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The Guide

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Now showing at Cineworld Didcot 27,Station Road,Didcot,Oxfordshire OX11 7NE 0871 200 2000

  • Hitman: Agent 47
  • Inside Out
  • Legend
  • Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials
  • Minions
  • Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation
  • No Escape
  • Paper Towns
  • Pixels
  • Straight Outta Compton
  • Strange Magic (Autism Friendly Screening)
  • The Book Of Life
  • The Man From U.N.C.L.E.
  • The Transporter Refuelled
  • The Visit
  • Two By Two

Hitman: Agent 47 2 stars

movie title

Genetically engineered assassin 47 carries out contracts on high profile targets on behalf of the International Contracts Agency. Known by a barcode tattoo on the back of his neck, 47 is the product of years of research. Unfortunately, a huge corporation fronted by Le Clerq wishes to exploit these abilities for nefarious purposes to create an unstoppable army of obedient trained killers.

  • GenreAction, Adaptation, Thriller
  • CastZachary Quinto, Ciaran Hinds, Rupert Friend, Thomas Kretschmann, Hannah Ware.
  • DirectorAleksander Bach.
  • WriterSkip Woods, Michael Finch.
  • CountryUS/Ger
  • Duration96 mins
  • Official sitewww.foxmovies.com/movies/hitman-agent-47
  • Release27/08/2015

Based on the hugely successful Hitman videogames, Aleksander Bach's frenetic action thriller hopes to atone for the sins of a drab 2007 film version headlining Timothy Olyphant. Unfortunately, a new lick of paint and some breathlessly choreographed fight sequences can't disguise the same fatal flaw.

Like so many screen adaptations of videogames, Hitman: Agent 47 fails to replicate the adrenaline-pumping visceral thrill of assuming control of an iconic character and nervously guiding them through the digital realm. The agonising sense of responsibility, which draw beads of sweat on a player's brow, are completely lost on an audience sitting comfortably in the dark of an air-conditioned cinema.

Director Bach evidently loves the games and he confidently orchestrates action set pieces, punctuated by slow motion acrobatics and explosions. A prolonged bout of bone-crunching hand-to-hand combat on the tracks of the Berlin underground, and a high speed pursuit around a multi-storey car park, are high points.

Once the bullets have all been discharged, vehicles wrecked and necks snapped, the film offers little in the way of characterisation, plot or emotional nuance. The protagonist is a genetically engineered assassin called Agent 47 (Rupert Friend), who carries out high profile contracts assigned to him by his handler, Diana (Angelababy).

Known by a barcode tattoo on the back of his neck, 47 is the product of years of scientific tinkering, which has imbued him with unrivalled intelligence, speed, stamina and strength... until the next iteration. Diana orders 47 to hunt down and kill Dr Litvenko (Ciaran Hinds), mastermind of the Agent program.

A huge corporation called Syndicate International fronted by Le Clerq (Thomas Kretschmann) is also looking for Litvenko and intends to use his groundbreaking research to create an unstoppable army of obedient trained killers. The only way to flush the scientist out of hiding is by using his daughter Katia (Hannah Ware) as bait.

Unfortunately, she has also vanished off the grid. Agent 47 tracks her down in Berlin where battle ensues between the hit man and her enigmatic protector, John Smith (Zachary Quinto).

The balance of power tips back and forth between 47 and Smith, and Katia must decide who - if anyone - she trusts. "Don't put your faith in me, you'll be disappointed," growls 47.

Hitman: Agent 47 is a tiny improvement on the 2007 film but it's a close call. Friend is suitably lifeless as the gun-toting anti-hero, expertly performing fight choreography including a couple of bruising showdowns with Quinto. Ware is equally bland yet considerably more emotional as the pawn in a game that she unknowingly controls.

Kretschmann doesn't have sufficient screen time to put meat on the bones of his lacklustre villain, who swipes angrily at a touchscreen desk as his masterplan falls apart. Bach's film obligingly follows suit.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Friday 4th September 2015
Saturday 5th September 2015
Sunday 6th September 2015
Monday 7th September 2015
Tuesday 8th September 2015
Wednesday 9th September 2015

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Inside Out 5 stars

movie title

From the moment baby Riley opens her eyes, her mood is shaped by five coloured emotions - Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger and Disgust - which bicker behind a large control desk laden with buttons and levers. Joy is the dominant emotion in Headquarters and she safeguards Riley's memories, which are stored as glowing orbs. When Riley turns 11, her parents relocate from Minnesota to San Francisco. Traumatic events such as a first day at a new school nudge Sadness to the fore.

  • GenreAnimation/Cartoon, Comedy, Family, Family
  • CastDiane Lane, Amy Poehler, Kyle MacLachlan, Bill Hader, Phyllis Smith, Lewis Black, Mindy Kaling.
  • DirectorPete Docter, Ronaldo Del Carmen.
  • WriterPete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration102 mins
  • Official sitewww.movies.disney.com/inside-out
  • Release24/07/2015

Despite gargantuan advances in medical science, we still don't fully understand the complexities of the human brain: its ability to process vast quantities of information, solve problems and store memories at speeds that put supercomputers to shame.

Pixar Animation Studios, the wizards who conjured the Toy Story trilogy, contemplate the vagaries of neuropsychology with this visually stunning and emotionally rich comedy, which unfolds predominantly inside the head of a little girl.

This high-brow concept doesn't seem like the most accessible subject matter for a family-oriented computer animation. But directors Pete Docter and Ronaldo Del Carmen elegantly tilt their film at the windmills of the mind and deliver a hilarious, heartfelt and ultimately life-affirming adventure that celebrates childhood innocence, family unity and the power of the human spirit to overcome adversity.

Laughter and tears abound, as well as cute visual gags, ensuring parents will be repeatedly dabbing their eyes while children whoop and gurgle with glee at the slapstick and rollicking action sequences.

A mother (voiced by Diane Lane) and father (Kyle MacLachlan) welcome a baby girl called Riley (Kaitlyn Dias) into the world. From the moment she opens her eyes, Riley's mood is shaped by five coloured emotions - golden Joy (Amy Poehler), blue Sadness (Phyllis Smith), purple Fear (Bill Hader), red Anger (Lewis Black) and green Disgust (Mindy Kaling) - which bicker behind a large control desk laden with buttons and levers.

Joy is the dominant emotion in Headquarters and she safeguards Riley's memories, which are stored as glowing orbs, tinged with the colour of the emotion that prevailed at the time. When Riley turns 11, her parents relocate from Minnesota to San Francisco.

Traumatic events such as a first day at a new school nudge Sadness to the fore. Following an altercation, sworn rivals Joy and Sadness are expelled from Headquarters and find themselves stranded in the labyrinth of Riley's long-term memories.

Aided by Riley's imaginary friend Bing Bong (Richard Kind), Joy and Sadness blaze a haphazard trail on the chugging train of thought back to Fear, Anger and Disgust, who have been left in charge of Headquarters, with disastrous consequences.

Inside Out is Pixar's best film since the holy animated trilogy of WALL-E, Up and Toy Story 3. Docter's script, co-written by Meg LeFauve and Josh Cooley, glisters with imagination, wit and invention, delivering guffaws with detours into the heads of Riley's parents as they attempt to deal with her pre-teenage rebellion.

Vocal performances are note perfect, led by Poehler's exuberant portrayal of Joy and Smith's sincere embodiment of Sadness, who tugs heartstrings as the film reaches its exquisite conclusion.

The film is preceded by a short: a musical love story entitled Lava between two volcanoes called Uku and Lele, directed by James Ford Murphy. Joy and Sadness shared blissful control of my mind throughout.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Friday 4th September 2015
Saturday 5th September 2015
Sunday 6th September 2015
Monday 7th September 2015
Tuesday 8th September 2015
Wednesday 9th September 2015
Thursday 10th September 2015

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Legend 3 stars

Reggie Kray and his identical twin Ronnie own a lucrative club in London, where the rich and famous get a thrill from rubbing shoulders with bad boys and criminals. With guidance from business manager Leslie Payne, the club goes from strength to strength. Reggie struggles to contain his brother's sadistic impulses and when he serves time, an emotionally unstable Ronnie seizes control of the business empire and bullies anyone who openly questions his authority.

  • GenreAdaptation, Biography, Drama, Historical/Period, Romance, Thriller
  • CastChristopher Eccleston, Tara Fitzgerald, Paul Bettany, Emily Browning, Aneurin Barnard, Tom Hardy.
  • DirectorBrian Helgeland.
  • WriterBrian Helgeland.
  • CountryUK/Fr
  • Duration131 mins
  • Official site
  • Release09/09/2015

Tom Hardy plays the Kray twins in this brutal and blackly humorous portrait of the notorious siblings, who terrorised 1950s and 1960s London, based on the book The Profession Of Violence by John Pearson. Reggie and his identical twin Ronnie own a lucrative club in London, where the rich and famous get a thrill from rubbing shoulders with bad boys and criminals. With guidance from business manager Leslie Payne (David Thewlis), the club goes from strength to strength. On the mean streets of the capital, the Krays continue their brutal war with turf rival Charlie Richardson (Paul Bettany), always remaining one step ahead of Detective Superintendent Leonard Read (Christopher Eccleston), who yearns to put them behind bars. Reggie embarks on a giddy romance with 16-year-old Frances Shea (Emily Browning), sister of his driver Frankie (Colin Morgan), despite vociferous protests from her mother (Tara Fitzgerald). The relationship coincides with Ronnie's turbulent affair with Edward Smith (Taron Egerton). Reggie struggles to contain his brother's sadistic impulses and keep Frances on an even emotional keel. When Reggie serves time, an emotionally unstable Ronnie seizes control of the business empire and bullies anyone who openly questions his authority.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Wednesday 9th September 2015
Thursday 10th September 2015

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Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials 3 stars

Thomas and the survivors of The Glade search for answers about W.C.K.D. and a mysterious contagion called The Flare from a researcher called Janson. The truth remains elusive, so Thomas and co escape from the research compound and venture into a sun-scorched desert. In this barren wilderness, the teenagers face threats from Mother Nature and hideous creatures fashioned by W.C.K.D.

  • GenreAction, Adaptation, Family, Science Fiction, Thriller
  • CastDylan O'Brien, Ki Hong Lee, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Patricia Clarkson, Kaya Scodelario, Lili Taylor, Aidan Gillen.
  • DirectorWes Ball.
  • WriterT S Nowlin.
  • CountryUS
  • Official sitewww.themazerunnermovie.co.uk
  • Release10/09/2015

In the 2014 survival thriller The Maze Runner, based on the bestselling novel by James Dashner, a group of teenagers pitted their wits against a diabolical labyrinth laden with traps and hideous denizens called Grievers in the vain hope of finding an exit. Thomas (Dylan O'Brien), Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster), Teresa (Kaya Scodelario) and Minho (Ki Hong Lee) managed to escape from The Glade and learnt that the maze was a grand experiment created by a corporation called W.C.K.D. under the control of Ava Paige (Patricia Clarkson). In the sequel, directed again by Wes Ball, Thomas and the survivors search for answers about W.C.K.D. and a mysterious contagion called The Flare from a researcher called Janson (Aiden Gillen). The truth remains elusive, so Thomas and co escape from the research compound and venture into a sun-scorched desert. In this barren wilderness, the teenagers face threats from Mother Nature and hideous creatures fashioned by W.C.K.D. The third film in the series, Maze Runner: The Death Cure, is set for release in January 2017.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Thursday 10th September 2015

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Minions 3 stars

movie title

Since the dawn of time, the Minions have gravitated towards the most despicable master they can find. One Minion named Kevin embarks on an epic quest to find a new evil boss for his brethren to follow. Flanked by teenage rebel Stuart and diminutive scaredy-cat Bob, Kevin leaves the Minions' current home in Antarctica bound for 1968 New York City, where he stumbles upon the world's first female super-villain: Scarlet Overkill.

  • GenreAnimation/Cartoon, Comedy, Family, Family
  • CastChris Renaud, Sandra Bullock, Pierre Coffin, Steve Coogan, Allison Janney, Michael Keaton, Katy Mixon, Jon Hamm.
  • DirectorPierre Coffin, Kyle Balda.
  • WriterBrian Lynch.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration91 mins
  • Official sitewww.minionnation.co.uk
  • Release26/06/2015

You can have too much of a good thing. In small doses, Despicable Me's goggle-eyed hench-creatures are a deranged delight. As unwittingly heroes of their own big screen adventure, these pint-sized "knights in shining denim" lose some of their loopy lustre, hindered by Brian Lynch's flimsy script, which is disappointingly light on storyline and belly laughs.

A dazzling vocal cast of gifted comic actors is repeatedly short-changed. Very young children, who gurgle with glee at the Minions' bonkers vernacular combining Esperanto and gobbledygook, will adore the slapstick, pratfalls and the tiniest member of the Minions clan, Bob, who clutches a well-loved teddy bear called Tim.

Adults will be considerably harder to win over. The lack of a coherent storyline grates as much as the lazy cultural stereotyping of the British as tea-sipping, corgi-riding folk, who frequent pubs called The Pig's Spleen.

Since the dawn of time, Minions have gravitated towards despicable masters including Tyrannosaurus Rex, Count Dracula and Napoleon. Unfortunately, these masters die prematurely - at the hands of the clumsy, yellow hench-creatures - leaving the Minions in a state of deep depression.

One brave soul named Kevin steps forth to find an evil boss for his bald, jaundiced brethren. Flanked by Stuart and scaredy-cat Bob, Kevin leaves the Minions' ice cave retreat bound for 1968 New York City. Cue a President Richard Nixon billboard proclaiming "Finally: a name you can trust". Could the Minions have stumbled upon their arch-villain?

No. The plucky trio learns about a gathering of criminals in Orlando and hitches a ride to the convention with a bank-robbing family led by Walter Nelson (voiced by Michael Keaton) and wife Madge (Allison Janney).

Their daughter Tina (Katy Mixon) points the Minions in the direction of bouffant super-villain Scarlet Overkill (Sandra Bullock). "If I was a minion, that's who I'd want to work for," she swoons. Thus the trio pledges allegiance to Scarlet and her inventor husband Herb (Jon Hamm), who are plotting to steal the Crown Jewels from Queen Elizabeth II (Jennifer Saunders).

While the soundtrack swings its flares to The Kinks and The Who, Kevin, Stuart and Bob careen around London armed with Herb's nifty gadgets: a robo-suit, lava lamp gun and hypno-hat.

Minions has a sprinkling of giggles and doesn't outstay its welcome but there's an unshakable feeling that Pierre Coffin and Kyle Balda's film falls short. The groovy time period should be a velvet goldmine of visual gags but the best the film can muster is a nod to The Beatles and a faked moon landing.

The 3D version doesn't exploit the eye-popping format so parents with tykes in tow should save their money for the inevitable raid on the concessions stand. Animation is colourful and pristine, opting for shiny surfaces and sharp angles that reduce the need for meticulous detail and realism. Despicable? Meh.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Saturday 5th September 2015
Sunday 6th September 2015

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Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation 4 stars

movie title

The Impossible Missions Force (IMF) led by agent Ethan Hunt has taken down some of the most deadly criminal networks in the world using guile and state-of-the-art technology. Now the hunters become the hunted. A shadowy band of assassins known as the Syndicate targets IMF for extinction. Hunt reunites with colleagues William Brandt, Benji Dunn and computer hacker Luther Stickell to expose the Syndicate and bring down the organisation using every weapon and turbo-charged vehicle at their disposal.

  • GenreAction, Adaptation, Adventure, Thriller
  • CastJeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Tom Cruise, Ving Rhames, Sean Harris, Alec Baldwin, Rebecca Ferguson.
  • DirectorChristopher McQuarrie.
  • WriterChristopher McQuarrie.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration131 mins
  • Official sitewww.missionimpossible.com
  • Release30/07/2015

Call it testosterone-fuelled recklessness, hubris or feeling the need... the need for speed, Tom Cruise certainly puts on a show in the fifth instalment of the Mission: Impossible franchise. He clings to the side of an airplane as it takes flight, slaloms at dizzying speed on a motorcycle and performs death-defying leaps as secret agent Ethan Hunt.

The 53-year-old star performs most of these hair-raising stunts himself, allowing writer-director Christopher McQuarrie to capture every pulse-quickening second in thrilling close-up with minimum digital trickery.

Cruise's commitment to his role puts fellow action stars to shame - unlike the films of Stallone and Schwarzenegger, the script is devoid of wry one-liners to poke fun at his advancing years.

McQuarrie, Oscar-winning screenwriter of The Usual Suspects, bookmarks slam-bang action sequences with intentionally ambiguous exchanges between rival operatives, who acknowledge the futility of their efforts as pawns in the spy game.

Their inevitable deaths will go unnoticed and fresh-faced young agents will step forward, continuing the brutal tug-of-war between political idealism and global terrorism. The film opens with the Impossible Missions Force (IMF) hijacking a shipment of nerve gas from Chechen separatists.

Soon after, CIA Director Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin) succeeds in shutting down IMF for a total disregard for protocol, which led to the destruction of the Kremlin in the previous film. The hunters become the hunted when a shadowy organisation known as the Syndicate, fronted by Solomon Lane (Sean Harris), targets IMF for extinction.

Hunt covertly reunites with colleagues William Brandt (Jeremy Renner), Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) and computer hacker Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) to bring down The Syndicate using every gadget, disguise and turbo-charged vehicle at their disposal.

The operation brings Hunt into close contact with undercover MI6 agent Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) and her slippery handler (Simon McBurney), a sadistic henchman known as the Bone Doctor (Jens Hulten) and the unsuspecting British Prime Minister (Tom Hollander). "This may very well be our last mission," Brandt tells Hunt. "Make it count."

Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation is slickly bolted together by McQuarrie and editor Eddie Hamilton (Kick-Ass, Kingsman: The Secret Service). Turbo-charged scenes of carnage are punctuated by IMF's existential crisis in a world that regards their methods as "outdated".

Cruise somersaults, punches and tumbles through every frame without breaking sweat, while Pegg, who was pigeon-holed as comic relief in the previous instalment, steps up in a pivotal supporting role.

Ferguson's ice maiden doesn't thaw sufficiently under Cruise's smouldering gaze to kindle on-screen chemistry but her femme fatale snaps several limbs and necks in impressive hand-to-hand combat sequences.

Humour is used sparingly to diffuse tension, leaving us hungry for another explosion of IMF antics to the pulsating rhythm of Lalo Schifrin's iconic theme. On this evidence, Mission: Impossible and its gung-ho leading man won't be self-destructing any time soon.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Friday 4th September 2015
Saturday 5th September 2015
Sunday 6th September 2015
Monday 7th September 2015
Tuesday 8th September 2015

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No Escape 2 stars

Texan businessman Jack Dwyer uproots his wife Annie and daughters Lucy and Beeze to take up a job in Southeast Asia. The assassination of the country's president sparks an uprising and Jack witnesses firsthand the brutality of the mob. He sprints back to the hotel and rounds up Annie and the children just as locals begin beheading foreigners in the street and storming the reception. Staff stand by as international guests are slaughtered in their rooms.

  • GenreAction, Romance, Thriller
  • CastOwen Wilson, Lake Bell, Pierce Brosnan.
  • DirectorJohn Erick Dowdle.
  • WriterDrew Dowdle, John Erick Dowdle.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration103 mins
  • Official sitewww.facebook.com/NoEscapeUK
  • Release04/09/2015

East meets west and, as usual, America emerges as the culturally and morally superior force in John Erick Dowdle's taut thriller set in Southeast Asia. No Escape was shot on location in Thailand but director Dowdle and his younger brother Drew, who co-wrote the script, remain vague about the geography of this violent, protracted chase set during a bloodthirsty coup.

A climactic sequence set on a river, which supposedly meanders across the Vietnamese border, would logically infer Laos or Cambodia as the backdrop to the wanton carnage. Neither nation would want to be connected to the rampant xenophobia on display here so the Dowdles dodge specifics, including the political motivations of their stereotypical characters, and focus instead on propulsive action sequences.

The opening 30 minutes are particularly nerve-racking, cranking up the suspense as a beleaguered American family plays a deadly game of cat and mouse with a machete-wielding rabble in a besieged hotel.

All of that sweat-drenched tension evaporates when flimsy threads of realism are slashed in hysterical fashion to engineer a series of hilariously improbable events that defy logic and the laws of physics.

Texan businessman Jack Dwyer (Owen Wilson) uproots his wife Annie (Lake Bell) and daughters Lucy (Sterling Jerins) and Beeze (Claire Geare) to take up a job in far-flung climes. The welcome from some locals is lukewarm, so while Annie and the girls settle into the hotel suite, Jack seeks solace in the bar and attempts to justify his company's presence to fellow traveller Hammond (Pierce Brosnan) and other patrons.

The assassination of the country's president sparks an uprising and Jack witnesses firsthand the brutality of the mob. He sprints back to the hotel and rounds up Annie and the children just as locals begin beheading foreigners in the street and storming the reception. Staff stand by as international guests are slaughtered in their rooms.

"All we got to do is put 10 steps between us and them," Jack tells his terrified family, shepherding them at speed through the mounting devastation, bound for the US embassy. The odds are stacked against the Dwyers and no one, it seems, can be trusted.

No Escape is punctuated by moments of jaw-dropping incredulity, including Brosnan's broad cock-er-nee accent. Wilson and Bell are an appealing on-screen couple and they wring droplets of sympathy for their stricken parents especially when little Beeze shows scant concern for everyone's safety by constantly complaining that she is hungry, wants her teddy or needs the toilet when silence would be golden.

Dowdle orchestrates the fast-paced set pieces with a modicum of flair, stampeding any half-hearted attempts at cultural sensitivity under the feet of his nameless revolutionaries, who intend to repel western capitalism with barbarism and brute force.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Friday 4th September 2015
Saturday 5th September 2015
Sunday 6th September 2015
Monday 7th September 2015
Tuesday 8th September 2015
Wednesday 9th September 2015
Thursday 10th September 2015

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Paper Towns 3 stars

movie title

Florida high school student Quentin Jacobsen has been madly in love with his neighbour Margo Roth Spiegelman since she moved into the house across the street. He has never mustered the courage to declare his true feelings, to the chagrin of Quentin's best friends Ben and Radar. Out of the blue, Margo vanishes without trace. Quentin knows that Margo likes to leave secret markers when she goes walkabout, so he follows a treasure hunt of cryptic clues to track her down.

  • GenreAdaptation, Drama, Film, Romance, Teenage
  • CastNat Wolff, Cara Delevingne, Austin Abrams, Justice Smith.
  • DirectorJake Schreier.
  • WriterScott Neustadter, Michael H Weber.
  • CountryUK
  • Duration116 mins
  • Official sitewww.papertownsmovie.com
  • Release17/08/2015

Buoyed by the success of superior teen weepie The Fault In Our Stars, based on the book by John Green, scriptwriters Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber attempt to recreate the magic with this faithful adaptation of Green's bittersweet third novel.

Paper Towns deals with similar themes of alienation and sexual awakening from the perspective of peer pressured teenagers, whose existence hinges on finding a date for the end of year prom.

Director Jake Schreier sensitively and earnestly navigates these turbulent waters, eliciting solid performances from a young cast including leading man Nat Wolff, who played blind best friend Isaac in The Fault In Our Stars.

In the absence of a dramatic hook like terminal illness, Schreier's film sometimes lacks momentum and is missing a big emotional crescendo. However, there's a refreshing refusal to succumb to sentimentality when the going gets tough and the script doesn't polish the characters' rough edges in order to tie up loose plot strands in a neat bow.

Every childhood is tainted with confusion and disappointment, and this coming-of-age saga is no different. The film's unassuming hero is Florida high school student Quentin Jacobsen (Wolff), who has been madly in love with neighbour Margo Roth Spiegelman (Cara Delevingne) since she moved into the house across the street.

He has never mustered the courage to declare his true feelings, to the chagrin of best friends Ben (Austin Abrams) and Radar (Justice Smith), who are also poorly equipped to communicate effectively with the opposite sex.

Ben is a hormone-addled mess around blonde classmate Lacey (Halston Sage), while Radar has a girlfriend called Angela (Jaz Sinclair), who he fears will dump him for someone better. Out of the blue, Margo knocks on Quentin's bedroom window and asks him to help her wreak revenge on her cheating jock boyfriend (Griffin Freeman).

The covert night-time mission is a success but the next morning, Margo does not turn up for class. She vanishes without trace and her parents assume she has run away again. Quentin knows that Margo leaves secret markers when she goes walkabout, so he follows a treasure hunt of cryptic clues to track her down.

Paper Towns refers to fictional locations, which cartographers intentionally add to maps to prevent their hard work being plagiarised. Many of the underlying themes of Schreier's film feel second-hand - paper angst if you will - but the script treats characters and their predicaments with cool, genuine affection.

Delevingne is a puckish, cynical foil to Wolff's naivete, and Abrams and Smith banter effectively as the comic relief. Young hearts run free throughout to a soundtrack of indie pop and rock including Vampire Weekend and Twin Shadow. On this count, these teenagers are too hip to be square.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Friday 4th September 2015
Saturday 5th September 2015
Sunday 6th September 2015
Monday 7th September 2015
Tuesday 8th September 2015
Wednesday 9th September 2015
Thursday 10th September 2015

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Pixels 2 stars

Out of the blue, alien invaders attack Guam military base with energy that has been coded to swarm like the creatures in the arcade game Galaga. It transpires that a time capsule, sent into space by NASA after the 1982 arcade game world championships, has been intercepted by extra-terrestrials and misinterpreted as a declaration of war. In order to halt the alien advance, mankind must beat the aliens at life-or-death versions of classic games including Centipede and Pacman

  • GenreAction, Adaptation, Comedy, Family, Family, Romance, Science Fiction
  • CastMichelle Monaghan, Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Peter Dinklage, Josh Gad.
  • DirectorChris Columbus.
  • WriterTimothy Dowling, Tim Herlihy.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration106 mins
  • Official sitewww.facebook.com/PixelsFilm
  • Release12/08/2015

Like many socially awkward children of my generation, I escaped reality by playing fiendishly addictive games on consoles and computers, including an Atari, Vic 20 and Commodore 64. Asteroids, Battlezone, Centipede, Pacman, Phoenix, Space Invaders and Track & Field were trusted friends.

Pixels is an action comedy, which harks back to this bygone era before smartphones and immersive 4D, when guiding a circular yellow head around a maze with four coloured ghosts in hot pursuit, was the height of hi-tech entertainment.

Based on a short film of the same title by Patrick Jean, Chris Columbus' big budget romp imagines life-size arcade games on the streets of bustling modern cities. Except here, losing a life could mean the end of planet Earth. Scriptwriters Tim Herlihy and Timothy Dowling fail to capitalise on this neat and tantalising premise, crafting an inane story of triumph against adversity that treats female characters as pretty baubles.

In 1982, prepubescent pals Sam Brenner (Anthony Ippolito) and Will Cooper (Jared Riley) attend the arcade game world championships where they befriend conspiracy theory-spouting oddball Ludlow Lamonsoff (Jacob Shinder).

Sam gets through to the final where he loses a showdown on Donkey Kong, against egotistical champion Eddie Plant (Andrew Bambridge). More than 30 years later, Sam (now played by Adam Sandler) installs software for a living, while Will (now played by Kevin James) has become the deeply unpopular President of the United States.

Alien invaders attack Guam military base with energy that has been coded to swarm like the creatures in the arcade game Galaga. It transpires that a time capsule of arcade game footage, sent into space by NASA in 1982, has been intercepted by extra-terrestrials and misinterpreted as a declaration of war.

In order to halt the alien advance, mankind must compete in life-or-death versions of Centipede and Pacman. Sam and Will reunite with Ludlow (now played by Josh Gad) and Eddie (now played by Peter Dinklage) to secure mankind's victory, armed with light cannons fashioned by military weapons specialist Lieutenant Colonel Violet van Patten (Michelle Monaghan). "Let the nerds take over!" she bellows defiantly. Please don't.

Pixels is a nostalgia-drenched bore, hung on the centerpiece recreations of classic games, which result in the destruction of swathes of London and Manhattan. Sandler sucks the dwindling energy out of every frame, unable to muster any enthusiasm for his two-dimensional role.

Monaghan is wasted as the simpering love interest while James goofs and gurns as a highly improbable American leader. Columbus, who directed the first two instalments of the Harry Potter films, fails miserably to conjure the same magic.

He gleefully fills the screen with familiar pixelated characters including Q*bert, Frogger and Mario. Regrettably, it's game over from the opening frames for genuine emotion and narrative sophistication.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Saturday 5th September 2015
Sunday 6th September 2015

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Straight Outta Compton 4 stars

movie title

Good friends Dr Dre, Eazy-E, Ice Cube, MC Ren and DJ Yella search for an outlet for their creativity. With gentle persuasion from his buddies, Eazy-E sets up his own label, Ruthless Records, and the group's first release Boyz-n-the-Hood piques the interest of Jerry Heller. He sweet talks Eazy-E into becoming the band's manager. An electrifying live performance leads to a deal with Priority Records but Ice Cube grows increasingly concerned about Eazy-E's close working relationship with Heller and the absence of contracts for the rest of the group.

  • GenreBiography, Drama, Musical
  • CastCorey Hawkins, O'Shea Jackson Jr, Paul Giamatti, Neil Brown Jr, Jason Mitchell, Aldis Hodge.
  • DirectorF Gary Gray.
  • WriterJonathan Herman, Andrea Berloff.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration147 mins
  • Official sitewww.straightouttacomptonthemovie.co.uk
  • Release28/08/2015

Whenever Hollywood immortalises pages from history at 24 frames per second, it's wise to treat each lustrous dramatisation with a pinch of salt. Rigorous factual accuracy is often sacrificed at the altar of artistic licence. In the case of F. Gary Gray's engrossing film, you will need to grab bulging fistfuls of sodium chloride.

Not only are two of the key protagonists of this rags to musical riches biopic listed as executive producers, one of the men - rapper turned actor Ice Cube - is portrayed on screen by his own son. The faint whiff of nepotism is overpowered by heady fumes of whitewash from Jonathan Herman and Andrea Berloff's script, which neglects to address accusations of misogyny and homophobia levelled at California hip hop collective N.W.A.

Regardless of the rosy tint to director Gray's lens, Straight Outta Compton is a fascinating portrait of youthful exuberance, raw ambition and racial divide that rubs some of that salt into the deep wounds inflicted since the police shooting of teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson.

The film opens in 1986 with pals Dr Dre (Corey Hawkins), Eazy-E (Jason Mitchell), Ice Cube (O'Shea Jackson Jr), MC Ren (Aldis Hodge) and DJ Yella (Neil Brown Jr) searching for an outlet for their creativity.

Tensions are high between police and black youths - random stop and searches are an unwelcome part of neighbourhood life. "I'm the only gangster round here," snarls one officer. With gentle persuasion from his buddies, Eazy-E sets up his own label, Ruthless Records, and the group's first release Boyz-n-the-Hood piques the interest of Jerry Heller (Paul Giamatti).

He sweet talks Eazy-E into becoming the band's manager. "What does N.W.A. stand for? No Whites Allowed?" asks Jerry naively. An electrifying live performance leads to a deal with Priority Records founded by Bryan Turner (Tate Ellington).

Ice Cube grows increasingly concerned about Eazy-E's close working relationship with Heller and the absence of contracts for the rest of the group. He eventually leaves and goes solo, sparking a bitter war of rhymes between the former band mates.

Ice Cube aligns himself with Suge Knight (R Marcus Taylor) and together they establish Death Row Records. Meanwhile, Dr Dre also turns his back on Eazy-E and N.W.A. and channels his energy into working as a producer for other acts including Snoop Dogg (Keith Stanfield) and Tupac Shakur (Marcc Rose).

Straight Outta Compton might run to a holler short of two-and-a-half hours but Gray's film has sufficient swagger to hold our attention. Hawkins, Mitchell and Jackson Jr deliver accomplished performances as the sometimes deluded pioneers of a hip hop revolution.

Musical performances pulse with energy including a stand-off with police at a concert that culminates in a riot. This might not be the whole uncomfortable truth, but what we are allowed to see hits the right notes.

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Friday 4th September 2015
Saturday 5th September 2015
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Monday 7th September 2015
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Strange Magic (Autism Friendly Screening) 2 stars

On the eve of her wedding, Princess Marianne discovers her fiance Roland in a clinch with another fairy and correctly surmises he only wants to marry her to ascend the throne. Roland is determined to rule so he ruthlessly exploits a gentle elf called Sunny, who is secretly in love with Marianne's sister Dawn. The jilted groom persuades Sunny to enter the Dark Forest in order to procure a love potion from the Sugar Plum Fairy, who is being held captive by the dastardly Bog King.

  • GenreAnimation/Cartoon, Family, Family, Fantasy, Inclusive, Musical
  • CastKristin Chenoweth, Elijah Kelley, Evan Rachel Wood, Sam Palladio, Alan Cumming.
  • DirectorGary Rydstrom.
  • WriterGary Rydstrom, Irene Mecchi, David Berenbaum.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration99 mins
  • Official sitewww.facebook.com/StrangeMagicMovie
  • Release21/08/2015 (selected cinemas)

If musicals be the food of love, then Hollywood has feasted many times at Shakespeare's table. The feuding Montagues and Capulets of Romeo And Juliet kicked up their heels as the Jets and Sharks of West Side Story, The Taming Of The Shrew smooched as Kiss Me, Kate and The Comedy Of Errors was note perfect as The Boys From Syracuse.

In Strange Magic, A Midsummer Night's Dream provides the loose inspiration for a computer-animated standoff between fairies, who can't help falling in love to Elvis Presley, and self-loathing bog creatures, who have been mistreated to Deep Purple.

Gary Rydstrom's heavy-handed romance might take its initial cue from Shakespeare's forest fantasy but it plunders Disney's 1991 version of Beauty And The Beast for the achingly predictable second act. Even preschoolers will roll their eyes when the king of the fairies pointedly remarks, "Never judge something, or someone, by how it, or he, or she looks."

Spookily, that's also true of Rydstrom's picture. The detailed, photorealistic backgrounds conjured by the animators cast a heady spell. Alas, the same cannot be said of a script - based on an idea by George Lucas - that refuses to delve beneath the shiny surface of the two-dimensional characters.

Princess Marianne (voiced by Evan Rachel Wood) lives in Fairy Kingdom with her flighty younger sister, Dawn (Meredith Anne Bull). The older fairy - and heir to the throne - is poised to marry hunky soldier Roland (Sam Palladio).

Her reverie is shattered when she discovers Roland in a clinch with another fairy and correctly surmises he only wants to marry her to ascend the throne. "He loves the crown and his hair. Not in that order," Marianne coldly informs her father (Alfred Molina).

Roland is determined to rule so he ruthlessly exploits a gentle elf called Sunny (Elijah Kelley), who is secretly in love with Dawn. The jilted groom persuades Sunny to enter the Dark Forest in order to procure a love potion from the Sugar Plum Fairy (Kristin Chenoweth), who is being held captive by the dastardly Bog King (Alan Cumming).

The elf gamely agrees in the misguided belief that the potion will allow him to win Dawn's heart. Roland has other ideas.

Strange Magic fails to deliver either part of its beguiling title. The film's otherworldly designs recall the 1982 Jim Henson fantasy The Dark Crystal and recent computer animation Epic, and someone forgot to sprinkle pixie dust over the clunky dialogue.

Cast belt out musical mash-ups from the past six decades a la Glee, including the title track by ELO, to verbalise trite emotions. There's no subtlety to the songbook: the heroine immunises herself against future heartbreak by warbling I'll Never Fall In Love Again. We know she will because even Shakespeare couldn't resist an occasional happy ending.

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Sunday 6th September 2015

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The Book Of Life 3 stars

movie title

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Saturday 5th September 2015
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The Man From U.N.C.L.E. 2 stars

Victoria Vinciguerra is the beautiful mastermind of a criminal organisation, which hopes to destabilise the fragile global peace. American agent Napoleon Solo reluctantly works alongside Ukrainian rival Illya Kuryakin to thwart Victoria's nefarious plan. The two men join forces with Gaby Teller, whose father is a German scientist with the key to infiltrating the criminal network. With the clock ticking down to worldwide catastrophe, tensions between Solo and Kuryakin undermine the mission.

  • GenreAction, Adaptation, Adventure, Comedy, Romance
  • CastHenry Cavill, Alicia Vikander, Elizabeth Debicki, Armie Hammer.
  • DirectorGuy Ritchie.
  • WriterGuy Ritchie, Lionel Wigram.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration116 mins
  • Official sitewww.manfromuncle.com
  • Release14/08/2015

More than 50 years after the achingly cool TV series The Man From U.N.C.L.E. exploited Cold War paranoia for rollicking entertainment, director Guy Ritchie continues to explore fractious male dynamics in this globe-trotting spy caper.

The unlikely pairing of suave American agent Napoleon Solo and tightly coiled Ukrainian rival Illya Kuryakin during the Cold War remains unchanged in Ritchie's script, co-written by Lionel Wigram. While the original pairing of Robert Vaughn and David McCallum lent swagger and smouldering sex appeal to the politically divided operatives, Ritchie's good-looking men from U.N.C.L.E. - Armie Hammer and Henry Cavill - radiate impeccably tailored style over substance and sizzle.

James Bond could arch an eyebrow and exude more charisma than either leading man manages here as they attempt to wrench a nuclear warhead from the clutches of a criminal network.

The film is having a laugh to suggest that these strapping and chiselled agents, both over six feet tall, could conduct covert surveillance without drawing attention. Ritchie evidently agrees and stokes homoerotic embers with a thinly veiled declaration of sexual preference that will prick up the ears of gay audiences as the men attempt to simultaneously pick two locks on a door and evade capture.

These throwaway moments, including an appearance by Pussy Galore's helicopter from Goldfinger, are symbolic of a film that has the right ingredients but no clear sense how to blend everything smoothly.

Victoria Vinciguerra (Elizabeth Debicki) is the beautiful mastermind of a criminal organisation, which hopes to destabilise global peace using a warhead armed by nuclear scientist Udo Teller (Christian Berkel). CIA handler Sanders (Jared Harris) instructs his debonair agent Napoleon Solo (Cavill) to join forces with KGB counterpart Illya Kuryakin (Hammer) to thwart Victoria's nefarious plan.

The two men bicker and brood, give each other pet names ("Red Peril" and "Cowboy"), and dangle Udo's car mechanic daughter Gaby (Alicia Vikander) as bait to flush the scientist out of hiding. En route, the agents clash with Gaby's sadistic uncle (Sylvester Groth) and forge an alliance with an unflappable British agent, Alexander Waverly (Hugh Grant).

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. lovingly evokes the textures, polish and poise of an era that rebelled against post-war drabness, with fine contributions from production designer Oliver Scholl and costume designer Joanna Johnston.

The soundtrack jives to jazzy beats, matched by Ritchie's measured direction, which thankfully avoids some of his usual showboating. If looks were everything, the film would twist and shout in snazzy kaleidoscopic split screens.

However, characters are poorly developed and on-screen chemistry between the leading men and a shamefully underused Vikander is tepid. "For a special agent, you're not having a very special day," Waverly quips to Kuryakin after one chase sequence. On this handsomely crafted yet bland evidence, nor is Ritchie.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Friday 4th September 2015
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The Transporter Refuelled 2 stars

Special Ops mercenary Frank Martin lives in the south of France, where he is paid handsomely to transport classified packages for his customers. Out of the blue, Frank's father visits him on the coast for some long overdue bonding. The mood of reconciliation sours when a femme fatale called Anna sinks her claws into Frank and compels him to take part in a daredevil bank heist with her three beautiful yet deadly sidekicks, Gina, Maria and Qiao. The robbery doesn't unfold as planned.

  • GenreAction, Thriller
  • CastLoan Chabanol, Ed Skrein, Ray Stevenson, Gabriella Wright.
  • DirectorCamille Delamarre.
  • WriterBill Collage, Adam Cooper, Luc Besson.
  • CountryFr/Chi
  • Duration96 mins
  • Official sitewww.thetransporterrefueled.com
  • Release04/09/2015

Clothes might not make the man but Derbyshire-born model-turned-actor Jason Statham has been happily wearing the designer togs of a brooding tough guy since he bossed our attention in Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels. The Transporter franchise, launched in 2002, confirmed him as a muscular if monosyllabic leading man and snagged recurring roles in The Expendables and Fast & Furious series.

Evidently, three increasingly preposterous films as Special Ops mercenary Frank Martin was enough for Statham, because his trademark scowl is nowhere to be seen in this fourth instalment, directed by Camille Delamarre. Instead, London-born Ed Skrein slips into the lead character's tailored suits on the sun-kissed Cote d'Azur.

In an unwelcome nod to his predecessor, Skrein brings no charisma or emotional depth to the testosterone-fuelled party. He flexes his muscles in high-tempo fight sequences and casually tosses out clunky one-liners cobbled together by scriptwriters Adam Cooper, Bill Collage and Luc Besson.

Unintentional sniggers abound, not least when a prostitute launches into her grim history of human trafficking with the words: "I come from an impoverished village..." Delamarre's picture runs empty on gas fumes from the kinetic opening frames.

Russian kingpin Karasov (Rasha Bukvic) and his goons Yuri (Yuri Kolokolnikov) and Imasov (Lenn Kudrjawizki) sweep into the French Riviera in 1995 and seize control of the local working girls. Fifteen years later, one member of the harem, Anna (Loan Chabanol), decides to wreak revenge by bringing down Karasov's empire.

She joins forces with fellow prostitutes Gina (Gabrielle Wright), Maria (Tatiana Pajkovic) and Qiao (Wenxia Yu) and hires Frank Martin (Skrein) as the getaway driver for her suicidal scheme.

Anna ensures Frank's co-operation by kidnapping his old man (Ray Stevenson), who has been poisoned with a toxin that will kill in 12 hours, unless she administers the antidote. The clock is ticking. Anna's plan - to rob the bank where Karasov has squirrelled away his ill-gotten gains - doesn't unfold entirely as planned.

"When I find out who they are, they are going to wish they were someone else," snarls Karasov to his business associate Maissa (Noemie Lenoir).

The Transporter Refuelled delivers souped-up action sequences including a spectacular car chase along the Monaco waterfront. Stunt coordinator Alain Figlarz looks to Jackie Chan for inspiration, choreographing bone-crunching fisticuffs that rely on background props as makeshift weapons.

Skrein looks suitably moody but lacks the imposing physical presence of his predecessor, while Stevenson has a ball in an underwritten supporting role. Female cast slink seductively in front of Delamarre's leering lens.

Their characters are sketched in laughably broad strokes and are treated as disposable sex objects throughout. The man behind the wheel of The Transporter might have changed, but everything else about this glossy reboot is depressingly familiar.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Friday 4th September 2015
Saturday 5th September 2015
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The Visit 3 stars

A single mother packs off her two children, Rebecca and scaredy-cat younger brother Tyler, for a week with her estranged parents in the country. The children are initially charmed by Nana and Pop-Pop, who enjoy a simple life. Then late one night, Rebecca and Tyler hear strange sounds and they venture into the darkness to investigate.

  • GenreDocumentary, Horror, Thriller
  • CastKathryn Hahn, Ed Oxenbould, Peter McRobbie, Deanna Dunagan, Olivia DeJonge.
  • DirectorM Night Shyamalan.
  • WriterM Night Shyamalan.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration94 mins
  • Official sitewww.thevisitmovie.co.uk
  • Release11/09/2015

A single mother packs off her two children, Rebecca (Olivia DeJonge) and scaredy-cat younger brother Tyler (Ed Oxenbould), for a week with her estranged parents in the country. The children are initially charmed by Nana (Deanna Dunagan) and Pop-Pop (Peter McRobbie), who enjoy a simple life. Then late one night, Rebecca and Tyler hear strange sounds and they venture into the darkness to investigate.

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Wednesday 9th September 2015

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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.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Saturday 5th September 2015
Sunday 6th September 2015

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