There was a time when blockbuster season roughly ran from the beginning of June to the end of August. However, just as Christmas now starts in September, blockbuster season begins in May. Though this year, with the April release of The Amazing Spiderman 2, the blockbuster bonanza is already up and running, meaning this May sees more big releases than ever before. In fact, it looks like many of us will be spending nearly all of our time at the cinema this month; that’s not really a bad thing though, is it?
May’s Top Pick
Godzilla (Dir. Gareth Edwards) – Released May 16th
It’s been nearly 16 years since Roland Emmerich tried and failed to resurrect the king of the Kaiju by way of a phoned in performance from Ferris Bueller himself. It was a monumental disappointment of literally giant proportions, and many thought the Big G would be consigned to the icy depths of the ocean until the end of days. However, when Gareth Edwards exploded on to the cinematic scene with his small-in-budget, big-in-scope debut Monsters, Warner Bros. finally found someone to bring Godzilla back to the big screen.
Firmly rooting his film in the themes that rang through the sensational 1954 original, Edwards’ Godzilla looks and sounds like an entirely different beast to Emmerich’s poorly rendered skeletal monster. The director has made it clear that the characters that inhabit his story, not the giant predator that has brought them together, will drive his film. That’s certainly something that’s apparent from the cast, which includes a cream of dramatic acting talent including Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth Olsen and Sally Hawkins.
The trailer alone is a hypnotic marvel, a visual tour-de-force that’s complemented by rich performances and gnawing tension. Edwards has already proved himself to be an assured director and, if Godzilla turns out to be half as good as it looks, he’ll soon be considered a true master of his craft.
There are a slew of CG-driven blockbusters hitting the big screen this month, which range from the sublime to the ridiculous.
We haven’t seen a truly outstanding X-Men film since X2, but with director Bryan Singer back behind the camera X-Men: Days Of Futures Past (May 22nd) may well be the film to truly put the epic superhero saga back on top. Bringing together the stars of the original films and their younger incarnations from First Class, DOFP sees the X-Men standing together to bring down an alien threat.
Tom Cruise will also be battling E.T. in the highly anticipated Edge Of Tomorrow (May 30th). Directed by Doug Limen, it’s been described as a Sci-Fi Groundhog Day, with Cruise’s soldier constantly returning to the last day of his life in order to find a way to defeat an alien army.
Paul W.S. Anderson has a proven track record of injecting his films with way too many explosions; surely it’s a logical step from his new film to tackle one of the most explosive moments in history. Starring Game Of Thrones heartthrob Kit Harington, Pompeii (May 2nd) does appear to be a case of all style and little substance, but that eruption sure does look incredible.
Another CG fest to hit the screens this month is Tarzan (May 2nd). Quite why we need another reimaging of Tarzan & Jane’s romance is anyone’s guess, but with its bright and vibrant visuals, it’ll at least keep the kids entertained over the bank holiday weekend.
Sleeping Beauty is one of the finest animated films ever to be released by the House Of Mouse, so a live-action reimagining was inevitable. With Angelina Jolie oozing a delightful malevolence in the title role, Maleficent (May 28th) turns one of Disney’s greatest foes into its central character, charting how the cruel fairy came to realize how integral Princess Aurora would be to maintaining peace in the kingdom.
We’ve all had our experiences with awful neighbours making too much noise, but few of us would be able to say we’ve had it as bad as Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne do in the appropriately titled Bad Neighbors (May 3rd). When a fraternity, led by Zac Efron, move in to the neighbourhood, battle lines are drawn between these wild party animals and the peaceful neighbours trying to care for their new-born baby.
What happens when you put a papier-mâché head on top of Michael Fassbender? Frank (May 9th) is the answer. Based loosely on the story of Frank Sidebottom, the film follows Domhnall Gleeson’s musician, who joins Frank’s band as they head to Ireland to record an album.
John Turturro hasn’t made a film in the US since 2005’s Romance & Cigarettes, spending much of his time supporting Optimus Prime in Michael Bay’s never-ending Transformers saga. However, based on first impressions, Fading Gigolo (May 23rd)looks like it’s going to prove he’s lost none of his comic talent. Directed by, written & starring Turturro, alongside Woody Allen, Fading Gigolo follows Fioravante, who decides to become a professional Don Juan in order to financially help out his best friend Murray.
With Ted, Seth McFarlane proved he’s so much more than just the man who created Family Guy. Coming off the back of his awful Oscar appearance last year, McFarlane’s new film blends comedy with the western to produce A Million Ways To Die In The West (May 30th). McFarlane stars as a cowardly father who must fight for the heart of a woman he’s fallen in love with, supported by a cream of comic talent that includes Neil Patrick Harris, Sarah Silverman and Giovanni Ribisi.
With it’s unsettling atmosphere and fragmented blend of images, the trailer for Blue Ruin (May 2nd) draws you in to its tangled web. Already receiving rave reviews both here and across the pond, it’s a simple tale of vengeance that burns with tension and emotional intensity, which may make it the most highly anticipated independent film of the year.
There’s a lot of excitement surrounding Fury, the World War 2 epic directed David Ayer released later in the year. However, that’s not Ayer’s only film of the year. Sabotage (May 7th) finds the director teaming up with the king of action Arnold Schwarzenegger, who plays a DEA task force leader whose life is threatened by a drug cartel who believes he and his team robbed their safe house.
Hossein Amini may be responsible for tripe such as 47 Ronin and Snow White & The Huntsmen, but he’s also the man who wrote Drive, meaning there are still lots of reasons to be excited about his new film The Two Faces Of January (May 16th). Starring Viggo Mortensen, Kirsten Dunst and Oscar Isaac, the complex plot involves a con artist, his wife, a mysterious stranger, and the murder of police officer.
District 13 wasn’t a particularly groundbreaking film, but it did make stunning use of the Parkour discipline. Now comes the inevitable US remake, shot from the same script and starring the late Paul Walker in the lead role. The title is certainly underwhelming, but Brick Mansions (May 2nd) does boast another enthralling opportunity to see men jumping over buildings, and a chance for fans of Paul Walker to see him on the screen once again.
Best Of The Rest
Well-received at last year’s London Film Festival, Ilo Ilo (May 2nd) is a poignant family drama that’s infused with gentle comedy. Exploring the harsh effects of the financial crisis from the relatable viewpoint of family life, it’s bolstered by deft direction and keenly observed performances.
With this year marking the centenary start of World War One, it’s a perfect opportunity to head to the BFI Southbank to catch the extended run of Stanley Kubrick’s unsung masterpiece Paths Of Glory (May 2nd). A visceral examination of the hypocrisy of war, it’s a film driven by big themes that continue to reverberate across Europe.
Hayao Miyazaki is a legend of Japanese Anime, making his farewell feature The Wind Rises (May 9th) a must see for all fans of the genre. Miyazaki turns his hypnotic eye towards Jiro Horikoshi, the man who designed the Japanese fighter plane for World War Two. Already celebrated as a visually astounding piece that’s infused with awe and poignancy, there’s only one place to see The Wind Rises and that’s on the big screen.