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

  • A Little Chaos
  • Annie
  • Avengers Assemble 3D + Avengers: Age Of Ultron 3D
  • Avengers: Age Of Ultron
  • Avengers: Age Of Ultron 3D
  • Big Eyes
  • Big Hero 6
  • Child 44
  • Cinderella
  • Fast & Furious 7
  • Fifty Shades Of Grey
  • Focus
  • Get Hard
  • Good Kill
  • Home
  • Home 3D
  • Hot Tub Time Machine 2
  • John Wick
  • NT Live Encore Screening: A View From The Bridge
  • Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2
  • Shaun The Sheep Movie
  • The Boxtrolls 3D
  • The Divergent Series: Insurgent
  • The Duff
  • The Emperor's New Clothes + Q&A With Russell Brand: Live Satellite Transmission
  • The Gunman
  • The Salvation
  • The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
  • The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out Of Water
  • The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out Of Water 3D
  • The Water Diviner
  • Woman In Gold

A Little Chaos 3 stars

movie title

King Louis XIV hires renowned landscape gardener Andre Le Notre to transform the grounds of Versailles into a fantasia "of exquisite and matchless beauty". It is a Herculean task, so Le Notre hires fellow landscapers to oversee different sections of the garden. Sabine De Barra catches his eye. She flouts rigid form and prefers a more haphazard approach to her planting. The arrival of Sabine in the court sets tongues wagging and incurs the wrath of Andre's jealous wife, Madame Le Notre.

  • GenreComedy, Drama, Historical/Period, Romance
  • CastAlan Rickman, Kate Winslet, Stanley Tucci, Helen McCrory, Matthias Schoenaerts, Jennifer Ehle.
  • DirectorAlan Rickman.
  • WriterAlison Deegan, Alan Rickman, Jeremy Brock.
  • CountryUK
  • Duration117 mins
  • Official site
  • Release17/04/2015

Sexual tension and skulduggery blossom in the magnificent gardens of the Palace of Versailles in Alan Rickman's entertaining second directorial feature. A Little Chaos is considerably more formal and predictable than the title suggests, but what this lusty period romp lacks in originality, it compensates with colourful performances and an uplifting bouquet of courtly intrigues.

Rickman sows the seeds of our simple enjoyment with a largely British cast led by Oscar-winner Kate Winslet as a spirited landscape gardener, who refuses to kowtow to expectations or gender stereotypes.

She is nestled between handsome Belgian actor Matthias Schoenaerts as her green-fingered love interest and Stanley Tucci in a typically scene-stealing comic role as the effete Duc d'Orleans, who is a stranger to restrained sophistication and "speaks from the opposite end of the fashion scale".

Some of Britain's finest stately homes, estates and mansions including Blenheim Palace, Cliveden, Hampton Court Palace and Waddesdon Manor double handsomely for late 17th-century France. Rickman's garden is exceedingly well turned out.

The director makes his mark in front of the camera as King Louis XIV, who has hired renowned landscape gardener Andre Le Notre (Schoenaerts) to transform the grounds of Versailles into a fantasia "of exquisite and matchless beauty".

It is a Herculean task, so Le Notre hires fellow landscapers to oversee different sections of the garden. Sabine De Barra (Winslet) catches his eye. She flouts rigid form and prefers a more haphazard approach to her planting.

The arrival of Sabine in the court sets tongues wagging - "You are no one where everybody is someone," a chaperone tells her - and incurs the wrath of Andre's jealous wife, Madame Le Notre (Helen McCrory).

Fellow labourers including Moulin (Danny Webb) rush to support Sabine in her epic undertaking and the gardener wins the approval of the king's mistress Madame De Montespan (Jennifer Ehle) by challenging the monarch's description of women in his court as faded and overblown roses. "That fate awaits all roses, sire," Sabine responds confidently.

A Little Chaos has the requisite array of heaving bosoms, lingering glances and deceptions, accentuated by swathes of eye-catching costumes and composer Peter Gregson's lively score.

Winslet isn't stretched in the lead role but she brings grit and determination to her trendsetter. On-screen sexual tension with Schoenaerts barely simmers, while McCrory vamps it up to the hilt as the wicked wench who envies Sabine's ability to impress powerful men with her intellect.

Rickman downplays his beleaguered monarch and enjoys one truly delightful scene with Winslet, in which he casts off the king's finery to mourn lost love. The resolution of the entangled plots will surprise no one, but A Little Chaos is a hardy perennial that will weather most criticism and delivers gentle sprays of laughter and romance when it counts.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Sunday 19th April 2015
Monday 20th April 2015
Tuesday 21st April 2015
Wednesday 22nd April 2015
Thursday 23rd April 2015

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Annie 3 stars

movie title

Annie lives in Harlem in the dubious care of embittered, alcoholic, faded pop star Colleen Hannigan with four other girls. During one of her regular jaunts around the city, Annie is rescued from the path of a truck by mobile phone company billionaire Will Stacks, who is running for mayor. The footage goes viral and boosts Will's approval ratings. Election advisor Guy suggests that Will temporarily adopts Annie to boost his chances of winning the election.

  • GenreAdaptation, Comedy, Drama, Family, Family, Musical
  • CastRose Byrne, Quvenzhane Wallis, Jamie Foxx, Cameron Diaz, Bobby Cannavale, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, David Zayas.
  • DirectorWill Gluck.
  • WriterAline Brosh McKenna, Will Gluck.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration118 mins
  • Official sitewww.annie-movie.com/site
  • Release20/12/2014

Adapted from the popular Broadway musical, the 1982 film version of Annie is firmly ingrained in many rose-tinted childhood memories. The uplifting story of a flame-haired orphan girl who overcomes insurmountable odds to win the heart of a billionaire businessman taps into our deep-rooted sense of belonging.

Infectious music and lyrics by Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin have reverberated throughout popular culture from episodes of 30 Rock, Glee and South Park to a sample on rapper Jay-Z's 1998 single Hard Knock Life. Will Gluck's glossy modern remake retains most of the original songbook with a couple of new soaring ballads.

Some of the updates don't quite work: changing Annie's residence from an orphanage to a foster home significantly reduces the number of children in care for one of the big song and dance numbers. Also Carol Burnett's ferocious portrayal of Miss Hannigan has been softened so Cameron Diaz retains a glimmer of likability, even when she's drunkenly snarling, "You think the world wants a smart-mouthed little girl?".

On the whole, Gluck's reworking possesses the same wholesome likability including a winning title performance from Quvenzhane Wallis, who was Oscar nominated for Beasts Of The Southern Wild.

Annie (Wallis) lives in Harlem in the dubious care of embittered, alcoholic, faded pop star Colleen Hannigan (Diaz) with four other girls: Tessie (Zoe Margaret Colletti), Mia (Nicolette Pierini), Isabella (Eden Duncan-Smith) and Pepper (Amanda Troya).

Eternally cheerful and optimistic, Annie believes her real parents will return for her and every Friday, she sits outside the Italian restaurant where her folks left her aged four with a note.

During one of her regular jaunts around the city, Annie is rescued from the path of a truck by mobile phone company billionaire Will Stacks (Jamie Foxx), who is running for mayor. The footage goes viral and boosts Will's approval ratings.

Election advisor Guy (Bobby Cannavale), who masterminded campaigns for Arnold Schwarzenegger and Kim Jong-Il, suggests that Will temporarily adopts Annie. Will agrees and welcomes Annie into his high-tech penthouse, where she befriends the mogul's trusty assistant Grace (Rose Byrne).

Over time, Annie opens Will's heart but just when he is poised to consider adopting her forever, her real parents (Tracie Thoms, Dorian Missick) reappear. Annie lacks some of the rough charm of the 1982 film but director Gluck and his team add enough contemporary spit and polish without obscuring the story's emotional arc.

Cast lip-sync convincingly and the big numbers are slickly choreographed including a heartfelt rendition of Tomorrow from Wallis on the city streets. An extended sequence at the premiere of a fantasy film called Moon Quake Lake - featuring wink-wink cameos from Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis and Rihanna - is rather cute.

"People love musicals, they're magical," observes one character. This version of Annie has an ample sprinkling of that lustre dust.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Sunday 19th April 2015

Avengers Assemble 3D + Avengers: Age Of Ultron 3D 3 stars

When a dangerous new enemy threatens the safety of mankind, Nick Fury, director of the international peacekeeping agency known as S.H.I.E.L.D., scours the globe in search of the ultimate team of superheroes. Aided by fellow agent Maria Hill, Fury recruits Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye and Black Widow to save the day.

  • GenreAction, Adaptation, Adventure, Science Fiction
  • CastChris Evans, Stellan Skarsgard, Cobie Smulders, Robert Downey Jr, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Samuel L Jackson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Gwyneth Paltrow, Scarlett Johansson.
  • DirectorJoss Whedon.
  • WriterJoss Whedon.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration320 mins
  • Official siteuk.marvel.com/avengers-assemble
  • Release23/04/2015

More is less in Avengers Assemble, the special effects-laden amalgamation of four Marvel Comics franchises. Bringing together characters from Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and The Incredible Hulk, Joss Whedon's frenetic romp deftly knits together plot strands from the earlier films, threaded with tongue-in-cheek humour. There's a clear presumption that audiences will have seen the pictures that inspire this battle royale, accounting for a paucity of fresh character development, which undermines the relationship between the two heroes without a franchise.

However, while psychological substance may be thin, exhilarating action-packed sequences abound, choreographed at breakneck pace by writer-director Whedon, who knows how to seamlessly meld live action with digital trickery for maximum impact. Interestingly, he keeps the Avengers disjointed for most of the film, only bringing everyone together in the same location for the protracted final showdown to decide mankind's fate - and the likelihood of a sequel.

Thor's evil brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) plots to exterminate mankind by harnessing the power of the pulsating Tesseract cube. Aided by an army of aliens, Loki steals the artefact from the subterranean headquarters of the international peacekeeping agency known as S.H.I.E.L.D, and enslaves scientist Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard) and ace marksman Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) to do his nefarious bidding.

"As of now, we are at war," declares Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson), director of S.H.I.E.L.D, to the dismay of fellow agents Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) and Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg). Desperate times call for innovative measures and Fury scours the globe for the ultimate team of superheroes, uniting the inflated egos and rippling muscles of Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr), The Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson).

"You're going to leave the world's fate to a handful of freaks?" scoffs one political leader. However, Fury has great faith in his team, so long as they can overcome their petty jealousies and insecurities.

Avengers Assemble doesn't quite scale the dizzy heights of the original Iron Man but for almost two and a half hours, we're entertained and energised by Whedon's distinctive vision of the Marvel universe. The writer-director gifts many of the best lines to Downey Jr including a belting quip about Thor's olde worlde vernacular.

There is also a lovely moment when Thor attempts to defend the actions of Loki, only to learn that his scheming sibling has killed 80 people in two days. "He is adopted," deadpans the hammer-wielding god.

Since the cast and script don't take anything too seriously, nor do we, marvelling at the outrageously overblown special effects. Gwyneth Paltrow cameos as Iron Man's valiant assistant Pepper Potts but Oscar winner Natalie Portman was clearly too busy with motherhood to put in a physical appearance to shore up Thor's back story.

When Ruffalo mutates into the not-so-jolly green giant, the final battle becomes hilariously one-sided - a blur of computer-generated green as the green ball of anger flies through the air at speed, pummelling everything and everyone to a pulp. "Hulk smash!" he growls. Avengers Assemble is simply smashing.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Wednesday 22nd April 2015

Avengers: Age Of Ultron 3 stars

movie title

Tony Stark hopes to jumpstart world peace using a dormant artificial intelligence program but he unwittingly unleashes the villainous Ultron. Nick Fury calls together his superhero team of Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, The Incredible Hulk, Black Widow and Hawkeye to protect mankind from annihilation, testing the bonds of trust between the team members in the process. Uneasy alliances are forged and the Avengers cross paths with mysterious and powerful siblings Wanda and Pietro Maximoff.

  • GenreAction, Adaptation, Adventure, Family, Fantasy, Science Fiction
  • CastChris Evans, Robert Downey Jr, Mark Ruffalo, James Spader, Chris Hemsworth, Samuel L Jackson, Jeremy Renner, Scarlett Johansson, Elizabeth Olsen, Aaron Taylor-Johnson.
  • DirectorJoss Whedon.
  • WriterJoss Whedon.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration141 mins
  • Official sitewww.marvel.com/avengers
  • Release23/04/2015

Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) hopes to jumpstart world peace using a dormant artificial intelligence program but he unwittingly unleashes the villainous Ultron (James Spader). Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) calls together his superhero team of Iron Man, Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), The Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) to protect mankind from annihilation, testing the bonds of trust between the team members in the process. Uneasy alliances are forged and the Avengers cross paths with mysterious and powerful siblings Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) and Pietro Maximoff (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). The team also encounters an old friend in his new form as Vision (Paul Bettany).

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Thursday 23rd April 2015

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Avengers: Age Of Ultron 3D 3 stars

movie title

Tony Stark hopes to jumpstart world peace using a dormant artificial intelligence program but he unwittingly unleashes the villainous Ultron. Nick Fury calls together his superhero team of Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, The Incredible Hulk, Black Widow and Hawkeye to protect mankind from annihilation, testing the bonds of trust between the team members in the process. Uneasy alliances are forged and the Avengers cross paths with mysterious and powerful siblings Wanda and Pietro Maximoff.

  • GenreAction, Adaptation, Adventure, Family, Fantasy, Science Fiction
  • CastChris Evans, Robert Downey Jr, Mark Ruffalo, James Spader, Chris Hemsworth, Samuel L Jackson, Jeremy Renner, Scarlett Johansson, Elizabeth Olsen, Aaron Taylor-Johnson.
  • DirectorJoss Whedon.
  • WriterJoss Whedon.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration141 mins
  • Official sitewww.marvel.com/avengers
  • Release23/04/2015

Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) hopes to jumpstart world peace using a dormant artificial intelligence program but he unwittingly unleashes the villainous Ultron (James Spader). Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) calls together his superhero team of Iron Man, Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), The Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) to protect mankind from annihilation, testing the bonds of trust between the team members in the process. Uneasy alliances are forged and the Avengers cross paths with mysterious and powerful siblings Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) and Pietro Maximoff (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). The team also encounters an old friend in his new form as Vision (Paul Bettany).

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Thursday 23rd April 2015

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Big Eyes 3 stars

movie title

Director Tim Burton charts the incredible true story of artist Margaret Hawkins, who leaves her husband with her young daughter in tow and settles in San Francisco. There, she falls under the spell of fellow painter Walter Keane, who marries Margaret to ensure she won't lose custody of her child. Margaret's haunting depictions of waifs with over-sized eyes capture the public imagination and Walter persuades his wife to allow him to take the credit for the works.

  • GenreBiography, Drama, Romance
  • CastKrysten Ritter, Christoph Waltz, Amy Adams, Danny Huston, Jason Schwartzman, Terence Stamp.
  • DirectorTim Burton.
  • WriterLarry Karaszewski, Scott Alexander.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration106 mins
  • Official sitewww.bigeyesfilm.com
  • Release26/12/2014

Tim Burton began his illustrious Hollywood career as an animator for Disney, working on wholesome family fare including The Fox And The Hound. However, from the moment he nestled into the director's chair for 1985 comedy Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, Burton forged a distinctive path that resolutely defied convention and fashionability.

His visually arresting interpretations of Batman, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory and Alice In Wonderland revelled in the darkness coursing beneath the glossy surface of each well-known story. Occasionally, his offbeat sensibilities have upended a blockbuster script like his abortive 2001 remake of Planet Of The Apes but even when he falters, Burton has remained true to himself.

Given his penchant for the macabre and melancholic, the Californian filmmaker is a snug fit for this biopic of artist Margaret Keane, who famously took her husband to court in 1986 to prove he was a fraud. She alleged that her spouse's phenomenally popular paintings of waifs with unnaturally large eyes were actually created by her and she had foolishly allowed him to steal her thunder.

The film begins in 1958 California with Margaret Hawkins (Amy Adam) leaving her husband "before it became the fashionable thing to do" with young daughter Jane (Delaney Raye) in tow. They settle in San Francisco where Margaret's spooky pictures of street children catch the eye of fellow painter Walter Keane (Christoph Waltz).

She falls under his spell and they marry to ensure Margaret won't lose custody of Jane. Local gallery owner Ruben (Jason Schwartzman) doesn't rate Margaret's work - "Clear out the clutter before the Taste Police arrive!" he snipes - but her haunting depictions of children with over-sized eyes become an unexpected sensation.

Fame-hungry Walter persuades Margaret to let him claim ownership since he has the showmanship to promote the Keane brand. While Margaret toils night and day in her studio, Walter enjoys the trappings of celebrity.

However, not everyone is seduced by Walter, including revered critic John Canaday (Terence Stamp), who despairs at the column inches devoted to this talentless self-publicist. "He is like the Hula Hoop - he won't go away!" laments Canaday.

Truth is more bizarre than fiction in Big Eyes but Burton's handsome dramatisation of the Keanes' romance and subsequent legal wranglings is infuriatingly light on fine detail. It's difficult to understand why Margaret agrees to the deception when she is strong enough to leave her first husband or tell Walter plainly, "The more you lie, the smaller you seem."

Adams delivers another solid performance while Waltz tempers his usual scenery-chewing apart from the climactic trial when his accused man mounts a legal defence based on everything he has seen on Columbo.

Period detail is splendid but quirky style overrides emotion. We're cast adrift from the misfit characters and for once, Burton seems incapable of throwing us a lifeline.

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Wednesday 22nd April 2015

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.

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Sunday 19th April 2015

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Child 44 3 stars

movie title

Leo Demidov, best friend Alexei Andreyev and cowardly rival Vasili Nikitin work side by side as Moscow's secret police under the aegis of Major Kuzmin. Alexei's young son dies on the train tracks in suspicious circumstances and the grieving father becomes convinced that a murderer is on the loose. When Leo investigates, Kuzmin shoots him down: "Stalin tells us murder is strictly a capitalist disease."

  • GenreAdaptation, Historical/Period, Romance, Thriller, War
  • CastJason Clarke, Tom Hardy, Vincent Cassel, Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Noomi Rapace, Paddy Considine, Joel Kinnaman, Gary Oldman.
  • DirectorDaniel Espinosa.
  • WriterRichard Price.
  • CountryUS/UK/Cze/
  • Duration137 mins
  • Official sitewww.child44film.com
  • Release17/04/2015

Adapted from the first novel of Tom Rob Smith's award-winning trilogy, Child 44 is a dense crime thriller steeped in the suspicion and paranoia of the Stalin-era Soviet Union.

Scriptwriter Richard Price faces an uphill battle - one he doesn't always win - to condense more than 400 pages of political intrigue and sinewy subplots into a free-flowing narrative that won't distract multiplex audiences from their popcorn.

He succeeds in fits and spurts, aided by Swedish director Daniel Espinosa, who energised the Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds thriller Safe House, and performs some of the same magic here in propulsive action sequences.

Espinosa flexes his muscles in compelling early scenes, recreating a key moment in the Battle of Berlin in 1945, when Soviets raised their flag over the Reichstag building. War-hardened soldier Leo Demidov (Tom Hardy) is the man wielding the standard, cheered on by best friend Alexei Andreyev (Fares Fares), while cowardly comrade Vasili Nikitin (Joel Kinnaman) watches enviously from the sidelines.

Fast-forward eight years and these three men are working side by side as Moscow's secret police under the aegis of Major Kuzmin (Vincent Cassel). Alexei's young son dies on the train tracks in suspicious circumstances and the grieving father becomes convinced that a murderer is on the loose.

When Leo investigates, Kuzmin shoots him down: "Stalin tells us murder is strictly a capitalist disease." Soon after, Leo's wife Raisa (Noomi Rapace) is branded a traitor but the policeman refuses to disown her. "You should have given me up - that's what wives are for," she coldly informs him, before they are banished to the bleak industrial town of Voualsk.

Leo is determined to unmask the boy's murderer and joins forces with local lawmaker General Nesterov (Gary Oldman) to disprove Stalin's assertion that there can be no murder in paradise. Meanwhile, the unlikely culprit, a factory worker called Vladimir (Paddy Considine), hunts more unsuspecting victims with impunity.

Based on the real life case of Andrei Chikatilo, the so-called Butcher of Rostov, who was sentenced to death for 52 murders, Child 44 is a slow burn that gets bogged down in exposition. Some of the cast are more comfortable than others with the thick Russian accents, including a couple of noticeable wobbles.

Hardy is a typically brooding and emotionally conflicted central figure, who is forced to address his own transgressions when murderer Vladimir scolds: "Hero, monster - we are both killers, you and I."

The bitter rivalry with Kinnaman's backstabbing compatriot is sketched in broad strokes while Rapace's love interest feels slightly undernourished too, although she relishes one pivotal scene in which Raisa laments the lack of free will afforded her sex.

Espinosa sustains tension, despite occasional dramatic detours that prolong the running time to a testing 137 minutes.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Sunday 19th April 2015
Monday 20th April 2015
Tuesday 21st April 2015
Wednesday 22nd April 2015
Thursday 23rd April 2015

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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)

Sunday 19th April 2015
Monday 20th April 2015
Tuesday 21st April 2015
Wednesday 22nd April 2015
Thursday 23rd April 2015

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Fast & Furious 7 3 stars

movie title

Following the death of corrupt British soldier Owen Shaw, Dominic Toretto, Brian O'Conner and their crew are granted permission to return to America as free men. Brian and Mia look forward to settling down and Dominic comes to terms with the return of Letty from the dead. Owen's older brother Ian seeks revenge for the killing of his sibling and he begins by slaying Han-Seoul-Oh. When the rest of the team learn about Han's death, they come together for one final and potentially lethal mission.

  • GenreAction, Romance, Thriller
  • CastDwayne Johnson, Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Djimon Hounsou, Lucas Black, Jordana Brewster, Michelle Rodriguez, Kurt Russell, Jason Statham.
  • DirectorJames Wan.
  • WriterChris Morgan, Gary Scott Thompson.
  • CountryUS/Jpn
  • Duration137 mins
  • Official sitewww.fastandfurious7.co.uk
  • Release03/04/2015

It's not the gleaming high-octane motors, scantily clad women or outlandish gravity-defying stunts that will have audiences burning rubber to their multiplexes to see this seventh instalment of The Fast And The Furious franchise. Instead, it's the final screen appearance of handsome leading man Paul Walker, who died halfway through production, which will invariably guarantee supercharged box office returns for James Wan's sleek sequel.

Fast & Furious 7 is dedicated to Walker's memory and his unfinished scenes have been respectfully completed using previously unseen footage from earlier films, or by digitally grafting his facial features onto the bodies of his brothers, Caleb and Cody, who act as stand-ins.

The digital trickery is impressive and while the joins aren't completely seamless, we suspend our disbelief, which is already hovering in the troposphere after the stunt team mocks the laws of physics to drive one car out of the penthouse of an Abu Dhabi skyscraper and across the void to a neighbouring tower block.

Screenwriter Chris Morgan's desire to top the outrageous set pieces of previous films repeatedly sacrifices realism, going for broke when he hopes to persuade us that Vin Diesel, Walker and their co-stars could skydive their vehicles into position on a winding mountain road by driving cars out of an airplane and opening parachutes attached to their plummeting vehicles at the last second.

It's an understatement when one of the characters whoops, "I can't believe we pulled that off!" The action begins directly after events of Fast & Furious 6 with corrupt British soldier Owen Shaw (Luke Evans) on life support in a London hospital.

Owen's older brother Ian (Jason Statham) seeks revenge against Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), Brian O'Conner (Walker) and their crew. Ian hacks into the computer of federal agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) to ascertain the whereabouts of the team and doles out a near fatal pummelling to Hobbs in the process.

"I'm gonna put a hurt on him so bad, he's gonna wish his momma had kept her legs closed," barks the hospitalised federal agent. Meanwhile, Dominic's crew prepare for war. "It looks like the sins of London followed us home," growls the bad boy, who reunites with fast-talking Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson) and technical wizard Tej (Chris 'Ludacris' Bridges) to neutralise the threat posed by Owen with help from a hacker called Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel).

Fast & Furious 7 stitches together all of the previous films including a cameo for Lucas Black as Sean Boswell from the lacklustre third chapter Tokyo Drift. Diesel, Walker and co continue to display superhuman strength and resilience, surviving spectacular crashes with barely a graze, while Statham plies his usual brand of muscular destruction.

A heartfelt, if protracted, coda between Diesel and Walker provides the former with an opportunity to publicly say farewell to his cinematic brother in arms.

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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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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.

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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.

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Good Kill 3 stars

movie title

In the Nevada desert, commanding officer Jack Johns presides over a close-knit team of drone pilots. Major Tom Egan is one of the few men at the base, who has actually taken to the skies and he hankers for a return to the cockpit rather than sitting in an air-conditioned crate, staring at the enemy through a lens. His wife Molly and daughter Jesse get to spend precious time with him in their picket-fenced home but mentally, Tom is thousands of miles away.

  • GenreAction, Romance, Thriller
  • CastZoe Kravitz, January Jones, Ethan Hawke, Jake Abel, Bruce Greenwood.
  • DirectorAndrew Niccol.
  • WriterAndrew Niccol.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration100 mins
  • Official site
  • Release10/04/2015 (selected cinemas)

To win a war in this age of hi-tech weaponry, governments still have to be prepared to sacrifice good men and women in the name of freedom. There is no hard-fought victory without heartbreak on both sides of a conflict; for soldiers on the front line and the nameless civilians, whose deaths are mourned as collateral damage.

America's use of drones during the war on terror has divided opinion. On the one hand, these remotely-controlled craft can deliver devastating payloads with precision and if a drone is shot down, the pilot is safely back on home soil, witnessing the crash on a computer screen.

One less coffin to emerge from an aircraft carrier, draped in the Stars & Stripes. However, conducting war with joysticks using soldiers, who have been recruited at video-gaming conferences and have never experienced active duty, warps the moral fabric of combat. Do you bear the same weight of responsibility for pulling a trigger when your unsuspecting target is thousands of miles away and can't retaliate?

Good Kill is a provocative drama written and directed by Andrew Niccol, which probes the emotional strain on Air Force drone pilots and the ethical quagmire that engulfs them every time they follow orders.

Niccol's film unfolds in the Nevada desert, where commanding officer Jack Johns (Bruce Greenwood) welcomes new recruits to his outfit. "War is now a first-person shooter," growls Johns. "It's not a bunch of pixels you're blowing up. It's flesh and blood."

Major Tom Egan (Ethan Hawke) is one of the few men at the base, who has actually taken to the skies and he hankers for a return to the cockpit rather than sitting in an air-conditioned crate, staring at the enemy through a lens. His wife Molly (January Jones) and daughter Jesse (Sachie Capitani) get to spend precious time with him in their picket-fenced home but mentally, Tom is thousands of miles away.

The arrival of a new co-pilot, Vera Suarez (Zoe Kravitz), has a profound impact on Tom as he wrestles with his conscience and the repercussions of his actions.

Good Kill is a clinical thriller that spares the bombast and treats each deployment of drones with cold detachment. Sequences of aerial bombing are realised in pristine fashion. Niccol muddies the dramatic waters by having his characters witness a rape inside an enemy compound on their screens, which they cannot stop.

This horrific assault lights the fuse on the film's increasingly fraught final act as Tom's mental state finally fractures and the horrors of war spill out, infecting everyone around him.

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Sunday 19th April 2015
Wednesday 22nd April 2015

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.

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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.

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Sunday 19th April 2015
Monday 20th April 2015
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Wednesday 22nd April 2015

Hot Tub Time Machine 2 1 stars

movie title

Lou Dorchen, his childhood pals Adam and Nick and Adam's techno-savvy nephew Jacob have exploited time travel for personal gain. In particular, Lou has become a self-centred boor. During a massive party at the Dorchen residence, the lights go out and someone shoots Lou. With time of the essence, Nick, Jacob and Lou add nitrotrinadium to the hot tub so they can travel back to before the ill-fated shindig and stop the gun man or woman from pulling the trigger.

  • GenreComedy, Romance
  • CastClark Duke, Craig Robinson, Adam Scott, Gillian Jacobs, Rob Corddry, Chevy Chase.
  • DirectorSteve Pink.
  • WriterJosh Heald.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration93 mins
  • Official sitewww.hottubtimemachine.co.uk
  • Release10/04/2015

Once time travel crosses the rubicon from science fiction to scientific fact, I'm charting a course for the day that director Steve Pink first contemplated a sequel to his 2010 comedy Hot Tub Time Machine, to forcefully nip the idea in the bud. The original film was a toe-curling mess, peppered with stomach-churning gross-out interludes.

This belated and unnecessary follow-up takes the questionable art of foul-mouthed male bonding to even grubbier depths. "Don't mess with a winning formula!" whoops one of the dim-witted protagonists shortly before a second dip in the mystical jacuzzi.

If anyone willingly hands over hard-earned money to watch this humourless, witless and occasionally offensive aberration, then they deserve 93 soul-destroying minutes in the company of irritating lead actors Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson and Clark Duke.

John Cusack, one of the stars of the first film, sensibly bailed before cameras started rolling, so his character is repeatedly name-checked but never glimpsed in the flesh. If only Pink's film could vanish without trace.

Childhood pals Lou (Corddry), Adam (Cusack) and Nick (Robinson) have exploited the mystical whirlpool for personal gain. Lou has amassed a fortune of 2.3 billion US dollars as frontman of rock band Motley Lou and inventor of the search engine Lougle. Adam courted celebrity with his novel Jacuzzi Timelord then retreated from the limelight, while Nick has become a chart-topping singer-songwriter by plagiarising songs that haven't been composed yet.

The flimsy plot kicks into pedestrian first gear at Lou's annual party where the boorish host torments his son Jacob (Clark Duke) and assorted guests. A crash of thunder causes a brief power outage and someone uses the cover of darkness to shoot off Lou's manhood.

Nick and Jacob drag the wounded billionaire to the hot tub, add a vial of nitrotrinadium to power the device and prepare to travel back to before the ill-fated shindig. Their prime suspects for the shooting include Lou's enraged wife Kelly (Collette Wolfe), disgruntled childhood friend Gary Winkle (Jason Jones) and Lougle employee Brad (Kumail Nanjiani).

Unexpectedly, the trio slingshot forwards in time to March 26, 2025, where they join forces with Adam's goofy son (Adam Scott) to unravel the mystery.

Hot Tub Time Machine 2 is a lumbering litany of toilet humour including a generous spray of bodily fluids in an ER cubicle and a splash of sodomy during a futuristic celebrity game show hosted by Christian Slater.

Original cast members Corddry, Robinson and Duke can't muster a single laugh between them, while new addition Scott suffers a "super high intensity psychotropic drug trip" that seems preferable to spending time with his co-stars.

Director Pink turns back the clock to orchestrate each misguided set-piece with the same heavy-handedness as the 2010 picture. On a positive note, his film is in focus.

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John Wick 3 stars

movie title

Hit man John Wick (Reeves) holsters his weapons for good to marry his wife Helen. Shortly after terminal illness upends the fairy tale, John receives a present from his wife: an adorable beagle puppy called Daisy. The assassin comes to terms with his loss through his bond with the animal. One night, Russian playboy Iosef Tarasov and his underlings break into John's home, beat him to a pulp and kill Daisy. This act of senseless brutality fuels John's lust for revenge, regardless of the consequences.

  • GenreAction, Romance, Thriller
  • CastKeanu Reeves, Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen, Willem Dafoe, Dean Winters, Adrianne Palicki.
  • DirectorChad Stahelski.
  • WriterDerek Kolstad.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration101 mins
  • Official sitewww.johnwickthemovie.com
  • Release10/04/2015

The death of a cherished pet propels a retired hit man to the brink of murderous insanity in Chad Stahelski's blood-soaked action thriller. Laced with macabre humour and punctuated by balletic fight sequences, John Wick embraces comedy and tragedy as its eponymous hero exacts eye-watering revenge for the slaying of a beloved beagle.

Keanu Reeves delivers one of his most compelling performances since The Matrix Trilogy in the title role, not that Derek Kolstad's script asks a great deal of him. The actor's restricted repertoire of facial expressions fits perfectly with his assassin's grit and determination despite overwhelming odds, and Reeves is well-equipped for the physical demands of breathless hand-to-hand combat and running gun battles.

A shootout in a club is particularly thrilling and screenwriter Kolstad repeatedly stokes the myth of his protagonist, like when one crime syndicate boss whispers, "I once saw him kill three men in a bar with a pencil".

Hit man John Wick (Reeves) holsters his weapons for good to marry his wife Helen (Bridget Moynahan). Shortly after terminal illness upends the fairy tale, John receives a present from his wife: an adorable beagle puppy called Daisy and a note which reads, "I have found my peace, now find yours".

The assassin comes to terms with his loss through his bond with the animal. One night, Russian playboy Iosef Tarasov (Alfie Allen) and his underlings (Omer Barnea, Toby Leonard Moore) break into John's home, beat him to a pulp and kill Daisy.

This act of senseless brutality fuels John's lust for revenge and he hunts down Iosef, ignoring the fact that his target is the son of powerful mob boss Viggo Tarasov (Michael Nyqvist). John dismisses Viggo's pleas for leniency so the kingpin puts a 2 million US dollar bounty on the hit man's head, piquing the interest of rival killers Marcus (Willem Dafoe) and Ms Perkins (Adrianne Palicki).

Meanwhile, John takes up lodgings at a hotel called the Continental, which caters for assassins and won't allow murder on its premises. "You dip so much as a pinky back into this pond, you might find something reaches out and drags you back in," warns hotel owner Winston (Ian McShane).

John Wick recognises its strength and plays to them with wry humour, including an eye-catching turn from Lance Reddick as the Continental hotel's obliging concierge, who doesn't bat an eye at blood spatter on his clientele.

The beagle puppy couldn't be cuter and we're completely behind Reeves' grief-stricken owner as he razes entire establishments in honour of his fallen four-legged friend. Director Stahelski, who is a stunt co-ordinator by trade, is understandably more comfortable with flying fists than zinging dialogue. However, he sustains dramatic momentum well and builds all of the wanton slaughter to a suitable grand resolution.

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Sunday 19th April 2015
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NT Live Encore Screening: A View From The Bridge 3 stars

Ivo van Hove directs Arthur Miller's coruscating portrait of the American dream turned sour at Wyndham's Theatre in London. Mark Strong leads the cast as longshoreman Eddie Carbone, whose relationship with his Sicilian cousins deteriorates at frightening speed when one of them falls in love with his beautiful niece Catherine (Phoebe Fox).

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Monday 20th April 2015

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Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 3 stars

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Six years have passed since Paul Blart singlehandedly defeated a gang of armed robbers. He has earned a vacation and heads off to Las Vegas with his daughter Maya for one last hurrah before she leaves home for college. In the Nevada desert, danger is never far away and when gun-toting criminals threaten the safety of the public during a daring heist, Paul leaps into action to serve and protect the only way he knows how, aided by a number of dedicated hotel employees.

  • GenreAction, Comedy, Family, Romance
  • CastNeal McDonough, Eduardo Verastegui, Kevin James, Raini Rodriguez, Daniella Alonso.
  • DirectorAndy Fickman.
  • WriterNick Bakay, Kevin James.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration94 mins
  • Official sitewww.paulblart-movie.com
  • Release10/04/2015

Kevin James reprises his role as the tenacious yet misunderstood security officer in this comedy sequel, directed by Andy Fickman. Six years have passed since Paul Blart (James) singlehandedly defeated a gang of armed robbers who stormed a New Jersey shopping centre and took staff and customers hostages. He has earned a vacation and heads off to Las Vegas with his daughter Maya (Raini Rodriguez) for one last hurrah before she leaves home for college. In the Nevada desert, danger is never far away and when gun-toting criminals threaten the safety of the public during a daring heist, Paul leaps into action to serve and protect the only way he knows how, aided by a number of dedicated hotel employees.

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Sunday 19th April 2015
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Shaun The Sheep Movie 4 stars

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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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Sunday 19th April 2015

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The Boxtrolls 3D 4 stars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sunday 19th April 2015

The Divergent Series: Insurgent 3 stars

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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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Sunday 19th April 2015
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The Duff 4 stars

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Bianca is invited to all of the parties with her best friends Jess and Casey, oblivious to the fact that she is the D.U.F.F. - Designated Ugly Fat Friend - of her social circle. When her next-door neighbour, hunky athlete Wesley, opens Bianca's eyes to the upsetting truth, she resolves to transform herself from an ugly duckling into a swan so that she might land a date with her dream beau, Toby.

  • GenreComedy, Female, Romance, Teenage
  • CastRobbie Amell, Mae Whitman, Bella Thorne, Skyler Samuels, Allison Janney, Ken Jeong, Bianca A Santos.
  • DirectorAri Sandel.
  • WriterJosh A Cagan.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration101 mins
  • Official sitewww.theduffmovie.com
  • Release06/04/2015

It seems rather disingenuous for Hollywood - an industry that reveres glamour, designer couture and age-defying beauty - to peddle wish fulfillment fantasies to female audiences that extol beauty as a quality that radiates purely from within.

Cinema's so-called ugly ducklings are invariably gorgeous actresses, who have neglected to wash their hair and put on make-up for a few scenes, dressed in oversized high-street fashions. Their transformation into glittering swans is just a couple of hours away, courtesy of a top stylist.

Ultimately, we're suckers for these widescreen fairy tales and The Duff continues the trend with sassiness and style. Ari Sandel's film is an unabashedly feel-good comedy about one young woman's journey from insecurity to self-acceptance that patrols the same high school corridors as She's All That, Clueless, Mean Girls and 10 Things I Hate About You.

Josh A Cagan's script, adapted from the novel by Kody Keplinger, embraces every well-worn cliche and convention, empowering its heroines to take control of their lives and defy magazine articles which dictate how they should behave or dress.

Thus one tomboy isn't fussed about attending her school's rites-of-passage prom because she already has a date in front of the TV. "There's a Vincent Price marathon on so I gotta watch that," she deadpans.

The devoted horror fan is Bianca (Mae Whitman), who attends parties with her best friends Jess (Skyler Samuels) and Casey (Bianca A Santos), oblivious to the fact that she is the D.U.F.F. - Designated Ugly Fat Friend - of her close-knit social circle.

When her next-door neighbour, hunky athlete Wesley (Robbie Amell), who is dating the school's queen bee Madison (Bella Thorne), opens Bianca's eyes to the upsetting truth, she resolves to transform from an ugly duckling in order to land a date with her dream beau, Toby (Nick Eversman).

Bianca recruits Wesley to polish her rough edges and in return, she improves his academic grades so he can secure a sports scholarship. With encouragement from her sassy mother (Allison Janney), whose mantra is "believe, retrieve, achieve... just don't conceive," Bianca realises that even the most beautiful girls at school are someone's D.U.F.F. and she shouldn't be defined by a cruel label.

Meanwhile, Madison grows jealous of Bianca's friendship with Wesley and dispatches her acolyte Caitlyn (Rebecca Weil) to spy on the odd couple.

The Duff is a heartfelt and frequently hilarious traipse through teenage angst, anchored by a luminous central performance from Whitman. She endears us to her snarky and cynical 17-year-old and shares winning screen chemistry with dreamboat Amell and Janney as the divorced mom who believes you should "project confidence with a power pant-suit combo".

Colourful supporting turns from Ken Jeong and Romany Malco, as members of school staff, up the laughter quotient to the brink of hysteria.

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Sunday 19th April 2015
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The Emperor's New Clothes + Q&A With Russell Brand: Live Satellite Transmission 3 stars

Documentary.

  • GenreDocumentary, Special
  • CastRussell Brand.
  • DirectorMichael Winterbottom.
  • WriterRussell Brand.
  • CountryUS/UK
  • Duration107 mins
  • Official sitewww.theemperorsnewclothesfilm.co.uk
  • Release21/04/2015

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Tuesday 21st April 2015

The Gunman 3 stars

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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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Wednesday 22nd April 2015

The Salvation 3 stars

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Danish former soldier Jon heads west to 1870s America in search of a new life. His wife Marie and young son Kresten follow some years later but the tearful family reunion culminates in the rape and slaughter of mother and child. Consumed by grief, Jon hunts down and slays those responsible but one of the assailants turns out to be the brother of sadistic local land baron, Delarue.

  • GenreDrama, Romance, Western
  • CastMads Mikkelsen, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Eva Green, Mikael Persbrandt, Eric Cantona, Douglas Henshall.
  • DirectorKristian Levring.
  • WriterKristian Levring, Anders Thomas Jensen.
  • CountryDen/UK/S A
  • Duration92 mins
  • Official site
  • Release17/04/2015 (selected cinemas)

Filmed in Johannesburg with a Danish director and a largely European cast, The Salvation saddles up as a revisionist western to rival Clint Eastwood's Oscar-winning masterpiece Unforgiven. For all the undeniable style that Kristian Levring's film boasts, including stunning cinematography courtesy of Jens Schlosser, this revenge thriller trots rather than canters to a disappointingly familiar beat.

There is much to admire in the assured manner Levring stages his sweat-soaked shoot-outs and the cast embody their hoary stereotypes, chewing scenery almost as furiously as their tobacco.

But the west wasn't won by simply venturing where greater directors have gone before, even when your film is distinguished by an eye-catching lead performance from Mads Mikkelsen as a wronged husband who exacts justice with his trusty Winchester rifle. As spaghetti westerns go, Levring serves his with lashings of thick blood red sauce.

Following a crushing military defeat at the hands of the Germans, Danish soldiers head west to 1870s America in search of a new life. Jon (Mikkelsen) settles on the outskirts of the godforsaken town of Black Creek, where he establishes a homestead. His wife Marie (Nanna Oland Fabricius) and young son Kresten (Toke Lars Bjarke) follow some years later but the tearful family reunion culminates in the rape and slaughter of mother and child.

Consumed by grief, Jon hunts down and slays those responsible but one of the assailants turns out to be the brother of sadistic local land baron, Delarue (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). Black Creek's mayor (Jonathan Pryce) and weak-willed sheriff (Douglas Henshall) cower when Delarue swaggers into town with his right-hand man Corsican (Eric Cantona) to demand retribution for his brother's death.

"I will give you two hours to find the man that did this... or you bring me two of your people," growls the land baron. Delarue makes good on his promise in order to impress his brother's mute widow (Eva Green) and the townsfolk respond by betraying Jon. Thankfully, the Dane has a sharp-shooting brother, Peter (Mikael Persbrandt), to stage a daring rescue from the jaws of death.

Embellished with a strident orchestral score composed by Kasper Winding, The Salvation dazzles many of our senses. The South African vistas are a breathtaking stand-in for the American frontier and Levring contrasts the earthy colour palette of the sun-scorched day with the moody dark tones of the forgiving night.

Mikkelsen wrings himself dry of tears as his family man dons the spurs of judge, jury and executioner in a land where only the fastest draw survives. Morgan is a lacklustre, two-dimensional villain while Green slinks like a cat on heat through each blood-spattered frame.

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Sunday 19th April 2015
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The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel 4 stars

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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.

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Sunday 19th April 2015
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The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out Of Water 3 stars

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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)

Sunday 19th April 2015
Monday 20th April 2015
Tuesday 21st April 2015
Wednesday 22nd April 2015
Thursday 23rd 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)

Sunday 19th April 2015
Monday 20th April 2015
Tuesday 21st April 2015
Wednesday 22nd April 2015

The Water Diviner 3 stars

movie title

Rugged farmer Joshua Connor possesses a rare gift for divining water, which he uses to irrigate the sprawling property he shares with his wife Eliza and three sons Art, Edward and Henry. The boys head off to war and perish in the ill-fated clash with Turkish forces on the Gallipoli peninsula. Their final resting places are unknown, like so many who fought, and Eliza is devastated. Joshua honours a promise to his wife to bring the remains of their boys back home.

  • GenreAdaptation, Drama, Romance, War
  • CastOlga Kurylenko, Jai Courtney, Russell Crowe, Ryan Corr, Yilmaz Erdogan.
  • DirectorRussell Crowe.
  • WriterAndrew Knight, Andrew Anastasios.
  • CountryAustralia/
  • Duration111 mins
  • Official sitewww.thewaterdivinermovie.com.au
  • Release03/04/2015

In front of the camera, New Zealand-born actor Russell Crowe has enjoyed critical and commercial success. He came to the fore in 1997 as a brutish detective prone to violence in L.A. Confidential. Successive Oscar nominations as Best Actor for The Insider, Gladiator and A Beautiful Mind, including a win for Ridley Scott's swords and sandals epic, solidified his status as a performer with emotional depth to complement his physical presence.

More recently, he embraced political corruption as a shady mayor in Broken City, sang for his supper in Les Miserables and built an ark as a tormented Noah. For his directorial debut, Crowe casts himself as a crusading father, who will stop at nothing to locate his three fallen sons, in this fictional historical drama based on the book of the same name, which has been adapted for the big screen by Andrew Anastasios and Andrew Knight.

The Water Diviner is a solid first effort including well-choreographed scenes of conflict and self-sacrifice during the Gallipoli Campaign in late 1915. However, his film falls victim to heavy-handed sentiment when it comes to a central romance across the cultural divide that flourishes despite a total absence of on-screen chemistry with leading lady Olga Kurylenko.

Rugged farmer Joshua Connor (Crowe) possesses a rare gift for divining water, which he uses to irrigate the sprawling property he shares with his wife Eliza (Jacqueline McKenzie) and three sons Art (Ryan Corr), Edward (James Fraser) and Henry (Ben O'Toole).

The boys head off to war and perish in the ill-fated clash with Turkish forces on the Gallipoli peninsula. Their final resting places are unknown, like so many who fought, and Eliza is devastated. Joshua honours a promise to his wife to bring the remains of their boys back home.

He seeks lodgings in Constantinople at a hotel run by Muslim widow Ayshe (Kurylenko) and her cherubic son Orhan (Dylan Georgiades). Unfortunately, the military refuses to allow Joshua safe passage to Gallipoli so he ignores protocol and makes his own way to the site, where he clashes with Australian Lieutenant Colonel Cyril Hughes (Jai Courtney).

Unexpectedly, a visiting Turkish officer, Major Hassan (Yilmaz Erdogan), takes pity and pledges his assistance to reunite Joshua with his boys because "he's the only father who came looking."

Blessed with lustrous cinematography, The Water Diviner is a heartfelt tale of broken men and redemption. Crowe doesn't have to stretch himself as a father in crisis, but his character's search for answers certainly tugs heartstrings including a devastating scene of his three boys scythed down by Turkish bullets.

The romantic subplot doesn't work and its resolution is unintentionally hilarious but the rest of Crowe's first foray in the director's chair shows promise.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Sunday 19th April 2015
Monday 20th April 2015
Tuesday 21st April 2015
Wednesday 22nd April 2015

This film is also showing at:

Woman In Gold 3 stars

Shortly before the Second World War, Nazis confiscate numerous artworks including Gustav Klimt's iconic portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I, known as Woman In Gold. Following his death, Adele's niece Maria Altmann launches a protracted and bitter legal battle against the Austrian government to reclaim the painting, flanked by idealistic young lawyer Randol Schoenberg. Together, they take the grievance to the Supreme Court of the United States.

  • GenreBiography, Drama, Film, Historical/Period
  • CastHelen Mirren, Ryan Reynolds, Daniel Bruhl, Dame Helen Mirren, Katie Holmes, Max Irons.
  • DirectorSimon Curtis.
  • WriterAlexi Kaye Campbell.
  • CountryUS/UK
  • Duration109 mins
  • Official sitewww.facebook.com/WomanInGoldMovie
  • Release10/04/2015

During the Second World War, the Third Reich plundered countless artworks and possessions, some of which were traced back to their rightful owners by the Monuments Men. Today, more than 100,000 precious items are still separated from families.

Some may never be seen again. Woman In Gold is the inspirational true story of one Los Angeles resident, who challenged the legal status quo to reclaim a painting from her native Austria in the face of staunch resistance from bureaucrats in Vienna.

Director Simon Curtis and screenwriter Alexi Kaye Campbell distill this protracted war of words into a solid drama that juxtaposes harrowing events in late 1930s Europe with legal wranglings six decades later on both sides of the Atlantic.

At the turn of the 20th century, industrialist Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer (Henry Goodman) commissions artist Gustav Klimt to paint his wife Adele (Antje Traue), who dies a few years later. The glittering canvas hangs in the family apartment in Vienna until Nazis invade and seize works of art as well as precious trinkets.

Ferdinand leaves the country before the border shutdown, but his brother Gustav (Allan Corduner), his wife Therese (Nina Kunzendorf), their daughter Maria (Tatiana Maslany) and her opera singer husband Fritz (Max Irons) are not so fortunate. Maria and Fritz orchestrate a daring escape, leaving behind loved ones to a grim fate, while the iconic painting hangs in the Belvedere Gallery in the Austrian capital.

In 1998, Maria (now played by Helen Mirren) attempts to reclaim the canvas, aided by idealistic lawyer Randol Schoenberg (Ryan Reynolds). "Can't you help me out on the side, like a little hobby?" she pleads. Inspired by Maria's resolve, Randol risks his job at a top California law firm to pursue the case, which everyone, including senior partner Sherman (Charles Dance), tells him is unwinnable.

Austrian investigative reporter Hubertus Czernin (Daniel Bruhl) pledges support but warns Maria and Randol to expect defeat. "She is the Mona Lisa of Austria," explains the reporter. "Do you think they will just let her go?

Woman In Gold deftly moves back and forth between the two timelines to establish Maria's tragic past and her claim on the painting. Mirren teases out the steeliness of her survivor, who gets caught up in the excitement of the case and jokes to Randol, "This is like James Bond film, and you are Sean Connery".

She pickpockets the lion's share of the one-liners while Reynolds has the more difficult task of adding emotional heft to his inexperienced underdog. Screenwriter Campbell simplifies legal arguments so they are easily digestible, while director Curtis maintains a steady pace apart from Maria and Randol's pulse-quickening escape bid that seems destined to end in tragedy. Not for the last time, Maria defies the odds.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Sunday 19th April 2015
Monday 20th April 2015
Tuesday 21st April 2015
Wednesday 22nd April 2015
Thursday 23rd April 2015

This film is also showing at:

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