Fargo – TV Review


Lester Nygaard (Martin Freeman), a small town insurance agent in Fargo, is mollycoddled by his wife and laughed at by almost everyone around him. So, he kills her. Meanwhile, a mysterious character, Lorne Malvo (Billy Bob Thornton) is drifting through town causing all kinds of epic disaster. And then there is our hero of the story, Molly Solverson (Allison Tolman), a rising member of the local police who, despite the attempts to halt her investigation, continues to follow leads as long as she can.

I loved the Coen Brothers film – ooh, I must revisit it. I was slightly concerned about the idea of changing format, but it is fabulous. Same, somewhat kooky atmosphere (perhaps even more than the film), interesting and entwined storylines, great acting and moments of inspired fear. Oh, and as a delightful surprise, Key and Peele (Keegan-Michel Key and Jordan Peele) turn up as incompetent FBI Agents. Marvellous.

And then… ( some time later) the second season comes out. And it is also amazing! This time, it is about the events that happened when Molly Solverson was a small girl, and her father (who now runs the café) was the police chief. And it’s got Kirsten Dunst and Angus Sampson and Ted Danzon and just so many wonderful people. Oh, so good. Season three? On IMDB it says 2017. Yes, please.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014) Film Review


The dragon has come and gone, now the Dwarf King Thorin (Richard Armitage) has gone a bit power-hungry, and what with the various different people all coming to the one place to fight, he needs to get his head straight. I think more happened, but I mostly recall this and some awesome fight scenes.

It’s over! That was my main feeling when I finished the film. As so many have said before me, three films to tell this story were two too many. I thought that if the story could be sustained over three films, I’d be fine with it, but it just seems to be a bit of a cynical, money-grabbing decision. You know what annoys me the most? Having recently watched a few older Peter Jackson films, I was curious to want to see what else he has, and I feel annoyed that I had to go through these to get to what is next. Now, I’m not so excited. If you haven’t seen Heavenly Creatures, go watch it, especially if you are feeling a bit bruised and battered by the long haul that has been Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. It shows the wonder of what Peter Jackson can do outside of Middle Earth.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies was nominated for an Oscar for Best Achievement in Sound Editing.

The Hobbit : The Desolation of Smaug (2013) Film Review


I was pleasantly surprised by The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and so I looked forward to getting this out of the DVD shop. I enjoyed it. The group continue on their journey, there is a dragon, there is lots of running and fighting and it’s good. I liked it a lot. I kind of want the journey to be over now, though. I know that there are financial reasons for releasing them one per year, but I don’t like waiting. It builds anticipation but it also builds apathy.

The Hobbit : The Desolation of Smaug was nominated for Oscars for Best Achievement in Sound Mixing, Best Achievement in Visual Effects and Best Achievement in Sound Editing.

The World’s End (2013) Film Review

The World's End

This is the third in a kind of loose trilogy of end-of-days films made by director Edgar Wright and actors Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. It’s a trilogy without recurring characters, but Pegg and Frost end up pitted against some kind of mega threat; Sean of the Dead had zombies, Hot Fuzz had a sinister Neighbourhood Watch Alliance and this has robots. Sort of. Feauxbots. Nobots. Something like that.

Gary King (Simon Pegg) is pretty much the most annoying person in the world – a guy in his late thirties who has never been able to beat his best night ever, an incompleted pub crawl with his mates when he was eighteen. So, he gets the gang back together; Peter Page (Eddie Marsan), Steven Prince (Paddy Considine), Oliver Chamberlain (Martin Freeman) and Andy Knightley (Nick Frost). It would end up being just a pretty bad night with the lads until they discover the town’s dark secret.

There was a lot in this film to love. Simon Pegg playing the most awful character ever; a group of nearing middle-aged men attempting to beat a power they don’t understand all the time getting ever more drunk; Martin Freeman and his creepy, creepy forced smile. It didn’t quite have the awesome hilarity and impact of Sean of the Dead, but it was a lot of fun. And I kind of like all the not-too-obvious –but-at-the-same-time-not-too-hard-to-miss things for the fans – like the names and the way they relate to the characters. Or the reappearance of many favourite actors in bit parts.

Sherlock – TV Review


The BBC one that everyone was talking about, you know, with the guy from The Office and the one with the crazy name? That’s the Sherlock I’m looking at here. So, Dr Watson (Martin Freeman) is a recently retired army doctor looking for a way of staying in London when he is introduced to Sherlock Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch) a consultant for Scotland Yard and they start to share a flat, with Watson being drawn in to Holmes’ world.

It’s a great interpretation, I think (I’ve only read one Sherlock Holmes and that was quite some time ago). It’s certainly great tv. Witty, funny, clever, fast-paced and with lots of unexpected twists. And it’s introduced me to Andrew Scott who plays Moriarty and is fantastic at it. I read some complaints online about the third season, how it did not explain Holmes’s absence and then return, but I don’t mind some mystery. It’s just so fabulous.


The Hobbit : An Unexpected Journey (2012) – Film Review


I admit it; I’ve been avoiding this one. There were two main reasons; firstly, a lot of people whose opinions on film I deeply respect found this film overly long and drawn out, and secondly, it seems very indulgent of Peter Jackson to turn this single book into three films to be released separately. It is, after all, one story. Why turn it into three very long films rather than just one very long film?

Yes, absolutely, it is very long. It is entirely possible that there are scenes in the film that are not in the book (I can’t recall. I have very little interest in re-reading it) but that didn’t bother me at all. As it happens, I really quite enjoyed it. It is a good yarn, with some spectacular effects and a bit of heart. Martin Freeman is wonderful as Bilbo Baggins, and it was wonderful to see Sir Ian McKellan back again as Gandalf.

Despite my enjoyment of the film, I doubt I’ll get to either of the next two films at the cinema. I really do not have the patience for it. I expect I’ll watch them once they get their DVD release. I expect.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was nominated for Oscars for Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling, Best Achievement in Production Design and Best Achievement in Visual Effects. It was nominated for BAFTAs for Best Make Up/Hair, Best Sound and Best Special Effects.

The Pirates – Band of Misfits! In an Adventure with Scientists! (2012) Film Review


I’ve been a fan of Aardman Productions since Wallace and Gromit. Or before, even – if you haven’t had a chance to check out Rex the Runt, do. It’s a fairly surreal animation series for adults (well, not specifically – it’s not rude. I just don’t think kids’d like it all that much.) The Pirates is the most recent outing for Aardman, and it certain reaches the same high standard of storytelling.

It follows the Pirate Captain, an affable but not very effective pirate, in his attempt to win the Pirate of the Year Award. He is being helped by a variety of misfit pirates, but they have no chance at beating the other, more impressive pirates. Sailing away, they come across Charles Darwin, who covets the Pirate Captain’s “parrot” Polly, which is actually a dodo. From here is a series of crazy chases and misadventures that takes them to England and meeting Queen Victoria, who covets the dodo like no other.

It’s funny and silly and an excellent film for children. What would be even better would be for it to be a television series. The characters are engaging and silly, and there is the opportunity for some educational content. Well, the possibility – although if Queen Victoria is represented as a madwoman who will go to all lengths to get the Dodo and Charles Darwin as a lonely man desperately seeking love, then perhaps there may be an issue with the educational content.

The Pirates was nominated for an Oscar for Best Animated Feature