Blue Ruin (15)
This week's most exciting looking film is a revenge tale that looks dark, grim and hopefully thoroughly well told in equal measure.
The film tells the story of an mysterious outsider whose quiet life is turned upside down when he returns to his childhood home to carry out an act of vengeance. He proves himself as an amateur assassin, yet winds up in a brutal fight to protect his estranged family.
The film has been lapping up praise quite widely in critics' circles. Last year it picked up the FIPRESCI International Critics Prize at the Cannes Film Festival where it screened in the Directors' Fortnight.
This is slow, brooding and low-grade yet with high-grade filmmaking bells and whistles blended with the kind of Coen-esque dark comedy and Hitchcockian twitches that would please those of you who don't like to sit easy in the cinema. I'm looking forward to it.
Bad Neighbours (15)
Opening curiously on Saturday (wondering what the distributors' motivation are for this), Bad Neighbours (Neighbors in the States) is the latest comedy starring Seth Rogan. The plot line is effectively the tagline "neighbour versus neighbour" as Rogan and his wife played by Rose Byrne stand off against Franco and Efron in a series of stunts, pranks and frat(ish) meets bro(ish) movie pretentions.
The film looks like being tight, riotous, disgusting and yet pretty clever in its visual comic tricks. If that's your 'shtick', then get to it!
I think it's going to be a success, hopefully for being funny and not for Efron's torso.
Pompeii (3D) (12A)
For anyone who has seen the trailer, Paul W.S Anderson's Pompeii looks a lot like a sort of Gladiator meets Titanic meet Volcano but less substantial. It has that intentional camp and kitsch thing with swords, sandals combined with a cheesy love story and a disaster movie.
Within the tale of Vesuvius's eruption and Pompeii's demise is the story (for what it's worth) of Milo, a slave turned gladiator who finds himself in a race against time to save his true love Cassia, the beautiful daughter of a wealthy merchant who has been unwillingly betrothed to a corrupt Roman Senator. The backdrop of Mount Vesuvius acts as a metaphor for exploding love as Milo seeks out Cassia as Pompeii falls to the ground.
The big question is, should we care, is there enough happening in the story and its characters to warrant the build up to the inevitable 'disaster' movie bit? The other question is that, even from the trailer, it all looks very digital and green screened to the 'nth' degree and that truly detracts from its impact. The retro-fitted 3D will only serve, quite probably, to highlight the film's faux FX and Gladiator-lite tendencies.
On the flip side, I could be wrong. It might be gloriously B-movie and yet know it is, not worry too much about fleshing out character, but revel to an extent in its cheesy elements in a knowingly fun way. Cliché can work or it can flounder disappointingly.
We know Pompeii will fall, but will the movie fall with it?
This British heist (gone wrong) caper is based on a true story (run and hide!) and tells the story of Sam & Fordy, a pair who run a credit card fraud scheme, but when they steal from the wrong man, they find themselves threatened by sadistic gangster. They need to raise £5m and pull off a daring diamond heist to clear their debt.
From London to Miami, this is an intrinsically British film and with a zippy, youthful air, most critics comparing it to an episode of Hustle albeit with young people that you have to care about. Initial critical reaction suggests a mixed affair crediting a cast for trying hard but with material that doesn't match up the film's ambitions. Let's hope to be proven wrong!
Brick Mansions (15)
Welcome to a dystopian Detroit. This film is set amongst abandoned brick mansions which harbour the city's most dangerous criminals. The police construct a containment wall around this area to protect the rest of the city. Our erstwhile hero is an undercover cop, Damien Collier (Paul Walker) who battles against corruption. For Lino (David Belle), every day is a fight to live an honest life. When a drug baron kidnaps Lino's girlfriend, Damien partners with Lino to stop a sinister plot to devastate the entire city.
Cue a buddy movie filled with Parkour style stunts, no doubt due to Belle co-founding the discipline, and the film owes much of its being to that. Like other films out this week, are its ambitions matched by plot and characters that we care about?
The Raid this is definitely not. Yet as with Pompeii, much also depends on whether the film knows itself enough it to be entertaining and fun and silly at the same time, rather than just merely silly. The film is co-written by Luc Besson and directed by Camille Delamarre who has previously been editor to films like Lockout and Taken 2. So, Camille has much form for B-movie action and whether this can matched in directorial skills is open to question.
According to the film's tagline, "the legend starts here"! Read of this what you will.
In this adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs' classic tale, Tarzan and Jane Porter face a mercenary army dispatched by the evil CEO of Greystoke Energies, a man who took over the company from Tarzan's parents, after they died in a plane crash.
With a 25% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, I'm not about to dismiss the film's legendary tag, but when for the past 15 years we have been so spoilt by the standards of Pixar and Dreamworks animation, the big-screen standards are high. When those standards drop, it is always going to be something of a disappointment.
One reviewer from the Scotsman has commented, "If kids are captivated by the slight, over-explained story of Tarzan and Jane versus evil mercenaries, I'll be a monkey's uncle." I know people who'd love to be a monkey's uncle!
Sorry kids, and adults!
Elsewhere this week, be sure to head over to the mac who are showing Lucas Moodyson's latest film, We Are The Best (15), a semi-autobiographical tale of three 13-year old girls who roam the streets who find joy in starting a punk band without any instruments, even though everybody says that punk is dead.
Ok, so that's it for another week. Be sure to send your comments or quibbles to me on twitter @timmy666 and also let me know what films you particularly enjoyed this week
See you next week for more At The Flix.