Tomb Raider (2018)

Director: Roar Uthaug

Writer: Alastair Siddon, Geneva Robertson-Dworet (Screenplay) Evan Daugherty, Geneva Robertson-Dworet (Story)

Starring: Alicia Vikander, Dominic West, Walton Goggins, Daniel Wu, Kristin Scott Thomas, Derek Jacobi


Plot: Lara Croft, the fiercely independent daughter of a missing adventurer, must push herself beyond her limits when she finds herself on the island where her father disappeared.

Tagline – Her legend begins.

Runtime: 1 Hour 58 Minutes


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Adrenaline Rush


Story: Tomb Raider starts as we meet Lara Croft (Vikander) a bike courier in and around London, she is independent and short of money. She learns a clue about her long time missing father Lord Richard (West) that shows Lara about the secret life he once lived as a treasure hunter.

Wanting answers Lara heads to Japan, the location of his case known case, the search for Himiko a story from Japanese legend, to learn the answers from the mysterious island, joined by Lu Ren (Wu) the son of the captain that also went missing with Richard, only to learn that her father wasn’t the only one after the legend, Mathias Vogel (Goggins) has his sights set on the tomb too. Lara will need to learn about her new identity before taking on the island and its secrets.


Thoughts on Tomb Raider


Characters – Lara Croft is the character we know from the video games, we had a couple of movies, but this is a fresh take on her. She is trying to be independent, she doesn’t live off the money her father has made, she isn’t even a treasure hunter, this is her origin into that life, her first adventure looking for her first treasure, the truth. We see a lot of Lara is action sequences, something we always want to see, we do see a vulnerable side to her too, which is important. Lord Richard Croft is Lara’s father, he made his fortune in business and loved his daughter, he has gone missing because of his secret life as a treasure hunter, he is the motivation for everything Lara does. Mathias Vogel is our villain, he is on the island searching for the same thing Richard did before Lara, stranded here until he gets what his employees are seeking, while he is a simple villain, he is never the leader of the people Lara is facing, just the general of this group. Lu Ren is a drunk captain that lost his father in the same mission that took Richard away from Lara, while has given up hope, Lara motivates him to go on an adventure to learn the truth.

PerformancesAlicia Vikander is great in this role, she has the look of Lara, she handles to vulnerable moments well and the action sequences on a level you wouldn’t have expected, but the accent does feel hit or miss at times. Dominic West is good in this role, he handles the mentor, father figure well through the film. Walton Goggins works very well in the villain role because he never over plays his character which he could easily have done. Daniel Wu brings us a fun supporting character that we would like to see in any further adventures too.

StoryThe story here follows Lara as she learns the truth about her father and his secret adventures, she is trying to hide away from the fact he is gone, but the clue she learns about sends her on the adventure that will kick start her love for treasure hunting. This is an origin story for Lara Croft, something the first films never gave us, this does work because we feel like she could get hurt or die at any moment, which isn’t always the case in a main character in peril situation. I do think the story plays out wonderfully for a video game adaptation because we learn about this life with Lara and are ready to follow her adventure.

Action/AdventureThe action sequences here are fantastic to watch, they all feel like you are playing the video game and wanting to help her jump, climb, hang on or whatever situation she finds herself in, each moment because increasingly more perilous for her too. This is what I would say is a perfect adventure fan movie, it has a reluctant character put into a situation of life or death and she thrives in it.

SettingsWe have wonderful use of setting here, I did worry at first because the London side of things didn’t interest for the start of the film, but once we hit the boat, it is everything you could imagine a treasure hunting movie would include.

Scene of the Movie –
The plane.

That Moment That Annoyed Me First arrival in Japan, I could never see a Lara who lives in London being so naïve about locals and security of property.

Final ThoughtsIf you want a video game movie that is fun, enjoyable and a blast, this one will be the one that gets it right, the action sequences are edge of your seat, the story is interesting and it keep everything so simple to follow.


Overall: The movie video game fans want.





Annihilation (2018)

Director: Alex Garland

Writer: Alex Garland (Screenplay) Jeff VanderMeer (Novel)

Starring: Natalie Portman, Tessa Thompson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Oscar Isaac, Gina Rodriguez, David Gyasi, Tuva Novotny


Plot: A biologist signs up for a dangerous, secret expedition where the laws of nature don’t apply.

Tagline – Fear What’s Inside

Runtime: 1 Hour 55 Minutes


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Visually Stunning, Mind Testing Sci-Fi Spectacular


Story: Annihilation starts as Lena (Portman) is still feeling the effects of her husband Kane’s (Isaac) yearlong disappearance, only for him to turn up randomly. Kane has returned from a secret mission, which has bought Lena into the mysterious shimmer that has had strange effects with nobody known to return other than Kane.

Learning about a new team of scientist of military, Lena joins the team of Dr Ventress (Leigh), Anya (Rodriguez), Cass (Novotny) and Josie (Thompson) to learn the answers of what happened to her husband. As the group go further into the Shimmer the bigger the threats they find, something they have never had to explain as science isn’t working the way they are used too.


Thoughts on Annihilation


Characters – Lena is a biologist that has spent the last year wondering just where her husband has gone, only for him to return and finding herself drawn to a secret investigation. Lena uses her skills to help a team of scientists in this mysterious Shimmer where science isn’t what she has spent her life learning. Out of the five women team, she is the calmest, not picking a side, just planning on seeing where this science takes her. Dr Ventress is leading the team into the Shimmer, she has her own motivation for leading the team and does her best to keep the team together. Josie is the youngest member of the team, quiet genius inside, but not experienced in the field compared to the rest of the team. Kane is the husband soldier that went missing, returned he isn’t the same man, he is the motivation for Lena to go into the Shimmer.

PerformancesNatalie Portman is great in this leading role, she must balance a scientific mind, a broken-hearted character and truth hunter role, which she does with ease. Looking into the supporting cast we get great performance from all involved, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Oscar Isaac, Tessa Thompson and Gina Rodriguez.

StoryThis is a sci-fi mystery that will make you think, it follows a team of scientists that go into an unknown Shimmer, where the previous teams have never returned from. The rules of science have gone out the window which only add the questions we love to see and offers up the chance to be left wondering just where things will go next in this one. We do go through the idea that each member of the team changes through their experience and for scientist this does seem strange. This is what the cinema audience has been craving for, a story we need to see over plenty of the different popular movies.

Adventure/Fantasy/Horror/Mystery/Sci-FiThe film uses the adventure elements of the film by taking our five women into the unknown land which has elements of fantasy as the mystery side of just what is happening in the sci-fi world our characters enter. For a sci-fi movie this both creates a wonderful world and poses the questions we enjoy asking ourselves about how the world goes around. We do get horror moments too which surprise when they hit.

SettingsThe Shimmer is one of the most interesting, visually beautiful places we have ever had a sci-fi movie, it feels like a new world even if it is set on Earth.

Special EffectsIf this movie isn’t an early contender for the Oscar for best visual effects, I really don’t know what else could beat it. This uses the effects to make this one of the most beautiful movies you will ever see.

Scene of the Movie –
The final act, will make you question everything you have seen, while also keeping you on edge through the film.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not being able to see this in the cinema! Not by choice either.

Final ThoughtsThis is the sci-fi movie of the year, the one I have waited for, the one I want to see again. It makes you think, it looks beautiful, it sounds the disturbing and engaging with each use of the sound and music, making this the must watch movie of the year.


Overall: Must watch sci-fi movie




To The Beat! (2018)

Director: Jillian Clare

Writer: Susan Bernhardt, Jillian Clare (Screenplay)

Starring: Laura Krystine, Brisa Lalich, Jayden Bartels, Veronica St Clair, Marie Wilson, Lilly Melger, Martha Madison


Plot: To The Beat follows 14 year old twins Mia and Mackie Castillo – dancers since they were toddlers. Beginning at just three years old, that’s been their one true passion. They support each other through competitions and rehearsals, even though they dance different styles. Mia loves tap and Mackie loves jazz. When their favorite pop star launches an online contest to find the most unique dance group for his next music video, the twins each form their own team to compete for the chance to dance in the video – enlisting their friends and family to help gain online votes. Meanwhile, their arch rival and neighbor, Avery, the best dancer of all (who knows it too) uses her charm and resources to get the upper hand in the competition.

Tagline – Dance for Love or Dance to Win

Runtime: 1 Hour 36 Minutes


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Feel Good Family Film


Story: To the Beat starts when popstar Chris Trousdale (a real singer that I have never heard off) announces he is holding a contest for his latest video, teenage twins Mackie (Kystrine) and Mia (Lalich) believe they can make an impact, while rival neighbour and spoilt girl Avery (Bartels) goes full Veronica Salt (Yes, this is a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Reference) to get her chance.

With the twins having different dance techniques they compete in a friendly rivalry, while Avery is pushing people around like always, as the teenage girls battle for their dream.


Thoughts on To the Beat!


Characters – Mackie is one half of the twins, her dance style is jazz based, Mia the other half of the twins with her dance style of choice being tap. The two support each other in this contest and their own personal struggles of dealing with life after their father’s death, with their older sister and mother being their examples when it comes to chasing dreams. The two girls are perfect match without showing us any individual strengths or weaknesses. Avery is the Veronica Salt figure, she has always got what she wants, bossy and demanding throughout the film, she does get the funniest reactions with her behaviour.

PerformancesThe performances from the cast are good, Laura Krystine and Brisa Lalich as the twins get to show off dance techniques with both having different styles, they do have to handle moments of seriousness which they do handle well. Jayden Bartels will make you never want to have teenage daughters, this is because of the performance, she handles the character you are meant to hate with ease, that does need praising. It has to be said the girls in the groups are great performers and the actors playing the parents and families are good too.

StoryThe story follows 3 young teenage girls that love dance, that create teams to compete to be the dancers in a pop star’s latest video. This does show how competition can bring sisters closer and drive a rival into the selfish way. It shows us how coming together through struggles can bring light to life for the family that always got pushed to follow the dreams. There would be flaws here, we have teams, but we don’t learn about the rest of the teams, which should be just as important to what they are achieving.

Comedy/FamilyThe film will get you laughing throughout, mostly for how Avery reacts to anything happening to her, this does have all the feelings of a family film and the idea of coming together when needed.

SettingsThe film uses the settings to show how the families are together in their support, the dance studios and the stage for the final battle is what you expect to see.

Scene of the Movie –
Final performance.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Not learning about the rest of the team, even the names of the characters would have been nice, as they are chasing the same dream.

Final ThoughtsThis is a film that you can see your teenage daughter loving, it does have wonderful dance routines and a coming together when one family needed it, encourages the idea of enjoying yourself while chasing your dreams and doing everything to take that one chance which comes your way.


Overall: Family dance film that will make you smile.




4/20 Massacre (2018)

Director: Dylan Reynolds

Writer: Dylan Reynolds (Screenplay)

Starring: Jamie Bernadette, Vanessa Rose Parker, Stacey Danger, Justine Wachsberger, Marissa Pistone, Jim Storm, James Gregory


Plot: A group of five women go camping in the woods to celebrate a friend’s birthday over 4/20 weekend. But when they cross the turf of an illegal marijuana grow operation they must struggle to survive the living nightmare.

Tagline – Inhale. Exhale. Scream.

Runtime: 1 Hour 24 Minutes


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Slasher Fans Dream


Story: 4/20 Massacre starts as we follow our five friends Jess (Bernadette), Aubrey (Parker), Donna (Danger), Rachel (Wachsberger) and Michelle (Pistone) as they head off for a camping trip for Jess’ birthday on the holiday known as 4/20 (the motivation for this holiday will be revealed in the film, don’t worry I was completely lost on it too to start with).

As the weekend unfolds the girls have a drink, drug induced time in the woods nearly a local illegal marijuana operation, which brings them face to with a killer protecting their investment.


Thoughts on 4/20 Massacre


Characters – When we get into the characters it would be fair to say each one fits into a horror type for the slasher genre. Jess is the cleaner living of the group, the only one that won’t touch drugs and looks after the rest of the group, while celebrating her own birthday. Aubrey fits in the role of the one that is good at heart that has her own feeling for our lead and wants to use this weekend to show their feelings. Donna the stoner of the group spending more time high stating moments of the obvious, like Marty from Cabin in the Woods. Rachel is the womaniser of the group with her latest project along on the trip with Michelle being that project is the newest member of the group just trying not to say anything she shouldn’t around the friends.

PerformancesJamie Bernadette in a leading role again, this up and coming actress is a very busy lady of late with Killing Joan only just appeared on VOD. In this role she once again shows she can handle combat skills and strength to be the lead role, fingers crossed we will see her many more horror films. Diving into the rest of the cast we have good performances from all with Stacey Danger becoming the character you want to see more off.

StoryThe story isn’t the most difficult for anyone to follow, it follows five friends that are going for a camping trip only to find themselves needing to survive against a ruthless killer. There is on part of the story that sticks out, none of the film is set at night which is something that breaks the generic idea of slasher films. You don’t need anything too deep here, it does everything the story needs to do.

Action/HorrorThe action in the film plays hand in hand with the horror as we see the killer calculate his next kills in full action form, the horror is plenty of blood and gore with the kills, that do feel original even if the moments don’t feel like they have the tension being built in them.

SettingsThe film is set in the woods during the day, which breaks the mould for slasher movies which generally take place in the darkness.

Special EffectsThe effects used when it comes to thee kills are good throughout when it comes to the kills which feel unique in their own way.

Scene of the Movie –
Smoking alone.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Too many disposable characters.

Final ThoughtsThis movie plays into the slasher movies of old, it hits the marks on every level making us enjoy the film, it has great kills and a strong lead.


Overall: Enjoyable slasher movie.




The Outsider (2018)

Director: Martin Zandvliet

Writer: Andrew Baldwin (Screenplay) John Linson (Idea)

Starring: Jared Leto, Tadanobu Asano, Kippei Shina, Shioli Kutsuna, Emile Hirsch, Rory Cocharne


Plot: An epic set in post-WWII Japan and centered on an American former G.I. who joins the yakuza.


Runtime: 2 Hours


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Slow Drag


Story: The Outsider starts in 1954 Osaka, Nick Lowell (Leto) fresh out of prison there after helping Yakuza member Kiyoshi (Asano) gets offered a job in the notorious gang, giving him the outsider tag, he becomes an enforcer for them getting his hands dirty whenever they need someone given a message or eliminated.

Watching from within Nick sees how the two rival bosses look to try and stay ahead of each other while taking in the culture.


Thoughts on The Outsider


Characters – Nick Lowell is the outsider, an American in Japan that gets offered a job in the Yakuza to become an enforcer, even though not everyone welcomes him. He is a man of few words which helps him blend in at times being the threat to anyone that crosses the boss. Kiyoshi is the man that brings Nick into the Yakuza, he shows him the ropes keeping him in a position of safety. When it comes to the rest of the characters we are left to see how they react to having an American in the mix.

PerformancesJared Leto does the best he can with the material he has, but never gets to the heights we know he is capable off. The rest of the cast are fine, but are not on the levels needed for a gangster movie.

StoryThe story follows an American and his time in the Yakuza after World War II, we have times he is accepted and others when he is frowned upon, this is going on with the battle for the power of the area in Japan between two rival gangs. The story is incredible slow paced which doesn’t bring us into everything going on and ends up feeling flat for the most part.

Action/CrimeThe action is basic at best, there isn’t any strengths or originality in any of the sequences. We do spend the whole film in the crime world though, so if you are a gangster fan you might get more enjoyment from this side of things.

SettingsWe are set in Japan and the time looks correct, but when it comes to the rest, it is just the generic side of things.

Scene of the Movie –
Typewriter time

That Moment That Annoyed Me The story is boring.

Final ThoughtsThis isn’t the most entertaining movie, it is slow paced which doesn’t help us as an audience and by the end of the film you will not being going back through the film at any time.


Overall: Poor gangster film that just doesn’t interest for long enough.