The Greatest Showman ****

The Greatest Showmsn is a musical biopic about the life of legendary showman P T Barnum.

It is a delightful example of a modern musical, with toe tapping melodies and memorable lyrics. I must owe an apology to those sitting near me as my feet started tapping and head bobbing along to the music, within seconds of the start. It is very infectious and in many respects excellent.

The story rattles along, compressing years into the space of a song, taking our hero from down and out to successful family man by very clever visual clues.

Hugh Jackman appears to be born for this role. He leads a remarkable cast through triumph and disaster to hope and fortune.

Its only flaw is that the story is told through very rose tinted story.

Totally ignored are the darker aspects of Barnum and the world he inhabited.

That is not surprising as this is designed as a mass-market audience pleaser, which it is, most triumphantly.

This film is worth at least 4 stars out of five, only falling short of five due to the lack of salt to balance the sugar.


Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle *****

Many of you will fondly remember the 1996 Jumanji film, starring Robin Williams and Kirsten Dunst. You can rest assured that the new chapter of Jumanji will not tarnish those memories but add another set of family memories.Jumanji 1

The story picks up on the Jumanji Box that contained the original board game and what happened to it since 1996.

The writers have come up with a believable fantasy that whisks you back to the game with tremendous passion, humour and originality.

The four adult actors, Jack Black, Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart and Karen Gillan, give fantastic portrayals of juveniles thrust into adulthood and coming of age.

Indeed, I would claim that these are probably the best performances they have ever given.

This is far and away the best family film of the season, if not the year.

I would go so far as to say, this beats the pants off Star Wars (and I am an avid Star Wars fan).

So for my best family film of 2017, the full 5 stars out of five.

Thor: Ragnarok *****

The latest offering from the Marvel universe, Thor Ragnarok, sees the return of Thor, as brought to life by Chris Hemsworth.

Aimed at the 12-year-old audience, the violence is almost bloodless and profanities are kept to the mild end of the spectrum. Layered on top of this is a plethora of adult targeted jokes and characterisations that should keep most grownups laughing.

In this story Thor faces two different baddies. The first is Cate Blanchett as Thor’s very bad, big sister Hela. The second is Jeff Goldblum as possibly the funniest and campest dictator in cinema history.

I felt rather sorry for Ms Blanchett, great actor as she is, because Goldblum dominates the story with a far richer and funnier part.

The action sequences are very impressive as is normal now, but for once, the script is equally good, blending the various story lines smoothly, while keeping the plot moving and maintaining the very funny humour.

I laughed out loud frequently and left the cinema feeling refreshed and happy.

I can’t expect much more than that from any film.

The result is therefore 5 out of five stars for this outstanding superhero tale.

Spider-Man:Home Coming ***

Spider-Man has a long cinema history as well as TV and comics so the basic premise of the character is well known to many, including Homer Simpsons Spider-Pig song.

This time, with a new actor in the title role, the makers have avoided the temptation to just remake the origin story and give us a new web of intrigue.

Sadly they have still used one aspect of the earlier films concerning the secret identity of the villain.

So I have to say this is just another run of the mill superhero tale from the Marvel Studios.


The special effects are spectacular as in all these genre of films with nothing really new.   The plot is predicta

ble and characterisations two-dimensional. There is some humour, mainly sardonic and weak.

However, if I were a pre-teen child seeing their first Spider-Man film, I would be over the moon with excitement at the antics of their hero.

Thankfully they are the target audience for this film and not grumpy old film nuts like me. It will be a great hit because of that.

So its 3 stars out of five for adult audiences and 5 Stars for their children.