Must-See Movies: April
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It’s barely spring but Hollywood’s summer season already looms - get ready for plenty of big action spectacle.
Yes it may only be April but already the big studios are ready to wheel out their hopeful hits, from big blockbuster reboots to long-awaited superhero sequels. As usual, there’s still a few more unusual treats hidden amongst the waves of CGI though.
In fact, April is home to not only one of Germany’s most exciting releases in years, it also boasts one of Alan Rickman’s final performances and the return of director-on-the-rise Jeff Nichols. Lots to look forward to, no question.
Eddie the Eagle (1st April)
Kicking things off on April Fools Day is Dexter Fletcher’s return to the director’s chair; an underdog sports comedy that doubles up as a biopic of Olympic ski jumper Eddie ‘the Eagle’ Edwards. Starring last year’s break-out star Taron Egerton (that young-looking ruffian from Kingsman) as the man himself, as well as support from Hugh Jackman and Christopher Walken, Fletcher’s third film has already been tipped as one of 2016’s most heartwarming entries, following a mega-positive response at its surprise screening at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, and all-round glowing acclaim from critics this side of the pond too. Definitely one even your nan might enjoy.
Victoria (1st April)
Out the very same week is Sebastian Schipper’s long-awaited crime-drama Victoria, a German film about a young Spanish woman (shock horror, she’s called Victoria) who embarks on a night of clubbing in Berlin, only to find herself drawn in by the mysterious allure of a passing gang. Deciding to (rather stupidly) follow them on their criminal antics, she soon finds herself an accessory to a whole plethora of crimes, ranging from petty stealing to full-on armed robbery.
The selling point here isn’t the bare-bones story though, it’s the fact that the entire film - all 2 hours 18 minutes of it - was filmed continuously in one long single take. And it’s none of that Birdman-style fakery either, this is the real deal, and it’s actually pretty good.
Read our review of Victoria here.
Hardcore Henry (8th April)
Have you ever been playing a first-person shooter video-game and thought “You know what, this would be way better if it were a movie, starring Sharlto Copley of District 9 fame and directed by a Russian guy I’ve never heard of”? Well now your prayers have been answered. Originally titled just Hardcore but presumably changed because, y’know, that’s how people refer to porn and stuff, Hardcore Henry follows the adventures of a freshly resurrected super-soldier who must attempt to save his wife from some bad people who are doing bad things and oh look it doesn’t matter because explosions in first person.
Director Ilya Naishuller made his name making insanely cool music videos for Biting Elbows in the same POV-style and now it looks like he’s brought the same insane energy to the big screen. Premiering to huge applause at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival, this one is definitely worth keeping an eye on for action fans.
The Huntsman: Winter’s War (8th April)
But then again, if you’d rather your action was a little more watered-down and covered in hunky Australians, maybe this semi-sequel/prequel/reboot thing is more up your street. Brought to you by the visual effects supervisor on Snow White and the Huntsman, this big-budget follow up ditches Kristen Stewart’s mopey fairy-tale princess to instead focus on Chris Hemsworth, killing more creatures with even bigger axes. Charlize Theron’s evil queen returns, whilst Jessica Chastain and Emily Blunt also fill out the cast in what looks to be a dangerously washed-out mess based on the trailer. Fun for all the family then.
Midnight Special (8th April)
Arguably the most exciting release this month though comes from the ludicrously talented Jeff Nichols, whose playful adventure drama Mud helped put Tye Sheridan on the map a few years back. His latest, the sci-fi/road movie Midnight Special, finds Nichols regular Michael Shannon on the run from both the authorities and an unstable religious cult, as he attempts to protect his super-powered son with the help of a mysterious muscle-man from his past (Joel Edgerton). Adam Driver and Kirsten Dunst are also in there somewhere, but the less you know narratively the better; this one is a slow-burner that unfolds beautifully and will hopefully have audiences talking for many months to come. Jump on this one as early as you can!
Eye in the Sky (15th April)
Back in January, the world lost one of its finest working actors in the great Alan Rickman. Eye in the Sky, an intense psycho-drama about drone warfare in a similar vein to last year’s Good Kill (although hopefully a lot less boring), plays host to one of Rickman’s final performances, as he stars alongside other award-winning greats Helen Mirren and Aaron Paul. Whether or not the film is any good remains to be seen, but for Rickman alone, this one is a must.
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The Jungle Book (15th April)
It’s been over 50 years since Disney’s original happy-clappy Jungle Book musical, so it seems about time that the whole thing was dragged kicking-and-screaming back into existence as a sour-looking uber-dark and emotionless husk of its former-self. Lead by Marvel-legend Jon Favreau, the guy who got Iron Man off the ground, made Robert Downey Jr. the star he is today, and played Monica’s billionaire boyfriend in a few episodes of Friends, this Disney-backed reboot is certainly aiming for the dark and brooding crowd based on its visuals, dragging in the likes of Scarlett Johansson, Bill Murray and Idris Elba to lend a hand with the voice-work.
What’s so deeply worrying/disturbing about this one though isn’t the inevitably of its return or its grimy makeover, its the oddity of its clashing tones. Loud, thumping music, intense action visuals, kinda scary-looking character designs and then… light-hearted whistling? Watch the trailer below and try not to feel uncomfortable, I dare you.
Bastille Day (22nd April)
Speaking of which, a certain Mr Elba even appears in the flesh a week later in largely forgotten-about action romp Bastille Day. Co-starring Richard Madden (Robb Stark to any Throneheads left standing out there), this one sees the pair joining forces as a former CIA-agent and a young artist who are left to pick up the pieces when a terror attack rocks the French capital of Paris. It’s likely that the decreased publicity was thrown into effect following the November tragedy, which is a shame since it comes from the really quite talented James Watkins, who brought us the rather brilliant Eden Lake (swiftly followed by the painstakingly average The Woman in Black). We’ll have to wait and see how this one pans out, but expect it to crash out early commercially.
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (22nd April)
Glenn Ficarra and John Requa aren’t exactly the most well-knowm directing duo around, but considering their string of recent hits ranging from 2011’s brilliantly twisty Crazy, Stupid, Love to last year’s equally slick Focus, they really deserve to be. Their latest venture, war comedy Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (translated as WTF) finds resident funniest-woman-alive Tina Fey as a travelling journalist, sent to the front-lines in Afghanistan to gather together some form of media coverage. Whilst there she runs into Margot Robbie, Martin Freeman and a borderline-racist Alfred Molina and hilarity supposedly ensues. We’ll have to judge whether or not it actually does late April I guess.
Son of Saul (29th April)
One of April’s most somber efforts comes from the Hungarian Oscar-nominated drama Son of Saul, a truly immersive look at life during the Holocaust in the Auschwitz concentration camp. Director Laszlo Nemes has received nothing but praise for his expectedly harrowing account, told almost entirely in close-up, meaning that Nemes’ cameras very rarely leave the protagonist’s face. A definite change of pace from the more light-hearted entertainment that surrounds it, but from the looks of things, it’s a much-needed one.
Captain America: Civil War (29th April)
Last but not least though is the first of Marvel Studios’ blockbuster attempts at 2016 market domination (if you were about to say “but Deadpool” you would be wrong - Deadpool is owned by Fox, like the X-Men, silly). Adapting one of Mark Millar’s classic comic storylines for the big-screen, Civil War pits goody-goody super-soldier Captain America against billionaire, genius, playboy, philanthropist and recovering alcoholic Iron Man, over the formation of a new law concerning superhero registration. In the comics this leads to a huge (shock horror) civil war between the entire Marvel hero roster leading to dozens of major character deaths, whilst the film seems to instead be boiling it down to a few low-rent face-offs between whoever was on hand. Not to mention that all this fighting seems to be set on the side of a road somewhere or in some random abandoned car park. Where did the budget go guys?
In all seriousness, Civil War looks to be one of the biggest non-Avengers releases Marvel have put together in a while, and will introduce a whole host of new characters too, including Black Panther (an African version of Batman), Vision in a suit (like normal Vision but y’know, in a suit) and the real selling point, another re-booted Spider-Man. There’s also some pretty vital villains bubbling under the surface too, and considering the insanely dark direction Millar’s original story goes in, this one will certainly no doubt shake up the MCU dramatically. Keep your eyes open for that Crossbones guy.