A closer look at… Baby Driver

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The Scoop

Baby (Ansel Elgort) has a talent. As long as he’s plugged in to a playlist on one of his many iPods, blocking out the tinnitus that’s been ringing in his ears since childhood, he’s the best getaway driver in town.

Again and again he’s roped into bank robberies by Doc (Kevin Spacey), a crime lord to whom he owes a longstanding debt. This means working with the unsavoury characters in Doc’s constantly rotating crew, including unstable Batts (Jamie Foxx) and ruthless lovers Buddy (Jon Hamm) and Darling (Eliza Gonzalez).

What Baby really wants is to leave this all behind, and drive off into the sunset with diner waitress Debora (Lily James).  But getting out of Doc’s clutches could be the hardest and most costly escape of his life.

Continue reading A closer look at… Baby Driver

A closer look at… Gravity

Note: Guides from our archive are in a slightly different format and have been edited here to make them more user-friendly.

Gravity

Gravity is rated 12A for sustained moderate threat, disturbing images and strong language. The film is available to buy on DVD or to rent on Amazon Instant Video.

The Scoop

Dr Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) was recruited for a space mission due to her technical expertise, not her experience as an astronaut. Nervous and jittery during a spacewalk, she’s hardly reassured by the smooth patter of veteran Matt Kowalski (George Clooney), who’s up there with her. Then the unthinkable happens. Debris from a demolished Russian satellite comes hurtling towards them, and the two are cut loose both from the space station and from communications down below.

Spinning through the void, attached to one another only by a thin cord, survival seems impossible for Stone and Kowalski. Is there any way they can reach the distant Russian station, and find a way back down to Earth?

Continue reading A closer look at… Gravity

A closer look at…Mad Max: Fury Road

© Warner Brothers, 2015.
© Warner Brothers, 2015.

Mad Max: Fury Road is rated 15 for strong violence, threat. Available on DVD and to rent or buy on Amazon Instant Video.

Warning: Contains plot spoilers

The Scoop – As human and subversive as it is noisy and brash, Mad Max: Fury Road is a journey like no other. 

In the post-apocalyptic desert that was once Australia, former warrior for justice Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy) has been reduced to his basest survival instincts. Captured by men who serve the tyrannical warlord Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne), Max is imprisoned and has his blood drained into sick soldier Nux (Nicholas Hoult).

Meanwhile Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron), one of Joe’s lieutenants, is sent on a mission to collect gasoline from a nearby town. But en-route she drives her truck wildly off course, and Joe realises that she has kidnapped five of his ‘wives’ – young women kept for breeding – and is making a desperate bid for freedom.

When Nux and the other soldiers set off in pursuit, Max is brought along – and so begins a terrifying odyssey through the wasteland.

Continue reading A closer look at…Mad Max: Fury Road

A closer look at… The Force Awakens

© Disney, 2015.
© Disney, 2015.

This is a level 2 guide, suitable for moderately experienced groups.  The Force Awakens is rated 12 for moderate violence, threat

Warning: Contains plot spoilers

The Scoop – An entertaining adventure which will please long-standing fans, and bring a new generation into the fold

Thirty years have passed since the events of Return of the Jedi, and the galaxy is under threat once again. Legendary Jedi Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) has disappeared, and a power called the First Order has risen from the ashes of the fallen Galactic Empire. The Resistance, led by General Leia (Carrie Fisher), is attempting to fight back, sending out ace pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) on Luke’s trail.

Continue reading A closer look at… The Force Awakens

Footprints in beach sand: on ‘The Force Awakens’, and riding out the hype

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Image credit: nonfictiongaming.com

What are we all going to talk about after The Force Awakens has been released? This is surely a matter of international concern. Ever since the announcement in October 2012 that Disney had bought Lucasfilm and would be making more Star Wars, every media outlet in existence has wrung out every drop of speculation, obsessed over every detail, and mined every tangential topic. And now, in the days leading up to release, we have reached peak Star Wars.

The Force Awakens has – prior to anyone having actually seen it – been dubbed ‘the biggest film of all time.’ There have been pieces written about the significance of Han Solo’s blaster and the design of Kylo Ren’s mask. There is Star Wars ice cream. There are people getting married in the premiere queue, and astronauts watching the film in space.  This is the hype. There have been pieces asking whether The Force Awakens will live up to the hype  and pieces assuring us that it will indeed live up to the hype.  There have been pieces about how to avoid the film altogether.  And now, here I am, writing a piece about how too much is being written about Star Wars.

Continue reading Footprints in beach sand: on ‘The Force Awakens’, and riding out the hype

A closer look at… The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2

© Lionsgate, 2015.
© Lionsgate, 2015.

This is a level 2 guide, suitable for moderately experienced groups. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 is rated 12A for moderate violence, threat.

Warning: Contains plot spoilers

The Scoop – A sometimes meandering but ultimately satisfying send-off for Katniss Everdeen and a game-changing blockbuster series.

After the events of Mockingjay – Part 1, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) is sick of being a pawn in somebody else’s plan. Both her mortal enemy President Snow (Donald Sutherland) and her supposed ally President Coin (Julianne Moore) are looking to use her for their own ends. But Katniss has other ideas.

As an alliance of rebels gets ready to storm the Capitol and overthrow Snow’s oppressive government, she hatches a plan to face him on her own terms. But with her old friend Gale (Liam Hemsworth) growing increasingly warlike and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) struggling to get his sanity back, Katniss can trust nobody but herself.

Continue reading A closer look at… The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2

5 questions to ask about… James Bond

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© Sony Pictures Releasing, 2015.

Some honesty, upfront: I am not much of a Bond fan. Both in the sense that I haven’t seen a lot of Bond, and in that I’m not hugely keen on what I have seen. Unlike many of my friends, I didn’t grow up watching old Bond films, so they don’t even have nostalgic appeal for me. But I recognise that for many people, they offer just the right kind of escapist entertainment.

The release of a new Bond film is a major cultural event, and it’s well worth pausing to ask why. Here are some questions to reflect on as Spectre, ostensibly Daniel Craig’s last outing as Bond, hits cinemas.

Continue reading 5 questions to ask about… James Bond

A closer look at… Divergent

Note: Guides from our archive are in a slightly different format and have been edited here to make them more user-friendly. This guide was written by Hannah Rowe.

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Divergent is rated 12 for moderate violence, threat. The film is available on DVD.

The Scoop

Like The Hunger Games (2012 and 2013) and How I Live Now (2013), Divergent follows the journey of a teenage girl in a dystopian society. Chicago is a city of ruins surrounded by an impenetrable fence, and its inhabitants live peacefully due to a system of segregation. Everyone lives in one of the five different factions: Abnegation, who value selflessness above all; Dauntless, who value bravery; Erudite, knowledge; Candor, truthfulness; or Amity, who value friendship. Every citizen takes an aptitude test when they turn sixteen to determine the faction to which they are best suited. The results are then used to guide them as they pledge their lifelong allegiance to a faction. When the choice is made there is no going back. In this world faction comes before blood. The only other option is to be one of the factionless, who are left homeless and starving.

Abnegation-raised Tris Prior (Shailene Woodley), however, is different. Her aptitude tests are inclusive. She does not belong in one faction: she is ‘divergent’. At the choosing ceremony she is torn between staying with her family in Abnegation and the allure of the exciting, dangerous Dauntless, and at the last moment chooses the latter. Once the choice is made she enters a rigorous training programme, since Dauntless only take the best recruits and those too weak and fearful will be sent to live factionless. Her training instructor is the mysterious, handsome Four (Theo James) who begins to take an interest in his courageous, determined recruit. But even as Tris begins to finally feel that she’s found a place where she belongs, it becomes apparent that, being divergent, she can never truly belong anywhere. To be divergent is to be a threat to the system: a system that is slowly crumbling and will do all it can to eliminate this threat.

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A closer look at… Edge of Tomorrow

Note: Guides from our archive are in a slightly different format and have been edited here to make them more user-friendly. This guide was written by Hannah Rowe.

Edge-of-Tomorrow-Poster-Crop

Edge of Tomorrow is rated 12 for moderate violence, threat, infrequent strong language. The film is available on DVD.

The Scoop

An alien race known as the Mimics are about to conquer the world, starting with Europe. Lieutenant Colonel Bill Cage (Tom Cruise) is a cowardly army marketing man who finds himself unceremoniously sent to the front line to fight. Despite the fact that he kills a rare Alpha, he dies within minutes. Then he awakens again, back at the beginning of the same day. Somehow, the Alpha has condemned him to live this day over and over again, fighting and dying in an endless loop.

There is only one person who seems to understand what is going on. Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), known as the Angel of Verdun, is a celebrated Special Forces warrior. She trains Bill so that every day he is able to fight more skilfully. Together, they plan to use his unique power to beat the invaders. But for it to work, Bill will have to ensure that he does one thing every single day: die.

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