Hello, and welcome to the Geeky Brummie Thursday film roundup – our preview of the upcoming cinema releases. This week: wrestling brothers, Chilean mercenaries and the return of a giant red panda…
Usual disclaimer: unless otherwise stated, I haven’t seen these films. All of my opinions are based on trailers, early reviews and other rumours and buzz.
The Iron Claw
The biggest release this week is The Iron Claw, which tells the true story of a family of wrestlers in America. The Von Erich brothers (Zac Efron, Jeremy Allen White, Harris Dickinson, Stanley Simons) have been living and breathing wrestling all their lives, following in the footsteps of their father (Holt McCallany) who demands perfection and pushes them a little too far to be the best.
This has been garnering some great reviews. The plot comes across as a combination of several award-winning forerunners. There are echoes of The Wrestler’s introspective study of the long-term effects of a life dedicated to violent sport, and Whiplash’s themes of trying to live up to the expectations of a demanding mentor and one’s own ambition. The trailer shows off some great cinematography in the ring scenes in particular, suggesting that this will be more than just another sports biography.
It also has a great cast. White comes into the film fresh off the back of a slew of awards for season 2 of The Bear, one of the most acclaimed shows of the last few years, and Dickinson has also had a great couple of years with Triangle of Sadness and the indie hit Scrapper. Judging by the reviews though, the biggest success story here is Zac Efron. He (and the film generally) hasn’t been nominated for an Oscar, but this is widely regarded as one of the year’s biggest snubs (albeit somewhat overshadowed by Margot Robbie and Greta Gerwig’s lack of nominations for Barbie). The fact that the pretty boy out of High School Musical is even coming up in this sort of conversation is a sign that this must be an incredible performance.
I don’t know a huge amount about this film but it sounds pretty exciting. A soldier, a mercenary and a sniper are hired to protect an estate in the Chilean desert, but the assignment evolves into targeting the indigenous population. It’s a Western, so includes all the beautiful sweeping landscape shots and violent gunfights you would expect, and the premise has a lot of potential for betrayals and moral reckoning. The Settlers has picked up a lot of festival awards and looks like it will be well worth a watch if you can catch it (which will most likely be in an independent cinema).
This is another one that I’ve heard very little about. Gassed Up is about a young man in need of some money to look after his family, who joins a moped-riding gang led by a charismatic Albanian immigrant. The trailer immediately shows off a much more modern setting and tone than the other offerings this week, promising a fast paced British gangster film with a diverse cast (the only ones I recognise being Steve Toussaint, who played the Sea Snake in House of the Dragon, and Mae Muller, who was the UK’s Eurovision entry last year). The plot doesn’t sound especially original but overall this looks like it could be fun.
The final pick this week isn’t a new release per se – it was released on Disney+ during lockdown, but for some reason this weekend it is finally getting a proper cinema release too. Turning Red is a very sweet and entertaining family film about a young girl who discovers on hitting puberty that she turns into a giant red panda when she gets excited.
It’s a Pixar film, which is always a mark of quality, and it has some compelling and very grown-up themes about growing up in an Asian-American family interweaved into the cutesy kids’ stuff. The animation is as close as Pixar have come to emulating the style of Into The Spider-Verse and The Mitchells Vs The Machines, using different styles of animation to help viewers get inside the main character’s head. If you have kids to entertain and you haven’t seen it, this is a good excuse to watch it. If you have seen it, this is a chance to rewatch it on a screen that will allow you to see every hair on Panda-Mei’s big fluffy face.
If you only see one film this week…
For a compelling true story and an awards-worthy turn from Zac Efron, The Iron Claw is my pick of the week.
Still in cinemas and worth a watch
- American Fiction
- The Zone Of Interest
- All Of Us Strangers