The title of this wacky farce says it all really. What is surprising, in a market stuffed with convoluted 'kids' films - is just how welcome its simplicity is.
The film, based on Dav Pilkey’s book series, is about two friends, George (Kevin Hart) and Harold (Thomas Middleditch) who spend their spare time pulling pranks and creating D.I.Y. comic books about Captain Underpants, a superhero whose outfit boldly acknowledges that many superhero costumes are in fact little more than fancy undies.
The boys’ nemesis is Mr. Krupp (Ed Helms) the school principal. You know he's mean when he has a sign on his desk that reads ‘Hope dies here’. When the boys hypnotise him, he turns into the said Y-fronted super-hero and the story goes into overdrive, with the Captain becoming the world’s defence against the evil Professor Poopypants (Nick Kroll).
If names like Professor Poopypants elicit even the slightest smirk (I'm not just talking about kids) then this is a no-brainer. Your inner 5 year old will dig it. (research Jack Whiting) But to be on the safe side, bring an outer 5yr old with you. So fab, it made the August front cover.
It’s the American Civil War, Union soldier John McBurney (Colin Farrell) is wounded. He stumbles into the grounds of a sedate girls’ school and is rescued by one of its young students. He’s taken up to the house, where headteacher Martha (a steely Nicole Kidman) rules that the Christian thing to do is to help him convalesce before turning him over to the Confederate troops.
Sofia Coppola’s is the second adaptation of Thomas P. Cullinan’s novel after Don Siegel’s 1971 film of the same name, but making it on its head.
While McBurney is recuperating he is unable to resist the temptation to take control of the ‘natural benefits’ of the situation. The women find themselves competing for McBurney’s favours as he sets about playing their vanities and insecurities. Uh oh…!
Director Sofia Coppola, whose previous work includes The Virgin Suicides, Marie Antoinette, and Lost in Translation is at the top of her game here, crafting a vibrant melodrama with her signature mix of intensity and detachment.
“A work of cool, exquisite artifice that evokes wildness on a small, controlled scale” (NY Times)
“You can’t shake it” (Rolling Stone) (research Emma Filippides) A fabulous cast playing it down. Come.
Move aside Batman, Superman. In fact all male super-heroes can step down; Wonder Woman’s the new crusader sans cape.
The radiant Gal Gadot slips perfectly into the gold bangles as Diana of Themoscyra, Princess of the Amazons; crafted from clay and brought to life by Zeus himself.
Yes it sounds silly, but director Patty Jenkins has stuck close to the nearly eighty-year-old source material, resulting in campy fun along the lines of Christopher Reeves-era Supes.
She’s thrust into the 'world of men' when Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) an American spy fleeing from German soldiers during World War I, enters her land. She believes Ares the god of war, is behind the great conflict and agrees to aid Steve and the allies, leading her to 1918 London where the fish-out-of-water antics begin (the locals aren't fashion-forward enough for Diana's thighs). She soon finds herself in the trenches and on the frontlines, and it's here the gleaming red and gold costume is donned, artillery is deflected, and arses are kicked. (research Jack Whiting) “Remotely feminist? She is little more than a male bondage fantasy, trussed up in (not much) leather with sexy role-play manacles as indestructible weapons.” (Camilla Long ST Culture) It’s a silly BlockB. It has no other label.
This is the big one - just as Fellowship of the Ring revitalised the fantasy epic a year later – swords and sandals got a huge boost with Ridley Scott's sprawling, enthralling Roman orgy of blood, passion, betrayal and revenge.
A career best for Russell Crowe, Maximus' troubles begin after he has conquered the rebellious tribes of Germania and learns that Caesar (Richard Harris) has chosen him as his successor. When Caesar's son, Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix) the cowardly, sly runt of the family; finds out, he grabs power overnight with breathtaking brutality. Maximus escapes but is sold into slavery, ending up in the gladiatorial arena pits of Ancient Rome.
It's Spartacus on steroids; with the tools of modern filmmaking at his disposal (unparalleled cinematography, digital crowds, a resurrected Colosseum and a dead Oliver Reed, during filming 1999) Scott unleashes hell.
It is monumental, big-screen movie-making: visually thrilling, technically astonishing, and emotionally engaging. And, most people seem to forget, actually bagged the best picture award, a rarity for such a crowd pleaser. "Are you not entertained?” yes, Russell, we are. (research Jack Whiting) Must be seen once on the big Rex screen in August. So come.
All hail Caesar! This thundering addition to an already consistently brilliant trilogy brings the ape conflict to a richly satisfying close (thank the sweet Lord).
The story of Caesar (Andy Serkis) is the one that began in Rise; continued in Dawn, and is perhaps one of the most emotionally rich and satisfying character arcs in modern cinema. He just happens to be a primate. It goes to show the singular vision of writers and director Matt Reeves and Andy Bomback alongside Andy Serkis’ commitment to performance capture.
As War kicks off, humans have been left decimated by a virus and apes have only grown stronger, brighter and more vocal, forming their own society. Caesar and his tribe want to live in peace, but there's vengeance in the air. The Colonel (Harrelson, leaning on Marlon's nutjob Kurtz in A Pox On The Lips Now) is hell-bent on simian genocide.
It's a magnificent spectacle, one worthy of, dare I say it, the great David Lean..? (No Jack you daren’t) Ok, in mega-budget spectacle terms, it reaches heights of which its (cash-monkey franchise) rivals can only dream. (research Jack Whiting)
How do such bad ideas ever get made first, to curse us with 49 years more…?
With something like ten billion dollars in Cars merchandise sales in Disney's coffers, it's to no one's surprise they've asked Pixar to manufacture a new model.
Mercifully, the focus returns to the racetrack (as opposed to the second film's lame James Bond hijinks) and there's far less Mater the tow truck, which we might all agree can only be a good thing. In the middle of the opening winning montages, Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) starts losing. There's a new hotshot in town, a next-gen hi-tech model Jackson Storm (Armie Hammer). So just like that, the fickle if inevitable next big thing takes displaces the old. So, in a flush of jaded lightening, our hero becomes yesterday's news.
Luckily, a businessman – sorry, "businesscar" – named Sterling (Nathan Fillion) wants to bring Lightning to his bleeding-edge training facility and get him back into qualifying shape. And then, amid the back roads and flashbacks to Lightning's old father figure Hudson (posthumously voiced by Paul Newman), something quietly remarkable occurs. A fresh lick of paint and a retooling in the script department puts Cars back on track. Just about. (Jack Whiting)
Back to tip you over the edge in a fond farewell to sun, sand and flaccid sex. The story’s fluffy and the music’s beige, but the actors go for it and throw themselves at the monkey’s script, making the whole thing a marginally less irritating affair. They’re having far too much fun for their age, and material. To add further insult… the sky is blue the whole time!
Come, treat yourselves to great scenery, awkward dancing, terrible singing and lashings of embarrassing dialogue on the last Bank Holiday of this rare, glorious English summer.
Has pirate fatigue set in yet? Not likely? The flag of Jack Sparrow is flying high with nary a dead wind in sight.
It seems Kon Tiki directors Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg are keen to flex their ocean muscles again, and the plodding, existential elements of the last two have been made to walk the plank. Simplicity and fun have been restored, at least in part.
Javier Bardem is the film's secret weapon as Capitán Armando Salazar, an undead pirate hunter with a complexion of sun-baked mud, tendrils of hair that drift and float like submerged seaweed, and a mouth liable to ooze inky goo in close-up.
Salazar wants to find Johnny Sparrow to lead him to the Trident of Poseidon – a weapon capable of destroying every pirate on earth; mmmm… most being already crumbly, garden fork should do it?
Enter, in common purpose, the somewhat fresher-faced Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites), who needs the same magic fork to save his father, Will (sadly now dad - Orlando Bloom) Come on Hollywood, the first was only 2006!
They all play second fiddle to the film’s real heroine Kaya Scodelario’s Carina, who lashes them off the screen. (research Jack Whiting)
Wildly inconsistent tone means you don’t quite know what you're getting when walking into a Despicable Me feature, except for the treasured minions, of course. Not to mention Universal’s trillion $ merchandising dream-come-true.
This time, Gru (Steve Carell) discovers he has a twin, Dru (also Carell). Possessed of hair, a sunny outlook and substantial material wealth, Dru is pitched as the polar opposite to his surly, self-loathing long-lost brother; he is also keen to re-establish the family tradition of supervillany; the very practice Gru has left behind. It’s only a matter of minutes before a heated sibling rivalry is raging.
It’s evident immediately, in a fizzy prologue which tees up the bad guy du jour: a fallen child star Balthazar Bratt (Trey Parker) who’s villainous M.O. along with his taste in clothes and music, is heavily 1980s-themed (when are they going to leave the 80s, and 70s for that matter, to their natural graves…?). This means self-inflating bubble-gum bombs, and a keystar cannon that fires lethal Van Halen riffs. Yes, the minions are stars but put the yellow blobs obsession to one side and you'll see Bratt is the franchise's most fun addition. (research Jack Whiting) Just come and have done with it.
Make no mistake, Baby Driver is pure cinema. To miss this thrill-ride on our screen is to do a disservice to you, the audience and to pure imaginative and adrenalin fuelled film making itself.
Edgar Wright, one of the few true, and the only British, auteurs in cinema, has fine-tuned his passion project to within an inch of its lense. Every edit, every stunt, every rhythmically timed sequence is meticulously planned and executed. His visual flair is his trademark and his eschewing digital to shoot on 35/70mm film stock is his weapon of choice.
Baby-faced Ansel Elgort is behind the wheel as Baby, the getaway driver working for Kevin Spacey. His struggle with tinnitus means he's plugged into his iPod 24/7. For him that means chauffeuring crooks (including Jon Hamm and Jamie Foxx) to and from banks to hi-octane backdrop of classic pop. For us this means car chases and shootouts to the beat of the music. It's a unique big screen experience indeed.
Wright has taken 1978's The Driver, Blues Brothers and, funnily enough, La La Land and put them in the grinder. This slick motor is the result. (research Jack Whiting) Fantastic. Don’t miss a beat.