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The Big Release
What's the story? Norse God Thor, Prince of Asgaard, is about to be crowned King when he pisses off his Daddy, Odin, and is banished to Earth. There, thanks to an attractive astrophysicist, he helps protect our planet from a giant robot and annihilation.
Cast: Chris Hemsworth (Star Trek, A Perfect Getaway), Natalie Portman (Black Swan, Leon), Anthony Hopkins (Silence of the Lambs, The Elephant Man). Director: Kenneth Branagh (Hamlet, Peter's Friends).
Plus points: A star is born in Chris Hemsworth, his Ken-doll toned body itself enough to moisten the gusset of every lady in the theatre. Add to this his chiselled jawline and blonde locks and the need to throw in a 'mighty hammer' joke seems almost redundant. Hopkins, ever the pro, gives great theatrics too.
Let downs: The central relationship is based solely on the fact that the two leads are incredibly attractive and therefore never really feels even partially earned. The end credits 'bonus' scene detracts from the previous good work leaving an air of 'was this just an advert for The Avengers?'.
Critics said: "By Odin's beard, it's a winner." (The Mirror) and, in a deluge of simplistic punnery, it's "Thor-oughly good fun" (Little White Lies). 95% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Verdict: By far and away the trickiest of The Avengers to pull off, Branagh and company have managed to make a fun, tongue in cheek, fish out of water romp that should satisfy both Marvel geeks and non-fanboy families.
What's the story? When a series of strange events befalls the Lambert family they seek solace in a new home. Pretty soon it becomes apparent that it's not the house that's haunted, pause for dramatic effect, it's their son.
Cast: Rose Byrne (28 Weeks Later, Sunshine), Patrick Wilson (Watchmen, Hard Candy). Director: James Wan (Saw, Death Sentence).
Plus points: While the latter Saw films have taken much of the bite away, the original was just that, original. The Director/Writer/Producer trio of Wan, Whannell and Peli (creator of Paranormal Activity) know a thing or two about putting the willies into people, without the need for a superinjunction.
Let downs: Those that can easily laugh at cheap shocks and bad horror acting will be giggling the house down. Those that can't may have nightmares.
Critics said: "It'll win no kudos for acting but plenty for its sharp scares." (Empire), Insidious "oozes atmosphere and unease" (Movie Crypt). 65% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Verdict: Insidious is Insidious is Insidious is Insidious is pretty fucking scary if you're of a sensitive disposition.
What's the story? Meek and mild insurance man Tim Lippe has never left the safety of his hometown. When he's asked to represent his company at a convention things get out of hand as he falls in with a trio of hard-drinking, good-time-seeking salesmen.
Cast: Ed Helms (The Hangover, Meet Dave), John C. Reilly (Walk Hard, Magnolia). Director: Miguel Arteta (Youth in Revolt, The Good Girl).
Plus points: Director Arteta has a proven track record of mixing pathos with yucks. After The Daily Show, The Office and The Hangover, Helms deserves a shot at leading man. Having Alexander Payne on-board as a producer is a very welcome seal of approval.
Let downs: Balancing comedy with drama means you risk alienating those wanting one or the other. When the jokes are of the puerile kind they best come thick and fast, sadly they're more runny and occasional.
Critics said: "Not exactly laugh-aminute" (Total Film) it should still "send us out smiling." (TimeOut). 84% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Verdict: Cedar Rapids is the only place you'll see Senator Clay Davis 'doing' Omar Little? Thankfully this has more to offer than just that little gram of heron for Wire fans. It's also been scientifically proven that Ed Helms is impossible not to root for.
What's the story? Returning from Afghanistan paratrooper Miller gets caught between a rock and a hard place on a London council estate. On one side he's been asked to be a heavy for a crew running guns and drugs, on the other he's been asked to work for the secret service to bring the crew down. Only all is not as it seems.
Cast: Toby Kebbell (RocknRolla, Dead Man's Shoes), Brian Cox (The Bourne Supremacy, Manhunter). Director: Matthew Hope (The Vanguard).
Plus points: Featuring two of the UK's finest actors in Kebbell and Cox, The Veteran looks like a less fascistic Outlaw.
Let downs: After Harry Brown it's hard to look at a 'gritty London set' movie without wanting to gnaw your eyes out of their sockets.
Critics said: "Flawed but defiantly promising" (Time Out). No rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Verdict: If you've got a hard-on for gritty films with a capital G, check it out. It'll also make a nice antidote to The Royal Wedding and the accusation that 'us English are all toffs'.
The Best Film Still Showing
Fast and Furious Five
I hate myself for even typing these words but Fast and Furious Five is a ridiculously enjoyable slice of stupidity. Check it out if only to laugh uncontrollably at the ludicrous nature of it whilst playing the game of 'Collateral Damage' in which you try to guess how many innocent people die so the 'good guys' can win. It's easily in the hundreds.
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