Lightyear (2022)

Quick Synopsis: Buzz Lightyear deals with loss and mortality in this film-within-a-film

I love Pixar. They’re almost consistently brilliant (with the exception of Cars and Good Dinosaur), and a new film by them almost feels like an event. On the downside, this means that expectations are always high, but those expectations are usually met.

That’s definitely the case here, it won’t be remembered among the best that Pixar has made, but it does remind you WHY you love them. It’s funny, looks fantastic, has a great story, and breaks you slightly. Most studios would have a film like this as a lazy cash grab, but Pixar has done something different. Instead of just “put some shit together”, they’ve done this: the film that the Buzz Lightyear toys in the Toy Story universe were based on. It’s weird to explain, but it makes sense when they define it. It’s brave for them to do that, but what’s even braver is them deciding to do a film based around time dilation. It works, though. Kids films need to realise that children can understand most concepts as long as you explain them. So you can have films based around the multiverse, you can have films about time travel loops, but you can only do them if you do them well.

On the downside, this was supposed to be a film from the 90’s, but it never really feels like that. There’s a moment where he takes the robot autopilot out and blows it like a video game cartridge, but other than that there’s nothing that really makes you believe this is a 90’s movie. For starters, a film like that would not have that any gay characters that weren’t awful stereotypes. If they added some 90’s music, maybe had voice actors from that time instead of newer younger ones, actually looked at what was popular in that decade and referenced that then it would have worked. I mean, it would have been a MUCH worse film, and wouldn’t have worked, but still, at the moment there seems to be no reason for it to be sold in-universe as a film from the 90’s. Now if you had it as a “The toy company that makes Buzz Lightyear have released a new film” then it would have worked. If you bookended it with Andy watching it with his kids it would have slot into the Toy Story universe seamlessly and could have provided an emotional crux to anchor the film around.

I am aware that is a very minor point, but that’s how picky you have to be to criticise this. It’s incredibly well made and the voice cast is perfect. The biggest compliment I can give it is how well it would work as a standalone movie, cut out the opening card about Toy Story and you can watch this not knowing anything about Toy Story, and still enjoy it. There are no “wait, what’s that about?” “oh, it’s a reference to the other films”. It’s a solid action-adventure film even without the Toy Story references, the fact it’s set in that universe enhances the story rather than explains it.

So in summary, well worth a watch. And a good reminder of how good Pixar are.

Look at Paramount+ Launch Day

Yup, another streaming service has launched. Like most streaming services, it’s been available in the US for a while now, launching shows exclusively on that service, and then wondering why people in other countries are illegally watching it instead of waiting months and ignoring spoilers online while trying to be part of the fandom. There’s a lot of streaming services available now, so is another one really worth getting? I’ll provide the key points and let you decide.


Pretty cheap really, especially compared to other services. It’s either £6.99 a month, or you can save £14 a year by buying an annual membership for £69.90. Here are the others for comparison:

Disney+: £7.99p/m or £79.90 a year.

Amazon Prime: £7.99p/m or £79 a year.

Netflix: Between £6.99 and £15.99p/m

Mubi: £9.99p/m or £95.88 a year

Apple+: £4.99p/m

BritBox: £5.99p/m

Like most services, Paramount+ does have a 7day free trial


The service is available in the usual places:


Phone (iPhone and android)

Apple TV

Android TV




Samsung TV

Sky Q

Sky Glass

For all of them, check your model is compatible. Have seen a few people say firestick version doesn’t work, just autoruns free trial and can’t set up profiles for parental controls, and can’t search. There is one thing missing though: consoles. Xbox and Playstations have been marketed as “entertainment devices”, so a large streaming service not being available cuts out a lot of customers, especially when other streaming services are available. I think they will be launching a console-friendly version soon, but to not have one at launch is a bit of a letdown.

User Interface

Do you like the layout of Disney+? Then you’ll like this, the layout is near identical. I get why, having something completely new could be disorientating to users. But it does mean that it lacks a visual identity.


This is the weakest part of the service so far. The content is not quite up to the level of the others. This ties into the user interface too. Like Disney+, they have tabs at the top:

  • Paramount+ Originals and Exclusives
  • Showtime
  • Comedy Cental
  • MTV
  • Nickelodeon
  • Nick JR.
  • Smithsonian Channel

There’s just not enough content at the moment for some of those categories. Nick Jr. has less than 30 things in that section, Showtime has 31, Comedy Central has a laughable SIX. You don’t need a separate channel just for 6 items.

It’s got some okay stuff in terms of TV shows, but most of it is stuff that has only recently come off other streaming services (or in some cases is still there): South Park, Cheers, Broad City.

On the plus side there are quite a few good movies on there, but there are also some weird omissions. It has one Halloween movie, the sixth one. That’s almost worst than not having any at all. I was excited by all the Friday The 13th movies there, but it doesn’t. It has them up to and including the eighth one, so it doesn’t have Jason X, Jason Goes To Hell, Freddy Vs. Jason, or the remake. The last two make sense as they’re not essential to the franchise, but the other two are a bit weird. Also missing, the third one. That’s a weird one to miss out, especially as it’s very important to the franchise as it’s where Jason got his hockey mask.

I’m hoping they expand the content soon, the UK is already losing out by not having any of the sports available to international users, so it needs something to make up for that.


So is it worth getting? Unless you’re desperate for some of the exclusives, I don’t think it is at the moment. That’s solely down to the content. They need to start adding more stuff. To me, what made Disney+ a lot better is when they added Star, it meant that even non-disney fans could find a lot of things to like. Paramount doesn’t have that, it’s missing the hook to draw people in. At the moment it seems like they’re counting on Star Trek to draw people in, outside of that it doesn’t have that much to offer. The movies especially need more. The advantage of having some of these services is when they launch new-ish movies on there. This doesn’t have that. I think it will be adding some new releases, but at the moment under “new releases and blockbuster movies” they have South Park, Ray Donovan, Paw Patrol, Paranamoral Activity (released 2021), Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol, and some Transformers movies. Not really something that makes it worth it.

I have confidence that in the coming months, they will improve the content and it will be worth getting. But at the moment? Not really sure of the point of it. There’s no “oh no, you NEED this service because…….”. The best reason to get it now is to get locked into a yearly one in case they raise the price in the future.

Munich: The Edge Of War (2021)

Quick synopsis: Set in the fall of 1938, Hitler prepares to invade Czechoslovakia, claiming it historically belongs to them and they promise they’ll stop there (definitely no modern parallels there, nope, it would be a made thing to Putin this blog). The government of Neville Chamberlain desperately seeks a peaceful solution. A British civil servant and a German diplomat, former classmates, travel to Munich to discuss peace.

Yup, it’s another World War 2 movie, because we haven’t had one of those for a few weeks. This is different though, rather than the standard “our brave boys”, or even a “Winston Churchill was the greatest person who ever lived. And if you point out that he wasn’t perfect in every way, then you just hate freedom”.

Neville Chamberlain is often portrayed negatively in WW2 movies, he’s shown as a blundering idiot who trusted Hitler and opposed Churchill. Most historians disagree with this assessment, arguing that he knew Hitler was lying and just signed the peace treaty to delay the inevitable. This is backed up by the fact that the first thing he did when he came back, is increase the production of weapons and vehicles. Hitler later stated that if it wasn’t for the peace treaty then he would have invaded earlier and possibly won the war. So really, Chamberlain was responsible for the war being won, despite knowing what it would mean for his public persona. It’s good that we finally get a film that shows that.

So that’s the historical reasons for me liking it, how about as a film? It’s actually pretty good. The performances are great, it’s not going to make George MacKay a household name (although it is disappointing that 1917 didn’t quite manage that either, as he was great in that), but it provides a good example of what he is capable of. Really, his biggest problem is that he shares a screen with Jeremy Irons, and anybody looks weaker compared to him.

From a technical viewpoint, it’s fine. There are no stand-out shots, but it looks good throughout, the music suits the film, and it all flows together wonderfully. Christian Schwochow did a pretty good job, the organic and natural look to it making the whole thing feel less like a film, and more like a play we’re watching unfold in front of us.

On the downside, it could do more with the flashbacks. The film focuses heavily on the friendship between three people, it bookends the entire thing. There are a few flashbacks there, but I feel if we saw a bit more of it it would mean more. As it is we see a scene where they are friends, and then the next time we see the three of them they’re having an argument about whether Hitler is the savior of Germany, or a not very nice man.

The whole character arc for Paul is a bit strange really. We see a flashback of him being excited to see Hitlers Germany, then in the present he’s working to bring down Hitler, and then flashbacks of him being radicalised. It’s a weird way to do it as it means that every time we see him he feels like a wildly different character. What his character does do well is showing how ordinary people became anti-semetic. He even says “I knew he was racist, I thought we could put all that awful stuff aside”, but it never really shows why Germany felt like that in the first place. If it examined more about German pre-war feeling, about the economic anxiety and troubles they were going through it would do a better job of showing why people did what they did. It is shocking how normalized the hated was. There’s a scene where a group of people are surrounding a Jewish couple who are being forced to clean the floor, everyone is just shouting slurs at them like it’s the most natural thing to do.

So in summary, it’s a good film, available on netflix and you should definitely watch it, very reminiscent of Bridge Of Spies if you enjoyed that. But maybe it would have been better as a mini-series. Give the characters more chance to develop and breathe.

Firestarter (2022)

Quick summary: Andy (Zac Efron), and Vicky (Sydney Lemmon) are a couple who have powers given to them by their participation in an experimental government trial. Together they have a child, Charlie (Ryan Kiera Armstrong), who has the ability to set fires with her mind. When Charlie finds her powers harder and harder to control, her parents try to hide her from government officials who wish to use her as a weapon.

I went into this with trepidation. I was excited by the trailer, but I felt that the actual film would let me down. It matched expectations, by which I mean it let me down.

There’s nothing inherently terrible about it. It’s just incredibly dull. Part of it is that there doesn’t seem to be any passion involved in making it. There doesn’t seem to be a reason for this to be remade besides “we could”. It’s reminiscent of The Omen remake from 2006. Keith Thomas only has only directed one feature-length film before (The Vigil), and his inexperience shines through here, where there’s no sense of a continuous style. His visual style really doesn’t mesh well with the music. John Carpenter’s score is very synth-heavy and almost future-retro, but the visuals are just pedestrian. It’s like the music is neon, and the visuals are fire.

The blame isn’t all his though, the script is also quite weak. Some reviews have picked up on this, and how the writer was also responsible for Halloween Kills. Personal opinion, I absolutely loved that film, because it did something different and focused on the effect on the wider town. But this is lacking what I enjoyed about that. A lot of the background characters are there for plot purposes. The childhood bullies, in particular, walk the line between being unbearably cruel to the point the teachers would pull them up on it, or not really being bullies at all, just saying “hey, you’re weird”. The adults aren’t much better, almost all of them just being walking cliches. It’s a shame as the performances are pretty solid without. Zac Efron has matured into someone who is surely due a role which gives him a chance to get award nominations. Essentially, give him the roles that you would have given DiCaprio 15 years ago. Ryan Kiera Armstrong has to carry a lot of this on her back, and considering she’s only 12 years old she does an amazing job. She probably gives the best performance in this, my only criticism of this is that she reminds me of McKenna Grace, which makes me disappointed it wasn’t her in this (although that wouldn’t have improved the film tbh).

There are some weird choices in the script. I will say it’s not all bad though, a scene where they meet an older gentleman and he gives them shelter for the night is what this film should have been more like: good character work, plus it showcases the paranoia that the general public would have towards her if they found out, so highlights exactly WHY the family have been in hiding for so long. It showcases a world bigger than these characters, and for a brief moment, everything feels real. It also has genuine emotion. Now I’ve talked about the good, onto the bad; the opening scene is Charlie as a baby, setting her bedroom alight. It’s not that exciting an opening. It’s just there to demonstrate her powers, which means that there’s no waiting for it to happen because we’ve already seen it. It would be like if Godzilla opened with a full-grown Godzilla destroying a city, a waste of what we’re there for. Now I know really we’re not there for a small fire, we’re there for a large “BURN EVERYTHING” roaring rampage of vengeance, but that’s in the trailer. So really you’ve got nothing to look forward to while watching this.

What makes the opening more baffling is if you cut that section out, it would have one of the strongest opening sections of the year. The need for a “small scene before the credits” have never harmed a film as much as it does here. If this opened with the credits, it would be a much stronger movie. Not just because it would cut out an unneeded scene, but also because the opening credits are great. They’re video recordings of the parents volunteering for medical experiments. Just short recordings that look dated. It’s a great way to set the film up, and the characters. It would make it seem like the parents are fully-fledged characters instead of the background ones they seem now.

Of course, there is always a possibility that was a decision made in the edit. Which is how I’m going to clumsily segue into talking about one of the worst edits I’ve seen. At least, I think it’s an edit, it’s either that or an atrocious line delivery. There’s a moment where it seems like Sydney Lemmon’s character stops mid-sentence. Not “trails off as she loses her train of thought”, she gets halfway through a sentence and then just stops talking. It’s just as the camera cuts away too, so even if it was a bad delivery, editing on that moment just highlights it. A bit like in Killer Kate when the music stopped at the exact point the characters stopped talking just highlighted the silence and made me think the version I was watching was broken. An editor’s job should be to hide those issues, not highlight them.

There’s just a sense that nobody cares about. The director already said there have been discussions of it being a franchise, either in a sequel, prequel, or spin-off. So he’s not thinking “No, I didn’t tell you enough, there are all these things in this cinematic universe that I want to explore” otherwise he’d know how he wants to franchise it. The studio just wants to franchise it for the sake of franchising it.

It’s a summary of how the whole thing feels, nobody knows why they’re doing what they’re doing, and what they’re doing isn’t that great.

Ballad Of A White Cow (2020)

Quick synopsis: An Iranian woman (Maryam Moqadam) learns that her husband was actually innocent of the crime he was executed for. She’s not very happy about this.

This film will infuriate you. When you find out that the man executed was actually innocent it will make you want to tear your hair out. This is a great example of why I’m anti-execution btw. I’ve had this discussion with people and I’ve offered this sentence:

“Make executions legal, but have everybody who supports it on a list. If it’s discovered that someone was executed wrongfully, or if there’s a small piece of doubt about it, someone on the list gets killed”

Usually, that’s met with “but that’s not fair, you can’t kill people who didn’t do anything”, by people who are completely missing the irony. Plus if they’re so certain that only the guilty will be executed, they’d have no problem with it because they’d know for sure they’re safe. Once you perform that act, you can’t take it back, and that’s what this film is about. No matter what happens, the mans death can never be reversed.

Not that much is happening anyway. The people who sentenced him to death tell his widow “Nothing we can do, it is gods will”. “we can’t deny people their rights. The death penalty is a human right”. “The prophet himself made a judgement”, no, he didn’t. You did. It must be nice to have that level of faith which allows you to ignore culpability. That’s how problems don’t get solved, when people don’t take responsibility for their decisions. There is one person who seems to care, Reza (played by Alirez Sanifar), who seems to realise how shitty a situation it is. He was the judge who sentenced her husband to death. It was his first death sentence and it turned out to be wrong. You can tell he is wracked with guilt over this, and is trying to do everything he can to fix it, but knowing there’s nothing he can do.

It’s harrowing to watch her so beaten down because of her gender. She gets made homeless because she has a man in her house. Landlords won’t rent to her because she’s a single woman, putting her in the same category as junkies. It’s ugly, it’s horrible, and it’s far too true.

The ugliness extends to the look. Not in an “eww this was really badly made” way, but if I had to describe it as a colour I would say “grey”. It’s a very washed out film, and that perfectly suits the tone and the story. The lead, Maryam Moqadam, co-directed this with Behtash Sanaeeha (better known for 2014’s Risk Of Acid Rain). It’s not often you get co-directed films (he says, a few weeks after watching and reviewing one), and to their credit it never feels disjointed in terms of style. The whole thing does feel like it belongs to one voice.

There is a slight warmness to the whole thing at times. Despite what it may seem, this is not a story about loss, or revenge. It’s a story of human perseverance, about the strength people find in adversity.

This strength, as well as the pain, is filtered through Moqadam’s character, Mina. She carries a heavy burden, the film rests upon her shoulders, and she carries it wonderfully. There’s a scene near the end which best demonstrates this. I’ll explain the lead-up first. She meets a stranger who claims to be a friend of her husband, the aforementioned Reza. He’s decided to ease his guilt by turning up at her house, saying he owes her husband some money, so he’ll give it to her.

Sadly, this act of kindness ends up getting her evicted (for having an unrelated male in the house), but she never mentions it to him. She hides it from him out of kindness for him. Because she doesn’t want him to feel guilty. So when she finds out who he really is, she feels doubly betrayed. She just sits in her car seething, not saying a single word, she doesn’t need to; her face says everything. It’s a masterclass in both performance and directing. That scene alone makes this worth watching, but watch the rest too as it’s well worth your time. In most other countries, this would be a film of anger and violence, in this it’s just despair. She can’t win, she’s utterly helpless, a victim of the world she lives in. It sucks, and it’s depressing, but it’s also very compelling to watch.

Men (2022)

Quick synopsis: Harper Marlowe is a recently widowed woman who wants to escape for a short holiday in the country. Folk horror misogyny happens.

I went into this expecting to be creeped out, but to still enjoy it. Out the gate I’m going to say that I love the performances, Rory Kinnear has a difficult job playing so many characters, but giving them all a distinct personality. Jessie Buckley continues to be one of the best hidden talents of the UK acting scene. It’s also directed beautifully, with some stunning shots. I was just let down by the narrative, which is a big deal because to me, narrative is king. I’m more likely to forgive a badly made film with a great story, than a wonderfully made film with a bad story.

I get what the director was going for. The “women are surrounded by toxic masculinity” is a valid theme for a horror movie, but this somehow manages to be both too obvious, and too confusing. The behaviour by all of Kinnear’s characters is shocking, but the reason for it is not. The fact that every male in the village is played by the same actor is never referenced. I’m guessing it’s to do with the impersonality of the attacks. But at one point Buckley’s character asks “who are you?”, this was when I gave up with the film. If they were going to make the film make sense, this is when it would have happened, but it didn’t. They ignored the question and then carried on being possibly metaphorical, possibly real. I’m still not sure what it actually was that was attacking her. Was it a shapeshifter that couldn’t change his face? Something that can teleport? Her psychosis? It’s very surreal, and not very satisfying as a viewer. The whole thing reminded me of Lucky, that had similar issues. It’s a story worth telling, and it sets up a compelling mystery, it just has no idea how to solve it so dissolves into batshit insanity.

The ending of this is true insanity. It’s a LOOOOONG sequence of the male characters giving birth to each other, finally ending with the abusive husband. It’s horrific (but beautifully made), and goes on longer than necessary and doesn’t really explain it. Really it sums up the film in general; too focused on the themes and the shock, rather than a compelling story.

I’m disappointed to have to rate this so low, as it does have a lot of really cool ideas. Her defending herself against the attackers causing them to have the exact same injuries her ex husband did, is REALLY smart writing. Plus the use of echoes and ripples is very smart and themetically perfect. The idea that the past actions echo back to us in a different form is one that’s prevalent throughout the film, and is a neat idea.

Outside of those themes, and outside of the technical brilliance, there’s really nothing to it. And that’s a shame.

Still, great music.

Chip N Dale: Rescue Rangers (2022)

Quick Synopsis: Chip and Dale are two animated friends who haven’t spoken to each other in years after their show was cancelled. When a former cast mate gets kidnapped they have to reunite to save him.

Oh boy, a live-action Disney remake of a beloved cartoon, premiered on Disney+, AND it’s full of cameos from other animated shows? Wow, this is going to suck. I mean, the last few things I watched which premiered on Disney+ were Artemis Fowl and Home Sweet Home Alone, and the last few films I watched where it was mainly about the cameos were Ralph Breaks The Internet and the new Space Jam. Added to that, I don’t think I ever watched Rescue Rangers growing up, so I’m not going to have a warm nostalgia towards it. So I’ll admit, I went in with a somewhat negative mindset, so it would take something special to overcome my preconceptions.

This is something special. I knew it would take something good to win me over, it won me over in the opening scene with this piece of dialogue:

“What’s the first thing that pops into your head when I say Chip N Dale? I’m willing to bet it’s Thomas Chippendale, the london cabinet maker. I bet the second thing is these guys *shows the chippendale dancers*

The plot is pretty impressive too. The two characters were actors in the original series, and one of them now wants a reboot. It’s very meta, but really that’s just the backdrop for the main story: someone kidnapping animated characters, alter their appearance slightly with drugs, then ship them overseas to star in bootleg movies for the rest of their life. It’s really dark, kind of reminiscent of Who Framed Roger Rabbit (who cameos in this). It also brings to mind The Lego Movie in terms of style of humour. It’s cynical, but in a weirdly optimistic way. It’s also full of references which you’ll love, so many unexpected characters and moments make it a real joy to watch.

That is possibly a downside too though. If you’re a 5-year old child, are you going to understand who a lot of these characters are? The film does a pretty good job on catching you up on who Chip N Dale are, but some of the other cameos are so in your face that if you don’t know them it may feel like you’re missing out.

The quality of the film is helped by the cast. Andy Samberg is quickly becoming a really dependable performer for comedic films, and he’s helped by John Mulaney’s more dour delivery. It’s also nice to hear Rachel Bloom in a large movie, albeit only briefly. There are not many live action performers, but of those who are there, KiKi Layne more than holds her own in what must be a difficult role (acting in a similar role drove Bob Hoskins nuts, and that’s a man who survived Super Mario intact). It never feels like she’s acting on her own, you always get the feeling she’s interacting with the animated characters. It’s a very natural performance and her characters enthusiasm for the franchise shines through in her performance.

So in summary, as much as I would have been expected to slate this, it’s really good and if you have disney+ you should definitely watch it soon. The hype train for this is coming, and you want to get on their early.

Let’s See You Do Better: Update 6

For those unsure what this refers to: click here

I’ve changed the ending.

Well, not so much changed, added to it. In my previous iteration, the whole thing was kept in one town. I’ve completely changed it with this new ending. Decided that it opens it up for more fanfiction and theories. It was originally going to be actual serial killers, and I was going to name them. Realised that might be a bit weird, so I’ve only alluded to them in it now. I thought that’s a bit better, and it allows me more freedom as to casting and what they look like.

So, here’s the new ending

Hope you enjoy it. Does mean I have to go through and add some hints that that’s the case, that Freddy is just one of hundreds of dream demons around the world. That you aren’t safe just because you aren’t in Elm Street. Also provides a reason why Freddy is stuck to that location, because that’s his jurisdiction. Crucially it allows possible spin-offs with different characters. Plus it gives you a possible sequel of another dream demon invading his territory.

Downside is there’s no closing image. There’s no great pre-credits thing to really astound you. It’s just a scene that continues until it doesn’t. It needs a decent coda, and I just don’t have that yet.