The Challenger (2013)

This TV movie, that is available on Netflix, is a truth based story on the investigation of the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger that blew up very shortly after launch.

William Hurt plays Richard Feynman, an independent scientist who is assigned to the investigation committee.  Feynman is no ordinary scientist. He has a Nobel Peace Prize for his quantum physics work and was one of the original scientists on the Manhattan project (involved with the atom bomb).

The public, the Government and NASA all wanted a quick resolution on this. They wanted to get public trust and faith back in the Shuttle missions.  There was no cover-up or anything particularly under hand, just things were going a little quicker than they should have been.  

Feynman dug into areas he wasn’t technically suppose to, and with the help of a NASA whistle blower he discovers a whole area that needs further investigation and discovery.

Thoroughly enjoyable TV movie that presented its case without too much fuss or overstating of the facts.   No car chasers, no gun shoot outs, no fighting.  Just good clean drama.

#108 in the series


Viewing Date
Friday, 4th December 2015 (Richmond)


IMDB YouTubeTrailer

Frozen (2013)

Let it go, Let it go, can’t hold it back any more!

Feels right, that while I am in Disney World, I should be watching this movie as part of my series. I will confess the journey to this movie for me wasn’t your conventional path.   I came to this one very late.  In fact, I came to it only because of my youngest son, doing a parody of the Elsa ‘cold didn’t bother me anyway’ strut.  So because of that, I had to explore the song to which he was inspired from and found the iconic Let it Go.

I was hooked.  It then took me a long time before I actually watched the movie.  Small confession time.  I went to Disney World in Orlando back in August, and watched the Frozen stage show before I had actually seen the movie.   So to say I was late to the Frozen party is an under statement.

I then watched this movie for the first time, with my youngest back in August.  It was cute and fun to watch it through the eyes of a 9 year old boy.

However, fast forward a few months, here I watch it without the wonderment of a 9 year old.

The movie is okay.  The songs are okay, apart from the classic, Let it go.  The overall movie I personally find to be adequate but no where near as good as say The Lion King.   The Lion King was more than just a single song, which I fear Frozen suffers from.    Sure there are some excellent ‘b’ sides, but take away Let it go and would the rest of them stand on their own?  I doubt it.

While this movie is Disney’s (and the worlds) most successful animation, I rate it #3 behind Lion King and The Little Mermaid.

Now that said, I am huge Let it go fan.  I love Elsa and find her as erotic as you can find an animated character to be (we will talk about the Disney Hercules singers at a later date).

So all in all, great movie, some what loses it after the big number is played.

#101 in the series


Viewing Date
Friday, 27th November 2015 (Orlando)


IMDB YouTubeTrailer

Gravity (2013)

Take a Sandra Bullock, throw in a little

George Clooney, bake in space for 90 minutes and you have an Oscar (7 of them!) winning combination.   The movie starts off with them fixing a satellite as part of a scheduled EVA.  They then get word of a Russian satellite that breaks up, sending debris at 22,000 mph toward them.

Naturally this rips through their mission, killing everyone but 2 from the shuttle and leaving them completely helpless above Earths atmosphere while they attempt to get themselves to the International Space Station.

The special effects in this one is simply, literally, out of this world.  The vast majority of the acting that Bullock and Clooney do is simply facial, as most of the time their bodies are CGI.  Yet it all flows flawlessly together without any effort at all.

The scenery with this reminds me of that time in Lord of the Rings, when they first visit Rivendell.  You want the camera to simply stop on that and give you the necessary time to take the beauty all in.   Gravity suffers the same.  There are so many times, you just want to hit pause, and get sucked into that world and admire all the beautiful views.   But the pace is fast and we don’t get time to appreciate the background as we should.

Gravity does a great job to remind us just how hostile space really is and the lengths humans have done to evolve to a point where we are moving around.  Space travel is not routine and even the smallest of problems can have dire consequences.

A great movie and another one that reminds us that Bullock is more of an actor than some of her awful romantic comedies of late.  It is a shame she missed out on Best Actress Oscar. 

#93 in the series


Viewing Date
Thursday, 19th November 2015 (Richmond)


IMDB YouTubeTrailer

Sunshine on Leith (2013)

I resisted this movie for a long time. A musical based on the songs of the Scottish twins, The Proclaimers.   It just sounded like it could be naff and I really didn’t their music spoiled.  However, I resisted, and with a due sense of caution and trepidation I pressed PLAY.

Within the first 5 minutes, I knew I was wrong in my reservations.  That feeling never ended until the credits rolled at the end.  This was a fantastic homage to the Proclaimers huge back catalog.   What Mamma Mia (another great movie) did for Abba this does for our Scottish boys.

The story centers around two lads coming back from the war zone and them settling back into normal civilian life, juggling family and romantic lives.  Of course it is Edinburgh, Scotland the story is set (Leith is an area of Edinburgh by the way). 

There isn’t a huge story line going here, just a series of small events that are tied together with some real toe-tapping, belting songs.   Some of the words have been slightly changed to fit the scenario, but by’n’large they are untouched and fit absolutely perfectly.

The cast is by’n’large unknown outside of Scotland, but we have

Dexter Fletcher taking the directors chair to make this stage version come to life on the silver screen.  He has done a fantastic job, including weaving in a cameo from the boys themselves without it feeling contrived.

This is one that will compete for my Mamma Mia time for sure.  That movie you reach for when you have maybe had a little too much to drink and you want a good sing’a’long for 90 minutes.

#90 in the series


Viewing Date
Monday, 16th November 2015 (Richmond)


IMDB YouTubeTrailer

About Time (2013)

Richard Curtis strikes gold once again with his time traveling romantic comedy.  In the same vein as Love Actually / Noting Hill / Four Weddings, About Time stands shoulder to shoulder with Curtis’s other outings.  This one however does not star Hugh Grant, though, the lead,

Domhnall Gleeson (son of Brendan) does his best Hugh Grant impression throughout, so his spirit is still there.

The time traveling aspect isn’t ironically the central theme, but instead a mechanism to let us explore some of life’s major decisions, wondering what would have happened if you made a different choice.

Tim (Gleeson) when he is 21, is told of a special gift the men of his family have from his father played by the excellent

Bill Nighy.  This gift is the ability to travel back to any point of time for a short period within their own time line.  Anything they change there will have an impact on the current timeline.

Let us be clear, the time travel rules here are not really thought out and frequently if you were to look closely they are broken.  But the point is, this is not a BackToTheFuture or DoctorWho.  The time travel device is there to help with the story.

This humor in this story is just perfect.  The supporting cast is top notch, and as always have equally as good of lines to add to the overall narrative.  However this Curtis movie differs from the other ones in the heart jerking story line.   I challenge anyone to watch this movie without shedding at least one tear.   Sure Four Weddings and a Funeral had a death (hence the funeral part) but it was sad, not tearful.

I have watched it many times and every time it gets me.   It is a movie that reminds you to be thankful for those around while you still have them, and done in a non patronizing manner.  This is a pure father and son story weaved around a typical family, with their every day problems presented in a very believable manner.

About Time is in my usual rotation and comes out every so often when the time calls for it.  A true classic that I missed in the cinema, but have made up for it since.

#87 in the series


Viewing Date
Friday, 13th November 2015 (Richmond)


IMDB YouTubeTrailer

Michael Jackson: One (2013)

Okay, while strictly not a movie, this was a show that was taken in while visiting that oasis in the desert they call Las Vegas.   This was my first ever Cirque Du Soleil show and I wasn’t disappointed.   I am a Michael Jackson fan and with such an iconic catalog of music, the very least was I going to be entertained.   I had no idea what I was in for, and even as we took our seats (with embedded speakers), there was no clue as to the audio-visual experience that was about to hit us.

There is a small story that is weaved through the MJ set pieces.  The story isn’t that important because the spectable of acts that come through is simply breathtaking and edge of your seat.  Performers drop out of literally every where, walking down walls, flying from the roof, coming from within the audience and of course the stage.

The human body is a hugely flexible and strong vehicle.  I was constantly amazed at some of the moves these performers were doing.   There are some real ingenius moves and you are left wondering, both wow that it is being executed and secondly, who on earth came up with that idea in the first place.

There is a couple of real stand out set pieces.  One is when the dancers have lights detailing the edges of their body, and with the stage completely blacked out, they dance an iconic MJ sequence and with the lights strobing the effect is fantastic.    Then we have the wonderful trampolines.   They have one half way up in the air, and then there is a performer that is literally bouncing between the two like a rubber ball.

Finally we have the infamous hologram of Michael Jackson himself, dancing and interacting with the dancers.  It is spookily eerily to see him on stage like that and at a distance looks extremely realistic.

There is a video preview on YouTube (see link at the bottom) that gives you a feel for the show but doesn’t sell the sheer energy and cleverness of this 90 minute journey.

Money well spent and wouldn’t hesitate to see another Cirque Du Soleil show. 


Viewing Date
Friday, 30th October 2015 (Las Vegas, Mandalay Casino)


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