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Non-Review Review: Enola Holmes

Enola Holmes is a movie with a lot of charm, anchored in a sense of playful enthusiasm and a winning central performance.

Adapted from Nancy Springer’s The Enola Holmes Mysteries series of novels, the basic premise of Enola Holmes is straightforward enough. The classic Victorian detective Sherlock Holmes is given a younger sister, who inevitably finds herself forced to navigate the wider world while solving mysteries and avoiding the best efforts of her older brothers to ship her off to a suffocating and restrictive boarding school where she might be taught to be a lady.

Make yourself at Holmes…

Enola Holmes moves quickly and cheerfully through its starting premise and central mystery, bouncing from one sequence to another with considerable grace. However, it’s lead actor Millie Bobby Brown who carries the film. Brown is probably best known for her work on Stranger Things and a prominent role in Godzilla: King of the Monsters, but Enola Holmes suggests a long and promising career ahead of the young actor. It is impossible to imagine the movie seeming as effortless without her at its centre.

In fact, Enola Holmes suffers most when it moves away from its protagonist and makes room in her story for less compelling (but more nominally “important”) characters that wind up sapping the film’s energy. Enola Holmes has a surprisingly slow start for a film that breezes along once it finds its footing, and that is largely because it is initially reluctant to give its central character the breathing room that she needs. Still, once the film gets past that, it is a highly enjoyable adventure.

Enola that look…

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197. The Circus – This Just In (#232)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, The 250 is a (mostly) weekly trip through some of the best (and worst) movies ever made, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users.

This time, Charlie Chaplin’s The Circus.

Desperately fleeing the authorities, a lovable tramp finds his way into the heart of a local circus. Initially struggling to find a place among the performers, the rogue strikes up a connection with the cruel ring master’s daughter. However, as a dashing tightrope walker vies for her affections, can the tramp strike the perfect balance?

At time of recording, it was ranked 232nd on the list of the best movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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195. The Third Man (#177)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, and this week with special guest Neasa Hardiman, The 250 is a (mostly) weekly trip through some of the best (and worst) movies ever made, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users.

This time, Carol Reed’s The Third Man.

Holly Martins arrives in Vienna to visit his old friend Harry Lime. However, Holly quickly discovers that all is not what it seems. Harry apparently died in a freak traffic accident shortly before Harry arrived. As British officers start asking pointed questions about the dead man, Holly becomes increasingly anxious that something has gone very wrong.

At time of recording, it was ranked 177th on the list of the best movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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New Escapist Column! On “TRON: Legacy” as a Disney Princess Film for Boys…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With news that Disney have commissioned another sequel to TRON, it felt like the right time to take a look back at the last attempt to revive the franchise in TRON: Legacy.

TRON: Legacy is a fascinating film, a product of a strange time at Disney – it was between the purchase of Marvel Entertainment and the release of The Avengers, and before the purchase of LucasFilm. So Disney was trying, with films like John Carter, The Lone Ranger and Tomorrowland to craft live action blockbusters that would appeal to young male audiences. Legacy was the earliest of these examples, perhaps the most successful and the most fascinating: in large part because it tried to translate what Disney did so well in animation into live action.

Legacy is effectively an effort to reimagine the classic animated princess story as a big tentpole blockbuster. It doesn’t entirely work, but the results are fascinating. You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

New Escapist Column! On How “The Snyder Cut” Went From Impossibility to Inevitability…

I published a new In the Frame piece at Escapist Magazine this evening. The big news this past week has been that Zack Snyder has been given $30m to finish his cut of Justice League.

This is quite a complicated matter. There’s a lot of discussion and debate around it, about what this means for the future of Hollywood. However, the news about the release of The Snyder Cut is down to a number of unique factors aligning in completely unpredictable ways, meaning that a project like this one went from being the last thing that Warners would want to being exactly what they needed. In the course of a few months, the Snyder Cut morphed from seeming impossibility to inevitability. That is an incredible turnaround.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

 

New Escapist Column! On “The Edge of Tomorrow” as the Perfect Video Game Movie…

I published a new In the Frame piece at Escapist Magazine yesterday. With the release of Sonic the Hedgehog, I figured it was the perfect chance to revisit the best video game movie ever: The Edge of Tomorrow.

Look, I freely concede that there are maybe some slight issues with that argument, given that The Edge of Tomorrow isn’t actually or literally based on an established video game franchise. However, there’s something very compelling in the way that The Edge of Tomorrow embraces the aesthetics and sensibilities of video games in order to tell its story, offering a much more faithful replication of the experience of playing a video game than films like Street Fighter or Super Mario Brothers.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

New Escapist Column! On How COVID-19 Will Change The Movies…

I published a new piece at Escapist Magazine this evening, looking at the future of film distribution.

COVID-19 has already had a huge impact on film distribution, from the cancellation of film festivals through to the early arrival of new releases on streaming. However, as the crisis continues and as debates extend over how long the situation will last, it seems fair to wonder about what the long-term implications of this will be in terms of film distribution and movie-watching. After all, there’s a sense in which the massive changes to the industry in the past few weeks are ultimately just the acceleration of trends that studios have been pushing for a while.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

New Escapist Column! On the New Films Available Early on Streaming…

I published a new Don’t Miss It piece at Escapist Magazine this evening

Basically, with the shutdown of theatres, a lot of content is landing on digital streaming services very quickly. It can be hard to keep track of it all, so we thought we’d throw together a quick round-up of the headlines, drawing attention to films like Just Mercy, The Way Back, Birds of Prey, Emma., The Hunt, The Invisible Man and more that will be available straight to your television set in the next couple of days.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

172. Left Behind (-#33)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, and this week with guest Andy Melhuish, The 250 is a (mostly) weekly trip through some of the best (and worst) movies ever made, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users.

This time, Vic Armstrong’s Left Behind.

Captain Ray Steele has it all: a beautiful wife, a loving family, a successful job as a high-flying pilot. Still, he finds his eye wandering and temptation calling. Everything changes when disaster strikes during a long-haul flight, when Ray’s co-pilot and several passengers mysterious disappear without any reason whatsoever. What could possibly abduct passengers from an airplane mid-flight? And what happens to those who are left behind?

At time of recording, it was ranked 33rd on the list of the worst movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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Non-Review Review: Military Wives

This film was seen as part of the Virgin Media Dublin International Film Festival 2020. Given the high volumes of films being shown and the number of reviews to be written, these may end up being a bit shorter than usual reviews.

Military Wives is illustrates the appeal in hitting the right notes off the sheet music.

Military Wives is the latest entry in a particularly popular subgenre of midbudget film, the type of movie about a quirky hobby against the backdrop of everyday British life. There are any number of examples, from Swimming With Men to Finding Your Feet to Calendar Girls, arguably extending out to more class-conscious examples like Billy Elliot and Brassed Off. Perhaps the most iconic and successful example, the film which proved the international viability of the format, remains The Full Monty. These are films that largely hinge on an appealing juxtaposition between perceived British stoicism and enjoyable eccentricity.

Military Wives is loosely based on a true story of the military wives choir that became a minor national sensation when it played the Festival of Remembrance in 2011. Indeed, they went on to have a Christmas number one with their song Wherever You Are. However, Military Wives hews very closely to the established template. Once again, there is a conflict between stoicism and whimsy. The stoicism is of the most sombre sort, with the story focusing on the wives of soldiers deployed to Afghanistan, waiting to hear word home. The whimsy arises from the juxtaposition of having those wives sing Yazoo and Tears For Fears.

Military Wives never deviates too far from the template, but it doesn’t have to. Rachel Tunnard and Rosanne Flynn’s script understands why this sort of story works, and director Peter Cattaneo (a veteran of The Full Monty) is smart enough to trust actors Kristin Scott Thomas and Sharon Horgan to carry the film. There is occasionally a sense that Military Waves is working from a rough sketch rather than a finished plan, but it is mostly built to specifications.

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