Lady Bloodfight – a review

    SO….Lady Bloodfight is a film. in the dictionary sense of the word. It is over one hundred minutes long, has a beginning, middle and an end, and it has moving images that one can watch. It is basically a female version of Bloodsport, the Jean-Claude Van Damme martial arts starrer. All the women are very attractive. That is all that can be said with regards as to what is good in this film. 

   Four minutes into the film it is apparent that this is not going to be a great watch. It opens with two women fighting on a rooftop. Shu (Muriel Hofmann) is fighting Wai (Kathy Wu). They are evenly matched and their match is decided a draw, much to the disgust of Wai. They are sent away to find a student each to teach, who might represent them in the next Kumite tournament, five years hence. 

   Two mysterious Chinese men go about recruiting women from around the globe to fight in the next tournament. Meanwhile, Wai’s would be student, Ling (Jenny WU), walks into her dojo and proceeds to beat up her best student. Wai, mildly impressed by her attitude, sacks off all her other students and decides to train the feral Ling for the Kumite. 

   Shu waits for the spirits – really – to send her a student. After encountering a multitude of unsuitable candidates. Jane (Amy Johnston), is a blue-eyed, blonde, who has traveled to Hong Kong in the hope of finding out what happened to her father, who just happened to disappear under mysterious circumstances whilst attending a Kumite tournament. 

   When she is set upon by a small crew of unscrupulous miscreants, she is forced to fight and is winning until one of them knocks her near unconscious and hands out a bit of a beatdown on her. Shu, witnessing the scene, intervenes and gives the thugs a quick bashing before taking Jane back to her place. 

    Jane, who I forgot to mention had already suffered a bit of a beatdown whilst on American soil, having insulted and embarrassed a patron of the white collar diner she used to work in, he and his buddies decide to set upon her in the underground carpark. She promptly handed out an ass whooping on the four of them, but not before taking a fierce bruising herself. 

    Back in Hong Kong, the twice concussed Jane asks Shu to train her in martial arts. Shu, highly spiritual and given to meditation, agrees to train her if she will enter the Kumite tournament. Jane agrees after Shu brings a bird back to life. Yeah, she can do that. 

    There is a training sequence, flitting between Jane and Ling. Jane’s training is based around the tenants of most martial arts, with Shu always counseling her to remain in control. Ling is encouraged to attack with brutal ferocity. 

   We quickly get to the tournament, where the women fight with unrestrained ferocity and Chinese people, the men, in particular, are made to look very bad. There is one black person in the film, a female boxer in the tournament. She is killed immediately. Jane is befriended by one of the other fighters, Cassidy, played by the brilliantly named Jet Tranter. She could use some help with her IMDB profile page though! 

   Cassidy is chatty and happy in contrast to the brutish Svietta (Mayling Ng) who relishes beating on every opponent she meets. As soon as Svietta and Cassidy are matched up in the contest, you know it is going to end badly for Cassidy. Svietta slits her throat, traumatising Jane. 

Jane, who due to using her newly improved fighting skills to go and hand out a beating to the Chinese gang who beat her up when she first got to Hong Kong, is abandoned by Shu, has to face Svietta in the semifinal fight.

    With Ling waiting in the final, Jane, of course, beats Svietta. In the course of beating Svietta, Jane suffers many more injuries herself. As she waits in the changing room, Mr. Sang (Kirt Kishita) comes and tells her that he killed her father and Wai’s brother, a brother Wai believed to have committed suicide because of a broken heart after breaking up with Shu, hence her hatred for her. 

   Mr. Sang is convinced that Jane will either forfeit the final or suffer defeat because of her injuries. Happy that his wagers remain safe. Jane goes to Shu and convinces her help her with her injuries so as she can contest the final. 

    Jane fights and defeats Ling in the final, forcing Mr. Sang to try and flee. He confesses to the murders and Shu and Wai become friends once more. The end. 

    Let’s start with that which I admire most in film and television, the actors. The script really does not serve them at all in this film, with Jet Tranter’s Cassidy getting probably the least raw deal. Every other character is a two dimensional, cliched, stereotype. Jane is the fish-out-of-water trier, who comes good and overcomes. Ling and Wai are the bad women/girl who realise the right path, in the end, Shu is the wise one, who sees that she, perhaps, is not always right.

    Every cliche is ticked off. A quick peruse of the IMDB page of all the lead characters shows that they are all competent martial artist. Not that the camera work would have you believe that. It is, at times, unnecessarily haphazard and shaky. The fight choreography is good, however. 

     Some of the costumes are highly impractical for fighting – the floaty nonsense they wear for the opening fight scene is particularly ridiculous. The gratuitous use of blood make-up had me believing that they perhaps got it free or it was left over from an abandoned Tarantino film. Every punch causes a huge blood splatter. Every punch. 

    what really lets this film down, however, is the script. It is simply woeful. Bey Logan, who is credited with the screenplay and story, has a whole slew of credits for low to medium budget martial arts action films, none which are familiar to me. 

   Admittedly, the script does not scrape the depths of Anne Rice’s infamous efforts in Interview With A Vampire all those years back, but it comes close. With the poor script and Chris Nahon’s – not Nolan – lacklustre directing, it is a miracle that this film is watchable at all. The pacing is quite sprightly, which definitely helps, even if it does mean that the story lacks depth.

    Bey sacrifices story for fight scenes, creating unnatural situations so as to shoehorn them in. Lady Bloodfight – a really rubbish title for a film – is a film that improves, though not greatly, as it goes along, almost as if they were learning as they went along in the making of the film.

Lady Bloodfight is not an unwatchable film, but nor is it a must see. If you have a couple of hours to waste and have not much else going on, there are worse ways to waste that time. 


Handsome -it really isn’t! – a review

     JESUS wept! Once again, I am reviewing a Netflix film. I watch them so that you do not have to. You’re welcome. In the case of Handsome: A Netflix Mystery Movie, the only mystery is how the heck this ‘movie’ ever got made! 

    Truth be told, it feels like bullying to review this film. It is that bad. I actually have begun reviewing this film before it has even ended, otherwise, it would be totally unwatchable and I would not, in good faith, be able to review a film I have not seen.

    The film opens with, actor Talbert Bacorn (Steven Weber), exiting his pool and confessing to the camera that he is the murderer. We then meet detective Gene Handsome (Jeff Garlin), who is teaching some rookie detectives the ropes.

All the detectives are morons. One of the detectives, Burt Jerpis (Brad Morris) spins a dubious theory for what might have occurred. His superior, Lieutenant Tucker (Amy Sedaris) is, for no good reason, crazy for him. Haha, hilarious. 

    Handsome – so funny, because he’s not! – returns home. He has a big dog that he walks past his neighbour, Durante (Eddie Pepitone), who is an ex-detective and shouts out to him, accusing him of letting his dog foul his lawn. We – the viewer – are then subjected to another unfunny scene about detecting skills and introduced to his morose partner, Esta (Leah Rimini). We also find out he has a new neighbour.

    Handsome takes it upon himself to go and meet the neighbour. She is not in when he gets there, but he does meet the babysitter, Heather (Hailee Keanna Lautenbach) who is abrupt and refuses to let him into the house. The next day she turns up murdered on the lawn of Bacorn’s home.

   As Handsome investigates Heather’s murder, he finds that she was not exactly well loved or even liked by anybody. He also finds out that his neighbour, Nora’s (Christine Woods) ex-husband paid Heather to spy on her, as he is fighting for custody of his daughter, Carys (Ava Acres). 

   Okay, so Handsome eventually catches the murderer and meets Kaley Cuoco playing herself in an utterly pointless scene – like the rest of the film. He returns home to find his neighbour moving out and labouring the point that she is never going to see him again. He encounters Durante for another unfunny scene and then the film, thankfully, ends. 

    I do not even know where to start to express just how utterly dreadful this film is. Running at eighty-one minutes, this is a short film by any normal standards. Unless you are watching it. Then it becomes an excruciatingly long film. 

    Written, directed by and starring Jeff Garlin, the only positive I can see is that he gave many friends employment. If I was Garlin I would change my friends. How any of them could allow a work this inept to get made is beyond me. I have a pretty low bar for comedy. I enjoyed Pixels and the Ghostbusters remake. I am not a comedy snob.

   This film is not, by any stretch, a comedy. It is an entirely laugh-free zone. The real problem – besides the piss poor writing – is not deciding what sort of a comedy to be. It is like a lightweight saucy comedy, which is an oxymoron in itself as saucy comedic properties are inherently lightweight.

    With the exception of the child actors, the dogs, and Garlin, no actor really commits to their character. Not that they have much to work with, such is the paucity of a line worth uttering in the script.

If a YouTuber produced a comedy this bad it would get ripped to shreds in the comments, much less a production backed by the predominant streaming platform on the planet.

   Nothing works in this film. The plot is nonsense, the humour non-existent, the scenes lack any punch, it is completely unoriginal and probably at least an hour too long. The best thing in the film is a woman who is seen hoop dancing in the distance by Handsome, whilst on her front lawn, in a couple of scenes.

   This film is basically a collection of sketches that would barely make it to the cutting room floor of an SNL show. It might seem that I am labouring the point of how unfunny this film is. I really am not.

The stand out comedy-free scene is when Handsome and his team of inept detectives, eight – who I refuse to name because it really does not matter  – of them standing in a semicircle at the murder scene, come up with ridiculous possible theories as to how the killing might have happened. Jerpis again spins a ludicrous scenario that could not have been gleaned from the available evidence. What a card. 

    A bus full of Japanese tourists, doing a stars’ house tour, pull up in front of the house and then we – the viewer – are forced to read unfunny exchanges as all the tourists speak in Japanese. 

     This film is so bad it makes anyone who has any ambition of making films – me – angry. This film has production value, a massive – mostly unnecessary – cast, extras, good, competent, camera and sound. Utterly shit direction. Did I mention the unfunny script?  

     In conclusion, this film has no redeeming qualities whatsoever. Every joke misses the mark. I don’t even think the jokes can see the mark! This is a bad, bad film. 

Tidelands – a review of a forced production.

     In film and television, a lot of people are drawn to a series or film by the actor and/or star or the director. Generally, it would be because you have seen the actor in previous work that you enjoyed or the director’s body of work appeals. There are, of course, other considerations when it comes to choosing whether to watch something or not  – genre, duration – but a trusted name is one of the more common ways to choose.

   For me, the writer or creator, when it comes to television especially, is a major consideration. I am the sort of person who the ‘from the mind of..’ Adverts are aimed at when a show or film is being promoted. 

   If I watch a particularly good show, I will always look to see wrote the show or who the showrunner is on a series. If I see Aaron Sorkin’s name attached to a series, if Christopher Nolan has put out a film, Amy Sherman-Palladino name will always get my attention, as will Gillian Flynn, these are creators who names peak my interest in a project.

   The one person that will get me watching anything his name is attached to is Joss Whedon. The creator of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, both the film and the television series, its spin-off, Angel, Agents Of Shield, Dr. Horrible’s Sing A Long Blog and The Avengers amongst other works, Whedon is my favourite writer/creator on the planet. 

    The reason I mention Whedon is, one of his lesser-known works, Dollhouse, came to mind when I thought about writing this review of another Netflix exclusive series, Tidelands.

Created and written by Stephen M. Irwin, Tidelands is an Australian production about a young woman, Calliope ‘Cal’ McTeer (Charlotte Best), who returns to her hometown after a decade in prison to discover a strange truth about her past.

   Admittedly, I found Tidelands for the most part enjoyable. Like a lot of series on Netflix, it is bingeable, only being eight episodes in total. Unlike say, most of the Marvel series, it suffers from being too short. 

    This is what brought to mind Whedon’s Dollhouse series. Dollhouse was a vehicle for Eliza Dushku, who had been brilliant as Faith in Buffy. In Dollhouse she played Echo, an unwitting operative in a “Dollhouse’ where her mind is wiped and she has a different personality imprinted on it for various missions. 

    The series was okay, not great but certainly not terrible. Whedon had written a quite brilliant series before, Firefly, – if you have never seen it, you must! – and it was canceled after the first season. He managed to finish the story, in a fashion, with the film, Serenity. 

    With Dollhouse, still smarting from not being able to see through his vision with Firefly, he got greenlit for a second season. Even though the response to the first season had been lukewarm, he got a truncated second season renewal.

The second season was written and felt as though it knew it was not going to last to a third season. This feeling, this anxiety, was apparent in the work and it made that second season somewhat unsatisfying.

   With Tidelands, there is the same feeling. It has a feeling of being ‘Tranked’. What I mean when I say Tranked is a reference to the director, Josh Trank’s much-maligned Fantastic Four – check out the best (worse) review ever here! Trank obviously had a vision for the film, but after the highly publicised clashes with the studio and his subsequent firing, he ended up taking the heat for an, to put it kindly, abrupt film. 

    Tidelands has exactly the same feel. For six of the eight-episode run, it builds nicely and somewhat cryptically to possible conclusions or stories. Then in the final two episodes, it accelerates to sudden explanations and a bloody conclusion. It just ends, hastily tying up plot lines and killing anything else that cannot be quickly explained.

    There had been a lot of critical flack about the acting and looks over story depth aspects that some felt were on show. Admittedly, the early episodes were not so much cryptic as damn right confusing in deciding what sort of a story this was trying to be. The show also suffered a little from having no character with which the viewer could bond with. 

    Cal was, initially, far too abrasive. Her brother Augie, played by Aaron Jakubenko, was the local drug dealer whose entire gang turn on him by episode four and a couple of his crew were barely trustworthy to begin with.

The main antagonist, Adrielle (Elsa Pataky), is obsessed with collecting bits of pottery clay, which we do not find out the relevance of until the final episode! She rules her clan – she’s the ‘queen’- the Tidelanders, with an iron fist, having one young boy blinded  – an eye gouged out – for lying to her. Lovely. 

    Cal’s mother, Rosa (Caroline Brazier), hates her guts because, as we find out in episode five, Cal is a Tidelander, hence her barely suppressed prejudice makes her instantly unlikable. Adrielle’s allure, which Patasky is perfectly cast for, has the men and women around her fawning over her, ready to her every bidding. One of her older lackey’s, Lamar (Dalip Sondhi), is not so willing to follow her anymore. Not that this story goes anywhere.

    There is a nod to homosexuality – it is 2018 after all – with Lamar having an affair with the local police chief. That does not really go anywhere either. Mad lesbian, right-hand woman to Adrielle, Leandra – play by Jet Tranter – gets to show off her great body, murder one of Augie’s guys in the opening episode, gets a bit of beatdown in a later episode and not much else, except to walk around looking dyke-menacing, which I am not sure is a thing outside of prison.

    Tidelands really feels horribly rushed, as though the writers were told halfway through the production that they had to wrap it up in the next four episodes. Hence we suffer a lopsided show where, in earlier episodes, there had been a gradual build-up and a smattering of intrigue and excitement, the odd gruesome act to keep the tension high The final episode is just a calamitous, hurried mess. 

   There is also the old seer, Genoveva (Cate Feldman), who is held by Adrielle in a dungeon and foresees Adrielle’s death, apparently at the hands of Cal. That storyline is wrapped up, vision and all, in about two minutes in the final episode. 

   It is a shame that the show ends up being so forced, especially as the two leads in Best and Patasky are wonderfully watchable and given some time and scope, I feel the characters could have grown more organically and believably.

   With the way the show ended – the less said..! – it seems unlikely the show will get a second season. Netflix is notoriously secretive about their viewing figures, so it is very difficult to know how well a show performs on the streaming service. It seems unlikely that it outperformed any of the more popular shows on the platform. 

    Tidelands is watchable, though not unmissable. If you are curious and have an urge to binge watch a show on a quiet weekend, you could do worse. 


Tomb Raider – should have stayed buried. – a review

     I have great admiration for actors. The ability to bring to life, believably, words written by someone else and craft a character that is real and emotive and exist in a make-believe scenario is an extraordinary, precious talent. 

     As a would-be writer myself, I also hold writers in high regard when they demonstrate, especially in scripts, an ability to craft a compelling story with free-flowing, realistic dialogue. Tomb Raider, the Alicia Vikander headliner, is not a good example. 

    Tomb Raider crashes into my list of high budget films that I just could not get through. Along with the abominable Terminator Genysis and the God-awful, A Good Day To Die Hard – both films, incidentally, star Jai Courtney, but that is an entirely different blog! – Tomb Raider is a film I could not get through on first viewing. For the purpose of this blog, I watched the entire film. You’re welcome.

   The film opens with A voiceover from Lord Richard Croft, played by Dominic West, telling the story of his necessary – for the sake of mankind –  expedition to Himiko, a secret Japanese island. Unfortunately, he must leave his young, beloved daughter, Lara, to undertake this trip.

   We first meet Vikander’s Lara Croft in a boxing ring, having a mixed martial arts sparring session. The scene displays Vikander’s fantastic, physical condition – her trainer, Magnus Lygdback, did a great job – but that is about all. The fight choreography is weak, the camera work not much better and the script for the scene is woeful. Every actor looks bad. 

    Hannah John-Kamen’s Sophie – she also appears in 2018’s fun, but slightly farfetched, Ant-Man And The Wasp as the antagonist Ava/Ghost – is her friend, cheering on as she gets a beatdown from a stereotypical looking lesbian, I’m-a-dyke, sparring partner. I think the scene is meant to show her stubbornness. I think I actually displayed more stubbornness by continuing to watch this film.

   The boxing gym trainer, Terry (Duncan Airlie James), points out that she owes money for her use of the gym. She is broke, making what little money she has, working as a bike courier. When at the courier base she hears a couple of the other couriers discussing a ‘Fox-hunt’ race, she is intrigued.

   They tell her that it is not a real fox-hunt, they just all chase a courier who has a paint trail to follow. Whoever wins, catches the ‘fox’ or if the ‘fox’ escapes, wins the cash on offer. Of course, she volunteers to be the ‘fox’. 

   We are subjected to a mildly exciting, though still not quite believable, ‘fox-hunt’. Lara is fast and clever and manages to outwit the chasing horde. She is distracted by a businessman who reminds her of her father. When she sees it is not him, she narrowly avoids a taxi door before crashing into a police car. 

    Her guardian, Ana – the always regal Kristin Scott-Thomas – turns up to bail her out and burdens us, the audience, with clunky and ham-fisted exposition. Her father, Richard, has been dead, or missing, for seven years and Lara is the sole heir to his estate, which seems to consist of a sprawling country mansion, grounds – that includes a massive mausoleum for all of the dead Crofts – and his secret hideaway, where all of his mission obsession/secrets are kept. No money though.

    Lara sells a jade necklace to raise funds to follow her father’s obsession. Led by an old letter to Hong Kong, she tracks down a man called Lu Ren (Daniel Wu) in an effort to find the mystery to her father’s death/disappearance.

At this point, after another pointless action scene, Lara meets Lu Ren and they take his rust bucket of a boat, just the two of them, and sail off in search of the island. Two people on a big boat, one a novice sailor, have to navigate stormy waters to get to the island. It does not go well.

    The boat gets wrecked in the storm, they end up in the hands of Mathias Vogel – reliable, rent-a-villain actor, Walter Goggins – who is the head of a mercenary band who, seemingly, forces random ethnic people to work mines for them. Mathias tells Lara he killed her father – I do not believe it and I have never even played the video game! – and one of his henchmen takes her to work the mines. Shortly afterward, they move camp.

    An old man starts coughing and Lu Ren and Lara try to help him. Mathias shoots him dead because he’s a mean dude. Lu Ren then hits a henchman with a spade so as to allow Lara to escape. She outruns bullets, bounces off of rocks and trees and is thrown into rapids, taken by the currents toward a waterfall. She is saved by a rusty plane wedged at the top of the fall. Her massive fifty-five-kilo frame, causes a two-tonne plane, that has been battered by harsh currents for what looks likes years, to dislodge. 

   As she struggles not to die, she grabs a parachute – really? Yes – just as she falls. Surviving the fall, she is hunted by one of Mathias men, who catches up with her. He grabs her and she bites him. He throws her around like a rag doll for a bit and then she kills him. With her bare hands. Really. Then her father turns up babbling and she clears his mind with a hand gesture. They reconnect.

    Meanwhile, Vogel has found what he is searching for. Back with the Crofts and papa Croft, his mind clear and now completely lucid is not happy at all. Lara’s stubbornness has led Vogel to exactly what he was after and now the world is in danger. Lara decides she must go back. 

    Now equipped with a bow and arrow – where it has come from is anybody’s guess – she makes Oliver Queen and Hawkeye seem as though they never carried a quiver in their lives, such is her proficiency with a bow. After freeing the rebels, she goes after Vogel to….I have no idea why she goes after Vogel, but she does. 

    Richard, who had been somewhat reluctant to get involved with any sort of rescue mission, turns up to put a spanner in the works and force the resurrection of Himiko. Under threat of death to her father, Lara, who of course remembers the secret code that is needed to get into the tomb – it’s always a tomb – opens the tomb. 

   Inside the vast tomb is an elaborate Raiders-Of-The-Lost-Ark-esque deathtrap, killing random henchmen and throwing up puzzles to overcome so as to get to the tomb proper. They open the tomb and find a…corpse. Unfortunately, the corpse is highly toxic and as soon as one of the henchmen touches it he dies horribly. Well, he starts to and is shot by Vogel. 

    Vogel, unperturbed by the thought of unleashing a deadly plague into the world, severs a finger of the corpse and tries to make his escape. The Crofts fight to stop him. Richard ends up infected and Lara must leave him to die. Lara pursues Vogel. Papa Croft decides to seal the tomb with explosives.

   Lara catches up with Vogel and decides a fist fight is the way to go. He throws her around like a rag doll – she really doesn’t learn – she punches him in the groin. He proceeds to hand out another beat down on her, before being distracted by papa Croft blowing himself and the tomb up, giving Lara the opportunity to free herself, feed him the severed finger and kick him into a ravine. 

   Lara then outruns the collapsing masonry of the tomb to escape to Lu Ren and his band of freed ethnic slaves and miscreants who had come back to find her. They did not help at all with anything else. A military helicopter finds the island and rescues everybody. Yeh. 

   Back in London Lara, who has given up her bike for product placement, I mean a Volvo, finds out her guardian, Ana, is the power behind the unknown about conspiracy that her father was investigating. This is where the film ends, hoping to set up a sequel. 

   Dear god, I hope not! This film is not good. The best scenes are when she goes into the pawn shop and one really could not make an entire film around those. The biggest problem with this film is it takes an extraordinary story and does not make it believable at all. 

   Lara does not seem to have a life or friends or a purpose. We have no idea why she learns to fight or wield weapons. We have no idea what drives her. Her grief over her father’s disappearance makes her shun her inheritance, why? There is no mention of a mother or how the family came to be so wealthy. Not that it is important, but it would, perhaps, give one a sort of connection to the Crofts. 

   The actors are, as ever, game enough and with the quality on show, one would expect nothing less. The chemistry between Vikander and West is believable and – aside from the ridiculous reconnecting scene – you can see them as being related. Why Daniel Wu’s Lu Ren would risk his life for her is less clear. He, however, is an instantly likable character, his roguish charm apparent. 

    The film is directed by Norwegian Roar Uthaug, which is probably the nicest thing I can say about his directing. With the exception of the ‘fox-hunt’ scene, every other scene is okay or meh. 

    Geneva Robertson-Dworet’s script and story are lazy and too reliant on bad exposition. The exchanges between characters, especially in the first half of the film, are horribly mechanic. 

     Worryingly, a quick peruse of her IMDB credits shows Tomb Raider as one of her few writing credits. Somehow she got the Captain Marvel writing gig. One can only think she knows someone in the business because there is no way she would have got the job on the strength of Tomb Raider. One can only pray she does a far better job on Captain Marvel.



The Little Mermaid (not that one)

    THE best thing I can say about the Netflix offering of The Little Mermaid is it makes one want to revisit the magical Disney animated version. In no way connected to, or even remotely similar to – except for the fact that it features a mermaid – the Disney classic, Netflix’s The Little Mermaid disappoints on almost every level.

    It opens with a grandmother – grandma Elle – played by Shirley MacLaine, reading the Hans Christian Andersen tale to her two cute granddaughter’s. This is used, in pictorial fashion, as the opening credit sequence to the film. As she finishes telling them the story, she teases them by hinting that the story was not how it was depicted in the book and that mermaids are possibly real. The children are eager for her to tell her tale. 

   Oh, how I wish they had not been. MacLaine, a veteran of many a classic film – Terms Of Endearment, The Apartment, Steel Magnolias to name a few – appears at the begin of the film and at the end. Even though she is telling the story and the film utilises voiceovers in parts, she is not used. One can only reason that she read the script and thought ‘sod it! The cheque will top up my pension!’ Because there is no other reason to be in this film.

   William Moseley plays Cam, a young, cynical, reporter who, by some mishap that is explained far too late in the film for me to have been caring anymore, ends up as the sole guardian of his niece, the sickly Elle, played ably by Loreto Peralta.

She suffers from an unknown ailment that causes her to cough and be generally poorly when she exerts herself too much. Like asthma then or any number of respiratory conditions. 

   Set in the thirties or forties, Cam is sent to investigate the claims of a circus vendor who is allegedly curing many ailments with sea water ointment. The circus, for some inexplicable reason, is in Mississippi. Cam takes himself and his sickly charge off to the deep south of America. Elle, being a child, believes in magic and helpfully, the existence of mermaids. 

    On arriving in Mississippi Cam and Elle head to the circus where the star attraction is Elizabeth – Poppy Drayton – a mermaid. Elle feels an instant connection to Elizabeth, even has her uncle tells her that it must be a trick. After the show, Cam and Elle go in search of the all-healing sea water ointment but are told in no uncertain terms that it is out of stock. 

    Until this point, the film had been quite engaging. Some of the script had been a little clunky, but the actors had managed to make it work. The colours also are magnificent, making the film look beautiful when working strictly with the in-camera image. Unfortunately, the post-production, with the exception of colour, and special effects, especially in the second half of the film, detract from the picture quality. 

   Once the central premise of the film had been introduced – free the mermaid – the film begins to fall apart. Not because of a bad, lazy premise, but because of the under written characters. The antagonist of the piece, Locke – yes, really – played by Armando Gutierrez, is the circus master and the person who holds Elizabeth captive. 

    Locke is portrayed as menacing, but Gutierrez is given so little to work with – a poor man’s ringmaster costume and cheap make-up – and so little screen time, that it is impossible for his character to be seen as the big bad, or to even appreciate how he creates such fear amongst his peers. We are just expected to take it as so.

    As the film progresses – in time, not quality – it only gets worse. Characters are introduced for convenience but not at all fleshed out. Our sceptical journalist, earlier captivated by Elizabeth, meets her on a boat and is not even slightly perturbed when he finds out she is actually a mermaid. Not to mention the frankly ludicrous scene of him chasing after her, diving into the sea and easily catching up to her. She’s a mermaid. A MERMAID!

    He is just as nonplussed when Thora – Shana Collins – one of the circus folk and one of the aforementioned characters introduced for convenience, freezes time! She stops time! She stops time so as they can escape the circus and he acts as if he has seen that sort of thing every day of his life. Just another time freeze.

    The final half hour of the film is almost farcical, becoming a race against time to get Elizabeth back to the ocean after Thora – she is SUPER powerful you know – temporarily turns her mermaid tail into legs so as she can escape the circus. Meanwhile, Locke – remember him? I barely did – pursues them with all the urgency of an actor who knows he’s getting paid regardless of the performance. 

     As the film peters out to an obvious and underwhelming conclusion, one is subjected to special effects so abject they look as though they were created on an Amstrad computer. 

    Grandma Elle finishes the story and her cherubic granddaughters ask what happened to Elle. Grandma Elle gives a knowing smile, turns away from the girls and we, the suffering viewers, get to watch the girls react as she does ‘something’ magical off-screen. Barf.

This film is so god awful it as though Netflix is trying to out do itself for bad films. Just to reiterate, this is not the Disney version. Far from it. Elizabeth – Poppy Drayton – does sing one song, so gets to show off her vocal prowess. That is as close as it gets to the Disney classic. It is really not close enough. Do not watch this film.