SHERLOCK HOLMES (2009)

Directed By: Guy Ritchie
Written By: Michael Robert Johnson, Anthony Peckham & Simon Kinberg
Story By: Michael Robert Johnson & Lionel Wigram
Cinematography By: Phillipe Rousselot
Editor: James Herbert

Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Rachel McAdams, Mark Strong, Eddie Marsan, James Fox

In London, Sherlock Holmes and his partner Dr. John Watson captures the follower of black magic and serial killer Lord Blackwood that has already killed five women when he is near to kill his sixth victim. Blackwood is sentenced to be strung up and Dr. Watson attests his death. However, Blackwood mysteriously returns from the afterlife and Inspector Lestrade summons Sherlock Holmes to help the Scotland Yard in the investigation. Meanwhile Dr. Watson intends to get married of the gorgeous Mary Morstan while Sherlock is visited by his former lover Irene Adler that has a secret agenda.




 I should have liked this film, but the film is too big, too many action set pieces, Too many explosions. Not enough Mystery. It’s like everything has to be bigger and better like it’s some kind of sequel or Michael Bay movie with better style and some sensibility.

It’s not good enough for Sherlock Holmes to be a good detective but must also be tough by doing bare-knuckle fighting, being a master of disguise, and always having a weapon handy. Like a victorian era super spy.

Once in a while, we get to see how Holmes’ mind works with deductive thinking. While having a semi homoerotic relationship with Dr. Watson, Who he is jealous of because he is not only moving out of the house they share but also getting married. The case they try to crack involves a woman from Holmes past who is lively and almost as cunning as he is and at first the case seems based on the supernatural. Than along the way becomes more logical.

The chemistry between Downey Jr. and Jude Law seems false and more manufactured than it should and makes you wonder if Jude Law was insulted as being the natural-born brit and having to play the sidekick to the American actor taking over a notorious British character.

The film isn’t horrible and it’s nice to see what director Guy Ritchie can do with a sizeable budget, but as I said before everything feels overblown and like it goes out of its way to keep reminding you this is the NEW Sherlock Holmes.

The leads are both charming and mark Strong is a good villain and the film’s more interesting scenes are when he is on the screen or exploring his character and it’s a conspiracy.

While the film is a good popcorn film afterward you start to feel the fat and the grease and wonder why this movie really needed to be made. Again it’s not horrible it’s not bad either. It’s ok and has some things going for it, but the end feels unnecessary and unremarkable. It keeps your attention as any time the film seems to begin to slow down another action sequence pops up. Not always for a good reason, But for the most part everyone involved seems to be having fun.

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GRADE: C

STARDUST (2007)

Directed By: Matthew Vaughn
Written By: Matthew Vaughn & Jane Goldman
Based on the Novel By: Neil Gaiman
Cinematography By: Ben Davis
Editor: Jon Harris

Cast: Ben Barnes, Robert Deniro, Claire Danes, Michelle Pfeiffer, Charlie Cox, Sienna Miller, Henry Cavill, Mark Strong, Jason Flemyng, Rupert Everett, Peter O’Toole, Ian McKellan, Ricky Gervais

In a countryside town bordering on a magical land, a young man makes a promise to his beloved that he’ll retrieve a fallen star by venturing into the magical realm.


For the grand adventure that the film is. It lacks an epic feel or grandiose locations and sights. Half the time it feels like the surroundings are sets. The film does end up better then you’d imagine though.

The lead Ben Barnes seems to be miscast. He feels weak and in effect unbelievably when he eventually becomes heroic. Especially when all the supporting characters are much richer and entertaining than the lead. Who lacks charisma and never comes close to being dashing. Though they try to make him so. Maybe that was the intention to go against type but it ends up not working at all.

What I really appreciate about the film is it’s macabre sense of humor and a mean streak to go with all this fantasy. While keeping the film fu adds a general sense of danger rather than films like THE PRINCESS BRIDE. Which while funny feels almost childlike and storybook clean. Whereas this film is a storybook and fantasy fairytale but with a bit of an edge. so that the film plays more for teens and adults.

Words like cute and fun come to mind while watching the film. Though it’s not what I would expect a director like Matthew Vaughn to make especially after his debut film LAYER CAKE a gangster film. He went to make this a full-fledged fantasy adaptation which is a wise choice showing he has range. In his talents though so far all of his films are adaptations. He is showing a diverse resume as he hasn’t made a truly bad film yet. So he has shown his talent which I would expect as a former producer of Guy Ritchie films.

The film is a fun little fantasy that you can get lost into the universe of and enjoy yourself. Which is rare these days. At least without it seeming processed and set up to sell toys.

It’s better than I personally thought it would be. The world they live in is never clearly defined. We never get to know the characters some of whom just seem like ideas more than developed characters integral to the story, Almost like distractions to pad out the story and have us not realize how thin the main story is but letting us get caught up in the situations, though the film is quite likable. The film stays within the fantasy limits but also tries to come off as smarter or more winking to the audience then most films of it’s type.

Though disappointingly another fantasy world that lacks minorities. It’s not a huge point but one I’d like to note probably not entirely the filmmaker’s fault but more could try. Minorities are underrepresented or not represented in most Fantasy Sci-Fi leaving you to wonder are they afterthoughts or in these so-called fantasy worlds are they Aryan wonderlands. Sorry to go off on a rant just a point that needed to be expressed.

Terry Gilliam Also almost directed the film which is a perfect example of the right director with the right material, but after directing THE BROTHERS GRIMM he was wiped out creatively. This would have been actually better for him to make.

GRADE: B

THE IMITATION GAME (2014)

Directed By: Morton Tyldum. Written By: Graham Moore. Based On A Book By: Andrew Hodges Cinematography: Oscar Faura Editor: William Goldenberg Music score: Alexandre Desplat

Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightly, Mark Strong, Matthew Goode, Rory Kinnear, Allen Leech, Matthew Beard, Charles Dance

Based on the real life story of legendary cryptanalyst Alan Turing, the film portrays the nail-biting race against time by Turing and his brilliant team of code-breakers at Britain’s top-secret Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park, during the darkest days of World War II.

Just like when the film is set. The film plays like a spy film Filled with espionage and thriller elements. For what the film might lack in action for some. It leaves the audience with a more devastating aftermath of emotions.

The thrills are given in a much more intelligent battlefield as the action is more a meeting of the minds and trying to outsmart one another.

Throw in a story of a great inventor and his everlasting invention. That was itself a journey to build with plenty of naysayers and challenges.

There is also a kind of love story at it’s heart but maybe not the one you are expecting. Not to mention a focus on the injustice and prejudice of homophobia and anti-gay rights.

So this film has it all, likely Oscar bait but for once. One with some bite and thrills that come out of nowhere and could have been a simple period drama, but comes out and is actually exciting though some might find it to be a little like a British version of the movie A BEAUTIFUL MIND. Though much is going on all the parts for precisely together.

The performances are off the charts. Keira knightly as the Love interest and top code breaker still has to deal with sexism and domesticity as her parents expect her to be a good wife and find a husband before she can use her skills and brilliance.

Mark strong as the mysterious Mi6 agent and liaison is devious and powerful.

Benedict cumberbatch really shows his range as he can be the awkward outsider o e minute, the pretentious snob and know it all but also the heartbroken and doomed. That you want to save him, but can’t

A film that is built like a drama but plays more like a thriller, with room enough for drama. As on one point he works to get his invention to work and then on another keeping his sexuality a secret. Even though he seems rarely to find interest in others. Even though a romance or more partnership does develop.

Even when he is black mailed on all sides and slowly starts to make friends as others finally get used to him and his polarizing personality that one could easily label it as partially inspired by BIG BANG THEORY with the character Sheldon from that show.

We get to see what makes him tick or inspires him to imagine. as the project keeps something alive in him a kind of hope, love and memories.

How it can be greater Than anything in life. Including your own. The object takes the place of a lost love that could never be. So he builds something his great creation as a kind of loving memory.

How all this history is revealed from just a breaking and entering case. Leaving the detectives in the hunt for supposed treason and spies turns into a heartbreaking story that destroys his whole life because of a detectives insistence over being dismissed and talked down to by him and who has no idea what he will cause and never meant to.

How our actions can have deeper ramifications then expected and can’t be taken back.

The title seems to come from code breaking, imitating the enemies code system to read and understand their messages. It would also be used for the main character who always knew he was different.

So he tried calling initiate others to fit in to a point that no one would really notice and if he couldn’t replicate her would keep people away. More like push, so they never really got to know him.

GRADE: A

KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE (2015)

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Directed By: Matthew Vaughn
Written By: Jane Goldman & Matthew Vaughn
Based On The Graphic Novel “The Secret Service” By: Mark Millar & Dave Gibbons Cinematography By: George Richmond
Editor: Eddie Hamilton & Jon Harris
Music By: Henry Jackman & Matthew Margeson 

Cast: Colin Firth, Taron Egerton, Samuel L. Jackson, Mark Strong, Michael Caine, Sophia Boutella, Jack Davenport, Mark Hammil, Fiona Hampton, Anna Halstrom

Agent Harry “Galahad” Hart from the Kingsman Secret Service helps troublemaker Gary “Eggsy” Unwin, who is the son of an Agent that saved the lives of Harry and his team, sacrificing himself seventeen years ago. Harry invites Eggsy to be a candidate to the vacancy of a new Agent in the agency, and he is trained by Agent Merlin and competes with other candidates. Meanwhile, the Kingsmen investigate the industrialist Valentine, an insane genius of technology who is plotting a deadly plan with his assistant Gazelle to save the Earth from global warming, eliminating most of the population with a chip and saving only those that he has chosen. Continue reading “KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE (2015)”

SHAZAM! (2019)

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Directed By: Daryl F. Sandberg
Written By: Henry Gayden
Story By: Darren Lemke & Henry Gayden
Based On Characters Created By: Bill Parker & C.C. Beck
Cinematography: Maxime Alexandre
Editor: Michel Aller 


Cast: Zachary Levi, Mark Strong, Asher Angel, John Glover, Djimon Hounsou, Jack Dylan Grazer, Faithe Herman, Grace Fulton, Michelle Borth, Megan Good, Adam Brody, D.J. Cotrona, Ross Butler, Cooper Andrews, Marta Milans 


In Philadelphia, Billy Batson is an abandoned child who is proving a nuisance to Child Services and the authorities with his stubborn search for his lost mother. However, in his latest foster home, Billy makes a new friend, Freddy, and finds himself selected by the Wizard Shazam to be his new champion. Now endowed with the ability to instantly become an adult superhero by speaking the wizard’s name, Billy gleefully explores his new powers with Freddy. However, Billy soon learns that he has a deadly enemy, Dr. Thaddeus Sivana, who was previously rejected by the wizard and has accepted the power of the Seven Deadly Sins instead. Now pursued by this mad scientist for his own power as well, Billy must face up to the responsibilities of his calling while learning the power of a special magic with his true family that Sivana can never understand.

Continue reading “SHAZAM! (2019)”

KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE (2017)

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Directed By: Matthew Vaughn
Written By: Jane Goldman & Matthew Vaughn
Based on characters from The Graphic Novel “SECRET SERVICE” By: Mark Millar & Dave Gibbons
Cinematography By: George Richmond
Editor: Eddie Hamilton 


Cast: Taron Egerton, Mark Strong, Colin Firth, Hanna Alstrom, Channing Tatum, Pablo Pascal, Halle Berry, Julianne Moore, Edward Holcraft, Michael Gambon, Jeff Bridges, Emily Watson, Bruce Greenwood, Sophie Cookson, Poppy Delevigne, Thomas Turgoose 


When their headquarters are destroyed and the world is held hostage, the Kingsman’s journey leads them to the discovery of an allied spy organization in the US. These two elite secret organizations must band together to defeat a common enemy.

Continue reading “KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE (2017)”

THE BROTHERS GRIMSBY (2016)

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Directed By: Louis Lettier
Written By: Sacha Baron Cohen, Phil Johnston & Peter Baynham
Story By: Sacha Baron Cohen & Phil Johsnston
Cinematography By: Oliver Wood
Editor: Jonathan Amos, Evan Henke, Debra Neil-Fisher & James Thomas 


Cast: Sacha Baron Cohen, Mark Strong, Penelope Cruz, Isla Fisher, Rebel Wilson, Tasmin Egerton, Scott Adkins, David Harewood, Annabelle Wallis, Gabourey Sidibe, Barkhad Abdi 

MI6’s top assassin has a brother. Unfortunately for him, he’s a football hooligan from the town of Grimsby. Nobby has everything a man from the poor English fishing town of Grimsby could want – 9 children and the most attractive girlfriend in northern England. There’s only one thing missing in his life: his little brother, Sebastian. After they were adopted by different families as children, Nobby spent 28 years searching for him. Upon hearing of his location, Nobby sets off to reunite with his brother, unaware that not only is his brother an MI6 agent, but he’s just uncovered a plot that puts the world in danger. On the run and wrongfully accused, Sebastian realizes that if he is going to save the world, he will need the help of its biggest idiot.

Continue reading “THE BROTHERS GRIMSBY (2016)”

ROCKNROLLA (2008)

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Written & Directed By: Guy Ritchie
Cinematography By: David Higgs
Editor: James Herbert 


 Cast: Gerard Butler, Mark Strong, Tom Wilkinson, Idris Elba, Tom Hardy, Thandie Newton, Toby Kebbell, Jeremy Piven, Ludacris, Karel Roden, Jimi Mistry, Matt King, Gemma Arterton

Lenny Cole, a London mob boss, puts the bite on all local real estate transactions. For substantial fees, he’s helping Uri Omovich, a Russian developer. As a sign of good faith, Omovich loans Cole a valuable painting, promptly stolen off Cole’s wall. While Cole’s men, led by the dependable Archie, look for the canvas, three local petty criminals, the Wild Bunch, steal money from the Russian using inside information from his accountant, the lovely Stella. Meanwhile, a local drug-addled rocker, Johnny Quid, is reported drowned, and his connection to Cole is the key to unraveling the deceits and double crosses of life in the underworld.

Continue reading “ROCKNROLLA (2008)”