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! ๐Ÿ‘ (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! ๐Ÿ™„). 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! ๐Ÿ˜.

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??! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ 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! ๐Ÿค”๐Ÿค”๐Ÿค”

The Vast and the Curious

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Off to the vastness of an iMax screen this evening (courtesy of Cineworld, Rushden Lakes) with Jo and Janet. I’m curious to see if the ‘love-child’ of the mighty Fast and Furious franchise is any good. Step forward then, the imaginatively titled: Fast and Furious: Hobbs & Shaw.

Petrol-heads Rejoice…

When the first Fast and Furious movie unleashed itself in cinemas back in 2001, even I (as a self-confessed petrol-head) didn’t expect it to capture the hearts, and minds wallets and purses of the general public in the way it did. Almost twenty-years later, and after eight instalments, it’s pulled-in around $10 billion at the Box-office and there’s a ninth movie in the works, a spin-off TV series planned, a Theme Park in America, and even a Live Show to satisfy demand!

Phew! Just shows you how much I know! ๐Ÿ˜

So, what of this ‘love-child’? Well, ‘War and Peace’ it isn’t; and I was pretty sure, as with its ‘parents’, I could leave my brain at home, and simply wallow in a wafer-thin plot.

The tongue-twisty title is derived from the names of two of the main characters who’d appeared in previous F&F outings: Luke Hobbs and Deckard Shaw (Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham). Unlike the movie’s bloodline though, this movie’s been written as an ‘action/spy/comedy’, and so it’ll be interesting to see how the characters interact and whether they can pull-off the change of genre. Comedy is a serious business! ๐Ÿ˜

Start your Engines…

4.50pm: We were soon settling-down in the very comfortable i-Max seats (the rows are also slightly raked to take in the added height of the screen). Judging by the number of people in the audience, either we’d missed the rush, or word had got around and we were going to be disappointed! Ooo-err Missus! ๐Ÿ™„

Whilst the scenes featuring the cars and bikes will probably be what the movie is remembered for, some big movie names were there to help out! Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Idris Elba, Vanessa Kirby and even Dame Helen Mirren (who’s not known for her action flicks!) acted with conviction.

My plan to ‘travel light’ and leave my brain at home, worked perfectly – it wasn’t needed at all apart from choosing the chocolate and my soft-drink beforehand! The movie was mostly set in and around London with some impressive ‘set-pieces’ involving (you guessed it) multiple vehicle chases.

The promised comedic element was more ‘giggle’ than ‘laugh-out-loud’ and I can’t help but think they could have easily played the movie completely straight without losing any of the narrative structure. Overall, with the film’s script ‘by-the-numbers’, stereotypical characters, over-indulgent violence (with male testosterone on overtime), under-pinned by the ‘down-with-the-yoof’ soundtrack, it all contributed to a wholly predictable 135 minutes of constant mind-numbing action!

7.05pm: Consequently, by the end, we were all exhausted!! ๐Ÿฅฑ

In other words then, a perfect Sunday afternoon at the flicks and totally in keeping with previous Fast & Furious movies – and it definitely packed more of a punch on the super-clear, large iMax screen.

I’m not sure it’s worthy of a sequel, but as I may have said before: ‘What do I know?‘ ๐Ÿค”

…Oh, and just like another well-known film franchise, stick around for the mid and end credit scenes that set up the next movie in the franchise – Oh joy, another opportunity to enjoy a brain-free afternoon!

Film: Spiderman: Far from Home

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We travelled not far from home today, returning to Cineworld at Rushden Lakes.
This time, to catch the latest Marvel Super-hero Movie: Spiderman: Far from Home.

4.5 stars

And not just any old film presentation! We chose the iMax version (and in 3D too!). What a feast for the senses! ๐Ÿ˜ต

What is ‘iMax’ anyway?

An iMax presentation is a superior film presentation technology showing on a much larger screen (both width and height). A standard iMax screen is a whopping great 72ft by 53ft, but even larger ones exist around the world (see below). iMax movies also feature a sharper picture with superior sound quality, normally across (at least) six separate audio channels.

Special cameras are used during the original filming to capture the much higher-quality picture and soundtrack. To leave more room on the film track for maximum picture quality, the audio is recorded separately. Cameras are costly, at around $12000-16000 per week to rent – and there are fewer than 100 of them in total around the world.

The iMax screen ratio is different from a typical widescreen TV (normally 16:9 ratio) and most other cinema film formats – as iMax favours a unique 1.90:1 ratio. Two separate projectors are used, and in the case of 3D presentations, it’s one projector for each eye! In a typical iMax Cinema, the seating is more highly-raked to give the audience a more immersive feel – but the seats do not recline in order to optimise the iMax 3D effect.

As I write this, Germany is about to open the biggest iMax screen in the world (a massive 122ft by 72ft) but Darling Harbour in Sydney is re-building their iMax cinema to regain the title (due for re-opening in 2020).

For those who appreciate iMax nerdiness, there’s a longer article HERE

We picked Jo and Janet up at 3.45 and headed for our destination and the 4.20pm performance. A typical Saturday at Rushden Lakes meant that parking was err, ‘challenging’ – and that included the majority of the electric charging points too! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ.

Luckily (and pretty close to the cinema itself) we spotted an empty charging-bay and we parked-up quicker than you can say ‘kilowatt’.

After grabbing some drinks, we headed for the iMax screen armed with our free 3D glasses. We were soon seated in row ‘M’ (almost at the back and perfectly central to enjoy the best view). Surprisingly, I’d say that the Screen was only about a third full (but maybe other fans had seen it earlier in the week when it was first released).

Unlike other screens here, the iMax seats DON’T recline, but even so, they were very comfortable! Word to the wise! – avoid Row L for a while, as a Marvel fan in front of us managed to completely spill her two-gallon bucket of Coke on the nearly new seats! ๐Ÿ™„ – and that was before the Movie had started!! Even Spiderman’s hands are that ‘sticky’! ๐Ÿ˜‚

On the dot of 4.20, we slipped on our 3D glasses and we were off!

Wow! The 3D effects were amazing, and the picture itself was pin-sharp! Apart from our first visit here earlier in the week, I can’t recall ever seeing such a clear picture (maybe apart of the film: ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ that we’d seen at the local Odeon back in November, 2017).

As the story unfolded, it became clear this wasn’t a typical super-hero yarn, and it therefore required a fair bit of concentration. There’s a massive plot-twist around an hour in, but it’s OK, I won’t reveal the details here; suffice to say, it’s not a good time to pop to the loo!

The SFX were simply outstanding – but that’s becoming the norm these days! Even so, we were still mightily impressed! As an example, if you have a familiarity with London’s Tower Bridge and the surrounding area, then prepare to be amazed… and some! ๐Ÿ˜›

Like all Marvel films, it’s wise to sit through the end of the credits, not just to see the sheer amount of talent it took to get this latest blockbuster to screen, but to gain a clue-or-two as to what’s next for the Marvel-verse.

Even without any 3D effects this is a must-see movie for Marvel fans – and even if you’re not, it’s a very engaging and watchable adventure. Go see!

On the way out, we slipped into Heavenly Dessert nearby for some err, heavenly desserts! By the time we’d finished eating, Robert (our e-Niro) had been on charge for a little over 3ยฝ hours – it turned out to be have been enough time to completely ‘top the car up’ – and best of all, for zero cost! Happy days!! ๐Ÿ˜

Film: Rocketman

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We took the short drive over to Rushden Lakes today – this time, not for shopping! (some mistake surely) – but in consolation, we did sneak in a cheeky dessert courtesy of Heavenly Desserts!

Instead of shopping, it was our first visit to their shiny new, two-week-old, Cineworld cinema (their 100th opening in fact!). We saw Rocketman, the biographical film based on the life of musical legend Elton John.

Directed by Dexter Fletcher and written by Lee Hall, it stars Taron Egerton as the titular singer, with Jamie Bell, Richard Madden, and Bryce Dallas Howard in strong supporting roles.

Having also seen Bohemian Rhapsody back in November, comparisons were going to inevitable, but we went with open minds (and ears!)

Mostly chronological, it charted Elton’s life from a young boy, and didn’t hold back on those three rock-star essentials – sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. With that in mind, it’s probably not a film for Grandma, and best to leave the sprogs on the cinema’s climbing wall in Reception!

Taron Egerton more than held his own singing the Elton John staples, and if he ever gets bored of acting, a singing career awaits! Unlike Bohemian Rhapsody, the songs had, in most cases, been re-orchestrated to complement and follow the storyline – it worked really well with an uncanny match of the lyrics to the scene’s mood. Overall, the movie followed a deeper and darker theme throughout compared with Queen’s equivalent – and in places, was even sadder (Who’d be a pop-megastar ehh???) ๐Ÿ˜•

Having said all that, I was hooked throughout! What a movie! For me, easily the best I’ve seen in a long, long while – and I’m not a particular fan of Elton’s music, nor actors trying their hand at singing!

And therefore, I suppose, the inevitable question has to be answered: “Was it better than Bohemian Rhapsody?” With its more graphic storyline, for me, most definitely, “yes”.

A must-see movie! ๐Ÿ˜

And the Cinema itself..?

I can’t recall the last time we went to a Cineworld cinema – we tend to plump for Odeon, only because there seems to be more of them around. Actually, a quick search of my Blog revealed we’d been to MK’s Cineworld back in January 2018 to see Darkest Hour (free tickets courtesy of Sky) – my memory is definitely getting worse! ๐Ÿ˜ฒ

First impressions of were very positive ones! First of all, it’s massive inside! So large in fact, it has its own climbing wall for the kiddies (and why not!?). The whole place was scrupulously clean and with major areas bathed in red neon, it looked very inviting. The cleanliness extended to the loos too! Inside Screen 1, the seats were super-comfortable and the sort that recline. The picture quality on-screen was eye-popping – the best I’ve ever seen in any cinema anywhere – pin-sharp and with audio to match. Our expectations were well-and-truly exceeded (and that doesn’t happen too often these days! ๐Ÿ‘).

In fact, it made our local Odeon look very shabby by comparison! We were so impressed, we’re going back again on Saturday – this time to see Marvel Studios’ latest: Spiderman: Far from Home (and I have a feeling, we’ll be making quite a few more visits in the future).