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- Guardians Of The Galaxy
- Hector And The Search For Happiness
- Into The Storm
- The Inbetweeners 2
- The Unbeatables
Guardians Of The Galaxy 4 stars
Abducted from his parents as a child and raised by thieves, gung-ho American pilot Peter Quill is content to gallivant around the far reaches of space. He steals an orb, which is sought by Ronan and his army of Sakaarans, and evades capture by aligning himself with a motley crew of rebels comprising green-skinned assassin Gamora, genetically engineered raccoon Rocket, his tree-like sidekick Groot and vengeance-seeking warrior Drax The Destroyer, whose entire family was slaughtered by Ronan.
- GenreAction, Adaptation, Adventure, Comedy, Family, Science Fiction
- CastBradley Cooper, Chris Pratt, Vin Diesel, Zoe Saldana, Lee Pace, Dave Bautista, Josh Brolin.
- DirectorJames Gunn.
- WriterJames Gunn, Nicole Perlman.
- Duration128 mins
- Official sitewww.marvel.com/guardians
From its visually stunning opening set to the funky strains of Come And Get Your Love by Native American rock band Redbone, Guardians Of The Galaxy lends the Marvel Comics big screen universe a delightful retro twang. The sardonic anti-hero is seldom parted from his Walkman and he inspires his cohorts to greatness with repeated references to Kevin Bacon and Footloose. As the slick special effects attest, the budget for this intergalactic romp is big - so too are the laughs courtesy of director James Gunn and co-writer Nicole Perlman. The opening sequence affectionately nods to Raiders Of The Lost Ark and when the mystery surrounding the film's fabled treasure is revealed, the space cowboy casually notes the trinket has "a shiny suitcase, Ark of the Covenant, Maltese Falcon vibe". Gunn doesn't skimp on the spectacle - if anything, a couple of the outlandish set pieces are too long - but he adds a comic twist to each deafening blast of pyrotechnics. Thus a centrepiece prison break is underscored by Rupert Holmes' 1979 hit Escape (The Pina Colada Song) and when the anti-hero barely escapes death in his spaceship and an extra-terrestrial girlfriend stumbles up from the hold, he looks at her with embarrassment and confesses, "I'm going to be honest with you. I forgot you were here". Abducted from his parents as a child and raised by thieves led by blue-skinned tyrant Yondu (Michael Rooker), Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) is a thief for hire, who steals a mystical orb sought by sadistic warlord Ronan (Lee Pace) and his army of Sakaarans. Peter evades Ronan's clutches and eventually aligns himself with a motley crew of mercenaries comprising green-skinned assassin Gamora (Zoe Saldana), genetically engineered raccoon Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper), his tree-like sidekick Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel) and vengeance-seeking warrior Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista), whose entire family was slaughtered by Ronan. When Peter learns the orb is an ancient artefact with the power to destroy the universe, he must put selfish desires to one side to repel Ronan and his underlings including fearsome intergalactic hunter Korath (Djimon Hounsou). Guardians Of The Galaxy is a blast. Pratt brings swagger and dry wit to his emotionally wounded hero, while Saldana adds sass and sex appeal to her otherworldly assassin. Bautista is marvellous as the hulk who takes everything literally - "Nothing goes over my head, my reflexes are too fast" - but almost every scene is stolen by the computer-generated double-act of Rocket and Groot. Cooper voices his feisty gun-toting fur ball with a wonderful blend of defiance and sarcasm, and breaks our hearts when it seems that he might be separated from his beloved sidekick forever. Cameos from Benicio Del Toro and Glenn Close hint at a wider canvas of political intrigue that director Gunn will be keen to explore in a sequel star-dated for release in 2017.
Hector And The Search For Happiness 3 stars
Hector is a London-based psychiatrist, who is beginning to feel just as depressed, dissatisfied and jaded as the patients he is supposed to be treating. In an effort to jolt himself out of this fug, Hector kisses his long-time girlfriend Clara farewell and embarks on a globe-trotting journey of self-discovery to seek out true happiness. As he zigzags the globe, Hector crosses paths with a motley crew of disillusioned souls and reconnects with his ex-girlfriend Agnes.
- GenreAdaptation, Comedy, Drama, Romance
- CastStellan Skarsgard, Jean Reno, Simon Pegg, Rosamund Pike, Toni Collette.
- DirectorPeter Chelsom.
- WriterPeter Chelsom, Maria von Heland, Tinker Lindsay.
- Duration120 mins
- Official sitewww.facebook.com/hectorfilm
- Release15/08/2014 (selected cinemas)
Based on the book of the same name by Francois Lelord, Hector And The Search For Happiness is a romantic comedy directed by Peter Chelsom about a man, who learns to appreciate everything he already has rather than hanker for more. Hector (Simon Pegg) is a London-based psychiatrist, who is beginning to feel just as depressed, dissatisfied and jaded as the patients he is supposed to be treating. In an effort to jolt himself out of this fug, Hector kisses his long-time girlfriend Clara (Rosamund Pike) farewell and embarks on a globe-trotting journey of self-discovery to seek out true happiness. As he zigzags the globe, visiting a Tibetan monastery and discovery the hidden delights of China, Hector crosses paths with a motley crew of disillusioned souls including a world weary banker called Edward (Stellan Skarsgard) and Professor Coreman (Christopher Plummer), who is in charge of Happiness Studies at UCLA. Hector also reconnects with his ex-girlfriend Agnes (Toni Collette) and she helps him to acknowledge that the happiness and fulfilment he seeks are closer to home.
Into The Storm 3 stars
Veteran storm chaser Pete consults his data and notes that an unprecedented weather system is heading for the town of Silverton, which could unleash a series of devastating meteorological events on the community. As Pete, colleague Allison Stone and fellow storm chasers race to the scene, their cameras recording every heart-stopping event.
- GenreAction, Thriller
- CastMatt Walsh, Sarah Wayne Callies, Richard Armitage, Max Deacon.
- DirectorSteven Quale.
- WriterJohn Swetnam.
- Duration89 mins
- Official sitewww.intothestormmovie.com
Eighteen years ago, Dutch director Jan de Bont capitalised on the success of Speed to harness the full fury of Mother Nature in Twister. The special effects-laden action thriller followed rival teams of daredevil storm chasers as they converged on Oklahoma during a spate of devastating tornadoes. Back in the real world, the intervening years have born witness to increasingly extreme weather systems across the globe - tsunamis, hurricanes, floods - that have devastated communities and highlighted our helplessness against the elements. It's an ideal time for director Steve Quale to send us back into the eye of the cinematic storm in this adrenaline-fuelled disaster movie. Quale and his army of digital effects wizards unleash a wave of cyclones on an unsuspecting Midwest town and witness the carnage through the lenses of crazed storm chasers and terrified residents, who cannot outrun the swirling winds. As a visual spectacle, Into The Storm boasts all of the sound and fury you crave and expect, including one vortex bearing down on an airport and throwing around passenger jets as if they were toys. However, in the calm before this digitally-rendered hell, screenwriter John Swetnam doesn't spend enough time fleshing out his multitude of characters to ensure we care deeply that they survive the onslaught. Storm chaser and documentary filmmaker Pete Moore (Matt Walsh) is poised to lose his funding unless he can drive his armour-plated vehicle Titus inside a tornado. Meteorologist Allison Stone (Sarah Wayne Callies) predicts a weather system will sweep through the town of Silverton and she joins Pete on the road with three camera operators: Lucas (Lee Whittaker), Daryl (Arlen Escarpeta) and new boy Jacob (Jeremy Sumpter). On the outskirts of town, the storm chasers encounter adrenaline junkies Donk (Kyle Davis) and Reevis (Jon Reep), who give chase, determined to place themselves in harm's way to guarantee more hits on their YouTube channel. Meanwhile, Silverton high school vice principal Gary Morris (Richard Armitage) prepares for graduation of the senior class. Before the ceremony, he clashes with his two sons, 17-year-old son Donnie (Max Deacon) and younger brother Trey (Nathan Kress), who are grieving the loss of their mother. As the graduation begins, tornado sirens sound... Into The Storm plays to its strengths, capturing the decimation of large swathes of Silverton from multiple angles in the air and on the ground. The first-person conceit doesn't always work - shaky handheld footage reduces some action sequences to a blur - but it does afford Quale one excellent opportunity to pluck our heartstrings when Donnie and classmate Kaitlyn (Alycia Debnam-Carey) record tearful farewells to their parents. Armitage, Callies and co are largely forgettable. Logic is smashed to smithereens well before Allison traces the predicted path of the storm and gasps dramatically, "It's heading straight for the school!"
The Inbetweeners 2 3 stars
Jay heads to Australia for a gap year, where he enhances his status as an incorrigible ladies man. With the promise of more sex than they can handle, Will, Neil and Simon head down under to join their pal and the four misfits abroad attempt to impress the female of the species including Katie, Polly and Lucy. The lads' ham-fisted chat-up lines and amorous overtures often lead to toe-curling humiliation.
- GenreComedy, Drama
- CastSimon Bird, James Buckley, Joe Thomas, Blake Harrison, Emily Berrington.
- DirectorDamon Beesley, Iain Morris.
- WriterDamon Beesley, Iain Morris.
- Official site
Some of the Inbetweeners may have bagged jobs. Some of them may have even found girlfriends, but thankfully The Inbetweeners 2, the comedy series' second foray onto the big screen, shows our fumbling foursome back on reassuringly awkward form. And with three hugely popular E4 series behind them and the most successful British comedy of all time to their name in their first film, there's no need to change the discomforting formula here.
Although almost a year has passed since the lads' holiday to Malia, the four anti-heroes haven't matured in the slightest. Despite getting a place at Bristol University, Will (Simon Bird) is still chronically uncool and is yet to make any real mates on campus; hapless Simon (Joe Cooper) isn't faring much better up in Sheffield where he's lumbered himself with a demanding girlfriend who destroys his hoodies; randy Jay (James Buckley) has moved to Australia but is working in a toilet and sleeping in a tent in his uncle's garden, and dim-witted Neil (Blake Harrison) has somehow landed a job in the bank but is still as gullible as ever.
Fed up with their lives and enticed by Jay's boastful emails about his conquests with Kylie and Dannii Minogue and five-star lifestyle, Will, Simon and Neil decide to surprise him by heading down under for a four-week break.
Predictably, Jay has been fibbing about his 'DJ' job and his bed posts have no more notches in them than before he left Blighty. In fact, it turns out that he actually misses his ex-girlfriend Jane (Lydia Rose Bewley), first seen in The Inbetweeners Movie.
Rather than kip on Jay's bullying uncle's lawn, the gang tag along with Will's prep school classmate, the popular and pretty Katie (Emily Berrington), who he bumps into, and head to the traveller paradise Byron Bay in a car that has a mural of Peter Andre's face on the side of it.
When it looks like Katie is interested in him, Will tries to woo her, giving a toe curling performance on an acoustic guitar and then racing beefed up love rival Ben (Freddie Stroma) in a stomach-churning water park ride complete with high-octane bodily functions.
The 'bants', as Jay and Neil would call them, come thick, fast and foul here and each of the four friends has their own tortuous meltdown, with varying degrees of putridity and penis jokes bandied around.
Gross, puerile and filled with playground gags, The Inbetweeners 2 is everything you'd expect it to be.
The Unbeatables 3 stars
Table football champion Amadeo beats local bully Flash, who vows revenge. Many years later, Flash returns to the village as a footballing superstar with a contract, signed by the mayor, granting him permission to build a gargantuan stadium on top of the village. Faced with the prospect of bulldozers and devastation, Amadeo agrees to face Flash and his team mates on the pitch in a match that will decide if the village stands or falls.
- GenreAdventure, Animation/Cartoon, Comedy, Family, Romance
- CastAnthony Head, Rupert Grint, Peter Serafinowicz, Rob Brydon, Stanley Townsend, Darren Boyd.
- DirectorJuan Jose Campanella.
- WriterMichael Broadbridge, Juan Jose Campanella, Eduardo Sacheri, Gaston Gorali.
- Duration97 mins
- Official sitewww.foosball-themovie.com
- Release08/08/2014 (Ireland & Scotland); 15/08/2014 (UK)
A young man realises heroes come in all shapes and sizes in this computer-animated fantasy from Juan Jose Campanella, Argentinian director of the Oscar-winning drama The Secret In Their Eyes. Amadeo (voiced by Rupert Grint) lives in a small village, where he works in a bar run by his father (Darren Boyd). Painfully shy and insecure, Amadeo's sole joy is playing the table football in the bar. Local bully Flash (Anthony Head) challenges Amadeo to a game and with the lovely Laura (Eve Ponsonby) cheering him on, Amadeo miraculously overcomes his nerves to emerge victorious. Flash is humiliated and vows revenge. Many years later, Flash returns to the village as a footballing superstar with a slimy agent (Stanley Townsend) in tow and a contract, signed by the mayor, granting him permission to build a gargantuan stadium on top of the village. Faced with the prospect of bulldozers and devastation, Amadeo agrees to face Flash and his team mates on the pitch in a match that will decide if the village stands or falls. In the run-up to this vital showdown, the table footballers magically come to life. Skip (Ralf Little), the captain of the green and yellow striped team, vows to help Amadeo emerge victorious and he rallies his troops including diminutive teammates Rico (Rob Brydon) and Loco (Peter Serafinowicz). Unfortunately, pickings are slim in the village and Amadeo will have to select his players from his eccentric friends and neighbours.