Directed by Alex Garland Starring Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson, Tuva Novotny, Oscar Isaac
Biology professor Lena (Portman) is being questioned in an isolation lab. She recounts how she had been waiting a year for word of her soldier husband, Kane (Isaac), when he turned up almost literally out of the blue and then collapsed. She was abducted by government agents and delivered to a military operation called Southern Reach, studying a phenomenon called the Shimmer, a mysterious field covering an increasingly large area of the South.
Directed by Nicholas Stoller and Doug Sweetland Starring Andy Samberg, Katie Crown, Kelsey Grammer, Jennifer Aniston, Ty Burrell, Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, Danny Trejo
The storks of Stork Mountain have long been out of the baby business, instead delivering packages for Totally Not Amazon(TM). Top delivery stork Junior (Samberg) is due to be promoted to CEO when the incumbent, Hunter (Grammer), gets kicked upstairs, but first he need to ‘liberate’ the company’s sole human employee, Orphan Tulip (Crown), whose delivery address was lost when she was a baby, precipitating the move away from baby delivery. Taking pity on Tulip, Junior instead moves the overeager young woman to the defunct postal sorting room. There, she transfers a letter from lonely only-child Nate (Anton Starkman) into the old baby factory, creating a custom baby girl.
Directed by Bryan Singer Starring James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender, Oscar Issac, Nicholas Hoult, Rose Byrne, Tye Sheridan, Sophie Turner, Olivia Munn, Lucas Till, Evan Peters, Kody Smit-McPhee, Alexandra Shipp and Ben Hardy
In ancient Egypt, the first mutant, En Sabah Nur is betrayed by his people as his consciousness is being transferred to the body of a mutant with healing powers (Isaac). Millennia later, his cult dig up the pyramid and trigger his revival, leading CIA agent Moira McTaggart (Byrne) to accept the suddenly offered aid of mutant expert Charles Xavier (McAvoy).
Directed by Josh Trank Starring Miles Teller, Jamie Bell, Kate Mara, Michael B Jordan and Toby Kebbell
Child genius Reed Richards (Teller, or he will be when he grows up) builds a teleporter with the help of his friend Ben Grimm (Bell, again, once they grow up.) Dismissed by teachers throughout their lives, Reed is at last recruited by Franklin Storm (Reg E. Cathey) to work on his interdimensional teleporter, along with his adopted daughter Sue (Mara) and tearaway son Johnny (Jordan), and the originator of Storm’s programme, grumpy Latverian Victor von Doom (Kebbell).
“From the bowels of the Earth they came… to collect the living.”
Directed by Lucio Fulci Starring Christopher George, Catriona MacColl and Carlo De Mejo
There are vestiges here of ‘The Dunwich Horror’, but only in the broadest terms – Dunwich, horror, gateway to Hell.
Mary (MacColl) apparently dies of fright during a seance, but is rescued from a premature burial by reporter Peter (George) and describes her vision of a priest committing suicide in a town called Dunwich. Her medium, Theresa, explains that this was prophesied in the Book of Enoch, and that the priest’s suicide opened the gates of Hell. If he is not destroyed by All Soul’s Day, the dead will rise and destroy the living.
“Welcome to a world where death is only the beginning”
Directed by Brian Yuzna Starring Jeffrey Combs, Jason Barry, Simon Andreu and Elsa Pataky
This film is a sequel to Re-Animator, rather than an adaptation of the original story. It ignores much of the ending of the first film, however, largely in order to bring Combs’ West back in.
During the ‘Miskatonic massacre’, one of the reanimated corpses escapes and kills a young woman as her brother, Howard Phillips (geddit?), watches. Phillips later sees Herbert West (Combs) being taken away by the police. Years later, West is continuing his work in prison, when Phillips (Barry) arrives as the new prison doctor, bringing the last of the reagent and asking to work with West.
“Two rival teams of assassins. One killer day at the office.”
Directed by Fouad Mikati
Starring Joe Anderson, Odette Yustman and Rob Corddry but seriously it’s the smaller roles that have the gold: Ellen Barkin, Ving Rhames… and Jeffrey Tambor basically playing the same role he played in Muppets from Space, but with more shooting
A nervous young man is recruited by the Factory, a top secret US black ops division consisting of two teams and a section head, watched over by ‘Corporate’. Each member of the Factory has a code name taken from the Major Arcana of the Tarot.
Omega Team is headed by Emperor (Bob Odenkirk) and consists of Chariot (Corddry), High Priestess (Maggie Q), Judgement (Rhames) and the newcomer, Fool (Anderson). Alpha Team is led by Empress (Barkin), whose cohorts are Hierophant (Emilie de Ravin), Tower (Brandon T Jackson), Magician (Adam Scott) and Temperance (Yustman). It is established in scenes of ‘Corporate’ monitoring them, that they and the section head, Devil (Tambor) are all psychopaths, and that the rivalry between the teams is all that keeps them in some kind of check.
When the Devil is murdered, it activates Operation Endgame, a wildfire protocol. When the assassins split into pairs – one Alpha, one Omega – to search for the elusive Hermit (Zack Galafianakis), the one man who might know the way out, the Alpha Team start picking off Omega in a bloody fight for survival, but is everything as it seems?
What’s wrong with it?
The first of two principle jokes in this comedy action thriller is that every one of the characters is an unrepentant, but quirky psychopath – Chariot swears a lot, Hierophant is a bubbly blond, Judgement likes to use phrases which include his codename – which means that once the joke runs out of steam (round about when Hierophant hits Judgement in the head with a table leg with nails in it), we’re left with a group of characters and no specific reason to give a shit which, if any, of them live or die. Ultimately, we seem to be supposed to root for Fool and Temperance because they’re a) hot and b) high-functioning, and it’s not enough.
The second joke is that they are in an office and all of their weapons are checked at the door, so they have to murder each other with office equipment. Well, I’m certainly never going to look at my staple remover in the same way again.
It also takes a relatively strong idea and some decent action, and then fumbles its tone and dialogue something awful, in particular in a scene where the Hermit, out of nowhere, starts trying to seduce/rape/what the hell ever a battered Temperance until she shoots him in the crotch with her lipstick gun. It’s a scene that takes a break from the black comedy of the rest of the film and just leaps right over the event horizon of bad taste. I have a feeling it may have been crowbarred in to capitalise on Galafianakis’ then-recent success in 2009’s The Hangover (note his prominence on the poster compared to the notional leads).
What’s right with it?
The film is slick enough to realise that if its violence gets too brutal and gratuitous then it loses its ability to be a comedy, so many of the actual kills are cut into by Corporate’s observers wincing in horror, which is actually quite effective. (This is in fact why the scene mentioned above is so damned jarring.)
It’s also a really good cast. Look at those names, and I can pretty much guarantee that if you don’t know the actors by name, you’d know them to look at. They’re not A-list, but they’re solid B-, or at least prime C-listers in a D-list movie.
How bad is it really?
It’s kind of bumbling fun… apart, and you may spot a theme here, from that one scene that kind of made me sorry I’d watched the film in the first place.
Best bit (if such there is)?
Magician ties to kill Chariot with a pair of scissors and a fight ensues, in which Chariot’s every leaping dodge leaves him crashing painfully onto the floor. It’s endearingly awkward and probably pretty much how that kind of move would go.
What’s up with…?
The Factory? Just… as a whole, how does an organisation that is made up of hate-filled psychopaths function for even a day?
Temperance’s change of heart? If she’s going to be swayed by sentiment, how did she ever get recruited as a honey trap?
Zack Galafianakis? That scene and… well, in general.
The scheme? The ultimate twist is that the head of Corporate and the Devil hired Fool to take evidence of all of the Factory’s atrocities to the newly inaugurated Barack Obama and force him to clean house on the intelligence community, ordering Alpha Team to take out Omega as cover… but they’re the section head of the Factory and the head of its oversight group; surely there were easier ways!
Production values – The effects, mostly limited to some screen graphics and blood splatter, are modest, budget conscious and effective. 5 Dialogue and performances – Apart from that one scene, the dialogue is workmanlike psycho-banter delivered by talented actors, but the one exception is so glaring, so stilted, and so horrible, that it offsets anything good in this category. 17 Plot and execution – The plot makes sense pretty much up until the point where they try to make sense of it, so at least there is irony. 14 Randomness – The only really random parts are the quality of the cast – were they paying way over the odds? did they have pictures? – and the horrible, jarring rape threat scene, which again scores extra. 16 Waste of potential – It was never going to be great, but a solid gory action comedy is spoiled by the unnecessary unpleasantness. 14
Directed by Nimrod Antal Starring Dane DeHaan and Metallica
As Metallica play a gig in Vancouver, one of their roadies, Trip (DeHaan), is sent to retrieve a vital item stranded in an out-of-gas tour van, but as the concert continues, Trip finds himself caught up in an escalating tide of urban violence.