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New Releases Monday 11 August 2014

New releases this week include Divergent

(image: eOne)

Divergent (New to Rent)

Shailene Woodley (recently of The Descendants and The Fault in Our Stars) is the star of her own successful Young Adult franchise. Like many others films of this type, it’s about a youngster in a dystopian future who discovers that she’s a little bit special. In this particular future, the citizens of Chicago now live behind enormous walls, split into ‘factions’ that perform different tasks within their society. But when a test reveals that our heroine fits into none of these factions, it could spell danger for her.

Woodley is actually a very likeable lead and despite the premise of the film making very little sense, we found ourselves enjoying divergent an awful lot. It’s the first film in an already-assured trilogy, so watch it now before you get left behind!

 

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

(image: Marvel)

Captain America: The Winter Solider (Early Digital Release)

Following on from The Avengers, this Marvel sequel sees the America’s greatest hero trying to adjust to life in the 21st Century. But before he can catch up on 70 years of TV box sets and Beach Boys albums, he’ll have to uncover a nefarious conspiracy that threatens both SHIELD and global security. On top of that, he also has to deal with a mysterious assassin who might be connected with Cap’s past in some way.

Joining Chris Evans as Captain America is a great cast. Marvel regulars Scarlett Johansson and Samuel L. Jackson have significantly beefed up parts. Plus, as a little treat for the older ladies, there’s Robert Redford in his first foray into comic book movies.

This might be a more mature film than Marvel’s Iron Man and Guardians of the Galaxy, but that doesn’t mean it’s not also a lot of fun!

Muppets Most Wanted

(image: Disney)

Muppets Most Wanted (New to Rent)

After breathing life back into Kermit and his felt cohorts with his 2011 film The Muppets, director James Bobin is returning with a sequel that delivers more gags, more celebrity cameos and more songs from Flight of the Conchords‘ Bret McKenzie!

Carrying on just moments after the last film ended, Muppets Most Wanted follows the gang on a European tour under the management of a sleazy agent (Ricky Gervais). Things seem to be going well until Kermit gets kidnapped and replaced by Constantine, an evil doppelgänger frog, intent on using Kermit’s good name to stage a few robberies.

We actually think this new movie is an improvement on The Muppets. It feels like a proper throwback to the Henson movies of the late 80s, and the human actors are perfectly cast. Special props to Modern Family’s Ty Burrell, who plays the most ludicrous French policeman since Inspector Clouseau.

 

Iko Uwais in The Raid 2

(image: eOne)

The Raid 2 (New to Rent)

The sequel to the most explosive action film of 2011 had a lot to live up to. The original film was a masterclass in constructing action around a single setting – in that case, a tower block packed with gangsters. As promised, the Raid 2 is much more expansive affair with many times the number of characters and dazzling action sequences.

This film does not really require you to have seen the first Raid, working just as well as a stand-alone movie. The story is told through the eyes of Rama, our hero. He’s a young Jakarta policeman who gets tasked with a very special mission: to surrender his identity and go to prison. Once there, he must ingratiate himself with the son of the city’s biggest mob boss, with the plan of taking down police corruption from the inside out.

For a movie that only needed to deliver on the action, it handles the character scenes in a sure-handed and cinematic fashion. Welsh-born writer/director Gareth Evans is showing more and more promise with every film he makes.

But in the end, there’s only one true reason to watch this movie – and that’s for the tremendously inventive action scenes. Highlights include a young woman beating the occupants of a train carriage with a pair of hammers, a fight that takes place during a car chase, and brutal showdown in a kitchen.

This is unquestionably the best action movie since… well, The Raid.

 

Brendan Gleeson in Calvary

(image: eOne)

Calvary (New to Rent)

John Michael McDonagh was in danger of being just known as the brother of Martin McDonagh, the award-winning playwright and director of In Bruges. After all, both brothers are fascinated with small-town Ireland and the people who live there. But with the one-two punch of The Guard and Calvary, John Michael is really stepping out of his brother’s shadow.

This new film stars Brendan Gleeson as a local parish priest. He’s one of those good priests, so you don’t need to worry there. In confession on day, he’s told by an anonymous parishioner that he’s going to murder Gleeson a week later, and there’s nothing he can do to stop it. But even though he only has a few days to come to terms with his own impending doom, he spends his time reaching out to troubled locals – played by Irish all-stars like Aidan Gillen, Chris O’Dowd and Dylan Moran.

While it’s a very often funny, Calvary opens up into a meditation on the idea of forgiveness: a rather lofty theme that’s tackled rather well here.

Highly recommended!

Tom Hardy in Locke

(image: Lionsgate)

Locke (Early Digital Release)

Set almost entirely within the confines of a BMW, Tom Hardy plays a man who suddenly leaves the site of a construction job in Birmingham and heads down London. Over a series of phone calls with his unseen family and colleagues, we slowly begin to see that his life is unraveling.

Written and directed by Steven Knight (creator of BBC’s Peaky Blinders), Locke is perfect showcase for one of the world’s most exciting young actors. If you weren’t convinced by the Tom Hardy craze before, you’ll be a convert after watching this movie.

 

Television

Louis C.K. in Louie Season 4

(image: Fox TV)

Louie – Complete Series 4 

In our opinion, there are few American filmmakers today working on such a grand personal level as Louis C.K. And the fact that he’s working in television really says something about the quality of shows on the box these days.

Whereas in previous years episodes of Louie were mostly made up of short vignettes, Season 4 is comprised mostly of multi-part episodes that tell feature-length stories based around his life as a single father and stand-up.

Highlights of this season include the ‘The Elevator’, a 6 episode arc that sees Louie fall for a woman who can’t speak English; and ‘Model’, in which a charity gig Louie does for Jerry Seinfeld leads him into sexy and dangerous waters.

Louie might not be to everyone’s taste, but those who appreciate his sensibility will discover what is easily the best half-hour show on television.

Go to blinkbox for more of the latest movies and TV

 

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