Plot: Alithea (Tilda Swinton) is a narratologist, studying the meaning and function of stories. She travels to Istanbul for a convention where she finds an old bottle at the market. She buys it as a souvenir. When she tries to clean it, she can’t believe it when an actual Djinn (Idris Elba) comes out of the bottle. He needs her to make three wishes. She knows how the stories about wishing end up, that they’re all cautionary tales. So the Djinn tries to convince her by sharing his life story.
Three Thousand Years of Longing is a beautiful, romantic fairy tale that I found honestly engaging and incredibly lovely despite its orientalism and a sequence of fetishizing fatness.
Plot: After the death of his ex-wife, Nate (Idris Elba) takes their two teenage daughters Norah (Leah Jeffries) and Mer (Iyana Halley) to South Africa where their mother came from originally. Meeting up with their old friend Martin (Sharlto Copley), the trip is supposed to reconnect and heal all of them a little. Things are off to a good start when Martin takes them out into the local national park where he works as a vet. But poachers have also been to the park, hunting, hurting and killing lions. Martin, Nate and the kids stumble upon evidence that one lion has started to fight back – and then they find themselves in its crosshair, prompting a desperate fight for survival.
Beast promises us a fight between Idris Elba and a lion, and it does give us that (not like The Grey that promises us Liam Neeson fighting a wolf and then cuts out just before that happens). If you would like more from a movie – like a plot that makes sense or characters that behave believably – you’ll be disappointed. But if that is all you want, go for it.
Plot: Thor (Chris Hemsworth) hasn’t been doing too well after recent events, although he doesn’t look it. Traveling around with the Guardians of the Galaxy to help people, he finds some fulfillment in fighting for the weak. When he hears a cry for help from his old friend Sif (Jaimie Alexander) who tells him about the God Butcher Gorr (Christian Bale) who has been hunting gods all over the galaxy, Thor returns to New Asgard, where King Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) leads the rest of the Asgardian refugees. And just in time to find not only Gorr attacking Asgard, but also his ex-girlfriend Jane (Natalie Portman) who has taken up Mjolnir and has also become Thor. Together, they go after Gorr while also trying to figure out where they stand with each other.
Thor: Love and Thunder is a really fun film that surreptitiously tackles some hard topics, ending with a positive message that is a breath of fresh air in the age of movie cynicism.
Plot: The Suicide Squad has some new recruits and a new mission on Corto Maltese. Instructed by Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), they are dropped off on the island that recently saw a regime change. And so, Bloodsport (Idris Elba), Peacemaker (John Cena), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), RIck Flag (Joel Kinnaman), Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchior), Polka-Dot Man (David Dastmalchian) and King Shark (Sylvester Stallone) find themselves on different paths to the island capital to gain control of a secret weapon in a stronghold in the city.
I was debating with myself whether I actually wanted to go see The Suicide Squad, given that Suicide Squad wasn’t good (to put it mildly), but ultimately my love for the cast won out. And I’m glad it did – The Suicide Squad is a whole lot of fun.
Plot: After one more time getting into trouble, Cole’s (Caleb McLaughlin) mother has had enough and just drops him off with his father Harp (Idris Elba) in Philadelphia. Harp is part of tight-knit community of city cowboys who are keeping their horses in the middle of the town, a thorn in the side of city development, and he has little space for Cole. He literally shares his home with a horse instead. Nevertheless, Cole tries to find a space – if not with the cowboys, then with his old friend Smush (Jharrel Jerome) who has turned to dealing.
Concrete Cowboy is set in a fascinating environment, but I didn’t connect with the story as much as I would have liked. It almost wished, despite the excellent performances, that this was a documentary.
Plot: Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) hate each other, and that is putting it very mildly. But when a dangerous virus, called The Snowflake, is about to get into the wrong hands, they are asked to put aside their differences and go after it together. It was last seen with MI6 agent Hattie Shaw (Vanessa Kirby), as in Deckard’s younger sister. But even though Hattie is keeping it safe at the moment, somebody is still after it and her: Brixton Lore (Idris Elba) who has his own agenda and enhancements to make it happen.
Hobbs & Shaw is a great spin-off form the Fast and the Furious series, hitting just the right tone and style (albeit leaving gaping plot holes with regards to the other films that should not be discussed). I had great fun with it.
Plot: Thanos (Josh Brolin) has reached the final stages of his plan: he will collect all of the Infinity Stones and with their power reshape the universe after his own ideas. The hunt for the stones makes him cross paths with the Avengers on Earth, as well as the Guardians and the Asgardian refugees in space, leading to them coming together in a desperate effort to stop him and his plans.
Avengers: Infinity War is the culmination of more than a decade of films. That alone makes it a momentous, if not to say monumental film. And it’s not bad per se, but it does feel like a step down from the recent absolute highlights that were Black Panther and Thor: Ragnarok.
Plot: Molly Bloom (Jessica Chastain) used to be an Olympic skier but an injury put an end to her career. Looking for a new way to make a living, she moves to Los Angeles and stumbles into the world of gambling. Sharp and business savy as she is, she quickly moves up and becomes a successful host of high stakes poker games – which in turn puts her into the sight of the FBI.
Molly’s Game is the rare case of a film that reaches its climax with the very first scene. But that’s not the only reason it is ultimately disappointing, despite the excellent cast.
Ben (Idris Elba) and Alex (Kate Winslet) meet by chance at the airport in Denver where flights are being canceled due to the bad weather. Since Ben is scheduled to perform a surgery and Alex is supposed to get married, they really do need to get out of there, though. Realizing that they are both in the same boat, Alex suggests a solution: she knows a pilot, Walter (Beau Bridges), who can take them to their connecting flights on a private plane. They leave – but the plane crashes and Ben and Alex find themselves stranded on top of a mountain with nobody knowing where they are.
The Mountain Between Us is a nice romance film that is constantly being hampered by a bad adventure film that tries to push itself to the center of attention, making the entire thing a very weird experience.
Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is fighting to prevent Ragnarok – the end of the world. Having successfully defeated the demon Surtur, he returns to Asgard, only to find Loki (Tom Hiddleston) posing as their father Odin (Anthony Hopkins). After having located the real Odin, he tells Thor and Loki that Ragnarok is still coming: the real threat is their sister Hela (Cate Blanchett). It doesn’t take long for Hela to appear and show how much of a threat she really is.
Thor: Ragnarok is probably the best Marvel film to date. It’s entertaining, full of queer (and also straight) aesthetics and had me in literal tears it’s so funny. It’s absolutely lovely.