Queen of Katwe (2016)

Queen of Katwe
Director: Mira Nair
Writer: William Wheeler
Based on: Tim Crothers‘ non-fiction book The Queen of Katwe: A Story of Life, Chess, and One Extraordinary Girl’s Dream of Becoming a Grandmaster
Cast: Madina NalwangaDavid OyelowoLupita Nyong’oMartin KabanzaTaryn KyazeIvan JacoboNicolas Levesque, Ethan Nazario Lubega
Seen on: 26.4.2017

Phiona Mutesi (Madina Nalwanga) lives with her mother Nakku Harriett (Lupita Nyong’o) in the slums of Katwe, Uganda. Life is tough and Phiona and her brother Benjamin (Ethan Nazario Lubega) have to work to try and get a bit of money for the family, especially since Phiona’s older sister Night (Taryn Kyaze) went her own ways. That’s when Phiona stumbles on Robert Katende’s chess club. He offers not only to teach chess, but also food. Drawn in by the latter, Phiona gets more and more interested in chess. And it turns out that she’s really good at it.

Queen of Katwe is a supercute film about an intersting girl and story. The film itself is not particularly revolutionary, but it’s well-made and has a great cast.

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The Jungle Book (2016)

The Jungle Book
Director: Jon Favreau
Writer: Justin Marks
Based on: Rudyard Kipling‘s books
Remake of: The Jungle Book
Cast: Neel Sethi, Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong’o, Scarlett Johansson, Giancarlo Esposito, Christopher Walken, Garry Shandling
Seen on: 27.4.2016

A few years ago, the panther Bagheera (Ben Kingsley) found a human baby and decided he couldn’t just let it die. So he brought it to the wolves Akela (Giancarlo Esposito) and Raksha (Lupita Nyong’o) who raised him as their own. Now the baby – Mowgli (Neel Sethi) – has grown into a child who feels perfectly at home in the jungle. But the tiger Shere Khan (Idris Elba) will not suffer a human in the jungle. With the threat of murder in the air, Bagheera decides that the safest option is to bring Mowgli back to the humans.

The Jungle Book is a weird film. On the one hand, it stays extremely close to the animated Disney version, on the other hand it often enters grimdark territory. That makes for a very weird mix that made me scratch my head more than once.

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (aka Episode VII)
Director: J.J. Abrams
Writer: Lawrence Kasdan, J.J. Abrams, Michael Arndt
Sequel to: Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones, Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back, Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi
Cast: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Harrison Ford, Adam Driver, Carrie Fisher, Mark HamillOscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Max von Sydow, Peter Mayhew, Gwendoline Christie, Simon Pegg, Greg Grunberg, Warwick Davis, Iko Uwais, Judah Friedlander, Daniel Craig, Alec Guinness, Ewan McGregor, Frank Oz
Seen on: 21.12.2015

It was 30 years ago that Darth Vader was defeated and the Empire fell. And it’s about as long that Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) has disappeared from the Galaxy. The Resistance is still looking for him. Pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) is hot on the trail of a missing map piece for that search when he comes under attack. He hands the map to his droid BB-8 and sends it on its way. Rey (Daisy Ridley) works as a scavenger on that very same planet and she stumbles first on BB-8 and then on a stormtrooper (John Boyega) who deserted. Before they have a chance to think, they are on the run – and run straight into Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew). Together they decide to try to find Luke.

I’ll come right out and say it: I’m not a Star Wars fan. I watched Episodes 4 through 6 when I was a kid and thought they were okay, watched Episode 1 when it came out and thought it was so stupid, I never even watched 2 and 3. When 7 came out, I hesitated for a while to watch it, but ultimately I figured why not? I have watched films for less reason than the cast of this one alone. And I have to say, I don’t regret watching it. In many ways it has the IQ of a potato, but it is seriously entertaining and very nice to watch.

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Non-Stop (2014)

Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
Writer: John W. Richardson, Christopher Roach, Ryan Engle
Cast: Liam Neeson, Julianne Moore, Michelle Dockery, Scoot McNairy, Corey Stoll, Lupita Nyong’o, Shea Whigham

Bill Marks (Liam Neeson) is an air marshal with a host of problems, not the least of which is that he drinks too much. But all of those things take a back seat, when Bill starts receiving text messages mid-air threatening the plane and to kill its passengers if they don’t receive a whole lot of money. And despite Bill’s vigilance and the fact that the plane is flying, people start dying.

Non-Stop suffers from many things but mostly from a plot that doesn’t make a lick of sense and some serious lengths in the second half. At least there is the wonderful female cast.


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12 Years a Slave (2013)

12 Years a Slave
Director: Steve McQueen
Writer: John Ridley
Based on: Solomon Northup‘s memoir
Cast: Chiwetel EjioforLupita Nyong’o, Quvenzhané Wallis, Kelsey Scott, Michael K. Williams, Scoot McNairy, Adepero Oduye, Paul Giamatti, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Michael Fassbender, Sarah Paulson, Alfre Woodard, Brad Pitt

Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is one of the few free black people in the USA. Or rather he used to be until he took a job offer that turned into a kidnapping. Suddenly Solomon finds himself removed from his family, mistreated and enslaved. As he goes from owner to owner, he tries his best to not only survive, but be free again.

12 Years a Slave is one hell of a film. It has a great cast, is beautifully shot and has an awesome soundtrack. It’s also a film that hurts pretty much all over and will stay with me for a very long time.


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