Now that the dust has settled on another awards season, we can spring forward to a new slate of exciting movies during the spring months (even if the weather disagrees with the calendar!). Let’s see what’s on offer…
FILM OF THE MONTH: GAME NIGHT- (out now) – Credit: Warner Bros
Sometimes you need a big laugh just to recharge the old batteries. After a long stretch of awards-season fodder, it’s great to have a silly comedy to fall back on and Game Night dutifully obliges. Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams play a couple who both competitively love to play games with their circle of friends. When Bateman’s successful and brash brother (Kyle Chandler) rolls into town and offers them a special high-stakes ‘Game Night’ with a big prize at the end, they can’t refuse. The only trouble is, the game involves a kidnapping and when an actual kidnapping happens instead, the contestants are none the wiser. It gets a tad convoluted at the end but there’s lots of fun to be had. And someone arrest Jesse Plemons because he absolutely steals the film as the gang’s seriously odd police officer friend/neighbour.
TOMB RAIDER – (out 14th March) – Credit: Warner Bros
Alicia Vikander (who as you all know, stars in every film ever made) tries her hand at leading a blockbuster franchise this time around. The popular Lara Croft has been with us for decades and filling the shoes of screen icon Angelina Jolie is no mean feat, but Vikander does well as the titular queen of gaming. Croft investigates the disappearance of her adventurer father (Dominic West) who’s been missing for some time. Her quest takes her to some amazing locations and some equally impressive set-pieces as the action quota ramps up. Daniel Wu, Hannah John-Kamen, Nick Frost, Kristin Scott Thomas and Justified alumni Walton Goggins all lend solid support too.
RED SPARROW – (out now) – Credit: 20th Century Fox
It’s great to see more female-led action movies in cinemas recently. Sitting somewhere between an unofficial homage to Charlize Theron’s Atomic Blonde and Scarlett Johansson’s Marvel character Black Widow, Red Sparrow is an absorbing thriller based on Jason Matthew´s novel, featuring yet another stunning leading turn from Jennifer Lawrence. She really goes all out here, playing Dominika Egorova, a young ballerina who is recruited to become a Russian intelligence service agent. Throw in a great cast including Joel Edgerton, Matthias Schoenaerts, Charlotte Rampling, Ciarán Hinds, Joely Richardson and Jeremy Irons and you have a film that could certainly do with a sequel.
MOM AND DAD – (out 9th March) – Credit: Vertigo Releasing
Writer/Director Brian Taylor’s black comedy/horror should have been so much better than it is. It did the heavy lifting well, with a simple plot that involves a weird epidemic that sweeps the nation, causing adults to turn on their kids in increasingly violent ways. Nic Cage was born to play roles like this and he does really well alongside Selma Blair as Brent and Kendall Ryan, the deadly parents from hell looking to do away with their two annoying kids (Zackary Arthur and Anne Winters). A film like this has to hit a few marks to gain true cult status and it fails in the basics. The characters are thin, the plot slows to a snail’s pace in the middle and it shies away from showing any real carnage. A cop out that’s so disappointing given how great the cast and set-up is.
BLACK PANTHER – (out now) – Credit: Marvel/Disney
Race, equality and diversity are all well-addressed in a confident, assured manner to usher in a brave new world for the way tent-pole movies are made, and how their stories are told to audiences who have historically been under-represented onscreen. Returning home after the death of his father (the events of Captain America: Civil War), T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) is now King to the people of Wakander. He is called into action quickly when a threat rises in the form of an old adversary Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis) and a new one… Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), an American mercenary with a secret past that will shake the very foundations of Wakanda and challenge everything T’Challa’s knows about his royal legacy. Must-see Super Hero spectacle with really strong female characters, plenty of humour and lots of big set-pieces.
YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE – (out 9th March) – Credit: Studiocanal
The screen presence of Joaquin Phoenix is mesmerizing in this brutal but engrossing drama. Based on the Jonathan Ames book, director Lynne Ramsay (We Need to Talk About Kevin) who also adapted the book to screen, brings us a sobering and at times difficult story involving a traumatised war veteran named Joe who is tasked with tracking down a missing girl. The weight of the story keeps you invested and Phoenix is sublime as always, but the finale doesn’t deliver the payout it should. It has a great ensemble too including John Doman, Ekaterina Samsonov and Judith Roberts as Joe’s home-stricken mother.
GUARDIANS (out 12th March) – Credit: Guardians
If you’re looking for a new comedy-thriller to enjoy then head down to the Crouch End Picturehouse on March 12th for a one-night-only special screening of Guardians, a film festival favourite that’s played around the world and is currently embarking on a UK tour. It’s a London-based satirical look at the gentrification of the East End, politics, racism, love and friendship through the eyes of two disparate fools who, as part of the live-in Guardians scheme, are left in charge of a 200 year-old, possibly haunted, townhouse in the Docklands. But living with each other becomes secondary to living through the night as they come under siege from unseen assailants. If you needed more incentive to see it, the film stars two local actors David Whitney (Highgate) and Matt Prendergast (Crouch End), so head down to support them and their project.