In cinemas this week: Avengers: Age of Ultron, Testament of Youth, Banksy Does New York and Boychoir.
Avengers: Age of Ultron – With S.H.I.E.L.D now destroyed, it has been left up to The Avengers to eliminate the considerable global threats. In need of a hiatus, Tony Stark re-commences a long dormant peacekeeping program called Ultron, which he developed with Dr. Bruce Banner, a self-aware artificial intelligence. But, as is commonly the case when scientists create something in their own image, it turns on them. Ultron (voiced to perfection by James Spader), who is overwhelmed with a God Complex, turns on Stark and decides that to keep the peace on Earth he must eradicate the human race. The squad are called to swift action, and Ultron finds his own allies in the powerful twins Pietro/Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen). This is a thrilling end of phase two of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with new films for Iron Man, Thor and Captain America as well as Guardians of the Galaxy coming since the last Avengers film three years ago. While the trailers suggest that this would take on a much darker tone, I can assure you that all of the fun remains. Full thoughts at the link.
Testament of Youth is a searing story of love and war. Based on the classic First World War memoir from Vera Brittain, this is the incredible true story of one young woman’s struggle to survive the horrors of war, which robbed her of everyone and everything she held dear, but was ultimately unable to break her extraordinary spirit. This is a well-acted, elegant, gorgeously photographed and stirring study of a generation’s war-torn love, hope and opportunity. I feared it was going to be too war-lite for a while, but the direction manages to avoid soppy sentimentality quite deftly. Plus you get to see Alicia Vikander in an array of cute hats.
Banksy Does New York – A chronicle of British street artist Banksy’s “Better Out Than In” project, a surreptitious residency in New York City boroughs that drew a devoted following eager to find a new piece for each day in October 2013. My interest in Banksy piqued immediately after Exit Through the Gift Shop, which is a brilliant documentary. I haven’t thought about him much since then but if I get the chance to watch this on home entertainment release I will.
Boychoir – From acclaimed director François Girard (The Red Violin) comes the inspirational story of a rebellious kid with a remarkable gift who is challenged by a demanding teacher to make the most unlikely of dreams come true. A stellar ensemble – including two-time Oscar-winner Dustin Hoffman, Oscar-winner Kathy Bates and two-time Emmy winner Eddie Izzard, along with Debra Winger, Josh Lucas, and Kevin McHale – headline a cast that also introduces an exciting group of newcomers as the young singers who battle each other as they take their boychoir to the competitive heights. Almost saw this at TIFF last year, but favoured others. It looks like quite a pleasant family drama.
Weekly Recommendation: I have only seen Age of Ultron and Testament of Youth. Will Ultron chase down Furious 7 at the Box Office? The latter has set a mark untouchable for seemingly everything not called The Avengers. If you are venturing to the cinema this weekend, I expect it will be for The Avengers, but if you have time for something else I can recommend the affecting war drama Testament of Youth.