Category Archives: Movies

Nimh’s Secret

The Secret of NIMH (1982)

The Secret of NIMH is a 1982 American animated science fantasy adventure film directed by Don Bluth in his directorial debut. It is an adaptation of Robert C. O’Brien’s 1971 children’s novel Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH.

Voice cast

Despite the top notch painted backgrounds and animation I found this  not engaging.  It put it down to the flat voice acting. All the characters sounded similar in tone. The soundtrack (by Jerry Goldsmith) was generic and didn’t match the action very well.  The environmental sounds were under-done (or non-existent) .

And the story, while simple was dark and grim. Not what you would consider a story for children.


Last Jedi

Star Wars – The Last Jedi

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (also known as Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi[4]) is a 2017 American epic space opera film written and directed by Rian Johnson. It is the second film in the Star Wars sequel trilogy, following Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015). The film is produced by Lucasfilm and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. It stars Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, and Gwendoline Christie in returning roles, with Kelly Marie Tran, Laura Dern, and Benicio del Toro joining the cast.

The big question fans will be asking in the future is – which is better, “The Empire Strikes Back” or “The Last Jedi”.

Two minutes into the film and it’s into the action, exciting and intense.  The movie is 2.5 hrs long, bit it feels more like 3 hours. There is just so much plot crammed into it. The best thing is the plot, it’s unexpected and ultimately satisfying. Just when you think the final objectives for our heroes has been laid down and we will proceed to a big conclusion, it changes. That’s what I like in a story.

It does answer questions about Rey and Kylo. And being the second in the trilogy sets things up nicely for the sequel.


Her is a 2013 American romantic science-fiction drama film written, directed, and produced by Spike Jonze. It marks Jonze’s solo screenwriting debut. The film follows Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix), a man who develops a relationship with Samantha (Scarlett Johansson), an intelligent computer operating system personified through a female voice. The film also stars Amy Adams, Rooney Mara, and Olivia Wilde.

This got a bunch of awards and it’s easy to see why.

Joaquin is really good as a very ordinary guy. It’s a good thing they didn’t make him some kind of stereotype. The works writing letter for other people and has been recently divorced. The film traces  his relationship with an AI assistant that is embedded in an operating system. While the story is concentrated on the two main characters, it did remind me of Robert J Sawyer’s Wake Trilogy.

At times it has a very dreamy quality, sometimes humorous and often very sweary. While it may seem to be a romantic comedy, the main theme that comes through is how we change when we interact with technology, and how technology evolves.


Lion King

The Lion King is a 1994 American animated musical film created by Walt Disney Pictures. It is the 32nd Disney animated feature film, and the fifth animated film produced during a period known as the Disney Renaissance. The Lion King was directed by Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff, produced by Don Hahn, and has a screenplay credited to Irene Mecchi, Jonathan Roberts, and Linda Woolverton. Its original songs were written by composer Elton John and lyricist Tim Rice, and original scores were written by Hans Zimmer.

The film features an ensemble voice cast that includes Matthew Broderick, James Earl Jones, Jeremy Irons, Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Moira Kelly, Nathan Lane, Ernie Sabella, Rowan Atkinson, Robert Guillaume, Madge Sinclair, Whoopi Goldberg, Cheech Marin, and Jim Cummings. The story takes place in a kingdom of lions in Africa and was influenced by William Shakespeare’s Hamlet.


Having never seen this film, it’s broadcast on free to air TV was an opportunity  to see this classic. It’s easy to see why it’s popular, the graphic design is bright and colourful. The anthropomorphic design of the characters is extreme. Sometimes the movement is almost human. As with most children’s stories, it takes a dark turn in the middle before Simba asserts himself and returns to his tribe.

Well worth the viewing.


Orient Express

Murder on the Orient Express is a 2017 American mystery drama film directed by Kenneth Branagh with a screenplay by Michael Green, based on the 1934 novel of the same name by Agatha Christie.

The film stars Branagh as Hercule Poirot, with Penélope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Judi Dench, Johnny Depp, Josh Gad, Derek Jacobi, Leslie Odom Jr., Michelle Pfeiffer, and Daisy Ridley in supporting roles. The film is the fourth adaptation of Christie’s novel, following a 1974 film, a 2001 TV film, and a 2010 episode of Agatha Christie’s Poirot.[6] The plot follows Poirot, a world-renowned detective, who seeks to solve a murder on the famous European train in the 1930s.

The phrase ‘well done’ and ‘good work’ spring to mind. It’s not an outrageous big budget film with stunts, effects and explosions. But Brannagh manages to wind up the tension to the end and the traditional scene where he explains how a murder is committed.

Good watch, although probably better seen when it gets to TV.

Thor Rag

Thor: Ragnarok

Thor: Ragnarok is a 2017 American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character Thor, produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

This is the sequel to 2011’s Thor and 2013’s Thor: The Dark World and the seventeenth film of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).

Directed by Taika Waititi with a screenplay by Eric Pearson and the writing team of Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost.



Taila Waititi gets superhero movies: They need to be big and operatic. Not serious but witty and funny. With imaginative graphics and a sweeping score. The heroes need to look like they stepped out of a Frank Frazetti poster…..

Chris Hemsworth & Tom Hiddleston as Thor and Loki are just as we expect them. Thor the white knight and Loki the trickster and liar.

Cate  Blanchett is OK as Hela, the brothers evil sister.


However Jeff Goldblum as the Grandmaster turns more the movie more to campy than witty. The seems to be phoning in his performance.


The best characters are Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk and Karl Urban as Skurge. These characters are tormented and have a character arc through the film. Idris Alba is just wasted.

This is the best Marvel Movie since Guardians of the Galaxy, it’s witty and exciting but mostly fun.





Geostorm is a 2017 American disaster film co-written, produced and directed by Dean Devlin as his feature film directorial debut.
The film stars Gerard Butler, Jim Sturgess, Abbie Cornish, Alexandra Maria Lara, Richard Schiff, Robert Sheehan, Daniel Wu, Eugenio Derbez, Ed Harris and Andy García.
The plot follows a satellite designer who tries to save the world from a storm of epic proportions caused by malfunctioning climate-controlling satellites.

Despite the implication that this is some global warming post-apocalyptic thriller, it’s not. It is a very B-grade Sci-Fi action adventure with lots of CGI, a brooding non-conformist hero and simple to understand villain.

It hasn’t got great reviews (currently 11% on rotten tomatoes) and Mark Kermode described it as one of the worst he has seen.

However, if you can forget some basic science, like gravity, thermodynamics, inertia and chemistry you may be able to park your brain in neutral and enjoy the rise. There is some spectacle to be had and good action moments.

Ultimately it looks like they have tried to merge  Armageddon (1998) with Gravity (2013) and come up with something that lacks the over-the-top style of Armageddon or the tension of Gravity.


Blade Runner 2

Blade Runner 2049 is a 2017 American neo-noir science fiction film directed by Denis Villeneuve and written by Hampton Fancher and Michael Green. A sequel to Blade Runner (1982), the film stars Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford (who reprises his role as Rick Deckard), with Ana de Armas, Sylvia Hoeks, Robin Wright, Mackenzie Davis, Carla Juri, Lennie James, Dave Bautista and Jared Leto in supporting roles.

Set thirty years after the original film, the story depicts a replicant blade runner named K, who discovers the remains of a once-pregnant replicant. To prevent a possible war between species, K is secretly tasked with finding the child and destroying all evidence related to it.

This is the shortest 5 hour movie I have seen. It may only be 2hrs 43 min, but it felt a lot longer. The pacing was terrible, slow and bordering on boring. It’s only near the ending that the pacing picks up. You can see where all the budget has gone, the sets and CGI is impressive.

As for the music, where the Vangelis music had a subtlety and beauty, the Hans Zimmer score has all the nuance of a hammer to the head. This seems to be his fault, from Interstellar to Dunkirk to BR 2047, at times it is just deafening and constantly tells you what to think.

The themes are the same as the original movie; are we defined by our memories and what makes us human. I’m sure that film reviewers will be enraptured by it and everyone else will go ‘it’s a bit too long’.



The Witches is a 1990 British/American dark fantasy horror film based on the children’s novel of the same title by Roald Dahl. It was directed by Nicolas Roeg and produced by The Jim Henson Company for Lorimar Film Entertainment and Warner Bros., starring Anjelica Huston, Mai Zetterling, Rowan Atkinson, and Jasen Fisher. It is the last theatrical film to be produced by Lorimar before the company shut down 3 years later in 1993.

As in the novel, the story fantasises witches who masquerade as ordinary women and kill children, but are foiled and exterminated by a boy and his grandmother after the boy is turned into a mouse. The film was very well received by critics but performed poorly at the box office.

A simple story about a boy who becomes a mouse and takes on a gaggle of witches. It’s fun and entertaining. As expected from Roald Dahl, things get dark and slightly scary. The ending is a disappointment as it’s not the same as the book and provides an unnecessary “happy” ending.


Madagascar 3

Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted is a 2012 American 3D computer-animated comedy film, produced by DreamWorks Animation and distributed by Paramount Pictures.1 It is the third installment of the Madagascar series and the sequel to Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (2008). It is also the first in the series to be released in 3D. The film is directed by Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath, and Conrad Vernon.

In this film, Alex, Marty, Melman, and Gloria are still struggling to get home to New York. This time, their journey takes them to Europe, where they are relentlessly pursued by the murderous Monaco-based French Animal Control officer Captain Chantel Dubois (Frances McDormand).

As a means of getting passage to North America, the animals join a circus, where they become close friends with the animal performers, including the new characters of Gia (Jessica Chastain), Vitaly (Bryan Cranston), and Stefano (Martin Short). Together, they spectacularly revitalize the business and along the way find themselves reconsidering where their true home really is.

They say that a good villain is important to a heroic story. Here we have one of the best. Capt Dubois is relentless and funny, despite not making any jokes. She drives the story forward and forces the characters to change. Also great are the penguins, they come up with the most amazing hair-brained schemes that work on first try.

Zippy, funny and ultimately rewarding everyone should enjoy this.