“1700 years to build. 5500 miles long. What were they trying to keep out?”
Directed by Zhang Yimou Starring Matt Damon, Jing Tian, Pedro Pascal, Willem Dafoe, Andy Lau
In the 11th century, a band of mercenaries including the English (Irish? I’m not sure what he’s going for) William (Damon) and the Spanish (they keep referring to Spain, despite being some centuries before the formation of said Kingdom) Tovar (Pascal), is whittled down by bandits and finally all but the last two are killed by a beast which William kills, cutting off its clawed and scaled arm. Fleeing bandit reinforcements, the pair are suddenly faced with the Great Wall and its defenders, the Nameless Order, who ponder the possibility of killing them until they learn that he slew a ‘Tao Tei’ single handed.
Directed by Chris McKay Starring Will Arnett, Zach Galifianakis, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson, Ralph Fiennes
In crime-ridden Gotham City, the Joker (Galifianakis) launches a devastating attack in concert with a vast assortment of other villains, only to be soundly (and rhythmically) defeated by Batman (Arnett). When Batman declines to acknowledge his greatest foe (because he doesn’t do ‘ships,) however, Joker concocts a plan of breathtaking audacity to take his nemesis down a peg or two.
Directed by Oliver Parker Starring Bill Nighy, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Toby Jones, Tom Courtenay, Michael Gambon, Blake Harrison, Daniel Mays, Bill Paterson
Dad’s Army, by Jimmy Croft and David Perry, is perhaps the most beloved and enduring of Britain’s classic sitcoms.
Set in the seaside town of Walmington-on-Sea, the series told the story of the local Home Guard platoon, who for nine years engaged in scrapes and shenanigans more or sometimes less war related, from camouflage exercises, to hunting down escaped IRA operatives, to capturing enemy parachutists and submariners. The writers and the characters became national treasures, the series continues to be repeated long after the morbid passtime of calling out which of the actors had since died during the closing credits became monotonous, and a scene in which a German prisoner asks for the name of the youngest platoon member, only to be cut off by Mainwaring’s sharp “Don’t tell him, Pike!” was voted the nation’s favourite comedy line over many more recent offerings.
Often conceived as ‘cosy’, Dad’s Army was pretty racy for its time, with about half the characters engaged in extramarital affairs. It revived the Home Guard in the national memory, launched a thousand catchphrases and while ostensibly focused on the comedy of old men and boys playing soldiers, never failed to present its protagonists as intelligent, good-hearted and courageous. With a run almost unprecedented in the history of British sitcoms, it established unusually rich characters in a full and developed world.
There was also a 1971 film, which remade the early episodes about the formation of the platoon, and added a hostage rescue with German airmen invading the church hall.
In 1944, the Walmington-on-Sea Home Guard platoon still diligently guard their little stretch of the south coast, under the command of Captain Mainwaring (Jones) and the leadership of Sergeant Wilson (Nighy). The arrival of glamorous reporter Rose Winters (Zeta-Jones) throws the platoon into a spin, provoking the jealousy and ire of the women of the town as the men prove once more the claim of Cleopatra, that all men are fools and what makes them so is beauty like what she has got.
Directed by Damien Chazelle Starring Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, John Legend, Rosemarie DeWitt
In LA, a series of chance encounters bring struggling actress Mia (Stone) and struggling Jazz pianist Seb (Gosling) into a relationship of towering love and passion. He introduces her to jazz and drives her to follow her dreams. She tries to convince him that his dream is in reach, if he can only let of of its trappings, and inadvertently drives him to compromise his artistic integrity by joining a band led by the non-specifically shady Keith (Legend).
“Prepare for Bloody Hell!” (Because that’s how the British swear, you see.)
Directed by Babak Najafi Starring Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman and Alon Moni Aboutboul
After well-meaning, but entirely inept Western intelligence agencies drone-strike a wedding based on a single, uncoded text message and somehow spectacularly fail to kill any of their actual targets – arms dealer Aarmir Bakawi (Aboutboul) and his sons – Bakawi launches a spectacularly audacious plan for revenge which appears to begin with either infiltrating or radicalising the Coldstream Guards (should have pushed that Prevent training, Lieutenant General Sir James Bucknall, KCB, CBE) and coordinating a series of dazzlingly precise bombings and shootings during the State funeral of the surreptitiously assassinated British Prime Minister. Fortunately, US President Benjamin Asher (Eckhart) has nails hard one-man-army and not-at-all-a-Scot, Secret Service Agent Mike Banning (Butler) at his side.
Directed by Justin Kurzel Starring Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons, Brendan Gleeson, Charlotte Rampling and Michael K. Williams
In 15th century Spain, a group of Assassins set out to protect the son of the last Sultan of Granada, in order to prevent Torquemada, Grand Master of the Spanish Inquisition, extorting from the Sultan the Apple of Eden, which contains the genetic blueprint for free will. As their meeting is interrupted by the neighbours’ garage band rehearsing, we jump to 1986, where adventurous (we know this because he’s practicing some daredevil shit on his BMX) Callum Lynch finds that his father (Brian Gleeson) has murdered his mother. He flees as be-sunglassed goons converge on their home, and in 2016 is in prison awaiting execution.
We’re about five minutes in and we’ve already covered about five centuries.
Directed by Eric Summer, Éric Warin Starring Elle Fanning, Dane DeHaan, Maddie Ziegler, Carly Rae Jepsen
The year is 1887 (or 1888; I’m working from how complete the Eiffel Tower is,) and plucky Bretton orphan Felicie (Fanning) dreams of being a dancer in the Parisian ballet. Running away from the orphanage in the company of fellow orphan, inventor and creepy nice guy Victor (DeHaan), she is promptly separated from her stalker, finds the opera and stumbles into a) helping the academy’s cleaner, Odette (Jepsen), and b) a place in the training class, the latter by stealing the identity of standard issue horrible rich brat Camille (Ziegler).
Directed by Gareth Edwards Starring Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, Riz Ahmed, Jiang Wen and Forest Whitaker
As is traditional on the BMM, this review will contain spoilers.
Calculating Imperial scumbag and master of cloak fu Orson Krennic (Mendelsohn) forcibly conscripts engineer Galen Erso (Mikkelsen) to a stalled project, killing his wife while their daughter Jyn flees into the care of Saw Gerrera (Whitaker). Years later, Jyn (Jones) is in Imperial chokey until ruthless Rebel Intelligence officer Cassian Andor (Luna) and his sassy droid K-2SO (Tudyk) rescue her. Gerrera’s extremism has broken his ties to the Rebel Alliance, but he has custody of defecting Imperial pilot Bodhi Rook (Ahmed), who may have a vital message from Galen.
Directed by Kevin Munroe Starring Paul Giamatti, John Goodman, Bella Thorne, Rosario Dawson, Jim Ward, James Arnold Taylor, David Kaye, Sylvester Stallone
When the villainous Chairman Drek (Giamatti) and his Blarg start destroying planets, the Galactic Rangers announce that they are upping their numbers… to five. Ratchet (Taylor) is a young mechanic who dreams of joining the corps. Their leader, Captain Qwark (Ward), bounces him from the recruiting line, but when he partners up with a defective Blarg warbot named Clank (Kaye) they become heroes and are – reluctantly – accepted into the Rangers, alongside Qwark and his comrades, the quick one (Thorne), the techy one (Dawson) and the big one (Taylor).
Directed by Denis Villeneuve
Starring Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker, Michael Stuhlbarg and Tzi Ma
Okay, so you probably know how I do by now: teaser, synopsis, bad/good/how bad, head-scratchers and scores. Well… that’s not really going to work for this emotional meat-grinder of a conceptual SF outing, as pretty much any spoiler would invalidate a large part of the movie’s value; like spoiling The Crying Game in 1992.