Category Archives: 31-40%

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 yearsuperhero 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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Dora and the Lost City of Gold

“Explorer is her middle name”

Directed by James Bobin (Alice Through the Looking Glass)
Starring Isabela Moner (Transformers: The Last Knight), Eugenio Derbez (The Nutcracker and the Four Realms), Michael Pena (Ant-Man), Eva Longoria, Jeff Wahlberg, Danny Trejo (From Dusk Till Dawn) and Benicio del Toro (The Wolfman)

Ten years after her cousin and childhood BFF Diego (Wahlberg) travels to the city with his family, Dora (Moner) is sent to join him by her mother (Longoria) and father (Pena) when they set out to realise their long search for Parapatta, an Incan city filled with gold.

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Rebourne: The Lion King (2019)

“Find your place in the circle of life.”

Directed by Jon Favreau
Starring Donald Glover, Seth Rogen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Alfre Woodard, Billy Eichner, John Kani, John Oliver, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter and James Earl Jones

The Original

Touted at the time as Disney’s first original feature film, The Lion King was the fifth film in the Disney Renaissance, and the most successful offering of that period by a substantial margin, as well as playing a substantial role in the spread of major animation studios such as Dreamworks Animation. The film is a coming of age adventure, folowing young lion Simba (Matthew Broderick) as he grows up in exile and returns to face his wicked uncle Scar (Jeremy Irons) and avenge the murder of his father, Mufasa (James Earl Jones). It caught a storm of controversy over similarities to Kimba the White Lion, the English language dub of a Japanese anime film called Jungle Emperor Leo, but remains one of the iconic products of the House of Mouse.

The Remake

In 2019, The Lion King became the latest movie from the Disney back-catalogue to receive a ‘live-action’ remake, directed by the man who did the same to The Jungle Book. I use sarcastic quotes because, unlike the 2016 The Jungle Book, there is no human presence, and in fact what we have is almost – or perhaps actually – entirely computer animation.

Simba (JD McCrary) is the son of Mufasa (Jones) and Sarabi (Woodard), the King of the Pridelands and the leader of the lionesses who hunt for and defend the pride. While Mufasa and his adviser the hornbill Zazu (Oliver) try to guide Simba towards a positive model of altruistic monarchy, his brooding uncle Scar (Ejiofor) plots to seize power.

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THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS 2 (2019)

“They Still Have Their Secrets”

Directed by Chris Renauld
Starring Patton Oswalt, Eric Stonestreet, Kevin Hart, Jenny Slate, Tiffany Haddish, Lake Bell, Nick Kroll, Dana Carvey, Ellie Kemper, Chris Renaud, Hannibal Buress, Bobby Moynihan and Harrison Ford

Max (Oswalt) and Duke (Stonestreet) find their lives changed forever when their owner Katie (Kemper) marries and has a baby, Liam. Duke takes the changes in his stride, but Max becomes consumed by the fear of Liam getting hurt, so the family take a ride to visit relatives on a farm. Max leaves his beloved toy, Busy Bee, with Gidget (Slate), who manages to lose it in a cat lady’s apartment. Meanwhile, Daisy (Haddish) comes to Snowball (Hart) for help rescuing a white tiger from brutal circus owner Sergei (Kroll) and his pack of wolves.

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X-Men: Dark Phoenix (2019)

“Every Hero Has a Dark Side”

Directed by Simon Kinberg
Starring James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Sophie Turner, Tye Sheridan, Alexandra Shipp, Jessica Chastain, Kodio Smit-McPhee and Evan Peters

Since preventing the whole ‘destruction of human civilisation‘ thing, the X-Men have blazed a trail for mutant acceptance. Now Charles Xavier (McAvoy) has a direct line to the White House, and the X-Men – Cyclops (Sheridan), Nightcrawler (Smit-McPhee), Storm (Shipp), Jean ‘Codenames are for losers’ Gray (Turner) and Quicksilver (Peters), led by Beast (Hoult) and Mystique (Lawrence) – are national heroes. This status leads to them being called in to rescue a shuttle crew from an unknown cosmic force, which ends up absorbed into Jean.

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Aladdin (2019)

The magic comes to life

Directed by Guy Ritchie
Starring Mena Massoud, Will Smith, Naomi Scott, Marwan Kenzari, Navid Negahban, Nasim Pedrad and Billy Magnussen

Come on. Do you guys really need a synopsis of this plot? It’s Aladdin! Ignoring the fact that it’s one of the classics of the Disney Renaissance (now remade in live action as part of their current binge on their back catalogue) it’s also a staple of British pantomime since about…well…forever. You know the story.

You don’t?

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John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum (2019)

“Every Action Has Consequences”

Directed by Chad Stahelski
Starring Keanu Reeves, Halle Berry, Laurence Fishburne, Mark Dacascos, Asia Kate Dillon, Lance Reddick, Anjelica Huston and Ian McShane

Following the events of John Wick and John Wick: Chapter 2, John Wick a) is locked out of the sanctuary of the Continental hotels, b) hunted by every assassin in the world and c) a pair of words that have been used to the point that they have no meaning anymore. With time running out, he goes to the Director (Huston), a Belarusan Romani matriarch, to arrange passage to find Sofia (Berry) in Casablanca, so that she can take him to her boss (Jerome Flynn) and arrange a meeting with the Elder, ‘the man who sits above the table’ (Saïd Taghmaoui), to plead for his life.

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Missing Link (2019)

Directed by Chris Butler
Starring Hugh Jackman, Zoe Saldana, Zach Galifianakis,
Stephen Fry, Timothy Olyphant, Matt Lucas, Emma Thompson and Amrita Acharia

Adventurer Sir Lionel Frost (Jackman) is determined to prove the existence of a cryptid, in order to secure membership of an exclusive explorer’s club headed by massive imperialist dickbag Lord Piggot-Dunceby (Fry) and his lickspittle Collick (Lucas). To this end, he answers a request to travel to America in search of the Sasquatch, only to discover that it is the creature himself (Galifianakis) who sent the letter, hoping that Sir Lionel can take him to his cousins in the Himalayas, as all of his kin have died out in the face of human expansion.

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Shazam! (2019)

“He’s Not So Serious.”

Directed by David F. Sandberg
Starring Asher Angel, Zachary Levi, Mark Strong, Jack Dylan Granger, Djimon Hounsou, Grace Fulton, Ian Chen, Jovan Armand, Faithe Herman, Cooper Andrews and Marta Milans

In 1974, a young boy is brought to the Rock of Eternity by a wizard (Hounsou) and offered the chance to become a champion of justice, but is then rejected when he is tempted by the power of the Seven Deadly Sins, demonic ‘enemies of humanity’.

Some years later, a young boy named Billy Batson loses his mother at a fair and enters the foster care system.

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Aquaman (2018)

“A Tide is Coming”

Directed by James Wan
Starring Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Willem Dafoe, Patrick Wilson, Dolph Lundgren, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Nicole Kidman and Temuera Morrison

A chance meeting between lighthouse keeper Thomas Curry (Morrison) and the fugitive Queen Atlanna (Kidman) leads to romance and the birth of a son, Arthur. Atlanna is tracked down and chooses to return to Atlantis and an arranged marriage, leaving Arthur to grow up into Jason Momoa, trained by Atlanna’s ally Vulko (Dafoe) and inspired by his interactions with the Justice League to become the maritime superhero the Aquaman (because DC superheroes all have definite articles these days.)

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