Once again there are five new releases hitting cinemas this week. This Means War, the romantic action-comedy starring Chris Pine, Tom Hardy and Reese Witherspoon actually hits cinemas today, marking Valentine's Day, but The Grey, One For the Money, My Week With Marilyn and Buck all hit cinemas on Thursday. So far, I have seen This Means War and Buck (review up later) - and was unfortunate to miss The Grey and Marilyn. Still, I have heard good things about both (and of course, Michelle Williams is Oscar nominated for her role in Marilyn), and I intend to check them out over the weekend. Despite Katherine Heigl's film receiving unfathomably bad reviews (even for a Katherine Heigl film) this should be a pretty good week.
This Means War - The new film from McG (Charlie's Angels, Terminator: Salvation), written by Timothy Dowling and Simon Kinberg. Two CIA operatives, inseparable partners and best friends, Tuck (Tom Hardy) and FDR (Chris Pine), are grounded to desk work following a botched covert operation and soon discover that they have both started dating the same woman. That woman is Lauren Scott (Reese Witherspoon), an unlucky-in-love workaholic who is convinced by her sex-crazed best friend to try online dating, where she agrees to meet Tuck. Things go well on their first date, until she runs into FDR later in the night at a video store, setting in motion a series of elaborate schemes between the pair (who have agreed on some battle grounds), which ultimately effects both their professional and personal lives. With neither one letting up, they decide to employ their incomparable skills and an endless array of high-tech gadgetry to one-up the other – while trying to keep their friendship a secret from their indifferent and emotionally torn target. The premise is undeniably ridiculous, and there are some stupefying moments, but as light, brainless Friday night entertainment, and a great date movie, it scrapes through with a pass.
The Grey - In The Grey, Liam Neeson leads an unruly group of oil-rig roughnecks when their plane crashes into the remote Alaskan wilderness. Battling mortal injuries and merciless weather, the survivors have only a few days to escape the icy elements - and a vicious pack of rouge wolves on the hunt - before their time runs out. Heard plenty of good things about The Grey, which a lot of viewers have benefitted from watching without knowing much about it. I believe it is surprisingly philosophical and offers up plenty of suspense.
One for the Money - A proud, born-and-bred Jersey girl, Stephanie Plum's (Katherine Heigl) got plenty of attitude, even if she's been out of work for the last six months and just lost her car to a debt collector. Desperate for some fast cash, Stephanie turns to her last resort: convincing her sleazy cousin to give her a job at his bail bonding company...as a recovery agent. The reason you shouldn't see this? It has a 2% score on Rotten Tomatoes.
My Week With Marilyn - In the early summer of 1956, 23 year-old Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne), just down from Oxford and determined to make his way in the film business, worked as a lowly assistant on the set of 'The Prince and the Showgirl'. The film that famously united Sir Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh) and Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams), who was also on her honeymoon with her new husband, the playwright Arthur Miller (Dougray Scott). Nearly 40 years on, his diary account, 'The Prince, the Showgirl and Me' was published, but one week was missing and this was published some years later as 'My Week With Marilyn'. This is the story of that week. When Arthur Miller leaves for England, the coast is clear for Colin to introduce Marilyn to some of the pleasures of British life; an idyllic week in which he escorted a Monroe desperate to get away from her retinue of Hollywood hangers-on and the pressures of work. Michelle Williams and Kenneth Branagh are Oscar nominated for their roles, which should be enough to give this one a go.
Buck - "You're horse is a mirror to your soul, and sometimes you may not like what you see. Sometimes, you will." So says Buck Brannaman, a true American cowboy and sage on horseback who travels the country for nine gruelling months a year helping horse with people problems. Buck, a richly textured and visually stunning film, follows Brannaman from his abusive childhood to his phenomenally successful approach to horses. A real life 'horse whisperer', he eschews the violence of his upbringing and teaches people to communicate with horses through leadership and sensitivity, not punishment. Buck possesses near magical abilities as he dramatically transforms horses - and people - with his understanding, compassion and respect. In this film, the animal-human relationship becomes a metaphor for facing the daily challenges of life. A truly American story about an unsung hero, Buck is about an ordinary man who has made an extraordinary life despite tremendous odds.
Weekly Recommendation: Buck, The Grey and My Week With Marilyn should all be worth a look this week. This Means War will make the most money, and it's entertaining enough - and a good date option - but to be inspired (Buck), thrilled (The Grey) or charmed (Marilyn), look elsewhere.