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Film round-up: Aug 3 2018

This week the Star's critics ALAN FRANK and MARIA DUARTE review Ant-Man and the Wasp, Damascus Cover, The Escape, The Apparition, and Teen Titans Go! To the Movies

The Escape (15)
Directed by  Dominic Savage
★★★★★

Moviegoers who best recall Gemma Arterton decorating 007’s Quantum of Solace are in for a stunning surprise here watching her award-worthy portrait of comfortably off suburban wife and mother Tara who, despite seemingly to have it all, craves a different life.

Finally, rebelling against routine life of regular sex with hard-working husband Mark (Dominic Cooper), tending to their two young children and running their household, the increasingly unhappy Tara buys a one-way ticket to Paris to find a new life.

In synopsis, The Escape may resemble ripe technicolour Hollywood decorated with frequent sex scenes and, in Paris, attractive location shots.

But It’s not.

The Escape escapes cliché and delivers a memorable emotional punch.

Arterton’s excruciatingly truthful performance creates an unforgettable character  — all the more impressive due to the fact that writer-director Dominic Savage relied, absolutely rightly as it turned out, on improvisation and genuine locations rather than studio sets — whose behaviour convinces throughout the narrative.

Dominic Cooper too is memorable, creating a husband who, while increasingly realising he is out of his emotional depth as his life crumbles, tries hard to figure out what is happening to him but fails.

The Escape is not an easy watch. But it’s enthralling.

Alan Frank

Ant-Man and The Wasp (3D) 12A
Directed by Peyton Reed
★★★★

After the emotional roller-coaster ride that was Avengers: Infinity War comes a welcome respite in the more light-hearted and fun-loving action-packed Ant-Man sequel which puts Evangeline Lilly's The Wasp in the driving seat.

While the Avengers were busy trying to defeat Thanos, Ant-Man (Paul Rudd who also has a writing credit) was under house arrest for breaking the Sokovia Accords in Captain America: Civil War and balancing being a parent with being a super hero.

Duping the authorities he assists Hope van Dyne/the Wasp (Lilly) and her father Dr Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) on their mission to find and rescue Hope's mother (Michelle Pfeiffer) from the quantum realm.

With even more ramped-up humour, ingenious sizeist visual gags — shrunken car chases, a giant Pez doubling up as a weapon — and driven by Rudd and Lilly's effortless charm and charisma, this proves a joyously entertaining superhero film.

It also features Stan Lee's third cameo this year in a Marvel film and his most memorable to date.

However, it is vital you stay for the first end credits scene which takes this sequel to a whole new mind-blowing level.

Maria Duarte 

Damascus Cover (15)
Directed by Daniel Zelik Berk
★★★

Set in 1989 just after the fall of the Berlin Wall, an Israeli agent, haunted by the death of his son, is sent under cover to Syria to smuggle a chemical weapons scientist out of the country in this bleak but slick and stylishly shot spy thriller.

Jonathan Rhys Meyers plays the troubled and enigmatic Israeli spy Ari Ben-Sion who becomes distracted by an US photo journalist (Olivia Thirlby) as his mission implodes and becomes a fight for survival.

Based on Howard Kaplan's novel of the same name, everyone is hunting for the deep cover agent code named The Angel who is giving Syrian government secrets to the Israelis.

Packed with relentless twists and turns, which aren't that difficult to figure out, but without making judgements or taking sides in the ensuing politically conflict, this drama analyses how enemy governments would secretly collude and help each other out when it is in both their interests.

Plus it features John Hurt's final film performance as Ari's spy boss Miki and it is worth seeing just for him.

MD

The Apparition (PG)
Directed by Xavier Giannoli
★★★★★

Don’t be fooled by the title.

Director Xavier Giannulli’s riveting drama is, mercifully, not simply yet one more weekly shockfilm movie destined for late night television.

Instead we follow French journalist Jacques Mayano — an award-worthy performance by Vincent Lindon — who, injured as a war correspondent when his photographer is killed, accepts an offer from the Vatican to join a commission of enquiry into the case of young novice Anna (Galatéa Bellugi) who claims to have been visited by the Virgin Mary in a remote village in rural France.

Selected for his agnosticism, Mayano finds himself being drawn into a religious universe that slowly tests his beliefs and involves him in a strange situation as challenging as any he suffered as a war correspondent.

The narrative is constantly compelling despite its length, which you only realise after the film ends, thanks to a gripping storyline and picture- perfect performances.

AF

Teen Titans Go! To the Movies (PG)
Directed by Peter Rida Michail, Aaron Horvath
★★★★

The eponymous animated young superheroes spring from TV in a wild, wacky, often unexpectedly witty big screen extravaganza that sees them causing continuous comic chaos as, jealous that all adult superheroes have their own movies, they seek a director to bring their own movie to the cinema.

Led by their leader Robin, they kick off by invading a Batman movie premiere and deciding to go after its director, raising low, loud laughs along the way while having to contend with giant evil supervillain Slade.

Tinsel Town comes in for a bashing too, as do Warner Brothers’ Hollywood Studios where much of the daffy action takes place while “adult” superheroes like Batman, Superman and — embarrassingly for him — the rightly forgotten celluloid hero Green Lantern are splendidly sent up.

Best of all, egregious Marvel superheroes creator Stan Lee is sent up something rotten!  Kids will have a ball, parents should have fun too.

AF

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