Directed by J.A. Bayona Starring Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Rafe Spall, Justice Smith, Daniella Pineda, James Cromwell, Toby Jones, Ted Levine, B. D. Wong, Isabella Sermon, Geraldine Chaplin, Jeff Goldblum
Years after the collapse of Jurassic World, and with Isla Nubla having reverted to active volcano status, debates rage over whether the dinosaurs are deserving of legal protection, with Dr Ian Malcolm (Goldblum) taking the position that nope, fuck those guys. Claire Dearing (Howard) leads a campaign to protect the dinosaurs, and is tapped by John Hammond’s silent partner Sir Benjamin Lockwood (Cromwell) to take her staffers Franklin (Smith) and Zia (Pineda) back to the island, along with Owen Grady (Pratt) to save at least eleven species of dinosaurs and bring them to a new sanctuary.
Avengers Infinity War is a film with a lot of hype to live up to. The nineteenth entry in the almost-exactly ten year history of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it reunites almost every major character from the previous films – there are four or five significant absences and a few minor ones – in a two and a half hour extravaganza. The clash with super-supervillain Thanos has been built up since the stinger of The Avengers (2012), while the Infinity Stones which form the driving force of the plot have been around since Captain America (2011) and were first named in Thor The Dark World (2013).
Against my usual custom, I’m not going straight into a full review. As with Arrival, I feel that this is a film significantly the better for going in without spoilers, so I’ll do the spoiler-filled analysis at a later date.
Directed by Paul King Starring Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Brendan Gleeson, Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent, Peter Capaldi, Hugh Grant and Ben Whishaw (voice)
Paddington (Whishaw), whom I should probably point out is a bear, has settled into life in London with the Brown family (Bonneville, Hawkins, Madelaine Harris and Samuel Joslin) and their elderly relative, Mrs Bird (Walters). Missing his Aunt Lucy (Imelda Staunton, voice), he wants to send her a pop-up book of London he finds in the antiques shop owned by Mr Gruber (Broadbent). Paddington sets out to earn enough money to buy the rare volume, but unwittingly sets caddish actor Phoenix Buchanan (Grant) onto the trail of the book.
Directed by Zack Snyder (and Joss Whedon) Starring Gal Gadot, Ben Afflex, Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher, Ezra Miller, Henry Cavill and Ciaran Hinds
In the wake of Superman’s death, the world is going a bit crazy. Wonder Woman (Gadot) and Batman (Afflek) try to keep a lid on things, but when Steppenwolf (Hinds) shows up and steals an artefact called the Mother Box from the Amazons, it’s time to bring together the metahumans identified by Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg): Arthur ‘Aquaman’ Curry (Momoa), Barry ‘The Flash’ Allen (Miller), and Victor ‘Cyborg’ Stone (Fisher).
Directed by Matt Reeves Starring Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, Steve Zahn, Karin Konoval, Terry Notary and Amiah Miller
Two years after the events of Rise of the Planet of the Apes, a military force led by a ruthless special forces Colonel (Harrelson) are hunting for the tribe of intelligent apes led by Caesar (Serkis). With the aid of their ‘Donkeys’ – apes formerly loyal to Koba (Toby Kebbell) and now working as weapon carriers and scouts for the humans – a unit of this force attacks an Ape outpost, but is defested. Wanting to avoid all-out war, Caesar spares a number of human captives and determines to set out for a new home scouted by his son, Blue-Eyes (Max Lloyd-Jones), and trusted aide Rocket (Notary). Unfortunately, he is betrayed, and his wife Cornelia (Judy Greer) and Blue-Eyes are killed.
Directed by Jon Watts Starring Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Jon Favreau, Zendaya, Donald Glover, Tyne Daly, Marisa Tomei, Robert Downey Jr.
After his debut in Civil War, Peter Parker (Holland), aka Spider-Man, is keen to get his teeth into superheroing. With Tony Stark (Downey) keeping him at arm’s length from the Avengers, he fights local crime while reporting to Happy Hogan (Favreau) and cutting back on his extra-curricular activities – including academic decathlon with love interest Liz (Laura Harrier), best mate Ned (Jacob Batalon), jerk jock (in as much as a tech academy has jocks) Flash Thompson (Tony Revolori) and girl of mystery Michelle (Zendaya) – in preparation for his next mission.
Directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts Starring Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L Jackson, John Goodman, Brie Larson, Jing Tian, Toby Kebbell, John Ortiz, Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell, Shea Whigham, Thomas Mann, Terry Notary, John C. Reilly
1933’s King Kong was a black and white movie about a movie crew looking for a lost island, finding a giant ape which is in no way a grotesque caricature of a black man. The ape, Kong, falls in love with the starlet – on some level or other – and the crew catch him, then bring him back to New York, where he escapes and is shot from the top of the Empire State Building by biplanes. It was remade in a contemporary setting in 1976, and again in its original era in 2005 by Peter Jackson. In 1962 Kong was added to the Toho studios kaiju universe in Godzilla vs. King Kong.
The Latest Remake
During WWII, American and Japanese pilots crash land on an island where their attempts to kill one another are interrupted by the appearance of a giant gorilla. In 1974 the island is picked up on satellite imagery. Bill Randa (Goodman), biologist San Lin (Jing) and geologist Houston Brooks (Hawkins) of Monarch tag along with a Landsat survey team to look for monsters. They recruit a helicopter platoon on the way back from Vietnam, lead by Colonel Packard (Jackson) and professional tracker and ex-SAS badass Conrad (Hiddleston), while anti-war photographer Mason Wheeler (Larson) gets herself attached to the survey.
This may seem like a lot of characters, but wait; there’s more. Captain Chapman (Kebbell), a major heading home to his family; Landsat official, Nieves (Ortiz); and members of the platoon including Mills (Mitchell), Cole (Whigham), Slivko (Mann) and Reles (Eugene Cordero).
A man absconds from an institution in the dead of night, taking a group of children with him, but not his own son. Years later, the oldest of the children, Max (Evans) is their de facto leader and forces them to remain hidden. They are the Flock, a group of experimental hybrids of human and avian DNA, and as a result have fully functioning wings that retract fully into their skinny-ass teenage bodies and other bird-related powers, like enhanced hearing and telepathy. You know, like birds have.
Directed by David Lowery Starring Bryce Dallas Howard, Oakes Fegley, Wes Bentley, Karl Urban, Oona Laurence, Robert Redford
Pete’s Dragon is the tale of a young boy and his friendship with a magical dragon named Elliot, whose ability to become invisible makes most people assume he’s imaginary. Pete and Elliot stumble into a quaint little town, where Pete is taken in by the lighthouse keeper and his daughter, while being pursued by the violent redneck family who in some means purchased him and wish to assert their ownership. Meanwhile, Dr Terminus is in town, a quack doctor looking to go ‘legit’ by selling remedies made from slicing up Elliot. At the end, Pete has a family, and so Elliot goes off to help the next child in need, as magical friends in disney movies of the era were wont to do.
Both the child slavery angle and the threatened violent dismemberment of a sentient being are, of course, discussed through the medium of jaunty, upbeat singing. It’s not terrifying like, say, Darby O’Gill and the Littel People is terrifying, but it is weirdly dark given the tone of the songs, or possibly vice versa. In particular the cheery tune of the number ‘We Got a Bill of Sale Right Here’, and the fact that no one seems to question the Gogans’ claim to ‘own’ Pete on any sort of legal grounds, worries me.
70s Disney; it’s its own brand of messed up.
In 1977 a car crash kills a couple and strands their young son, Pete, in the forest. Six years later, Pete (Fegley) is living in the care of a displaced dragon he has named Elliot. As a logging operation moves into his home, he is spotted by Natalie (Laurence), the daughter of the foreman, Jack (Bentley), and soon after found by Jack and his fiancee Grace (Howard), a forest ranger. He is eager to get back to Elliot, but his discovery has already led Jack’s brother Gavin (Urban) to find Elliot.
Directed by Nic Mathieu Starring James Badge Dale, Emily Mortimer, Max Martini, Bruce Greenwood and Ursula Parker
Incongruously pacifist DARPA researcher Mark Clyne (Dale) is called to war-torn Moldova to investigate a series of attacks by seemingly invisible enemies, detectable only using the hyper-spectral goggles developed by his team. The local General (Greenwood) and CIA liaison Fran Madison (Mortimer) think that the enemy insurgents are using active camouflage, while the locals blame the deaths on restless spirits. Clyne’s job is to get a decent picture of the attackers and help a Delta Force team led by Major Sessions (Mancini) to capture a sample of the active camo.