Cinema really is back…

With restrictions on audience numbers across the globe, it’s understandable that some of the big studios either held back release dates, or opted for the hybrid release model (via streaming platforms).

But with public spaces now opening up once more (UAE cinemas can currently operate at 80 per cent for example), all of those backed-up blockbusters are beginning to flood through.

These are our pick of the flicks hitting the big screen over the next eight weeks, and we’re breaking the golden rule of film reviews — judging them all by the trailer.


Our Rating (out of 5 stars, based only on the trailer): 4.5

Director: Denis Villeneuve

Cast: Timothée Chalamet, Oscar Isaac, Zendaya, Jason Momoa

Synopsis: This philosophical sci-fi caper is director Denis Villeneuve’s interpretation of the classic Frank Herbert science fiction novel of the same name and serves as a reboot to the 1984 movie. The cast of this version is headed up by the brilliant Timothée Chalamet, he stars alongside Josh Brolin, Oscar Isaac, Zendaya, and Jason Momoa. The story follows Paul Atreides (Chalamet), a young man thrust into a power struggle on the distant planet of Arrakis, home to giant murderous sandworms, scheming ne’er-do-wells, indigenous eco-warriors and a battleground for control of the galaxy’s most precious resource, a performance-enhancing ‘spice’ called Melange. But will this version be able to satisfy the notoriously finicky Herbert fans? From the trailer it certainly looks like the required epic and bleak quotas are being met head-on, the casting seems absolutely inspired and it genuinely left us with a lingering case of anticipatory goosebumps.


No Time to Die

Rating (out of 5 stars): 4

Director: Cary Joji Fukunaga

Cast: Daniel Craig, Rami Malek, Naomie Harris

Synopsis: Daniel Craig is set to return to our screens at the end of September for a fifth and final (or so we’re told) time as James Bond. There’s been a storm of intrigue and controversy over his potential successor, in part fuelled by the studio who dropped the tantalising news that Lashana Lynch will play ‘the new 007’, though that’s likely just a temporary fixture for a plot device. After director Danny Boyle left the project over ‘artistic differences’ (that may or may not have been about ‘killing Bond off’) Cary Joji Fukunaga was selected to helm the film. Fukunaga was the man behind the first season of True Detective, arguably one of the finest bits of television in the modern era. No Time to Die begins with Bond (Craig) out of active service, only to be lured back by long-time friend and CIA agent, Felix Leiter in a search for a missing scientist. In the trailer we get a brief glimpse of Rami Malek as the movie’s socially-awkward antagonist, alongside Christoph Waltz in his reprised role of Ernst Blofeld AKA Bond’s stepbrother AKA the OG Dr Evil. The trailer also teases the idea that this film will tie-up the winding web of intrigue that has been delicately spun over the last five movies, and apparently, Blofeld wants to help. Sus.


Venom: Let There Be Carnage

Rating (out of 5 stars): 3.75

Director: Andy Serkis

Cast: Tom Hardy, Woody Harrelson, Michelle Williams, J K Simmons

Synopsis: The critics and audience were split almost precisely down the middle on whether 2018’s Venom was any good. It might not be official MCU canon, but we’re unashamed to say we found it highly enjoyable. This time around journalist Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) and his cantankerous lobster-swallowing interstellar symbiote, Venom will have to face off against comic book nemesis Carnage (Woody Harrelson). And if it follows the core formula of the first movie, benefits from the additional dark humour injection and creature insight from director Serkis, and it has Woody “never misses* Harrelson as the lead villain, we just can’t envisage the movie being screen poison. Expect chaos, expect venom, expect carnage, and expect, with resolute certainty, delightfully cringey lols.


The Last Duel

Rating (out of 5 stars): 4

Director: Ridley Scott

Cast: Jodie Comer, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Adam Driver

Synopsis: On paper, this movie has got ‘Oscar’ written all over it. Ridley Scott is about to enter a sixth decade of making movies, and his cinematic CV will likely echo in eternity. He was the helmsman for AlienBlade RunnerGladiatorAmerican GangsterThe Martian, and a pretty trippy advert for Apple back in the 80s. The concept of ‘duels’ has been a reoccurring theme throughout Scott’s movies, but the name of this, his latest one, The Last Duel bears a noteworthy resemblance to his 1977 Cannes Film Festival Best Debut-winning piece The Duellists. This feature is actually based on a book, The Last Duel: A True Story of Trial by Combat in Medieval France by Eric Jager. The screenplay was penned by Ben Affleck, Matt Damon (tempting us to build Good Will expectations), and Nicole Holofcener, with a cast list that includes Affleck, Damon, Jodie ‘villanelle’ Cormer, and Adam Driver. The Last Duel is a historical drama examining the last legally sanctioned duel in France’s history, a brutal tale of honour, betrayal, war and country music haircuts.


The Addams Family 2

Rating (out of 5 stars): 2

Directors: Greg Tiernan, Conrad Vernon

Cast: Oscar Issac, Charlize Theron, Chloe Grace Moretz

Synopsis: The 2019 animated reboot of The Adams Family, had its faults — “you know what won’t fix those?” we remember thinking at the time “a sequel”. But here we are again. This time around we’re offered a ghoul’s eye view of the emo movement’s most famous family on a road trip. Sadly, from the trailer, it looks like much of the baggage that caused the unenthusiastic reception of the first movie has gone with them. It’s a strong voice cast, and the animation style fits the content — but our beef with the original, and what we can see of this sequel, was never and is not about that. It’s more concerned with the shallow plotline and dialogue that tried too hard to resuscitate and venerate the comedy of the original 60s sitcom. A humour, ironically, that is well and truly dead.


The Many Saints of Newark

Rating (out of 5 stars): 4.5

Director: Alan Taylor

Cast: Michael Gandolfini, Ray Liotta, Vera Farmiga

Synopsis: We feel about The Sopranos, the same way Tony Soprano feels about cannolis. Which explains the profound absence that’s resided within us ever since the blackout at the end of the cult TV series. The mourning only deepened, with the real-life passing of the show’s charismatic lead, James Gandolfini in 2013. But, in keeping with one of the ongoing themes of David Chase’s mob masterpiece, there is a twist to this story. In 2018 New Line Cinema acquired the rights to create a prequel to the series, and later that year Alan Taylor, who directed several episodes of The Sopranos, was attached to direct. The Many Saints of Newark is an antihero origin story, following a tumultuous turn of events that help transform an impressionable young Tony Soprano, into the mob boss he is destined to become. But our favourite aspect of this whole project is that Michael Gandolfini, James’ actual son, was cast to play the younger version of his father’s iconic character. And from the trailer, it looks like the cannoli hasn’t fallen far from the cannoli tree. We’re not crying. You are.


The French Dispatch

Rating (out of 5 stars): 4

Director: Wes Anderson

Cast: Timothée Chalamet, Tilda Swinton, Bill Murray, Benicio del Toro

Synopsis: Wes Anderson’s racket is one of ripping yarns told through a highly stylised poetic lens. His movies are stories in a most honest, and classical sense. This one has been described as ‘a loveletter to journalism’ and is separated into three distinct chapters — extended vignettes based around characters connected to an American newspaper, the eponymous French Dispatch, based in the fictional French city of Ennui-sur-Blasé (literally translating ‘boredom or lethergy-on-indifference’). The connective binding is provided by the central character, who assembles a team of the finest journalists of the era, and it is through them that we watch the acts unfold. Evident from the trailer is — the absolutely dizzying star count of the extended cast list, a continuation of Anderson’s unique brand of dry humour, trademark switching up of cinematic style, and little doubt that this is going to push all the right Wes buttons.

Images: YouTube