Pokémon Detective Pikachu
The first Japanese ‘pocket monsters’ video game came out in 1996, and since then Pokémon has grown into a vast multi-media franchise, encompassing games, cartoons and more. But the phenomenon might just be getting started: when the trailer for the first ever live-action Pokémon film debuted in November, it clocked up 100 million views within 24 hours. Directed by Rob Letterman (Shark Tale), Detective Pikachu is a comedy about a furry yellow squirrel-ish creature (voiced by Ryan Reynolds) who teams up with Tim Goodman (Justice Smith), the son of a missing private eye. Admittedly, some of us are still baffled, but, bearing in mind that the film is a noir pastiche that pairs real people with animated characters, it could turn out to be a 21st-Century Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
On general release from 8 May
The Silence of Others
Soon after the death of General Francisco Franco, the Spanish parliament granted amnesty to anyone involved in the dictator’s thuggery, and passed El Pacto del Olvido – ‘the pact of forgetting’ – in the name of national unity and progress. But not everyone in Spain has been willing to forget, let alone forgive. Almudena Carracedo and Robert Bahar’s powerful documentary, executive-produced by Pedro and Agustín Almodóvar, tells the stories of three people who are campaigning to bring Franco’s surviving henchmen to justice. “Unfolding with all the force of a classic political thriller by Costa-Gavras or Francesco Rosi,” writes Allan Hunter in Screen International, “The Silence of Others emerges as a moving salute to the small victories of determined individuals.”
Released on 8 May in the US
In 1988, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels starred Michael Caine and Steve Martin as two confidence tricksters – a sophisticated Englishman and his loud-mouthed pupil/rival – who scam an heiress on the French Riviera. Three decades on, that film (itself based on Bedtime Story from 1964) gets a gender-swapped makeover: it’s now Anne Hathaway who is English and Rebel Wilson who is loud-mouthed, while the heiress has become a Zuckerberg-like tech billionaire. The Hustle looks promising, not least because it is directed by Chris Addison, the British star of The Thick of It who went on to make several episodes of Veep.
Released on 9 May in Australia, Germany and Singapore, 10 May in the US, and 16 May in Italy and the Netherlands
Most of us know Superman’s origin myth: an alien baby crash-lands on Earth – the American Midwest, to be precise – where he is raised by a kindly childless couple. The killer questions asked by Brightburn are: what if that didn’t work out too well? What if the boy didn’t grow up to be kind and gentle, but resentful and unstable? And how exactly are you supposed to discipline a brat with godlike strength and speed? Produced by James ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ Gunn, and written by Gunn’s brother and cousin, Brightburn stars Elizabeth Banks and David Denman as the adoptive parents who think they are in a superhero movie, but who are actually in a gut-wrenching horror film.
On general release from 9 May
The Third Wife
An award-winner at the Toronto and San Sebastián festivals, the debut feature film from Ash Mayfair is a lush period drama set in 19th-Century Vietnam. Its teenage heroine, May (Nguyen Phuong Tra My), is married off to a rich landowner (Le Vu Long), never mind that he has two wives already. In some ways, her tranquil surroundings are idyllic, but she soon realises that she needs to have a son if she is going keep on her husband’s good side. According to Jessica Kiang in Variety, Mayfair’s “painterly” and “authentic” film is “the rare debut that derives its freshness not from inexperience but from a balance between compassion and restraint that most film-makers take decades to achieve”.
Released on 15 May in US
Taron Egerton has the lead role in this fantasy-tinged biopic of Sir Elton John, a far more sensible choice than the two actors previously tipped for the part, Justin Timberlake and Tom Hardy. Not only does Egerton look a bit like the artist formerly known as Reginald Dwight, but he appeared in Kingsman: The Golden Circle alongside the real Sir Elton. A more significant hiring, though, could be the film’s director, Dexter Fletcher. It was Fletcher who was brought in to finish Bohemian Rhapsody after Bryan Singer was fired, so the producers must be hoping that his new musical about a glittery British stadium-rock icon will be as much of a smash hit as his last one.
On general release from 29 May
A whole new world? Not exactly. Directed by Guy Ritchie, Aladdin is a live-action remake of the 1992 Disney cartoon, so you’ll probably know the plot and the songs before you see it. Not that that should do its box-office prospects any harm: Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast was almost identical to the original cartoon, and it was the second highest grossing film of 2017. Besides, there is one novel element in this version of Aladdin, and that’s the almost entirely non-white cast, including Mena Massoud in the title role, and Naomi Scott (shortly to star in the Charlie’s Angels reboot) as Princess Jasmine. The big question is whether Will Smith’s genie can possibly be as magical as the one voiced by Robin Williams.
On general release from 22 May
The estate of JRR Tolkien isn’t too happy with this reverential biopic of the great fantasy author: Tolkien’s relatives announced that they don’t “approve of... or endorse it in any way”. But that shouldn’t put off devotees of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings – or, for that matter, devotees of Nicholas Hoult and Lily Collins. Hoult plays the orphaned John Ronald Reuel during his schooldays in Birmingham, his stint at Oxford University and his time in the trenches at the Battle of the Somme. Collins plays Edith, the fellow orphan whom his legal guardian forbids him to see. Whatever the author’s family might think, Richard Trenholm in CNET praises Tolkien as a “poignant tale of fellowship”, promising that “fans will enjoy spotting the references and inspirations to the Middle-earth books, but the real story is about a generation scythed down by war”.
Released on 3 May in Ireland and 10 May in the US
Is Booksmart the feminist answer to Superbad? Given that it co-stars Beanie Feldstein, Jonah Hill’s younger sister, and that its screenplay focuses on two nerdy best friends who hope to have one wild night of partying before they leave high school and go to college, the answer could well be yes. Comparisons aside, Booksmart is super-good in its own right. It was directed by Olivia Wilde, and when it premiered at SXSW festival in March, it was hailed as one of the most exciting actor-to-director transitions in recent memory. Yolanda Machado in The Wrap wrote that Wilde had “created a resoundingly smart, inclusive, modern and revolutionary film for today’s teens, one of the most perfect coming-of-age comedies I have ever seen”.
Released on 24 May in the US and 27 May in Ireland
The record-breaking success of Get Out opened the door to racially-charged, politically-engaged American chillers – and two of them are released in May. One is The Intruder, in which a black couple buys an idyllic house in the Californian countryside, only to be harassed by the white former owner (Dennis Quaid). The other is Ma, which comes from Blumhouse, the same production company as Get Out. Octavia Spencer stars as Sue Ann, a lonely woman who invites some local teenagers to use her rural basement as a party venue, but who might just have an ulterior motive. Juliette Lewis and Luke Evans co-star, and the director is Tate Taylor (The Girl on The Train, The Help).
Released on 30 May in Germany and the Netherlands and on 31 May in the US, Canada, Mexico and Sweden
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