This Summer At The Cinema

We are now past the half-way point of the year and all of the big Summer heavy-hitters are about to open. Here I highlight my personal picks and also the other films that look as if they will make a big impression on audiences and at the box office.

Out Now

Independence Day: Resurgence

The sequel to the 1996 original, ‘Independence Day: Resurgence’ has failed to perform at the box office and with both critics and audiences currently sitting on a disappointing 31% at Rotten Tomatoes but fans who enjoyed the original will possibly want to make their own minds up for this sequel.

The Secret Life of Pets

Illumination Entertainment’s latest offering, ‘The Secret Life of Pets’ has received positive reviews and scored big at the box office and the film looks as if it appeals to not just children, but adults too. This year has been a great year for animation (there still have been a few disappointments such as ‘The Angry Birds Movie’) and this film looks set to continue the current trend.

Now You See Me 2

An unlikely sequel to the 2013 film that received mixed reviews but audiences enjoyed it and the first film made enough money to warrant a sequel. Jon M. Chu replaces Louis Leterrier in the director’s chair who decided to ditch this in favour of making ‘Grimsby’ – good job as the film ended up being fantastic!  ‘Now You See Me 2’ reunites the original cast with the exception of Isla Fisher (who also went to work on ‘Grimsby’) who is now replaced by Lizzy Caplan and the team now face a formidable foe in the form of Daniel Radcliffe.

The Legend of Tarzan

A personal pick of mine, I can’t wait what director David Yates has created post-Harry Potter and with a cast this good, I’m hoping it doesn’t disappoint. Reviews for this film are decidedly mixed but I will reserve judgement until I see the film. It would have to try very hard to disappoint with a cast comprising of Margot Robbie, Christoph Waltz, Samuel L. Jackson, Jim Broadbent and Djimon Hounsou. Ok, I’m not convinced by Alexander Skarsgård but let’s wait and see.

The Neon Demon

The new Nicolas Winding Refn film, most famous for 2011’s neo-noir crime thriller, ‘Drive’ starring Ryan Gosling. Refn returns with this film that stars Elle Fanning and the reviews seem to be more in line with his follow-up to ‘Drive’, ‘Only God Forgives’ that received polarising reviews – some people loved it, some people hated it. A personal pick of mine, Refn’s films are a little mixed in quality in my opinion so here’s hoping it’s one of his better ones.

July

Ghostbusters

The reboot of this lucrative franchise that started with its beloved 1984 original and lesser 1989 sequel, ‘Ghostbusters (2016)’ has an all-female cast which has infuriated many fans and one of its trailers ended up being the most disliked in the history of YouTube. However, reviews have suggested that this film is actually pretty good so although there will be some haters, this film might not suffer too much at all. Paul Feig is in the director’s chair, of which I am not a fan of at all and stars Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones who again, I find none of them funny but I understand that there will be an audience who will enjoy this. The trailers have confirmed my fears that this film isn’t going to be particularly great, but I will reserve judgement until I see the film

The BFG

I can’t wait to see what Steven Spielberg has done with this beloved Roald Dahl novel especially with Mark Rylance playing the giant, who won an Oscar for his fantastic performance in last year’s ‘Bridge of Spies’.However, reviews for this film are a little mixed – it does currently have a 71% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes but there are some polarising options and the film bombed in America when it opened. The fact still remains though, I’m really excited to see what Spielberg and Rylance have managed to come up with.

Star Trek Beyond

I’m not a fan of this franchise, but I understand a lot of people cannot wait to see this coming off the first two films in the franchise that have proved very popular. However, J. J. Abrams is not directing this time – directing duties have transferred to ‘Fast and Furious’ director Justin Lin and it will be interesting to see if he can perform outside of the other franchise that he found success in.

Jason Bourne

Matt Damon returns in one of his most successful roles as does Paul Greengrass in the director’s chair who last directed 2013’s ‘Captain Phillips’ which ended being nominated for the Best Picture Academy Award. I must admit I like the first and third instalment (‘The Bourne Identity’ and ‘The Bourne Ultimatum’) of this franchise and have no care for ‘Supremacy’ and ‘Legacy’ so here’s hoping for a film that is more in line with the films that I have enjoyed. With Greengrass returning, I’m hoping it will be good.

Finding Dory

The sequel to the universally loved ‘Finding Nemo’, Pixar continue their trend of releasing sequels however the reviews have indicated that this is one of the better ones with a great 95% fresh rating currently on Rotten Tomatoes. I’m hoping this delivers as I was not a fan of ‘The Good Dinosaur’, the latest Pixar offering which was a big nose-dive for Pixar last Christmas. You can view my ranking of all the Pixar films here as well.

August

Suicide Squad

Although mainstream, this is my pick for August. The next entry in the DCEU, this follows the DC villains in a deadly mission which we will have to wait and see for further details when the film is released. The film is directed by David Ayer who directed the 2014 film ‘Fury’ which I quite liked and in terms of tone, I think his style seems to suit the film to a tee. What perhaps fans are most looking forward to seeing is Jared Leto’s portrayal of The Joker, last portrayed by the late Heath Ledger in a career-defining performance in ‘The Dark Knight’ and it will be interesting to see how he portrays the character.

The Shallows

The latest film by Jaume Collet-Serra, this is his first film out of his past four not to have Liam Neeson in the main role (‘Unknown’, ‘Non-Stop’ and ‘Run All Night’) and instead pitches Blake Lively who portrays a surfer who gets stranded 200 yards from shore of who a deadly Great White Shark stands in her way. Expect nail-biting, edge-of-your-seat tension in the film’s economical 86 minute run time!

Wiener-Dog

A film that a lot of people may not have heard of, this looks like an oddball comedy directed by Todd Solondz which has received positive reviews and details 4 families who one daschund impacts on their lives. Perhaps the most exciting thing going for this film is the fact that it stars Ellen Burstyn and Danny DeVito, two outstanding veteran actors who rarely play in films so if they’ve chosen to act in this, surely that can only be a good sign?

Lights Out

Who doesn’t want to see a horror film produced by horror-maestro James Wan?! ‘Lights Out’ had its initial premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival and the reviews for it have been very positive, currently it’s sitting on 100% at Rotten Tomatoes but bear in mind that this is only 7 reviews. This film is also the major directorial debut by David F. Sandberg who is tipped to direct the sequel to ‘Annabelle’ next year so let’s hope this film delivers.

The Purge: Election Year

The third instalment to this series, I have always admired the concept of these films but the actual quality of these films have been middling. ‘Election Year’ has similar reviews to ‘Anarchy’ which suggests a film of the same quality, but even if the film isn’t the best it should still be sure to pose some interesting ideas to audiences.

Ben-Hur

This film has received a lot of backlash as it is a remake of the the beloved 1959 film that is generally regarded as one of the best films of all time. Now I know this doesn’t look great with a middling cast and Timur Bekmambetov in the director’s chair but that said, I do enjoy Bekmambetov’s films, as silly as they are. This won’t be in the same league as the original for sure, but it still should be a fun time.

 Sausage Party 

Technically, this is released at the beginning of September but this is the last significant film to be released so I feel it deserves a mention. The concept and cast of this film just looks incredible – an adult animation film that will have plenty of swearing and crude, over-the-top humour. The trailers for this look great and early reviews look promising as well with the film sitting on 100% at Rotten Tomatoes, but again bear in mind that this is only based on 7 reviews. Still, this looks utterly hilarious and I hope it delivers.


What are your thoughts? What films are you looking forward to see that I have missed? Let me know in the comments or tweet @TheFilmMeister

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This Christmas At The Cinema – My Picks

Christmas is just around the corner which means plenty of new films at the cinema to indulge on. Here are my picks over the next couple of weeks:

Out Now 

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Bridge of Spies

The new film from Steven Spielberg hotly tipped for awards success – definitely one to watch. Mark Rylance’s performance has gained considerable attention.

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Carol

Another probable awards contender, this has received rave reviews from critics and is said to feature career-best performances from its stars Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara

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The Good Dinosaur

The new Disney Pixar film hot on the heels of Summer’s ‘Inside Out’ so you can expect outstanding animation and heartfelt sequences. The general critical consensus is however that this is “good, not great Pixar.”

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Black Mass

A biopic on the notorious gangster, Whitey Bulger (played by Johnny Depp), critics have called this Depp’s return to form after several misfires.

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The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2

The final part to the saga, this should send the series off nicely as the best YA series since ‘Harry Potter’.

Coming Soon 

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Victor Frankenstein 

It may well be low on plot, but this should surely be entertaining and dumb fun at the very least. The combination of James McAvoy and Daniel Radcliffe looks like pure class

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Pawn Sacrifice

The new Edward Zwick film, this not only should be entertaining but should also require the use of brains. It boasts a strong cast as well featuring Tobey Maguire, Live Schreiber, Peter Sarsgaard and Michael Stuhlbarg.

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens

The most hotly anticipated film of the year and rumoured to possibly beat the highest grossing film of all time, ‘Avatar’, this should be a pure cinematic masterpiece.

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In The Heart Of The Sea 

The new Ron Howard film, this should be big in spectacle and entertainment.

Summary 

 

So these are my Christmas picks and from the New Year, the Academy Award films start to trickle in so even more to look forward to in 2016.

2015 Films To Look Out For!

Another year of film has passed and a new year beckons, but before we get stuck in to 2015, let’s take a look at what films 2015 has to offer! As usual, we have our fair share of sequels and the new beginnings of franchises, but there are also some interesting original films that look appetising. Here are I take a look at my most anticipated films of the year:

So starting in January, we have a lot of the Awards Contenders – ‘Birdman’, ‘The Theory Of Everything’, ‘Whiplash’, ‘American Sniper’, ‘Wild’, ‘A Most Violent Year’, ‘Inherent Vice’, ‘Big Hero 6’ and ‘Selma’, but the one that stands out the most to me is without a doubt, ‘Foxcatcher’. It has rave reviews and the trailers look fantastic – a very slow, brooding picture filled with excellent performances from the film’s main cast – Steve Carrell, Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo. If you heard these names in a cast (well, maybe not Mark Ruffalo), you’d be stunned to hear that they’re in an Awards contender. This is definitely one to watch!

There are also some non-awards contenders coming out in January and the standouts are ‘The Woman in Black: Angel of Death’, ‘Taken 3’ and ‘Mortdecai’. I LOVED the 2012 adaptation of Susan Hill’s ‘The Woman in Black’ and it was my favourite film of that year. It was dark, suspenseful and very atmospheric and Daniel Radcliffe had really matured in such a short amount of time from the final Harry Potter the previous Summer. I’m a little bit worried about the sequel as the first film ended beautifully and there hasn’t been a demand for it at all. This looks like a cash grab from Hammer, but I’ll reserve full judgement until seeing the actual film.

‘Taken 3’ is another interesting film as it deviates from the standard formula that these films are based on, someone being kidnapped. Here Bryan Mills is on the run for a murder that he supposedly did not commit. I’ll be interested to see how this one gets received considering the 2nd one was critically panned (I thought it was just alright) and considering they’re changing the formula, it’ll be interesting to see if the film can still be as entertaining as the first two.

‘Mortdecai’ is a very strange case as I didn’t hear of it until watching the sublime first trailer which looked quite funny. It essentially looks like a new take on last year’s critical darling ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ this time with Johnny Depp as the leading man. Will it be a redeeming film for Depp after he’s suffered negatively received ‘Transcendence’ (which I really liked) or ‘The Lone Ranger’? We’ll have to wait and see.

Moving on into February, we have ‘Jupiter Ascending’ by the Wachowski’s where we’ll find out if they’ve still got it or not after a number of disappointing features. Their last film ‘Cloud Atlas’ was, in my opinion, ambitious but ultimately overlong and not particularly entertaining. We then have Matthew Vaughn’s, ‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’ which I’m particularly interested in as it looks like a ‘Kick-Ass’ version of a James Bond film. With Vaughn, I’ll be surprised if it doesn’t hold up to his reputation of consistently making good films and this should be good fun to watch.

How can I not talk about ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’? Well, I’m not particularly enthused by it, but it’s definitely a prominent film this year. Will it hold up to the bestselling novel or will it be another weak adaptation of a novel?

In to March, we have ‘The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ which its predecessor, I thought was a light and touching film so I’ll be watching this and then, a very interesting concept in the form of ‘Chappie’ by Neill Blomkamp, director of ‘District 9’. Whilst the critics were mixed over his follow-up of ‘Elysium’, I thought there were a lot of interesting concepts despite it being a very flawed film, but this looks like an adult’s version of ‘Wall-E’ that has a good cast with Hugh Jackman leading and of course, Sharlto Copley (a Blomkamp regular) is voicing the robot itself.

I won’t be watching ‘The Divergent Series: Insurgent’ because I thought the first film was rubbish, but I feel that I should mention it as there will no doubt be an audience (mainly in the form of teen girls) for this.

Whilst there are not a lot of details yet for ‘Child 44’, it intrigues me with its stellar cast which includes Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, Joel Kinnaman, Gary Oldman, Dev Patel, Jason Clarke and Vincent Cassel. Hopefully we’ll get a trailer shortly to confirm that this is a film worth the watch as it’s got a very strong cast.

And now we get the big blockbuster – ‘The Avengers: Age of Ultron’, the hotly anticipated follow-up in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Even though it was flawed, I still like the first entry and with all the build-up to this chapter from ‘Iron Man 3’, ‘Thor: The Dark World’, ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ and ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’, this is a film not to be missed.

Just glossing over, ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’, ‘Tomorrowland’ and ‘Jurassic World’ are the next blockbusters, but it’s ‘Insidious: Chapter 3’ that I’m personally really looking forward to. With James Wan stepping down from the director’s chair, Leigh Whannell, his partner with ‘Saw’ and screenwriter for most of his films, it’ll be interesting to see if Whannell can pull it off and interesting to where he takes the story to.

I’ll be watching ‘Terminator: Genisys’, the fifth entry into the franchise and Arnie himself is returning to the franchise after sitting out of the fourth instalment. The trailer for this looked a bit puzzling, with sub-par visual effects (probably because they’re not finished yet) and a bit of a cliched story, but I’m still going to give it a chance and see if Alan Taylor (director) can pull it off.

‘Ant-Man’ and ‘The Fantastic Four’ are the other two offerings we have this year in terms of superhero films. To me, ‘Ant-Man’ intrigues me more, but it has had a very troubled production with the loss of director Edgar Wright and many cast and crew members, so it’ll be interesting to see if Marvel can have another hit especially after last year’s ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ and ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’.

It’s a return from Pixar this year as well who have two films to make up for an empty year last year. In the Summer, we have ‘Inside Out’, a film that takes place in the mind of a little girl and is directed by Pete Docter, who made ‘Monsters Inc’ and ‘Up’, the latter in my opinion was an exceptional film. In the Winter, Pixar are releasing ‘The Good Dinosaur’ which had a very troubled production with the loss of its director Bob Peterson, but it’ll be interesting to see what Pixar can make of this.

‘Pan’ and ‘Assassin’s Creed’ round off the Summer and these two films are also going to be quite a gamble, especially with ‘Assassins’s Creed’ which has a very big fan base.

Moving into the late part of 2015, in September, we have ‘Suffragette’ and ‘Everest’, ‘Suffragette’ being a historical film of the suffragette movement and stars Helena Bonham Carter and Meryl Streep and ‘Everest’ is the next film for Jake Gyllenhaal to play in, who has made some excellent films lately with ‘Nightcrawler’, ‘Enemy’ and the terrific ‘Prisoners’. The latter two films are directed by Denis Villeneuve who also has a film called ‘Sicario’ coming out this year, but it has an unconfirmed release date. Details of the plot are quite scarce at the moment but it stars Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro so with this great cast, it’s got to be good!

And now for the usual Halloween fare, this year we have ‘Victor Frankenstein’, ‘Crimson Peak’ and the remake of ‘Poltergeist’. ‘Crimson Peak’ looks the best out of the three and is directed by Guillermo Del Toro, so expect a very Del-Toro-esque style and also we probably won’t see any of his creative monsters this time as this is a gothic, supernatural horror – simple, but if done correctly, it could be another great film to add to Del Toro’s repertoire.

Jon Favreau’s vision of ‘The Jungle Book’ is out in October as well, the first of two visions, the next one being an origins story by Andy Serkis which is out in 2017.

The new James Bond film ‘Spectre’ is also coming out and after the heels of ‘Skyfall’, this should be a very good film now that we have our new M, Q and Moneypenny and with rumours of Christoph Waltz playing arch-nemesis Blofeld, this is too irresistible to miss.

The final Hunger Games film ‘Mockingjay Part 2’ is out in November and this should hopefully round the series off nicely and pay off all the build up in the below-par first part.

Then we have the very hotly-anticipated ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’. I’m not a particular fan of ‘Star Wars’ myself but I know there is a huge fan base for this, so I’m sure it’ll be a good film for the fans. ‘Kung-Fu Panda 3’ rounds off the year and I’m a fan of the first two which are good fun and quite humorous.

So 2015 looks like quite a monumental year for film, with lots of sequels and big franchise films on the horizon. There are also a lot of original films coming out (and plenty more as the year rolls on) so for those disappointed at the ton of sequels this year, there’s something for everyone. I’m sure it’ll be a very interesting year for film.