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Yesterday

There have been several films based around Beatles tunes. Initial ones featuring the ‘Fab Four’ remain classics with others falling by the wayside. The most notorious example was the 1978 ‘Sgt Pepper’s’ film featuring the Bee Gees jumping on trampolines. Sadly no physical gymnastics are present in ‘Yesterday’, which would have made it infinitely more watchable. Directed by the usually talented Danny Boyle and written by Richard Curtis, ‘Yesterday’ is a saccharine-filled ode to the 60’s chart-topping mop-toppers.

Struggling singer-songwriter Jack (Himesh Patel) is desperate to hit the big time. One of his few supporters is best friend Ellie (Lily James). When Jack is injured during a mysterious blackout, his fortune is about to turn. Waking up to a world where no one remembers the Beatles, Jack performs their songs to global fame. All this comes at a cost to his friendship with Ellie with Jack wondering if success is worth losing her forever.

‘Yesterday’ is like a sugar coated episode of ‘The Twilight Zone’ extended to nearly two hours. Despite having written ‘Blackadder’ among other TV series, British writer Richard Curtis seems content to churn out sentimental feel-good fluff like ‘Yesterday’. Whilst the premise is amusing, it’s stretched too far with the romance between Jack and Ellie feeling forced. There’s no chemistry between the leads although both performers do a fine job generally. Since this doesn’t work, the film’s main focus swiftly falls by the wayside.

Danny Boyle directing talents are wasted on ‘Yesterday’. His flair for bringing energy and pace to stories is missing with each scene shot like any old ordinary TV sit-com. As expected the Beatles tunes stand out and aren’t washed out by the bland script. It may prompt viewers to seek out their work although they aren’t supported by a strong story.

‘Yesterday’ is the type of movie you’d expect from someone who wrote ‘Love Actually’ and ‘The Boat that Rocked’. Safe, insipid and uninspiring, the creaky plot lethargically wheezes its way to a predictable finale. Beatles completists will probably see it with future films featuring their songs as certain as the enduring devotion of their fans.

Rating out of 10: 4

Child’s Play

The ‘Child’s Play’ horror film series isn’t what one would call high art. Beginning in 1988, the franchise has spawned 7 movies, this remake and an upcoming TV series. Not bad for a story focussing on a killer doll slashing its way to infamy. Having never seen any of the movies, it was a fresh experience watching the ‘Child’s Play’ redux. As silly as one would expect, its sense of fun amongst the murderous mayhem sets it apart from its more serious brethren.

When single mother Karen (Aubrey Plaza) gives her deaf son Andy (Gabriel Bateman) a robotic doll for his birthday, she thinks she’s done a good thing. Unfortunately it’s anything but with the doll, named Chucky (voiced by Mark Hamill), quickly starting a savage rampage. The bodies pile up as Chucky the evil dolly carves its way atop the bloody heap.

Going against the glut of bland recent remakes, ‘Child’s Play’ has more energy and life to it. It’s not exactly a masterpiece but it is entertaining nonsense if viewed in the right frame of mind. That it manages to have genuine tension within the screenplay is a bonus. Chucky’s wicked methods go beyond looking creepy. His skills in commanding any electrical device is used effectively as you never know when or where he’ll strike. This makes for unpredictable viewing between the body count and quips.

Lars Klevberg’s direction and brisk pacing enable ‘Child’s Play’ to maintain momentum. There are few slow spots and several genuinely scary sequences stick in the mind. The performances are serviceable despite the thinly written characters with Hamill’s delivery of Chucky’s quotes fiendishly amusing. The excellent cinematography also goes a long way in creating the constant atmosphere of dread befitting such a devilish movie.

It would have been very easy for the ‘Child’s Play’ producers to make a lazy remake. Thankfully they bring a new slant to the long-running series. It’s uncertain if this will lead to further sequels but it doesn’t do a dis-service to an enduringly ridiculous and sinister franchise.

Rating out of 10: 6