Two of the great thesps of the age in a single movie. Yes please!
What’s The Movie? The Good Liar
What’s It All About, JG? Roy (Ian McKellen) is an ageing con-man, who alongside his business partner Vincent bilks gullible/vulnerable investors out of money for reasons which on Roy’s behalf appear to be little more than “because he enjoys it”. He comes into the orbit of Betty (Helen Mirren) via an on-line dating site and he prepares to run the sting once more having discovered that Betty is both widowed and really rather well off. He gradually inveigles his way into her life and eventually her house, despite the clear disapproval of Betty’s grandson, Steven (Russell Tovey, turning up to do That Thing Russell Tovey Does).
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Can Linda Hamilton’s return inject something worthwhile into the ailing Terminator franchise? Yes, actually!
What’s The Movie? Terminator: Dark Fate
What’s It All About, JG? Trying to restore even the faintest scrap of credibility to the Terminator franchise, mostly. Ignoring – with some justification – everything after the iconic Terminator 2: Judgement Day, Dark Fate picks up the story some years later. John Connor is eventually – and speedily – taken out by a Terminator and Sarah goes into hiding. Meanwhile in Mexico we have a whole new Terminator, the Rev-9, who’s hot on the heels of The New Sarah Connor ™, Dani. She’s being protected by an augmented human from the future, the not-at-all-with-an-on-the-nose-name Grace, who was sent back in time to protect her (sound familiar?).
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What’s The Movie? Joker
What’s It All About, JG? Oh good, an origin story! We certainly don’t have enough of them littering the place! But rather than the usual heavy-handed here’s-how-character-X-became-a-superhero we instead have a heavy-handed here’s-how-character-X-became-a-supervillain. Yes, it’s the origin story of the Joker, Batman’s nemesis and a story which bears no resemblance to any other Joker origin story portrayed on screen (not that there’s anything wrong with that). This time we follow the life of Arthur Fleck, a sad-sack rent-a-clown with an obsession over a TV talk show and some pretty severe mental health issues, but with an unfulfilled desire to be a stand-up comic. After a series of humiliations at work lead to him getting fired (after taking a gun to a children’s ward) Arthur ends up killing three Wall Street-type bozos on a train, two in self-defence and one simply as an execution.
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Lots and lots and lots of monsters, one of them is the king. Guess which one?
What’s The Movie? Godzilla: King Of The Monsters
What’s It All About, JG? Well, it’s a Godzilla movie in which Godzilla fights lots of other monsters that aren’t Godzilla but are roughly the same size and/or weight and/or power level as Godzilla so we get lots and lots of juicy monster action. Turns out there’s a whole bunch of kaiju/monsters (delete depending on pretentiousness level) buried under the Earth and the allegedly-mysterious Monarch organisation has been tracking them. An eco-terrorist group wants to free them so they can reclaim the Earth that humanity has destroyed, so that means lots of big slap-fights between various Toho properties as Charles Dance rushes about the place setting them all free (I mean, I’m sure his character has a name, but come on. It’s Charles Dance). Dr Emma Russell has built a device that can calm the beasts and has been working on it with her daughter Madison (Stranger Things‘s Millie Bobby Brown) while her estranged husband, Mark, firstly tries to kill ‘Zilla then eventually comes to realise that the world needs him to save them from the other kaiju. It all ends in a big punch-up that flattens Boston and ‘Zilla roaring his dominance over all monsters as they bend the knee.
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The MCU reaches it’s apotheosis
What’s The Movie? Avengers: Endgame
What’s It All About, JG? Saying an emotional, tear-jerking farewell to characters we’ve lived, loved and explored with over more than twenty movies and giving them a rousing send-off as one of the most ambitious projects in all of cinema closes out. Or, corporate synergy, crossover promotions, blatant emotional manipulation and a pathological desire to keep the superhero gravy train going. Take your pick, really. Either way the story is simple – Thanos wiped out half of all life in the universe by snapping his fingers, so now whatever remains of the Avengers has to find a way to stop him, using a really weird model of time travel, sacrifices, and loopy plot logistics. Steed and Mrs Peel not featured.
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Can Tom Hardy bring the alien goo to life in a way that Spider-Man 3 so specacularly failed to do?
What’s the Movie? Venom
What’s It All About, JG? Apart from Tom Hardy’s unexpected career side-step into goofy comedy, it’s about a lump of back alien putty that’s held in a space station that falls to Earth when something else on the space station escapes and causes it to crash. It subsequently bonds with washed-up journalist Eddie Brock (Hardy) because the symbiote needs a human host to survive in an oxygen-rich environment for reasons of plot expediency. There’s a bad Elon Musk-alike, Carlton Drake, who’s gathering a multitude of aliens for… reasons (he claims to be trying to save humanity though to describe this plot thread as “nebulous” would be an insult to nebulas) and has other symbiotes he’s trying to get to bond with humans because He’s A Bad Guy. It all ends in a big rocket, scads of variable-quality CGI and a big-ass set-up for a sequel, where Venom and Brock finally get to the point of the exercise and start hunting bad guys in San Francisco. It is, in other words, a superhero movie, just with a sticky-looking blob full of teeth and a tongue even Gene Simmons would be envious of rather than a cast of spandex-clad muscle-warriors.
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I’m not sure “ladies can do spy stuff too!” is quite as progressive as the movie thinks its it. Quite fun, though.
What’s The Movie? The Spy Who Dumped Me
What’s It All About, JG? Audrey Stockton (Mila Kunis) get unceremoniously dumped by her boyfriend via text. Classy. Turns out, though, he’s a spy (you might possibly be able to deduce that from the movie’s title) and while returning to pick up his stuff and apologise, he’s killed in a raid and his dying words are to deliver a trophy to Vienna. The trophy hides This Movie’s McGuffin, a USB stick that acts as a backdoor to the entire internet. This sends Audrey and her best friend, Morgan (Kate McKinnon), on a cross-European jaunt to work out what’s going on and, if possible, survive.
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Are there fun and games? Eh…
What’s The Movie?Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle
What’s It All About, JG? On one hand it’s about taking even the most slender of brand recognition and seeing just how much blood can be squeezed from the stone of vague 90’s nostalgia. On the other it’s about getting a bunch of well-known actors to ham their way through a few set-pieces tenuously linked together by video-game logic. This version of Jumanji re-imagines the original’s board game as a computer game into which our four heroes get inexplicably sucked, and gives them the task of lifting the curse off the land of Jumanji by returning a jewel to the eye of the statue of a jaguar. Along the way our four disparate individuals will learn to appreciate each other while hacking their way through a bunch of Lara Croft/Indiana Jones clichés. Can they reach the end and lift the curse? What do you think?
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What’s The Movie? Skyscraper
What’s It All About, JG? The Rock Punches a Building. Repeatedly. For a couple of hours. He’s playing a security consultant, Will Sawyer, who lost a leg in a mission gone wrong and who’s now hired to check out the security in the world’s tallest building. It all goes wrong, the building ends up on fire, his family are trapped inside and… wait, wasn’t this made in the ’70’s? Repeatedly? Yes, this is an attempt to resurrect the deservedly-moribund disaster movie for reasons that, beyond box office, remain thoroughly mystifying. It’s not like any of these movies were decent the first time round…
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Fallout? What were they even arguing about?
What’s The Movie? Mission: Impossible – Fallout
What’s It All About, JG? Having Tom Cruise be manly in manly ways which involve being manly in the service of IMF and/or the United States. In this one… well, you know. There’s lots of running and explosions and the spy stuff takes a back seat to seeing what ludicrously over-the-top shenanigans Tom Cruise can get up to / humblebrag about on chat shows. It’s a Mission: Impossible film, in other words. Like the last one, but with slightly different locations.
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