Willow (TV Series) Reviewed!

Full disclosure – I am unapologetically a huge fan of the original ‘Willow’ movie. The 1988 Fantasy adventure was a defining film in my early cinematic education. I loved the invention, the thrills and the flowing jet black locks of Val Kilmer. When I learned there would be a Disney Plus series expanding the mythology I was hooked. The teasers and trailers promised much, original star Warwick Davis was back and the supporting cast was filled out by an exciting ensemble of up and coming young actors. So…it was with bubbling anticipation that I sat down, pointed my remote and journeyed back to the Kingdom of Tir Asleen.

2004 – Warwick Davis and your intrepid reviewer.

Sigh. Willow (2022) is a confounding mess of a series which I was willing myself to enjoy. Some elements worked. The cast of eclectic characters were all distinct, likeable and had individual moments to shine. It was great to initially reunite with legacy characters and revisit locations from the original movie. There is clearly care put into costuming, set design and world building on display. Unfortunately that’s where the positives end, as none of the aforementioned bright moments can save this sequel TV series from a truly awful narrative.

The return of legacy characters is welcome.

The scripting is largely terrible, feeling like an unedited first draft. The editing itself is choppy and often misses large chunks of action as the show rushes to the next scene. Several occasions I was left scratching my head as to what was going on, where a character had disappeared to and why they were doing what they were doing. The overarching quest – a must for any Fantasy epic- is murky (a massive fail for any Fantasy epic). Character motivations change from chapter to chapter. Worst of all the series just doesn’t capture the magic, wonder and swashbuckling adventure of the original. Yes, the inevitable absence of Val Kilmer hangs heavy throughout proceedings (a hole clearly recognised as Christian Slater cameos as a proxy Madmartigan for an episode) but no other character steps up to fill that charisma vacuum.

Trouble on the horizon.

Verdict :- I was looking forward to a Swords and Shield epic without the family machinations, oppressive darkness and frequent tragedy of recent shows but the series ultimately took me from a Wil-high to a Wil-Low.

The Danny’s 2022 ….TV

Here we are, the last blog post of the year and its counting down my best and worst of TV for 2022!

Notable absences :- Andor, Rings of Power, House of the Dragon, Ms Marvel, Succession, Willow and Severance.

Biggest disappointment

Tie – Moon Knight (Disney Plus) & Book of Boba Fett (Disney Plus)

How can a character once so cool be so dull?

Sigh. Maybe I’m to blame. Anticipation was high for both Disney series but alas both underwhelmed.

‘Moon Knight’ had its moments and was propelled by an enjoyable central turn from Oscar Isaac but collapsed under its own narrative weight in the final episodes.

‘Book of Boba Fett’ took the momentum from the tremendous ‘Mandolorian’, combined it with one of the coolest anti heroes from the ‘Star Wars’ universe and just felt blah. Unforgivably dull at times, I’m not looking forward to a 2nd chapter.

Top TV 2022

7. Hawkeye – 8/10 – Disney Plus

On the cusp of 21/22, Hawkeye had a slow start but built to a fantastic and festive finale!

6. Dahmer – 8/10 – Netflix

Certainly not enjoyable viewing but a fascinating view into the mind of a monster and the affect on his victims.

5. Pam & Tommy – 8/10 – Disney Plus

A more nuanced and current take on the infamous couple reflecting modern concerns of consent and privacy.

4. Only Murders in the Building – 8/10 – Disney Plus

Just lovely. Star turns from the central trio of Steve Martin, Martin Short and Selina Gomez knit this cosy murder mystery together.

3. Obi Wan – 8/10 – Disney Plus

A gripping mini series which pulls off the impressive task of making the prequel trilogy rewatchable.

2. Reacher – 9/10 – Amazon Prime

The definitive Jack Reacher adaptation. Like it’s protagonist, Reacher is just big, dumb fun.

1. Better Call Saul : Final Season – 9/10 – Netflix

Almost perfect. The finale to the Breaking Bad universe is a slow burn but worth the journey.

That’s a wrap for 2022! Thanks all for indulging my top films, music and TV for 22! Reviews will return in 2023 but in the meantime have a very Merry Festive break and a Happy New Year!

The Danny’s 2022 cont….Music!

What does a 38 year old, middle class, desk sitting male know about music in 2022 I hear you shout. It’s a valid point and admittedly the answer amounts to not too much. I do know what I like though which brings me to my top songs and albums of 2022! Warning: contains the word fierce.

Songs of 22 – Top 10

Vest & Boxers – Lava La Rue – Artist La Rue infuses an electro beat with steady guitar licks to create a toe tapping ode to modern dating.

Bad Habit – Steve Lacey – Seemingly coming out of the blue, Lacey produced one of the viral hits of 22.

I ain’t worried – One Republic – Once a decade Ryan Tedder creates a hit so catchy it’s tune doesn’t leave your brain.

Big Energy – Latto – Sampling Marian’s ‘Fantasy’, Latto brought the big beats as well as the big energy.

Hot in it – Tiesto & Charlie XCX – Shameless dance pop elevated by the amazingly dulcet tones of Charlie XCX.

Summer Renaissance – Beyoncé – Sampling Donna Summers iconic ‘I feel love’, Beyoncé channels her Studio 54 diva.

Maybe it’s my fault – Willow – A heavy and hard rock bolt out of the blue from Ms Smith.

Body paint – Arctic Monkeys – Alex Turner and his piano lead is through another hypnotic balled.

Chaise Longue – Wet Leg – The festival band of the summer, Chaise Longue is a burst of attitude.

Late Night Talking – Harry Styles – Could’ve been a handful from Styles 2nd album but Late Night Talking pips it for being pure pop gold.

Albums of 22 – Top 5

Wet Leg – Wet Leg – A stunning debut, track after track is clever and catchy.

Dawn FM – The Weeknd – A melodic and electronic ode to regret and forgiveness from the most talented solo artist this decade.

Renaissance – Beyonce – A blast of disco infused fierceness from the fiercest of them all.

The Car – Arctic Monkeys – Yet another evolution from the Monkeys. Bold and requires further listening.

Harry’s House – Harry Styles – The perfect pop record. Personal, reflective and most importantly huge fun.

Normal service to resume on my next blog as I countdown my favourite TV of 2022!

The Danny’s 2022 continued…

Warning spoilers abound!

After my last post listed my best and worst films of 2022, it’s time to take a closer look at what the silver (& small – curse you streaming) screen had to offer….

Hero of the Year

Honourable mentions – Naru (Amber Midthunder / Prey), Maverick (Tom Cruise / Top Gun Maverick), Shuri (Letitia Wright / Wakanda Forever) & Alice (Florence Pugh / Don’t worry Darling).

Winner :- Batman (Robert Pattinson / The Batman) – Pattinson brought the brood as the emo-esque caped crusader.

Keaton will always be my (Bat)man but Pattinson gave a brilliant performance and took the iconic character in bold new celluloid directions.

Villain of the Year

Dishonourable mentions – Gorr the God Butcher (Christian Bale / Love & Thunder), Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen / Multiverse of Madness), Frank (Chris Pine / Don’t worry Darling), The Grabber (Ethan Hawke / The Black Phone) & The Riddler (Paul Dano / The Batman).

Winner :- Lloyd Hansen (Chris Evans / The Grey Man) – Chewing all available scenery available, Chris Evans heaped on the sleaze as the moustached Lloyd.

After playing such a pure hero in Captain America for a decade, Evans is flexing his inner villain .

Scene of the Year

Honourable mentions – Scarlet Witch decimates the Illuminati (Multiverse of Madness), Batman freeway fracas (The Batman), Maverick goes super sonic (Top Gun : Maverick), Deweys demise (Scream) & Black Adam vs the Justice society (Black Adam).

Winner :- Gordy the Chimp (Nope) – No other scene has stayed in my consciousness as much as the terrifying Gordy the Chimp. Although not a huge part of the overall narrative, Peele takes a seemingly quaint scene before releasing the dread.

Never work with children or animals.

Worst scene of the Year

Dishonourable mentions – Rasputin first aid (The Kingsman), CGI blobs final battle (Morbius) & Locusts (Jurassic World Dominion).

Winner :- Birth after Birth (Men) – Men was a perfectly good chiller with an ever increasing sense of dread until its cliff falling final act. So repulsive, nauseating and out of left field that I considered walking out for the 1st time in my cinema going life.

I can’t in good conscience feature a birthing image so here’s the films star ,the wonderful Jessie Buckley, staring longingly at an apple.

Actor of the Year

Honourable mentions – Florence Pugh (Don’t worry Darling), Elizabeth Olsen (Multiverse of Madness), Angela Bassett (Wakanda Forever), Alexander Skarsgard (The Northman) & Mason Thames (The Black Phone).

Winner :- Letitia Wright (Wakanda Forever) – A brave and bold turn, riven with personal grief.

A worthy successor to the void left by the tragic passing of Chadwick Boseman.

In my next post the boundaries of the blog expand like my waistline post Christmas as I rank my favourite songs, albums and TV shows of 2022! Who cares! I hear you shout and it’s an inarguable point really. Hope you indulge me anyway and join me for another round of the internets least prestigious awards – The Danny’s!

The Danny’s 2022!

Seasons greetings reader. Although the ‘Dan who fell to Earth’ blog has been on hiatus, the silver screen never sleeps! In a year where we all re-emerged from our pandemic repose there was plenty to see back at the Cineplex. I’m hoping reviews will arise again in some capacity in 2023 but in the meantime back by literally no demand……

My Films of 2022 in Popcorn order…..

Exempt as want to see but not yet seen as of writing – Avatar WOTW, Elvis, The Woman King, Glass Onion, X, Smile, Everything Everywhere All at Once and The Banshees of Inisherin.

Stale Popcorn – Morbius 4/10 – when Matt Smith dancing is the high point in this incomprehensible mess you know your in trouble.

Poor Jared Leto – a tremendous actor who gives his all to each role – not even his dedication was enough to save the dire ‘Morbius’

Uncharted 5/10 – Uninteresting, Holland and Wahlberg lack chemistry and the adventure caper only feels adventurous in the final third.

Jurassic World Dominion – 5/10 – the most disappointing of any legacy sequel. Awful plotting and a sleepwalking Chris Pratt mean the series finale limps to a close.

Jackass Forever 5/10 – Camaraderie remains the hook but the crew feel older and outdated.

The Lost City 6/10 – Some amusing moments elevate a by the numbers narrative. Stick to ‘Romancing the Stone’.

The Kingsman 6/10 – An unnecessary prequel which varies wildly in tone.

Men – 6/10 – Creepily paced for the majority before collapsing in a sickening final act.

Chip & Dale – 6/10 – Fun nostalgia for kids of the 90’s. Witty but with the emotional weight of Disney’s best.

Always watchable – watch for the nostalgia, stay for the cameos

The Bad Guys 6/10 – An enjoyable surprise with dynamic animation and voice cast.

Prey 6/10 – A return to form for the floundering ‘Predator’ franchise. Stripping the series back to its Arnie routes.

The Northman 7/10 – Stunningly and authentically made by one of cinemas more interesting voices.

Thor : Love & Thunder – 7/10 – A step back for the character and the franchise. Stellar villain work from an underused Bale.

Bullet Train – 7/10 – Fun ensemble actioner that’s always interesting.

Black Panther : Wakanda Forever – 7/10 – A fitting tribute to Chadwick Boseman. Overstuffed though at times exhilarating.

Dr Strange & The Multiverse of Madness – 7/10 – A missed opportunity though frequently surprising – the best of Marvels 22 offerings.

Director Sam Raimi added his trademark frenetic energy to propel Dr Strange

Don’t worry darling – 7/10 – A compelling narrative which keeps hold – anchored by the always tremendous Florence Pugh.

The Gray Man 7.5/10 – Big budget Netflix action with a A list cast. Fun action and an even better villain in Chris Evans.

Nope – 7.5/10 – Jordan Peele remains the most interesting director working today. Challenging and equally thrilling.

Fantastic Beasts – Secrets of Dumbledore 7.5/10 – A return to form for the Potterverse .

Black Adam – 8/10 – Classic comic book action elevate a by the numbers narrative to bombastic thrills.

The Black Phone – 8/10 – A horror throwback with a terrifying turn from Ethan Hawke.

GDT Pinocchio 8/10 – Dark and deep, meets your expectations for Del Toro but confounds them with its WW2 retelling of the classic tale.

Scream 8/10 – A taut thriller which recalls the best of the franchise.

Top Gun Maverick – 8/10 – Just pure cinema.

Poppin Popcorn – The Batman 8/10 – A brooding and bold interpretation of the worlds greatest detective.

Batman back to his roots – a dark and daring Detective tale

Tomorrow – Cinematic Heroes and Villains, Best and Worst scenes and a few other prestigious Danny’s!

Which film had you punching the air and whooping like Maverick? Which film made you walk out of the cinema, shaking your head and questioning your life choices? What have I missed? Leave comments below or give me a shout on my FB or Twitter!

The Danny’s 2021!

Back due to absolutely no demand – it’s The Danny’s – arguably the most prestigious movie awards in the entire multiverse. Below is a list of some of my favourite movies, moments and performers of the year 2021 – selected from films I’ve seen on big screen and small.

Fave films of 2021 in descending order!

Last Night in Soho

Ghostbusters : Afterlife

Encanto

Shang Chi & the Legend of the Ten Rings

The Guilty

Raya & the Last Dragon

Eternals

Wrath of Man

The Suicide Squad

Mitchell’s vs The Machines

Dune

No Time to Die

Spider-Man: No Way Home

And the worst….

Venom : Let there be Carnage

The Danny’s 2021

Best Scene :- Statue of Liberty finale – Spider-Man : No Way Home….

honourable mentions – Scaffold showdown (Shang Chi), Godzilla vs Kong (Godzilla vs Kong), Dream Sequence (Last Night in Soho) and House Harkonnen attack (Dune).

Hero of the Year – James Bond – (No Time to Die)….

honourable mentions – Peter Parker (No Way Home), Paul Atreides (Dune), Mirabel (Encanto), Hutch (Nobody) and Phoebe (Ghostbusters Afterlife), The Mitchell’s (Mitchells vs The Machines).

Villain of the Year – Baron Harkonnen (Dune)

honourable mentions – Wenwu (Shang Chi), Green Goblin (No Way Home), Prince Joachim (Jungle Cruise), Jack (Last Night in Soho).

Sidekick of the Year – Duncan Idaho (Dune)

honourable mentions – Ned (No Way Home), Paloma (No Time to Die), Katy (Shang Chi), Eric and Deborahbots 5000 (Mitchell’s vs the Machines), Yelena (Black Widow).

Actor – Jake Gyllenhaal (The Guilty)

honourable mentions – Daniel Craig (No Time to Die), Tom Holland (Spider-Man No Way Home).

Actress – Thomasin McKenzie (Last Night in Soho)

honourable mentions – Anya Taylor Joy (Last Night in Soho), Margot Robbie (The Suicide Squad).

Director- Denis Villeneuve (Dune)

honourable mentions – Guy Ritchie (Wrath of Man), Edgar Wright (Last Night in Soho), Cary Fukunaga (No Time to Die), Jon Watts (Spider-Man No Way Home)

Newcomer – Thomasin McKenzie (Old / Last Night in Soho)

honourable mentions – McKenna Grace (Ghostbusters Afterlife), Logan Kim (Ghostbusters Afterlife)

Agree, disagree? Granted my focus has been rather narrow given limited cinema visits (curse you COVID – shakes fist at sky) and my propensity to just go see big, brainless blockbusters on the big screen!

Thanks for reading my reanimated blog this year – every view means a lot and your awesome appreciation means even more. Have a happy and healthy 2022!

The Matrix : Resurrections

Starring :- Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Ann Moss, Jessica Henwick, Yahya Abdul Mateen II, Jonathan Groff, Neil Patrick Harris and Jada Pinkett Smith

What’s the story? Successful computer game designer, Thomas Anderson, is plagued by visions of a past life. These visions lead to Mr Anderson questioning his reality. Approached by a familiar figure who offers Anderson the chance to escape his false narrative, he must decide whether to travel down the rabbit hole once more.

Is it any good? ‘The Matrix’ is one of the most influential and definitive Sci Fi movies of the past few decades. The sequels had moments but sagged under their own philosophical weight. ‘Resurrections’ – the forth feature in the franchise – is a puzzling proposition. With the previous film ‘Revolutions’ seemingly tying up the narrative in a satisfactory way there was little call of a follow up. There also appeared to be little appetite from the filmmakers and several key players from the previous trilogy though in the current cinematic landscape the opportunity to reboot an intellectual property is too tantalising a proposition for Warner Bros studios( a point inexplicably made during the film).

‘Resurrections’ is so unique for a modern blockbuster film in so much that it can’t decide whether it reveres its predecessors or resents them. The navel gazing in the opening hour is truly baffling – Keanu Reeves’ Mr Anderson created a trilogy of games called ‘The Matrix’. He has figures of Morpheus and Trinity in his desk. His boss insists Warner Brothers want a forth game and his team then brainstorm what a forth iteration should contain. To add to the meta muddle several scenes from the former trilogy are replicated whilst others are edited into the film itself. The problem with referencing past efforts so frequently is that the filmmakers run the risk of reminding the audience that a far better version exists.

Lessons have also not been learnt from ‘Reloaded’ and ‘Revolutions’. Philosophical musings remain tedious and drawn out. The storyline makes less and less sense as the run time creeps on and the stakes never feel important. If Neo’s mission in the trilogy left him in the same (or arguably a worse) position then how can the audience invest more emotion in another round? The action is also disappointingly perfunctory. The filmmakers would have an impossible task of recreating the invention and influence of the ballet of bullets of the original but the sporadic action of ‘Resurrections’ is just fine which is a miss for a ‘Matrix’ movie.

Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Ann Moss are thankfully the beating heart of the movie. ‘Resurrections’ is less a Sci Fi movie and more a love story of two separated souls and both actors slip back into their roles with ease. Tremendous actor Mateen II is given little to do as a Morpheus proxy and misses the gravitas of an AWOL Laurence Fishburne. Hugo Weaving is also missing and is replaced by the able but wholly generic Jonathan Groff. The standout performance comes from Jessica Henwick as ‘Bugs’ – a devotee to freedom from the Matrix.

Verdict :- A baffling blockbuster which lacks the big ideas or bombast of its predecessors.

Spider-Man No Way Home

Starring :- Tom Holland, Zendaya, Jacob Batalon, Benedict Cumberbatch, Marissa Tomei, Jon Favreau, Alfred Molina, Jamie Foxx and Willem Dafoe.

What’s the story? With Peter Parker now revealed to be Spider-Man by the villainous Mysterio his relationships, friends and future are in jeopardy. In order to gain control of his rapidly spiralling life, Peter approaches Doctor Strange for help. Strange casts a spell to make the world forget Spider-Mans’ real identity, but in the process unleashes a far worse threat from alternate realities.

Is it any good? ‘Spider Man : No Way Home’ arrives with perhaps more pressure than any other Marvel feature since ‘Avengers : Endgame’. ‘No Way Home’ is the 4th MCU movie of 2021 (after ‘Black Widow’, ‘Eternals’ and ‘Shang Chi’ arguably underwhelmed), the 3rd movie of a resurrected franchise and a expectant audience, enthralled by a record breaking trailer has a multitude of fan theories and dream scenarios before the Marvel logo even hits the screen. Suffice to say the film pulls off the almost impossible feat of meeting most lofty expectations. ‘No Way Home’ dazzles – keeping the heart and feels of its predecessors (‘Homecoming’ and ‘Far from Home’) whilst also surprising, rewarding and often thrilling.

Indeed much of the reward of ‘No Way Home’ is in its surprises so I won’t venture into spoiler territory here. The film is perfect blockbuster cinema, deftly balancing fan service with feels – never toppling into cameos or winks / nods for the sake of them. Each appearance from past characters (Molina’s Doc Ock, Dafoe’s Green Goblin and Foxx’s Electro are all featured in the trailer) are warranted in pursuit of Peter Parker’s larger journey and affords several tremendous actors the chance to return to characters with a point to prove. Dafoe is perhaps the strongest revival, reminding the audience just how perfectly he was cast in the original ‘Spider-Man’.

The entire ensemble impresses. Tom Holland is effortless as both Parker and Spider-Man and is given more emotional heft than previously. Zendeya maintains her likeable millennial snark, Batalon is the audiences proxy as he stares wide eyed at the surrounding chaos, Tomei is the films empathetic heart and Favreau returns as Peters stand in embarrassing Uncle. Cumberbatch is a note perfect Doctor Strange, the aforementioned Dafoe, Molina & Foxx revel in their returns and several other unmentioned actors put in stellar work which equals their co-stars.

It is difficult to note stand out scenes without venturing into spoiler territory but a freeway fight between Spider-Man and Doc Ock is a thrilling introduction to what is to come and a Statue of Liberty set finale is one of the years most bombastic (and cheer-able) set pieces. The action is stellar and the emotional stakes match the ballyhoo.

Verdict :- ‘No Way Home’ closes out the ‘Home’ trilogy as one of Marvels most entertaining and surprising offerings. Many intriguing plot threads remain and the possibilities of the multiverse in the MCU’s hands are endless. As a trilogy closer the finale is almost perfect.

Ghostbusters : Afterlife

Starring :- McKenna Grace, Finn Wolfhard, Carrie Coon, Paul Rudd, Logan Kim, Celeste O’Connor and Bokeem Woodbine.

What’s the story? Mother Callie and her two children, Trevor and Phoebe, move to small town America after inheriting a dilapidated farmhouse from her estranged father. The farmhouse and the town itself hold a supernatural link to the now disbanded original Ghostbusters and when a old foe rises again “Who you gonna call?”.

Is it any good? Reimagining nostalgic properties has garnered recent mixed results. Using the formula of recycling the original narrative with a new generation, sprinkle in musical cues and easter eggs and throw in some surprise cameos and you have ‘The Force Awakens’, ‘Jurassic World’ and now ‘Ghostbusters Afterlife’. The good news is that the 4th official Ghostbusters movie (though ‘Afterlife’ conveniently forgets much of the sequel and all female reboot) is in the hands of Jason Reitman (son of Ivan – the originals director) and is on the more enjoyable side of the reboot ledger. ‘Afterlife’ is often enjoyable, recalling the wonder and low key scares of the first though does sag in a stretched middle and overwhelms in a conventional finale.

The strength of ‘Afterlife’ rests on its tremendous young cast. McKenna Grace and Finn Wolfhard may be teen movie stereotypes (the shy, intelligent geek and the hormonal, naive new boy in town) but both imbue the characters with so much heart and like ability that further films following the siblings adventures would be welcome. Carrie Coon and Paul Rudd are also enjoyable as the damaged Mother Callie and slacker scientist Gary respectively. Logan Kim has a breakout performance as resident paranormal fan ‘Podcast’ – stealing most scenes he is in. Indeed the ‘Ghostbusters’ tradition of lovable oddballs is well and truly alive. Cameos abound (to note them here would be straying into spoiler territory) and some work better than others – the surprises are slightly tainted by several returns in the all female reboot but 5 years ago.

Another plus point is ‘Afterlife’s reliance on both CGI and practical effects. The practical effects especially are welcome in such as big budget family movie and again recall the magic of the original. The Ghost effects are also impressively realised though fan favourite Slimer is bizarrely jettisoned for a new rotund spectre named Muncher. The appearance of Stay Puff Marshmellows are perhaps the films highlight and may spawn a whole new toy craze. For all the films strong character work in the first two thirds ‘Afterlife’ does settle into the familiar CGI sky beam finale, cramming cameos, references and an admittedly incredible special effect (no spoilers here).

Verdict :- A fun and frightful homage to a beloved original that sets the stage for an exciting future of new busters.

Last night in Soho

Starring :- Thomasin McKenzie, Anya Taylor Joy, Matt Smith, Michael Ajao, Terence Stamp and Diana Rigg.

What’s the story? Eloise, an aspiring fashion designer and 60’s enthusiast, moves to London to pursue her degree. Gifted (or cursed) with ghostly visions, Eloise finds herself transported to the decade she loves and follows the life of aspiring singer Sandy. Her dreams though soon turn to nightmares as Sandy descends into the seedy side of Soho.

Is it any good? Edgar Wright is one of the most exciting and inventive cinematic voices of the past twenty years. His films (which recently include ‘Baby Driver’, ‘Scott Pilgrim vs The World’ and ‘Hot Fuzz’) are always visually distinctive, irreverent and feature a killer soundtrack. ‘Last Night in Soho’ is no different. Often dazzling in its technical proficiency Wright’s 6th feature is a cinematic selection box though eventually fractures underneath its narrative twists and turns.

‘Last Night in Soho’ is part love letter to the fashions, music and ambience of the 1960’s but also a warning against the dangers of the big smoke and blindly following a dream. Both present day and past London (particularly Soho) are presented as neon soaked nightmare scapes where creepy men lurk around every corner. Apt for a genre splicing film which descends from fish out of water drama into haunted house horror (‘Last Night in Soho’ fully earns its 18 certificate with a fatality filled finale).

McKenzie and Taylor Joy maintain the momentum of stand out roles in ‘JoJo Rabbit’ and ‘The Queens Gambit’ respectively with outstanding performances. Performances made all the more special by the duality of the characters – McKenzie’s Eloise is the shy, damaged teen whilst living out her fantasies as Joy’s seductive and supremely confident 1960’s Sandy. Matt Smith plays against type as the detestable London charmer Jack whilst relative newcomer Ajao impresses as present day love interest (and nice guy) John. Veterans Diana Rigg and Terence Stamp have small but pivotal roles as characters who experienced sixties Soho and are embittered because of it.

The real star though is the true technical mastery on show. ‘Last Night in Soho’ often dazzles in its cinematography, sound design and costuming. Several scenes require both McKenzie and Joy to be in shot simultaneously (Eloise observing Sandy through her dreams) and the skill involved to pull of the movie magic trick is truly joyful. A soundtrack featuring luminaries such as Cilla Black, Sandy Shaw, Dusty Springfield, The Who and The Kinks is toe tapping and adds to the immersion into the world Wright creates. As with most thrillers with an intriguing premise the third act does under deliver on the promising set up. The finale is too neat and predictable given the invention which has preceded it.

Verdict :- One of the most inventive and interesting films of 2021 from one of the most inventive and interesting filmmakers of this generation. A contrived ending doesn’t detract from the exciting trip to Soho in the meantime.