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Now showing at Odeon Basingstoke Leisure Park, Churchill Way West,West Ham,Basingstoke,Hampshire RG21 6YR 0871 224 4007

  • Alexander And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
  • Annabelle
  • Bolshoi Ballet: The Legends Of Love
  • Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes
  • Dolphin Tale 2
  • Frozen (Sing-A-Long Version)
  • Fury
  • Gone Girl
  • Gone Girl (Subtitled)
  • Guardians Of The Galaxy
  • Happy New Year
  • Horns
  • How To Train Your Dragon 2
  • Love, Rosie
  • NT Live Encore Screening: Frankenstein
  • Royal Opera Live: I Due Foscari
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3D
  • The Book Of Life
  • The Book Of Life 3D
  • The Boxtrolls
  • The Equalizer
  • The Maze Runner
  • The Maze Runner (Subtitled)
  • This Is Where I Leave You

Alexander And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day 3 stars

movie title

Every day seems to be a bad day for 11-year-old Alexander Cooper. He's the laughing stock of the entire school, his efforts to impress classmate Becky end in disaster. Ignored and misunderstood by his family, Alexander makes a birthday wish for the rest of the Cooper clan to experience just one calamitous day so they will all sympathise with his plight. Sure enough, the entire Cooper family endures a day crammed with mishaps and misadventures that threatens to leave them heartbroken and penniless.

Based on Judith Viorst's 1972 children's picture book, Alexander And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day is an effervescent comedy about the trials and tribulations that unite a modern family.

Sweet and inoffensive to its candy-coloured core, Miguel Arteta's film bursts with good intentions and wholesome ideals, teaching the titular tyke a valuable lesson about weathering an emotional storm in the company of people you love. Even if they are the sample people who unwittingly set in motion the chain reaction of mishaps and misadventures.

Rob Lieber's simplistic and episodic script ricochets between the different family members as their carefully ordered worlds implode: a mother races against time to prevent Dick Van Dyke (playing himself) from reading her children's book replete with an embarrassing typo; a father inadvertently sets himself on fire while trying to impress potential employers at a job interview; a daughter guzzles cough syrup to overcome a stinking cold that jeopardises her starring role in a school production of Peter Pan.

Anything that can go wrong does and Arteta captures each cartoonish calamity with a light touch, playing for laughs rather than revelling in the pain behind the pratfalls.

Eleven-year-old Alexander Cooper (Ed Oxenbould) feels like the universe is conspiring against him. He's the laughing stock of the entire school, his efforts to impress classmate Becky (Sidney Fullmer) have ended in ignominy and Philip Parker (Lincoln Melcher), the most popular boy in the year, has just announced he is having his birthday party on the same day as Alexander.

Misunderstood by his picture postcard family - father Ben (Steve Carell), mother Kelly (Jennifer Garner), older brother Anthony (Dylan Minnette), sister Emily (Kerris Dorsey) and baby brother Trevor (Elise and Zoey Vargas) - Alexander makes a birthday wish for the rest of the Cooper clan to walk in his shoes for 24 hours.

"I wish they knew what it felt like to have a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day," he laments, blowing out the birthday candle on his cake. As if by magic, the entire Cooper family endures a day that threatens to leave them heartbroken and penniless.

As the calamities stack up, Alexander wonders if he should come clean to his loved ones about his involvement in their spectacular downfall.

Alexander And The Terrible... is an entertaining half-term treat for all ages that doesn't drizzle on the sentimentality too thick. Oxenbould is an appealingly awkward hero and Carell and Garner offer robust support, embracing the broad physical comedy that their roles demand including a frenzied bicycle ride and a bruising encounter with an ostrich.

"I think you've got to have the bad days so you can love the good days even more," philosophises Alexander towards the end of this madcap journey of self-discovery. All together now: awwwww.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Sunday 26th October 2014
Monday 27th October 2014
Tuesday 28th October 2014
Wednesday 29th October 2014
Thursday 30th October 2014

This film is also showing at:

Annabelle 3 stars

John and Mia Gordon survive an attack in their home by two murderous members of a satanic cult. The Gordons move to a new apartment but dark forces follow them in the form of a doll in the baby's nursery and drive poor Mia to the brink of a nervous breakdown. She seeks emotional support from local priest Father Perez and a kind bookshop owner called Evelyn.

  • GenreAdaptation, Horror, Romance, Thriller
  • CastWard Horton, Alfre Woodard, Annabelle Wallis, Tony Amendola.
  • DirectorJohn R Leonetti.
  • WriterGary Dauberman.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration99 mins
  • Official sitewww.annabellemovie.com
  • Release10/10/2014

According to the opening credits of Annabelle, dolls have frequently been used as conduits of evil. Modern filmmakers have certainly had great fun transforming inanimate figures into demonic vessels.

Anthony Hopkins fell under the spell of a possessive ventriloquist's dummy in Richard Attenborough's 1978 thriller Magic and mannequins ran amok the following year in the gruesome horror, Tourist Trap. In the late 1980s, audiences squealed with delight at opening instalments of the Child's Play and Puppet Master series.

More recently on the small screen, Doctor Who and his plucky companions faced malevolent mannequins and creepy life-sized dolls. This prequel to the 2013 supernatural horror The Conjuring fleshes out the blood-soaked history of a garish figurine called Annabelle, which sent chills down the spine in the first film and remains under lock and key in the home of real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren.

Director John R Leonetti replays the opening scene of The Conjuring then rewinds 12 months to sun-baked 1967 Santa Monica, California where picture perfect couple John (Ward Horton) and Mia Gordon (Annabelle Wallis) are preparing to welcome their first child into the world.

Late one night, Mia is woken by a disturbance next door and when John checks on neighbours Pete and Sharon Higgins (Brian Howe, Kerry O'Malley), he and Mia are attacked by two murderous cult members.

Police arrive in the nick of time, shooting dead the crazed attackers and spilling the blood of female perpetrator Annabelle Higgins on Mia's favourite limited edition doll. Thankfully, Mia, John and baby daughter Mia survive the hellish ordeal.

"Crazy people do crazy things," explains investigating officer Detective Clarkin (Eric Ladin), who tells the Gordons that the killers were members of a sect called the Disciples of the Ram, who conjure demonic forces with their human sacrifices.

The Gordons move to a new apartment but dark forces follow them and drive poor Mia to the brink of a nervous breakdown. She seeks emotional support from local priest Father Perez (Tony Amendola) and kind bookshop owner Evelyn (Alfre Woodard), who buoy the couple's spirits by speculating, "You don't come out of something like this weaker - you come out stronger."

Annabelle appropriates elements of Rosemary's Baby and The Omen for an increasingly silly tale of demonic possession and maternal sacrifice. Director Leonetti achieves a couple of decent scares but when it comes to burrowing deep beneath our skin, both he and scriptwriter Gary Dauberman fall short.

Visual effects are sparing which is more than can be said of Joseph Bishara's deafening orchestral heavy that turns up the volume to 11. Wallis works through a dizzying array of screams, shrieks and caterwauls as the plot careens out of control around her, and we eventually lose interest.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Saturday 25th October 2014
Sunday 26th October 2014
Monday 27th October 2014
Tuesday 28th October 2014
Wednesday 29th October 2014
Thursday 30th October 2014

This film is also showing at:

Bolshoi Ballet: The Legends Of Love 3 stars

Broadcast live from Moscow, Yuri Grigorovich's passionate ballet of forbidden love and self-sacrifice charts the conflict between Queen Mekhmene Banu and her young sister, Princess Shyrin, who both fall in love with the same man, the painter Ferkhad.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Sunday 26th October 2014

Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes 4 stars

movie title

Simian flu has ravaged the globe, killing almost the entire human race. In San Francisco, one-time military man Dreyfus, who lost his entire family to the virus, leads the human survivors. The truce between humans and apes is tested to breaking point when a diplomatic mission led by Malcolm, his wife Ellie and teenage son Alexander enters the forest to request access to the O'Shaughnessy Dam, which provides the city with its electricity.

  • GenreAction, Adaptation, Drama, Romance, Science Fiction, Thriller
  • CastKeri Russell, Gary Oldman, Andy Serkis, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Jason Clarke, Toby Kebbell.
  • DirectorMatt Reeves.
  • WriterMark Bomback, Amanda Silver, Rick Jaffa.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration130 mins
  • Official sitewww.dawnofapes.com
  • Release17/07/2014

Blending state-of-the-art special effects with an intelligent script, Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes conjures two hours of animal magic that looks set to be crowned king of the blockbuster swingers. Tim Burton's abortive Planet Of The Apes is now a distant memory thanks to the 2011 revamp Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes and this superior sequel, which pushes the art of motion-capture performance to new limits.

Andy Serkis' exemplary work as Caesar, the super-intelligent chimpanzee who leads the ape uprising, is the film's emotional heartbeat. His ability to convey the character's rage, despair and passion through movement and subtle gesture is breathtaking.

Toby Kebbell is also compelling as Caesar's war-mongering rival, who believes the key to his species' survival is the extermination of humans. Mark Bomback, Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver's script elegantly draws parallels between the feuding primates, juxtaposing tender scenes of parenting with bruising skirmishes that create divisions on both sides.

Ten winters have passed since simian flu ravaged the globe. In the absence of law and order, basic resources such as water, food and electricity are dangerously depleted. One-time military man Dreyfus (Gary Oldman), who lost his entire family to the virus, leads survivors of the ALZ-113 virus in San Francisco.

He dispatches a team led by family man Malcolm (Jason Clarke) to access the O'Shaughnessy Dam, which provides the city with electricity. In the forest that envelops the dam, the scouting party encounters apes led by Caesar, including his ambitious second-in-command Koba (Kebbell), impetuous son Blue Eyes (Nick Thurston) and Bornean orangutan Maurice (Karin Konoval).

Malcolm's trigger-happy compatriot Carver (Kirk Acevedo) shoots one of the apes and the humans are banished to their stronghold. Once Dreyfus learns about the neighbouring ape community, he asks Malcolm and co to refrain from telling the other survivors.

"They're talking apes with big-ass spears!" shrieks Carver. Malcolm realises that he must earn Caesar's trust to gain access to the dam so he prepares to return to the forest with wife Ellie (Keri Russell) and teenage son Alexander (Kodi Smith-McPhee).

"If you're not back in three days, we're going to go out there and kill every last one of them," warns Dreyfus.

Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes is a slick thrill ride with brains as well as brawn. The grim mood, which permeates the first half, leads to all-guns-blazing war and director Reeves orchestrates these brutal sequences with elan.

Digital effects are jaw-dropping, giving birth to a realistic army of blood-thirsty apes who cram every chaotic, blood-spattered frame. The film's strong anti-gun message comes through loud and clear, but the appetite for destruction overpowers diplomacy.

"I always think ape better than humans," laments Caesar as his dream of lasting peace founders. "I see now how like them we are."

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Thursday 30th October 2014

Dolphin Tale 2 3 stars

movie title

Several years have passed since young Sawyer Nelson rescued plucky dolphin Winter with the help of Dr Clay Haskett and Dr Cameron McCarthy. Elderly dolphin Panama dies and leaves Winter without a surrogate mother or pool mate. Under regulations, Winter cannot be housed alone and so the race begins to find another companion for Winter before Clearwater is forced to give up its beloved dolphin to another aquarium.

  • GenreDrama, Family, Family
  • CastNathan Gamble, Morgan Freeman, Ashley Judd, Kris Kristofferson, Harry Connick Jr.
  • DirectorCharles Martin Smith.
  • WriterCharles Martin Smith.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration107 mins
  • Official sitewww.seewinter.com
  • Release03/10/2014

Released in 2011, Dolphin Tale fictionalised the incredible true story of a bottlenose called Winter, who was snared in a crab trap in Florida and lost her tail. The plucky mammal was rushed to nearby Clearwater Marine Hospital where dedicated staff rehabilitated Winter by fitting her with a silicon and plastic tail similar to prosthetics worn by human amputees.

The dolphin's remarkable recovery and her subsequent celebrity have ensured a steady stream of visitors to Clearwater, where Winter now shares a tank with another bottlenose called Hope.

Filmmaker Charles Martin Smith, who captained the original film, clearly fell in love with Winter because he writes and directs this uplifting yet wholly unnecessary sequel. Young audiences will happily wade through pools of sugary sentiment in order to enjoy heart-warming scenes with the dolphins and a stranded sea turtle christened Mavis.

Parents, however, won't find a great deal to buoy their interest besides footage during the end credits of two real-life rescues that inspired Smith's flimsy script.

Several years have passed since Sawyer Nelson (Nathan Gamble) rescued plucky dolphin Winter with the help of Dr Clay Haskett (Harry Connick Jr) and prosthetics expert Dr Cameron McCarthy (Morgan Freeman).

The teenager now works at Clearwater Marine Aquarium (CMA) with Clay's spunky daughter Hazel (Cozi Zuehlsdorff), his grown-up cousin Kyle (Austin Stowell) and trainer Phoebe (Austin Highsmith). Families flock to CMA to see Winter, which delights aquarium owner Phillip J Hordern (Tom Nowicki), who hopes to expand the site.

Sadly, those plans are put on hold when Winter's companion, an elderly dolphin called Panama, dies and leaves the plucky bottlenose without a pool mate.

Under regulations, Winter cannot be housed alone and a visiting inspector (played by director Smith), tells Clay, "I'm giving you 30 days to correct the problem." The race begins to find another companion for Winter before Clearwater is forced to give up its beloved dolphin.

Meanwhile, Sawyer realises his feelings for Hazel run deeper than friendship and the lad considers leaving Winter for three months to participate in a prestigious marine biology programme aboard a tall ship.

Dolphin Tale 2 serves no dramatic purpose other than to reignite interest in CMA and its real-life star attraction. Gamble is a likable if somewhat bland protagonist and the nascent romance with Zuehlsdorff remains chaste.

Connick Jr flashes his dazzling pearly whites to distract our attention from the hoary dialogue while Freeman makes fleeting appearances as the crotchety prosthetics wizard, who tells one pre-pubescent member of CMA staff, "I've got jars of peanut butter older than you."

Given the product's short shelf life, his character may not survive for a third splash in the dolphin pool.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Sunday 26th October 2014
Monday 27th October 2014
Tuesday 28th October 2014
Wednesday 29th October 2014

This film is also showing at:

Frozen (Sing-A-Long Version) 4 stars

As children, Anna and Elsa love to play together, taking full advantage of Elsa's ability to create ice and snow from her fingertips. An accident late one night convinces the King to wipe Anna's memory so she forgets about her sibling's hidden talents. Many years later, Elsa unwittingly reveals her powers to the locals and is branded a witch. She flees to the snowy mountains to a castle forged in ice. Anna gives chase and encounters a hunky ice trader called Kristoff and his loyal reindeer Sven.

  • GenreAction, Adaptation, Adventure, Animation/Cartoon, Comedy, Family, Family, Romance
  • CastKristen Bell, Josh Gad, Ciaran Hinds, Jonathan Groff, Alan Tudyk, Santino Fontana, Idina Menzel.
  • DirectorChris Buck, Jennifer Lee.
  • WriterJennifer Lee.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration108 mins
  • Official sitemovies.disney.com/frozen/
  • Release07/02/2014

Loosely based on The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen, Frozen proves that Disney's animated heroines have unquestionably come of age. Long gone are the rose-tinted days when princesses waited patiently for Prince Charming to sweep them off their feet or save them from a grim fate.

Now, the spunky, independent and self-assured young women are just as smart and resourceful as their male counterparts and they don't need the love of a man to affirm their self-worth.

Frozen is a terrific fairy-tale adventure that melds old-fashioned values with state-of-the-art visuals and a rousing musical score with infectious songs by husband-and-wife team Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez.

Every beautifully coloured and crafted frame is crammed with wit and joy, drawing in audiences of all ages to the story of two sisters battling against the elements and their fears to claim their rightful place on the throne.

Directors Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck don't let the pace flag and the 108 minutes pass in a blur of laughter, tears and frost-bitten action sequences that look stunning in 3D with all of the computer-generated snowflakes fluttering before your eyes. You won't need to wrap up warm because the story casts an irresistible warm glow that should thaw even the most cynical and jaded heart.

As children, Anna (voiced by Kristen Bell) and Elsa (Idina Menzel) love to play together, taking full advantage of Elsa's ability to create ice and snow from her fingertips. An accident late one night convinces the King (Maurice LaMarche) to wipe Anna's memory so she forgets about her sibling's hidden talents.

At the same time, Elsa retires from public gaze, fearful that she will hurt someone else with her powers. When the King and Queen are subsequently lost at sea, Elsa reluctantly emerges to claim the throne.

Alas, on her coronation day, Elsa's gloves come off and the locals witness her extraordinary abilities and brand her a witch. She flees to the snowy mountains to a castle forged in ice. Meanwhile, Anna gives chase, leaving the kingdom in the hands of her trusted sweetheart, Prince Hans (Santino Fontana).

En route, Anna meets hunky ice trader Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), his loyal reindeer Sven and a blissfully naive talking snowman called Olaf (Josh Gad).

Frozen is one of the best animated features to canter out of the Disney stable in years. Warm-hearted, uplifting and constantly surprising, it's a timeless fable that will appeal to both boys and girls thanks to uproarious comic relief from Olaf, who is too cute for words.

Bell and Menzel add vim to their plucky heroines, the latter singing the film's stand-out song, Let It Go. As an added treat, Frozen is preceded by a black and white Mickey Mouse short, Get A Horse, that seems to hark from a bygone era but has a wicked sting in the tail.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Sunday 26th October 2014
Monday 27th October 2014
Tuesday 28th October 2014
Wednesday 29th October 2014
Thursday 30th October 2014

This film is also showing at:

Fury 4 stars

movie title

Norman Ellison is a new recruit, who is assigned the role of driving an M4 Sherman tank called Fury under the command of Sergeant Don Collier. This battle-weary veteran began the war in Africa and moved to Europe, killing numerous Germans along the way in the name of freedom. Aided by the rest of his crew, Boyd Swan, Trini Garcia and Grady Travis, Collier gives Norman an initiation he will never forget.

  • GenreAction, Drama, Historical/Period, War
  • CastLogan Lerman, Shia LaBeouf, Brad Pitt, Jon Bernthal, Michael Pena.
  • DirectorDavid Ayer.
  • WriterDavid Ayer.
  • CountryUK
  • Duration134 mins
  • Official sitewww.facebook.com/OfficialFuryMovie
  • Release22/10/2014

At a critical juncture in David Ayer's wartime thriller, Brad Pitt's grizzled tank commander turns to an inexperienced new recruit and sounds the death knell on morality and diplomacy in a time of conflict. "Ideals are peaceful, history's violent," he growls with an icy glare.

Those words resonate throughout Fury, a brutal, mud-spattered tour of duty during the final weeks of the Second World War, as seen through the gun sights of an M4 Sherman tank crew on a collision course with Hitler's troops.

The film opens with Pitt's inspirational leader stabbing an unsuspecting German officer in the eye and Ayer repeatedly sates a thirst for close-up gore with expertly choreographed battle sequences and hand-to-hand combat between ground troops. The bloodbath temporarily abates for brotherly banter inside the claustrophobic tank, but the air is always chokingly thick with impending doom.

Eight weeks after he enrolls in the US Army as a clerk typist, Norman Ellison (Logan Lerman) is assigned the position of assistant driver in a tank christened Fury under the command of Sergeant Don 'Wardaddy' Collier (Brad Pitt). This battle-weary veteran began the war in Africa and moved to Europe, killing numerous Germans along the way in the name of freedom.

Aided by the rest of his crew, Boyd Swan (Shia LaBeouf), Trini Garcia (Michael Pena) and Grady Travis (Jon Bernthal), Collier gives Norman an initiation he will never forget on a series of missions led by Captain Waggoner (Jason Isaacs) and Lieutenant Parker (Xavier Samuel).

Three other tanks commanded by Sergeant Binkowski (Jim Parrack), Sergeant Davis (Brad William Henke) and Sergeant Peterson (Kevin Vance) flank Fury as US soldiers push on towards Berlin. "It will end soon," Collier assures Norman, "but before it does, a lot more people gotta die."

Fury paints a familiar picture of the hell of war, directed with testosterone-fuelled swagger by Ayer, who previously helmed the bombastic police thrillers End Of Day and Sabotage. His script is studded with polished dialogue that doesn't quite ring true, like when Collier berates thuggish Grady, "You're an animal. All you understand is fist and boot".

Or when Collier encourages Norman to sow his seeds with a pretty young German (Alicia von Rittberg) by purring, "She's a good clean girl. If you don't take her into that bedroom, I will".

Pitt leads the cast with a strong performance as a battle-weary commander, who holds back a tide of anguish and uncertainty until he is alone and can allow the sobs to shake his scarred body. Lerman is equally compelling as a naive whelp, who develops a taste for killing Nazis.

Ayer obliges him with an astronomical body count and foreign fields slathered as far as the eye can see in mud, freshly spilt blood and the bodies of the fallen.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Saturday 25th October 2014
Sunday 26th October 2014
Monday 27th October 2014
Tuesday 28th October 2014
Wednesday 29th October 2014
Thursday 30th October 2014

This film is also showing at:

Gone Girl 4 stars

movie title

On her fifth wedding anniversary, Amy Dunne vanishes without trace. Her husband Nick works with the police to front a high-profile media campaign to secure the safe return of his "amazing Amy". In the glare of the spotlight, fractures appear in the Dunnes' marriage and police and public both question Nick's innocence. With Amy's creepy ex-boyfriend Desi Collings as another suspect, Detectives Rhonda Boney and Jim Gilpin search for answers.

  • GenreAdaptation, Drama, Romance, Thriller
  • CastNeil Patrick Harris, Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Boyd Holbrook, Scoot McNairy, Missi Pyle, Patrick Fugit, Kim Dickens.
  • DirectorDavid Fincher.
  • WriterGillian Flynn.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration149 mins
  • Official sitewww.gonegirlmovie.cok
  • Release02/10/2014

Ignorance is bliss when it comes to Gone Girl. If, like me, you haven't read Gillian Flynn's 2012 psychological thriller and you know nothing of the serpentine twists that propelled the novel to the top of the bestsellers list then jealously guard your cluelessness.

There's an undeniable delight watching Flynn wrong-foot us with this spiky satire on media manipulation and the glossy facade of celebrity marriages. When the central characters promise to love, honour and obey, till death do them part, one of them takes that vow very seriously.

Admittedly, you have to dig deep beneath the surface of David Fincher's polished film to find the jet black humour but it's there, walking hand-in-hand with sadism and torture that propel the narrative towards its unconventional denouement.

The film version of Gone Girl is distinguished by a career-best performance from Rosamund Pike as the pretty wife, who vanishes without trace on her fifth wedding anniversary and is presumed dead at the hands of her handsome husband (Ben Affleck).

Pike has to plumb the depths of human emotion in a demanding and complex role, by turns brittle and steely, terrified and driven. She's almost certain to earn her first Oscar nomination.

In stark contrast, Affleck is solid but little more as the spouse who pleads his ignorance but hides secrets from the people he adores. As battles of the sexes go, it's a resolutely one-sided skirmish.

On the morning of his anniversary, Nick Dunne (Affleck) calls detectives Rhonda Boney (Kim Dickens) and Jim Gilpin (Patrick Fugit) to his home. There are signs of a struggle and his wife Amy (Pike) is missing.

Nick's sister Margo (Carrie Coon), who has never liked Amy, assures her sibling that everything will be fine. "Whoever took her's bound to bring her back," she quips cattily.

Nick and Amy's distraught parents (David Clennon, Lisa Beth) front a high-profile media campaign to secure the safe return of "amazing Amy". In the glare of the spotlight, fractures appear in the Dunnes' marriage and police and public question Nick's innocence.

Gone Girl holds our attention for the majority of the bloated 149-minute running time, with a couple of lulls and a disjointed final act. Pike's mesmerising theatrics light up the screen and there is strong support from Neil Patrick Harris as Amy's creepy old flame.

Fincher's direction is lean, complemented by snappy editing and a discordant score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, who won the Oscar for their music to The Social Network.

Once you regain your balance from Flynn pulling the rug from under your feet, this is a slick yet slightly underwhelming whodunit that doesn't quite scale the dizzy heights of shock and suspense previously achieved by Jagged Edge, The Usual Suspects or indeed, Fincher's 2005 film, Se7en.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Saturday 25th October 2014
Sunday 26th October 2014
Monday 27th October 2014
Tuesday 28th October 2014
Wednesday 29th October 2014
Thursday 30th October 2014

This film is also showing at:

Gone Girl (Subtitled) 4 stars

movie title

On her fifth wedding anniversary, Amy Dunne vanishes without trace. Her husband Nick works with the police to front a high-profile media campaign to secure the safe return of his "amazing Amy". In the glare of the spotlight, fractures appear in the Dunnes' marriage and police and public both question Nick's innocence. With Amy's creepy ex-boyfriend Desi Collings as another suspect, Detectives Rhonda Boney and Jim Gilpin search for answers.

  • GenreAdaptation, Drama, Romance, Thriller
  • CastPatrick Fugit, Boyd Holbrook, Rosamund Pike, Scoot McNairy, Kim Dickens, Missi Pyle, Ben Affleck, Neil Patrick Harris.
  • DirectorDavid Fincher.
  • WriterGillian Flynn.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration149 mins
  • Official sitewww.gonegirlmovie.cok
  • Release02/10/2014

Ignorance is bliss when it comes to Gone Girl. If, like me, you haven't read Gillian Flynn's 2012 psychological thriller and you know nothing of the serpentine twists that propelled the novel to the top of the bestsellers list then jealously guard your cluelessness.

There's an undeniable delight watching Flynn wrong-foot us with this spiky satire on media manipulation and the glossy facade of celebrity marriages. When the central characters promise to love, honour and obey, till death do them part, one of them takes that vow very seriously.

Admittedly, you have to dig deep beneath the surface of David Fincher's polished film to find the jet black humour but it's there, walking hand-in-hand with sadism and torture that propel the narrative towards its unconventional denouement.

The film version of Gone Girl is distinguished by a career-best performance from Rosamund Pike as the pretty wife, who vanishes without trace on her fifth wedding anniversary and is presumed dead at the hands of her handsome husband (Ben Affleck).

Pike has to plumb the depths of human emotion in a demanding and complex role, by turns brittle and steely, terrified and driven. She's almost certain to earn her first Oscar nomination.

In stark contrast, Affleck is solid but little more as the spouse who pleads his ignorance but hides secrets from the people he adores. As battles of the sexes go, it's a resolutely one-sided skirmish.

On the morning of his anniversary, Nick Dunne (Affleck) calls detectives Rhonda Boney (Kim Dickens) and Jim Gilpin (Patrick Fugit) to his home. There are signs of a struggle and his wife Amy (Pike) is missing.

Nick's sister Margo (Carrie Coon), who has never liked Amy, assures her sibling that everything will be fine. "Whoever took her's bound to bring her back," she quips cattily.

Nick and Amy's distraught parents (David Clennon, Lisa Beth) front a high-profile media campaign to secure the safe return of "amazing Amy". In the glare of the spotlight, fractures appear in the Dunnes' marriage and police and public question Nick's innocence.

Gone Girl holds our attention for the majority of the bloated 149-minute running time, with a couple of lulls and a disjointed final act. Pike's mesmerising theatrics light up the screen and there is strong support from Neil Patrick Harris as Amy's creepy old flame.

Fincher's direction is lean, complemented by snappy editing and a discordant score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, who won the Oscar for their music to The Social Network.

Once you regain your balance from Flynn pulling the rug from under your feet, this is a slick yet slightly underwhelming whodunit that doesn't quite scale the dizzy heights of shock and suspense previously achieved by Jagged Edge, The Usual Suspects or indeed, Fincher's 2005 film, Se7en.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Monday 27th October 2014

Guardians Of The Galaxy 4 stars

movie title

Abducted from his parents as a child and raised by thieves, gung-ho American pilot Peter Quill is content to gallivant around the far reaches of space. He steals an orb, which is sought by Ronan and his army of Sakaarans, and evades capture by aligning himself with a motley crew of rebels comprising green-skinned assassin Gamora, genetically engineered raccoon Rocket, his tree-like sidekick Groot and vengeance-seeking warrior Drax The Destroyer, whose entire family was slaughtered by Ronan.

  • GenreAction, Adaptation, Adventure, Comedy, Family, Science Fiction
  • CastBradley Cooper, Chris Pratt, Vin Diesel, Zoe Saldana, Lee Pace, Dave Bautista, Josh Brolin.
  • DirectorJames Gunn.
  • WriterJames Gunn, Nicole Perlman.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration128 mins
  • Official sitewww.marvel.com/guardians
  • Release31/07/2014

From its visually stunning opening set to the funky strains of Come And Get Your Love by Native American rock band Redbone, Guardians Of The Galaxy lends the Marvel Comics big screen universe a delightful retro twang. The sardonic anti-hero is seldom parted from his Walkman and he inspires his cohorts to greatness with repeated references to Kevin Bacon and Footloose. As the slick special effects attest, the budget for this intergalactic romp is big - so too are the laughs courtesy of director James Gunn and co-writer Nicole Perlman. The opening sequence affectionately nods to Raiders Of The Lost Ark and when the mystery surrounding the film's fabled treasure is revealed, the space cowboy casually notes the trinket has "a shiny suitcase, Ark of the Covenant, Maltese Falcon vibe". Gunn doesn't skimp on the spectacle - if anything, a couple of the outlandish set pieces are too long - but he adds a comic twist to each deafening blast of pyrotechnics. Thus a centrepiece prison break is underscored by Rupert Holmes' 1979 hit Escape (The Pina Colada Song) and when the anti-hero barely escapes death in his spaceship and an extra-terrestrial girlfriend stumbles up from the hold, he looks at her with embarrassment and confesses, "I'm going to be honest with you. I forgot you were here". Abducted from his parents as a child and raised by thieves led by blue-skinned tyrant Yondu (Michael Rooker), Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) is a thief for hire, who steals a mystical orb sought by sadistic warlord Ronan (Lee Pace) and his army of Sakaarans. Peter evades Ronan's clutches and eventually aligns himself with a motley crew of mercenaries comprising green-skinned assassin Gamora (Zoe Saldana), genetically engineered raccoon Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper), his tree-like sidekick Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel) and vengeance-seeking warrior Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista), whose entire family was slaughtered by Ronan. When Peter learns the orb is an ancient artefact with the power to destroy the universe, he must put selfish desires to one side to repel Ronan and his underlings including fearsome intergalactic hunter Korath (Djimon Hounsou). Guardians Of The Galaxy is a blast. Pratt brings swagger and dry wit to his emotionally wounded hero, while Saldana adds sass and sex appeal to her otherworldly assassin. Bautista is marvellous as the hulk who takes everything literally - "Nothing goes over my head, my reflexes are too fast" - but almost every scene is stolen by the computer-generated double-act of Rocket and Groot. Cooper voices his feisty gun-toting fur ball with a wonderful blend of defiance and sarcasm, and breaks our hearts when it seems that he might be separated from his beloved sidekick forever. Cameos from Benicio Del Toro and Glenn Close hint at a wider canvas of political intrigue that director Gunn will be keen to explore in a sequel star-dated for release in 2017.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Sunday 26th October 2014
Monday 27th October 2014
Tuesday 28th October 2014

Happy New Year 3 stars

Action, comedy and drama.

  • GenreAction, Comedy, Drama
  • CastAbhishek Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, Deepika Padukone.
  • DirectorFarah Khan.
  • WriterAlthea Delmas Kaushal, Farah Khan.
  • CountryIndia
  • Official site

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Sunday 26th October 2014
Monday 27th October 2014
Tuesday 28th October 2014
Wednesday 29th October 2014
Thursday 30th October 2014

Horns 3 stars

Ig Perrish is accused of the rape and violent murder of his beloved girlfriend, Merrin Williams, but he vociferously pleads his innocence. After a night of excessive booze, Ig regains consciousness with a raging hangover and discovers that he has a pair of horns growing out of his head. Even more bizarre, these horns possess the power to make people confess their sins. Ig uses his newfound abilities to discover the circumstances of Merrin's death and unmask the murderer.

  • GenreAdaptation, Horror, Romance, Thriller
  • CastDavid Morse, Daniel Radcliffe, Heather Graham, Juno Temple.
  • DirectorAlexandre Aja.
  • WriterKeith Bunin.
  • CountryUS/Can
  • Duration120 mins
  • Official site
  • Release29/10/2014

Alexandre Aja, director of The Hills Have Eyes and Piranha 3D, remains firmly in the horror genre with this quirky supernatural thriller that shows a very different side to Harry Potter actor Daniel Radcliffe. Ig Perrish (Radcliffe) is accused of the rape and violent murder of his beloved girlfriend, Merrin Williams (Juno Temple), but he vociferously pleads his innocence. After a night of excessive booze - a pitiful attempt to salve his grief - Ig regains consciousness with a raging hangover and discovers that he has a pair of horns growing out of his head. Even more bizarre, these horns possess the power to make people confess their sins and succumb to the most primal and selfish impulses. Ig realises the potential of the horns and he uses his newfound abilities to discover the circumstances of Merrin's death and unmask the murderer. David Morse and Heather Graham co-star.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Wednesday 29th October 2014
Thursday 30th October 2014

How To Train Your Dragon 2 4 stars

movie title

During one of his regular sorties with Toothless, Hiccup stumbles upon a lost world full of rescued dragons and a valiant dragon rider named Valka, who turns out to be Hiccup's long lost mother. A tearful family reunion with Hiccup's father Stoick is cut short when diabolical dragon hunter Drago Bludvist storms the lost world and takes control of all of the majestic creatures using a gargantuan Alpha dragon called a Bewilderbeast.

  • GenreAction, Adventure, Animation/Cartoon, Family, Family
  • CastKristen Wiig, America Ferrera, Jay Baruchel, Djimon Hounsou, Cate Blanchett, Gerard Butler.
  • DirectorDean DeBlois.
  • WriterDean DeBlois.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration102 mins
  • Official sitewww.howtotrainyourdragon.co.uk
  • Release27/06/2014 (Scotland); 11/07/2014 (nationwide)

Based on the book by Cressida Cowell, the 2010 computer-animated adventure How To Train Your Dragon soared tantalisingly close to perfection. Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois' brilliantly executed story of one boy's remarkable friendship with a supposedly fearsome dragon was deeply touching, distinguished by richly detailed visuals and an intelligent script.

The sequel, directed solely by DeBlois, expands the narrative arcs of the characters, testing their mettle in the aftermath of tragedy and conflict. Boys cross the rubicon to manhood, parents make selfless sacrifices to protect their brood and evil poisons an innocent heart.

As a wise woman in the film proclaims, "Good dragons under the control of bad people do bad things". Five years have passed since Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel) befriended Toothless and the inhabitants of the village of Berk now live in harmony with the dragons.

Hiccup's father Stoick the Vast (Gerard Butler) continues to preside over the people. He hopes Hiccup will accept his destiny as the next tribal chief but the boy prefers to soar through the clouds astride his trusty Night Fury.

During a regular sortie with Toothless, Hiccup stumbles upon a lost world of rescued dragons and a valiant rider named Valka (Cate Blanchett), who turns out to be a long-lost face from the past. "It's not everyday you find out your mother is some kind of crazy, feral, vigilante dragon lady!" whoops Hiccup.

A tearful family reunion with Stoick is cut short by diabolical dragon hunter Drago Bludvist (Djimon Hounsou), who storms this lost world and takes control of the majestic fire-breathing creatures using a gargantuan Alpha dragon. World domination beckons and all that stands in Drago's way are Hiccup, Toothless and the boy's plucky friends Astrid (America Ferrara), Fishlegs (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), Snotlout (Jonah Hill) and the twins Ruffnut (Kristen Wiig) and Tuffnut (TJ Miller).

In almost every aspect, How To Train Your Dragon 2 matches its polished predecessor... except one. The addition of Oscar winner Blanchett to the vocal fold is a calamitous misjudgement. From the outset, the Australian actress is engaged in a futile tug-of-war with her Scottish accent that initially roams the British Isles and eventually strays across the entire Commonwealth.

Her verbal strangulations are horribly distracting and undermine some of the film's most emotionally charged moments of reconciliation and remembrance.

For his part, writer-director DeBlois charts a breathless course between drama, action and comedy, the latter delivered with scenery-chewing gusto by Craig Ferguson as Stoick's best friend Gobber the Belch. "[Valka's] meatballs could kill more beasts than a battle axe. I still got a few knocking around in here!" he grimaces, pointing to his belly.

Flying sequences deliver a vertiginous thrill, especially in 3D, including a couple of death-defying battles that slalom and swoop at dizzying speed. Blanchett aside, lightning nearly strikes twice.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Sunday 26th October 2014
Monday 27th October 2014
Tuesday 28th October 2014
Wednesday 29th October 2014
Thursday 30th October 2014

This film is also showing at:

Love, Rosie 2 stars

movie title

Rosie Dunne and Alex Stewart have been best friends since they were children: completely at ease in each other's company. They are perfect for each other but afraid to reveal their true feelings. This seemingly unbreakable bond shatters when Alex moves to Boston to attend university, leaving behind Rosie in familiar surroundings in Dublin.

  • GenreComedy, Romance
  • CastJaime Winstone, Tamsin Egerton, Lily Collins, Art Parkinson, Christian Cooke, Sam Claflin.
  • DirectorChristian Ditter.
  • WriterJuliette Towhidi.
  • CountryGer/UK
  • Duration102 mins
  • Official sitewww.facebook.com/LoveRosieFilmUK
  • Release22/10/2014

The course of true love never did run smooth and it follows an infuriatingly long-winded route in Love, Rosie. Based on Cecelia Ahern's 2004 novel Where Rainbows End, Christian Ditter's exasperating comedy of errors concerns two attractive, intelligent and good-humoured best friends, who waste some of the best years of their lives ignoring how ideally suited they are.

Instead, the perfectly aligned protagonists pursue unfulfilling relationships with other people or embrace solitude rather than taking a tiny leap of faith from friendship to something deeper. The film is built on traditional rom-com foundations, flinging obstacles in the path of the best friends to explain why we have to sit through 12 years of their dithering before the inevitable moment of surrender.

Juliette Towhidi's script surfs a wave of silliness and falls over in pivotal scenes including an argument, which culminates with the eponymous heroine caterwauling, "Can you stop the psychobabble and can we talk like English people?" On this evidence, no they can't.

Rosie Dunne (Lily Collins) and Alex Stewart (Sam Claflin) live across the road from each other and have been best friends since they were five-years-old. On her 18th birthday, a delirious and drunken Rosie shares a smouldering kiss with Alex but forgets about the smooch thanks to a bump to the head.

He doesn't forget and jokingly skirts the issue of romance, which Rosie shoots down by quipping, "You will forever by the guy who wiped bogies on my party dress." Their unseemingly unbreakable bond shatters when Alex moves to Boston to attend university, leaving behind Rosie with her parents Dennis (Lorcan Cranitch) and Alice (Ger Ryan) in Dublin.

The pals follow divergent paths. Rosie turns to sassy best friend Ruby (Jaime Winstone) to buoy her spirits and an old school crush called Greg (Christian Cooke) with impressive abs provides a passable substitute for her soul mate.

Meanwhile, Alex succumbs to the aggressive overtures of supermodel Bethany Williams (Suki Waterhouse) and social climber Sally (Tamsin Egerton).

Love, Rosie will test the patience of the most hopeless romantic. Collins and Claflin age over the course of the film from nervous 18-years-olds to jaded thirty-somethings simply by changing their hairstyles.

Our incredulity reaches its peak when a resplendent 25-year-old Collins stands next to talented 13-year-old actress Lily Laight and we're asked to believe they are single mother and daughter. Of the supporting cast, only Winstone registers, having a ball as a straight-talking confidante, whose dyed hair is as colourful as her language.

If it was possible to develop a 5D cinema experience that allows audiences to physically reach into the big screen and slap characters, we would have battered and bruised the two leads senseless within the opening 15 minutes.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Saturday 25th October 2014
Sunday 26th October 2014
Monday 27th October 2014
Tuesday 28th October 2014
Wednesday 29th October 2014
Thursday 30th October 2014

This film is also showing at:

NT Live Encore Screening: Frankenstein 3 stars

Two specially filmed performances of Danny Boyle's staging of Mary Shelley in a new adaptation by Nick Dear. Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller alternate the roles of Victor Frankenstein and his hideous creation, whose fates become entwined with devastating consequences. The cruelty of man gradually corrupts the creature and he wreaks revenge on Frankenstein and his bride-to-be, Agatha.

  • GenreAdaptation, Drama, Horror, Romance, Special
  • CastBenedict Cumberbatch, Lizzie Winkler, Ella Smith, Jonny Lee Miller, Naomie Harris.
  • DirectorDanny Boyle.
  • WriterMary Shelley, Nick Dear.
  • CountryUK
  • Duration161 mins
  • Official sitentlive.nationaltheatre.org.uk

Two specially filmed performances of Danny Boyle's staging of Mary Shelley in a new adaptation by Nick Dear. Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller alternate the roles of Victor Frankenstein and his hideous creation, whose fates become entwined with devastating consequences. Unleashed into the world, the monster forges an unlikely friendship with a blind, old man who teaches the outcast to speak. However, the cruelty of man gradually corrupts the monster and he wreaks revenge on Frankenstein and his bride-to-be, Agatha (Lizzie Winkler).

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Thursday 30th October 2014

This film is also showing at:

Royal Opera Live: I Due Foscari 3 stars

Thaddeus Strassberger directs Verdi's searing early tragedy at the Royal Opera House in London under the baton of conductor Antonio Pappano. Placido Domingo sings the title role of the despairing father, who is torn between love for his family and duty to a corrupt city.

  • GenreMusical, Special
  • CastFrancesco Meli, Maria Agresta, Placido Domingo.
  • DirectorThaddeus Strassberger.
  • WriterVerdi.
  • CountryUK
  • Official sitewww.roh.org.uk/cinemas
  • Release27/10/2014 (selected cinemas)

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Monday 27th October 2014

This film is also showing at:

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3 stars

movie title

Genetically modified turtle brothers Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo and Donatello grow up in the sewers of New York under the guidance of their mentor: a giant rat called Splinter, who teaches them Ninjitsu. Aided by plucky journalist April O'Neil and her cameraman Vern Fenwick, the turtles wage war on a shadowy figure called Shredder and his army, known as the Foot Clan, who are spreading fear and terror throughout the Big Apple.

  • GenreAction, Adaptation, Adventure, Comedy, Family, Fantasy, Romance
  • CastWill Arnett, Megan Fox, William Fichtner, Tohoru Masamune, Whoopi Goldberg.
  • DirectorJonathan Liebesman.
  • WriterAndre Nemec, Josh Appelbaum, Evan Daugherty.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration101 mins
  • Official sitewww.ninjaturtlesmovie.co.uk
  • Release11/10/2014 (Scotland); 17/10/2014 (UK & Ireland)

The adventures of turtle brothers Donatello, Leonardo, Michelangelo and Raphael began life in the mid 1980s as an irreverent comic book and rapidly spawned an animated TV series, a trilogy of films and a dizzying array of merchandise. Turtle power has endured to the present day, including a computer-animated series on Nickelodeon.

It's no surprise then that Jonathan Liebesman, director of Wrath Of The Titans, has resurrected the heroes in a half shell for the big screen. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is an outlandish, action-heavy romp that remains faithful to earlier incarnations, condensing the characters' back-story into a snazzy comic book-style opening sequence.

Die-hard fans will enjoy the heavy whiff of nostalgia, but if Liebesman was hoping to indoctrinate a new generation, he has cowabungled it. His film is incredibly violent, albeit bloodless, reducing two very young boys in my screening to distressed screams.

The lack of spilt blood is preposterous, especially when the turtles face chief villain Shredder, who sports armour festooned with blades. Razor sharp projectiles scythe through the air but miraculously don't nick flesh. Shredder by name but not by nefarious nature.

Leonardo (Pete Ploszek, voiced by Johnny Knoxville), Raphael (Alan Ritchson), Michelangelo (Noel Fisher) and Donatello (Jeremy Howard) grow up in the sewers of New York City. They flourish under rat mentor Splinter (Danny Woodburn, voiced by Tony Shalhoub), who teaches Ninjitsu to his surrogate sons.

During one of the turtles' sorties above ground, Channel 6 news reporter April O'Neil (Megan Fox) glimpses the crime-fighters, who are preparing for war with hulking terrorist Shredder (Tohoru Masamune) and his army, the Foot Clan.

Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo and Donatello fear exposure so they track down April and spirit her to their subterranean lair. "It's our Fortress Of Solitude, our Hogwarts, our Xavier's Academy," whispers Donatello, piling on the pop culture references.

Once April learns of the turtles' noble quest to destroy Shredder, she pledges her allegiance and ropes in wisecracking cameraman, Vern (Will Arnett), and prominent businessman Eric Sacks (William Fichtner), who has publicly declared war on the Foot Clan in a televised speech.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles updates the characters for the modern era. Thus Mikey has a penchant for cat videos on the internet and the three scriptwriters shoe-horn verbal references to films and TV shows with abandon: "Maybe she's a Jedi," whispers Mikey after April reveals she knows Splinter's name without an introduction.

The turtles are rendered through motion-capture performances and look rather creepy, but they somersault to perfection in action set pieces including a tumble down a snow-laden mountainside.

Alas, the hefty budget hasn't stretched to remedying basic continuity errors like when Fox's plastic heroine emerges from a downpour with dry, flowing hair. Believe that and you'll lap up this bland turtle soup.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Saturday 25th October 2014
Sunday 26th October 2014
Monday 27th October 2014
Tuesday 28th October 2014
Wednesday 29th October 2014
Thursday 30th October 2014

This film is also showing at:

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3D 3 stars

movie title

Genetically modified turtle brothers Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo and Donatello grow up in the sewers of New York under the guidance of their mentor: a giant rat called Splinter, who teaches them Ninjitsu. Aided by plucky journalist April O'Neil and her cameraman Vern Fenwick, the turtles wage war on a shadowy figure called Shredder and his army, known as the Foot Clan, who are spreading fear and terror throughout the Big Apple.

  • GenreAction, Adaptation, Adventure, Comedy, Family, Fantasy, Romance
  • CastTohoru Masamune, Whoopi Goldberg, Will Arnett, Megan Fox, William Fichtner.
  • DirectorJonathan Liebesman.
  • WriterAndre Nemec, Josh Appelbaum, Evan Daugherty.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration101 mins
  • Official sitewww.ninjaturtlesmovie.co.uk
  • Release11/10/2014 (Scotland); 17/10/2014 (UK & Ireland)

The adventures of turtle brothers Donatello, Leonardo, Michelangelo and Raphael began life in the mid 1980s as an irreverent comic book and rapidly spawned an animated TV series, a trilogy of films and a dizzying array of merchandise. Turtle power has endured to the present day, including a computer-animated series on Nickelodeon.

It's no surprise then that Jonathan Liebesman, director of Wrath Of The Titans, has resurrected the heroes in a half shell for the big screen. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is an outlandish, action-heavy romp that remains faithful to earlier incarnations, condensing the characters' back-story into a snazzy comic book-style opening sequence.

Die-hard fans will enjoy the heavy whiff of nostalgia, but if Liebesman was hoping to indoctrinate a new generation, he has cowabungled it. His film is incredibly violent, albeit bloodless, reducing two very young boys in my screening to distressed screams.

The lack of spilt blood is preposterous, especially when the turtles face chief villain Shredder, who sports armour festooned with blades. Razor sharp projectiles scythe through the air but miraculously don't nick flesh. Shredder by name but not by nefarious nature.

Leonardo (Pete Ploszek, voiced by Johnny Knoxville), Raphael (Alan Ritchson), Michelangelo (Noel Fisher) and Donatello (Jeremy Howard) grow up in the sewers of New York City. They flourish under rat mentor Splinter (Danny Woodburn, voiced by Tony Shalhoub), who teaches Ninjitsu to his surrogate sons.

During one of the turtles' sorties above ground, Channel 6 news reporter April O'Neil (Megan Fox) glimpses the crime-fighters, who are preparing for war with hulking terrorist Shredder (Tohoru Masamune) and his army, the Foot Clan.

Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo and Donatello fear exposure so they track down April and spirit her to their subterranean lair. "It's our Fortress Of Solitude, our Hogwarts, our Xavier's Academy," whispers Donatello, piling on the pop culture references.

Once April learns of the turtles' noble quest to destroy Shredder, she pledges her allegiance and ropes in wisecracking cameraman, Vern (Will Arnett), and prominent businessman Eric Sacks (William Fichtner), who has publicly declared war on the Foot Clan in a televised speech.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles updates the characters for the modern era. Thus Mikey has a penchant for cat videos on the internet and the three scriptwriters shoe-horn verbal references to films and TV shows with abandon: "Maybe she's a Jedi," whispers Mikey after April reveals she knows Splinter's name without an introduction.

The turtles are rendered through motion-capture performances and look rather creepy, but they somersault to perfection in action set pieces including a tumble down a snow-laden mountainside.

Alas, the hefty budget hasn't stretched to remedying basic continuity errors like when Fox's plastic heroine emerges from a downpour with dry, flowing hair. Believe that and you'll lap up this bland turtle soup.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Sunday 26th October 2014
Monday 27th October 2014
Tuesday 28th October 2014
Wednesday 29th October 2014
Thursday 30th October 2014

This film is also showing at:

The Book Of Life 3 stars

movie title

In the town of San Angel on the Day Of The Dead, underworld gods La Muerte and Xibalba bet on the outcome of a love triangle involving friends Manolo, Joaquin and Maria. La Muerte, ruler of the Land of the Remembered, believes that sensitive Manolo will get the girl while Xibalba, ruler of the Land of the Forgotten, selects courageous Joaquin as his champion and secretly boosts the young man's chances with an enchanted medal of protection.

  • GenreAdventure, Animation/Cartoon, Comedy, Family, Family, Romance
  • CastRon Perlman, Zoe Saldana, Channing Tatum, Kate del Castillo, Diego Luna, Ice Cube.
  • DirectorJorge R Gutierrez.
  • WriterJorge R Gutierrez, Douglas Langdale.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration95 mins
  • Official sitewww.bookoflifemovie.co.uk
  • Release24/10/2014

In Mexican culture, Dia de los Muertos or Day Of The Dead is an important annual gathering for families and friends to honour the memory of loved ones who are no longer with them. The three-day celebration, which begins on October 31, traditionally involves adorning graves and specially constructed altars with sugar skulls, flowers and other gifts with special significance to the departed.

This fiesta of remembrance provides a vibrant and poignant backdrop to Jorge R Gutierrez's fantastical computer-animated fable about three friends, who discover there is love after death.

The Book Of Life razzle dazzles our eyes, especially in 3D, cramming as much retina-searing colour and detail as possible into each frame. Co-writer Douglas Lansdale adds plentiful humour to offset the film's air of tragedy including a chorus of singing nuns and a waspish grandmother, voiced by Grey DeLisle, who scene-steals with every purse-lipped outburst.

Museum tour guide Mary Beth (voiced by Christina Applegate) leads a group of unruly schoolchildren through an exhibition about Mexican folklore. She leads the whippersnappers to a chamber that houses the fabled Book Of Life and recounts one particular story, which unfolds in the town of San Angel on the Day Of The Dead.

Rival gods La Muerte (Kate del Castillo) and Xibalba (Ron Perlman) agree a wager on the resolution of a love triangle involving two boys, Manolo (Diego Luna) and Joaquin (Channing Tatum), who are both in love with their friend Maria (Zoe Saldana).

La Muerte, ruler of the Land of the Remembered, believes that sensitive Manolo will get the girl and realise his musical ambitions rather than take up the mantle of his matador father (Hector Elizondo). "Music is not a profession fit for a Sanchez bullfighter!" rages the old man.

Meanwhile, Xibalba (Ron Perlman), ruler of the Land of the Forgotten, selects courageous Joaquin as his champion and secretly boosts the young man's chances with an enchanted medal of protection.

When the time finally comes for Maria to choose between her suitors, conniving Xibalba attempts to influence her decision to ensure he wins the bet.

The Book Of Life inhabits a macabre universe that Tim Burton has made his own but director Gutierrez and his team of animators opt for a more jaunty, upbeat tone enhanced by a bouncy soundtrack replete with cover versions of Elvis Presley, Radiohead and Rod Stewart. "What is it with Mexicans and death?" asks a goth kid on the museum tour, somewhat tongue in cheek.

Luna and Tatum deliver lively vocal performances and Saldana essays a spunky heroine, who epitomises girl power, flanked by a cute porcine sidekick. Action sequences are orchestrated at a brisk pace, punctuated by soaring serenades.

Gutierrez's film strikes a pleasing balance between giggles and soul-searching, tackling tricky themes of mortality, self-sacrifice and the afterlife without giving young audiences nightmares.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Sunday 26th October 2014
Monday 27th October 2014
Tuesday 28th October 2014
Wednesday 29th October 2014
Thursday 30th October 2014

This film is also showing at:

The Book Of Life 3D 3 stars

In the town of San Angel on the Day Of The Dead, underworld gods La Muerte and Xibalba bet on the outcome of a love triangle involving friends Manolo, Joaquin and Maria. La Muerte, ruler of the Land of the Remembered, believes that sensitive Manolo will get the girl while Xibalba, ruler of the Land of the Forgotten, selects courageous Joaquin as his champion and secretly boosts the young man's chances with an enchanted medal of protection.

  • GenreAdventure, Animation/Cartoon, Comedy, Family, Family, Romance
  • CastZoe Saldana, Channing Tatum, Ron Perlman, Kate del Castillo, Diego Luna, Ice Cube.
  • DirectorJorge R Gutierrez.
  • WriterJorge R Gutierrez, Douglas Langdale.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration95 mins
  • Official sitewww.bookoflifemovie.co.uk
  • Release24/10/2014

In Mexican culture, Dia de los Muertos or Day Of The Dead is an important annual gathering for families and friends to honour the memory of loved ones who are no longer with them. The three-day celebration, which begins on October 31, traditionally involves adorning graves and specially constructed altars with sugar skulls, flowers and other gifts with special significance to the departed.

This fiesta of remembrance provides a vibrant and poignant backdrop to Jorge R Gutierrez's fantastical computer-animated fable about three friends, who discover there is love after death.

The Book Of Life razzle dazzles our eyes, especially in 3D, cramming as much retina-searing colour and detail as possible into each frame. Co-writer Douglas Lansdale adds plentiful humour to offset the film's air of tragedy including a chorus of singing nuns and a waspish grandmother, voiced by Grey DeLisle, who scene-steals with every purse-lipped outburst.

Museum tour guide Mary Beth (voiced by Christina Applegate) leads a group of unruly schoolchildren through an exhibition about Mexican folklore. She leads the whippersnappers to a chamber that houses the fabled Book Of Life and recounts one particular story, which unfolds in the town of San Angel on the Day Of The Dead.

Rival gods La Muerte (Kate del Castillo) and Xibalba (Ron Perlman) agree a wager on the resolution of a love triangle involving two boys, Manolo (Diego Luna) and Joaquin (Channing Tatum), who are both in love with their friend Maria (Zoe Saldana).

La Muerte, ruler of the Land of the Remembered, believes that sensitive Manolo will get the girl and realise his musical ambitions rather than take up the mantle of his matador father (Hector Elizondo). "Music is not a profession fit for a Sanchez bullfighter!" rages the old man.

Meanwhile, Xibalba (Ron Perlman), ruler of the Land of the Forgotten, selects courageous Joaquin as his champion and secretly boosts the young man's chances with an enchanted medal of protection.

When the time finally comes for Maria to choose between her suitors, conniving Xibalba attempts to influence her decision to ensure he wins the bet.

The Book Of Life inhabits a macabre universe that Tim Burton has made his own but director Gutierrez and his team of animators opt for a more jaunty, upbeat tone enhanced by a bouncy soundtrack replete with cover versions of Elvis Presley, Radiohead and Rod Stewart. "What is it with Mexicans and death?" asks a goth kid on the museum tour, somewhat tongue in cheek.

Luna and Tatum deliver lively vocal performances and Saldana essays a spunky heroine, who epitomises girl power, flanked by a cute porcine sidekick. Action sequences are orchestrated at a brisk pace, punctuated by soaring serenades.

Gutierrez's film strikes a pleasing balance between giggles and soul-searching, tackling tricky themes of mortality, self-sacrifice and the afterlife without giving young audiences nightmares.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Sunday 26th October 2014
Monday 27th October 2014
Tuesday 28th October 2014
Wednesday 29th October 2014
Thursday 30th October 2014

This film is also showing at:

The Boxtrolls 4 stars

movie title

An orphaned boy named Eggs is raised by gentle subterranean creatures that have been unfairly demonised by the terrified, fromage-fixated residents of Cheesebridge. When pest exterminator Archibald Snatcher and his henchmen begin to exterminate the Boxtrolls, Eggs joins forces with the surviving creatures and a girl called Winnie to protect the beasties from harm.

  • GenreAdaptation, Adventure, Animation/Cartoon, Comedy, Family, Family, Fantasy
  • CastToni Collette, Elle Fanning, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Isaac Hempstead-Wright, Jared Harris, Sir Ben Kingsley.
  • DirectorGraham Annable, Anthony Stacchi.
  • WriterIrena Brignull, Adam Pava.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration97 mins
  • Official sitewww.theboxtrolls.co.uk
  • Release12/09/2014

Based on the novel Here Be Monsters! by Alan Snow, The Boxtrolls is a rollicking stop-motion animated romp from the makers of Coraline and ParaNorman that proves weird can be truly wonderful. With faint echoes of Raymond Briggs' Fungus The Bogeyman, Graham Annable and Anthony Stacchi's quirky fantasy imagines a race of subterranean creatures, who root through bins in search of spare parts for their mechanical creations.

Despite a hearty appetite for slimy bugs, these pungent, green-skinned denizens of the underworld are cute rather than scary, possessing relatable human traits such as a passion for music or a quivering fear of the unknown. They spare troll blushes by wearing empty cardboard boxes and the former contents of these mouldering cartons provide each expressive character with a name such as Fish, Knickers, Sweets, Clocks and Fragile (ho ho!).

The meticulous detail of the movable figures and miniature sets is impressive, and co-directors Annable and Stacchi corral a vast team of animators, who produce thrilling chases and quieter moments of ribald humour.

The well-to-do, Victorian-era city of Cheesebridge is visited under the cloak of darkness by the eponymous beasties. One dark night, a Boxtroll called Fish (voiced by Dee Bradley Baker) kidnaps the infant son of a local inventor (Simon Pegg) and spirits away the child to the underground lair.

This shocking act plays into the grubby hands of pest exterminator Archibald Snatcher (Sir Ben Kingsley). "Prepare to say bye-bye to your brie, cheerio to your cheddar!" cackles Snatcher, striking fear into the heart of Lord Portley-Rind (Jared Harris) and the other fromage-fixated noblemen.

They grant Snatcher a place at the cheese-tasting top table if the exterminator and his henchmen - Mr Trout (Nick Frost), Mr Pickles (Richard Ayoade) and Mr Gristle (Tracy Morgan) - kill every last Boxtroll. Unaware that he is human, abducted boy Eggs (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) ventures above ground with the Boxtrolls and encounters Lord Portley-Rind's snooty daughter, Winnie (Elle Fanning).

She initially believes the horror stories about Boxtrolls devouring children - "Eat me. I'm sure I'm delicious!" - but once Winnie learns the truth about Eggs' past, she agrees to help vanquish Snatcher and his snivelling cohorts.

The Boxtrolls is a delight for the young and young at heart, hinging on the notion that families come in all shapes and sizes. Irena Brignull and Adam Pava's script is laden with verbal and visual gags, striking a gently mischievous tone throughout like when Winnie spots Eggs tugging at the crotch of his uncomfortable suit and whispers, "Don't snatch them in public. That's why they are called privates!"

Frost, Ayoade and Morgan provide the majority of the comic relief between action-packed set-pieces. Remain seated during the end credits for a hilarious scene of existential angst, which succinctly reminds us how pain-staking and time-consuming the stop-motion animation process is.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Sunday 26th October 2014
Monday 27th October 2014
Tuesday 28th October 2014
Wednesday 29th October 2014
Thursday 30th October 2014

This film is also showing at:

The Equalizer 3 stars

movie title

Robert McCall has turned his back on his past as a covert government operative and has fashioned an unremarkable life in suburbia. At night, McCall works his way through a list of 100 books everyone should read while enjoying a coffee at his local diner, where he befriends a sassy prostitute called Teri. When she ends up in hospital, battered and bruised at the hands of her controlling pimp Slavi, McCall exacts revenge and sparks a war with the Russian Mafia.

  • GenreAction, Drama, Thriller
  • CastMarton Csokas, Denzel Washington, Chloe Grace Moretz, Melissa Leo, Bill Pullman, David Harbour.
  • DirectorAntoine Fuqua.
  • WriterRichard Wenk.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration132 mins
  • Official sitewww.equalizerthemovie.com
  • Release26/09/2014

Director Antoine Fuqua, who guided Denzel Washington to the Oscar podium in Training Day, reunites with the charismatic actor for this gratuitously violent reimagining of the beloved 1980s TV series.

Nostalgic memories of Edward Woodward's refined approach to justice and crime-fighting on the small screen are blown to smithereens by this brutish, big-screen rendering of The Equalizer. In a dizzying opening fight sequence, Washington impales a corkscrew in one henchman's noggin and repeatedly pummels a couple more as if he was tenderising a large slab of steak.

Each bone-cracking blow, stab and punch is captured in balletic close-up; a queasy dance of death that reaches a hilarious and frenetic crescendo with drills and sledgehammers in a hardware warehouse where the title character works when he's not coolly doling out just desserts.

Screenwriter Richard Wenk, who co-wrote The Expendables 2 with Sylvester Stallone, comes perilously close to the tongue-in-cheek tone of that film when Washington is asked by a work colleague how he hurt his bandaged hand and he drolly responds, "I hit it on something stupid". We presume he means the script, considering the implausibilities of the final act, steeped in mindless and repetitive bloodletting.

Robert McCall (Washington) has turned his back on his past as a covert government operative and has fashioned an unremarkable life in suburbia, where he nurses memories of his dead wife. By day, he earns a decent wage in a Home Mart warehouse and mentors another employee, Ralphie (Johnny Skourtis), through his security guard's exam.

By night, McCall works his way through a list of 100 books everyone should read while enjoying a coffee at his local diner, where he befriends a sassy prostitute called Teri (Chloe Grace Moretz). When she ends up in hospital, battered and bruised at the hands of her controlling Russian pimp Slavi (David Meunier), McCall exacts revenge. Justice seemingly prevails.

Unfortunately, Slavi and his goons are a link in a bigger chain controlled by the Russian Mafia and they dispatch sadistic fixer Teddy (Marton Csokas) to track down McCall. The Equalizer starts off promisingly, exploring the minutiae of McCall's daily life as a man scarred by grief and tormented by his past.

Washington is in his element in these early scenes, capturing the maelstrom of emotions that simmer beneath his character's placid surface. Once the first drop of blood is spilt, director Fuqua seizes every opportunity for wanton carnage, to the point that it seems like nothing short of a nuclear explosion will stop McCall in his tracks.

Csokas' vindictive antagonist has little depth beyond his propensity for cruelty and pain, which is something we experience as the running time drags unnecessarily into a third hour.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Saturday 25th October 2014
Sunday 26th October 2014
Tuesday 28th October 2014
Wednesday 29th October 2014

This film is also showing at:

The Maze Runner 4 stars

movie title

A teenager called Thomas arrives in a green area called The Glade, which is home to dozens of other boys, whose memories have also been wiped. Gargantuan walls enclose The Glade and every morning, one wall parts to reveal a maze, which 'runners' explore in the vain hope of finding an exit. The runners must return before dusk when the wall closes and the maze reconfigures.

  • GenreAction, Adaptation, Family, Science Fiction, Thriller
  • CastDylan O'Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Will Poulter, Aml Ameen, Ki Hong Lee, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Patricia Clarkson, Blake Cooper.
  • DirectorWes Ball.
  • WriterGrant Pierce Myers, Noah Oppenheim, T S Nowlin.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration113 mins
  • Official sitewww.facebook.com/MazeRunnerUK?brand_redir=1
  • Release10/10/2014

Based on the bestselling novel by James Dashner, The Maze Runner is a testosterone-fuelled survival thriller cast from the same robust mould as The Hunger Games and Divergent. Like those dystopian nightmares, Wes Ball's film centres on naive characters, teetering on the cusp of adulthood, who are forced to make stark choices between life and death to secure freedom.

Only here, adolescent males are trapped in the moral mire and forced to establish a microcosm of self-governing society a la Lord Of The Flies in which the strongest take charge and the meek keep their heads down.

While The Hunger Games and Divergent expended valuable time establishing character back stories and motivations, this opening salvo of The Maze Runner employs a nifty cheat: amnesia. All of the protagonists are stripped bare of memories including their identity, emerging from the darkness of a lift shaft into an enclosed green space called The Glade as blank slates.

"I can't remember anything," whimpers newbie Thomas (Dylan O'Brien).
"You get your name back in a day or two. It's the one thing they let us keep," explains Alby (Aml Ameen), the de facto leader, who emerged into this strange prison three years ago.

Gargantuan walls enclose The Glade and every morning, one wall parts to reveal a maze which 'runners' like Minho (Ki Hong Lee) map while avoiding hideous denizens called Grievers in the vain hope of finding an exit. The runners must return before dusk when the wall closes and the maze reconfigures.

Having plucked his name from the fog of his mind, Thomas forges friendships with Alby, second-in-command Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) and runt of the litter Chuck (Blake Cooper), but falls foul of brutish rival Gally (Will Poulter).

Out of the blue, a girl called Teresa (Kaya Scodelario) emerges from the lift. She woozily claims to know Thomas and paranoia runs rampant...

For the opening hour, The Maze Runner is lean and taut, rattling along at breakneck speed to the beat of composer John Paesano's propulsive score. The threat of bloodshed hangs in the air but it's only when Thomas strays into the labyrinth that the film unveils a surprisingly nasty streak, dispatching the good-looking cast in a shockingly cold, clinical fashion.

Director Ball doesn't succumb to squeamishness or sentimentality: death comes quickly and gruesomely, and the strongest, most noble and endearing characters are prime fodder for the rampaging Grievers. The film earns its 12A certificate without flinching.

O'Brien and Ameen anchor the young ensemble with fine performances, with sterling support from Lee, Brodie-Sangster and Poulter, the latter fleshing out his punishment-fixated bully with aplomb.

Scodelario is noticeably short-changed but presumably, she will play a pivotal role - from beyond the grave or in the flesh - in next year's fleet-footed sequel, The Scorch Trials. Burn, baby burn.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Saturday 25th October 2014
Sunday 26th October 2014
Monday 27th October 2014
Tuesday 28th October 2014
Wednesday 29th October 2014
Thursday 30th October 2014

This film is also showing at:

The Maze Runner (Subtitled) 4 stars

movie title

A teenager called Thomas arrives in a green area called The Glade, which is home to dozens of other boys, whose memories have also been wiped. Gargantuan walls enclose The Glade and every morning, one wall parts to reveal a maze, which 'runners' explore in the vain hope of finding an exit. The runners must return before dusk when the wall closes and the maze reconfigures.

  • GenreAction, Adaptation, Family, Science Fiction, Thriller
  • CastAml Ameen, Dylan O'Brien, Will Poulter, Ki Hong Lee, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Patricia Clarkson, Blake Cooper, Kaya Scodelario.
  • DirectorWes Ball.
  • WriterGrant Pierce Myers, Noah Oppenheim, T S Nowlin.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration113 mins
  • Official sitewww.facebook.com/MazeRunnerUK?brand_redir=1
  • Release10/10/2014

Based on the bestselling novel by James Dashner, The Maze Runner is a testosterone-fuelled survival thriller cast from the same robust mould as The Hunger Games and Divergent. Like those dystopian nightmares, Wes Ball's film centres on naive characters, teetering on the cusp of adulthood, who are forced to make stark choices between life and death to secure freedom.

Only here, adolescent males are trapped in the moral mire and forced to establish a microcosm of self-governing society a la Lord Of The Flies in which the strongest take charge and the meek keep their heads down.

While The Hunger Games and Divergent expended valuable time establishing character back stories and motivations, this opening salvo of The Maze Runner employs a nifty cheat: amnesia. All of the protagonists are stripped bare of memories including their identity, emerging from the darkness of a lift shaft into an enclosed green space called The Glade as blank slates.

"I can't remember anything," whimpers newbie Thomas (Dylan O'Brien).
"You get your name back in a day or two. It's the one thing they let us keep," explains Alby (Aml Ameen), the de facto leader, who emerged into this strange prison three years ago.

Gargantuan walls enclose The Glade and every morning, one wall parts to reveal a maze which 'runners' like Minho (Ki Hong Lee) map while avoiding hideous denizens called Grievers in the vain hope of finding an exit. The runners must return before dusk when the wall closes and the maze reconfigures.

Having plucked his name from the fog of his mind, Thomas forges friendships with Alby, second-in-command Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) and runt of the litter Chuck (Blake Cooper), but falls foul of brutish rival Gally (Will Poulter).

Out of the blue, a girl called Teresa (Kaya Scodelario) emerges from the lift. She woozily claims to know Thomas and paranoia runs rampant...

For the opening hour, The Maze Runner is lean and taut, rattling along at breakneck speed to the beat of composer John Paesano's propulsive score. The threat of bloodshed hangs in the air but it's only when Thomas strays into the labyrinth that the film unveils a surprisingly nasty streak, dispatching the good-looking cast in a shockingly cold, clinical fashion.

Director Ball doesn't succumb to squeamishness or sentimentality: death comes quickly and gruesomely, and the strongest, most noble and endearing characters are prime fodder for the rampaging Grievers. The film earns its 12A certificate without flinching.

O'Brien and Ameen anchor the young ensemble with fine performances, with sterling support from Lee, Brodie-Sangster and Poulter, the latter fleshing out his punishment-fixated bully with aplomb.

Scodelario is noticeably short-changed but presumably, she will play a pivotal role - from beyond the grave or in the flesh - in next year's fleet-footed sequel, The Scorch Trials. Burn, baby burn.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Thursday 30th October 2014

This Is Where I Leave You 3 stars

movie title

New York radio producer Judd Altman receives a telephone call to inform him that his father has died. He returns home to the surgically enhanced bosom of his mother Hilary and siblings Wendy, Phillip and Paul. It transpires that before the old man shuffled off his mortal coil, he stipulated that the Altmans should spend a week together in grief and reminiscence. "For the next seven days you are all my children again," Hilary informs her brood, "and you are all grounded."

  • GenreComedy, Drama, Romance
  • CastJason Bateman, Tina Fey, Jane Fonda, Rose Byrne, Kathryn Hahn, Timothy Olyphant, Adam Driver, Connie Britton, Corey Stoll.
  • DirectorShawn Levy.
  • WriterJonathan Tropper.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration103 mins
  • Official sitewww.thisiswhereileaveyou.com
  • Release24/10/2014

Emotional entanglements of a dysfunctional family provide the humour and pathos in Shawn Levy's touching comedy of shared history and heartache. Screenwriter Jonathan Tropper adapts his own bestselling novel, stitching together an entire year's worth of TV soap opera plot threads into a freewheeling narrative that spreads joy and misery evenly among the underwritten characters.

Revelations come ridiculously thick and fast, requiring ever greater suspensions of disbelief, to the point that we wouldn't be surprised if one of the central clan was unmasked as an extra-terrestrial doppelganger.

Thankfully, Tropper peppers his script with sparkling one-liners and the ensemble cast flings these verbal grenades with devastating precision, cajoling us to laughter even when Shawn Levy's film plumbs the murky depths of toilet humour.

New York radio producer Judd Altman (Jason Bateman) arrives home with a cake for his wife (Abigail Spencer) and discovers the birthday girl in bed with his obnoxious boss (Dax Shepard). Shortly afterwards, a shell-shocked Judd receives a telephone call to inform him that his father has died.

He returns home to the surgically enhanced bosom of his mother Hilary (Jane Fonda) and siblings Wendy (Tina Fey), Phillip (Adam Driver) and Paul (Corey Stoll). It transpires that before the old man shuffled off his mortal coil, he stipulated that the Altmans should spend a week together in grief and reminiscence.

"For the next seven days you are all my children again," Hilary informs her brood, "and you are all grounded." While Judd conceals his marital woes from mommie dearest, Wendy wonders if she made a mistake marrying her husband (Aaron Lazar) when she still loves a hunky neighbour (Timothy Olyphant), Paul clashes with his wife (Kathryn Hahn) about their inability to conceive and Phillip struggles to behave like an adult in front of his new partner (Connie Britton).

Skeletons rattle out of the closet and Judd seeks solace with hometown gal Penny (Rose Byrne), who has always carried a torch for him.

This Is Where I Leave You fizzes pleasantly on the tongue despite screenwriter Tropper's detours from plausibility, his occasional mawkishness and the broad strokes of his character development. Bateman mopes around like a rain-sodden puppy to curry our sympathy, while Fey injects some of her usual spark and wit.

Fonda has a ball as the potty-mouthed, imperious matriarch, who dispenses deep truths in one breath ("Secrets are a cancer to a family") and toe-curling confidences about her sex life with her late husband in the next ("We made love on our first date. I don't mind telling you, the man was hung!")

Her comic whirlwind threatens to blow everyone else off screen and Fonda relishes the film's only plot twist you don't see coming. It's a humdinger. Home, bittersweet home.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Saturday 25th October 2014
Sunday 26th October 2014
Monday 27th October 2014
Tuesday 28th October 2014
Wednesday 29th October 2014
Thursday 30th October 2014
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