When Judd Apatow wants ‘the big conversation’ it’s not just the comic-addressee who should get excited. Previous convos, with Steve Carell, Kirsten Wiig and Amy Schumer, in which the producer asked each talent: ‘have you any ideas?’ led to The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Bridesmaids and Trainwreck. His is an impressive eye for potential and one with an extraordinarily surefooted track record. Now Apatow has unearthed The Big Sick, the funniest rom-com of recent years, by mining the experience and skill of Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon. He knows how to pick ‘em alright.
To young fans of Dav Pilkey’s Captain Underpants book series, that hark of arrival is as familiar and welcome a caw as ‘to the Batmobile’ might be to their parents. The novels have sold more than 70m copies the world over since launching in 1997, with the series concluding at book twelve only two years ago. Given their success – Captain Underpants has been translated into over 20 languages – it’s perhaps surprising that it’s take this long for a film to materialise.
Apocalypse Now is the new Spartacus. Certainly, declaring yourself to be a film in imitation of Francis Ford Coppola’s 1979 Vietnam war classic seems very much in vogue this year.
For those who found the poster for Kong: Skull Island ‘on the nose’ just wait until you see the shot for shot likenesses to be found in War for the Planet of the Apes, the third in Matt Reeves’ Planet of the Apes reboot series. Heck, at one point – getting one up on hacks ready with the puns – the slogan: ‘Ape-ocalypse Now’ can be seen sprayed over the walls of an underground tunnel. Unlike Kong, however, Reeves’ film borrows both style and substance in his homage. War is a hugely satisfying round off to a superlative trilogy.
The Cars films have always felt a little like Pixar, the pioneering animation studio behind Toy Story, Up and last year’s Finding Dory, in the third rather than fifth gear.
Cars 3 is the second sequel to have spawned from the 2006 original; the third in a franchise that has, for over a decade now, whiffed somewhat disappointingly of commerce rather than creativity. With over $10bn banked already from merchandise alone, Cars has certainly proved itself to be a hugely profitable vehicle. The unfortunate result is a series that opportunistically loads each new film with fresh and disposable characters at the expense of developing old ones. Cars 3 won’t win over the naysayers – it’s got its predecessors’ rusts and some – but fans should be satisfied whilst those on the fence may find themselves surprisingly touched by the time the credits role. Naturally too – damn it Pixar – the animation itself is dazzling.
A fear of the dark haunts humanity from birth to death. It is a fear of the unknown. A chill down the spine. The shadow in the corner of your eye. It has also proved itself to be an abundant gold mine of invention for storytellers across history.
Such is the case with The House, the latest tired frat comedy from Brendan O’Brien and Andrew J. Cohen, writers of the Bad Neighbours films and last year’s Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates,with Cohen in his directorial debut. This one teams the admirable and winning talents of Amy Poehler and Will Ferrell as Scott and Kate Johansen, parents of Alex (Ryan Simpkins), who turn their neighbour’s basement into an illegal casino to raise enough money to send their daughter to college.
Peter Parker is a geek. He’s a bit lame too; a BIG fan of the Avengers and a bit of a doofus. A whizz in class, Peter’s hopeless with girls, kind of unreliable and a tad goofy. To his favour, he just happens also to be ripped, hyperactively acrobatic, armed with spiderweb wrist shooters and, in the hands of a youthful and effervescent Tom Holland, boy is he endearing.
Baby Driver’s been a passenger in the Edgar Wright career vehicle for over twenty years. Having conceived the concept – that of a getaway driver with a unique relationship to music – in the nineties, it was in directing the music video for Mint Royal’s ‘Blue Song’ that Wright first had a play. There Noel Fielding played the eponymous driver in an electrically entertaining four minute venture of boogieing to put shower singers to shame. Wright could quite easily have parked the idea there and then. What a sign, then, of his sheer brilliance and audacity as a director that he held on and has now produced something even more spectacular. Baby Driver is breathtaking. A film that will be treasured for generations to come.
Not for the first time in the past twelve months, I was struck with an intense yearning to disagree with the majority of the American population on viewing James Ponsoldt’s The Circle.
It would be fair to say that critics across the Atlantic were not exactly kind to Ponsoldt’s adaptation of Dave Eggers’ best selling novel in the wake of its Tribeca debut. Audiences too failed to warm to the film, in spite of a mightily impressive cast roster of Emma Watson, Tom Hanks and the late Bill Paxton to name just a few.
There’s a moment in Karl Freund’s original 1932 The Mummy – a then original feature designed to replicate the themes and successes of Universal’s contemporary horror films: Dracula, Frankenstein etc. – in which the Mummy himself (Boris Karloff playing Imhotep) is awoken from his sarcophagus slumber behind an unaware Ralph Norton (Bramwell Fletcher). It’s a scene that’s not quite as effective as it might have been but one that works by virtue of the brilliant tension of expectation that comes with viewers knowing exactly what is coming.