Film: TENET

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Here we are then, my first visit to the cinema since before lockdown. And what better movie to blow the cobwebs away than Christopher Nolan’s latest epic – TENET? Nolan is famous for his dislike of green-screen and CGI, so we were looking forward not only to the story, but the ‘set pieces’ too. Apparently, it’s more like Nolan’s Inception than his recent Dunkirk.

Jo, Janet and I set off for Cineworld at Rushden Lakes for the socially-distanced 7pm performance – the IMAX version of course! 👍 (What? You’ve never seen a film on an IMAX screen? – more details HERE).

Official Trailer from 8 months ago

All the hype about this movie suggested a brain-scrambling plot involving time-travel, and that’s all we knew. The cinema-screen was about a third full and everyone seemed to be observing the wearing of masks (until the lights went down because obviously, COVID can’t travel when it can’t see! 🙄). After sitting through what seemed like a million cycles of Cineworld’s ‘unlimited’ advert, the main event finally began – that massive IMAX screen looked fantastic but the centre (voice) channel was a bit muffled.

Latest Trailer from a few days ago

How Was It?

In true Director style, Christopher Nolan’s cinematography was epic featuring scenes that made the most of the big-screen. If our hero (‘The Protaganist’) doesn’t win an Oscar for his performance then he’ll surely win the ‘Most Perfectly Manicured Beard’ award! 😁.

Nolan has a habit of always casting Michael Caine in his movies, but in this outing, his part was small – albeit significant. Kenneth Branagh was the baddest (and nastiest) bad-guy I’ve seen in a while.

Why crash a jumbo-jet using the latest post-production SFX when you can use the real thing – and with car-chases a staple of many films of this genre, to stand out from the crowd, Nolan does the same – but films much of it backwards??! 😮 Standout moments for me were the ambushing of the security vehicle involving a perfectly choreographed 10-minutes of multi-vehicle manoeuvering – remember, no CGI here, just good ol’ fashioned planning and precision, perfectly executed.

TENET was one of those movies that demanded that you pay attention. A quick visit to the loo could spell a disaster in that every minute was relevent to the story.

With the actress and the bishop on standby, apart from Michael Caine’s ‘small part’, it was a really long one (ooo err!), coming in at a whopping 2 hours and 30 minutes!

Overall then? Well, I guess this film might be looked back on in years-to-come as either a masterpiece or a complete dud. For us three, and me in particular, it felt like the latter – a totally incomprehensive mess, clever in concept, but completely confusing with a plot that demanded a very large brain and 199% attention! The poor sound quality of the narrative channel didn’t help things either.

Rating: 1 out of 5.

or

Rating: 4 out of 5.

If you’re looking for a Saturday-night-style blockbuster, this IS it, but if you want a coherent plot with a beginning, middle and end – this ISN’T!

In short, BIG and BAFFLING and totally BANANAS! 🤔🤔🤔

Film: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

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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!

The Skywalker Saga

Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999)
Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002)
Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005)
Episode IV – A New Hope (1977)
Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983)
Episode VII – The Force Awakens (2015)
Episode VIII – The Last Jedi (2017)
Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker
(2019)

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!😍

♪♪ Thunderbolts and lightning, very, very frightening! ♪♪

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With both A Star is Born and Bohemian Rhapsody (planned for LunaFlix’s outdoor cinema this weekend at Boughton House) postponed because of the weather forecast, we needed a ‘Plan B’!

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!

And what of the Movie? Actually, it was very good, and a respectful (slight) re-interpretation of the 1977 version starring Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson (itself a remake of the original 1937 starring Janet Gaynor and Fredric March). It was well acted – and very well sung (especially Bradley Cooper who also learned to play the guitar for the part!)

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’.

Happy days! 😁👍

Movie of the Year: ‘Avengers: Endgame’

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If Sci-Fi is your preferred film genre, then I reckon this movie is as important as 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and Star Wars (1977)… Read on…

One of the many promotional Posters

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!

Phase 1

Iron Man (2008)
The Incredible Hulk (2008)
Iron Man 2 (2010)
Thor (2011)
Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
Marvel’s The Avengers (2012)


Phase 2

Iron Man 3 (2013)
Thor: The Dark World (2013)
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
Ant-Man (2015)


Phase 3

Captain America: Civil War (2016)
Doctor Strange (2016)
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)
Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
Black Panther (2018)
Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)
Captain Marvel (2019)
SpiderMan: Far from Home (2019)


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, 2019Box Office receipts globally exceed TWO billion dollars!

Thanks to Box Office Mojo for the Charts

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.


Phase 4

Black Widow
The Eternals
Doctor Strange 2
Black Panther 2
Shang-Chi
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

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’! 🤔

1st Official Trailer (7 December 2018)

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!) 😉

2nd Official Trailer (April 2019)

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! 👍👍

Final Official Trailer (Mid-April 2019)

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.

Ooops!

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!

#DontSpoilTheEndgame

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! 😪

Sadly, no invitation!

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.


Worldwide Box Office as at Sunday, 28th April

$1,200,000,000

Phew!










Film: Ant-Man and The Wasp

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Ant-Man and The Wasp

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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!
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It had (mostly) a very light-hearted with a regular comedic tone where the leads: Paul Rudd as Scott Lang/Ant-Man and Evangeline Lilly as Hope Van Dyne/The Wasp formed a great partnership in every sense. Together with some some big Hollywood movie-names in support – Michelle Pfeiffer as Janet Van Dyne/The original Wasp, Laurence Fishburne as Dr. Bill Foster and Michael Douglas as Dr. Hank Pym – it gave the 1 hour 58 minute movie some extra credibility.

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!
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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!

All-in-all a real ‘go see’ movie!
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Film: Mission: Impossible – Fallout

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Surely there cant be any more impossible missions for the IMF to sort out, but it hasn’t stopped Tom Cruise squeezing more out of the franchise!

Mission: Impossible - Fallout
five star
So here we are at M:I-6 aka Mission: Impossible – Fallout and the synopsis (should you wish to accept it) is below…

“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-school MI 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!!
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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”.
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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!
Winking smile
Phew! I think we were all exhausted when the credits rolled!
Confused smile

Film: Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri

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That’s a record! Off to the local Odeon again tonight – that’s two visits in a row!
 Poster - Three Billboards outside Ebbing Missouri

4halfstar
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!
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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’!
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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!
Surprised smile
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’).
Winking smile
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.
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