23 Mar

Hunger Poster

With The Hunger Games set to devour all comers at the box office this weekend, alternatives are few and far between. However, the post awards season malaise seems to have subsided and fare is of a markedly higher quality, albeit thin on the ground. If the child murder premise of said hunger games isn’t your bag, then Dexter Fletcher’s directorial debut Wild Bill, US Navy Seal propaganda pic Act of Valour and intimate Belgian fable The Kid with a Bike round out an eclectic line up.

John Carter’s very audible box office bust ensures that The Hunger Games can smugly lay claim to be 2012’s first bona fide blockbuster. Perhaps Disney should take a leaf out of the Potter, Twilight and now The Hunger Games literal book by basing any future epics upon CONTEMPORARY tween friendly megaliths of literature. The Hunger Games trilogy is so huge that this Battle Royale esque dystopian thriller that pits Jennifer Lawrence’s Katniss Everdeen against 23 other kids in a fight to the death just cannot fail. Expect instalments two and three imminently.

At the other end of the budget spectrum, we have Wild Bill. Despite some grossly misleading marketing, this is not in fact just another mockney Guy Ritchie throwaway gangster film. Fletcher’s pic is a familial drama at heart, which charts Wild Bill’s (Charlie Creed-Miles) return home after eight years in the nick and his flawed attempts to reconnect with his two sons. Will Poulter shines as eldest son Dean, whilst Andy Serkis serves up an absolutely delicious cameo turn as the maniacal Glen. Based on this, Fletcher has a very bright future behind the camera and Babyface seems such a very long time ago.

Wild Bill

In what is effectively a glossy showcase of the Navy Seal’s armoury and technical capabilities, Act of Valour is a thinly veiled recruitment drive/muscle flexing exercise for the US military as real life Seals mug their way through a concocted narrative showing off their hardware and military might. All served up with lashings of cheese and a healthy side of chest beating patriotism that purports to celebrate real life American heroes.

Belgian drama The Kid with a Bike ushers in a marked change of pace. The revered Dardenne brothers’ latest vision of lowly Wallonia tells the tale of disruptive Cyril (Thomas Doret), a young boy abandoned by his father and striving for acceptance in a lonely world. Boasting the usual small-scale, humanistic and immersive trademarks that the Dardenne’s are so noted for, this Cannes Grand Prix winning pic is a charming albeit slight story that will undoubtedly cement the filial duo’s reputation as the champions of the suffering Belgian underclass.

This weekend firmly belongs to Katniss et al, but it’s encouraging that 2012 seems to have finally set its sat nav for Quality Street.

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