The cinemas are open all weekend.
Easter is here, blockbuster movies are back, and seriously, there hasn’t been a better time to visit your local cinema and stock up on popcorn in at least a year. There’s still a bunch of long-running hits showing around the place, but if you’re looking for something new to soak in, here’s our guide to the hits (no misses) of the fresh holiday releases.
Godzilla versus Kong (out now)
Here’s what you want to know: there is an actual winner. That said, as the final instalment in a generally well-thought-out (if not always successfully executed) series, those involved have clearly thought – a lot – about how to end things in a way that’s going to keep everyone happy. Mission accomplished: one guy wins the fight, the other finds a way to keep his dignity intact.
Unfortunately, that sense of being extremely careful not to put a foot wrong extends throughout this somewhat satisfying but never spectacular series capper, resulting in a film that never cuts loose the way a film titled Godzilla vs Kong should. Remember how the tagline for Clash of the Titans was the awesome yet awesomely stupid “Titans Will Clash”? This needed a lot more of that energy.
Still, when it comes to the actual fight mechanics this does tick all the boxes. Godzilla attacks humans, Kong gets to battle monsters, the lead titans get to fight on each other’s turf so the home ground advantage is spread equally – so if you’re here to see the monsters size up against each other you won’t go home disappointed, even if the final clash (which takes place in an urban setting) could have had a bit more variety as far as the visuals go.
Peter Rabbit 2 (out now)
The first Peter Rabbit didn’t exactly make a virtue out of “this isn’t your grandparents Peter Rabbit”, but it most definitely did commit to the bit. If you’re not a fan of comedy that constantly throws up self-referential jokes while trying to be the most extreme, in-your-face attitude-packed comedy an eight-year-old can handle, this sequel – which somehow doubles down on all that while supposedly walking it back – isn’t for you.
What this does have is Peter Rabbit (voiced by James Corden) largely having seen the error of his rebellious ways. Unfortunately, surrogate mother Bea (Rose Byrne) wrote a best-seller where he was a rebel without a cause and, trapped by that image, he eventually heads out into the wide world where his in-your-face attitude is embraced by the animal underworld. It’s sugary fun for kids with the usual heavy-handed messages slightly lightened by the comedy’s relentless, if one-note, energy.
The Father (April 1)
Anthony Hopkins is Anthony, an elderly gent puttering around his flat enjoying his music. His daughter (Olivia Coleman) stops by to help out – not that he wants any help, as he’s perfectly capable on his own. Only he isn’t: it gradually becomes clear that he’s increasingly confused by the world around him. And thanks to the way this film plays with our sense of what’s real, so are we.
Characters are played by multiple actors, events take place out of chronological order, conversations repeat in different settings, strangers turn up claiming to be family; it’s all designed to put us in the same position as the increasingly disorientated lead. It’s powerful if not exactly enjoyable, a grim slide into dementia anchored by a brilliant, deeply-felt performance by Hopkins as the strong-willed but increasingly unmoored man at the centre of this storm.
The Courier (April 1)
This spy thriller (based on a true story) walks an unusual path, telling a story that relies heavily on high stakes – it’s set just before and around the Cuban missile crisis – that operate largely in the abstract. We’re told repeatedly that for UK salesman Greville Wynne (Benedict Cumberbatch) the risks in smuggling out documents from high ranking Soviet Oleg Penkovsky (Merab Nindze) are minimal – it’s the other guy who’ll be going to the firing squad – yet much of the tension comes from the feeling that Greville’s spy handlers aren’t quite telling him the full story.
It’s difficult to spoil a true story, but this does have a third act twist for those who aren’t up on their Cold War history. Before that, it’s a decent, if fairly straightforward, look at an average man who finds himself buddying up to a traitor-slash-hero betraying his country for higher motives. While Cumberbatch does a good job conveying the stress and tension that comes with all the lies and sneaking around in Moscow hotels and meeting rooms, it’s hard not to think that the real story here lies in the man actually passing him the secret documents.
Nobody (April 1)
Nobody pivots on the idea of an everyday schlub secretly being the employee of the month for Murder Incorporated, which is kind of unlikely… and yet not as unlikely as the idea that we’re meant to think that Bob Odenkirk isn’t capable of cold-blooded mass murder. If you’ve ever seen his 90s sketch series Mr. Show (and if you haven’t run, don’t walk) you know there is literally nobody (heh) working in film or television today better able to display full-throated rage with a single well-chosen expletive.
The selling point here is watching the 55-year-old Odenkirk as seemingly regular guy Hutch Mansell suddenly but casually murder dozens of highly trained bad guys half his age. It’s a lot of fun. The multiple action scenes – all excellently staged and shot by director Illya Naishuller (Hardcore Henry) – in the back half are firmly set up by an opening that verges on a parody of boring, generic, middle-aged male impotence, piling on Mansell’s numbing routine while surrounded by a family that either forgets he’s there or treats him with barely hidden contempt.
Nobody eventually pushes the John Wick formula a lot closer to parody (it’s written by Wick’s creator, Derek Kolstad) without ever quite tipping over the line, which is impressive considering how close to parody Wick already was. If there’s any flaw in this highly enjoyable film, it’s that the tension tapers off a little as the inevitable warehouse showdown arrives, simply because the story’s over bar the shooting as soon as the Russian Mob (led by Aleksey Serebryakov’s nightclub singing psycho) commit to going head-to-head with Mansell.
Voyagers (April 1)
While this hasn’t yet been shown to critics, going by the trailer it’s something you definitely won’t want to miss out on because it looks bonkers. In the future, there’s a spaceship sent to another planet but because the journey is going to take so long it’s crewed by babies who will live, grow up and die on the spaceship (but why is everyone on the ship the same age aside from Colin Farrell’s space captain? Shut up). Sounds great, especially as – because space is so serious and technical – all the kids are secretly put on drugs to block their emotions. What could possibly go wrong?
It’s no spoiler to reveal that the serious science teens discover something’s up, decide to stop taking “the blue”, and instantly turn into Space Hornbags like it’s some kind of intergalactic Schoolie’s Week. This doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense but seriously, who cares: Horney Teens in Space is exactly the movie we need in 2021.
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