9   +   6   =  

There’s no point beating around the bush; there’s only one film you are going to see plastered everywhere. Given that it’s actually been plastered everywhere for months now, I wonder if there’s anyone not aware of the new Avengers film. But even if it’s set to dwarf everything in 2015, at least until Star Wars, there’s still a bit of magic sprinkled elsewhere this week.

So we start with Avengers: Age of Ultron. After its predecessor tied in years of painstaking work by Marvel to become a critical hit and the third highest grossing film of all time, expectations are high. This time out, the superhero squad of Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, The Hulk and a few odds and ends have to battle a misguided creation made by one of their own. Good old artificial intelligence still makes for a fine villain, unless you’re Transcendence in which case everyone was already asleep before the villainy occurred. The real masterstroke here probably comes with the return of writer/director Joss Whedon. Under all that groaning destruction, he knows how to keep it light. Here’s hoping he’s managed to bottle lightening.

Ignoring flying metal suits and giant green fighting machines, the real star this week is actually an idiosyncratic Swedish director. A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence is the latest absurdist comedy from Roy Andersson, a man who knows how to take his time. Appearing seven years after his last effort, which is nothing compared to the 25 year gap between films two and three, it takes a surreal look at Swedish life through a series of stiff comic sketches. In an age when every film arrives with a clear audience in mind, Andersson still does his own unclassifiable thing. And this Venice Golden Lion winning masterpiece, a strong contender for film of the year already, is fit to grace any cinema.

Closer to home comes The Falling. From acclaimed director Carol Morley, it tells the story of a fainting epidemic that sweeps through an all-girls school in the tail-end of the 1960s. Picking up a number of strong reviews, it does an excellent job at evoking those good old days of forced education. Personally, I found the story lacking in focus and a little too obsessed with pretty scenery – though it really is very pretty scenery – but go and watch it and prove me wrong. Though watch A Pigeon… first. And Avengers second.

As one mega series continues to rise, another came to an end last Christmas. Out now on DVD, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies not only finishes the latter trilogy, but also closes the film series that began at the start of the millennium when Peter Jackson first ventured into Middle Earth. The Hobbit series never hit the heights of its illustrious predecessor, but it had its moments, and this action packed finale does a good job of bringing everything to a close. As all manner of forces hammer each other from every angle, Thorin and Bilbo get the conclusion they deserve.

That’s all for this blockbuster weekend. See you next week when Thomas Hardy gets a new run-out.

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