Director: Joan Carr-Wiggin (2017) BBFC cert: 15


One shouldn’t make jokes about cancer and this glacially paced farce certainly succeeds in failing to make us laugh.

Devoid of wit, mirth or ambition, it’s a malignant, morbid and mawkish misfire, unrelentingly unfunny, staggeringly awful and too predictable and painful to endure.

It stars three refugees you’ll recognise from classic comedy, Four Weddings And A Funeral, in John HannahJames Fleet and Anna ‘Duckface’ Chancellor. The latter in particular is deserving of so much better material.

She plays middle aged mother and architect, Grace, who believes she has only four days to live before she undergoes an operation to remove a brain tumour.

Her arrogant and smug ex husband turns up declaring undying love and wanting to rekindle their romance. Her current hubby is a dithering drunken idiot, and doesn’t seem too put out.

It’s set and filmed in Canada, presumably for tax relief purposes. It speaks volumes even the British film industry wouldn’t stoop to funding this nonsense.



Director: Gore Verbinski (2017) BBFC cert: 18


Gore Verbinski administered shock treatment to Johnny Depp’s career by directing the first three Pirates of the Caribbean films, and the magnificent mess, The Lone Ranger.

The appropriately named director now turns his hand to horror, with equally mixed results.

It’s beautifully designed on a grand scale, and stunningly photographed.

Brit actor Jason Isaacs is wonderfully measured as the governor of an exclusive Swiss sanitarium. Forever pale and interesting, Dane DeHaan is suitably cast as a young US executive sent to Switzerland to rescue his CEO from hydrotherapy.

In the vein of the venerable Hammer House of Horror, the story draws heavily on the European folktales which inspired Dracula and Frankenstein.

Distended on a diet of eels and red herrings, the constipated storytelling puts a strain on the audience. It needs a good dose of leeches. Movement in the bowels of the castle allows for a necessary and explosive purge of plot, providing great relief all round.



Director: Billy O’Brien (2017) BBFC cert: 15

There’s a beating heart full of love within this off beat and disturbingly entertainingly horror.

Young actor, Max Records, is terrific as John Cleaver, a bullied high school student works part time at the family mortuary and believes himself to have the potential to be a serial killer.

Veteran Christopher Lloyd has fun as his elderly neighbour and only friend.

But when John believes he’s discovered the existence of a real serial killer at large, his life takes a doubtful turn.

Due to the smart writing, assured direction and performances of rigid conviction, this is a macabre, small town joy.



Director: Jackson Stewart (2017) BBFC cert: 18


Rewind to the era of the video nasty with this lovingly made, entertaining and accurate homage to cult comedy horrors such as such as Fright Night and Re-Animator.

When two brothers return to their parents’ defunct video store, they find a mysterious interactive video cassette game movie called Beyond The Gate.

They realise it holds clues to their father’s disappearance, but are warned playing the game could cost them their souls.

There’s a healthy amount of camp fun among  the blood letting action and enough menace to give you the shivers.



Director: Theodore Melfi (2017) BBFC cert: PG

Equations lead to equality in this astronomically uplifting biopic.

When NASA find themselves behind communist Russia in the space race, three groundbreaking African American female mathematicians prove they have the right stuff.

Their brain power is instrumental in figuring out how to to return an astronaut alive from Earth orbit.

Taraji P. Henson, Janelle Monae and Octavia Spencer bring warmth, integrity and humour to their roles. The latter was up for the best supporting actress Oscar, but all of them are deserving of an award.

The real life characters they play may have been hidden from history, but they’re easily identifiable in the labs occupied by white men.

Rather than preach, the script uses humour to mock the stupidity of racism and sexism. And the science is pitched at a level so dummies like myself can easily understand it.

Stirring, sentimental and sweet, it’s a powerful and entertaining story of heroism in the face of prejudice.





Director: Chad Stahelski (2017) BBFC cert: 15

Keanu Reeves’ career blasts back into black as the sharp suited assassin in this blistering thriller sequel.

It’s a super stylish, extraordinarily violent action spectacular which offers non stop ferocious thrills.

With little fanfare the first film tore through cinema back in 2014, shooting up the box office charts and killing the competition.

It delivered a much needed hit for the ever popular star who was once again in great need of a boost. Reeves has been quite since then but there’s no ignoring him here.

We pick up where the first finished. Having avenged his pet dog and recovered his car from the Russian gangsters who stole it, the multilingual hitman, Wick, is once again looking forward to a peaceful retirement.

But Riccardo Scamarcio’s powerful Italian crime lord makes Wick and offer he can’t refuse. As the villainous, ambitious and smooth talking Santino D’Antonio, he needs his own sister assassinated and Wick owes him a blood debt.

However if Wick succeeds, it will allow D’Antonio to takeover not just Rome, but Wick’s hometown of New York.

The relentless barrage of action sequences combine the sleek sophistication of the James Bond series, the elegant sumptuous design of vampire flicks and the dynamic violence of Asian martial arts movies.

Enabling the short fused Wick to burn the candle at both ends is an armoury of guns, the most cool car, a wardrobe of gorgeous suits, and residence at a chain of high end hotels.

The inventive violence takes place on subways, in catacombs and at parties, ending with a showdown in Central Park.

British actors Ian McShane and Peter Serafinowicz add a touch of class. Reeves’ co-star from The Matrix movies, Laurence Fishburne brings the menace.

The Hollywood union of stuntmen has long agitated for an Oscar to be established to honour their work. If one were to be awarded, the stunt team here would be a shoo in for the thorough shoe-ing their members receive here.

For what they accomplish, I hope their danger money was on double time.


The Lego Batman Movie

Director: Chris McKay (2017) BBFC cert: U

The Caped Crusader returns in a dynamically entertaining spin-off from 2014s The Lego Movie.

Brightly coloured, rapid fire and full of jolly stupidity, I was laughing from the first word of dialogue. And by the end of the opening titles I was a giggling mess.

The fun is powered by state-of-the-art animation and the camp sensibility of the 1960s Batman TV show. It lovingly sends up Batman’s many screen portrayals and his bromance with his arch-enemy The Joker.

In order to prove he is Batman’s number one bad guy, The Joker unleashes a horde of villains from Hollywood history. To save Gotham City from Godzilla, King Kong and err, Daleks, Batman must confront his greatest fear.

The crime fighter is once again voiced by a gravel-throated Will Arnett, who brings the superhero to life with a deliciously angry delivery.

It’s stuffed with super-enjoyable cameos and revamped Bat-tunes, and the Bat-cave is a treasure trove of potential merchandise for your kids to drool over.

They will love this daft Bat-adventure, I definitely did.


20th Century Women

Director: Mike Mills (2017) BBFC cert: 15

My heart sank when I read this drama described as a ‘poignant love letter to the people who raise us’. But it’s even more insuffrable and indulgent than I feared.

Set against the US energy crisis of 1979, this is a mawkishly nostalgic  semi-autobiographical riff on the teenage life of writer/director, Mike Mills.

The charm of Annette Bening alone isn’t enough to enertain us. She stars as bohemian single mum, Dorothea, who lives in a dilapidated mansion.It is strewn with the director’s favourite records, books and clothes of the era.

She rents spare rooms to a hippie handyman and a forthright photographer, while inviting complete strangers to her frequent parties. Meanwhile her son Jamie has an unrequited crush on sulky girl next door, Julie.

Greta Gerwig, Elle Fanning, Lucas Jade Zumann and Billy Crudup play the unlikely cohabitees. Indulgent and under plotted, it feels like an actors workshop.

Everyone spends their time over analysing each other’s behaviour and fertility and feminism are much discussed. Little else happens and most of what does occur is dull.





Director: Denzel Washington (2017) BBFC cert: 12A

Hollywood heavy hitter Denzel Washington steps up to the plate to try for an Oscar home run in this compelling family drama.

Given this powerhouse performance as a baseball loving binman, a record equalling third Oscar win is well within Washington’s striking distance.

Nominated for best actor, Washington stars as a middle-aged illiterate with a prison record. Troy is restless with frustration at his life and has an authoritarian streak when dealing with his wife and children.

Despite preaching responsibility, Troy is revealed as a hypocrite capable of monstrous behaviour towards those closest to him.

Though Washington also produces and directs, this is far from a one-man show. He is merely the leader of an exceptional yet small cast. Russell Hornsby and Jovan Adepo are terrific as Troy’s sons.

Lyons is a broke musician, the result of a youthful relationship. Teenage Cory is an aspiring sportsman and the product of Troy’s marriage to Rose. Clinging to her hard earned dignity as Troy’s wife, the magnificently moving Viola Davis is deservedly favourite for the best supporting actress Oscar.

Young Saniyya Sidney appears briefly as Troy’s daughter Raynell. She raises a smile with her every word.

Washington directs with sensitive economy, barely moving from the main location of the backyard where Troy is erecting a fence. A lack of visual flair is more than compensated for by the actors’ ability and the virtuosity of the writing.

The script has been Oscar nominated for best Adapted Screenplay, and is based on the Pulitzer Prize winning Broadway play of the same name.

The setting is very specific to the African-American experience of 1950s Pittsburgh. However the story explores universal ideas of masculinity, marriage and fatherhood. This means it reaches across the fences of time, location and race to speak to the widest possible audience.

To paraphrase the famous baseball commentary, it’s a story that can be heard round the world.


Resident Evil: The Final Chapter

Director: Paul W. S. Anderson (2017) BBFC cert: 15

Brace yourself for a ferocious return to the apocalyptic wonderland of Alice and the Red Queen.

The sixth in this zombie action franchise of variable quality, this demented trip improves on all but the brilliant first Resident Evil, which came out way back in 2002. It follows on directly from 2012’s Resident Evil: Retribution.

As Alice, Milla Jovovich once again teams up with her favourite writer and director, Paul W. S. Anderson. The talented Geordie is also the star’s husband and their daughter Ever Gabo Anderson, plays the scheming Red Queen.

So Alice sets off to the giant underground bunker, the Hive, where her adventures first began. Among the many threats facing Alice, are mutant pterodactyls and an army of rabid zombies.

With a love of the material feeding his down to earth showmanship, Anderson fills the screen with many inventive action sequences, all set to a thunderous soundtrack.

Refusing to worry about what he clearly considers to be silly and inconsequential things, such as plot holes, Anderson powers over them at a frantic pace, dragging us along behind him.

It’s not hard to detect the positive influence of British cult comic 2000AD in the sardonic response to the gleeful showers of ultra-violence.

The principal creatives claim this will be the series finale. However Sigourney Weaver starred in the Alien series at forty eight years old, and this year Kate Beckinsale starred in the latest of her Underworld films at forty three. Jovovich is only forty one, so age is very much on her side.

And with this degree of adrenalin fuelled entertainment, I hope this isn’t the final chapter.