The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Many Lord of the Rings fans weren’t super keen on the first Hobbit film. It had its fair share of problems, including an interminable opening hour in which Bilbo does nothing aside from making a sandwich and packing his suitcase.
We are, however, pleased to report that this second act of the Hobbit is much, much stronger. Without all the set-up out of the way, director Peter Jackson is able to weave together an exciting tapestry of action and adventure. As Bilbo and his merry gang of dwarves draw closer to the Lonely Mountain, they encounter some characters we may recognise from earlier travels to Middle Earth…
Despite its punishing run-time and unpronounceable title, The Desolation of Smaug is perhaps the paciest of Jackson’s Tolkien films. After a disappointing first chapter, it restored our faith in The Hobbit and had us excited for this year’s third and final chapter!
Kill Your Darlings (Early Digital Release)
Daniel Radcliffe plays the young poet Allen Ginsberg in this vaguely-historical film that takes place at the birth of the Beat Generation. Moving to New York with a scholarship to the prestigious Columbia University, Ginsberg finds himself befriending a group of like-minded souls the likes of William S Burroughs and Jack Kerouac. At the centre of this collective is Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan), a pretty young thing whose magnetic personality could prove to be a danger.
Oldboy (New to Rent)
Josh Brolin is a just a regular guy like you and me, with a normal job and a kid. So when he’s suddenly kidnapped and held in a secret prison, he has no idea who’s behind it and why. Twenty years later, he’s released as suddenly as he was abducted. Back on the street, he’s only got one thing in mind: revenge.
Based on a revered Korean film of the same name, Oldboy is a hard-hitting thriller from director Spike Lee, who’s assembled one of the coolest supporting casts, with performances from Elizabeth Olsen, Samuel L Jackson and District 9’s Sharlto Copley.
It’s similar in a lot of ways to the original 2003 film, but there are enough new elements in Lee’s version to delight and shock even the most devoted Oldboy fan.
Easy Money 2 (Early Digital Release)
Here in the UK, we’re a little bit behind on Swedish crime cinema. Last year we saw the release of 2010’s Easy Money, a tight thriller about a business student who becomes a cocaine smuggler. Now we have its sequel from 2012, which sees our hero leaving prison with the intent of going straight. But as Michael Corleone discovered, just when you think you’re out, they pull you back in.
As sequels go, this is pretty great and typical of the great thrillers being produced in Scandinavia these days. It also doesn’t hurt that the lead is played by actor Joel Kinnaman, who’s since become a big Hollywood star as the new Robocop.
Svengali (New to Rent)
Writer/star Jonny Owen plays Dixie, a postman from Wales who has his sights set on discovering the next huge band. Where most people dream of being in The Sex Pistols, Dixie dreams of being Malcolm McLaren. Heading to London, he convinces a talented but ill-disciplined rock band to take a chance on him, provided he can get them signed within six months.
Set in and around Soho in London, Svengali features top notch supporting actors in the form of Matt Berry, Vicky McClure and Martin Freeman (who also happens to star in this week’s The Hobbit).
Hustlers (Early Digital Release)
Released in the States as Pawn Shop Chronicles, this ensemble comedy centres around one such establishment, mingling three storylines that involve various outlandish characters. A newlywed groom discovers his missing first wife’s wedding ring, which sends him on a mission to find her; a low-rent Elvis impersonator arrives in town to play a county fair; and a pair of neo-Nazis hatch an ill-conceived plan to knock off a drug supplier.
The most remarkable thing about this film is its quality cast, that includes Brendan Fraser, Matt Dillon, Norman Reedus (Daryl from The Walking Dead), and the late Paul Walker in one of his final performances.
24 (All Series)
In anticipation of this year’s resurrection of 24, starring Keifer Sutherland, we’re releasing all eight seasons of the ground-breaking original series. You all know the score: Sutherland plays Jack Bauer, a counter terrorism agent who must stop any number of terrorist organisations from killing the president/detonating a nuclear weapon/releasing a virus (delete where applicable).
Will he encounter a mole within his ranks? Will suspicious characters turn out to be completely innocent? Will the US government suspect Jack of becoming a secret terrorist and send him underground? In every season of 24, the answer to all those questions will be ‘yes’!
This is compulsive ‘just-one-more-episode’-style binge viewing at its best.
Before he became the world-famous creator of Agent 007, author Ian Fleming was a real-life James Bond (of sorts). Chronicling his days as a failed stockbroker through to his days in the Office of Naval Intelligence, this handsomely made show is pretty much a non-stop cavalcade of 007 references.
Rakishly handsome as the title character, Dominic Cooper is in fine form as a ‘the man who would be Bond’: a charming wastrel who can only dream of being a globe-trotting secret agent. Joining him in the cast is a selection of fine British actors: Anna Chancellor, Samuel West and Lara Pulver chief among them.
Whether the show is more fiction than fact is up for debate, but Fleming does succeed in being a jolly good romp.
Peppa Pig: Peppa’s Circus
The most popular cartoon pig since Porky releases a brand new batch of unseen episodes this week. Along with her mummy, daddy and brother George, she heads off on a series of adventures that takes her to a desert island, on a boat and yes, to the circus.
If you’re reading this, you’re obviously not the sort of person who enjoys watching Peppa Pig. But if you’re a parent, this box set is the best investment you’ll ever make when it comes to keeping your pre-school child distracted.
The Adventures of a Young Psycho continues with the second season of Bates Motel
A former CIA agents continues to kick butt and break hearts in Season 7 of Burn Notice
Also new in Movies:
Sam Rockwell and Olivia Wilde star in the dark comedy Better Living through Chemistry
Kung Fu legend Jet Li is a butt-kicking cop in the new Hong Kong action flick Badge of Fury
It’s the fantasy creatures vs US Special Forces mash-up you’ve been waiting for in Orc Wars
Watchmen and Sin City meets Zodiac in the independent superhero epic Sparks
A chilling look at head trauma in Sports in the documentary Head Games
You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave. It’s The Haunting of Bates’ Hotel
Hit the powder and eat some gnarly air in the extreme skiing documentary Steep
If going down snowy mountains isn’t your thing, The Summit is a gripping documentary about a tragic expedition to climb K2
A bunch of suburban idiots uncover the etiquette of infidelity in the comedy 10 Rules for Sleeping Around
A former Vietnam vet fights to save a historically-significant breed of horse in the moving doc Nokota Heart.
Orphan Black star Tatiana Maslany heads up the Canadian high-school comedy Picture Day
James Cromwell fights to build a new home for his ailing wife in the true-life drama Still Mine
Emile Hirsch, Stephen Dorff and Dakota Fanning hide from the law in The Motel Life, a new thriller
Real-life celebrity gangster Dave Courtney stars in the Geezers vs Al Qaeda actioner Full English Breakfast
For more of the latest films and TV, head over to blinkbox!