With Disney execs (quite rightly) guessing that they can slap a Marvel logo on pretty much anything right now and still make hundreds of millions at the box office, a risky attempt at drama from Jonah Hill and James Franco, and some frankly iffy looking indie films, this week probably won’t go down in history as one that defines the year or anything. Even so, there’s undoubtedly a nice range of choice, two horror films (yes, Thomas the Tank Engine counts), an Oscar nominated documentary, and everything in between.
The big-cheese, headline event of any week in cinema will more often than not be taken by Disney and their sprawling MCU, and this week is no different, with this summer’s superhero sized hole being filled by Ant-Man. “Who?” you cry – the honest answer is that I’m not sure. He can shrink himself, I think. Anyway, the jury’s out as to whether this could be the first MCU film to flop. Starring Paul Rudd, and directed by Peyton Reed rather than Edgar Wright (who left during pre-production), the film is released on Friday.
Another film aiming high this week, True Story will probably end up losing out to Ant-Man at the box office just because of Disney’s indomitable marketing department. Starring Jonah Hill and James Franco in (wait for it) serious dramatic roles, the film follows a disgraced reporter and the murderer who has stolen his identity. Though both Hill and Franco have displayed dramatic pedigree before (see Moneyball and 127 Hours), they don’t have the safety blanket of acclaimed directors or co-stars to fall back on here, and coupled with a plot that could easily slip into the ridiculous, True Story looks to be the second potentially shaky film of the week when it releases on Friday.
With the big-hitters of the week out the way, we can turn to smaller films. The first of these is Self/less, starring Ryan Reynolds and Ben Kingsley. The film is another in a long line trying to reinvent the idea of the transferrable consciousness, forgoing the whole upload-my-brain-to-a-computer nonsense for the much more sensible stick-my-brain-in-someone-else’s-body. Needless to say, the film has performed poorly at the American box office, and has been largely panned by critics. Still, that shouldn’t stop you from going to see it when it comes out on Friday.
Among this week’s offerings is also The Salt of the Earth, one of the films nominated for Best Documentary at the 87th Academy Awards. A Brazilian-French film, winner of the Special Prize in the Un Certain Regard section of Cannes 2014, the film portrays the works of Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado as he embarks on a journey across the globe in an attempt to capture the beauty of the natural world. It receives a limited release on Friday.
If sumptuously shot documentaries aren’t quite your thing, Friday also sees the release of The Gallows, a found-footage horror movie. Once you’ve gotten past the daring originality such a film must present, prepare yourself for a nauseating, unfocused descent into the reason that horror is the most polarising film genre as tropes, clichés, jump-scares and contrived plots roll out in the most formulaic of ways (I haven’t actually seen this film, it could be quite good, this is all conjecture).
Wrapping up our week of film is something for the kids in the form of Thomas & Friends: Sodor’s Lost Treasure (try getting a five year-old to be excited about that title). Assuming that Sodor is like a train version of Game of Thrones’ Hodor makes this seem like a potentially genius piece of cinema, but there is a slim chance that this isn’t the case, so be wary going in. With a voice-cast including Eddie Redmayne, John Hurt, and Olivia Colman, the film might actually sound okay. It will still be plagued by the genuinely terrifying dead-eyed, psychopathic-looking sentient trains though. It’s all give-and-take.