Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Local Cinema Round-Up for 12th to 20th March 2014 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.

Not a great period for new releases, there are only two. We have comedy with The Stag (15) and music with Peter Gabriel - Back to Front.

Of the current films, drama is well represented with Non-Stop, Need for Speed, 300: Rise of an Empire, Gravity and the excellent 12 Years a Slave. However there is little on offer for lovers of horror, or indeed of romance. Family films abound with The LEGO Movie, Escape from Planet Earth, Mr Peabody & Sherman and there is still a chance to catch Frozen.

For a high culture both the Reel and Vue have a single showing of The Royal Opera House: The Sleeping Beauty. The Dukes are presenting NT Encore: War Horse and also featuring the science fiction romance Her.

Reviews

12 Years a Slave
Director: Steve McQueen
Category: 15
Cast Includes: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Cumberbatch, Brad Pitt, Sarah Paulson, Michael Fassbender
Set in the 1800s, New York black man Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is drugged, kidnapped and sold as a slave to a New Orleans Plantation. Here he works for slave-master Epps (Michael Fassbender) who is a sadist, dishing out sexual abuse. The film is based on an 1853 memoir by Solomon Northup, the script being co-written by Steve McQueen and John Ridley. This is one of the finest films about American Slavery. It is very visceral, with Northup trying to maintain dignity amidst the atmosphere of violence of the movie. Very well shot and splendidly acted, this is the must see film for 2014.

300: Rise of an Empire
Director: Noam Murro
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Sullivan Stapleton, Eva Green, Lena Headey, Rodrigo Santoro
The film is based on Frank Miller's graphic novel 'Xerxes' and the action adopts the visual style of the 2007 prequel '300'. The Persian forces led by Xerxes (Santoro) and Artemisia (Green) are opposed by the Greek General Themistokles (Stapleton). The film centres on a sea battle. The story is rather predictable, but there is plenty of blood, violence and CGI effects to keep the interest. If you liked the original you will enjoy this movie

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' for it is she who has condemned a kingdom to eternal winter. It is up to Anna (sister to the snow queen) and a 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 movie for Christmas.

Gravity
Director: Alfonso Cuarón
Certificate: 12A
Cast Includes: Sandra Bullock, George Clooney< br /> 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.

Mr Peabody & Sherman
Director: Rob Minkoff
Certificate: U
Cast Includes: Ty Burrell, Max Charles, Ariel Winter
A DreamWorks comedy animation. Mr Peabody is a dog, but this does not stop him being an inventor, scientist, sportsman and general genius. Accompanied by his boy Sherman, the duo use their WABAC time machine in order to impress Sherman's friend Penny. However during their adventures meeting famous characters of history, they accidentally rip a hole in the Universe. As a result they must repair history in order to save the future. A great yarn and appealing family movie. There is little here to offend the youngest of children, and some of the jokes will entertain an older audience.

Non-Stop
Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes: Liam Neeson, Nate Parker, Julianne Moore
Bill Marks (Neeson), an alcoholic and chain smoking air marshall on a flight from New York to London, receives a series of text messages demanding he get the government to transfer a large sum of cash to an offshore account else a passenger will be killed every twenty minutes. Yet the offshore account is in Mark's own name, making him the prime suspect. This is an excellent and enjoyable suspense drama, complete with air turbulence, scared stewardesses and the inevitable deaths on the airplane.

Ride Along
Director: Tim Story
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes: Ice Cube, Bruce McGill, Kevin Hart, John Leguizamo, Tika Sumpter
Ben (Hart) is a security guard who wants to marry his sweetheart Angela (Sumpter). Yet to do so he must convince Angela's brother James (Cube), a cop in Atlanta that he is worthy. Hence Ben gets to spend a day riding along on the brothers shift whilst James is trying to catch a notorious criminal. The plot is not very convincing, but that is no great distraction from the film which is a really a buddy cop movie giving Hart the situations for his stand up humour. This is a fun movie, enjoyable and entertaining which benefits from not taking itself too seriously.

The Book Thief
Director: Brian Percival
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes: Sophie Nelisse, Geoffrey Rush, Roger Allam, Emily Watson
The film is based in World War II Germany and tells the story of Liesel (Nelisse) a young girl sent to live with a foster family after family problems. She copes by stealing books to read and this enables her to become close with her foster father and with Max, a Jewish boy hiding in their basement. The film does not make any comments on the horrors of Nazi Germany, it simply provides a backdrop for what is essentially a love story, and during the film we have Death providing the narration. The acting is acceptable but the characters are not totally believable.

The Stag
Director: John Butler
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Andrew Scott, Michael Legge, Peter McDonald, Brian Boru Gleeson, Hugh O'Conor, Amy Huberman
Fionan (O'Conor) is due to marry Ruth (Huberman). He does not want a stag night but Ruth gets the best man Davin (Scott) to arrange a stag weekend with groom and assorted friends as they hike in Ireland. This is an inoffensive British comedy that comes up with a good selection of wacky situations, male bonding and predictable nudity. A run of the mill film that generates some laughs.

The Wolf of Wall Street
Director: Martin Scorsese
Certificate: 18
Cast includes: Leonardo DiCaprio, Margot Robbie, Jonah Hill, Kyle Chandler
The story of New York stockbroker Jordan Belfort (Di Caprio) who rose from penny stocks to a life of affluence and corruption as he founded the brokerage firm Stratton Oakmont. His life of drugs, sex and ruthless achievement led to his title of Wolf of Wall Street. Scorsese had produced a hard hitting and fast moving film and Di Caprio's acting rises to the challenge of portraying Belfort. However after building up Belfort as a monster the film seems to say little about about the morality of this sort of life and thus ultimately does not come to any satisfactory resolution. Hence the movie seemed to lacked any real depth.

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