CultBox at the Movies: August 2013 preview

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CultBox takes a look at this month’s cinematic highlights…

Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa (15)

Release date: Wednesday 7 August 2013.

The Talent: Declan Lowney (Dir.), Steve Coogan, Colm Meaney, Felicity Montagu.

The Plot: When North Norfolk Digital Radio becomes the scene of a hostage situation a certain ex-high profile DJ and TV star sees this as his possible springboard back to the limelight he craves.

The Buzz: Norwich’s finest broadcaster hits the big screen in one of the most hotly anticipated movies of the year. The big question, of course, is whether Alan will actually work away from the relative comfort of the half hour television format we are used to. Reviews are overwhelmingly positive as the creative team have resisted the urge to dramatically change the format.

So often the movie spin-off of a successful sitcom ‘goes on holiday’ and it would have been the easy option to send Alan to the USA, for example, for some kind of culture shock Borat type of picture. But, by keeping Alan in familiar surroundings, the extraordinary hostage premise can be milked for every shred of comedy gold*.

* extra credit should be awarded for no reference to the phrase ‘A-ha!’ in any form whatsoever in this preview.

The Lone Ranger (12A)

Release date: Friday 9 August 2013.

The Talent: Gore Verbinski (Dir.), Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer, Tom Wilkinson.

The Plot: A US legend gets the origin story treatment as an aged Tonto regales us with a tale of how a left-for-dead lawman became a symbol for justice in the hunt for the outlaws who murdered his brother.

The Buzz: The Lone Ranger’s battle for justice seems tame in comparison to the struggles this film has faced. Shooting delays, re-writes, a supernatural storyline dumped because of budget constraints had all dogged this movie before a single reel of film was shot. Fast forward to the film’s release and the US reviews did not paint a rosy picture.

Weirdly, reviews from the rest of the World have been much kinder to John Reid and Tonto and, although not perfect (which tentpole blockbuster is?), the consensus appears to be that The Lone Ranger is an enjoyable if muddled western romp.

Kick-Ass 2 (15)

Release date: Wednesday 14 August 2013.

The Talent: Jeff Wadlow (Dir.), Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Chloë Grace Moretz, Jim Carrey.

The Plot: Kick-Ass and Hit Girl return to battle High School and a revenge seeking Red Mist whilst teaming up with a group of vigilantes, led by the psychotic Colonel Stars and Stripes, to help keep the streets clean.

The Buzz: The impact of Nicolas Cage’s Big Daddy in 2010’s first Kick-Ass film was so great that (due to his fiery fate) his absence in this film could have found Kick-Ass 2 lacking a certain something … lacking something, that is, until the casting of Jim Carrey as Colonel Stars and Stripes.

It will be interesting then to see how the film fairs in the aftermath of Carrey withdrawing his support for the film in the light of the Sandy Hook shootings. In all honesty it’ll probably have no impact at all. Fans of the first film (of which there are many) will surely lap up the next instalment of the über-violent adventures of Kick-Ass and Hit Girl, whilst new fans will be drawn in by the film’s slick, stylised violence and smart-ass quippery. It won’t be for everyone but it will no doubt live up to its title by the blood-filled bucketload.

Planes (U)

Release date: Friday 16 August 2013

The Talent: Klay Hall (Dir.), Val Kilmer, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Teri Hatcher.

The Plot: Dusty the crop-duster dreams of only one thing … competing in the biggest around-the-world air race in history. Can Dusty overcome his fear of flying and prove that crop-dusters are made for more than just chasing Cary Grant through a field? Well … what do you think?

The Buzz: It’s Cars but with planes! Cars may not be regarded as the pinnacle of Pixar’s output but there is enough wit and invention (and money-making potential) in the conceit to support this shared universe spin-off.

Released bang in the middle of the summer holidays this tale of an underdog defying the odds (and we’re surely not revealing any spoilers there) will entertain the youngsters for … well, 90 or so minutes (technically ‘hours’ if you include the trailers and the queue for the popcorn). Perhaps the greatest joy that can be squeezed from Planes is guessing which vehicle will get its own movie next… Tanks? Hovercrafts? Skateboards? This could be a franchise that rivals the X-Men films for number of spin-offs.

Elysium (TBC)

Release date: Wednesday 21 August 2013.

The Talent: Neill Blomkamp (Dir.), Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Shalto Copely.

The Plot: In 2154 the very wealthy live on a high-tech space station called Elysium whilst the rest of humanity slum it up on the ruined Earth below. In order to save himself from a cancer virus that he has accidentally contracted Max DeCosta (Damon) kidnaps a wealthy businessman and battles his way to Elysium, pitting himself against powerful enemies as he does so.

The Buzz: Blomkamp came to the movie-going public’s attention in 2009 with prawn-starring, Apartheid mirroring, concentration camp sci-fi romp District 9. The positive buzz created by his debut feature means that expectations are high for this movie and the trailers do not seem to disappoint. Attracting star names like Damon and Foster (actors who can surely cherry pick the projects they attach themselves to) suggest that this could turn out to be one of 2013’s more superior summer offerings.

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Other movies to try out this month also include the latest instalment of Bruce Willis’ other (more fun) geriatric action hero franchise, Red 2, on Friday 2 August, more myth-busting in Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters on Wednesday 7 August and you can re-live the wonder as Jurassic Park 3D crashes back onto the big screen on Friday 23 August.

What are you looking forward to at the cinema this month? Let us know below…