With the Summer Blockbuster season drawing ever closer and the Easter holidays drawing near, the first of this year’s big budget films will open for your enjoyment in April. First out of the gates include The Amazing Spiderman 2, the hyped-up second installment in Marvel’s rebooted franchise. Then there’s Transcendence, our pick of the month; a smart sci-fi thriller that marks the directorial debut of award-winning cinematographer Wally Pfister.
April’s Top Pick
Transcendence (Dir. Wally Pfister) – Released Apr. 25th
Even before his directorial debut, Wally Pfister has already made his mark on the world of cinema. The award-winning photographer has regularly collaborated with fan favorite Christopher Nolan since Memento. He vividly captured the isolation of Will Dormer in amongst the desolation of Insomnia’s Alaskan setting. Then he used sumptuous long shots to bring the city of Gotham to life, in Nolan’s much-lauded Dark Knight trilogy.
Transcendence returns Pfister to the world of smart sci-fi he and Nolan inhabited in Inception. It tells the story of Johnny Depp’s Will Caster, a researcher in artificial intelligence whose determination to create a machine more intelligent than humans makes him a target for extremists who oppose his vision. The actions that follow drive Caster closer to his goal, eventually leading him to becoming an unstoppable technological power. Told through Pfister’s ravishing eye for detail, Transcendence promises to be the first intelligent blockbuster of year, which will hopefully keep your excitement levels ticking over until Nolan’s Interstellar is released in November.
Tom Hardy has regularly displayed his meticulous talent for bringing diverse characters to life on the screen and in Locke (Apr. 18th) he gets to dazzle us once again. Written and directed by Steven Knight, it tells the story of Ivan Locke, a successful construction manager whose life gradually falls apart during a series of phone conversations made while on a lengthy nighttime drive.
For something slightly lighter, why not check out The Lunchbox (Apr. 11th). Already a huge hit on the festival circuit, it tells the heartwarming story of two lonely individuals in Mumbai who find a connection with each other through their love of food.
Starring man of the hour Chiwetel Ejiofor, Half Of A Yellow Sun (Apr. 11th) is a story of love and determination, told against the intense backdrop of the Nigerian Civil War.
Having developed a particularly individual style with her previous two films, Joanna Hogg methodically weaves an intimate tale of contemporary marriage in her latest feature Exhibition (Apr. 25th). Following an artistic couple as they prepare to move from their beautiful London house, Hogg exquisitely examines the power that particular locations can hold over you through the memories you have of them.
The Guard is one of the best British comedies of the decade thus far and director John Michael McDonagh’s darkly comic follow-up looks set to equal, or possibly surpass its brilliance. McDonagh reteams with leading man Brendan Gleeson for Calvary (Apr. 11th), another Irish-set tale that follows a priest as he tries to discover who it was that threatened to kill him during confession. Starring a host of comic greats, including Chris O’Dowd & Dylan Moran, Calvary has already been stirring much talk amongst the critics at film festivals and preview screenings, with its witty and well-observed examination on the darker side of human existence singling it out as a possible future classic.
Who would have thought that, having created two of the best films in recent memory, Darren Aronofsky would turn to the Good Book for his latest inspiration; the result being the Biblically epic (literally) Noah (Apr. 4th). Starring Russell Crowe as the eponymous man tasked with saving the animals from God’s great flood, the film examines contemporary ideas of faith against an old-age backdrop, with Crowe hopefully steering the ship in the right direction.
Telling the extraordinary true story of Robyn Davidson’s magnificent trek across the Australian Desert, Tracks (Apr. 25th) finally gives Mia Wasikowska the leading role she has long deserved. Spectacularly shot on location in Australia, the film juxtaposes beautifully vast locations with an intimate tale of self-discovery.
Yet another young-adult franchise adaption, Divergent (Apr. 4th) will no doubt be hoping to emulate the success of The Hunger Games when it opens in early April. With Shailene Woodley hoping to build on her small but memorable turn in The Descendants, she now finds herself playing a young girl who tries to fight a system determined to choose your destiny for you. With Kate Winslet as the hissable villain, it is another franchise hoping to prove it has both the brains and the brawn to warrant the inevitable sequels.
The reason so many found Spiderman 3 frustrating was due to an overcrowded roster of villains, so quite why The Amazing Spiderman 2 (Apr. 18th) has decided to at least match it is baffling. This time Spidey faces off against Electro & Rhino, while also having to do battle with the wicked Norman Osborne and his enigmatic son Harry. Hopefully director Marc Webb will have more confidence in juggling so many villains, otherwise we might have to have yet another reboot.
One sequel that truly does have everyone excited is The Raid 2 (Apr. 11th). Director Gareth Evens returns, as does much of the original cast, for another milieu of blood and guts driven by the greed and loyalty of its characters. The first was a truly original and exceptional action epic and the sequel looks to be delivering much of the same, with Evens firmly establishing himself as the go-to guy if you want your thrills large and relentless.
Hammer Horror once again looks set to make you shiver with The Quiet Ones (Apr. 11th). Telling the tale of an unorthodox professor who uses some of his students to create a poltergeist, expect thrills and chills from this old-school horror that stars the brilliant Jared Harris as the professor determined to explore the link between negative energy and paranormal activity.
Michael Cera has become a dangerously typecast performer in various comedies, but now we see him utilising those slightly demonic eyes of his for psycho-thriller Magic Magic (Apr. 18th). With Juno Temple, one of Hollywood’s hottest properties right now, in the lead role and Cera proving his worth in a meatier role, Sebastian Silva’s film is one showing great promise; telling the tale of a young girl who slowly becomes more and more suspicious of those she is living with while staying with friends in Chile.
Best Of The Rest
Despite only ever making 3 films, James Dean remains the pinnacle of cinematic cool, his untimely death being one of cinemas greatest tragedies. Celebrating his small but superb contribution to the medium, Dean’s filmography is being re-released, with East Of Eden and Rebel Without A Cause (Apr. 18th) having been remastered for the occasion. See why Dean became the embodiment of teenage disillusionment, and how fate led to cinema loosing one of its brightest acting prospects.
Having made such a substantial mark with his first film, Richard Ayoade returns to the director’s chair with The Double (Apr. 4th). Based on the novella by Dostoyevsky, it’s a wonderful fable of identity, driven by stark imagery and superb performances from Jesse Eisenburg as a man who must confront himself, literally, when his life is usurped by his doppelgänger.