Is it a reboot? Is it a sequel?
Look, as long as Jared Leto’s awful ‘creepy frat boy’ take on the Joker is nowhere near it, I don’t really care…Following 2016’s messy first effort, The Suicide Squad get a second stab at big screen glory in this week’s major new release.
Elsewhere, Emily Blunt and Dwayne Johnson head up river in Jungle Cruise, while four refugees find themselves in Limbo on a Scottish island.
The Suicide Squad
Who better than Guardians of the Galaxy mastermind James Gunn to helm this new cinematic outing for DC’s rag-tag team of supervillains?
As in the Guardians films, the story here sees a group of outsiders forced to grudgingly work together – but the difference here is that the misfits in question are a bickering gang of inmates ranging from the criminal to the criminally insane, granted temporary release from jail in order to complete a dangerous mission.
If they complete it successfully, they get 10 years off their sentence – but if they step out of line, they get swiftly terminated via an explosive device implanted in their skulls. Harsh but fair…
Gunn has assembled a particularly motley crew to join Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) this time round, ranging from Idris Elba’s mercenary Bloodsport to Peter Capaldi’s brainiac The Thinker, right down to a shark, a weasel and the not-exactly-fear-inducing Polka-Dot Man. Their adversary? A giant, telepathic starfish called Starro. Obviously.
As tantalisingly bizarre as The Suicide Squad’s line-up may be, this highly acclaimed British film is an equally intriguing prospect – a deadpan comedy-drama about a group of asylum seekers waiting out their days in a remote part of Scotland.
The story follows four refugees on a fictional island in the Outer Hebrides, who are awaiting the results of their applications whilst dealing with suspicious locals and attending dubious ‘Cultural Awareness’ classes, which use the music of Hot Chocolate to educate them about Western dating etiquette.
Amir El-Masry (seen recently in the Jack Ryan TV series) stars as budding musician Omar, while Vikash Bhai plays his Freddie Mercury-obsessed friend (and would-be manager) Farhad.
Scottish writer-director Ben Sharrock’s film has been praised for its blend of offbeat humour and poignant drama, with El-Masry explaining in a recent interview that Buster Keaton was a major influence on his performance.
“From the director of 2009 chiller Orphan and the writers of Bad Santa, with music by Metallica…”
…is very much not how Disney are advertising this family adventure romp based on their popular theme park ride, but a quick scan of IMDB reveals that they could do so if they chose.
Emily Blunt and Dwayne Johnson star alongside several thousand bucketloads of CGI in this tale of a riverboat captain (Johnson) escorting a British scientist (Blunt) and her brother (Jack Whitehall) on a journey to find the Tree of Life, which is sought after for its rumoured healing properties.
The Metallica connection? Fresh off the release of the Miley Cyrus version, the film’s soundtrack is set to include another, orchestral reworking of the band’s signature hit Nothing Else Matters.
Summer holiday round-up
As ever over the summer, there’s no shortage of family-friendly options available on the big screen.
Besides Jungle Cruise, the other new release this week is CGI girl-and-her-horse tale Spirit Untamed, a spin-off from the original 2002 film and the more recent Netflix series – you can catch it at Cineworld and Vue.
Peter Rabbit 2 is still showing daily at Cineworld and Vue (also on at City Screen on Fri 30th, Sat 31st and Tues 3rd), while all four York cinemas are showing the Neanderthal culture-clash antics of The Croods 2: A New Age – with an autism-friendly screening of the latter available at Cineworld on Sun 1st.
The Looney Tunes antics of Space Jam: A New Legacy also continue at Cineworld, Vue and Everyman.
As well as new movies, many York cinemas offer the chance to see recent releases at a bargain price over the summer hols.
City Screen’s Kids’ Club series runs every weekday morning throughout the holidays, with tickets costing just £3 – this week they’re showing Tom and Jerry: The Movie, the warring duo’s latest cinematic adventure which sees them causing chaos in a New York hotel.
It’s also showing throughout the week in Cineworld’s Movies For Juniors strand, as well as the recent CGI remake of Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds – tickets for both are priced at £3.25.
Cheapest of the lot is Vue, which this week offers Disney’s well-received fantasy adventure Raya and the Last Dragon in its Mini Morning series, with tickets just £2.49.
The Sundance Kid comes to town
There’s a treat in store for film fans at City Screen this weekend, as they give audiences a chance to sample the highlights of the 2021 Sundance Film Festival London.
Robert Redford’s celebrated US indie film fest (which in its time has hosted the premieres of future classics from Reservoir Dogs to Get Out) first expanded to the UK in 2012, and now you don’t even have to hop on the LNER to take part in this year’s edition.
Things kick off on Friday 30th with award-winning documentary Writing with Fire, a portrait of the only newspaper in India run by Dalit women (one of India’s most marginalised communities), while Sat 31st sees a preview screening of forthcoming psychological thriller The Nest, starring Jude Law and Carrie Coon as a couple whose family feel the strain when they move into a drafty old English country house.
Rounding off the weekend on Sun 1st is Zola, a dark comedy about a part-time stripper getting in over her head following a move to Florida – intriguingly, it’s based on an epic Twitter thread that went viral in 2015.
Grab your tickets now, and have bragging rights over everyone come next year’s awards season…
And the rest…
Sundance aside, City Screen have a number of other limited screenings this week that are worth flagging – chief amongst them being music doc The Sparks Brothers (showing on Sat 31st, Mon 2nd and Thurs 5th).
This affectionate portrait of pop veterans Ron and Russell Mael (best known for their 1974 hit This Town Ain’t Big Enough for Both of Us) comes courtesy of Shaun of the Dead director – and Sparks mega-fan – Edgar Wright, who brings together an impressive array of talking heads to explain just why the duo are, as the poster puts it, “your favourite band’s favourite band” – and if Wright’s enthusiasm is as infectious on film as it is in his recent 6 Music interview, they just might become yours too…
City Screen also have a couple of classics on offer in the form of Cinema Paradiso – the much-loved 1988 Italian drama is screening on Sun 1st as the winner of a vote from Picturehouse members – and Bhaji on the Beach (Mon 2nd), the slice-of-life tale of a group of Indian women on a day trip to Blackpool, directed by Gurinder Chadha (Bend It Like Beckham) and written by Meera Syal.
Then on Tues 3rd there’s a preview screening of Scandinavian thriller Wildland, in which loyalties are challenged when a young woman moves in with her aunt’s family and is confronted with the violent reality of their criminal life.
And speaking of family, there’s a welcome chance to see Martin Scorsese’s classic Goodfellas over at Vue on Sat 31st and Tues 3rd, while you can catch its diametric opposite at Vue and Cineworld on Weds 4th in the form of music doc Blackpink: The Movie. How does that opening go again? “As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be the singer in a K-pop girl band…”