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Read on for the weekly round-up and reviews.
It's a good period for family treats with new animation releases Free Birds (U) and Saving Santa (U). Comedy/drama is represented with The Best Man Holiday (15) and Saving Mr Brooks. Finally for horror aficionados there is the remake of the classic Carrie (15).
We see the reappearance of the popular family films Justin and the Knights of Valour, The Rise of the Guardians & Sunshine on Leith. Also there is still chance to catch the excellent Despicable Me 2.
A documentary of note is provided by the Dukes with The Epic of Everest (U), the official film record of the 1924 attempt on the summit that saw the death of two climbers.
Other than this, Philomena, Captain Phillips, Gravity & The Hunger Games: Catching Fire are all must see movies showing during this period.
Director: Paul Greengrass
Cast Includes: Tom Hanks, Catherine Keener, Barkhad Abdi
A dramatisation of the 2009 hijacking of the container ship Maersk Alabama by Somali pirates who kidnapped the eponymous Captain Phillips. This is an excellent must see thriller movie featuring superb acting. Characters are well developed and the film takes a sympathetic view of both pirates and the crew of the ship. In keeping with the subject the film has a documentary feel about it which makes for compelling viewing.
Despicable Me 2
Director: Pierre Coffin , Chris Renaud
Cast includes: Steve Carell, Kirsten Wiig, Steve Coogan
A sequel to Despicable Me, which became the tenth biggest animation movie in US history. Gru, now retired, spends his time caring for his adopted children. He has turned good and is recruited by the Anti-Villain League to track down a criminal who has stolen a serum from a research facility. This is a great animation for both children and adults and, like last time, it is the Minions who provide the most entertainment. If you only get to see one film this week - this should be the one.
Director: Jimmy Hayward
Cast includes: Owen Wilson, Keith David, Colm Meaney, Woody Harrelson, Amy Poehler, Dan Fogler
Two turkeys, Reggie and Jake, use a time machine to attend the first Thanksgiving meal in an attempt to get turkey removed from subsequent thanks-giving dinners. Reggie is from a free-range turkey farm and he realises why turkeys are being fattened. Jake has the vision of commandeering the time machine in an attempt to change history. The film has some romantic interest with Reggie falling for Jenny, a turkey he meets during the adventure. In all the plot of this animation seems a little over complicated and the film contains some rude humour that may not be appropriate for the very young. In all an entertaining movie but one that is not destined to become a classic.
Director: Alfonso Cuarón
Cast Includes: Sandra Bullock, George Clooney
Ryan Stone (Bullock) a medical engineer and seasoned astronaut Matt Kowalsky (Clooney) are on a shuttle mission to repair the Hubble Telescope. However during a routine space walk, disaster strikes as the shuttle is destroyed by impact from space debris and Stone tumbles free in space. The film follows Stone's plight as she battles to survive. Bullock gives a superlative performance in this spectacularly shot movie. However the interest of the film is not the impressive special effects but rather the exploration of human frailty in adversity.
Director: Peter Landsman
Cast Includes: Zac Efron, Paul Giamatti, Marcia Gay Harden, Jacki Weaver, Billy Bob Thornton
A re-telling of the 1963 assassination of J F Kennedy, with the drama set around the Dallas Parklands Hospital. The film is little quirky as it attempts to portray the assassination through the lives of ordinary people involved in this drama. A well made movie with good acting. It mixes newsreels with dramatic reconstruction. However this reviewer felt everyone was trying a little to hard to add a new spin to these well known and extensively documented events. Overall a fair movie.
Director: Stephen Frears
Cast includes: Judi Dench, Steve Coogan
A quaint and charming film based on the book 'The Lost Child of Philomena Lee' by Martin Sixsmith. Philomena (Dench) is an Irish woman who had her baby taken from her for adoption in the USA whilst she was forced to live in a convent after becoming pregnant out of wedlock. Much later in life she enlists the help of Sixsmith to try to discover the whereabouts of her lost son. Coogan produced the film and co-wrote the screenplay. He plays Sixsmith, the journalist who has fallen out of favour. Both Dench and Coogan give superb performances in this funny and heartwarming if a little sentimental film. Well worth seeing.
The Best Man Holiday
Director: Malcolm D. Lee
Cast includes: Morris Chestnut, Terrence Howard, Taye Diggs, Regina Hall, Sanaa Lathan
This is a sequel to 'The Best Man' which was released 14 years ago and explored the humour when an author (Harper) is best man at a wedding when his due to be released book shows his friends in an unflattering light. 'The Best Man Holiday' sees the college friends as they are reunited. The opening credits bring the audience 'up to speed' on the history of the characters and the film is a comedy exploring the tensions and complications between a group of friends over the Christmas period. The film contains sexual innuendo and some sadness but succeeds in being an excellent and enjoyable comedy.
The CounsellorDirector: Ridley Scott
Cast Includes: Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Cameron Diaz, Penelope Cruz
The screenplay is by Cormac McCarthy and the film follows the Counsellor, a man in love with Laura (Cruz) and employed defending drug dealers. He succumbs to greed and becomes involved in a drug deal on the Mexican boarder. However the deal goes very wrong and the Counsellor has to deal with some colourful and unpleasant characters. This is an original crime thriller with scenes of sexuality and gruesome violence which justify its 18 category. The film is convoluted, unpredictable and generates an atmosphere of unease. However it is absorbing, very well acted and with its share of dark humour. A powerful must see movie.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Director: Francis Lawrence
Cast Includes: Woody Harrelson, Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Stanley Tucci, Elizabeth Banks, Donald Sutherland
The Hunger Games started as an extremely successful trilogy by Suzanne Collins. For this reviewer, the first Hunger Games excursion into film felt a little clunky. However the Hunger Games: Catching Fire got everything right and is a first rate movie. Katniss Everdeen was the winner in the 74th Hunger Games tournament and as victor she and Peeta Mellark must undertake a victors' tour of the districts. However rebellion is 'in the air' and the ruler, President Snow, sees Katniss as a potential threat to the status quo. Hence he plots to discredit and kill her by involving her in a new Hunger Games along with old winners. Now the participants need to defeat President Snow - whilst avoiding killing each other. This is a dark, tense, thrilling and very enjoyable movie.
Thor: The Dark World
Director: Alan Taylor
Cast Includes: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Stellan Skarsgård, Kat Dennings
Thor must combat an ancient, pervasive and powerful enemy led by Malekith to save the earth and all the realms. Much of the action is played out in Asgard and the interaction between Thor and Loki provides a major part of the film. However there is plenty of action and a strong vein of humour. In all a film that is very entertaining and does not take itself too seriously.
Director: David Soren
Cast Includes: Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Peña
A DreamWorks animation in which Turbo is a snail obsessed with racing cars who dreams of competing in the Indianapolis 500 race. His hopes start to look more realistic when an accident with a car engine provides him with a magical turn of speed. The animation is expertly done. The snails have cute believable personalities and the whole has a real 'feelgood' factor of an underdog following his dreams. The film follows the DreamWorks hit animation 'The Croods' and whilst it is extremely enjoyable, it lacks twists and subplots that make for a really memorable movie.
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