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ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY

Lucasfilm Ltd. (available on Google Play)

The first of the planned standalone Star Wars films, Rogue One tells the story of how the rebels stole the schematics for the Death Star to allow them to destroy it… and to provide an answer as to why it was built with such a major design flaw. While the action, acting, and story is captivating, what really steals the show is the stunning cinematography, with bizarre alien worlds brought to life, ranging from desert ruins and volcanic planets to epic space-scapes and lush tropical greenery, not to mention bringing Peter Cushing back to life. *****

PREVENGE

Kaleidoscope (available on Netflix)

This slasher flick with a wide comedic streak was a recent Buzz front cover on its UK cinema release, and Alice Lowe – writer, director and star of Prevenge – is outstanding on three fronts here. Filmed during her real-life pregnancy, she plays Ruth, whose baby sends her in-womb instructions to kill anyone who vexes her. A layer of intrigue is thus added to scenes of oozing gore and antenatal delusion, but the blade-sharp lines, pleasingly realist characters and disassociative camera style is what makes this great. **** NG

Feature

I DON’T FEEL AT HOME IN THIS WORLD ANYMORE

XYZ Films (available on Netflix)

Melanie Lynskey stars as Ruth in this depressed crime thriller with comic moments. Fed up with the selfishness she sees everywhere, she’s walked over constantly and despairs for mankind. To add salt into her melancholic wound, her home is burgled. While on a quest to get her laptop back, she enlists the help from a bizarre martial arts fanatic (Elijah Wood) to get revenge. A surreal tale of vengeance and rage, it analyses human decency with great chemistry between Lynskey’s angry Ruth and Wood’s incompetent Tony. **** LOB

THE EXPANSE

Syfy (available on Netflix)

Based on Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck’s books, set hundreds of years in the future The Expanse is a thrilling story set in a detailed sci-fi universe where humanity has colonised the Solar System. It follows a UN executive, a detective and a ship officer and his crew as they unravel a conspiracy that threatens the uneasy peace and survival of humanity. Clever and beautifully thought-out, this is a joy for sci-fi fans looking for a new universe to explore.  **** LOB

SANDY WEXLER

Happy Madison (available on Netflix)

Like a car crash you can’t look away from, Adam Sandler’s latest formulaic rehash (same ‘funny’ voice + same inexplicable irritability to women + same cast + incompetent down on his luck character with easily identifiable feature = money) is a hypnotic mess. While it has a couple of funny bits that rely on the comic equivalent of jump scares, Sandler’s story set in 1994 (back when he was someone) of a talent manager is an unimaginative copy paste of previous outings. That being said, it’s actually one of his better Netflix originals. Yep. ** LOB

Feature

HANDSOME

Netflix (available on Netflix)

Jeff Garlin (Curb Your Enthusiasm) directs, stars and co-writes this dark comedy whodunnit. Playing Gene Handsome, an LA homicide detective, he bumbles through life confused and alone (apart from the company of his dog). A new neighbour moves in and pretty soon their babysitter turns up dead, so naturally he investigates. While the murder mystery side is pretty unoriginal and poorly thought out, Garlin’s charm wins the day, with far more focus seeming to be placed on his character and the pursuit of happiness than on the jumpy and hastily put together murder side-plot. Funny moments are the sugar to the ipecac of its plot.  *** LOB

13 REASONS WHY

July Moon Pictures (available on Netflix)

Adapted from a young adult novel, the Netflix series focuses on the controversial and prescient topic of teenage suicide. The story details the reasons why Hannah Baker committed suicide, told through a series of tapes she left for a specific audience, and the affect her death has on those that knew her. Attracting criticism and acclaim in equal measure, the series is not an easy watch, but deals with the topic in a sensitive and thought provoking manner. **** SD

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