Top 5: May Favourites

An exam and dissertation combination may have restricted my May cinema trips, but a late rush ensured that I’d have just enough to fill a Top 5. I’d hardly say it was a stellar month of cinema, but as summer dawns we can only hope that brighter shores are on the horizon. Enough introduction, let’s get down to business.

5. Tomorrowland

Image courtesy of trbimg.com

Image courtesy of trbimg.com

For all its promise of a bright future, Tomorrowland brings nothing new. It’s nicey-nice approach to the utopia genre falls somewhat flat due to its lack of inventive premise, engaging character relationships or truly unique ideas. Tomorrowland‘s premise, at its heart, is simply a continuation of Disney’s tried and tested formula. A bright-eyed youth has to change the cynical mind of an aging loner, team up and save the day. Thankfully, Ol’ George is on hand to charm another film to levels it should not reach. His innate charisma is infectious and his presence on screen is always a benefit to the sludging story.

Tomorrowland has a little too much cheese, a drop too much sunshine and is packed overly-full with dramatic lines. A little too much of the past ensures that this vision of the future will be soon forgotten.

★★ 1/2

 

4. Man Up

Image courtesy of tribecafilm.com

Image courtesy of tribecafilm.com

Man Up may have an inexcusably awful title, but it certainly isn’t such an awful film. It manages to poke it’s head out of the pack by transforming into a largely enjoyable and surprisingly witty study of human relationships.

In Man Up‘s first third, one is simply annoyed by the clumsy characters of Lake Bell and Simon Pegg. Bell is her own worst enemy, whilst Pegg’s ego is so over-inflated, its a wonder he doesn’t float away. However, this dynamic soon shifts. The characters develop from mere 2D caricatures into fully-formed three-dimensional human beings. Their bravado and showmanship is replaced by vulnerability and pain, turning the film on its head.

The film starts poorly but certainly improves. On her Twitter page, the Sunday Times’ film critic Camilla Long branded Man Up “the worst film” she’s seen all year. She obviously didn’t catch The Gunman.

★★★

 

 

3. San Andreas

Image courtesy of fatmovieguy.com

Image courtesy of fatmovieguy.com

I wonder if Dwayne Johnson ever gets tired of being so ridiculously awesome? It must be quite a burden. In San Andreas, The Rock is at it again, acting with superhuman strength, unbreakable resolve and resounding bravery. Once again he saves the day, and once again, its earth-shattering entertainment.

San Andreas well acted, well paced and one cannot help but be impressed with the visual frenzy on screen. Two excellent actors breath life into the familiar story-line. In terms of Dwayne Johnson, my feelings on him were made very clear in my Hercules review. He is an action screen-master and rarely fails to enthrall. His casting in San Andreas is like putting a round peg into a round hole; it just fits. Yet it is the heartfelt performance of Paul Giamatti that forces a modicum of emotion into the picture. As the severity of the situation dawns on the ‘quake expert, one can feel his heart-breaking. It is with every essence of his being that he wants to warn of the devastation ahead.

San Andreas may not be a revelatory disaster film but it hardly matters. It is wholly entertaining and one should ask no more from it.

★★★

 

2. Far From the Madding Crowd

Image courtesy of fact.co.uk

Image courtesy of fact.co.uk

Translating a classic from page to screen is never an easy task. Adaptations of A Christmas CarolMoby Dick and Alice in the Wonderland have all failed to set the big screen alight. Therefore, the success of Thomas Vinterberg’s Far from the Madding Crowd should not be understated.

It is an intensely romantic, traditionally charming and strikingly moving adaptation that tugs at the heart-strings (as well as engaging the tear ducts…) An excellent pairing of Carey Mulligan, portraying the wonderfully willful Bathsheba, alongside the rising talent of Matthias Schoenaerts provides a tangible emotional tension.This tension is only exacerbated by the lingering presence of Michael Sheen’s lonesome Mr. Boldwood  and Tom Sturridge’s utterly repulsive Frank Troy.

A film of this quality is a great accomplishment in a project that could have easily fallen flat.

★★★ 1/2

 

1. Mad Max: Fury Road

Image courtesy of youtube

Image courtesy of youtube

Mad Max: Fury Road is relentless. The film rarely allows you a moment’s respite with action sequences as ambitious as they are extensive. The phenomenal stunt work is back with a vengeance, producing countless awe-inspiring moments of human marvel. The film’s action retains the spirit of the original trilogy through its use of its increased speed shots and unyielding destruction. One cannot help but feel gloriously overwhelmed.

The film is essentially a dystopian tale of women’s struggle for freedom. The first real sight of females in Mad Max: Fury Road is in a scanning shot of a group of fuller-figure ladies being unceremoniously milked. The second is as a group of young women depart from a fuel tanker in outfits that would make Adam and Eve blush. Yet Mad Max is finally a big-budget, well-publicised example of writing women well. In Mad Max: Fury Road, the women are written as true equals to their male counterparts. Though the titular character is followed centrally throughout the picture, Tom Hardy’s understated, tempered Max Rockatansky is often secondary to the ensemble of strong, powerful, resilitant females surrounding him. The scantily-clad young women are never placed as eye candy and are rarely sexualised. There is no mistaking these women for mere damsels-in-distress.

If you let Mad Max: Fury Road whisk you away in its thousand-horsepower hurricane then its foot-to-the-floor vehicular madness will leave you endlessly entertained. Fury Road is a masterclass in post-apocalyptic action filmmaking and writing. It is relentless, exhausting and most certainly, Mad.

★★★★ 1/2

 

I hope you enjoyed the read! What did you enjoy most this month? Let me know in the comments below!

 

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