Us

News, Reviews & Features
  • Review: Rocketman is a Bo Rhap glow-up... but then again, no

    Movie Review | Ali Gray | 22nd May 2019

    Put Bohemian Rhapsody out of your head: this jukebox musical about a flamboyant rock singer directed by Dexter Fletcher is nothing like that jukebox musical about a flamboyant rock singer directed by Dexter Fletcher. In principle at least, Bo Rhap made sense as a tribute to the mercurial nature of the Queen frontman, a celebration of his musical genius and his tragic legacy. Rocketman, however, is quite different. For starters, Elton John (Tantrums & Tiaras, Kingsman 2, every other fucking episode of the The Graham Norton Show, apparently) is alive and well and executively producing his own vanity biopic. As a celebration of Elton's music, Rocketman delivers a satisfying and foot-stomping soundtrack of wall-to-wall bangers, but as an exploration of the man himself, it lacks any notable dramatic impetus outside of the generic rise, fall and rise template. It's less a movie, more a West End stage musical in search of a worthy hero.

  • Review: John Wick: Chapter 3 is a war on the senses - and on the balls

    Movie Review | Becky Suter | 17th May 2019

    We all know there are six basic story types: the fall, the fall then rise, the rise then fall, the rise from nothing, mismatched buddy cops, and stop that wedding. The third installment of the John Wick franchise delivers a seventh - the fall then rise then kick you in the bollocks, go to Casablanca, rise, then literal fall. The film's subtitle, Parabellum, translates to "prepare for war" - in this case a war on limbs, vital bodily organs, and your ability to stomach extreme violence, so you can't say it didn't warn you.

  • Review: Knock Down The House captures the highs and lows of hope

    Movie Review | Luke Whiston | 15th May 2019

    How can it be that every week feels like the series finale of America? The dumpster fire of Donald Trump's presidency that has engulfed our lives and timelines since 2016 can't be good for the collective psyche, and it's strange to think that a mere three years ago this constant gnashing background noise wasn't the norm. But US politics has measures in place to course-correct, namely a series of midterm elections whereby successful candidates can win a Senate seat, thus increasing their party's reach within Congress. At least that's what I understand from Wikipedia. I live in England, where we bow to whoever has the tallest top hat or the fanciest swan. Before today everything I knew about the American political system I learnt from The Simpsons.

  • Review: The Hustle is a like-for-like switcheroo

    Movie Review | Ed Williamson | 13th May 2019

    Now then, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels was one of those I had on VHS off the telly and watched a lot as a kid, and believe it or not, I'm quite happy to allow a reboot without moaning on the internet about how my childhood has been stolen from me, as though MGM had coerced the 12-year-old me into confessing to a murder I didn't commit then used its corporate weight to lobby against my release and discredit the one witness who saw it all and could exonerate me, meaning I had to spend my teenage years in the big house, punctuated only by making recorded calls to the true crime podcast that was covering my case but whose final episode would end "Well, he's still in prison. Get 50% off your new mattress if you use the code DIAL-MGM-4-MURDER at checkout." I mean yeah, they haven't done that. What they've done is a bit weird though.

  • Review: Detective Pikachu ensures all this Pokémon shit hits the fans

    Movie Review | Matt Looker | 10th May 2019

    I consider myself to be a passionate fan of many things: Star Wars, Marvel, the smell of fresh sea air on a bright summer morning, denim... all sorts. But I have no interest or investment in Pokémon. I’ve never watched the cartoons, never played with the cards, never walked into open traffic while using my phone to throw a digital ball at a pretend squirrel. And it turns out that Detective Pikachu is not made for people like me. It’s made for fans who will be happy at the sight of a Rainbow Monster, or a Clown Wolf or a Cock Otter or whatever. Disclaimer: the film does actually give the proper names for most of the Pokémon on screen, I just didn’t catch ‘em all.

  • Review: Avengers: Endgame is a fitting tribute to Earth's mightiest franchise

    Movie Review | Matt Looker | 25th April 2019

    Fan or sceptic, hardened critic or casual movie-watcher, there is no denying that Marvel Studios has changed the face of cinema. These past 20-odd Marvel movies – for all the good and bad, for all the shawarmas and dramas, the Lady Sifs and Malekiths, the Jotunheims and Ed Norton times – have been a historic undertaking and seen record-breaking success. And Avengers: Endgame knows it. Not only does this film reach the narrative culmination of the Avengers to date, but it’s simultaneously a beautiful send-off, a greatest hits tour and a lap of honour. This is Marvel celebrating Marvel, and it is thoroughly deserved.

  • Review: Unicorn Store sparkles but doesn't shine or, er, something

    Movie Review | Luke Whiston | 23rd April 2019

    Hey everyone, it's the new movie starring Brie Larson and Samuel L. Jackson! You know, the one where she has to make a bunch of defining choices regarding her responsibilities in a fantasy setting! While making quips! Actually Unicorn Store was completed a few years ago but has only just been released by Netflix, in what is presumably a Captain America-style tactical decision to capitalise on Brie Larson's new-found Marvel fame. But don't read too much into this apparent dumping on a streaming service because while it's not exactly a Vision to behold and a bit low-key (Loki) on the life-affirming front, it's not a Hulking great mess either! Thanos!

  • Review: The Highwaymen is your dad's new favourite film

    Movie Review | Luke Whiston | 11th April 2019

    I was reading an article today about the cartel leader El Chapo, who is currently in prison for murder, drug trafficking and money laundering, among other things. So beloved is El Chapo, and so cherished his image by the common folk of Mexico, he's been able to launch a fashion line from his cell. It's a curious feature of the human brain that we allow ourselves to be attracted towards these dark figures, hailing them as heroes despite the devastation their crimes have caused. I guess all it takes is a media-friendly mugshot and enough degrees of separation to empathise with someone who would do you harm if you ever crossed them. Back at the start of our modern press age, Bonnie & Clyde were like a prototype of the El Chapo phenomenon; shown a dose of forgiveness due to the romanticism associated with their escapades. The reality was they were killers who needed to be stopped - an inevitability due to the attention they'd brought upon themselves - and the job fell to two middle-aged men, sent criss-crossing endless dusty roads in an olde timey car. But just because there's nothing sexy about that story, does it mean it shouldn't be told?

  • Review: Isn't It Romantic is a pleasing trope inverter

    Movie Review | Luke Whiston | 3rd April 2019

    I don't have a problem with tropes. If you've had a long day and just want to unwind watching one of the Chrises drift a car or fight some pixels, a well-placed cliché can fill the gaps between any distracting thinky bits to keep the plot ticking along - allowing your eyes to glaze over as your body slowly powers down. Tropes are a useful form of cinematic shorthand. But imagine not being overwhelmingly tired all the time, and also wanting to be entertained while using your brain. What do you stick on? A sci-fi? Action-thriller? If I said there was a romcom that met all these needs you'd probably say "shut the hell up with that", to which I'd reply "Click through for the full review", and you'd say "Sir, this is a Burger King", then I'd say "Please like and subscribe." And then the police would arrive.

  • Review: Us is an iconic horror that doppelgängs up on our innate fears

    Movie Review | Matt Looker | 25th March 2019

    Of all the books I read while studying English Literature at university, there are very few that I can say really stuck with me so much that I think about them on a near-daily basis. One that did is a short story by Edgar Allan Poe called William Wilson. If you’re not familiar, it’s a deeply sinister tale in which the narrator describes being tormented throughout his life by infrequent run ins with his doppelgänger, a figure that looks, acts and dresses exactly the same as him, until he is eventually driven mad. The story struck a chord mainly because my professor made a compelling case at the time for how this horror works on a psychological level, but also because he had us analyse the many thematic instances of ‘doubles’ throughout the text. This, he explained, includes William Wilson’s own alliterative initials, which are made up of two 'W's or, rather, 'double-you's. And it was at that point that I thought he was just really reaching.