There’s nothing quite like a disaster movie to get studio executives excited. Who doesn’t love slow, ominous build-ups suddenly exploding into a special effects nightmare? Especially when there’s space for a bit of localised heroism, and usually some American flag waving (see San Andreas this year, and basically everything Roland Emmerich has ever made). Well this time we’re off to Mount Everest, unless Shakespeare, South Korean drama or a bunch of remarkably destructive superheroes take your fancy instead.
Who would want to climb a giant mountain? Sure, the views must be pretty impressive, and I imagine there’s a nice little thrill adventuring that close to death, but you are also adventuring that close to death. Everest demonstrates this ably, recounting a doomed 1996 expedition up the world’s highest peak. Having opened the Venice Film Festival, the remote terror of the mountain contrasting incongruously with the sedate glamour of the Lido, Baltasar Kormákur’s film receives a UK release, plunging the big name cast (Jason Clarke, Josh Brolin, Keira Knightley and Jake Gyllenhaal just some of those involved) into chaos. The characters are thinly sketched and it blows the ending, but the climbing is convincingly terrifying.
I sometimes wonder if we’re more fascinated by William Shakespeare than his works. He’s headlined Oscar winning films, a Roland Emmerich (him again) effort, and even pops up in Doctor Who. Bill is the latest to have a go, created by the makers of the Horrible Histories TV series. Mathew Baynton plays the Bard in his lost years, the mystery period before he burst onto the playwriting scene. Aimed at all ages, it will undoubtedly feature the energetically anarchic comedy that powers Horrible Histories. If it’s half as good we’re in for a treat.
So we’ve done big budget spectacle and madcap British comedy, now to South Korean drama to close out the new cinematic releases. A Girl at My Door finally makes it to the UK after screening in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival where it received a three minute standing ovation. July Jung’s fascinating blend of mystery and thriller deserved every second of applause as a policewoman and an abused girl spiral from domesticity into somewhere much darker. Jung keeps it low-key but the film continues to burn well after the end credits.
One chapter ends and a new one starts as Avengers: Age of Ultron turns up on DVD this week. The super team smash-em-up reunites the original Marvel favourites for one last rodeo as they face off against an unfortunately homicidal AI designed by Tony Stark. Ok, it’s not actually goodbye – I imagine we’ll see them all again – but it does close out Phase Two of Marvel’s gargantuan undertaking. There’s certainly a lot of fun to be had here as well, although the law of diminishing returns strikes hard. We already know that the Hulk smashes stuff, Iron Man tells quick fire jokes, Thor brags about his hammer and Captain America has to be given a few odd-jobs because he’s a bit useless compared to the rest. Its fun, but they need to change up the recipe soon because this superhero business is starting to feel stale.
Well that’s all for now. See you next week for the return of James Dean, this time looking suspiciously like Dane DeHaan.