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I, Tonya (VOD) - May 27
Jumanji: Welcome to the JungleDirector: Craig Gillespie

Main Stars: Margot Robbie, Sebastian Stan, Allison Janney

Rating: 4 out 5

Growing up as a self admitted red neck, Tonya's only talent in life is skating. Forced to endure the mockery of her status in life, having to make her own costumes, deal with judges determined to see her fail, while living with her abusive mother somehow she's able to overcome all of it and become the first US woman in history to land a Triple Axel. Things go off the rails however after her husband hatches a plot to cripple her main rival and ensure she wins the gold at the Olympics. Ok, I admit it. I was always team Tonya. I remember thinking Kerrigan was a whiny spoiled princess and Harding was the better skater. After the 'incident' went down she faded into obscurity apart from some brief infamy with a decent (by celebrity sex tape standards) leaked sex video. So when I saw the trailer for this I was like 'really? this is a joke right?'. It seemed like such obscure subject matter, but as the lovely Margot Robbie was the lead I was intrigued - then the reviews started coming in and it was obvious this was a surprise hit. A lot of praise was heaped upon Allison Janney as the cold hearted bitch of a mother, but frankly I was more impressed with the guy who played her husband. And Robbie herself, who honestly for me is usually just extreme eye candy actually turns in a nuanced performance that shows she's more than just a pretty face. Finally, the harshness of her sentence compared to the actual perpetrators reminded me that behind every salacious news story that we love to briefly gawk at before moving onto the next shit show, is a real person at the center of it who long after the reporters have left must live with the consequences.


Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (VOD) - Mar 29
Jumanji: Welcome to the JungleDirector: Jake Kasdan

Main Stars: Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black, Karen Gillan

Rating: 2 out 5

One day four high school kids find themselves in detention - the Jock, the Nerd, the Babe, and the Weird Girl. Hey, it's the Breakfast Club right? Sadly, no. Instead of finding meaning and acceptance about themselves and their relationships with other they instead find the game Jumanji sitting on a shelf collecting dust - now updated from a board game to Nintendo era computer game - and get sucked into its mystical world where their adolescent bodies are transformed into the game's heroes. Now they must work together and use their special powers to restore balance to the force, er, universe of Jumanji. Here we have the latest Hollywood installment in pointless remakes. The late Robin Williams now replaced by The Rock. Hey, maybe they can remake Good Morning Vietnam with him as well? But why stop there? They should remake everything with The Rock. Oh, look! He did that eyebrow thing of his! The guy is just so amazing. What a thespian. In case you can't tell, I'm not a fan. But to be fair, he actually wasn't bad here. Kevin Hart (man he's short) and Jack Black split up the bulk of the comedic work. And hottie Karen Gillan supplies, well, the hotness. Sadly though, she loses her adorable Scottish accent this time. Oh and Tom Hank's kid shows up for literally a minute at the end, likely collecting a $10 million paycheque for his efforts. I guess at the end they do go a little Breakfast Club-ish as they're all one big happy group of friends now. That makes this paint by numbers effort even more annoying by trying to shoehorn some kind of point to the 2 hours?!?!? I just wasted watching. An entertaining enough rental but instantly forgettable.


The Shape of Water (Blu-ray) - Mar 21
The Shape of WaterDirector: Guillermo del Toro

Main Stars: Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, Doug Jones

Rating: 5 out 5

Elisa (Hawkins) leads a lonely life. Her daily routine consists of making hard boiled eggs, masturbating in the bath, working at the nearby military research center, and interacting with her neighbor who is a struggling commercial artist. One day at work she is startled to witness the arrival of some top secret cargo consisting of an aquatic creature (Jones). She soon forms a bizarre attachment to it that ultimately leads her into a life or death struggle. Guillermo del Toro is a master filmmaker. His movie Pan's Labyrinth is firmly enshrined as one of my all-time favourites. I purposefully stayed away from any reviews or press for his latest effort as I knew I'd be getting it as soon as it came out on Blu-ray. Within mere seconds I was hooked and sucked into his fantasy vision. It kept reminding me of a weird aquatic version of Amélie and was simply a delight throughout. Visually it is stunningly gorgeous with vivid saturated colours everywhere you look, which gives a feeling of being underwater. He somehow manages to delicately balance humour, wonder, horror and emotion all at once without being excessive in any one area. In the hands of anyone else I contend this would have been a disaster, but in his we have that rare perfect film which ranks as one of his best. It's no wonder it cleaned up at the Oscars. Hugely recommended!


Logan Lucky (VOD) - Feb 3
Logan LuckyDirector: Steven Soderbergh

Main Stars: Channing Tatum, Katie Holmes, Adam Driver, Daniel Craig

Rating: 3.5 out 5

Jimmy Logan (Tatum) just got fired from his job as his undeclared limp has made him a company liability. On the same day he finds out from his ex-wife (Holmes) that she's taking his kid and moving and that he doesn't have the money to legally stop her. Desperate to come up with the cash he hatches a plan to rob the local speedway with his one armed brother (Driver). He even drafts a 'Rules For Robbing A Bank' to-do list he tapes to his fridge - there's just one catch, the guy they need to blow the safe is already in prison and first they'll need to bust him out. Think of this as a poor man's or redneck Ocean's 11 complete with daisy dukes and NASCAR races. I remember seeing the advertisements for this when it came out and thinking it looked like an interesting and quirky film. Sadly it doesn't quite live up to the quirkiness of even the least Coen brothers offering. Still, Adam Driver is slowly but surely growing on me as an actor and it's refreshing to see Daniel Craig doing something other than James Bond, with an American accent no less! Throw in some trashy stereotypical southern hotties (one of which is Elvis Presley's granddaughter) along with female favourite Tatum and you have an entertaining enough but ultimately forgettable flick. Director Soderbergh came out of a self imposed retirement to helm this and it's good to see him back as I've always enjoyed his films.


Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Theatre) - Jan 14
Star Wars: The Last JediDirector: Rian Johnson

Main Stars: Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac

Rating: 4 out 5

After six previous films I'm assuming there's no need for a storyline summary so I'll just dive in. It's a dark time for the rebellion...ok I admit while watching the iconic scroll my first reaction was a bit of an eye roll as the story sounded awfully familiar - especially after the previous installment which felt more like a remake of the first film than a sequel. But once I stopped nitpicking and went with the flow I found myself quickly getting sucked into the universe which delighted me as a child and even today as a jaded adult still occasionally sends a shiver of excitement through me. I'll say this up front that I found it to be much more enjoyable than The Force Awakens which for me had a number of serious shortcomings. Performance wise Hamill is terrific, I got over my misgivings of Adam Driver from before and enjoyed him immensely here, and even the late Carrie Fisher while thankfully having a much bigger part this time felt much more settled into the role. It terms of technical's it looks and sounds like what you'd expect from a Star Wars film - a relentless visual and sonic assault on the senses. There are a few things that bugged me - a WTF?!?!? Mary Poppins in Space moment, an overly long runtime (an entire side story could easily have been cut), and a huge gap in logic concerning a mutiny - but one can mostly overlook them for the bigger picture. Loved by critics and savaged by fans in an unusual reversal from the norm, I personally thought it was great and outside the original trilogy the best film in the long running series. May the Force be with you!