Masters of the Universe

A Star Wars spoof posing as a He Man film that somehow manages to be both awful and brilliant

What it’s about

Skeletor has taken the sorceress prisoner, and is draining her of her power as he chases the power of the greyskull which he got would make him the most being in the universe. He-Man and his companions must stop him, but in their fight to do so they end up on planet Earth.

My thoughts

This is one of those fabulously awful films, one of those films that is so awful that it somehow manages to be hilariously brilliant. First thing’s first, though it is supposed to be a He-Man it is in fact more of a Star Wars spoof, though there are no light sabres there are what are basically storm troopers, just they are wearing black armour rather than white.

There are also laser guns which, just like in Star Wars, seem to be the most inaccurate weapon on earth and in fact despite the fact throughout it appears that it would be harder to miss than hit He-Man and his crew, the bad guys keep managing to miss.

Also though there are no light sabres, He-Man does repel lasers using his sword. And I’m going to throw in a little bit of a spoiler alert here, but the way the bad guy gets dealt with in the end, if you’ve seen the end of Star Wars episode six, then you’ll recognise the moment.

But somehow despite all of this, perhaps because of all of this, this film is simply hilariously brilliant. Dolph Lundgren plays He-Man and looks the part, also I suspect the reason for his muscles being so bulging throughout is because he never at any point holsters his sword, like literally no matter what he never puts that sword down.

Then there are his co-stars, Billy Barty plays Gwildor, a character who resembles a cross between the Lord of the Rings Gandalf and Gimli; Frank Langella plays Skeletor, Courtney Cox also stars in this film, so there are some decent stars in this film and all of them do their best to work with the script that they have.

Though despite Frank Langella putting in a Shakespearean esque performance as Skeletor (not sure if that is a compliment or not in this case), the star performer is without question Dolph Lundgren, like said he very much looks like He-Man (despite his outfit), there is no disputing that, but at the same time he manages to look throughout the entire film like he is thinking what the hell is going on here. He really just appears to be thinking that I can’t believe this is actually happening, have I really signed up for this film, and somehow that makes it brilliant. Maybe I just imagined this but I definitely felt like that was what the expression his face was saying.

The reason that this is so brilliant is because as you watch it, all you will be thinking is, what the hell is going on here, am I really watching this, has somebody really made this?

The answer will be yes to all those questions, and the reason you will keep watching it is because it is so awful you just have to keep watching. And I imagine the reason the actors kept on acting was because they were having a lot of fun – perhaps the actors being under contract played a part but it certainly looked like they were having fun.

It should be said at this point that if you’re not a fan of films that are so awful they are brilliant, and you don’t see the hilarity in them, you will really hate this film. But if you are able to take pleasure in films that are so awful they are brilliant, then you will in all probability love this film.

Of course the majority of He-Man fans hate the film, most likely because when they heard that their favourite cartoon character was about to hit the big screen, and that Dolph Lundgren was to be the star, they were probably imagining something quite different to what this film is, which is like said basically a pantomime style Star Wars spoof.

But this film is what it is, and like said I enjoyed it very much specifically because of how awful it truly was, and for that reason from me it gets a solid thumbs up. And I have to say I give much credit to the actors in this film for having fun with this film.

​Director: Gary Goddard

Writer: David Odell, Stephen Tolkien and Gary Goddard

Genre: action, adventure, fantasy

Year: 1987

​Runtime: 106 minutes

Romancing the Stone

A fun film that is the epitome of 80s escapism style cinema

What it’s about

After coming into the possession of a treasure map, Joan Wilder, a romance novelist and hopeless romantic, is forced to fly to Colombia to try to save her sister who has been taken by people who want that map. But after taking the wrong bus she finds herself partaking in an epic adventure through the jungles of Colombia with the dashing Jack Colton, all the while being hunted by all those who want the map and the treasure it leads to.

My thoughts

This film stars Michael Douglas along with Kathleen Turner and Danny DeVito, and is a bit of a cult classic which is especially legendary for the chemistry between Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner.

It is an action adventure romance, which means it’s one of those films that are more targeted at families and couples, specifically the type where one person likes action adventure and the other likes romance. This film merges the two creating a compromise, and if any person wanted to find a film that was a perfect example of an action adventure romance from the 80s, this would be the film they would most likely watch. In fact you could argue that this film was the epitome of mainstream 80s style escapism cinema.

The story itself is basic like many mainstream films from the 80s, but in that is its power, it makes for easy watching. Joan Wilder, played by Kathleen Turner, is a hopeless romantic who writes adventure romance novels, Jack Colton, played by Michael Douglas, is the smarmy but dashing Errol Flynn wannabe while Danny DeVito plays Irn, a sort of good guy bad guy – he wants the treasure but doesn’t agree with his brother’s methods of kidnapping to get it though of course goes along with it anyway.

And what happens is Joan Wilder receives a treasure map, which Danny DeVito’s brother wants, so they kidnap Joan Wilder’s sister and hold her to ransom for the map. But there is somebody else who wants the map, Manuel Ojeda’s Zolo, and he tricks Kathleen Turner’s character into taking the wrong bus.

From there she embarks upon an adventure of a lifetime through the Colombian jungle, the sort of which she has spent her lifetime writing about but never experiencing herself. But the question is is the man she has enlisted the help of the man of her dreams, the one she has been looking for, or is he just a con artist who wants the treasure for himself dum dum dum. I’m sure you can probably get the gist of what the answer is.

Truth be told find a person who enjoys this genre that can find a negative thing to say about this film and you’ll be lucky, even a person who does not like the genre would be unlikely to find anything negative about it, other than the fact that they don’t like films of this genre, and that is because this film has definitely found that magic spark, the unexplainable thing that some films find and just have which makes it a classic.

There is nothing wholly special about this film and yet there is something about this film that makes it special, on top of that perhaps the best thing about this film is the fact that not only does it have this factor it also has a great feel good factor, top of that it is a film that just has that great feeling of niceness about it.

Or rather there is nothing nasty or untoward about this film which a lot of modern-day films of the same genre struggle to accomplish. So it is 80s style cinema escapism at its best, and I can imagine that a hundred years from now this will be one of the films that will still be being watched. Not as a first choice, not even as a second choice but as that film that you watch with family when you can’t find anything decent to watch and just want to have a nice easy watch before bed.

And in reality that is the power of this film, it is such an easy watch that you can watch it again and again, not because it is an amazing film but because it does what it is supposed to do so well, that is give you a little escapism, leave you with a feelgood factor and above all entertain you, and in that is what makes it a classic. Which means from me it gets a big thumbs up, and if you can’t find anything to watch and are looking for a compromise film, an easy watch classic with action and romance from a time when the world was a lot less complex, this may just be the film you’re looking for.

​Director: Robert Zemeckis

Writer: Diane Thomas

Genre: action, adventure, romance

Year: 1984

​Runtime: 106 minutes

Outlander

Rubbish but of the good kind

What it’s about

A spacecraft crash lands in Iron Age Norway, there are only two survivors, Kainan, and a deadly creature called the Moorwen. If Kainan is to survive and save the Earth he must team up with a local tribe of Vikings and hunt down the Moorwen, before it hunts him down.

My thoughts

This film is based on the Norwegian film of the same name which was released back in 1987, and is one of those films that you would call rubbish but of the good sort. Basically it is a typical alien monster flick, so a superstrong alien creature is hunting people down and slaughtering them en masse et cetera et cetera. The difference is in this case it is set in Iron Age Norway rather than a future world.

And there are some relatively big stars in this, James Caviezel, Ron Perlman, Sophia Myles and of course the legendary John Hurt. So it’s good rubbish with some top-notch actors and I think it’s fair to say that you can tell that the actors would have enjoyed making this film.

In terms of box office response, it was a flop and it is obvious why and that is because it is more B-movie than blockbuster. But as a B-movie it is great fun, I have to say I especially love the game where James Caviezel’s titular character competes against his frenemy in a race in which the track is composed of people holding their Viking Shields over their heads. So in a way it is a bit like running over stepping stones but people holding shields make up the stepping stones.

Also and more importantly there are some solid fight sequences in which there is much blood and gore, which in a movie which is basically a typical sci-fi version of a monster flick mixed with a typical mediaeval Viking film, is a good thing. Also they definitely don’t hold back on the killing side of things, and to say the least once the Moorwen’s lair is found the pileup of bodies is quite the sight to behold.

The creature itself is acceptable and looks like it could do damage, and smartly the director, Howard McClain, does not throw his CGI creation in our faces, preferring a more nuanced approach which focuses mostly on showing its eyes and its scorpion like tail. I have to say when it comes to CGI monsters I’m definitely a fan of less is more and this is definitely a film which holds true to that mantle.

One moment where I did kinda go hang on a minute, was when James Caviezel’s lead character dived into the lake in which his ship had crashed, and collected some metal. Basically he needed to create a sword to kill the Moorwen but what I can’t understand is, considering the length of time he was down there, why he did not just look for another gun, like the one he lost in the beginning. Surely there would have been one and surely it would have been the more logical move.

But a fight with a sword is much cooler than a gunfight and it is what it is, with this in mind if you’re looking to watch a fun sci-fi alien monster flick set in Viking Norway, then you will probably enjoy this film, just remember to watch it with a pinch of salt mentality.

As I frequently watch films with a pinch of salt mentality from me it gets a thumbs up.

​Director: Howard McClain

Writer: Howard McClain, Dirk Blackman

Genre: action, adventure, sci-fi

Year: 2008

​Runtime: 115 minutes

The Pathfinder

Cool -looking Vikings and an all-round gorefest

What it’s about

A young boy, who is the lone survivor of a Viking expedition to the Americas, is raised by the Native Americans. Years later, he must defend his tribe when it is attacked by Vikings.

My thoughts

First things first, despite how it may appear in the film’s intro, to say this film is based on any form of true events is quite ridiculous. It is entirely fiction, the only real truth is the fact that yes Viking’s made it to the Americas in the year 1000.

With that out of the way, to say the least this film has some bad reviews and in all honesty it is understandable why. But that does not mean it is not a watchable film, it just means that before watching this film a number of factors need to be taken into account, specifically the problems with the film, the first problem of which is the fact that it suffers from white saviour mode. The one white guy amongst all the Native Americans is the only one that can save them, and he has to do it single-handedly.

There is nothing wrong of course with having a white guy as the hero, but the problem really is just how weak the Native Americans are depicted as. Even the greatest warriors are pretty much just just cattle to the Viking’s sword. Yes, the truth is at the time they would not really have stood much chance against the Vikings superior weaponry, but they would definitely have put up a better fight.

Then there are the Vikings themselves, they are pretty much genocidal maniacs in this film which of course in real life, despite popular belief, they very much were not. Then there is Kurt Urban’s titular character, Ghost, despite having no real combat training with his sword he seems to be a master with the sword. And he has to be considering all the Vikings he has to kill all by himself.

Then there is the fact that there is zero characterisation in this film, Moon Bloodgood plays the love interest and it has to be said she makes a titanic effort to try to make it seem that she matters and that there is love between her character and Kurt Urban’s, but she is given so little to work with that despite her great efforts there is just nothing. She exists, he exists, do they love each other, if they do we only know because they tell us as such.

And I could go on and on and on, listing all the many many problems with this film, but I am not going to. In fact I’m going to stop there and here is why, the reality is this film is simply a mediaeval gorefest with Kurt Urban fighting off super-sized genocidal Vikings – who I should add just look really cool. In fact, the wardrobe department though they get zero points for realism they get a ten out of ten for cool factor, the armour that the Vikings wear is just awesome.

Anyhow, I’m going off track. The good thing about this film is the fighting and gore, in fact this film is really just a mediaeval fight fest, and there are some great fights and cool action sequences in this film, especially the sledging down a hill using a Viking shield and the action sequence at the end which involves an avalanche.

With this in mind if you are able to watch this film as only a gorefest in which Kurt Urban brutally and single-handedly fights off really cool looking super-sized Vikings – I forgot to mention that they were giants, in fact they would probably make modern day WWE wrestlers looks small – anyhow if you are able to see this film only as that then you will probably like it. If you’re unable to do this then you probably won’t, with this in mind as a mediaeval fight fest with cool but very unrealistic Vikings it gets a thumbs up, as anything else it gets a thumbs down.

​​Director: Marcus Nispel

Writer: Laeta Kalogridis

Genre: action, adventure, historical

Year: 2007

​Runtime: 107 minutes

The Core

An Exhilarating Ride to the Centre of the Earth

What it’s about

When the Earth’s inner core stops spinning, it causes the planet’s electromagnetic field to rapidly deteriorate. The only way to save planet Earth is to set the core spinning again which means a team has to go where no man has gone before, to the centre of the planet where they need to kickstart the core, should they fail then the world will end.

My thoughts

Firstly, this is an entertaining film, secondly, its premise, which is along the lines of a team of experts must journey to the centre of the Earth to restart the planet’s core after an experiment gone wrong had caused it to stop, is brilliant. Thirdly, the journey to the centre of the Earth is an extremely imaginative journey and the writers, Cooper Layne and Jon Rogers, have done very well at imagining what such a journey would be like, what the different layers would be like. Also, the director, Jon Amiel, has done a great job at bringing their vision to life.

Really it just has to be said that, the best thing about this film is the journey to the core, it is exhilarating, imaginative and just downright fun. And considering that the film is about the journey to the core that is of course a very good thing.

But, with all that said, unfortunately it is not as good a film as perhaps it could have been. To explain, firstly there are the very American centric clichéd characters, the most clichéd perhaps being the computer genius who just so happens to be tall and very skinny and very geeky. Also there is a Russian character who is a little eccentric.

There is even the character who of course stole another character’s work and passed it off as their own and got super famous off the back of it, but now of course to save the world the two characters have to work together.

But the clichéd nature of the characters are pretty much an inevitability of the period in which the film was made, in fact when watching a film from the early noughties which was when this was shot you almost expect such clichédness.

However, where this film perhaps falls down a little is in regards to the character fatality rate of this film, without giving much away a good few of the main characters die, and in all honesty in a film like this so many of the lead characters dying just doesn’t really feel right.

To explain, this is very much a typical feelgood film, the world is going to end and the odds of stopping the world ending are so astronomical it beggars belief, but we should not be afraid because there are a team of people who are going to do something seemingly impossible and save us all.

So this is very much a pinch of salt the world is ending but we are going to save it type of film, so it’s a feelgood factor film with this in mind you would of course expect a character death but only one or at most two and you would expect them to die in a very dramatic way.

In this film like I say without giving anything away too many of the main characters die, and as such the deaths just do not feel like they belong in a film of the type they are trying to make. If this was a more realistic type of film, one that really delved into just how complex and how impossible their task was, so a film that was more a nitty-gritty type drama rather than a simple action thriller, then things would have been different.

But the fact is things were not different. Which means when the characters die in reality it just kind of feels like, blah, another one bites the dust. There is just no real connection to them to make you really feel like that death mattered, but then of course there is not it is simply not the type of film to build up those connections.

Like said though despite the overkill of the main characters it is still a highly entertaining watch, not the type of film that will set your heart on fire but the sort that will make you at least invested in what they are doing and will as such entertain, the finale is also quite dramatic and does provide a solid, come on you can do it moment. Because of this from me it gets a thumbs up.

​​Director: Jon Amiel

Writer: Cooper Layne, John Rogers

Genre: action, adventure, sci-fi

Year: 2003

​Runtime: 135 minutes

The Warrior Queen of Jhansi

A decent if not very basic look at a legendary Queen

What it’s about

Loosely based on true events. Freedom fighter Rani of Jhansi shifts the balance of power by leading her people into battle against the British Empire in 1857 India. Her insurrection set in motion the demise of the British East India Company.

What you will learn from watching it

​This film is done very well in regards to providing a very simplistic snapshot of the political situation in the providence of Jhansi in regards to the rule of the British East India company, it also captures very well what really went so wrong with the British East India company.

But before getting onto that, one thing is clear there is nothing in-depth about this, so this is a very very simplistic near enough back of a cigarette packet look at the situation of the time, so what caused the uprising in the mid-1800s and how the British East India company responded to it. It is also a very PG look, so this is a very light story which considering that it covers subjects like mass rape and murder, as well as a fifteen-year-old Queen marrying a much older king, may lead some to wonder whether the film does the story justice.

But on the flipside this is a film that younger people could quite easily watch, and I imagine if I had a youngest daughter this would be a great film to watch with her. And that’s because this is a story that is very much of the inspirational sort, a film which shows that even in the past there truly were women who could kick ass and inspire.

Now to how it shows quite well just what was so wrong with the leadership of the British East India Company, perhaps the best example comes when one of the shareholders proudly states that he is sixth generation shareholder. Meaning he sure as hell did not earn his role.

This is a clever piece of dialogue because in a very simple way it highlights one of the biggest problems of the British Empire, and that was how the people running it rarely earned their position and more often, in fact pretty much in every case inherited it, and the more this happened the more the Empire fell into decay and the more wrongdoings the Empire ended up committing. For example what led to the Indian uprising in the first place was a catastrophic error on the part of the British East India Company – the bullets were made using cow and pig fat, something which was sacrilege to the Indians of the time.

But like said this it is very much a back of the packet of cigarettes telling of what happened and what the situation was. But it gives that packet of cigarettes type review in a very clear and intelligible way, making it a great starting point for perhaps someone young to gain knowledge of a very inspirational historical figure, but for the adult market perhaps lacking in depth.

Is the story any good

Director Swati Bhise has created a hit and miss film, the drama and storytelling is quite good but at the same time it feels that such powerful historical figure of Rani Laxmibai deserved a more in-depth story, something that really got into the nitty-gritty of just who she was, the hurdles she had to face, and just what she had to overcome to truly become the Warrior Queen.

But like said as a PG version it works, and is a fun and inspiring story. The only real letdown is the fight scenes, firstly she slaughters British troops in a way similar to how Arnold Schwarzenegger kills the bad guys in a typical action flick.

The difference of course is whereas in Arnold’s world firstly due to his size he does look like he could do some damage, but secondly due to the type of films he stars in these types of unrealistic feats are expected.

In this film not only does it not seem believable that Devika Bhise’s Queen Rani could do the type of damage that she does, at the same time it doesn’t feel the type of film where you would expect such feats to be possible.

For example, in one scene at the end she is surrounded by British troops and my first thought was why the heck did one of the troops just shoot her, surely they would have done.

In a typical action flick you would not think such a thing because you expect such things from that type of film, the problem this film has you expect a little bit of realism but in the fight scenes it just feels like there is none and it pushes poetic licence just a little bit too far.

Really I think the problem is the director seemed to be unable to decide whether she wanted this to be a film based on realism or a fantasy version of it. So something that turns the Warrior Queen more into a mythical figure than a real figure. At times it feels like you are being asked to see this as a realistic tale, at other times it feels like you are being asked to see this as a mythical tale.

But ignoring this if you look past the fight scenes, this still tells a decent story.

Final words

If you are interested in learning a little bit about British/Indian history specifically the uprising in the mid-1800s but do not want to go in depth in your learning, this film presents a decent solution by telling the story of a person who is in effect a true real life kick ass Queen. But remember when watching this not to expect anything in depth, this is just like I say a very simple back of a cigarette packet style look at one of history’s great figures. It is also very PG which means it is great for perhaps showing to a young daughter as means of inspiration but not so great for someone wanting a more in-depth look at a legendary historical figure.

But despite that this film still gets a thumbs up from me, as it is a fun watch.

Director: Swati Bhise

Writer: Devika Bhise, Swati Bhise, Olivia Emden

Genre: historical drama, action

Year: 2019

Runtime: 104 minutes

The Martian

Superb Story of Survival Told with a Positive Attitude

What it’s about

When astronauts blast off from the planet Mars, they leave behind Mark Watney (Matt Damon), presumed dead after a fierce storm. With only a meager amount of supplies, the stranded visitor must utilize his wits and spirit to find a way to survive on the hostile planet. Meanwhile, back on Earth, members of NASA and a team of international scientists work tirelessly to bring him home, while his crew mates hatch their own plan for a daring rescue mission.

My thoughts

One thing about this film right off the bat, the visuals are brilliant and it really does make you feel like Matt Damon’s character is trapped on Mars. In regards to the story, it is one of isolation but isolation with a positive attitude which means Matt Damon’s character never feels as isolated as he actually is trapped in hostile conditions one hundred and forty million miles from Earth.

Some could argue that that is a bad thing, but I’m not one of those as I believe that to survive such a situation a positive attitude would most definitely be needed and his positive attitude makes you truly believe that he can not only survive on Mars but make it back home.

That means that this is not one of those nitty-gritty doom and gloom I’m all alone films, this is one of those super positive attitude there is nothing I cannot achieve if I put my mind to it films. That means if anything goes wrong the lead character is just going to smile, get over it and solve the problem, then the next problem, then the next problem and so on. And I have to say a big fan of films like this as I do love a positive attitude.

In regards to the story, it is derived from the smash hit book of the same name which was written by Andy Weir back in 2011. What made the book so compelling was that it came about as a result of Andy Weir wanting to work out the logistics for a journey to Mars.

That led to him posting his chapters on his website as he wrote them, with his fellow science buff friends many of whom were highly skilled people nitpicking the science until the point that the book told a story that was extremely realistic in regard to both the science and the realities of both a mission to Mars and just how difficult it would be to save a person should they become stranded on Mars.

In one of the best things about the film, is that it has largely stayed true to the idea of using present-day science to tell a story of a person being trapped on Mars, along with how difficult it would be to save a person stranded on Mars, along with how difficult it would be for a person stranded on Mars to survive. That means this is to an extent a film which tells a realistic story. Meaning if you want to know how we would save a person trapped on Mars this film will within reason give you a good idea.

One thing I will say is that due to the type of story this is the main character spends the majority of the film alone, and one of the big dangers of doing this is that due to this fact it becomes a straight up bore fest, and what can make things worse is that often the character ends up talking to themselves but not in a natural way, in an exposition laden way. That means that rather than just showing us the story they end up having the main character telling us the story.

Thankfully director Ridley Scott has navigated this issue well, with the moments where Matt Damon talks to himself actually adding to the film, namely by not only showing just how positive he is but also by providing some excellent moments of comedic relief. And in a film that runs for close to 2 1/2 hours and in which for the most part the lead character is alone that is definitely a good thing.

All in all that means this is film with a positive attitude that uses realistic science to tell a story of how a man in the present day should he get trapped on Mars would both survive and be rescued, and the execution of the story is brilliant and for that reason along with the fact that this is good fun film to watch, from me it gets a big thumbs up.

​​Director: Ridley Scott

Writer: Drew Goddard, Andy Weir

Genre: adventure, drama, sci-fi

Year: 2015

​Runtime: 144 minutes

The One and Only Ivan

A simple story told very well

What it’s about

The story for this film is derived from the true story of Ivan, a gorilla who for twenty-seven years lived in an American mall and never saw the light of day. It is of course a fictionalised account, the fact that you can talk probably gave that away. And that fictionalised account goes along the lines of Ivan, a gorilla, who lives in the Big Top Mall with his fellow animal acts, and a dog who as his best friend, sees his life change when a baby elephant named Ruby joins their act, and he makes a promise to her that she will see freedom.

My thoughts

This is one of those films where if you read the tagline it sounds like it is going to be one of those films which uses a real story to create a fictionalised typical Disney style straight to TV film.

Nothing wrong with that as Disney are very good at making such films, films which inevitably have that great feelgood factor to them. That is to say you know what you are getting, a grumpy person is set in their way, someone young comes in and changes everything, and they set off on a wondrous journey which after a few bumps along the way leads to a happy ending.

This film follows that MO to the T, but again that is not a bad thing and when the film starts you get the feeling that it is going to be a typical straight to TV style Disney film. Especially when the gorilla starts talking at the beginning, as good as the gorilla is it just reeks of low-budget.

And the chicken, there is a chicken, and that chicken to say the least the CGI is just terrible. They don’t even try to make it look real. But again that is just expected for what this film appears that it is going to be.

But this film is not what it appears it is going to be, it is in fact a lot more than it appears it is going to be, because to say the least if you can look past the poor CGI this film tells a simple and age-old story but it does so in a brilliant way.

Mike White derived the screenplay from a children’s book written by Katherine Applegate telling a fictionalised version of Ivan’s story and Thea Sharrock has done a great job at bringing that screenplay to life because it has to be said this is just one of those films that really pulls on the heartstrings. It will not blow your mind but that because it doesn’t want to, what this film wants to do is to leave you by the end with the feelgood factor, and it sure as heck will leave you by the end with that feelgood factor along with the feeling that it has been worth your while watching.

What that means is if you can look past the poor CGI and the fact that this is a heavily fictionalised account of Ivan’s true story (which is an amazing thing in itself), then this film is most definitely worth watching and fits the bill of an amazing story.

But like said it will only come across this way if you are willing to look beyond what it is not and see it for what it is. A very simple story told in a brilliant way.

All in all for that reason it gets a solid thumbs up from me.

​​Director: Thea Sharrock

Writer: Mike White

Genre: family, adventure, fantasy

Year: 2020

​Runtime: 95 minutes

Sonic The Hedgehog

Boisterous Family Fun

What it’s about

An extraterrestrial hedgehog named Sonic is discovered by a scientist who concocts evil plans to use his superpowers for his own selfish needs, but a local police officer helps Sonic fightback.

My thoughts

Is this an amazing film, no. But if you like Sonic The Hedgehog then there is a high probability you will like this film. Even if you don’t then there is still a high chance that you will like this film.

Some argue that Jim Carrey puts in a wooden performance, and it perhaps is a bit, but James Marsden’s performance as a local town cop who Sonic befriends makes up for any shortcomings as he has yet again proven that family films are what he does best.

All in all it is a fun film, has some great laughs in it, and has a nice touching story at its heart, the sort which everyone will be able to relate to. Basically Sonic is hiding from the world and inevitably is suffering the effects of loneliness, the question is will he be able to find a friend or will he have to leave Earth forever and spend his life alone on a lifeless planet.

Any person can guess what the answer will be, but that is the norm for films like this, what matters is the journey. And the journey is a good one, and has in it some great sequences, the best perhaps being the scene where Sonic finds himself caught in the middle of a bar brawl, in this scene to hilarious consequences he moves so fast everyone else is frozen in time.

But that means yes, at times this film does go a little over the top, perhaps expected from a film which has Jim Carrey as one of its stars, but in its defence it never stretches too far over so as to detract from the story. Meaning this film strikes that great balance between not taking itself too serious, but taking itself just serious enough to be taken seriously.

All in all a fun family film that both old and young can enjoy which means it gets a solid thumbs up from me.

Director: Jeff Fowler

Writer: Pat Casey and Josh Miller

Genre: action, adventure, family

Year: 2020

Runtime: 99 minutes

Apollo 13

Nailbiting True Story of the Fated Mission to the Moon

What it’s about

Astronauts Lovell, Haise and Swigert of the Apollo 13 moon mission find themselves stranded when their spacecraft gets damaged. NASA must now find a way to bring them back before it is too late.

What you will learn from watching it

This film tells the true story of the fated Apollo 13 mission to the moon, one of its great selling points is the sheer level of technical authenticity there is in this film. That means unlike most films which are based on true stories, this one actually presents an accurate account of what actually happened and just how those involved overcame near insurmountable odds to bring to bring the doomed mission home.

Obviously the characters themselves despite the actors playing real people are fictionalised to an extent for the purposes of the narrative. But this does not take away from the fact that this film shows a true event in history, and in nailbiting fashion accurately portrays what it was like for those three astronauts stuck in space and the team on the ground trying to get them back down.

All in all, if you wish to understand the sheer amount of effort and ingenuity needed to get a man to the moon and back again, and just how much more effort is needed still to bring them home should something go wrong, then this film will leave you with little doubt as to the answer.

It also captures brilliantly the fickle nature of human interest in a subject, especially around the lack of interest in the follow up trips to the moon. But perhaps the greatest thing seen in this film is just how when a life is in danger people will rally round all around the world in an effort to save that life. The fact it is based on a true story and this really happened makes it all the more empowering to watch.

Is the story any good

Some films based on true stories, especially those that focus on technical authenticity end up being bore fests to any person without a deep interest in the subject.

This is not one of those films. The true story is an amazing story in itself, and this film captures that story in nailbiting fashion and presents it in a way that even people without an interest in the subject can digest.

Both director Ron Howard and screenplay writers William Broyles Jr and Al Reinert who derived the story from Jim Lovell and journalist Jeffrey Kluger’s book of the events of the fated mission deserve much credit for that fact.

Final words

If you are interested in spaceflight, and like films full of nailbiting drama, then this is definitely a film for you. And even if you are not interested in spaceflight if you like films which show the ingenuity of man in overcoming the odds then you will like this film.

That means, all in all this film gets a big thumbs up from me.

Director: Ron Howard

Writers: William Broyles Jr and Al Reinert

Genre: adventure, drama, history

Year: 1995

Runtime: 140 minutes