The Quarterly Review: UK releases January – March 2016
The first quarter of 2016 has been generally a good one for cinema fans in the UK. The awards season brought with it a handful of exceptional offerings – my personal favourite being The Revenant (UK release date January 15), bringing both a long-awaited Oscar for Leonardo Di Caprio as well as a very well-deserved second Oscar for Director Alejandro González Iñárritu.
But if we turn away from the big awards ceremonies for a moment , what’s been in it for the ‘popcorn’ fans (like me)? Those of us looking for some escapism? Maybe a laugh, maybe some fear. Definitely some action.
The answer: Plenty.
Deadpool, released in February, was the first of at least five hugely anticipated comic-book adaptations set down for release in 2016. Immediately setting a very high bar for those that will follow, Ryan Reynolds second outing as a super-hero, after the underwhelming Green Lantern (2011) has proven to be so popular that a sequel was never in doubt. At the start of the year debate raged on which super-hero outing we were looking forward to seeing most in 2016, but by early February Deadpool had already come close to putting that argument to bed.
The surprise entry for ‘Best Of’ 2016 is the JJ Abrams Produced follow-up to monster flick Cloverfield (2008) titled 10 Cloverfield Lane. I say ‘surprise’ entry because until mid-January we didn’t even know this film existed. With an exceptional performance from John Goodman, along with Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Gallagher Jnr, 10 Cloverfield Lane is quite possibly better than its predecessor, though the two are impossible to compare. If you asked me for a ‘must-see’ from 2016 so far, then this is it.
For fans of the horror genre, 2016 has so far served up a mixed bag. The Forest promised so much, but delivered so little. The Other Side of the Door, starring Sarah Wayne Callies, was a significant improvement, though still provided nothing that was Earth-shatteringly new.
Enter two of the more original horror outings we’ve seen in recent years.
The Witch will not be everyone’s cup of tea. The Puritan 1600’s setting, not to mention the dialogue, makes this story a little slow to develop. But, if you can hang in there, it is a fascinating film with a very satisfying outcome. There is no doubt that writer / director Robert Eggers has made this film with a lot of care and attention to detail, and the love he has shown for his creation makes The Witch worthy of your time.
The other interesting addition to 2016’s pantheon of horror is William Brent Bell’s The Boy, starring Lauren Cohan (The Walking Dead). Much like the other horror movies served up this year, there is nothing overly terrifying here, but the story is nothing if not original, and with red herrings interwoven throughout, The Boy will keep you engrossed. And just when you think you have it figured out, The Boy throws a curve ball you won’t see coming.
Aside from our Oscar nominated movies, we’ve enjoyed Deadpool, 10 Cloverfield Lane and the delightfully surprising Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Throw in The Boy and I can assure you much popcorn has been consumed already in 2016.
While it killed it at the box office, there’s no denying Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was a letdown, especially given the flair and energy Deadpool served up just a month earlier. It’s difficult to shake the feeling that Warner Bros. have just given yet another free-kick to Marvel Studios, and you wonder how many more chances they’ll get with their DC heroes.
London Has Fallen, starring Gerard Butler, was certainly not a complete miss, but maybe just went a little too far down the rabbit hole. Given the cheap, thrilling escapism of its predeccesor, Olympus Has Fallen, this may seem surprising, but London was quite possibly just a bridge too far.
After two solid films, The Divergent Series: Allegiant was a very disappointing third film in the Divergent trilogy (soon to be quadrilogy). With the final book having been split into two parts for the purposes of filming this series, you’d have to question the sense behind such a decision. Personally I felt two movies was enough to provide a satisfactory conclusion.
ON THE HORIZON
The Huntsman: Winter’s War, Hardcore Henry and Jon Favreau’s The Jungle Book will keep the seats warm until Captain America:Civil War swings around at the end of April. May will no doubt see me forced to sit through yet another X-Men outing (X-Men: Apocalypse) due to my wife being an unabashed fan of the franchise, and we will both enjoy a bit of eye-candy when Megan Fox and Stephen Amell (tv’s Arrow) appear in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows. June will hopefully round out the first half of the year on a high note with two eagerly awaited sequels, The Conjuring 2 and Independence Day: Resurgence.