First Man *****

I have been waiting for this film since it was first announced because the subject, Neil Armstrong, was one of my boyhood heroes.  I booked for the first day, but an unforeseeable circumstance prevented my getting to see it.  On the second occasion, the gridlocked town centre delayed the bus service so much that I gave up and returned home.

Third time lucky then. Made it!

Was it worth the effort?

Heaving a great sigh of relief, I can report it most certainly was.

This film is a biography of Neil and his family from the birth of his first child to his return from the Moon.

The story is skilfully crafted and gives a good insight into the stress of family life when one member is involved in a dangerous occupation.

A lot of the focus is therefore on the lives of Neil’s wife, Janet, and their three children.  There is also focus on Neil’s second family, the cadre of astronauts on the Gemini and Apollo missions.

We see an interesting movement in Neil’s priorities between these families over time and the effects this has on the other people involved.

The training for the eventual Moon mission is created with stunning effects and skilful tension building.

I was quite familiar with his story, especially the major steps on his journey to the Moon, but the director still managed to raise my heartbeat and relief over and over again.

By the end of the film, I felt choked up, exhausted and exhilarated, all at the same time.

I think this film is fully deserving of the 5 stars I am giving it.

I hope you agree.

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Mission: Impossible – Fallout ****

First I must apologise for the break in my blog posts during the last few weeks.

In the battle between the incredible weather and the dominance of tedious franchise movies, my garden won.

That being said, my first trip back is to another franchise film, Mission Impossible Fallout.

Fans of this franchise or just of Tom Cruise will not be disappointed.

The first scene echoes the original TV series beautifully, for those old enough to remember.

This sets off the usual series of chases, mass slaughter of bystanders and villains and double or triple crossing conspiracies.

No complex plot twists to be found in the style of Le Carré.

Just continuous, adrenaline pumping, action and mindless violence. It made me smile and wince several times, but left without really caring about the story or characters.

It does push the courage of Mr Cruise who, while filming in London, broke his ankle.  This scene is still used in the film and it is amazing he could still run, if only for a couple of steps.

This is a well-crafted film of this type in all respects except for originality.

For that reason I can only give it 4 out of five stars.

Tomb Raider

This is the re-launch of the Tomb Raider franchise with a new, fit for 21st century, Lara Croft.

Gone are the pneumatic charms of the video game Lara, or the superwoman Angelina Jolie.

We now have a hero in the mould of GoT’s Arya Stark or Star Wars Rey.

Alicia Vikander’s performance alone raises this from just another high adventure into the story of a real human being struggling with circumstances that would defeat most of us.

Unfortunately, she is surrounded by cardboard cut-out friends and villains who add nothing unique to the story.

Tomb 1

I enjoyed the early scenes, shot in and around London and Hong Kong, that were beautiful, exciting and totally believable. The later scenes descend in the now over familiar CGI scenery and perils. These could have been from any number of similar films and require a great effort of imagination to accept.

I am sure that this film will appeal to the less jaded cinema audiences, especially young women, who have traditionally been underserved in such dramas.

For that reason I have raised my assessment to give this film 4 out of five stars.