No Time to Delay – What next for Hollywood?

News has just broken that the 25th James Bond film ‘No Time to Die’ (a very ironic title to be the first film to delay due to a virus) will move from its imminent April release date to November 2020 due to the huge disruption the corona virus is having worldwide.

The Bond franchise relies heavily on overseas box office, and with cinemas in China and places all over Europe either closed or almost empty anyway due to the virus (with seemingly worse to come), then it makes sense this film would take the costly and risky decision to move.

Another factor to consider is what the plot of this film is, could it potentially be that our villain was due to unleash some deadly virus on the world, which would not be a good look for a film right now?

However, the interesting thing will now be what films follow its lead. The virus is likely to get worse over the coming months leading to the summer, and therefore is set to hugely disrupt the industry.

I believe the films that most rely on China and other overseas markets in coming time are Mulan, Black Widow, F9: The Fast Saga among others.

Especially for Mulan and F9, a big release in China is essentially what is separating those films from being classed as success or failure. Maybe it is too late to move Mulan, but I wouldn’t be surprised at all if F9 and many other films followed Bond’s lead.

It’s going to be a fascinating and potentially terrifying next few months, but I will keep up to date and cover it as soon as anything changes.

Films to Watch – March 2020

Here I will break down a brief list of the most talked about, anticipated, or interesting films due for release this month. It will follow the US release schedule which usually matches up to the rest of the world in general (I will do a weekly update of the films and TV to watch in the UK, beginning Monday). This is likely to become a monthly post if it is successful and helpful.

The Corona Virus is likely to start significantly impacting the release and box office of 2020 movies, and only time will tell when the main impact (obviously this is low on everyone’s worry list about the virus, but still worth considering) will be felt, with Mulan likely to be the first high profile film hugely impacted.

Onward – 6th March

Pixar return with an original film starring Tom Holland and Chris Pratt. I’ve already seen this one, and I can confirm it is full of heart, wonder, and humour. It isn’t tracking at the level of a usual Pixar hit, so time will tell on how commercially successful this film will be.

The Way Back – 6th March

Ben Affleck has been fighting a lot of personal demons in recent years, and this drama about an alcoholic basketball coach seems very close to his heart. He is making a big acting comeback this year and while it seems like the sort of film most people won’t see in this day and age, I’m curious to see what Affleck does here.

First Cow – 6th March

Kelly Reichardt is a hugely respected indie director, but not someone the mainstream audiences would be at all familiar with. That also perfectly sums up this A24 film, which very few members of the generals public would know about but many of us with a strong interest in the film industry cannot wait.

Bloodshot – 13th March

Vin Diesel has notoriously struggled to prove he is an out and out movie star when he isn’t in the Fast & Furious movies, and here is another attempt to launch a franchise. The thing I’m most looking forward to here is the always fun Eiza González. This adaptation of the Valiant comic has a responsible budget but I still don’t see many scenarios where this is a big success.

The Hunt – 13th March

A film that was originally due out in September 2019 but was pushed back by Universal due to a high profile mass shouting in America and the backlash that followed. This Blumhouse thriller stars an eclectic cast including Betty Gilpin, Hilary Swank, Emma Roberts, and Glenn Howerton.

A Quiet Place Part II – 20th March

The hugely anticipated follow up to director John Krasinski’s horror smash hit, the film will again star Emily Blunt and this time brings Cillian Murphy along for the ride. We have little idea of the story, but hopefully Krasinski will continue to flex his muscles as a director and will also get another stunning star turn out of his wife Emily Blunt.

Mulan – 27th March

A $200 Million adaptation of the classic Disney toon, this is the first of these live action updates to take big risks and really diverge from the source material. With this in mind, I was hopefully it would succeed to encourage the Mouse House to take more risks. However, backlash over the political stance of its star, a reasonably low amount of buzz, and the Corona Virus meaning Chinese cinemas are closed, it doesn’t look bright for this film.

The Dead Don’t Die (2019) – Review

A Universal Picture, Written and Directed by Jim Jarmusch.

Jim Jarmusch is quite rightly regarded by many lovers of film, specifically independent cinema, as one of finest writer/directors of his generation. His low-key style and ability to get strong performances from his actors is admirable, and when I heard he was making this film I was thrilled.

However, I was quickly disappointed and still remain unsure exactly what he was trying to do. The ending points towards Jarmusch trying to make a strong and very on the nose political statement that was very poorly delivered, especially for someone like him.

The plot is so slow and meandering that it is tough to watch at times, and it isn’t funny enough to be a comedy, scary enough to be a horror, dramatic enough to be a drama, or even smart enough to be a satire.

The only saving grace is the incredible cast (although most of them have essentially nothing to do which is a waste of their talents). Bill Murray and Adam Driver, while obviously both have been a lot better, deliver amusingly deadpan lead performances that suit the tone of the film. Chloe Sevigny and a totally bonkers Tilda Swinton also make impressions. So does Selena Gomez, who is mostly used as eye candy here, but proves yet again that she deserves more frequent and higher quality acting work as she is very talented.

This had all the makings of a film that could stand alongside the likes of Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland as entertaining modern zombie comedies, but it fell sadly very short.

Rating = 2.5/5

The Pale Horse (2020) – TV Review

In recent years, adapting Agatha Christie for the BBC has become popular and has led to reasonable success, and I would firmly put this adaptation somewhere in the middle of the versions based on quality. It is far from a bad show, but it also fails to reach the heights of classic Christie.

The sense of dread is built well throughout, with a mix of witchcraft and old school crime mystery leaving the viewer completely unsure of what is happening and where the story is going, although the issue is that most viewers had the same feeling by the time the two-part show was over, with very little in the way of closure or answers.

The cast is the best thing about the show, with three stars particularly standing out; Rufus Sewell, Kaya Scodelario, and Bertie Carvel. Sewell seems to just get cooler with age, and he looks and acts perfectly for this role of troubled yet suave gentleman. Scodelario broke out in teen hit Skins but as she has grown, has continued to show what a talented actress she is, and here she perfectly plays a young wife with simmering rage under the surface. As for Bertie Carvel, fans of Doctor Foster will find him unrecognisable here, as he is playing a real oddball and sinister character.

I look forward to the next Agatha Christie adaptation that the BBC despite’s to tackle.

Rating = 3/5

The Call of the Wild (2020) – Review

A 20th Century Picture, Written by Michael Green, Directed by Chris Sanders.

The film was set up at Fox but very much feels a Disney movie through and through, with that sense of magic and underdog spirit shining through.

Despite the low-key release for this large budget film, now coming from Disney, this film actually surprised me and was enjoyable.

Harrison Ford proves that he still has it in a very impressive starring role, bringing not just his trademark charisma but some real emotional depth to the lead human role.

Omar Sy and Cara Gee do some of the heavy lifting in the first half of the film before Ford takes over. Karen Gillan appears in a cameo that provides a few laughs. Dan Stevens is a totally over the top villain that works perfectly with the tone of the film.

The real star of the film is Buck, the dog who’s story we follow. The decision to make the dog CGI was a big one, and while it is painfully obvious the dog isn’t real, they still manage to capture the essence of a dog and it therefore mostly works.

This isn’t a perfect film by any means, but it’s solid entertainment that the whole family can enjoy.

Rating = 3/5

Doctor Who Season 12 – TV Review

Following the deeply disappointing season 11, there was a lot of pressure on this season, and while it was far from perfect, it really dragged my attention back to Doctor Who and was mostly a real success.

The season brought back the idea of season arcs and huge plot twists, both of which proved to be big successes, even if you factor in the disappointing finale. The two part series premiere introduced a interesting new Master and was impressive, and the fifth episode of the season will go down as one of the most shocking and memorable in the shows history.

A lot of the single episodes were very entertaining and in my opinion captured the spirit of classic Who while keeping it up to date with modern day problems. It worked for both adult fans and kids just discovering the show.

As for the companions, Bradley Walsh continues to be an absolute delight and he adds much needed comic relief. As for Mandip Gill and Tosin Cole, they have now had two seasons, and time is up. Gill in particular is a good actress, but the characters are just so poorly written that nothing can be done, and it’s time for the show to be rejuvenated in season 13 with a new companion (just one) to accompany Whittaker.

Speaking of Jodie Whittaker, she truly became The Doctor this season. She is a brilliant actress and had the chance to show that this season, with many more dark moments where she was able to thrive. I hope she gets a new companion in season 13 who she can really bounce off (she had strong chemistry with Dhawan) and I really hope she gets to interact with John Barrowman’s Captain Jack.

I was disappointed by the finale (which I went into in more detail in my previous post) but I found the season overall to be a huge step in the right direction.

The final cliffhanger came out of absolutely nowhere (but cleverly referenced a iconic David Tennant moment) and also will hopefully act as more of a series finale for season 12 than the one we got. I presume it will be the end of our 3 companions, while also re-introducing the Daleks. ‘Revolution of the Daleks’ has a lot of expectations on its shoulders this Christmas, but the biggest compliment I can pay this season is that I am once again excited to see what is next.

Rating = 3.5/5

Doctor Who – The Timeless Children

Promised as an unmissable series finale that would change the show forever, ‘The Timeless Child’ had the job of concluding one of the shows best seasons in recent memory and satisfyingly answering multiple questions the season had posed, and it mostly failed.

While I appreciate the fact they made some big risks in messing hugely with the shows history, which I personally didn’t mind that part of the show, I didn’t like how they dealt with the other mysteries they had set up throughout the season, mostly leaving them totally unanswered.

We didn’t really get an explanation regarding the new doctor that was introduced, and we didn’t get another appearance from Captain Jack.

Although a personal highlight for the episode was when the theme turn suddenly played as the doctor’s entire past flashed before us on the screen.

As for the Doctor, Jodie Whittaker has been spectacular this season but for some reason was stuck in a literal box for the majority of the episode, which was a waste.

The companions, apart from the brilliant Bradley Walsh, continue to be stunningly underused and entirely useless at this point, even though we have had them for two seasons, and we still have no progress for them. Surely they at least deserve the chance to go out in a blaze of glory in the finale?

Sacha Dhawan chewed every piece of scenery he could, and while I don’t think he’s going to go down as a classic, he did bring real energy to moments he featured in this season.

I enjoyed parts of this episode, but the build up had made me expect a lot more.

I will now do a review of the full season, which will be a much more positive post, and that should be with you very soon.

Onward (2020) – Review

A Walt Disney Picture, Written by Dan Scanlon, Jason Headley, Keith Bunin, Directed by Dan Scanlon.

‘Onward’ was advertised as a whimsical comedy from Pixar set in a fantasy world, and while this is in many ways, I also found it to be a deeply personal journey of self-discovery and a heartbreaking and eventually life affirming examination of how everyone in a family deals with losing a parent at a young age.

The plot essentially follows two brothers, played by Tom Holland and Chris Pratt, go on a quest to find a object that can help them complete a spell to bring their father back to life for one day, after neither of them really had the chance to know him as kids.

This allows for the two brothers to go on a journey where they find out many things about their relationship and who they are as individuals, as well as presenting us with multiple geek culture references and opportunities for humour along the way. Another positive is that the mother isn’t sidelined, and is instead given a key role and shows how strong and important she is, which is a great representation of how many single mothers are underestimated but deliver for their kids when it matters.

The voice work is stellar all round, with particular praise going to Tom Holland and Chris Pratt, who both appear in most scenes of the film, and do good jobs in both the comedic and dramatic moments. They have both proven in the past how they can deliver strong voice work, and I imagine more roles in animated films are in their future. They have shown in the brief screen time they had together in the MCU that they have good chemistry, and prove that even more so here, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they tackle another project together in the near future.

The other cast member I would like to point out is Julia Louis-Dreyfus who does a really solid job as the mother, a role that is not flashy but is absolutely vital (often like the role of a mother in real life).

I didn’t expect much from this film in all honesty and it totally surprised be, and delivered what I believe to be one of Pixar’s best films in years. It is well known that Pixar films like to make the audience emotional, and in recent years it has seemed like they were potentially getting too carried away with that, but here they get back to their roots, by putting story and character first, and allowing that to be the reason the audience connects with the message of the film in an emotional way.

I plan to write a much more detailed post when the film officially comes out that will include spoilers and will look at how the film beautifully explores the dynamics of a single parent family, and how those bonds can grow stronger than anyone else realises, so keep an eye out for that in the coming weeks.

Rating = 4/5

All the Bright Places (2020) – Review

A Netflix Picture, Written by Jennifer Niven, Liz Hannah, Directed by Brett Haley.

I want to first make it clear that I know this film has quite a few fans, and that it is also deals with very serious subject matter that is very sensitive for many people, and while I totally respect that, I simply didn’t think this film worked for me.

I haven’t read the book and went into the film with very little knowledge, apart from that it was a coming of age film starring Elle Fanning, who I regard as one of the best young actresses in Hollywood. The film that I found once I started to watch was very disjointed, with the first half cramming in every ‘teen romance’ cliche as possible, and the second taking a huge shift into serious drama, and it really didn’t work for me.

I think the main issue was that I never was able to connect to ‘Finch’ and feel like he was a truly good person who was simply troubled. He was overly mysterious and very pushy, and I know many people may disagree, but I just didn’t feel the connection between the two lead characters.

Justice Smith is a talented actor, but I didn’t particularly care for his performance here, although I’m sure he has multiple good roles ahead of him.

Elle Fanning on the other hand is the shining light of this film, offering real charm and a sense of pain, that is never properly explored. She is a remarkably talented and experienced actress for someone so young, and I think she is such an interesting artist to watch.

This film seemed very well intentioned and I appreciate that, but it just didn’t work overall for me.

Rating = 2.5/5

Intelligence (2020) – TV Review

Nick Mohammed’s low-key but entertaining comedy is a real success and brings David Schwimmer back to his comedic best.

Set a “GC-HQ” and focusing on an arrogant NSA agent (Schwimmer) coming in to shake up the UK set up, and in doing so strikes up an unlikely friendship with Mohammed’s character.

It is a modern workplace comedy, one which we see less and less of these days, and it is nice to see it updated cleverly here.

The show is at its best when Schwimmer and Mohammed are interacting, and they play off each other very well. Since Friends finished, Schwimmer has pursued multiple different paths but this is his best comedy performance since the iconic role of Ross Geller.

Nick Mohammed has a unique energy as the lead that works well, and it is his writing that is the real treat here. It is unassuming, smart, and thoroughly entertaining.

I’m really looking forward to this coming back for a second season, and the first season was a really nice treat to discover.

Rating = 3.5/5

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