Christopher Robin (2018) / D: Marc Forster / 104m
Cast: Ewan McGregor, Hayley Atwell, Bronte Carmichael, Mark Gatiss, Oliver Ford Davies, Jim Cummings, Brad Garrett, Peter Capaldi, Sophie Okonedo, Toby Jones
Rating: 7/10 – having left behind his childhood friends at the Hundred Acre Wood, an adult Christopher Robin (McGregor), now married and weighed down by the demands of his work, is reunited with them just at the moment that they all most need each other; a live action/CGI variation on A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh stories, Christopher Robin is an enjoyable if lightweight confection from Disney that features good performances from McGregor and Cummings (as both Pooh and Tigger), but which also takes a very straightforward approach to its story, and allows Gatiss to overdo it as the smug villain of the piece.
Melvin Goes to Dinner (2003) / D: Bob Odenkirk / 83m
Cast: Michael Blieden, Stephanie Courtney, Matt Price, Annabelle Gurwitch, Maura Tierney, David Cross, Melora Walters, Jack Black
Rating: 7/10 – two friends agree to meet for dinner but two other people end up joining them, leading to an evening of surprising connections and revelations that causes each to rethink their own opinions and feelings about each other; adapted from the stage play Phyro-Giants! (and written by Blieden), Odenkirk’s debut as a director is an amusing examination of what we tell ourselves to be true while being closely examined by others who may (or may not) know better, making Melvin Goes to Dinner a waspish if somewhat diffident look at social mores that feels a little forced in places, but is well acted by its cast.
BlacKkKlansman (2018) / D: Spike Lee / 135m
Cast: John David Washington, Adam Driver, Laura Harrier, Topher Grace, Jasper Pããkkönen, Ryan Eggold, Paul Walter Houser, Ashlie Atkinson, Michael Buscemi, Robert John Burke, Frederick Weller, Corey Hawkins, Harry Belafonte, Alec Baldwin
Rating: 9/10 – the true story of how, in the early Seventies, the Colorado Springs Police Department’s first black officer, Ron Stallworth (Washington), infiltrated the local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan with the aid of a fellow, Jewish officer, Flip Zimmerman (Driver); a return to form for Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman is entertaining and frightening in equal measure for the way it deals with contentious issues surrounding politics and racism that are as entrenched today as they were back in the Seventies, and for the deft way in which Lee allows the humour to filter through without negating the seriousness of the issues he’s examining.
Unearthed & Untold: The Path to Pet Sematary (2017) / D: John Campopiano, Justin White / 97m
With: Mary Lambert, Dale Midkiff, Denise Crosby, Brad Greenquist, Peter Stein, Elliot Goldenthal, Miko Hughes, Susan Blommaert, Heather Langenkamp
Rating: 6/10 – a look at the making of Pet Sematary (1989), with interviews and recollections from the cast and crew, and an assessment of the movie’s impact and legacy in the years that have followed; coming across very much like a labour of love for its directors, Unearthed & Untold: The Path to Pet Sematary features a wealth of details about the making of the movie, some of which is fascinating, and some of which is less so, making this a mixed bag in terms of content, but if you’re a fan of Pet Sematary, this will be a must-see, and should offer up behind-the-scenes information that hasn’t been seen or heard before.
Lake Placid: Legacy (2018) / D: Darrell Roodt / 93m
Cast: Katherine Barrell, Tim Rozon, Sai Bennett, Luke Newton, Craig Stein, Joe Pantoliano, Alisha Bailey
Rating: 3/10 – a group of eco-warriors discover a remote island that’s not on any maps, and find a genetically altered apex predator that soon begins whittling down their numbers; the sixth entry in the franchise, Lake Placid: Legacy ignores the previous four movies and acts – without explanation – as a direct sequel to the original, though that doesn’t make it any less abysmal, and it’s easily the worst in the series, something it achieves thanks to a dreadful script, Roodt’s absentee direction, the less than stellar efforts of the cast, and just by being greenlit in the first place.
Killing Gunther (2017) / D: Taran Killam / 93m
Cast: Taran Killam, Bobby Moynihan, Hannah Simone, Cobie Smulders, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Allison Tolman, Paul Brittain, Aaron Yoo, Ryan Gaul, Amir Talai, Peter Kelamis
Rating: 4/10 – an assassin, Blake (Killam), hires a team of other assassins to help him track down and eliminate Gunther (Schwarzenegger), the world’s most feared, and successful, hitman; ostensibly a comedy, Killing Gunther is yet another ill-advised movie where the script – and the cast – try way too hard to make absurdist behaviour funny all by itself, and where the tone is as wayward as the narrative, something that makes the movie an uneven watch and less than successful in its attempts to entertain – and the less said about Schwarzenegger’s performance the better.
Overboard (2018) / D: Rob Greenberg / 112m
Cast: Eugenio Derbez, Anna Faris, Eva Longoria, John Hannah, Swoosie Kurtz, Mel Rodriguez, Josh Segarra, Hannah Nordberg, Alyvia Alyn Lind, Payton Lapinski, Fernando Luján, Cecilia Suárez, Mariana Treviño
Rating: 6/10 – when a rich, arrogant, multi-millionaire playboy (Derbez) falls overboard from his yacht and loses his memory, a struggling single mother (Faris) that he’s treated badly sees an opportunity to exploit his misfortune for her own personal gain; a gender-swap remake of the 1987 original, Overboard is pleasant enough, with well judged performances from Derbez and Faris, but it plays out in expected fashion, with only occasional moments that stand out, and never really tries to do anything that might make viewers think of it as anything more than an acceptable remake doing its best to keep audiences just interested enough to stay until the end.
El club de los buenos infieles (2017) / D: Lluís Segura / 84m
Cast: Raúl Fernández de Pablo, Fele Martínez, Juanma Cifuentes, Hovik Keuchkerian, Albert Ribalta, Jordi Vilches, Adrián Lastra
Rating: 7/10 – four friends, all married but experiencing a loss of desire for their wives, decide to start a club for men with similar problems, and in the hope that by “seeing” other women, it will rekindle their desire; based on a true story, El club de los buenos infieles starts off strongly as the men explain their feelings, but soon the ridiculous nature of their solution leads to all sorts of uncomfortable moments and situations that stretch the credibility of the material, leaving the principal cast’s performances to keep things engaging, along with Segura’s confident direction (which helps overcome much of the script’s deficiencies), and a couple of very funny set-pieces that are worth a look all by themselves.
Destination Wedding (2018) / D: Victor Lewin / 87m
Cast: Winona Ryder, Keanu Reeves
Rating: 5/10 – two misanthropes (Ryder, Reeves) invited to the same wedding (he’s the groom’s brother, she’s the groom’s ex), find they have much more in common than expected, including an attraction to each other; the kind of movie that has its characters spout pseudo-intellectual nonsense at every opportunity in an effort to make them sound wise and/or studiously profound, Destination Wedding could have been much funnier than it thinks it is, and wastes the talents of both Ryder and Reeves (yes, even Reeves) as it leaves no turn unstoned in its efforts to be a romantic comedy that isn’t in the least bit romantic, or comic.
The Resurrection of Gavin Stone (2016) / D: Dallas Jenkins / 92m
Cast: Brett Dalton, Anjelah Johnson-Reyes, Neil Flynn, D.B. Sweeney, Shawn Michaels, Patrick Gagnon, Tim Frank, Tara Rios
Rating: 6/10 – a former teen TV star whose adult acting career isn’t going as well as he’d hoped, finds himself doing community service at his hometown church, and discovering that having a lack of religious faith is the least of his problems; a bright and breezy romantic comedy, The Resurrection of Gavin Stone wears its Christian beliefs on its sleeve, while doing absolutely nothing that you wouldn’t expect it to, thanks to likable performances from Dalton and Johnson-Reyes, a solid if predictable script, and workmanlike direction that never lets the material stray from its formulaic constraints, though if truth be told, on this occasion that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
The Predator (2018) / D: Shane Black / 107m
Cast: Boyd Holbrook, Trevante Rhodes, Jacob Tremblay, Sterling K. Brown, Olivia Munn, Keegan-Michael Key, Thomas Jane, Alfie Allen, Augusto Aguilera, Jake Busey, Yvonne Strahovski
Rating: 5/10 – a rag-tag band of PTSD sufferers and an army sniper (Holbrook) find themselves taking on a couple of Predators while a secret arm of the US government atempts to exploit their presence on Earth; a movie that could and should have been so much better (soooo much better), The Predator is unnecessarily convoluted and stupid at the same time, and despite Black’s best efforts, remains the kind of sequel that everyone has high hopes for, only to see them drain away with every dumb moment that the script can squeeze in, and every tortuous twist of logic that can be forced onto the narrative, all of which leaves everyone hoping and praying that this is the end of the line.
The Astounding She-Monster (1957) / D: Ronald V. Ashcroft / 62m
aka Mysterious Invader
Cast: Robert Clarke, Kenne Duncan, Marilyn Harvey, Jeanne Tatum, Shirley Kilpatrick, Ewing Miles Brown
Rating: 3/10 – kidnappers take their hostage up into the mountains, unaware that a space ship has crash landed nearby, and the sole occupant (Kilpatrick) is more than capable of defending itself; not a cult classic, and not a movie to look back fondly on for any low-budget virtues it may have (it doesn’t), The Astounding She-Monster is a creature feature without a creature, a crime drama with an annoying voice over, a sci-fi horror with minimal elements of both, and a movie with far too many scenes where the cast run through the same stretch of woods trying to get away from an alien whose only speed is ultra-ultra-slow.