Six movies worth checking out at Geelong cinemas right now
08.04.2022

Six movies worth checking out at Geelong cinemas right now

Photo Credit: Jaap Buitendijk
Film reviews by Anthony Morris

Our guide to (almost) everything you might want to see these school holidays with a big bucket of popcorn in hand.

It’s April, which means the school holidays are here. And school holidays mean the biggest range of big-name movies we’ve seen in a long while are coming to the big screen. There’s a fresh batch of fresh hits now showing: here’s our take on the new releases you won’t want to miss.

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore

Newt Scamander is back! He may not have quite the name recognition of Harry Potter, but at least he’s been played by the same actor (Eddie Redmayne) across all three Fantastic Beasts films. The same can’t be said for the evil Grindelwald, now played by Mads Mikkelsen after Johnny Depp was removed (and Colin Farrell did an excellent job as an undercover version in the first film). He’s looking to take over the world of wizarding and give it a blatantly racist (against non-magical people) agenda: as this is taking place in 1930s Europe, the metaphor is fairly blunt. Fortunately there’s some magical animals involved, where is where Newt comes in, such things being his speciality as a Magizoologist.

Young Dumbledore (Jude Law) is also on the case to oppose his old friend Grindelwald’s rise to power – though a pact made in their youth prevents them from acting against each other directly. Enter New York baker and muggle Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler), who was a highlight of the previous films. He, plus pretty much everyone else, and a number of new characters besides, are back as part of a complicated scheme to thwart Grindelwald’s ambitions and keep wizarding on the side of good. It’s more obviously entertaining than the gloomy previous film, with a number of impressive set pieces and some stunning set design – though the ever-growing cast leaves a few members feeling like afterthoughts. It’s a fun, if increasingly inessential, addition to the Harry Potter universe.

Ambulance

Danny Sharp (Jake Gyllenhaal) is presumably named Sharp to distract us from the fact he isn’t. Despite being a master bank robber, his latest multi-million-dollar heist – which has to happen today – relies on him bringing on board his brother Will (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), a man who has turned his back on crime and is actively opposed to returning to the world of crime both his father and brother occupy. Of course, Will comes along (he needs money to pay for his wife’s medical treatment), which is handy as he’s an ex-solider with excellent combat driving skills. Only, he’s not the getaway driver – some chump who panics, drives off, and runs over one of his buddies is.

Obviously, the heist goes wrong, in large part because the LAPD’s SIS unit – led by Captain Munroe (Garret Dillahunt) – knew they were coming. Of course, stopping them before the robbery would be too easy; as we’re told multiple times, this unit “lays traps” and then abandons them the second there’s a problem. Danny, Will, and sixteen million dollars manage to escape a closing net by hijacking an ambulance with EMT Cam Thompson (Eiza Gonzalez) inside, and for the next hundred minutes or so director Michael Bay keeps the camera moving, the cast shouting and the cars crashing. It’s very one note (and that note is LOUD) but if you’re on its bombastic wavelength this return to over-the-top 90s style action definitely delivers.

Morbius

Suffering since childhood from a crippling blood disease, Dr Michael Morbius (Jared Leto) has devoted his life to the study of blood. So he injects himself with vampire bat extract and creates a serum that both cures him and turns him into a bloodsucking monster. That’s pretty much it for this origin story; being a Spider-Man bad guy means Sony (not Marvel) has the rights, making this tonally much closer to Sony’s Venom films than the big blockbuster Spider-Man franchise. Clear signs of tinkering in the editing suite don’t help – if you’re expecting a lot of Michael Keaton’s Vulture based on early trailers, think again – but by keeping the run time short and the focus firmly on Morbius this manages to deliver a few pulpy thrills.

Matt Smith plays Milo, Morbius’ best friend and fellow disease sufferer (no prizes for guessing which way his character arc bends) and goes big in every scene he’s in. Everyone else here feels more disposable as usual, which may not be a bad thing for a movie largely about a mystery vampire drinking its way through Manhattan. Like a lot of Sony’s superhero movies, it ends up feeling more like a piece in a bigger puzzle than something fully satisfying on its own; maybe next time they could make a movie that doesn’t feel like an offer to get in on the ground floor of a franchise that may never happen.

The Lost City

Archaeologist-turned romance novelist Loretta Sage (Sandra Bullock) has lost her mojo, and being forced onto an increasingly embarrassing book tour isn’t helping. Her book cover model Alan Caprison (Channing Tatum) means well, but he’s way more invested in her novels (and her) than she currently is. Then she’s kidnapped by billionaire Abigail Fairfax (Daniel Radcliffe), who believes her latest novel proves she knows more than she’s letting on about “The Crown of Fire”, a priceless treasure he hopes is located on a remote island he just bought. Now it’s up to Alan to save her – well, it’s not really, but he really wants to, and nobody else seems to have noticed she’s gone besides her publicist (Da’Vine Joy Randolph).

Plenty of jungle adventures follow as Alan slowly figures out his act (to some extent) and Loretta loosens up, and while this isn’t quite the return of big screen romantic comedy – the romance side of things never quite takes off – both leads are always entertaining. A cast against type Radcliffe is clearly enjoying chewing the scenery, while the action sequences move things along nicely and special guest star Brad Pitt is more charming and funny than he’s been in years. It never really adds up to much more than a couple of likable doofuses running around the jungle, but that’s part of its low stakes charm. If you’ve been waiting for a movie where the actors (and not the special effects) are the star, Hollywood has finally heard you.

And for the kids:

Sonic the Hedgehog 2

A few hiccups with the CGI aside, the first Sonic movie was a surprisingly entertaining action comedy, in part thanks to some solid character work from James Marsden as good guy sheriff Tom Wachowski, and in larger part to a nutty performance from Jim Carrey as bad guy scientist Dr Robotnik. They’re both back for the sequel: also here are a number of Sonic’s friends and foes from the games, including echidna warrior Knuckles (voiced by Idris Elba) and flying fox Tails (Colleen O’Shaughnessey). The fairly frantic story revolves around the hunt for the Master Emerald; fortunately the jokes here come almost as fast as the action. Throw in a giant killer robot, and what more could you want?

The Bad Guys

What happens when a bunch of career criminals decide to go straight? It’s not as easy as you might think for Mr. Wolf (Sam Rockwell) to try and persuade his crime crew – Mr. Piranha (Anthony Ramos), Mr. Snake (Marc Maron), Mr. Shark (Craig Robinson), and Ms. Tarantula (Awkwafina) – that doing good actually feels good. Maybe he’s just putting on an act, maybe he really does want to change. Either way, a lot of people around them want them to stay bad (and not everyone inside the group is convinced about this whole “being good” thing either). Based on the hit children’s book series, this sharply animated film is the kind of fast-paced, gag-packed adventure that really does deserve the title “fun for the whole family”.