Fast and Furious 6
The Fast and Furious circus jets over to London for another mindlessly fun hot-rod ride.
According to producers, Fast and Furious 6 is the first of the franchise entries to not feature underground road racing as a major plot point. They felt they'd reached a "ceiling" in audience appeal, thinking that tuned Suburus and scantily clad race girls dancing to hip-hop weren't enough.
But there's still plenty of thrills as gravel-voiced Vin Diesel and his gang drive their musclecars on the wrong side of the road in England.
Franchise regular Paul Walker also returns, as do Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges and Sung Kang. And, surprise, Michelle Rodriguez is back. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson reprises his role from Fast Five. Joining the cast this time around is Welsh actor Luke Evans as the chief villain, plus MMA fighter Gina Carano from Haywire. And stick around for a post-credits scene to see the star of another car-chase franchise.
Director Justin Lin, who's steered The Fast and the Furious series since the third entry Tokyo Drift, is back in the drivers's seat one more time. He's moving aside to concentrate on other projects as Saw director James Wan takes over on the already-in-production Fast and Furious 7.
Following their big caper in Rio de Janeiro, Dominic Toretto (Diesel) and his crew of street-racing high-stakes thieves have retired but remain wanted fugitives. Diplomatic Security Service agent Hobbs (Johnson) gives them a chance for a clean slate when he asks for Dom's help in bringing down a British ex-special forces soldier (Evans) who is leading a team of mercenaries in daring highway heists across Europe. Among the team of criminals is Dom's supposedly dead girlfriend Letty.
Critical reception is mostly positive, so far. Rated 15+.
Epic – A teenage girl is shrunken down and discovers an incredible secret realm right in her own backyard. While trying to figure out a way to contact her nutty professor father and return to her normal size, she is caught up in a battle between the Leaf Men and their mortal enemies the Boggans. This animated feature is from Blue Sky Studios and is directed by Chris Wedge, the helmer of Ice Age and Robots. It is based on William Joyce's children's book The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs. The voice cast is headed by Amanda Seyfried, along with Colin Farrell, Josh Hutcherson, Christoph Waltz, Aziz Ansari, Chris O'Dowd, Pitbull, Jason Sudeikis, Steven Tyler and Beyoncé Knowles. Critical reception, so far, is generally positive. In 3D. Rated G.
Crush – A shy lonely high-school girl (Crystal Reed) turns into a psycho when she experiences her first feelings of love, making life a living hell for a hunky sports star (Lucas Till from X-Men: First Class). Sarah Bolger also stars. This went direct-to-DVD in the States and critical reception somewhat mixed. Rated 15+.
European Union Film Festival – Wrapping up this weekend, tonight's feature is the Spanish drama Don't Be Afraid. Tomorrow, there are three movies: the Danish World War II drama This Life, the Polish black comedy Wonderful Summer and Julien Temple's documentary London – The Modern Babylon. Saturday's offerings are Stars Above from Finland, Goethe! from (where else?) Germany and Portugal's The Death of Carlos Gardel. And the fest closes on Sunday with Sweden's Beyond, starring Noomi Rapace, Cool Kids Don't Cry from the Netherlands and the Luxembourgish crime thriller Blind Spot. It's all at SF World Cinema at CentralWorld. As always, tickets are free but you have to queue up to get them 30 minutes before showtime. This is a very popular festival, especially with the culture-starved expats, so be prepared for long lines. Check the festival website for the schedule.
Baara (Work) – The Alliance Française screens free movies with English subtitles at 7.30pm every Wednesday. Next week's offering is this 1978 African workplace comedy-drama by Souleymane Cissé. It's set in a factory in Bamako, Mali, where the harsh conditions and corruption of the bosses cause the workers to revolt.