The Amazing Spider-Man 2, The Sea, Magic Magic and We are the Best! are reviewed this week.
This series of films is arguably always going to wrestle with justifying its existence given the successful series made not a decade before. However, taking $750m (€542m) at the box office proved there was an appetite for the reboot, and now The Amazing Spider-man is back.
While Spidey believes he offers hope to the citizens of New York, to many he's nothing more than a vigilante. When Peter (Andrew Garfield) and Gwen (Emma Stone) split again, he buries his pain in his work, and the public doubts about his motives increases. But this is a superhero who is still delighted to be a superhero and gets kicks out of pulling Russian baddie's (Paul Giamatti) pants down. But if only life were that simple.
Spidey superfan and Oscorp employee Max (Jamie Foxx) proves hell hath no fury like a stalker scorned when an accident transforms him into Electro, a new nemesis. Keeping with the love-turning-to-war theme, Peter's former friend Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan) comes back, realises he's ill and gets Green Goblin-spawning cross when Spidey won't obey him.
These are the essential threads, but there are too many subplots, including Peter's search for the truth about his parents, Aunt May's new career and Harry's father issues. All the while, the love story simmers in the background. And all this to a busy soundtrack, a collaboration by a group called the Magnificent Six which includes Pharrell Williams and Johnny Marr.
Director Marc Webb gives the film solid emotional strands, and the chemistry between Garfield and Stone remains good – they are both great pieces of casting. But with so many strands, this 140 plus-minute film takes a bit too long to get going, and children will have difficulty caring about the deeper stuff. Electro is under-used but scary when he gets going and the flying scenes are all great in 3D.
It was always likely that a film adaptation of John Banville's 2005 Booker winner would have lots of "writing" in it. That the sometime Benjamin Black has also penned the screenplay for this big screen outing, however, amplifies the worthiness of Banville's art. In a tale as glacial and inward looking as The Sea, this is a problem.
On the face of it, there's a lot to admire about Stephen Brown's feature debut, not least the fine cast. Ciaran Hinds leads as Max Morden, a "dilettante" art historian who repairs back to the Wexford seaside village he grew up in to lance some unspecified emotional boil, "fleeing one sadness by revisiting the scene of another one".
Through sun-dappled filters, the young Max meets the Graces, a rather well-to-do family holidaying in a local pile.
Max becomes close to them, forming a crush on elegant mother Natascha McElhone before losing his heart to bolshy daughter Chloe (Missy Keating, daughter of Ronan).
In the cooler hues of Max's present-day depression, he moves into that same holiday home the Graces used, now a guest house run by old acquaintance Charlotte Rampling. Lots of navel-gazing and bottle consulting ensues as he obsesses over those days and how they contributed to his inability to deal with wife Sinead Cusack's passing, or himself for that matter.
Introspection reigns as horizons are scanned for meaning and Andrew Hewitt's piano score crawls with sedate elegance.
What we have is a 90-minute mood piece, then, which is all well and good. But 90 minutes is still a long time to be caught in a depressive undertow where no one is saying what's on their minds and waves crash relentlessly. Just be thankful this is being released in April and not January.
Insulated young American Alicia (Juno Temple) goes on a trip to Chile with her cousin Sarah (Emily Browning) to spend time with Sarah's friends. From the get-go, she's not impressed with uber-camp Brink (Michael Cera), Sarah's boyfriend Augustine (Agustin Silva) or his surly sister Barbara (Catalina Sandino Moreno). On the way to a retreat down in the south of the country, Sarah announces she has to go back to Santiago for "an exam" and Alicia reels at having to hang out with the other trio.
You see, it's Alicia's first time out of the US and she is unwilling to enjoy herself or take part in what is going on. Jet-lag is also preventing her from getting a good night's kip, so she becomes tired and emotional before taking one too many sleeping pills and awakening latent psychological demons. The poor thing.
Billing itself as a "dark, psychological thriller" is a bit rich of Magic Magic because firstly it is more baffling than dark, and the psychology at the heart of Alicia's neurosis is wearisome rather than disturbing to watch playing out. It's a big load of much-ado-about-nothing dressed up in writer- director Sebastian Silva's arty movements.
While the cast makes a good account of themselves, it is hard to sympathise with Alicia, who spends most of the film being an entitled, sleep-deprived killjoy.
Her descent into madness is, frankly, both ridiculous and overcooked, and it comes in a finale that runs out of ideas before your very eyes. Lame.
Girl power was never like this, which is highly appropriate given the all-girl punk band that takes centre stage in director Lukas Moodysson's, We are the Best! would be expected to react badly or projectile vomit at any comparison with The Spice Girls.
Youth may indeed be wasted on the young, but, as seen in this endearing feature, that's not an accusation that can be pitched in the direction of the trio of teenage tearaways that anchor proceedings in this charming nostalgia piece.
Set in early 1980s Stockholm, the initial focus is on a couple of 13-year-olds, the thoughtful Bobo (Mira Barkhammar) and her seriously sassy best friend Klara (Mira Grosin).
They both attend the same school and, having bonded over a shared contempt for convention, embarrassing parents and gym class, they form a punk band. In keeping with the best traditions of the punk movement, their lack of any musical ability is complemented with mouthy attitudes and anti-establishment rants.
Lead singer and mohawk sporting Klara is particularly strong in this regard. Her thoughts on God may be simplistic and intellectually suspect, but their only song, Hate Sports, has its moments, and it's impossible not to be impressed by a lyric that reads: "The world's a morgue and you're watching Bjorn Borg."
Their musical capability is improved immeasurably with the recruiting of the classical guitar-playing Hedwig (Liv Lemoyne). Cue a Wayne's World meets The Commitments vibe as this trio of unapologetic outsiders embark on a psychological slalom ride that will eventually lead to their first concert.
Adapted from a Swedish graphic novel written by his wife Coco, Moodysson has succeeded in the difficult task of delivering a piece that works well both as a family friendly feature and a celebration of the punk spirit.
Performances from the central players are uniformly remarkable and help distract from a slightly disjointed, episodic structure. Content is fairly lightweight and the movie runs out of road towards the conclusion, but it is fun while it lasts. A bit like the punk movement, then.