Cinema

Current highlights from Barcelona's English-language cinema scene


The latest reviews

22 Jump Street

  • Rated as: 3/5

No one, not even its creators, was prepared for the runaway success of the 2012 reboot of ’80s cop-kitsch TV series ‘21 Jump Street’. Instead of a cheapo cash-in, here was a charming, smartly self-mocking romp fronted by the most likeable and unlikely comedy double act in recent memory – Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill. This follow-up scores cynical laughs from the idea that it could never match up to the gleeful surprise factor of the original. And it doesn’t – but that’s kind of okay. ‘I want you to do exactly what you did last time,’ barks the Chief of Police to undercover goons Jenko (Tatum) and Schmidt (Hill) – and it’s a maxim the movie takes to heart. (read more)

Guardians of the Galaxy

  • Rated as: 4/5

To misquote Forrest Gump’s mother, ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ is like a box of chocolates. Or rather, it’s like a vast, family-sized festive crate of chocolates, all wrapped in the shiniest packaging, all exploding with sweetness and surprises. Maybe there are a couple of flavours you don’t much care for, and after a while it all starts to get a bit dizzying, but you stuff yourself anyway, coming up bloated and satisfied on the other side. Based on one of Marvel Comics’ lesser known franchises, this is the tale of Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), an earthling abducted as a boy who, a quarter of a century later, is working as a Han Solo-style outlaw-for-hire under the self-ordained nickname Star-Lord. (read more)

Lucy

Written and directed by Luc Besson, best known for the likes of 'Leon' and 'The Fifth Element', 'Lucy' stars Scarlett Johansson as a woman living in Taipei who is forced by the mob to work as a drug mule. But her life changes forever when the new narcotic she's carrying seeps into her system, turning her into a superhero with the power to move objects with her mind, absorb knowledge in an instant and be entirely resistant to pain. Morgan Freeman co-stars as  a specialist in the evolution and functions of the human brain, whom Lucy pursues in a bid to try and understand what has happened to her. If Besson’s lifelong habit of putting wily street-fighting women at the centre of his films is anything to go by, we’re expecting an ass-kicking action flick.

Transformers: Age of Extinction

  • Rated as: 3/5

In 2013 Michael Bay tried to make a real movie: the underrated ‘Pain & Gain’, a Miami crime comedy with actual performances and a satirical bite. He was mocked. So it feels like Bay has returned to his normal beat – big robots, explosions and tush shots – with a vengeance and a chip on his shoulder. It’s as if he’s saying: fine, here’s what you expect from me. Choke on it. For this fourth film in the series, Bay deadens our senses with spectacle, but it’s impossible for a director this committed to creating visual fireworks not to pull off a megablast once in a while. (read more)

Begin Again

  • Rated as: 4/5

Avoid this film like E coli if your instinctive reaction to all things infectiously sweet and sincere is spontaneous toe curling. The director is John Carney, who made the scruffy-gorgeous musical ‘Once’ for pennies on the streets of Dublin. Here he repeats the formula with proper money and stars. Keira Knightley is Greta, an English songwriter in New York who’s just been dumped by her rock-star boyfriend (we know something’s up when he starts growing twattish facial hair). Greta is singing a wrist-slitty break-up song at an open-mic night when she’s spotted by Dan, a washed-up record producer out on a bender (Mark Ruffalo: arrest that man, he’s too charming). (read more)

Locke

  • Rated as: 4/5

British screenwriter Steven Knight has always shown a keen eye for real life, with his London-set scripts for ‘Dirty Pretty Things’ and ‘Eastern Promises’. But he’s often tended to lay on the plot a bit thick – not least in his recent debut as a director, 2013’s ‘Hummingbird’, which gave us Jason Statham as a homeless vigilante on the rampage in Soho. It was hardly Ken Loach. But with ‘Locke’, his second feature, Knight delivers a story that could hardly be more taut. For its entire running time the only character on screen is Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy), a Welsh building-site manager driving across England in an attempt to juggle several fragile pieces of his work and home lives. (read more)

Short Term 12

  • Rated as: 3/5

American critics fell hard for this thoughtful US indie about the staff of a foster care home for troubled teens: the film’s Rotten Tomatoes page is littered with words like ‘exceptional’ and  ‘devastating’. Another adjective that comes up a lot is ‘authentic’, so maybe it’s a matter of cultural disconnect (the Americans do tend to wear their emotions a little more openly than the rest us). But viewers on this side of the pond might feel more manipulated than convinced by this weighty but overwrought melodrama. In one thing, however, we’re all agreed: up-and-comer Brie Larson is enormously enjoyable in the central role of Grace, the care worker who finds her attachment to the centre and its occupants overshadowing her personal life. (read more)

The Purge: Anarchy

  • Rated as: 2/5

This action thriller follows the silly premise of last year’s ‘The Purge’. America in the near future has wiped out crime with Purge Night: for 12 hours once a year all crime is legal and hospitals and police stations are shut down. The concept is hard to take seriously (the cost of property damage would be astronomical). But couldn’t this sequel have at least had a little more fun? Depressingly uncreative, it follows a band of innocents hunted on the streets, striking a generic tone of urban warfare when dark comedy or revenge would have been more entertaining. (read more)

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