9   +   7   =  

As the thermometer continues to edge ever upwards, and the sun actually bothers to turn up, you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s warm enough to spend time outside. Don’t make that mistake when there’s a new batch of releases to enjoy.

It’s been quite a pleasant little break, but now the young adult dystopian future we’ve come to know so well in recent years makes its 2015 bow with The Divergent Series: Insurgent. Picking up where Divergent left her, Shailene Woodley’s Tris can get back to tearing down the old world order overseen by a coldly malicious Kate Winslet. I imagine plenty of things will blow up, a handsome cast will struggle with all manner of conflicted feelings, and absolutely nothing will be resolved ahead of the now obligatory two part finale.

Now for a bit of Studio Ghibli magic. You’d be forgiven for thinking that Hayao Miyazaki IS Studio Ghibli, such was the outpouring of respect and sadness on news of his retirement. Poor Isao Takahata, director of such masterpieces as Grave of the Fireflies, has sometimes been left in the shade. Here’s another chance to correct that imbalance with The Tale of the Princess Kaguya. It follows the growth, literal and metaphorical, of a tiny girl found in a bamboo shoot who must confront past crimes. Nominated for an Oscar and receiving rave reviews, it would be a shame to miss out.

Anything Liam Neeson can do, Sean Penn can at least have a stab at. From Taken director Pierre Morel comes The Gunman. Penn takes lead duties as a former operative forced back into the career he wants to abandon. Sure, it’s not exactly setting critics’ hearts alight, but with a cast that also includes Idris Elba, Javier Bardem, Ray Winstone and Mark Rylance, there has to be something worth turning up for.

Speaking of dystopian young adult fiction adaptations, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 arrived on DVD this week as well. After two rather impressive outings, the third follows the irritating trend of splitting final books into two films with the usual disappointing results. Jennifer Lawrence is charming as ever, and there’s still a lot to enjoy, but it’s all a little meandering. It will at least pass the time amiably enough, and if you need to fill blanks before the series concludes later in the year, it’s a must.

That wraps up another week. See you soon as Disney continue to milk their own back-catalogue and Will Ferrell prepares for prison.

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