Doctor Strange: A Kind Of Magic

This review may contain minor spoilers.

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The strangest thing about Marvel’s foray into the inter-dimensional is how securely it stands as its own film. Too often are their recent films bogged down in heavy-handed links to what has preceded and what will proceed, to the point where they have felt like extended trailers, founded in nothing but Infinity Stones. Here, the greatest trick pulled is that ‘Doctor Strange’ effectively ignores the super-baggage of a decade, leaving room for an endlessly surprising and gleefully bonkers spectacle.

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Life On The Road: Oh For Fu…

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This review may or may not contain minor spoilers. It may or may not do. So don’t…

When we left Sir David of Brent almost fifteen years ago, he wanted to be remembered as one who put a smile on the face of all who he met. While he did not exactly achieve this as Regional Manager of Wernham Hogg, he did get the odd smirk here and there, as Gareth, Dawn, Tim et al almost warmed to their pathetic boss. Yet, in the brilliant Christmas Specials, there was an indication that the future for Brent was more sinister; he encountered a workplace that was increasingly intolerant of his delusions and childishness, often being berated by the pretty trim Neil Godwin. Oddly, it is this bullying of Brent, both in and out of the office, that ‘Life on the Road’ focuses on, leaving a tone as bitter as a pint of Courage.

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The Shallows: Shark Schlock Rocks

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Just when sharks thought that it was safe to come back out the water, another film comes along which paints them as snarling, bloodthirsty murderers. Despite the bad PR (you’re more likely to be killed by a vending machine than a shark), it is actually rather refreshing to see a ‘straight’ shark movie opening in cinemas, instead of one about mutant-ghost-terrorist monsters clinging to the underside of your local DVD bargain bin.

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X-Men: Apocalypse – The End Is High

This review may contain minor spoilers.

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Fittingly, ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’ is a film that relies heavily on gene-splicing. Bryan Singer’s second mutant trilogy conclusion plays out like the original three films on a comeback tour: we have the the heavy-handed Holocaust memorial of the first film; the snowy locations and Jean Grey sub-plots of ‘X2’, and the CGI-reliant, inconsequential deaths of ‘The Last Stand’. The latter film is openly mocked in one scene, as one of the X-Kids, after seeing ‘Return of the Jedi’, claims that the ‘third film is always the worst’. Thank En Sabeh Nur, then, that ‘Apocalypse’ just about avoids this seemingly inevitable doom.

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Captain America: Civil War – Bureaucracy With Biceps

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The most powerful costume this super-season is the suit and tie. After the destruction caused in New York, Washington and ‘Sokovia’ (endless, post-Soviet tenements), the UN have finally decided that superheroes need to start filing insurance claims and going to fire safety talks. It is inevitable that, given the volume of superhero films, the genre would eventually become more introspective and politically-charged, particularly after the attack of surveillance that was ‘The Winter Soldier’. However, let’s not kid ourselves: ‘Civil War’ is a film about indestructible clowns hitting each other, only taking breaks for globe-trotting and banter.

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Zootopia: Don’t Eat Prey – Love!

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Monica Geller would hate Disney’s latest foray, as its central premise rests on animals dressed as humans. Beavers are construction workers, polar bears are Mafia muscle, lemmings are bankers (#satire) and one plucky bunny is a police officer. Yes, this Easter, rabbits aren’t giving out eggs and joy; they are coldly distributing parking fines and search warrants. Welcome to Zootopia: where predators and prey live together in perfect bureaucracy.

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Deadpool: Predictably Unpredictable

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If ‘Deadpool’ were an emoji, it would be a winky lick. It’s your sexy, bitchy millennial friend who you see once a year to distract yourself from the fact that you, the sensible one, put on a tie and joined the system. It tells you to ‘shut the fuck up’ in an affectionate way; it never passes the opportunity for an willy gag; it concludes its sentences with ‘#LOL’. And yet, after a while, your occasional, disbelieving belly laughs make way for polite titters as you realise how exhausting it is to be with someone so predictably unpredictable.

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The Revenant: Blood, Simple.

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In 1850, Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote of nature as ‘red in tooth and claw’, and he hadn’t even seen ‘The Revenant’. Fresh from lampooning actors in ‘Birdman’, director Alejandro González Iñárritu has put aside satire for savages in a deceptively simple exploration of violence, pain and survival. Will it win big this awards season? As surely as ursine defecation in the boscage.

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