Regardless of how you feel about the quality of their films, no one can deny that Marvel Studios realised the full potential of the superhero movie genre from a box office point of view. Since branching out on its own with the first Iron Man in 2008, they have built up an impressive combo of box office successes and changed the pop culture landscape.
The seed planted by Samuel L. Jackson mentioning the “Avengers Initiative” has now fully blossomed into the most block-busting blockbuster in the shape of the latest Avengers movie. While it’ll be hard to escape spandex mania for most of April, there are a few indie pleasures and smaller studio delights offering an escape.
One such film is Thoroughbreds (6th Apr), a film following two former friends, played by Anya Taylor-Joy and Olivia Cooke, who rekindle their relationship and will solve their problems no matter the cost. It’s an assured debut by Cory Finley and the two actresses are magnetic together. It is also the last performance by Anton Yelchin, proving his unique screen presence will be missed.
For some bizarre reason the Academy neglected to nominate 120 Beats Per Minute (6th Apr) for Best Foreign Film. It’s a vital look at the 1990s AIDS protests that swept through Paris and how public action can change public perception. For proof of its relevancy, just look at how support has nosedived for Donald Trump’s immigration ban on people from seven Arab countries after the mass protests that met its introduction — a film like this is more important than ever.
Also opening is John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place (5th Apr), a film that on paper, and in the tense trailer, looks like a subversive genre thrill. A family lives a silent life in the woods, communicating exclusively in sign language and for good reason — any loud noise makes you prey to a mysterious monster that hunts through sound. Acting on screen with the always-amazing Emily Blunt, his real-life wife, Krasinski has made a horror movie about family.
How do you make a horror film based on a play that subverted horror movie tropes by setting them on the stage? The original playwrights, Andy Nyman and Jeremy Dyson, turn directors with Ghost Stories (6th Apr) and they try answering that opening question. Starring Martin Freeman, Paul Whitehouse and Nyman in three separate but connected stories, the film is intricately told with a killer atmosphere.
Finishing the month’s horror focus is Truth or Dare (13th Apr), a film with the so stupid-it-is-amazing premise: what if you died if you refused to play Truth or Dare properly? Everyone lies when they’re meant to tell the truth or chickens out of a dare when playing, so hopefully director Jeff Wadlow made a movie commenting on social anxiety and our need to feel accepted. Aimed at the teen market with Lucy Hale (Pretty Little Liars) and Tyler Posey (Teen Wolf) starring, if anything this should give us some decent B-movie deaths.
The B-movie spirit also lives in Rampage (13th Apr), a monster movie based an arcade game about three giant animals who fight for supremacy by destroying most of North America. Dwayne Johnson and director Brad Peyton successfully destroyed San Francisco in San Andreas, landing some unexpected emotional punches. With its anti-poaching message and support from Naomi Harris, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Joe Manganiello, here’s hoping Peyton and Johnson go two for two.
And now we arrive at the big one. Avengers: Infinity War (26th Apr). Look, you’re gonna watch it, but, there is a brief to meet. Thanos (Josh Brolin) finally gets off his floating space throne and appears on Earth in search for the Infinity Stones, magical MacGuffins that have appeared multiple times in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The original Avengers roster is joined by Spider-Man, Doctor Strange and the Guardians of the Galaxy. It’s going to be huge, and as the culmination of a 10-year journey, expect tears as your favourite characters are pushed past breaking point.