Jules Movie Reviews

Bite Size Movie reviews from Wanaka, New Zealand

Brief Movie reviews

Watched on a plane, device, streaming exclusive or not worthy of a full review

“Maiden” ****  – Excellent, inspirational documentary about Tracey Edwards and her all female crew sailing around the world as part of the Whitbread race. Real adventure and true spirit in the face of adversity, huge waves and 90’s institutionalized sexism.

The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part – Fun, hyper-kinetic, not as good as the original but worth a watch ***

The Boy Who Would be King – Not bad, not great but worth a look on a rainy day but falling uneasily between a kid’s and adult film) **1/2

Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse – Great fun, beautifully animated and voice acted with a great story and message – recommended ****1/2

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World – Beautifully animated, fun and genuinely touching in the closing sequences – a decent end to a trilogy that punched above it’s weight ***1/2

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald – Average movie with a confused story, providing only a loose framework on which to hang special effects – Eddie Redmayne good though ***

Lion King (New) ***1/2 – Technically brilliant, the animation is almost faultless and voice acting strong. However, photo-realistic animals talking and singing seems odd, whereas a cartoon did not….The film seems unnecessary, but $1.6Bn box office says not and new viewers will love it.

Mulan (New) ***1/2 – Much like Lion King above, feels somewhat unnecessary despite a great turn by the lead actress Yifei Liu. Falling between Disney’s desire to make this a blood free affair and a need for more grit to make the action less, ironically, less cartoonish. Receives extra 1/2 star for NZ Director and Otago (NZ) filmed main sequences.

Raya and the Last Dragon ****1/2 – Excellent state of the art animation, great voice work especially from “Awkwafina” with a different and most welcome story perspective. Learning to trust even those perceived as enemies for everyone to gain. Occasionally leaning towards a younger audience but with enough to keep the “oldies” interested (no musical interludes either….)

Luca **** – Arguably a lesser Pixar effort but a beautifully animated (sea monster?) friendship movie that evokes childhood “best buddy” memories. The stylized small Italian village is a delight and whilst skewing young, the movie still manages to tweak adult heartstrings towards the conclusion.

Love and Monsters ***1/2 – Good silly fun with some imaginative monsters. Skews to comedy rather than horror and has a batshit crazy end sequence. Solid comedic turn from Dylan O’Brien, mixing the action with frequent self deprecating monologues. ps Dog does not die so safe to watch…..

Made In Italy ** – Given the talent on offer and underlying subtext, a very poor effort but great Tuscan scenery – watch as a travelogue not a real movie. Cast and crew must have had fun making the film in Italy though….

Jungle Cruise *** – Fun in an undemanding way, despite little chemistry between the “Rock” and Emily Blunt but promising start. Descends into usual CGI laden end sequence, with Paul Giamatti’s talent wasted & Jessee Plemons captaining a submarine in the Amazon, enough said.

14 Peaks: Nothing is Impossible **** – Excellent alpine documentary highlighting an amazing Nepalese climber, demonstrating what a human can achieve if one is single minded enough.

Those That Wish Me Dead ** – a real clunker with some terrible dialogue and early Angelina Jolie machismo, before resorting to wooden Jolie acting. Young lad has to emote through entire film and does well, but not sure why Nicholas Hoult is in this?

The Ice Road **1/2 – Starts well enough and Laurence Fisburne always adds necessary realism. However, big trucks crashing through thin ice is clearly not enough, Liam Neeson needs conspiracies to solve and people to punch, surely he is better than this?

The Duke *** – Helen Mirren and Jim Broadbent in Ealingsque type of dramedy set in the 60’s and based on a true story. Not terrible but like a creaky old fashioned stage play, which fails to engage the audience, one for a rainy Sunday afternoon only.

The Adam Project *** – Ryan Reynolds, Mark Ruffalo, Jennifer Garner and Zoe Saldana all taking the Netflix cheques. Promising start with some touching scenes, before descending into CGI mediocrity – inexcusable with this cast.

The Lost City **1/2 – Sandra Bullock, Channing Tatum and (briefly Brad Pitt) taking the Netflix cheques. Starts amiably enough before, well you will know when you see it and then continues to make no sense with Daniel Radcliffe acting as if in another film

The Gray Man ***1/2 – Ryan Gosling in more serious mode, Chris Evans as cartoon style villain (with moustache). Average spy action thriller, girl in peril, lots of shoots-outs including an impressive albeit deliriously OTT Prague set scene. $200 million of Netflix subscribers money misspent, no wonder subscriptions are falling.

Movies too upsetting or disturbing

Son of Saul – Just too realistic and heartbreaking depiction of one aspect of the holocaust – just could not watch more than twenty minutes.

HIGHLY recommended – More devastating due to the restraint shown by the director (what I saw) but you must be prepared, even with many events in the background deliberately out of focus…..

Life is too short to watch truly bad movies. I don’t choose films I know will be terrible, just so I can review them with a poor score.

Even so, here are some films we had hopes for, yet were just so bad, boring or just downright offensive (IMHO) that we had no choice but to stop:-

Watched but not worth reviewing

  • The Great Wall (OMG what a mess, anything with balloons = instant disaster)
  • Inferno (Nice travelogue, terrible film)
  • Men In Black International – (removed everything from the film that made MIB great)
  • Red Notice – (OMG $200m budget, how can it be this bad?)

Stopped Watching

  • Hologram for a King (Confusing, who is it aimed at?)
  • Chappie (Confused, crass, violent and a mess)
  • Jupiter Rising (confused and plain boring)
  • Mr Turner (worthy maybe but….boring)
  • Ted (Just rude and unfunny)
  • 50/50 (Just rude)
  • Daredevil (Rubbish)
  • The Green Hornet (Rubbish)
  • John Carter (A mess)
  • Mr Holmes (Boring)
  • Miss Peregrines Home For Peculiar Children (Not terrible but who is it aimed at?)
  • Kong: Skull Island (Just plain weird and not very well done)
  • Aquaman (too silly, too long with multiple endings)
  • Kingsman The Golden Circle (Silly, not even vaguely real from the off)
  • Blinded by The Light – (Reasonable start but quickly goes off the rails – disappointing)
  • Don’t look Up – (Shocking waste of talent and Netflix Subscribers money)

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Bite Size Movie reviews from Wanaka, New Zealand



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