Heading to the cinema this weekend? Check out our reviews before you book those tickets.
Captain America: Civil War ****
Director: Anthony and Joe Russo
Starring: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr, Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Rudd, Emily VanCamp, Marisa Tomei, Tom Holland, Frank Grillo, Martin Freeman with William Hurt, Daniel Brühl
Duration: 147 minutes | Cert: 12A
Captain America: Civil War sees every comic book fan's dreams become a reality as the Avengers fracture and go head-to-head in an epic battle to end all epic battles.
Given the rate of superhero movies in recent years, 'cape fatigue' is a real concern with audiences as overblown, CGI-heavy fight scenes become utterly unimpressive and run-of-the-mill.
Directors Anthony and Joe Russo have cleverly decided to turn the genre on its head with Civil War, where our favourite superheroes divide down the middle over differences of opinion on how they should be regulated.
The Avengers land themselves in hot water after a calamitous mission in Lagos which sees innocent bystanders die at the hands of Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen). Grappling with the backlash from an angry public, who have deemed them no-holds-barred 'vigilantes', a United Nations summit is convened at which it's decided that the Avengers need to hand over their autonomy and sign a treaty.
But some of the team just can't bear the thought of being regulated... Read Sarah McIntyre's full review here.
Director: Jean-Marc Vallée
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Naomi Watts, Chris Cooper, Judah Lewis, CJ Wilson, Polly Draper, Heather Lind
Duration: 100 minutes | Cert: 15A
Last summer there was a bit of speculation - including here - about Jake Gyllenhaal's Oscars clout in boxing drama Southpaw - excellent performance, solid movie. Like many a long range thing, the nod from the Academy didn't materialise and it's now a decade since Gyllenhaal made the Best Supporting Actor shortlist for Brokeback Mountain - his sole nomination to date. It would really be an injustice if he wasn't in the Best Actor shakeup next January for Demolition, a flawed yet deeply moving meditation on grief from Dallas Buyers Club director Jean-Marc Vallée.
Gyllenhaal plays Davis Mitchell, an investment banker whose wife Julia (Heather Lind) is killed in a car crash. Unable to focus on work in his father-in-law Phil's (Chris Cooper) firm, Davis becomes obsessed with a faulty vending machine in the Intensive Care Unit where his wife was a patient - coping mechanisms have been constructed around far less. Taking Phil's advice that you need to take something completely apart to fix it a little too literally, Davis devotes his time to the physical rather than the mental, leaving disassembled bathroom stalls, computers and espresso machines in his wake. When he gets his hands on a sledgehammer you really fear that he's only adding to the rubble of his own life... Read Harry Guerin's full review here.
Son of Saul ****
Director: László Nemes
Starring: Géza Röhrig, Levente Molnár, Urs Rechn
Duration: 107 minutes | Cert: 15A
Of the countless films about World War II, Son of Saul is a truly unique piece of cinema that shows the horror of the Holocaust with restraint and control.
The film takes place over one day in the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in 1944 and tells the story of Saul, a Hungarian Jew being held prisoner and forced to work as a Sonderkommando in the gas chambers.
Saul's daily duties include herding groups of Jewish prisoners into changing rooms where they are told of job opportunities and the chance of a better life, before being killed mercilessly in the gas chambers. The horror of this is revealed in the film's opening scenes, something that most films would not face so head-on. With the camera closes tight in on Saul's face for the majority of the feature, all of the actions take place in the periphery, with dead bodies shown in soft focus, and their screams for help just grim background noise.
Today something different happens in Saul's routine... Read Sinead Brennan's full review here.
Director: Risteard Ó Domhnaill
Duration: 82 minutes
If you want to confirm what you have long suspected about how Ireland long ago effectively sold away our rights to both fishing and energy resources under a Fianna Fáil government – Ray Burke and Bertie Ahern were principal players in the case of energy - then you have come to the right place.
If you want to learn how Justin Keating, the Minister for Energy in the 1973-1977 Fine Gael-Labour coalition government tried to broker a decent deal for the state’s oil and gas, only to see the proposed stake decrease significantly under the Fianna Fáil government which succeeded, then you are also in the right place.
Risteard Ó Domhnaill’s compelling documentary - he made the Corrib Gas documentary The Pipe - reminds us again how the the Irish government agreed 40 years ago to unsupportable quotas for Irish fishermen as we entered the then EEC (European Economic Community.) Thus, in return for agricultural subsidies, trawlermen from Castletownbere to Arranmore Island to Kilmore Quay had to knuckle under and follow punitive quotas and regulations. The net result has been the death of fishing communities all around our coast, whose young people have in the main departed... Read Paddy Kehoe's full review here.
Miles Ahead ***
Director: Don Cheadle
Starring: Don Cheadle, Ewan McGregor, Emayatzy Corinealdi, Michael Stuhlbarg
Duration: 100 minutes | Cert: 15A
Don Cheadle stars in and directs this anti-biopic of jazz pioneer and badass Miles Davis. It's one wired trip and the music is great but Miles Ahead misses out on the mystique of the man
"Don't call my music jazz. It’s social music. I am modal," grumbles Miles Davis in the opening scene of this helter skelter film about the jazz pioneer. It's a line that could very well apply to Miles Ahead; Don’t call Don Cheadle's film a biopic. It’s far more modal than that.
Cheadle, who stars and directs, struggled to get the story onto the screen and thankfully he takes a fragmented and impressionistic approach to his wily subject. If his aim was to somehow capture the lighting in a bottle quality of the music, he has largely succeeded.Miles Ahead is a free-wheeling and ramshackle affair that manages, between car chases, shoot outs, and industrial drug use, to nail Miles Davis, the mercurial genius and the arrogant badass... Read Alan Corr's full review here.
Bastille Day ***
Director: James Watkins
Starring: Idris Elba, Richard Madden, Kelly Reilly
Duration: 92 minutes | Cert: 15A
Frankly, this film had me sold at Idris Elba. I'd watch a film of him reading the menu from his local Chinese takeaway, so I'm hopelessly biased, and have been since the Stringer Bell days of The Wire.
Anyway: the plot. It's way better than a takeaway menu. And there's no MSG, just plenty of thrills and spills. Could've done with a little more meat though.
Michael Mason (Richard Madden, Robb Stark in Game of Thrones) is an American pickpocket living in Paris who finds himself a suspected terrorist in the sights of the CIA when he steals a bag that he soon discards - no booty - only for it to explode and kill innocent people.
Sean Briar (the aforementioned Idris Elba) is the field agent on the case, and he soon realizes that Mason is just a pawn in a much bigger game and is also his best asset in terms of uncovering a large-scale criminal conspiracy that's at the very heart of the French police force... Read John Byrne's full review here.
Friend Request **
Director: Simon Verhoeven
Starring: Alycia Debnam-Carey, William Moseley, Connor Paolo, Brit Morgan, Brooke Markham, Liesl Ahlers
Duration: 92 minutes | Cert: 15A
Friend Request is an above average social media themed horror movie that entertains throughout, with enough jump scares to keep your heartbeat racing, and a few unintentionally funny moments thrown in for good measure.
It follows Laura, (Alycia Debnam-Carey) a twenty-something, internet-addicted college student who is effortlessly popular - as demonstrated by her 800+ Facebook friends - and seemingly has the perfect life - as demonstrated by stylish and slickly-done montages of her online profile. She racks up the Facebook friends with ease, a stark contrast to her fellow psych class student Marina (Liesl Ahlers), who has, like, no friends at all, and tends to stare at her intensely across the lecture room.
Laura makes the fatal error of accepting social exile Marina's friend request, setting into motion a series of terrifying and gory events that makes her seriously wish she had never made that fateful mouse click... Read Sarah McIntyre's full review here.
Director: Jon Favreau
Starring: Neel Sethi, Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong'o, Scarlett Johansson, Giancarlo Esposito, Christopher Walken, Garry Shandling
Duration: 105 minutes | Cert: PG
The great quote about Hollywood is that nobody knows anything - but that extends far beyond studio bigwigs to the punters too. How many of us, for example, decided on very early looks that Guardians of the Galaxy would be way-off cosmic, only for Disney-Marvel to turn in the best summer movie of 2014?
It's the same with Iron Man director Jon Favreau's version of The Jungle Book. For all the green screen wizardry and great casting, didn't Disney's remake feel like it could be one giant, if you'll pardon the pun, banana skin?
Well, the only slip here would be in not going to see Favreau's film because he proves that there's plenty of room in the jungle - and hearts - for the 1967 happy-clappy animated classic and his darker tale too. Don't worry, the tunes make an appearance, but the movie is so strong that it didn't actually need them... Read Harry Guerin's full review here.
Midnight Special ***
Director: Jeff Nichols
Starring: Michael Shannon, Joel Edgerton, Kirsten Dunst, Adam Driver, Jaeden Lieberher
Duration: 111 minutes | Cert: 12A
It's almost more frustrating when a film draws you in from the get-go and shows real promise, only to drop the ball when it comes to the conclusion, than it is to watch a wholly middle-of-the-road flick. It's all about expectation management.
Writer-director Jeff Nichols gives us the promise of something truly spectacular here, but fails to deliver in the final act, leaving the viewer with a sense of being cheated.
Midnight Special gets off to a great start; we're dropped right into the action and immediately there's an air of mystery, tension and intrigue that is excellently crafted. The performances are understated but powerful and the cast, while not always utilised to their full potential, are all on point... Read Sinead Brennan's full review here.