Will Idris Elba be Bond? Can he out-Bond Bond? Can Idris Elbond Bond the Bond Bond? Everyone's obsession with Idris becoming the next 007 (give it up - he's not too black, he's too old) has led to this film being treated like it’s his audition for the role just because he waves a gun around and runs about for a bit. And if it were that easy, they would have cast Elmer Fudd years ago. No, we need to treat this film on its own terms: as a slightly-better-than-generic action thriller with hilariously out-of-touch opinions about how social media works.
OFFICIAL SYNOPSIS: Another calendar date anthology film from director Garry Marshall sees the lives of four lovable singletons intersect as they search for love on the celebratory streets of Paris, against the backdrop of terrorist attacks and civil unrest. Tonight there's going to be fireworks!
Will they... will they be singing? The 1967 classic animation is so embedded in the public consciousness that it's difficult to know what to expect from this live-action retelling. What will the life-like animals look like when they talk? Will Mowgli look just like cartoon Mowgli? Will Baloo at any point wear coconut shells and a hula skirt? And what of the songs? Those legendary earworms so infectious that it's going to be hard not to resort to punning references throughout this entire review? Thankfully, Jon Favreau delivers a film that is just as wonderful and captivating as that original classic, and he does so by concentrating on the bare n-... the basics. He concentrates on the basics.
How many movies make up a renaissance? Without getting too hung up on terminology, I'm interested how we categorise, rank and file nascent movies - the age of this, the era of that etc. When does a hot streak cool into something of more substance? I only ask because Zootropolis is the latest in an increasingly long line of movies from Walt Disney Animation Studios that can rightfully call itself a classic. If you start with 2010's Tangled (and discount the still rather delightful 2011 Winnie The Pooh kiddy pic), that streak also includes Wreck-It Ralph, Frozen and Big Hero 6, all movies with iconic characters, impressively progressive agendas, humour and heart. Shouldn't we be talking about this decade's body of Disney in more grandiose terms? Zootropolis represents the apex of Disney's sparkling Digital Age; a blissfully beautiful, adventurous and charismatic movie that's typical of the studio of late.
Isn't it nice that superhero movies don't feel the need to take themselves seriously any more? Even Thor, the superhero with the most potential to be a massive space ponce, is – for want of a better word – smashing it. The Dark Knight trilogy was brooding and brilliant, no one is disputing that, but now that Batman has been put to bed, it feels like the real fun can begin. Marvel are on a hot-streak (if you ignore Iron Man 2, Incredible Hulk and shut up) and their Thor sequel sees that string of hits continue; The Dark World arrives in the same vein as Avengers Assemble and Iron Man 3 i.e. laden with lots of fun, lots of laughs and so much charisma that even the minor characters matter. Who'd have thought a throwaway interaction between Thor and Kat Dennings' comic relief Darcy would end up being the funniest exchange of the movie?
Pacific Rim isn't a monster movie. Don't let the presence of giant man-made robots fighting gigantic hellbeasts fool you. What Guillermo del Toro has done with Pacific Rim is what no other filmmaker has done in the creature feature genre for decades – take a bona fide B-movie concept with a triple-A budget and make it matter. In just a few minutes of pre-credits back-story, del Toro paints a picture of a changed world that hangs in the balance: the arrival of 25,000 tonne monsters from another dimension, the cities that fell, humanity's response, the inevitable false dawn when we started winning. That neat set-up acts as a pre-bout bell ring, but when Jaeger eventually meets Kaiju on the Pacific Rim battlefield, it doesn't feel like a mere monster movie – it feels like a goddamn war film.
For all the talk of Prometheus "sharing the same DNA" as Alien, Ridley Scott's prequel doesn't bear much family resemblance to its granddaddy. The economy of horror that served his 1979 effort so well is replaced by a big-budget, star-gazing sci-fi that wants you to know it has size on its side. Hugely ambitious and staggering in its grand designs, Prometheus is almost hamstrung by the fact it is an Alien movie at all – the mishmash of grotesque body-horror and chin-stroking existentialism does not always make for the most coherent movie, but it is at least an entertaining one and certainly no black mark on the franchise.