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Misbehaviour review – likable comedy of bizarre and farcical 1970 Miss World

Despite the film not being able to transition quite so smoothly between its two binding themes, there is a lot of entertainment on show, and that is mostly thanks to the truly excellent cast of performers in central and supporting roles. Keira Knightley seems to excel in any role that puts her in a time period other than our own, and as Sally she effortlessly exudes that sort of 1970s early intellectual feminist attitude, an attitude that is wonderfully contrasted by the more militant activism and charisma of her friend Jo played by Jessie Buckley. Together those two actresses are the key figureheads for the Women’s Lib element of the film, and they are great.

It feels against the message of the film to say, but I need to stress just how irresistibly resplendent Gugu Mbatha-Raw is as Miss Grenada Jennifer Hosten. The grace, serenity and knowing intelligence that both the character and actress possess is a captivating joy to watch, and Mbatha-Raw along with Loreece Harrison as Pearl Jansen (the first black Miss South Africa) provide a necessary and thought provoking contrast for the audience, helping us to see how the pageant, as strikingly ‘cattle market’ as it might be, was one of the very few avenues for a minority to be given a platform.

Overall, Misbehaviour falls in very neatly with dozens of other British comedy dramas of its like, not quite the top tier, but still far from being anything close to bad. Given the subject matter and themes involved, it perhaps doesn’t have quite as much bite as I would have personally wanted, but a handful of really great performances along with that quintessentially ‘comfortable’ British quality make it a solid enough watch.

As for the immediate future of this blog, I’ll try to catch new releases on home cinema as and when I can, but the main thing is that we all stay safe and be sensible. Hunker down, build up that Netflix queue, and enjoy doing your part to prevent this shitty virus from spreading to those more vulnerable than ourselves. See you soon!

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Kumail Nanjiani and Issa Rae in ‘The Lovebirds’: Film Review

It’s not every day, or even every year, that a romantic comedy touches a nerve of reality — and is drop-dead funny, and becomes an acclaimed awards-bait hit. So when a director makes the rare romantic comedy that accomplishes all those things, unwittingly or not he has set the bar high for his next effort. “The Lovebirds” is the first movie directed by Michael Showalter since “The Big Sick,” the 2017 indie knockout about love, cultural identity, and a girlfriend in a coma, and since this one also costars the deadpan live wire Kumail Nanjiani (though he didn’t cowrite it, as he did “The Big Sick”), it’s hard not to go in with your expectations in overdrive.

The opening scenes totally deliver. We see the moony morning after the night that Jibran (Nanjiani) and Leilani (Issa Rae) first slept together — they met at an event while flirting at the crudité table — and the actors generate the kind of connective heat that’s either there or it’s not.

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“Incredibles 2,” Reviewed: A Sequel in the Shadow of a Masterwork

For some reason, the hype and love for the original Incredibles film was something that kind of passed me by. Don’t get me wrong, I laughed along in the cinema with the rest of you those fourteen years ago, and I can’t profess to being ‘too cool’ for kid’s movies as a 15 year old in 2004 (I’m still not that cool), but the Incredibles was just a film that rarely entered my thinking process when it came to pondering a top five Pixar list. That doesn’t mean, though, that I wasn’t excited about the prospect of re-entering the universe. In fact, with a PR promise of the main focus being on Elastigirl this time around, I went in with the rare feeling that this could be a sequel I like better than the original.

I wasn’t wrong. Although released fourteen years later, Incredibles 2 takes off literally seconds after the end of the 2004 original. Everyone’s favourite super powered family are forced to fight off the bizarre mole like villain Underminer, but in doing so they attract far too much public attention to themselves are forced to go in to hiding of their own volition after the government shuts down the Superhero Relocation Program. This time around, and in a very timely narrative choice, it is Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) who is contacted by a man named Winston Deavor (Bob Odenkirk), a millionaire businessman who is committed to reversing the law that criminalises superhero through public acts of heroism and good PR.

In an attempt to avoid the messy, costly style of heroic destruction that often follows Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson), Elastigirl is chosen as the new figurehead of this operation, and whilst she becomes embroiled in a fight against a mysterious cyber villain known as the Screensaver, dad has to stay at home with the kids and face his own battles in the form of Violet’s (Sarah Vowell) new crush, Dash’s (Huck Milner) penchant for trouble and baby Jack Jack’s many, MANY emerging powers. With a little babysitting help, of course, from our favourite super-suit designer, Edna Mode (Brad Bird).

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All the characters from the live-action ‘Mulan,’ ranked

I’m sure there were others at the time, but to me it very much feels like Mulan was the first high profile casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic. I mentioned in my March review of System Crasher that I had expected to be watching Disney’s big new remake on that weekend, but here we finally are six months later! I might be back in the cinema now, but Disney+ was chosen as the home for this long awaited picture. As I pressed play, I hoped beyond hope that the wait was going to be worth it.

As I am sure we all know, Mulan tells the story of Hua Mulan (Liu Yifei), a young woman who disguises herself as a male soldier to take the place of her ageing, injured father (Tzi Ma) after the Emperor of China (Jet Li) issues a decree to defend the country from Northern invaders.

I won’t beat around the bush, guys. The wait was not worth it. I’m not going to hide the fact that I am a huge fan of the 1998 animated version, so a lot of this review is going to be a comparative exercise between the two, but even as a stand alone feature, Mulan is an incredible disappointment. Let’s start with the comparisons, shall we? I’m not exaggerating when I say that every single important beat of this story was executed better twenty-two years ago. Moments like Mulan’s decision to transform herself, the iconic training montage, the final battle, each and every one is a pale imitation of what we saw in animated form in 1998. I’ve really thought about it, and this isn’t nostalgia talking, it’s just plain facts.

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Review: ‘The Nutcracker and the Four Realms’ Is Fine and Forgettable

As with “A Christmas Carol” and the Grinch, every generation gets its own version of “The Nutcracker,” it seems.

The latest incarnation of the E.T.A. Hoffmann story is Lasse Hallstrom and Joe Johnston’s “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms,” a hokey oddity that glissades along with a few charms and a pleasant score by James Newton Howard heavily incorporating themes from Tchaikovsky’s ballet (though there’s little dancing).

Children who are 10 and under may be enchanted by the abundantly whimsical holiday-themed visuals; accompanying adults might chuckle at the movie’s leaden attempt at a girl-empowering message. Anyone squeamish about rodents — even ones that have been rendered sort of cute by CGI — might consider steering clear.

On Christmas Eve in Victorian-era London, Clara (Mackenzie Foy), a budding inventor, receives a special, egg-shaped box left for her by her recently deceased mother. With it is a note that reads in part: “Everything you need is inside.” But lo! The key to unlock the egg is nowhere to be found, and thus her journey to discover what lies inside it (and, of course, herself) unfolds.

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‘The Witches’ Review: A Tale of Mice and Women, Toil and Trouble

There’s no eye of newt or toe of frog in “Roald Dahl’s The Witches,” Robert Zemeckis’s take on the 1983 book — just a mischief of mice, a cantankerous cat and an occasional s-s-snake. There are people, too; some buzz around in the background while others push the story forward. Chief among these are an unnamed orphan, call him the Boy (Jahzir Bruno, sweetly sensitive), and his loving grandmother (Octavia Spencer), who form a wee bulwark against witches who appear fair but are most foul.

Narrated by a distracting Chris Rock, the story primarily takes place in flashback, in 1967, starting with an accident that kills the Boy’s parents. He moves into the Alabama home of his Grandma, whose warm embrace eases his pain. Zemeckis, working from a script written with Kenya Barris and Guillermo del Toro, handles this setup effortlessly, with his two cozily inviting leads, low-key visual panache and customary restive camerawork. Within minutes, Zemeckis has created a vibrantly inhabited world, even if the golden oldies on the soundtrack are overly familiar, as is his habit, and Grandma’s caky cornbread looks more Northern than Southern.

The witches sidle in, disguised and cunning. One materializes in a once-upon-a-time tale; another pops up in the present. Amid intimations of doom, Grandma and the Boy decamp to a resort hotel, a nonsensical turn that’s effectively a narrative contrivance. There, they soon find themselves facing down a coven of witches stirring up trouble. United by their hatred of children, the twisted sisters are led by the Grand High Witch (an amusing Anne Hathaway), who arrives with a black cat, a trunk stuffed with cash and a vile plan. Speaking in a vaguely Eastern European accent with Nordic notes, she has a cavernous mouth and jagged teeth right out of del Toro’s imaginarium.

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‘Thunder Force’ Review: Melissa McCarthy and Octavia Spencer in a Superhero Satire That Never Threatens to Rock the Genre

A movie like “Thunder Force,” on the other hand, would like to skewer the genre, but it’s basically a whiffleball action comedy studded with middle-drawer Melissa McCarthy gags. The movie teams McCarthy and Octavia Spencer as estranged high-school pals who get back together after a reunion and turn themselves into a superhero team called Thunder Force. Lydia (McCarthy) has super-strength; Emily (Spencer) can turn invisible. Both are devoted to fighting Miscreants, mutant sociopaths who came into being when a pulse of interstellar rays struck the earth in 1983. The two get their superpowers after being injected with a genetic formula pioneered by Emily’s corporation. Inside, though, they remain their deeply ordinary selves, which is part of the joke, though it isn’t much of a joke.

They’ve got armored suits that make them look like members of a medieval S.W.A.T. team. They’ve got a name — Thunder Force! — that sounds just ridiculous enough to have been the title of a Howard Stern “Fartman” movie. They’ve got a purple Lamborghini, which it takes them a minute to stuff themselves into (or wedge themselves out of).

And when they meet the Crab (Jason Bateman), a Miscreant with crustacean pincers for arms, who for some reason is holding up a convenience store, Lydia looks into his eyes and it’s love at first crab pinch. There’s a fantasy sequence in which the two dance to Glenn Frey’s “You Belong to the City,” which is amusing, though I kept thinking that if this had been an “Airplane!”-style spoof, that dance number, with Bateman’s crab/human Lothario in a powder-blue tux, would have grown progressively more absurd, getting loopier and loopier, until it detonated the audience with laughter.

How much of a loser-slob is McCarthy’s Lydia? She’s a lonely alcoholic forklift operator who’s also a metalhead, the kind of person who sits in her kitchen in a VAN HALEN KICKS ASS T-shirt, taking bites of cereal with spoiled milk, which she then remedies by pouring in a beer (“Know what? Gonna thin that out”). She wears an Army jacket and has no friends, though she does have a funny moment when she shows up at the security desk in the office building that houses Emily’s genetics corporation, asking to see her ex-friend (“Estranged, I think, puts a stink on it that it might not warrant…”).

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Star Wars: The High Republic: The Rising Storm

Elzar Mann is a man consumed by a vision he can’t quite comprehend. Pain and suffering, the faces of his dearest friends and people he has yet to meet, swirl around him. But what does it mean?

In StarWars.com’s exclusive excerpt of the prologue from Star Wars: The High Republic: The Rising Storm, the forthcoming Star Wars: The High Republic novel by Cavan Scott, Elzar tries to unravel the terrifying images that suggest an end to the Jedi. Read the preview below, and pick up your own copy when The Rising Storm arrives June 29.

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Review: Wonder Woman 1984 Is What A Superman Movie Should Be

In Army of the Dead, Snyder has explained that there are several types of zombies, including the smarter “Alphas.” As the trailer shows, the Alphas are much smarter, faster and more organized than the run-of-the-mill shambling zombie. There also appears to be a hierarchy among them, with two zombies sticking out as the apparent “King” and “Queen.” Though these zombies don’t seem nearly as intelligent as the ones in Marvel Zombies, exhibiting a more primitive type of thinking.

A normal zombie horde is scary enough. They swarm victims and devour them alive. But many zombie films and TV suggest zombie groups can easily be tricked or avoided entirely because they have no real intelligence. Smart zombies, on the other hand, present a serious threat that can plan and prepare for any attacks the humans have in store for them. As per The Walking Dead, traditional zombies shuffle mindlessly in search of food, while smarter ones exist like a pack of hungry wolves in search of prey.  The possibility of Army of Dead‘s Alphas leading an organized attack is a terrifying one, considering Marvel Zombies already showcased how powerful these types of zombies can be.

Directed and co-written by Zack Snyder, Army of the Dead stars Dave Bautista, Garret Dillahunt, Ella Purnell, Omari Hardwick, Raul Castillo, Tig Notaro, Theo Rossi and Ana de la Reguera. The film arrives on Netflix May 21.

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Marvel Should Recast T’Challa in ‘Black Panther’ to Honor Chadwick Boseman

In this golden age of superheroes films, the Marvel Cinematic Universe stands tall and proud as a beacon to this blockbuster tentpole of comic book heroes and villains. This shared movie franchise that began back in 2008 has bolstered some of the greatest superheroes that Marvel has in its illustrious comic book history, bringing iconic heroes, villains, gods, and monsters to the big screen. Naturally, the bigger and more popular comic book characters were part of initial release when the MCU first rolled out its “Phase I” saga, seeing Tony Stark / Iron Man, Bruce Banner / Hulk, Steve Rogers / Captain America, and Thor to the grace the silver screen in their own feature films as well as superhero team up ones (i.e. the Avengers films). Over time (and its overwhelming success), the MCU began to expand its own cinematic universe, exploring and examining lesser-known comic book characters to “bring into the fold” of this lucrative film franchise. Thus, Marvel characters like Ant-Man, and Doctor Strange, and the Guardians of the Galaxy have gotten their own standalone feature film and have been brought into this growing roster of Marvel heroes. Back in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War (the 13th film in the MCU), while many viewers were excited to see the new iteration of Spider-Man (played by actor Tom Holland), the film also introduced the character of T’Challa, the heir apparent to the fictional African nation of Wakanda, and his superhero masked alter-ego…the Black Panther. Interestingly (and not just a cameo), T’Challa, who was played by actor Chadwick Boseman, actually played an important part in Civil War’s narrative, which served as the foundation to introduced the future king of Wakanda within the MCU. Now, the time has come for the character of T’Challa to get his own feature film as Marvel Studios and director Ryan Coogler present the 18th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe Black Panther. Does this movie find its regal place amongst its superhero MCU brethren or does it fail to impress even the most stalwart comic book fans out there?

The logo for the film also gives some clues as to Kamala’s part. While the “A” in “Marvels” features Captain Marvel’s insignia, the “S” is Ms. Marvel’s iconic logo. The upcoming Disney+ show Ms. Marvel is set to release in late 2021, preceding The Marvels‘ release in 2022. This means Kamala will be an established character going into the film and the story won’t need to waste time introducing her. And there’s always the possibility that Carol Danvers herself could make an appearance in Ms. Marvel to set up events of her sequel.