Monday, 3 October 2022

The Lost City: Blu Ray Review

The Lost City: Blu Ray Review

Essentially rehashing the tropes of a trashy romance novel, The Lost City flips the narrative to muted effect.

The Lost City: Movie Review

When reclusive author Loretta Sage (Bullock) is forced to go on a book tour to promote her latest trashy fantasy novel, The City of the Lost D, she's kidnapped by eccentric billionaire Ashley Fairfax (a truly game and energetic Radcliffe) who believes she has the key to the actual lost city.

However, the cover model of her books, the long-blonde haired Alan (Tatum, playing for comedic laughs initially in a Fabio-like wig before softening for the obligatory romance) decides he can be more than just a himbo and sets out to rescue her.

The Lost City obviously riffs on Romancing The Stone with a swap of the characters and a touch of Indiana Jones thrown in for good measure.

While the leads have reasonable chemistry and Bullock once again demonstrates her prowess for physical comedy, The Lost City's underwhelming script is the major issue for the film. From obvious adlibbing to lines that somehow feel flat, the film's flair for the muted is obvious from the start.

There are a couple of exceptions here.
The Lost City: Movie Review

Brad Pitt makes fantastic use of his very limited time on screen, with a cameo appearance that utilises all of his evident charisma. Daniel Radcliffe's villain of the piece is also a lively injection into proceedings with his energy a welcome presence - even if his intentions are a little on the crazed side.

However, there's an inescapable feeling that The Lost City could have been more of a film with a stronger and tighter script - especially one that has dalliances with romance novels and their obvious pulpy intentions. You can see essentially where it's going from the start, but that shouldn't be a problem if a film uses the premise and weight of expectation to its advantage.

Ultimately though, The Lost City doesn't do that - it may offer a few scattered and scant laughs here and there, and it may coast by on its stars' chemistry, but in this jungle-set adventure, that can only take you so far before the feeling of ennui sets in.

Sunday, 2 October 2022

Petite Maman: DVD Review

Petite Maman: DVD Review

Girlhood and Portrait of a Woman on Fire's director Céline Sciamma returns to the big screen with a shorter film than previous outings - but one that still packs a quiet power.

Petit Maman: Film Review

It's the story of 8 year old Nelly, who's just lost her beloved grandmother and who's saying goodbye to the rest home residents where she lived as the film begins. Taken with her parents to clean out the childhood home, Nelly meets a girl her age as she builds a tree house in the woods.

They form an instant connection - but there's something deeper and more mysterious going on with Nelly's new friend soon needing hospital treatment and time for their friendship running out.

There's a smaller scale to this story, but Petit Maman has an astoundingly good lead in its child actors, who convey more than enough of a range of emotions from joy to trying to understand loss.

Petit Maman is a film of simple silences, natural sounds, and great poise from Sciamma; it carefully weaves a story that some may find wanting in parts, and others will be gripped by, as it examines grief and our relationships with the past.

Petit Maman: Film Review

But more specifically, Petit Maman is about the conversations with our closest family members, or ourselves - it spends time building a world that doesn't appear to cheat itself out of with easy answers, nor does it tie itself up in superstitions and hokum.

By keeping the film intimate, and quietly reflective, Sciamma's made a universal story of grief that everyone can engage with - and it's all the more enticing for it.

Saturday, 1 October 2022

What's on DocPlay in October

What's on DocPlay in October

Here's the best of what's coming up on DocPlay in October!

What's on DocPlay in October

3 October
Bob Marley’s universal appeal, impact on music history, and role as a social and political prophet is both unique and unparalleled. Marley is the definitive life story of the musician, revolutionary, legend, and the man, from his early days to his rise to international superstardom. Made with the support of the Marley family, the film features rare footage, never before seen performances, previously unreleased music, and revelatory interviews with the people that knew him best.

6 October
Celebrated by audiences at home and abroad, Indigenous artist Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu was one of the most important and acclaimed voices to ever come out of Australia. Blind from birth, he found purpose and meaning through songs and music inspired by his community and country on Elcho Island in far North East Arnhem Land. Living a traditional Yolngu life, his breakthrough album ‘Gurrumul’ brought him to a crossroads as audiences and artists around the world began to embrace his music. GURRUMUL is a portrait of an artist on the brink of global reverence, and the struggles he and those closest to him faced in balancing that which mattered most to him and keeping the show on the road.

10 October
Diego Maradona
On 5th July 1984, Diego Maradona arrived in Naples for a world-record fee. The world’s most celebrated football genius and the most dysfunctional city in Europe were a perfect match. Maradona was blessed on the field but cursed off it; the charismatic Argentine, quickly led Naples to their first-ever title. It was the stuff of dreams. But there was a price… Diego could do as he pleased whilst performing miracles on the pitch, but when the magic faded he became almost a prisoner of the city. The third film from the Academy Award-nominated, BAFTA-winning team behind SENNA and AMY, the film is constructed from over 500 hours of never-before-seen footage from Maradona’s personal archive. 

28 October
The Fire Within: A Requiem for Katia and Maurice Krafft
Mt. Unzen, Kyushu, Japan at 3.18pm on 3 June 1991, a pyroclastic flow – a cloud of superheated gases and particles – descended at more than 100 mph from the peak of the volcano, consuming everything in its path. It instantly killed Katia and Maurice Krafft, volcanologists and filmmakers from the Alsace region in France. They were too close. They were almost always too close. Written, directed and narrated by legendary German filmmaker, Werner Herzog, The Fire Within pays homage to the Kraffts, who left an archive of more than 200 hours of footage of their final journal, which is unprecedented in its spectacular and hypnotic beauty.  

31 October
The Hitler Chronicles–Blueprint for Dictators
More than any other Hitler biography, the Chronicles depict everyday European life between 1889 and 1945 in impressive images, many of them in color. Based on the most extensive compilation of archive material to date, with almost half of it previously unpublished sources, Hitler's life is shown in detail against the social backdrop of the first half of the 20th century in a contemporary interpretation.

Friday, 30 September 2022

AMC+ launches in New Zealand

AMC+ launches in New Zealand

AMC+ streaming service

Premium streaming service AMC+ is available now in Aotearoa, with a bundle including full access to both Acorn TV and Shudder. 


Exclusive original series available in New Zealand for the first time include this weekend’s global premiere of Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire (premiering simultaneously in New Zealand and internationally on 2 October), Tales of the Walking Dead and western noir thriller Dark Winds executive produced by Emmy®-winner George R.R. Martin (Game of Thrones) and Oscar®-winner Robert Redford – also boasting 100% on the Tomatometer!

About AMC+










Leading global media entertainment company AMC Networks announces the highly anticipated launch of the premium streaming bundle AMC+ in New Zealand with a suite of direct-to-consumer apps. AMC+ offers exclusive original series available in New Zealand for the first time, including this weekend’s global premiere of Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire (which will debut simultaneously in New Zealand and the US on 2 October), starring Sam Reid (Belle), Jacob Anderson (Game of Thrones) and Bailey Bass (Avatar: The Sense of Water); Tales of the Walking Dead, an anthology series from The Walking Dead Universe consisting of one-hour standalone episodes focusing on new and returning characters and starring Anthony Edwards (Inventing Anna), Parker Posey (Lost in Space) and Samantha Morton (The Walking Dead); western noir thriller Dark Winds executive produced by Emmy®-winner George R.R. Martin (Game of Thrones) and Oscar®-winner Robert Redford, which has a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes; sci-fi thriller Moonhaven starring Dominic Monaghan (Lost) and Joe Manganiello (True Blood); and the critically acclaimed Australian vampire thriller Firebite with Yael Stone (Orange is the New Black), Rob Collins (Cleverman) and Callan Mulvey (Avengers: End Game).


These series join other exclusive original productions available on AMC+ such as gritty crime drama 61st Street from BAFTA-winner Peter Moffat (The Night Of) and starring Emmy®-winner Courtney B. Vance (The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story); revenge thriller The Beast Must Die starring BAFTA-winner Jared Harris (Chernobyl); the popular Irish gangland drama Kin starring Charlie Cox (Daredevil); epic western That Dirty Black Bag starring Dominic Cooper (Preacher); and new animated spy tech thriller Pantheon featuring an all-star voice cast including Daniel Dae-Kim (Lost) and the late Oscar®-winner William Hurt, alongside a curated selection of films and series with new content added every week.


In the coming months, AMC+ will premiere highly anticipated original series, including another new franchise based on Anne Rice’s bestselling novels – Anne Rice’s Mayfair Witches, starring Alexandra Daddario (The White Lotus). AMC+ will also be the home for the next generation of series from The Walking Dead Universe in New Zealand, including The Walking Dead: Dead City, which focuses on the popular characters of Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) as they journey to a post-apocalyptic Manhattan, and a highly anticipated spin-off reuniting the fan-favourite characters of Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Michonne (Danai Gurira).


AMC+ also provides full access to AMC Networks’ targeted streaming services, Acorn TV and Shudder, at no additional cost.


  • Acorn TV offers exclusive originals, addictive dramas, arresting mysteries and more from Britain and beyond, including fan favourites such as Midsomer Murders, Vera, Agatha Christie’s MarpleShetland, Endeavour, Grantchester, Lewis, Inspector Morse and Poldark. The service also features a wide range of Acorn TV Originals, including Harry Wild, Recipes for Love and Murder, Darby and Joan, Hidden Assets, The Madame Blanc Mysteries, Whitstable Pearl, The Chelsea Detective, Queens of Mystery and Signora Volpe, among many others.


  • Shudder offers the best selection in genre entertainment, covering horror, thrillers and the supernatural, from Hollywood favorites and cult classics to original series, documentaries and critically acclaimed new original movies. Popular series include CreepshowThe Boulet Brothers’ DragulaThe 101 Scariest Horror Movie Moments of All Time and Slasher: Flesh and Blood, exclusive films include Mad God, Glorious and What Josiah Saw and documentaries include This is GWAR and Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror, among many others.


The AMC+ streaming bundle is available now via and on Apple and Android devices with a special offer to lock in a one-year subscription at the equivalent of $7.99 per month, a 20% discount on the standard monthly price of $9.99 per month. Acorn TV and Shudder are also available as stand-alone streaming services at $7.99 per month each in addition to being available at no extra cost as part of the AMC+ premium subscription bundle.


Courtney Thomasma, General Manager of AMC+, commented, “Powered by AMC’s award-winning original series, AMC+ is a destination for groundbreaking dramas and epic fan-driven franchises. From iconic titles like Mad Men to exclusive new series from The Walking Dead Universe to fresh hits like Dark Winds and Moonhaven, AMC+ offers thousands of hours of premium programming for Kiwi viewers, including full access to Acorn TV and Shudder. We are thrilled to bring our slate of critically acclaimed original series directly to audiences in New Zealand for the first time and look forward to kicking off with the global premiere of our newest franchise Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire this Sunday.”


Selection of premieres now available for the first time in New Zealand on AMC+


Tales of the Walking Dead – A new AMC Studios-produced series in the expanding universe around The Walking Dead franchise. Tales of the Walking Dead is an episodic anthology series with one-hour standalone episodes focused on both new and established characters set in the world of the original series, the most successful in the history of US cable television. The series stars Anthony Edwards (Inventing Anna), Parker Posey (Lost in Space), Samantha Morton (The Walking Dead) and Olivia Munn (The Newsroom), among many others. Collider called the new series “genuinely unexpected and inventive.” Series premiere available at launch with new episodes each Thursday until 27 Oct. View Trailer


Firebite – An AMC+ Original series offering a high-octane, highly original spin on the vampire genre that follows two Indigenous Australian vampire hunters, Tyson (Rob Collins, Extraction) and Shanika (new Indigenous Australian star Shantae Barnes-Cowan) on their quest to battle the last colony of vampires in the South Australian desert. The series is created and written by Australia’s celebrated Indigenous auteur voice, Warwick Thornton (Samson and Delilah), who also directs along with Brendan Fletcher (Mad Bastards) and Tony Krawitz (The Tall Man). The series also stars Yael Stone (Orange is the New Black) and Callan Mulvey (Avengers: End Game) in leading roles. The Guardian said the series “reinvents the vampire genre for the Australian outback.” Full series available now. View Trailer 


Moonhaven – An AMC+ Original series that centres on Bella Sway (Emma McDonald, Queens of Mystery), a lunar cargo pilot and smuggler who finds herself accused of a crime and marooned on Moonhaven, a utopian community set on a 500 square mile Garden of Eden built on the Moon to find solutions to the problems that will soon end civilization on Mother Earth.  A skeptic in Paradise, Bella is sucked into a conspiracy to gain control of the artificial intelligence responsible for Moonhaven's miracles and teams with a local detective to stop the forces that want to destroy Earth's last hope before they are destroyed themselves. The suspense thriller is from creator/showrunner Peter Ocko (Lodge 49) and stars Dominic Monaghan (Lost) and Joe Manganiello (True Blood). Variety said the show has a “tight, brisk narrative that lends each of the six episodes an electrifying cliffhanger.” Full series available now. View Trailer


Dark Winds – Based on the iconic Leaphorn & Chee book series by Tony Hillerman, AMC+ Original series Dark Winds is a psychological thriller that follows two Navajo police officers in the 1970s Southwest, as their search for clues in a grisly double murder case forces them to challenge their own spiritual beliefs and come to terms with the trauma of their pasts. Executive produced by Emmy®-winner George R.R. Martin (Game of Thrones) and Oscar®-winner Robert Redford, the series is created and executive produced by Graham Roland (Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan) and stars Zahn McClarnon (The Son), who is also an executive producer, and Kiowa Gordon (The Red Road). Vince Calandra (Castle Rock) is showrunner and executive producer, and Chris Eyre is director and executive producer. Rolling Stone said the series “looks and feels like no other crime story on television.” Full series available now. View Trailer


That Dirty Black Bag – A raw, epic and romantic eight-part AMC+ Original series about the dark side of the Far West, That Dirty Black Bag features an ensemble cast led by Dominic Cooper (Preacher) and Douglas Booth (The Dirt). Paying homage to the classic spaghetti western, the story follows the eight-day clash between Arthur McCoy (Cooper), an incorruptible sheriff with a troubled past, and Red Bill (Booth), an infamous, solitary bounty hunter known for decapitating his victims and stuffing their heads into a dirty black bag, because, as he puts it: “heads weigh less than bodies.” The Wall Street Journal called the series “both entertaining and intriguing.” Full series available now. View Trailer



61st Street – An AMC+ Original series, 61st Street is a propulsive thriller coursing through the dark heart of the infamous Chicago criminal justice system as police and prosecutors investigate a deadly drug bust that threatens to unravel the police department’s code of silence. The series stars Emmy® Award-winner Courtney B. Vance (Lovecraft Country), Emmy® Award-nominee Aunjanue Ellis (When They See Us), Mark O’Brien (City on a Hill), Holt McCallany (Mindhunter), Tosin Cole (Doctor Who), Andrene Ward-Hammond (Your Honor) and Bentley Green (Snowfall). The Chicago Sun-Times said the drama is an “expertly crafted production with docudrama-style cinematography.” Full series available now. View Trailer


Kin – In this AMC+ Original series, after a boy is killed, his family embarks on a gangland war with an international cartel –a war that is impossible to win. It’s David and Goliath. Out-numbered, out-financed and out-gunned, the Kinsellas find themselves holed up in their Dublin stronghold while their businesses fail and family members and associates are picked off. But they have something the cartel does not: the unbreakable bonds of blood and family. Kin is a world where gangsters are treated like reality stars, with nicknames and celebrity status, where assassins dress up as women, and drug dealers keep exotic pets in their den. A world of drugs and guns and murder and loyalty and family and men...and a woman. The stellar cast includes Charlie Cox (Boardwalk Empire), Clare Dunne (Herself), Aidan Gillen (The Wire) and Ciarán Hinds (Game of Thrones). Forbes called the series a “uniquely gripping and emotional crime drama.” Full series available now. View Trailer


The Beast Must Die – After learning the police investigation into the fatal hit and run of her young son Martie has been dropped, Frances Cairnes (Cush Jumbo, The Good Wife) takes matters into her own hands in this AMC+ Original series. Posing as a novelist researching a new murder-mystery, Frances ingratiates herself with the family of George Rattery (Jared Harris, Mad Men), the man she suspects is responsible, and sets a plan in action to kill him.  She’s tracked by detective Nigel Strangeways (Billy Howle, The Serpent), who has reason to believe his department covered up George’s involvement in the incident. Suffering from PTSD following the recent death of his partner, Strangeways throws himself into pursuing justice for Martie. But when he discovers an “undercover” Frances living with George and his family, he finds himself working to both prove George’s guilt and head off Frances’s plans for revenge before anyone else dies. IndieWire said the series is “an intense and reflective tale of grief, vengeance and privilege.”  Full series available now. View Trailer


Cold Courage – Based on the award-winning novels from Finnish journalist Pekka Hiltunen, Cold Courage follows two Nordic women – Mari (Pihla Viitala, Deadwind), a fierce psychologist fighting for the underdog by any means necessary and Lia (Sofia Pekkari, Wallander), a shy graphic artist on the run from an abusive stalker – as they collide during a series of murders in present-day London. Drawn together through a clandestine group called the “Studio,” they seek to right the wrongs of the powerful, influential and corrupt – starting with the dangerous, charismatic politician Arthur Fried (John Simm, Doctor Who), campaigning to put the ‘Great’ back into Great Britain. The New York Post said the series has “action, tension and an air of mystery providing the key ingredients needed to season this dependable thriller.” Full series available now.


Anna – This AMC+ Original Limited Series tells the dystopian story of a world ravaged by a virus which kills adults but spares children, written and directed by Niccolò Ammaniti (who authored the critically-acclaimed and best-selling novel of the same name). Set on the island of Sicily, the crumbling hulks of shopping malls and abandoned cities pierce deserted wide-open spaces in a world reclaimed by nature and run by savage communities of survivors, most of whom are children. Anna (played by newcomer Giulia Dragotto) only has one guide: a book left by her mother with instructions on how to survive. But, with each passing day she discovers that the old rules no longer apply and instead has to devise new ones as she goes along in this Italian language drama that Wired called “a shocking and visionary series.” Full series available now.


Pantheon - An AMC+ Original animated series based on a collection of short stories from Ken Liu. Pantheon focuses on Maddie (Katie Chang), a bullied teen who receives mysterious help from someone online. The stranger is soon revealed to be her recently deceased father, David (Daniel Dae Kim), whose consciousness has been uploaded to the ‘Cloud’ following an experimental destructive brain scan. David is the first of a new kind of being: an “Uploaded Intelligence” or “UI,” but he will not be the last, as a global conspiracy unfolds that threatens to trigger a new kind of world war. Additional cast includes William Hurt (Black Widow), Maude Apatow (Euphoria), Corey Stoll (Billions), Aaron Eckhart (The Dark Knight), and Taylor Schilling (Orange Is The New Black). Time Magazine called it a “gripping, cerebral, remarkably high-concept animated sci-fi series.” First half of Season 1 available at launch with new episodes premiering each Thursday until 13 Oct. View Trailer


True Crime Story: It Couldn't Happen Here New York Times Best-Selling Author and actress Hilarie Burton Morgan (The Walking Dead) visits different small US towns to shine light on the ways crime impacts rural communities and their judicial systems. Too often the heartbreaking events in these towns are overlooked because they lack the media platforms and advocacy resources found in larger cities. In each episode, Hilarie hears the facts of the case from family members and local insiders to understand the challenges the community faced investigating the crime, learns the lasting impact the crime has had on the fabric of the town, and calls attention to where justice currently stands. First half of Season 1 available at launch with new episodes premiering each Thursday until 13 Oct.


Selection of upcoming premieres to be available for the first time in New Zealand on AMC+


Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire – Based on Anne Rice’s iconic, bestselling novel, Interview with the Vampire is an AMC+ Original series that follows Louis de Pointe du Lac (Jacob Anderson, Game of Thrones), Lestat de Lioncourt (Sam Reid, Belle) and Claudia (Bailey Bass, Avatar: The Way of Water) in an epic story of love, blood and the perils of immortality, as told to journalist Daniel Molloy (Eric Bogosian, Talk Radio).  Chafing at the limitations of life as a Black man in 1900s New Orleans, Louis finds it impossible to resist the rakish Lestat’s offer of the ultimate escape: joining him as his vampire companion. But Louis’ intoxicating new powers come with a violent price, and the introduction of Lestat’s newest fledgling, the child vampire Claudia, soon sets them on a decades-long path of revenge and atonement. Executive produced by award winning producer Mark Johnson (Breaking Bad), creator and showrunner Rolin Jones (Perry Mason), along with Christopher Rice and the late Anne Rice, the series’ first season consists of seven episodes. Debuts 2 October simultaneously with the US premiere with new episodes streaming each Sunday. View Trailer


Documentary Now! – Created, written and executive produced by the powerhouse comedic trio and Saturday Night Live alumni Fred Armisen, Bill Hader and Seth Meyers, the Emmy® Award-nominated series parodies some of the world’s best-known documentaries. Starring Armisen and Hader, each episode is shot in a different style of documentary filmmaking and honours some of the most important stories that didn’t actually happen.  The critically acclaimed series also stars Dame Helen Mirren (The Queen) and guest stars a wide array of well-known celebrities, including Jack Black (Tenacious D), John Slattery (Mad Men), Maya Rudolph (Bridesmaids), Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables) and many others. The upcoming season guest stars Alexander Skarsgård (The Northman), Cate Blanchett (Carol), and Trystan Gravelle (Lord of The Rings: The Rings of Power). Seasons 1-3 available at launch with Season 4 (aka Season 53) premiering on 19 October with new episodes each Wednesday. View Trailer


Sherman’s Showcase Created by and starring Bashir Salahuddin and Diallo Riddle, this Emmy® Award-winning show features witty sketches, cultural nostalgia and original songs that earned the series a 100% Certified Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. A-list guest stars include John Legend, Tiffany Haddish, Common, Quincy Jones, Marlon Wayans and many more. The Washington Post called the show “consistently funny.” Season 1 available at launch with Season 2 premiering 26 Oct. View Trailer


True Crime Story: Indefensible Academy Award® nominee Jena Friedman travels the US to unspool real cases on the ground, but unlike most true crime shows, this one doesn’t end when the criminal gets locked up. Jena finds there’s always more to the story and drives to a different outcome beyond the simple whodunnit. Using her unflinching comedic point of view and disarming interview skills, Jena uncovers the “why” and “how,” not only of crimes themselves but of the dysfunction within the criminal justice system. First half of Season 1 available at launch with new episodes premiering 27 Oct.


Anne Rice’s Mayfair Witches – The second series in the expanding Anne Rice universe, Anne Rice’s Mayfair Witches will follow Interview with the Vampire exclusively on AMC+. Based on the Lives of the Mayfair Witches trilogy, the first season of eight episodes will be produced by AMC Studios. The series will focus on an intuitive young neurosurgeon (Alexandra Daddario, The White Lotus) who discovers that she is the unlikely heir to a family of witches. As she grapples with her newfound powers, she must contend with a sinister presence that has haunted her family for generations. Esta Spalding (Masters of Sex) and Michelle Ashford (John Adams) are both executive producers and writers of the series, with Spalding also serving as showrunner.  Premieres in 2023.


The Walking Dead: Dead City - A new AMC+ Original series set in The Walking Dead Universe, starring Lauren Cohan and Jeffrey Dean Morgan. The Walking Dead: Dead City follows the popular Maggie and Negan characters traveling into a post-apocalyptic Manhattan, long ago cut off from the mainland. The crumbling city is filled with the dead and denizens who have made New York City their own world full of anarchy, danger, beauty, and terror. The first season will consist of six episodes. Eli Jorné, who has been a writer and co-executive producer on The Walking Dead for multiple seasons and has an overall deal with AMC Studios, will serve as showrunner and executive producer on the series, which is overseen by Scott M. Gimple, chief content officer of The Walking Dead Universe. Cohan and Morgan will also serve as executive producers. Premieres in 2023.


Untitled The Walking Dead Universe Series Andrew Lincoln and Danai Gurira will reunite for a new series in the expanding universe around The Walking Dead. The series will continue the journey and love story of the Rick Grimes and Michonne characters. Lincoln and Gurira have been actively involved in conceiving the creative and the continuation of their characters’ story. Scott M. Gimple, Chief Content Officer of The Walking Dead Universe, will serve as showrunner on the series, which will begin with six episodes. Lincoln and Gurira are both executive producers. The series will present an epic love story of two characters changed by a changed world. Kept apart by distance. By an unstoppable power. By the ghosts of who they were. Rick and Michonne are thrown into another world, built on a war against the dead... And ultimately, a war against the living. Premieres in 2023.


AMC+ also features a wide selection of critically acclaimed, award-winning scripted and unscripted series including Mad Men, Halt and Catch Fire, TURN: Washington’s Spies, Hell on Wheels, The Son, The Red Road, Copper, Manhattan, Magic City, The Restaurant, Dreamers, This Close, Dietland, Portlandia, Brockmire, Ultra City Smiths, The Making of the Mob, Ride with Norman Reedus and a curated selection of critically acclaimed independent movies and documentaries from IFC Films.

Hocus Pocus 2: Movie Review

Hocus Pocus 2: Movie Review

Cast: Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Najimy, Doug Jones, Whitney Peak, Lilia Buckingham, Belissa Escobedo, Tony Hale

Director: Anne Fletcher

Hocus Pocus 2: Movie Review

More mild than anything wild, Hocus Pocus 2 arrives in time for Halloween and in time to try and salvage the reputation of the first film from 1993.

Savaged on release, but finding another lease on life on home video, the original Hocus Pocus has garnered somewhat of a cult following. But this sequel nearly three decades on doesn't really have what it takes to cast such a lasting spell a second time around.

In this latest, a clutch of teens (Whitney Peak, Lilia Buckingham, Belissa Escobedo) inadvertently conjure up the return of the Sanderson Sisters to Salem after a spell goes awry.

The trio of OG witches set their sights on gaining revenge from decades ago, and decide the best way to do this is to stop the lineage of their old nemesis the Traske family - by offing Tony Hale's mayor of Salem, a direct descendant...

It's hard to get thrilled by this film, a family friendly piece of fluff that's so barebones and vanilla, there's not even a hint of nastiness from any of its lead witches.

Continuing the Disney trend of redeeming all of its villains, Hocus Pocus 2 is solely intent on following that path that it mutes everything that would make a sequel shine.

With a few meta touches, some jabs at societal ills (taking aim at selfies and skincare), the Gothic Golden Girls really don't have much to offer in this broad movie that meanders from one moment to the next.

While Midler appears to relish her screen time, there's little else for the others to do except follow in her thrall and to a tepid conclusion that's both muddled and cloying. There are nostalgic nods to the past, but it's not enough to convince this reunion was really worth it - Disney's produced better magic in the past, and disappointingly this second flight of fancy is more likely to be forgotten than rolled out every year as a scary classic.

Smile: Movie Review

Smile: Movie Review

Cast: Sosie Bacon, Caitlin Stasey, Jessie T Usher, Judy Reyes, Kal Penn, Kyle Gallner
Director: Parker Finn

Smile may not be a new take on the horror genre, and its so-called examination of trauma is more surface level than anything deeper, but its mix of unsettling imagery and jump scares prove to be powerful enough.

Smile: Movie Review

Retooled from his short film Laura Hasn't Slept, Parker Finn's debut centres around Sosie Bacon's Dr Rose Cotter, an overworked doctor whose world is irrevocably changed when she witnesses the suicide of walk-in patient Laura (Tomorrow, When The War Began's Caitlin Stasey).

Laura claims she's being haunted by something smiling at her, and that she only had a certain amount of time left to live - but Rose dismisses this as being nothing more than the rantings of an on-edge patient. But as Rose begins to see similar apparitions to Laura's claims, she begins to realise she too has been cursed - can she convince those around her before it's too late?

Smile doesn't do anything fresh if you're familiar with the likes of It Follows, The Ring or any other curse-based horror film. But what Finn constructs is a deeply troubling and haunting film that has a twisted psychological bent to it.

Smile: Movie Review

While the final act's need for explanation and the desire for the curse creature to have a backstory would hint at a franchise, the film's agency isn't quite robbed by its pointless need for exposition. Largely forgetting that a killer that's relentless and can't be stopped is one of the stronger tenets of horror, Finn slightly torpedoes what he does so well early on.

Equally, the so-called exploration of trauma and grief may be triggering for some, but Smile's need to hint at more proves to be a frustratingly hollow experience outside of some truly well-orchestrated scares.

With slow deliberate camera movements, inverted angles, a truly exemplary soundscape and a quiet sense of pace, Smile manages to unnerve in many ways throughout. With its 70s-style horror aesthetics hinting at this feeling like an old film, and Bacon's slowly coming unravelling Rose continually being gaslit, there's much to enjoy and feed on in Smile.

It's thanks to Finn's sense of timing and some extremely common horror themes and imagery that Smile emerges as one of the better psychologically disturbing entrants into the genre - whether those simple flaws are to be exploited through numerous prequels and sequels remains to be seen, but for now, Smile is a film that is an abrupt and efficiently unsettling ride.

Thursday, 29 September 2022

Jurassic World: Dominion: Blu Ray Review

Jurassic World: Dominion: Blu Ray Review

Jurassic Park is back in a film that seemingly wraps up the series and reintroduces some of the OGs to the proceedings.

Jurassic World Dominion: Movie Review

Jurassic World Dominion isn't really interested in doing much new and exciting, other than offering a few lazy jump scares and making you feel like you're on an overstuffed Haunted House carnival ride.
In the conclusion to the franchise, Colin Trevorrow takes up where the Fallen Kingdom ended in 2018 - with dinosaurs living among us, and an obviously uneasy co-existence beckoning.

Bryce Dallas Howard's Claire is freeing captive dinosaurs held hostage on breeding farms, Chris Pratt's Owen Grady is playing horse rancher to wrangling dinos in the mountains and both of them have become surrogate family to the clone child Maisie Lockwood born out of the end of the last film.

However, when a locust plague begins attacking crops on farms in West Texas, Ellie Satler (Dern) returns to the fray, and ends up soliciting help from Dr Alan Grant (Neill) who's still scrabbling around the dirt of various digs. The pair find themselves heading to a mysterious lab, run by Campbell Scott's Steve Jobs-like Dodgson - and things are further complicated when Claire and Owen have to trace their stolen child who appears to be heading to Dodgson's lab...

Jurassic World Dominion is a film that really doesn't know what it wants to do with itself.
From its muddled mix of storylines, to its desire to hit beats from the legacy of Steven Spielberg's 1993 film, Trevorrow doesn't seem to know which direction he wants to go in. He throws in a Han Solo-type pilot into the mix at the expense of other characters - a symptom of a film that has no real identity of its own.

Perhaps it's the fact it squanders some of the premise of dinosaurs among us, and reverts to the tried and tested formula of forests and dinosaurs hidden in their midsts before attacking. Even the T-Rex this time around feels neglected, with a kaiju-style fight feeling tacking on at the end after someone realised in the edit suite that the franchise's star character had been robbed of screen time.

That being said, and dumb moments like a dinosaur chase through the streets with a motorbike aside, there are moments that impress.

From a giant dinosaur stalking Bryce Dallas Howard's character that riffs on Apocalypse Now to the easy chemistry between the original cast (despite the annoying need to play the original theme every time they appear on screen), there are tantalising reminders of why the dinosaur rollercoaster can work so well.

And the creatures themselves are brilliantly realised and brought vividly to life - with some old favourites returning too. It's just a shame they are sidelined for the humans and a script that doesn't make the best of its original promise.

The original film some 30 years ago had the benefit of simplicity, the desire to present the wonder and awe of the creatures - this latest spends so much of its time removing every single thing that makes the Jurassic Park franchise work to try and mythologise it that it forgets what kept the series from going extinct in the first place.

Ironically, Jurassic World Dominion is the strongest case yet for why this franchise needs to be preserved in ember and left to casually go extinct.

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