Five friends who reunite in an attempt to top their epic pub crawl from twenty years earlier unwittingly become humanity’s only hope for survival. (IMDb)
Underneath its fun tapestry of endless witty banter, zany apocalyptic sci-fi, and action ’til you’re blue in the face are some wonderful nuggets of character drama and thematic debates on nostalgia, authenticity, friendship, and personal growth. There’s only one Gary King (or is there? Should there be? Are we always the same person?); he’s a “fuck-up” but he’s human; his devil-may-care attitude is wildly concerning but helpful when the devil himself comes to call at the world’s end (“Fuck it.”).
A skilled London police officer is transferred to a small town with a dark secret. (IMDb)
Hot damn, this is jam-packed full of all the riotous comedy and insane action sequences you could ever want in one movie, with the clever whiplash editing cinching it up together with the surprising whodunit plot into a compact water balloon of explosive fun to smash in your face. The sleepy yet secretly sinister small town setting is executed to perfection thanks to a great supporting cast and Pegg and Frost are a highly enjoyable odd couple at the forefront. Marvelously scripted throughout.
The people, sets, and costumes of the fascinating Wakanda are a fantastic breath of fresh air, and the supporting characters especially (Nakia, Okoye, Shuri) all beg for further fleshing out. As an action film it worked better with Serkis’ simpler villain (see the awesome South Korea sequence) than Jordan’s more complex one, as the good vs. evil nuances he introduced deserved a slower drama instead of a sudden civil war and typical superhero climax (though the epilogue was of course touching).
An improvised comedy based around a school nativity play. (IMDb)
Freeman’s straight-laced, serious-faced Mr. Maddens and Wootton’s boisterous, child-at-heart Mr. Poppy make for a hilarious pair; add in a white-lie-explosion plot and a rag-tag class of adorable kids with British accents singing Christmas songs and there’s plenty to smile at here. Maddens’ heartbreak and the underdog school motif add some extra emotion (the letters to Santa scene is especially heart-touching) but they could’ve been milked for more, and everything resolves much too easily.
The surrogate family schtick is a little contrived, but mostly enjoyable (aside from the inevitable romance that didn’t feel quite right in its huge age gap), thanks to a great set of amusingly contrasting characters played with charm and wit by the three leads (Freeman’s devilish bad guy is great as well). A simple on-the-run romp plot brings lots of slapstick laughs in addition to a delightful thread of dark comedy surrounding the central “hitman with a heart” and his family business.