This week, there are FIVE new films out for you to choose from: Matt Damon goes small in Downsizing, the Maze Runner movies finally reach a conclusion with Maze Runner: The Death Cure – yet another censored movie, three friends reunite 30 years after Vietnam in Last Flag Flying, Nick Park and Aardman Animations are back again with Early Man, and Chris Hemsworth flies the flag for 9/11 in 12 Strong.
Downsizing follows kindly occupational therapist Paul Safranek (Matt Damon), who turns all of the ‘man-made global warming’ crap on its head by undergoing a new procedure to be shrunken to four inches tall, and 0.364% of his original size, so that he and his wife, Audrey (Kristen Wiig), can help ‘save the planet’ and afford a nice lifestyle at the same time, as – for reasons unexplained in this trailer – their $52,000 savings translates to $12.4m in ‘Littleland’, while they can have a nice, plush house built for them.
You have a feeling that something’s going to go wrong at some point but, coming from the director of the superb Sideways (Alexander Payne), Downsizing looks brilliant and is released on December 22nd in the US, but for us in the UK, we have to wait until January 19th, next year, and I really want to see this.
With that release date, they’re clearly aiming at the awards season, as Sideways won the Best Adapted Screenplay for both Payne and Jim Taylor.
Also stars: Christoph Waltz, Hong Chau, Rolf Lassgård, Ingjerd Egeberg, Udo Kier, Søren Pilmark, Jason Sudeikis, James Van Der Beek
Hit or Miss? Verdict: Hit!
Maze Runner: The Death Cure is finally coming out, and centres around Thomas (Dylan O’Brien), who embarks on a mission to find a cure to a deadly disease known as the “Flare”. Apparently, this will be the final film, but there’s several books in the series, so… huh?
This time, Thomas leads his group of escaped Gladers on their final and most dangerous mission yet (it says here). To save their friends, they must break INTO the legendary Last City, a WCKD-controlled labyrinth that may turn out to be the deadliest maze of all. Anyone who makes it out alive will get answers to the questions the Gladers have been asking since they first arrived in the maze.
So, it’s like Prison Break. First, Michael Schofield had to break out, then break IN to another one. Hey ho.
Oh, and following the fact that 20th Century Fox were offered an uncut 15-certificate rating for the first two films, but preferred to cut then down to a 12-cert and ONLY making them available uncut on 4K Blu-ray, the SAME thing happened here! They’re still PG-13 in the US, but zombies and kids don’t mix in the UK, so the cinema version – at least – will be censored.
Maze Runner: The Death Cure has been brought forward in the UK from February 9th to this week, so even though it’s finally getting a cinema outing – as it was originally due in September 2016, it’s been stuck in the Jan/Feb dumping ground for non-awards movies. So, that doesn’t bode well. Apparently, the delay was due to the lead sustaining injuries on-set, but a delay of 2.5 years? Come on!
Director: Wes Ball
Screenplay: TS Nowlin (based on the novel by James Dashner)
Also stars: Kaya Scodelario, Walton Goggins, Nathalie Emmanuel, Katherine McNamara, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Rosa Salazar, Giancarlo Esposito, Patricia Clarkson, Barry Pepper, Ki Hong Lee, Jacob Lofland, Paul Lazenby, Dylan Smith
Hit or Miss? Verdict: Maybe!
Last Flag Flying reunites three friends thirty years after they served together in Vietnam: former Navy Corpsman Larry “Doc” Shepherd (Steve Carell), and marines Sal Nealon (Bryan Cranston) and Reverend Richard Mueller (Laurence Fishburne), to bury Doc’s son, a young Marine killed in the Iraq War.
In the hands of writer/director Richard Linklater, this should be a decent movie, but on the basis of the trailer, it looks rather like a bog-standard “getting old timers together for the sake of it” movie, and we’ve seen enough of that in recent times with Last Vegas and the remake of Going In Style. Hence, I hope there’s more to this than as it first appears.
Also stars: Yul Vazquez, Samuel Davis, Kate Easton
Hit or Miss? Verdict: Maybe!
Early Man is set at the dawn of time, when prehistoric creatures and woolly mammoths roamed the earth, and tells the story of Dug (Eddie Redmayne), along with sidekick Hognob as they unite his tribe against a mighty enemy Lord Nooth and his Bronze Age City to save their home.
Naturally, it has a mostly-all-star cast, but while I loved the Wallace and Gromit films, as well as the 2005 movie, and while Chicken Run was okay, their films do tend to go on longer than required.
Early Man has a rather odd release date. Since it’s not Oscar/BAFTA material, as it’s not quite up there with Wallace and Gromit, and since it’s missing both Christmas AND the early half-term holidays, it looks like they’re shoving it in the January releases section where average films go to die.
Director: Nick Park
Also stars: Maisie Williams, Tom Hiddleston, Richard Ayoade, Timothy Spall, Mark Williams, Johnny Vegas, Selina Griffiths, Simon Greenall, Gina Yashere, Kevin Matadeen
Hit or Miss? Verdict: Maybe!
12 Strong tells the story of the first Special Forces team deployed to Afghanistan after 9/11. Under the leadership of new Captain Mitch Nelson (Chris Hemsworth), the team must work with an Afghan warlord to take down the Taliban.
Might sound like a great idea on paper, but in the telling for this trailer, it looks like another post-9/11 gung-ho ‘Americans will save the world’ toss.
Hit or Miss? Verdict: Miss!
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.