Film review-The King’s Man

The King’s Man is a prequel, to the two previous films in the franchise. It attempts to provide a backstory to please Kingsman fans, but it primarily feels like it’s addressing questions nobody asked.

On the verge of World War One King George of England, Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany, and Tsar Nicholas of Russia are three cousins who find themselves as rulers of three European and Eastern mega-powers (all played by Tom Hollander).
Meanwhile, dark forces commanded by Erik Jan Hanussen (Daniel Brühl) lurk in the shadows, attempting to infiltrate the three leaders’ trust and launch a world war, beginning with Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria’s assassination.
With his intimate relationship with Wilhem, Hanussen shatters the trust between cousins, while manipulative monk Grigori Rasputin (Rhys Ifans) rips into the Tsar, all while a secret mole runs rampant in King George’s circle of influence.

The action is directed incredibly well, there’s an absolutely breathtaking skydiving sequence and, Rhys Ifans steals every scene he’s in. However, the screenplay by director, Matthew Vaughn and Karl Gajdusek (The Last Days of American Crime) — adapted from Mark Millar’s comic —leads The King’s Man into being a very disjointed film. It’s a part-historical drama and part-action adventure. It starts with a serious anti-war message but quickly turns into a parody.

It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly where The King’s Man has gone wrong, but, despite a clever early twist, it all feels ploddingly predictable in a join-the-dots-of-history and Kingsman origin-tale kind of way, even the “shock” post-credits set-up for another instalment is rather head-slappingly obvious.

The King’s Man is out in the UK on Boxing Day.

Amy Pascal and Kevin Feige discuss Spider-Man’s future

Amy Pascal, the longtime producer of the Spider-Man series, and Kevin Feige, the CEO of Marvel Studios, have an unusual creative partnership, as they demonstrated in a new interview.

Whilst speaking with the New York Times, about Spider-Man: No Way Home and the future of the wall-crawler, the dynamic-duo addressed Pascal’s previous comments that Tom Holland would star in a new “Spider-Man trilogy”.

Pascal said:

“We’re producers, so we always believe everything will work out, I love working with Kevin. We have a great partnership, along with Tom Rothman, who runs Sony and has been instrumental, a great leader with great ideas. I hope it lasts forever.”

Feige added:

“Amy and I and Disney and Sony are actively beginning to develop where the story heads next, which I only say outright because I don’t want fans to go through any separation trauma like what happened after ‘Far From Home.’ That will not be occurring this time”.

In 2019, the original deal between both studios ended, leading to a financial dispute between Disney and Sony. For a while, it looked like Peter Parker’s time in the MCU sandbox was done. Fourteunetly, cooler heads prevailed and the studios got to work on no way home.

In the interview, Pascal and Feige also discussed how they first collaborated. Feige had worked as an unofficial script consultant on The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Most of his advice wasn’t taken up by Sony. When the film was released to widespread negative reviews, she and Feige met to discuss the next way forward. He suggested a co-production deal, with Marvel studios taking control of the character. She didn’t take the suggestion well.

“I threw a sandwich at him,” she said.

Feige added:

“She said, ‘I really want you to help on this next movie. We have these great ideas for the next one. It’s amazing stuff and I said, ‘I’m not good at that — giving advice and leaving. The only way I know how to help is if we just make the movie for you.’”

Despite Pascal’s initial scepticism, she and Sony eventually warmed to the idea after Feige offered more concrete proposals for how to integrate Spider-Man into the Marvel Cinematic Universe:

She said:

“He said ‘I have an idea. What if Tony Stark makes Peter’s suit?’ And as soon as he said that, I understood the possibilities of what we could do together. To have Iron Man and Spidey in the same world, one rooted more in technological innovation — the new suit — and less in medical experimentation, which is where we were confined before, felt so much more modern.”

Since then, each of Marvel’s “Spider-Man” films, starring Tom Holland and produced by Pascal, has been a critical and commercial triumph, with most fans dubbing Holland “the best Spider-Man ever”.

Personally, as a fan. I’m excited to see where this partnership goes. They’ve opened up the multiverse now and with Sony continuing to make their own Marvel movies, the possibilities are truly endless.

Review-The year of Martha Jones

The Master has won. He has stolen humanity’s future and imprisoned his nemesis, ruling the Earth with an army of deadly Toclafane.
But Martha Jones escaped, and now walks the Earth, telling stories of the Doctor. Above all else, humanity needs hope. And Martha will carry that hope across the world.

Something we never saw on Doctor Who is a big component of Martha Jones’ companion narrative.
During a time of death, destruction, and turmoil, she spent a full year on her own.
In the shows third series (Nu-Who), the Master and his army of Toclafane took over Earth and rendered our favourite Gallifreyan hero unconscious and looking like a cross between Yoda and Dobby.

Martha was entrusted with a monumental responsibility by the Doctor.
We know she succeeded because she is the best companion the modern series has had, but we didn’t see how she did it.

The Year of Martha Jones is a unique blend of great storytelling, humour and action. Much like The Doctor, Martha has become a mythological and contentious figure. People across the world murmur her name.
Some see her as a ray of hope. Others think she’s overrated, and her stories are nothing more than fairytales in the middle of constant conflict. They are perplexed by Martha’s genuine objectives and wonder if she has a plan to assassinate the Master.

At her core, Martha is just a human being trying her best to maintain emotional and mental stability in the face of an overwhelming challenge. She’s witnessed horrific tragedies and struggles with loneliness and paranoia all the time, unsure of whom she can trust in the world.

Her hope is still in the Doctor, and she always emphasises his great characteristics in her stories, but reality weighs heavily on her heart.
She is the only one in this unexpected and tough scenario.

The audio quickly finds its footing, thanks to a combination of great writing and performances from all involved.
Freema Agyeman and Adjoa Andoh, who plays Francine Jones, have great and natural chemistry together, it’s revealed in the extras that even Freema’s real-life mum, thinks of Adjoa as her second-mother. Freema calls her “Mamma Adj”.

We also meet a number of new interesting characters, such as Ewart James Walters as Tucker and Serin Ibrahim as Holly, an old college friend, who has a shaky relationship with Martha.

The Year of Martha Jones is a fascinating insight into human resilience, there are no bombastic over the top moments like you’d expect from the David Tennant era. Instead, this is a quiet and reflective story, that focuses on the little victories Martha is able to win on her journey. Scott Handcock’s direction is flawless and is beautifully accompanied by Howard Carter’s music and sound design.

It’s also easily Freema Ageyman’s best performance as the character. Over the years she has grown and evolved as an actress. I really hope this isn’t the last we’ve heard from Miss Jones.

The Year of Martha Jones is available to buy from Big finish.




Review-Callan volume 1

Callan was a hard-hitting spy drama that followed its hero, played by Edward Woodward, in his missions for “The Section”, a covert government department that dealt with enemies of the state using the most ruthless methods. It ran on ITV for four series between 1967 and 1972 and spawned both a movie and an 80s TV special.

Callan, a natural dead-shot, had a tumultuous past – both military and criminal – and frequently defied his superiors with a great line in sarcasm and a tendency to feel guilty for his victims.
A relationship with Lonely, a petty thief who was frequently lured into his exploits, brought some light comic relief to a show that may have been unrelentingly gloomy otherwise.

Ben Miles takes the lead in the new rendition, with Frank Skinner playing Lonely.
Section boss Hunter and his secretary Liz are played by Nicholas Briggs and Jane Slavin, respectively.

Big Finish has assembled an exceptional cast: Ben Miles as the abrasive Callan, who is tough but not without sympathy, and Frank Skinner as the down on his luck, Loney absolutely shine in this. The duo has a great connection and natural chemistry, which oozes out of the production. Skinner may be the least experienced actor in the audio, but he holds his own with the rest of the cast. I found myself missing him when he wasn’t around.


Liz, played by Jane Slavin, provides some much-needed warmth as well as a gleam of hope for Callan. Nicholas Briggs impresses as the unyielding boss, Hunter.

I wasn’t aware of the TV series before this, but I still found this a compelling drama. Like with their Survivors range, Big Finish has crafted an audioplay that will appeal to fans of the original, whilst also not alienating newcomers.