Plex invites you to an evening at the flicks. Back row. Popcorn and ice cream. Pearl and Dean. If you want to know what we think about new releases, you’re in the right place. Read the review, watch the film and then rate it yourself – see what our cine-literate community has to say.
On paper 21 Jump Street doesn’t sound like the likeliest candidate for breakout comedy of the year. It’s based on a TV show long forgotten in its native America and almost unknown here in the UK, while one of its stars is the beefcake actor from Step-Up and Dear John. Even the premise is decidedly simple: two cops in their mid-twenties must go back to High School and infiltrate a drug dealing ring. The cop who was a jock and popular when at High School the first time around winds up the nerd this time, while the former loser becomes the big man on campus. It’s almost too obvious to work. I can safely say though that the end result is absolutely hilarious and it is easily my favourite comedy of the year so far.
Icelandic superstar Baltasar Kormakur takes up the directorial reins on Contraband, a Hollywood remake of 2008’s Reykjavik-Rotterdam in which Kormakur played the lead role. Transporting the action to New Orleans and Panama, Kormakur’s retelling centres on smuggler gone straight Chris Farraday (Mark Wahlberg), who must take on one last job after his brother in law upsets some rather unpleasant characters. On the face of it, we’re in perfunctory thriller territory, but Kormakur’s raw directorial style, a wry screenplay and a plethora of unseemly characters ensure that Contraband duly delivers.
Written by Kurt Johnstad, screenwriter for 300 and its recently announced sequel, Act of Valour is less of an action movie and more a fictionalised version of missions similar to those that the team have previously taken part in.
The acting from the soldiers is somewhat cheesy, but then again, these are not actors; they are active Navy SEALs who have taken it upon themselves to convey their own story. In that respect, they do themselves justice. There are also notable appearances from Rosalyn Sanchez, Nestor Serrano and others; nothing particularly inspiring, but I think that’s more the fault of the script than the actors’ performances.
Deathrace, The Running Man, Battle Royale. The thing that links these movies is that they are strictly for over-18’s. So when it comes to the classic government-chase-bloodbath genre, can the violence be tempered for a teenage fee-paying audience? The answer is most definitely yes – but it comes at a cost.
Based on Benjamin Mee’s autobiography, We Bought a Zoo traces the adventure that his family embarked on when he bought and renovated the ailing Dartmoor Wildlife Park. Given the Hollywood makeover, the film transports the story from Devon to California, with Matt Damon taking on the role of grieving widower who moves his family to a new home in the countryside which is itself home to a full-fledged zoo. In a move that is part mid-life crisis and part attempt to start anew, Benjamin sets out to revive and re-open the zoo with the help of Head Zookeeper Kelly Foster (Scarlett Johansson), ultimately hoping that the experience will bring his family closer together.
From the recent onslaught of found-footage films, it can be far too tempting to simply ignore the genre’s latest offerings. Though some gems continue to be found, The Devil Inside is proof once more that some footage should forever remain lost. Labelling itself as the film the Vatican does not want you to see (and, in case there was any confusion, the audience is duly informed that the Vatican did not endorse it or aid in its completion), The Devil Inside begins with a 911 emergency call from one Maria Rossi (Suzan Crowley), who confesses to the dispatcher that she has just slaughtered three people. Police footage from the crime scene then flickers on and we are given a tour of the brutal massacre. Just as it is established that the victims were all priests, and that one person had escaped from being strapped to a chair, the film delivers its first of many lacklustre ‘BOO’ moments.