Esther McCarthy reviews The Big Short and The Fifth Wave
The Big Short (15A) ****
There are lots of laughs in Adam McKay's take on the biggest-ever financial crisis to hit the US - but it's no less scathing for that. The story centres on four real-life investors who predicted what nobody else did - that the US housing economy was nowhere near as stable as everyone claimed in the early 2000s and was in fact primed for collapse.
But even they couldn't have initially guessed how spectacular that fall would be, or how it would affect the rest of the world.
Christian Bale plays Michael Burry, a hedge fund manager. Though no-one believes him, he’s convinced that the US housing market is primed to fall apart.
He even sets up a system to bet against the housing market - aided by the banks, who think they’re getting easy money.
When trader Jared Vennett (Ryan Gosling) gets wind of the predictions and discovers they could be true, he joins forces with hedge fund manager Mark Baum (Steve Carell) to invest in the collapse.
Meanwhile, two eager but inexperienced young investors accidentally come across the plans and when they realise they don’t have the cachet or the trades to profit from it, get the help of retired trader Ben Rickert (Brad Pitt).
A smart, shrewd and often very funny take on one of the biggest financial collapses in history, the film tells a very serious story in a very amusing and unconventional way. Margot Robbie and Selina Gomez, for example, appear in cameos explaining complex elements.
The Fifth Wave (12A) **
This movie, based on Rick Yancey’s best seller, is simply too generic to resonate with film fans, and feels crammed with ideas and concepts we’ve seen in other films.
It’s a shame, because Chloe Grace Moretz has the screen presence to carry a story.
In a somewhat rushed opening half hour, we see the planet come under an aggressive wave of attacks from alien aggressors referred to as ‘The Others’.
The waves, although well executed, suggest an early lack of imagination - an elaborate power cut, an avian flu, a tsunami.
They’re effective, however, and it’s not long before the body count is huge, and Cassie and her little brother (Zackary Arthur) are fighting for survival.
The army is called in, and LievSherieber’s general recruits children to train and take on the aggressors.
This behind a teen end-of-the-world dystopian movie, there’s got to be a love triangle, and Cassie finds herself torn between childhood sweetheart Ben and Twilight clone Evan. It’s all very leaden and over-familiar.