Those darned YouTubers have been taking up a lot of my free time this month – especially Froggy Flips who is a nostalgia and pop culture collector and reseller who enjoys rummaging through yard sales and finding rare trading cards, action figures and the like. As a result my haul of movies is rather small again this month.

Everything Everywhere All At Once (2022) was on Amazon Prime Video for a short while recently. It’s a film I have heard so much hype about and so was eager to see especially after the Doctor Strange movie didn’t quite scratch my multiverse itch as much as I expected it would. The legendary Michelle Yeoh is brilliant in the main role as a laundromat owner in trouble with the tax office who gets involved in a mission to save reality across multiple universes. She is aided and abetted by Ke Huy Quan (Short Round from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom) playing her husband Waymond Wang. Jamie Lee Curtis is also great by the way.

The story is as wacky as a bag of frogs, the VFX are eye-achingly good and writer/directors Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert do a good job of controlling the chaos enough to tell a coherent story. The film did slow down a bit in the middle compared to the start and the climax, but this spare tyre is forgivable given the originality of this comic-book style romp. It’s a wackiness that Marvel has attempted to pull off with the previous Thor film and with The Guardians of the Galaxy but not to the extreme that this movie takes it, and I don’t think Disney are going to really allow much more experimentation given the relatively poor show the latest Thor film (which tries very hard to be wacky) put on.

Thor: Love & Thunder (2022) seemed to be in the cinemas one minute and then landing on Disney Plus the next. I found it very disappointing after the amazingly enjoyable Thor: Ragnarok which is still one of my favourite MCU films of the 20+ series.

There’s nothing hugely wrong with the film and there are some funny moments but it’s just not a patch on Thor’s previous outing. I loved the mostly Gun n’ Roses soundtrack and the return of Natalie Portman, but by far the best cast member, who made the rest of them look like amateurs, was a skinny Christian Bale, transitioning from DC to Marvel, who excelled as the villain god-slayer Gorr. I could have happily watched a whole 2 hours of Gorr’s adventures and not bothered with the rest of it which often smacked of writer/director Taika Waititi trying way too hard to be funny. When your wackiness is this forced it loses it’s appeal I feel.

The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1973) is a tour de force of special effects in form of Ray Harryhausen’s stop-motion animations. I absolutely love his stuff and remember going to see (a rerun of?) 1977’s Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger at the cinema in Accrington when I was a wee lad. In this earlier instalment of Sinbad’s cinematic adventures we have a climatic battle of good versus evil in the form of a griffin fighting a one-eyed centaur, but I think the more impressive sequence is when our plucky band of adventurers led by John Phillip Law as Sinbad goes sword to swords with a multi-limbed animated statue similar to the Hindu god Kali.

The statue has been brought to life by the evil wizard Koura played by none other than Tom Baker who went on to land the role as Doctor Who. He’s the best actor in the film which has typically hammy acting from most of the cast and also suffers from some rather bizarre editing and continuity errors. Still it’s a great bit of nostalgic fun and it’s still amazing to see what visual delights they could conjure up without the use of computers.

Troy (2004) is also somewhat of a guilty pleasure I guess. Having read quite a lot about the Trojan war including the source code – Homer’s epic poem The Iliad – it was fun to watch this film again and spot all the times Hollywood strayed from the established ‘history’. There’s a couple of kings who get killed in the movie’s story who survived the war, the war only seems to take a few days instead of years and of course (I suppose most easily forgiven) the Greek gods are nowhere to be seen. A film where they intervene as much as they do in the original story would be more like a Sinbad or Clash of the Titans film and this was obviously not what director Wolfgang Petersen and writer David Benioff (yes the Game of Thrones guy) were going for.

As it stands it’s one of the last great historical epic films of that early Noughties era with some great macho action from Brad Pitt (as Achilles) and Eric Bana (as Hector) and certainly stands up to a second viewing better than Alexander which also came out in 2004 – both perhaps riding on the success of 2000’s frankly unbeatable Gladiator. Also I had totally forgotten that Sean Bean and the late great Peter O’Toole are in the movie among the largely British supporting cast.

The Gray Man (2022) is a Netflix movie starring Chris Evans (Captain America), Ryan Gosling and his Blade Runner 2049 co-star Ana de Armas. It’s directed by the Russo brother, who you should know by now and feels like a take on the Jason Bourne mashed up with John Wick. Gosling is the hero, a super-skilled CIA assassin who uncovers secrets the agency would prefer to keep, going up against Evans as the maverick former CIA agent turned assassin for hire. For Gosling it’s business as usual – playing an untalkative killer with a good heart, while Evans has lots of fun playing the psychopath.

It is standard Russo/Netflix fare but certainly not the worst original film from the streaming service and likely to spawn some sequels I guess. It’s also worth noting that the best thing from Iron Fist Jessica Henwick is wasted in her role as a CIA middle-manager and doesn’t kick ass at all, and that she’s joined by fellow Marvel alumni Alfre Woodard (from Luke Cage). Chuck Billy Bob Thorton in there and the girl from Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood (Julia Butters) and it’s a good cast. Shame it was largely written following the Screenwriting 101 playbook.

Senior Year (2022) another Netflix show, and another Screenwriting 101 masterpiece from the chapter on high school coming of age storylines, leans hard on the reverse-Big premise that cheerleader Stephanie (Rebel Wilson) had an accident and was stuck in a coma for twenty years. It’s a feel good comedy which barely managed to stop me looking at my social media feeds on my phone. Siggy enjoyed it a lot more than me, but it was her turn to pick.

There’s absolutely no surprise that what Stephanie wants to do to fix her life isn’t what she needs to do to fix her life and that after falling out with her friends at the end of Act 2 she realises thre true value of… yawn… moving on…

The History of Future Folk (2012) is a wholly more original short indie movie that’s been sadly hanging about on my Netflix watchlist for years. I am going to try harder to watch some of these less-recent movies instead of just jumping at all the new stuff all the time, or the list is never going to get shorter. Anyway, for a film about a couple of guys wearing buckets on their heads and singing folksy songs it was a nice fun film.

It is genuinely funny in places and had a good heart. I am assuming it’s built around a pre-existing duo who gig in New York much the same a the Flight of the Conchords TV show was built around that duo. They’re not as funny – their songs aren’t really the type of stuff I like – bluegrass doesn’t feature anywhere in my CD collection or Spotify playlists, but of course I enjoyed the ridiculous sci-fi backstory and the bit where the trajectory of a deadly comet is altered by a rocket impact had real-world comparisons this week with NASA’s DART asteroid impacting mission.

I also watched Top Gun: Maverick again, this time with Siggy. She enjoyed it a lot and I was happy to watch it again – for the aircraft shots more than anything else.