Since I don’t get to the cinema to see new releases that often anymore, this is my new weekly feature reviewing the latest releases on Sky Cinema Premiere (and in turn, Now TV). I will write a short review and rating for each of the films that I have watched and then give you the details for the ones that I didn’t get a chance to see.
This week’s feature sees the release of Peter Rabbit, Avengers: Infinity War, Rampage, Thoroughbreds, A Wrinkle In Time, Ferdinand, and Proud Mary.
24th December – Peter Rabbit
Synopsis: In this big screen adaptation of Beatrix Potter’s classic fable, the rebellious rabbit finds himself up against a new young farmer who is determined to stop Peter and his sisters from raiding his vegetable patch.
Director: Will Gluck
Cast: James Corden, Domhnall Gleeson, Rose Byrne, Daisy Ridley, Sam Neill, and Margot Robbie
Review: Peter Rabbit and Beatrix Potter were some of my favourite stories when I was little and I’m so glad that he has become popular again, as I now have a two-year-old who I can enjoy films like this with. I wasn’t particularly excited about this film. I thought that they were just using Peter Rabbit’s name for the sake of it and that it was going to be just like any other animation that James Corden voices these days.
But I loved this. There’s a lot of slapstick and doesn’t completely feel true to Potter’s characters, but it’s a whole lot of fun. Corden actually does a great job and Rose Byrne and Domhnall Gleeson are great company for the exuberant bunny. The animation is also flawless and completely shows up the recent Watership Down adaptation that was aired on BBC One this Christmas.
25th December – Avengers: Infinity War
Synopsis: The third Avengers ensemble film and the nineteenth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Avengers: Infinity War sees The Avengers and The Guardians of the Galaxy come together for the ultimate, deadliest showdown of all time. These new superhero allies have to sacrifice everything in an attempt to prevent the powerful Thanos from amassing the all-powerful Infinity Stones before his blitz of devastation and ruin puts an end to the universe.
Directors: Anthony and Joe Russo
Cast: Robert Downey Jr, Chris Hemsworth, Benedict Cumberbatch, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Pratt, Scarlett Johansson, Tom Holland, Josh Brolin, and Chris Evans
Review: There are superhero films that struggle to work with only four or five characters. There are superhero films that struggle to focus on just one. Somehow, Avengers: Infinity War manages to work incredibly well with over 20 of them. And it does this on various different planets and with the introduction of new characters, all without feeling like we are constantly being thrown new information that we don’t have time to take in or find difficult to place. Not once did I question what was going on or who somebody was, which is very rare for a film focusing on so many characters. For that, Infinity War cannot be faulted.
26th December – Rampage
Synopsis: Special forces grunt-turned-primatologist Davis Okoye goes ape when he discovers his pet gorilla George has been infected by the fall-out from a shady government experiment. Soon, George – along with other animals including a wolf and a crocodile/warthog cross – is growing out of control to such a scale that they threaten whole cities, specifically Chicago. Davis is on the only man who can talk George down.
Director: Brad Peyton
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Naomie Harris, Malin Akerman, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Jake Lacy, and Joe Manganiello
Review: I’m a sucker for Dwayne Johnson films these days. Usually, they’re so cheesy and over-the-top but they still have great action, so they kind of work. This one doesn’t so much. Very little stands out about this science fiction action, even the gigantic albino ape. It’s just very basic and unexciting, lacking any laughs that would make you think, “Okay, you got me!”
27th December – Thoroughbreds
Synopsis: Suburban college girls Lily and Amanda forge a twisted alliance to murder Lily’s hated stepfather, Mark, whose money allows her and her widowed mother to live in well-heeled Connecticut. To carry out the killing, they cultivate Tim, a small-time dealer and registered sex offender.
Director: Cory Finley
Cast: Anya Taylor-Joy, Olivia Cooke, Paul Sparks, Anton Yelchin, and Kaili Vernoff
Review: If there were two young actors from the past year in film that I could choose to hang out with, it would be Olivia Cooke and Anya Taylor-Joy. I imagine this is exactly how our hanging out would go. Those two are very convincing. They both give great performances in this and there’s always something likeable about two messed up but intensely likeable characters hating on the world and plotting their revenge. It’s also great to see the last role from Anton Yelchin. Still, there’s something missing from this to make me want to watch it more than once.
28th December – A Wrinkle In Time
Synopsis: Based on Madeleine L’Engle’s fantastical 1962 book, teenager Meg Murry launches a bold quest to find her father who disappeared four years earlier, just as he thought he’d conquered space travel. She’s helped by a trio of other-worldly overseers – Mrs Which, Mrs Whatsit and Mrs Who.
Director: Ava DuVernay
Cast: Storm Reid, Chris Pine, Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, and Zach Galifianakis
Review: I remember reading a lot of negative reviews around the time of this film’s release, with many commenting on how messy the storyline was. But considering that this is a children’s film, I thought that it was more than interesting. The visuals are stunning, the cast is eccentric and fun, and it will certainly entertain younger audiences with the notion that anything is possible. It’s full of fantasy and adventure, but I do think that the message gets lost somewhere along the way,
29th December – Ferdinand
Synopsis: A beefy tale of a bull with a big heart, who is taken away from his Spanish ranch following an unfortunate incident involving a bee. Deemed a danger to the public, friendly Ferdinand must somehow escape the matadorial mafia before being skewered in the name of entertainment. He’s helped by wise old goat Lupe and a trio of nutty hedgehogs – Una, Dos and Cuatro.
Director: Carlos Saldanha
Voice Cast: John Cena, Kate McKinnon, Gina Rodriguez, Daveed Diggs, Gabriel Iglesias, and Bobby Cannavale
Review: For some reason, I thought that this was a Disney film so I was thinking that it was a pretty poor film compared to their usual efforts. But actually, as a Twentieth Century Fox Animation, it’s a great standard for them. There’s not much emotion in this family animation, but it is beautifully animated and the adventure is delightfully told. It was certainly a pleasant surprise, but it just doesn’t live up to other animation studios who always offer so much more.
30th December – Proud Mary
Synopsis: Mary is a hit woman working for an organized crime family in Boston whose life is completely turned around when she meets a young boy whose path she crosses when a professional hit goes bad.
Director: Babak Najafi
Cast: Taraji P Henson, Billy Brown, Jahi Di’Allo Winston, Neal McDonough, Margaret Avery, and Xander Berkeley