Jo, Janet, Carol, Ann I gave the local Odeon our patronage tonight to see Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. It was released yesterday in the UK and US to pretty good reviews, having premiered in Los Angeles on December 16.
It promises a movie that wraps things up nicely across the nine-movie arc (see below) BUT crucially, we’re told, it works as a standalone movie for the non Star Wars geeks amongst us! Co-written and directed by J. J. Abrams (who has a great reputation for writing action movies as well as sci-fi), it’s a long affair, at 2 hours, 20 minutes, and there’s a lot riding on this final instalment!
It’s hard to believe it’s been 42 years since the first movie (Episode IV) — how many have you seen?
So far this year, we had mostly abandoned the local Odeon here in favour of the much plusher and newer Cineworld at Rushden Lakes, so why didn’t we go there??? Simples: the short(ish) car-journey there this time of year was likely to be congested (and that goes for the traffic actually in Rushden Lakes car-park itself adjacent to the cinema) and we just weren’t sure whether we’d make it in time!
It’s been touted as the ‘final movie in the Star Wars saga’, but actually, to be pedantic (moi?!), it’s (just) the final movie in the Skywalker series! I wonder how many went thinking it was the final Star Wars movie ever? 🤔I can’t them giving up on a cash-cow like this!!
Janet acted as chauffeur and picked us up at 6.45. We were soon parked, and the fullness of the car-park indicated that it was going to be busy!
We were right! In fact, Screen 4 was the fullest I’ve seen it in a long while! Fortunately, we were spared the presence of any super-fans dressing-up and acting out their chosen character for the occasion (that was probably last night!) 😁. Jo had booked us our favourite seats (back row) and we were soon into the abundance of adverts (even more than normal!). Thankfully, just 25 minutes later, the main event began…
And what of the movie? Well, it was certainly fast-paced – no time for even a loo break!! 😬 I think it just about held up as a standalone, but newbies will struggle to work out at times, who’s wearing the black and the white hats! Great music, great acting and some superb CGI (but take the sea-sick pills!).
JJA did a good job of pulling-together the unresolved issues from the previous outings and for super-fans, there’s more than one Star Wars ‘familiar face’ making a welcome return to the screen. This includes possibly the shortest ever cameo by a certain fighter pilot from Episode IV!
I’m dropping it one-star for not knowing how to use an ellipsis, (boo!) but adding back half-a-star for consistency (yay!) as they got it wrong in the previous movie ‘The Last Jedi‘ too! (and probably the other seven!) 🤐
As I mentioned previously, ‘pedantic, moi?! 😁
Go see! It’s a roller-coaster of a movie from start to finish!😍
That’s the first time that the weather has disrupted this annual event – totally unexpected in AUGUST! 😮
The replacement dates didn’t work for any of us, so, it was all round to ours for a carpet-picnic and to watch A Star is Born courtesy of Sky. With the TV switched to ‘UHD/4K’ and everyone bringing along something yummy to eat and drink – it was the next best thing to actually being there! 😁
OK, the screen was a bit smaller, but at least it wouldn’t blow away and we’d stay dry!
Between us all – Geoff, Rhonda, Janet, Jo, Carol, Paul, Sue and of course Ann – it was, as you might expect, a “Banquet… and some!”. With two types of Salad, Jacket Potatoes, Spicy Chicken Pieces and a mega-Moussak (helped along with plenty of nibbles) we did it all proud – and that’s before we got to the Dessert!
And one of the benefits of watching the movie at home was at least could pause it, whilst we ourselves paused in preparation for Ann’s Apricot Crumble (with its secret ingredient) and/or some perfect Meringues Nests…
…it was mostly ‘and’! 😁.
What a feast! It was all super-yummy. I spent so much time eating, I forgot to take any photos! – it all went down a treat and none of us were to return home hungry!
As the evening progressed, the weather didn’t turn out to be quite so biblical as the forecast suggested. I think we had just as much fun inside enjoying each other’s company – and culinary skills – as we would have done ‘out in the open’.
But what makes this latest blockbuster different is the sheer scale and ambition by those responsible for its existence – Marvel Studios (more about all this later).
So, here is my review of Marvel’s latest flick – spoiler-free too! 👍
But first, some background to put all this ‘scale’ and ‘ambition’ into context. Skip the next few paragraphs, if you’re already up-to-speed.
Ten Years in the Planning!
What began with Iron Man back in 2008, Marvel Studios has now turned-out 21 Movies in the series (21? yes, really!). They’ve all been part of their multi-phase Infinity Saga storyline (see the links below if you need a reminder!) – scroll-on, if you don’t!
Crikey! It makes the original Star Wars Trilogy feel like a short story!
How’s that for scale and ambition then? 👍👍
And with plenty of fanfare in the media, this is Marvel’s final Movie in the ‘Infinity Saga’ series (did I mention there had been 21 Movies so far?) – and with a running-time of a tad over three-hours, (3 hours and 58 seconds actually) it promises to wrap things up nicely, given the dark and depressing tone of 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War.
Is this one of the longest Movies of recent years/ever? Well, ‘no’ it isn’t actually – not by a long way!!! See Longest Cinematic Films. So, no records broken here!
I’m still looking for box-office estimates on how much Endgame is going to rake-in, but I’ll be amazed if it doesn’t exceed a billion dollars after its full run! 💰,💲💰💲,💰💲💰,💲💰💲 – and that WILL set a record! Just take a look at other Movies in this saga – this is serious money!
Update: Monday, May 6, 2019 – Box Office receipts globally exceed TWO billion dollars!
Talking of takings, Odeon will be the other winner here – with their extra food and drink sales at their (ahem!) ‘very special’ prices. It’s a pity they don’t charge for the loo too, because everyone is going to need a loo-break… or three 🥴 to get through this one!
And just because you’re NOT a fan, don’t think it’s safe to return to a sans-spandex-Cinema after tonight! Bad news then, as Marvel has already announced Phase 4, and with it, a series of films featuring the return of some existing super-heroes plus some we’ve yet to meet. Six Movies are already confirmed.
PS: If you’re a bit fazed by all these err, Phases, you can find them explained here – but beware, it’s a Nerd’s Paradise! Thanks Digital Spy 😉
Do try and stay awake at the back Tompkins! 😁
As you’d expect, details of this final (and pivotal) Movie have remained a closely-guarded secret. Scripts were under lock-and-key, and some scenes were only communicated by word-of-mouth! They even filmed multiple versions of scenes, in case some leaked out. I guess it’s all part of this 24/7 Internet age that we live in. When the official Trailers started appearing, plenty of folks, looking for their ’15 minutes of fame’, began hypothesising as to how this film will play out – albeit with very little to go on!
December 2018: The first official Trailer arrives and sends the interweb into a spin. And, as predicted, everyone who had the time and the motivation (Oh, and a video camera!) uploads their theory about ‘what it all means’! 🤔
Not me though! I’d carefully avoided any spoilers and/or fan theories, so I could eventually watch the Film with a genuine wonder as to what was going to happen (you know, like it used to be at Cinemas!) 😉
April 2019: Even when the second official Trailer appeared online, even more half-baked theories clogged-up the Internet – nothing substantial reported though! And that suited me perfectly! 👍👍
Mid-April 2019: By the time this final Trailer appeared later in April, the same old ground was still being re-trod about what the film would be about. The biggest talking-point seemed to be whether the first Avenger – Captain America – would survive? This was prompted by a somewhat ambiguous tweet by Chris Evans, (the Actor who plays him) when Endgame wrapped last year.
Update: 17 April 2019:With just a week to go before general release here, someone apparently leaked the story online with some images – the Directors (The Russo Bothers) pleaded with the fanbase NOT to share the details! And, maybe surprisingly, as a result of their plea, the leak saw virtually no air-time at all. I’m definitely sensing a backlash against those who do all this spoiling!
Update: 21 April 2019:No more Trailers, but a handy timeline, courtesy of Marvel, appeared on the BBC News website. It explained the best order to watch all 22 Movies so far, to make sense of how the bigger story unfolds. If you’re wondering about the years shown – that’s the year in which the film is set. And yes, in America, some Cinemas were showing all the Movies in one sitting (that’s 1 day, 23 hours and 48 minutes)! Really?
Yeesh! I’m not that much of a fan! 😁
Update: 23 April 2019:The World Première was last night and the invited few were exceptionally positive – and best of all, no-one gave away the plot either! Having said that, based on quite a few comments, it looks like Kleenex are the other winners here! 😪
The Odeon, Kettering
28 April 2019: So, finally, here we are, and there’s nothing left to do but sit-back, break open those sweets smuggled-in from Aldi, and enjoy the Movie. Although it was released a few days ago on the 25th April that was OK, because it meant all the super-super (super!) fans – you know, the ones who cos-play at these events, will have been and gone. So, that’s a positive! 😁😁
I picked up Jo and Janet and we headed off for what promises (for me, at least) to be the best film of the year. 👍😉. But first there was the small matter of parking the car. Normally, it’s usually not a problem, but in all the years I’ve been going to the Odeon, I have NEVER seen the car-park so full as it was tonight. In fact, it was so full, some helpful buggers had created their own parking spaces in amongst the official white lines just to make it even more tricky to get around.
As expected then, our screen was a full! And considering we’re only three days in, and it’s showing every half hour, makes me even more confident that it’s going to smash all previous Box Office records.
So, we hung about whilst they bulldozed the debris of refreshments from the previous sitting, and whilst waiting, we learned that a couple of young dudes in front of us were there for their THIRD screening. Kerchinng! Eventually we were let in, and we found our seats. Just as the lights went down, an individual who could only be described as the Hulk’s long-lost brother squeezed into the seat next to me – I’ve never seen a guy that big before – apart from in an Avengers movie!! Oh joy! No chance of me stretching-out then!
Back to the film – and this, to remind you, is spoiler-free, so it’s safe to read on…
In spite of a three-hour+ running time, it didn’t feel like it
This isn’t a movie for casual Marvel viewers, as there is loads going on most of the time
There’s plenty of stuff online abut the best time for a visit to the loo, but I’d say ‘go before you go‘ because there is very little that’s NOT important
I expected the movie to invoke a lot of emotions, but wasn’t expecting so much humour
Those in lust with Chris Hemsworth will see a part of him that will bring you back to your senses
The movie is worth a second viewing (or maybe even three) to take it all in
Some characters don’t make it to the end, but maybe not who you think!
Someone cashes in that rain-check for a dance
The final scenes will make Kleenex very satisfied with recent sales. Even my cinema-neighbour: “Hulk’s Brother” was blubbing!
There IS a post-credit scene (of sorts) but it’s easy to miss, and only lasts around 10 seconds – and you need to be eagle-eared rather than eagle-eyed. It either means nothing, something …or everything! Does it look forward or back? Only time the internet will tell
Oh, and there’s a free poster waiting for you when you leave!
Well, maybe not surprisingly, it turned out to be excellent! The Movie successfully pulled together all the loose strands of the previous flicks and in doing so, took the audience through the complete spectrum of emotions. Considering the sheer number of characters (and costumes!) it was all very enjoyable, although it did require a high level of concentration and ‘joining of the dots’.
For those of you that are interested in the numbers: This Marvel blockbuster has become the fastest film ever to break the $1bn barrier – in just 5 days. Its opening takings easily beat the previous global début record of (only!) $640m (set by last year’s Avengers: Infinity War) and was also the UK and Ireland’s biggest opening ever, with takings of £43.7m.
Jo, Janet and I went to the local Odeon to catch this, the latest Marvel Blockbuster. None of us were sure how this sequel to 2015’s Ant-Man would pan-out, but it was definitely worth it! The Screen was packed and the film was very family-friendly. Whilst it lacked the scale of previous Marvel outings, it was therefore a storyline that was easier to follow – even though the word ‘Quantum’ was frequently mentioned!
Pity then, about the noisy family in the front row, who refused to keep quiet throughout most of the presentation. Eventually they did have the good sense/manners to realise they were pi***** everyone off – and left!
Back to the Film: A great storyline with a some very clever special-effects. There was even more use of the new ‘de-aging’ technique that I first saw in the original Ant-Man movie – this time extended from not just Michael Douglas, but to Michelle Pfeiffer and Laurence Fishburne too!
Probably one of smartest aspects of the film was that you didn’t need to be up-to-speed with the current Marvel story-arc to enjoy it. But, If you are, then you’ll enjoy this even more!! And make sure you stick around during the credits for a pivotal scene that makes reference to another of Marvel’s recent movie juggernauts – Avengers: Infinity War (see my review HERE). And for real die-hards, wait right until the end for another unseen err, scene!
“Ethan Hunt and the IMF team join forces with CIA assassin August Walker to prevent a disaster of epic proportions. Arms dealer John Lark and a group of terrorists known as the Apostles plan to use three plutonium cores for a simultaneous nuclear attack on the Vatican, Jerusalem and Mecca, Saudi Arabia. When the weapons go missing, Ethan and his crew find themselves in a desperate race against time to prevent them from falling into the wrong hands”.
Not content with metaphorically breaking a leg in previous MI productions, this time, he broke something else (literally) – an ankle – doing the majority of the stunts himself! OUCH! Still, as they say: there’s no such thing as bad advertising!
So, it was off to Kettering Odeon with Jo and Janet for the 2pm performance. Excerpts (mostly focusing on the stunts rather than the storyline) had been nothing short of breath-taking.
Well, what was it like then? In short, action, action and err, more action, from start to finish (with just a few short breaks to allow the audience to get their breath and to advance the storyline). In the pre-credits opening scene, it was typical old-schoolMI where fans of the original series will probably see the outcome a mile off, but it was a nice touch. Netflix addicts will have spotted a face they’ve seen before, playing a major part in the plot as well as someone that other cinema fave – The Greatest Showman.
Wow! It used to be that the Bond movies had the edge on stunts – but no longer! Car, bikes, vans, London skylines – and even helicopters – were used and abused in pursuit of this adrenalin-fuelled actioner.
Don’t worry about the plot too much, just sit back and monitor your pulse throughout the 2 hours 28 minutes! Given the level of continuous action, the time pass in a flash!!
And for the more cerebral of you, if you like storylines to involve double-crossing and triple-crossing, be prepared to ‘up your game’ for this one! Whilst you’re at it, play ‘catch-phrase Bingo’ and see how many times you hear the phrase :“I’m working on it”.
One final point that caught my eye: look out for a major ‘reality error’ involving the London scene and the white van. Answers on a postcard please!
Phew! I think we were all exhausted when the credits rolled!
That’s a record! Off to the local Odeon again tonight – that’s two visits in a row!
Tonight, we saw the award winning movie: Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri. Ann had always wanted to see it, but we missed it first time round. For me, the motivation was more about a bucket-load of ‘40% off’ vouchers for Odeon – where the only caveat, was that they had to be used by the 15th March. Cue: a thorough look through the cinema listings!
The 6pm performance turned out to be a quiet one in terms of numbers – in fact the Billboards in the title almost outnumbered those of us watching! But was it any good given all the awards it had won? Yes, very much so! It certainly kept our attention throughout, down purely to the acting ability from the leads. It was a refreshing change too, that it wasn’t dominated by special effects. Being more of Super-hero movie fan, I didn’t think this was going be ‘my thing’. I’ve now revised ‘my things’!
Just go-see, and you won’t be disappointed! Another reason to see it, is that it’s apparently based on a true story.
SPOILER ALERT: Ignore the next few paragraphs, if you don’t want to know anything about the movie.
It doesn’t follow the normal structure of most movies, with lots of twists and turns along the way. Top top: try not to get too attached to the characters! Some aren’t around for long – and if there was an Award for the title-that-perfectly-sums-up-the-point-of-the-movie, this production would win hands-down. Frances McDormand in the lead as Mildred, more-or-less carries the film and was certainly not a woman to mess with. ‘Feisty’ doesn’t begin to describe her! Woody Harrelson as Willoughby, plays a sensitive but powerful role as the investigating police officer, whilst Sam Rockwell as Dixon turns out to be a loveable character in spite of his general incompetence.
Providing you’re OK with language with a ‘fruity factor’ that’s off the scale (including a liberal use of the ‘f word’, together with a more-than-expected sprinkling of the ‘c word’) you’ll enjoy it. It’s not billed as a comedy – the main thrust of the story-arc covers the most serious of family issues – but be prepared for humour that often errs towards a very darkest shade of black! Sometimes the laughs are obvious – almost slapstick – and sometimes they’re so subtle, they’d be easy to miss (Peter Dinklage for example, going to the ‘little boys room’).
Be warned though, with this film, it’s hard to predict what coming next. When it’s not tickling your funny-bone, some of the scenes of violence contain some a very serious amount of blood – it’s all acceptable in context, but it’s not for the squeamish.
The movie will take you on a roller-coaster of emotions and feelings, including plenty of sadness, despair, determination, optimism, revenge and many, many more!
It thoroughly exceeded my expectations and I’m pleased I saw it. I’ve docked it half-a-star only because given how entertaining it was, some potential audiences won’t see it (because Sky and others won’t be able to over-dub it that much without ruining the flow of the narrative!) /won’t want to see it because of the bad language.
No, not our home town’s answer to Debbie does Dallas, but a first for us – Live Opera in Kettering! We caught the live screening of the 2018 production of Carmen streamed all the way from the Royal Opera House in London. It was also being seen in another 1056 cinemas across 29 countries. Wow!
Initially, it all felt a bit weird sitting in the local cinema waiting for Opera. On the plus side however:-
No overlong excerpts for ‘future presentations at this theatre’
A distinct lack of Kettering-ites aiming to use up their monthly mobile allowance by constantly tapping away on their phones
A complete absence of any ‘separate conversations’ by the audience during the performance
Absolutely no sign of heavy consumption of troughs of chilli and nachos at any time!
For us, that was all we needed for this to be a unique and enjoyable evening at the flicks!
But, clearly not the appointment-to-view event for most of Kettering, as with just 10 minutes before curtain-up, the seats were mostly empty!
However, with all the precision timing of a schoolboy arriving before the morning bell – with just two minutes to go, the Screen peaked at 50% capacity – and that’s how it remained as clearly, EastEnders had the edge!
The performance was billed as a ‘fresh point of view’ of Carmen – and that would mean one of two things: complete incomprehension or (happily, as things turned out) a thoroughly entertaining couple of hours, even though one scene where Carmen – played in super-smouldering mode throughout – by Ann Goryachova was dressed in a monkey suit!!!
Yes, really!!! Answers on a postcard, I think!
Barrie Kosky, the Australian Director was responsible for injecting a new direction into this version of Carmen, and for us, it was a complete delight. Although, it seems that online reviews overnight were very mixed and very polarised – and even its supporters aren’t able to explain the rationale of the appearance of King Kong’s sister!
But hey!, with the best seats in the house, superb audio (great channel separation!), a crystal-clear picture, and a useful intro piece on-screen thanks to (clearly-a-mother-soon-to-be) Hayley Gittins it set the scene for the evening, and all-in-all, it was very well done. Simply put, a joy for the senses.
Technically speaking, In particular, the ‘front-on’ camera angle and the subtle mixing of the actual audience noise feeding through the Odeon speakers meant you did really feel like you were there.
The ROH had also maximised the potential of social media platforms for this performance with Twitter, especially, buzzing (in a good way) when I checked during the interval. Perfect!
OK, it was a long production – at 3 hours, 20 minutes – and ordinarily that would have been a real ‘test’ in the somewhat cramped seats at the Royal Opera House. Additionally, there would always have been ‘the joy’ of the exit scrum, plus a late night train home (or a night-over, adding to the cost of the evening).
Talking more specifically of costs, if we’d gone to the smoke, we probably would have paid £60 each for tickets (the cheap ones), £40 quid for rail tickets, and another £60 for a meal. Tonight, it was simply a 10 minute drive, a smuggled-in bottle of water, a banana, and a total outlay of less than the price of a full tank of fuel ! It was job done and we’re quids in!!
Talking of animals, I need to mention the elephant in the room (rather than the heroine in the monkey suit) – the subtitles! When the production started, we already knew that the it was going to be sung in French, but where was the translation? For the first 17 minutes we were all relying on our recollection of our O Level! Cue a couple of red-face Odeon officials in the audience who snuck-out, and a few seconds later, an ugly on-screen graphic took up a quarter of the screen – just like your DVD player – where [Subtitles ENG] was quickly highlighted and clicked by ‘der management’.
“L’éléphant a maintenant quitté le bâtiment”
But it didn’t stop our enjoyment – and I think, going forward, this may be our new way to enjoy opera, especially those that we’re less familiar with.
Click on the images for larger versions
One final point – be prepared for the chink of fine china (not a racist comment). Clearly, some of our fellow audience had done this before! A bit like the open-air picnics where there’s always one group who wants to make it more than it is by bringing their candelabra – tonight we witnessed one group who had literally brought a picnic! During the interval, out came the ‘Sunday Best’ in terms of crockery and cutlery!
We Brits, we know how to turn an ordinary event into a special occasion!