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Now showing at Cineworld Cheltenham The Brewery, Oxford Passage, off St Marg,Cheltenham,Gloucestershire GL50 4EF 0871 200 2000

  • A Little Chaos
  • Avengers: Age Of Ultron
  • Avengers: Age Of Ultron 3D
  • Big Game
  • Big Hero 6 3D
  • Child 44
  • Cinderella
  • Far From The Madding Crowd
  • Fast & Furious 7
  • Home
  • John Wick
  • Paddington
  • Penguins Of Madagascar
  • The Duff
  • The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out Of Water
  • Two By Two
  • Unfriended
  • Woman In Gold

A Little Chaos 3 stars

movie title

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Wednesday 6th May 2015

Avengers: Age Of Ultron 3 stars

movie title

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

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

As the roaring success of last year's Guardians Of The Galaxy confirmed, our appetite for films set in the Marvel Comics universe is voracious. This eagerly anticipated sequel to the 2012 action adventure Avengers Assemble is poised to smash box office records with the same unstoppable clobber of a rampaging Incredible Hulk. Director Joss Whedon is back at the helm to lay the narrative groundwork for the 2016 blockbuster, Captain America: Civil War, which will tear the eponymous team apart as governments worldwide prepare to pass an act regulating superhuman activity. In many respects, Avengers: Age Of Ultron is business as usual. Whedon's film fleshes out the back stories of existing characters, introduces new friends and foes to the fray, and continues the relentless cross-pollination of this menagerie of mighty misfits. Marvel Comics chairman Stan Lee makes his traditional cameo and Whedon's script glisters with polished one-liners, including one gem to pithily illustrate how quickly an evil artificial intelligence can infect the World Wide Web: "He's spreading faster than a Catholic rabbit." While the sequel delivers exactly what we expect, it lacks some of the pizazz of the first film and pacing noticeably sags in the middle, plus overly enthusiastic editing of set pieces reduces some skirmishes to an incomprehensible blur, which strain the eyes in 3D. In the breathless action sequence which opens the film, the Avengers storm a Hydra stronghold in the central European city of Sokovia under the control of Baron von Strucker (Thomas Kretschmann) in order to reclaim Loki's magical staff, the Chitauri Scepter. During the melee, emotionally scarred siblings Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) and Pietro Maximoff (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), who have been subjected to secret Hydra experiments, are unleashed. Wanda infects the mind of Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr), using her dark sorcery to convince the billionaire that he will bring about the deaths of the entire team. Tormented by his nightmarish vision, Stark secretly plans to harness the power of the Chitauri Scepter to awaken a dormant artificial intelligence program to protect mankind. "I don't want to hear that 'man wasn't meant to meddle' medley," Stark tells scientist Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) as justification for his covert operation. Instead, Stark unwittingly unleashes the villainous Ultron (voiced by James Spader). Steve Evans aka Captain America (Chris Evans) clashes with Stark for control of the Avengers comprising Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Natasha Romanov aka Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Banner aka The Incredible Hulk and Clint Barton aka Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner). Rivalries intensify and fragile bonds of trust fray as mankind's survival hangs in the balance. Thankfully, the Avengers have a new, yet familiar, ally: an android called Vision (Paul Bettany). By introducing a hulking automaton arch-nemesis, Avengers: Age Of Ultron duplicates some of the large-scale digital destruction of the Transformers franchise. Spader's vocal performance lends gravitas to his mechanised megalomaniac while Downey Jr predictably snaffles the majority of the droll quips. Seeds of romance between Ruffalo and Johansson, sown in the first film, are heavily watered as a diversion from the bone-crunching. Running jokes about Captain America's aversion to swearing and the size of Thor's hammer don't run out of puff before the 141 frenetic minutes come to a suitably bombastic close. Marvel films have a habit of sneaking a teaser into the end credits. Age Of Ultron doesn't disappoint the ardent fan boys and girls on this front either.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Wednesday 6th May 2015
Thursday 7th May 2015

Avengers: Age Of Ultron 3D 3 stars

movie title

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

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

As the roaring success of last year's Guardians Of The Galaxy confirmed, our appetite for films set in the Marvel Comics universe is voracious. This eagerly anticipated sequel to the 2012 action adventure Avengers Assemble is poised to smash box office records with the same unstoppable clobber of a rampaging Incredible Hulk.

Director Joss Whedon is back at the helm to lay the narrative groundwork for the 2016 blockbuster, Captain America: Civil War, which will tear the eponymous team apart as governments worldwide prepare to pass an act regulating superhuman activity.

In many respects, Avengers: Age Of Ultron is business as usual. Whedon's film fleshes out the back stories of existing characters, introduces new friends and foes to the fray, and continues the relentless cross-pollination of this menagerie of mighty misfits.

Marvel Comics chairman Stan Lee makes his traditional cameo and Whedon's script glisters with polished one-liners, including one gem to pithily illustrate how quickly an evil artificial intelligence can infect the World Wide Web: "He's spreading faster than a Catholic rabbit."

While the sequel delivers exactly what we expect, it lacks some of the pizazz of the first film and pacing noticeably sags in the middle, plus overly enthusiastic editing of set pieces reduces some skirmishes to an incomprehensible blur, which strain the eyes in 3D.

In the breathless action sequence which opens the film, the Avengers storm a Hydra stronghold in the central European city of Sokovia under the control of Baron von Strucker (Thomas Kretschmann) in order to reclaim Loki's magical staff, the Chitauri Scepter.

During the melee, emotionally scarred siblings Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) and Pietro Maximoff (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), who have been subjected to secret Hydra experiments, are unleashed. Wanda infects the mind of Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr), using her dark sorcery to convince the billionaire that he will bring about the deaths of the entire team.

Tormented by his nightmarish vision, Stark secretly plans to harness the power of the Chitauri Scepter to awaken a dormant artificial intelligence program to protect mankind. "I don't want to hear that 'man wasn't meant to meddle' medley," Stark tells scientist Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) as justification for his covert operation.

Instead, Stark unwittingly unleashes the villainous Ultron (voiced by James Spader). Steve Evans aka Captain America (Chris Evans) clashes with Stark for control of the Avengers comprising Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Natasha Romanov aka Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Banner aka The Incredible Hulk and Clint Barton aka Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner).

Rivalries intensify and fragile bonds of trust fray as mankind's survival hangs in the balance. Thankfully, the Avengers have a new, yet familiar, ally: an android called Vision (Paul Bettany).

By introducing a hulking automaton arch-nemesis, Avengers: Age Of Ultron duplicates some of the large-scale digital destruction of the Transformers franchise. Spader's vocal performance lends gravitas to his mechanised megalomaniac while Downey Jr predictably snaffles the majority of the droll quips.

Seeds of romance between Ruffalo and Johansson, sown in the first film, are heavily watered as a diversion from the bone-crunching. Running jokes about Captain America's aversion to swearing and the size of Thor's hammer don't run out of puff before the 141 frenetic minutes come to a suitably bombastic close.

Marvel films have a habit of sneaking a teaser into the end credits. Age Of Ultron doesn't disappoint the ardent fan boys and girls on this front either.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Tuesday 5th May 2015
Wednesday 6th May 2015
Thursday 7th May 2015

This film is also showing at:

Big Game 3 stars

Action.

  • GenreAction, Adventure, Thriller, World
  • CastRay Stevenson, Onni Tommila, Samuel L Jackson, Victor Garber, Felicity Huffman, Jim Broadbent, Ted Levine, Mehmet Kurtulus.
  • DirectorJalmari Helander.
  • WriterJalmari Helander.
  • CountryFin/UK/Ger
  • Duration90 mins
  • Official site
  • Release07/05/2015

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Thursday 7th May 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.

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Thursday 7th May 2015

Child 44 3 stars

movie title

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Tuesday 5th May 2015
Wednesday 6th May 2015
Thursday 7th May 2015

Cinderella 4 stars

movie title

Ella loses her mother and father, but inherits a vindictive stepmother Lady Tremaine and two brattish stepsisters, Anastasia and Drizella. Treated as a servant by her new family, who cruelly nickname her Cinderella, the plucky heroine catches the eye of dashing Prince Charming, who must pick a bride to ensure the security of the kingdom. So he throws a lavish ball where Ella makes a grand entrance with some magical help from her Fairy Godmother.

  • GenreAction, Adaptation, Drama, Family, Family, Fantasy, Romance
  • CastDerek Jacobi, Stellan Skarsgard, Richard Madden, Holliday Grainger, Cate Blanchett, Sophie McShera, Lily James, Ben Chaplin, Helena Bonham Carter, Hayley Atwell.
  • DirectorKenneth Branagh.
  • WriterChris Weitz.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration113 mins
  • Official sitemovies.disney.com/cinderella/
  • Release27/03/2015

Slavishly adapted from Disney's classic 1950 animated musical, Kenneth Branagh's live action version of the fairy-tale romance doesn't skimp on the period detail. Sandy Powell's luxurious costumes, Dante Ferretti's opulent set designs and Patrick Doyle's sweeping orchestral score conjure a magical world of unerring love in which even we gasp at the gargantuan splendour of the grand ball where the prince must choose his wife.

While this Cinderella unquestionably dazzles the senses, screenwriter Chris Weitz is shackled to fond memories of the hand-drawn film and consequently, he has almost no room for flourishes of originality.

The plot arc is predetermined, the ugly stepsisters don't hack off their heels or toes to squeeze into a misplaced glass slipper, and Helena Bonham Carter's fairy godmother isn't quite as eccentric as she or we would like as she engineers the film's best set-piece with a flick of her wand.

"I don't go transforming pumpkins for just anyone!" she chirps. No, the special effects wizards do and they accomplish the pivotal sequence with aplomb. Before all of the jiggery-pokery with a pumpkin, four mice and a goose, Ella (Lily James) is consigned to the kitchen by her vindictive stepmother Lady Tremaine (Cate Blanchett) and brattish stepsisters, Anastasia (Holliday Grainger) and Drizella (Sophie McShera).

Emboldened by the dying words of her mother (Hayley Atwell) - "Have courage and be kind" - Ella tries to rise above the bullying. When the name-calling becomes too frightful, she escapes on horseback and catches the eye of the dashing Prince (Richard Madden), who must pick a bride at the behest of the dying King (Derek Jacobi).

So the Prince throws a lavish ball where Ella makes her grand entrance then disappears as the clock chimes midnight, leaving behind footwear that would surely pose a health and safety risk in any other film. "Find that girl - the forgetful one who loses her shoes!" decrees the Captain of the royal guard (Nonzo Anosie).

Cinderella will enchant a generation of girls, who dream of donning the tiara of a Disney princess. James and Madden are an attractive screen pairing, while Blanchett draws inspiration from Joan Crawford to cast a formidable shadow from beneath the brim of her character's extravagant hats.

"I do love a happy ending, don't you?" gushes one of the characters. Branagh's film certainly does, without a hint of irony. The main feature is preceded by the animated short Frozen Fever, which continues the adventures of sisters Anna (voiced by Kristen Bell) and Elsa (Idina Menzel) as they prepare for a birthday celebration.

Lovable snowman Olaf (Josh Gad) and hunky Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) also return and the script includes a cute reference to the blockbusting film when ice queen Elsa sneezes and chirrups, "A cold never bothered me anyway!" A generation of men, who take to their beds at the first sniffle, would disagree.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Wednesday 6th May 2015
Thursday 7th May 2015

Far From The Madding Crowd 3 stars

movie title

Bathsheba Everdene turns down a marriage proposal from sheep farmer Gabriel Oak because she does not believe that she needs a husband to possess or tame her. Soon after, Bathsheba inherits her uncle's estate and defies expectation to turn around the ailing farm. Gabriel, who has fallen on hard times, is hired by Bathsheba as the estate's shepherd and he continues to pine for her from afar as Bathsheba entertains amorous advances from wealthy farmer William Boldwood and dashing Sergeant Troy.

  • GenreAdaptation, Classic, Drama, Historical/Period, Romance
  • CastCarey Mulligan, Matthias Schoenaerts, Tom Sturridge, Jessica Barden, Michael Sheen, Juno Temple.
  • DirectorThomas Vinterberg.
  • WriterDavid Nicholls.
  • CountryUS/UK
  • Duration119 mins
  • Official site
  • Release01/05/2015

The 2015 re-release of John Schlesinger's 1967 version of Far From The Madding Crowd provided a timely reminder of the raw emotional power of Thomas Hardy's late 19th-century novel and Julie Christie's luminous portrayal of spirited heroine, Bathsheba Everdene.

Danish director Thomas Vinterberg brings a delicate touch to this handsome new incarnation, which runs 50 minutes shorter than its predecessor and is undernourished as a consequence.

One tragic supporting character, who should shatter our hearts to smithereens, is reduced to a simplistic two-dimensional plot device, and the heroine's vacillations between three potential suitors seem more haphazard than usual in a noticeably rushed final act.

Moreover, one of these paramours has significantly more screen time, so her choice is inevitable. Feelings are tightly buttoned beneath Janet Patterson's splendid costumes and when one of the characters does eventually lose control and commits a fatal "crime of passion" at a Christmas party, we're just as surprised by the outburst as the film's clucky social set.

The film opens in 1870 with Bathsheba (Carey Mulligan) living with her aunt Mrs Hurst on the adjacent property to handsome sheep farmer, Gabriel Oak (Matthias Schoenaerts).

She rebuffs his heartfelt advances, telling a crestfallen Gabriel, "I don't want a husband. I don't want to be some man's property". Soon after, Bathsheba inherits her uncle's vast estate and defies expectation to turn around the ailing farm, aided by her companion Liddy (Jessica Barden).

Gabriel, who has fallen on hard times, is hired by Bathsheba as the estate's shepherd and continues to pine for her from afar.

Meanwhile, emotionally repressed and wealthy farmer William Boldwood (Michael Sheen) makes his feelings for Bathsheba known, but her head is turned by dashing and reckless Sergeant Troy (Tom Sturridge), whose heart was broken at the altar by servant girl Fanny (Juno Temple).

These three suitors leave Bathsheba in an emotional whirl and when Boldwood offers her financial security as his bride, she turns to brooding Gabriel for advice.
"I need some who's objective, indifferent," Bathsheba tells the shepherd.
"Then I'm afraid you're asking the wrong man," pointedly responds Gabriel.

Anchored by Mulligan's nuanced performance, Far From The Madding Crowd is a visually arresting, but ultimately anaemic portrait of rural desires. Schoenaerts wrestles in vain with a West Country accent, while Sheen and Sturridge have limited screen time to match fond memories of Peter Finch and Terence Stamp in respective roles in the 1967 film.

While Vinterberg's vision, filmed on location in pastoral Dorset, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire, lacks emotional heft, it packs a mighty visual punch thanks to cinematographer Charlotte Bruus Christensen.

Rolling landscapes look invitingly wild and untamed, bathed largely in natural light, and the nascent beauty of leading lady Mulligan shines through the artfully composed muck and grime.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Wednesday 6th May 2015
Thursday 7th May 2015

This film is also showing at:

Fast & Furious 7 3 stars

movie title

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Wednesday 6th May 2015
Thursday 7th May 2015

Home 3 stars

movie title

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Wednesday 6th May 2015
Thursday 7th May 2015

John Wick 3 stars

movie title

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Wednesday 6th May 2015

Paddington 4 stars

movie title

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.

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Thursday 7th May 2015

Penguins Of Madagascar 3 stars

movie title

Skipper leads a crack squad of penguins comprising Kowalski, Rico and Private. A grey wolf called Classified, who works for the elite inter-species task force North Wind, recruits the plucky birds to thwart nefarious octopus Dr Octavius Brine. The penguins collaborate with some of the best agents in North Wind including harp seal demolitions expert Short Fuse, snowy owl intelligence analyst Eva and plucky polar bear Corporal to defeat their tentacled adversary.

  • GenreAdventure, Animation/Cartoon, Comedy, Family, Family
  • CastChristopher Knights, Chris Miller, Tom McGrath, Benedict Cumberbatch, Peter Stormare, John Malkovich, Ken Jeong, Conrad Vernon.
  • DirectorEric Darnell, Simon J Smith.
  • WriterMichael Colton, John Aboud, Brandon Sawyer.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration92 mins
  • Official sitewww.madagascar.dreamworks.com
  • Release05/12/2014

Birds of a feather somersault, karate kick and bicker together in Eric Darnell and Simon J Smith's misfiring computer-animated spin-off from the Madagascar films. Frenetic and fast-paced, Penguins Of Madagascar initially sketches the back story of the four plucky Antarctic critters with a beak for adventure through the lens of a documentary film crew, who are keen to observe the flightless birds in their treacherous natural habitat.

The script soon fast-forwards to the conclusion of Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted and literally blasts the penguins into an outlandish spy caper replete with a menagerie of animal co-stars that should be a merchandiser's dream this Christmas.

The colour-saturated animation is a feast for the eyes and there are a few neat visual gags such as the penguins' novel approach to navigating a zebra crossing undetected. However, the four lead characters, who are boundlessly charming in small doses as sidekicks, grate slightly as heroes of their own half-baked story.

Hopefully the adorable Minions from the Despicable Me series will dodge a similar fate when they graduate to the limelight in a self-titled feature next summer.

Skipper (voiced by Tom McGrath) leads a crack squad comprising Kowalski (Chris Miller), Rico (Conrad Vernon) and Private (Christopher Knights) on a daring mission to break into Fort Knox in search of treasure: a luminous orange snack called Cheezy Dibbles.

From the offset, goofball Private is identified as the black penguin of the operation. "He's sort of our secretary-slash-mascot," observes Skipper. The hunt for Cheezy Dibbles leads the penguins into the clutches of nefarious octopus Dr Octavius Brine (John Malkovich), who intends to take over the world using his mutation serum.

Thankfully, Skipper and co escape and a subsequent chase with hench-octopi along the canals of Venice leads the penguins into the company of a grey wolf called Classified (Benedict Cumberbatch), who works for an elite inter-species task force known as North Wind.

Fellow agents include harp seal demolitions expert Short Fuse (Ken Jeong), snowy owl intelligence analyst Eva (Annet Mahendru) and plucky polar bear Corporal (Peter Stormare). The unlikely heroes join forces to defeat their tentacled arch-nemesis, but this collaboration will amount to nothing unless Skipper allows Private to discover the hero within.

Penguins Of Madagascar exhibits a similar lack of invention as the films which gave birth to Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private. Brine's master plan for global domination bears an uncanny resemblance to events in Despicable Me 2 and the underlying message of tolerance and acceptance has been preached countless times before.

"If we've learnt anything on this delightful adventure, it's that looks don't matter. It's what you do that counts," declares Skipper.

A running joke involving celebrity names in one character's dialogue is a cute flourish but certainly not enough for these penguins to defy evolution and effortlessly take flight.

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Thursday 7th May 2015

The Duff 4 stars

movie title

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Wednesday 6th May 2015

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out Of Water 3 stars

movie title

SpongeBob continues to work in the Krusty Krab diner, run by the irrepressible Eugene Krabs, where he is custodian of the secret recipe of the Krabby Patty, which is coveted by rival Plankton. Following a fight between the fast food moguls, the recipe vanishes. Bikini Bottom teeters on the brink of apocalypse and everyone blames Plankton. However, SpongeBob senses that dark forces are at play and it transpires that a greedy pirate called Burger Beard has stolen the recipe using a magical book.

  • GenreAdventure, Animation/Cartoon, Comedy, Family, Family
  • CastTom Kenny, Bill Fagerbakke, Antonio Banderas, Rodger Bumpass, Clancy Brown.
  • DirectorPaul Tibbitt.
  • WriterJonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration92 mins
  • Official sitewww.squarepantsmovie.co.uk
  • Release27/03/2015

In the pantheon of animated films about absorbent bathroom products dressed in pleasingly geometric undergarments, The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie stands tall. The 2004 feature film was a guilty pleasure, retaining all of the madcap charm and childish exuberance of the Nickelodeon cartoon series created by Stephen Hillenburg.

More than a decade later, SpongeBob and the residents of the underwater community of Bikini Bottom hit dry land in this deranged sequel, which splices colourful animation and live action.

Familiarity with the TV incarnation certainly helps because at its worst, Glenn Berger and Jonathan Aibel's script is a psychedelic mess that defies reasoning. For every trippy interlude, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out Of Water also delights with its unabashed exuberance and irreverence, cramming in all of the familiar characters plus a flock of seagulls to squawk the infectious theme tune: "Who lives in a pineapple under the sea? SpongeBob SquarePants! Absorbent and yellow and porous is he? SpongeBob SquarePants..."

Parents with a low threshold to boundless good cheer should prepare for a very long 93 minutes. SpongeBob (voiced by Tom Kenny) flips burgers in a diner run by the irrepressible Eugene Krabs (Clancy Brown), where he is custodian of the secret recipe of the Krabby Patty.

Arch rival Plankton (Doug Lawrence) attempts to steal the list of ingredients, but the recipe vanishes into thin air. In the absence of the famed Krabby Patty, Bikini Bottom teeters on the brink of apocalypse. "The sandwich gods are angry at us," screams scuba-diving squirrel Sandy (Carolyn Lawrence).

Everyone blames Plankton but SpongeBob knows he is innocent. It transpires that a greedy pirate called Burger Beard (Antonio Banderas) has stolen the recipe using a magical book, which allows the salty seadog to rewrite history.

Plankton joins forces with his computer wife Karen (Jill Talley) to create a time machine to erase Burger Beard's meddling, but the plan fails. Unable to restore balance from beneath the waves, SpongeBob, loyal starfish pal Patrick (Bill Fagerbakke), Mr Krabs, Sandy and curmudgeonly Squidward Tentacles (Rodger Bumpass) venture onto dry land to defeat the pilfering pirate.

Burger Beard is armed to the teeth, so SpongeBob and co use the magical book to adopt superhero identities to defeat their nemesis.

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out Of Water doesn't quite match the pure entertainment of the first film but it comes close. However, a protracted sequence involving a time-travelling dolphin called Bubbles (Matt Berry) is perhaps a hallucinogenic trip too far. Banderas appears to be having a ball as the hirsute antagonist, who has always dreamt of running his own burger bar.

Vocal performances are as lively as the animation, accompanied by a jaunty soundtrack including one upbeat song with the lyrics: "It's better when you and me equals we/Working together in harmony."

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Wednesday 6th May 2015
Thursday 7th May 2015

Two By Two 2 stars

Dave and his inquisitive young son Finny belong to a fluffy land-based species called Nestrians, who are excellent homemakers. They are denied safe passage on Noah's ark and adopt laughable disguises to pose as carnivorous hyena-like Grymps alongside a genuine mother animal called Hazel and her daughter Leah. The roaring flood arrives but Finny and Leah are stranded on dry land with a giant slug called Obesey and his parasitic passenger, Stayput.

  • GenreAdventure, Animation/Cartoon, Comedy
  • CastAva Connolly, Tara Flynn, Paul Tylak, Patrick FitzSymons, Callum Maloney, Dermot Magennis.
  • DirectorSean McCormack, Toby Genkel.
  • WriterRichie Conroy, Marteinn Thorisson, Mark Hodkinson, Toby Genkel.
  • CountryGer/Bel/Lu
  • Duration87 mins
  • Official sitewww.facebook.com/pages/Ooops-Noah-is-gone/222749614584770
  • Release01/05/2015

The biblical story of Noah, neatly encapsulated in six chapters of the book of Genesis, provides a weak catalyst for this derivative computer-animated adventure, which strives to emulate the Ice Age films but falls woefully short of that franchise's visual sophistication and belly laughs. Co-directors Toby Genkel and Sean McCormack chart a pedestrian course through shallow dramatic waters, bringing together cuddly critters in a race against time to escape an apocalyptic downpour.

Vocal performances are lacklustre, like the visuals, and the absence of jeopardy in the closing frames is palpable. Crucially, Two By Two defies its own flimsy set-up without obvious reason, such as inviting a family of three giraffes into the ark, while only allowing one member of other species to apparently board the gargantuan gopher wood vessel.

Noah is mentioned but never seen - instead a sanctimonious, self-serving lion captains the ship aided by a pair of grouchy gorillas. Any wholesome messages about family unity, teamwork and tolerance buried in the ham-fisted script are submerged beneath a thick glaze of syrupy sentiment as the film reaches its underwhelming conclusion.

Dave (voiced by Dermot Magennis) and his inquisitive young son Finny (Callum Maloney) belong to a fluffy land-based species called Nestrians, who are excellent homemakers. "All the animals of the world have been called to a gathering," Dave explains to his incredulous boy. "There's a flood coming. We'll drown if we don't leave."

On cue, storm clouds gather and the heavens open, ushering the two Nestrians on their exhausting trek for survival. They arrive to discover that "all animals are welcome on Noah's ark... as long as you're on Noah's list."

Alas, Dave and Finny are rejected for travel as well as two bat-like predators called Griffins (Aileen Mythen, Magennis again). The resourceful Nestrians adopt laughable disguises to pose as carnivorous hyena-like Grymps alongside a genuine mother animal called Hazel (Lara Flynn) and her daughter Leah (Ava Connolly).

The roaring flood arrives but Finny and Leah are stranded on dry land with a giant slug called Obesey (Paul Tylak) and his parasitic passenger, Stayput (Patrick Fitzsymons). As the youngsters head for higher ground, Dave and Hazel desperately attempt to turn around the ark.

Fittingly, Two By Two is a damp squib. Elements of the vastly superior Finding Nemo are flung into the bland mix, offset by the feeble villainy of The Griffins, whose attempts to eat Finny and Leah are pathetic. The closest the film comes to a joke is one passenger announcement aboard the ark: "Our approximate sailing time is 40 days and 40 nights. We are expecting some choppy seas and light drizzle."

Thankfully Genkel and McCormack's film only lasts 87 minutes, but that still feels like a slog.

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Wednesday 6th May 2015
Thursday 7th May 2015

Unfriended 3 stars

movie title

It is one year since high school student Laura Barns committed suicide as a result of online abuse. Laura's best friend Blaire Lily seeks emotional support in the company of her boyfriend Mitch and friends Adam, Jess and Ken. During a Skype chat with her social circle, Blaire notices an uninvited user with the screen name billie227 has gatecrashed their call. This shadowy figure refuses to leave and soon after, Blaire and co receive cryptic messages from Laura's Facebook account.

  • GenreHorror, Romance, Thriller
  • CastMatthew Bohrer, Courtney Halverson, Heather Sossaman, Moses Jacob Storm, Renee Olstead, Will Peltz, Shelley Hennig.
  • DirectorLeo Gabriadze.
  • WriterNelson Greaves.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration83 mins
  • Official sitewww.unfriendedmovie.co.uk
  • Release01/05/2015

An online prank spirals out of control in Unfriended, which takes the philosophical concept of a 'ghost in the machine' to the outlandish next level. Directed by Levan Gabriadze and written by Nelson Greaves, this sleek horror pits a group of high school students against an online predator, one year after their classmate committed suicide.

In a neat twist, the film unfolds on the laptop of one heroine. Browser windows, video chat links and instant messengers open and close on her cluttered desktop with a click of her trackpad button, seemingly in real time.

Occasionally, director Gabriadze exploits this stylistic conceit for maximum impact, like when the heroine begins to disclose a secret about the dead girl, then deletes and repeatedly edits her response before clicking Send. From each amendment, we piece together unsettling facts that are never spoken aloud.

By exploiting technology from a first-person perspective, Unfriended keeps us at a safe distance from the blood-curdling terror, which lessens the impact of the obligatory jolts. And even though protagonists are supposed to be savvy teens, they evidently haven't watched enough horror films to instinctively know that you don't investigate noises in the dark on your own.

It is the one-year anniversary of the death of California high school student Laura Barns (Heather Sossaman), who committed suicide after someone posted a humiliating video of her at a party. Laura's best friend Blaire (Shelley Hennig) is on her laptop, enjoying an intimate video chat with her boyfriend Mitch (Moses Jacob Storm), who wants to lose his virginity with her at prom.

Their flirtation is interrupted by the unexpected arrival of friends Adam (Will Peltz), Jess (Renee Olstead) and Ken (Jacob Wysocki) for a group conflab. Blaire notices that an uninvited user with the screen name billie227 has gate-crashed the conversation.

The friends assume it is a technical glitch. Soon after, Blaire receives a cryptic message, apparently from Laura's dormant Facebook account. The school friends are convinced that classmate Val (Courtney Halverson) is responsible and they attempt to unmask her as the troll. "You each have dirty little secrets," explains billie227 in a message. "I want to expose them."

Unfriended sustains dramatic momentum but does have a couple of unintentionally hilarious moments like when Blaire is directed to a web forum dramatically headlined: DO NOT ANSWER MESSAGES FROM THE DEAD.

Hennig and co deliver solid performances straight to camera, as if they are staring into webcams. The intriguing set-up promises more than the film can ultimately deliver. Even though the ghoulish payoff is a let-down, director Gabriadze has undoubtedly stumbled upon an intriguing new way to unsettle audiences, who will think twice about logging onto social media as soon as the end credits roll.

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Tuesday 5th May 2015
Wednesday 6th May 2015
Thursday 7th May 2015

Woman In Gold 3 stars

movie title

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Tuesday 5th May 2015
Wednesday 6th May 2015
Thursday 7th May 2015
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