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Now showing at Empire Basildon Festival Way, Festival Leisure Park,Basildon,Essex SS14 3WB 0871 471 4714

  • Big Hero 6
  • Birdman
  • Cinderella
  • Fifty Shades Of Grey
  • Focus
  • Get Hard
  • Home
  • Home 3D
  • Kingsman: The Secret Service
  • NT Live Encore Screening: Treasure Island
  • Royal Opera Live: Rise And Fall Of The City Of Mahagonny
  • Run All Night
  • Seventh Son
  • Seventh Son 3D
  • Shaun The Sheep Movie
  • Still Alice
  • Suite Francaise
  • The Divergent Series: Insurgent
  • The Divergent Series: Insurgent 3D
  • The Face Of An Angel
  • The Gunman
  • The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
  • The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out Of Water
  • The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out Of Water 3D

Big Hero 6 4 stars

movie title

Fourteen-year-old Hiro Hamada idolises his older brother Tadashi, who is one of the star pupils of Professor Robert Callaghan, head of the robotics program at San Fransokyo University. A fire at the university ends in tragedy and poor Hiro is consumed with grief until his brother's greatest creation, a self-inflating personal healthcare robot called Baymax, helps the teenager to come to terms with his loss.

  • GenreAction, Adaptation, Animation/Cartoon, Comedy, Family, Family, Science Fiction
  • CastRyan Potter, Scott Adsit, Jamie Chung, TJ Miller, Daniel Henney, James Cromwell, Genesis Rodriguez, Damon Wayans Jr.
  • DirectorDon Hall, Chris Williams.
  • WriterRobert L Baird, Daniel Gerson, Jordan Roberts.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration114 mins
  • Official sitemovies.disney.com/big-hero-6/
  • Release30/01/2015

Never underestimate the soothing power of a hug. With one simple squish, you can provide comfort, encouragement or a simple how-do-you-do that transcends a thousand well-chosen words. Big Hero 6 is the cinematic equivalent of a warm hug, embracing the old-fashioned family values of the Walt Disney brand alongside cutting-edge computer technology that audiences now expect to dazzle their senses.

Directors Don Hall and Chris Williams marry dizzying action sequences that look even more spectacular in 3D to an emotionally rich story of a lonely boy's unshakable bond with his self-inflating robot protector, recalling the magical 1999 animated feature The Iron Giant.

The inquisitive automaton Baymax is the stuff that sweet celluloid dreams are made of: tender, loving and unwittingly hilarious. Every child will want their own marshmallow man to snuggle at night and keep them safe from the harsh realities of modern life that weigh heavily on the film's grief-stricken adolescent hero.

"I see no evidence of physical injury," informs the robot as he scans the boy's body.
"It's a different kind of hurt," laments the teenager.

Fourteen-year-old Hiro Hamada (voiced by Ryan Potter) idolises his older brother Tadashi (Daniel Henney), who is a star pupil of Professor Robert Callaghan (James Cromwell), head of the robotics program at San Fransokyo University.

A fire on campus culminates in tragedy and shell-shocked Hiro is inconsolable until his brother's greatest creation, a personal healthcare robot called Baymax (Scott Adsit), helps the teenager to confront his loss. As the boy discovers Baymax's functionality, he also stumbles upon a secret: the fire might not have been an accident.

Indeed, a greedy entrepreneur called Alistair Krei (Alan Tudyk) might have started the blaze. Aided by Tadashi's loyal friends GoGo (Jamie Chung), Wasabi (Damon Wayans Jr), Honey Lemon (Genesis Rodriguez) and Fred (TJ Miller) plus an upgraded Baymax, Hiro resolves to discover the truth about the deadly inferno.

Based on an obscure title from the Marvel Comics universe, Big Hero 6 is a rip-roaring opening salvo in a potential new franchise. Directors Hall and Williams orchestrate the requisite thrilling set pieces with brio, including an unconventional dash through the undulating streets of San Fransokyo that knowingly flouts traffic laws.

"There are no red lights in a car chase!" squeals GoGo. The animators and script never lose sight of the central relationship of Hiro and Baymax, sketching that bond in exquisitely deft strokes. Grown men will be choking back tears.

Big Hero 6 is preceded by Patrick Osborne's Oscar nominated short Feast, which charts the relationship between a Boston terrier and his master from puppyhood to middle age in a series of vignettes. It's a pick of the animated litter that leaves an indelible mark on the heart, just like Hall's and Williams' turbo-charged main feature.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Tuesday 31st March 2015
Wednesday 1st April 2015
Thursday 2nd April 2015

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Birdman 5 stars

movie title

Riggan Thomson rose to fame playing a superhero called Birdman in three blockbuster films in the 1990s. Twenty years later, his career is stagnant and he is determined to establish himself as a serious artist by directing, writing and starring in a Broadway staging of Raymond Carver's short story What We Talk About When We Talk About Love. As opening night approaches, petty squabbles between Riggan and his cast - including Broadway star Mike Shiner - threaten to derail the vanity project.

  • GenreComedy, Drama, Indie, Romance
  • CastMichael Keaton, Zach Galifianakis, Edward Norton, Emma Stone, Naomi Watts, Andrea Riseborough.
  • DirectorAlejandro Gonzalez Inarritu.
  • WriterAlejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Nicolas Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Armando Bo.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration119 mins
  • Official sitewww.birdmanthemovie.com
  • Release26/12/2014 (selected London cinemas); 01/01/2015 (nationwide)

According to Konstantin Stanislavski and Lee Strasberg, two founding fathers of method acting, the best performers possess the rare ability to channel deeply personal recollections and emotions through their characters. These actors don't just play a role as written, they share every breath and straining sinew with their alter ego.

In Birdman, Michael Keaton inhabits the role of a middle-aged Hollywood star, whose glory days as a big screen superhero are long behind him. It's the role of a lifetime for Keaton - the role of his lifetime, no less, nodding and winking to his two stints behind Batman's cowl under director Tim Burton in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Art and real life playfully blur in Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's technically dazzling comedy, which was shot on location in New York. In one of the film's bravura handheld sequences, Keaton strides purposefully through crowded, neon-lit Times Square in just his underpants as tourists clamour with their mobile devices. Literally and figuratively, he bares his soul.

Inarritu and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, who deservedly won an Oscar for sci-fi thriller Gravity, meticulously splice together each interlude to resemble a single, unbroken 119-minute shot.

If you look closely, you can see the joins but, as a feat of split-second timing, balletic choreography and directorial brio, Birdman is jaw-dropping - right down to the moment the camera casually pans to a drummer on the street playing the same beats and rolls of Antonio Sanchez's improvised jazz score.

Riggan Thomson (Keaton) rose to fame playing a superhero called Birdman in three blockbuster films. Twenty years later, he masterminds a comeback with nervy producer Jake (Zach Galifianakis) by directing, writing and starring in a Broadway production of Raymond Carver's short story What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.

As opening night approaches and revered critics including Tabitha Dickinson (Lindsay Duncan) prepare to deliver their waspish verdict, petty squabbles between Riggan and his cast - popular Broadway star Mike Shiner (Edward Norton), leading lady Lesley (Naomi Watts) and current squeeze Laura (Andrea Riseborough) - threaten to derail the vanity project.

The leading man struggles to keep personal demons at bay, exacerbated by fractious exchanges with his spirited daughter Sam (Emma Stone).

Accompanied by a rambling voiceover from Riggan that reflects the character's mental unravelling, Birdman is a wickedly funny satire of a world of overinflated egos and barely concealed vices.

Performances are uniformly excellent, from Keaton's career-revitalising turn to Stone's fearless portrayal of a recovering drug addict and Norton's hilarious embodiment of an artist, who believes that, "popularity is just the slutty little cousin of prestige".

Peppered with affectionate verbal barbs aimed at Hollywood's current glitterati, Inarritu's picture is crammed to bursting with self-referential treats that demand a second and third viewing. Birdman is the post-Christmas gift that keep on giving.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Wednesday 1st April 2015

Cinderella 4 stars

movie title

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.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration113 mins
  • Official sitemovies.disney.com/cinderella/
  • Release27/03/2015

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)

Tuesday 31st March 2015
Wednesday 1st April 2015
Thursday 2nd April 2015

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Fifty Shades Of Grey 3 stars

movie title

As a favour to her roommate Kate, literature student Anastasia Steele interviews handsome and charming multimillionaire businessman Christian Grey. Anastasia is bewitched by Christian and makes clear her desire for him. In order to get closer to the object of her amorous affections, the student submits to Christian and he introduces her to an erotically charged world of submission, domination, lust and temptation.

  • GenreAdaptation, Romance, Thriller
  • CastDakota Johnson, Jennifer Ehle, Jamie Dornan, Rita Ora, Marcia Gay Harden.
  • DirectorSam Taylor-Johnson.
  • WriterKelly Marcel.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration125 mins
  • Official sitewww.fiftyshadesmovie.com
  • Release13/02/2015

With its simplistic storyline about a naive heroine drawn to a dark, brooding hunk, who conceals monstrous desires, Fifty Shades Of Grey is Twilight with riding crops and plush furnishings. Sam Taylor-Johnson's flaccid film version of the EL James literary sensation preaches to the perverted in soft-core whimpers and sighs. Editor Lisa Gunning gently caresses each glossy sequence of writhing appendages to the strains of Danny Elfman's score or a soaring ballad from Annie Lennox and Sia. "Got me looking so crazy in love," purrs Beyonce beneath the picture's first impeccably lit montage of gym-toned flesh on flesh. Sadly the carnal abandon in her lyrics fails to translate as lustful hanky-spanky on the big screen. The plot is handcuffed tightly to the book. As a favour to her flu-riddled roommate Kate (Eloise Mumford), English Literature student Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) interviews handsome billionaire Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) for an article in the university newspaper. Anastasia is intoxicated but Christian initially pushes her away. "I'm not the man for you. You have to steer clear of me," he whispers. Irresistibly drawn to the businessman, Anastasia agrees to a date and Christian spirits her away to his red room festooned with S&M toys via a flight on his private helicopter. As she takes her first ride on his chopper to the throb of Ellie Goulding's chart-topping hit Love Me Like You Do, Taylor-Johnson's film reduces to an orgy of product placements and glossy fantasies that wouldn't look too shabby as TV commercials for luxury cars, designer fragrances or crumbly, flaky confectionery. Only in Taylor-Johnson's film, the beautiful heroine, who bites her lower lip as lazy shorthand for anticipatory sexual pleasure, wants to unwrap Dornan's sculpted torso rather than a glistening slab of milk chocolate. "I'm incapable of letting you go," confides Christian as he introduces wide-eyed Anastasia to his secret world of domination and submission, which didn't get UK censors hot under the collar, passing the film uncut. Nor me. I was more aroused by the immaculate shine on Christian's piano than anything in his boudoir of bondage: a set designer must have spent hours buffing those ivories. When Dornan and Johnson are fully clothed and enjoying comical scenes of flirtation, they kindle smouldering screen chemistry. As soon as one of them disrobes, those embers are extinguished. Kelly Marcel's script fails to flesh out the protagonists: Christian remains an enigma and Dornan gamely keeps a straight face as he barks lines like, "If you were mine, you wouldn't be able to sit down for a week." The usual sexual inequality about on-screen nudity applies. While Johnson is depicted full frontal, Dornan's johnson remains artfully hidden by his co-star's creamy thighs or high thread-count bed sheets. In an early scene, Ana's roommate excitedly demands the lowdown on Christian and the heroine coolly responds that he was nice, courteous and clean. That's a fair summation of the film: two hours of polite, functional, beautifully shot foreplay that fails to locate the G-spot.

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Tuesday 31st March 2015
Wednesday 1st April 2015
Thursday 2nd April 2015

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Focus 3 stars

movie title

Nicky is a seasoned master of misdirection, who can charm even the most cynical targets into falling for his money-making schemes. He becomes romantically entangled with novice con artist Jess but realises that his feelings are clouding his judgement. So Nicky promptly ends terminates the relationship. Three years later, Nicky is in Buenos Aires at a race car circuit for a lucrative ruse. The stakes are high... then Jess reappears and throws the con man off his game.

  • GenreComedy, Drama, Romance, Thriller
  • CastWill Smith, Margot Robbie, Rodrigo Santoro, Gerald McRaney, BD Wong.
  • DirectorJohn Requa, Glenn Ficarra.
  • WriterJohn Requa, Glenn Ficarra.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration105 mins
  • Official sitewww.focusmovie.com
  • Release27/02/2015

The con men and women who bluff, distract and double-cross in Glenn Ficarra and John Requa's light-fingered drama, operate by clearly defined rules. They perform hundreds of petty thefts rather than one major heist because there is safety in volume, they refuse to steal from the vulnerable, and they never allow sentiment to cloud their cold-hearted, cash-oriented judgement.

"Love will get you killed in this racket," grizzles one veteran of the hustle. It's surprising then that Ficarra and Requa ignore their character's pithy advice and stake heavily on a fraught romance between their anti-hero, a consummate con man, and his sassy sex-bomb protegee.

The writer-directors' gamble might have paid off if lead actors Will Smith and Margot Robbie were gifted snappier dialogue, and their bedroom scenes were choreographed with passion rather than softly-lit precision to kindle smouldering on-screen chemistry.

As it is, the biggest con in Focus is not the climactic swindle, which strenuously tests the bonds of honour between thieves, but the sizzle of that central relationship, which supposedly pushes both characters to the edge of reason.

Nicky Spurgeon (Smith) is a master of misdirection, who can sweet-talk cynical targets into falling for his money-making schemes. Aided by a large crew of pickpockets and accomplices including right-hand man Horst (Brennan Brown) and technical wizard Farhad (Adrian Martinez), Nicky follows the money.

During carnival season, he operates out of New Orleans and becomes amorously entangled with novice Jess Barrett (Robbie). "You get their focus, take whatever you want," explains Nicky, teaching her the tricks of his shady trade.

After one major sting, Nicky acknowledges his distracting feelings for Jess and he terminates the relationship. Three years later, Nicky is in Buenos Aires at a race car circuit for a scam involving team owners Garriga (Rodrigo Santoro) and McEwen (Robert Taylor).

The stakes are high and Garriga is protected by a straight-shooting bodyguard called Ownes (Gerald McRaney), who thinks sleep is for wimps. "I'll lie down when I get cancer or when I have sex," snarls the heavy. Just as Nicky is poised to initiate his elaborate scheme, Jess reappears and throws the veteran con man into an emotional tailspin.

Focus is a familiar tale of old scoundrels performing new tricks, which lacks the erotic charge of the co-directors' previous film, Crazy, Stupid, Love. Robbie is luminous and makes Smith seem lifeless, confirming her ability to steal a film after eye-catching work opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf Of Wall Street.

Ficarra and Requa engineer a dramatic crescendo at the end of the first hour against the backdrop of an American football game. The second act in Argentina is an anti-climax by comparison that plays its winning hand far too early. In the absence of jeopardy, we lose everything, especially interest.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Tuesday 31st March 2015
Wednesday 1st April 2015
Thursday 2nd April 2015

This film is also showing at:

Get Hard 1 stars

movie title

Businessman James King is engaged to a beautiful woman, who happens to be the daughter of Mr Hart, president of the firm. James savours the trappings of his millionaire lifestyle until he is wrongfully convicted of tax evasion, which carries a 10-year prison sentence. He has 30 days to prepare for his stint behind bars. James turns for help to one of Mr Hart's employees, Darnell Lewis, who James mistakenly believes must have served time because he is African-American.

  • GenreComedy, Drama
  • CastWill Ferrell, Alison Brie, Kevin Hart, Craig T Nelson.
  • DirectorEtan Cohen.
  • WriterIan Roberts, Jay Martel, Etan Cohen.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration100 mins
  • Official sitewww.gethardmovie.com
  • Release27/03/2015

Etan Cohen's relentlessly homophobic and racist comedy of errors - the biggest being that the film was made - opens with a shot of actor Will Ferrell sobbing uncontrollably. We know exactly how he feels after 10 minutes of Get Hard, which presumably sets out to poke fun at rampant political correctness but completely misses a huge target.

I sincerely doubt that writer-director Cohen, who penned the script to the Ben Stiller-Robert Downey Jr comedy Tropic Thunder, which lampooned racial stereotypes with aplomb, set out to wilfully offend or denigrate.

However, it's difficult to find excuses for a crass and insensitive script that treats male rape as a running joke, reduces most women to sex objects and contrives a painfully laboured sequence at a gay-friendly cafe, where Ferrell's energetic co-star Kevin Hart counsels him to approach any man and ask for oral sex because "that's what they do".

A couple of decent gags, including a jibe at an Australian media mogul, momentarily sweetens an exceedingly bitter pill, but we're left with a very nasty taste in the mouth, even with a generous drizzle of syrupy sentimentality in the film's closing moments.

James King (Ferrell) is a trader at Walthrop Fund Management, who can speculate 28 million US dollars profit in a single day and believes that society reduces to "rich or poor, white or... miscellaneous". His pampered fiancee Alissa (Alison Brie) is the daughter of company chairman Martin Clark (Craig T Nelson), who is poised to make his future son-in-law a partner in the firm.

James savours the trappings of his millionaire lifestyle until he is wrongfully charged with 43 counts of fraud and 30 counts of embezzlement. The company lawyer (Greg Germann) advises James to plead guilty but he refuses and is subsequently handed a 10-year sentence at a maximum security prison.

With 30 days to prepare for a stint behind bars, James turns to Darnell Lewis (Hart), owner of a car wash business, who the shamed trader presumes must have served time because he is African-American. In truth, Darnell is a hard-working family man, who intends to build a better future for his wife (Edwina Findley Dickerson) and daughter (Ariana Neal).

James offers Darnell 30,000 US dollars to toughen him up. "Help me train to not be someone's bitch," grizzles the millionaire. So Darnell passes himself off as a tough-talking mentor using insider information gleaned from his jailbird cousin (Tip "T.I." Harris).

Get Hard limps from one moment of uncomfortable, deathly silence, where there should be laughter, to the next. Ferrell and Hart are a mismatched double-act, riffing obscenities at each other in the hope that something, anything, might warrant a pitying smile.

To quote Hart's despairing on-screen spouse: "This is nuts!" Incarceration would be preferable to having to sit through Cohen's film again.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Tuesday 31st March 2015
Wednesday 1st April 2015
Thursday 2nd April 2015

This film is also showing at:

Home 3 stars

movie title

An extra-terrestrial race called the Boov invades Earth under the command of Captain Smek with a view to claiming the third rock from the sun as their new home. The Boov round up the humans and relocates the entire species. A resourceful teenage girl called Tip, whose mother was abducted, evades capture and goes on the run. She crosses paths with an outcast Boov named Oh, who has been banished by his otherworldly kin. They join forces to save Earth.

  • GenreAction, Adventure, Animation/Cartoon, Comedy, Family, Family, Fantasy, Science Fiction
  • CastJim Parsons, Steve Martin, Rihanna, Jennifer Lopez, Matt Jones.
  • DirectorTim Johnson.
  • WriterTom J Astle, Matt Ember.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration94 mins
  • Official sitewww.meettheboov.com
  • Release20/03/2015

Humans and cute aliens unite to save Earth in Tim Johnson's entertaining but shamelessly contrived computer-animated adventure. The new dog performing old tricks on the DreamWorks block, which previously housed Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda and How To Train Your Dragon, lacks the belly laughs and heart-breaking emotion of those films, but merrily rehashes elements from all three.

Thus the extra-terrestrial invaders discover they like to wave their hands in the air like they just don't care to our music and the central duo discovers that self-sacrifice is an important part of friendship.

Johnson's film has some solid gags and the colour palette is bright, although there are disappointingly few visual tricks up the animators' sleeves to justify the increased ticket price for the 3D version.

In a neat piece of short-hand, the invaders turn out to be the extra-terrestrial equivalent of mood rings, changing colour to reflect their emotional state: yellow for fear, pink for love, red for anger, blue for sadness and green for dishonesty. It's a merchandiser's dream and every parent's nightmare: children begging for the same stuffed toy in multiple shades.

An extra-terrestrial race called the Boov invades Earth under the command of power-hungry Captain Smek (voiced by Steve Martin) with a view to claiming the third rock from the sun as their new home.

The Boov round up the humans and relocate the entire species to Australia. Back in America, a resourceful 11-year-old girl called Tip (Rihanna), whose mother (Jennifer Lopez) was abducted from their apartment, evades capture and goes on the run with her rotund pet cat.

She encounters a fugitive Boov named Oh (Jim Parsons), who has accidentally sent an email invitation to his "warming of house party" to everyone in the galaxy, including the Boov's sworn enemy, the Gorg. Tip and Oh are poles apart: she is spunky and brave, while he turns tail at the first sign of peril.

"If probability falls below 50%, the Boov give up," explains Oh. Working together, they forge a touching friendship and Tip helps her extra-terrestrial chum to embrace his flaws.

Based on the children's book The True Meaning Of Smekday by Adam Rex, Home ticks all of the boxes, but does so without any obvious verve, originality or sense of urgency. Parsons riffs on his nerdy character in The Big Bang Theory, while Rihanna lends her distinctive Barbadian tones to the plucky, pint-sized heroine.

She also has two songs on the soundtrack including the dance anthem Only Girl (In The World), which provides moments of unnecessary distraction as Tip talks over the top of the music.

At one point during the chase, Oh turns to Tip and screams, "This is not a sustainable friendship model." Johnson makes it work for 94 minutes, but only just.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Tuesday 31st March 2015
Wednesday 1st April 2015
Thursday 2nd April 2015

This film is also showing at:

Home 3D 3 stars

movie title

An extra-terrestrial race called the Boov invades Earth under the command of Captain Smek with a view to claiming the third rock from the sun as their new home. The Boov round up the humans and relocates the entire species. A resourceful teenage girl called Tip, whose mother was abducted, evades capture and goes on the run. She crosses paths with an outcast Boov named Oh, who has been banished by his otherworldly kin. They join forces to save Earth.

  • GenreAction, Adventure, Animation/Cartoon, Comedy, Family, Family, Fantasy, Science Fiction
  • CastJim Parsons, Rihanna, Steve Martin, Jennifer Lopez, Matt Jones.
  • DirectorTim Johnson.
  • WriterTom J Astle, Matt Ember.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration94 mins
  • Official sitewww.meettheboov.com
  • Release20/03/2015

Humans and cute aliens unite to save Earth in Tim Johnson's entertaining but shamelessly contrived computer-animated adventure. The new dog performing old tricks on the DreamWorks block, which previously housed Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda and How To Train Your Dragon, lacks the belly laughs and heart-breaking emotion of those films, but merrily rehashes elements from all three.

Thus the extra-terrestrial invaders discover they like to wave their hands in the air like they just don't care to our music and the central duo discovers that self-sacrifice is an important part of friendship.

Johnson's film has some solid gags and the colour palette is bright, although there are disappointingly few visual tricks up the animators' sleeves to justify the increased ticket price for the 3D version.

In a neat piece of short-hand, the invaders turn out to be the extra-terrestrial equivalent of mood rings, changing colour to reflect their emotional state: yellow for fear, pink for love, red for anger, blue for sadness and green for dishonesty. It's a merchandiser's dream and every parent's nightmare: children begging for the same stuffed toy in multiple shades.

An extra-terrestrial race called the Boov invades Earth under the command of power-hungry Captain Smek (voiced by Steve Martin) with a view to claiming the third rock from the sun as their new home.

The Boov round up the humans and relocate the entire species to Australia. Back in America, a resourceful 11-year-old girl called Tip (Rihanna), whose mother (Jennifer Lopez) was abducted from their apartment, evades capture and goes on the run with her rotund pet cat.

She encounters a fugitive Boov named Oh (Jim Parsons), who has accidentally sent an email invitation to his "warming of house party" to everyone in the galaxy, including the Boov's sworn enemy, the Gorg. Tip and Oh are poles apart: she is spunky and brave, while he turns tail at the first sign of peril.

"If probability falls below 50%, the Boov give up," explains Oh. Working together, they forge a touching friendship and Tip helps her extra-terrestrial chum to embrace his flaws.

Based on the children's book The True Meaning Of Smekday by Adam Rex, Home ticks all of the boxes, but does so without any obvious verve, originality or sense of urgency. Parsons riffs on his nerdy character in The Big Bang Theory, while Rihanna lends her distinctive Barbadian tones to the plucky, pint-sized heroine.

She also has two songs on the soundtrack including the dance anthem Only Girl (In The World), which provides moments of unnecessary distraction as Tip talks over the top of the music.

At one point during the chase, Oh turns to Tip and screams, "This is not a sustainable friendship model." Johnson makes it work for 94 minutes, but only just.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Tuesday 31st March 2015
Wednesday 1st April 2015
Thursday 2nd April 2015

This film is also showing at:

Kingsman: The Secret Service 3 stars

movie title

Gary Unwin, who is known to his friends as Eggsy, is on the downward spiral to drugs and crime. He is dismissed as a hopeless cause by everyone except agent Harry Hart, who believes Eggsy would make an excellent crime-fighting operative. So Hart takes Eggsy under his wing and enrols the young man in a gruelling training programme against more eloquent and refined peers.

  • GenreAction, Adventure, Comedy
  • CastColin Firth, Taron Egerton, Michael Caine, Mark Strong, Jack Davenport, Samuel L Jackson, Tom Prior, Mark Hamill.
  • DirectorMatthew Vaughn.
  • WriterMatthew Vaughn, Jane Goldman.
  • CountryUS/UK
  • Duration129 mins
  • Official sitewww.kingsmanmovie.com
  • Release29/01/2015

Directed at full pelt by Matthew Vaughn, Kingsman: The Secret Service is an outrageous James Bond-esque caper with an unpleasant and sadistic streak. This hare-brained tale about a secret organisation of impeccably tailored British agents dedicated to world peace lampoons the conventions of the spy genre with an arched eyebrow.

"Nowadays, they're all a little serious for my taste," opines Colin Firth's lead operative about modern-day spy films, one of several self-referential winks in Vaughn and Jane Goldman's script. "Give me a far-fetched plot any day," he quips, and that's just what Kingsman delivers in spades.

Unfortunately, the film also serves up a blitzkrieg of gratuitous on-screen barbarity. The violence doesn't support the plot, the plot is constructed to support as much wanton carnage as Vaughn can cram into each frame.

This stomach-churning slaughter reaches a nauseating crescendo in a Southern church where Firth's good guy squares off against a congregation of brain-washed bigots, racists and homophobes, who apparently deserve to die in lurid close-up while Lynyrd Skynyrd's Free Bird strums on the soundtrack. The film was cut by UK censors to secure a 15 certificate but I wouldn't want my nephews, if they were 15 or 16, anywhere near Vaughn's giddy bloodbath.

Gary Unwin (Taron Egerton), who is known to friends as Eggsy, is on a downward spiral despite an impressive IQ. He is powerless to stop his mother Michelle (Samantha Womack) suffering abuse from her boyfriend (Geoff Bell), and a spot of joy-riding leads to a brief stay in a police cell.

Eggsy is dismissed as a hopeless cause by everyone except dapper secret agent Harry Hart (Colin Firth), who believes the young man has untapped potential as a crime-fighter. So Hart enrols Eggsy in a gruelling training programme against sneering posh lads Charlie (Edward Holcroft), Barnaby (Matthew William Jones) and Hugo (Tom Prior), and friendlier rivals Grace (Sophie Cookson) and Roxy (Alisha Heng).

The recruits test their strength and guile in a series of challenges devised by gadget geek Merlin (Mark Strong). Against the odds, Eggsy shines brighter than some of the supposed creme de la creme and when technological wizard Valentine (Samuel L Jackson) and his blade runner henchwoman Gazelle (Sofia Boutella) threaten mankind with a radical solution to climate change, Eggsy puts his training to good use alongside his stiff upper-lipped mentor.

Kingsman: The Secret Service leaves an exceedingly nasty taste in the mouth that is difficult to shake, garnished with crude sexism in the closing frames. Firth is a debonair action hero, contrasting sharply with Egerton's bad boy from the wrong side of the tracks.

Jackson has fun with his lisping megalomaniac, who gags at the sight of blood. If we did the same watching Vaughn's undeniably stylish film, we'd all need urgent medical assistance inside the first 20 minutes.

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Tuesday 31st March 2015
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NT Live Encore Screening: Treasure Island 3 stars

Jim, the inn-keeper's granddaughter, opens the door to a terrifying stranger on a dark, stormy night and begins a dangerous voyage in Bryony Lavery's adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's classic story of murder, money and mutiny. This recording of a live performance at the National Theatre in London is directed by Polly Findlay and is suitable for over 10s.

  • GenreAdventure, Family, Family, Special
  • CastPatsy Ferran, Arthur Darvill.
  • DirectorPolly Findlay.
  • WriterRobert Louis Stevenson, Bryony Lavery.
  • CountryUK
  • Duration145 mins
  • Official sitentlive.nationaltheatre.org.uk

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Thursday 2nd April 2015

Royal Opera Live: Rise And Fall Of The City Of Mahagonny 3 stars

Broadcast live from the Royal Opera House in London, Mark Wrigglesworth wields the conductor's baton for this performance of Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill's furiously impassioned operatic satire on consumerism. John Fulljames directs Christine Rice as prostitute Jenny and Kurt Streit as lumberjack Jim, who come undone in a city of gold awash with greed and debauchery.

  • GenreMusical, Special
  • CastAnne Sofie von Otter, Peter Hoare, Sir Willard White.
  • DirectorJohn Fulljames.
  • WriterKurt Weill, Bertolt Brecht.
  • CountryUK
  • Official sitewww.roh.org.uk/cinemas
  • Release24/03/2015 (selected cinemas)

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Wednesday 1st April 2015

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Run All Night 3 stars

movie title

Hit man Jimmy Conlon is nicknamed The Gravedigger because of his prolific kill rate, some at the behest of his best friend, ruthless mob boss Shawn Maguire. For more than 30 years, Jimmy has managed to stay one step ahead of tenacious Detective Harding but when his estranged son Mike becomes a target for execution, Jimmy faces a stark choice between a crime family that doesn't tolerate mistakes and his own flesh and blood.

  • GenreAction, Drama, Thriller
  • CastEd Harris, Joel Kinnaman, Liam Neeson, Vincent D'Onofrio, Boyd Holbrook, Genesis Rodriguez, Common.
  • DirectorJaume Collet-Serra.
  • WriterBrad Ingelsby.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration114 mins
  • Official sitewww.runallnightmovie.com
  • Release13/03/2015

The sins of two fathers are visited upon their sons in Jaume Collet-Serra's sleek action thriller set on the rain-lashed streets of New York. The Spanish director, who helmed Unknown and Non-Stop, reunites with Liam Neeson for this propulsive genre piece, casting the hulking Irish actor as a booze-sodden hit man, who will stop at nothing to protect his loved ones.

Handily, the role is an amalgamation of Neeson's last two films - A Walk Among The Tombstones and Taken 3 - so he barely breaks sweat as an emotionally scarred anti-hero, who punctuates bruising fisticuffs with pithy mantras: "I wanted a better life for you than the one I chose for myself."

Brad Ingelsby's script lays on the Catholic guilt with a trowel, making clear that for every crime - and there are plenty in Run All Night - there must be swift, brutal punishment.

"I've done terrible things in my life, things for which I can never be forgiven," confesses hit man Jimmy Conlon (Neeson). For more than 30 years, Jimmy has outfoxed tenacious Detective John Harding (Vincent D'Onofrio) and slayed targets at the behest of his best friend, mob boss Shawn Maguire (Ed Harris).

Alcohol is Jimmy's solace from his manifold transgressions, which have cast him adrift from his son Mike (Joel Kinnaman), who works as a limousine driver and has an expectant wife Gabriela (Genesis Rodriguez) and two daughters. One fateful night, Mike witnesses Shawn's reckless son Danny (Boyd Holbrook) killing an Albanian thug.

Danny takes to heart his father's words - "You've made a mess, it's time someone other than me cleaned it up" - and resolves to silence the only witness. Inevitably, Jimmy becomes embroiled in this deadly game of cat and mouse and he sides with his flesh and blood.

"I'm the only one that cared about you and that all ended one hour ago," barks Shawn, unleashing his mob dogs of war including an assassin called Price (Common) to hunt down Jimmy and his boy.

Run All Night opens with one character on the brink of death then rewinds 16 hours, confidently staging testosterone-fuelled set pieces including a high-speed car chase and a daredevil escape from a burning building.

Collet-Serra energises static scenes with swirling camerawork, enhanced with a high-energy soundtrack courtesy of Dutch dance producer Junkie XL. Screenwriter Ingelsby condenses each strained relationship to one or two scenes of succinct dialogue, including a terrific bout of verbal sparring between Neeson and Harris in a restaurant. Both actors land glancing blows in limited shared screen time.

Swedish actor Kinnaman, last seen encased in Robocop's metallic armour, sports a convincing New York accent as his character takes parenting lessons in a hail of bullets. You learn quickly when there's a gun to your head.

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Tuesday 31st March 2015
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Seventh Son 2 stars

movie title

Master Gregory is the last remaining knight of a noble order called the Spooks, which defend humanity from evil. When a witch called Mother Malkin escapes confinement, Master Gregory visits the home of Mr and Mrs Ward and offers the parents a small fortune to train their boy Tom - the seventh son of a seventh son - as his new apprentice. The Wards reluctantly agree and Tom begins his tutelage in earnest.

  • GenreAction, Adaptation, Adventure, Drama, Fantasy
  • CastDjimon Hounsou, Olivia Williams, Alicia Vikander, Ben Barnes, Julianne Moore, Jeff Bridges, Kit Harington.
  • DirectorSergei Bodrov.
  • WriterSteven Knight, Charles Leavitt.
  • CountryUS/UK/Can.
  • Duration102 mins
  • Official siteseventhson.legendary.com
  • Release27/03/2015

There's a simple rule of thumb to deduce if a film starring Oscar winner Jeff Bridges is worth your time, patience and hard-earned lucre. Almost without exception, the quality of the finished feature will be inversely proportional to the extravagance of his character's facial hair and the thickness of the preposterous accent.

In Sergei Bodrov's special effects-laden swords and sorcery romp, Bridges sports a dense shaggy beard to match a dishevelled mane and chews on every single line of dialogue in Charles Leavitt and Steven Knight's script as if he has a toffee stuck between his teeth.

The exaggerated performance and eye-catching appearance are a cheap distraction from a flimsy plot laden with unintentional hilarious dialogue and curious leaps in logic. He plays Master John Gregory, the last remaining knight of a noble and mystical order called the Spooks, who defend humanity by containing the creatures of the dark.

He imprisons a powerful witch called Mother Malkin (Julianne Moore) but the rise of a Blood Moon empowers the diabolical hag, who transforms into a dragon and escapes confinement. Gregory and his current apprentice Billy Bradley (Kit Harington) attempt to contain the witch but their heroic efforts culminate in tragedy.

As Malkin's powers grow, Gregory visits the home of Malcolm and Mam Ward (Timothy Webber, Olivia Williams) and he offers the parents a small fortune to train their boy Tom (Ben Barnes) - the seventh son of a seventh son - as his new apprentice.

The Wards agree and Mam bids farewell to her boy by asking him to wear her pendant. "Everything you need is inside you - don't be afraid to look," she tells Tom cryptically. The young man begins his tutelage in earnest, aided by Gregory's troll-like friend Tusk (John DeSantis).

Meanwhile, Malkin dispatches her niece, Alice (Alicia Vikander), to spy on the Spook and his protege as she gathers together her most trusted allies including her fierce lieutenant Urag (Jason Scott Lee) and blade-wielding warlock Radu (Djimon Hounsou).

Based on The Spook's Apprentice by Joseph Delaney, Seventh Son is a lumbering fantasy adventure that neglects to put the super in supernatural. Barnes is a bland hero, who valiantly keeps a straight face opposite Bridges' incessant mumbling, while Vikander looks radiant in a thankless role as the love interest torn between the forces of light and dark.

Moore, who recently won the Academy Award for Still Alice, slinks through each frame, huskily whispering camp lines like, "I like boys", without a hint of menace.

Russian director Bodrov salves some of the pain with a series of bombastic action sequences replete with flying dragons, wicked witches and an ill-tempered ogre-like creature called a boggart with an acute sense of smell. The monster's on-screen rage must be a violent reaction to the stink of Seventh Son.

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Tuesday 31st March 2015
Wednesday 1st April 2015
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Seventh Son 3D 2 stars

movie title

Master Gregory is the last remaining knight of a noble order called the Spooks, which defend humanity from evil. When a witch called Mother Malkin escapes confinement, Master Gregory visits the home of Mr and Mrs Ward and offers the parents a small fortune to train their boy Tom - the seventh son of a seventh son - as his new apprentice. The Wards reluctantly agree and Tom begins his tutelage in earnest.

  • GenreAction, Adaptation, Adventure, Drama, Fantasy
  • CastDjimon Hounsou, Olivia Williams, Alicia Vikander, Ben Barnes, Julianne Moore, Jeff Bridges, Kit Harington.
  • DirectorSergei Bodrov.
  • WriterSteven Knight, Charles Leavitt.
  • CountryUS/UK/Can.
  • Duration102 mins
  • Official siteseventhson.legendary.com
  • Release27/03/2015

There's a simple rule of thumb to deduce if a film starring Oscar winner Jeff Bridges is worth your time, patience and hard-earned lucre. Almost without exception, the quality of the finished feature will be inversely proportional to the extravagance of his character's facial hair and the thickness of the preposterous accent.

In Sergei Bodrov's special effects-laden swords and sorcery romp, Bridges sports a dense shaggy beard to match a dishevelled mane and chews on every single line of dialogue in Charles Leavitt and Steven Knight's script as if he has a toffee stuck between his teeth.

The exaggerated performance and eye-catching appearance are a cheap distraction from a flimsy plot laden with unintentional hilarious dialogue and curious leaps in logic. He plays Master John Gregory, the last remaining knight of a noble and mystical order called the Spooks, who defend humanity by containing the creatures of the dark.

He imprisons a powerful witch called Mother Malkin (Julianne Moore) but the rise of a Blood Moon empowers the diabolical hag, who transforms into a dragon and escapes confinement. Gregory and his current apprentice Billy Bradley (Kit Harington) attempt to contain the witch but their heroic efforts culminate in tragedy.

As Malkin's powers grow, Gregory visits the home of Malcolm and Mam Ward (Timothy Webber, Olivia Williams) and he offers the parents a small fortune to train their boy Tom (Ben Barnes) - the seventh son of a seventh son - as his new apprentice.

The Wards agree and Mam bids farewell to her boy by asking him to wear her pendant. "Everything you need is inside you - don't be afraid to look," she tells Tom cryptically. The young man begins his tutelage in earnest, aided by Gregory's troll-like friend Tusk (John DeSantis).

Meanwhile, Malkin dispatches her niece, Alice (Alicia Vikander), to spy on the Spook and his protege as she gathers together her most trusted allies including her fierce lieutenant Urag (Jason Scott Lee) and blade-wielding warlock Radu (Djimon Hounsou).

Based on The Spook's Apprentice by Joseph Delaney, Seventh Son is a lumbering fantasy adventure that neglects to put the super in supernatural. Barnes is a bland hero, who valiantly keeps a straight face opposite Bridges' incessant mumbling, while Vikander looks radiant in a thankless role as the love interest torn between the forces of light and dark.

Moore, who recently won the Academy Award for Still Alice, slinks through each frame, huskily whispering camp lines like, "I like boys", without a hint of menace.

Russian director Bodrov salves some of the pain with a series of bombastic action sequences replete with flying dragons, wicked witches and an ill-tempered ogre-like creature called a boggart with an acute sense of smell. The monster's on-screen rage must be a violent reaction to the stink of Seventh Son.

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Tuesday 31st March 2015
Wednesday 1st April 2015
Thursday 2nd April 2015

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Shaun The Sheep Movie 4 stars

movie title

Shaun and the flock grow tired of the daily routine on Mossy Bottom Farm under the watchful eye of Bitzer the sheepdog. So the herd hoodwinks the Farmer into taking a well deserved day. Unfortunately, the cunning plan goes awry and the Farmer ends up in the Big City suffering from a nasty bout of memory loss. Shaun and his fleecy friends head for the metropolis to bring the Farmer back home but they attract the attentions of a nasty animal containment officer called Trumper.

  • GenreAction, Adventure, Animation/Cartoon, Children, Children's, Comedy, Family, Family
  • CastJohn Sparkes, Justin Fletcher.
  • DirectorRichard Starzack, Mark Burton.
  • WriterRichard Starzack, Richard Goleszowski, Mark Burton.
  • CountryUK
  • Duration85 mins
  • Official sitewww.shaunthesheep.com
  • Release06/02/2015

Bristol-based Aardman Studios works its stop-motion animated magic on a colourful big screen adventure for the mischievous sheep, who first appeared in Wallace and Gromit's 1995 escapade A Close Shave and has been baad to the bone in a self-titled CBBC series since 2007.

Drawing loving inspiration from other Aardman films including Chicken Run, Shaun The Sheep Movie is a shear delight, melding slapstick and subtler humour to appeal to young fans and their wranglers.

Directors Mark Burton and Richard Starzack shepherd this boisterous romp through various twists and turns at a breathless pace. They litter the screen with wry visual gags, including an airborne cow clearing the roof of the Over The Moon public house.

Stop-motion visuals burst with colour and action sequences are orchestrated with mind-boggling technical precision. As usual, Shaun is at the centre of the madcap action. The flock grows tired of the daily routine on Mossy Bottom Farm under the watchful eye of Bitzer the sheepdog.

So the animals hoodwink the Farmer into taking a well-deserved day off so they can do the same. Unfortunately, this cunning plan goes awry and the Farmer ends up with a nasty bout of memory loss after a high-speed journey to The Big City inside a runaway caravan.

Off the hoof, Shaun and his fleecy friends board the 62 bus from Mossy Bottom to the metropolis, determined to bring their beloved master back home. Unfortunately, they attract the attention of a nasty animal containment officer called Trumper, who doesn't want any farmyard escapees on the lamb on his patch.

Aided by an orphan dog named Slip, the sheep disguise themselves as humans to pull the wool over the eyes of unsuspecting residents of The Big City and track down the Farmer.

In human form, the sheep enjoy haute cuisine at a bistro called Le Chou Brule, while the Farmer discovers a new calling with hair clippers at an upscale boutique. Back at Mossy Bottom, The Naughty Pigs run amok in the farmhouse, oblivious to the hare-brained antics of the other four-legged residents.

Shaun The Sheep Movie will have families flocking in droves to local cinemas. There's nothing woolly about Burton and Starzack's screenplay, which doesn't pause to bleat between set pieces, propelling the narrative forward without sacrificing the characterisation.

There are some lovely interludes here like Shaun's temporary incarceration in an animal shelter, which also houses a psychotic cat from the same litter as Hannibal Lecter and a dog with BARK and BITE tattooed on its knuckles.

As with other Aardman offerings, the animators' imprints are occasionally visible in the expressive clay protagonists, which is part of the film's undeniable charm. Ewe won't be disappointed.

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Tuesday 31st March 2015
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Still Alice 3 stars

movie title

Celebrated linguistics professor Alice Howland has a handsome husband John and three grown-up children, Anna, Tom and Lydia, who are forging their own paths through life. Out of the blue, Alice begins to forget words and phrases, and medical tests reveal she has early on-set Alzheimer's disease, inherited from her father. Since the condition could be passed down to her children, Alice advises her brood to be tested, which poses a dilemma for Anna, who is pregnant with twins.

  • GenreAdaptation, Drama, Romance
  • CastJulianne Moore, Kristen Stewart, Hunter Parrish, Alec Baldwin, Kate Bosworth, Shane McRae.
  • DirectorRichard Glatzer, Wash Westmoreland.
  • WriterRichard Glatzer, Wash Westmoreland.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration101 mins
  • Official sitewww.sonyclassics.com/stillalice/
  • Release06/03/2015 (selected cinemas)

Memories are twinkling stars in a celestial map linking our past, present and future. Some of these glittering orbs dim naturally over time, such as first experiences from childhood, while others are temporarily obscured by the fog of modern life, like when we forget a friend's birthday, what we dreamt last night, to water the plants or the last place we saw a set of keys.

Alzheimer's is an incurable neurodegenerative disease that slowly robs a patient of the ability to see these stars and chart a safe passage back to the people they love. Names and faces of friends and family fade to black. For those left behind, staring into the unblinking eyes of a close relative who no longer recognises you, is an anguish that defies words.

Julianne Moore delivers an Oscar-winning performance as a forty-something mother faced with an early diagnosis of this cruel disease in Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland's heartfelt drama. Based on the novel by Lisa Genova, Still Alice simply, yet powerfully, conveys the emotional devastation for the central character and the ripple effect for her family.

Celebrated linguistics professor Alice Howland (Moore) leads a charmed life. She has a husband John (Alex Baldwin) and three grown-up children, Anna (Kate Bosworth), Tom (Hunter Parrish) and Lydia (Kristen Stewart), who are forging divergent paths through life.

During a lecture that she has rigorously prepared, Alice inexplicably loses her train of thought. "I knew I shouldn't have had that champagne," she jokes to appreciative giggles from her audience. Alice begins to forget simple vocabulary and seeks guidance from family medic, Dr Benjamin (Stephen Kunken).

He rules out tumours or a stroke but suspects that Alice is exhibiting the early symptoms of Alzheimer's. "It would be rare for someone as young as yourself, but you do fit the criteria," he tells her soberly. Tests confirm the doctor's fears and since the condition can be passed down, Alice calls together her brood.

She advises her children to be tested, which poses a dilemma for Anna and her husband Charlie (Shane McRae), who are expecting twins.

Anchored by Moore's spellbinding work, Still Alice is a modern family portrait that will strike an unsettling chord. Baldwin tugs our heartstrings and Stewart offers strident support as the youngest member of the clan, who moves back home to reconnect with her mother while there is still time.

"I wish I had cancer," Alice tells John. "I wouldn't feel so ashamed. When people have cancer they wear pink ribbons for you and go on long walks and raise money." Still Alice feels no shame or cloying self-pity.

Writer-directors Glatzer and Westmoreland treat characters with sensitivity, touching lightly on the frustrations and blind terror that will become more frequent for Alice and her inner circle as the disease progresses.

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Tuesday 31st March 2015
Wednesday 1st April 2015
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Suite Francaise 3 stars

movie title

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.
  • CountryUK/Fr/Can
  • Duration107 mins
  • Official site
  • Release13/03/2015

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.

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Tuesday 31st March 2015
Wednesday 1st April 2015
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The Divergent Series: Insurgent 3 stars

movie title

Tris and Four are on the run with Marcus Eaton and other members of Abnegation. Jeanine Matthews and her cohorts from Erudite plus Dauntless traitor Eric are close behind, determined to crush the rebellion and wipe out the Divergents, who threaten the status quo. The fugitives align themselves with the factionless, who are being led by Four's mother Evelyn. Allegiances are tested as Tris learns shocking secrets about the past that threaten the people she loves and the future of her world.

  • GenreAction, Adaptation, Adventure, Family, Romance, Science Fiction
  • CastMiles Teller, Maggie Q, Theo James, Kate Winslet, Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, Ashley Judd, Zoe Kravitz, Ray Stevenson, Jai Courtney, Naomi Watts.
  • DirectorRobert Schwentke.
  • WriterBrian Duffield, Akiva Goldsman, Mark Bomback.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration119 mins
  • Official sitewww.thedivergentseries.com
  • Release19/03/2015

Adapted from Veronica Roth's bestselling trilogy for young adults, Insurgent is a slickly engineered sequel that moves the dystopian narrative along at pace to a startling final revelation. Robert Schwentke's action-packed film crams its visual pyrotechnics into the climactic 40 minutes when Shailene Woodley's heroine Tris must complete a series of tasks to prove that she possesses the qualities of all five factions.

She must test positive for the selflessness of Abnegation, the courage of Dauntless, the honesty of Candor, the intelligence of Erudite and the inner peace of Amity. These trials include a visually stunning race against time to rescue Tris' mother (Ashley Judd) from a burning building that rotates as it ascends to the heavens and fisticuffs between the heroine and her diabolical doppelganger.

Woodley accomplishes these gymnastic feats with aplomb, but it's during the film's quieter moments that she truly excels. In particular, a scene of unburdening facilitated by a truth serum is a tour-de-force of raw, tear-stained emotion that bodes well for the concluding chapter Allegiance.

The finale will be released in two parts a la The Hunger Games. When it comes to milking cash cows, Hollywood prefers them desiccated when the end credits roll.

The second film opens with Tris (Woodley), her lover Four (Theo James), brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort) and Dauntless traitor Peter (Miles Teller) ensconced in the pacifist enclave of Amity under the jurisdiction of Johanna (Octavia Spencer). Tensions between Tris and Peter spill over just as the gun-toting forces of Erudite led by Eric (Jai Courtney) gate-crash the bucolic idyll.

Peter betrays the fugitives but Tris, Four and Caleb escape and head for the only sanctuary left to them: the realm of the factionless under the control of Four's conniving mother, Evelyn (Naomi Watts).

"If we were to combine forces, we'd be unstoppable," enthuses Evelyn, sensing an opportunity to overthrow Jeanine (Kate Winslet) and her cohorts from Erudite. Allegiances are tested as Tris and Four disagree about the way forward, flanked by their Dauntless brethren including Christina (Zoe Kravitz) and Tori (Maggie Q).

Meanwhile, Jeanine hunts down Divergents to unlock a box that purportedly contains the key to eradicating the misfits once and for all.

Although it lacks the sustained visceral thrills and sense of jeopardy that distinguished the first film, Insurgent confidently lays the groundwork for a fraught journey back to humanity. While Woodley excels in every frame, many of her talented co-stars are underused, particularly Whiplash drummer boy Teller and Elgort.

James continues to brood with his shirt on or off, kindling pleasing sparks of on-screen chemistry with his leading lady. Director Schwentke, who previously captained Jodie Foster in the airborne thriller Flightplan, safely pilots the sequel through a few moments of dramatic turbulence, knowing the best is yet to come.

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Tuesday 31st March 2015
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The Divergent Series: Insurgent 3D 3 stars

Tris and Four are on the run with Marcus Eaton and other members of Abnegation. Jeanine Matthews and her cohorts from Erudite plus Dauntless traitor Eric are close behind, determined to crush the rebellion and wipe out the Divergents, who threaten the status quo. The fugitives align themselves with the factionless, who are being led by Four's mother Evelyn. Allegiances are tested as Tris learns shocking secrets about the past that threaten the people she loves and the future of her world.

  • GenreAction, Adaptation, Adventure, Family, Romance, Science Fiction
  • CastMiles Teller, Maggie Q, Jai Courtney, Naomi Watts, Theo James, Kate Winslet, Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, Ashley Judd, Zoe Kravitz, Ray Stevenson.
  • DirectorRobert Schwentke.
  • WriterBrian Duffield, Akiva Goldsman, Mark Bomback.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration119 mins
  • Official sitewww.thedivergentseries.com
  • Release19/03/2015

Adapted from Veronica Roth's bestselling trilogy for young adults, Insurgent is a slickly engineered sequel that moves the dystopian narrative along at pace to a startling final revelation. Robert Schwentke's action-packed film crams its visual pyrotechnics into the climactic 40 minutes when Shailene Woodley's heroine Tris must complete a series of tasks to prove that she possesses the qualities of all five factions.

She must test positive for the selflessness of Abnegation, the courage of Dauntless, the honesty of Candor, the intelligence of Erudite and the inner peace of Amity. These trials include a visually stunning race against time to rescue Tris' mother (Ashley Judd) from a burning building that rotates as it ascends to the heavens and fisticuffs between the heroine and her diabolical doppelganger.

Woodley accomplishes these gymnastic feats with aplomb, but it's during the film's quieter moments that she truly excels. In particular, a scene of unburdening facilitated by a truth serum is a tour-de-force of raw, tear-stained emotion that bodes well for the concluding chapter Allegiance.

The finale will be released in two parts a la The Hunger Games. When it comes to milking cash cows, Hollywood prefers them desiccated when the end credits roll.

The second film opens with Tris (Woodley), her lover Four (Theo James), brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort) and Dauntless traitor Peter (Miles Teller) ensconced in the pacifist enclave of Amity under the jurisdiction of Johanna (Octavia Spencer). Tensions between Tris and Peter spill over just as the gun-toting forces of Erudite led by Eric (Jai Courtney) gate-crash the bucolic idyll.

Peter betrays the fugitives but Tris, Four and Caleb escape and head for the only sanctuary left to them: the realm of the factionless under the control of Four's conniving mother, Evelyn (Naomi Watts).

"If we were to combine forces, we'd be unstoppable," enthuses Evelyn, sensing an opportunity to overthrow Jeanine (Kate Winslet) and her cohorts from Erudite. Allegiances are tested as Tris and Four disagree about the way forward, flanked by their Dauntless brethren including Christina (Zoe Kravitz) and Tori (Maggie Q).

Meanwhile, Jeanine hunts down Divergents to unlock a box that purportedly contains the key to eradicating the misfits once and for all.

Although it lacks the sustained visceral thrills and sense of jeopardy that distinguished the first film, Insurgent confidently lays the groundwork for a fraught journey back to humanity. While Woodley excels in every frame, many of her talented co-stars are underused, particularly Whiplash drummer boy Teller and Elgort.

James continues to brood with his shirt on or off, kindling pleasing sparks of on-screen chemistry with his leading lady. Director Schwentke, who previously captained Jodie Foster in the airborne thriller Flightplan, safely pilots the sequel through a few moments of dramatic turbulence, knowing the best is yet to come.

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Tuesday 31st March 2015
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The Face Of An Angel 3 stars

movie title

A filmmaker called Thomas arrives in Sienna to uncover the truth about a murder case for the screenplay he is writing. He gains admission to the court of appeal with the help of resident journalist Simone, who has been covering the case since it began. As Thomas questions witnesses and suspects eliminated by the local police, he begins to doubt the official version of events, blurring the lines between fact and scripted fiction.

  • GenreAdaptation, Drama, Thriller
  • CastKate Beckinsale, Daniel Bruhl, Ava Acres, Cara Delevingne.
  • DirectorMichael Winterbottom.
  • WriterPaul Viragh.
  • CountryUK/Ita/Sp
  • Duration101 mins
  • Official site
  • Release27/03/2015 (selected cinemas)

Michael Winterbottom's provocative drama, inspired by the Meredith Kercher case, is timed for release in the same week that Italy's supreme court will rule on Amanda Knox's appeal to overturn her murder conviction. The Face Of An Angel changes the names of the characters and transplants the legal wrangling to Sienna, where filmmaker Thomas (Daniel Bruhl) arrives to uncover the truth about a murder case for the screenplay he is writing. Thomas has recently separated from his wife and is engaged in a bitter war of words with his ex about their nine-year-old daughter Beatrice. He invests all of his energy into his work, gaining admission to the court of appeal with the help of resident journalist Simone (Kate Beckinsale), who has been covering the case since it began. As Thomas questions witnesses and suspects eliminated by the local police, he begins to doubt the official version of events, blurring the lines between fact and scripted fiction.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Tuesday 31st March 2015
Wednesday 1st April 2015
Thursday 2nd April 2015

The Gunman 3 stars

movie title

Mercenary for hire Jim Terrier lives in the Democratic Republic of Congo with his girlfriend Annie. A slippery associate called Felix hires Jim to kill a colleague in the mining industry and the hit man subsequently leaves the country, bidding farewell to Annie in the process. Eight years later, machete wielding assailants attempt to kill Jim. Fearing that the ghosts of his old life have returned to haunt him, Jim resolves to track down Felix and Annie with the help of paranoid old friend Cox.

  • GenreAction, Adaptation, Romance, Thriller
  • CastSean Penn, Idris Elba, Jasmine Trinca, Ray Winstone, Mark Rylance, Javier Bardem.
  • DirectorPierre Morel.
  • WriterPete Travis.
  • CountrySp/UK/Fr
  • Duration115 mins
  • Official sitewww.thegunmanthefilm.com
  • Release20/03/2015

If there's one image that unexpectedly lingers in Pierre Morel's socially conscious yet gleefully violent film, it's Sean Penn's gym-toned torso. On several occasions, the camera lingers on the Oscar-winning actor's muscular frame: bent double over a sink staring melancholically into a steamy mirror; glistening with water under a shower; contorting on a surfboard to ride crashing waves.

We're used to seeing Penn deliver incendiary performances in heavyweight dramas such 21 Grams, Mystic River and Milk so to see him bulking up and following the lead of Liam Neeson, who worked with director Morel on Taken, is a shock.

On the surface, The Gunman seems to appeal to Penn's outspoken political and social views: Pete Travis's script lambasts western involvement in hostilities in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which is a rich source of gold and precious minerals.

However, every time the film threatens to prick consciences, the narrative puts away its moral compass and engineers another frenetic chase or running gun battle, including some bruising hand-to-hand combat that proves Penn has been training heavily with a fight choreographer when he isn't pumping iron.

He plays mercenary for hire Jim Terrier, who operates in the Congo, where he fulfils secret contracts that would undoubtedly horrify his do-gooder medic girlfriend Annie (Jasmine Trinca).

Jim's colleague Felix (Javier Bardem), who manages these covert operations, accepts a contract to assassinate the Minister For Mining, who has just caused a political firestorm by announcing that he intends to renegotiate all mining contracts. "Once the hit occurs, the shooter - and the shooter alone - is in the wind," explains fellow mercenary Cox (Mark Rylance).

Inevitably, Jim pulls the trigger and he leaves under the cloak of darkness. Several years later, Jim returns to Africa to atone for his sins by assisting a humanitarian relief agency. He is attacked by machete-wielding assailants and fears the ghosts of his old life have returned to haunt him.

So Jim flies to London to warn Cox and gather intelligence from old pal Stanley (Ray Winstone) before heading to Barcelona to reconnect with Felix and Annie, who are now married.

Based on the novel The Prone Gunman by Jean-Patrick Manchette, The Gunman is a slick action thriller about a man of violence, who discovers that he cannot turn his back on the past. Penn is better than the script deserves, and Bardem and the mercurial Rylance are both wasted in two-dimensional roles, the latter delighted to swap combat gear for the sharply tailor suits of the boardroom. "I went from killer to cashier - don't tell anyone," he giggles.

Morel orchestrates wanton destruction with typical bombast and brio, pausing only to let his brawny leading man take his bulletproof vest and slashed shirt off.

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Tuesday 31st March 2015
Wednesday 1st April 2015
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The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel 4 stars

movie title

Sonny and his business partner Muriel consider expanding into a second hotel to cope with demand, aided by Douglas and Evelyn. The arrival of an American writer called Guy sends Madge into a swoon while Sonny has lots to keep him occupied with his impending nuptials to the beautiful Sunaina. Douglas and Evelyn's romance continues to develop but the course of true love, even in twilight years, never runs smooth.

  • GenreComedy, Drama, Romance
  • CastRichard Gere, Bill Nighy, Dame Maggie Smith, Ronald Pickup, Tamsin Greig, Penelope Wilton, Dev Patel, Tena Desae, Dame Judi Dench, Celia Imrie, Lillete Dubey.
  • DirectorJohn Madden.
  • WriterOl Parker.
  • CountryUS/UK
  • Duration122 mins
  • Official sitewww.facebook.com/marigoldhotel
  • Release26/02/2015

Towards the end of The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, a secret inspector is asked for an honest assessment of Jaipur's luxury development for residents in their golden years. The inspector concludes that behind the scenes, management of the hotel is shambolic but unerring affection for the staff makes it a four-star destination for "the elderly and beautiful".

The same honest appraisal applies to John Madden's entertaining sequel: Ol Parker's script is haphazard and several plot strands are flimsy but our emotional investment in the characters papers over the cracks.

Audiences who check in to this second chapter will be treated to the same pungent Jaipur backdrops and good-humoured service, with a fresh lick of dramatic paint courtesy of new arrivals, played with easy-going charm by Tamsin Greig and Richard Gere.

The dashing star of American Gigolo and Pretty Woman takes on sex symbol status here, causing groom-to-be Sonny (Dev Patel) to quip, "The man is so handsome, he has me urgently questioning my own sexuality." At 65 years old, Gere evidently still has it.

While the first film was lovingly adapted from Deborah Moggach's novel These Foolish Things, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel tumbles straight out of the scriptwriter Parker's imagination. He struggles to provide each resident with a compelling narrative arc: some are surplus to requirements while others relish the trials and tribulations that test fledgling romances and fractious friendships to breaking point.

Sonny and business partner Muriel (Maggie Smith) travel abroad to seek investment for a second hotel from business chief Ty Burley (David Strathairn) and return to India, mindful that funding is dependent on a review from a secret inspector.
"How was America?" asks Evelyn (Judi Dench), welcoming them home.
"It made death more tempting," retorts Muriel.

English traveller Lavinia (Greig) and American novelist Guy (Gere) arrive soon after and Sonny is convinced that Guy must be the inspector so he ignores Lavinia and lavishes attention on the writer. Guy's arrival sends Madge (Celia Imrie) into a swoon - "Lordy lord, have mercy on my ovaries!" she swoons - while Douglas (Bill Nighy) struggles to communicate his feelings to Evelyn.

Meanwhile, Sonny is pre-occupied with his impending nuptials to Sunaina (Tina Desai) and a simmering rivalry for his fiancee's affections from snake-hipped family friend Kush (Shazad Latif).

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel delivers the same winning formula of laughter and tears, eliciting strong performances from Dench, Nighy and Smith at her acid-tongued, indomitable best.

The course of true love, even in twilight years, never runs smooth and Parker composes variations on a theme of amour, while peppering his script with pithy one-liners. "There is no present like the time," professes one wise soul. Madden's film is certainly a gift: you get everything you expect but nothing more.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Tuesday 31st March 2015
Wednesday 1st April 2015
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The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out Of Water 3 stars

movie title

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.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration92 mins
  • Official sitewww.squarepantsmovie.co.uk
  • Release27/03/2015

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)

Tuesday 31st March 2015
Wednesday 1st April 2015
Thursday 2nd April 2015

This film is also showing at:

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out Of Water 3D 3 stars

movie title

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
  • CastRodger Bumpass, Tom Kenny, Bill Fagerbakke, Antonio Banderas, Clancy Brown.
  • DirectorPaul Tibbitt.
  • WriterJonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration92 mins
  • Official sitewww.squarepantsmovie.co.uk
  • Release27/03/2015

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)

Tuesday 31st March 2015
Wednesday 1st April 2015
Thursday 2nd April 2015

This film is also showing at:

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