The Warrior Queen of Jhansi

A decent if not very basic look at a legendary Queen

What it’s about

Loosely based on true events. Freedom fighter Rani of Jhansi shifts the balance of power by leading her people into battle against the British Empire in 1857 India. Her insurrection set in motion the demise of the British East India Company.

What you will learn from watching it

​This film is done very well in regards to providing a very simplistic snapshot of the political situation in the providence of Jhansi in regards to the rule of the British East India company, it also captures very well what really went so wrong with the British East India company.

But before getting onto that, one thing is clear there is nothing in-depth about this, so this is a very very simplistic near enough back of a cigarette packet look at the situation of the time, so what caused the uprising in the mid-1800s and how the British East India company responded to it. It is also a very PG look, so this is a very light story which considering that it covers subjects like mass rape and murder, as well as a fifteen-year-old Queen marrying a much older king, may lead some to wonder whether the film does the story justice.

But on the flipside this is a film that younger people could quite easily watch, and I imagine if I had a youngest daughter this would be a great film to watch with her. And that’s because this is a story that is very much of the inspirational sort, a film which shows that even in the past there truly were women who could kick ass and inspire.

Now to how it shows quite well just what was so wrong with the leadership of the British East India Company, perhaps the best example comes when one of the shareholders proudly states that he is sixth generation shareholder. Meaning he sure as hell did not earn his role.

This is a clever piece of dialogue because in a very simple way it highlights one of the biggest problems of the British Empire, and that was how the people running it rarely earned their position and more often, in fact pretty much in every case inherited it, and the more this happened the more the Empire fell into decay and the more wrongdoings the Empire ended up committing. For example what led to the Indian uprising in the first place was a catastrophic error on the part of the British East India Company – the bullets were made using cow and pig fat, something which was sacrilege to the Indians of the time.

But like said this it is very much a back of the packet of cigarettes telling of what happened and what the situation was. But it gives that packet of cigarettes type review in a very clear and intelligible way, making it a great starting point for perhaps someone young to gain knowledge of a very inspirational historical figure, but for the adult market perhaps lacking in depth.

Is the story any good

Director Swati Bhise has created a hit and miss film, the drama and storytelling is quite good but at the same time it feels that such powerful historical figure of Rani Laxmibai deserved a more in-depth story, something that really got into the nitty-gritty of just who she was, the hurdles she had to face, and just what she had to overcome to truly become the Warrior Queen.

But like said as a PG version it works, and is a fun and inspiring story. The only real letdown is the fight scenes, firstly she slaughters British troops in a way similar to how Arnold Schwarzenegger kills the bad guys in a typical action flick.

The difference of course is whereas in Arnold’s world firstly due to his size he does look like he could do some damage, but secondly due to the type of films he stars in these types of unrealistic feats are expected.

In this film not only does it not seem believable that Devika Bhise’s Queen Rani could do the type of damage that she does, at the same time it doesn’t feel the type of film where you would expect such feats to be possible.

For example, in one scene at the end she is surrounded by British troops and my first thought was why the heck did one of the troops just shoot her, surely they would have done.

In a typical action flick you would not think such a thing because you expect such things from that type of film, the problem this film has you expect a little bit of realism but in the fight scenes it just feels like there is none and it pushes poetic licence just a little bit too far.

Really I think the problem is the director seemed to be unable to decide whether she wanted this to be a film based on realism or a fantasy version of it. So something that turns the Warrior Queen more into a mythical figure than a real figure. At times it feels like you are being asked to see this as a realistic tale, at other times it feels like you are being asked to see this as a mythical tale.

But ignoring this if you look past the fight scenes, this still tells a decent story.

Final words

If you are interested in learning a little bit about British/Indian history specifically the uprising in the mid-1800s but do not want to go in depth in your learning, this film presents a decent solution by telling the story of a person who is in effect a true real life kick ass Queen. But remember when watching this not to expect anything in depth, this is just like I say a very simple back of a cigarette packet style look at one of history’s great figures. It is also very PG which means it is great for perhaps showing to a young daughter as means of inspiration but not so great for someone wanting a more in-depth look at a legendary historical figure.

But despite that this film still gets a thumbs up from me, as it is a fun watch.

Director: Swati Bhise

Writer: Devika Bhise, Swati Bhise, Olivia Emden

Genre: historical drama, action

Year: 2019

Runtime: 104 minutes

True Lies

A brilliant but equally hilarious action thriller

What it’s about

The life of a fearless globetrotting secret agent, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger, takes a shocking turn when he suspects his wife of having an extramarital affair with a used-car salesman who is posing as a secret agent. He must now not only save the world but also save his own marriage.

My thoughts

This has everything you want from an Arnold Schwarzenegger action flick, so full of one-liners, a good amount of comedy, and much ass kicking. But it is not a conventional action flick, it is in fact an action film combined with a domestic comedy, two genres that not many people would ever think of combining.

But this is James Cameron, a man who is indisputably the king of making great films. And this is a great film, and perhaps what makes this film one of Arnie’s best non-terminator outings is the relationship between Schwarzenegger himself and his on-screen wife, who is played by Jamie Lee Curtis.

Basically Helen Tasker, wife of Harry Tasker, has no idea that Harry is a secret agent and in fact believes him to be an extremely boring computer salesman. Their marriage is dull, so dull that when a snake car salesman pretends to be a secret agent in an effort to lull her into bed, she falls for it.

Arnie’s Harry Tasker though, gets wind of this cue hilarity. Anyhow while hilariously trying to save his marriage he loses sight of his main mission which is of stopping a terrorist from using four nuclear warheads which have been smuggled into the US.

This leads to both he and his wife being kidnapped by the terrorists. Much kick ass’ery then ensues, along with much hilarity, perhaps two of the funniest moments coming firstly when Jamie Lee Curtis’ Helen Tasker drops a machine gun and it falls down a flight of stairs, in the process taking out all the terrorists, and then secondly later on in the film when the terrorists find themselves in a precarious position in a van which hangs over the edge of the bridge. They think that they are safe and that they are not going to fall over the edge, but then a bird lands on the bonnet. Guess what happens next, goodbye terrorists.

The best one-liner and the one to watch out for in this film inevitably comes at the end, it is not one of his best but is still highly effective. (Spoiler alert) While flying a fighter jet, the terrorist gets hung up on one of the rockets, before releasing the rocket and sending the terrorist to his doom, Arnie says, “you’re fired”, and he says it in that way that only Arnie can.

All in all this is a highly entertaining watch, and without a doubt one of Arnie’s best in the more slapstick style action hero genre. For that reason, along with the fact that it’s an Arnold Schwarzenegger film (I’m a big fan), from me it gets a big thumbs up.

​​Director: James Cameron

Writer: James Cameron

Genre: action, comedy, thriller

Year: 1994

​Runtime: 141 minutes

The Finest Hours

An Amazing Story Made More Amazing by the Fact That It Is a True Story

What it’s about

Set in 1952, this is the true story of where four coast guards brave a deadly storm in an effort to rescue the survivors of an oil-tanker, which has split in half, and is fast sinking.

My thoughts

This film was basically a box office flop, and critics called it old-fashioned to a fault which translates to its uses an older filmmaking style which in reality means it uses a slower style of pacing than modern films.

I have to say I agree with this opinion and because of this it is not a film I could see myself ever feeling compelled to go to the cinema to see which is likely why it flopped. As a film to watch on TV though I have to say it is a solid watch.

It is based upon the 2010 book, The Finest Hours: The True Story of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Most Daring Sea Rescue, which was written by Michael J. Tougias and Casey Sherman. And this book tells the true story of what happened on that fateful day back in 1952.

In terms of how true to the story the film is, extremely so. Only small scale changes have been made, for example in real life he is married to his wife when the rescue happens, whereas in the film it follows the story of him meeting her and getting engaged to her. But the courtship that is shown in the film is a largely accurate account of how they got together including the fact that she was the one to ask him to get married.

Also in the film we see the crew of the oil tanker crash the ship onto a shoal in an effort to stop it from sinking, this did not actually happen. Another minor change is that on the way home it was a lighthouse light which showed them the way home not his fiancée parking her car at the waterfront and switching on the beams.

So the changes that have been made in reality are small-scale ones which have been made mostly for the purposes of concise storytelling along with adding some dramatic effect.

All in all that means this film tells a highly accurate account of what happened and just how amazing what they did that day really was, and what they did really was amazing, I mean it has to be said the fact that they went out there, into a hurricane class storm in the boat that they did, a boat that was only designed to rescue twelve people and yet they brought back thirty-two people. It is simply staggering. The fact that they also really lost their compass when barely out of the harbour and not only did they not turn back but still managed to find the oil tanker and make it back home just makes it even more insane.

That means yes, this film’s pacing will feel at times a little bit slow especially during the periods which focus upon Bernie’s fiancé as she struggles to deal with just what it is he is doing, but the true story and the fact they stay so true to it makes this film not just a compelling watch but a most definitely worthy watch.

That means from me this film gets a big thumbs up because this is simply a story which beggars belief and is a story which deserves to be told and needs to be seen because it will prove to anyone just what lengths people will go, the sacrifices people are willing to make, just to save lives. And one thing I love more than anything is an amazing story and that’s what this is.

​​Director: Craig Gillespie

Writer: Scott Silver, Paul Tomasy, Eric Johnson

Genre: action, drama, history

Year: 2016

​Runtime: 117 minutes

The Martian

Superb Story of Survival Told with a Positive Attitude

What it’s about

When astronauts blast off from the planet Mars, they leave behind Mark Watney (Matt Damon), presumed dead after a fierce storm. With only a meager amount of supplies, the stranded visitor must utilize his wits and spirit to find a way to survive on the hostile planet. Meanwhile, back on Earth, members of NASA and a team of international scientists work tirelessly to bring him home, while his crew mates hatch their own plan for a daring rescue mission.

My thoughts

One thing about this film right off the bat, the visuals are brilliant and it really does make you feel like Matt Damon’s character is trapped on Mars. In regards to the story, it is one of isolation but isolation with a positive attitude which means Matt Damon’s character never feels as isolated as he actually is trapped in hostile conditions one hundred and forty million miles from Earth.

Some could argue that that is a bad thing, but I’m not one of those as I believe that to survive such a situation a positive attitude would most definitely be needed and his positive attitude makes you truly believe that he can not only survive on Mars but make it back home.

That means that this is not one of those nitty-gritty doom and gloom I’m all alone films, this is one of those super positive attitude there is nothing I cannot achieve if I put my mind to it films. That means if anything goes wrong the lead character is just going to smile, get over it and solve the problem, then the next problem, then the next problem and so on. And I have to say a big fan of films like this as I do love a positive attitude.

In regards to the story, it is derived from the smash hit book of the same name which was written by Andy Weir back in 2011. What made the book so compelling was that it came about as a result of Andy Weir wanting to work out the logistics for a journey to Mars.

That led to him posting his chapters on his website as he wrote them, with his fellow science buff friends many of whom were highly skilled people nitpicking the science until the point that the book told a story that was extremely realistic in regard to both the science and the realities of both a mission to Mars and just how difficult it would be to save a person should they become stranded on Mars.

In one of the best things about the film, is that it has largely stayed true to the idea of using present-day science to tell a story of a person being trapped on Mars, along with how difficult it would be to save a person stranded on Mars, along with how difficult it would be for a person stranded on Mars to survive. That means this is to an extent a film which tells a realistic story. Meaning if you want to know how we would save a person trapped on Mars this film will within reason give you a good idea.

One thing I will say is that due to the type of story this is the main character spends the majority of the film alone, and one of the big dangers of doing this is that due to this fact it becomes a straight up bore fest, and what can make things worse is that often the character ends up talking to themselves but not in a natural way, in an exposition laden way. That means that rather than just showing us the story they end up having the main character telling us the story.

Thankfully director Ridley Scott has navigated this issue well, with the moments where Matt Damon talks to himself actually adding to the film, namely by not only showing just how positive he is but also by providing some excellent moments of comedic relief. And in a film that runs for close to 2 1/2 hours and in which for the most part the lead character is alone that is definitely a good thing.

All in all that means this is film with a positive attitude that uses realistic science to tell a story of how a man in the present day should he get trapped on Mars would both survive and be rescued, and the execution of the story is brilliant and for that reason along with the fact that this is good fun film to watch, from me it gets a big thumbs up.

​​Director: Ridley Scott

Writer: Drew Goddard, Andy Weir

Genre: adventure, drama, sci-fi

Year: 2015

​Runtime: 144 minutes

Vantage Point

Solid Action Thriller Told in a Unique Way

What it’s about

US President Henry Ashton attends a summit in Spain to sign a treaty but is shot by an unknown sniper. Subsequently, an explosion takes place in the square, which leads to absolute chaos.

My thoughts

Despite the unique storytelling style this is basically a run-of-the-mill action film, so someone gets shot in this case the president, someone has to chase the shooter and there is much shooting and a car chase from a car which has been commandeered et cetera et cetera.

In terms of the unique story making style, basically as said the president is assassinated and the moments leading up to and right after the assassination are told from several different perspectives.

What this means is rather than a normal film in which time moves normally, we watch the same moment happen several times over but from the perspectives of different characters, each character providing another piece of the puzzle.

With that said first things first about this film it is short, and considering that in reality it is only telling a period of time of about thirty minutes or so in total, and is telling those thirty minutes again and again but from different perspectives, and there is not any depth to the story, it needs to be.

In terms of whether it works, after the fourth or fifth perspective change the film starts to drag namely because it is only reaching the point of the assassination and not moving beyond it, and there is not much story to it, but thankfully the director has realised that this is the limit and has allowed the film to really kick on from this point with the action properly taking off.

And when the action takes off this becomes a surprisingly pleasing to watch action thriller, nothing special which is likely why it receives such a poor critical response, but as an action film it is entertaining. The only real gripe I have with it is how it ends, without giving anything away basically rather than Dennis Quaid’s character using his smarts to save the day, basically he gets lucky.

I have to say I am not a fan at all of endings where the good guy only saves the day because of pure luck, it just screams of laziness from both the director and writer. And I have to say I believe this film deserved a better ending. In fact it deserved a better story full stop, especially considering this was a film told using such a unique style. It was just begging a more compelling story than just your standard run-of-the-mill action film story of someone gets shot good guy chases bad guy et cetera et cetera.

But that aside this is still a highly watchable action film which is told in a unique way, and as Dennis Quaid and Forest Whitaker put in solid performances as the lead characters, that means all in all this film gets a thumbs up from me.

​​Director: Pete Travis

Writer: Barry L Levy

Genre: action, thriller, crime

Year: 2008

​Runtime: 90 minutes

The One and Only Ivan

A simple story told very well

What it’s about

The story for this film is derived from the true story of Ivan, a gorilla who for twenty-seven years lived in an American mall and never saw the light of day. It is of course a fictionalised account, the fact that you can talk probably gave that away. And that fictionalised account goes along the lines of Ivan, a gorilla, who lives in the Big Top Mall with his fellow animal acts, and a dog who as his best friend, sees his life change when a baby elephant named Ruby joins their act, and he makes a promise to her that she will see freedom.

My thoughts

This is one of those films where if you read the tagline it sounds like it is going to be one of those films which uses a real story to create a fictionalised typical Disney style straight to TV film.

Nothing wrong with that as Disney are very good at making such films, films which inevitably have that great feelgood factor to them. That is to say you know what you are getting, a grumpy person is set in their way, someone young comes in and changes everything, and they set off on a wondrous journey which after a few bumps along the way leads to a happy ending.

This film follows that MO to the T, but again that is not a bad thing and when the film starts you get the feeling that it is going to be a typical straight to TV style Disney film. Especially when the gorilla starts talking at the beginning, as good as the gorilla is it just reeks of low-budget.

And the chicken, there is a chicken, and that chicken to say the least the CGI is just terrible. They don’t even try to make it look real. But again that is just expected for what this film appears that it is going to be.

But this film is not what it appears it is going to be, it is in fact a lot more than it appears it is going to be, because to say the least if you can look past the poor CGI this film tells a simple and age-old story but it does so in a brilliant way.

Mike White derived the screenplay from a children’s book written by Katherine Applegate telling a fictionalised version of Ivan’s story and Thea Sharrock has done a great job at bringing that screenplay to life because it has to be said this is just one of those films that really pulls on the heartstrings. It will not blow your mind but that because it doesn’t want to, what this film wants to do is to leave you by the end with the feelgood factor, and it sure as heck will leave you by the end with that feelgood factor along with the feeling that it has been worth your while watching.

What that means is if you can look past the poor CGI and the fact that this is a heavily fictionalised account of Ivan’s true story (which is an amazing thing in itself), then this film is most definitely worth watching and fits the bill of an amazing story.

But like said it will only come across this way if you are willing to look beyond what it is not and see it for what it is. A very simple story told in a brilliant way.

All in all for that reason it gets a solid thumbs up from me.

​​Director: Thea Sharrock

Writer: Mike White

Genre: family, adventure, fantasy

Year: 2020

​Runtime: 95 minutes

Don’t Let Go

A Film That Will Pleasantly Surprise You

What it’s about

Detective Jack Radcliff gets a shocking phone call from his recently murdered niece Ashley. Working together across time, they race to solve the crime before it can happen.

My thoughts

The time travel genre has been done to death over the years which makes finding a new angle from which to use time travel difficult, but this film manages to do just that, the story feeling both fresh and unique.

However, it should be noted this film is a slow starter and many could miss out as a result by switching off too soon. That would be a mistake, because once this film gets going it doesn’t hold back, David Oyelowo and Storm Reid respectively putting in solid performances as detective Jack Radcliff and his niece Ashley.

It’s not a film that’s going to change your life, but it is a film that will pleasantly surprise you. The idea of getting a phone call from your dead niece who is alive and well in the past after all is a mind-boggling notion in its own right, and writer/director Jacob Estes does not miss a beat in using this to build a substantial amount of suspense.

It is perhaps let down a little by the ending where the bad guy played by Mykelti Williamson so freely chases after the young Storm Reid’s character with a shotgun seeming not to care about being seen.

But this should not be held against it as it is after all not a big budget film. Also unlike the majority of time travel films these days it completely avoids any forms of explanation about how the time travel works. This means there is zero technical jargon to be afraid of nor much exposition to worry about.

All in all this is a decent story with a great premise which makes for an entertaining evening watch, which means it gets a solid thumbs up from me.

​​Director: Jacob Estes

Writer: Jacob Estes and Drew Daywalt

Genre: drama, horror, mystery

Year: 2019

​Runtime: 107 minutes

Message Man

Solid Action Flick with a Terrible Name

What it’s about

When his dark past threatens to catch up with him, an assassin comes out of retirement to go on a final killing spree to make things right.

My thoughts

First thing’s first it has to be said this film arguably has the lamest name in the history of films, the fact that any person thought that Message Man was a brilliant name for a ruthless assassin is beyond belief.

However, ignoring the terrible name this is actually quite an enjoyable film, and if you like action flicks along the lines of John Wick and the Rambo films, so ruthless killers killing bad people ruthlessly, then it is highly probable that will enjoy this.​

Is it as good as said films, no but it is indisputably a decent action flick, with ex-Home and Away man Paul O’Brien putting in a solid performance as the lead actor.

There is not much in the form of story, but there never is in films like this. What matters in films like this is whether there is enough story to justify all the killing, and this film ticks that box.

Basically Message Man hires a young boy to help him and goes on to befriend his mother. That young boy then gets kidnapped by someone from Message Man’s past, forcing Message Man to come out of retirement to get him back. Much ruthless killing then ensues.

All in all it is one of those films that you don’t expect much of but goes on to pleasantly surprise you. Best of all the name Message Man is barely mentioned in the entire film, which means it gets a thumbs up from me.

​​Director: Corey Pearson

Writer: Corey Pearson

Genre: action, crime, thriller

Year: 2018

​Runtime: 86 minutes

Need for Speed

A Videogame with a Supercharger Attached

What it’s about

A street racer is framed by a rival who is also a wealthy business associate in a murder case. Upon his release, the street racer devises a plan with revenge in mind.

My thoughts

Tyre burning in this film is taken to an entirely different level. In fact it is probable that during filming, they will have burnt through so many tyres that they could have filled a tyre graveyard. But if you like films in which high-powered cars are taken to their limits, then you will like this film.

But only if you are able to watch it for what it is, and that is a video game turned into a film, which means if you are person that likes films to have a semblance of realism to them you’re gonna think this film ridiculous.

That means to say the least poetic licence is used in this film, and the way the title characters are willing to just pop in and out of jail so freely and willingly, and to risk jail so freely and willingly is definitely more videogame than feature film.

In fact the entire film is more videogame than feature film. But video games are fun and this film is fun, and if you’re willing to watch it with that in mind then you will find it a fun and easy to watch film which pays solid homage to the video game it is based upon.​

For these reasons it gets a solid thumbs up from me.

​Director: Scott Waugh

Writer: George Gatins and John Gatins

Genre: action, crime, thriller

Year: 2014

​Runtime: 132 minutes

2 Guns

Action Thriller That Starts Slow but Has a Clever Twist

What it’s about

Two undercover agents, Robert and Michael, aim to expose Manny ‘Papi’ Greco, a drug lord. Unaware of each other’s true identities, the two get into trouble when they finally meet Papi.

My thoughts

An action film which stars both Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg to say the least sounds a mighty compelling film. But that is perhaps why this film struggles to impress. The problem of expectations.

And those expectations are hit right at the beginning because to say the least this is a bit of a slow starter, and the way the timeline jumps back and forth in the beginning is without a doubt messy. However, it is still a fun film with a surprisingly clever storyline.

Also despite in the beginning the chemistry between Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg seeming a bit lacking the chemistry along with the initial slow pacing grows as the narrative progresses.

All in all, this is a passable action flick that feels like it should have been more than it is but as it is is still half decent watch. Basically if you like Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg then in all likelihood you will enjoy this film, but not as much as perhaps you would hope.

And that perhaps is the lasting feeling, and the fundamental problem with this film, it’s a good film with a clever storyline but not as good a film as you want it to be considering the billing.

But as it is a decent action film it gets a solid thumbs up from me.

Director: Baltasar Kormákur

Writer: Blake Masters and Steve Blake

Genre: action, crime, thriller

Year: 2013

Runtime: 99 minutes