Movies to watch this week at the cinema: Deadpool, A Bigger Splash, more...

Out on Friday 12 February

Ryan Reynolds is loud, lewd and outrageous. Jane Austen gets a cheeky update. Will Smith delivers some heady stuff. Yes, heres this weeks new releases. Click on for our reviews of Deadpool, Pride And Prejudice And Zombies, A Bigger Splash, Concussion, Welcome To Leith, The Survivalist, Jem And The Holograms, The Green Inferno, Oddball And The Penguins, Ill See You In My Dreams, Noble, Uzumasa Limelight and Alvin And The Chipmunks: The Road Trip. For the best movie reviews, subscribe to Total Film.


Ever seen the good guy take a bullet up the bum? What about teabag a villain? Or sing Careless Whisper? Have a Liam Neeson nightmare? Wear a Hugh Jackman mask? All these treats and more come courtesy of Deadpool, the latest rubber-suited superhero to make it to the big screen. Actually, back up: I may be super, but Im no hero, he tells us, amid a blur of irreverent, foul-mouthed fourth-wall-breaking. Even the opening credits rip the piss. No names just A British villain, A moody teen, A CGI character, A gratuitous cameo (all of which are true, by the way), Directed by an overpaid tool. The tool in question, Tim Miller, has created one hell of a sick and twisted superhero film (sorry, Deadpool, but thats what it is), along with Zombieland writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick and producer/star Ryan Reynolds. Take a bow, gents. We begin near the end, with Reynolds Deadpool riding in a taxi on his way to find Francis or Ajax (Ed Skrein) as he prefers to be called. Cue one major pile-up on the freeway, as the acrobatic avenger takes out numerous Uzi-wielding minions with just a dozen bullets and a pair of knives. About to skewer Francis, he gets interrupted by two X-Men, metal mountain Colossus (voiced by Stefan Kapicic) and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand). Confused? Dont worry. Deadpool loves to narrate his own story, flashing back and forth until were all caught up. Rewinding to just over a year earlier, we meet his former self, ex-Special Forces deadbeat Wade Wilson, a bad guy who gets paid to fuck up worse guys. But then he meets Vanessa (Firefly/Homeland/Gotham star Morena Baccarin), a prostitute he falls in love with and proposes to. She accepts but soon it turns out he has late-stage cancer. Then a creepy guy in a suit makes Wade a proposition: give us your body for experimentation and well cure you and turn you into a superhero. Whats he got to lose? As it turns out, only his liberty and his looks. Doing the experimenting is Ajax, ably assisted by the super-strong Angel Dust (Gina Carano), both veterans of this DNA-mutating program that seems to involve round-the-clock torture (ice baths, beatings, electrocution). Turns out, these two want to create a race of super-slaves to sell off to the highest bidder. Losing patience, Ajax then deprives Wade of oxygen to the brain, frying his DNA and turning him into one ugly S.O.B. Looking like an avocado fucked an older avocado, as Wades bartender friend Weasel (T.J. Miller) later puts it, his face is the stuff of nightmares. So no wonder he cant return to Vanessa, even after he escapes from Ajaxs facility. Advised to get a mask, Wade becomes Deadpool so named because the bar where Weasel works is running a sweepstake on who of their regulars is going to die first. Out for revenge, Deadpool has to find Ajax, who may just be the only person who can reverse his scarred face. But this isnt really a film where plot matters too much. Its the quips and asides that really drive this baby, ripping up the superhero rulebook with everything from gags about Star Wars and The Matrix to nods to Marvels arch-nemesis DC. A game Reynolds is a particular target for the in-jokes. Please dont make the super suit green, he says, before his Deadpool transformation, a deliberate wink at his risible Green Lantern. Better still, Reese and Wernicks politically incorrect zingers (Today was about as much fun as a sandpaper dildo) dovetail with former FX whizz Millers penchant for excessive/stylish violence and creepy horror (see Deadpool cutting his own hand off and it growing back). Cut to an eclectic mix of hip-hop, soft rock and 80s classics, the action is fast and the narrative faster, all building to a riotous junkyard-set showdown. Largely covered in either a mask or prosthetics, Reynolds is terrific, relishing the filthy, frantic nature of it all. Baccarin makes her potentially cliched hooker-with-a-heart feel real, while Carano and Skrein are both more than capable of fulfilling their action duties. As for the shaven-haired Hildebrand (or Ripley from Alien 3, as Deadpool calls her), she manages the sullen-teen act well. Oh, and Stan Lees gratuitous cameo is an X-rated gem. Only Colossus is a little disappointing, the CGI almost as cumbersome as he is. But thats nit-picking, given how well Deadpool fulfils its primary mission pricking the super-egos of Hollywoods comic-book blockbusters. It wont be to all tastes which is kind of the point but it puts its money where its merc with a mouth is. THE VERDICT: Loud, lewd, inventive and outrageous, Deadpool is a delight. All credit to Reynolds and co. for having the steel balls to go this far. Director: Tim Miller Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Gina Carano, Ed Skrein, T.J. Miller, Morena Baccarin Theatrical release: 10 February 2016 James Mottram


It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains. Whether or not you just winced will tell you how much youre likely to enjoy Pride + Prejudice + Zombies. Burr Steers (17 Again) film takes Jane Austens classic 1813 novel the turbulent love story of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet and sets it during an undead plague. Naturally, this means that Bennet, played by Cinderellas Lily James, is now a master of martial arts; while Darcy (Sam Riley), styled like a member of My Chemical Romance, is Englands foremost zombie killer. The films based on the eponymous 2009 novel by Seth Graham-Smith, the author who spawned the literary-horror mash-up genre but didnt do it any favours with his self-scripted adaptation of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, a film which was neither sharp nor fun enough to translate the trend to the screen. P + P + Z, however, might just do it. Tonally, Steers hits the mark: rather than constantly winking at the audience, he plays straight and measured, executing the whole thing as if it makes perfect sense. As such, theres a pleasingly seamless fit between Austens original text a treatise on marriage, wealth and class and scenes such as the Bennet sisters, in period dress and armed with swords, slicing a ballroom full of zombies to bits. Its a surreal dance of old and new, but one handled with poker-faced grace by the cast, from Charles Dance as patriarch Mr Bennet to his Game Of Thrones co-star Lena Headey as the badass Lady Catherine de Bourgh. The exception to all this underplaying is Matt Smith, who hams it up hilariously as doddery priest Mr. Collins. So far, so funny; but before long it becomes awkwardly apparent that this is a film rooted in the single gag LOL zombies a novelty that, while sharply done, needs more narrative brawn to sustain it. The biggest problem is act three, which builds to a zombie invasion thats not only surprisingly dull but, unlike earlier, struggles to mesh with Austens dramatic beats. You cant help wondering what the author would be more startled by seeing her most famous work hosed down with gore, or the Elizabeth/Darcy relationship handled so bloodlessly. THE VERDICT: For the most part a surprisingly fun, bloody take on Jane Austens classic but it does turn stale as the final reckoning approaches. Director: Burr Steers Starring: Lily James, Sam Riley, Matt Smith, Charles Dance, Lena Headey Theatrical release: 11 February 2016 Stephen Kelly


Having proved his brooding actorly worth from Heathcliff to Voldemort, Ralph Fiennes seems set on having some fun now. So far, weve had action Ralph in Skyfall/SPECTRE and comic Ralph in The Grand Budapest Hotel both a far cry from The English Patient. Yet his latest twist pips the lot to the pleasure post: all-shagging, all-boozing rocknroll Ralph in Luca Guadagninos twisty, frisky and highly enjoyable semi-comic melodrama of desire and danger. Guadagninos semi-remake of a 1969 French psycho-drama is a welcome reunion with his I Am Love star tilda swinton, suitably ageless and charismatic as Marianne, a Bowie-ish rock star living in Sicilian seclusion with butch toy-boyf Paul (Matthias Schoenaerts) after a throat op. They seem content but bored in this fame-bought bubble. But the boredom pops when Mariannes ex/producer Harry (Fiennes) noisily gatecrashes their party, bringing with him his just-discovered 22-year-old daughter Penelope (Dakota Johnson, loading every word with suggestion), a taste for coke-fired fun and heaps of trouble. Fienness live-wire prattling and unquenchable energy is a joy to watch, particularly when he slaps the Stones on the stereo, rips open his shirt and cuts a wild rug: Oscar Issac in Ex_Machina, eat your heart out. The performance is so exuberant it almost leaves the film with nowhere to turn, but Fiennes is also sly at suggesting hidden agendas and a goading neediness as Guadagnino clouds the scene with ominous intimations of possessive, lusty jealousy. If not all the darker spins are earned, nor does a background theme of refugee tragedy generate much momentum. Yet Guadagnino cooks up atmosphere and mystery to compensate, mixing languid lunches, sun-baked bare flesh, snakes on the veranda and shock twists to sustain a seductive tension. And if the film dies a little when Ralph is off screen, he sure makes every moment count when hes on. THE VERDICT: Despite some loose ends, Guadagninos melodrama drips with mood and boasts a runaway lead in Fiennes: his bum-bared makeover is a bells-on blast. Swinton shimmers, too. Director: Luca Guadagnino Starring: Ralph Fiennes, Tilda Swinton, Matthias Schoenaerts, Dakota Johnson Theatrical release: 12 February 2016 Kevin Harley


Before Will Smith busts blocks as Suicide Squads Deadshot, his gaze finds another target: a true-life issues movie about the crusading doctor who exposed the reasons behind high cases of suicide and early-onset dementia among American footie players. If that sounds like a typical dual-threat formula popcorn and prestige for Smith, its nothing compared to the films adherence to awards-bait bromides. True, the sturdy cast and hot-topical material bode well. But as a torn-from-headlines expos of suppressed truth, writer/director Peter Landesmans low-powered drama lags behind Michael Manns big tobacco takedown, The Insider, and bashes you on the head with big themes so often youll know what concussion means. Smith is more smartly reserved as the Nigerian-born Dr Bennet Omalu, a sensitive, soulful and self-assured autopsy conductor/corpse whisperer who smells rats over the early death of Pittsburgh Steeler Mike Webster. Uncovering proof of CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy) induced by heads clashing on pitch, Omalu publishes his findings and, navely, expects the NFLs gratitude. He gets support from Steelers doc Julian Bailes (Alec Baldwin, rising valiantly above accent issues) but only gets denial and legal tussles from the NFL, who, its hinted, even spook his wife Prema (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) into a miscarriage. Despite Mbatha-Raws vigorous efforts, Prema is presented merely as Omalus sympathetic support, sapping their romance of sparks. That problem gets exacerbated as the focus on their under-charged love drains urgency from the theme. Fudging both the NFLs dubious actions and subtexts about immigrant life in America, Landesman plumps instead for woolly homilies about being American set to weepie scoring. The good doctors work is vital, true. But when a moment of much-needed passion sees Omalu demanding the TRUTH! from the NFL, the problem is clear: Landesmans timid treatment is far tidier than anything resembling the truth. THE VERDICT: Will Smith shows measured charisma, but Peter Landesmans awards-season drama is too formula-baked to generate the required head of steam. Director: Peter Landesman Starring: Will Smith, Alec Baldwin, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Albert Brooks Theatrical release: 12 February 2016 Kevin Harley


A few hundred miles from Fargo, deep in the heartland of North Dakota, lies Leith, a town with just 14 inhabitants. That number rose to 15 in 2012 when ageing neo-Nazi Craig Cobb arrived, buying up plots of land to try to turn the town into a white supremacist stronghold. Thankfully, the townsfolk were having none of it and the resulting battle of attrition caught the attention of filmmakers Michael Beach Nichols and Christopher K. Walker. Almost funny if it werent all so terrifying, the film cleaned up at festivals last year with good reason: this is true-storytelling par excellence. Directors: Michael Beach Nichols, Christopher K. Walker Theatrical release: 12 February 2016 Paul Bradshaw


Providing a minimalist alternative to the (mad) maximalism of some post-apocalyptic dramas, writer/director Stephen Fingletons impressive feature debut strips back everything dialogue, exposition, action to the bare essentials, just as the unnamed lead (the intense Martin McCann) lives (well, survives) hand-to-mouth in a cabin in the woods. When a mother (Olwen Fouere) and her daughter (Mia Goth) appear offering sex for food, a brutal battle of wits begins. Too slow for the mainstream, perhaps, this presents a disgusted worldview thats painstakingly plausible, however much we may wish differently. Director: Stephen Fingleton Starring: Martin McCann, Mia Goth, Olwen Fouere Theatrical release: 12 February 2016 Matt Glasby


Based on a seriously half-baked 80s cartoon about a rock band that runs an orphanage and goes on superhero-y adventures coordinated by a prescient synthesizer, Jem And The Holograms attempts to ground its source material in a by-the-book rags-to-riches tale told mostly through the lens of YouTube videos. Aubrey Peeples is the title heroine, a bedroom folk-singer who becomes an overnight sensation when a low-key performance video goes viral, dragging her and her band-slash-sisters into the high-stakes world of corporate pop. Hobbled by inept storytelling and drab visuals, itll leave toon fans wishing theyd stuck with their hazy childhood memories. Director: Jon M Chu Starring: Aubrey Peeples, Stefanie Scott, Aurora Perrineau, Hayley Kiyoko, Ryan Guzman, Molly Ringwald, Juliette Lewis Theatrical release: 12 February 2016 Ken McIntyre


Long after Hostel, Eli Roth returns to dim Americans abroad in his riff on 1980s Cannibal Holocaust. Shame it lacks bite, though gore, vomit and shit flow as student activists (Knock Knocks Lorenza Izzo stands out) in the Amazon encounter a flesh-munching tribe; the well-fed Americans are soon slapped on the slab. The ravenous locals dont speak volumes for Roths cultural sensitivity, but little here speaks much for his abilities. He lacks the guts for either full-bodied drama or full-bore satire: and theres nothing more bloodless than geek-boy homage. Director: Eli Roth Starring: Lorenza Izzo, Ariel Levy, Kirby Bliss Blanton, Sky Ferreira Theatrical release: 12 February 2016 Kevin Harley


Middle island, off the coast of Warrnambool in South Western Australia, is home to a colony of Fairy Penguins the smallest, cutest breed in the world. When gangs of foxes started wading across the water to gobble them up, the townsfolk hit upon the clever idea of posting (equally cute) sheepdogs on the island to guard the flock. An even cleverer idea was hatched by director Stuart McDonald when he decided to turn this real life Fairy-tale into a sweet little family film with Sarah Snook, Alan Tudyk and Aussie actor Shane Jacobson playing second fiddle to the first dog to take the job. Lovely stuff. Director: Stuart McDonald Starring: Shane Jacobson, Coco Jack Gillies Theatrical release: 12 February 2016 Paul Bradshaw


Pitched at a gentler register than Dirty Grandpa, director Brett Haleys beautifully acted, calmly measured second feature puts a sweet, wry and subtle spin on ageing and companionship. Even at home alone, Blythe Danner is elegantly magnetic as Carol, a widow seeking friendship after her dog dies. Martin Starr makes winning work of Carols younger booze bud; Sam Elliott twinkles roguishly in silver-fox mode. Over a series of little intimacies Haleys steady hand balances the weight of lifes sorrows with generosity, wit and warmth: especially when the titles meaning becomes tenderly clear. Director: Brett Haley Starring: Blythe Danner, Martin Starr, Sam Elliot, June Squibb, Rhea Perlman Theatrical release: 12 February 2016 Kevin Harley


The story of Christina Nobel an Irish woman who overcame all kinds of difficulties to travel to Vietnam and establish a foundation for homeless children is one certainly worth telling. Shame, then, that Stephen Bradleys earnest drama never gets to grips with its remarkable heroine, played by a wry Deirdre OKane as an adult, and by standout Sarah Greene as a young woman. It moves from one traumatic event to another with the swiftness of a biopic thats trying to squeeze in all the major events of its subjects life so much so that none carry the weight they ought to. Director: Stephen Bradley Starring: Deidre O'Kane, Brendan Coyle Theatrical release: 12 February 2016 Stephen Puddicombe


Japanese actor Seizo Fukumoto is said to have enacted 50,000 screen deaths in his long career as a kirare-yaku, a minor character whose role is to die extravagantly in a sword fight. In Ken Ochiais elegiac and meta film he is promoted to a rare starring role, playing a version of himself as a wizened-faced, nearly wordless old man whose career as an extra in samurai flicks is nearing its end. The film struggles to flesh out its running time, but such is its sincerity in honouring Fukumotos profession that witnessing him perform his samurai sword skills is genuinely touching. Director: Ken Ochiai Starring: Seizo Fukumoto, Chihiro Yamamoto Theatrical release: 9 February 2016 Stephen Puddicombe

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