WELCOME to summer – the first of the big blockbusters has arrived, which means that just about everything else has moved to one side to allow Marvel Avengers Assemble a clear run at the box office.
The formula is straightforward enough – reliable director Joss Whedon, bankable names galore in the shape of Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans and Tom Hiddleston, and bucketloads of CGI and 3D excess as yet another comic book collective takes to the big screen.
We’ve seen most of those costumed crimefighters individually, and there’s an undeniable attraction in lumping them all together into one top team under the direction of peacekeeping agency head Samuel L. Jackson.
How will the very different superheroes rub along? Do you think, perchance, that there might be sparky conflict before they all learn that they have to work together to save the world?
It’s big, it’s clever, but it’s very long and there’s not much soul there. As a summer blockbuster, it has much to recommend it – but nothing much to remember it by.
> As a consequence of the Avengers avalanche, there are some interesting releases which may well not make it to your nearest multiplex.
That’s a shame, because Glenn Close’s turn as a woman driven to disguise herself as a man in period drama Albert Nobbs is an intriguing story and the cast is packed with star names.
Close won an Oscar nomination for her poignant performance in this pet project – it’s a role she first played on stage 30 years ago.
> On the frothier side there’s Damsels In Distress, in which three perky girls shake up a macho-heavy college campus
It sounds like a by the numbers piece of teen tosh but the prescence of cult writer/director Whit Stillman calling the shots make this worth seeking out.
Stillman, best known for The Last Days Of Disco way back in 1998, has been called the new Woody Allen, so it might be an idea to catch his work while it’s still funny.
> If you liked Made In Dagenham and have fond memories of The Full Monty there’s every chance you’ll be prepared to take a flutter on Outside Bet.
Rising name Sacha Bennett directs a cast of solid Brit performers like Bob Hoskins and Jenny Agutter in a story about seven pals who club together to buy and train a racehorse.
They pin their hopes on the nag while their day jobs in the print are under threat as Rupert Murdoch gets set to shake-up the 1980s national newspaper scene – can this unlikely steed rescue them from redundancy?
Chalk and cheese comedy ensues, and it’s all very heartwarming with a good eye for period detail.
Whether punters will seek it out at the cinema or wait for the DVD is open to question – the smart money is probably on the latter.