Last week’s dire double-header of This Means War and Project X had critics sharpening their literary knives in preparation for this week’s headliner John Carter. Certain to prove as divisive as a very hot knife through incredibly soft butter, this Mars (ahem, I meant Barsoom) set sci-fi epic, takes top billing in what is once again a week of questionable quality. Elsewhere, Sean Bean kidney punches hookers and murders terrorists, a hirsute John Cusack tracks a serial killer, R Patz shags his way around Paris and Michael Winterbottom transports Thomas Hardy to Rajasthan.
Disney’s $250 million bet on John Carter is a massive gamble. Although it’s based on a story almost 100 years old, in which the eponymous Confederate Captain John is transported to Barsoom where he proceeds to try and save the planet, this will feel derivative to most unfamiliar with Edgar Rice Burroughs’ source material. Replete with Tharks, Jeddaks and Tars Tarkas, John Carter, previously of Mars, will likely have fanboys salivating and most others utterly befuddled.
Crashing back to planet Earth, it’s onto Cleanskin, a terrorism thriller that pits Bean’s very angry and punchy/stabby/burny secret service agent Ewan against a terrorist cell led by radical Ash. Far from the usual slick genre rollercoasters, this is a considered look at the path terrorists take and the emotional fallout that they invariably leave behind. That said there are guns, bombs, hookers and blood aplenty.
In much the same vein as Hammer’s The Woman in Black, The Raven is a dark, old-fashioned thriller that pits Cusack’s Edgar Allen Poe against a serial killer who is carrying out copycat murders based on Poe’s writings. This is dark, moody fare that promises grisly murders, mystery, intrigue and Cusack threatening to “send you to hell!”
Up next, it’s Bel Ami, a period set piece in which our R Patz strolls into Paris and systematically beds every Cougar in sight, leaving legions of disgruntled husbands in his wake. Uma Thurman, Christina Ricci and Kristin Scott Thomas are just a few of those unable to resist his wily charms and roguish ways.
Rounding off the week is Winterbottom’s Trishna, which is another string in his increasingly eclectic bow. Returning to Hardy for inspiration for a third time, this is a contemporary retelling of Tess of the d’Urbervilles. The two worlds of Pinto’s Trishna and Riz Ahmed’s (also deliciously known as the Rizmeister General!) Jay collide, but can love bridge the divide that separates them?
So, in summary that’s Tharks, bombers, serial killers, cougars or lovers. The choice, as they say, is yours…