an American film of this nature, it doesn’t suffer from too much cloying sentimentality. The story moves along at a reasonable rate, and the backstory is interesting enough to keep you intrigued. There are, as there should be, a few teary moments and really, the star of the show is  McKenna Grace (the young girl) who plays her part brilliantly and will probably be found in many more films and TV shows in the future. I would give this a 4/5 for enjoyment alone.

My Cousin Rachel – a remake of the Daphne Du Maurie novel, is a remarkably slow and dull film, lacking any sort of tension either sexual or otherwise. It’s one of those films that I left wondering how on earth it even got made. A shame because I was expecting great things. That said, when I read the storyline of the book afterwards, it might well be that there really was little to go. No more than a 3/5.

Hampstead – the clips for this have been funny and I was expecting a lovely comedy, that might also have been a bit of a rom-com. Instead, and I hate it when this happens, all the funny parts were in the clips for the film and this film was lacking in absolutely everything. It seems to merely have been an excuse for Diane Keaton to wear a silly hat and romp around London wearing silly clothes. Not enjoyable at all, but instead torturously slow, with very little storyline, and everyone using their ‘inside’ voices so that it lacked any passion at all. I can see why the reviews for this have been so poor. No more than a 2/5 and that’s being kind. Thank goodness I didn’t pay to see the film. I would have been miffed.

Baby Driver – I know a bit of a change of pace but I will literally watch almost anything (apart from US comedies – because they’re never EVER funny). So the director is the man behind Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz (love that yellow Saab in it) and World’s End – all three films that I find very enjoyable. (Oh and Scott Pilgrim which is okay) I was, once more, expecting quite good things – five star reviews, recommendations from friends, and children keen to see it because the lead is out of a few teeny films. I also like Kevin Spacey. However, this film also suffered from a lack of pace, and to be honest, a lack of storyline. The whole ‘headphones’ and ‘music’ thing was a little bit too

However, this film also suffered from a lack of pace, and to be honest, a lack of storyline. The whole ‘headphones’ and ‘music’ thing was a little bit too much Guardians of the Galaxy, the whole heist thing was actually done much better in Going With Style (a bit of a giggle from a few weeks ago with Michael Kaine and Morgan Freeman in), and the love story bit was very much worthy of teeny films. Jamie Foxx was trying to be all sorts of bad, but wasn’t helped by all the above. In fact, I was almost nodding off in it, only for the mother of all gun fights to kick off and keep me awake until the end. The car chases were okay but nothing stellar. Very similar to Free Fire and suffering for similar reasons. Another film with a very misleading trailer. All in all, a firm 3/5 but really no more.

So going forward, I have the Transformers film to look forward to, even though I know it’s getting bad reviews, and of course, Despicable Me 3, but the one I’m really looking forward to is the mother of all car showdowns in Cars 3!

Film Review – King Arthur:Legend of the Sword – highly, highly recommended (historical fantasy)

I don’t often offer my opinions on films – as they can be somewhat divisive. However, given the bad press surrounding this film – apparently it’s a flop, I feel compelled to write a little in support of the film as I went to see it and it was massively entertaining and so well done, I think people might need a little nudge in the right direction and a bit of positivity.

Firstly, I am not a huge fan of King Arthur legends – (apart from Sword in the Stone – obviously). I often struggle with the ‘historical placement’ of it all and the huge body of medieval literature and idealism that has affected the original ‘legend’. There is no need to fear on that part in this film. The massively imaginative reimagining of ‘England’ by Guy Ritchie is so vast and encompassing that you can’t help but love it. This is Camelot and Londinium as you’ve probably never seen it before. The landscapes are stunning, the details amazing – even the costumes don’t jar and the music, with its thundering drums, adds to a movie that starts a little slowly for all of 5 minutes, and then just builds and builds until the fantastic conclusion.

If you’re a fan of Guy Ritchie movies everything he’s accomplished since Lock, Stock is there (I am a huge fan of his Sherlock Holmes films because, again, they are so refreshing, and I think the Man from UNCLE is very underrated because it’s so damn stylish). This is Londinium with all the ‘street talk’ of Lock, Stock and the attitude of its characters and their ‘banter’ is up there with the best Sherlock lines. There are some fantastic and quirky camera angles used that really add to the enjoyment of the film – this is a film without dull moments, and I mean none – (unlike Guardians of the Galaxy 2 which was also awesome but has a bit in the middle that’s a bit ‘flat’). It starts, and it rolls and it keeps going.

If you’re a fan of Arthurian Legends then too, this has much to offer. Camelot is there, Uhtred, Vortigern, the Lady of the Lake, Druids and even Merlin gets more than a mention. This is an ‘epic’ England of ‘Arthurian’ times – and if sometimes Ritchie plays a little bit hard and fast with some of the expected storylines, this shouldn’t detract because you’ll be too busy laughing, or watching in amazement with your mouth hanging open!

This is clever, and witty craftsmanship. Having seen a few ‘good’ action films recently, this film suffers from none of their flaws – while it’s as stylistic as Assassin’s Creed and has superb music to accompany it (I felt the music in Assassin’s Creed throbbing through my veins), King Arthur benefits from a plot and story that drives it ever forward. The slightly forced camaraderie of The Great Wall, (which again is a stylistically fantastic film and very well made) has no place in this film – the main stars work so well together that everything feels natural and never forced.

Jude Law is stunningly evil, Charlie Hunnam doesn’t falter once, his delivery is fantastic, and the actress playing the druid is mystical and powerful and beautiful in a mystical way. The supporting cast, which is both vast and small, is filled with familiar faces – it’s good to see the guy from Game of Thrones, the little nod to the BBC Merlin series, and ‘Blue’ is a little gem. The David Beckham cameo didn’t even make me flinch and some might not even recognise him as he delivers his lines in a bluff ‘Londinium’ accent. Eric Bana is exceptionally heroic as Uhtred, and I’m not unconvinced that Jason Statham doesn’t have a cameo as well.

And all this before I even get to the fantastical elements of this historical fantasy (which I’m not spoiling – go and see them) because they are so well done.

For all those fans of Vikings, this is a film for you that doesn’t suffer from the need to drag out storylines for an entire season. For fans of The Last Kingdom – this film will show you how this sort of thing should be done – there’s no half-ass fighting scenes, weak dialogue, or moody ‘elf’ man. The kings and warriors in this don’t pansy around with wooden crosses around their necks, worrying about what ‘their’ God might or might not think about everything that’s going on.

This is a ‘reimagined’ world of epic proportions, and as you might have noticed, I really can’t praise it enough, so put down your latest historical fiction/fantasy novel, and get yourself to the cinema! This is how ‘Arthur’ should be done.

The Legend of Arthur was released in the UK on 21st May 2017.