Here’s our guide to (almost) everything else you might want to see this weekend with a big bucket of popcorn in hand.
Okay, so if you’re going to the movies this weekend there’s a good chance you’re going to see The Batman. And you should! It’s really good. But while you’re there – and yes, it may be your first time back at the movies for a while – if you’re thinking about checking out some of the other features on offer (or you just want to confirm that The Batman is any good), we’ve got just the guide you need.
It’s been two years since The Batman (Robert Patterson) started punching criminals in Gotham City, and the caped crusader is still finding his place. There’s a bat-signal lighting up the night sky, but face-painted gangs aren’t scared of him; Jim Gordon (Jefffery Wright) is just a Lieutenant, but he has enough clout to bring Batman in when the mayor is brutally murdered on the eve of an election a lot of powerful people don’t seem all that interested in. The killer (Paul Dano) left a riddle for The Batman, but there are no easy answers here.
What follows is a three hour deep dive into Gotham’s corruption, with Selina Kyle (Zoe Kravitz) as tour guide, Oswald “The Penguin” Cobblepot (Colin Farrell) as the manager of the hot spot where all the crooked officials hang out, and a growing mystery that increasingly points back to the family of one Bruce Wayne. Director Matt Reeves goes hard on Gotham as a (plausible) urban hellhole that needs a costumed vigilante to keep a lid on things, while the story itself keeps enough of a focus despite multiple subplots to feel (and look) like a real epic movie and not just a double-length opening episode of a HBO series.
Superhero movies have changed a lot since Nolan’s Bat-films, and this is more flamboyantly comic-booky in parts while maintaining a grit the Marvel / Disney films can’t manage. It’s an instant classic, with flaws that are minor at best. As a serial-killer story it’s a little bloodless; Patterson’s intense yet human Batman (his goth Bruce Wayne only gets a handful of scenes) deserved a case with little more edge.
Just from watching Uncharted, it wouldn’t come as a surprise to learn that Tom Holland was a massive fan of the game it’s based on and turning it into a movie was a lifelong ambition – he’s constantly giving it his all in every scene while those around him seem five seconds away from taking out their phones to check their social media stats. Then again, maybe his management team told him he can’t be the Spider-Man guy forever. Just look at co-star Mark Wahlberg, who well within living memory was the biggest box office draw on the planet (and was originally cast in the lead here a decade ago) but now seems lucky to be a sidekick in a video game adaptation where his character largely vanishes from screen every time there’s an action sequence.
Holland is Nathan Drake, orphan turned bartender and pickpocket, who a): gets a lot of mysterious postcards from his runaway older brother Sam, who shared his obsession with the past and pirates and treasure and so on, and b): has Victor “Sully” Sullivan (Wahlberg) turn up at his bar one evening in a way that might make you think he’s really Sam but no, he’s a completely unrelated treasure hunter who wants Nathan’s help. The story here is yet another Hollywood treasure quest complete with clues and death traps and codes and maps, none of which make a lick of sense on any level; if you want to get any enjoyment out of this silly romp do not spend a single second thinking about any of the puzzles.
As you might expect, this is a problem for the movie as a whole; best to focus on the frequently shirtless Holland, who gives an A-grade performance in this B-movie.
Death on the Nile
Opening with a WWI sequence that’s both a grim origin story for Poirot’s moustache and the first sign that this is a tale where love is firmly entwined with death, director and star Kenneth Branagh’s second Agatha Christie adaptation muddles around for a while in pre-WWII London and Egypt until Poirot’s enjoyment of the Great Pyramids is interrupted by old chum Bouc (Tom Bateman), who drags him along to a fancy honeymoon party where it turns out Poirot knows the main players but not the combination they’ve settled down in.
Extremely wealthy heiress Linnet Ridgeway (Gal Gadot, charming and likable) has just wed hunky lunk Simon Doyle (Armie Hammer, entertainingly solid), who – last time we saw him – was grinding up on Linnet’s bestie Jacqueline (Emma Mackie, sympathetically tormented) on a London nightclub dancefloor. Now she’s turned stalker, Linnet is understandably freaking out, and she asks Poirot to tag along in the hopes his private investigator skills can keep her safe. Obviously everyone is a suspect, but Branagh takes his time setting things up before the body count starts ticking upwards. He also takes it all dead seriously, which is the right (if a bit stuffy) way to go.
This story is lightweight fluff any way you look at it, a puzzle built around unlikely people and contrivances; pointing any of this out, even for an instant, would make the whole thing collapse.
One way of looking at this film – the fourth in the Jackass series – is that it’s a meditation on age and male friendship, an unblinking look at a group of friends who refuse to let the years prevent them from doing what they love. Another way is that it’s a bunch of often painful and disgusting stunts that somehow manage to be consistently hilarious despite (or because of) their lowbrow nature.
Beyond that, there’s really not a lot to be said about Jackass Forever: it’s the kind of throwaway film that seems like it barely deserves a cinema run, yet seeing it in a crowded cinema where you’re surrounded by people wincing and laughing at the same time is movie-watching at its very best.
You’ll laugh (over and over again), you’ll cry (in sympathetic pain at many of the stunts); it’s very likely the best Jackass film to date.
Kat Valdez (Jennifer Lopez) is a musical superstar known as much for her string of failed marriages as her musical ability, which makes her current success with a song titled ‘Marry Me’ just a little ironic. For some reason she seems to think marrying her fiancé (who is also the song’s co-performer) on stage is a good move; when it all falls through at the very last second she ends up pulling onto the stage and marrying divorced maths teacher Charlie Gilbert (Owen Wilson), who is really just there in an attempt to bond with his teenage daughter. Remember that Bruce Springsteen music video where Courtney Cox gets pulled up on stage? It’s a gender-swapped version of that.
You’d expect this blatant publicity stunt to be annulled the next day, but when Kat decides to stick it out in an attempt to go against her public image, things… maybe work out? It’s a thin premise but Wilson and Lopez have great chemistry and yes, the whole “she’s a star, he’s a nobody” is a lot like Notting Hill, but borrowing from the classics is never a bad move.
This Valentine’s Day movie has stuck around longer than expected, mostly because this kind of lightweight charm is a fun watch any time of the year.