New to cinemas this week: Furious 7, The Book of Life, The Duff, Samba, Spongebob Squarepants: Sponge Out of Water, Tinkerbell: Legend of the Neverbeast and Humpback Whales 3D. Obviously, school holidays are upon us. Plenty for the kids with nothing better to do.
Furious 7 – Continuing the global exploits in the unstoppable franchise built on speed, Vin Diesel, Paul Walker and Dwayne Johnson lead the returning cast of Furious 7. James Wan (Saw, The Conjuring) directs this chapter of the hugely successful series that also welcomes back favorites Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Elsa Pataky and Lucas Black. Almost certainly a lock for the top 10 highest grossing of the year, but I haven’t seen a film in this franchise since 2 Fast 2 Furious so it is all lost on me. Still, I believe 4-6 are all pretty good.
The Book of Life, a vibrant fantasy-adventure, tells the legend of Manolo, a conflicted hero and dreamer who sets off on an epic quest through magical, mythical and wondrous worlds in order to rescue his one true love and defend his village. Produced by Guillermo Deo Toro and featuring a voice cast including Diego Luna, Zoe Saldana and Channing Tatum, this has been well-received internationally.
Samba – Samba, a migrant from Senegal to France, works as a dish washer in a hotel. Things get worse for him when, because of a bureaucratic slip-up, he lands in a detention and on release he is ordered to leave France. With the help of an immigration officer Alice he fights to stay in France. The all-star French cast (Omar Sy, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Tahar Rahim) are the primary draw-cards here and this looks like quite a pleasant drama. From the directors of HUGE hit The Intouchables.
The Duff – Bianca (Mae Whitman) is a content high school senior whose world is shattered when she learns the student body knows her as ‘The DUFF’ (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) to her prettier, more popular friends (Skyler Samuels & Bianca Santos). Now, despite the words of caution from her favorite teacher (Ken Jeong), she puts aside the potential distraction of her crush, Toby (Nick Eversman), and enlists Wesley (Robbie Amell), a slick but charming jock, to help reinvent herself. To save her senior year from turning into a total disaster, Bianca must find the confidence to overthrow the school’s ruthless label maker Madison (Bella Thorne) and remind everyone that no matter what people look or act like, we are all someone’s DUFF.
Spongebob Squarepants: Sponge Out of Water – SpongeBob SquarePants, the world’s favourite sea dwelling invertebrate, comes ashore to our world for his most super-heroic adventure yet. Reviews have been positive with Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian calling it a “non-stoner stoner film”. Having never experienced the show I can’t do it, but it sounds like fans are going to love it.
Weekly recommendation: A decent teen-centric holiday line-up. I haven’t seen any of these, but I am most interested in The Book of Life. Furious 7 is going to make a lot of money, and I wish I was more caught up with the franchise because it will likely be the perfect long weekend escapism.