MAGIC BEYOND WORDS – THE JK ROWLING STORY

1.5 out of 10

Release date: 18th July 2011 (DVD premiere)

UK/Canada co-production

REVIEW COMING SOON

Director: Paul A Kaufman

Cast: Poppy Montgomery, Emily Holmes, Antonio Cupo, Janet Kidder, Andy Maton, Paul McGilling, Marie West, Lisa Norton

Writer: Jeffrey Berman & Tony Caballero

Trailer: MAGIC BEYOND WORDS

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

  • Poppy Montgomery: Unforgettable (TV), Without a Trace (TV)
  • Emily Holmes: The Shack, The Man In The High Castle (TV), Diary of a Wimpy Kid 3, Nightwatching, Snakes on a Plane
  • Antonio Cupo: American Mary
  • Janet Kidder: Arrow (TV), Ginger Snaps 2,  Bride of Chucky

 

DAD’S ARMY (2016)

2 out of 10

Release date:  5th February 2016

Director: Oliver Parker (Johnny English 2 / St Trinians 2 / Dorian Gray / St Trinians (2007) / The Importance of Being Earnest (2002) / An Ideal Husband (1999) / Othello (1995))

Cast: Toby Jones, Bill Nighy, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Tom Courtenay, Daniel Mays, Blake Harrison, Alison Steadman, Sarah Lancashire, Mark Gatiss, Felicity Montagu, Emily Atack, Holli Dempsey, Annette Crosbie, Julia Foster, Mark Tandy, Andrew Havill, Martin Savage, Ian Lavender with Bill Paterson, Oliver Tobias and Michael Gambon

Writer: Hamish McColl

Trailer: DAD’S ARMY (2016)

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Oof, why does this exist? Did the fans of the original 1960s and 1970s TV series really need this reboot. I don’t know any fans of the old show so I don’t know if this film has done it justice, I can only appraise it on it’s own meagre merits.

What do you call a comedy with no laughs? There seems to be so many of them made, it should be a genre in its own right. Sadly, this is yet another DOA remake, reboot, sequel with a cast full of household names from TV and film, plus a load of oldies and one member of the original bunch, Ian Lavender (EASTENDERS).

The thin-plot involves the arrival of a spy in the village of Walmington-on-Sea during WW2, where Captain Mainwaring (TOBY JONES – TALE OF TALES) and his Dad’s Army guard a section of the coast.  Meanwhile, a mysterious woman, Rose Winters (CATHERINE ZETA-JONES – BLUE JUICE) moves to town. She’s a journalist, and has the male population all a quiver and falling over themselves to ‘bed’ her. Little do they know she may be the spy they are on the look out for.

When the identity of the spy is revealed near the end, I had no idea it was meant to be a secret.  Non of the hi-jinx is funny or even engaging and it’s a shame that such a wonderful cast has signed on to this vapid nostalgia turd. Its as lifeless and as pointless an exercise like most of the current crop of TV remakes. There’s no excuse for the lack of decent jokes as their is a hoard of comedy writing talent in England that could have turned this into gold standard material, instead we got Hamish McColl, the guy that wrote the so-so Johnny English movies. It’s time for him to move on and give someone with an active funny bone the typewriter.

2 out of 10 – A lousy, unfunny comedy made on a huge budget, amde to cash in on the grey pound. The least the makers could have done is employ a gag writer. Crap and empty.

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

  • Toby Jones: Jurassic Park 5, The Snowman (2017), Atomic Blonde, Wayward Pines (TV), Tale of Tales, Anthropoid, Morgan, Alice In Wonderland 2 (voice), The Man Who Knew Infinity, Dad’s Army, Serena, Hunger Games – Mockingjay 2, By The Gun, Marvellous, Muppets Most Wanted, Captain American 2, My Week With Marilyn, Snow White & The Huntsman,  The Berberian Sound Studio, The Hunger Games, Red Lights, Tintin (voice),Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows- part 1 (voice), Captain America, Your Highness, The Rite, Sex Drugs and Rock N’ Roll, St Trinians 2, Nightwatching, Creation, W., Frost / Nixon, City Of Ember, St Trinians, The Mist, The Painted Veil, Infamous, Mrs Henderson Presents, Finding Neverland, Ladies In Lavender, Harry Potter & The Chambers Of Secrets, Simon Magus
  • Bill Nighy: The Limehouse Golem, Their Finest, Pride (2014), I Frankenstein, About Time, The World’s End (voice), Jack The Giant Slayer, Total Recall (2012), Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Wrath Of The Titans, Arthur Christmas (voice), Chalet Girl, Rango (voice), Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows- part 1, Wild Target (2010), Glorious 39, The Boat That Rocked, Underworld 3, Valkyrie, Pirates Of The Caribbean 3, Hot Fuzz, Notes On a Scandal, Flushed Away (voice), Alex Rider- Stormbreaker, Pirates Of The Caribbean 2, Underworld 2, The Constant Gardner, A Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy (2006), The Magic Roundabout (voice), Enduring Love, Shaun Of The Dead, Underworld, Love Actually, State Of Play (TV), I Capture The Castle, Auf Wierdesen Pet! (TV), The Lost Prince, Lucky Break, The Lawless Heart, Blow Dry, Guest House Paradiso, Still Crazy, Alive and Kicking (1996), Being Human, True Blue
  • Catherine Zeta-Jones: RED 2, Side Effects, Broken City, Rock of Ages, Lay The Favourite, Playing for Keeps, The Rebound, Death Defying Acts, No Reservations, Ocean’s 12. The Legend of Zorro, The Terminal, Intolerable Cruelty, Chicago, America’s Sweethearts, Traffic, High Fidelity, The Haunting (1999), Entrapment, The Mask of Zorro, The Phantom, Blue Juice, Darling Buds of May (TV), Splitting Heirs, Christopher Columbus – The Discovery
  • Tom Courtenay: Guernsey, The Legend of Barney Thomson, 45 Years, Night Train To Lisbon, Quartet, Gambit (2012), The Golden Compass, Flood, Nicholas Nickleby (2002), Last Orders, Whatever Happened To Harold Smith?, A Rather English Marriage (TV), The Boy From Mercury, Let Him Have It, The Dresser, Catch Me a Spy, One Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich, A Dandy in Aspic, The Day the Fish Came Out, The Night of the Generals, Doctor Zhivago, King Rat, Operation Crossbow, King and Country, Billy Liar, Private Potter, The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner
  • Daniel Mays: The Limehouse Golem, Star Wars – Rogue One, The Infiltrator, Victor Frankenstein, Byzantium, Welcome To The Punch, Tintin (mo-cap), Made In Dagenham, Nanny McPhee 2, The Firm (2009), Shifty, The Bank Job, Atonement, Vera Drake, All Or Nothing
  • Blake Harrison: Prime Suspect 1973 (TV), Bob The Builder (voice)(TV), The Inbetweeners 2, Keeping Rosy, The Inbetweeners, The Inbetweeners (TV)
  • Alison Steadman: Burn Burn Burn, In The Blood, Gavin & Stacey (TV), Confetti, Fat Friends (TV), The Life and Death of Peter Sellers, Adrian Mole (TV), Chunky Monkey, Topsy Turvy, Pride & Prejudice (TV), Blame It On The Bellboy, Life Is Sweet, Wilt, Shirley Valentine, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Stormy Monday, Clockwise, A Private Function, P’Tang, Yang, Kipperbang, Nuts In May
  • Sarah Lancashire: Happy Valley (TV), Last Tango In Halifax (TV), Lark Rise To Candelford (TV), When Did You Last See Your Father?, Rose and Maloney (TV), Clocking Off (TV), Where The Heart Is (TV), Coronation Street (TV)
  • Mark Gatiss: Taboo (TV), Sherlock (TV), Denial, Absolutely Fabulous – The Movie, Our Kind of Traitor, Victor Frankenstein, London Spy (TV), Game of Thrones (TV), Wolf Hall (TV), Dr Who (TV), Starter For 10, The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (voice), The League of Gentleman’s Apocalypse, Sex Lives of the Potato Men, Birthday Girl, The League of Gentlemen (TV)
  • Felicity Montagu: Alan Partridge – Alpha Papa, I’m Alan Partridge (TV)
  • Emily Atack: Iron Sky 2, Ibiza Undead, The Bunker (2016)Almost Married, Get Lucky, Outside Bet, The Inbetweeners (TV)
  • Holli Dempsey: Aaaaaaaah!, The Aliens (TV), Derek (TV)
  • Annette Crosbie: Eat Local, Into The Woods, What We Did On Our Holiday, Little Dorrit (TV), Calendar Girls, One Foot In The Grave (TV), The Debt Collector, Shooting Fish, Doctor Finlay (TV), Solitaire For 2, Leon The Pig Farmer, The Pope Must Die, Hawk The Slayer
  • Julia Foster: All Coppers Are…, Half a Sixpence, Alfie (1966), The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner
  • Mark Tandy: The Limehouse Golem, Maurice, Defence of the Realm
  • Andrew Havill: The Children Act, My Cousin Rachel, The Carer, Hyde Park On The Hudson
  • Martin Savage: Mr Turner, Another Year, Topsy Turvy
  • Ian Lavender: Eastenders (TV), The Hooligan Factory, Dad’s Army (1971), Dad’s Army (TV)
  • Bill Paterson: The Healer, High-Rise, Outlander (TV), Law & Order UK (TV), Creation, Dr Who (TV), How To Lose Friends and Alienate People, Miss Potter, Amazing Grace, Rag Tale, Kingdom of Heaven, Bright Young Things, Crush (2001), The Match (1999), Hilary & Jackie, Spice World, Victory, Richard III (1995), God On The Rocks, Truly Madly Deeply, The Witches, The Rachel Papers, Hidden City, Auf Wierdesen Pet (TV), Defence of the Realm, A Private Function, The Killing Fields, Smiley’s People (TV)
  • Oliver Tobias: Highway To Hell (2013), The Brylcreem Boys, Cobra Mission, Dick Turpin (TV), The Stud, Arthur Of The Britons (TV)
  • Michael Gambon: Mad To Be Normal, Victoria & Abdul, Viceroy’s House, Paddington (voice), Fortitude (TV), Quartet, The King’s Speech, Harry Potter – parts 2-8, The Book Of Eli, Fantastic Mr Fox (voice), Brideshead Revisited (2008), The Good Night, The Good Shepherd, The Omen (2006), The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou,  Layer Cake, Sky Captain and The World Of Tomorrow, Sylvia, Open Range, The Actors, Ali G In Da House, Charlotte Gray, Gosford Park, High Heels and Low Lifes, Sleepy Hollow, The insider, Plunkett & Macleane, Dancing at Lughnasa, The Gambler, Wings Of The Dove, Mary Reilly, The Innocent Sleep, Two Deaths, Nothing Personal, A Man Of No Importance, The Browning Version (1994), Toys, Mobsters, The Cook The Thief His Wife and Her Lover, A Dry White Season, The Rachel Papers, Paris By Night, The Singing Detective (TV)

REICH OF THE DEAD aka ZOMBIE MASSACRE 2

6.5 out of 10

UK/Italy co-production

REVIEW COMING SOON

Release date: 8th June 2015

Directors: Marco Ristori & Luca Boni (House of Evil)

Cast: Aaron Stielstra, Andrew Harwood-Mills, Ally McClelland, Lucy Drive, Michael Segal, with David White and Dan van Husen

Writer: Marco Ristori & Luca Boni

Trailer: REICH OF THE DEAD aka ZOMBIE MASSACRE 2

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

THE RIZEN

5.5 out of 10

REVIEW COMING SOON

Release date: 19th June 2017 (DVD premiere)

Director: Matt Mitchell (Rizen 2)
Cast: Laura Swift, Patrick Knowles, Christopher Tajah, Tom Goodman-Hill, Laurence Kennedy and Lee Latchford-Evans with Julian Rhind-Tutt, Sally Phillips, Stephen Marcus, with Bruce Payne and Adrian Edmondson

Writer: Matt Mitchell

Trailer: THE RIZEN

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

EAT LOCAL

2.5 out of 10

Release date: TBC (UK)

Director: Jason Flemyng

Cast: Billy Cook, Eve Myles, Charlie Cox, Mackenzie Crook, Tony Curran, Freema Agyeman, Robert Portal, Annette Crosbie, Ruth Jones, Johnny Palmiero, Lukaz Leong, Jordan Long, Alistair Petrie, Nicholas Rowe, Nick Moran with Dexter Fletcher and Vincent Regan

Writer: Danny King

Trailer: EAT LOCAL

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Whilst this isn’t the Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels reunion you’d hoped for – two leads behind, and two leads in front of the camera, Eat Local still has a knockabout sense of fun. However, little of the juice translates to the finished product, with virtually all of the decent gags spunking off in the trailer. Actor-turned-have-a-go-director Jason Flemyng (THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON) turns in this remix of Dog Soldiers (werewolves vs squaddies is swapped for squaddies vs vampires), only he’s ended up with a remake of Lesbian Vampire Killers, the Un-DOA horror-comedy vehicle for James Corden and Matthew Vaughn.

A coven of vampires meet for an AGM in a serial-killer’s cottage (DEXTER FLETCHER –  CARAVAGGIO), only to find out that they are being watched very closely by the British Army led by Robert Portal (STIFF UPPER LIPS) and Mackenzie Crook (PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN). Throw into the mix a pure-breed cockney gangster/gypsy who, unbenownst to him, is being lined up as a new vampire lord. He is about to get turned when the army burst in and the bullets, and stakes begin to fly.

I wish I could say there’s fun to be had for the viewer, but Billy Cook is no Danny Dyer, so casting your mind back to the similar Doghouse, and the  horror Severance, the former just doesn’t cut it in the comedy stakes. Laugh out loud moments are very rare, especially if you’ve seen the trailer, and there are no memorable scenes to make this stand out in any way. Stalwarts like Vincent Regan (LOCK OUT) and Annette Crosbie (MONARCH OF THE GLEN) look like they are having a good time, but like the rest of the variable cast they are wasted.

Eat Local plays like a squandered opportunity.  Competently made, it still gets by on a wing and prayer. Of the four leads from Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, for some the quintessential Brit-gangster caper comedy, Dexter Fletcher is the most visible, in a supporting role as a murderous farmer, Jason Flemyng directs, Nick Moran (LONDON HEIST) is one of the soldiers (for a walk-on) and Jason Statham remains off-screen but did the fight choreography for the one martial arts scene – which is fairly good to be charitable. Oh and fifth cast member Nicholas Rowe (YOUNG SHERLOCK) was also in Lock Stock too. It’s a small bit of trivia thats unlikely to impress that many people.

Eat Local does very little to distinguish itself, except that Flemyng has drew in a super cast, full of British film and TV faves. The trouble is that all that good will has come to nothing and its really sad to have felt my interest in the film on the wain really early on. It’s a good idea and a tight scenario, it’s just a shame that the writers forgot to write any good jokes as this is as funny as Zero Dark Thirty and the Hurt Locker put together.

It’s also part produced by the gruesome twosome of Jonathan Sothcott and Neil Jones – the former is an inconsistent force in low-budget filmmaking in the UK, with a hit rate of 1.5 movies in 5. Neil Jones is a sloppy film director who would be better off directing traffic.  As for Flemyng as director, you’d have thought his BFF, Dexter Fletcher (who also directs), would have given him some tips on how to make a great film.

2.5 out of 10 – A flat movie experience, which was probably a hoot to make. Flemyng has a lot of friends in high places and draws and awesome cast but then forgets to return the favour by gifting them worthwhile roles. Fangs a lot, Jase.

 

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

 

JAWBONE

9 out of 10

Release date: 12th May 2017

Director: Thomas Napper

Cast: Johnny Harris, Ray Winstone, Michael Smiley, Luke J I Smith, Jackie Clune, Simon Manyonda and Ian McShane

Writer: Johnny Harris

Trailer: JAWBONE

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Remember the Coen Bros film, Barton Fink, when the titular screenwriter is tasked by Hollywood to write a B-movie about a wrestler? “You know, nothing to fruity. It’s a wrestling flick, what do you want, a road map?” Well, Jawbone is about a boxer and pretty much everything you’d expect to see in a boxing flick is present and correct. However, this one has the beating heart of a lion, and boxing scenes quite unlike you’ve seen in anything since Raging Bull. Johnny Harris (FORTITUDE), a good actor who knows his range, plays to his strengths in this self-scripted effort about an alcoholic, Jimmy McCabe, who reconnects with his boxing past when he is made homeless and sees the rocky bottom staring back up at him. He goes back to the gym to find his former trainers Bill (RAY WINSTONE – NIL BY MOUTH) and Eddie (MICHAEL SMILEY – SPACED), where he became an ABA champ at 16. The welcome is frosty but they give him a chance. Elsewhere, he gets himself a make or break fight via promoter and shady old friend, Joe (IAN MCSHANE – THE GOLDEN COMPASS) that could kill him.

On the negative side, it does take a while for this film to shake off the cliches and grab your attention. But in retrospect these scenes do well to build the character of Jimmy, and to show what’s really at stake. We’re aware his demon is the bottle and possibly self-made – there’s no spectres from the past whispering in his ear or goading him ala My Name Is Lenny. The struggle is realistically wrought and played note perfect by Johnny Harris. Elsewhere in the cast, old pros like Ray Winstone and Ian McShane do their thing. Ian McShane is always good and wheels out his ‘flash harry’ schtick. This time the context is right and the one scene that his promoter Joe turns up for is nicely done. He’s essentially the same guy he played in John Wick, or nicer version of his heavy in Sexy Beast. Winstone successfully steals the show, some may say unfairly, with an understated and touching performance.  He’s quite wonderful in one of his best roles in years and years, and it’s his character that raises Jawbone out of the ‘just another boxing movie’ crate.

Michael Smiley brings ample support and is amazing as the salty Belfast trainer, who has a few surprises up his sleeve. Thankfully there’s no obligatory, woman or child character to slow the story down. There’s no ex-wife or kids to make amends with, just old friends to haunt. The boxing scenes are technically terrific and even after seeing 100 sports movies, the climatic fight is gripping. The villainy of the opponent (LUKE J I SMITH – THE BROMLEY BOYS) is well evoked in a wordless role.  The camera work and sound design is superb. Even the montage scenes work well, and although necessary, they don’t fall into the pop video end like a lot seem to do. Remember the ‘Pushing Back’ song from Green Street 3? This is done by bring up the sounds of the gym, dialogue or street sounds to the fore front, rather than making a corny Survivor wannabe song front and centre. Jawbone’s closest comparison is Darren Aronofsky’s The Wrestler. It’s not quite as good as the latter that’s because its more focussed yet slighter, narrative-wise. But it’s still the best sports movie we can hope for from the UK, when so many try and fail horribly – remember the muddled The Man Inside?

Look out for a Paul Weller song at the end called ‘The Ballad of Jimmy McCabe’. I’m glad the makers didn’t use this over a training montage, as it’s as corny as hell and threatens to undo some of the sterling work that’s gone before. A slight wrinkle, then, yet nothing to worry about. Utterly recommended.

9 out of 10 – If you think sports movies are all the same, you’re right. But if you like them then Jawbone is a superb example that puts 90% of others to shame. Pretty much film perfection

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

THE HATTON GARDEN JOB

3 out of 10

REVIEW COMING SOON

Release date: 14th April 2017

Director: Ronnie Thompson (I Am Soldier / Tower Block)

Cast: Matthew Goode, Phil Daniels, Larry Lamb, David Calder, Clive Russell, Mark Cooper Harris, Jack Doolan, Sam Adewunmi, Warren Brown, John Alford, Kugan Cassius with Stephen Moyer and Joely Richardson

Writer: Ray Bogdanovich & Dean Lines

Trailer: THE HATTON GARDEN JOB

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

  • Matthew Goode: Birthmarked, Guernsey, The Sense of An Ending, Allied, Self/Less, Pressure, The Imitation Game, Belle, Stoker, Cemetery Junction, Watchmen, A Single Man, Leap Year, Brideshead Revisted, Imagine Me & You, Match Point
  • Phil Daniels: Access All Areas, Vinyl, Eastenders (TV), Freebird, Outlaws (TV), Goodbye Charlie Bright, Nasty Neighbours, Chicken Run (voice), Bad Behaviour, Billy The Kid and Green Baize Vampire, Meantime, Scum, Zulu Dawn, Quadrophenia
  • Larry Lamb: Rise of the Footsoldier 3, Gavin and Stacey (TV), Eastenders (TV), Blood – The Last Vampire, The Bill (TV), Essex Boys, Buster
  • David Calder: Queen of the Desert, The Lost City of Z, The Lady In The Van, Rush (2013), Titanic (TV), The Mummy 3, Mr In-Between, The King Is Alive, James Bond – The World Is Not Enough, Fairytale, Hollow Reed, American Friends, Defence of the Realm, Widows 2 (TV), Widows (TV)
  • Clive Russell: Their Finest, Ripper Street (TV), Game of Thrones (TV), Still, Thor 2, Outpost 2, The Wicker Tree, Sherlock Holmes 2, Sherlock Holmes (2009), Coronation St (TV), The Wolfman (2009), Ladies In Lavender, Festival, Mr In-Between, The 13th Warrior, Oscar & Lucinda, Margaret’s Museum, The Hawk,  Neverwhere (TV), Soft Top – Hard Shoulder
  • Mark Cooper Harris: Once Upon a Time In London, Bonded By Blood 2, The Crypt, The Coven, Abducted, The Hooligan Wars,  GBHOffender, The HoldingOutside Bet
  • Jack Doolan: Bachelor Games, It’s a Lot, Green Street 3The FacilityMay I Kill U?Cockneys Vs. ZombiesDemons Never DieCemetery Junction
  • Warren Brown: Cargo, Genesis, Kicking Off, Captain Webb, Luther (TV), Borrowed Time, Dead Set (TV)
  • John Alford: Mike Bassett – England Manager, London’s Burning (TV), Grange Hill (TV)
  • Stephen Moyer: Detour, True Blood (TV), Devil’s Knot, The Double (2011), Priest (2011), Quills, Prince Valiant, The Grand (TV)
  • Joely Richardson: The Time Of Their Lives, Snowden, The Messenger (2015), Maggie, Endless Love (2014), Vampire Academy, Red Lights, The Girl With a Dragon Tattoo (2011), Anonymous, The Tudors (TV), Nip / Tuck (TV), The Last Mimzy, Shoreditch, The Patriot, Maybe Baby, Return To Me, Event Horizon, 101 Dalmatians (1997), Hollow Reed, Loch Ness, Sister My Sister, I’ll Do Anything, Lady Chatterley (TV), Rebecca’s Daughters, Shining Through, King Ralph, Drowning By Numbers