So yeah, it’s not been a great week. Every time life settles down, something shocking comes along to disturb us. We don’t have a particularly politically minded collection of releases (though you could argue Arrival is a plea for accommodation and the end to mindless violence) but that might be a good thing for those looking to escape reality. Solid entertainment can do wonders, so get comfortable for disasters in space, disasters in the jungle, disasters in spandex, and alien encounters.
Given how many films we have set out in that final frontier of space, it probably doesn’t count as a final frontier anymore. In Life we’re off to the International Space Station for a survival horror that takes many well-worn tropes and runs with them. Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson and Ryan Reynolds lead the crew trapped by a dangerous organism from Mars hell-bent on destroying them all. It probably won’t end well for everyone. Reviews so far suggest it’s not a waste of time to find out.
James Gray is the American filmmaker loved by the European arthouse world and largely ignored back home. Here he ups the scale for The Lost City of Z, an adventure biopic following the British explorer Percy Fawcett on his perilous attempts to find an ancient city in the Amazon. Gray gathers a solid cast including Sienna Miller, Charlie Hunnam and Robert Pattinson and gives it a good shot. It sounds like he largely succeeds.
Everyone of a certain age remembers The Power Rangers, and everyone else couldn’t care less. Even those that did used to watch the show can hardly have been pining for a proper big screen outing. It was never exactly good. Scratch that – it was mostly dreadful. And so we have Power Rangers the movie, and guess what: it looks like it’s mostly dreadful. Still, if you enjoy spandex clad bright young things dancing about fighting anonymous enemies, it might be for you.
We return to sci-fi for this week’s DVD release. Arrival may not have won much at the Oscars, but it was there in several categories. Denis Villeneuve’s thoughtful first contact movie has Amy Adams as a language expert tasked with finding a way to communicate with the alien interlopers. Stunning to look at and interesting in its refusal to default to flashy action scenes, it’s the kind of film it’s nice to see money spent on. There are flaws of course, mostly on the human side, but the good outweighs the bad by far.
And there we have it. That’s all for now. See you next week for the controversial whitewashing of classics.