This week’s box office was absolutely dominated by The Amazing Spider-Man, to the point where all other films may as well not even have bothered. Marc Webb’s web-slinging reboot took a whopping £11million in its opening weekend on release.
To put that into context, the movie in second place this week, Ice Age 4 (still not technically released yet), took around £700,000 in the same time, which means, if my rudimentary maths is correct, that Spidey took over £10 million more than it’s nearest rival….. *gets out calculator and makes sure*….yes, £10 million. It’s already on course to be one of the box office smashes of the year with perhaps only Avengers Assemble and The Dark Knight Rises expecting to take a larger haul. Critics have been resoundingly positive, and while few are totally raving about the movie, it seems to have more than justified the studios decision to revisit the Spidey origin story.
Ice Age 4 is finally released this week, despite it having been in the box office chart for two weeks now on sales in Scotland and Northern Ireland alone. I don’t think it will quite topple the Spider-man juggernaut, but it’s going to do some fairly decent business for studio 20th Century Fox and these two movies will gazump everything else getting a release this week. Ice Age 3 was a bit of a let down critically, so it will be interesting to see if Ice Age 4 stops the rot or whether it continues the law of diminishing returns.
Also out this week is male stripper comedy Magic Mike, quirky comedy Seeking a Friend for the End of the World and there’s a timely re-release of Brit-flick classic Chariots of Fire.
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.
Salute *pick of the week*
This looks like a really intriguing documentary from Australian filmmaker Matthew Norman. The doc focuses on Matt’s uncle, Australian Olympic athlete Peter Norman. Who he? I hear you ask. Well, Peter Norman was involved in one of the most iconic photographs of the 20th Century at the 1968 Olympic Games when he appeared on the podium for the men’s 200 meters. The two other people on the podium were black American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos who both gave the infamous clenched fist Black Power salute. Matt focuses on his uncle and the role he played in the event and it is a remarkable and yet surprisingly little known story.
Peter Norman showed his support for the two athletes by donning an ‘Olympic Project for Human Rights’ badge and was very vocal in his support for the pair and also in his opposition to his country’s ‘White Australia’ policy. Norman paid a price for his beliefs however as he was left out of the subsequent Olympic squad and ostracized by the Australian media. Matt Norman examines the effect that his uncle’s actions had upon the rest of his life and also seeks to reunite the three athletes. It has received some great reviews with many critics praising it as a powerful, fascinating and affecting tribute to a forgotten hero.
Ice Age 4
The ever-expanding Ice Age gang are back once again for more prehistoric hi-jinx. This time out, Manny, Diego and Sid find themselves adrift on a big block of ice during the break up of Pangea and the forming of the continents.
As they drift around the ocean and try to get back to their home and loved ones, they run into various sea creatures and a band of distinctly unfriendly animal pirates who threaten to stand in their way. Oh and meanwhile Scrat chases a nut…obviously.
The general consensus seems to be that while it’s not breaking any new ground, it’s an improvement on the third outing and basically does what it says on the tin. It’s very much a standard family friendly blockbuster and if you go into it expecting nothing more and nothing less, you won’t really be disappointed. Critics haven’t been overly impressed but there’s a fair number who have suggested it’s enjoyable enough and as Marty McFly once said, your kids are gonna love it.
Steven Soderbergh has never been one to stick to a tried and tested formula. He’s dabbled in a broad range of genres before from the crime capering of Ocean’s Eleven to the gritty realism of Che via the intense Sci-Fi of Solaris. Clearly he’s a director happy to try his luck at any number of different movies. This time out, it’s something considerably different form anything he’s done before as he delves into that rich untapped source of cinematic stories, the world of male stripping. Magic Mike is partly based on Channing Tatum’s own experiences working as a stripper and he stars here as an experienced stripper who takes a young novice called ‘The Kid’ (Alex Pettyfer) under his wing and shows him the ins and outs of the party-hard stripper lifestyle.
It’s part comedy and part musical, with plenty of choreographed ‘dance’ routines along the way. Obviously a large amount of the movie’s appeal will be the sight of the ab-tacular Tatum and co-star Matthew McConaughey stripped to their smalls, but away from the obvious eye candy, its had a fair number of reviews singing its praises for being an entertaining and raucous movie with more to it than meets the eye. Not all reviews have been quite so positive, and it’s not quiet the American Full Monty as some had hoped, but I guess what I’m saying is, guys, if you get dragged to see it by your better half, it may not be the end of the world.
You can read Stefan Pape’s review here.
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World
It’s certainly not a romantic pairing many of us saw coming, but Steve Carrell and Keira Knightley star in this comedy drama set in the near future as the world is coming to an end. An asteroid is hurtling towards us and all attempts to halt it have proven fruitless. As the world descends into a state of panic and people struggle to know how to cope, Steve Carrell’s Dodge remains strangely calm, even after his wife ups and leaves without a word. He decides to reunite with his old sweetheart and runs into Knightley’s Penny, a young English girl who is upset at not being able to get home and spend time with her family before the end. The two team up in order to help Dodge find his lost love, and Penny make a flight home.
It seems that Kiera is playing the role of quirky young free spirit (she wears converse trainers and listens to vinyl…oh the quirk) and Carrell the loveable older guy. It’s a strange mix but who knows, it might just work. Reviews have been very mixed with the odd review praising it as a light-hearted and enjoyable rom-com, but a fair number have been less positive and criticised the movie for being overly whimsical and decidedly unfunny. The central pairing has also come in for some considerable criticism with many suggesting the two of them together just doesn’t work. Clearly it’s not for everyone, and this week’s winner of the ‘Marmite movie of the week’ award.
You can read Lisa Giles-Keddie’s review here.
Adrien Brody stars in this drama from director Tony Kaye which focuses on three weeks in the lives of a group of high school staff and students. Brody is substitute teacher Henry Barnes, a skilled teacher who connects well with his students but who has persistently avoided any meaningful emotional attachment by moving frequently from school to school.
As he proves very popular at his new school, the arrival of three women in his life threaten to shake Henry’s life up and make him rethink his downbeat world view. It looks like a fairly hard-hitting and weighty drama, with a decidedly depressing undertone throughout. Brody has received plenty of plaudits but critics seem divided over the film as a whole with some finding it a bit of a slog and rather full of itself while others have taken the opposite view and suggested its engrossing and powerful. Maybe not one for a fun-filled Friday night at the pictures, but may well be worth seeking out.
You can read Adam Lowes’ review here.
Chariots of Fire
Now be honest, you’re humming that Vangelis theme song in your head right now aren’t you? After its memorable Oscar Best Picture win back in 1981, the film has slowly slipped out of the public conscience and has never really been revered as much as one might have imagined after its emphatic Oscar night. With the London Olympics looming perilously close on the horizon, Chariots is getting a timely cinematic re-release and it’s a chance for a new audience to see what all the fuss was about back in the early eighties.
The plot focuses on two very different men who are training for and competing in the 1924 Paris Olympics. One is a devout Christian Missionary running for the Lord, the other a Jewish student at Cambridge who is running to dispel racial prejudice. It’s an uplifting ad stirring sports movie with lashings of ever-so-British romanticism. If you haven’t seen it before, you could do a lot worse than seeking it out at the cinema and giving it a go.
Tortoise in Love
Tom is a gardener at a large stately home. He is notoriously bad at talking to women but falls deeply in love with the house’s new Polish au pair Anya when she arrives for the summer. Soon the local villagers are all pitching in to try to help Tom get the woman of his dreams. Needless to say, we’re in standard Brit Rom-Com territory here. It doesn’t look like anything too exceptional and reviews seem to place it in the ‘distinctly average’ category, but by all accounts its amusing in parts and wholly inoffensive throughout. Could be worth a trip if you fancy something easy-going and light-hearted.
An interesting little American indie which stars Rory Culkin and Julia Garner. The film follows Rachel, a young girl from a devout mormon background who discovers a cassette tape with forbidden rock music on it on her 15th birthday. When she winds up pregnant 3 months later she claims it is immaculate conception and blames the music for getting her pregnant (that old chestnut). Rachel’s parents are none to happy and arrange a hasty marriage for her. Rachel has other plans and runs away to Las Vegas in search of the singer on the cassette who she believes knocked her up.
It’s a fresh take on the traditional coming of age voyage of discovery and has received some pretty good reviews thus far. Garner has received plenty of plaudits in the lead role as the naive and doe-eyed young girl out in the big city. An intriguing low-fi indie and a strong debut feature from writer/director Rebecca Thomas.
Jon’s pick of the week – Absentia
An American horror concerning two sisters and a series of odd disappearances that may be related to a strange tunnel near their house.
I loved this film and reviewed it here – if you fancy a really decent horror do check it out.
Also out this week:
A Belgian coming-of-age drama set during a glorious summer holiday.
Comes a Bright Day
A darkly comic British romantic thriller set during the heist of an expensive London jewelers.
A french action thriller which sees a convicted bank robber break out of prison to protect his family from a deranged former cellmate.