Only Marvel would follow the blockbuster to end all blockbusters with a lightweight teen vacation flick. The stakes have rarely been lower. The primary concern? Seeing the hero get his girl. What chutzpah to be so old fashioned. It’s audacious as a feat of mechanical regularity above all else. Indeed, give or take the odd surprise, Far From Home is pretty much business as usual. Almost dull even by the initial trick climax. Those hoping for boundaries to be furthered will be disappointed. And yet, this isn’t dull. It’s far from it. If some feel undersold, many more should be pleased to learn that the studio’s still got it – even if ‘it’ has long since felt inessential.
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A kind of animated Pudsey the Dog: The Movie, The Queen’s Corgi is pretty banal stuff. It’s a typically innocuous production from Belgian studio nWave – whose Son of Big Foot success was a rare hit. In its defence, The Queen’s Corgi is very well cast and as impressively designed as a film with $20m behind it can be. Beyond visual and vocal panache, however, there’s precious little to write home about here.
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When, one day, the big book of Richard Curtis is written, perhaps this will be known as his high concept era. Remember when plots were as simple as literally four weddings and one funeral? No longer. Since those bygone basic days, a dabble in Doctor Who has given way to linearity bending romcom About Time and now Yesterday, which practically science fiction in its exploration of a world without the Beatles. That said, sci-fi is rarely this cute, cuddly, warm and winsome. Nor so lacking in science. Regardless, Curtis’ way with quaint mannerism remains strong and his ear for comedy still tickles all the right bones.
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Did the world need another Toy Story? No. Did Pixar’s original trilogy not feel perfect? Yes. But only because it was perfect. The perfect beginning, muddle and definitive end. Definitive. What’s more, surely the only thing rarer than a trilogy without a misstep is a quartet that never once drops the ball. Curiously, Toy Story 4 doesn’t drop the ball but still doesn’t succeed in self-justification. At least, not entirely Gloriously animated, richly constructed and brilliantly witty, there’s no denying the film is a charmer and cross-generational hit. It’s a tricky one though. For all the successes here, questions of necessity loom large over all, perhaps leading to a singular conclusion.
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Such is the dominance of superhero cinema in twenty-first century Hollywood – over a decade on from Iron Man and we’re clearly beyond phase territory – the genre has begun to spawn. Now, alongside bravura three act, computer generated blockbusters, we have black and white westerns, space operas and coming of age school flicks all under the bruce banner. Joining these offshoot quasi-comic book features, Brightburn subverts expectations with influence from the dark bite of horror. A smart move, given that genres parallel mainstream resurgence in recent years. In execution, Brightburn never quite achieves the potential of this promised fusion but does enough to just about equal the sum of its parts.
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The pervading suspicion surrounding X-Men: Dark Phoenix, twelfth in the X-franchise and last under an independent Fox, is that all involved have essentially given up. A fractured narrative is held together by the film’s dourly immersive tone but, while scattered set pieces amaze, a lack of cast conviction belies a disinterest behind the lens. As potentially the last time Fassbender and McAvoy and co. will carry their roles, this isn’t what you would call going out with a bang.
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There’s a voice in Late Night so sharp it could cut itself, and a core cast so winning you’ll forgive the softie plotting that blunts it. This is the Nisha Ganatra directed new comedy by writer, producer and star Mindy Kaling, who plays the ‘token woman of colour’ brought in to save Emma Thompson’s erstwhile pioneering late night talk show host, Katherine Newbury, from absolute televisual collapse. Gloriously astute to the self-pitying moral crisis of the white wing in a diversifying world, the film lands its fair share of laugh out loud moments before dawn.
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