Eighteen New Movies You Can Watch Right Now That Have Been Fast-Tracked From Cinemas to Streaming
Escape the winter cold with Sandra Bullock’s latest rom-com, Nicolas Cage playing Nicolas Cage and a haunting sci-fi drama about androids — all from your couch.
June 20, 2022
Before the pandemic, when a new-release movie started playing in cinemas, audiences couldn't watch it on streaming, video on demand, DVD or blu-ray for a few months. But with the past few years forcing film industry to make quite a few changes — widespread movie theatre closures and plenty of people staying home in iso will do that — that's no longer always the case.
Maybe you've had a close-contact run-in. Perhaps you haven't had time to make it to your local cinema lately. Given the hefty amount of films now releasing each week, maybe you simply missed something. Film distributors have been fast-tracking some of their new releases from cinemas to streaming recently — movies that might still be playing in theatres in some parts of the country, too. In preparation for your next couch session, here are 18 that you can watch right now at home.
EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE
Imagine living in a universe where Michelle Yeoh isn't the wuxia superstar she is. No, no one should want to dwell in that reality. Now, envisage a world where everyone has hot dogs for fingers, including the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon icon. Next, picture another where Ratatouille is real, but with raccoons. Then, conjure up a sparse realm where life only exists in sentient rocks. An alternative to this onslaught of pondering: watching Everything Everywhere All At Once, which throws all of the above at the screen and a helluva lot more. Yes, its title is marvellously appropriate. Written and directed by the Daniels, aka Swiss Army Man's Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, this multiverse-hopping wonder is a funhouse of a film that just keeps spinning through wild and wacky ideas. Instead of asking "what if Daniel Radcliffe was a farting corpse that could be used as a jet ski?" as their also-surreal debut flick did, the pair now muses on Yeoh, her place in the universe, and everyone else's along with her.
Although Yeoh doesn't play herself in Everything Everywhere All At Once, she is seen as herself; keep an eye out for red-carpet footage from her Crazy Rich Asians days. Such glitz and glamour isn't the norm for middle-aged Chinese American woman Evelyn Wang, her laundromat-owning character in the movie's main timeline, but it might've been if life had turned out differently. That's such a familiar train of thought — a resigned sigh we've all emitted, even if only when alone — and the Daniels use it as their foundation. Their film starts with Evelyn, her husband Waymond (Ke Huy Quan, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom's Short Round and The Goonies' Data) and a hectic time. Evelyn's dad (James Hong, Turning Red) is visiting from China, the Wangs' daughter Joy (Stephanie Hsu, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings) brings her girlfriend Becky (Tallie Medel, The Carnivores) home, and IRS inspector Deirdre Beaubeirdra (Jamie Lee Curtis, Halloween Kills) is conducting a punishing audit. Then Evelyn learns she's the only one who can save, well, everything, everywhere and everyone.
THE LOST CITY
Sometimes, they do still make 'em like they used to: action-adventure rom-coms in this case. Drive a DeLorean back to 1984, to the year before Robert Zemeckis made DeLoreans one of the most famous types of movie cars ever, and the director's Romancing the Stone did huge box-office business — and it's that hit that The Lost City keenly tries to emulate. This new Sandra Bullock- and Channing Tatum-starring romp doesn't hide that aim for a second, and even uses the same broad overall setup. Once again, a lonely romance novelist is swept up in a chaotic adventure involving treasure, a jungle-hopping jaunt and a stint of kidnapping, aka exactly what she writes about in her best-selling books. The one big change: the writer is held hostage, rather than her sister. But if you've seen Romancing the Stone, you know what you're in for.
As penned by writer/director duo directors Aaron and Adam Nee (Band of Robbers) with Oren Uziel (Mortal Kombat) and Dana Fox (Cruella) — based on a story by Baywatch director Seth Gordon — The Lost City's plot is ridiculously easy to spot. Also, it's often flat-out ridiculous. Anyone who has ever seen any kind of flick along the same lines, such as Jungle Cruise most recently, will quickly see that Loretta Sage (Bullock, The Unforgivable), this movie's protagonist, could've written it herself. Once she finds herself living this type of narrative, that truth isn't lost on her, either. First, though, she's five years into a grief-stricken reclusive spell, and is only out in the world promoting her new release because her publisher Beth (Da'Vine Joy Randolph, The United States vs Billie Holiday) forces her to. She's also far from happy at being stuck once again with the man who has been sharing her limelight over the years, Fabio-style model Alan (Tatum, Dog), who has graced her book's covers and had women falling over themselves to lust-read their pages. And Loretta is hardly thrilled about the whole spectacle that becomes her latest Q&A as a result, and that makes her a distracted easy mark for billionaire Abigail Fairfax (Daniel Radcliffe, Guns Akimbo) afterwards.
When Memoria begins, it echoes with a thud that's not only booming and instantly arresting — a clamour that'd make anyone stop and listen — but is also deeply haunting. It arrives with a noise that, if the movie's opening scene was a viral clip rather than part of Thai filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul's spectacular Cannes Jury Prize-winning feature, it'd be tweeted around with a familiar message: sound on. The racket wakes up Jessica Holland (Tilda Swinton, The Souvenir: Part II) in the night, and it's soon all that she can think about; like character, like film. It's a din that she later describes as "a big ball of concrete that falls into a metal well which is surrounded by seawater"; however, that doesn't help her work out what it is, where it's coming from or why it's reverberating. The other question that starts to brood: is she the only one who can hear it?
So springs a feature that's all about listening, and truly understands that while movies are innately visual — they're moving pictures, hence the term — no one should forget the audio that's gone with it for nearly a century now. Watching Weerasethakul's work has always engaged the ears intently, with the writer/director behind the Palme d'Or-winning Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives and just-as-lyrical Cemetery of Splendour crafting cinema that genuinely values all that the filmic format can offer. Enjoying Memoria intuitively serves up a reminder of how crucial sound can be to that experience, emphasising the cavernous chasm between pictures that live and breathe such a truth and those that could simply be pictures. Of course, feasting on Weerasethakul's films has also always been about appreciating not only cinema in all its wonders, but as an inimitable art form. Like the noise that lingers in his protagonist's brain here, his movies aren't easily forgotten.
What flickers in a robot's circuitry in its idle moments has fascinated the world for decades, famously so in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Blade Runner and Blade Runner 2049. In writer/director/editor Kogonada's (TV series Pachinko) After Yang, one machine appears to long for everything humans do. The titular Yang (Justin H Min, The Umbrella Academy) was bought to give Kyra (Jodie Turner-Smith, Queen & Slim) and Jake's (Colin Farrell, The Batman) adopted Chinese daughter Mika (Malea Emma Tjandrawidjaja, iCarly) a technosapien brother, babysitter, companion and purveyor of "fun facts" about her heritage. He dotes amid his duties, perennially calm and loving, and clearly an essential part of the family. What concerns his wiring beyond his assigned tasks doesn't interest anyone, though, until he stops operating. Mika is distressed, and Kyra and Jake are merely inconvenienced initially, but the latter pledges to figure out how to fix Yang — which is where his desires factor in.
Yang is unresponsive and unable to play his usual part as the household's robotic fourth member. If Jake can't get him up and running quickly, he'll also experience the "cultural techno" version of dying, his humanoid skin even decomposing. That puts a deadline on a solution, which isn't straightforward, particularly given that Yang was bought from a now-shuttered reseller secondhand, rather than from the manufacturer anew. Tinkering with the android's black box is also illegal, although Jake is convinced to anyway by a repairman (Ritchie Coster, The Flight Attendant). He acquiesces not only because it's what Mika desperately wants, but because he's told that Yang might possess spyware — aka recordings of the family — that'd otherwise become corporate property.
Following a high-stakes Los Angeles bank robbery that goes south swiftly, forcing two perpetrators to hijack an EMT vehicle — while a paramedic tries to save a shot cop's life as the van flees the LAPD and the FBI, too — Ambulance is characteristically ridiculous. Although based on the 2005 Danish film Ambulancen, it's a Michael Bay from go to whoa; screenwriter and feature newcomer Chris Fedak (TV's Chuck, Prodigal Son) even references his director's past movies in the dialogue. The first time, when The Rock is mentioned, it's done in a matter-of-fact way that's as brazen as anything Bay has ever achieved when his flicks defy the laws of physics. In the second instance mere minutes later, it's perhaps the most hilarious thing he's put in his movies. It's worth remembering that Divinyls' 'I Touch Myself' was one of his music-clip jobs; Bay sure does love what only he can thrust onto screens, and he wants audiences to know it while adoring it as well.
Ambulance's key duo, brothers Will (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, The Matrix Resurrections) and Danny Sharp (Jake Gyllenhaal, The Guilty), are a former Marine and ostensible luxury-car dealer/actual career criminal with hugely different reasons for attempting to pilfer a $32-million payday. For the unemployed Will, it's about the cash needed to pay for his wife Amy's (Moses Ingram, The Tragedy of Macbeth) experimental surgery, which his veteran's health insurance won't cover — but his sibling just wants money. Will is reluctant but desperate, Danny couldn't be more eager, and both race through a mess of a day. Naturally, it gets more hectic when they're hurtling along as the hotshot Cam (Eiza González, Godzilla vs Kong) works on wounded rookie police officer Zach (Jackson White, The Space Between), arm-deep in his guts at one point, while Captain Monroe (Garrett Dillahunt, Army of the Dead), Agent Anson Clark (Keir O'Donnell, The Dry) and their forces are in hot pursuit.
THE UNBEARABLE WEIGHT OF MASSIVE TALENT
"Nic fuckiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiing Cage." That's how the man himself utters his name in The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, and he knows what he's about. Now four decades into his acting career to the year — after making his film debut in Fast Times at Ridgemont High under his actual name Nicolas Coppola, playing a bit-part character who didn't even get a moniker — Cage is keenly aware of exactly what he's done on-screen over that time, and in what, and why and how. He also knows how the world has responded, with that recognition baked into every second of his his latest movie. He plays himself, dubbed Nick Cage. He cycles through action-hero Cage, comically OTT Cage, floppy-haired 80s- and 90s-era Cage, besuited Cage, neurotic Cage and more in the process. And, as he winks, nods, and bobs and weaves through a lifetime of all things Cage, he's a Cage-tastic delight to watch.
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent does have a narrative around all that Cage as Cage, as penned by writer/director Tom Gormican (Are We Officially Dating?) and co-scribe Kevin Etten (Kevin Can F**K Himself). Here, the man who could eat a peach for days in Face/Off would do anything for as long as he needed to if he could lock in a weighty new part. The fictionalised Cage isn't happy with his roles of late, as he complains to his agent (Neil Patrick Harris, The Matrix Resurrections), but directors aren't buying what he's enthusiastically selling. He has debts and other art-parodies-life problems, though, plus an ex-wife (Sharon Horgan, This Way Up) and a teen daughter (Lily Sheen, IRL daughter of Kate Beckinsale and Michael Sheen). So, he reluctantly takes a $1-million gig he wishes he didn't have to: flying to southern Spain to hang out with billionaire Javi Gutierrez (Pedro Pascal, The Bubble), who is such a Cage diehard that he even has his own mini museum filled with Cage memorabilia, and has also written a screenplay he wants Cage to star in.
THE SOUVENIR: PART II
In showbusiness, nepotism is as inescapable as movies about movies. Both are accounted for in The Souvenir: Part II. But when talents as transcendent as Honor Swinton Byrne, her mother Tilda Swinton and writer/director Joanna Hogg are involved — with the latter working with the elder Swinton since her first short, her graduation piece Caprice, back in 1986 before Honor was even born — neither family ties nor filmmaking navel-gazing feel like something routine. Why this isn't a surprise with this trio is right there in the movie's name, after the initial The Souvenir proved such a devastatingly astute gem in 2019. It was also simply devastating, following an aspiring director's romance with a charismatic older man through to its traumatic end. Both in its masterful narrative and its profound impact, Part II firmly picks up where its predecessor left off.
In just her third film role — first working with her mum in 2009's I Am Love before The Souvenir and now this — Swinton Byrne again plays 80s-era filmmaking student Julie Harte. But there's now a numbness to the wannabe helmer after her boyfriend Anthony's (Tom Burke, Mank) death, plus soul-wearying shock after discovering the double life he'd been living that her comfortable and cosy worldview hadn't conditioned her to ever expect. Decamping to the Norfolk countryside, to her family home and to the warm but entirely upper-middle-class, stiff-upper-lip embrace of her well-to-do parents Rosalind (Swinton, The French Dispatch) and William (James Spencer Ashworth) is only a short-term solution, however. Julie's thesis film still needs to be made — yearns to pour onto celluloid, in fact — but that's hardly a straightforward task.
The letters in RRR's title are short for Rise Roar Revolt. They could also stand for riveting, rollicking and relentless. They link in with the Indian action movie's three main forces, too — writer/director SS Rajamouli (Baahubali: The Beginning), plus stars NT Rama Rao Jr (Aravinda Sametha Veera Raghava) and Ram Charan (Vinaya Vidheya Rama) — and could describe the sound of some of its standout moments. What noise echoes when a motorcycle is used in a bridge-jumping rescue plot, as aided by a horse and the Indian flag, amid a crashing train? Or when a truck full of wild animals is driven into a decadent British colonialist shindig and its caged menagerie unleashed? What racket resounds when a motorbike figures again, this time tossed around by hand (yes, really) to knock out those imperialists, and then an arrow is kicked through a tree into someone's head? Or, when the movie's two leads fight, shoot, leap over walls and get acrobatic, all while one is sat on the other's shoulders?
RRR isn't subtle. Instead, it's big, bright, boisterous, boldly energetic, and brazenly unapologetic about how OTT and hyperactive it is. The 187-minute Tollywood action epic — complete with huge musical numbers, of course — is also a vastly captivating pleasure to watch. Narrative-wise, it follows the impact of the British Raj (aka England's rule over the subcontinent between 1858–1947), especially upon two men. In the 1920s, Bheem (Jr NTR, as Rao is known) is determined to rescue young fellow villager Malli (first-timer Twinkle Sharma), after she's forcibly taken by Governor Scott Buxton (Ray Stevenson, Vikings) and his wife Catherine (Alison Doody, Beaver Falls) for no reason but they're powerful and they can. Officer Raju (Charan) is tasked by the crown with making sure Bheem doesn't succeed in rescuing the girl, and also keeping India's population in their place because their oppressors couldn't be more prejudiced.
Back in 1962, in the first-ever Bond film Dr No, the suave, Scottish-accented, Sean Connery-starring version of 007 admires a painting in the eponymous evil villain's underwater lair. That picture: Francisco Goya's Portrait of the Duke of Wellington. The artwork itself is very much real, too, although the genuine article doesn't appear in the feature. Even if the filmmakers had wanted to use the actual piece, it was missing at the time. In fact, making a joke about that exact situation is why the portrait is even referenced in Dr No. That's quite the situation: the debut big-screen instalment in one of cinema's most famous and longest-running franchises, and a saga about super spies and formidable villains at that, including a gag about a real-life art heist. The truth behind the painting's disappearance is even more fantastical, however, as The Duke captures.
The year prior to Bond's first martini, a mere 19 days after the early 19th-century Goya piece was put on display in the National Gallery in London, the portrait was stolen. Unsurprisingly, the pilfering earned plenty of attention — especially given that the government-owned institution had bought the picture for the hefty sum of £140,000, which'd likely be almost £3 million today. International master criminals were suspected. Years passed, two more 007 movies hit cinemas, and there was zero sign of the artwork or the culprit. And, that might've remained the case if eccentric Newcastle sexagenarian Kempton Bunton (played here by Six Minutes to Midnight's Jim Broadbent) hadn't turned himself in in 1965. As seen in this wild caper from filmmaker Roger Michell (My Cousin Rachel, Blackbird), Bunton advised that he'd gotten light-fingered in protest at the obscene amount spent on Portrait of the Duke of Wellington using taxpayer funds — money that could've been better deployed to provide pensioners with TV licenses, a cause he had openly campaigned for (and even been imprisoned over after refusing to pay his own television fee).
WASH MY SOUL IN THE RIVER'S FLOW
A silent hero and a rowdy troublemaker. That's what Ruby Hunter calls Archie Roach, her partner in life and sometimes music, then characterises herself. She offers those words casually, as if she's merely breathing, with an accompanying smile and a glint in her eyes as she talks. They aren't the only thoughts uttered in Wash My Soul in the River's Flow, which intersperses concert and rehearsal clips with chats with Hunter and Roach, plus snippets of biographical details from and recollections about their lives as intertitles, and then majestic footage of the winding Murray River in Ngarrindjeri Country, where Hunter was born, too. Still, even before those two-word descriptions are mentioned, the film shows how they resonate within couple's relationship. Watching their dynamic, which had ebbed and flowed over three-plus decades when the movie's footage was shot in 2004, it's plain to see how these two icons of Australian music are dissimilar in personality and yet intertwine harmoniously.
Every relationship is perched upon interlocking personalities: how well they complement each other, where their differences blend seamlessly and how their opposing traits spark challenges in the best possible ways. Every song, too, is a balance of disparate but coordinated pieces. And, every ecosystem on the planet also fits the bill. With Hunter and Roach as its focus, Wash My Soul in the River's Flow contemplates all three — love, music and Country — all through 2004 concert Kura Tungar — Songs from the River. Recorded for the documentary at Melbourne's Hamer Hall, that gig series interlaced additional parts, thanks to a collaboration with Paul Grabowsky's 22-piece Australian Art Orchestra — and the movie that producer-turned-writer/director Philippa Bateman makes of it, and about two Indigenous stars, their experience as members of Australia's Stolen Generations, their ties to Country and their love, is equally, gloriously and mesmerisingly multifaceted.
From fleeing Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe to taking their nation's first-ever team to the World Wine Blind Testing Championships in Burgundy, Joseph, Tinashe, Marlvin and Pardon have quite the story to tell. The quartet met in South Africa, where they each individually made their home long before they crossed paths. They all also found themselves working with wine, despite not drinking it as Pentecostal Christians — and, in the process, they discovered a knack for an industry they mightn't have even contemplated otherwise. That's the tale that Blind Ambition relays, and it's a rousing and moving one. Indeed, it won't come as a surprise that the movie won Australian filmmakers Warwick Ross and Rob Coe (Red Obsession) the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival Audience Award for Best Feature Documentary.
Blind wine testing is a serious business; the first word isn't slang for inebriation, but describes how teams sample an array of wines without knowing what they're drinking. Then, they must pick everything from the country to the vintage to the varietal within two minutes of sipping. As stressed both verbally and visually throughout the doco, there's a specific — and very white — crowd for this endeavour. Accordingly, Team Zimbabwe instantly stands out. Heralding diversity is one of their achievements; their infectious joy, pride and enthusiasm for the field, for competing at the Olympics of the wine world, for the fact that their plight has taken them from refugees to finding a new calling, and for opening up the world to African vino, is just as resonant.
FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE SECRETS OF DUMBLEDORE
What a difference Mads Mikkelsen can make. What a difference the stellar Danish actor can't, too. The Another Round and Riders of Justice star enjoys his Wizarding World debut in Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, taking over the part of evil wizard Gellert Grindelwald from Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald's Johnny Depp — who did the same from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them's Colin Farrell first, albeit in a scripted change — and he's impressively sinister and engagingly insidious in the role. He needs to be: his fascist character, aka the 1930s-set movie's magical version of Hitler, wants to eradicate muggles. He's also keen to grab power however he must to do so. But a compelling casting switch can't conjure up the winning wonder needed to power an almost two-and-a-half-hour film in a flailing franchise, even one that's really just accioing already-devoted Harry Potter fans into cinemas.
Nearly four years have passed since The Crimes of Grindelwald hit cinemas, but its successor picks up its wand where that dull sequel left off. That means reuniting with young Albus Dumbledore, who was the best thing about the last feature thanks to Jude Law (The Third Day) following smoothly in Michael Gambon and Richard Harris' footsteps. And, it means explaining that Dumbledore and Grindelwald pledged not to harm each other years earlier, which precludes any fray between them now. Enter magizoologist Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne, The Trial of the Chicago 7) and his pals. Well, most of them. Newt's assistant Bunty (Victoria Yeates, Call the Midwife), brother Theseus (Callum Turner, Emma), No-Maj mate Jacob (Dan Fogler, The Walking Dead), Hogwarts professor Lally (Jessica Williams, Love Life) and Leta Lestrange's brother Yusuf Kama (William Nadylam, Stillwater) are accounted for, while former friend Queenie (Alison Sudol, The Last Full Measure) has defected to Grindelwald. As for the latter's sister Tina (Katherine Waterston, The World to Come), she's spirited aside, conspicuously sitting Operation Avoid Muggle Genocide out.
NOBODY HAS TO KNOW
Before Belgian actor and filmmaker Bouli Lanners started gracing screens big and small — writing and directing projects for the former as well — he trained as a painter. If you didn't know that fact, it'd be easy to guess while watching Nobody Has to Know. He helms and scripts, as he did 2011 Cannes award-winner The Giant, plus 2016's The First, the Last. He acts, as he has in everything from A Very Long Engagement and Rust and Bone to Raw and Bye Bye Morons. But it's the careful eye he brings to all that fills Nobody Has to Know's frames that immediately leaves an impression, starting with simply staring at the windswept Scottish scenery that provides the movie's backdrop. It's picturesque but also ordinary, finding visual poetry in the scenic and sweeping and yet also everyday. That's what the feature does with its slow-burning romantic narrative, too.
On a remote island, Philippe Haubin (Lanners) has made a humble home. Working as a farmhand, he stands out with his arms covered in tattoos and his accent, but he's also been welcomed into the close-knit community. And, when he's found on the beach after suffering a stroke, his friends swiftly rally around — his younger colleague Brian (Andrew Still, Waterloo Road), who spreads the word; the latter's aunt Millie (Michelle Fairley, Game of Thrones), who ferries him around town; and her stern father Angus (Julian Glover, The Toll), who welcomes him back to work once he's out of hospital. But Phil returns with amnesia, which unsurprisingly complicates his daily interactions. He doesn't know what Brian means when he jokes about Phil now being the island's Jason Bourne, he has no idea if the dog in his house is his own, and he has no knowledge of any past, or not, with Millie.
Jumping into the Sony Shared Universe from the DCEU — that'd be the DC Extended Universe, the pictures based around Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Suicide Squad and the like (but not including Joker or The Batman) — Jared Leto plays Morbius' eponymous figure. A renowned scientist, Dr Michael Morbius has a keen interest in the red liquid pumping through humans' veins stemming from his own health issues. As seen in early scenes set during his childhood, young Michael (Charlie Shotwell, The Nest) was a sickly kid in a medical facility thanks to a rare disease that stops him from producing new blood. There, under the care of Dr Emil Nikols (Jared Harris, Foundation), he befriended another unwell boy (debutant Joseph Esson), showed his smarts and earned a prestigious scholarship. As an adult, he now refuses the Nobel Prize for creating artificial plasma, then tries to cure himself using genes from vampire bats.
Morbius sports an awkward tone that filmmaker Daniel Espinosa (Life) can't overcome; its namesake may be a future big-screen baddie, but he's also meant to be this sympathetic flick's hero — and buying either is a stretch. In the overacting Leto's hands, he's too tedious to convince as a threat or someone to root for. He's too gleefully eccentric to resemble anything more than a skit at Leto's expense, too. Indeed, evoking any interest in Morbius' inner wrestling (because saving his own life with his experimental procedure comes at a bloodsucking cost) proves plodding. It does take a special set of skills to make such OTT displays so pedestrian at best, though, and that's a talent that Leto keeps showing to the misfortune of movie-goers. He offers more restraint here than in Suicide Squad (not to be confused with The Suicide Squad), The Little Things, House of Gucci or streaming series WeCrashed, but his post-Dallas Buyers Club Oscar-win resume remains dire — Blade Runner 2049 being the sole exception.
SONIC THE HEDGEHOG 2
It was true in the 90s, and it remains that way now: when Jim Carrey lets loose, thrusting the entire might of his OTT comedic powers onto the silver screen, it's an unparalleled sight to behold. It doesn't always work, and he's a spectacular actor when putting in a toned-down or even serious performance — see: The Truman Show, The Majestic, I Love You Phillip Morris and his best work ever, the sublime Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind — but there's a reason that the Ace Venture flicks, The Mask and Dumb and Dumber were some of the biggest movies made three decades back. Carrey is now a rarity in cinemas, but one franchise has been reminding viewers what his full-throttle comic efforts look like. Sadly, he's also the best thing about the resulting films, even if they're hardly his finest work. That was accurate in 2020's Sonic the Hedgehog, and it's the same of sequel Sonic the Hedgehog 2 — which once again focuses on the speedy video game character but couldn't feel like more of a drag.
The first Sonic movie established its namesake's life on earth, as well as his reason for being here. Accordingly, the blue-hued planet-hopping hedgehog (voiced by The Afterparty's Ben Schwartz) already made friends with small-town sheriff Tom Wachowski (James Marsden, The Stand). He already upended the Montana resident's life, too, including Tom's plans to move to San Francisco with his wife Maddie (Tika Sumpter, Mixed-ish). And, as well as eventually becoming a loveable member of the Wachowski family, Sonic also wreaked havoc with his rapid pace, and earned the wrath of the evil Dr Robotnik (Carrey, Kidding) in the process. More of the same occurs this time around, with Sonic the Hedgehog 2 taking a more-is-more approach. There's a wedding to ruin, magic gems to find and revenge on the part of Robotnik. He's teamed up with super-strong echidna Knuckles (voiced by The Harder They Fall's Idris Elba), in fact, while Sonic gets help from smart-but-shy fox Tails (voice-acting veteran Colleen O'Shaughnessey).
The Full Monty wasn't the first to do it, and it definitely hasn't been the last. But for the quarter century since that crowd-pleasing comedy became an enormous worldwide hit, British movies about underdogs banding together to save their livelihoods and communities have no longer been scrappy battlers themselves. Irish film Deadly Cuts is the latest, joining an ever-growing pile that also includes everything from Calendar Girls to Swimming with Men — and first-time feature writer/director Rachel Carey knows the formula she's playing with. Each such picture needs to be set in a distinctive world, follow a close-knit group, see them face an apparently insurmountable task and serve up a big public spectacle that promises redemption, and every step in that recipe is covered here. But a movie can stick to a clear template and still boast enough spirit to make even the creakiest of plot inclusions feel likely and entertaining enough, and that's this low-budget affair from start to finish.
It does raise a smile that AhhHair, the glamorous hairdressing contest that Deadly Cuts' main characters want to enter and win, is all about innovation in its chosen form. The movie itself would never emerge victorious at such a competition, but it's filled with broad, blackly comic fun along the way, even if it boasts about as much subtlety as a mohawk. The setting: Piglington, Dublin, an as-yet-ungentrified corner of the Irish capital, where the titular salon is a mainstay. The aim: saving the shop from being torn down and replaced with shiny new apartments. The wholly predictable complications: the determination of corrupt local politician Darryl Flynn (Aidan McArdle, The Fall) to forge ahead with the development, which'll boost his bank account; and the suburb-scaring thugs led by the overbearing Deano (Ian Lloyd Anderson, Herself), who throw their weight around at every chance they get.
IT SNOWS IN BENIDORM
Forty-four years have passed since Timothy Spall first graced the silver screen — and what a gift he's given both cinema and television since. He won Cannes Best Actor prize for Mr Turner, earned five BAFTA nominations in five years between 1997–2002, popped up in lively Aussie crime flick Gettin' Square, stole every scene he was in in The Party and recently proved formidable in Spencer. He has everything from multiple Harry Potter movies to playing Winston Churchill in The King's Speech on his resume, too, and also routinely improves whatever he's in with his presence alone. In fact, he does exactly that with It Snows in Benidorm, which'd be a mere wisp of a film otherwise. Following a just-made-redundant bank employee to Spain, this meandering drama by Spanish filmmaker Isabel Coixet (Elisa & Marcela) frequently mistakes mood for depth — and while Spall can't polish away its struggles, he's always the key reason to keep watching.
A fan of the weather and little else, Spall's Peter Riordan has given decades of his life to his employer, and is so settled into the routine he's fashioned around his job that it's as natural and automatic to him as breathing. Accordingly, when he's unceremoniously let go, he finds it difficult to adjust. He's told that being freed from the monotony of his work is a gift, allowing him to retire early — so in that spirit, he heads off to the Mediterranean coast's tourist mecca to spend time with the brother he otherwise rarely talks to. But upon his arrival, Peter finds his sibling conspicuously absent. He still stays in his high-rise apartment, but what was meant to be a family reunion-style holiday now becomes a detective quest. Helping him is Alex (Sarita Choudhury, And Just Like That...), who worked with Peter's shady club-owning brother, might know more than she's letting on about his whereabouts, and also welcomes her new pal's tender companionship the more that they spend time together.
OFF THE RAILS
In need of a bland and derivative friends-on-holidays flick that's painted with the broadest of strokes? Keen to dive once more into the pool of movies about pals heading abroad to scatter ashes and simultaneously reflect upon their current lot in life? Fancy yet another supposedly feel-good film that endeavours to wring humour out of culture clashes between English-speaking protagonists and the places they visit? Yearning for more glimpses of thinly written women getting their grooves back and realising what's important on a wild Eurotrip? Call Off the Rails, not that anyone should. Coloured with every cliche that all of the above scenarios always throw up, and also covered from start to finish in schmaltz, the debut feature from director Jules Williamson is a travel-themed slog that no one could want to remember. A grab bag of overdone tropes and treacly sentiment, it also doubles as an ode to the songs of Blondie, which fill its soundtrack — but even the vocal stylings of the great Debbie Harry can't breathe vibrancy into this trainwreck.
Once close, Kate (Jenny Seagrove, Peripheral), Liz (Sally Phillips, Blinded by the Light) and Cassie (Preston, Gotti) now just call on big occasions — and even then, they're barely there for each other. But when fellow pal Anna dies, they reunite at her funeral, and are asked to carry out her final wish by her mother (Belfast's Judi Dench, in a thankless cameo). The task: catching a train across Europe, through Paris to Girona, Barcelona and Palma in Spain, to recreate a backpacking jaunt the four took decades earlier. Specifically, they're headed to La Seu, a cathedral with stained-glass windows that look particularly spectacular when the sun hits at the right time (the film calls it "god's disco ball"). Anna already bought their Interrail passes, and her 18-year-old daughter Maddie (Elizabeth Dormer-Phillips, Fortitude) decides she'll join the voyage, too.
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