This month, there are some really great, high quality films being released in Japan’s cinemas, as well as a couple of big-budget Hollywood spectaculars. 

The Amazing Spider-man

Lets start with what must be the biggest, everyone’s favourite Marvel superhero, The Amazing Spider-man. There has been grumbling from some quarters that its too early for the Spider-man franchise to be rebooted; it was only 10 years ago that Sam Raimi launched his trilogy with Tobey Maguire as the titular wall-crawler and just 5 years since the last of that series. Marvel will be hoping that, after the disappointing Spiderman 3, the character can be successfully relaunched, for a (slightly!) younger generation.

This time the film is promising to stay closer to the comic book and  tall and wiry British actor, Andrew Garfield, certainly fits the part as high-school nerd Peter Parker. Emma Stone provides the love interest, Gwen Stacy, and Rhys Ifans the enemy, in Dr Curt Conners, who transforms into the terrifying ‘Lizard’. Spider-man’s origins will be re-told with greater emphasis on Peter’s missing parents, with the fantastic Martin Sheen playing Uncle Ben, who teaches the young superhero his biggest lesson; ‘With great power comes great responsibility’.

Snow White and the Huntsman (pictured at the top) is another fantasy blockbuster, this time a lavish retelling of the classic fairy tale. Kristen Stewart, famous for her role in the ‘Twilight’ series, plays Snow White, stepdaughter to an evil queen, Charlize Theron, who is conquering most of Europe with her unstoppable army. When the queen learns her step-daughter is destined to usurp her in both beauty and power she tries to have her killed.

The girl escapes into the woods where she meets the Huntsman, Thor’s Chris Hemsworth, who has been sent by the queen to kill Snow White. He instead teaches her how to fight, so she can raise an army and attempt to destroy the evil queen. The film looks beautiful and Charlize Theron is clearly enjoying her role as an evil queen; although it may be too dark for younger children, this will almost certainly be a hit with Twilight fans.

One film that should not be overlooked by cinema lovers is director Lynne Ramsay’s We Need to Talk About Kevin. Based on an award winning novel by Lionel Shriver, the film stars Tilda Swinton (below, left) as a woman living in a community where she is vilified and hated for some unknown reason.

We Need to Talk About Kevin

Flashbacks are used to reveal the woman’s troubled relationship with a son she is unable to bond with, who appears cold and antagonistic towards her.

The film is dark and unsettling and leads inexorably towards a heart-stopping conclusion. Overlooked at the Academy Awards, it garnered positive reviews overseas and is well worth checking out on its release here.

A much lighter film is Cameron Crowe’s We Bought a Zoo, which is based on a true story. Matt Damon stars as a father who, after the death of his wife, purchases a failing zoo and uproots his children to live there and attempt to revive its fortunes. While most of the drama is based around  Damon’s relationship with his family, coping with his grief and his troubled young son, the supporting characters are played for laughs, making this a light-hearted family picture.

Amongst the cast are stars Scarlett Johansson, as the head zoo keeper, and Thomas Haden Church, as Damon’s disapproving brother.

There are two more literary adaptations of note out this month. Jane Eyre, a period drama based on the Charlotte Bronte novel, stars up-and-coming Mia Wasikowska as the title character and Michael Fassbender as Rochester, whose dark secret threatens the couple’s happiness. The second is The Rum Diary, based on an early novel by Hunter S. Thompson.

Rum Diary

Johnny Depp stars as Paul Kemp, a Thompson-like writer who moves to Puerto Rico in the ’50s to work for a failing newspaper. This is Depp’s second adaptation of a Thompson novel, after Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and fans of the writers work will certainly want to catch it.

One final film worth a mention is This Must Be the Place, which stars Sean Penn. This slow-paced art house flick sees Penn as an aging rock star called Chenault, who dresses like The Cure’s Robert Smith. Chenault is a downbeat man-child living a somewhat isolated existence in his mansion in Ireland but, when his father dies, he returns to his native New York.

Discovering that his father spent his life trying to track down the Nazi who tormented him while he was a prisoner at Auschwitz, Chenault takes up his fathers quest and travels across the country to complete his  mission. The film deals with issues of obsession, guilt and estrangement and boasts an excellent David Byrne soundtrack.

By Christopher O’Keeffe