I don’t know if you might, for any reason, be looking to watch a high stakes sporting event with a guaranteed happy outcome, but if so then cinema has you covered.
Yes, basketball’s coming home in Space Jam: A New Legacy (if ‘home’ is some kind of weird Warner Bros-themed VR world ruled over by an evil Don Cheadle).
Elsewhere, 12 hours of state-sanctioned slaughter isn’t enough for some people in The Forever Purge – plus a moving father-and-son drama, a return visit to the ‘Black Woodstock’, and the bewildering tale of one man and his jacket…
Space Jam: A New Legacy
NBA superstar LeBron James follows in Michael Jordan’s footsteps in this belated sequel to the 1996 family film, which sees him heading out onto the court with the Looney Tunes gang – and a few other familiar faces, too.
The plot sees LeBron (playing himself) and his son Dom (Cedric Joe) become trapped in a virtual space known as the Warner 3000 Server-Verse.
When Dom is captured by the evil Al-G Rhythm (Don Cheadle), LeBron must lead Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and co to win a match against a team of digitally enhanced basketball pros.
And in a move which I’m sure was driven by the story and not by the studio’s desire to bag a bit of extra publicity, you can also expect cameos from other famous faces from the Warner Bros intellectual property portfolio, including Fred Flintstone and King Kong…
James Norton stars as a single father on a heart-rending mission in this poignant Belfast-set drama.
Window cleaner John (Norton) has only a few months left to live, and is determined to find the perfect adoptive family for his 4-year-old son Michael (Daniel Lamont), while trying to protect him from the terrible reality of the situation.
If that sounds like a hard – and possibly mawkish – watch, reviews suggest that this is a subtle, thoughtful film which is well worth seeking out, with Empire hailing it as “hugely affecting and perfectly played…a peach of a picture”.
|Cert PG, 96 mins|
|From Fri Jul 16|
The Forever Purge
This fifth film in the dystopian horror saga sees a Mexican immigrant couple fighting for their lives when they come under attack from a group of lawless marauders.
Juan (Tenoch Huerta) and Adela (Ana de le Reguera) think they have survived their first Purge – the annual 12-hour period where all crime, including murder, is legal – only to find that a gang of violent insurrectionists has decided to institute a ‘forever purge’, with immigrants as their primary targets.
Lukewarm reviews suggest this isn’t going to challenge the perception that this is a franchise of increasingly diminishing returns – but although this was originally intended to be the concluding chapter of the series, creator James DeMonaco recently revealed that a sixth instalment is now in development.
As festival line-ups go, Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone and Sly and the Family Stone take some beating – and thanks to a hugely acclaimed new documentary, you can see these legends and more in all their glory on the big screen.
Showing at City Screen and Everyman throughout the week (it’s also due to land on Disney+ on 30th July), Summer of Soul is built around never-before-seen footage of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival – a massive six-week event which has been largely consigned to the margins of music history, something this doc aims to put right.
City Screen are also showing the intriguing-sounding Deerskin, a darkly comic surrealist tale of a man (Jean Dujardin, The Artist) who becomes so obsessed by his new deerskin jacket that he sets out on a mission to destroy every other jacket in the world.
Meanwhile, just in time for the summer holidays, there’s a second round of prehistoric hijinks in The Croods 2: A New Age (Cineworld, Everyman, Vue York) which finds Nicolas Cage’s Neanderthal clan out of their comfort zone when they encounter the more evolved (and don’t they know it) Betterman family.
Next up, when it comes to sequel promo taglines, you’d be hard pushed to find a lazier example than the “(Insert name of first film) was just the beginning” format – which manages to both state the bleeding obvious and make the first one sound like it’s not worth bothering with. (Extra lazy points must be awarded to 2016’s Inferno, the third Tom Hanks Da Vinci Code film, which proclaimed that “The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons were just the beginning” – what, both of them?)
Which is a long-winded way of saying that horror fans maybe shouldn’t expect too much from Escape Room: Tournament of Champions (Cineworld, Everyman), the sequel to the 2019 original (essentially The Crystal Maze with a body count), whose tagline tells us that “Winning was just the beginning”. Too true – I look forward to the closing chapter in the saga, Escape Room: Penalty Shootout.
A few one-off screenings next: City Screen have a preview of the very promising-sounding Mads Mikkelsen revenge thriller Riders of Justice on Tues 20th, while thrills of a different sort are captured in documentary Reset (Weds 21st), which follows outdoor sports enthusiasts doing their thing amongst some stunning natural backdrops.
Over at Everyman, comedy Off the Rails (Thurs 22nd) sees an estranged group of fifty-somethings reuniting for a European interrail journey to fulfil their best friend’s dying wish.
Finally, there are a few more Film 4 favourites on offer this week: on Mon 19th you can catch Brassed Off at City Screen and Bhaji on the Beach at Everyman – the latter marking the 1993 feature debut of future Bend It Like Beckham director Gurinder Chadha – while there’s a debut of a very different stripe at Everyman on Weds 21st in the form of Jonathan Glazer’s 2000 gangster drama Sexy Beast.