As the old saying goes: ‘There are no new ideas in Hollywood’. Still, when it leads to sequels and adaptations as enjoyable as my two picks this week, that’s no bad thing. Also, prepare to have your spirits lifted by a musical sensation that’s hitting small screens this summer. Happy viewing!
Best new action film – 25 May
Bad Boys for Life
Twenty-five years ago, Will Smith and Martin Lawrence injected new life into the buddy cop movie with Bad Boys. By setting the action in sultry Miami and filling the soundtrack with slinky R&B, the story of chalk-and-cheese detectives Mike and Marcus was way cooler than the Lethal Weapons and turned Big Willy into a Big Star. A sequel in 2003 lacked some of the charm but it didn’t stop talk of a Part 3 for many years. After multiple delays, that film is finally here. And the best thing about it? It’s like the Nineties never went away.
Even the plot of BAD BOYS FOR LIFE harks back to the early days, with playboy Mike (Will Smith) coming face-to-face with an old love and realising his life is now in danger. Meanwhile homely Marcus (Martin Lawrence) finally comes to terms with not being young anymore and reaches a drastic decision. Only the updating of the music from Diana King’s retro reggae banger ‘Shy Guy’ to DJ Khaled and J Balvin reminds us we’re not in 1995 anymore.
The banter between Mike and Marcus is still spot on, the glamour of South Beach is still red hot and the action is still hilariously overblown. It’s business as usual. If a running joke about justifying violence seems a little misguided, the overall mood of BAD BOYS FOR LIFE remains style over content. Just like the ageless Will Smith – still rocking tight t-shirts and bespoke suits better than anyone in the business – this is proof that charm and good looks never go out of fashion.
BAD BOYS FOR LIFE  is available on digital now and on DVD/Blu-ray from 25 May
Best new period drama – 25 May
Based on the celebrated novel by Louisa M Alcott and adapted by the multi-talented Greta Gerwig (check out her last film Ladybird on Netflix), LITTLE WOMEN was one of this awards season’s big players. It’s easy to see why. Starring the great Saoirse Ronan as Jo March – one of the many March sisters in Civil War-era Massachusetts – this tale might have been told many times before but rarely has the 150-year old story felt as fresh as this.
WATCH: The trailer for Little Women
LITTLE WOMEN’s cast truly sparkles: alongside Saorsie there’s Emma Watson, Eliza Scanlon and a scene-stealing Florence Pugh as Meg, Beth and Amy March, not to mention a mini ‘Big Little Lies’ reunion in the form of Laura Dern and Meryl Streep as the girls’ mother and aunt respectively. Signing up Timothée Chalamet to play dreamboat Laurie was a masterstroke too, bringing both a modern swagger and a nostalgic boy-next-door quality to the role. It’s no wonder the girls swoon.
Ultimately LITTLE WOMEN is a story about growing up, facing responsibility and falling in love and as such feels extra relevant today since it’s so focused on the women taking charge of their own lives – certainly not the norm back in the mid-19th century. Jo March is a real pioneer. If the plot doesn’t unfold in the most conventional of ways, flip-flopping between past and present, then it’s a style that really highlights the melancholy at the heart of the tale: that everything changes. Watch it and weep.
LITTLE WOMEN [U] is available on digital now and on DVD/Blu-ray from 25 May
Edited together from three performances, this movie version of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s must-see stage musical about 18th-century American statesman Alexander Hamilton hits screens a whole year earlier than expected, due in no small part to the havoc that Covid-19 has caused to Hollywood’s plans. It’s something to celebrate though. The show’s a phenomenon, whether in the theatre or in your front room.
WATCH: Hamilton trailer
HAMILTON comes to Disney+ on 3 July
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