‘Bird Box’

A psychological horror film continuing the trend of unexplained monster/alien invasion (A Quiet Place, The Silence), Bird Box is taut and claustrophobic. Yet, in spite of a strong central performance by Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side, Miss Congeniality), it falls short of its promise.

Directed by Susanne Bier (After the Wedding, In a Better World), Bird Box follows the reluctant mother find some kind of redemption as she leads two young children to safety from a decimated Los Angeles. Journeying on a treacherous river, the trip is made more arduous by the fact it must be made blindfolded.

A Netflix original.

Rating: 61%

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‘Triple Frontier’

A superior genre film from Netflix as five former special forces operatives reunite to steal a drug lord’s fortune in the jungles of deepest South America.

Putting their lives at risk for country is placed on the back burner as millions of dollars are at stake: Oscar Isaacs (Ex Machina, A Most Violent Year) is on a personal mission and pulls together a team that includes Ben Affleck (Argo, Gone Girl) and Charlie Hunnam (King Arthur, The Lost City of Z).

Character and plot development are dealt with on a fairly equal basis until we hit action stations, and whilst there are some howlers in plot line, it’s all entertaining enough until the guys make their planned escape. It then hits the ‘pretty dumb’ button hard. With J.C. Chandor (Margin Call, A Most Violent Year) at the helm and written by Chandor and Mark Boal (Detroit, The Hurt Locker), Triple Frontier could, and should, have been a lot better. But it’s still entertaining for what it is.

A Netflix original.

Rating: 59%

‘Velvet Buzzsaw’

An odd horror mystery, Velvet Buzzsaw (director Dan Gilroy – Nightcrawler, Roman J. Israel Esq) is nothing if not entertaining.

The request by a recently (unknown) deceased artist that all his work is destroyed is ignored by ambitious gallery assistant, Zawe Ashton (Nocturnal Animals, Greta). Things go more than bump in the night as supernatural forces see off the fey art critic (Jake Gyllenhaal – Brokeback Mountain, Nightcrawler), ruthless gallery owner, Rene Russo (Thor, Nightcrawlerand a few other greedy professionals of the LA artworld.

High art it’s not, but Velvet Buzzsaw is daft, funny (the pretentiousness of Gyllenhaal is a hoot) and a perfect distraction for a couple of hours.

A Netflix original.

Rating: 58%

‘Dumplin’

Predictable yet heartwarming, overweight teenager Danielle Macdonald (Patti Cake$, Lady Bird) mourns the death of her beloved live-in aunt – and, in her memory, signs up for her mom’s Miss Teen Bluebonnet pageant as a protest.

It’s a fun ride with an edge as mom, Jennifer Anniston (Cake, We’re the Millers) finds herself dealing with an escalation of tradition, a group of Dolly Parton drag queens and a better understanding of her own daughter.

Director Anne Fletcher (27 Dresses, The Proposal) generally takes the middle road in a narrative that is smart and funny with more than a little melancholic sadness. The result is an engaging, predictable entertainment – more than helped by that Dolly Parton soundtrack!

A Netflix original.

Rating: 59%