Titane Bristol IMAX Screening

After almost two-and-a-half years of trying to get him to watch it Somer Valley FM’s Jamie Skinner is finally getting fellow presenter Seb Bailey to watch Titane. At none other than the former Bristol IMAX!

Join the two hosts on Sunday 9th July at 15:30 for a special one-off screening of Julia Ducornau’s Palme d’Or winning fantastical body-horror-drama followed by a live post-screening conversation between the pair. Covering the film and, as on the radio, whichever topics crop up in their rambles (live boat song not guranteed).

To buy tickets and find more information about the screening click here.

The former Bristol IMAX is housed in Bristol Aquarium, near the city’s harbourside. You can find more information on the venue, and how to get there, here.

The Little Mermaid – Review

Cert – PG, Run-time – 2 hours 15 minutes, Director – Rob Marshall

Mermaid Ariel (Halle Bailey) makes a deal with a sea witch (Melissa McCarthy) to grow legs to explore the sea world, however if she doesn’t obtain true love’s kiss in three days the deal becomes a curse.

I’ve said many times that I try to go into every film with an open mind, however going into Disney’s latest reimagining I must admit to having felt a bit of scepticism. Perhaps because of the announcement of a Moana remake not even ten years after the original film was released, or the fact that since 2019’s take on The Lion King these live-action takes have felt, while generally fine, somewhat subpar. The Little Mermaid itself suffers slightly from similar points to The Lion King in that the bright, colourful worlds created don’t always translate to the screen. In particular I Just Can’t Wait To Be King fell flat due to the fact that the characters simply ran across a watering hole for three minutes.

While there’s less photorealism on display and a bit more chance for fantasy to play in, and indeed the songs themselves work with good performances given, there are some restrictions from the live-action nature. Yet, the performances of the likes of Under The Sea and Poor Unfortunate Souls – both of which show the money Disney has thrown at this film with a heavy amount of CG; not necessarily a bad thing and indeed helping to show that imagination and creativity is on display – are enough to lift things up, and the visuals manage to not fall entirely flat helping to pull things through.

It’s the songs which feel like the necessary elements from Disney for this particular remake. And while the film still follows the same general narrative, albeit with one or two changes, the rest of it certainly feels like a reimagining, you can tell there was some thought as to how this could be made different, and much of this arrives in the second half once mermaid Ariel (Halle Bailey – who eases you into the film and settles any worries with her performances of Part Of Your World around 20 minutes in) has arrived on the land with her newly obtained legs.

There’s plenty to enjoy and be entertained by as director Rob Marshall – who helmed the likable 2017 remake of Beauty And The Beast – explores the island Ariel almost washes up on, particularly a market sequence which evolves into a dance scene. However, while enjoying all the surface world has to offer crustacean Sebastian (Daveed Diggs), fish-friend Flounder (Jacob Tremblay) and gannet Scuttle (Awkwafina) must keep her on track to obtain true love’s kiss in three days or else she returns to being a mermaid, and becomes the property of sea witch Ursula (Melissa McCarthy – effectively channelling Pat Carroll whilst doing enough to give her own spin on the villain). The man she’s already formed a connection with after saving his life at sea? Jonah Hauer-King’s Prince Eric – a character who now with his own autotuned song truly demonstrates the music-video nature of some of the songs.

The more the film goes on the more you ease into it and enjoy it. There’s a character to it that, yes, sticks to the Disney mould but manages to differentiate it from the original and just about earns the label of reimagining. At over two hours the run-time may be a bit on the long side, with certain elements from the largely-underwater first half perhaps in need of some trimming, but as a whole things pass by relatively well with plenty to enjoy. Including some effective darkness in the closing stages which brings to mind the kind which was present in some of the older Disney animations (even pre the ’89 adaptation of the story). There may be elements of the live-action format which hold the film back slightly, largely during musical numbers which are lifted by the performances (and, let’s be honest, it’s hard to beat that original soundtrack) but overall there’s an enjoyable nature to this take on The Little Mermaid.

A reimagining with both an entertainment factor and some new ideas there’s a good deal to entertain and carry you through the run-time in this take on The Little Mermaid. Some of the songs may be restricted by the visuals, but there’s still a push from the performances and a spark of creativity every now and then.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Sisu – Review

Release Date – 26th May 2023, Cert – 15, Run-time – 1 hour 28 minutes, Director – Jalamari Helander

An elite ex-soldier (Jorma Tommila) mining for gold in the Finnish wilderness finds himself taking on a unit of highly-equipped Nazi soldiers.

It’s strange how one small detail that doesn’t overly play into the narrative of a film or entirely the way in which it works can affect the final product so much. In the case of Sisu the simple use of chapter titles creates something of a stop-start nature to the narrative. It points out a repetitive nature to the goings on as Jorma Tommila’s “one man death squad” is chased down by a unit of Nazi soldiers, equipped with tanks, machine guns, bombs and more while all he has is a pickaxe and a dog, he takes some of them down, escapes, moves on and gets ready to do it all over again in another location just down the road.

Yet, while there’s this cyclical feeling to the story, again largely emphasised by the presence of occasional chapter titles, somehow – perhaps slightly thanks in part to the 88-minute run-time – the piece goes by quicker than it might initially seem. It may slow down every now and then at the beginning of a new chapter, however it’s not too long until you’re at what’s clearly the big third act battle. A point which certainly had me thinking ‘I know he’s meant to be immortal, but there are a number of times where he should have died by now’ in regards to Tormilla’s central character.

Action is the biggest draw of the film. The bloody violence is what it sells itself on and certainly there’s plenty to like about what’s on display when it is unfolding. There’s a Tarantino-style quality to much of the action, not just because of the very bloody nature which while bringing a sense of slightly restricting familiarity does provide an engaging style to such moments. Generally this seems to largely be a film to entertain audiences with various instances of Nazis being stabbed, shot, blown up, run over, drowned, etc and it undeniably provides that and does a relatively good job of doing so.

Things move along and are kept fairly tight by the under-90-minute run-time – a big benefit to the film stopping it from looping further or going on too long – and, again, provide enough amusement for the time that it’s on. How much is remembered after viewing remains to be seen, a couple of moments currently linger in the mind when recalling the film about a week after seeing it, but when watching there’s enough to like and be engaged by. It’s a fairly simple premise and set of events which writer-director Jalamari Helander sticks to, and once more the film is held up, and occasionally back, by its simplicity. A small thing such as chapter titles in a film of structural simplicities can create a noticeable impact amongst the rest of the film, pointing out the repetition amongst the amusing action.

While Tarantino-inspired action may provide enough amusement for the duration of the film there’s a repetitive nature to Sisu’s narrative which only drops in the final half hour. Occasionally preventing a consistent flow within the otherwise quick-paced 88-minute run-time.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Fast X – Review

Cert – 12, Run-time – 2 hours 21 minutes, Director – Louis Leterrier

Scattered across the globe Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his family find themselves being hunted down in a deadly fight for survival against a vengeful figure (Jason Mamoa) who will destroy anything to kill them.

It’s largely accepted that the Fast And The Furious franchise turned around into ridiculous action around Fast Five. Now at the tenth instalment in the main franchise we’re certainly far from the days of drag race action and more minor heists which took place 20 years ago. Fast X is very much a combination of the old and the new, most prominently shown in the contrast between its main protagonist and antagonist.

Vin Diesel has long seemed to take this franchise much more seriously than anyone else involved. He’s certainly a key push in its longevity and is undeniably the face of it. Here more than in any other entry he gives a directly serious performance, although with glimpses of his own enjoyment, as returning Dominic Toretto, distanced from his family as they’re all scattered across the globe he faces his greatest, and deadliest threat yet. While Diesel’s performance might stand out from the louder moments of large-scale action it would be amiss to say that it feels out of place. Partly because such moments have become expected from this franchise but also because the film – perhaps not intentionally – feels like a big look back on the franchise as a whole. The more dramatic moments, mostly the more the film goes on, actually work. Perhaps not the strongest moments, but they eventually wind into the action fairly well.

Meanwhile, Jason Momoa gives the performance of someone who knows exactly what this franchise is, and has watched each of the films. In a film where giant bombs roll through cities and catch fire Dante is a camp, flamboyant, brightly-coloured villain (whose style is only outdone by Brie Larson’s Tess, the daughter of Kurt Russell’s Mr Nobody) who knows he’s the villain and is having great fun knowing that. He’s the kind of villain we don’t see much of in mainstream films these days and with just how much fun Momoa seems to be having in the role he’s a pure joy to see. He even has his own Caesar-Romero-Joker-style giggle as he attempts to destroy Toretto’s family, exacting revenge after the death of his father; Fast Five villain Hernan Reyes (Joaquim de Almeida).

Whilst the pair play cat and mouse around the world the rest of the Toretto clan are also unsafe, playing out their own separate escapades in different locations. Whether it be John Cena in a buddy-road-trip comedy with Leo Abelo Perry as uncle and nephew race around trying to get to a safe rendezvous point or Ludacris, Tyrese Gibson, Nathalie Emmanuel and the little-seen Sung Kang trying to figure out how a mission early in the film went so wrong there’s plenty to enjoy. Admittedly, the intentional humour in the latter grouping may not always come through but there’s still enough on display to entertain and keep things moving.

Yes, there may be some slight unintentional chuckles at the true absurdity of some of the action, but there’s a self-awareness to a number of the events which adds to the chaos on display. It’s mentioned that the central family often defy “the laws of God and gravity” with their various stunts, and to an extent that certainly happens here. Some of the dialogue appears to be written with a wry smile as we take a break from another off-the-wall set of explosive, engine-roaring circumstances – some of which come with a genuine feeling of tension as you simply sit back and enjoy the thrill of it all.

Again, a lot of what works within Fast X may not be entirely intentional, some of it might be slightly looking a bit too much into it. But, regardless, there’s still a deeply entertaining film here. One that comes with a layer of self-awareness when it comes to the action and manages to make a well-flowing piece of work which conjures up plenty of laughs and tension. It’s exactly the kind of film which audiences have begun to turn to this franchise for.

Ridiculously entertaining with its explosive action a lot of the joy of Fast X comes from its self-awareness, assisted by Jason Momoa’s joyous villain turning up the camp. There may be some tonal shifts with each group, but they all work as a whole when not entirely in the straight dramatic. For the most part it’s a highly enjoyable, nonsensical actioner.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Old Man Movie: Lactopalypse – Review

Release Date – 2nd June 2023, Cert – 15, Run-time – 1 hour 28 minutes, Directors – Mikk Mägi, Oskar Lehemaa

With his grandchildren (Mikk Mägi, Oskar Lehemaa) visiting for the Summer, The Old Man (Mägi) must chase down his escaped cow (Märt Avandi) before it explodes due to not being milked, or is killed by a former milker (Jan Uuspõld)

If A Town Called Panic had a head-on collision with South Park the result would likely look something like The Old Man Movie. A crazed barrage of gloriously silly jokes fusing the crude and the absurd as characters try to live the much-celebrated “milk life!” Characters with clumped-together and loosely-carved looks, speaking with highly cartoonish voices (largely provided by writer-directors Oskar Lehemaa and Mikk Mägi) and simply heightened by the use of stop-motion animation there’s plenty on display which lets you know early on that this is going to be an utterly bonkers ride.

The Old Man (Mägi) lives a quiet life of routine at the top of a small village. Every day he goes into his barn, milks his cow (Märt Avandi) – spraying milk straight from the udder into the jars of paying customer. However, when his three grandchildren Aino (Lehemaa), Mart and Priidik (Mägi) visit from the city for the summer the cow is quickly set loose when they believe their grandfather is abusing it. It’s only in the morning that they’re told that if a cow isn’t milked the milk stores in the udder until it explodes. The group are rushed onto a tractor (minus Mart who’s unknowingly left behind to come up with an invention to get milk from other animals) and power into the forest where they hope to find the cow before it’s too late.

Yet, whilst racing against time the family are also trying to get to the key animal before Old Milker (Jan Uuspõld), not only a villain with a fantastically drawn out evil laugh but also a former milker who encountered this exact problem many years before and has since been more milk than man. Determined not to allow this to happen again he’s set on killing the cow before a disastrous lactopalypse. The gags throughout are fitting to a film with a narrative as silly as this, but it’s clear that the creatives are taking the silliness seriously. Crudity isn’t there just for the sake of crudity (and there’s a fair deal of it in the short 88-minute run-time) and you can see that, amongst the feeling that the filmmakers enjoyed putting the jokes together, there was a seriousness to the scripting process and putting things together for the finished product.

Gags come thick and fast with gradual increments expanding upon certain jokes and points. Stages of jokes acting as continuing yet new points and each getting a response; there are plenty of laughs and giggles to be found here. This is a film designed to be silly and to simply make the audience laugh, and it certainly succeeds in doing so. The madness is made clear from the start and it’s easy to engage with it from the opening prologue of a public information film about milk. Yes, maybe the final 15 minutes may be a bit long-winded, but there’s still plenty to amuse and entertain within the madcap ideas which are spun. Imagine a film which has the word Lactopalypse in the title. The Old Man Movie is that film. And it’s wonderfully bonkers.

Perhaps the maddest animated film since A Town Called Panic, The Old Man Movie: Lactopalypse is a gloriously silly film with plenty of laughs, which themselves have clearly been taken seriously by creatives who appear to have had a great time making this absurd delight.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Beau Is Afraid – Review

Release Date – 19th May 2023, Cert – 15, Run-time – 2 hours 58 minutes, Director – Ari Aster

After learning of his mother’s (Patti LuPone) passing Beau (Joaquin Phoenix) must leave his flat to return home as quickly as possible, however along the way his anxiety is the least of his troubles.

For the first hour of writer-director Ari Aster’s Beau Is Afraid we’re firmly in Beau Wassermann’s (Joaquin Phoenix) mind. A realm of anxiety perhaps overemphasising the world around him. The street he lives on, whilst holding street performers and food vendors, houses fights, eye-gougings, knife fights, murders, drive-bys and more, for him it’s a constant source of worry and panic. The early events feel like if a Charlie Kaufman script met a pessimistic Wes Anderson with plenty of bizarre yet enjoyable situations occurring. While it’s easy to see the drama in the fantastical lengths of the central character’s anxiety there’s plenty of opportunity for comedy to be found in the exact same elements.

On discovering that his mother (Patti LuPone) has passed away Beau must risk leaving his flat to get back home as quickly as possible. He’s told on the phone by someone close to her that everyone is waiting for him, the guilt settles in further when he’s told “every minute that we wait adds to the humiliation”. However, it’s a long road to get there with much worse events and happenings than his frequently panicking mind could conjure up. The fantastical nature begins to fade with the feeling of anxiety alongside it (Aster manages to capture anxiety without pushing it on to the audience with worry and tension like in a Safdie brothers feature).

Instead, as Beau finds himself confronting both the world around him and his relationship with his mother – which we briefly see him hesitantly discussing with his therapist (Stephen McKinley Henderson) at the start of the film – we see a handful of flashbacks to his past. It’s such moments, alongside a lengthy not-quite-dream sequence, that provide the film with it’s almost three hour run-time. As a whole it doesn’t feel overly lengthy – although it’s apparent that a good few minutes could be trimmed off from the longer elements, and perhaps some situations altogether – but you do question the relevance of such moments at times, particularly the more they go on. It feels as if the film is trying to say something or get somewhere but is trying to build-up to something so in the distance that it never quite includes the right details.

As Beau progresses on his journey he meets various figures from a family who take him in (played by Amy Smart, Nathan Lane and Kylie Rogers) – a set of events which eventually feel as if they go a bit overboard in the final stages – a set of performing travellers (primarily one played by Hayley Squires) and more. Each section feels different in style and feels as if it drifts away from the initial structuring and direction. Not to say that everything should be like the first hour in Beau’s world of familiarity; although some of the most engaging content lies here. More that things feel as if the more they move away from this the more the film as a whole begins to lose itself.

Elements of strangeness come back into play but they never quite have the same feeling as beforehand and instead leave you slightly baffled as to what is going on. Events are drawn out further in the third act where you’re largely led by slight interest over engagement. There are still certain points to like (Phoenix is, as you would expect, very good in the lead role, particularly in the way his character holds himself) and enough to generally keep you going, however, as mentioned, the events begin to get lost in themselves as things change quite considerably from what has come beforehand; admittedly with some developments. What starts off as an engaging, and rather entertaining, world of chaos and anxiety from the central character’s perspective begins to slide away from itself into something increasingly tangled up and less clear as to where it’s going or what it’s doing.

Starting off with an engaging and creative style Beau Is Afraid begins to lose itself with each new stylistic change and diversion. There may still be interest in where it’s going to go but it’s certainly not always clear as to what it’s trying to say or doing in sequences where the narrative drifts away.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret – Review

Release Date – 19th May 2023, Cert – PG, Run-time – 1 hour 46 minutes, Director – Kelly Fremon Craig

After moving from the city to the suburbs 11-year-old Margaret (Abby Ryder Fortson) tries to work out who she really is, whilst trying her best to grow up as fast as possible in the wake of adolescence.

“It gets tiring trying so hard all the time, doesn’t it?” Barbara (Rachel McAdams) partially asks herself as she cuddle up to her daughter after a particularly stressful set of events. “Yeah” 11-year-old Margaret (Abby Ryder Fortson) sighs, exhausted from trying to grow up as fast as possible. While all her friends seem to have already had their first period and the exercises she tries to go up a bra size (“I must, I must, I must increase my bust!” she chants) don’t work she’s also trying to work out just who she is. Since moving from New York City to the New Jersey suburbs everything has changed, particularly as she’s on the verge of adolescence.

Director Kelly Fremon Craig’s capturing of the American suburbs gets across the everyday nature of the story at hand. By keeping the events in 1970 (the year Judy Blume’s novel of the same name, on which the film is based, was published) a timelessness – referenced in much of the advertising – is established to the events and feelings brought up throughout. Much of this extends a hand to the audience, old and young (particularly those of Margaret’s age), and brings them in to the various tales which are being told over the course of the year the film covers.

The humour of some of the ideas presented, such as the ways in which Margaret and her friends seem to be in a rush to grow up or the awkwardness of learning about the changing body via a presentation at school, is effectively contrasted with the dramas on display. From the different reactions to first periods to rumours about the girl at school (Isol Young) who started to go through everything much earlier than everyone else. Meanwhile, Barbara worries about making her house look as perfect as possible, the living room goes without any chairs or a sofa for months as she tries to find the right one, while she begins to miss the art which she focused on teaching classes before moving. Yet, perhaps the most emotional point for her is the relationship she has with her parents – who she hasn’t spoken to since they disapproved of her marrying a Jewish man (Benny Safdie). It’s a strand which, helped by the natural subtleties of McAdams’ wonderfully understated performance, sticks the landing every time it’s brought up.

McAdams relationship with Fortson is a frequently touching one, particularly when it comes to the quiet mum-daughter bonding scenes, especially towards the end of the film. There’s a believable bond between the pair which contrasts with the louder, still caring, relationship Margaret has with her grandmother (Kathy Bates) who adores her granddaughter, showing her off when they go to Temple – not knowing that Margaret is trying to work out whether she’s Jewish or Christian. There’s a tenderness to such relationships, especially mum and daughter, marking a clear difference to those which are present at school and elsewhere in Margaret’s life. It’s all part of the nature of growing up which Craig’s film so effectively captures with tones of humour and, most importantly, understanding.

While acknowledging humour and a sense of awkwardness Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret is a clearly tender and thoughtful depiction of the everyday trials of growing up from the female perspective. Helped by great performances from Fortson and McAdams it welcomes you in for a rather unique piece of work.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Eight Mountains – Review

Release Date – 12th May 2023, Cert – 12, Run-time – 2 hours 27 minutes, Directors – Felix van Groeningen, Charlotte Vandermeersch

Over multiple decades growing up separately in the city and countryside childhood friends Pietro (Luca Marinelli) and Bruno (Alessandro Borghi) keep returning to the peace of the Italian alps.

There’s a sense of peace and calm in the silences of The Eight Mountains. The quiet isn’t used to emphasise something which has come beforehand or to make a point, it’s simply used as what it is. Silence. Nothing needs to be said between the two central friends at the heart of the film. They’re happy enough in each other’s company and, assisted by the surroundings of the Italian alps. This isn’t to say that the moments of silence don’t add to anything, at times they feel like moments of deeper reflection within the narrator’s mind.

An adult Pietro (Luca Marinelli) guides us through the events of the film from childhood summers in the countryside where he first meets farmworker Bruno (Allessandro Borghi) to continued meetings in adulthood in the same location (Lupo Barbiero and Cristiano Sassella on childhood duties for the pair respectively). The box-like aspect ratio brings to mind the feeling of old polaroids being looked at, each one continuing the story. The frequent use of Daniel Norgren tracks acting as the one nostalgic record from the holiday cottage taking him further back to those days. Days which span decades of a closely-bonded friendship.

The pair develop distant relationships with the father figures in their lives – eventually leading to a key emotional sequence of discovery in the later stages of the piece. Yet, there’s a close male bond between them creating for a gentle friendship throughout. They may change themselves as they grow up (in a believable, natural way) yet despite time jumps we know they’re the same people thanks to their relationship. After having not seen each other for years they plan to rebuild a house together on the mountains. “This is our summer house, where we’ll see each other every year” Pietro says, almost demanding a promise from his friend. In a similar vein you genuinely believe him when he assures over the phone “I’ll be on my way as fast as I can”.

At two-and-a-half hours you never question the film’s run-time or where it’s going. The pacing, like the central relationship, is relaxed and guides you along with ease as you’re given time to drink in both the stunning surroundings (the natural environment is truly amazing to look at) and the places we see the core pair go in their own lives – largely led by Pietro’s perspective – in the brief gaps between when they next see each other and return to the mountain just up from where Bruno lives and works. Both characters have their wants for where they want life to take them, although occasionally question the course and themselves, adding to the natural progression of life that the film charts.

You stay with it because of just how much you buy into the care and love that Pietro and Bruno have for each other. Brought about through the performances and the scripting of their various meetings over the years there’s a lot to be caught by as the events play out amongst the well-captured scenery and landscapes. The silence in the safety and security of the alps is pure silence marking a true place of escape, yet one where there is confrontation of past relationships with other men in the character’s lives. There are a handful of different male relationships on display, yet the core focus is that of a calm, gentle friendship guiding the film and making for rather moments of genuine profundity throughout.

The central performances mix with the gentleness of The Eight Mountains to make for an engaging depiction of male friendship amongst the effective dramas of the central pairs lives. Like looking back on old photograph memories with stunning scenery it’s a truly compelling piece of work.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3 – Review

Cert – 12, Run-time – 2 hours 30 minutes, Director – James Gunn

In order to save the life of Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper), the Guardians pull themselves from loss and fracture to find the data which could save him, leading them to his creator (Chukwudi Iwuji), still intent on creating the perfect animal society.

Come And Get Your Love, Mr Blue Sky, Creep. The latter track, by Radiohead, stands out as a slower, more sombre song in this list and more so in the opening to James Gunn’s Guardians Of The Galaxy trilogy closer. The titular team are in a state of disarray. Lost and fractured while they may have gone up in the universe – now with an HQ based in celestial head Knowhere – their team feels close to disbanding, with arguments and misunderstandings between the group rising.

The effects show most of all when they’re attacked by superpowered Adam Warlock (Will Poulter), seeking to take Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper) back to his creator, the High Evolutionary (Chukwudi Iwuji). After Rocket is injured in the attack the Guardians must pull themselves together to save their friend. With just 48 hours on the clock they need to find the information which could save Rocket from the organisation which funded his creation, stepping close to the High Evolutionary with each event.

It’s as we actually get on to this course that the film properly picks up its pace. The Guardians that many have come to recognise and enjoy over the last nine years are very much still present, but in their initial uncertain state in the opening stages of this particular venture things feel somewhat gradual. We’ve certainly known there to be serious points of drama and personal tragedy in each of the character’s lives, mixed in with the humour and sci-fi action of the films, but with the direct fractures of the relationships dealt with in a serious manner there’s almost a hesitancy to initially engage with them as they appear slightly differently.

Yet, as the narrative develops we’re back to familiar terrain and once engaged you’re very much there for the rest of the ride in true Guardians fashion. While focusing on Rocket in flashbacks to shortly after he was ‘created’ by the High Evolutionary – such scenes working best when dealing with him and his aims to create the perfect society on an alternative to Earth, “be not as you are but as you should be” – writer-director Gunn knows how to involve all of the characters and their various personalities and traits into the rest of the story. Chris Pratt’s Star Lord may still be posed as the captain but this is undeniably a team effort with good performances put in by all, successfully avoiding a tone of saying goodbye to the characters.

Alongside this the world and the various bursts of colour throughout it make a welcome return as the visual style remains strong. Both in terms of make-up and prosthetics and the visual effects throughout. They simply bring to life the various planets and locations which we visit and the action which unfolds within them. Action which manages to have its layer of tension alongside the entertainment factor, especially in the third act and the climactic set-pieces which occur as part of it when the present day take of the villain is put more into focus, after having largely been progressed towards in the build-up with other people (such as Gwendoline Christie’s returning Ayesha from Vol. 2 and Poulter’s otherwise sidelined Adam Warlock) doing his work for him.

Yet, this is a film very much about (as the title might suggest) the Guardians Of The Galaxy. There may be turbulence in their relationship to start with, but as the narrative takes form so do they getting back into the swing of things with another engaging, entertaining sci-fi action-adventure. The bond between the cast, and indeed James Gunn who has clearly held these characters close for well beyond the span of these films, pushes the ideas at play as the team once again learn to embrace each other, and themselves. The tagline “once more with feeling” is certainly lived up to, without an overbearing sentimentality and feeling of goodbye wrung dry throughout.

It may take some time to fully engage with the film as it gradually brings the Guardians back together from fracture, but Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol 3. moves along with effective pace once its narrative arc truly begins. With strong visuals and performances there’s a reason this team are so successful and it’s down to the care and bond that’s put into them, both on fine display here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

My Name Is Happy – Review

Release Date – TBC, Cert – N/A, Run-time – 1 hour 21 minutes, Directors – Nick Read, Ayşe Toprak

After just surviving a shooting, singer Mutlu Kaya turns to a life of activism, trying to combat the rising rates of femicide in Turkey and around the world.

My Name Is Happy makes no hesitation in emphasising just what was taken away from it’s central focus. At the age of 19 Mutlu Kaya was whisked from her small Kurdish town to Istanbul to appear on a major talent show. Her singing received masses of praise and she was ready to go through to the finals. However, much of this was brought to a shuddering halt when the man she turned a proposal down from shot her in the head, claiming if he couldn’t have her no one could, especially the country through their TV.

Mutlu only just survived the shooting, with the bullet permanently lodged in her brain. Directors Nick Read and Ayşe Toprak follow her as she rebuilds herself and takes to the streets to challenge the rising rates of femicide both in Turkey and around the world. Where the film best succeeds is in the fact that it truly does focus on Mutlu. It brings a sense of hope to the proceedings through this. Yes, there may be the elements of emotion from family members, who certainly contribute effectively to the piece through their interview segments, but the focus is largely on Mutlu and how she develops over time.

Taking to social media and interviewing people about femicide on TikTok you can see her passion increase. In hand the film’s does too as it captures her spirit and uses it as something of a driving force, particularly in the final 20-25 minutes when a more personal angle comes through in this already personal portrait. To call back to the lack of hesitancy the film makes sure to deliver its points in the 81 well-paced minutes and proves its effect through a shocked and riled feeling at the closing text. A haunting nature returns, one first present when Mutlu talks about her attacker, referring to him as a “monster”, getting across the still-present fear.

Engagement comes from the interest in both Mutlu’s progression, as occasionally observed and expressed by those around her, and what she has to say. Her opening words (including mention that her name means ‘happy’), and indeed a number of things she says throughout, are particularly striking and bring you in to feel more a part of the piece. There was a point when I thought this review might have largely been made up of quotes, particularly from the early stages of the film, it’s of course these which create the most insight and perhaps the initial engagement with the film. Bringing you in and taking you along for the quickly moving journey, well contained within its short run-time and making sure to get across its points in that time.

Well put together with a good deal of effect throughout its short run-time, My Name Is Happy engages you through its fixed focus on central figure Mutlu, rarely breaking away from her. There’s an interesting piece of work here, largely thanks to the tone of the depictions throughout.

Rating: 4 out of 5.