CINEMA

This week’s movie releases

Colin Firth plays an ass-kicking gentleman spy in ‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’ Domhnall Gleeson strives to separate robot from human in Alex Garland’s ‘Ex-Machina’

Dressed to kill: Colin Firth in ‘Kingsman: The Secret Service.’
Dressed to kill: Colin Firth in ‘Kingsman: The Secret Service.’

After superhero romp Kick-Ass, Kingsman: The Secret Service sees producer-director Matthew Vaughn return to the work of comic-book writer Mark Millar for a spy adventure that casts Colin Firth as agent Harry Hart, an English gentleman with combat skills as impeccable as his dress sense. A member of the covert independent Kingsman spy agency, Hart takes London oik Eggsy (Taron Egerton) under his wing, encouraging him to take part in the organization’s ultra-competitive selection process to find a new agent. Meanwhile, lisping billionaire tech guru Samuel L. Jackson has plans to exploit the cellphone network to achieve global domination. Mark Strong, Michael Caine and Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill, also star in a movie that riffs heavily on 1960s spy-genre touchstones such as James Bond and The Avengers TV series.

After penning novel The Beach and the screenplays for 28 Days Later and Never Let Me Go, among others, writer Alex Garland turns full-fledged film director with Ex-Machina. A psychological sci-fi drama that shuffles around ideas about artificial intelligence, it stars Domhnall Gleeson (About Time) as an employee at an internet search giant who wins an in-house competition to spend a week at the mountain hideaway of his reclusive CEO, played by Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis). There, he’s given a task: to evaluate Ava (Alicia Vikander) – a new artificially intelligent android with a beautiful female face, hands and feet but a visibly robotic body – to see if she can pass as human. But her capabilities prove even more impressive than either had imagined.

‘Black’ is back

The sequel to the Daniel Radcliffe-starring Edwardian-era horror hit of three years ago, The Woman in Black: Angel of Death takes the story 40 years forward to World War II as a group of orphan evacuees are sent with their two guardians to stay in abandoned Eel Marsh House. But as they start to go missing one by one, it becomes clear that the Luftwaffe bombs laying waste to London have nothing on the horrors inside their new home. Jon Croker’s screenplay is based on a story devised by original source novella author Susan Hill.

Samba is the new film from French directing duo Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano, whose feelgood comedy drama about a rich quadriplegic and his immigrant carer, The Intouchables, was a smash hit in 2011. Touching on similar territory, it again stars Omar Sy, here playing a Senegalese immigrant in Paris facing deportation who strikes up a bond with the woman assigned to his case (Charlotte Gainsbourg).

A prizewinner at Cannes and a favorite with critics, Swedish director Ruben Östlund’s Force Majeure tells the story of a middle-class family who find themselves caught up in an avalanche on a skiing trip to the French Alps. The father's cowardly decision to abandon his wife and children and save himself when the snow strikes creates a fracture in his relationship he subsequently flounders to put right.