The summer blockbusters are stacked overhead in a landing pattern to ensure maximum box office bang for buck, and touching down this week, hot on the heels of Iron Man 3, is Star Trek: Into Darkness.
This one is the sequel to the prequel, if you will – a follow-up to the wildly successful JJ Abrams reboot which went back to the early days of Kirk and crew and thus solved the problem of how keep the franchise going with most of the original stars now either in their dotage or, frankly, dead.
Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto are back as Kirk and Spock, Simon Pegg gets another outing as Scotty, and the new face this time is Benedict ‘Sherlock’ Cumberbatch as the mysterious John Harrison.
Will he turn out to be the bad guy? Well, someone has to be behind a debilitating attack on Starfleet which requires Team Enterprise to boldly go into the depths of space and hunt down a fearsome enemy. It’s a critic-proof, carefully-constructed crowdpleaser which offers solid value for money.
You may have to cast around a bit for this week’s other new releases, but you might find Deadfall, a chilly crime thriller in which brother and sister baddies Eric Bana and Olivia Wilde are stranded in a snowy wilderness while making their getaway after a casino heist. Sissy Spacek and Kris Kristofferson are in the supporting cast for an unpredictable tale full of twists and turns.
The Reluctant Fundamentalist is hardly a title to cause a stampede of eager punters to the box office, but there’s a top notch cast in this adaptation of Mohsin Hamid’s best-selling novel. An academic and financial high-flier who finds himself stigmatised in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks returns to his native Pakistan and starts to question his own values. But where’s the story going? No spoilers here, but it’s a provocative and grown-up examination of a topical issue and the likes of Riz Ahmed, Kiefer Sutherland, Kate Hudson and Om Puri do it justice.
The man once dubbed Matthew Mahogany after a string of forgettable films continues to put those clunkers behind him – Matthew McConaughey’s latest is Mud, in which he gets to develop his languid Deep South baddie chops as a mysterious fugitive hiding out on the boondocks. He’s discovered by a couple of teenagers who are impressed and want to help him get back together with old flame Reese Witherspoon.
That sets up an engrossing rites-of-passage drama that’s got touches of Mark Twain, Cape Fear and Stand By Me in its DNA.
Writer/director Jeff Nichols is reckoned to be very much a coming man, and with good reason.