I really didn’t know anything about this film going in, other than seeing the movie poster. But as it was an advance screening with my Cineworld card, I thought – why not, I’ll give it a go. And I’m glad I did.

gifted poster


So it turns out the story is about a young girl (Mckenna Grace)who is a math’s genius (like a serious genius) who is in the care of her Uncle (Chris Evans) who is trying to raise her to have a normal childhood. When her brilliance is picked up upon the absent grandmother enters to try and gain custody.

I was sceptical when the film first started, the jokes were cheesy and not that funny, and the chemistry between Grace and Evans seemed a bit off with the first 5-10 minutes feeling a little bit wooden. There was also a whiff of a precocious child and boring everyman Uncle to bore us for the next hour and forty minutes. However, after what was a slow first ten minutes, this film quickly turned itself into one of the best new releases I’ve seen this year.

This film provides us with a group of characters you can’t help but warm to. Despite the rocky start, Grace and Evans bounce off each other fantastically well and their rapport is about as charming as it comes. Throw in yet another fantastic performance from Octavia Spencer and delightful support from Jenny Slate, and this film was onto a winner. What this film also does well, is give us a villain you probably won’t completely despise. No, you won’t root for them in the slightest, but the complications of real and relatable family bonds and issues doesn’t make the journey of this film clear cut, at times dropping into grey areas.

The premise of this movie may flirt dangerously with the falling into cliches, however, it feels fresh and genuine throughout (first 10 minutes aside). No, it isn’t full of twists and turns, and there is nothing overly surprising in there, but no punches are helped, and prepare for sucker punches and tear jerking moments. This a brilliantly told story, and is assisted by a very well chosen soundtrack, knowing exactly what we need to hear to send our emotions over the edge. I found myself at times wanting to stand up and shout at the screen (not really acceptable in reasonable busy showing!), shed a small tear of joy, and also floods of tears in despair.

I take my hat off to everyone involved in this movie, from story, to production, to acting. It is an all round fantastic display, and one I would recommend going out and seeing when it comes out in a week or two. Gifted will both warm and break your heart a few times throughout its hour and forty run, so be sure to take some tissues with you. I’d be surprised if you last the distance with dry eyes.





ARQ (Netflix Original)

This film was recommended to me as “a slow burner, but worth a watch”. And I have to say, that is pretty much the perfect summary for this movie. This is a thriller, so I’m not going to go into detail about the movie so as not to include any spoilers – this is definitely a spoiler free zone. What you need to know is, there is some kind of war going on, there is a machine that could possibly end the war, oh and there is a time loop going on.

arq movie poster

This film runs at just about an hour and a half so to be fair, you don’t get too much more detail of back story other than that. This film focuses on the “this is happening right now” and doesn’t worry greatly about how we got here. Which, for me I actually quite enjoyed. The great thing about this film is the unravelling of the situation. For the purpose of this film, I don’t actually really care how we got to this situation – I’m just intrigued by this time loop and what the hell is going on.

As I said, this film does take a little while to get going. As I guess you might expect from a time-loop scenario. Things do start to seem to get a little bit repetitive for the first few loops, and I was left wondering – where are we going from here? If you do end up watching this film – stick with it. This film does know where it is going, you’ve just got to bear with it while you get there. As with most good thrillers, there are plenty of ooooooohhhhh!” moments, as things start to make sense.

Due to the short nature and lack of backstory, the characters are little bit drab and it is at times a little hard to understand some motives and actions that they do, based on the information we have been given. But as I say, it is the loop situation which is the most interesting thing about the film, so the fact the characters lack a  little bit of depth isn’t a deal breaker.

For the keener eyes, there are some potential holes in the plot, but with the nature of this film, and it’s length, being bullet proof just wasn’t going to happen. There may be fantastic explanations in the heads of the writers for the question marks you have, but there isn’t the time or the need to throw these into the movie. Once you have seen the film, there are actually some pretty interesting theories kicking around the interweb to explain some of the possible holes. Needless to say, make sure you have the seen the film first before you check these out or you will spoil it. If you know the reveals before you watch the film, it really isn’t then worth watching.

It seems like this film has got modest ratings, and that is probably fair. At around the hour and a half mark, you don’t need to set aside a lengthy amount of time to watch this, so it is definitely worth the watch. Although this is not a classic, and I’m not sure how much re-watch value this one has, give it a go, and stick with it – they payoff you get when all is revealed is worth it.


Bay-Watch something else…

Oh man, did this film suck. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I didn’t go into it expecting for it to be a good movie – but there is a difference between a bad movie and a movie that sucks. A bad movie is usually pretty enjoyable because it is so dumb and lets you have fun, a movie that sucks is just well, terrible all round.

baywatch movie poster

This film even made out in the trailers and posters that it was just plain crazy – giving the impression it wasn’t going to take itself seriously and embrace what it was. Unfortunately, that didn’t really come across. It felt like it was either being too serious or trying too hard to be funny. It seemed like for big chunks of the film it was trying to be a comedy, but the jokes just weren’t landing. The theme of the jokes became repetitive, and despite 3 or 4 chuckles, it really didn’t work for me. A particular High School Musical reference was just too cringey to have thought it was a good idea to include it.

I think the lack of humour was a combination of just poor jokes, and also to the fact the chemistry between the leads just wasn’t there. I’m usually a massive fan of The Rock (even though he’s in Hollywood now, he’ll always be The Rock to me!), he just didn’t seem to click with Efron, who I am not really a fan of anyway. I enjoyed the scenes with The Rock when these two weren’t together, but when they were, it just felt forced and stale.

There are quite a few characters in this, but there a few who are presented as key characters that always seem to fall into the background, and one in particular, the supposed second in command of Baywatch, whose name I can’t even remember. At times the film tries to add some depth to a few of the characters, but it felt like an afterthought, didn’t add much, and is all in all pretty forgettable. I did enjoy Hannibal Burress’s small amount of screen time, as he was funny every time he was on, and showed it was possible to nail comic timing in this film.

When the film was meant to be at what I would say it’s craziest – it did have all the ingredients, but it still didn’t seem to work. Diving into a fire in the middle of the ocean seems like you’d be going – “WOAH, what the hell was that” – but for some reason, it just felt flat. I’ve seen The Rock do stuff like in other films, (see my Fast and Furious post) and it was awesome, but this just did not hit the spot. Also, how many movies am I going to have to watch that include a fight scene with The Rock before they give me a Rockbottom or a People’s Elbow? Come on Rocky, I thought you were the people’s champion, give the people what they want!

As you’d expect, one thing this film is not short of delivering on is a stunning cast. Sure the acting wasn’t on point, but to look at – first class. One thing I did learn from this movie is that although not seemingly massively practical,  zippers on swimsuits seem to be a winner. Unfortunately, a beautiful cast does not do enough to save this movie or even come close to making this one you should go and see.

I haven’t seen Baywatch the TV show, so I don’t know if old fans of the show will get more out of this, but anyhow I don’t really have too much else to say on this one. It was just a sucky movie. Which is disappointing because I thought I was going to have a lot of fun watching it. And I don’t like giving The Rock a bad review, because, come on, it’s The Rock – he’s awesome.

I wouldn’t recommend you go see this one, do yourself a favour and go (Bay)watch something else.


Wonder Woman (spoiler free)

It feels like this film was announced a long time ago and then all of sudden it was here without much fuss being made. Which is a bit odd, becuase it seems like the post-Nolan/Bale DC film universe had a lot riding on this. I remember everybody going crazy for Man of Steel when it came out (yes I know Nolan was attached to this), but it seems like it hasn’t been remembered as an absolute classic, and Batman versus Superman was a complete letdown. So if Wonder Woman were to flop, any hype there might be for the Justice League movie would be seriously damaged. However, I am glad to say after leaving the screen yesterday, on opening day in the UK – I was not disappointed!

wonder woman movie poster

Wonder Woman is very much its own film and does not need to, and chooses not to lean on the other films so far in the new DC movie universe. However, with the build up to Justice League now happening, there was no way we were going to be let to forget (as if we would!) that the films exist together with pretty much the first thing we see is a Wayne Enterprise car and note from Bruce Wayne! Told as a flashback, Wonder Woman to me was kind of an origin story, kicking off introducing us to the character as a child, Diana, and wanting to train as a warrior – unaware of the power she has been truly been granted. In hindsight, it doesn’t feel like we spent too much time with this part of the film, but during the viewing, it felt a little slow, and it took a while for the film to really get going.

When Chris Pine’s special agent character is introduced, crash landing on the Amazons secret island of  Themyscira, a secret island inhabited only by warriors – who are all women, and all seemingly beautiful, does the film start to get going. Learning of what is happening out in mankind (WW1), Diana feels she can’t stand by and do nothing, and heads out into the world with Pine. There is a lot more to the backstory that I’m not going to go into, but you can go watch the movie for that!

Having spent her whole life on Themyscira, there is a nice balance to the Wonder Woman character. With a mix of complete level-headedness and power, combined with an innocent naivety of the real-world which Diana has just entered into the character is incredibly charming and where it can take some time to warm to Superman and (Affleck’s) Batman, Wonder Woman is instantly likeable. In fact, there is no snide to any of the heroes of this film – centered (obviously) mainly around Wonder Woman and Pine with also their supporting team of an Indian Chief, a Scottish sharpshooter and a fellow secret agent, you can’t do anything but like all of them. In terms of “bad-guys”, there isn’t anything too unexpected and Wonder Woman doesn’t stray too far away from the classic superhero movie villian formula.

This isn’t an all out action packed superhero movie as a lot of the film relies on the chemistry between the characters, and a lot of the great moments come from the dialogue. This is also where all the humour comes from as well. Unlike the Marvel universe where one-liners are thrown into battles, Wonder Woman keeps these humour and the action separate. That said, I personally didn’t find the movie that funny, whereas I have seen quite a few people have praised it for its humour. But for me this wasn’t an issue as I didn’t head in looking for a comedy. I’ve read some comments mentioning that Gal Gadot at times didn’t quite match her co-stars acting chops, but I personally didn’t notice, and thought she was a great lead.

Although the dialogue and chemistry between characters is great in this film, for me this film really shined when we got to see Wonder Woman actually in action. The first battlefield scene is just fantastic, and as the film goes on we are treated to a couple of great action sequences. Whereas Man of Steel was criticised for the length and frequency of the fight scenes, with Patty Jenkins at the helm directing, the balance seems to be just right, with the scenes nicely spread out and not turning into long drawn out affairs. The twang of the Wonder Woman music also put a smile on my face whenever the film kicked into action!

With a lot to carry on its shoulders this film certainly delivered. And I for one am now much more excited for the Justice League movie. Hopefully the tone of this movie will now set the pace for the upcoming DC efforts. I really would like to see DC kick on as although Marvel do make awesome films (and I’m a massive fan) –  DC is the home of my absolute favourite superhero creations, Batman and Watchmen.

I’d definitely recommend you go and check this one out  – 7.5/10

p.s do yourself a favour and don’t bother staying until the end of the credits – once they start to roll, that is it – there are no post-credit scenes.