This is the first month of the year that I didn’t manage to see five films at the cinema. Disappointing yes, but surprising, no. If I make three in the following months of the year, I’ll be impressed. Anyway, welcome to another edition of my monthly favourites! As summer winds down, some of the final summer smashes were released, though I skipped a certain Arnie picture. Here’s how my cinema trips this month panned out:
For all its well timed humour and talented acting talent, Ant-Man has too many flaws to prevent it shrinking into mediocrity. For one, Ant-Man’s villain simply feels half-baked. Darren Cross, who creates Yellowjacket (an Ant-Man rip-off), fails to hold the gravitas of power or situation to ever feel a considerable threat. His appearance in his insect suit may look very sleek, but this is as far as Yellowjacket impresses. This weakness forces set-pieces take over the latter scenes in an attempt to cover over the lack of tension between our hero and villain. Perspective puns and size shifts are liberally enforced to bring some originality to the superhero genre, but as much as they are enjoyable to see, fail to truly thrill.
Simply, Ant-Man is the latest in a long line of Marvel films following the same playbook, and pails in comparison to its predecessors.
3. Slow West
It isn’t often in the modern era that we get a film such as Slow West. It is certainly a comedy masquerading as a Western, and an impressive one at that. Smit-McPhee’s fresh-faced optimism is a strikingly comic contrast to the wandering, smoldering Fassbender. The relationship of young buck/old stallion follows the classic mentee/mentor tracks, but feels fresh in this beautifully-scored picture. In this very impressive film, Smit-McPhee has surely shown that he can hold the screen as a solid secondary star, whilst Fassbender again delights.
Rogue Nation succeeds through its protagonist. Whilst this is by no means Cruise’s most compelling performance, Ethan Hunt continues to be a strong and adequate lead character. Cruise brings a natural importance to the character that even one unacquainted with the franchise could immediately feel. Also, the comic centre in Rogue Nation is the returning Simon Pegg, who again fails to disappoint, whilst Rebecca Ferguson looks a star in the making.
Rogue Nation follows the Mission: Impossible tradition of including outlandish stunts, performed by Cruise himself, to get audiences talking and bums on seats. The heavily-advertised plane stunt is performed to open the film with a bang but Rogue Nation never dares to rely on such remarkable visuals. Such moments act as checkpoints on the trail of the story, but never supersede the importance of developing the plot.
Rogue Nation soars thanks to its big bucks, it is the ambition and commitment to story and character development that leaves it top of the pile of this year’s summer action-ers.
1. Inside Out
Sometime Disney are too brilliant for their own good. Almost everything about Inside Out is infused with charm, emotion, jovality, sadness and, most importantly of all, a keen sense of humanity. These feelings are thanks to the main focus of Disney & Pixar’s latest offering: Feelings.
Inside Out‘s story of a young-girl, Riley, growing up feels universally reflective, even if it’s rose-tinted tale tells of a white, middle-class girl with big blue eyes. This universality comes from the emotions house-sharing her mind. In a montage we are granted a peek into all types of mind and, be it in the grumpy bus driver or the hungry hound, everyone and thing has their own Joy, Sadness, Anger, Disgust and Fear. They are all alike and unalike simultaneously, which is the cornerstone of the human condition. For Inside Out to make such a clear point of this is a brave and poignant choice.
Inside Out isn’t the ‘Pixar Perfection’ some have branded it as, but it ticks all the boxes and more. Genuine tears will flow and belly-laughs will erupt as SNL-alumni Poehler and Hader litter the picture with their trademark humours. An average story does the characters justice, without sending them to infinity and beyond.
You’ve got a friend in Inside Out.
Let me know if you agree in the comments below!
Header images courtesy of EW, studentedge, telegraph and forbes. Other images courtesy of forbes, EM, askmen and Jem Ward.