Frozen II (2019)

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Directed by Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee
Starring Kristen Bell (Teen Titans GO! to the Movies), Idina Menzel (Olaf’s Frozen Adventure), Josh Gad (Murder on the Orient Express), Jonathan Groff (Hamilton on Broadway), Sterling K Brown (The Predator) and Evan Rachel Wood (What We Do in the Shadows TV series)

King Agnarr (Alfred Molina) tells his daughters about an Enchanted Forest, sealed off from Arendelle since a conflict in his youth, and Queen Iduna (Wood) sings a lullaby about Ahtohallan, a river of memories. We flash forward to some time – either fifteen or twenty-seven months, by my estimation; probably the latter – after the events of the first film, with Queen Elsa (Menzel), Anna (Bell), Anna’s boyfriend Kristoff (Groff) and Olaf the magical snowman (Gad) are celebrating the harvest festival in the utopian socialist monarchy that is modern Arendelle when Elsa is overcome by the call of a distant voice and somehow awakens the long-dormant spirits of the forest, forcing an evacuation of the Kingdom in the face of elemental turmoil.


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Rebourne: Doctor Sleep (2019)

“Dare to Go Back”

Directed by Mike Flanagan
Starring Ewan McGregor, Rebecca Ferguson, Kyliegh Curran and Cliff Curtis

The Original

Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson), an author and recovering alcoholic, is struggling with his next book, as well as the bottle. He takes a job as winter caretaker in the Overlook Hotel, a mountain lodge left empty for the season, hoping to get some writing done and reconnect with his wife, Wendy (Shelley Duvall), and son Danny (Danny Lloyd). Unfortunately, the malevolent spirit of the hotel gets its hooks into Jack, intent on destroying Danny and his paranormal abilities, the titular ‘shining’.

The Shining is widely acknowledged as one of the greatest horror movies ever made – critical opinions aside, it contains scenes which have been parodied over and over again, and had a pastiche in a Simpsons ‘Treehouse of Horror’ episode – although not by Stephen King, author of the novel on which it was based. King took issue with director Stanley Kubrik’s treatment of the original story, eventually producing a new adaptation which was a) much more faithful, and b) quite dull. He also wrote a sequel, Doctor Sleep, which eventually got an adaptation of its own.

The Late Sequel

I’ll be honest, Rose the Hat is an effectively creepy villain right up until you start hearing her name sung to the theme tune of the children’s cartoon ‘James the Cat’.

Danny ‘Doc’ Torrance (Roger Dale Floyd) begins to recover from the horrors of the Overlook Hotel when the spirit of hotel cook and fellow Shiner Dick Halloran (Carl Lumbly) teaches him to trap the ghosts that haunt him in boxes in his head. Years later, he has become an alcoholic Ewan McGregor, using booze to numb his abilities, until all-round nice guy Billy Freeman (Curtis) helps him turn his life around and he gets a job as night porter in a hospice, where he becomes known as Doctor Sleep among the patients for his ability to ease them from life when their time comes.

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Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (2019)

“Go Beyond the Fairy Tale”

Directed by Joachim Rønning
Starring Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Michelle Pfeiffer, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sam Riley, Ed Skrein, Jenn Murray, Imelda Staunton, Juno Temple, Lesley Manville, Warwick Davis and Robert Lindsay

It’s been a few years since Maleficent (Jolie) cursed, then saved her de facto goddaughter Aurora (Fanning), did for her treacherous ex (Aurora’s father) and installed Aurora as Queen of the Moors and Unnamed Human Kingdom. Aurora has continued to see Prince Philip (Harris Dickinson), who proposes with the connivance of a popular matchmaking movement among the fey of the Moors, while also dealing with the problem of fey disappearing on the border with Ulstead, the neighbouring human kingdom ruled by Philip’s father, King John (Lindsay).

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Rebourne – Terminator: Dark Fate (2019)

“Welcome to the day after Judgement Day”

Directed by Tim Miller (Deadpool)
Starring Linda Hamilton (The Terminator), Arnold Schwarzenegger (Terminator 2: Judgement Day), Mackenzie Davis (The Martian), Natalia Reyes, Gabriel Luna and Diego Boneta (Rock of Ages)

The Original

In 1984, a Terminator, a cyborg assassin, was sent back in time to kill Sarah Connor, the future mother of the future leader of the human resistance against the AI, Skynet. A single soldier was sent back to protect her.

In 1995, a second Terminator was sent to kill John while he as still a young boy. A reprogrammed Terminator was sent to protect him, alongside his mother, who was now hard as nails.

The Franchise

Since 1991’s Terminator 2, there have been four on-screen continuations of the story, and who knows how many comics and tie-ins.

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines was kind of like T2, but with boob jokes and depressing fatalism.

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles skipped to the small screen and jumped over the timeline of Rise of the Machines, before racing into a slightly baffling final act when it was cancelled after two series.

Terminator: Salvation eschewed time travel in favour of the post-apocalyptic adventures of a super-miserable miserable and oddly British John Connor.

And Terminator: Genisys saw Skynet trying to secure its existence by getting into the console market, or something.

The Late(st) Sequel

In the aftermath of the events of T2, John Connor is killed by one of a number of redundant Terminators sent back by Skynet before its existence was negated.

Twenty-two years later, a ‘Rev-9’ Terminator (Luna) and a soldier named Grace (Davis) are sent back in time, the one to kill Dani Ramos (Reyes), a factory worker and fledgling labour organiser, and the other to protect her. The Rev-9 kills Dani’s father and brother (Boneta), but she and Grace are eaved by the intercession of Sarah Connor (Hamilton).

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“Who will save you from yourself”

Directed by Ang Lee (Hulk)
Starring Will Smith (After Earth), Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter), Clive Owen (Last Knights) and Benedict Wong (Doctor Strange)

Worn down by his life as a government assassin, Henry Brogan (Smith) retires, but when an old contact reveals that his last target was an innocent man, he is plunged into conflict with the US Government and PMC Gemini, led by Brogan’s former boss, Clay Varris (Owen). Teaming up with Dani (Winstead), a junior agent set to monitor his retirement, and his old buddy Baron (Wong), Brogan sets out to uncover the secrets behind his last assignment, but finds himself pursued by a younger assassin who turns out to be a younger clone of himself (also Smith).

Continue reading GEMINI MAN (2019)

Joker (2019)

“Put on a happy face”

Directed by Todd Phillips
Starring Joaquin Phoenix (Gladiator), Robert De Niro (The Intern), Zazie Beetz (Deadpool 2), Frances Conroy (The Dark is Rising) and Brett Cullen (Ghost Rider)

Clown-for-hire and aspiring stand-up Arthur Fleck (Phoenix) lives with his mother, Penny (Conroy), but feels ignored by the world. Deeply troubled, but with his mental health support withdrawn due to budget cuts, his comedy unremarked and his efforts as a clown met with scorn and violence, he falls into a scenario where he ends up shooting three bullying rich kids on the subway. Finding solace in a new relationship with his neighbour, Sophie (Beetz), he begins to revel in his notoriety as the ‘clown killer.’

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Ready Or Not (2019)

“In-Laws Can Be Murder”

Directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett
Starring Samara Weaving (
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), Adam Brody (Shazam!), Mark O’Brien (Bad Times at the El Royale), Henry Czerny (The A-Team), Andie MacDowell (Four Weddings and a Funeral), Nicky Guadagni (Silent Hill), Melanie Scrofano (Robocop), Elyse Levesque (Slumber Party Slaughter), Kristian Bruun (The Space Between) and John Ralston (On the Basis of Sex)

Grace (Weaving) is anxious about her marriage into the wealthy and eccentric Le Domas family, but very much in love with Alex (O’Brien), the youngest of the Le Domas. At the family estate, the two are married in front of Alex’s parents, Tony (Czerny) and Becky (MacDowell), brother Daniel (Brody), sister-in-law Charity (Levesque) and aunt Helene (Guadagni). All but Helene seem welcoming, as do Alex’s sister Emilie (Scrofano) and her husband Fitch (Bruun), who arrive just in time for the family’s traditional wedding night ritual, in which a new addition to the family must draw a card from a box and play a game. Grace’s game is hide and seek, however, which it turns out transforms the eccentric custom into a deadly game of cat and mouse in which the family hunt down the unsuspecting spouse and sacrifice them to their patron, Mr La Bail, for continuing wealth and life.

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Ad Astra (2019)

“The Answers We Seek Are Just Outside Our Reach.”

Directed by James Gray
Starring Brad Pitt (World War Z), Donald Sutherland (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Ruth Negga (Warcraft), Liv Tyler (The Incredible Hulk) and Tommy Lee Jones (Jason Bourne)

Following a series of disasters caused by an energy surge from space, astronaut Major Roy McBride (Pitt) is assigned to travel to Mars and try to contact his father, Clifford (Jones), whose research mission to Neptune in search of extraterrestrial life may be the source of the ongoing surges.

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Rebourne – Downton Abbey (2019)

“The Movie Event of the Year” – which is a bold claim in any year, never mind up against, say, the culmination of a twelve year superhero franchise

Directed by Michael Engler
Starring Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern, Michelle Dockery, Laura Carmichael, Maggie Smith, Penelope Wilton, Allen Leech, Jim Carter, Robert James-Collier, Phyllis Logan, Brendan Coyle, Joanne Froggatt, Lesley Nichol, Kevin Doyle, Sophie McShera, Raquel Cassidy, Michael C. Fox, Matthew Goode, Harry Hadden-Paton, Geraldine James, Simon Jones, Max Brown, Tuppence Middleton, Stephen Campbell-Moore, David Haig and Imelda Staunton

Six seasons…

Downton Abbey was a wildly successful and critically-acclaimed British period drama, created by Julian Fellowes and following the fortunes of the family of the Crawley family, hereditary Earls of Grantham, and their domestic staff between 1912 and 1925, somewhat in the style of the earlier hit Upstairs, Downstairs. The current Earl, Robert Crawley (Bonneville), and his wife Cora (McGovern) – an American heiress – had three daughters – Mary (Dockery), the fabulous one, Edith (Carmichael), the plain one, and Sybil (Jessica Brown Findlay), the socially conscious one – and no sons, leading to the co-option into the family of heir presumptive Matthew (Dan Stevens), an upper-middle class solicitor and his mother, Isobel (Wilton). After much humming and hahing and a World War, Mary married Matthew. Sibyl married the Irish Republican chauffeur, Tom (Leech), while Edith had a series of desperately tragic romances. Sibyl and Matthew both died in childbirth (men can do this in Downton, as a result of what I assume to be a family curse which means that every time a baby is born, someone dies,) and Mary later married the dashing Henry Talbot (Goode) after a series of flings, and Edith finally got her happy ending with Bertie Pelham (Hadden-Paton), Marquess of Hexham.

Below stairs, the Butler Carson (Carter) and housekeeper Mrs Hughes (Logan) ran herd on a rotating staff of footmen and maids, including slowly-reforming bastard and future under-butler Barrow (James-Collier) and nice new boy Andy (Fox), older footman Moseley (Doyle) and maid Baxter (Cassidy), will-they-won’t-they personal servants Bates (Coyle), Grantham’s valet, and Anna (Froggatt), Lady Mary’s maid, and the cook Mrs Patmore (Nicol) and her long-suffering, socially-ambitious kitchen maid Daisy (McShera). Bates and Anna got married after being the dumping ground for about 70% of the Abbey’s melodrama (and a rape subplot, because that was apparently necessary,) and Barrow became Butler when Carson retired due to ill-health.

By the final Christmas special, all ended happily, and all under the gimlet gaze of Violet, the Dowager Countess of Grantham (Smith), she of the acid tongue and the silent ‘bitch’.

…and a movie

Flash forward a mere four years, and they made a movie, at which point half the country went absolutely mad for fear that their favourite happy ending would be scotched, that Barrow would revert to type, or that Edith would be plunged back into the misery she was left in when her past fiance left her pregnant after being murdered by the SA in the Beer Hall Putsch.

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