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The Round-Up #5 (July 22)

Jurassic World Dominion (2022) - Sum up the Jurassic Park franchise in three words - Sublime to ridiculous. Yep, that should just about cover it. Just like you, I marvelled at the cinematic ball-breaking behemoth that started all of this, gobsmacked with wonder at the treat I didn't really deserve. Now, I didn't deserve this either, but it was far from a treat. It's nice to get the old gang back together, but nostalgia aside, can you just bloody well stop it now.

Girl In The Picture (2022)

A feature-length Netflix documentary concerning the short and tragic life of Tonya Hughes. "And it was bad. And it got worse. And it kept getting worse." A sobering real-life story where the shocks just keep coming when you're left to hold your loved ones just a little bit closer for just a bit longer. Catnip to the grisly "slow-down-for-accidents" armchair fans. Notable for its "stranger than fiction" tale that will make your blood run cold. Aimed at shocking its audience which it does in its attention to every horrible detail. Real-life horror for everyone, it would seem.

Thor: Love and Thunder (2022) - This was on a hiding to nothing really. As a sequel to what I consider to be Marvel's second best ever feature release, this had some mighty big shoes to fill. Just a shame it didn't then. Though props to the assembled group for their best efforts. Nice to see Portman back in the fold and the answer to my age old question as to when Christian Bale would join the MCU was finally answered, even if he claims his kids made him do it.

Waititi is at the helm again, which should inspire confidence going in, but it becomes clear quite quickly that this is less interested in being good and more interested in making you laugh. The visuals are stunning of course, but really, this is a great pretender to Eric Pearson and Craig Kyle's far superior previous input. Waititi tries to retain the tone, but his scriptwriting is just not good enough. Worth it if only for the laughs, but don't expect much more.

Persuasion (2022)

Jane Austen as adapted by Phoebe Waller-Bridge. It's far from a classic in every single way, but Johnson is cute and funny as Anne, even if her turn of phrase is as uncomplicated as female expectations were believed to be at the time. I'm not sure exactly what Austen would have made of this ritual shredding of the source material, but I imagine she was smart enough to embrace it and smile helplessly at the sight like the rest of us, for this is as pleasing as you might hope to find.

How To Please A Woman (2021) - It's a long way from the Travel Tavern in Norwich to running an 'all male cleaning service' in Australia, but once you get over the accent, Sally Phillips does a fine, inoffensive job at raising a smile. No laugh out loud bellyaches, however, and despite the title, this is surprisingly daytime friendly. And what would you know, the way to please a woman is regular orgasms and the practical working knowledge of most major domestic appliances.

The Wheel (2021) - A couple, married insanely young, take a trip to the mountains for the weekend to save their dying eight year relationship. He wants to save it, she's not so keen. He's brought a self-help book with him, like it's the answer to all their prayers.

The acting isn't outstanding, but it isn't dreadful. I have an issue with the pacing which seems needlessly laboured even for a project less than ninety minutes. The Director, Steve Pink, is responsible for the likes of Hot Tub Time Machine and About Last Night, so this is maybe not what you immediately expect to be his project of choice. Perhaps this was borne from passion. Trent Atkinson's writing is on point and he has a great grip on the narrative and the lives of his charges. Ultimately, this entire enterprise could have been reduced to a very insightful and fulfilling short, and the ending? Well, all I'll say is, you could have saved us all a good deal of time.

Not Okay (2022) - If I don't accept this is really humanity then it isn't happening. This is great whilst being honest, considered and horribly distasteful and the lowest common denominator in regard to society, but nevertheless unfortunately true. People that do bad things get famous more quickly than those doing good, even if they believe they have a reason for doing so.

The House (2022) - There were several times I thought Shaun the Sheep might wander aimlessly into the back of a shot. Stop motion has always been a good medium for peril, allowing for such fantastic attention to detail on display here. This small collection of stories are akin to a fever dream of a creative whirlwind suffering from writers block. Wild imagining, rangy and ambitious, it lacks any real character arcs or empathy, purely from the method of its production and the limited amount of time allowed. Engaging through playful curiosity, with excellent voice acting and sometimes deliciously cold observation.

Prototype (2022) - As I have said on numerous occasions, nobody sets out to make a bad film, yet bad films continue to be made. This is the case here, where I expect the intention was to deliver a considered science-fiction, near-future dystopian thriller. However, the budget wouldn't allow for it, clearly, but the effects, acting and scripting paid the price. This is what I would expect from an ambitious first year film student project.


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