Battalion (2018)

Director: Michael Miller

Writer: Michael Miller (Screenplay)

Starring: Jesse Richardson, Ellen Williams, Michael Thomson, James Storer, Leigh Walker, Darrell Plumridge


Plot: After a war against an enemy from another world breaks out in the South Pacific, a group of freshly recruited U.S. Marines are sent to the front lines.

Tagline – Our world is at war.

Runtime: 1 Hour 30 Minutes


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Simple Sci-Fi


Story: Battalion starts as we learn the world has been a war for 7 months as we follow John Blake (Richardson), Tracey Gleeson (Williams) and Chris Jackson (Thomson) whose normal lives were shattered with the outbreak of the war, but now they fight back together.

After suffering casualties in the first retaliation mission against the machines from another world, Blake must continue the battle with Tracey by his side, but will Jackson step back up next to his brother to try and save humanity.


Thoughts on Battalion


Characters – John Blake grew up with Jackson in LA, close enough to being brothers who joins up to the military after the attack that kills their family. Trained under Jackson it isn’t long before he is the one stepping in the battle. Tracey Gleeson is a college professor that decides to join up after the attack, follow Black into battle she must show the fight that she had been struggling to find in life.

PerformancesThe three leads in the movie are good for what they are meant to be, we have the reluctant hero, the soldier whose lost faith and the one looking for direction and they work this well through the film.

StoryThe story follows a group of soldiers, a battalion if you like that come from different backgrounds to fight alien invaders that are wiping out the population of the world. We do jump around the timeline here seeing before and after the opening sequence, which at times can be hard to keep up with, but once you think you can piece it together. It plays out like you would imagine for the most part, but it is the story side of things you have come to know anyway.

Sci-FiAliens invading Earth, you don’t get that much more sci-fi than this.

SettingsThe settings show us how the big city get wiped out and how the battles can take place in a quieter location of the islands in the oceans.

Special EffectsThe effects are not the strength of this film, everything looks like a video game, but for me that seem to add to the fun of the film.

Scene of the Movie –
Final moment.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Keeping up on the timeline.

Final ThoughtsThis is a solid low budget sci-fi that shows another vision of how an alien attack could become deadly for the human race.


Overall: Enjoyable without being ground-breaking.





Beach Rats (2017)

Director: Eliza Hittman

Writer: Eliza Hittman (Screenplay)

Starring: Harris Dickinson, Madeline Weinstein, Kate Hodge, Neal Huff, Nicole Flyus, Frank Hakaj


Plot: A Brooklyn teenager spends his days experimenting with drugs and looking online for older men to meet with.

Runtime: 1 Hour 38 Minutes


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Brave and Bold


Story: Beach Rats starts as we head to Brooklyn and meet teenager Frankie (Dickinson) who spends his time hanging around with his friends, while being fascinated with fitness, drugs and trying to learn about his own sexuality.

As Frankie continues his questioning about himself we learn that he does search the internet for older man to hook up with, but in his personal life he starts trying to date Simone (Weinstein). We are eft to see if he can figure out what he wants and whether he can embrace his true sexuality in a world where he believes he would be shunned.


Thoughts on Beach Rats


Characters – Frankie is a teenager, he spends his time with his gang on the beaches of Brooklyn, working on fitness and diving into drug usage. He is confused about his own sexuality, he spends time searching for men on the internet, but starts dating a girl on front of his friends. This character shows how difficult it can be for a young man accepting what he wants in fears of his friends and family not accepting his choice. Simone is the girl that Frankie starts dating, she is portrayed to be a common girl just looking for love without ambitious to be overly successful in the career side of things. Donna is the mother of Frankie, she is dealing with a lot as her husband is losing his battle with cancer and seeing Frankie acting strangely only concerns her, with his late nights out.

PerformancesHarris Dickinson does give us a bold, brave powerful performance for his first-time outing in a leading role, you can see the confliction his character is feeling in every scene. The rest of the performances are great too as the stars are happy to let Harris take the spotlight he and the character requires.

StoryThe story tackles the subject of a teenager reaching adulthood who needs to face his own sexuality when he has no one in his own life that could offer him advice or is unsure what his friends and family will think of his decision. This could easily be real for young men this age, it would always be difficult to admit the truth if you thought you could be shunned by your own friends for not accepting your choice. The story is brave step into the world, but is not going to be for everyone as this isn’t a gentle evening viewing.

SettingsThe Brooklyn setting adds to the hardship Frankie is dealing with because he is always around what he believes to be tough guys who wouldn’t accept his choice.

Scene of the Movie –
The Beach.

That Moment That Annoyed Me While the story does require the drug usage, we don’t need to see as much of it as we do.

Final ThoughtsThis is a powerful drama about learning about your sexuality, it has a stunning debut performance, but this film isn’t going to be for everybody as it is too intense in places for a casual viewing.


Overall: This is a powerful film, it deserves the praise it is receiving.




Brawl in Cell Block 99 (2017)

Director: S Craig Zahler

Writer: S Craig Zahler (Screenplay)

Starring: Vince Vaughn, Jennifer Carpenter, Don Johnson, Marc Blucas, Tom Guiry, Rob Morgan, udo Keir


Plot: A former boxer-turned-drug runner lands in a prison battleground after a deal gets deadly.


Runtime: 2 Hours 12 Minutes


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Brutal as They Come


Story: Brawl on Cell Block 99 starts as former addict Bradley Thomas (Vaughn) loses his legit job and learns his wife Lauren (Carpenter) has been cheating on him, after getting through their differences the two are now expecting a baby and Frank is working as a runner for drug dealer.

When a deal goes wrong Bradley ends up in prison serving a 7-year sentence for just trafficking drugs, this is just the beginning of the time in prison when Bradley gets blackmailed by the drug lord which escalates the time Bradley must face and strict warden Tuggs (Johnson) doesn’t make things easy for him.


Thoughts on Brawl on Cell Block 99


Characters – Bradley Thomas is a former alcoholic, he has cleaned himself up trying to live a straight life, but that becomes difficult to make enough money, he starts drug trafficking knowing it can cover the money needed and his build should put off trouble. When he tries to do the right thing during a deal gone bad he ends up in prison, here he must use his boxing training to pay back the man who is blackmailing him. He comes off like a patriot, an honest guy that if you don’t cross he would be a good guy to have around, but you mess with him, he will become your worst enemy. Lauren Thomas is the wife of Bradley, they have been through some rough times, but now they are on better terms expecting a baby, she becomes the victim in the battle between the Bradley and his former employers. Warden Tuggs runs the prison with an iron fist, not willing to let his prisoners have any freedom.

PerformancesVince Vaughn is unlike you have ever seen him before, emotionless while still have moments of wise cracking, but it doesn’t fall into comedy, this could be a career best for Vaughn and easily the right path for a change for him. Jennifer Carpenter is good in her role and it is good to see her on the big screen. Don Johnson enjoys this role where he plays it out wonderfully in the supporting role.

StoryThe story follows one of the traditional ones we know, a good guy doing an illegal job ends up having to use his skills to do a job which involves leaving a pile of bodies behind him to get out of the criminal situation he finds himself in. The pacing gives us enough time to develop Bradley to a level we understand each motive he has and the blackmail put on him is the most twisted I think we have ever seen in a film.

CrimeThe crime involved is centred around the idea that Bradley does break the law and ends up in prison, here the violence starts as we see how things go from calm to violent in a blink of an eye.

SettingsThe settings are used brilliantly because we see the normal life struggle, the illegal life and the two different prisons that Bradley ends up going too.

Scene of the Movie –
Delivery of the blackmail.

That Moment That Annoyed Me How easy it was to swap prisons with one moment of violence.

Final ThoughtsThis was a brutally violent movie that checks the boxes for everything he needs to be, Vince Vaughn gives a career best performance and the director follows up Bone Tomahawk perfectly for his fans.


Overall: Wonderful brutal movie people should be seeing.




Black Mirror – Black Museum

Director: Colm McCarthy

Writer: Charlie Brooker (Screenplay)

Starring: Douglas Hodge, Letitia Wright, Babs Olusanmokun, Jade Clarke


Plot: A woman enters the Black Museum, where the proprietor tells her stories relating to the artefacts.



There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Twist Filled Tales


Story: Black Museum starts as British tourist Nish (Wright) finds herself in the middle of nowhere in America needing to recharge her car, she stops at a mystery Black Museum run by Rolo Haynes (Hodge), his museum is filled with artefacts that have stories with Rolo telling Nish his place he has been a part off, including the Dawson net which gave a doctor the ability to feel pain to solve cases.

We follow the tour as we learn about other cases that Rolo had been involved in and become part of this tour, we learn how he has been planning to try to break boundaries in his industry.


Thoughts on Black Museum


StoryThis does have three stories being told, each could easily have been their own chapter in the series, this is a positive and a negative, the positive is because we do get invested in these stories which have a twisted side to them all, the negative is waiting for the twist which while isn’t the easiest one to work out, but you can tell something must happen to complete this outer story. it is strange to say, but it does feel like this story is almost too busy to fully enjoy on a on time viewing.

Scene of the Episode –
The twist ending.

That Moment That Annoyed Me This one does need a repeat viewing.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the most thought provoking of the stories in Black Mirror, this one will need a couple of viewings to get each detail of this episode, which is a good and bad thing, but if I was to go back through the show, this would be the first one to see for me. The stories do twist together nicely and do get the most out of the shorter formula.


Overall: Nice finishes to the show.




Black Mirror – Metalhead

Director: David Slade

Writer: Charlie Brooker (Screenplay)

Starring: Maxine Peake, Jakes Davies, Clint Dyer


Plot: In the post-apocalyptic landscape of the Scottish Moors, a woman attempts the survive the land full of “dogs”.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Fast Paced Thriller


Story: Metalhead starts as we follow a group of survivors in a post-apocalyptic Scotland, looking for supplies they run into a dog, a robotic hunter which leaves Bella (Peake) fighting for her life against this relentless killing machine.


Thoughts on Metalhead


StoryThe story doesn’t have too much to talk about, it is one woman trying to survive from a robotic dog that is relentlessly trying to track her down and kill her. This does keep everything having a fast pace about it, which is a good experience, but strangely just doesn’t feel like a black mirror episode, this could be any run of the mile mini series episode.

Scene of the Episode –
Dog introduction.

That Moment That Annoyed Me –  It doesn’t have the feel of a Black Mirror episode.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fast-paced thriller that does do its best to keep you on edge, it does succeed too, it does however feel like you needed that little bit more world building to care about the battle of Bella and just how many dogs we are likely to come across in this landscape.


Overall: Flawed, but entertaining thriller