Pinocchio (2022)

Disney’s original Pinnochio (from 1940, would you believe it) was one of the strange Disney classics from my childhood, along with Oliver and Co, Fox and Hound, The Rescuers, The Aristocats – Obviously I’d seen them… I think. Musical numbers – of course i’d heard and seen all of them, but had i actually seen the films in question? From Pinnochio i remember the Whale scene and the Donkey scene. But beyond that? Had i actually seen the whole film start to finish? I question it.

Anyway, i came to watch this live-action remake with some trepidation. Let me explain why: 1) its going straight to Disney +. Now why would this be? 2) I’d heard so little about it until about a month before its release and then BAM theres a teaser trailer and a release date. Alarm bells.

However, its got Tom Hanks as Gepetto (excellent casting) and it “looks” gorgeous (as in the pinnochio CGI looks fine). So i’m probably just being pessimistic.

Well. I was right to be.

Unfortunately this tale of father-son love and the adventures of a little wooden boy amounts to not much more than a soulless, heartless, narrative-less and ultimately pointless story. I hate saying it because there are moments of sheer Disney gold – Honest John, for example – but otherwise its flat as a pancake. Which is a shame. Robert Zemeckis gave us such classics as Back to the Future, Contact and Cast Away, and arguably his live-but-CGI cartoon movies like The Polar Express, Beowulf and A Christmas Carol have been visually stunning. But this? Figaro the Cat looks like he was drawn on with a crayon and even Tom Hanks’ eyeline doesn’t match his ersatz puppet son’s. It looks rushed together – which…is strange, given that its a streaming release and not a cinema release, with a more concrete deadline.

It feels that with a bit more money and… well, i hate to say it, but… with a bit more attention, this could have been brilliant. Its certainly not the worst of the Disney live-actions – that particular accolade lies with the truly hideous Lion King, which still has me wishing my ears had been torn off and my eyes clawed out by the dead-eyed CGI aberrations and insults to nature that we were expected to love. Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast may be shot by shot remakes but theres still a bit of Disneyesque love about them; the cast look enthused and excited. Luke Evans takes his screen-stealing Gaston and even tries to make an impact in Pinocchio but his performance is lost in that murk.

Its scary; Pinocchio’s obvious discomfort through the whole Pleasure Island sequence is genuinely disturbing, saying a lot about the quality of acting if the little fake puppet outshoots everyone else. The black clouds of infinite darkness with streetlamp eyes are frightening and the whole ‘turning into Donkeys’ is the stuff of nightmares.

I really want to like it, but the failings vast outweigh the positives. And when i start to question why i dislike it, i remember. To have a more enjoyable time, have a look through an album of telesnaps from the film, because it is really a beautiful looking film…sometimes.

Oh…and just finally – why didn’t they make it a whale? Why did it have to be some hideous space monster that looked more like Clash of the Titans’ remake Kraken, or even the Kraken from Disney’s own Pirates of the Caribbean? OR is that it? Its set in the Pirates universe?

There is one moment i can share that i did enjoy: spotting the various Disney films represented by clocks. And a random joke about Chris Pine (personally i would have extended this to also include Edward Woodward, Sycamory Weaver and Holly Valance, to name a few).

But in conclusion; this is a film that is let down by the simple fact that the least wooden of all the performances is the fake wooden puppet child. A disappointing shame.

Obi Wan Kenobi Eps 5-6

The long awaited finale to my review trilogy!

The fifth episode sees a wonderful development in Reva’s journey; after being thwarted in her attempt to catch Leia, Obi-Wan Kenobi is able to set her sights on her true enemy – Darth Vader. However, it turns out that sneaky Darth has always been aware of her tendency towards betrayal – I called this – and thus he puts her down like a right punk, not even drawing his own lightsabre to make an even greater mockery of her. If ever there was an example of Disney’s Star Wars giving us exactly what we wanted (and getting it RIGHT), then this surely is one of those – Darth Vader being frighteningly badass. We’re talking a rival to the end of Rogue One here. People were afraid of him for a reason, not just because he could pinch your vocal chords and “accept your apology”, but because he could defeat vicious malevolent Inquisitor-level Darksiders with his hands tied behind his back. Almost literally.

Oh and that moment when he catches the escaping transporter… OH I was loving it.

OH and that wonderful flashback with Anakin and Obi Wan, with both actors truth to reality and not uncanny CGI-valley.

I’ll get onto Part Six – arguably the best episode of the lot – once I get some quibbles out the way.

The show has in no way been perfect. The Mandalorian struck gold and will always be the superior star wars spin-off, mainly because its new story, new characters and new things to love. Don’t get me wrong, but having classic characters become the centrepiece is likely flying into an asteroid field. Sure, Luke’s appearance in mando was mind-blowing, and not toooooo bad in Boba Fett, but the Boba Fett show itself fell into Mando 2.5 (as it is now widely known in the fan community and media). Boba Fett’s legendary status was butchered – he wasn’t a kickass bounty hunter anymore, he was a fallible man who gets Daniel-craig’d through every fight – exactly the same niche which Mando himself inhabits, but he’s allowed to. He wasn’t a cult icon in much of my childhood.

So with Obi Wan we are constantly worried that some writer will misfire into discontinuity – Leia should never have met him, or at least spent that much time with him – agreed, she says nothing of this and only hints he was a ‘friend of her father’. With all that she goes through with him here, it makes her look a bit cold when he dies in A New Hope. (spoilers). Worse – are they going to Luke Skywalker / Last Jedi-swerve into making Obi-Wan, hero of the prequels, a weary traveller with no desire to kick ass? (fortunately they tread a thin line between weary and wary… for the most part.)


With all its problems like the above, it delivers some things which it gets just right. And for me, anyway, these moments iron out the rest. Again, its not perfect. But let me now ditch the critical – trying – to – be – observational – part. Unleash the fanboy.

Darth Vader pulling the transporter out of the sky??

The actually tense-as-fuck fight between Obi Wan and vader on that rock field? Yeah I’ll take all that cheers. And then the double emotional swells when not one but two of the classic music cues boil over?? Yup, there was Palpy too. Awesomeness. It wasn’t Luke taking on Dark Troopers but it was awesome.

Not so much the finale with Luke – could have done without all that nonsense, but I guess we had to give Reva her final little bit of screentime. Somebody on twitter gave a shout out for a spin-off. No, not necessary, please don’t.

Nicely done was the little connection with Luke that we probably did know – after all Mark Hamill’s teenage Luke DID know of Obi-Wan and was playing with his childhood toy T-16. So, “Hello there!” brought a smile to my face.

Then of course, that final scene. Perhaps not handled as the cinematic reveal I would have given it, but downplayed just a little… but I care not. I called it at the start of the show when the actor started denying it – it’s the way things are now. This particular character was the first real Cosplay i ever did (i mean in a massively public event), and i’ll own it. Seeing him back on screen was a nice, if not unsurprisingly, touch.

This should be the end of the show, however. Obi-Wan disappears into the desert and learns the way of force ghosting. We won’t see him again till he waves his arm about and screams and scares off the Sandpeople. (at least this is what I want. But we’ll probably get an ill-fated season 2).

A Vader show though? As he hunts down some more Jedi? Him and his cool Inquisitor henchman?

I know! A comedy! Darth Dastardly and his dog … um… Stormzy … try to outwit and hunt down remaining Jedi, but keep on getting themselves run over by their own TIE fighter! HAHAHAHAHAHAH.


No. Please don’t, actually.

Do give us a buddy action comedy with Han and Lando, though. #MakeSolo2happen

Obi-Wan Kenobi (Eps3-4)

Its finally here. Ever since the famous line “when we last met i was but the learner. now i am the master,” – and now we have an episode-long fight between Obi-Wan Kenobi, hero of the clone wars and one of the greatest Jedi of our time, and Darth Vader, arguably the most famous bad guy in the history of cinema itself. A clash, truly of the titans.

Starting strong; Obi-Wan is still reeling emotionally after discovering that Anakin in fact survived the whole burning shenanigans on Mustafar and so we can expect he won’t be force-running into head on conflict. And Darth is fucking terrifying as he descends from his ship and snaps necks and kills civilians left right and centre. This is an evil man, burned by hatred and pain and out for righteous one-sided violent revenge.

So then we dissolve into a game of Evade the Vader (like i used to play in beggars canyon back home). We’re on some blue-ish sand planet that reminds me of the various generic coal mine sets as seen in Taken / Superman 3 / classic 70s doctor who, and one or two lightsabre clashes followed by…yes, you guessed it, more running. Obi-Wan’s getting his 10,000 in.

And then Vader is finally defeated and we realise Obi-Wan is still the jedi mas…wait what? Obi-wan has been pwned? He’s lying on the ground having the cloak burned off him by a red-misted asthmatic in a cape?

There are two ways to look at the turn of events. A) Be annoyed. God dammit we’ve been thinking Obi-Wan is a god amongst men every since he panned Anakin’s ass on those hovering platforms over the lava river. Why is he being beaten like such a punk here?

or B) i call this the last jedi option. Obi-Wan has become weary. Order 66 wiped out not only half the Jedi but all his friends, near enough. And now the Inquisitors have been hunting down and annihilating all remnants of hope. Thinks are dark and bleak. And in this time he discovers his greatest mistake of all time is still alive – he is not in a good place. So, we’ve been set up.

Set up, that is, for a redemption arc, we are. Obi-Wan is going to have to face his fallacies, and get back in shape if he’s to stop Darth Vader’s bulldoze through the last hope in the galaxy.

Episode 4 is slightly anti-climactic given that we just had Darth Vader burning the shit out of my screaming childhood hero, but its nonetheless an excellent follow-up to the creepy cliffhanger of Inquisitor Riva closing in on the young Leia.

I found myself seeing callbacks to the detention centre scenes of A New Hope, with Obi-Wan sneaking about between cells hoping to rescue his young companion. My outright favourite moment however, was Obi-Wan revealing he has very faint memories of a lost brother, but they were separated before he entered the way of the Jedi. Its a touching moment reminiscent of a classic scene from old-doctor who, when the Second Doctor comforts Victoria during a siege of cybermen.

There’s a lot of hoo-haa now about what we want to see before the end of the show – but with Season 2 now greenlit, we’ve got a lot more time to play with before…well. Vader needs to have his arse kicked again before the ultimate duel we’ve ever seen – but i reckon Obi Wan needs a bit more guidance before that happens. Guidance, perhaps, from an old master…

Obi-Wan Kenobi (Eps1-2)

There has always been something sitting at the back of my mind, quietly incredibly excited. The advent of the Star Wars live action TV shows started with a bang in The Mandalorian and i truly believed we were about to get the Star Wars i wanted (the cartoons were good and the games excellent, but they didn’t feel real.) The Mandalorian S2 took things to a new level with some needed injection of outright nostalgia. Book of Boba Fett trudged an unsettling line between okayish and unsatisfying, still delivering some excellence but also…well, being a bit boring. Not rubbish, by any standards. Just boring.

Obi Wan Kenobi comes along…what am i to think? Ewan McGregor has always inhabited a special part of my young adulthood for being Obi-Wan, but also because i just like the guy. He’s inspired me in life and in movies – i particularly love Christopher Robin, unashamedly. And Salmon Fishing in the Yemen.

I want to be excited, i want to look forwards to it, but i’m not sure.

“Master Yoda told me to mindful of the future.” – Obi Wan

“But not at the expense of the moment.” – Qui Gon

Damn it Neeson you’re right. I’m damned excited about this show and i’m not afraid to say it. Getting the original cast in to play their characters is spot on, and we get Jimmy Smits, Joel Edgerton and even Hayden fricking Christensen (but the latter not quite yet). Who knows who might turn up. I’ve already seen rumours, so lets just see.

You don’t need to know the plot, do you? Surely you know. I mean, is a non-Star Wars fan going to be watching this? Surely not? Oh, if you insist.

Tasked with ‘keeping an eye’ on Luke, son of Anakin Skywalker, left for dead on Mustafa, Obi Wan has taken on the moniker of Ben and is living a quiet, mundane life on Tatooine, heckled hilariously by this awesome Jawa and stealing food for his ugly anteater-camel. Uncle Owen just wants to raise Luke as his own and believes Ben’s presence is a danger itself. Jedi hunters come to town and all of a sudden things are just as bad as they ever were. Because one of the Inquistors has made her personal mission to take down old Obi-Wan… and there’s not just the one Skywalker child to threaten.

The show takes a turn i did not expect AT ALL by following Leia. Whoever came up with that idea needs a medal, because it caught me off guard. Well done.

There are four main points of note in this opening pair of episodes that has me glued to the rest of the series, hands down. So at this point the conclusion is thus: its brilliant. I loved it. Don’t read on if you haven’t seen it yet…

Point one: the characters. Okay so i didn’t like that guy from the Eternals. He looked too un-Star Warsy (kind of like that guy from Line of Duty turning up in Rogue One). But from the Jawa to the three / four Inquisitors, oh yes. Particularly Moses Ingram’s obviously unstable killer. And Sung Kang harrah! And Rupert Friend’s Grand Inquisitor, what a series villain he’s going to be…WTF???

Point two: She just killed the Grand Inquisitor???

Point three: Needles from Back to the Future 2 / 3. Oh, i hope there is more casting like this. I love this sort of thing.

Point four: that moment, that emotional punch in the gut when Obi-Wan Kenobi is told that Anakin survived. Oh god. It hadn’t even occured to me that he wouldn’t have known. This huge reveal…its massive. We’ve all known, we’ve ALWAYS known, i guess, most of us, that Darth Vader is alive and…well, as well as well can be… but Obi Wan didn’t. Not until THAT moment. My heart stopped. It was phenomenal.

So, its brilliant. I think it is, anyway.

And if they don’t have Qui-Gon’s force ghost turn up before the end i will eat my lightsabre (which happens to be a replica of Obi-Wans, haha).

Oh and did you spot the wee Temeura Morrison cameo? Sweet.

Good Morning, Pooh

I have a travelling companion in this world, who was been by my side since somewhere around my third birthday – i don’t remember much of the time, really, but i can say i don’t remember any time in my life when he WASN’T there, and i guess thats the important part.

His name is Pooh. Yeah, yeah, get your churlish giggles out the way. Imagine every amusing way of inserting Pooh into day to day sentences to make them purile and wash your system out.

Pooh is, of course, short for Winnie the Pooh. But rather than being that famous character from the Disney franchise, this version of Pooh, just Pooh, is my own. For one, he can’t speak. Sooty like, i can hear him. “What did you say Pooh? That you think my latest short story is awesome? Aww thanks Pooh.” His fluffiness and bountifully orange colour has faded to a meagre beige after a gazillion washes and who knows what else. I know for a fact his left ear is proper mangled because i used to chew on it when i was very young. Like, up until i graduated from Uni, anyway.

He was recently seen guest starring in our youtube show “The Pandora Men”, which you can find by visiting or watching the following videos:

A giant spider, a transmogrifyer gone wrong, a giant…something else and whatever Barry’s problem is…
Denton uses his transmogrifyer to evade the clutches of a Silent Earth assassin called Tom

Pooh has as far as i can recall, accompanied me everywhere. He lives in / on / around my bedside shelf, or more often than not on top of the window sill above the radiator. He was with me when i went to London and lived there for six months, he moved with me to Cumbrae, then to Govan, then to Taynuilt, and ultimately / presently to here in Appin. He was in my suitcase when i went to Egypt and we shared a bed in a hostel in Stornoway – he even stowed away to Chile and laterally Ireland. Yes, he’s even visited Prague. I may not be well travelled compared to some – and i mean to correct this in upcoming years, with trips to Gibraltar, Split, Switzerland and Canada all in the cards – but Pooh will be there with me, all the way.

Hes a soundboard to my ideas, my hopes and dreams. And, importantly, he doesn’t tell me to shut up when i talk too much. And he doesn’t complain when i watch The Expanse, Orange is the New Black, Desperate Housewives and Doctor Who in one sitting. In fact, when we watch the new Disney movies he actively joins in. He even hates Olaf as much as i do. We are kindred spirits.

I’ve introduced him to all my girlfriends. Which is why i don’t have a girlfriend.

But my over-arching point is this – he is an anchor into a childhood that shaped me. We’ve all seen the Toy Story movies and even Inside Out, and we all know about that one toy that was our truest, most loyal friend. It just so happens you don’t have to get all Pixarry and ‘eventually grow up’. Just embrace it. We live now in a world that allows increasingly immature adults to thrive and even move mountains – we’ve lost the restrictive stigma of ‘adulthood’ that does still exist – of course it does, we use it to phone estate agents and banks and taxi drivers and restaurants and to be managing directors and all that nonsense, but at the end of the day if a cat falling off a table isn’t funny then whats the point in living?

Good Morning, Pooh. This is my blog that i’m working on! Yes, don’t worry, this one is about you.

Turning Red (2022)

Pixar’s latest is a thinly veiled educational video on hitting puberty. Mei-mei is a happy, dedicated little girl who is fantastic at everything, an a-class student and surrounded by awesome friends. However, her commitment to her mother is about to come into question when she turns 13. She starts to see boys, starts to have those strange feelings, and, oh, turns into a giant Red Panda.

You see thanks to a protective ancient ancestor, every member of her family is ‘blessed’ upon puberty to become slave to their heightened emotions and turns into a huge, fluffy, adorable pile of red panda shaped cuteness.

This interferes with Mei-Mei’s current plan though; a boy band she and her friends are obsessing over are playing locally at the end of the month. And her mother wants her to undergo a ritual to rid her from the soul of her panda…on the very night her boys are playing on stage. Whats a girl to do?

The film is packed to the gunnels with the usual Pixar magic; cute characters for the really little ones (and a clever bit of marketing as a fluffy Panda is now exactly what i’m buying my friends kids for thier next birthdays), a teenage boy band very reflective of todays cute-and-quirky-and-wholesome bands that girls (and some boys) have been swooning over since the 90s, featuring songs by modern talent Billie Eilish. Oh and i challenge you not to laugh out loud every time Mr. Singh gets his doughnut / pudding.

The mysticism that us foolish westerners have come to expect in the wonderful, ancient and mysterious history of the East finds itself expertly depicted here in the spiritualism of the Red Panda … i want to say religion, but thats not the right word. And actually that brings me to something else, something subtle. And once you realise just how subtle it all is, its heartbreaking and yet hopeful; inclusionism. There is a solid place for everyone in this world. I’ll pick two obscure examples and ask yourself if you noticed. Did you spot Mei-Mei’s ambiguous best friend who could easily be androgenous? Or even better, the message that even young boys can be obsessed with boy bands too? The world created in this movie has no place for racism or sexism – the primary antagonists in this are the parents, and even then their ‘villainy’ is just a perception of thier love as seen by their kids.

I guess my only issue with the film is its startling ability to make me hate Mei’s mother. She is so over-bearing (and she has her reasons) but its a cringe-worthy moment every time she interferes unnecessarily. She is the james corden / olaf the fucking snowman / jonah hill / zach gallifrey-analyst character that somehow sees how to make the worst of a situation, and then… does it.

However, kudos to the filmmakers for the Ghostbusters-esque finale that somehow came out of nowhere AND was entirely expected both at the same time.

My winner of the story was Mei’s Dad. He was just the best.

Keep em coming, Pixar, you and Disney at large are still light years ahead of the competition in terms of animated movies. One day i might even forgive you for the Cars Trilogy. But not yet. 🙂