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Welcome to the final instalment of our catch-up series, in which we will be discussing Edge of Tomorrow, How to Train Your Dragon 2, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Inside Llewyn Davis, X-Men: Days of Future Past, August: Osage County and The Wolf of Wall Street. Enjoy.
Based on Hiroshi Sakurazaka's light novel All You Need is Kill, Edge of Tomorrow sees Tom Cruise play an army officer killed in an assault on alien enemy forces. Fortunately for him, this death is of the less fatal sort, as he wakes up to try again in a Groundhog Day-like training loop, through which he and fellow looper Emily Blunt hone their skills and tactics in an attempt to finally defeat the enemy. If you can swallow the central conceit, then this is a very well-made sci-fi action movie that comes with our seal of approval.
While Pixar movies may be the kings of 3D animation in the eyes of many, there have been pretenders to its throne, none more so than DreamWorks Animation's 2010 hit How to Train Your Dragon, which saw a social misfit find his place in the world when he encountered and befriended a dragon. While it touched many hearts (not least our own), it ended in a satisfactory way that did not invite a sequel. Money talks, of course, but, like Pixar did with Toy Story, the sequel (the imaginatively-titled How to Train Your Dragon 2) manages to be every bit as funny, heartwarming and entertaining as the original.
The latest film from Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel, focuses on the adventures of Gustave H, played by Ralph Fiennes, the concierge of the titular hotel, and his friendship with his young protégé Zero. Funny, weird, whimsical, colourful, beautiful - everything you'd expect from this director. Formulaic, possibly, this is nevertheless the pure, distilled essence of Wes Anderson, which is generally considered to be a pretty good thing around these parts.
Of the numerous films that formed the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the build-up to The Avengers, Captain America: The First Avenger was one of the weakest, and dullest. However its sequel, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, makes a strong claim to being the best entry yet into the MCU. Still cutting a lonely figure in a world he doesn't understand or recognise, and with more shades of grey than he is used to, Steve Rogers must face down threats from the former Soviet Union, within S.H.I.E.L.D., and from his own past. Chris Evans acquits himself well here with a much more fleshed-out character, and is aided by good chemistry with Scarlett Johansson, and strong support from Anthony Mackie, Robert Redford and Samuel L. Jackson (who is given much more to do in his role as Nick Fury than has hitherto been the case).
The Coen Brothers' Inside Llewyn Davis is the tale of a struggling folk singer in 1960s New York, who hops from friend's sofa to friend's sofa as he attempts to get his musical career restarted. A road movie of sorts, the characters encountered, the tone, the detailed period setting and the music all make this a compelling and entertaining watch. While it may have no discernible point, you shouldn't let this put you off of watching what is yet another excellent piece from the Coens.
With 6 entries so far that have killed off characters, brought them back, and generally messed around with continuity, the seventh entry, X-Men: Days of Future Past, sees Wolverine's consciousness sent back in time to his younger self, in an attempt to save the future of mutant-kind, and, while he's at it, hit the franchise's reset button. The huge watchability of the cast helps smooth out shortcomings in the story, and this, coupled with entertaining action set-pieces, makes this very enjoyable indeed.
The idea of a film starring both Julia Roberts and Meryl Streep would normally have us running for the hills, but family drama August: Osage County manages to be not just tolerable, but, GASP!, thoroughly enjoyable. Superb performances from the ensemble cast, most notably the female leads, and a believable family dynamic, absence of which would sink a film like this, make this very much worth your time.
The life of disgraced former stockbroker Jordan Belfort is the basis for Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street, and follows Belfort from his days as a low-level employee at a Wall Street brokerage, through the crash of Black Monday, starting over in a boiler room, the founding of his own company, and, eventually, his downfall after the FBI investigate his criminal business practices. Full of debauchery, dollars, drugs, and dwarfs, this is fantastically, if inappropriately, entertaining, with a massively engaging central performance from Leonardo DiCaprio, and superb support from the likes of Jonah Hill and Matthew McConaughey.
We've now reached the end of these catch-up episodes, and we hoped you enjoyed them. If you've any comments you'd like to make, or points you'd like to discuss, you can email us, or follow us on Twitter, @theoneliner. We'll return soon with our next episode, in which normal service will resume, but until then, goodbye.
Now we are free. I will see you again, but not yet. Not yet.