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- Captain America: Civil War 3D
- Eye In The Sky
- My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2
- Ratchet & Clank
Captain America: Civil War 3D 4 stars
The US political establishment insists on the introduction of legislation to control the Avengers. Tony Stark aka Iron Man submits to these demands but Steve Rogers aka Captain America, who has always been a staunch patriot and followed orders, refuses to accede, especially when his good friend Bucky Barnes aka Winter Soldier is threatened. The gulf between Stark and Rogers forces the remaining Avengers to take sides. A battle royale unfolds just as a diabolical new enemy emerges and threatens mankind.
- GenreAction, Science Fiction, Thriller
- CastChris Evans, Elizabeth Olsen, Scarlett Johansson.
- DirectorJoe Russo, Anthony Russo.
- WriterStephen McFeely, Christopher Markus.
- Duration147 mins
- Official sitewww.marvel.com/captainamerica
The fragile alliance between the Avengers is shattered in the third Captain America film, directed at a breathless pace by brothers Joe and Anthony Russo. Opening with a flashback to 1991 that sets one major character on their self-destructive path, Civil War underscores its bombastic title by pitting former allies against each other in a series of dizzying showdowns that cleave apart the Marvel Comics universe. Scriptwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely repeatedly inhabit the blurred lines between heroism and villainy, examining the moral conundrums faced by superpowered warriors who have pledged to protect the innocent from the righteous crossfire. Alas, no one emerges unscathed from the melee and the deep psychological wounds inflicted in these bombastic 147 minutes suggest that this muscular chapter signals a bittersweet end for some characters while blatantly teeing up standalone spin-offs for Spider-Man and Black Panther. "Victory at the expense of the innocent is no victory at all," solemnly intones King T'Chaka (John Kani) from the battle-scarred nation of Wakanda. If that is true then Captain America: Civil War is a crushing defeat for everyone except thrill-seeking cinema audiences. A year has passed since the events of Avengers: Age Of Ultron and the US Secretary of State Thaddeus Ross (William Hurt) insists on the introduction of legislation - The Sokovia Accords - to control the superheroes. Tony Stark, aka Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr), reluctantly submits, telling his compatriots: "I'm doing what has to be done to stave off something worse." Steve Rogers, aka Captain America (Chris Evans), who has always been a staunch patriot, refuses to sign, fearful of the consequences of the Avengers relinquishing their independence. The gulf between Stark and Rogers forces the remaining Avengers to take sides. Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), James Rhodes, aka War Machine (Don Cheadle), Vision (Paul Bettany), Prince T'Challa, aka Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), and Peter Parker, aka Spider-Man (Tom Holland) all stand shoulder to shoulder with Stark. Meanwhile, Bucky Barnes, aka Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan), Sam Wilson, aka Falcon (Anthony Mackie), Wanda Maximoff, aka Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), Clint Barton, aka Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Scott Lang, aka Ant-Man (Paul Rudd), pledge their allegiance to Rogers. A battle royale between the two factions unfolds just as a diabolical new enemy, Baron Zemo (Daniel Bruhl), threatens mankind. Captain America: Civil War could easily trim 20 minutes from its bloated running time without diminishing the impact of the special effects sequences or the pivotal plot twists. The Russo brothers choreograph destruction on a grand scale, including an adrenaline-pumping motorcycle chase on the rubble-strewn streets of Berlin. Evans and Downey Jr puff out their chests for supremacy in every lavish frame, while Johansson somersaults sexily between the feuding factions. A protracted sequence involving Stark, a nerdy Peter Parker and Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) sows seeds of hope that next year's reboot, Spider-Man: Homecoming, might revitalise the webslinging vigilante with whip-smart humour. Miracles might happen.
Eye In The Sky 3 stars
Operation Cobra has been tracking the movements of radicalised British men and women, who have joined the Somali terrorist group Al-Shabab. One high profile target is under surveillance at a house in Kenya. At a command base in Sussex, Colonel Katherine Powell has a direct link to US drone pilot Steve Watts and she watches in horror as covert footage reveals targets in the house are wearing suicide vests primed for an imminent attack.
- GenreDrama, Thriller, War
- CastBarkhad Abdi, Jeremy Northam, Alan Rickman, Aaron Paul, Helen Mirren.
- DirectorGavin Hood.
- WriterGuy Hibbert.
- Duration102 mins
- Official sitewww.bleeckerstreetmedia.com/eyeinthesky
The art of modern warfare is no longer consigned to battlefields on the ground. Devastating missile attacks, pinpointed by drones, have allowed politicians to strike at the heart of supposed terrorist networks without having to stare into the whites of the enemies' eyes. Yet with greater power comes crushing responsibility - all technology is prone to error and one misplaced explosion can be exploited as propaganda to intensify the cycle of violence. "Revolutions are fuelled by postings on YouTube," observes one nervous politician in Eye In The Sky, an intelligent and timely thriller that asks if there is such a thing as acceptable collateral damage in the pursuit of global freedom. Gavin Hood's nerve-racking film, tightly scripted by Guy Hibbert, doesn't have the answer to that complex moral conundrum. Instead, events on screen put the characters - and us - through the emotional wringer as a joint American and British taskforce decides if the slaughter of one innocent child is a tolerable consequence of neutralising a jihadist cell. Operation Cobra has been tracking radicalised British men and women linked to the Somali group al-Shabaab. One high profile target, Susan Danford (Lex King), is under surveillance at a house in Kenya, monitored by agents including Jama Farah (Barkhad Abdi). Lieutenant General Frank Benson (Alan Rickman) takes control of the operation from London while Foreign Secretary James Willett (Iain Glen), who is at an arms fair in Singapore, watches a live video feed from a US drone piloted by Steve Watts (Aaron Paul) in Nevada. At a command base in Sussex, Colonel Katherine Powell (Helen Mirren) has a direct link to Watts and explains that the objective is "to capture not kill". When covert footage reveals targets in the house are wearing suicide vests primed for an imminent attack, priorities change. The clock is ticking and politicians on both sides of the Atlantic deliberate. Meanwhile, Watts and his spotter, Airman Carrie Gershon (Phoebe Fox), notice a nine-year-old girl (Aisha Takow) selling bread near the target house, who would be killed in a missile strike. Eye Is The Sky is dedicated to Rickman. He delivers a tightly coiled performance as the go-between, who needs political and legal assent before issuing his command. Mirren is in equally imperious form while Paul exudes the anguish of a man wrestling with the consequences of defying orders. Hibbert's lean script envisions an almost tragic-comic contrast between the Brits, who repeatedly refer up the chain of command, and the unflinching Americans. This gallows humour dissipates some of the suffocating tension. With the precision of a drone missile, Hood's film begs uncomfortable questions about matters of life and death when they can be distilled to the squeeze of a joystick trigger in an air-conditioned cubicle thousands of miles from the intended kill zone.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 3 stars
Married life has treated Fotoula Portokalos and Ian Miller well. They must now contend with a rebellious teenage daughter, Paris, whose actions are a constant source of concern for the rest of the dysfunctional clan. A long buried family secret finally slips out and Toula must rally all of her nearest and dearest to celebrate another blessed union at short notice.
- GenreComedy, Drama, Romance
- CastJohn Corbett, Michael Constantine, Nia Vardalos.
- DirectorKirk Jones.
- WriterNia Vardalos.
- Duration94 mins
- Official sitewww.mybigfatgreekweddingmovie.com
Tottering down the aisle 14 years after My Big Fat Greek Wedding became the most successful romantic comedy of all time, Kirk Jones' sequel is like a batch of homemade baklava that has been left out too long and gone stale. Dry, flaky yet undeniably sweet, this second snapshot of daily life with the dysfunctional Portokalos family is studded with the same one-joke characters, who unite in adversity with fierce nationalistic pride. Screenwriter Nia Vardalos makes the second film to a similar recipe, flinging obstacles in the path of true love while various larger than life relatives excitedly offer their two drachmas worth of advice. Every exaggerated set piece is starved of belly laughs, from the family patriarch's repeated assertions that Greece gave birth to every modern invention - "The Greeks created Facebook - we called it the telephone" - to the nervous coming out of a gay character that feels like a non-event. Affection for the original film can only stretch so far and even at a trim 94 minutes, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 feels needlessly padded. It seems like a lifetime since Greek-American singleton Fotoula Portokalos (Nia Vardalos) shocked her nearest and dearest by falling in love with non-Greek upper middle class beau, Ian Miller (John Corbett). They are happily married with a rebellious 17-year-old daughter, Paris (Elena Kampouris), who is applying to colleges on the other side of the country so she can wriggle free of her overly protective parents. Toula's father Gus (Michael Constantine) is convinced he is a direct descendant of Alexander The Great and begins to research the family tree. In the process, he uncovers a long buried family secret: his marriage certificate to sweetheart Maria (Lainie Kazan) wasn't signed by the priest so in the eyes of the law, they aren't husband and wife. "Who cares? We're married by time served," cackles Maria. Toula, her brother Nick (Louis Mandylor), cousins Nikki (Gia Carides) and Angelo (Joey Fatone), and interfering Aunt Voula (Andrea Martin) pledge their support to organising a wedding at short notice so Gus and Maria can tie the knot properly. Meanwhile Paris shrugs off Gus' suggestion that she needs to find a Greek husband as soon as possible and nervously prepares for a prom date with classmate Bennett (Alex Wolff). My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 is acrimoniously divorced from subtlety and invention. Jones' film goes through the motions with a depressing lack of urgency or purpose. Once again, Martin voraciously scene steals as the perfectly coiffed doyenne of fruity sexual advice. Vardalos drizzles on sticky sentiment at regular intervals in the vain hope that a few tears might flow in the absence of laughter. Even besotted fans of the blockbusting original will struggle to say, "I do".
Ratchet & Clank 3 stars
Ratchet is a mechanic on Planet Veldin in the Solana Galaxy, who dreams of becoming a Galactic Ranger like his valiant idols, Captain Qwark, Cora and Brax. Chairman Drek and his hulking robotic henchman Victor invade Veldin with their war bots, but Ratchet and his cute robotic sidekick Clank unexpectedly save the day. Their gallantry is rewarded with promotion to the Galactic Rangers, which sows the seeds of Captain Qwark's intense jealousy.
- GenreAction, Adventure, Animation/Cartoon, Children, Children's, Science Fiction
- CastJim Ward, David Kaye, James Arnold Taylor.
- DirectorJericca Cleland, Kevin Munroe.
- WriterKevin Munroe, Gerry Swallow, T J Fixman.
- Duration94 mins
- Official sitewww.ratchetandclankthemovie.com
Hollywood's turbulent relationship with the video gaming industry has frequently ended in tears including forgettable big-screen renderings of the Mortal Kombat, Tomb Raider, Resident Evil, Silent Hill and Hitman franchises. The visceral thrill of assuming control of a digitised protagonist, whose destiny is literally in your hands, can't be replicated at 24 frames per second. Four films inspired by hugely popular games including The Angry Birds Movie, Warcraft and Assassin's Creed loom large on the horizon, and the 2016 onslaught begins with Kevin Munroe and Jericca Cleland's computer-animated romp. Ratchet & Clank is an energetic battle beyond the stars that affirms anyone can have a positive impact on the world. "To be a hero, you don't have to do big things, just the right ones," sermonises one of the otherworldly characters, trumpeting a message of self-belief and courage that is hardwired into the linear and simplistic script. There's no quibbling with the film's worthy intentions. It's just a shame that the quality of the animation, vocal performances and narrative sophistication couldn't have strived for greatness too. Ratchet (voiced by James Arnold Taylor) is a furry, cat-like creature called a Lombax, who works as a mechanic on Planet Veldin in the Solana Galaxy, in a ramshackle workshop owned by his mentor and surrogate father, Grimroth (John Goodman). While he may be a wizard with a wrench, Ratchet openly dreams of becoming a laser gun-wielding Galactic Ranger like his idols, Captain Qwark (Jim Ward), Cora (Bella Thorne) and Brax (Vincent Tong). "Dream smaller, it leads to less disappointment," counsels Grimroth tenderly. Unperturbed, Ratchet attends a trial for the Rangers. "You may not have this chiselled jaw or God-given pectoral region but if you have heart, you may have what it takes," beams Qwark encouragingly to prospective candidates. Soon after, diabolical Chairman Drek (Paul Giamatti) and his hulking robotic henchman Victor (Sylvester Stallone) invade Veldin with their war bots. Ratchet and his cute mechanised sidekick Clank (David Kaye) unexpectedly save the day and their gallantry is rewarded with promotion to the esteemed ranks of the Galactic Rangers, which sows the seeds of Captain Qwark's jealousy. Chairman Drek and his chief scientist, Doctor Nefarious (Armin Shimerman), exploit these divisions to destroy the Galactic Rangers from within before they unleash their aptly named superweapon: the Deplanetizer. Ratchet & Clank is a solid and broadly comic introduction to the eponymous champions, who have appeared on various PlayStation platforms. Locations, weapons and flimsy plot threads from the games are merrily woven together into a conventional clash between good and evil. Heroes are immensely likable and pantomime villains cackle at regular intervals as they set their fatally flawed schemes in motion. Visuals are colourful and shiny if lacking in meticulous detail, especially when viewed on a widescreen canvas. Munroe and Cleland's picture encourages us to dream big, but its ambitions are extremely limited.