Now showing at Odeon Basingstoke Leisure Park, Churchill Way West,West Ham,Basingstoke,Hampshire RG21 6YR email@example.com 0871 224 4007
- Absolutely Anything
- Hitman: Agent 47
- Inside Out
- Jurassic World
- Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation
- Moomins On The Riviera
- NT Live: The Beaux' Stratagem
- Paper Towns
- San Andreas
- Sinister 2
- Straight Outta Compton
- Suite Francaise
- The Bad Education Movie
- The Man From U.N.C.L.E.
- The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out Of Water
- We Are Your Friends
Absolutely Anything 1 stars
Neil Clarke is a disillusioned schoolteacher, whose only friend in the world is his trusty dog, Dennis. A quintet of crazy extra-terrestrials grant Neil the power to do anything he wishes. He transforms his body into a perfectly gym-toned physique and grants Dennis a voice. Oblivious to the potential benefits of his powers to the rest of the planet, Neil continues to use his newfound abilities for personal gain by wooing sexy neighbour Catherine.
- GenreComedy, Romance, Science Fiction
- CastKate Beckinsale, Robin Williams, Simon Pegg.
- DirectorTerry Jones.
- WriterGavin Scott, Terry Jones.
- Duration86 mins
- Official site
In the 1970s, Monty Python gave British comedy an injection of sublime surreality with four series of the Flying Circus, and the subsequent feature films. Four decades later, surviving members John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin drive a stake through the heart of British comedy with a woefully misconceived fantasy about a schoolteacher blessed with the power of eternal wish fulfilment.
Directed by Jones and scripted by Gavin Scott, Absolutely Anything marks a reunion for the cult troupe, as well as the final screen role of Robin Williams as the voice of a shaggy dog with a penchant for biscuits and frottering the nearest human leg.
On every count, it's a shambolic waste of talents including Eddie Izzard, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Meera Syal and Joanna Lumley in instantly forgettable supporting roles. "Nobody's perfect," quips one character as the end credits roll and our suffering ends. That's an understatement for a gifted cast and crew, who struggle in vain to achieve even mediocrity over the course of 86 bewildering minutes.
Neil Clarke (Simon Pegg) is a disillusioned schoolteacher at a London comprehensive, who repeatedly clashes with the officious headmaster (Izzard). The teacher pines for downstairs neighbour Catherine (Kate Beckinsale), who works on a book review TV show that delivers "scandal, gossip and character assassination with a thin veneer of literary respectability".
A quintet of crazy extra-terrestrials known as the Intergalactic Council of Superior Beings (voiced by Cleese, Gilliam, Idle, Jones, Palin) conducts a wacky experiment on Earth by granting one human the power to do anything he wishes.
They bestow this incredible gift on Neil, who initially abuses his power to make fellow teacher Miss Pringle (Emma Pierson) fall madly in love with best friend Ray (Bhaskar). Neil also allows his four-legged companion Dennis to communicate in English.
As the godly dictates escalate out of control, Neil becomes a target for Catherine's psychotic ex-boyfriend, Colonel Grant (Rob Riggle). "Absolute power doesn't corrupt, it just drives you mad!" despairs the teacher. Meanwhile, the Intergalactic Council of Superior Beings witnesses the devastation with a mounting sense of disappointment and frustration. They are not alone.
Absolutely Anything is a ghastly, unedifying mess that will be remembered for all the wrong reasons. Pegg fails to make his hapless hero sympathetic or likable, and he shares more screen chemistry with his glasses than a lovingly tousled Beckinsale.
Misguided humour lurches wildly from the childish (big-eared police officers in lurid pink uniforms) to the twisted (the slaughter of 39 teenagers), punctuated by laughter-starved longueurs. One of the comedic highpoints of the film is two steaming dog turds, which magically come to life, leap into a toilet bowl and flush themselves to oblivion. Never has an image been more unintentionally apt.
Ant-Man 4 stars
Cat burglar Scott Lang is released from San Quentin Penitentiary and resolves to go straight for the sake of his daughter. Inventor Dr Hank Pym invites Scott to don a superhero outfit, which shrinks the wearer at the touch of a button. Aided by Hank's feisty daughter, Scott masters the suit and learns to mind-control four species of ants. Humans and insects take on Hank's former protege, Darren Cross, who intends to sell the Ant-Man technology to the highest bidder.
- GenreAction, Adaptation, Adventure, Romance, Science Fiction
- CastEvangeline Lilly, Hayley Atwell, Paul Rudd, Bobby Cannavale, Judy Greer, Michael Douglas.
- DirectorPeyton Reed.
- WriterJoe Cornish, Edgar Wright, Paul Rudd, Adam McKay.
- Duration117 mins
- Official sitewww.marvel.com/antman
Although its ambitions are grander than the incredible shrinking hero of the title, the latest franchise in the cluttered Marvel Comic universe is refreshingly modest compared to the computer-generated bombast of The Avengers. The script, initially penned by Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish, and was then revised by Adam McKay and Paul Rudd when Peyton Reed replaced Wright in the director's chair, leans heavily on deadpan humour.
That changing of the filmmaking guard in 2014 hasn't negatively impacted on Ant-Man. Reed's boisterous action adventure is anchored by a winning lead performance from Rudd, who made his mark as Phoebe's boyfriend in the sitcom Friends. Here, the actor flexes his comic muscles as well as his abs and pecs, which are flaunted in an obligatory scene of toplessness to prove he hit the gym for the role.
When Rudd's unlikely hero is invited to become Ant-Man and save the world, his considered response is: "I think our first move should be calling The Avengers." Sensible.
Cat burglar Scott Lang (Rudd) is released from San Quentin Penitentiary and resolves to go straight for the sake of his daughter Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson). He shares an apartment with former cellmate Luis (Michael Pena) but struggles to find gainful employment. Desperate to pay child support to his despairing ex-wife (Judy Greer), Scott agrees to one lucrative heist set up by Luis and two pals (David Dastmalchian, Tip "T.I." Harris).
Unfortunately, the robbery lands Scott in a police cell, under the glare of Maggie's new beau, Detective Paxton (Bobby Cannavale). Inventor Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) offers Scott a way out if he agrees to don a superhero outfit, which shrinks the wearer at the touch of a button.
Aided by Hank's feisty daughter (Evangeline Lilly), Scott masters the suit and learns to mind-control four species of ants. Humans and insects take on Hank's former protege, Darren Cross (Corey Stoll), who has replicated the Ant-Man technology for his Yellowjacket suit, which he intends to sell to the highest bidder: Hydra.
Ant-Man mines a rich vein of humour to underscore the high-speed acrobatics. The 3D format is only noticeable when Scott activates the suit and seemingly benign household features, like a running tap, become life-or-death obstacles a la Honey I Shrunk The Kids.
Director Reed has great fun juxtaposing perspectives, especially in a showdown on a child's train set that is thrilling close-up, with carriages crashing off tracks, but laughably pedestrian when witnessed actual size.
Rudd invests his reformed do-gooder with charm and chutzpah, and Douglas and Lilly provide solid support as the feuding father-daughter dynamic destined for reconciliation. "This isn't some cute technology like the Iron Man suit," Hank tells Scott about his invention. Perhaps not, but this first salvo of Ant-Man is almost as entertaining.
Cinderella 4 stars
Ella loses her mother and father, but inherits a vindictive stepmother Lady Tremaine and two brattish stepsisters, Anastasia and Drizella. Treated as a servant by her new family, who cruelly nickname her Cinderella, the plucky heroine catches the eye of dashing Prince Charming, who must pick a bride to ensure the security of the kingdom. So he throws a lavish ball where Ella makes a grand entrance with some magical help from her Fairy Godmother.
- GenreAction, Adaptation, Drama, Family, Family, Fantasy, Romance
- CastDerek Jacobi, Stellan Skarsgard, Richard Madden, Holliday Grainger, Cate Blanchett, Sophie McShera, Lily James, Ben Chaplin, Helena Bonham Carter, Hayley Atwell.
- DirectorKenneth Branagh.
- WriterChris Weitz.
- Duration113 mins
- Official sitemovies.disney.com/cinderella/
Slavishly adapted from Disney's classic 1950 animated musical, Kenneth Branagh's live action version of the fairy-tale romance doesn't skimp on the period detail. Sandy Powell's luxurious costumes, Dante Ferretti's opulent set designs and Patrick Doyle's sweeping orchestral score conjure a magical world of unerring love in which even we gasp at the gargantuan splendour of the grand ball where the prince must choose his wife.
While this Cinderella unquestionably dazzles the senses, screenwriter Chris Weitz is shackled to fond memories of the hand-drawn film and consequently, he has almost no room for flourishes of originality.
The plot arc is predetermined, the ugly stepsisters don't hack off their heels or toes to squeeze into a misplaced glass slipper, and Helena Bonham Carter's fairy godmother isn't quite as eccentric as she or we would like as she engineers the film's best set-piece with a flick of her wand.
"I don't go transforming pumpkins for just anyone!" she chirps. No, the special effects wizards do and they accomplish the pivotal sequence with aplomb. Before all of the jiggery-pokery with a pumpkin, four mice and a goose, Ella (Lily James) is consigned to the kitchen by her vindictive stepmother Lady Tremaine (Cate Blanchett) and brattish stepsisters, Anastasia (Holliday Grainger) and Drizella (Sophie McShera).
Emboldened by the dying words of her mother (Hayley Atwell) - "Have courage and be kind" - Ella tries to rise above the bullying. When the name-calling becomes too frightful, she escapes on horseback and catches the eye of the dashing Prince (Richard Madden), who must pick a bride at the behest of the dying King (Derek Jacobi).
So the Prince throws a lavish ball where Ella makes her grand entrance then disappears as the clock chimes midnight, leaving behind footwear that would surely pose a health and safety risk in any other film. "Find that girl - the forgetful one who loses her shoes!" decrees the Captain of the royal guard (Nonzo Anosie).
Cinderella will enchant a generation of girls, who dream of donning the tiara of a Disney princess. James and Madden are an attractive screen pairing, while Blanchett draws inspiration from Joan Crawford to cast a formidable shadow from beneath the brim of her character's extravagant hats.
"I do love a happy ending, don't you?" gushes one of the characters. Branagh's film certainly does, without a hint of irony. The main feature is preceded by the animated short Frozen Fever, which continues the adventures of sisters Anna (voiced by Kristen Bell) and Elsa (Idina Menzel) as they prepare for a birthday celebration.
Lovable snowman Olaf (Josh Gad) and hunky Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) also return and the script includes a cute reference to the blockbusting film when ice queen Elsa sneezes and chirrups, "A cold never bothered me anyway!" A generation of men, who take to their beds at the first sniffle, would disagree.
Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)
- Thursday 3rd September 2015
Hitman: Agent 47 2 stars
Genetically engineered assassin 47 carries out contracts on high profile targets on behalf of the International Contracts Agency. Known by a barcode tattoo on the back of his neck, 47 is the product of years of research. Unfortunately, a huge corporation fronted by Le Clerq wishes to exploit these abilities for nefarious purposes to create an unstoppable army of obedient trained killers.
- GenreAction, Adaptation, Thriller
- CastZachary Quinto, Ciaran Hinds, Rupert Friend, Thomas Kretschmann, Hannah Ware.
- DirectorAleksander Bach.
- WriterSkip Woods, Michael Finch.
- Duration96 mins
- Official sitewww.foxmovies.com/movies/hitman-agent-47
Based on the hugely successful Hitman videogames, Aleksander Bach's frenetic action thriller hopes to atone for the sins of a drab 2007 film version headlining Timothy Olyphant. Unfortunately, a new lick of paint and some breathlessly choreographed fight sequences can't disguise the same fatal flaw.
Like so many screen adaptations of videogames, Hitman: Agent 47 fails to replicate the adrenaline-pumping visceral thrill of assuming control of an iconic character and nervously guiding them through the digital realm. The agonising sense of responsibility, which draw beads of sweat on a player's brow, are completely lost on an audience sitting comfortably in the dark of an air-conditioned cinema.
Director Bach evidently loves the games and he confidently orchestrates action set pieces, punctuated by slow motion acrobatics and explosions. A prolonged bout of bone-crunching hand-to-hand combat on the tracks of the Berlin underground, and a high speed pursuit around a multi-storey car park, are high points.
Once the bullets have all been discharged, vehicles wrecked and necks snapped, the film offers little in the way of characterisation, plot or emotional nuance. The protagonist is a genetically engineered assassin called Agent 47 (Rupert Friend), who carries out high profile contracts assigned to him by his handler, Diana (Angelababy).
Known by a barcode tattoo on the back of his neck, 47 is the product of years of scientific tinkering, which has imbued him with unrivalled intelligence, speed, stamina and strength... until the next iteration. Diana orders 47 to hunt down and kill Dr Litvenko (Ciaran Hinds), mastermind of the Agent program.
A huge corporation called Syndicate International fronted by Le Clerq (Thomas Kretschmann) is also looking for Litvenko and intends to use his groundbreaking research to create an unstoppable army of obedient trained killers. The only way to flush the scientist out of hiding is by using his daughter Katia (Hannah Ware) as bait.
Unfortunately, she has also vanished off the grid. Agent 47 tracks her down in Berlin where battle ensues between the hit man and her enigmatic protector, John Smith (Zachary Quinto).
The balance of power tips back and forth between 47 and Smith, and Katia must decide who - if anyone - she trusts. "Don't put your faith in me, you'll be disappointed," growls 47.
Hitman: Agent 47 is a tiny improvement on the 2007 film but it's a close call. Friend is suitably lifeless as the gun-toting anti-hero, expertly performing fight choreography including a couple of bruising showdowns with Quinto. Ware is equally bland yet considerably more emotional as the pawn in a game that she unknowingly controls.
Kretschmann doesn't have sufficient screen time to put meat on the bones of his lacklustre villain, who swipes angrily at a touchscreen desk as his masterplan falls apart. Bach's film obligingly follows suit.
Inside Out 5 stars
From the moment baby Riley opens her eyes, her mood is shaped by five coloured emotions - Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger and Disgust - which bicker behind a large control desk laden with buttons and levers. Joy is the dominant emotion in Headquarters and she safeguards Riley's memories, which are stored as glowing orbs. When Riley turns 11, her parents relocate from Minnesota to San Francisco. Traumatic events such as a first day at a new school nudge Sadness to the fore.
- GenreAnimation/Cartoon, Comedy, Family, Family
- CastDiane Lane, Amy Poehler, Kyle MacLachlan, Bill Hader, Phyllis Smith, Lewis Black, Mindy Kaling.
- DirectorPete Docter, Ronaldo Del Carmen.
- WriterPete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley.
- Duration102 mins
- Official sitewww.movies.disney.com/inside-out
Despite gargantuan advances in medical science, we still don't fully understand the complexities of the human brain: its ability to process vast quantities of information, solve problems and store memories at speeds that put supercomputers to shame.
Pixar Animation Studios, the wizards who conjured the Toy Story trilogy, contemplate the vagaries of neuropsychology with this visually stunning and emotionally rich comedy, which unfolds predominantly inside the head of a little girl.
This high-brow concept doesn't seem like the most accessible subject matter for a family-oriented computer animation. But directors Pete Docter and Ronaldo Del Carmen elegantly tilt their film at the windmills of the mind and deliver a hilarious, heartfelt and ultimately life-affirming adventure that celebrates childhood innocence, family unity and the power of the human spirit to overcome adversity.
Laughter and tears abound, as well as cute visual gags, ensuring parents will be repeatedly dabbing their eyes while children whoop and gurgle with glee at the slapstick and rollicking action sequences.
A mother (voiced by Diane Lane) and father (Kyle MacLachlan) welcome a baby girl called Riley (Kaitlyn Dias) into the world. From the moment she opens her eyes, Riley's mood is shaped by five coloured emotions - golden Joy (Amy Poehler), blue Sadness (Phyllis Smith), purple Fear (Bill Hader), red Anger (Lewis Black) and green Disgust (Mindy Kaling) - which bicker behind a large control desk laden with buttons and levers.
Joy is the dominant emotion in Headquarters and she safeguards Riley's memories, which are stored as glowing orbs, tinged with the colour of the emotion that prevailed at the time. When Riley turns 11, her parents relocate from Minnesota to San Francisco.
Traumatic events such as a first day at a new school nudge Sadness to the fore. Following an altercation, sworn rivals Joy and Sadness are expelled from Headquarters and find themselves stranded in the labyrinth of Riley's long-term memories.
Aided by Riley's imaginary friend Bing Bong (Richard Kind), Joy and Sadness blaze a haphazard trail on the chugging train of thought back to Fear, Anger and Disgust, who have been left in charge of Headquarters, with disastrous consequences.
Inside Out is Pixar's best film since the holy animated trilogy of WALL-E, Up and Toy Story 3. Docter's script, co-written by Meg LeFauve and Josh Cooley, glisters with imagination, wit and invention, delivering guffaws with detours into the heads of Riley's parents as they attempt to deal with her pre-teenage rebellion.
Vocal performances are note perfect, led by Poehler's exuberant portrayal of Joy and Smith's sincere embodiment of Sadness, who tugs heartstrings as the film reaches its exquisite conclusion.
The film is preceded by a short: a musical love story entitled Lava between two volcanoes called Uku and Lele, directed by James Ford Murphy. Joy and Sadness shared blissful control of my mind throughout.
Jurassic World 4 stars
The Jurassic World theme park is open on Isla Nublar under the control of Operations Manager Claire Dearing. The park's scientists play God by performing genetic modification experiments to breed a new dinosaur: the Indominus Rex. When this hulking beast escapes confinement and goes on the rampage in a park crowded with terrified tourists, animal wrangler Owen Grady races to the rescue.
- GenreAction, Adventure, Family, Science Fiction, Thriller
- CastJudy Greer, Chris Pratt, Ty Simpkins, Bryce Dallas Howard, Vincent D'Onofrio, Nick Robinson.
- DirectorColin Trevorrow.
- WriterRick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Colin Trevorrow, Derek Connolly.
- Duration124 mins
- Official sitewww.jurassicworld.com
In the original Jurassic Park, scientists reanimate dinosaurs on a tropical island and quickly discover their arrogant folly. "Life breaks free. It expands to new territories and crashes through barriers," wisely observes Jeff Goldblum's doom-mongering chaos mathematician. His words reverberate throughout this fourth instalment of the blockbusting dino-franchise.
Director Colin Trevorrow and three co-writers step back in time, using the structure and heightened human drama of the first film as a solid template for this return to Isla Nublar. Jurassic World begs, borrows and affectionately steals from the 1993 box office behemoth, including a cameo for the Mr DNA animation and a set piece in the iconic visitor centre (now overgrown).
Two stricken children are a focal point when the park goes into meltdown, and mission control boasts a nerdy computer wizard (Jake Johnson) for mild comic relief. If the nuts and bolts of the screenplay are unabashedly retro, the special effects are undeniably state-of-the-art, realising creatures great and small, which chomp through countless extras and the main cast.
This is by far the bloodiest chapter of the Jurassic saga, if not quite the best. Jurassic World opened to the public in 2005 and now welcomes more than 20,000 visitors a day. Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) oversees park operations, while Dr Henry Wu (BD Wong) plays God in the laboratories, splicing DNA strands to create terrifying new breeds.
"Consumers want them bigger, louder, more teeth," Claire tells a group of investors. Thus the ferocious and highly intelligent Indominus Rex is born. "This will give the parents nightmares," shudders park CEO Simon Masrani (Irrfan Khan), who took up the mantle from John Hammond to open an isle of prehistoric wonders.
When the Indominus Rex escapes her paddock, Claire begs naval officer-turned-animal behaviour specialist Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) for help. He has been working on the island with Vic Hoskins (Vincent D'Onofrio), head of InGen Security, on a top-secret project involving four captive velociraptors.
Claire is distraught because her nephews, Zach (Nick Robinson) and Gray (Ty Simpkins), are trapped in the middle of the bloodbath. She implores Owen to rescue the boys, tracking them by footprints and scent. "I was in the Navy, not the Navajo," he reminds her.
Jurassic World is a muscular, rollicking romp that captures some of the adrenaline-pumping thrills and jaw-dropping awe we felt more than 20 years ago when Steven Spielberg first unleashed dinosaurs back into multiplexes.
Pratt is an instantly likable hero and he catalyses a simmering screen chemistry with Howard as the workaholic who faces the dino-pocalypse in highly inappropriate footwear. D'Onofrio glowers as one of the film's boo-hiss villains, who views the creatures as expendable assets. "We own them. Extinct animals have no rights," he snarls.
Action sequences are orchestrated at a lick, seamlessly integrating digital trickery with live action including chaotic scenes of a flock of pteranodons plucking visitors from the ground. "Remember: something chases you, run!" advises Zach and Gray's mom at the beginning of the film. Wise words.
Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)
- Thursday 3rd September 2015
Minions 3 stars
Since the dawn of time, the Minions have gravitated towards the most despicable master they can find. One Minion named Kevin embarks on an epic quest to find a new evil boss for his brethren to follow. Flanked by teenage rebel Stuart and diminutive scaredy-cat Bob, Kevin leaves the Minions' current home in Antarctica bound for 1968 New York City, where he stumbles upon the world's first female super-villain: Scarlet Overkill.
- GenreAnimation/Cartoon, Comedy, Family, Family
- CastChris Renaud, Sandra Bullock, Pierre Coffin, Steve Coogan, Allison Janney, Michael Keaton, Katy Mixon, Jon Hamm.
- DirectorPierre Coffin, Kyle Balda.
- WriterBrian Lynch.
- Duration91 mins
- Official sitewww.minionnation.co.uk
You can have too much of a good thing. In small doses, Despicable Me's goggle-eyed hench-creatures are a deranged delight. As unwittingly heroes of their own big screen adventure, these pint-sized "knights in shining denim" lose some of their loopy lustre, hindered by Brian Lynch's flimsy script, which is disappointingly light on storyline and belly laughs.
A dazzling vocal cast of gifted comic actors is repeatedly short-changed. Very young children, who gurgle with glee at the Minions' bonkers vernacular combining Esperanto and gobbledygook, will adore the slapstick, pratfalls and the tiniest member of the Minions clan, Bob, who clutches a well-loved teddy bear called Tim.
Adults will be considerably harder to win over. The lack of a coherent storyline grates as much as the lazy cultural stereotyping of the British as tea-sipping, corgi-riding folk, who frequent pubs called The Pig's Spleen.
Since the dawn of time, Minions have gravitated towards despicable masters including Tyrannosaurus Rex, Count Dracula and Napoleon. Unfortunately, these masters die prematurely - at the hands of the clumsy, yellow hench-creatures - leaving the Minions in a state of deep depression.
One brave soul named Kevin steps forth to find an evil boss for his bald, jaundiced brethren. Flanked by Stuart and scaredy-cat Bob, Kevin leaves the Minions' ice cave retreat bound for 1968 New York City. Cue a President Richard Nixon billboard proclaiming "Finally: a name you can trust". Could the Minions have stumbled upon their arch-villain?
No. The plucky trio learns about a gathering of criminals in Orlando and hitches a ride to the convention with a bank-robbing family led by Walter Nelson (voiced by Michael Keaton) and wife Madge (Allison Janney).
Their daughter Tina (Katy Mixon) points the Minions in the direction of bouffant super-villain Scarlet Overkill (Sandra Bullock). "If I was a minion, that's who I'd want to work for," she swoons. Thus the trio pledges allegiance to Scarlet and her inventor husband Herb (Jon Hamm), who are plotting to steal the Crown Jewels from Queen Elizabeth II (Jennifer Saunders).
While the soundtrack swings its flares to The Kinks and The Who, Kevin, Stuart and Bob careen around London armed with Herb's nifty gadgets: a robo-suit, lava lamp gun and hypno-hat.
Minions has a sprinkling of giggles and doesn't outstay its welcome but there's an unshakable feeling that Pierre Coffin and Kyle Balda's film falls short. The groovy time period should be a velvet goldmine of visual gags but the best the film can muster is a nod to The Beatles and a faked moon landing.
The 3D version doesn't exploit the eye-popping format so parents with tykes in tow should save their money for the inevitable raid on the concessions stand. Animation is colourful and pristine, opting for shiny surfaces and sharp angles that reduce the need for meticulous detail and realism. Despicable? Meh.
Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation 4 stars
The Impossible Missions Force (IMF) led by agent Ethan Hunt has taken down some of the most deadly criminal networks in the world using guile and state-of-the-art technology. Now the hunters become the hunted. A shadowy band of assassins known as the Syndicate targets IMF for extinction. Hunt reunites with colleagues William Brandt, Benji Dunn and computer hacker Luther Stickell to expose the Syndicate and bring down the organisation using every weapon and turbo-charged vehicle at their disposal.
- GenreAction, Adaptation, Adventure, Thriller
- CastJeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Tom Cruise, Ving Rhames, Sean Harris, Alec Baldwin, Rebecca Ferguson.
- DirectorChristopher McQuarrie.
- WriterChristopher McQuarrie.
- Duration131 mins
- Official sitewww.missionimpossible.com
Call it testosterone-fuelled recklessness, hubris or feeling the need... the need for speed, Tom Cruise certainly puts on a show in the fifth instalment of the Mission: Impossible franchise. He clings to the side of an airplane as it takes flight, slaloms at dizzying speed on a motorcycle and performs death-defying leaps as secret agent Ethan Hunt.
The 53-year-old star performs most of these hair-raising stunts himself, allowing writer-director Christopher McQuarrie to capture every pulse-quickening second in thrilling close-up with minimum digital trickery.
Cruise's commitment to his role puts fellow action stars to shame - unlike the films of Stallone and Schwarzenegger, the script is devoid of wry one-liners to poke fun at his advancing years.
McQuarrie, Oscar-winning screenwriter of The Usual Suspects, bookmarks slam-bang action sequences with intentionally ambiguous exchanges between rival operatives, who acknowledge the futility of their efforts as pawns in the spy game.
Their inevitable deaths will go unnoticed and fresh-faced young agents will step forward, continuing the brutal tug-of-war between political idealism and global terrorism. The film opens with the Impossible Missions Force (IMF) hijacking a shipment of nerve gas from Chechen separatists.
Soon after, CIA Director Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin) succeeds in shutting down IMF for a total disregard for protocol, which led to the destruction of the Kremlin in the previous film. The hunters become the hunted when a shadowy organisation known as the Syndicate, fronted by Solomon Lane (Sean Harris), targets IMF for extinction.
Hunt covertly reunites with colleagues William Brandt (Jeremy Renner), Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) and computer hacker Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) to bring down The Syndicate using every gadget, disguise and turbo-charged vehicle at their disposal.
The operation brings Hunt into close contact with undercover MI6 agent Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) and her slippery handler (Simon McBurney), a sadistic henchman known as the Bone Doctor (Jens Hulten) and the unsuspecting British Prime Minister (Tom Hollander). "This may very well be our last mission," Brandt tells Hunt. "Make it count."
Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation is slickly bolted together by McQuarrie and editor Eddie Hamilton (Kick-Ass, Kingsman: The Secret Service). Turbo-charged scenes of carnage are punctuated by IMF's existential crisis in a world that regards their methods as "outdated".
Cruise somersaults, punches and tumbles through every frame without breaking sweat, while Pegg, who was pigeon-holed as comic relief in the previous instalment, steps up in a pivotal supporting role.
Ferguson's ice maiden doesn't thaw sufficiently under Cruise's smouldering gaze to kindle on-screen chemistry but her femme fatale snaps several limbs and necks in impressive hand-to-hand combat sequences.
Humour is used sparingly to diffuse tension, leaving us hungry for another explosion of IMF antics to the pulsating rhythm of Lalo Schifrin's iconic theme. On this evidence, Mission: Impossible and its gung-ho leading man won't be self-destructing any time soon.
Moomins On The Riviera 4 stars
Moomin, Moominpappa, Moominmamma, Snorkmaiden and Little My embark on an exciting adventure by sea to the French Riviera. In this sun-kissed playground of the rich and fabulous, there are manifold distractions and Snorkmaiden's head is turned by suave playboy Clark Tresco, which infuriates Moomin. Meanwhile, Moominpappa befriends aristocrat Marquis Mongaga and adopts the name de Moomin in order to impress his new acquaintance.
- GenreAdaptation, Animation/Cartoon, Comedy, Family, Family
- CastNathaniel Parker, Tracy-Ann Oberman, Russell Tovey, Ruth Gibson, Stephanie Winiecki.
- DirectorXavier Picard.
- WriterAnnina Enckell, Leslie Stewart, Hanna Hemila, Beata Harju, Xavier Picard.
- Duration77 mins
- Official sitewww.moominsontheriviera.com
Finnish illustrator Tove Jansson's lovable characters, the Moomins, sprung to life as a comic strip and picture books, then made an indelible mark in the UK as a 1980s stop-motion animated children's television series narrated by Richard Murdoch.
A Japanese anime TV version and a theme park on the island of Kailo followed in the 1990s as part of a merchandising boom that has firmly installed these rotund creatures, who resemble hippopotamuses, in global pop culture. Jansson's inquisitive creations set sail for the big screen in this lovingly hand-drawn animation, based on the original comic strips.
Moomins On The Riviera is a cautionary tale about the corruptive power of greed and jealousy, which takes a few gentle sideswipes at the cult of celebrity and the inflated price of modern art. The inoffensive script maintains a gentle pace, despite the extravagance of the setting with its luxury yachts and speedboats, reminding audiences of all ages that money can't buy the happiness of a family united.
In the aftermath of a pirate shipwreck close to the Moomins' island home, Moominpappa (Nathaniel Parker), Moominmamma (Tracy Ann Oberman), Moomintroll (voiced by Russell Tovey), Snorkmaiden (Stephanie Winiecki) and Little My (Ruth Gibson) embark on an exciting adventure by sea to the French Riviera.
In this sun-kissed playground of the rich and fabulous, there are manifold distractions. "Why do people in the south keep their hedgehogs in the water?" innocently wonders one of the clan, glimpsing a sea anemone in the rippling water.
Snorkmaiden's head is turned first by her Hollywood idol Audrey Glamour (Shelley Blond) and then by suave aristocratic playboy, Clark Tresco (Dave Brown). "Cousin, I need you to take my place in the story. I'm getting married," she coos to Moomintroll in a sweet moment of script in-jokery.
He is particularly infuriated by the skimpiness of Snorkmaiden's two-piece bikini. "You can't wear that!" he scolds. "It's like you're wearing nothing!"
Meanwhile, Moominpappa befriends artist Marquis Mongaga (Philippe Smolikowski) and adopts the name de Moomin in order to impress his new acquaintance. Moominmamma becomes exasperated and retires to the relative calm of the family's trusty boat, hoping that the rest of her brood will come to their senses and remember the family motto - "Live in peace, plant potatoes and dream" - in time for the journey home.
Directed with a light touch by Xavier Picard, Moomins On The Riviera is an entertaining introduction for younger audiences to the cuddly characters, and a nostalgia trip for the rest of us, created with the blessing of Jansson's niece Sophia.
Visuals retain the naive charm of original illustrations, even with the introduction of potentially grown-up scenes like Moominpappa suffering a whiskey-induced hangover. Vocal performances for this dubbed English language version are solid, and the 77-minute running time passes in the blink of an eye.
Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)
- Thursday 3rd September 2015
NT Live: The Beaux' Stratagem 3 stars
Two penniless bounders hope to marry for money in this revival of George Farquhar's biting restoration comedy, which is broadcast live to cinemas from the stage of the National Theatre in London. Aimwell and Archer have fallen on hard times in London. So they travel around the country posing as master and servant respectively in the hopes of wooing rich ladies to secure their financial future.
- GenreComedy, Romance, Special
- CastSamuel Barnett, Pippa Bennett-Warner, Esh Alladi, Susannah Fielding, Geoffrey Streatfeild.
- DirectorSimon Godwin.
- WriterGeorge Farquhar.
- Duration180 mins
- Official sitentlive.nationaltheatre.org.uk
- Release03/09/2015 (selected cinemas)
Two penniless bounders hope to marry for money in this revival of George Farquhar's biting restoration comedy, which is broadcast live to cinemas from the stage of the National Theatre in London. Aimwell (Samuel Barnett) and Archer (Geoffrey Streatfeild) have fallen on hard times in London. So they travel around the country posing as master and servant respectively in the hopes of wooing rich ladies to secure their financial future. The chancers take lodgings at an inn, run by shady landlord Will Boniface (Lloyd Hutchinson) and quickly learn that their primary target should be wealthy widow Lady Bountiful (Jane Booker), who has a beautiful daughter called Dorinda (Pippa Bennett-Warner). The widow also has a son Mr Sullen (Richard Henders), whose wife (Susannah Fielding) clearly yearns for more excitement than the town of Lichfield can offer. So Aimwell and Archer resolve to seduce Dorinda and Mrs Sullen but the two women are more than a match for the penny-grabbing paramours. Directed by Simon Godwin.
Paper Towns 3 stars
Florida high school student Quentin Jacobsen has been madly in love with his neighbour Margo Roth Spiegelman since she moved into the house across the street. He has never mustered the courage to declare his true feelings, to the chagrin of Quentin's best friends Ben and Radar. Out of the blue, Margo vanishes without trace. Quentin knows that Margo likes to leave secret markers when she goes walkabout, so he follows a treasure hunt of cryptic clues to track her down.
- GenreAdaptation, Drama, Film, Romance, Teenage
- CastNat Wolff, Cara Delevingne, Austin Abrams, Justice Smith.
- DirectorJake Schreier.
- WriterScott Neustadter, Michael H Weber.
- Duration116 mins
- Official sitewww.papertownsmovie.com
Buoyed by the success of superior teen weepie The Fault In Our Stars, based on the book by John Green, scriptwriters Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber attempt to recreate the magic with this faithful adaptation of Green's bittersweet third novel.
Paper Towns deals with similar themes of alienation and sexual awakening from the perspective of peer pressured teenagers, whose existence hinges on finding a date for the end of year prom.
Director Jake Schreier sensitively and earnestly navigates these turbulent waters, eliciting solid performances from a young cast including leading man Nat Wolff, who played blind best friend Isaac in The Fault In Our Stars.
In the absence of a dramatic hook like terminal illness, Schreier's film sometimes lacks momentum and is missing a big emotional crescendo. However, there's a refreshing refusal to succumb to sentimentality when the going gets tough and the script doesn't polish the characters' rough edges in order to tie up loose plot strands in a neat bow.
Every childhood is tainted with confusion and disappointment, and this coming-of-age saga is no different. The film's unassuming hero is Florida high school student Quentin Jacobsen (Wolff), who has been madly in love with neighbour Margo Roth Spiegelman (Cara Delevingne) since she moved into the house across the street.
He has never mustered the courage to declare his true feelings, to the chagrin of best friends Ben (Austin Abrams) and Radar (Justice Smith), who are also poorly equipped to communicate effectively with the opposite sex.
Ben is a hormone-addled mess around blonde classmate Lacey (Halston Sage), while Radar has a girlfriend called Angela (Jaz Sinclair), who he fears will dump him for someone better. Out of the blue, Margo knocks on Quentin's bedroom window and asks him to help her wreak revenge on her cheating jock boyfriend (Griffin Freeman).
The covert night-time mission is a success but the next morning, Margo does not turn up for class. She vanishes without trace and her parents assume she has run away again. Quentin knows that Margo leaves secret markers when she goes walkabout, so he follows a treasure hunt of cryptic clues to track her down.
Paper Towns refers to fictional locations, which cartographers intentionally add to maps to prevent their hard work being plagiarised. Many of the underlying themes of Schreier's film feel second-hand - paper angst if you will - but the script treats characters and their predicaments with cool, genuine affection.
Delevingne is a puckish, cynical foil to Wolff's naivete, and Abrams and Smith banter effectively as the comic relief. Young hearts run free throughout to a soundtrack of indie pop and rock including Vampire Weekend and Twin Shadow. On this count, these teenagers are too hip to be square.
Pixels 2 stars
Out of the blue, alien invaders attack Guam military base with energy that has been coded to swarm like the creatures in the arcade game Galaga. It transpires that a time capsule, sent into space by NASA after the 1982 arcade game world championships, has been intercepted by extra-terrestrials and misinterpreted as a declaration of war. In order to halt the alien advance, mankind must beat the aliens at life-or-death versions of classic games including Centipede and Pacman
- GenreAction, Adaptation, Comedy, Family, Family, Romance, Science Fiction
- CastMichelle Monaghan, Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Peter Dinklage, Josh Gad.
- DirectorChris Columbus.
- WriterTimothy Dowling, Tim Herlihy.
- Duration106 mins
- Official sitewww.facebook.com/PixelsFilm
Like many socially awkward children of my generation, I escaped reality by playing fiendishly addictive games on consoles and computers, including an Atari, Vic 20 and Commodore 64. Asteroids, Battlezone, Centipede, Pacman, Phoenix, Space Invaders and Track & Field were trusted friends.
Pixels is an action comedy, which harks back to this bygone era before smartphones and immersive 4D, when guiding a circular yellow head around a maze with four coloured ghosts in hot pursuit, was the height of hi-tech entertainment.
Based on a short film of the same title by Patrick Jean, Chris Columbus' big budget romp imagines life-size arcade games on the streets of bustling modern cities. Except here, losing a life could mean the end of planet Earth. Scriptwriters Tim Herlihy and Timothy Dowling fail to capitalise on this neat and tantalising premise, crafting an inane story of triumph against adversity that treats female characters as pretty baubles.
In 1982, prepubescent pals Sam Brenner (Anthony Ippolito) and Will Cooper (Jared Riley) attend the arcade game world championships where they befriend conspiracy theory-spouting oddball Ludlow Lamonsoff (Jacob Shinder).
Sam gets through to the final where he loses a showdown on Donkey Kong, against egotistical champion Eddie Plant (Andrew Bambridge). More than 30 years later, Sam (now played by Adam Sandler) installs software for a living, while Will (now played by Kevin James) has become the deeply unpopular President of the United States.
Alien invaders attack Guam military base with energy that has been coded to swarm like the creatures in the arcade game Galaga. It transpires that a time capsule of arcade game footage, sent into space by NASA in 1982, has been intercepted by extra-terrestrials and misinterpreted as a declaration of war.
In order to halt the alien advance, mankind must compete in life-or-death versions of Centipede and Pacman. Sam and Will reunite with Ludlow (now played by Josh Gad) and Eddie (now played by Peter Dinklage) to secure mankind's victory, armed with light cannons fashioned by military weapons specialist Lieutenant Colonel Violet van Patten (Michelle Monaghan). "Let the nerds take over!" she bellows defiantly. Please don't.
Pixels is a nostalgia-drenched bore, hung on the centerpiece recreations of classic games, which result in the destruction of swathes of London and Manhattan. Sandler sucks the dwindling energy out of every frame, unable to muster any enthusiasm for his two-dimensional role.
Monaghan is wasted as the simpering love interest while James goofs and gurns as a highly improbable American leader. Columbus, who directed the first two instalments of the Harry Potter films, fails miserably to conjure the same magic.
He gleefully fills the screen with familiar pixelated characters including Q*bert, Frogger and Mario. Regrettably, it's game over from the opening frames for genuine emotion and narrative sophistication.
San Andreas 3 stars
The San Andreas Fault, which runs for more than 800 miles through California, gives way, triggering a magnitude 9 earthquake that decimates the west coast. Search and rescue helicopter pilot Chief Ray Gaines takes to the air to hunt for survivors including his estranged wife Emma, who is engaged to wealthy real estate developer Daniel Reddick. Reunited in unimaginable tragedy, Ray and Emma head from Los Angeles to San Francisco to save their only daughter Blake.
- GenreAction, Drama, Romance, Thriller
- CastCarla Gugino, Alexandra Daddario, Dwayne Johnson, Ioan Gruffudd, Archie Panjabi.
- DirectorBrad Peyton.
- WriterCarlton Cuse.
- Duration114 mins
- Official sitewwws.warnerbros.co.uk/sanandreas/
In the closing moments of the computer effects-heavy disaster movie San Andreas, a tattered Stars And Stripes unfurls proudly on what remains of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. It's the final, heavy-handed image of undaunted patriotism in a cliche-laden battle between puny mankind and mighty Mother Nature on the west coast of America.
Recent events in Nepal are still fresh in the mind as director Brad Peyton reduces cities to twisted rubble with a series of record-breaking earthquakes. Any discomfiting shivers of real-life tragedy are quickly dispelled by the hoary dialogue in Carlton Cuse's script and increasingly outrageous action sequences, which include the implausible sight of a rescue helicopter weaving between skyscrapers as they tumble into one another like giant metallic dominoes.
The best examples of the disaster genre, including The Poseidon Adventure, The Towering Inferno and Titanic, balance spectacular stunts with heart-breaking human drama, recognising that audiences need to feel emotionally attached to stricken characters in the midst of the sound and fury.
Screenwriter Cuse short-changes us here, hastily sketching a fractured family that is destined to reunite in the eye of the storm. That rebuilding of bridges is best summed up by one scientist's blunt assessment of impending doom: "It isn't a matter of if, it's a matter of when."
The San Andreas Fault, which runs for more than 800 miles through California, gives way, triggering a magnitude 9 earthquake. Search and rescue helicopter pilot Chief Ray Gaines (Dwayne Johnson) hunts for survivors including his estranged wife Emma (Carla Gugino), who has filed for divorce so she can pursue a new relationship with wealthy real estate developer Daniel Reddick (Ioan Gruffudd).
Reunited in tragedy, Ray and Emma head to San Francisco to save their daughter Blake (Alexandra Daddario), who has joined forces with a handsome Brit called Ben (Hugo Johnstone-Burt) and his 11-year-old brother Ollie (Art Parkinson) to survive the devastation.
Just when it seems the worst is over for the Gaines family, a doom-saying professor (Paul Giamatti) at California Institute of Technology predicts a bigger earthquake and a massive tsunami from which there will be no escape.
San Andreas opens with a daredevil rescue sequence to emphasise Johnson's selfless heroic credentials before the destruction begins in earnest at the Hoover Dam.
The leading man looks physically pumped, taking to land, sea and air to reach his beloved daughter, while Gugino simpers with pride at his gung-ho antics. In the parallel plot strand, Daddario and Johnstone-Burt play out a sweet, yet lukewarm romance to justify their continued survival while thousands around them perish.
Digital effects vary wildly in quality but Canadian composer Andrew Lockington is consistent with his bombastic orchestrations. His thunderous beats and booming strings fittingly make the ground shake.
Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)
- Thursday 3rd September 2015
Sinister 2 3 stars
Courtney Collins moves into a farmhouse with her nine-year-old twin sons, Dylan and Zach. They are unaware of the grim history of the house or the presence of the malevolent spirit. Late one night, Dylan sleepwalks and is marked by Pagan deity Bughuul, who intends to possess the boy's body and then kill the rest of the family, documenting the massacre on Super 8 video. When Courtney discovers the horror taking place under her roof, she vows to protect Zach from harm.
- GenreHorror, Thriller
- CastJames Ransone, Shannyn Sossamon, Robert Daniel Sloan, Dartanian Sloan.
- DirectorCiaran Foy.
- WriterC Robert Cargill, Scott Derrickson.
- Duration97 mins
- Official site
A group of possessed children, a ritual sacrifice, a remote house with a dark cellar, a bogeyman who gets his kicks out of surprise appearances. Boo! This eclectic mix of cliche horror elements fails to blend in Sinister 2, a sequel to Scott Derrickson's 2012 supernatural yarn. The first film shockingly revealed that missing children were murdering their families.
The follow-up relies on jump scares to compensate for a storyline that lacks any new or unexpected insights. The central issue with Sinister 2 is that Bughuul, the demonic creature responsible for the bloodshed, has now lost his air of mystery and thus his punch. He was omnipresent in the tapes, photographs and shadows of the first film.
Once it becomes clear in the sequel that he is only instructing the children, Bughuul is downgraded to a useless token character, who lures but never attacks. It is his squad of possessed, pale-faced moppets who do the killing, the talking and, while they are at it, the feeble scaring.
Unfortunately, observing the deadly process unfold from the perspective of these tormented tykes does not ignite any fear - their manifestation is too polished, fading in and out of thin air too smoothly to cause alarm.
Sinister 2 revolves around ex-Deputy So & So (James Ransone), who discovers the latest house in a long sequence of family massacres orchestrated by Bughuul. Intent on ending the blood-letting, So & So is shocked to find runaway mother Courtney Collins (Shannyn Sossamon) and her twins Dylan and Zach (Robert Daniel Sloan and Dartanian Sloan) inhabiting the creaky farmhouse.
Courtney's violent husband Clint (Lea Coco) becomes embroiled in the madness, Dylan is subjected to increasingly disturbing nightly visitations and the ex-deputy chooses to stumble through any dark, haunted hallway in his vicinity, armed with a torchlight and an array of frightened expressions. Needless to say, characters hear suspicious noises in the dark and decide to check them out en masse.
Every time Sinister 2 is about to lose more momentum than its rocky storyline can afford, we see old footage of seemingly innocent home videos that suddenly take a deadly turn. These recordings are disturbing and the characters' demises are inventive, but they fail to supply an entire film with spine-tingling chills.
Director Ciaran Foy throws bloody rats, children with scythes and burning crucifixes into the mix in a vain attempt to inject a dose of fear. It's no use.
Sinister 2 relies too heavily on Bughuul's predictable jump scares, accompanied by an unsettling yet repetitive soundtrack. Audiences would need to be wearing earplugs and blindfolds not to guess what's coming.
Straight Outta Compton 4 stars
Good friends Dr Dre, Eazy-E, Ice Cube, MC Ren and DJ Yella search for an outlet for their creativity. With gentle persuasion from his buddies, Eazy-E sets up his own label, Ruthless Records, and the group's first release Boyz-n-the-Hood piques the interest of Jerry Heller. He sweet talks Eazy-E into becoming the band's manager. An electrifying live performance leads to a deal with Priority Records but Ice Cube grows increasingly concerned about Eazy-E's close working relationship with Heller and the absence of contracts for the rest of the group.
- GenreBiography, Drama, Musical
- CastCorey Hawkins, O'Shea Jackson Jr, Paul Giamatti, Neil Brown Jr, Jason Mitchell, Aldis Hodge.
- DirectorF Gary Gray.
- WriterJonathan Herman, Andrea Berloff.
- Duration147 mins
- Official sitewww.straightouttacomptonthemovie.co.uk
Whenever Hollywood immortalises pages from history at 24 frames per second, it's wise to treat each lustrous dramatisation with a pinch of salt. Rigorous factual accuracy is often sacrificed at the altar of artistic licence. In the case of F. Gary Gray's engrossing film, you will need to grab bulging fistfuls of sodium chloride.
Not only are two of the key protagonists of this rags to musical riches biopic listed as executive producers, one of the men - rapper turned actor Ice Cube - is portrayed on screen by his own son. The faint whiff of nepotism is overpowered by heady fumes of whitewash from Jonathan Herman and Andrea Berloff's script, which neglects to address accusations of misogyny and homophobia levelled at California hip hop collective N.W.A.
Regardless of the rosy tint to director Gray's lens, Straight Outta Compton is a fascinating portrait of youthful exuberance, raw ambition and racial divide that rubs some of that salt into the deep wounds inflicted since the police shooting of teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson.
The film opens in 1986 with pals Dr Dre (Corey Hawkins), Eazy-E (Jason Mitchell), Ice Cube (O'Shea Jackson Jr), MC Ren (Aldis Hodge) and DJ Yella (Neil Brown Jr) searching for an outlet for their creativity.
Tensions are high between police and black youths - random stop and searches are an unwelcome part of neighbourhood life. "I'm the only gangster round here," snarls one officer. With gentle persuasion from his buddies, Eazy-E sets up his own label, Ruthless Records, and the group's first release Boyz-n-the-Hood piques the interest of Jerry Heller (Paul Giamatti).
He sweet talks Eazy-E into becoming the band's manager. "What does N.W.A. stand for? No Whites Allowed?" asks Jerry naively. An electrifying live performance leads to a deal with Priority Records founded by Bryan Turner (Tate Ellington).
Ice Cube grows increasingly concerned about Eazy-E's close working relationship with Heller and the absence of contracts for the rest of the group. He eventually leaves and goes solo, sparking a bitter war of rhymes between the former band mates.
Ice Cube aligns himself with Suge Knight (R Marcus Taylor) and together they establish Death Row Records. Meanwhile, Dr Dre also turns his back on Eazy-E and N.W.A. and channels his energy into working as a producer for other acts including Snoop Dogg (Keith Stanfield) and Tupac Shakur (Marcc Rose).
Straight Outta Compton might run to a holler short of two-and-a-half hours but Gray's film has sufficient swagger to hold our attention. Hawkins, Mitchell and Jackson Jr deliver accomplished performances as the sometimes deluded pioneers of a hip hop revolution.
Musical performances pulse with energy including a stand-off with police at a concert that culminates in a riot. This might not be the whole uncomfortable truth, but what we are allowed to see hits the right notes.
Suite Francaise 3 stars
In June 1940, Madame Angellier ignores the spectre of war to collect rent from cash-strapped tenants, aided by her daughter-in-law Lucile. The Germans arrive and commander Bruno von Falk is billeted with the Angelliers. Lucile shares the handsome officer's love for music and she wrestles with her attraction to him. Meanwhile, farmer Benoit Sabarie and his wife Madeleine suffer the presence of billeted German officer Kurt Bonnet, who makes clear his libidinous interest in the wife.
- GenreDrama, Historical/Period, Romance, War
- CastMargot Robbie, Ruth Wilson, Michelle Williams, Matthias Schoenaerts, Lambert Wilson, Kristin Scott Thomas, Sam Riley, Harriet Walter.
- DirectorSaul Dibb.
- WriterMatt Charman, Saul Dibb.
- Duration107 mins
- Official site
Heartbreaking truth is more compelling than fiction in Suite Francaise, Saul Dibb's faithful adaptation of the novella Dolce by Irene Nemirovsky. Penned by Nemirovsky, a French Jew, in the early 1940s, Dolce was supposed to be the second instalment of a five-book series documenting life under German occupation and the rise of the Communist resistance.
Shortly after completing the second tome, the author was arrested by the Nazis and sent to Auschwitz, where she died, leaving behind a journal filled with finished work, detailed notes for a third book and provisional titles for the concluding instalments.
More than 50 years later, Nemirovsky's daughter pored through her mother's diary and gave her blessing to the publication of books one and two, Tempete En Juin (Storm In June) and Dolce, as a single volume. Dibb's picture concludes with moving testimony to the author, providing an emotional kick that is sadly lacking from the rest of his handsomely crafted tale of forbidden love in a time of conflict.
Suite Francaise opens with grainy black and white news footage of the German advance in June 1940 then bleeds into full colour as the narrative moves to the bucolic town of Bussy, east of the capital.
Madame Angellier (Kristin Scott Thomas), whose son has enlisted, ignores the spectre of war to collect rent from cash-strapped tenants, aided by her daughter-in-law Lucile (Michelle Williams). On the road, they encounter refugees, who have fled Paris in the futile hope of outrunning Hitler's troops.
Soon after, the Germans arrive and commander Bruno von Falk (Matthias Schoenaerts) is billeted with the Angelliers. "There was a relief in his presence after months of silence," poetically remarks Lucile, who shares the handsome officer's love for music.
While the Viscount (Lambert Wilson) and Viscountess de Montmort (Harriet Walter) curry favour with the occupying force, farmer Benoit Sabarie (Sam Riley) and his wife Madeleine (Ruth Wilson) suffer the presence of billeted German officer Kurt Bonnet (Tom Schilling), who makes clear his libidinous interest in the wife.
Tempers flare at the Sabarie farmhouse while pulses quicken under Madame Angellier's roof as Lucile and Bruno surrender to desire. They keep the affair secret from the fearsome Madame - "She could scare away the plague!" quips Bruno - but they cannot keep their illicit liaisons hidden forever.
Suite Francaise is a well-crafted yet emotionally underpowered portrait of a community torn apart by prejudice and suspicion. Thomas delivers another steely turn as a woman of substance, who refuses to bend to the Germans' might, while on-screen chemistry between Williams and Schoenaerts remains at a gentle simmer.
At the beginning of the film, Dibb orchestrates one decent action sequence - German planes dive-bombing French refugees - then settles into a pedestrian pace, echoed in the languid voiceover narration.
Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)
- Thursday 3rd September 2015
The Bad Education Movie 3 stars
Frightfully posh yet inept history teacher Alfie Wickers takes his class of misfits on a trip to Cornwall despite vociferous protests from parents. Far from Abbey Grove School in Watford, Hertfordshire, Alfie and his socially awkward pupils rankle the locals including farmer Pasco and reunite with Alfie's old school chum Atticus Hoye. Police are eventually called in to restore peace and Alfie must consider if he is truly fit to be shaping impressionable and occasionally febrile minds.
- GenreComedy, Drama, Romance
- CastJeremy Irvine, Iain Glen, Talulah Riley, Mathew Horne, Joanna Scanlan, Jack Whitehall, Harry Enfield.
- DirectorElliot Hegarty.
- WriterFreddy Syborn, Jack Whitehall.
- Duration91 mins
- Official site
Written by and starring Jack Whitehall, Bad Education was a popular BBC Three sitcom chronicling the trials and tribulations of a frightfully posh yet inept history teacher called Alfie Wickers at the fictional Abbey Grove School in Watford, Hertfordshire. Over the course of three series, Alfie tried in vain to win the affection of biology teacher Rosie Gulliver (Sarah Solemani) and pull the wool over the eyes of the school's headmaster, Fraser (Mathew Horne). For this big screen misadventure directed by Elliot Hegarty, Alfie takes his class of misfits on a trip to Cornwall despite vociferous protests from parents. Far from Abbey Grove School, Alfie and his socially awkward pupils rankle the locals including farmer Pasco (Iain Glen) and reunite with Alfie's old school chum Atticus Hoye (Jeremy Irvine). Police are eventually called in to restore peace and Alfie must consider if he is truly fit to be shaping impressionable and occasionally febrile minds.
The Man From U.N.C.L.E. 2 stars
Victoria Vinciguerra is the beautiful mastermind of a criminal organisation, which hopes to destabilise the fragile global peace. American agent Napoleon Solo reluctantly works alongside Ukrainian rival Illya Kuryakin to thwart Victoria's nefarious plan. The two men join forces with Gaby Teller, whose father is a German scientist with the key to infiltrating the criminal network. With the clock ticking down to worldwide catastrophe, tensions between Solo and Kuryakin undermine the mission.
- GenreAction, Adaptation, Adventure, Comedy, Romance
- CastHenry Cavill, Alicia Vikander, Elizabeth Debicki, Armie Hammer.
- DirectorGuy Ritchie.
- WriterGuy Ritchie, Lionel Wigram.
- Duration116 mins
- Official sitewww.manfromuncle.com
More than 50 years after the achingly cool TV series The Man From U.N.C.L.E. exploited Cold War paranoia for rollicking entertainment, director Guy Ritchie continues to explore fractious male dynamics in this globe-trotting spy caper.
The unlikely pairing of suave American agent Napoleon Solo and tightly coiled Ukrainian rival Illya Kuryakin during the Cold War remains unchanged in Ritchie's script, co-written by Lionel Wigram. While the original pairing of Robert Vaughn and David McCallum lent swagger and smouldering sex appeal to the politically divided operatives, Ritchie's good-looking men from U.N.C.L.E. - Armie Hammer and Henry Cavill - radiate impeccably tailored style over substance and sizzle.
James Bond could arch an eyebrow and exude more charisma than either leading man manages here as they attempt to wrench a nuclear warhead from the clutches of a criminal network.
The film is having a laugh to suggest that these strapping and chiselled agents, both over six feet tall, could conduct covert surveillance without drawing attention. Ritchie evidently agrees and stokes homoerotic embers with a thinly veiled declaration of sexual preference that will prick up the ears of gay audiences as the men attempt to simultaneously pick two locks on a door and evade capture.
These throwaway moments, including an appearance by Pussy Galore's helicopter from Goldfinger, are symbolic of a film that has the right ingredients but no clear sense how to blend everything smoothly.
Victoria Vinciguerra (Elizabeth Debicki) is the beautiful mastermind of a criminal organisation, which hopes to destabilise global peace using a warhead armed by nuclear scientist Udo Teller (Christian Berkel). CIA handler Sanders (Jared Harris) instructs his debonair agent Napoleon Solo (Cavill) to join forces with KGB counterpart Illya Kuryakin (Hammer) to thwart Victoria's nefarious plan.
The two men bicker and brood, give each other pet names ("Red Peril" and "Cowboy"), and dangle Udo's car mechanic daughter Gaby (Alicia Vikander) as bait to flush the scientist out of hiding. En route, the agents clash with Gaby's sadistic uncle (Sylvester Groth) and forge an alliance with an unflappable British agent, Alexander Waverly (Hugh Grant).
The Man From U.N.C.L.E. lovingly evokes the textures, polish and poise of an era that rebelled against post-war drabness, with fine contributions from production designer Oliver Scholl and costume designer Joanna Johnston.
The soundtrack jives to jazzy beats, matched by Ritchie's measured direction, which thankfully avoids some of his usual showboating. If looks were everything, the film would twist and shout in snazzy kaleidoscopic split screens.
However, characters are poorly developed and on-screen chemistry between the leading men and a shamefully underused Vikander is tepid. "For a special agent, you're not having a very special day," Waverly quips to Kuryakin after one chase sequence. On this handsomely crafted yet bland evidence, nor is Ritchie.
The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out Of Water 3 stars
SpongeBob continues to work in the Krusty Krab diner, run by the irrepressible Eugene Krabs, where he is custodian of the secret recipe of the Krabby Patty, which is coveted by rival Plankton. Following a fight between the fast food moguls, the recipe vanishes. Bikini Bottom teeters on the brink of apocalypse and everyone blames Plankton. However, SpongeBob senses that dark forces are at play and it transpires that a greedy pirate called Burger Beard has stolen the recipe using a magical book.
- GenreAdventure, Animation/Cartoon, Comedy, Family, Family
- CastTom Kenny, Bill Fagerbakke, Antonio Banderas, Rodger Bumpass, Clancy Brown.
- DirectorPaul Tibbitt.
- WriterJonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger.
- Duration92 mins
- Official sitewww.squarepantsmovie.co.uk
In the pantheon of animated films about absorbent bathroom products dressed in pleasingly geometric undergarments, The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie stands tall. The 2004 feature film was a guilty pleasure, retaining all of the madcap charm and childish exuberance of the Nickelodeon cartoon series created by Stephen Hillenburg.
More than a decade later, SpongeBob and the residents of the underwater community of Bikini Bottom hit dry land in this deranged sequel, which splices colourful animation and live action.
Familiarity with the TV incarnation certainly helps because at its worst, Glenn Berger and Jonathan Aibel's script is a psychedelic mess that defies reasoning. For every trippy interlude, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out Of Water also delights with its unabashed exuberance and irreverence, cramming in all of the familiar characters plus a flock of seagulls to squawk the infectious theme tune: "Who lives in a pineapple under the sea? SpongeBob SquarePants! Absorbent and yellow and porous is he? SpongeBob SquarePants..."
Parents with a low threshold to boundless good cheer should prepare for a very long 93 minutes. SpongeBob (voiced by Tom Kenny) flips burgers in a diner run by the irrepressible Eugene Krabs (Clancy Brown), where he is custodian of the secret recipe of the Krabby Patty.
Arch rival Plankton (Doug Lawrence) attempts to steal the list of ingredients, but the recipe vanishes into thin air. In the absence of the famed Krabby Patty, Bikini Bottom teeters on the brink of apocalypse. "The sandwich gods are angry at us," screams scuba-diving squirrel Sandy (Carolyn Lawrence).
Everyone blames Plankton but SpongeBob knows he is innocent. It transpires that a greedy pirate called Burger Beard (Antonio Banderas) has stolen the recipe using a magical book, which allows the salty seadog to rewrite history.
Plankton joins forces with his computer wife Karen (Jill Talley) to create a time machine to erase Burger Beard's meddling, but the plan fails. Unable to restore balance from beneath the waves, SpongeBob, loyal starfish pal Patrick (Bill Fagerbakke), Mr Krabs, Sandy and curmudgeonly Squidward Tentacles (Rodger Bumpass) venture onto dry land to defeat the pilfering pirate.
Burger Beard is armed to the teeth, so SpongeBob and co use the magical book to adopt superhero identities to defeat their nemesis.
The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out Of Water doesn't quite match the pure entertainment of the first film but it comes close. However, a protracted sequence involving a time-travelling dolphin called Bubbles (Matt Berry) is perhaps a hallucinogenic trip too far. Banderas appears to be having a ball as the hirsute antagonist, who has always dreamt of running his own burger bar.
Vocal performances are as lively as the animation, accompanied by a jaunty soundtrack including one upbeat song with the lyrics: "It's better when you and me equals we/Working together in harmony."
Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)
- Thursday 3rd September 2015
Trainwreck 4 stars
At nine-years-old, Amy Townsend was told by her father that, "Monogamy isn't realistic." She has taken those words to her booze-soaked heart, enjoying numerous anonymous sexual encounters. When Amy isn't picking up men in bars, she works at lifestyle magazine S'Nuff and is assigned to pen a profile on sports doctor Aaron Conners. Unexpectedly, Amy kindles romance with the kind-hearted medic.
- GenreComedy, Drama, Film, Romance
- CastAmy Schumer, Bill Hader, Brie Larson, John Cena, Tilda Swinton.
- DirectorJudd Apatow.
- WriterAmy Schumer.
- Duration125 mins
- Official sitewww.trainwreckmovie.co.uk
Award-winning actress and writer Amy Schumer raises her skirt to political correctness and gleefully flashes sexual inequality with this potty-mouthed comedy that is far from the debacle promised by the title. Directed at a lick by Judd Apatow, who temporarily lost his mojo after Knocked Up in 2007, Trainwreck is a hilarious and heart-warming portrait of modern womanhood.
Throughout the uproarious two hours, Schumer is the butt of her own expertly targeted jokes, and she generously shares sparkling one-liners around the excellent ensemble cast. In particular, she creates a hysterical supporting role for Oscar-winning British actress Tilda Swinton, as a monstrous magazine editor, who demands gung-ho headline-grabbing titillation, not gently worded, sentimental froth.
There's a thin glaze of sweetness to pivotal moments between female characters in Schumer's script and an emotionally raw scene at a funeral deftly tugs the heartstrings. Yet, for its adherence to rom-com tropes, Trainwreck is laced with sufficient biting wit and self-effacement to drink The Hangover and its crude imitators under the table, and seal victory with a rousing belch.
At nine-years-old, Amy Townsend (Amy Schumer) learns a most valuable lesson about human relationships from her embittered father (Colin Quinn). "Monogamy isn't realistic," he tells Amy and her little sister Kim, encouraging the girls to chant this as a mantra.
Twenty-three years later, Amy has taken those words to her booze-soaked heart, enjoying numerous anonymous sexual encounters, while dating a musclebound hunk called Steven (John Cena), whose prowess leaves a lot to be desired.
In stark contrast, sister Kim (Brie Larson) has settled down with her knitwear-clad husband Tom (Mike Birbiglia). "You dress him like that just so no one else wants to have sex with him?" quips Amy, mocking her sibling's domestic bliss.
When Amy isn't picking up men in bars, she works at lifestyle magazine S'Nuff with kooky best friend Nikki (Vanessa Bayer). Out of the blue, editor Dianna (Tilda Swinton) assigns Amy to pen a profile on sports doctor Aaron Conners (Bill Hader), who is good friends with basketball player LeBron James (playing himself).
Amy knows almost nothing about sport but she obliges and sparks an unlikely romance with the kind-hearted medic that threatens to unravel the tattered fabric of her bed-hopping existence.
Trainwreck is a wicked delight that asserts independent, single women have the same right as men to enjoy carefree sexual escapades without being labelled a hussy. Schumer instantly endears us to her self-destructive 30-something, who has to hit rock bottom before she can begin the slow, painful ascent back to healthy self-respect.
Hader is an adorable comic foil and sparring partner, and on-screen chemistry between the two leads simmers beautifully. Supporting performances are equally memorable, including amusing cameos from Daniel Radcliffe and Marisa Tomei. Jump on board Schumer's runaway, filthy-minded train of thought and hold on tight.
We Are Your Friends 3 stars
Cole is a 23-year-old aspiring DJ, who lives in the San Fernando Valley with his friends. One night, Cole crosses paths with James Reed, an established DJ, who has steadily risen through the ranks. James takes Cole under his wing and helps his protege to befriend the right people and become a record producer. As Cole hones his craft, he becomes attracted to James' younger girlfriend Sophie and their burgeoning friendship threatens to spark a full-blown affair.
- GenreDrama, Romance
- CastWes Bentley, Zac Efron, Jon Bernthal, Emily Ratajkowski, Jonny Weston.
- DirectorMax Joseph.
- WriterMax Joseph, Meaghan Oppenheimer.
- Duration98 mins
- Official sitewww.wayf-movie.com
When it rains cinematic love letters to the electronic dance music (EDM) scene, it pours. We Are Your Friends arrives shortly after Eden, Mia Hansen-Love's autobiographical account of shattered dreams set against the backdrop of the 1990s French music scene.
While that film expertly mixed style and substance with a pulsating soundtrack from the era, director Max Roberts' present-day soap opera taps its foot to a more predictable beat in the sun-baked San Fernando Valley.
According to the film's narrator, this unfashionable stretch of Los Angeles County has a thriving pornography industry, airhead blondes and the best sushi in California. It's also a playground for dreamers - wannabe musicians, actors and DJs - who hope to be talent-spotted on the other side of the Hollywood sign and offered their one-way ticket to fame and fortune.
It's a pungent setting for Roberts and co-writer Meaghan Oppenheimer to explore the frailty of a get-rich-quick generation, obsessed with stories of twentysomethings, who invented an app or performed songs on a video sharing website and are now multi-millionaires.
We Are Your Friends has a smattering of grit, including scenes of drug-taking plus a senseless tragedy that is telegraphed in neon lettering, but the sweetness and sentimentality of this bro-mantic fairytale is overpowering. Consequently, Roberts can't resist a feel good coda to reset the film's moral compass.
Zac Efron plays Cole, a 23-year-old DJ who lives in the valley with buddies Mason (Jonny Weston), Ollie (Shiloh Fernandez) and Squirrel (Alex Shaffer). One night at a club, Cole meets EDM demi-god James Reed (Wes Bentley), who commands vast fees for his sets.
James takes the twinkly-eyed upstart under his wing and grants Cole 24-hour access to his recording studio. As the newcomer hones his craft, he kindles an attraction with James' younger girlfriend, Sophie (Emily Ratajkowski), which threatens to spark a full-blown affair.
We Are Your Friends starts promisingly, bombarding the screen with snazzy visuals and captions as Cole delivers an idiot's guide to the Valley and EDM. A PCP-induced trip in an art gallery catalyses a terrific animated sequence.
After this initial rush of blood to the head, Roberts tempers the directorial brio and reveals the deeply conventional heart beneath the film's shiny exterior. Efron plies his usual boyish good looks and charm as a counterpoint to Bentley's world-weary EDM veteran. "You used to be good. Now you're just a sell-out collecting a cheque," Cole defiantly informs James during one exchange.
Ratajkowski looks ravishing in pouty close-up, but has little to do besides drive a wedge between her two suitors. Big name DJs including Alesso, Posso and Nicky Romero enjoy cameos to lend authenticity to a film that ultimately doesn't have the courage of its convictions.