Summer is in full swing and after last month’s look at the best outdoor movie events, we return to the cinema for our next batch of reviews. There’s plenty to enjoy in a strong month for film releases so let’s take a look at a few…
FILM OF THE MONTH: THE BIG SICK – 5 stars (out now)
The conventional rom-com gets turned on its head for this infectiously funny film based on Silicon Valley star Kumail Nanjiani’s real life story on how he met his wife Emily V. Gordon (who co-wrote the film with him). Kumail is a struggling stand-up comedian and part-time Uber driver who meets the beautiful Emily (played by the brilliant Zoe Kazan) at a show. They begin to date, despite Kumail’s family lining him up with possible suitors for an arranged marriage. But things really start to get complicated when Emily falls ill and subsequently falls into a coma. It might sounds depressing but it’s one of the most uplifting films of the year, permeated with genuine laughs and heartfelt sincerity throughout. An absolute must-watch gem of a movie, with scene stealing support from the likes of Holly Hunter, Ray Romano, Anupam Kher, Zenobia Shroff and Adeel Akhtar.
TERMINATOR 2: JUDGEMENT DAY 3D – 5 stars (out August 29th)
With a timely release on Judgement Day itself (Aug 29th), this 26th anniversary version of the action classic gets a meticulously crafted clean-up and 3D conversion thanks to perfectionist director James Cameron. It’s all here and jumping out at you through the screen. Linda Hamilton, Edward Furlong and Joe Morton are sensational and Robert Patrick has never looked as menacing as the deadly T-1000. The film itself – well it’s as breathtaking as you remember it… a cultural benchmark packed with stunning performances, blistering spectacle, a sublime script and an unstoppable turn from Arnold Schwarzenegger, who delivers his career-best performance.
DUNKIRK – 4 stars (out now)
The new Christopher Nolan movie certainly delivers the most sobering war movie we’ve had for some time. It’s May of 1940, and Germany has advanced into France forcing Allied troops to the beaches of Dunkirk whilst awaiting extraction. With no cover, hundreds of thousands of soldiers are trapped in a dangerous predicament in open range until help arrives from civilian vessels tasked with bringing our soldiers home. We follow Tommy (Fionn Whitehead), a young soldier who has narrowly escaped from enemy fire and is now looking for a way off the beach. Practically everything works well in Dunkirk, but I personally wanted more of an emotional attachment to the characters that featured. That doesn’t stop Tom Hardy from stealing the film though. A tense and gripping affair that needs to be experienced in IMAX.
VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS – 3 stars (out now)
It’s been a long time coming but visionary director Luc Besson, the man behind such classics as The Fifth Element, Leon, The Transporter and Taken, has finally brought his stunning vision to the big screen. Major Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Sergeant Laureline (Cara Delevingne), would-be lovers and skilled special operatives, are tasked with investigating a threat to a galaxy-stretching space station. It looks fantastic, it’s breathlessly inventive and there’s plenty of potential here for sequels but there are some very weak moments in the script, a finale that you can see coming from a light-year away and a lack of real spark between the leads. Still hugely entertaining though and it even has a shape-shifting jellyfish stripper in it named Bubble, played by Rihanna.
THE HITMAN’S BODYGUARD – 4 stars (out August 17th)
After a particularly barren spell lasting for decades since the first Bad Boys film, it seems like the buddy-duo movie is finally on the way back to box-office resurgence. War on Everyone and 21 Jump Street are great examples of how to get things done right in the genre and The Hitman’s Bodyguard happily follows suit. Charismatic bodyguard Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds) gets a new client… an infamous hitman named Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson), who has agreed to testify at the International Court of Justice against despicable military dictator Vladislav Dukhovich (Gary Oldman) . They must put their differences aside and work together to make it to the trial on time as the entire criminal underworld comes looking for them. Full of action and genuine comedy, this is a gem of a film featuring a scene-stealing turn from Salma Hayek, Richard E. Grant, Joaquim de Almeida and Elodie Yung.
A GHOST STORY – 4 stars (out August 11th)
David Lowery wrote and directed this deeply affecting, emotionally-charged drama that isn’t afraid to ponder life’s biggest questions. Casey Affleck (C) and Rooney Mara (M) play a young couple who seem to have everything going for them until Affleck unexpectedly dies in a road accident. Coming back in the form of a traditional ghost (a white-sheeted figure), C returns to their home to try and make contact with M once again. What follows is a stunning look at the passage of time and how life and death affects us all. Bring the tissues; this one will have you in tears.
DETROT – 4 stars (out August 25th)
This is a startlingly true account of the infamous police raid that took place in Detroit in 1967 that sparked even more racially-fuelled protests and riots across the USA. Zero Dark Thirty and The Hurt Locker director Kathryn Bigelow takes her hand to this painful account of injustice and bigotry to deliver a film that resonates long after the end credits roll. The cast are truly superb too with John Boyega, Will Poulter, Anthony Mackie, Algee Smith, Jacob Latimore, Jason Mitchell, Hannah Murray, Jack Reynor, Kaitlyn Dever, Nathan Davis Jr. and Malcolm David Kelley of particular note.