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Walking out of the cinema, I have to admit that I breathed a sigh of relief. I am a big, big fan of the first Hangover film. It made me laugh till I cried and it still does on most re-watches. As for the second, I think you can agree with me when I say what a bitter disappointment that was. And for Part Three? Well, put it this way, if the first Hangover film is like waking up from a heavy night out to find that you feel perfectly fine and the second is like waking up to find yourself in a puddle of vomit and your head pounding, you can find Part Three somewhere in-between.
"Yours in great depression" was F. Scott Fitzgerald's solemn and devastated response to news that his third novel had under-performed both critically and commercially on its release in 1925. It wasn't until after Fitzgerald's death in 1940 that the novel captured the zeitgeist and forged a positive consensus amongst critics. Baz Luhrmann's Gatsby is the fifth adaptation of the great novel, and bizarely, is the fifth adaptation to receive widespread condemnation.
Matthew McConaughey has been working hard recently to distance himself from the endless stream of listless romantic comedies that have defined his career over the past decade. Throughout his self reinvention he has not only proven his capabilities by playing wildly diverse roles - from the cool and collected hitman in Killer Joe to the colourful and alluring male stripper in Magic Mike – but has also had a clear penchant for interesting, enigmatic and intense characters. With his latest on-screen appearance, McConaughey continues to surprise and impress as the titular Mud in Jeff Nichols’s third feature.
The sixth instalment of the really fast car franchise that could, Fast and Furious 6 (directed by series regular Justin Lin), is set in London with Vin Diesel's Dominic Toretto's crew all in multi-million criminal retirement in warm climes. They all still drive their very shiny cars extremely fast but furious natures have been transformed into blissful domesticity with Brian (Paul Walker) married to Mia (Jordana Brewster). They're neighbours to Toretto and his understanding cop girlfriend Elena (Elsa Pataky). What else would tempt them out of their extradition-free happy homes bar Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) arriving with a photo of Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), presumed dead and buried but seeming very much alive and well. Hobbs needs Toretto to catch a new and less family-orientated criminal car gang led by Shaw (Luke Evans) who have apparently recruited the once dead Letty. The stage is set for some revved engines and souped up action.
Hobbs with his new partner Riley (Gina Carano) provide the money and excuses for hugely extravagant car chases and clashes between the opposing crews. Lin stays true to the music video roots of the series and scantily clad girls and immaculately clean cars frequent the film with an unashamed lack of necessity. One need not worry about having missed any or all of the previous instalments as the film's three editors use the opening credits to bring everyone up to speed on the finer points of the characters and plot under three minutes. It could well be argued that without knowledge of the other films Fast and Furious 6 might well be a more textured film. There are layers to relationships and in-jokes that give the sort of nuanced references that any indie film would be delighted to achieve.
However, this is a Fast and Furious film and there are entertainingly astonishing car stunts, some realistic gritty fights provided by Gino Carano and all out ludicrous, joyous and hyperbolic action from Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and the gravelly-voiced Vin Diesel. Of the five possible endings contained in Fast and Furious 6 the most pleasing one features an action superstar who is most likely the one to set the stage up nicely Fast and Furious 7.
Abrams jumps us straight into the action as we see Bones and Kirk being chased by the primitive inhabitants of Planet Nibiru. In the background there is a huge volcano ready to wipe out all life on the planet. Spock has come up with a plan to halt the erupting volcano but runs into problems of his own, leaving him stranded inside it. Kirk then has to make a big decision: whether to save Spock and risk exposing themselves to such an undeveloped race, or leave him to die and stick to the Starfleet’s rules. Kirk isn’t one to stick to the rules and risks the wrath of Starfleet to save his right hand man and on/off friend Spock.
Neil Jordon’s Byzantium is a return to the genre he has most certainly mastered – the vampire flick. You know when he's attached that you're going to get a beautiful looking film, with sensuous characters and buckets of blood - but in today’s climate of family friendly, shiny style vampire films how will it go down?