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  • American Sniper
  • Annie
  • Big Hero 6
  • Big Hero 6 3D
  • Birdman
  • Chappie
  • English National Opera Live: La Traviata
  • Fifty Shades Of Grey
  • Focus
  • Focus (Subtitled)
  • Into The Woods
  • It Follows
  • Jupiter Ascending
  • Kill The Messenger
  • Kingsman: The Secret Service
  • NT Live: Behind The Beautiful Forevers
  • Paddington
  • Planes 2: Fire & Rescue
  • Shaun The Sheep Movie
  • St Vincent
  • The Book Of Life
  • The Boy Next Door
  • The Judge
  • The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
  • The Theory Of Everything
  • The Wedding Ringer
  • Unfinished Business

American Sniper 4 stars

movie title

Born and raised in Odessa, Texas, Chris Kyle becomes a professional rodeo rider until injury forces him to reassess his priorities. He enlists with the military and his keen eye - nurtured by his father who taught him to hunt at an early age - sets Kyle apart as a sniper. During four tours of duty in Iraq, he gains the reputation as the most lethal sniper in American military history, with 160 confirmed kills to his name.

  • GenreAction, Biography, Drama, Historical/Period, Romance, War
  • CastBradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Kyle Gallner, Luke Grimes.
  • DirectorClint Eastwood.
  • WriterJason Hall.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration132 mins
  • Official sitewww.americansnipermovie.com
  • Release16/01/2015

Heroes come in many shapes and sizes. Born and raised in Odessa, Texas, Chris Kyle became a professional rodeo rider until injury forced him to reassess his priorities. He enlisted with the military and his keen eye - nurtured by his father who taught him to hunt at an early age - set Kyle apart as a sniper.

During four tours of duty in Iraq, he gained the reputation as the most lethal sniper in American military history, with 160 confirmed kills to his name. Such was his notoriety, the enemy nicknamed him "The Devil Of Ramadi" and put a sizable bounty on his head.

When Kyle eventually returned home, deeply scarred by clashes with insurgents and the deaths of his brothers in arms, he gradually regained his humanity and reconnected with his family by working with veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

In a bitter twist, having survived Iraq, Kyle was killed by one of those traumatised veterans on a Texas shooting range. His achievements are celebrated in Clint Eastwood's impeccably crafted biopic, which opens on a rooftop in Iraq with Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper) staring down a telescopic sight as a woman and her young son emerge from a building.

Tensions steadily cranks up as Kyle places his finger on the trigger. "They'll fry you if you're wrong," warns his compatriot Goat-Winston (Kyle Gallner). We rewind initially to Chris' childhood, where he learns how to handle a gun with his father Wayne (Ben Reed). "You're going to make a fine hunter some day," says the old man tenderly.

When dreams of bull-riding turn sour, Chris enlists and he meets Taya (Sienna Miller) in a bar. They marry and she raises their family alone while Chris fights overseas and attempts to outwit an elusive rival sniper called Mustafa (Sammy Sheik).

With each successive tour, Chris returns home unable to communicate effectively with his loved ones. "I need you to be human again," pleads Taya. "I need you to be here."

American Sniper unfolds from Kyle's fervently patriotic perspective and the lack of narrative balance might trouble some audiences. Eastwood is more interested here in the psychology of a father and husband than wading through the murky politics and morality of modern warfare.

Battle sequences are choreographed with meticulous precision and Cooper, who bulked up for the role, affects a drawl to perfection as he conveys the demons that haunt Kyle and drive him further from the people that love him the most.

Miller is solid in a meaty supporting role, reminding Chris of his responsibilities to his family as well as his country. "I'm making memories by myself. I have no one to share them with," sobs Taya. Kyle's memory is polished to a lustre by Eastwood's film.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Friday 6th March 2015
Saturday 7th March 2015
Sunday 8th March 2015
Monday 9th March 2015
Tuesday 10th March 2015
Wednesday 11th March 2015
Thursday 12th March 2015

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)

Friday 6th March 2015
Saturday 7th March 2015
Sunday 8th March 2015
Monday 9th March 2015
Tuesday 10th March 2015
Wednesday 11th March 2015
Thursday 12th March 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.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Friday 6th March 2015
Saturday 7th March 2015
Sunday 8th March 2015
Monday 9th March 2015
Tuesday 10th March 2015
Wednesday 11th March 2015
Thursday 12th March 2015

Big Hero 6 3D 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, Jamie Chung, Scott Adsit, TJ Miller, Daniel Henney, James Cromwell, Genesis Rodriguez, Damon Wayans Jr.
  • DirectorDon Hall, Chris Williams.
  • WriterRobert L Baird, Daniel Gerson, Jordan Roberts.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration114 mins
  • Official sitemovies.disney.com/big-hero-6/
  • Release30/01/2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Friday 6th March 2015
Saturday 7th March 2015
Sunday 8th March 2015
Monday 9th March 2015
Tuesday 10th March 2015
Wednesday 11th March 2015
Thursday 12th March 2015

Birdman 5 stars

movie title

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Monday 9th March 2015
Tuesday 10th March 2015
Wednesday 11th March 2015
Thursday 12th March 2015

Chappie 3 stars

movie title

Scientist Deon Wilson blesses a robot called CHAPPiE with artificial intelligence and encourages the automaton to think and feel for itself. Deon and his inner circle marvel at their creation's ability to process new information. Alas, doomsayer Vincent Moore expresses concern about the threat posed to the public by a learning intelligence such as CHAPPiE and he instigates a bitter war of words and explosive weapons to destroy the robot.

  • GenreAction, Science Fiction, Thriller
  • CastHugh Jackman, Sigourney Weaver, Sharlto Copley, Yo-Landi Visser, Dev Patel.
  • DirectorNeill Blomkamp.
  • WriterTerri Tatchell, Neill Blomkamp.
  • CountryMex/US
  • Duration120 mins
  • Official sitewww.facebook.com/IAmChappie
  • Release06/03/2015

South African writer-director Neill Blomkamp, who was Oscar nominated for the 2009 sci-fi thriller District 9, steps back into the future for this provocative action adventure expanded from his own 2004 short film, Tetra Vaal. Scientist Deon Wilson (Dev Patel) has blessed a robot called CHAPPiE (voiced by Sharlto Copley) with artificial intelligence and encourages the automaton to think and feel for itself. Deon and his inner circle introduce CHAPPiE to art and culture, marvelling at their creation's ability to ingest and process new information like a new born glimpsing the world for the first time. Alas, doomsayer Vincent Moore (Hugh Jackman) expresses concern about the threat posed to the public by a learning intelligence such as CHAPPiE and he instigates a bitter war of words and explosive weapons to destroy the robot. Sigourney Weaver co-stars.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Friday 6th March 2015
Saturday 7th March 2015
Sunday 8th March 2015
Monday 9th March 2015
Tuesday 10th March 2015
Wednesday 11th March 2015
Thursday 12th March 2015

English National Opera Live: La Traviata 3 stars

Verdi's tragic opera.

  • GenreDrama, Special
  • CastElizabeth Zharoff, Ben Johnson, Anthony Michaels-Moore.
  • DirectorPeter Konwitschny.
  • CountryUK
  • Official site

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Wednesday 11th March 2015

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Fifty Shades Of Grey 3 stars

movie title

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

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

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

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Friday 6th March 2015
Saturday 7th March 2015
Sunday 8th March 2015
Monday 9th March 2015
Tuesday 10th March 2015
Wednesday 11th March 2015
Thursday 12th March 2015

Focus 3 stars

movie title

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Friday 6th March 2015
Saturday 7th March 2015
Sunday 8th March 2015
Monday 9th March 2015
Tuesday 10th March 2015
Wednesday 11th March 2015
Thursday 12th March 2015

Focus (Subtitled) 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
  • CastRodrigo Santoro, Gerald McRaney, Will Smith, BD Wong, Margot Robbie.
  • DirectorJohn Requa, Glenn Ficarra.
  • WriterJohn Requa, Glenn Ficarra.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration105 mins
  • Official sitewww.focusmovie.com
  • Release27/02/2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Sunday 8th March 2015
Monday 9th March 2015

Into The Woods 4 stars

movie title

The Baker and his wife yearn for a child but cannot conceive. The Witch, who lives next door, promises the couple their heart's desire if they bring her four objects before the next blue moon: a cow as white as milk, a cape as red as blood, hair as yellow as corn, and a slipper as pure as gold. As the fated hour approaches, the Baker and his wife resort to increasingly desperate measures to source the objects.

  • GenreAdaptation, Comedy, Drama, Family, Family, Fantasy, Musical, Romance
  • CastChris Pine, Anna Kendrick, Meryl Streep, Mackenzie Mauzy, Billy Magnussen, Emily Blunt, James Corden, Daniel Huttlestone, Tracey Ullman, Johnny Depp, Lilla Crawford.
  • DirectorRob Marshall.
  • WriterStephen Sondheim, James Lapine.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration125 mins
  • Official sitewww.movies.disney.com/into-the-woods
  • Release09/01/2015

Traditionally in fairytales, the bedraggled heroine wins her dashing prince, evil stepmothers get their comeuppance and abducted children escape the clutches of a witch by pushing the treacherous hag into her oven. Nothing epitomises Happily Ever After like the heady aroma of roasting human flesh.

Into The Woods keeps turning the pages on these archetypal characters, imagining what might happen as they come to terms with their actions and - in most cases - suffer the repercussions.

Light comedy and heartrending tragedy skip hand in hand in James Lapine's screenplay and Stephen Sondheim's music and lyrics, which are ambrosia for director Rob Marshall, who propelled the 2002 film version of Chicago to Oscar glory.

This has nearly as much razzle dazzle including gorgeous costumes, picturesque sets and digitally enhanced magical effects. Thankfully, Marshall tones down the swirling camerawork and snappy editing here, adopting a gentler rhythm, which is less exhausting on our eyes over two hours.

The Baker (James Corden) and his wife (Emily Blunt) yearn for a child but cannot conceive. The Witch (Meryl Streep) next door promises the couple a family if they bring her four objects before the blue moon: a cow as white as milk, a cape as red as blood, hair as yellow as corn, and a slipper as pure as gold.

The Baker and his wife head into the woods with six magic beans and encounter 12-year-old Jack (Daniel Huttlestone), who is off to market to sell his cow Milky White, Cinderella (Anna Kendrick), who is fleeing from a ball thrown by a charming Prince (Chris Pine), Little Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford), who intends to visit her Granny (Annette Crosbie) but would make a tasty snack for the lascivious Wolf (Johnny Depp), and Rapunzel (Mackenzie Mauzy), who is consigned to a tower which can only be accessed by lowering her flaxen hair to a smitten lover (Billy Magnusson).

As the fated hour approaches, the childless couple resorts to desperate measures to collect the objects for the Witch.

Into The Woods establishes its mood with a dazzling overture, "I Wish", elegantly introducing the characters before their fates intersect. Streep is typically spellbinding. Her voice soars and our hearts break in her solo to motherhood, "Stay With Me".

Corden and Blunt add to the film's emotional heft while Pine and Magnusson are hysterical as regal brothers in their chest-beating, thigh-slapping duet "Agony" atop a cascading waterfall. With such a large cast to juggle, the script occasionally feels disjointed and some gear changes from broad pantomime to heartbreaking grief are jarring.

But Marshall doesn't shy away from delivering bitter pills in the final act courtesy of a marauding giant (Frances de la Tour). Everything has a price, especially your heart's desire, so be careful what you wish for.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Saturday 7th March 2015
Sunday 8th March 2015
Monday 9th March 2015
Tuesday 10th March 2015
Wednesday 11th March 2015
Thursday 12th March 2015

It Follows 4 stars

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Virginal 19-year-old Jay sleeps with her boyfriend Hugh. A first night of passion culminates in Hugh restraining Jay, and he informs her that she is now the target for a ghoulish manifestation that can take the form of family, friends or total strangers. Back home, Jay's sister Kelly and friends Yara and Paul console her but are reluctant to believe Hugh's outlandish story. When the youngsters clash with the sexually transmitted menace, they go on the run to concoct a daring plan of action.

  • GenreHorror, Romance, Thriller
  • CastHeather Fairbanks, Linda Boston, Caitlin Burt, Maika Monroe, Daniel Zovatto, Keir Gilchrist.
  • DirectorDavid Robert Mitchell.
  • WriterDavid Robert Mitchell.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration110 mins
  • Official site
  • Release27/02/2015

In Wes Craven's post-modern 1996 slasher Scream, a geeky cinephile played by Jamie Kennedy detailed the universally accepted rules for surviving a horror film. "You can never have sex," he explained. "Big no-no. Sex equals death."

Writer-director David Robert Mitchell expands on this notion of fatal carnality in his impressive second feature: a skin-crawling jaunt into alcohol-fuelled teen angst that eschews the usual array of knife-wielding maniacs and masked bogeymen. Instead, It Follows pits a group of unsuspecting teenage protagonists against the insidious threat of a sexually transmitted spectre that silently and mercilessly stalks each deflowered victim.

If the shape-shifting phantom catches and kills the terrified target, then the mark of death reverts to the previous carrier, and so on, back down the sexual daisy chain. The only way to escape the malevolent force, which walks slowly towards victims and is invisible to the uninfected, is to pass it on.

Sex still equals death in Mitchell's grim suburban nightmare but for the promiscuous, it's also a temporary stay of execution. An air of doom pervades the opening frames in which a nameless teenager flees her home and screeches away into the night in her family's car. "Just know that I love you both," whimpers the girl into a mobile phone, lit by her car's headlights.

The next morning, the girl is dead - her bones snapped and limbs contorted into a horrific tableaux. The focus shifts to virginal 19-year-old Jay (Maika Monroe), who has decided to give herself to her boyfriend Hugh (Jake Weary). A first night of passion culminates in Hugh restraining Jay.

"You're not going to believe me but I need to you to remember what I say," he barks, informing Jay that she is now the target for a manifestation that can take the form of family, friends or total strangers. On cue, a naked woman staggers out of the dark.

Back home, Jay's sister Kelly (Lili Sepe) and friends Yara (Olivia Luccardi) and Paul (Keir Gilchrist) console her but are reluctant to believe Hugh's outlandish story. When the youngsters clash with the sexually transmitted menace, they acknowledge the deadly threat and go on the run with Jay and neighbour Greg (Daniel Zovatto) to concoct a plan of action.

It Follows turns the screw on the horror genre, sustaining tension as characters wrestle with a mind-blowing dilemma. Monroe is a sympathetic heroine, faced with a seemingly impossible moral conundrum: look over her shoulder for the rest of her life or pass on her fate.

Mitchell's lean script ponders this agonising choice with a level head, compelling us to urgently scan the horizon of each scene for the incoming threat. One sequence, shot in a busy school corridor using a slowly rotating static camera, is deliciously nail-biting. You can run but you cannot hide.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Friday 6th March 2015
Saturday 7th March 2015
Sunday 8th March 2015
Monday 9th March 2015
Tuesday 10th March 2015
Wednesday 11th March 2015
Thursday 12th March 2015

Jupiter Ascending 2 stars

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The queen of the royal alien house of Abrasax dies, leaving behind three children Balem, Kalique and Titus to bicker over the inheritance. This power struggle is temporarily interrupted by amazing news: a plucky caretaker called Jupiter Jones possesses the genetic hallmarks of royalty and is heir to planet Earth. Jealous Balem puts a bounty on Jupiter's head and a genetically engineered ex-military hunter called Caine Wise is dispatched to protect her.

  • GenreAction, Adventure, Family, Fantasy, Romance, Science Fiction
  • CastEddie Redmayne, Channing Tatum, Mila Kunis, Douglas Booth, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, James D'Arcy, Sean Bean, Tuppence Middleton, David Ajala.
  • DirectorAndy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski.
  • WriterAndy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration127 mins
  • Official sitewww.jupiterascending.com
  • Release06/02/2015

Hollywood needs - but probably couldn't afford - more filmmakers like Lana and Andy Wachowski. In 1999, the Chicago-born siblings pioneered the slow-motion "bullet time" effect in The Matrix and its impenetrable sequels, and three years ago, they delivered an admirable yet flawed rendering of David Mitchell's supposedly unfilmable novel, Cloud Atlas.

The Wachowskis are daredevils, willing to go out on a limb to realise their epic visions, even if the limb snaps under the weight of their bold ambition. The bough certainly breaks during Jupiter Ascending, a bombastic space opera with a muddled narrative glued together by jaw-dropping digital trickery.

In 3D and IMAX, the writer-directors serve up a feast for the senses, choreographing aerial battles at dizzying speed to the propulsive clatter of Michael Giacchino's score that take heavy choral nods from the most recent Star Wars trilogy.

Once the computer-generated dust settles and the good-looking cast attempts to distill the plot, you sense any logic was jettisoned out of an airlock in order to accommodate the state-of-the-art thrills.

The queen of the royal alien house of Abrasax is murdered, leaving behind three heirs: Balem (Eddie Redmayne), his sister Kalique (Tuppence Middleton) and playboy younger brother Titus (Douglas Booth).

The siblings own various planets in the universe, which they harvest for resources, and the most valuable is Earth, which belongs to greedy Balem. In an outrageous quirk of genetic fate, Balem learns that an immigrant cleaner called Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) possesses a rare DNA combination, which matches his late mother and therefore entitles her to stake a claim to Earth.

He dispatches hench-creatures to slay Jupiter so possession reverts to him. Meanwhile, Titus scents an opportunity to usurp his older sibling and hires a genetically engineered ex-military hunter called Caine Wise (Channing Tatum) to protect Jupiter and deliver her to the altar so he can claim Earth through marriage. This covert mission is compromised when Caine develops feelings for the nubile and feisty earthling.

Jupiter Ascending is a lavish slice of sci-fi hokum, punctuated by occasional lines of loopy dialogue - "Bees are genetically disposed to recognise royalty - and lukewarm on-screen romance.

The Wachowskis conceive one neat visual trick: Tatum's rocket-powered boots, which allow the strapping actor to skate around skyscrapers and through exploding artillery of the myriad melees.

Oscar nominee Redmayne hissy-fits as the chief villain, whose plans to liquidise humans to make a youth-regenerating serum are thrown into disarray by Jupiter and her hunky protector.

Supporting cast pout and growl in underwritten roles but they are invariably drowned out by the sound and fury of the special effects wizards razing downtown Chicago and Abrasax outposts in the glittering firmament. You get what you pay for and Jupiter Ascending is a dazzling, cacophonous yet almighty mess.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Friday 6th March 2015
Saturday 7th March 2015
Sunday 8th March 2015
Monday 9th March 2015
Tuesday 10th March 2015
Wednesday 11th March 2015

Kill The Messenger 3 stars

Investigative reporter Gary Webb works for the San Jose Mercury News and publishes an eye-catching article about the DEA and drug trafficking. Soon after, he receives explosive information about an undercover DEA operation to bring down drugs kingpin Ricky Ross. Using testimony from key witnesses, Gary pens an incendiary three-part expose entitled Dark Alliance. Consequently, the journalist faces a relentless smear campaign against his integrity.

  • GenreBiography, Drama, Thriller
  • CastRosemarie DeWitt, Robert Patrick, Andy Garcia, Jeremy Renner, Paz Vega, Jena Sims, Michael Kenneth Williams.
  • DirectorMichael Cuesta.
  • WriterPeter Landesman.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration112 mins
  • Official sitewww.focusfeatures.com/kill_the_messenger/
  • Release06/03/2015 (selected cinemas)

A crusading journalist faces a barrage of personal attacks as he uncovers links between the CIA and Nicaraguan Contras in this taut thriller, based on the rise and fall of a real-life investigative reporter. Gary Webb (Jeremy Renner) works for the San Jose Mercury News and publishes an eye-catching article about the DEA and drug trafficking, which leads to a meeting with Coral Baca (Paz Vega). She provides Gary with explosive information about an undercover DEA operation to bring down drugs kingpin Ricky Ross (Michael K Williams) with help from one-time Nicaraguan trafficker Danilo Blandon (Yul Vazquez). Gary becomes ensnared in the lies and intrigue, visiting Ross in prison and an incarcerated Nicaraguan crime lord called Norwin Meneses (Andy Garcia). Using their testimonies and other evidence, Gary pens an incendiary three-part expose entitled Dark Alliance, which connects the Contras and the CIA with the rise of cocaine in American cities. The US government vehemently denies the allegations and Webb faces a relentless smear campaign against his journalistic integrity.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Friday 6th March 2015
Saturday 7th March 2015
Sunday 8th March 2015
Monday 9th March 2015
Tuesday 10th March 2015
Wednesday 11th March 2015
Thursday 12th March 2015

Kingsman: The Secret Service 3 stars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Friday 6th March 2015
Saturday 7th March 2015
Sunday 8th March 2015
Monday 9th March 2015
Tuesday 10th March 2015
Wednesday 11th March 2015
Thursday 12th March 2015

NT Live: Behind The Beautiful Forevers 3 stars

Rufus Norris directs David Hare's drama, broadcast live from the National Theatre in London. Meera Syal plays a resourceful mother, who is determined to recycle enough rubbish to fund a proper house in modern-day Mumbai and provide for her beloved son in the stage adaptation of Katherine Boo's award-winning book. Contains strong language and some scenes of violence.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Thursday 12th March 2015

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Paddington 4 stars

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A young Peruvian bear with a passion for the British heads to London in search of a new home. At Paddington train station, he meets a boy called Jonathan Brown and his parents, who offer the lovable creature, christened Paddington, a temporary haven. At large in a strange city, Paddington wreaks havoc in the Brown household. Then an evil museum taxidermist named Millicent glimpses the wondrous bear and realises that he would make the most perfect addition to her collection.

  • GenreAdaptation, Comedy, Drama, Family, Family
  • CastHugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Julie Walters, Michael Gambon, Ben Whishaw, Nicole Kidman, Imelda Staunton.
  • DirectorPaul King.
  • WriterPaul King.
  • CountryUK/Fr
  • Duration95 mins
  • Official sitewww.paddington.com
  • Release28/11/2014

More than 50 years after he first appeared in print, author Michael Bond's beloved bear Paddington has finally arrived on the big screen in his first star-packed family adventure. Upcoming director Paul King's film lovingly weaves the traditional tenets of the duffel-coat wearing bear's story into a modern narrative.

Like the books, the film starts in deepest, darkest Peru, where a well-mannered three-foot bear (voiced by Ben Whishaw) lives with his elderly Aunt Lucy (Imelda Staunton) and Uncle Pastuzo (Michael Gambon). In their youth, Lucy and Pastuzo were visited by a kindly English explorer who left his red hat with his furry friends.

When their home is threatened, Aunt Lucy packs her nephew off to the safety of London to track down the explorer, who has promised that there will always be a home for them in the capital.

Of course, after sailing the oceans in a boat filled with supplies of his treasured marmalade, the bear finds London isn't actually that friendly. In fact it's pretty miserable what with the drizzly weather and glum commuters pushing and shoving their way out of Paddington station and ignoring his pleas for a home.

"Sorry, we haven't got time for this," cries worrywart Mr Brown (Hugh Bonneville), while his moody daughter Judy (Madeleine Harris) exclaims she's "embarrassed" to be near the small grisly, who has a 'Please look after this bear' sign around his neck.

Luckily, warm-hearted Mrs Brown (Sally Hawkins) and son Jonathan (Samuel Joslin) vow to take the furry chap home for the night. Naming him Paddington after the station where they found him, the Browns introduce their guest to kindly housekeeper Mrs Bird (Julie Walters).

But disaster soon strikes when Paddington tries to freshen up in the bathroom, resulting in a flood, two earwax-stained toothbrushes and a sharp telling off. Determined to find the explorer, Mrs Brown takes Paddington to see her friend Mr Gruber (Jim Broadbent), an antiques dealer who might have clues to his existence.

In doing so, they attract the attention of cranky curtain twitcher Mr Curry (Peter Capaldi) and a slimy associate of villainous taxidermist Millicent (Nicole Kidman) who is hell-bent on "stuffing that bear". With Millicent determined to get her mitts on Paddington to display him in the Natural History Museum, the Browns find themselves on a humdinger of a cat and mouse chase to try and keep their furry friend safe.

As comforting and sweet as Paddington's beloved marmalade, King's delightful adaptation has heaps of heart and enough humour and carefully plotted cameos to ensure everyone more than grins and bears his adaptation.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Friday 6th March 2015
Saturday 7th March 2015
Sunday 8th March 2015
Monday 9th March 2015
Tuesday 10th March 2015
Wednesday 11th March 2015
Thursday 12th March 2015

This film is also showing at:

Planes 2: Fire & Rescue 3 stars

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During a flight with his mentor Skipper, Dusty Crophopper suffers a malfunction and learns that his gearbox is failing. Unfortunately, the model of his gearbox is now out of production, so Dusty must limit his revs or risk a fatal crash. Forced to abandon his racing dreams, Dusty agrees to fly to Piston Peak National Park to train become the town's new fire-fighting plane.

  • GenreAdventure, Animation/Cartoon, Comedy, Family, Family
  • CastDane Cook, Teri Hatcher, Stacy Keach, Julie Bowen, Hal Holbrook, Ed Harris, John Michael Higgins.
  • DirectorRoberts Gannaway.
  • WriterJeffrey M Howard.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration83 mins
  • Official sitemovies.disney.com/planes/
  • Release01/08/2014 (Scotland); 08/08/2014 (UK)

If the first Planes film, a spin-off from Pixar's Cars, appeared to be propelled by merchandising opportunities rather than creative necessity, this action-packed sequel attempts to stand on its own landing gear with a stirring tale of heroism and self-sacrifice.

As the title suggests, Planes 2: Fire & Rescue immerses us in the daredevil world of fire-fighting, honouring the men and women - and aircraft - who "fly in when others are flying out". It's a touching sentiment and screenwriter Jeffrey M Howard engineers some moving exchanges between the characters, some of whom are a splutter away from the scrap heap.

Director Bobs Gannaway employs the 3D format to striking effect in aerial sequences and the animation of raging infernos is impressively realistic. However, there's an inescapable feeling that this gung-ho adventure should have taken a flight path directly to the home formats rather than the big screen.

Soaring over Propwash Junction with his mentor Skipper (voiced Stacy Keach), Dusty Crophopper (Dane Cook) suffers a malfunction. Back at the hanger, trusted mechanic Dottie (Teri Hatcher) diagnoses a failing gearbox. "From now on, you have to keep down your torque to less than 80 percent," she instructs Dusty, putting an end to his illustrious racing career.

Dusty angrily defies Dottie and careens into the town's airport, causing a small fire. The incident casts doubt on the ability of veteran fire and rescue truck Mayday (Hal Holbrook) to service the airport's needs. So Dusty agrees to abandon his racing dreams in order to earn his certificate as the town's fire-fighting plane.

The plucky crop duster heads to Piston Peak National Park to train under helicopter Blade Ranger (Ed Harris), who was once a TV star, and his team including scooper Lil' Dipper (Julie Bowen), helicopter Windlifter (Wes Studi) and ex-military transport plane Cabbie (Dale Dye).

As Dusty masters the art of airborne fire-fighting, he also learns valuable lessons about friendship and endurance. As Blade reminds him, "If you give up today, think of all the lives you can't save tomorrow."

Planes 2: Fire & Rescue is geared towards younger viewers, hammering home the importance of team work and the valuable contribution of emergency services.

There is a handful of verbal and visual gags to engage older audiences: a front cover of industry magazine Cariety; a bar patron drunkenly confiding, "She left me for a hybrid. I didn't hear it coming!" A spoof of the long-running motorcycle police series CHiPs includes a cameo for Erik Estrada as Blade Ranger's partner on air patrol.

On the whole, though, Gannaway's sequel lacks the sophistication and emotional richness of yesteryear's Frozen or recent Pixar fare. Animation is crisp and colourful and the vocal performances are similarly warm so audiences feel a toasty glow before the first plumes of smoke from the computer-generated blazes.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Saturday 7th March 2015
Sunday 8th March 2015

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.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Friday 6th March 2015
Saturday 7th March 2015
Sunday 8th March 2015
Monday 9th March 2015
Tuesday 10th March 2015
Wednesday 11th March 2015
Thursday 12th March 2015

St Vincent 4 stars

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Vincent lives in a ramshackle house in Brooklyn with a pet cat and dreams of the past. He owes a small fortune to bookie Zucko, who is reluctantly threatening to smash Vincent's kneecaps unless fortunes change. Lady Luck smiles on the sexagenarian loner when struggling single mother Maggie and her son Oliver move in next door and Vincent exploits Maggie to become the lad's babysitter.

  • GenreComedy, Drama, Romance
  • CastNaomi Watts, Bill Murray, Melissa McCarthy, Chris O'Dowd, Terrence Howard, Jaeden Lieberher.
  • DirectorTheodore Melfi.
  • WriterTheodore Melfi.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration102 mins
  • Official sitewww.stvincentfilm.com
  • Release05/12/2014

A modern-day Scrooge is moved by the plight of a young boy in Theodore Melfi's touching and frequently uproarious comedy. There are neither jingling bells nor ghostly visitations in St Vincent - the only spirits are swigged from a bottle - but Dickens' underlying theme of the redemption of the human spirit rings true in this valentine to Bill Murray.

The Oscar-nominated star of Ghostbusters, Groundhog Day and Lost In Translation is in riotous form in Melfi's delightful film, deploying split-second comic timing to devastating effect as he reveals a beating heart of gold beneath the shambolic appearance of his penny-pinching curmudgeon.

His irascible old coot might gamble, smoke and drink to excess, and seek physical pleasure in the company of a heavily pregnant Russian prostitute, but we fall head over heels for Murray's virtuoso portrayal and it's a love affair that endures the film's occasional lull or sloppy characterisation.

Newcomer Jaeden Lieberher is magnificent as the spirited tyke, whose innocence and unwavering faith provide a beacon of hope for the self-destructive codger to stumble back into the land of the living. Writer-director Melfi wrings us dry of laughter and tears in the process.

Vincent (Murray) lives in a ramshackle house in Brooklyn with a pet cat and dreams of the past. He owes a small fortune to bookie Zucko (Terrence Howard), who is reluctantly threatening to smash Vincent's kneecaps unless fortunes change.

Lady Luck smiles on the sexagenarian loner when struggling single mother Maggie (Melissa McCarthy) and her son Oliver (Lieberher) move in next door and Vincent exploits Maggie to become the lad's babysitter. "He's sort of cool, in a grouchy sort of way," Oliver assures his mother about his new guardian.

While Maggie works long hours to keep a roof over their head, Vincent introduces Oliver to horse racing, his feisty Russian companion-for-money Daka (Naomi Watts) and an elderly woman with Alzheimer's called Sandy (Donna Mitchell), who he visits at an expensive nursing home.

When Vincent's schoolteacher Brother Geraghty (Chris O'Dowd) asks his impressionable charges to deliver a verbal report on someone they consider a 21st-century saint, Oliver knows exactly who he wants to canonise.

St Vincent is anchored by Murray's award-worthy performance, but supporting cast is equally impressive, often in underwritten roles. McCarthy abandons her usual schtick to embody a mother in crisis and Watts plies a thick cod-eastern European accent as the working girl looking for a break.

O'Dowd scene-steals with aplomb as a holy man with heavenly quips: "I'm a Catholic, which is the best religion because we have the most rules." Aided by a leading man in rude health, writer-director Melfi doesn't slather on the sentimentality too thick as he exposes glimmers of hope for each dysfunctional character and encourages them to walk towards the light comedy.

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Thursday 12th March 2015

The Book Of Life 3 stars

movie title

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Saturday 7th March 2015
Sunday 8th March 2015

The Boy Next Door 2 stars

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High school teacher Claire Peterson is separated from her cheating husband. Potty-mouthed pal Vicky, who is also the school's vice principal, urges Claire to sign the divorce papers but she hesitates for the sake of their teenage son Kevin. That changes when strapping 19-year-old Noah Sandborn moves in next door. One night of ill-advised passion lights the fuse on Noah's obsession and when Claire informs him that their romp was a booze-fuelled mistake, he responds with threats and violence.

  • GenreAction, Romance, Thriller
  • CastJennifer Lopez, John Corbett, Hill Harper, Ryan Guzman, Kristin Chenoweth, Ian Nelson.
  • DirectorRob Cohen.
  • WriterBarbara Curry.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration91 mins
  • Official sitewww.theboynextdoorfilm.com
  • Release27/02/2015

Never trust a good-looking stranger with your heart. The Boy Next Door harks back to a bygone era of jeopardy thrillers when Michael Douglas' unfaithful husband met his match in Glenn Close's bunny boiler and naive Bridget Fonda discovered you should never share living space with a single white female.

Alas, Rob Cohen's hokey yarn is more Facile Distraction than Fatal Attraction, courtesy of a clumsy, cliche-riddled script by Barbara Curry that fails to generate suspense. It doesn't help her cause that 27-year-old leading man Ryan Guzman, who flaunted his abs in the most recent Step Up films, has to pass muster as a high school senior.

"I'm almost 20," explains his character, inciting hoots of derision that become commonplace as the plot goes through predictable motions. Co-star Jennifer Lopez fares just as badly but with her additional credit as producer, she is granted carte blanche to look fierce and fabulous as an English literature teacher, who espouses Greek classics in figure-hugging skirts and heels.

Her lips are flawlessly glossed, her hair impeccably tousled, even when she is in the throes of a sex scene with Guzman and he is enthusiastically kneading her breasts as if they were balls of raw pizza dough.

Lopez plays Claire Peterson, who is separated from her cheating husband (John Corbett). Potty-mouthed pal Vicky (Kristin Chenoweth), who is also the high school's vice principal, urges Claire to sign the divorce papers but she hesitates for the sake of their teenage son Kevin (Ian Nelson).

That changes when strapping Noah Sandborn (Guzman) moves in next door and announces his manly presence by helping Claire with her sticky garage door.
"His parents died last year. I'm all he's got in the way of family," explains Noah's great-uncle (Jack Wallace).
"Seems like a nice boy," replies Claire dreamily.

One night of ill-advised passion lights the fuse on Noah's obsession and when Claire informs him that their romp was a booze-fuelled mistake, he responds by papering her classroom with explicit images and making suggestive comments about her cookies. Mary Berry would be mortified.

With a touch of tongue-in-cheek, The Boy Next Door might have achieved cult status like Basic Instinct and Showgirls. Regrettably, Cohen's film is deadly serious apart from Chenoweth's fleeting comic relief. Lopez doesn't convince as an educator of hormone-addled teenage minds.

Guzman gamely keeps a straight face as he woos Claire with Homer and whispers "a woman like you should be cherished" as he exfoliates her hands with his rippling six-pack during their beautifully lit tumble.

If there's one compliment you can begrudgingly pay The Boy Next Door, it's that their on-screen coupling is far steamier than any of the restrained slap and tickle in Fifty Shades Of Grey.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Friday 6th March 2015
Saturday 7th March 2015
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Monday 9th March 2015
Tuesday 10th March 2015
Wednesday 11th March 2015
Thursday 12th March 2015

The Judge 3 stars

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In the midst of a trial, big city lawyer Hank Palmer learns that his mother has passed away. He ventures back to his hometown, which he abandoned 20 years ago, and tentatively rebuilds bridges with his two brothers, Glen and Dale, and father Joseph, who has been the community's venerable judge for 42 years. As Hank prepares to fly back to Chicago, Joseph is arrested for killing a scoundrel who passed through his court.

  • GenreDrama, Romance, Thriller
  • CastRobert Downey Jr, Robert Duvall, Vera Farmiga, Vincent D'Onofrio, Leighton Meester, Billy Bob Thornton, Dax Shepard.
  • DirectorDavid Dobkin.
  • WriterNick Schenk, Bill Dubuque.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration141 mins
  • Official sitewww.thejudgemovie.com
  • Release17/10/2014

The law is an ass and the people who administer it bigger asses in David Dobkin's courtroom drama about an estranged family reunited under the testing conditions of a murder trial. The Judge takes its sweet time going through the legal motions, grafting on a superfluous romantic subplot to the revelations in the dock.

Thankfully, lead actors Robert Downey Jr and Robert Duvall sink their teeth into their broadly sketched characters and energise the dysfunctional father-son relationship that provides the film with its conflict and heart-tugging emotion.

Both men relish the verbal sparring, galvanised by screen chemistry that convinces us they are chips from the same unmovable block. The lead role of a smarmy big city lawyer, who proudly proclaims, "Innocent people can't afford me", is a snug fit for Downey Jr.

Like Tony Stark in the Iron Man films, this slick operator has arrogance and wise-cracks to spare, yet, beneath the impeccably tailored suits and designer shades, there beats the fragile heart of a man terrified of losing the people he loves. As the lead prosecutor of the murder trial sagely observes, "You're a bully with a big bag of tricks."

The legal eagle in question is Hank Palmer (Downey Jr), who helps his wealthy clients to escape the State of Illinois' prosecutorial clutches. During one trial, Hank learns that his mother has passed away.

He ventures back to his hometown, which he abandoned 20 years ago, and tentatively rebuilds bridges with his two brothers, Glen (Vincent D'Onofrio) and Dale (Jeremy Strong), and father Joseph (Robert Duvall), who has been the community's venerable judge for 42 years.

His mood brightens when he learns that old flame Samantha (Vera Farmiga) owns the local bar. As Hank prepares to fly back to Chicago, Joseph is arrested for killing a scoundrel who passed through his court.

Special prosecutor Dwight Dickham (Billy Bob Thornton) is drafted in to secure a conviction and Joseph chooses local defender CP Kennedy (Dax Shepard) rather than his son to represent him. "Your honour, I'm going to fight like a badger for you," pledges Kennedy, whose inexperience in front of presiding Judge Warren (Ken Howard) convinces Hank that he needs to take charge of the case.

The Judge plays out the gradual role reversal of parents and children as caregivers in the rarefied surroundings of a wood-panelled courtroom. Downey Jr and Duvall are both excellent and D'Onofrio and Strong offer sterling support as siblings in crisis.

Unfortunately, Farmiga is short-changed as the token love interest, who gives Hank a flimsy reason to stay in town. Nick Schenk and Bill Dubuque's script doesn't conceal any narrative aces up its sleeve but does play fair, methodically resolving issues within the Palmer family as the court case reaches a suitably tense resolution.

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Wednesday 11th March 2015

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.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Friday 6th March 2015
Saturday 7th March 2015
Sunday 8th March 2015
Monday 9th March 2015
Tuesday 10th March 2015
Wednesday 11th March 2015
Thursday 12th March 2015

The Theory Of Everything 4 stars

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Theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking falls head over heels in love with English literature student Jane Wilde at 1960s Cambridge University. Their fledgling romance is tested by his diagnosis with motor neurone disease. Stephen's parents Frank and Isobel try to warn Jane off their son, fearful of emotional devastation that will be wrought if he dies within the two years predicted by doctors. However, she defies everyone, determined to love Stephen for as long as they are together.

  • GenreAdaptation, Biography, Drama, Romance
  • CastEddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, Charlie Cox, Emily Watson, Simon McBurney, David Thewlis.
  • DirectorJames Marsh.
  • WriterAnthony McCarten.
  • CountryUK
  • Duration123 mins
  • Official site
  • Release01/01/2015

In Scottish novelist JM Barrie's most beloved work, Peter Pan famously contemplates his mortality on Marooner's Rock and observes, "To die will be an awfully big adventure". For more than half a century since he was diagnosed with motor neurone disease, theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking has - happily - pushed aside his awfully big adventure and astounded the medical community.

Defying the short life expectancy associated with the rare condition, he has married twice, raised a family and altered our narrow perception of the universe including the publication of his worldwide bestseller, A Brief History Of Time.

As Hawking remarked at a press conference in 2006, "However bad life may seem, there is always something you can do, and succeed at. While there's life, there is hope." Those inspirational words are repeated verbatim in The Theory Of Everything.

Based on the memoir Travelling To Infinity by Jane Wilde Hawking, James Marsh's deeply moving drama charts the romance of Stephen (Eddie Redmayne) and first wife Jane (Felicity Jones) from fleeting glances at a party at mid-1960s Cambridge University through their subsequent battle against MND.

Stephen's parents Frank (Simon McBurney) and Isobel (Abigail Cruttenden) initially warn Jane off their son, fearful of the emotional devastation that will be wrought if he dies within the two years predicted by doctors. "It's not going to be a fight, Jane. It's going to be a very heavy defeat, for all of us," laments Frank.

Love must find a way and Jane defies everyone, even a pessimistic Stephen, to stand beside her soul mate. "I want us to be together, for as long as we've got," she tells him. "If that's not very long then - well, that's just how it is."

Her resolve inspires Stephen to continue his search for "one single elegant equation to explain everything". Aided by choirmaster Jonathan Jones (Charlie Cox) and carer Elaine Mason (Maxine Peake), Jane raises the couple's three children and holds their marriage together.

The Theory Of Everything is anchored by two of the year's best performances. Redmayne is simply astounding, affecting a mesmerising physical transformation that surely warrants an Oscar. He brilliantly conveys every raw emotion or flash of impish humour with his eyes or the twitch of a facial muscle.

Jones is equally compelling as his soul mate, who sacrifices everything in the name of love. The scene in which she finally acknowledges hard-fought defeat to save the relationship and tearfully tells Stephen, "I have loved you... I did my best," is heartbreaking.

Director Marsh uses simple visual motifs to illuminate the complex cosmology, such as a swirl of cream in a cup of coffee to represent a spiral galaxy in Stephen's mind. With its delicate balance of tear-stained drama, deeply felt romance and comedy, The Theory Of Everything hits upon a winning formula.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Friday 6th March 2015
Saturday 7th March 2015
Sunday 8th March 2015
Monday 9th March 2015
Tuesday 10th March 2015
Wednesday 11th March 2015
Thursday 12th March 2015

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The Wedding Ringer 3 stars

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Tax attorney Doug Harris is two weeks shy of marrying fiancee Gretchen at a lavish ceremony masterminded by flamboyant wedding planner Edmundo. Unfortunately, he doesn't have any close male friends to be his best man. The lovable loser seeks help from Jimmy Callahan, owner of The Best Man Inc. For 50,000 US dollars, Jimmy will adopt the identity of Doug's fictitious pal and recruit seven bogus groomsmen to complement Gretchen's gaggle of bridesmaids.

  • GenreComedy, Romance
  • CastKaley Cuoco-Sweeting, Josh Gad, Kevin Hart, Ken Howard, Cloris Leachman, Mimi Rogers, Olivia Thirlby.
  • DirectorJeremy Garelick.
  • WriterJeremy Garelick, Jay Lavender.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration101 mins
  • Official sitewww.sonypictures.com/movies/theweddingringer/
  • Release20/02/2015

It is supposed to be the happiest day of a couple's life but a wedding is seldom the stress-free parade of well-behaved children, appropriate jokes, sobriety and family harmony promised by glossy bridal magazines. A single delay or mishap can become a wrecking ball that demolishes months of meticulous and expensive preparation.

And just when it seems the worst is over and everyone can draw breath, the best man nervously stands up, microphone clasped in a sweaty palm, to deliver a speech which is supposed to be the crowning glory of the toasts. It's only then you realise that one man's Dutch courage is another's alcohol poisoning.

The Wedding Ringer is a sweet-natured yet highly improbable buddy comedy of errors, which walks down the aisle with one hapless groom, who enlists professional help to ensure he gets the best best man for his beautiful blushing bride.

Tax attorney Doug Harris (Josh Gad) is two weeks shy of marrying fiancee Gretchen (Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting) at a lavish ceremony masterminded by flamboyant wedding planner Edmundo (Ignacio Serricchio). As the son of an international tax attorney, who moved the family around the world, Doug never stayed in one place long enough to forge lasting friendships so he has no male companions to support him.

When Gretchen puts Doug on the spot about seating plans, he conjures up a fictitious best man called Bic Mitchum, who is a military priest from North Dakota. The lie weighs heavily on Doug and the lovable loser seeks help from Jimmy Callahan (Kevin Hart), owner of The Best Man Inc.

For 50,000 US dollars, Jimmy will adopt the identity of the elusive Bic and recruit seven bogus groomsmen - Reggie (Affion Crockett), Lurch (Jorge Garcia), Bronstein (Dan Gill), Otis (Corey Holcomb), Fitzgibbons (Colin Kane), Kip (Alan Ritchson) and Endo (Aaron Takahashi) - to complement Gretchen's gaggle of bridesmaids.

As the big day approaches, Jimmy goes into charm overdrive to fool Gretchen's parents (Ken Howard, Mimi Rogers), sister (Olivia Thirlby) and grandmother (Cloris Leachman) and deliver Doug the wedding he deserves.

Written in broad strokes by director Jeremy Garelick and Jay Lavender, The Wedding Ringer raises one glass to male bonding and another to mawkish sentiment, sloshing contrivances in every direction. The unlikely central pairing of Hart and Gad, who voiced Olaf the self-deluded snowman in Frozen, occasionally sparkles.

Hart dials down his manic showmanship a notch or two and Gad oozes natural likability as a loner who can't believe he has landed the girl of his dreams. The script neatly jilts one garish stereotype at the altar but Garelick's film is amicably divorced from reality and evidently lost custody of the three-dimensional characters. For better or worse, The Wedding Ringer falls short of matrimonial bliss.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Friday 6th March 2015
Saturday 7th March 2015
Sunday 8th March 2015
Monday 9th March 2015
Tuesday 10th March 2015
Wednesday 11th March 2015
Thursday 12th March 2015

Unfinished Business 3 stars

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One year after leaving his job at Dynamic Progressive Systems, Dan Trunkman has established himself as a hardworking small-business owner. Flanked by his two employees, flies to Germany to secure a lucrative business deal but when they arrive, the trio discover that Dan's manipulative old boss Beth is in town to scupper the negotiations and win the business for Dynamic instead.

  • GenreComedy
  • CastNick Frost, Sienna Miller, Tom Wilkinson, James Marsden, Vince Vaughn, Dave Franco.
  • DirectorKen Scott.
  • WriterSteve Conrad.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration91 mins
  • Official sitewww.foxmovies.com/movies/unfinished-business
  • Release06/03/2015

Ken Scott, who directed Vince Vaughn in the 2013 comedy Delivery Man, reunites with the actor for this raucous road movie. One year after he left his job at Dynamic Progressive Systems and traded final blows with his spiteful team leader Beth (Sienna Miller), Dan Trunkman (Vaughn) has established himself as a hardworking small-business owner. He invests all of his time and money in his own company, Apex Select and has two employees (Tom Wilkinson, Dave Franco). Unfortunately, he also has huge debts and will be facing bankruptcy unless he can close a lucrative business deal in Germany. When the trio arrive in Europe, they discover that Beth is in town to scupper the negotiations and win the business for Dynamic instead. Unwilling to let Beth defeat him for a second time, Dan takes extreme measures to impress the clients (James Marsden, Nick Frost), making unplanned and potentially embarrassing detours to a sex fetish event and a global economic summit.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Friday 6th March 2015
Saturday 7th March 2015
Sunday 8th March 2015
Monday 9th March 2015
Tuesday 10th March 2015
Wednesday 11th March 2015
Thursday 12th March 2015
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