Friday, 16 March 2018

12 STRONG : Tuesday 13th March 2018.

'12 STRONG' aka '12 Strong : The Declassified True Story of the Horse Soldiers' which I caught earlier this week, is an American war drama film from Danish first time Director Nicolai Fuglsig and is based on Doug Stanton's New York Times Bestsellers non-fiction book 'Horse Soldiers' published in 2009. The film was released in the US in mid-January, cost US$35M to make and has so far grossed US$58M and has received mixed or average Reviews thus far. The film tells the story of CIA paramilitary officers, US Special Forces and USAF Combat Controllers, sent to Afghanistan immediately following the September 11 attacks.

The film open up with Mitch Nelson (Chris Hemsworth) moving into a new family home with his wife Jean (Elsa Pataky) and young cute as a button daughter Maddy. It is early morning and the family are busying themselves unpacking their worldly possessions, before packing Maddy off to school for the day. The television is switched on playing the early morning cartoons. It is September 11th 2001. The cartoon broadcast is interrupted by live footage of the plane attacks on the World Trade Centre twin towers, and the Pentagon. The family look on in stunned disbelief.

Next we see Nelson marching briskly into some Army HQ where he had previously (upon request) been assigned to staff duty following several years as a combat trainer, although never having seen active duty himself nor fired a shot in anger. He volunteers to lead Operational Detachment Alpha (ODA) 595 into Afghanistan to do battle with the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks, but his commanding officer Lt. Col. Max Bowers (Rob Riggle) has very different ideas for him. Frustrated, his colleague Chief Warrant Officer Hal Spencer (Michael Shannon) who is about to retire, volunteers for this additional assignment, and puts in a good word to Bowers about Nelson's leadership attributes, which has the desired effect.

Before you know it, Nelson's team is assembled and their off to Uzbekistan having farewelled their families. It is early October 2001, some four weeks following the attacks. At an Army Base Camp, Nelson and Spencer receive their orders from Special Forces Group Commander Col. John Mulholland (William Fichtner) who selects their team over five others, because Nelson saw what they were going into for what it was, was well researched, and despite not having seen active duty had a raw determination to succeed, quickly and diligently.

Those orders given to Nelson and Spencer were to locate the Northern Alliance and befriend the leader Abdul Rashid Dostum (Navid Negahban) and gain his trust in waging war against The Taliban and al-Qaida and ultimately capture the strategically placed city of Mazar-i-Sharif - the fourth largest city of Afghanistan located in the country's north.

After a night time drop under cover of darkness and flying at an altitude that their transport Chinook Helicopter can barely withstand, the team of twelve men, led by Nelson, are dropped off forty miles or so south of Mazar-i-Sharif. They assemble with the local militia at a nearby village and hunker down for the remaining night. The next morning Dostum arrives on horseback, and after an exchange of pleasantries, the requisite goodwill gifts and getting-to-know-you which is a little hostile, the team of twelve are split in two, because Dostum only has six spare horses. Six, including Nelson depart for the mountains with Dostum and his men, leaving the other six, including Spencer to wait it out in the fortified village, known as 'The Alamo', pending further instructions.

Following several battles with The Taliban in the mountain terrain over the next few days, Nelson becomes increasingly agitated with Dostum for not divulging his plan of attack, and acting carelessly with the lives of his men. Dostum in turn accuses Nelson, and the US for not caring about the future of his country and are therefore unwilling to sacrifice for it. Later, the pair reconcile their differences when Dostum sees just how tough and determined Nelson is. Dostum in turn advises that he hates The Taliban so much for killing his family, at the hands of one of their leaders Mullah Razzan (Numan Acar).

By now Spencer and his five men have travelled on horseback into the mountains to meet up with Nelson, some faring better than others along the rocky terrain. After a number of skirmishes with The Taliban which result in victories for the Northern Alliance, Dostum is making headway towards Mazar-i-Sharif. However, the US Government sends an e-mail to Nelson demanding to know why progress is so slow when the might of Uncle Sam is providing tactical air support with on demand bombing raids.

Nelson responds laying it out exactly as it is, but not before Mulholland has mobilised a second ODA team to support Atta Muhammad, another Northern Alliance leader who is a political rival to Dostum, and for whom there is no love lost between the two men. Nelson has to explain this course of action to Dostum, who responds less than favourably to the news, and does an exit stage left with his men abandoning Nelson to his own devices. Nelson must progress with the plan regardless, and from high up in the mountains at a pinch point in the pass attacks a strategically held Taliban strong hold that they must overthrow to gain access to Mazar-i-Sharif, but encounters heavy resistance from Razzan and his well armed men.

Under attack form all sides, Spencer and his men hold off a group of Taliban fighters, who make as if to surrender. Not knowing if they are serious or not, Spencer treads very carefully and cautiously, just as a suicide bomber close by detonates his explosive vest, badly injuring Spencer and killing various others - mostly of the Taliban kind. Nelson orders a medevac for Spencer before joining the fray once more against the heavily fortified Taliban. Dostum appears with his militia men and the now strengthened combined forces repel the Taliban on horseback all guns blazing, and Dostum kills a fleeing Razzan.

Dostum and Atta Muhammad meet on the outskirts of Mazar-i-Sharif overseen by Nelson, who is fearing the worst when the two meet. But Dostum holds out his hand and congratulates his Northern Alliance ally today (for tomorrow he may feel differently). Upon arriving back at the Army Base Camp, Nelson learns that Spencer has survived meaning that all twelve men who went out, returned safe. ODA 595 return home to the US after 23 days in country.

This is a well made based on a true story recent war film that is underpinned by great cinematography, well realised action set pieces, a strong cast and a lesser known story of heroics against the odds delivered by an unproven Captain leading a small but capable band of brothers into the very first US engagement with the Taliban following the 9/11 attacks. The film however, lacks depth - it lurches from one bloody confrontation to another with aerial shots of bombs dropping on the terrain and wiping out Taliban strongholds, and how the few horseridng soldiers and local militia so successfully manage to wipe out hordes of well armed, mountain dwelling Taliban. Uncle Sam wields his can of whoop ass in the usual predictable manner against a local enemy that boasts numbers, firepower, resilience and motivation, but fear not because truth, justice and the American way will prevail. And other than Nelson, Spencer, intelligence Sergeant Sam Diller (Michael Pena) and weapons expert Ben Milo (Trevante Rhodes) we get to know very little about the eight remaining ODA 595 Team, who all survive and come back home against seemingly overwhelming odds largely unscathed, which is surprising in itself, but clearly fact! Like 'The Magnificent 12' riding in to Dodge to right the wrongs of the local cattle rustlers, this surrogate Western film deals with the action and less of the motivation, the emotion, the consequences, or what's going on around the periphery . . . but I guess that is the point here, and for that you can't fault the film.
-Steve, at Odeon Online-

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

What's new in Odeon's this week : Thursday 15th March 2018.

With Hollywood's annual awards season drawing to a close on Sunday evening 4th March with the 90th Academy Awards Ceremony honouring the very best in cinematic achievement for 2017, we should also not forget the other notable awards ceremony that took place just 24 hours before, also in Tinsel Town. The 38th Golden Raspberry Awards honour the very worst in cinematic achievement for 2017 as decided by more than one thousand voters making up the Golden Raspberry Foundation who all cast their ballots online from all over the world across nine categories. In case you missed out on the winners and grinners from this erstwhile awards presentation having been swept along by the glitz, glamour and heady excitement of the 90th Oscars, shown below are the main recipients of these not so prestigious barely sought after awards :-

* Worst Picture : awarded to 'The Emoji Movie'.
* Worst Director : awarded to Tony Leondis for 'The Emoji Movie'.
* Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-Off or Sequel : awarded to 'Fifty Shades Darker'.
* Worst Actor : awarded to Tom Cruise as Nick Morton in 'The Mummy'.
* Worst Actress : awarded to Tyler Perry as Mabel 'Madea' Simmons in 'Boo 2 : A Madea Halloween'.
* Worst Supporting Actor : awarded to Mel Gibson as Kurt Mayron in 'Daddy's Home 2'.
* Worst Supporting Actress : awarded to Kim Basinger as Elena Lincoln in 'Fifty Shades Darker'.
* Worst Screen Combo : awarded to Any Two Obnoxious Emoji's in 'The Emoji Movie'.
* Worst Screenplay : awarded to Tony Leondis, Eric Siegel and Mike White for 'The Emoji Movie'.

Turning attention to this week, we have a reboot of a hugely successful video game film franchise with an updated story and an updated heroine to take us on another epic action adventure of daring do on a journey of discovery to unearth a mythical ancient tomb and her long lost Dad. We then turn to another reboot of a vigilante revenge film that saw five previous instalments dating back to the early '70's dusted off with a big screen action star playing one man judge, jury and executioner on those that wronged him and his family. Next up we have a sequel to a horror offering of ten years ago that sees a family persecuted by three masked assailants in a deserted trailer park one lonely night with deadly consequences on both sides of that terrorising fence. With a change of pace we go to a party hosted by an Aussie film and TV personality who has invited his comedic and singer friends to crack jokes and sing songs all night long around the barbecue with beer in hand; before moving to an award winning documentary about the plight of tens of millions of displaced refugees from around the world looking for a place to call home. We then wrap up with a story of a song inspired by a young mans relationship with his father, and his faith, that went on to become the highest selling record of all time for its genre.

Whatever your taste in big screen film entertainment is this week - be it any of the six latest release new films as Previewed below, or those doing the rounds currently on general release and as Reviewed and Previewed in previous Blog Posts here at Odeon Online, you are here cordially invited to share your movie going thoughts, opinions and observations by leaving your relevant, succinct and appropriate views in the Comments section below this or any other Post. We'd love to hear from you, and in the meantime, enjoy your big screen Odeon experience during the week ahead.

'TOMB RAIDER' (Rated M) - here we have a reboot of the 'Tomb Raider' franchise that launched into the cinematic world in 2001 from its video game origins dating back to 1993. That first outing starred Angelina Jolie as our titular action adventure heroine Lara Croft, with the film being Directed by Simon West for US$115M and grossing US$275M. On the strength of this, a second film was released in 2003 titled 'Lara Croft Tomb Raider : The Cradle of Life', with Jolie reprising her role but this time Directed by Jan de Bont for US$95M and raking in US$157M. Now fast forward fifteen years, and its reboot time for this film franchise, which as a video game has sold over 63 million copies worldwide, and has made Lara Croft one of the most recognisable and notable video game protagonists in existence. And so Norwegian Director Roar Uthaug has helmed this latest instalment based on the 2013 video game of the same name as worked up by game developer Crystal Dynamics. Costing US$90M to make, the film has so far grossed US$14M from its Asian release last week.

And so in 2018 Alicia Vikander portrays the fiercely independent, free spirited, reckless and carefree action adventure loving Lara Croft. She is the only daughter of eccentric archaeologist adventurer Lord Richard Croft (Dominic West) who went missing some years previously, now believed to be dead. When she is arrested for a relatively minor infraction, Richard's business partner Ana Miller (Kristen Scott Thomas) posts bail and advises her that if she does not claim her inheritance, her father's estate will be sold off. Reluctantly she agrees, which sets in motion a chain of events that takes Lara on a journey in the hope of solving the mystery of her father's disappearance to his last known destination - a fabled tomb on a mythical island located somewhere off the Japanese coast. The stakes couldn't be higher as Lara must rely on her sharp mind, blind faith and stubborn spirit to venture into the unknown, and thwart the nefarious organisation known as Trinity, and one Mathias Vogel (Walton Goggins) also in search of the tomb. Also starring Derek Jacobi, Nick Frost and and Daniel Wu.

'DEATH WISH' (Rated R18+) - another reboot of a tried and tested franchise here, that has its roots dating back to the early '70's with the 1974 vigilante revenge action film of the same name based on the 1972 book by Brian Garfield. That 1974 film starred Charles Bronson in the lead role of architect Paul Kersey who becomes a vigilante after his wife is murdered and his daughter sexually assaulted during a home invasion. Directed by Michael Winner that film cost US$3M to make and grossed US$22M, resulting in four successive films being made through until 1994 with Charles Bronson returning for them all with Michael Winner helming the first three in the series. Now in 2018 Writer, Producer, Actor and Director Eli Roth helms this rebooted sixth offering whose previous Directing credits include 'Cabin Fever', 'Hostel', 'Hostel : Part II' and 'The Green Inferno'. This time around Bruce Willis stars as Chicago Hospital trauma surgeon Paul Kersey who sets out to get revenge on the men who attacked his family killing his wife Lucy (Elisabeth Shue) and badly injuring his daughter Jordan (Camila Morrone). Also starring Vincent D'Onofrio, Dean Norris, Mike Epps and Kimberly Elise, the film cost US$30M to make, has so far grossed US$25M and has received generally negative press so far.

'THE STRANGERS : PREY AT NIGHT' (Rated MA15+) - this horror film is a sequel to the 2008 Bryan Bertini Directed film 'The Strangers' about a young couple who are terrorised by three masked assailants over the course of an evening at a remote summer home. Made for US$9M that film grossed US$83M, and so now ten years later we have the follow up featuring those same three masked assailants who stalk a family spending an evening at deserted mobile home park. Sounds like a recipe for disaster and blood curdling thrills and chills. Made for US$5M the film has so far recouped US$11M since its US release last week, and is helmed this time around by British film Director and Writer Johannes Roberts who seems most comfortable in the horror genre. The film stars Christina Hendricks, Martin Henderson, Bailee Madison and Lewis Pullman as the victims to the three stalking characters of Dollface, Pin Up Girl and Man In The Mask.

'THAT'S NOT MY DOG' (Rated M) - here we have lovable and affable Australian Actor, Comedian and Television Personality Shane Jacobson playing himself in this Aussie comedy film Directed by Dean Murphy that is Co-Produced and Co-Written by Jacobson too. The film celebrates the Aussie love of joke telling centering on Jacobson who throws a party inviting the funniest people that he knows, who from start to finish tell jokes and sing songs in their own trademark style. Featuring a wealth of local comedic and singing talent all playing themselves there is Paul Hogan, Jimeoin, Steve Vizard, Tim Ferguson, Paul Fenech and a whole host of others all giving it their funniest best shot over a barbie and a beer. The film goes on limited cinematic release before a television special and a book release.

'HUMAN FLOW' (Rated M) - this Documentary from Chinese Director, Writer, Cinematographer, Artist and Activist Ai Weiwei is a German produced film from Amazon Studios that charts the human refugee crisis that is altering the face of our planet. Filmed over the course of one year and across 23 different countries the film tells the unflinching, heartbreaking and crucially relevant story of over  65 million people around the world who have been forced from their homes to escape famine, climate change and war. The greatest displacement of the global population since World War II, here filmmaker Ai Weiwei examines the monumental scale of the global refugee crisis and its profoundly personal human impact. Weiwei follows a chain of urgent human stories that stretch across the world, taking in Afghanistan, France, Hungary, Turkey, Greece, Germany, Kenya, Jordan, Gaza and Iraq amongst others. The film has picked up six award wins and eleven nominations, including a Golden Lion nod at last years Venice Film Festival.

'I CAN ONLY IMAGINE' (Rated PG) - is a film based on the story behind the most played contemporary Christian song of all time 'I Can Only Imagine' by Christian rock band 'MercyMe'. The song was written and composed by lead vocalist Bart Millard, and was inspired by the death of Millard's father (who died in 1991, when Millard was just eighteen years of age) and considers what it would be like in Heaven and to be standing before God. The song has been certified double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America for sales of over two million digital downloads, and is the first (and so far only) Christian single to reach that milestone. Directed by Andrew and Jon Erwin, the film stars J. Michael Finley as Bart Millard in his film debut, and Dennis Quaid as Arthur Millard, Bart's father, and tells a complex father and son story.

With six new release films this week to tempt you out to your local Odeon, remember to share your movie going thoughts with your other like minded cinephile friends afterwards here at Odeon Online, and meanwhile, I'll see you sometime somewhere in the week ahead at your local Odeon.

-Steve, at Odeon Online-

Saturday, 10 March 2018

RED SPARROW : Tuesday 6th March 2018.

'RED SPARROW' which I saw this week, here sees Francis Lawrence Directing this American spy thriller based on the 2013 book of the same name by former CIA operative Jason Matthews. Francis Lawrence is no stranger to big screen spectacle having Directed, amongst others, 'Constantine' with Keanu Reeves, 'I Am Legend' with Will Smith, 'The Hunger Games : Catching Fire' with Jennifer Lawrence and 'The Hunger Games : Mokingjay Parts 1 and 2' also with Jennifer Lawrence. Here he teams up with his namesake Jennifer Lawrence once again with the film going on general release around the world just over a week ago having cost US$69M, and having garnered mixed and average Reviews at best so far. The film has so far grossed US$55M in Box Office receipts.

The film centres around Russian and American espionage, the central figure of which is Dominika Egorova (Jennifer Lawrence) a former prima ballerina forced into an uncertain future as a result of an injury that brings her chosen career to an abrupt halt. She lives with her ailing mother Nina (Joely Richardson) in a very modest apartment which is funded, together with her mothers medical expenses, by the ballet company for whom Dominika dances.

After corrective surgery to her lower leg, and feeling spent, she is approached by her Uncle Ivan (Matthias Schoenaerts) who works for the Russian Secret Service. He tasks her with seducing Russian Politician Dimitri Ustinov (Kristof Konrad) and switching his mobile phone with an identical state provided one, in exchange for which she can continue living in her apartment with her mother and all medical expenses covered, when this line of charity runs dry from the ballet company. Dominika must follow a fairly simple set of instructions, which she does. This leads to her being raped by Ustinov in her hotel room, but this is cut short by a garrotte around Ustinov's neck delivered at the hands of Simyonov (Sergej Onopko) slicing his throat open and killing him. After making a quick escape on motorcycle, Ivan reveals to Dominika that he had always intended to kill Ustinov and that she performed her job very well. But, Russian Intelligence rule that there can be no witnesses to such acts, and so she has a choice to make - either be executed, or begin a new career with Russian Intelligence.

Meanwhile Nate Nash (Joel Edgerton) is a CIA operative working in Moscow. While meeting with a Russian asset (codenamed Marble) at night in Gorky Park, their meeting is interrupted by a random drive-by Police car. To protect his asset from detection, Nash creates a diversion in order that they can both evade capture and questioning. After a foot chase through the streets of downturn Moscow, Nash narrowly escapes, and is sent packing back to the US to explain his actions, and to be grounded. Nash spent three years nurturing his relationship and building up trust with Marble who has now gone underground and contact lost. As a result, Nash is reassigned to Budapest to reconnect with Marble.

In the meantime Dominika is packed off to 'Sparrow School' having made the correct decision. Here young men and woman are trained to seduce their targets using physical, mental and emotional cues to do so. Dominika excels at her studies largely at the hands of the 'Matron' - the Head of Sparrow School (Charlotte Rampling), although rebels at some of the elements of her training, including stripping naked in front of her classmates, and her willingness to being raped by a fellow trainee. Despite this she shows promise and is singled out by General Vladimir Korchnoi (Jeremy Irons) overseen by Colonel Zacharov (Ciaran Hinds) and assigned to Budapest to seek out Nate Nash, gain his confidence by whatever means necessary, and learn the identity of his asset.

In Budapest, Dominika shacks up with Marta (Thekla Reuten) and quickly makes contact with Nash at a local swimming pool where Nash regularly swims laps for his afternoon exercise. Nash works out pretty quickly that she is a Russian Intelligence operative, and she reveals her true identity to him and that she is wanting to gain the identity of his asset. One day while Marta is out, Dominika takes the opportunity to snoop through her bedroom. She uncovers a notebook in which is recorded the name of Stephanie Boucher (Mary-Louise Parker), a Chief-of-Staff for a US Senator and a sum of US$250,000, whom Marta is working with to gather information from.

Later, following a surprise visit from her Uncle Ivan, Dominika reveals her plan to secure secrets from Boucher, which is overheard by Marta who believes that she is trying to take control over her planned assignment. A few days later, Marta winds up very dead in her bathtub at home - her tortured mutilated murdered body laying blood soaked for Dominika to discover. Simyonov creeps up behind Dominika and reveals that he killed Marta as a warning not to divulge Russian secrets.

Dominika offers her services to Nash to work with the CIA as a double agent. She sees through Marta's planed assignment with Boucher and sets up a covert meeting in a London hotel room where several disks containing sensitive information will be exchanged for US$250,000 in cash, all the while monitored covertly by Nash and his team. The meeting goes off well, Boucher leaves the hotel room with her swag bag of cash, but is spooked by CIA operatives who move in too quickly and without the command, and is killed outright when she steps into the road and is mown down by a passing truck.

Dominika's Russian handler sees that the mission has been compromised, and she is whisked away quickly to Heathrow, then back to Russia where she is interrogated and tortured for seemingly compromising Boucher. She repeatedly denies this, and is subject to more beatings and torture. Ivan enters the room to deliver an ultimatum, but Dominika convinces her Uncle that her interrogation will give her credibility with the CIA, and as such she should be allowed to return to the field to complete her assignment. She returns to Budapest, and meets with Nash stating her desire to defect to the US with her mother.

Nash and Dominika spend the night together. The next morning Dominika awakens alone in bed, but with muffled sounds coming from the next room. She investigates to find Nash bound to a chair with Simyonov standing over him, demanding the identity of Marble or suffer the consequences at his torturous hands. Simyonov unravels and array of sharp instruments of torture. Dominika goes along with the ruse to show support of Simyonov and takes part in the torture, lulling him into  false sense of security, before she administers a crashing blow to his temple sending him reeling backwards. In the ensuing scuffle, Nash is able to free himself but by now Simyonov is on his feet slashing wildly away with a surgical blade at them both. Ultimately Dominika gains the upper hand and after repeatedly stabbing Simyonov administers the final blow with a blade into his neck.

Later, Dominika comes round in a hospital bed, with her wounds dressed. She ventures out of her private room to take stock of her location, and is greeted by General Korchnoi who reveals to her that he is in fact the mole, codenamed Marble. He explains that his anger and frustration by the deep rooted and ongoing corruptness of Russia led him to becoming a secret double agent. He further adds that she should reveal his identity to her Uncle, Ivan, and that her outing such a high ranking official will gain her instant promotion and set her up for a high profile career in Russian Intelligence, as well as continuing the work with the CIA that they are both secretly engaged in too. Back on Russian soil, Dominika makes contact with her superiors and advises them who the mole is, but instead of outing Korchnoi, she frames her Uncle Ivan instead who ultimately dies with a bullet to the head during a prisoner exchange overseen by Nash and the CIA. Dominika gains her reward of promotion and the recognition that goes with it, and returns home to care for her mother in the same apartment.

'Red Sparrow' joins the ranks of Russian/American international espionage thrillers that we see all too often, and in some cases done better. This offering does stand up on its own two feet, but be prepared to pay attention throughout as the plot twists and turns every which way and you'll need to concentrate on who's side who is on, why and when. The film is graphic in its violence and sexual violence and seems to rely all too heavily on putting the Jennifer Lawrence character through just about every degradation possible from torture through interrogation through rape (twice and almost a third time) through multiple beatings in between and bearing witness to some pretty grisly murders. The film at 140 minutes is also too long for the subject matter and could have been easily paired back to two hours without the padding and a little more straightforwardness. Despite this the films redeeming points are its cast, and this is Lawrence like we have never seen her before as she bares all (literally) to join the ranks of Angelina Jolie ('Salt') and Charlize Theron ('Atomic Blonde') as an action heroine, joined by an ensemble cast of fine acting talent that help levitate the film above a by the numbers offering. This is potentially the first film in a franchise of three, as author Jason Matthews has penned two further novels in the series. We'll see if the lessons learned from this first film transfer to any subsequent follow-up.

-Steve, at Odeon Online-

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

What's new in Odeon's this week : Thursday 8th March 2018.

And so Hollywood's night of nights was hosted by Jimmy Kimmel for the second consecutive year on Sunday evening March 4th from the Dolby Theatre, Hollywood, Los Angeles, California. This year marked the 90th Academy Awards ceremony with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences honouring the best in film entertainment from 2017 across 24 individual categories. 'The Shape of Water' went into the awards with the most number of nominations at thirteen, followed by 'Dunkirk' with eight, 'Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri' with seven, 'Darkest Hour' and 'Phantom Thread' each with six, 'Blade Runner 2049' and 'Lady Bird' each with five, then 'Call Me By Your Name', 'Get Out', 'Mudbound' and 'Star Wars : The Last Jedi' each with four, and 'I, Tonya' and 'Baby Driver' each with three. In case you were hiding under a rock, here is a summary of the winners and grinners from the main categories, as presented at this years 90th Academy Awards by the glitterati and glamourati of Hollywood's finest talent, all presented without any major upset this year!

* Best Picture : awarded to 'The Shape of Water'.
* Best Director : awarded to Guillermo del Toro for 'The Shape of Water'.
* Best Foreign Language Film : awarded to 'Fantastic Woman' (Chile).
* Best Animated Feature Film : awarded to 'Coco'.
* Best Documentary Feature Film : awarded to 'Icarus'.
* Best Actor : awarded to Gary Oldman for his portrayal of Winston Churchill in 'Darkest Hour'.
* Best Actress : awarded to Frances McDormand for her portrayal of Mildred Hayes in 'Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri'.
* Best Supporting Actor : awarded to Sam Rockwell for his portrayal of Jason Dixon in 'Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri'.
* Best Supporting Actress : awarded to Allison Janney for her portrayal of LaVona Golden in 'I, Tonya'.
* Best Original Screenplay : awarded to Jordan Peele for 'Get Out'.
* Best Adapted Screenplay : awarded James Ivory for 'Call Me By Your Name'.
* Best Original Score : awarded to Alexandre Desplat for 'The Shape of Water'.
* Best Original Song : awarded to Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez for 'Remember Me' from 'Coco'.
* Best Cinematography : awarded to Roger Deakins for 'Blade Runner 2049'.
* Best Production Design : awarded to Paul Denham Austerberry, Shane Vieau and Jeff Melvin for 'The Shape of Water'.
* Best Film Editing : awarded to Lee Smith for 'Dunkirk'.
* Best Costume Design : awarded to Mark Bridges for 'Phantom Thread'.
* Best Visual Effects : awarded to 'Blade Runner 2049'.

This week then we have five new release movies coming to an Odeon near you. We kick start with a post 9/11 Afghanistan War drama about twelve US Special Forces men sent behind enemy lines to work with the local insurgents to bring down the Taliban, it's al-Qaida allies and capture a strategically placed city - no mean feat! We then turn to an acclaimed German film about one woman's quest for the truth, justice and revenge when her husband and son are killed by a terrorist nail bomb. Next up is a biographical film about a weekend sailor who gets into deep water attempting to sail single handedly around the world back in 1968 that resulted in a cheating scandal and his ultimate demise into the watery deep. This is followed up by a family friendly film of a cheerleading champion from the US looking to replicate her success from back home down in South Australia; and we finish up with an animated feature of down on their luck ordinary folk who on a night out of fun and frolics at a monster dress-up party unwittingly get transformed into the actual characters they are portraying by an evil witch working for Count Dracula.

Whatever your taste in big screen film entertainment is this week - be it any of the five latest release new films as Previewed below, or those doing the rounds currently on general release and as Reviewed and Previewed in previous Blog Posts here at Odeon Online, you are here warmly invited to share your cinematic thoughts, opinions and observations by leaving your relevant, succinct and appropriate views in the Comments section below this or any other Post. We'd love to hear from you, and in the meantime, enjoy your big screen Odeon experience during the week ahead.

'12 STRONG' (Rated MA15+) - aka '12 Strong : The Declassified True Story of the Horse Soldiers' is an American war drama film from Danish first time Director Nicolai Fuglsig and is based on Doug Stanton's New York Times Bestsellers non-fiction book 'Horse Soldiers' published in 2009. The film was released in the US in mid-January, cost US$35M to make and has so far grossed US$58M and has received mixed or average Reviews thus far. The film tells the story of CIA paramilitary officers, US Special Forces and USAF Combat Controllers, sent to Afghanistan immediately following the September 11 attacks.

In the aftermath of September 11, US Army Captain Mitch Nelson (Chris Hemsworth) with Operational Detachment Alpha (ODA) 595 volunteers to lead a US Special Forces team into Afghanistan for an extremely dangerous mission fighting alongside the Northern Alliance leader General Abdul Rashid Dostum (Navid Negahban) to take down the Taliban and its al-Qaida allies and capture the strategically placed city of Mazar-i-Sharif - the fourth largest city of Afghanistan located in the country's north. Outgunned and outnumbered, Nelson and his forces face overwhelming odds in a fight against a ruthless enemy that shoots first and asks questions last. Also starring Michael Shannon, Michael Pena, William Fichtner and Trevante Rhodes.

'IN THE FADE' (Rated MA15+) - Written, Co-Produced and Directed by German Fatih Akin, this film has won ten awards and fourteen nominations including the Golden Globe win for Best Motion Picture - Foreign Language and two satellite Award wins for Best International Film and Best Actress for its lead, Diane Kruger. The film was also in competition at last years Cannes Film Festival for the Palme d'Or, with Diane Kruger taking out the Best Actress Award.  Here Katja Sekerci (Diane Kruger) is married to a Kurdish man Nuri (Numan Acar). They live with their five years old son in Hamburg. One day, returning to her husband's office in the evening to collect him and their son, she is greeted by a Police cordon advising her that a man and a child have been killed in a vicious nail bomb attack. The Police close in and arrest two Neo-Nazi suspects with an international network on the grounds of seemingly watertight evidence. Pushed to the edge of despair over their deaths, Katja sees no reason to carry on, until she has a moment of clarity and decides instead that she wants justice, and revenge. The film has received generally positive press since its initial release in Germany back in November last year.

'THE MERCY' (Rated M) - is a British biographical drama film from Director James Marsh who previous Directorial credits include the documentaries 'Man on Wire', 'Project Nim' and feature drama films 'Shadow Dancer' and 'The Theory of Everything'. Here he tells the true story of the disastrous attempt by weekend sailor Donald Crowhurst (Colin Firth) to complete the Sunday Times Golden Globe single handed round the world yacht race in 1968. Crowhurst had entered the race in the hope of winning a cash prize from The Sunday Times to aid his failing business. Instead, the amateur sailor encountered challenges early in his voyage, and secretly abandoned the race while reporting false positions, in an attempt to appear to complete a circumnavigation without actually circling the world, all the while remaining in the Atlantic Ocean. Evidence found after his disappearance suggests that this attempt ended in mental breakdown, possible insanity and suicide in mid-1969 somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean. Also starring Rachel Weisz as Clare Crowhurst, David Thewlis and Ken Scott.

'GOING FOR GOLD' (Rated G) - Written, Produced and Directed by South Australia's Clay Glen, and filmed in around that State's capital city Adelaide, here the film maker takes us into the world of family friendly competitive cheerleading. His two previous outings 'Raising the Bar' and 'Second Chance' centred around the world of gymnastics, and like 'Going for Gold' were aimed squarely at the family and children's markets. The film here follows the story of seventeen year old Emma (Kelli Berglund) a champion cheerleader who's father is a widowed US Air Force Officer. When father and daughter relocate themselves from the USA to South Australia, Emma starts at high school and soon discovers a small but emerging competitive cheerleading culture, and so sets about recruiting a mixed bunch of cheerleading wannabes in an attempt to win the State title.

'MONSTER FAMILY' (Rated PG) - aka 'Happy Family' is a British and German CG animated horror comedy Co-Production, that was released in Germany back in August last year, the USA in early February and the UK last week. Directed and Produced by Holger Tappe the film is based on the children's book 'Happy Family' by German novelist and writer David Safier. The story here is about the Wishbone family, who have not had much luck in their lives. The Mum and Dad of the family, Emma (Emily Watson) and Frank (Nick Frost) plan a fun night out to a monster costume party for the family in order for them to reconnect and lift their spirits. However, things backfire when an evil witch working for Count Dracula (Jason Isaacs) is ordered to turn Emma into a Vampire (the character she is portraying to the Monster Costume Party) and inadvertently turns the whole family into their costumed monsters too. Frank into Frankenstein, daughter Fay (Jessica Brown Findlay) into a Mummy and son Max (Ethan Rouse) into a Werewolf. What follows in a chase across town leading them eventually to London in an attempt to reverse the curse. Also starring Celia Imrie and Catherine Tate.

With five new release films this week to tempt you out to your local Odeon, remember to share your movie going thoughts with your other like minded cinephiles afterwards here at Odeon Online, and meanwhile, I'll see you sometime somewhere in the week ahead at your local Odeon.

-Steve, at Odeon Online-