‘Luther’ Returns To Catch A New Killer ~ At The Movies With Kasey
During its initial run, the BBC drama, Luther returned every few years, airing just twenty episodes between 2010 and 2019. Although the show seemed to have a definitive finale, creator Neil Cross brought Luther back for a movie, Luther: The Fallen Sun, now streaming on Netflix.
Luther is one of the better series I have ever enjoyed, and it is important to have seen it before watching the movie, which, strangely, is currently available on Hulu, not Netflix. As a refresher, in the show, Detective Chief Inspector John Luther (Idris Elba) is the hero of the show, but not necessarily a good person and definitely not a good cop. He goes to great lengths to catch killers, often bending or breaking the law in the process. Throughout the series, his cat-and-mouse relationship with genius, psychopathic Alice Morgan (Ruth Wilson) encourages his better angels and worst instincts. Where we last saw Luther, he had been arrested, and the new movie picks up with Luther getting sent to prison. When a new psychopath (Andy Serkis) starts to terrorize London, however, Luther busts out to catch him.
This installment of Luther consists of more action than detective work and I found myself missing the procedural elements that the series included. Despite cinematic sequences, such as Luther staging a prison break, the movie essentially unfolds as a season of Luther compressed to two hours. Perhaps because of the overall shorter runtime, this mystery does not have the same level of taut suspense that I expect from Luther. In many ways, it runs like a fairly pedestrian serial killer movie.
Even still, Luther: The Fallen Sun has Idris Elba’s solid performance of the title character. The movie engages outright with the questions over Luther’s character that the series sets up, without offering easy answers to if the ends justified his means—just maybe a copout setting up future chapters. Without Ruth Wilson’s sizzling performance as Alice, the ensemble cast seems incomplete and kind of dull, but Cynthia Erivo offers a suitable foil to Luther as DC Odette Raine. The crimes Luther investigates are truly sinister and scary, but as the villain, Andy Serkis performs mediocrely. Overall, Luther: The Fallen Sun is a welcome addition to the story but does not reach the highs of the original series.
Luther: The Fallen Sun was written by Neil Cross, based on his BBC series, and directed by Jamie Payne. It runs 129 minutes and is rated R.
Lyle Lyle Crocodile originally came out in theaters in October, but recently moved to Netflix, where little movie fans can enjoy it from home (with the cheap snacks). In the movie, based on the books, struggling magician Hector P Valenti (Javier Bardem) discovers a singing crocodile, Lyle (Shawn Mendes), and believes that his career will finally take off. Then Lyle gets stage fright and Hector goes on the road, leaving him behind. When The Primm family (Constance Wu, Scoot McNairy) move into the house, it does not take long for their son, Josh (Winslow Fegley), to find Lyle hiding in the attic. Lyle helps Josh adjust to his new home in New York, but they have to dodge the mean neighbor, Mr. Grumps (Brett Gelman), and cooperate with Hector when he returns.
Often, the parents’ storyline is a muted backdrop to kids’ antics in this kind of movie (as it probably should be), but I enjoyed Mrs. Primm’s storyline as she tries to connect with her stepson and cook only super healthy food. Her complaints about hydrogenated palm oils made me chuckle, but for most kids, they will sound like the teacher from Peanuts. These more grownup elements will keep parents engaged, but smaller viewers could quickly lose interest.
The songs in Lyle Lyle Crocodile sound like polished pop music—no surprise as Shawn Mendes voices Lyle—but they are nothing special or especially connected to the story. Lyle, however, is adorable and a singing crocodile is pretty fun, even if the songs are not. Winslow Fergley gives a sweet performance as Josh and his connection to Lyle and the emotion he brings to Josh’s relatable struggles carry an altogether silly story. Lyle Lyle Crocodile has its sweet moments and pretty ridiculous parts (like Javier Bardem’s performance). For a family movie night, it will do the job, but parents will be glad they did not foot the bill to take the kids to see this one in the theater.
Lyle Lyle Crocodile was written by Will Davies based on the books by Bernard Waber, and directed by Josh Gordon and Will Speck. It runs 106 minutes and is rated PG.
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