How on earth did the world survive before S.H.I.E.L.D. stumbled across a bunch of superheroes? It seems barely six months go by now before another devastating threat emerges. This time round, we are back with America’s sweetheart in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. And surprise surprise, a deadly threat has emerged and he is the only person available to save us. It’s about time he got to do something though. In the Avengers, he was relegated to a little bit of inconsequential hand-to-hand street fighting while the others did the heavy lifting. Expect big budget explosions and tense showdowns from the dullest Avenger.
The 2011 Muppets reboot was a delight. Funny, heartfelt and full of great tunes, there was very little not to like. A sequel was inevitable, and it has duly arrived in the form of Muppets Most Wanted. Also inevitably, it’s not a patch on the last effort. Kermit has been replaced by a master criminal who looks just like him (although his less than stellar accent should have aroused some suspicion) leaving everyone’s favourite frog to battle to win back his rightful place. Ricky Gervais is the new Jason Segel, James Bobin is back behind the camera and Bret McKenzie is still writing the songs but it’s all a bit flat. Time to reboot the reboot?
While Hollywood has been throwing money at slightly disappointing films this week Asghar Farhadi returns with The Past to prove that a good film doesn’t have to cost the national output of a small country. His beautifully constructed story sees Ali Mosaffa return to France to finalise a divorce from Bérénice Bejo, in the process wading into the middle of a series of unresolved problems between his soon to be ex-wife, her children and her new partner played by the always excellent Tahar Rahim. It’s subtle and affecting with a strong emotional kick. A must see.
Another must see, and shame on you if you haven’t yet, is Stephen Frears’ Philomena. Luckily, for all those foolish enough to miss it the first time round, it’s now out on DVD. Adapting Martin Sixsmith’s true account of Philomena Lee’s attempt to track down the baby she was forced to give up at birth, it manages to infuse a potentially bleak story with hope and humour. Judi Dench is fully deserving of all her award nominations in the title role, and Steve Coogan, also to be commended for his part as co-writer, plays off her nicely as Sixsmith. It’s a crowd-pleasing treat fit to grace any film collection.
That’s all for this week. Check back next Friday for an epic of biblical proportions.