“But Rob, what was in first place?” I hear you all cry. Well dear readers, it’s a little animated number called Ice Age 4: Continental Drift. “But wait, you didn’t include that film in your comprehensive cinema guide last week!” I hear you splutter in shock. You are right there folks and that’s because Ice Age 4 : Continental Drift doesn’t open in England and Wales until the 13th July, but it has already opened in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Sales in those areas alone were enough to send it to the top of the cinematic pile, but as a result, Continental Drift became the lowest-grossing number one at the Box Office since Nicholas Cage’s Next back in April 2007.
This week’s big release is undoubtedly Marc Webb’s Spider-man reboot/re-imagining/fresh take (delete as appropriate) and it would be no surprise to see it turn out to be one of the biggest releases of the year. Early previews for The Amazing Spider-man produced largely positive reviews and despite the film not really breaking any new ground in the way that say Batman Begins did for the Batman franchise, the actors have all been highly praised and the actions sequences likewise.
Also out this week is Katy Perry’s 3D documentary extravaganza Part of me, Australian wilderness adventure The Hunter and Bobcat Goldthwaite’s dark comedy God Bless America.
If you want to check to see if any of these films are playing near you, you can visit Find Any Film and they’ll be able to help.
The Amazing Spider-Man *Pick of the Week*
There were a few eyebrows raised when it was announced that Marvel were revisiting the Spider-man franchise just five years after Sam Raimi’s Spidey trilogy petered out with the lacklustre Spider-man 3. Did the world really need to revisit the origin story of Peter Parker’s transformation into the web-slinging hero after such a short time? Marvel’s bank manager certainly thought so, but in a year of massive Comic Book movie releases, The Amazing Spider-man fell behind the likes of Avengers Assemble and The Dark Knight Rises in the expectation pecking order. Nevertheless, Marc Webb’s take on the tale hit screens this week and has been receiving some fairly positive reviews. Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone were both good casting choices from the off and luckily both have received plenty of plaudits for their performances as Peter and Gwen Stacey. These two are some of Hollywood’s hottest young talents and this will seemingly be a big breakout blockbuster (great alteration there) for them both.
The film’s story sees Peter Parker living with his Uncle Ben and Auntie May, when he finds a clue that may help him find out why his parents disappeared when he was young. After visiting his father’s former science partner Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans) at his lab, Peter is bitten by a radioactive spider and begins to show certain spider-esque tendencies. After an unfortunate incident befalls Uncle Ben, Peter starts using his new-found abilities to hunt out criminals, thus becoming something of a public hero. After Connors carries out some tests on himself with disastrous side-effects, Peter then finds himself on a collision course with his father’s former partner.
By all accounts there’s nothing particularly new or especially innovative here, but it’s a solid and well acted comic book movie with plenty to enjoy. There has been some criticisms of the CGI Lizard villain, but not to the extent that it detracts from the film’s enjoyment.
Charlie Derry says:
I saw Spider-Man yesterday – it was very good. It was a lot better than I thought it would be. It had such an emotional depth to it, and really focused on Peter Parker finding himself which was really engaging. The only downside would be that the lizard looked really bad, and the 3D is completely pointless.
Kenji Lloyd says:
I loved it so much, too. Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone have really great chemistry. I thought the 3D worked well in unexpected places, like the scene where he sneaks into the room where they’re keeping millions of spiders – but wasn’t especially necessary for the most part. The music, on the other hand, is immense. I’m thinking Oscar nomination for James Horner is very much a possibility.
Jon Lyus says:
I have to say that I’m really not that interested in ole’ Spidey. I’ll still see it of course as I love the people involved but I’m not holding out much hope of it being anything more than just another big superhero film. The Avengers (not Nolan’s Batman) has raised the bar hugely…
You can read Ben Mortimer’s review here.
Katy Perry : Part of Me
Not one for all the family this, but for anybody who is a fan of pop megastar Katy Perry it’s presumably a must see. Part biopic, part documentary and part live performance, the movie follows the trials and tribulations of Katy’s previous world tour as well as her most recent California Dreams outing. Along the way there’s plenty of behind the scenes snippets with former hubby Russel Bran even popping in occasionally to say hello. Anybody hoping for some shocking insight into the downfall of their marriage may be slightly disappointed though as while the events are talked about, its only in the vaguest possible terms.
It’s a shiny, polished and well-packaged film that is undoubtedly designed to show just how normal and genuine Perry is, and to be fair, she may well be both of those things. I think it’s fair to assume however that the documentary side of Part of Me is very much secondary to the Technicolor stage show and the desire to market ‘Perry’ the product. Definitely one for the fans only.
You can read Adam Lowes’ review here.
Willem Dafoe stars as Martin David, a highly skilled mercenary sent to the Tasmanian wilderness by a shady bio-tech company with the mission to hunt down and kill the last Tasmanian Tiger, a creature thought to be long extinct. David uses all his skill to survive in the harsh wilderness and to seek out the elusive tiger. There has been great praise for the film’s cinematography and its stunning shots of the Tasmanian jungle, and the scenes where its Dafoe alone stalking his prey in unforgiving terrain are meant to be extremely atmospheric. The movie is punctuated with David making trips back to the nearby town and becoming close to an eco-friendly family, as well as him becoming embroiled in an ongoing corporate conspiracy.
Critics have been fairly positive on the whole, praising it for being a slow-burning and well-acted thriller, though the consensus seems to be that it works best when it’s just a man versus nature story and when the various plot strands are brought together towards the end, it gets a little muddled. Still well worth checking out though!
Lisa Giles-Keddie’s review is here.
Quatermass and the Pit
Re-released this week is this vintage 1967 British Sci-Fi horror which stemmed from the popular British TV serial of the same name created by Nigel Kneale. This third installment of the Quatermass movies was directed by Roy Ward Barker with Andrew Keir in the lead role as Professor Bernard Quatermass. The story focuses on the discovery of a mysterious item, believed to be of alien origin, which is found underground during the excavation of a new Underground train line. The object causes people to experience sever psychic disturbances and to hallucinate strange ghostly entities. As events unfolds its casts in to doubt what we believe we know about mankind’s origins on earth.
With all the hooplah surrounding Prometheus’ various possible meanings with regards to mankind’s creation, it’s a definitely a timely re-release. It’s received plenty of acclaim from critics and is rightly regarded as a landmark British horror movie. It’s a great chance to see an innovative Sci-Fi film on the big screen and is well worth seeking out if it’s playing in a town near you.
God Bless America
American comedian Bobcat Goldthwaite is back again with another deeply dark comedy after the success of his 2009 outing World’s Greatest Dad. In God Bless America, Frank (Joel Murray), has finally had enough. Angry at what he sees as the irreversible decline of American culture and reeling from being fired, getting divorced and then finding out he may well be terminally ill, he decides to take action. Rather than taking his own life however, he decides to kill off the stupidest, cruelest most intolerant people he can find, which inevitably includes a fair number of vapid reality TV stars. He also gets an unlikely accomplice in 16-year-old schoolgirl Roxy.
Reviews seem slightly polarised on this one with some praising it as a sharp and biting satire with plenty of choice dialogue, while others feel it misses the target and fails to make any real point of note. It looks like this could well be this week’s ‘Marmite move of the week’ (I’m making that a thing now by the way).
You can read Jamie Neish’s review here.
An intriguing documentary which follows a group of pensioners competing in the over 80’s Table Tennis Championships in Mongolia. As well as looking at the competition itself, the film delivers candid snapshots of the veteran’s home lives and explores the hopes and regrets that come with getting old. The film seeks to challenge preconceptions concerning old age as well as emphasising the great power of the human spirit. One veteran was given a week to live at one point and is now challenging for the gold at the tournament, while another used the sport to aid her battle with dementia. I’ve struggled to find much press coverage of this film but from the available synopsis I’ve found online it sounds pretty interesting stuff.
The Artist is Present
Another documentary out this week, this time looking at renowned Serbian artist Marina Abramovic as she prepares for a retrospective of her work at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The film includes a look at one exhibition she did, the titular ‘Artist is Present’ which involved the artist sitting statically for 8 hours at a time as members of the public sat opposite her. In total she sat stationary for just over 736 hours. Now that is dedication. Definitely not one which will appeal to everyone, but may be of some interest to modern art fans.
According to the official blurb:
Seductive, fearless, and outrageous, Marina Abramovi? has been redefining what art is for nearly 40 years. Using her own body as a vehicle, pushing herself beyond her limits – and at times risking her life in the process – she creates performances that challenge, shock, and move us. MARINA ABRAMOVI? THE ARTIST IS PRESENT follows the artist as she prepares for what may be the most important moment of her life: a major new retrospective of her work, taking place at The Museum of Modern Art. To be given a retrospective at one of the world’s premier museums is the most exhilarating sort of milestone. For Marina, it is far more: it is the chance to finally silence the question she has been hearing over and over again for four decades: “But why is this art?”
A French comedy which comprises of a series of short films looking at the theme of male infidelity. The shorts all vary wildly in their tone and apparently quality, but the main draw will be the presence of Oscar winner Jean Dujardin who appears to be on typically charismatic form.
Also out this week:
7 Days in Havana
A young American boy is trying to break into the acting business, and goes to Cuba during a film festival.
A tale of sibling rivalry and steamy romance during a hot British summer.
The Women on the Sixth Floor
A French comedy revolving around an uptight Parisian couple whose quiet and boring lives are rocked by the arrival of two lively Spanish maids.