Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie (2016) / D: Mandie Fletcher / 91m
Cast: Jennifer Saunders, Joanna Lumley, Julia Sawalha, Jane Horrocks, June Whitfield, Kathy Burke, Celia Imrie, Robert Webb, Lulu, Emma Bunton, Rebel Wilson, Barry Humphries, Wanda Ventham, Kate Moss
Rating: 3/10 – fashionistas Edina (Saunders) and Patsy (Lumley) flee to the south of France after thinking they’ve killed supermodel Kate Moss; making this yet another British TV comedy success story that goes badly, horribly wrong when transferred to the big screen, Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie is another reminder that humour needs context in which to work, and rehashing the same old jokes over and over is less about giving fans what they want and more about lazy screenwriting.
Revenge (2017) / D: Coralie Fargeat / 108m
Cast: Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz, Kevin Janssens, Vincent Colombe, Guillaume Bouchéde
Rating: 7/10 – a married CEO (Janssens) takes his mistress (Lutz) along with him on a hunting weekend with two friends (Colombe, Bouchéde), but things go badly wrong, and all three men find themselves being hunted instead; a visceral and very, very bloody thriller, Revenge is relentlessly nihilistic, and with characters so broadly drawn they might as well be archetypes, but Fargeat makes good use of the desert landscapes, and Lutz is a resourceful and unapologetically violent heroine.
Incredibles 2 (2018) / D: Brad Bird / 118m
Cast: Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Sarah Vowell, Huck Milner, Bob Odenkirk, Catherine Keener, Samuel L. Jackson, Brad Bird, Isabella Rossellini, Jonathan Banks, John Ratzenberger
Rating: 9/10 – when a successful businessman (Odenkirk) approaches the Parr family with a plan to have Supers allowed to use their super powers again, it proves to be good timing as a new super villain, the Screenslaver, makes himself known; following directly on from the original, Incredibles 2 retains the Sixties vibe, visual ingenuity, and genuine laughs from before, and continues to focus on the Parr family first and foremost, making this a hugely entertaining sequel – even if the villain (as in a lot of superhero movies) is the movie’s weakest link.
Sicario 2: Soldado (2018) / D: Stefano Sollima / 122m
Original title: Sicario: Day of the Soldado
Cast: Benicio Del Toro, Josh Brolin, Isabela Moner, Jeffrey Donovan, Catherine Keener, Manuel Garcia-Ruffo, Matthew Modine, Shea Whigham, Elijah Rodriguez
Rating: 7/10 – Federal agent Matt Graver (Brolin) is tasked with taking the fight to the Mexican drug cartels when evidence points to their helping terrorists get into the US; an odd sequel that goes off in an unexpected direction partway through (and which sets up what’s likely to be a banal third chapter), Sicario 2: Soldado is still head and shoulders above most action thrillers thanks to returning scribe Taylor Sheridan’s taut screenplay, Del Toro’s singular performance as the Sicario of the title, and a handful of well choreographed action scenes.
Terrifier (2017) / D: Damien Leone / 84m
Cast: Jenna Kanell, Samantha Scaffidi, David Howard Thornton, Catherine Corcoran, Pooya Mohseni, Matt McAllister, Katie Maguire
Rating: 4/10 – one night, two young women (Kanell, Scaffidi) find themselves being pursued by a killer clown (Thornton) intent on murdering them and anyone they come into contact with – and as gruesomely as possible; old school practical gore effects are the order of the day here, with Terrifier using every trick in the book to make viewers wince or look away, while building a fair amount of tension, but it’s let down by the usual non-investment in credible characters, lacklustre direction, and making its villain indestructible.
Tomb Raider (2018) / D: Roar Uthaug / 118m
Cast: Alicia Vikander, Dominic West, Walton Goggins, Daniel Wu, Kristen Scott Thomas, Derek Jacobi, Hannah John-Kamen
Rating: 6/10 – Lara Croft (Vikander) sets off in search of her missing father (West) when she discovers a clue to where he went missing, while looking for an ancient artefact that could have devastating consequences for the modern world; another unnecessary reboot, Tomb Raider tries hard – sometimes too hard – to make its by-the-numbers storyline exciting, but too many perfunctory action sequences, allied to so-so performances and Uthaug’s corporate directing style makes this an unlikely contender as the opener for a whole new franchise.
Pacific Rim: Uprising (2018) / D: Steven S. DeKnight / 111m
Cast: John Boyega, Scott Eastwood, Callee Spaeny, Burn Gorman, Charlie Day, Tian Jing, Jin Zhang, Adria Arjona, Rinko Kikuchi
Rating: 5/10 – a new threat to Earth’s defences brings the Jaeger force back into operation, but they soon find themselves fighting against a foe whose plans don’t just involve the Jaeger force’s destruction, but the return of the Kaiju as well; there’s an element of dumb fun about Pacific Rim: Uprising that keeps things ticking over, but though DeKnight is able to provide a decent amount of energy to proceedings, the looming threat to Earth lacks the first movie’s effectiveness, and the Kaiju arrive too late to improve things.
The Death Cure (2018) / D: Wes Ball / 141m
aka Maze Runner: The Death Cure
Cast: Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Ki Hong Lee, Dexter Darden, Will Poulter, Jacob Lofland, Rosa Salazar, Giancarlo Esposito, Patricia Clarkson, Aidan Gillen, Barry Pepper, Walton Goggins
Rating: 8/10 – with their friends imprisoned in the Last City, a WCKD stronghold, Thomas (O’Brien) and his fellow Gladers must find a way of freeing them, and of finding a cure for the Flare, before it’s too late; the final part of the Maze Runner trilogy, The Death Cure ensures the series goes out with a bang, with high octane action sequences, a strong emotional undercurrent to proceedings, and though it’s a little bit too long, it does provide each of the main characters with a suitable and satisfactory conclusion to their story arcs, and doesn’t leave things hanging on the possibility of there being any further chapters.
The Angry Birds Movie (2016) / D: Clay Kaytis, Fergal Reilly / 97m
Original title: Angry Birds
Cast: Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, Bill Hader, Peter Dinklage, Sean Penn, Keegan Michael-Key, Kate McKinnon, Tony Hale, Hannibal Buress, Ike Barinholtz, Tituss Burgess
Rating: 6/10 – trouble comes to an island of (mostly) happy birds in the form of green pigs who aren’t quite as friendly as they seem, leaving the unlikely trio of Red (Sudeikis), Chuck (Gad), and Bomb (McBride) to save the day; a brightly animated game adaptation that will appeal to children far more than adults, The Angry Birds Movie is acceptable fun within the confines of its basic storyline, but the humour is inconsistent, the plot developments seem designed to pad things out instead of feeling organic, and the whole thing becomes less interesting as it goes on.
The Equalizer 2 (2018) / D: Antoine Fuqua / 121m
Cast: Denzel Washington, Pedro Pascal, Ashton Sanders, Orson Bean, Bill Pullman, Melissa Leo
Rating: 6/10 – ex-spy Robert McCall (Washington) goes after the people responsible for the murder of his ex-boss (Leo), and finds himself up against a cadre of mercenaries with a similar skill-set; Washington’s first sequel, The Equalizer 2 is unremarkable at best and unnecessary at worst, with a banal storyline and cookie cutter character motivations that are offset by Fuqua’s authoritative direction, Washington’s commanding performance, and several very effective fight sequences.
Selfie from Hell (2018) / D: Erdal Ceylan / 76m
Cast: Alyson Walker, Tony Giroux, Meelah Adams, Ian Butcher
Rating: 3/10 – strange paranormal events that have a connection to the Dark Web begin to affect a young woman (Walker) when her cousin (Adams) comes to visit; even for its modest running time, Selfie from Hell soon outwears its welcome, thanks to its confused plotting, wayward acting, leaden direction, and meaningless frights, all of which add up to yet another horror movie where things happen because they can instead of because they make sense within the terms of the story.
Scooby-Doo! and the Gourmet Ghost (2018) / D: Doug Murphy / 77m
Cast: Frank Welker, Grey Griffin, Matthew Lillard, Kate Micucci, Bobby Flay, Giada De Laurentiis, Marcus Samuelsson, David Kaye, Dana Snyder, Jason Spisak
Rating: 7/10 – the Mystery Gang travel to Bar Harbour to help Fred’s Uncle Bobby deal with a ghost that’s jeopardising the opening of a culinary resort; the format and the jokes are all present and correct, making Scooby-Doo! and the Gourmet Ghost another satisfying entry in the series, but it’s also one that highlights just how predictable these movies are becoming.