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The Big Release
Fast And Furious Five
What's the story? A professional criminal finds his 'one final job' and proceeds to gather a crew to steal help him steal $100,000,000 from a prison in Rio. He is relentlessly pursued by a drug lord and a federal agent.
Cast: Vin Diesel (XXX, Pitch Black), Dwayne Johnson (The Scorpion King, Be Cool). Director: Justin Lin (Fast and Furious, The Fast and the Furious:Tokyo Drift).
Plus points: As far as films for morons go The Fast and The Furious series has always been mildly entertaining. The idea of Vin 'gargles with gravel' Diesel going mano-a-mano with Dwayne 'tree trunks for arms' Johnson is enticing in the most homoerotic of ways.
Let downs: No matter how purposefully stupid a film is, nothing and we do mean nothing can excuse the following actual line of dialogue actually spoken by an actual actor (okay Tyrese Gibson, but still...) “This just went from Mission: Impossible to Mission: In-freaking-sanity.” They even put it in the trailer, like they're proud of it.
Critics said: "Like Pixar’s Cars, but more cartoony" (TotalFilm) it's a "gleefully silly smash-’em-up heist film" (Hollywood Reporter). 86% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Verdict: Those that feel one was too many won't be happy about this but whatever you want to call it, Fast Five, Fast and Furious Five, The Fast the and the Furious the Five the, you can't really call the end result anything other than expected. Sometimes that's enough.
What's the story? Billionaire Arthur lives a playboy lifestyle doing what he wants when he wants. When his mother threatens to cut him off if he doesn't marry the girl of her choosing Arthur must decide if he can live without the money.
Cast: Russell Brand (Get Him To The Greek, St. Trinians), Helen Mirren (The Queen, The Madness of King George). Director: Jason Winer (Modern Family).
Plus points: If you like Russell Brand, and judging by his ubiquity people must do, this is the first chance to see him in a full non-rabbit, leading role. Helen Mirren gives fine support as his exasperated nanny, as only a Dame can do.
Let downs: If you don't like Russell Brand, and there are many, many that don't, this will be as fun as repeatedly trapping your genitalia in a vice whilst simultaneously paper-cutting your retinas.
Critics said: "Painful, perplexing and kind of sad" (Washington Post) Arthur "is at best mediocre." (USA Today). 26% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Verdict: If Brand really wants to be taken seriously as an actor he needs to cut his hair, wipe the shit-eating grin from his face, stop talking in that squeaky voice and try something very, very different from this Jack Sparrow-lite persona. Until then he can go back to presenting and stay the fuck away from the silver screen.
The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec
What's the story? Author Adèle Blanc-Sec will stop at nothing for a good story even if it means getting herself into life or death scrapes. Scrapes that include the Egyptian undead, a pterodactyl and a scientist with a crush.
Cast: Lousie Bourgoin (Black Heaven, The Girl From Monaco), Mathieu Amalric (Quantum of Solace, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly). Director: Luc Besson (The Fifth Element, Leon).
Plus points: Too often the term 'visionary director' is wrongly applied -Mr. Snyder we're looking at you- but with Luc Besson the shoe fits. He's also one of the few working directors giving us strong female leads time after time.
Let downs: The (completely erroneous, in our humble opinion) criticism of 'all style no substance' remains on the tips of critics tongues when discussing Besson. It's subtitled which means the multiplexes won't touch it with un pole de barge.
Critics said: "Amélie meets Indiana Jones" (Empire) it's "utterly delightful from start to finish" (View London). 78% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Verdict: Luc Besson is back! After publicly stating that he would only direct 10 films (the last decade saw him firmly in the Producer chair) the French maestro returns behind the camera with a wonderfully over-the-top romp.
What's the story? It's Beauty and the Beast for the Bieber generation. When attractive high-schooler Kyle picks on all the ugly kids one gets revenge by turning him into a 'hideous' monster. The curse can only be broken by true love.
Cast: Vanessa Hudgens (Sucker Punch, High School Musical), Alex Pettyfer (I am Number Four, Stormbreaker). Director: Daniel Barnz (Phoebe in Wonderland).
Plus points: Neil Patrick Harris takes the only plaudits for a faintly humorous turn as a blind tutor teaching Kyle the error of his ways.
Let downs: Bad dialogue, terrible acting and, most amazingly, a Beast that isn't particularly Beastly, thus missing the entire point of the story.
Critics said: "Aiming to do for shut-in monsters what Twilight has for bloodsuckers" (TimeOut) Beastly is "stunningly bad" (Entertainment Weekly). 18% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Verdict: You don't wait for one 're-imagining of a classic fairytale' and then two show up at once. Coupled with last week's hilariously awful Red Riding Hood, Hollywood is in the process of learning some things are better left alone.
The Best Film Still Showing
With April famously being a 'shittius monthlius' for movies you could do a lot worse than revisit the Woodsboro trio. So self-referential it's a wonder the cast and crew don't get repetitive eye-strain from winking it's still funny enough and, occasionally, jumpy enough to pass an evening. Don't forget the popcorn to (Edvard) Munch on...excuse me.
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