At two hours and 11 minutes, The Scorch Trials should have been a pretty meaty filler in the YA sandwich that is Maze Runner. But like its stablemates The Hunger Games and Divergent, once all the scene-setting and introduction to the new dystopian world has been done, we're just trying to munch straight through to the good stuff. Scorch Trials is basically a big block of cheese you can't quite sink your teeth into, but there's a promise of an interesting chutney coming up, or some particularly nice bread. It's a bit bland and won't leave you particularly hungry for more.
It’s no great revelation to say that biopics, by their nature, are fundamentally flawed. Unless somebody’s life follows a perfect three-act structure, unless the subjects really are two-dimensional models of greatness, and unless any number of indiscretions or inaccuracies can be overlooked without raising too many eyebrows, then biopics tend to fall into the viewing equivalent of the uncanny valley. While all of these still apply to Legend, the film makes up for it with one brilliantly simple decision: to treat the Krays like completely ridiculous, larger-than-life, cartoonish characters of fiction. And it’s probably safe to say that they are so much more fun that way.
So where the Transporter series once ran on the balding bad-assery of Jason Statham, now it has been 'refuelled' with... what, exactly? New action hero Ed Skrein - a former Game Of Thrones
extra - is hardly a nitrous gas boost worthy of such a title boast, is he? He isn't even fit to be called the Super Unleaded Stath. Surely, the 'refuelled' Transporter is only something to get excited about if the titular role was played by someone like franchise viagara Dwayne Johnson, who can provide extra lead in Frank Martin's pencil/engine. Or, wait, I've got it! Vin Diesel
! Aw, c'mon. That would be perfect. What do I win?
Online discourse being what it is, the announcement of a reboot or remake is usually greeted with dread and resentment. It's sacrilege. Why can't they just leave it alone? How can a woman possibly carry a proton pack? But this ignores the recent evidence that Hollywood has now got the cheat codes for 'repurposing'. Jurassic World
, The Equalizer
: respect the original property but make something of its own hue. You have nothing to fear from reboots except a Kevin James Uncle Buck, so make your way with confidence to see Vacation.
The action hero has come a long way since the 60s. Once calm, unobtainable specimens of perfection have gradually morphed into tough, emotionally closed anti-heroes, and then into testosterone-fuelled musclemen, and now they're flawed and troubled characters in touch with their - ugh - feelings
. Superheroes are forever in search of their own life purpose (the clue is in the word 'superhero', guys), lone wolf cops have money worries, even Tom Cruise is now contractually obligated to have his character make at least one mistake in his movies. And James Bond cries now. He actually cries. So call it an adaptation, a rehash, another unoriginal concept in a Hollywoodland bereft of creativity, or whatever - The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is still one of the most refreshing action films you'll see this year.
Bel Powley is a very arresting and idiosyncratic actor, so expect to see her playing a superhero's girlfriend pretty soon. For now though, here she is in a fairly straightforward yarn about a teenage girl who has a bunch of sex. It has some good visual ideas and does a nice line in chiding you for forgetting the seediness of its main relationship, but none of this quite elevates it above a decent watch.
The old Fantastic Four
films from 10 years ago are an embarrassment, aren’t they? All kid-friendly colours and CGI slapstick; they might as well be cartoons. It’s great then, that this – say it with me – gritty reboot
finally aims to give comics’ First Family the big-screen outing they deserve. A film that treats Stretchy Man, Rock Guy, Fire Boy and Invisi-Girl with due reverence and respect. A film that takes a realistic approach to dimension-hopping science and explores the seriousness of.. oh god, no, I can’t do it. Come back, Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans and, yes even you, Michael Chiklis’ foam fatsuit. All is forgiven.
One of the many questions that spring to mind while watching Pixels - such as "Why doesn't any of this make any sense?" and "What would it take for Adam Sandler's tired Deputy Dawg face to register an iota of genuine emotion?" - is: Who is this film supposed to be for? As a PG movie packed full of fairly obscure 80s references, you can only assume that its core audience is nostalgic parents who won't mind it when, on the journey home afterwards, their child takes a brief pause from unpacking the latest expansion kit for their favourite immersive online RPG to ask: "What's a Donkey Kong?"
We've all seen the list of Pixar's story concepts throughout the years, right? 1995: What if toys had feelings, 1998: What if bugs had feelings, etc until we get to the Inside Out punchline: What if feelings had feelings? It's an apt joke, not just because you can imagine that this formula for success was actually decided years ago in a boardroom somewhere, but because Inside Out really does feel like the ultimate Pixar film. In terms of fun, emotion, gags and - yes - cries, Inside Out meets the very best of what the studio has done to date, and it does so within a simple, lovable realisation of an incredibly complicated abstract concept. This really is Pinnacle Pixar.
Posted by Ali Gray
at 16:00 on 24 Jul 2015
Mission: Impossible is the only movie series that's got the measure of franchise fatigue. Some elements remain omnipresent - the star, the stunts, the self-destruction - but with each new M:I instalment helmed by a new director bringing a fresh flavour, it has Bond beat in terms of shelf-life. Rogue Nation, however, is the first entry in the franchise to play it relatively safe, offering a slick and entertaining adventure but one that doesn't feel different enough from Ghost Protocol
- perhaps inevitably, given its predecessor's lofty ambitions, Rogue Nation couldn't ever hope to hit the same heights.