It’s not often you get to see new instalments or actors from some of Hollywood’s most successful franchises ever rolled into one month. Harry Potter’s Gary Oldman and Alan Rickman both feature in two of April’s must see films, Criminal and Eye In The Sky respectively.
The thirteenth addition to Marvel’s MCU, Captain America: Civil War, also honours us with its presence. Not to mention the superhero everyone has been waiting for – and the clue is that it’s neither Iron Man nor Cap himself. Nope, instead you can expect to see the new reincarnation of Spider-Man grace the Marvel Cinematic Universe for the first time, representing a more classic comic book look and the most accurate casting of Peter Parker every fan has been waiting for (honestly, close your eyes and listen to Tom Holland speak and you can just visualise Spidey as you imagined him when you were a kid).
All of this before we even get to The Jungle Book – one of Disney’s most identifiable films that has now been face-lifted for a more modern, live-action look. Oh yeah and I almost forgot, everyone’s favourite actor right now – Ryan Reynolds – also returns in that same movie with Gary Oldman. Yep, April is going to be great!
The Jungle Book
Not least because The Jungle Book is in itself one of the most beloved stories to ever come from Disney, this year’s reimagining of the 1967 animation feature is one of the most anticipated films this month because of the amazing casting of 12-year-old child actor Neel Sethi. This will be the first work in Sethi’s filmography – an impressive acting debut for someone to perform as the character Mowgli, the main protagonist of Rudyard Kipling’s book series and source material for all Jungle Book book-to-screen adaptations.
Sethi auditioned for the role after his dance teacher told him he’d be great in the part, and it was this passing compliment that propelled him into a career that the young actor has since said he would love to pursue further. Early pre-release reviews of The Jungle Book have been very enthusiastic, with particular praise going to the film’s special effects and acting on Sethi’s part, which must be noted is really the only physical acting we’ll get to see on screen throughout the entire movie, with the rest of the cast being CGI animals and all.
This means Sethi has a monumentally tough job of carrying the film on a visceral level, as his colleagues, who are made up of some of the most notorious names in the business, have only voice-acting roles. The likes of Bill Murray, Idris Elba, Scarlett Johansson, and Ben Kingsley, all make up the animal kingdom that surrounds Sethi in what looks like a very faithful, action-packed, and beautiful interpretation of the colourful story.
It is an ironic situation in which the famous supporting cast are surrounding a young boy, like that of the fearsome creatures who rally around Mowgli in an intimidating and wild environment. Sethi will no doubt get award recognition for his part, and Bill Murray’s casting as Baloo is the perfect choice. The Jungle Book looks like it will continue Disney’s immaculate reputation of unrivalled adult and children-friendly fun when it is released on April 15.
Captain America: Civil War
The battle for the most eye-popping special effects this April will, at first glance, surely go to The Jungle Book. However, have you seen how cool that new Spidey suit looks? Yes, it was confirmed last month in a new teaser trailer that The Amazing Spider-Man himself will make some sort of appearance in what looks to be the closing film of this Captain America standalone MCU stint.
It’s unclear at this point how exactly the web-slinging teen will enter into the grudge-match between frenemies Captain America and Iron-Man, who dispute over the interference of government power in their superhero service to the world. But, like the super-serum that turned Steve Rogers into a shield-wielding heart-throb, Spider-Man will surely inject some steroid-like effect that makes this Marvel feud even bigger, better and more entertaining than what two of the most beloved Avengers can already offer.
Brothers Anthony and Joe Russo return to secure their third successful Marvel film as they try to avoid the same negativity surrounding last month’s attempt by DC to do a similar last-man-standing contest in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. Of course, the MCU already has their formula to pull off its shared universe, with Civil War being its thirteenth instalment, and each of its twelve preceding MCU films achieving positive reviews to critical acclaim.
Like Neel Sethi, this will also be a breakthrough role for a young dancer as 19-year-old Brit Tom Holland stars as Spider-Man. Hopefully he can bring some youthful baby-faced charm to a role we haven’t seen so young on-screen before, and with Peter Parker actually being as young as 15 when he was first bitten by a radioactive spider, it looks like the MCU is going for a much more accurate portrayal of the character we know and love from the comics. We’ll know for sure when Civil War comes out on April 29.
Never mind Spidey, or a civil war between some of the MCU’s most prominent heroes, February’s hugely successful Deadpool movie has made superhero Ryan Reynolds the man of the moment, and he’s back in his second biggest hit of the year in April’s action thriller Criminal. Reynolds co-stars alongside some of Hollywood’s more vintage actors, as Gary Oldman, Tommy Lee Jones, and Kevin Costner also perform in what looks like a film with very Die Hard-esque action sequences on top of a story reminiscent of 2012’s successful Looper.
In Criminal, director Ariel Vromen (The Iceman) aims to ground the fantastical pretence of an ex-con implanted with the memories of a dead CIA agent in order to finish a mission. Over time, the dangerous and heartless convict (Costner) grows more emotionally connected with the life of the man he has replaced (Reynolds), and endeavours to help homeland security foil the criminals that had their agent killed.
Criminal will go up against The Jungle Book when it is released in UK theatres on April 15.
Eye In The Sky
What do you call a film that stars Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul, Dame Helen Mirren, and the late and great Alan Rickman? Totally frickin’ awesome, that’s what! Or, by its official name, Eye In The Sky – a film about modern warfare and the ethics of war.
Inspired by the never ending ‘kill a few to save many’ debate, Eye In The Sky is in itself as much about being a fly on the wall over heated talks between high-ranking military personnel than it is about the over-watching drone from which the movie title derives.
Similarly to the ethical themes brought up in 2014’s Good Kill starring Ethan Hawke, Eye In The Sky highlights the very realist moral issues of collateral damage in modern war zones, when a young girl enters the blast radius of a coordinated airstrike on a terrorist hideout in Kenya. The film challenges the conscience of the drone pilots, torn by their own morals, as well as their commanding officers who must order decisions of their own. The dialogue between the officers at command HQ and the high-tech surveillance used out in the field of battle make for some very intense, juxtaposing scenes, as can be seen in the trailers.
Sadly, this was Alan Rickman’s second to last film before he himself departed this world for the sky above on January 14, his last film being the other very anticipated release and sequel to 2010’s Alice in Wonderland – Through The Looking Glass – also due out this year.
As for Eye In The Sky, you can expect that at a screen near you on April 15 also.
At this point, I don’t know why you’re still here and not watching trailers or booking tickets already. Eye In The Sky rounds off what is one of the year’s best months in film yet, so be sure to check back in May to see what more 2016 has to offer us. A few hints – expect more from Marvel, another reincarnation of one of Disney’s classic characters, and a long-awaited fantasy that has a pretty ridiculous budget for a new franchise.