Film critic BRIAN VINER reveals big-screen treats as venues reopen

It’s cinemarvellous! Film critic BRIAN VINER reveals a pick ‘n’ mix of the big-screen treats as venues reopen after lockdown

Cinemas are back. The way motion pictures were meant to be seen when they were invented at the end of the 19th century, and the way they have been best enjoyed and cherished ever since.

If you yearn to be part of the joyous collective experience this summer, after cinemas re-opened on Monday, here are the best films to tempt you back. Happy viewing!


A Quiet Place PART II — Much-postponed sequel to one of the surprise hits of 2018, in which alien monsters roam the planet, picking off humans with the help of what the Jennings books of my childhood would have called supersonic earsight.

Emily Blunt again stars, her husband John Krasinski writes and directs. But his character ended up as an alien’s dinner last time, so Peaky Blinders star Cillian Murphy replaces him as the male lead. June 4

Stillwater — Matt Damon plays an all-American oil-rig worker who travels from his home in Stillwater, Oklahoma, to distant and extremely foreign Marseille, where his estranged daughter (Abigail Breslin) has been jailed for a murder she insists she didn’t commit.

Emily Blunt again stars in A Quiet Place Part II while husband John Krasinski writes and directs

In cinemas right now 

Peter Rabbit 2 — Exuberant sequel to the 2018 hit, even more startlingly unfaithful to Beatrix Potter’s original creation. But kids will love it.

Tom & Jerry — A winning combination of live-action and animation, with all the slapstick energy of the Hanna-Barbera TV cartoons of blessed memory.

Godzilla vs Kong — The Hairy One and the Scaly One square off, a noisy confrontation that has made it on to streaming platforms. Really needs a big screen.

Mortal Kombat — Fantasy martial-arts spectacular, based on the video-game franchise of the same name, wisely contained to less than two hours.

Those Who Wish Me Dead —Angelina Jolie plays a firefighter with PTSD trying to save an 11-year-old boy from deadly assassins. That tells you all you need to know.


The director and co-writer is Tom McCarthy, whose 2015 film Spotlight deservedly won Best Picture at the Academy Awards. Expectations are high. August 6

Old — A chilling supernatural thriller from a master of the genre, M. Night Shyamalan, who made The Sixth Sense.

A family on an exotic holiday find that a secluded beach is not quite the paradise it appears — it seems to make them age alarmingly, condensing their lives into a single day.

Vicky Krieps, the terrific Luxembourgish actress who made her name opposite Daniel Day-Lewis in 2017’s Phantom Thread, stars. August 6


Land — The directorial debut of actress Robin Wright, who also stars, as a grieving woman retreating from a cruel world by holing up in a glorious Canadian wilderness, eschewing such fripperies as mobile phones and even vehicles.

There will inevitably be comparisons with the Oscar-winning Nomadland, also about a middle-aged woman fending for herself, although Wright’s version is more troubled and vulnerable. June 4

The Father — It might be stretching a point to call this the one we’ve all been waiting for, given the unsparing subject matter, but it is the film that bagged Sir Anthony Hopkins another Oscar, for his riveting performance as an octogenarian with dementia.

As his daughter and carer, Olivia Colman also shines, and a top-notch supporting cast includes Olivia Williams, Rufus Sewell, Mark Gatiss and Imogen Poots. June 11

Anthony Hopkins’ performance in The Father earned him the Academy Award for Best Actor

Supernova — Dementia again looms large in Harry Macqueen’s heartrending story of a gay couple, Sam and Tusker, beautifully played by Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci. 

Tusker, a novelist, is doing his best to cope with the disease as the two travel through the Lake District, but he knows it’s a losing battle. A wonderful, compassionate film, less about illness than love. June 25

The Last Letter From Your Lover — Adapted from the bestselling novel by Jojo Moyes, this love story stars Felicity Jones, Shailene Woodley, Callum Turner and Joe Alwyn, and unfolds across two time frames, the present day and the 1960s.

The director is Augustine Frizzell, whose promising 2018 debut Never Goin’ Back showed an aptitude for comedy. Now we’ll see if she can handle romance. August 6

Feelgood movies

First Cow — I loved Kelly Reichardt’s slow but quietly intoxicating movie about friendship in American frontier country in the 1820s. John Magaro plays a cook working for a gang of fur-trappers, with Orion Lee as the Chinese immigrant he saves, and then partners in a baking enterprise.

Toby Jones is wonderful in a supporting role, in a story guaranteed to make you smile, and think. May 28

Dream Horse — Dream Alliance was the racehorse improbably bred and owned by a Welsh barmaid, who formed a syndicate to help with the training fees.

Pictured: In Spirit Untamed, Lucky Prescott’s life is changed forever when she moves from her home in the city to a small frontier town and befriends a wild mustang named Spirit

Toni Collette and Damian Lewis breathe captivating life into a rousing true story, directed by Euros Lyn, whose credits are mostly in TV with the likes of Doctor Who, Sherlock, Happy Valley and Last Tango In Halifax. June 4

Spirit Untamed — Another uplifting horsey tale, animated this time, with music by Taylor Swift and a voice cast featuring Jake Gyllenhaal and Julianne Moore.

It’s about a girl called Lucky who bonds with a wild mustang. Production unfolded remotely, with everyone involved working from home. July 30


Fast & Furious 9 — Yep, the Fast & Furious ‘family’ are back, with another burst of high-octane hokum. In fairness, though, it’s always slick, watchable hokum, and like the last outing, 2017’s The Fate Of The Furious, this one is enhanced by the presence of Helen Mirren as well as most of the regulars — though not Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. Charlize Theron stars instead, which seems a fair swap. June 24

Scarlett Johansson leads cast as Russian-born Avenger Natasha Romanoff in the Black Widow

Black Widow — Not even superheroes can fight a pandemic. Marvel’s new blockbuster has been pushed back repeatedly.

Scarlett Johansson leads the cast as Russian-born Avenger Natasha Romanoff, but a sizeable British contingent includes the wonderful Florence Pugh as Natasha’s sister, as well as Ray Winstone and Rachel Weisz. July 9

Wrath of Man — Action man Jason Statham teams up for the first time in years with director Guy Ritchie, whose 1998 debut feature Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels gave Statham his big break.

He delivers his usual taciturn hard-knock act in a revenge extravaganza, a remake of the 2004 French film Cash Truck. You can probably smell the testosterone already. July 23

The Suicide Squad — Not to be outdone by Marvel, the DC Comics brigade are kindly treating us to another dose of loose-cannon Harley Quinn, as brilliantly played by Margot Robbie.

And, as Robbie herself has noted, another of this superhero movie’s great assets is former Doctor Who Peter Capaldi. July 30.

DC Comics are treating us to a dose of Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn in The Suicide Squad


Ellie AND Abbie (and Ellie’s Dead Aunt) — An Australian lesbian teen romcom may or not appeal to you, but early reports are that this one, set in Sydney, is engaging and intermittently very funny.

The long-dead aunt was also gay, and comes back to life as a kind of fairy godmother to guide her 17-year-old niece through the myriad challenges of coming out. June 11

The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard — Ryan Reynolds teams up with Samuel L. Jackson in a sequel to 2017’s The Hitman’s Bodyguard, which did well enough at the box office to generate this follow-up.

Ryan Reynolds teams up with Samuel L. Jackson in a sequel to 2017’s The Hitman’s Bodyguard

We can expect more of the same — reliable actors (the supporting cast again includes Salma Hayek as the titular spouse, as well as Richard E.

Grant and Antonio Banderas) showing great comic timing in service of a shamelessly corny plot. June 21

Freaky — If you think ‘slasher comedy’ is an oxymoron, this might not be your thing. But the premise, inspired by the film Freaky Friday, sounds intriguing in a grisly kind of way: a teenage girl (Kathryn Newton from the TV drama Big Little Lies) supernaturally swaps bodies with a middle-aged serial killer (Vince Vaughn) and has 24 hours before the switch becomes permanent. June 25

Free Guy — Killing Eve’s Jodie Comer co-stars with Ryan Reynolds in a comedy set in a virtual world within a video game, with Reynolds as the non-speaking background character determined to save both the game and himself from the scrap heap. 

Judging by the trailer, and from everything I’ve heard, it’s original and fun. August 13


Cruella — Emma Stone slips into the killer stilettos of Glenn Close, to inhabit one of the great baddies of children’s literature.

It’s 25 years since Close first played Dodie Smith’s immortal creation from The Hundred A1nd One Dalmatians on screen.

Now Stone gets to show us Cruella de Vil’s back story; how she turned into the evil fashion designer hell-bent on skinning dogs. May 28

The Croods 2: A New Age — The 2013 animation The Croods was a huge box-office hit, so it’s surprising it’s taken this long to deliver a sequel.

Pictured: Emma Stone gets to show us Cruella de Vil’s back story which will shed light on how she turned into the evil fashion designer hell-bent on skinning dogs in Cruella

The voice cast, in another tale of prehistoric high jinks, includes the ubiquitous Ryan Reynolds, as well as Emma Stone, Nicolas Cage, Peter Dinklage, and, in one of her last jobs before she died in January, the marvellous Cloris Leachman. July 16

Jungle Cruise — You have to hand it to Disney; they’re brilliant at feeding off their own empire.

This movie, starring Dwayne Johnson as a riverboat captain and Emily Blunt as Lily, an eccentric scientist he takes into the jungle to find the Tree of Life, is inspired by the Disneyland attraction of the same name. Look out for Jack Whitehall as Lily’s brother. July 30

All release dates are subject to change. 

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