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Review – Captive

Stars: Kate Mara, David Oyelowo, Michael K. Williams
Director: Jerry Jameson
Certificate: 12A (drug use and “themes” – 15 wouldn’t have been a surprise)
Running Time: 97 mins
Release Date: 25th September 2015

Brian Nichols (David Oyelowo) breaks out of police custody and shoots dead three people. The subject of an enormous manhunt, he lays low in the house of Ashley Smith (Kate Mara), a down-on-her-luck single mother who chose the wrong time to go outside for a smoke. Captive shows how they develop an unlikely bond as the police closed in

Captive is based on a true story, which makes it impossible to criticise the eye-popping implausibility of it all. Nichols and Smith are both damaged individuals, able to find common ground over their absent children, the mistakes they’ve made in life and the ways in which society has let them down. The two leads bring the characters to life well, with Oyelowo in particular bringing a palpable anger to the role and an unpredictability that makes it hard to take your eyes off him. This does have the unfortunate effect of making the supporting players look somewhat one-dimensional by comparison – Michael K. Williams is simply playing “world-weary movie cop” rather than doing anything approaching a convincing portrayal of a real person

The big problem with Captive, however, is the other stuff that Nichols and Smith bond over, namely the redemptive power of our lord and saviour Jesus Christ. The final third of the movie features lots of religious reading from Smith’s drug rehabilitation book, and we see how the power of the words rehabilitates the paranoid, violent Nichols. The problem isn’t that the film starts throwing religion around – there are several hundred million people on the planet who wouldn’t consider that a problem at all – but that it’s tone instantly shifts from gripping, claustrophobic potboiler to gloopy, melodramatic TV movie when it does. The way the film ends hammers home this flaw to a tee

The ‘true story’ defence can only insulate Captive from criticism so much. Clearly it’s a remarkable story, in which real people went through some remarkable things, and you would be doing the people who lost their lives a disservice by diverging too far from it. But the final third betrays Jerry Jameson’s background as a director of low-budget made-for-TV movies; in the hands of someone more adept it would surely have been possible to maintain a greater consistency of tone while still remaining true to the narrative. As things stand, Captive is little more than a mildly diverting missed opportunity which seems destined to be swiftly forgotten

Our Verdict: 5/10

DVD review – John Wick

Stars: Keanu Reeves, Alfie Allen, Michael Nyqvist
Director: Chad Stahelski
Certificate: 15 (strong violence throughout)
Running Time: 101 mins
Release Date: out now on DVD and Blu-ray

When, oh when, will movie bad guys learn that killing dogs never leads to good things? Dog ownership is pretty much Hollywood’s universal signal for telling you who the good guys are, and those who look to cause them harm are almost without exception villains, scoundrels or robots from the future encased in human flesh to whom nothing good will come

So when Russian gangster Iosef Tarasov (Alfie Allen) extinguishes an adorable pooch in the opening minutes of John Wick, his fate is pretty much sealed. We know that he will get his comeuppance before the end of the film, and it’s implicitly understood that he will deserve every bit of it. No fate is too grisly for him, with the possible exception of the fate Allen suffered in Game of Thrones, that went a bit far. And it just so happens that the owner of said dog is John Wick (Keanu Reeves) – a legendary retired assassin, and one of the most reliable deliverers of comeuppances that cinema has ever seen

So begins 100 minutes of almost relentless violence. Henchmen in their dozens are shot, stabbed or otherwise broken as Wick blazes a bloody trail across the New York nighttime. It sounds like every other one-man-army action film you could possibly name, but it felt different somehow, and it took me about 20 minutes to put my finger on exactly why. After growing dispiritingly used to the fast-cutting, camera-shaking directorial styles of Olivier Megaton et al, John Wick was the first film in ages where I could actually see what was going on. Director Chad Stahelski takes the delightfully old school approach of pointing a camera at things that are happening and keeping it pointed there while said things continue to happen, meaning that you actually see things like punches connecting – a genuinely rare sight in an era of sanitised, 12A-friendly action

It’s a style that makes Wick more reminiscent of Hong Kong than Hollywood, and an infinitely easier watch than the likes of the headache-inducing Taken 3. It’s amazing that something so basic makes such a huge, positive difference, but it also exposes some of the film’s bigger flaws. Because we can see exactly what’s going on, we can see exactly how terrible every character’s aim is – Wick goes from deadeyed marksman to drywall-bothering scattershot as the plot demands it – and there seem to be a number of occasions where Wick sneaks up on a clueless bad guy by basically crouching directly in front of them. The standard of the action choreography never quite matches up to the quality of the camerawork, and occasionally the chasm is so wide that the whole enterprise looks a bit silly

John Wick is, therefore, best enjoyed if you go into it accepting it for what it is – a bit silly. The entire cast spends the whole movie putting on very serious expressions, and what humour there is is born of mild absurdity rather than the one-liners you’d expect of what is essentially Commando for the 21st century. It’s a film that’s great to watch, but you’ll almost certainly shrug, shake your head and forget all about it the moment it’s over

Our Verdict: 6/10


Top 5 – Pigs in Cinema

Honestly, can’t think of a reason why we’re publishing this today of all days

Spider-Pig (The Simpsons Movie)

It remains a mystery to me why “the spider-pig” hasn’t become a bigger part of the movie critic’s vocabulary. It could conceivably be used as a generic coverall term for the one good bit of an otherwise terrible film (e.g. “the opening scene of Terminator: Genisys shows great promise, but turns out to be a complete spider-pig”, “Paul Bettany’s performance in Mortdecai is a spider-pig stranded amidst a sea of nude skateboarding montages”). Long after the rest of The Simpsons Movie has been filed away in the same rarely-accessed mental folder as the last 15 series of the television show, Spider Pig, and the accompanying song, still worms it’s way into my subconscious on a regular basis. Relive it in all of it’s glory above

Babe (Babe, Babe: Pig in the City)

Babe, adapted from Dick King-Smith’s adorable children’s novel, caused bacon share prices worldwide to plummet upon it’s release in 1995. It would have been a good time to invest, what with the internet causing it’s popularity to surge back with a vengeance shortly afterwards, but you live and you learn. Twenty years on it’s still enchanting family audiences, the at the time groundbreaking animal lip-syncing holds up surprisingly well, and people are still mentally appending the word “pig” whenever they use the phrase “that’ll do”, even if they no longer remember why

Porco Rosso (Porco Rosso)

Studio Ghibli have a bit of a thing about pig-based curses. 2001’s Spirited Away, in which a young girl’s parents were turned into pigs, was something of a Western breakthrough for the company and remains the best-known example. But the seeds were sown nine years earlier in Porco Rosso, Hayao Mayazaki’s tale of a World War 1 veteran fighter pilot who just so happens to have been cursed to look like a pig. Cue light-hearted family action and dozens of “pigs might fly!!” jokes

Piglet (Winnie the Pooh)

In a previous Top 5, I discussed at length the steps that Disney need to take in order to stop their proposed live action reboot from being a disaster. One of them could very easily have been to keep the tiny, terrified, stripy-pyjamaed porcine in a supporting role where he belongs. Piglet’s Big Movie is perhaps the biggest stain on Winnie the Pooh’s frequently-blemished cinematic legacy, but when he’s playing the harmlessly stupid foil to the rest of the harmlessly stupid ensemble, you can see why he deserves a place on this list of great cinematic swine

Miss Piggy (The Muppets

The second-most newsworthy pig of recent weeks, Miss Piggy’s recently-acquired status as Kermit the Frog’s former squeeze does nothing to diminish her incredible contribution to cinematic history. Did you know that was her playing Yoda in the Star Wars films, under a heavy layer of makeup? One of cinemas most remarkable chameleons, as well as pigs

Who are your favourites and what have we missed? Let us know in the comments!

Review – Everest

Stars: Jason Clarke, Jake Gyllenhaal, Josh Brolin
Director: Baltasar Kormakur
Certificate: 12A (some nasty frostbite closeups)
Running Time: 121 mins
Release Date: 11th September 2015

In 1992, a New Zealander called Rob Hall had an idea – why not set up a commercial operation allowing anyone with enough money the opportunity to summit Everest? Climbing ability wouldn’t be an issue, as ladders, oxygen tanks and sherpas would do all the difficult work for you. As long as you didn’t mind the possibility of losing a couple of toes to frostbite and experiencing the excruciating pain of oxygen deprivation, you too could achieve something nowhere near as meaningful as it was when Sir Edmund Hillary did it! All was fine until 1996, when his expedition was struck by a terrible storm, which had devestating consequences. Including, but not limited to, being represented on screen by Jason Clarke 20 years later

Everest is a film caught between two genres. As you might have inferred from the title, it’s all about a bunch of people scaling the highest mountain in the world (with disastrous consequences!), thus allowing it to slot in nicely alongside other man-versus-nature’s-terrible-wrath efforts like The Perfect Storm. But more than that, I was reminded of the likes of Valentine’s Day. Instead of witnessing a diverse range of characters weave a tapestry of interlocking love stories, we instead see a collection of rich white dudes make a series of terrible decisions which embroil them in a range of interlocking high-altitude catastrophes

Everest has a lot of problems, most of which are inherent to the setting and can’t easily be solved. All of the characters become an indistinguishable mass of oxygen masks, sunglasses and beards once they reach a certain altitude, and any possibility of telling them apart by accent goes away once they all start slurring due to oxygen deprivation. What dialogue there is tends to be drowned out by howling winds, incredibly trite, or delivered by Keira Knightley attempting an Australian accent clearly honed by years of watching daytime soap operas without really paying attention. But the biggest problem of all is the almost complete absence of drama, with the pacing apparently designed to provide the most accurate possible simulation of the sensation of slowly freezing to death before dying anticlimactically

It’s not a great film, then, but it is at least a good looking one. It’s been filmed with IMAX in mind from the very beginning, and the sweeping vertiginous camerawork adds shot of drama to the whole thing that the narrative just can’t provide. The eponymous mountain is the undisputed star of the show, with the glittering names that make up the rest of the cast either on autopilot (Clarke), in surprisingly small roles (Gyllenhaal) or woefully miscast (Knightley). It’s one of those films that you really have to see on a big screen – or rather it would be, if it weren’t for the existence of the far more sensible option of simply not bothering to see it at all

Our Verdict: 4/10

Review – Irrational Man

Stars: Joaquin Phoenix, Emma Stone, Parker Posey
Director: Woody Allen
Certificate: 12A (much alcohol is consumed)
Running Time: 96 mins
Release Date: 11th September 2015

The campus of a fancy east coast college is abuzz about the arrival of new philosophy professor Abe Lucas (Phoenix), with the excitement split roughly equally between those who value his genius and others more concerned with the rumours of a many splendoured sex life. The reality is somewhat underwhelming, as Abe turns out to be a pot-bellied, impotent alcoholic with little in the way of academic substance, such a lack of joie de vivre that he uses Russian Roulette as a teaching aid. Even being the object of the affections of both wide-eyed student Jill (Stone) and bored chemistry teacher Rita (Posey) can do little to raise his spirits. That is, until a chance encounter in a coffee shop gives him new purpose in life, as he sets out to commit the perfect murder

The central concept is a good one, with Phoenix’s character finally finding a practical application for his philosophical musings as he self-justifies the murder of one perfect stranger that might improve the life of another. It’s possibly the first instance in history where commit a heinous crime has made someone a better person, and the philosophical knots that Abe ties himself in to rationalise things are great to watch

Slightly less great to watch, unfortunately, are the principal female characters. Both Stone and Posey are swept off their feet with an ease that doesn’t so much border on cliché as it does forcefully seize control of cliché’s territory using a fleet of tanks. Even after recognising him as a quite ludicrously flawed human being, they continue to hang upon his every word because he’s the sort of smouldering, complicated genius that Woody Allen clearly believes he himself would be in Phoenix’s body. Stone’s character even goes so far as to self-identify as being the cliched student who falls for their college professor, which if anything makes it worse. The central murder plot would be every bit as interesting without any of it, but apparently Allen saw yet another opportunity to pair up a leading man with a much younger actress and just couldn’t help himself

It’s a mixed bag, is Irrational Man, but the talented cast and fun central theme do enough to tip it firmly into “watchable” territory

Our Verdict: 6/10

Review – The Bad Education Movie

Stars: Jack Whitehall, Iain Glen, Joanna Scanlan
Director: Elliott Hegarty
Certificate: 15 (an unusual obsession with testicles)
Running Time: 91 mins
Release Date: 21st August 2015

The Bad Education Movie should come with a Game of Thrones spoiler warning. The fact that Iain Glen is starring in the feature-length spinoff of an at best moderately popular BBC3 comedy show is a pretty strong indication that the Ser Jorah Mormont paycheques dry up pretty early on in season 6

The film, which should under no circumstances be confused with the similarly-named 2004 Almovador flick, tells the tale of a school trip gone wrong. Teacher Alfie Wickers (Jack Whitehall, who also bravely puts his name to the writing) takes his class of 16-year-olds to Cornwall, where they visit the Eden Project, appreciate some cultural highlights, and accidentally embroil themselves in a separatist uprising (led by Glen). The plot, such as it is, is little more than a frame upon which to hang a succession of jokes which the producers of Porkies rejected for being a bit on the juvenile side

Credit where it’s due – I laughed twice during The Bad Education Movie, and neither of the jokes in question were spoiled by the trailer. One about the downsides of investing in art, and another about the etymology of the name “Gay Colin” (may not have been Colin, I wasn’t concentrating all that hard). That’s twice as many times as Get Hard and an infinite number of times as many as Unfinished Business, but still leaves it with roughly the same laugh:hour ratio that you’d expect from a Second World War drama or chick flick involving terminal illness rather than a comedy film. The rest of the mercifully brief runtime is not so much scripted as it is brainstormed, apparently consisting of a series of ideas that came up in a “what do idiots find inherently funny?” meeting thrown indiscriminately at the screen

Sex toys. One-legged strippers. Swan-teabagging. Laxatives. Using hallucinogens in the Anne Frank museum. Jack Whitehall’s scrotum. No effort has gone into crafting jokes, you’re just expected to laugh at these things. Which is fine if you’re the sort of person who is capable of dong that, but I’d expect that it restricts the potential audience of the film to an even greater extent than basing it on a TV show which spent 19 inglorious episodes ghettoised on the BBC’s red-headed stepchild of a youth channel. The first Inbetweeners movie showed that cult televisual appeal could translate into big screen success, but it also showed that having at least some amount of wit was an important part of that. It’s natural for that sort of success to inspire imitators, but watching Bad Education didn’t bring The Inbetweeners to mind at all. It reminded me of when American Pie was a big hit, so big that it inspired the existence of Freddie Got Fingered

Our Verdict: 2/10

New on DVD and Blu-ray – 10th August 2015

Apologies for the late arrival of this regular Sunday piece. Fantastic Four temporarily made me lose the will to write

Pick of the Week

Timbuktu (12)

Why it’s our pick of the week: An acclaimed drama and future pub quiz answer, Timbuktu is the first ever film from Mauritania to be nominated for a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. The tale of Jihadi oppression absolutely cleaned up at France’s prestigious Cesar Awards

And, well, it was always going to be Pick of the Week when you see what it’s up against…

Best of the Rest

Get Hard (15) A strong contender for worst film of the year, in a year which saw the release of a Paul Blart: Mall Cop sequel. Read our full review here
The Water Diviner (15) Russell Crowe directs Russell Crowe playing Russell Crowe, in this tale of an Australian farmer who travels to the battlefields of Gallipoli to retrieve the bodies of his dead sons
Dear White People (15) Satire about four black students at an overwhelmingly white Ivy League college, for which the word ‘inoffensive’ is both an accurate description and something of a failing
Robot Overlords (15) B-movie from the Snakes on a Plane school of movie titling. Starring Sir Ben Kingsley, unbelievably enough
Run All Night (15) The latest entry in the burgeoning “Liam Neeson punching things” genre. Can’t possibly be as bad as Taken 3
3 Nights in the Desert (15) Coming-of-age drama – specifically, the age of 30 – starring three friends who spend, you guessed it, three nights in the desert
A Second Chance (15) Danish drama with Game of Thrones‘ Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as a father confronted with some difficult choices
Age of the Dead (18) Shockingly bad cannibal virus horro
Big Driver (15) Stephen King adaptation about an author (Mario Bello) who seeks revenge after a brutal attack
Cottage Country (15) Canadian comedy which opens with a man accidentally committing an axe murder, and just gets funnier from there
Dark Horse (15) Film4-backed darling of the festival circuit, telling the story of a Maori ex-gang member who finds a way to give back to his community
Everly (18) Violent Selma Hayek-based thriller which only hit cinemas last month, but secured a quick DVD debut thanks to a limited and financially underwhelming cinema release – it took just £160 at UK box offices
Glassland (15) Gritty, Dublin-based human trafficking drama with Toni Collette and rumoured future Pennywise Will Poulter
It’s All So Quiet (12) Dutch drama film which has left me with a shit-awful Bjork song stuck in my head. Unforgivable
Les Combattants (15) French comedy-drama – known by the marvellous title of Love at First Fight in the USA – which tells the story of a man who falls for a doomsday prepper
She’s Funny That Way (15) Screwball comedy about the intertwined lives of the cast of a Broadway play – all of Birdman‘s smugness with none of the visual flair
Sinister House (18) Low budget horror of the week! Three sisters hide out in a house haunted by their dead parents, at which point predictable horror shenanigans ensue
Snow in Paradise (18) British drama dealing with tough subjects like drug addiction, gang violence and a conversion to Islam. And snow, presumably. Though that may just be referring to the drugs
Station to Station (12) Bold experiment which takes the ‘portmanteau film’ genre to its logical conclusion, stringing together 60-plus one-minute films into a single coherent whole. Well, a single whole anyway
The Burning (15) Gael Garcia Bernal stars as a Rambo-esque folk hero who metes out jungle-based justice against some evil mercenaries. Specifically, a Rambo III-esque hero
The Night Crew (15) Thriller featuring the incredibly promising cast of Danny Trejo, Luke Goss and Jason Mewes. It’s what it’s promising that’s the problem

Review – Fantastic Four

Stars: Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Bell
Director: Josh Trank
Certificate: 12A (one scene involving exploding heads)
Running Time: 100 mins
Release Date: 6th August 2015

I’ll cut straight to the chase on this one – Fantastic Four is not a very good film. More than that, it is a not very good film which has the word “fantastic” in it’s title, thus automatically subjecting itself to a tired series of one-line “not very fantastic at all!!!!” reviews. I could oh so easily leave it at that, but hey, there are crowds to stand out from

Standing out from the crowd is something that Fantastic Four seems determined to do – necessary, in a world where the average human will watch a new superhero film more times in the next three years than they partake in any form of meaningful human interaction – but goes about it all the wrong way. Everything that it does is laser focused on being more “dark” and “edgy” than your average piece of technicolour MCU entertainment – from the disturbing new context of the phrase “it’s clobbering time” to the actual, literal darkness of the colour palette – but in doing so, they forgot to make any aspect of it even remotely entertaining

Miles Teller plays Richard Reed, a prodigious young scientist who cracks the secret to interdimensional travel while tinkering in his garage. Recruited by a faceless military interest, he builds a working vessel which can catapult himself, talented mechanic Johnny Storm (Michael B. Jordan), genius scientist/obvious bad guy Victor von Doom (Toby Kebbell) and childhood friend Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell). The interdimensional travel is safe but the other dimension isn’t, and a confrontation with some angry green slime leaves Doom stranded and our heroes, plus Sue Storm (Kate Mara), sporting an array of new superpowers. Travelling back to the other dimension in search of a cure, they learn the power of teamwork and defeat Doom, who has been twisted to the way of evil. And that is it, literally everything that happens in a 100-minute movie. The acquisition of superpowers occurs at around the 45-minute mark after an incredibly slow buildup, and our heroes are called upon to use those superpowers to any meaningful effect precisely once

It could be argued that the whole point of the film is franchise setup, and it’s true, maybe a sequel is where we would finally get some payoff after sitting through the exposition, tortured childhoods and training montages that make up 75% of Fantastic Four‘s running time. But sequels only happen if you make sure that the first in a series doesn’t fail quite so hard as Fantastic Four does. What’s more, the characters that such time is taken establishing aren’t even that appealing – Reed is an antisocial, friend-abandoning dick, Johnny is a hotheaded stereotype, Grimm had roughly as much business undertaking interdimensional travel as Steve Buscemi did landing on an asteroid in Armageddon, and Sue barely has any defining character traits at all beyond a fondness for 90s indie music

Victor von Doom is a similarly hopeless antagonist. For one thing, having a name like Victor von Doom marks him out as the bad guy from the second he’s introduced – even viewers with no familiarity with the comics probably have enough of a basic comprehension of the English language to figure that one out. His supervillain appearance looks like a cheap Halloween costume; like someone wanted to dress as Shodan from System Shock 2 and did their best by spraying some luminous green paint onto a mannequin. It’s not the only weirdly cheap-looking aspect of a $120m movie – Sue Storm’s flying motion is weirdly stilted, the 7-foot rock monster that is the Thing walks with all the impact and heft of a 5′ 7″ actor in a green leotard, and the supposedly baffling, new alternate dimension they all travel to is a straightforward cross between the Mojave desert through an Instagram filter and something out of the original series of Star Trek

It’s difficult to come up with anything positive to say about Fantastic Four. I can’t recall a single smart line of dialogue, spectacular action shot or worthwhile character. It moves so slowly that there’s barely anything in the 100-minute running time, and what’s there is pretty much uniformly not worth the price of admission

Wait, there was one thing – they test the interdimensional travel machine by sending a chimp through first. Give the chimp some superpowers and his own spinoff movie, and all is forgiven. So, only a waste of 98 minutes of your life

Our Verdict: 3/10


Top 5 – number fives

After Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation unexpectedly bucked the trend established by Terminator Genisys and A Good Day to Die Hard of fourth sequels being underwhelming – and, perhaps not unrelatedly, bucked the trend of fourth sequels starring Jai Courtney – we’re looking back at the other number fives which have actually been worth watching over the years

X-Men: First Class

Sandwiched between an underwhelming Wolverine spin-off and a downright terrible Wolverine spinoff, the fifth entry in the X-Men canon was easily the best since X2 and worthy of consideration as a choice for the best in the series overall. A strong plot, a great cast capable of continuing the series well into Sir Ian McKellen’s dotage, and capable direction from Kingsman‘s Matthew Vaughn are among the resons why the series is still going strong after the missteps that were The Last Stand and Origins: Wolverine

Fast Five

The fifth entry in Vin Diesel’s popular series of feature length hip-hop videos marked the point where it went from being a series of street races rigorously obeying the law of diminishing returns, and started to become the ridiculous, overblown and immensely fun box office phenomenon that it is today. It also marked the first appearance of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, establishing what appears to be a direct correlation between the number of muscular bald men on screen and box office success. Fast and Furious 8 starts filming next year, adding Randy Couture, Michael Chiklis, Grant Mitchell and a steroidally enhanced Telly Savalas to the cast in order to rake in box office takings of all the money in the world

You Only Live Twice

You can argue over the relative cinematic merits of Sean Connery’s fifth outing as Ian Fleming’s debonair killing machine until the cows come home, but just look at what it contributed to the popular culture lexicon. Evil bases inside hollowed-out volcanoes. Pools of pirhana. Blofeld. Borderline incomprehensible schemes involving rockets. Indirectly, Robbie Williams’ “Millennium”. Roughly 80% of the jokes in the Austin Powers movies. 100% of the good jokes in the Austin Powers movies. It’s not the best Bond, but it’s right up there with Goldfinger as the most iconic

The Dead Pool

Clint Eastwood’s fifth outing as “Dirty” Harry Callahan is perhaps more interesting as a time capsule of 80s filmmaking than it is as an actual film, featuring, as it does, a pre-fame Jim Carrey, cameos from the five original members of Guns ‘n’ Roses while they were still talking to eachother, and one of the silliest San Francisco car chases you’re likely to see any time soon. Exploding remote control cars!

The Empire Strikes Back

Yeah, that’s exactly the kind of cheating we need to resort to in order to fill out the list. We all know that this was the second of George Lucas’s epic space operas, but there’s a great big roman numeral five in the title so that’s good enough for me. Already widely regarded as one of the finest sequels ever made, the drama exploring the dark secret at the heart of the Skywalker family looks even better when you think of it as the fifth entry in a franchise which was largely pretty crap for it’s first three films

What are your favourites and what have we missed? Let us know in the comments!

New on DVD and Blu-ray – 3rd August 2015

Pick of the Week

White God (15)

Why it’s our pick of the week: Sometimes, things like plot and dialogue aren’t the most important things in a film. Sometimes, you’ve just got to watch something that involved closing off parts of Budapest, setting a cast of hundreds of dogs free, and filming the results. Hungary’s official submission for the 2015 Best Foreign Language Film Oscar did exactly that, and the results are truly something to behold

Best of the Rest

Good Kill (15) If you saw American Sniper and found it to be a somewhat one-sided take on the War on Terror, watching Good Kill immediately afterwards might be a good way of restoring some form of political balance. Ethan Hawke stars as a former fighter pilot restricted to piloting unmanned drones from an air conditioned shed in Nevada, when he’d much rather be flying planes on the other side of the world, far away from family problems. Read our full review here
Insurgent (12A) The second film of the Divergent series suffers badly from Second Film of the Series Syndrome, doing enough to advance the overall plot towards a finale without ever really delivering anything satisfying of it’s own. Kate Winslet’s cartoon villainy and Shailene Woodley’s all-round woodenness don’t really help matters. Read our full review here
The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water (U) The world’s most famous sponge goes live action for the first time to bring down a nefarious pirate (Antonio Banderas) who has stolen a secret krabby patty recipe. Featuring all the trademark randomness you would expect
Seventh Son (12A) One of the biggest flops of the year so far, a film that some suspected would do for Julianne Moore’s Oscar hopes what Jupiter Ascending did for Eddie Redmayne’s. Which, in a way, I suppose it did. Fantasy nonsense also starring Jeff Bridges
Woman in Gold (12A) Drama based on a true story, with Helen Mirren as an ageing Jewish refugee attempting to reclaim an artwork that was stolen by the Nazis many years earlier
A Haunting at Cypress Creek (18) Low budget horror of the week!, known as Lake Fear in other territories. Starring the magnificently-named Shanon Snedden
American Heist (15) Heist movie filmed predominantly in Canada. I’m not even joking. Stars Hayden Christiensen, and echoes the template of every one-last-big-score story ever made
Conjuring the Dead (15) A woman experiences visions of nightmarish evil when she arrives in a small Welsh village. Should have read the reviews on TripAdvisor first, really
Cub (15) Odd Belgian-made horror about a boy scout who encounters a monster
Echoes (15) You know what, I’m just going to write “low budget horror” as the description for everything from now on. These lists would still be at least 50% accurate
Teen Beach 2 (U) Disney’s latest attempt to recapture the lightning-in-a-bottle popularity of High School Musical. It’s not looking good
The Carrier (18) John Cusack stars in the title role, as a man who must carry a bag without opening it. Making things slightly more difficult than it sounds are hordes of criminals who want whatever it is that’s in the bag. Also starring a few of the remaining shreds of Robert De Niro’s artistic credibility