The Death of Stalin leads the new cinema releases and trailers October 20th 2017

The Death of StalinThis week, there are TWELVE new films out for you to choose from: Armando Iannucci brings us a new comedy in The Death of Stalin, a female student tries to solve her own murder in Happy Death Day, Gerard Butler tries to save the world from itself in Geostorm, there’s Oscars in the offing for My Little Pony: The Movie, Chadwick Boseman tells the story of Thurgood Marshall in Marshall, Vince Vaughn has a Brawl in Cell Block 99, there are important documentaries in Dina and Unrest, there’s an intriguing Zambian-set tale in I Am Not a Witch, a gang of teens head for a concert in Access All Areas, there’s a tale of revenge in Bad Day for the Cut, and if you like BBC’s Planet Earth, there’s Earth: One Amazing Day.

The Death of Stalin seemed an odd idea for a movie, but then I saw the name Armando Iannucci (The Thick Of It, In The Loop) and was sold on it immediately!

The only plot details known so far are… well, it’s a comedy, so you don’t need to know a great deal, but it follows the Soviet dictator, Stalin’s (Adrian McLoughlin), last days and depicts the chaos of the regime after his death.

Quite frankly, just check out the cast list and watch the trailer – Steve Buscemi, Jason Isaacs, Olga Kurylenko, Rupert Friend, Andrea Riseborough, Jeffrey Tambor, Paddy Considine, Michael Palin, Jonathan Aris, Simon Russell Beale, Dermot Crowley, Paul Whitehouse and Justin Edwards.

Writers: Armando Iannucci, David Schneider, Ian Martin, Peter Fellows (based on the graphic novel by Fabien Nury)

I certainly can’t wait to see this.

Hit or Miss? Verdict: Hit!

Happy Death Day centres around a young woman with the ridiculous name of Tree. Yes, Tree. Like that this which grows in your garden. Portrayed by Jessica Rothe, it’s Groundhog Day for her as she wakes up on her birthday, only to be murdered… over and over again, and this will happen until she susses out the culprit and stops them.

In a movie world where there’s so many horror films that always look to be full of cliches, this actually looks bloody* good, and could even start a new series of films like the Final Destination series.

(*pun not intended)

The film was released in the US last Friday, i.e., 13th October… but it was scheduled by a dumbass studio for THIS Friday. Friday 13th makes sense!!! GAH!!

Director: Christopher Landon (Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse)
Screenplay: Christopher Landon, Scott Lobdell
Also stars: Israel Broussard, Ruby Modine, Rachel Matthews, Charles Aitken, Jason Bayle, Phi Vu, Donna Duplantier

Hit or Miss? Verdict: Hit!

GeostormGerard Butler (London Has Fallen) has to try and save the world yet again, this time from our weather system technology which turns against us…

When I first saw the teaser for this, it looked terrible, but the trailer proper has fleshed some more meat on the bones and it looks far more engaging. Okay, so it’s fairly standard Hollywood fare, but hopefully more fun, with Gerard in his ‘Mike Banning’-style mode, a la Olympus Has Fallen and London Has Fallen.

This trailer shows it’s not just ‘2012 on a lower budget’ but more a case of our weather-controlling systems failing, so it’s Weather Has Fallen… or something.

It’s the directorial debut of Dean Devlin, who wrote the script with Paul Guyot, and who was also the producer on both Indpendence Day films, add those to 2012, and… that’s where the connection was.

The film also stars Katheryn Winnick, Abbie Cornish, Ed Harris, Andy Garcia, Robert Sheehan, Jim Sturgess, Alexandra Maria Lara, Mare Winningham and Gregory Alan Williams.

Originally scheduled for last autumn, Geostorm was been put back to October 20th this year. That doesn’t bode hugely well.

Hit or Miss? Verdict: Maybe!

My Little Pony: The Movie is now in cinemas… Just accept it.

A new dark force threatens Ponyville, and the Mane 6 Twilight Sparkle, Applejack, Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy, and Rarity embark on an unforgettable journey beyond Equestria where they meet new friends and exciting challenges on a quest to use the magic of friendship and save their home.

Will they succeed? What do you think?!

Expect Oscars aplenty come next February!

Director: Jayson Thiessen (My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic and many other MLP stories)
Stars: Zoe Saldana, Kristin Chenoweth, Emily Blun, Uzo Aduba, Liev Schreiber, Michael Peña, Tara Strong, Taye Diggs, Sia

Hit or Miss? Verdict: Oh, hit, of course!

Marshall tells a tale I’d not come across before, about the young Thurgood Marshall (Chadwick BosemanBlack Panther), the first African-American Supreme Court Justice, as he battles through one of his career-defining cases.

Thurgood Marshall is not someone well known in the UK, so with Boseman not being a household name over here, the studio might’ve been better off waiting until after Black Panther is released if they want this to see the inside of a cinema.

Director: Reginald Hudlin
Writers: Jacob Koskoff, Michael Koskoff
Also stars: Dan Stevens, Josh Gad, Sophia Bush, Kate Hudson, James Cromwell, Sterling K Brown

Hit or Miss? Verdict: Maybe!

Brawl in Cell Block 99 centres around Bradley Thomas, a former boxer-turned-drug runner who lands in a prison after a deal gets deadly.

Prior to this, he loses his job as an auto mechanic, and his troubled marriage is about to expire. At this crossroads in his life, he feels that he has no better option than to work for an old buddy as a drug courier. This vocation improves his situation until the terrible day that he finds himself in a gunfight between a group of police officers and his own ruthless allies. When the smoke clears, that’s when he is badly hurt and thrown in prison, where his enemies force him to commit acts of violence that turn the place into a savage battleground.

At first, I thought it was Michael Chiklis (2005’s Fantastic Four, The Shield) in the lead role as I’ve never seen Vince Vaughn with a bald head before, so it marks something of a slight departure. I say slight, as it’s still a comedy movie.

Brawl in Cell Block 99 is due out in the US in September, while the UK gets it in October.

Wrier/Director: S Craig Zahler
Also stars: Jennifer Carpenter, Don Johnson, Udo Kier, Rob Morgan

Hit or Miss? Verdict: Maybe!

Dina tells the tale of an eccentric suburban woman, and a Walmart door greeter, who are both autistic, and the film charts their evolving relationship in this unconventional love story.

It certainly looks like an intriguing film, so I do want to check this out.

Hit or Miss? Verdict: Hit!


Jennifer Brea is an active Harvard PhD student, in this new documentary, about to marry the love of her life when suddenly her body starts failing her. Hoping to shed light on her strange symptoms, Jennifer grabs a camera and films the darkest moments unfolding before her eyes as she is derailed by M.E. (commonly known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome), a mysterious illness some still believe is “all in your head.”

This looks like a fascinating documentary, so I do hope to see this soon.

Hit or Miss? Verdict: Hit!

I Am Not a Witch

Following a banal incident in her local village, 8-year old girl Shula is accused of witchcraft. After a short trial she is found guilty, taken into state custody and exiled to a witch camp in the middle of a desert. At the camp she takes part in an initiation ceremony where she is shown the rules surrounding her new life as a witch. Like the other residents, Shula is tied to a ribbon which is attached to a coil that perches in a large tree. She is told that should she ever cut the ribbon, she’ll be cursed and transformed into a goat.

Shot in Zambia, this is not the most straight-forward of tales, given how the trailer pans out, but could certainly be worth a watch.

Hit or Miss? Verdict: Maybe!

Access All Areas

An unlikely gang of teens go on the run to an island music festival, leaving behind their dysfunctional parents and the rules of the real world.

This sounded a bit like Spike Island, where a gang of teens go to see the Stone Roses perform at a one-off festival, but it looks like it could be good.

Hit or Miss? Verdict: Maybe!

Bad Day for the Cut centres around a middle-aged Irish farmer, who still lives at home with his mother, and who sets off on a mission of revenge when the old lady is murdered.

With a case including Nigel O’Neill, Józef Pawlowski, Stuart Graham and Susan Lynch, the trailer for this certainly built up, the more it went on, so I am looking forward to this.

Hit or Miss? Verdict: Hit!

Earth: One Amazing Day

From BBC Earth Films, the studio that brought you Earth, comes the sequel – Earth: One Amazing Day, an astonishing journey revealing the awesome power of the natural world. Over the course of one single day, we track the sun from the highest mountains to the remotest islands to exotic jungles. Breakthroughs in filmmaking technology bring you up close with a cast of unforgettable characters.

Told with humour, intimacy and a jaw-dropping sense of cinematic splendour, Earth: One Amazing Day highlights how every day is filled with more wonders than you can possibly imagine- until now.

That’s the billing and it has a narration from Robert Redford. It looks like it could be okay, but doesn’t feel essential: you see the lots of images of the Earth. I don’t really get it.

Hit or Miss? Verdict: Maybe!