Into The Storm. A Supersized McFlurry.

movies-into-the-storm-posterNormally we are a cerebral Sloth. But even the most intellectual of mammals need, on occasion, to let their metaphorical hair down and indulge in some movie junkfood.  Into The Storm didn’t just let our hair down, it whipped it thrice round our neck and near-on choked us with a supersized, stuffed-crust, McWhopper.

Pete (Matt Walsh) is a stormhunter and documentary filmmaker. He drives around in a tank, as you do, searching out tornadoes. Pete is assisted by hapless weathergirl Allison (Sarah Wayne Callies) who, after months of not even predicting a storm in a teacup, finally reckons she has found a big one. So grumpy Pete and his young cameramen sidekicks dutifully head out towards the melee.

But this isn’t just a big one.  This is THE Big One. A Biblical storm of the most epic proportions, it’s threatening to take out an entire town in one fell swoop. But obviously just taking out a mere town wouldn’t be enough. We need a bigger stakes than that. Luckily, it’s also graduation day at the local high school and every bright eyed, bushy tailed, A-Grade student with a glowing future is a sitting duck in its destructive path…

Let’s get one thing straight.  This is ridiculous. Utter trash. Complete hokum. Seriously, leave all credibility at the door and forget any concerns of character or script. The screening The Sloth attended preceeded with a dramatic and reverent homage to the technical sonic wonder of Dolby Atmos. This is why you are here, for special effects so tremendously, disconcertingly realistic we were scrabbling for our brolly.  Add to this the results of When Techies Go Rogue, creating CGI people getting sucked into burning tornadoes, and you have the ultimate popcorn cheese-fest. Enjoy the sugar rush. Then detox with a triple helping of Bergman.

UK release 20 August. Want more action satisfaction? Try Non-Stop

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Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes. Even More Monkey Business.

dawn_of_the_planet_of_the_apes_poster_a_pWe’re not being funny but has Andy Serkis considered joining one of those stem cell research programmes?  We’re thinking he could farm out a few spare hip cells to grow an ape-Andy, a Gollum-Andy, maybe take a punt on a Wolverine-Andy to sub for Hugh Jackman when he needs a nap between takes.  It’d save him cumulative weeks in hair & make up. Cost-effective for the studios too.  Just a thought.

In Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes, Andy and his all-conquering CGI gimp suit plays Caesar, leader of a band of genetically modified apes.  These are no ordinary monkeys.  Highly intelligent and highly evolved they communicate by sign language, ride horses and Caesar himself even boasts the odd word of spoken English. The clever so and so. Living in the hills around San Francisco where they fled to escape a deadly virus unleashed by humans a decade before, they doing quite nicely, thank you very much.

Not for long.

A small band of humans have also survived the virus. And where there are humans, there is a need for power.  Our ape chums happen to live amongst the ruins of an old, broken down power station, which the humans have in their beady sights. So begins a power struggle (no pun intended) between ape and human.

You could read a lot into this. It takes in themes of loyalty, truth, standing up for one’s comrades etc etc. Practically Shakespearan, even before you Hail Caesar.  Or if you are of a more base nature, like The Sloth, you can simply sit back and gawp at the quite incredible cinematic vision of thousands of astoundingly realistic looking apes swarming as far as the camera can see.  To quote one of the human characters: “They’re talking apes! With big ass spears!!”.  What more do you need?

UK release 18 July. DVD release 24 November.

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X-Men: Days Of Future Past

x_men_days_of_future_past_2014_poster_wallpaper_high_resolution_for_downloadSome smart Hollywood bod clearly looked at Hugh Jackman in full Wolverine get up and thought ‘those mutton chops should be back in the ’70’s where they belong’. And lo, X-Men: Days Of Future Past was born.

We join our mutant friends at a low point. Losing a war with Sentinels, machines built to destroy mutants that are now also destroying humans, they need to take drastic action to prevent, oh, most of the known universe being wiped out. So they hatch a cunning plan. Send Wolverine and his whiskery chops back to 1973 to sort it all out by changing the course of history.

Wolvie is duly despatched to meet the young Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and announce he is a visitor from the future. Unfortunately, Charles is a mopey, dishevelled, red eyed shambles, having fallen out with buddy Erik (Michael Fassbender) and dropped his mind-bending powers in favour of being able to walk. Even more unfortunately, Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence, painted blue) has taken it upon herself to destroy the Sentinel’s inventor, Dr Trask (Peter Dinklage with fabulous 70’s trucker moustache). However, this isn’t a good idea for reasons we don’t have space to detail here. So Wolvie simply has to convince Charles to buck up, convince Mystique that killing isn’t the ethically sound solution and convince Charles & Erik that they really should all just get along. And save the future world. Piece of cake.

It’s all thoroughly confusing yet simultaneously seems to make total sense, primarily due to the marvelously serious, clipped Shakespearean delivery of our leads. Who else but Fassbender could fight giant, flying metal robots on a football pitch with the gravitas of one playing Hamlet at The Globe? And frankly, anything involving 70’s scientists proclaiming “we are DEFCON three, code red” floats The Sloth’s boat.

UK release 23 May. DVD release 10 November. Fancy more unearthly creatures? Try Godzilla.

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Edge Of Tomorrow. Groundhog D-Day.

edge of tomrLet’s address the elephant in the room. Edge of Tomorrow stars Tom Cruise.  Whatever your personal view, Tom’s not been public flavour of the month for some time. Rather ingeniously, Edge of Tomorrow capitalises on this.

The world is at war with Mimics – alien spider-like creatures fond of killing people. No idea why they are called Mimics, we didn’t spot them doing Tommy Cooper impressions (with all those legs they could have done a great cup & ball trick).  Tom plays US Army Lieutenant Colonel Bill Cage. Except Cage doesn’t do combat. He’s just a slick, oily, dirty-dealing media frontman who exists to spin TV sound bites. Read – we’re not meant to like him.

But Cage soon gets his comeuppance when he is ordered to the battle frontline. Scorned by his fellow soldiers, battle virgin Cage enters the brutal warzone terrified and unprepared, lasting all of 20 minutes before meeting his maker at the hands of a Mimic. But then he wakes up. And finds himself back at the beginning of the same day, before he entered the warzone.

Yes kids, it’s Groundhog Day.  Destined to live the same day out repeatedly until he is eventually killed, Cage must learn from his mistakes to survive longer each time. Eventually, he lasts long enough to meet star soldier Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt – scary) a Lara Croft-a-like who believes Cage’s time-warping talent is the key to winning the war.

There are lots of good things here- aliens!  Cruise being obnoxious! He’s great at vile, we wish he’d do it more often. Annoyingly, he got nicer as it progressed. Boo. We were also blown away by some of the effects; the war scenes were so terrifyingly realistic we wanted a flak jacket.  Our main gripe is it’s a touch too long. Take a short nap through some repeats of repeated scenes and wake up in time for the ending – just like that!

UK release 30 May. More Sci-Fi monsters? Try Godzilla.

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Godzilla. It Sounds Best With A Japanese Accent.

godzilla2014_poster2Excuse us for coming over all movie-nerdish, but The Sloth was super-excited about Godzilla. Mainly because it’s directed by Gareth Edwards who made the stupendous Monsters basically on a laptop in his bedroom. So we were salivating with anticipation at what he would achieve with a squillion dollar Hollywood budget.

Godzilla, fact fans, is a creature of Japanese legend. So fittingly, we find ourselves in Japan where Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) and Sandra Brody (Juliette Binoche) are US engineers working in a nuclear power station. Unfortunately, their day goes horribly wrong when strange, unexplained power surges trigger an accident that kills Sandra and blows up the entire plant, leaving their son Ford motherless and Joe devastated.

Fast forward several years and grown up Ford (Aaron Taylor Johnson) is married to Elle (Elizabeth Olsen) with a family of his own. But granddad Joe is still obsessed with discovering what caused the accident that killed his wife. And guess what? Those same, strange power surges are starting to appear again. Joe ropes Ford in to investigate, trespassing on the wrecked site of the old power station where they are soon caught, leaving Joe to convince the authorities and scientists Vivienne Graham (Sally Hawkins) and Ichiro Serizawa (Ken Watanabe) that something REALLY BAD is about to happen. Fortunately, Ichiro is well versed in the mythology that deems Goh-zee-lah (told you it sounds better with a Japanese accent), a god-like creature, will rise when natural order is threatened. And sure enough, rise he does.

The genius of Godzilla is it puts the viewer bang smack in the middle of the action. We gawp with the characters through car windows dwarved by shadowy hints of approaching monstrous creature, sharing their fear like when we hid behind the sofa watching Doctor Who age 6. Harking back to good old-fashioned suspense, it teases you with just enough visuals to set your imagination and heart racing. It’s no coincidence that analogue, mechanical tech is eventually called on to save mankind. In a movie age where flash bang CGI set pieces no longer shock or awe, Godzilla ironically uses computer graphics to recreate old skool, edge-of-your-seat filmmaking to stonkingly good effect. Look out, he’s behiiiiind you!

UK release 16 May.UK DVD release 27 October.

Fancy another bumpy ride? Try the world’s most unsuitable in-flight movie, Non-Stop.

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Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

captain-america-the-winter-soldier-uk-poster (1)Marvel aren’t half on a roll. Having perfected a mixture of high octane action and dry one-liners, they’re churning them out quicker than you can say ‘Tony Stark’. Latest to join the family fold is Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

Chris Evans buffs up his All-American quarterback looks for his second outing as the good Cap’n. Having acclimatised to his laboratory induced super-strength, he’s now struggling to come to terms with the modern world. Aged 95 (and looking marvellous for it – whatever moisturiser he’s using, The Sloth wants a large vat) he’s been too busy helping his employers, Shield, see off bad guys to have much leisure time, chalking up a cultural ‘To-Do’ list that includes watching the 1966 world cup final and listening to Marvin Gaye.

However his self-improvement has to take a back seat as Cap’n is called up for a new mission by his boss Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson – devoid of Kangol hat but replete with a natty eye-patch).  Despatched with other agents including colleague The Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) to save the crew of a container ship taken hostage by pirates, Cap’n soon realises the mission may not be as straightforward as it seems.

It packs all the requisite big action set pieces and sly wit we’ve come to expect, along with an unexpected and quite pointed critique of our contemporary, all-controlling society. Add a top supporting cast, including Anthony Mackie as The Falcon and the slickly suited and booted Robert Redford as head of Shield, Alexander Pierce (is there any man who wears a three piece suit with such effortless sartorial flair as Robert?  We’d gladly spend 90 minutes just watching him adjust his snow white cuffs) and we were happily entertained. The fanboy next to The Sloth was quite overcome as the end credits rolled, repeatedly gasping ‘oh wow’ to no-one in particular. We can’t guarantee the earth will similarly move for you, but the 3-D glasses might make you a little dizzy.

UK release 28 March

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Olympus Has Fallen. But the Senator Morgan Campaign is Gaining Legs.

olympusHollywood’s never ending quest for the Generic New Baddie has moved on.  We’ve had the Ruskies, then the Middle East, now in Olympus Has Fallen let’s hear it for: The North Koreans! Boo!! Hiss!! This is actually one of Hollywood’s smarter moves as Netflicks haven’t reach North Korea yet, so at least they’re not cannibalising their revenue streams.

The Olympus of the title is The White House, which suffers a spectacular attack by North Korean terrorists who storm the battalions and infiltrate President Aaron Eckhart’s secure bunker. These are proper terrorists.  They’ve got B52 bombers modified with impenetrable force fields. Stonking big dumper trucks with spikes stuck on the front that steam through lines of police cars at 60 mph. And working knowledge of the Spock Death Grip. They want missile launch codes (Old Skool! The Sloth liked that. Been far too long since terrorists wanted missile launch codes) but don’t worry, it’s all going to be OK because the Yanks have got: Gerard Butler!

Gerard is a gruff, blood-spattered one man army. He don’t take orders from nobody, bossing around Acting President Morgan Freeman (c’mon Morgs, just fess up to your Reagan ambitions), scything through mountains of terrorists and still finding time to call his missus and tell her he loves her. Whadda hero.

There’s something pleasingly retro about Olympus Has Fallen. It has briefcases with scary flashing countdown clocks inside. Secret Service agents muttering ‘Package is on the move’ into their wrists.  And stirring music to accompany stirring Presidential speeches proclaiming ‘God Bless America’. Forget the digital age, let’s hear it for some good, old-fashioned analogue action.

UK release 19 April

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