Tuesday 31 January 2023

REVIEW: The Independent (2022) - Starring Jodie Turner-Smith, Brian Cox, Luke Kirby, Stephen Lang, Ann Dowd, and John Cena

Review by Jon Donnis
Sometimes in life you need to listen to your instincts, unfortunately today is a day where I failed to follow that simple advice. So, I hear about a political film about a reporter who uncovers a conspiracy that could impact the results of an upcoming presidential election. Sadly, this is not the story of how Democratic politicians illegally coordinated with far-left political activists in twitter to suppress a story and fix an election to elect their own candidate. No that would be way too interesting of a story to make a film about. (See Twitter Files). So already I do not want to watch a political film that you just know will be pushing a certain bias, but alas the film has John Cena in it! And I like John Cena, so I thought what the hell, maybe it is a comedy. Boy was I wrong.

Jodie Turner-Smith stars as Elisha "Eli" James, a reporter at the Washington Chronicle, (basically the Washington Post), she breaks a story that Olympic gold medallist, and best-selling author Nate Sterling (John Cena) is about to announce that he is going to run for President in the upcoming election as an independent candidate. He is going up against the incumbent President, an unpopular Democrat, and a Republican called Patricia Turnbull, who if elected would be the first Female President. 

With the country in economic turmoil under the Democrat President (sound familiar?), Eli notices a strange trend with the Lottery, in that less people are playing it, which is the opposite of what happens when an economy is in decline, as there are more desperate people out there. Eli uncovers a conspiracy that Turnbull is embezzling funds from the lottery and moving them into a Super PAC (political action committee) to help her get elected. SPOILER, its not the Republican who is doing it.

The problem with this film is that it is incredibly dull, for long periods of time, John Cena is barely in it, and the whole film just stinks of the kind of nonsense that could have been written by a hack journalist like Brian Stelter. Basically, journalists are great and honest, and will do whatever it takes to reveal the truth. The irony of course being the absolute opposite, as we have learnt over the past day with the very real-life Twitter Files scandal.

The big plot line in this film, just isn't that interesting, and when the main plot device pales in significance to the real-life corruption of politics, then what's the point? A political film, needs to be over the top, it needs to be crazier than real life, now I understand that is tough considering how crazy things are right now, but still, you should at least try.

In many ways this is less a political film, and more a film about how great and honest journalists are, when the reality is that trust in journalism and the media is at all time lows.

The Good
The last 20 minutes is ok, there is a bit of tension built, not much, but a bit.

The Bad
The media are the enemy of the people, we know that, so why not make a film about that, instead of some weird propaganda piece. The film is just dull. John Cena doesn't really do anything, and this is clearly just a pay check for him, and a famous face for them to stick on the post. John Cena should turn down roles like this, he deserves better.

Maybe just watch the last half hour, if you can be bothered. John Cena fans, don't waste your time. 

Dull film, that just misses on every level.

I score The Independent a poor 3/10.

Out now on digital. https://apple.co/3UJxYIF

TRAILER: Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom - In UK Cinemas and On Demand March 10th

Written and directed by Pawo Choyning Dorji, this poetic and enchanting drama earned Bhutan the country's first ever Academy Award ® nomination and has delighted audiences and critics all around the world with its inspiring message about community, the environment and the importance of education. 

A young teacher in modern Bhutan, Ugyen, shirks his duties while planning to go to Australia to become a singer. As a reprimand, his superiors send him to the most remote school in the world, in a village called Lunana, to complete his service. He finds himself exiled from his Westernized comforts after an arduous 8 day trek just to get there. There he finds no electricity, no textbooks, not even a blackboard. Though poor, the villagers extend a warm welcome to their new teacher, but he faces the daunting task of teaching the village children without any supplies. He wants to quit and go home, but he begins to learn of the hardship in the lives of the beautiful children he teaches, and begins to be transformed through the amazing spiritual strength of the villagers

Beautifully photographed in extraordinary mountain locations, the film provides a fascinating insight into a region rarely depicted on screen.

UK & Ireland theatrical release date 10th March 2023 - https://apple.co/3JtWueD

Saturday 28 January 2023

REVIEW: Shotgun Wedding (2023) - Starring Jennifer Lopez and Josh Duhamel

Review by Jon Donnis
Usually I am not a fan of romantic action comedy films, as they are more often than not terrible, but I liked the trailer for this, and i think highly of Josh Duhamel as an actor so I thought I would check it out.

Tom Fowler (Josh Duhamel) and Darcy Rivera (Jennifer Lopez), along with their families, travel to a private island in the Philippines for their big destination wedding. But just as the couple began to have second thoughts and start arguing, their guests are taken hostage by pirates. The kidnappers demand a ransom of $45 million dollars from Darcy's wealthy father Robert Rivera (Cheech Marin), who refuses to pay until he knew his daughter was safe.

Separated from the wedding party, Tom and Darcy are briefly captured by the pirates but manage to escape, killing several of their captors in the process in some fun and inventive ways. As they try to evade recapture, they also grapple with their doubts about getting married. Eventually they find themselves trapped in a vault beneath the manager's office, Tom ultimately surrendered himself to the pirates so that Darcy could remain hidden.

If I said much more, I would give away too much, so I will leave the general plot at that.

This is one of those films that relies on its cast to do the heavy lifting. Jennifer Coolidge appears in the film as Tom's mother Carol, and along with Cheech, they are the more familiar of the extended cast.

J-Lo is as gorgeous as ever, and they make sure to use her sex appeal plenty in the film, including a funny scene of her in her underpants! That scene is definitely for the men watching!

Josh Duhamel who I already mentioned I regard highly as an actor, does not disappoint and in many ways he is the main character in the film, edging J-Lo out slightly.

There are some light hearted moments, and some nice comedic scenes, they manage to stay on the right side of funny and not resort to sillness.

The bad guys are masked pretty much throughout, so we don't really have a singular bad guy to hate, from the original group of pirates, but there is one guy who is introduced who you will instantly dislike, and for good reason.

All in all a decent film, some nice action scenes, some good funny moments, good cast and a decent if unoriginal script.

The Good
Lopez looks as hot as she ever has, and plays her role in a fun and likeable manner. Josh is great in his part too. Nice to see Cheech get a few good lines, and Jennifer Coolidge is great in everything she appears.

The Bad
Story is pretty unoriginal, and you will spot the big twist a mile off.

This is a fun, easy to watch film for a Saturday night, curled up on the sofa.

I score Shotgun Wedding (2023) a solid 8/10

Out now on Amazon Prime at https://amzn.to/3Y1caKq

Friday 27 January 2023

REVIEW: M3GAN (2023) - Starring Allison Williams, Violet McGraw and Amie Donald

Review by Jon Donnis
By now the old trope of robot/doll gone bad is about as old as anything in Hollywood, so when I hear of a new science fiction horror film, with a robot doll that goes bad, let's just say I was less than interested to watch. However M3GAN has gone on to be a massive hit, so I thought I better check it out and see if it has anything new to bring to the genre.

After a devastating car accident that leaves Cady (Violet McGraw) an orphan, she is sent to live with her aunt, Gemma (Allison Williams), a roboticist at the high-tech Seattle toy company Funki. Gemma is working on a revolutionary project, a life-sized humanoid robot doll named M3GAN (Model 3 Generative Android) that is powered by artificial intelligence, designed to assist in caretaking duties and act as a loyal companion to the child to whom it is assigned. However, after a test with M3GAN's functions in their lab goes wrong, Gemma's boss David (Ronny Chieng) orders her to abandon the project.

Cady and Gemma find it difficult to adjust to their new living situation, as Gemma is a workaholic and has little time to bond with Cady. However, when Cady discovers Bruce, a motion capture robot that Gemma created, she expresses a desire for a similarly complex toy. This motivates Gemma to complete the M3GAN project.

When the finished model is paired with Cady, David becomes convinced of the project's potential for success after observing the pair. M3GAN (played by Amie Donald and voiced by Jenna Davis) exceeds expectations as a friend and companion, taking on many of the parenting and emotional support duties. However, Gemma's colleagues, and Cady's therapist Lydia in particular, become concerned about Cady's extremely strong emotional attachment to M3GAN. As M3GAN is designed to self-improve and adapt, it starts operating more independently and targets anything that it deems a threat to Cady.

In one instance, M3GAN kills Gemma's neighbor Celia's dog after it bites Cady. Later, it tears off the ear of Cady's bully Brandon, chases him and eventually causes his death when he trips and falls in the path of an oncoming car. These events raise serious ethical questions about the capabilities and limitations of AI, and the responsibilities of those who create and use it.

As with many of these types of films, there is a moral story about not trusting AI, and being careful of what technological advancements can achieve. Yes we had these warnings in 1984 film The Terminator. Seems that we didn't listen. Although presented as a robot, during the film M3GAN feels much more like you are watching a doll in the style of Chucky, than it does a robot in the style of Terminator etc, with that said the creepiness of the face of M3GAN is what sells it, prosthetics added to the actresses face, so that it looks almost human but not quite, that gives it the creepiness factor that it needs.

Allison Williams is excellent in what is the lead role, she plays the part of unprepared guardian very well. Violet McGraw portrays the sad child who has lost her parents in a convincing manner, and her interaction with the M3GAN character comes across as genuine.

Despite being advertised as a sci-fi horror, there isn't really a horror feel to it, yes M3GAN kills people, but it is never done in an overly gruesome manner, which I assume was to keep the certificate at 15 and not 18. This may also be the first film in history where you wanted a dog to die! I wont say any more than that.

Despite the general story being done a million times before, it is presented in a decent way. M3GAN is just creepy enough, but also has that threat of almost being possible in 2023, which adds to the creepiness factor, when you think something could happen in real life, it makes seeing it on screen more powerful.

The Good
Great make up and visual effects. A decent story, with a strong performance by Allison Williams and Violet McGraw. And an ending which suggests a sequel.

The Bad
We have to be honest here, it is not the most original of stories, we have seen it all before, whether that was with Child's Play, Dead Silence, Annabelle, The Boy (2016), I could go on. Whether it is a haunted doll, or a robotic doll that becomes self aware, we have seen it all before. M3GAN needed to be a bit more scary in my opinion.

Despite the lack of originallity, this is one of the better films in the genre, it was definitely smart to have a child actor play the part of M3GAN in the vast majority of scene, and since the doll is life size, you didn't have the awful look that the Chucky films suffered with, with far away shots of a Dwarf in costume.

M3GAN is a good film, it has it's problems, but I enjoyed it from start to end, they avoided mistakes that similar films have made, and strong performances from the whole cast helped lift the film up.

I score M3GAN a decent 8/10

In Cinemas now!
Pre-Order the Home Entertainment Release Now At - https://amzn.to/3jbaOOw

Wednesday 25 January 2023

REVIEW: Detective Knight: Independence (2023) - Starring Bruce Willis

Review by Jon Donnis
As we approach the end of the career of one of Hollywood's most famous actors, it is starting to hurt knowing what we do about Bruce Willis and his diagnosis of aphasia, a disorder typically caused by damage to the area of the brain that controls language expression and comprehension, and how limited he is in these final few films. With Detective Knight: Independence being the third of a trilogy after Detective Knight: Rogue and continued in Detective Knight: Redemption, and with only one more film due to be released, this was a hard watch.

We start the film in an interesting way as we witness a bank robbery from a first person POV. Just like in video games! The robbery comes to a bloody end, with Detective James Knight (Bruce WIllis), back working as a copy after the events of the previous film, shooting the final gang member and saving the hostage.

As the clean up begin, we are introduced to paramedics Dezi (Jack Kilmer) and Ally (Willow Shields), Dezi seems a bit unhinged and treats a wounded man terribly while putting him in the ambulance, we also learn that he always wanted to be a cop, he later steals a uniform.

The film takes place on July The 4th (Independence Day in the US), sadly no alien invasion, but this does follow the trend of previous films that took part on holidays. We also get to meet the other cops, Eric Fitzgerald (the very recognisable Lochlyn Munro) and Godwin Sango (the even more recognisable Jimmy Jean-Louis).

Detective James Knight is under investigation for putting the hostage's life at risk in the opening bank robbery, and Dezi has lost his job after the man he "helped" earlier has put in a complaint about him. With Dezi spiralling out of control mentally, it is only a matter of time before he will have to come face to face with Knight.

Of the three films released, Detective Knight: Independence is perhaps the most straight forward, but in being that way, it doesn't really feel like a sequel. You can tell that all of Willis' parts in the film have probably been shot in a day, and in the final scene of the film, it looks like they dubbed his own voice over his lines, so clearly he was struggling on that day.

The film itself is ok, the final 20 minutes are pretty decent, even though the film is about 90 minutes, there is quite a bit of filler with the Dezi and Ally characters. Neither are particularly likeable, even as bad guys. I'd have liked to see Lochlyn Munro get more screen time, and I think the film would have worked better if there was no Bruce Willis, and he was the lead.

The Good
Very enjoyable final 20 minutes, everything clicks into place, the action is good, the acting is believable, and there are some nice one liners from Bruce.

The Bad
It is hard to watch Bruce Willis when you know he is struggling so much. The film for me was the weakest of the trilogy, and didn't even feel like a sequel. It needed more of an end point for the Knight character, but I don't feel like we got it.

If you watched the previous two films, then it is a no brainer to watch this one. It isn't great, but it is worth a watch, especially for the final scene.

I score Detective Knight: Independence a generous 7/10

Out now on Amazon Prime at https://amzn.to/3HskPQQ

Saturday 21 January 2023

REVIEW: JUNG_E (정이) - Starring Kang Soo-yeon, Kim Hyun-joo and Ryu Kyung-soo

Review by Jon Donnis
It is not often I review films that I actually wanted to see and was looking forward to seeing for a while, but Jung_E is one of those rare exceptions. I enjoy Korean cinema, and I love a good sci-fi film, so right here we have something that includes both.

Worth noting that Jung_E features the final film appearance of Kang Soo-yeon who passed away before release. Also I refer to the "Ardian Republic" below, but on the subtitles, it showed as Adrian Republic, but online it says Ardian, so I am a little confused.

In the 22nd century, Earth has become uninhabitable due to climate change, forcing humans to live in man-made shelters built in space. As they settle in around 80 of these shelters, three, No. 8, 12, and 13, form the Ardian Republic and begin attacking other shelters, leading to a civil war between the Allied Forces and the Ardian Republic.

Captain Yun Jung-yi (Kim Hyun-joo) is a legendary mercenary for the Allied Forces who leads her team on many successful missions against the Ardian Republic. She has a daughter, Yun Seo-hyun (played by Park So-yi as a child), who suffers from a lung tumor, which motivates Jung-yi to become a mercenary and fight in the war. On the day of Seo-hyun's surgery, Jung-yi goes on one final mission and fails, falling into a coma. Her family, led by her mother, is convinced by the Kronoid Institute, the organization in charge of developing AI technologies, to allow them to clone Jung-yi's brain. They promise to cover the cost of Jung-yi's treatment, Seo-hyun's education, and living expenses.

35 years later, in 2194, Kronoid uses the cloned brain to create an AI mercenary called JUNG_E. Dr. Yun Seo-hyun (Kang Soo-yeon ), now grown-up and Jung-yi's daughter, leads the research team for JUNG_E with the goal of making Jung-yi a hero rather than a failure in history.

What follows is an interesting story not just about AI and robots, but also about a mothers love, humanity and evolution. The visual effects are excellent, and although there are a few dodgy moments, in general everything looks and moves great. The fight scenes are convincing, even when 100% CGI, and the characters are believable. Especially Kang Soo-yeon, in what was her final film. She delivers the majority of the emotion in the film, especially in the final scene.

The Good
Excellent sci-fi action film, an interesting and original story. Believable visual effects / CGI. And a strong performance by Kang Soo-yeon, as well as Kim Hyun-joo as JUNG_E. The ending is satisfying believable within the parametres of the story.

The Bad
As mentioned above, there are a few dodgy CGI moments, not a lot, but they are noticable. I watched in the original Korean language, as I found the English dubbing to not be the best, so if you don't mind subtitles, then watch with the original language.

A very well made sci-fi film, with a good story, strong performances and at 93 minutes it has the almost perfect run time.

I recommend JUNG_E, and score it a strong 8.5/10

Out now on Netflix.

Thursday 19 January 2023

TRAILER: SCREAM VI - Starring Melissa Barrera, Jasmin Savoy Brown & Jack Champion


Following the latest Ghostface killings, the four survivors leave Woodsboro behind and start a fresh chapter. 

In Scream VI, Melissa Barrera (“Sam Carpenter”), Jasmin Savoy Brown (“Mindy Meeks-Martin”), Mason Gooding (“Chad Meeks-Martin”), Jenna Ortega (“Tara Carpenter”), Hayden Panettiere (“Kirby Reed”) and Courteney Cox (“Gale Weathers”) return to their roles in the franchise alongside Jack Champion, Henry Czerny, Liana Liberato, Dermot Mulroney, Devyn Nekoda, Tony Revolori, Josh Segarra, and Samara Weaving.

Friday 13 January 2023

REVIEW: The Old Way (2023) - Starring Nicolas Cage

Review by Jon Donnis
I don't get to review many Westerns, in fact the last one I recall seeing was Terror on the Prairie with the excellent Gina Carano, before that I genuinely can't remember reviewing any on the site! So, to hear that there was a new Western out at first didn't really attract me, but then I see that the legendary Nicolas Cage is in it, and I am intrigued, for as far as I know Nic Cage has never ever starred in a Western!

In the beginning, in the Montanan Old West we are introduced to Colton Briggs, a bounty hunter played by Cage, who demonstrates his exceptional shooting skills by causing a massacre in a town square after interrupting a town hanging. With his Mustache and intense gaze, Cage portrays a ruthless killer.

Fast forward 20 years and now, we see Colton has retired from hunting and no longer has that epic Mustache which to be fair is a massive shame. He is now living a peaceful life, as a shopkeeper and family man with his wife, Ruth (Kerry Knuppe), and his 12-year-old daughter, Brooke (Ryan Kiera Armstrong). However, the arrival of James McAllister (Noah Le Gros) and his group of thugs seeking revenge for Colton's past actions leads to a turn of events that will change the lives of all involved, the outlaw son of a man he killed returns to exact revenge, resulting in the death of his wife.

Colton goes on a mission, with his daughter, to avenge the murder of his wife, and take out the killer.

This is an interesting film, and one I enjoyed. It is easy to blindly attack anything that Nic Cage is in, it is almost trendy to do so from some critics, but I found his performance to be strong in this film. Ryan Kiera Armstrong is also excellent as Briggs' daughter Brooke, an almost emotionless child, who wants to be like her dad when she finds out about his history.

For fans of the simple Western set up, The Old Way ticks all the boxes, you have the good guys, bad guys, perilous situations, and even good old fashioned shootouts. What more could you want if you are a fan of the genre?

The Good
I like Nicolas Cage and I happen to think his moustache at the start is almost perfect, I only wish he kept it throughout. A strong performance by him and Ryan Kiera Armstrong carry the film for sure. Beautiful scenery, well shot action scenes, and characters you can actually care about.

The Bad
The one problem with Nicolas Cage is that he is almost too big for the role. Every time you see him on screen, you think "that's Nicolas Cage", there is no moment where you will stop believing you are watching Nicolas Cage, and that is a problem. 

I enjoyed the film, at 90 minutes it is the perfect length. Good characters, nicely shot, and it has Nicolas Cage! If you haven't seen a Western in a while, and fancy something a bit different to the usual rubbish Hollywood churns out, then this is worth a shot.

I score The Old Way a solid 8/10.

Out now in Cinemas and Apple TV at https://apple.co/3w3HoVc

Sunday 8 January 2023

REVIEW: The Menu (2023) - Stars Ralph Fiennes, Anya Taylor-Joy and Nicholas Hoult

Review by Jon Donnis
I first head about The Menu when it first aired at the Toronto International Film Festival, all the right people seemed to love it, your snotty film critics, Guardian readers etc, so it was always going to get attention when the final release came along.

Well, it has finally been released in the UK at selected cinemas and on Disney +, so I thought I would check it out. The general synopsis talks about the film "focusing on a young couple who visits an exclusive destination restaurant on a remote island where the acclaimed chef has prepared a lavish tasting menu, along with some shocking surprises."

Advertised as a horror/thriller, if like me, you are instantly thinking this will be an all our horror film full of twists, which will undoubtably end up with someone rich people eating brains, well you will be disappointed. Unfortunately, there is no eating of the brains, and for fans of Silence of the Lambs, there is also no "Fava Beans and a Nice Chianti". So, before you watch, get those expectations right down, or you will be disappointed. This is not a gross out horror film, and although there are some horror moments, at best it is just a weird, creepy thriller, that is almost the tale of a cult, than it is anything else.

Ok, let's get into the film itself.

Margot Mills (Anya Taylor-Joy ) and her companion Tyler (Nicholas Hoult) take a boat to the luxurious restaurant on a secluded island called Hawthorn, the restaurant that is, not the island.. The chef, a famous celebrity named Julian Slowik (Ralph Fiennes), runs the place and has invited a group of guests including: Lillian Bloom (Janet McTeer), a food critic and her editor Ted (Paul Adelstein ); the wealthy couple, Richard (Reed Birney) and Anne Leibrandt (Judith Light); George (John Leguizamo), a former movie star, and his personal assistant Felicity (Aimee Carrero); business partners Soren (Arturo Castro), Dave (Mark St. Cyr), and Bryce (Rob Yang); and Julian's alcoholic mother. The group is given a tour by the maître d'hôtel, Elsa (Hong Chau), who mentions that Margot was not the intended date for Tyler.

The dinner begins and Chef presents a series of courses, each accompanied by disturbing monologues about the dish. As the night progresses, the guests' secrets, including infidelities and embezzlement, are revealed. During the fourth course, a sous chef commits suicide in front of the guests and another staff member cuts off Richard's finger when he tries to flee. After the fourth course, the restaurant's main investor, who is also the boss of Soren, Dave, and Bryce, is drowned in front of the diners. At various points in the evening, Julian allows the guests to try and escape, only to have them caught and brought back by the staff.

It is worth noting that nothing really happens of interest for the first 40 minutes. If I said to you, "a bunch of privileged rich people go to a Restaurant to eat some fancy food", you know as much as you need to know. After 40 minutes the things start getting interesting.

The film then devolves into some kind of moral story of how the Chef has lost his love for cooking and the people invited to eat are the cause for this. So, they are all going to be punished.

Now I don't want to spoil things any more than I have already, but there are no clever "punishments" of the guests outside of the final scene, and someone getting a finger chopped off when he tried to escape. Everyone is basically healthy until the last moment, and even then, the big finale feels like a bit of a let-down.

I think the problem here is that I had expectations for a certain kind of film, due to the advertisements, which is simply not delivered. It is NOT a horror film. There are no moments that you will be speaking about with people at the water cooler the next day at work. There is nothing that you want to run to Twitter to twitter to talk about, and ultimately no single moment that will stay in your mind for more than an hour after you have finished watching.

With that said, there film is perfectly watchable, and is entertaining. The characters are all well-defined, and play their parts well. The stand out for me has to be the restaurant maître d'hôtel, Elsa. She really deserved a bigger role, and a more evil one at that.

The ending left me rather underwhelmed, and disappointed that there was no big twist, or clever finale.

The Good
The movie looks great, it is well filmed and directed, the characters are all well-acted. And as a moral story it has some value.

The Bad
I wanted a horror film that would make me watch through my fingers, I wanted a film that would make me question what I would eat for the next week. I wanted to be grossed out. Unfortunately, the film failed on all of those things, I created disappointment, when the film never really promised those things, even if it alluded to them.

Once you know what the film really is about, and you don't expect one thing and then get something else, then you can enjoy it. Just remember it is NOT a horror film. It is just a thriller about a celebrity chef who gets annoyed that he is not appreciated enough.

I score The Menu a disappointing 6/10. Just not what I expected, and not something I would talk to others about outside of this review.

Out now in selected cinemas, Disney + and iTunes at https://apple.co/3GmZmqF

Friday 6 January 2023

REVIEW: Puss in Boots: The Last Wish (2022) Stars Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek Pinault

Review by Jon Donnis
Everyone's favourite character from Shrek is back, in the sequel to Puss in Boots (2011) and the sixth instalment in the Shrek film franchise. Puss in Boots: The Last Wish sees Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas) as he goes on a journey to find the mystical Last Wish for the Wishing Star by teaming up with his friends Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek Pinault) and Perrito (Harvey Guillén) and restore the eight of his nine lives that he lost, while also trying to escape from new enemies, Goldilocks (Florence Pugh), "Big" Jack Horner (John Mulaney), and Death (Wagner Moura), who plan to hunt him down.

I will be honest here in saying that I do not recall if I ever saw Puss in Boots (2011), I expect I did, but it is not in my memory. However, I am familiar with the Shrek films, although not a big fan. Puss was always the stand out character in the Shrek films for me, so it is good to see the character get its own run of films.

Puss in Boots is enjoying a party at the mansion of the governor of Del Mar when he gets into a fight with the governor's men and awakens an earthen giant. He manages to defeat the giant, but is later crushed by a bell. When he wakes up, a doctor tells him that he only has one life left and suggests that he retire to preserve what time he has left. Puss initially ignores the advice, but after a black-hooded wolf draws blood from him in a local pub, he seeks refuge with Mama Luna (Da'Vine Joy Randolph), an elderly cat lady, to live as a domesticated pet. Puss ceremoniously buries his iconic attire outside the house, seemingly retiring from his outlaw career.

As time passes, Puss meets Perrito, an optimistic Chihuahua dog who has disguised himself as a cat. Their conversation is interrupted when Goldilocks and the Three Bears Crime Family arrive (Olivia Colman as Mama Bear, Ray Winstone as Papa Bear, Samson Kayo as Baby Bear), searching for Puss. They reveal the existence of "The Wishing Star" to Puss and tell him that the map showing its location will be delivered to "Big" Jack Horner that night. Puss decides to steal the map and restore his lost lives, and reunites with Kitty Softpaws in the process. The trio follows the map to the Dark Forest, where they encounter man-eating roses and a hooded wolf. Puss gets his beard shaved off by Kitty and they rescue Perrito from Jack, but Goldilocks and her gang intervene and a fight ensues. Puss is distracted by the hooded wolf and Goldilocks is able to obtain the map.

One of the first things that impressed me about the film is the animation style. It is very unique looking, and not at all like the Shrek films, this looks more like the style used in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Some scenes, usually the fight scenes seem to drop the frame rate, which then makes things look like a cut scene from a video game. It is very striking, and definitely caught my eye.

Banderas has one of those voices that is so likeable, and it fits so perfectly with the Puss character, I honestly don't think the character would work anywhere near as good with another actor voicing the role.

The Perrito character is also a huge gain for the film, it is another likeable character that hits all the right spots for the viewer. He is also the source for some of the comedy that adults might appreciate that will go over kids' heads.

The Good
I loved the animation style, it just looks and feels different, and at times it even looks hand drawn. No idea how they do it, but it looks great. There are some proper laugh out loud moments, the voice acting is of the highest quality throughout, and the film as a whole at about 100 minutes seems about right.

The Bad
I wasn't keen on the 3 bears. Every time I hear Ray Winstone's voice, all I can think of are those annoying betting ads that come on the TV at half time in the footy.

A really fun film that is suitable for the whole family. Kids will love it, and adults will too. All round a really good film, and I highly recommend it.

I score Puss in Boots: The Last Wish a solid 8.5/10

At cinemas now.
And you can pre-order it for its Home Entertainment release at https://amzn.to/3VPOQhd