Star Wars: The Last Jedi ****

In some respects, reviewing this film seems like a waste of time because the whole franchise is Marmite. (For my non-UK readers, Marmite is a strong, yeast based spread which “You either love it or hate it” and nothing will change your views).

I freely admit to being a hard-core fan since I was in New York when the first film opened and saw it on Times Square just a week after it opened in 1977.

After seeing this tale from the series, I was left feeling conflicted. There is something missing from the spirit of the film, which I think I have identified.

What is present is an atmosphere of foreboding. Part of this is the realisation that Carrie Fisher will not be in any further films, but also that the story is losing itself in a circle of plot clichés.

So what is missing? Joy.

The simple, innocent joy, that in the eternal fight of good vs evil, knowing that good will always be triumphant.

Also, the pure joy of love and laughter.

Sadly my inner 14yr old child was not excited by this film, but my adult self was.  Tor this reason I give it 4 out of five stars.

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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.

Justice League **

Yet another superhero movie, Justice League, hit our cinema this weekend. It follows the standard format of the undefeatable villain of the week threatens the world only to be defeated by one or more heroes. There are all the CGI bangs and whistles to draw in the massive following these films attract and produce huge fortunes for the studios.

Sadly this is not one of the best by quite a margin.

There is too much squeezed into the story.

There are three new characters being introduced into the franchise.  They may be long established in comic book lore but they each get the ‘origin story’ treatment, which slows the narrative to a crawl for the first half of the film.

Having done this, these characters are relegated to supporting roles for the more famous and already successful heroes.

The climax of the film is a fairly standard mass destruction of property, with the villain finally but inevitably defeated.

If this genre of film is your thing then this is a definite 2nd choice compared to Thor: Ragnorok, which is still running in cinemas.

I give this a ‘must try harder’ 2 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.