“Ernesto’s Island”, “Asterix & Obelix in the Middle Kingdom” and “Fast & Furious 10”, the penultimate film in Vin Diesel’s celebrated action blockbuster series: These are the cinema releases on May 18th.
Will a tear roll down his cheek at some point? Hardly, not with a tough guy like Vin Diesel. But recently there was a lot of melancholy when the number one star in the “Fast & The Furious” series spoke about the latest film. Now part ten, then an eleventh film, and then this very peculiar piece of cinema history is over. So then, buckle up and hold on: “Fast & Furious 10” (original title “Fast X”), the beginning of the end.
What the audience can also expect this week: Max Riemelt goes on a road trip to Cuba in “Ernesto’s Island”, and in “Asterix & Obelix in the Middle Kingdom” the famous Gauls are supposed to save the Chinese Empire.
Fast & Furious 10
Neon colored underbody lighting and nitro fuel injection were the big “Wow!” elements on the first films in the early 2000s. Today you can actually only laugh about it, also because it’s been a long time since it was about car racing. The “Fast & Furious” series has become more and more spectacular and bombastic (some would also say: more absurd) over the years, in the end the films have always been great world rescue missions, which with their show values can easily be compared to “James Bond” or “Mission : Impossible”. War, big guns, global threats, in between flying cars.
In “Fast & Furious 10” you can see Dom Toretto (Diesel) racing down a dam almost vertically in his Dodge Charger with a fat turbocharger. At the top, two tankers that have just crashed head-on into each other explode. On the way down, hotshot Dom pushes the gas pedal. Elsewhere, Dom chases through the streets of Rome a gigantic rolling bomb that threatens to destroy the Vatican.
The budget for “Fast X” is said to be above the 300 million mark, in addition to the many stunts and special effects, the cast of this film should also have cost a lot. “Aquaman” star Jason Momoa is new, he plays the eccentric antagonist Dante Reyes. Dante is the wacky son of gangster politician Hernan Reyes, who the “Fast & Furious” team once screwed up a big coup. Toretto and his loved ones should now pay for this, they should bleed for it.
In addition to “Fast & Furious” veterans Vin Diesel and Jason Momoa, action cinema fans can look forward to numerous other superstars, including some who are already known from earlier films. Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Jason Statham, Helen Mirren, Charlize Theron, Scot Eastwood, John Cena, Cardi B, Brie Larson: they all have their place somewhere in what is probably the penultimate Fast & Furious spectacle. The long-time director of the series is no longer there: Justin Lin, who previously directed five films in the series and also co-wrote the screenplay for “Fast X”, left during production and was replaced by Louis Leterrier (“The Transporter”) . Creative differences between Lin and Vin Diesel are said to have been the main reason for the breakup.
Matthias (Max Riemelt) goes to “Ernesto’s Island” on a road trip that will change him forever. (Image: Neue Heimat film production)
In “Ernesto’s Island” Matthias (Max Riemelt) embarks on a road trip that will change him forever. (Image: Neue Heimat film production)
“One of my unknown neighbors brought me a package: my mother’s ashes with her last wish. She wanted to be scattered on her island.” That is the premise of the new film “Ernesto’s Island”, as explained by Matthias (Max Riemelt). Matthias works in an advertising agency in Berlin and actually seems like a very tidy, confident guy. At the end of this road movie by director Ronald Vietz (screenplay: Ira Wedel, Ronald Vietz) he will never be the same again.
Matthias earns well and enjoys the advantages of his western single life. In order to fulfill his mother’s last will and scatter her ashes on “her island”, he has to leave this life. “Your island” is Ernst Thälmann Island. Tiny, off the coast of Cuba, hardly anyone knows the uninhabited island. Fidel Castro once gave it to the GDR as a socialist gesture of friendship. Matthias’ mother, a convinced communist, spent the best years of her life here. So the trip to the Caribbean also becomes a personal search for clues for Matthias.
Matthias, accompanied by his buddy Sascha (Oliver Bröckner), meets previously unknown family members in Cuba and also a woman with whom he soon falls in love. Above all, he gets to know a completely new attitude to life here. Clocks tick differently on Ernesto’s Island (named after former KPD chairman Ernst Thälmann). This world is strange, overwhelms Matthias and in the meantime throws him completely off track. But maybe there is a future for him here after all? A new home? A new life?
Asterix & Obelix in the Middle Kingdom
“All Gaul is occupied by the Romans. All Gaul? No! A village populated by indomitable Gauls does not cease to resist the invader.” But that doesn’t really matter this time. A desperate young woman ends up in the small Gallic town, she urgently needs help. And she’s coming from far away, really far away. The title of this remarkable new cinema adventure for the whole family: “Asterix & Obelix in the Middle Kingdom”.
Asterix and Obelix have gotten around quite a bit over the last few decades. They’ve been to Egypt and America, tried their hand at the Olympics and shuddered at British eating habits. Wild boar with peppermint sauce? ugh! Perhaps the biggest culture shock of their lives is yet to come for the two brave warriors. In the latest live-action adaptation of the comic series, she ends up in distant China.
“Asterix & Obelix in the Middle Kingdom” is the first film in the series in eleven years and the first ever that is not based on one of the comics by René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo. After the moderate success of “Asterix & Obelix – On Her Majesty’s Day” (2012), the makers wanted a complete restart. To this end, all central roles were reassigned, with a conscious orientation towards China. It is no longer Gérard Depardieu who gives the Obelix, but Gilles Lellouche. His faithful friend Asterix is now played by Gillaume Canet, who also directed.
And how did the two magic potion lovers end up in China of all places? After a coup d’etat, the emperor’s daughter Fu Yi (Julie Chen) flees to Gaul and asks for support. They follow their call and no longer knock out Roman legionnaires, but treacherous Chinese soldiers. But it doesn’t work entirely without Rome: Vincent Cassel can be seen as Emperor Caesar and soccer star Zlatan Ibrahimović celebrates his cinema debut as Caius Antivirus. Also on the cast list is Marion Cotillard as Cleopatra.
Originally, “Asterix & Obelix in the Middle Kingdom” was supposed to be a French-Chinese co-production, but against the background of the corona pandemic, that ultimately didn’t work out. Instead of shooting as originally planned, it was not shot in China, but mainly in France and Morocco. The mission, as you can now see it on the screen, remained the same: save the great empire beyond the Silk Road!