Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Local Cinema Round-up for 4th to 12 December 2013 by Peter Clarke

For up to date local cinema links and day-by-day listings every week visit the Virtual-Lancaster Cinema Page. Read on for the weekly round-up and reviews.

New releases this period include an excellent Disney animation with Frozen (PG), and a re-release of the classic Mary Poppins (U).

With the approach of Christmas there is a good selection of family based films including Free Birds (U), Saving Santa (U) and Saving Mr. Banks (PG). Also this is a good period for horror stories with the remake of Carrie plus a chance to catch the 1979 version of Nosferatu the Vampyre and the 1952 version of The Phantom of the Opera.

For something different the Dukes is offering an insight into the secret meanings of numerous cinema favourites with The Pervert's Guide to Ideology.

Reviews

Free Birds
Director: Jimmy Hayward
Certificate: U
Cast includes: Owen Wilson, Keith David, Colm Meaney, Woody Harrelson, Amy Poehler, Dan Fogler
Two turkeys (as in birds, not films), 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.

Frozen
Director: Chris Buck
Certificate PG
Cast Includes Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Josh Gad, Alan Tudyk, Jonathan Groff
This Disney musical animation is loosely based on the fairy tale 'The Snow Queen'. The queen has condemned a kingdom to eternal winter. It is up to Anna (her sister) and loner Kristoff to undertake an epic journey to find the Snow Queen and convince her to lift the icy spell. This is a magical movie destined to become a classic. It will appeal to families and children of all ages and makes an ideal movie for Christmas.

Gravity
Director: Alfonso Cuarón
Certificate: 12A
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.

Philomena
Director: Stephen Frears
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes: Judi Dench, Steve Coogan
A quaint and charming film based on the book 'The Lost Child of Philomena Lee' by Martin Sixsmith. Dench plays Philomena, 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.

Saving Mr. Banks
Director: John Lee Hancock
Certificate PG
Cast Includes Emma Thompson, Bradley Whitford, Colin Farrell, Tom Hanks
A film exploring the tribulations as Walt Disney battled to make the musical 'Mary Poppins'. Disney promised his daughters that he would make a film of the book, but the author, Mrs Travers, proved to be difficult to work with and had very fixed ideas regarding the interpretation of her work. She hated the sentimentalization of her book and the use of animation. She only gave grudging approval as she needed the money. This film is more sentimental than accurate, and includes numerous flashbacks regarding Traver's rather troubled life. Acting is great and the friction between Mrs Travers (Emma Thompson) and Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) makes for compelling viewing.

The Best Man Holiday
Director: Malcolm D. Lee
Certificate: 15
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 Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Director: Francis Lawrence
Certificate: 12A
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. So the participants need to defeat President Snow as well as avoiding killing each other. This is a dark, tense, thrilling and very enjoyable movie.

Thor: The Dark World
Director: Alan Taylor
Certificate: 12A
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.

Turbo
Director: David Soren
Certificate: U
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.

For up to date local cinema links and day-by-day listings every week visit the Virtual-Lancaster Cinema Page.

No comments: