With the summer blockbuster season fast approaching, the big hitters are coming out to play. Let’s see what’s hitting cinemas this month…
FILM OF THE MONTH: EYE IN THE SKY- 5 stars (out 15th April) – Credit: eOne
One of the most important films of the year, Eye in the Sky is a strong, captivating & deeply relevant war movie that lingers long in the mind. Helen Mirren stars in this fascinating exploration of the complexities of war, as Colonel Katherine Powell closes in on a most wanted criminal with time a key factor. Faced with moral and political problems at every turn, Powell must convince her superiors that a drone attack is the best course of action. Intelligent and utterly compelling, the edge-of-your-seat tension grips you like a vice. It features standout supporting performances too from the likes of Barkhad Abdi, Phoebe Fox and Aaron Paul. Eye in the Sky also marks the last onscreen appearance from the peerless Alan Rickman and acts as a timely reminder of the great man’s range, depth of character and sheer magnetism. A must-see movie.
BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE – 3 stars (out now) – Credit: Warner Bros.
With the wait finally over for what is dubbed the Superhero showdown of the century, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is a very important film. The future of DC Comics cinematic endeavours lie with its success or failure. It has the semblance of a decent popcorn movie but the mechanics of the film fail at almost every level. After the events of Man of Steel, some revere Superman (Henry Cavill) whilst others live in fear of his intentions, including Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck). Vowing to stop him before he takes out humanity, Batman plans to challenge Superman to secure the future of humankind. Little know to both, Lex Luthor (a miscast Jesse Eisenberg) is playing them both off one another for his own master plan. Ultimately, it’s a convoluted mess of storylines, threads, and arcs that just aren’t afforded the opportunity to develop properly. It’s not all doom and gloom though – there are some nice visuals on show and Affleck’s Batman is a real highlight, despite the writer’s inexplicable desire to make Batman use guns – a fundamental no-no.
EDDIE THE EAGLE – 3 stars (out 1st April) – Credit: Lionsgate
Anyone who remembers the exploits of Eddie ‘the Eagle’ Edwards during the 1988 Winter Olympics will no doubt look back on the events with much fondness. It was an inspiring tale and one that captured the hearts of a nation. A biopic of his life isn’t the most obvious choice for a feel-good comedy but kudos to writers Sean Macaulay and Simon Kelton for creating such an engaging story. This is all wrapped up nicely by director Dexter Fletcher, who creates a champion underdog movie that will resonate with practically everyone. Young Eddie Edwards (Taron Egerton) dreams of competing at the Olympics but a natural skill set eludes him in most sports. When inspiration takes hold, he goes about training for the 1988 Winter games. Facing constant bureaucracy and deemed a joke by his own governing body, Eddie is refused entry to compete but this doesn’t stop him. It soon connects him with Bronson Peary (Hugh Jackman), a former ski jumper who has shunned the sport. Together they take on astronomical odds so Eddie can realise his dream and capture the attention of the watching world. It might take quite a bit or artistic licence with the onscreen story, but there’s no denying the charm of the film, with great chemistry from Jackman and an impressive Egerton.
THE HUNTSMAN: WINTER’S WAR – 3 stars (out 4th April) – Credit: Universal
Snow White and the Huntsman may have drawn headlines for all the wrong reasons after the Kristen Stewart affair debacle but with her now gone, The Huntsman returns for a far more enjoyable tale. Acting as a prequel and a sequel, Winter’s War shows us how cruel Queen Ravenna (the amazing Charlize Theron) came into power. Her sister Freya (the equally awesome Emily Blunt) is deemed to be the good sister but when a suspicious tragedy befalls her, she turns wicked and frosty (literally). Stealing children from all the land and forging an army, we are introduced to The Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) as a child. Whilst living in servitude he forms a relationship with Sara (the sensational Jessica Chastain), something that’s strictly forbidden in Freya’s icy kingdom. She’s also seeking the infamous mirror now that Ravenna is no more. So begins a quest to find the powerful centrepiece before Freya takes over the world. Throw in great effects and hilarious support from Sheridan Smith, Sophie Cookson, Nick Frost and Rob Brydon, and you have an enjoyably epic fairytale with a few nice twists along the way.
VICTORIA – 4 stars (out 1st April) – Credit: Curzon/Artificial Eye
Shot in one incredible take (yes, really), we follow the adventures of Victoria (Laia Costa) as she begins a night out, drinking and dancing by herself in a Berlin nightclub. As events unfold, Victoria’s night takes some interesting turns as she meets new people and finds herself in situations beyond her wildest expectations. To say more would do the experience a massive disservice. Anyone who’s ever had a night out in a European city can attest to the accuracy of the film, with casual conversation, stunning urban scenery and a sense of cautious optimism running deliciously throughout. For sheer endeavour alone, this will take some beating in 2016. An outstanding achievement, not just on a technical level but for a story that hooks you in and takes the viewer on an actual journey. It’s also a film that proves just how important good characterisation is to any given set-up. Inventive, surprising and very unique, Victoria is a real highlight of the year, even if certain elements of the narrative get a little too silly in places.
BASTILLE DAY – 4 stars (out 22nd April) – Credit: Studiocanal
Writer Andrew Baldwin and director James Watkins try to echo post-millennial Luc Besson in this engaging European actioner that cements Idris Elba as a fantastic new action hero for 2016. He plays Sean Briar, a maverick former CIA agent who tries to bring down a terrorist organisation that has targeted Paris. Meanwhile a young thief and con-artist (Game of Thrones’ Richard Madden) accidently gets involved after a bomb goes off, making him the wrong prime suspect. What follows is Elba in true ass-kicking mode, odd-coupled up with Madden as they rush to save the day. Paris looks great, the action is solid and there’s good support from Charlotte Le Bon, Kelly Reilly and José Garcia.
MIDNIGHT SPECIAL – 3 stars (out 8th April) – Credit: eOne
Jeff Nichols writes and directs this almost-timeless looking drama that focuses on Alton (Jaeden Lieberher) a boy who is clearly different to other children. Tireless efforts are made by his father and mother (the always-reliable Michael Shannon and Kirsten Dunst) to keep the boy safe, whilst they take him on the run. From this point on, we are drip-fed narrative elements that shed light onto why Alton is in this situation. It soon becomes clear that he possesses some very special powers indeed. Throw in solid support from the likes of Joel Edgerton, Adam Driver and Sam Shepard and you have a movie made of quality parts. A Starman for a new generation, Midnight Special has lots of great elements but there’s still something lacking in the story. Despite this it’s still a rewarding watch, with an ending that creates one of the most visually stunning finales in recent sci-fi memory.