Virtual-Lancaster Cinema Page. Read on for the weekly round-up, and reviews.
A good churn of movies during this period with five new releases. There is comedy with Sex Tape (15) and Pride (15); animation with The Boxtrolls (PG) and drama with Before I Go to Sleep (15) and The Hundred-Foot Journey (PG). In addition we see the return of the movies Belle; Postman Pat: the Movie and Pudsey the Dog: the Movie.
On the down side we have lost Arthur & Mike and Deliver Us from Evil. Also it seems likely that we are soon loose Into the Storm, What If, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Planes: Fire & Rescue, The Expendables 3 and The Nut Job.
Family entertainment is well catered for with the 'Disney Days at the Vue' showing The Incredibles and Tangled. Also there is a good helping of culture with RSC live: The Two Gentlemen of Verona, NT Live: Media, Globe: A Midsummers Night and NT Encore: Media. Also of note is the film Dinosaur 13 a documentary showing some of the politics behind the discovery of a T-Rex fossil.
As Above/ So Below
Director: John Erick Dowdle
Cast includes: Edwin Hodger, Ben Feldman, Perdita Weeks
A low budget horror film set in the Catacombs under Paris.
Scarlet (Weeks) continues her dead fathers quest to find the
Philosophers Stone and to this end she assembles a small team to explore
the Parisian catacombs. The action unfolds by the medium of rather
shaky film footage from a hand held camera. The claustrophobic setting
makes for electric visual effects as the characters face their own fears
along with visions of their past. The film itself never feels
particularly credible and the explorers never really develop into
convincing characters. However the setting makes up for these
deficiencies to make an above average horror movie.
Before I Go to Sleep
Director: Rowan Joffe
Cast Includes: Nicole Kidman, Colin Firth, Anne-Marie Duff, Mark Strong
A movie based on the best selling 2011 book by S J Watson.
Christine Lucas (Kidman) suffered a head trauma thirteen years ago, with
the consequence that she starts each day with no memories of the past
thirteen years. She does not recognise her husband, her doctor nor even
her own face. To try make sense of her world, she starts to keep a
video diary and in this way can begin to get some continuity in her
thoughts. However this reveals that her husband Ben (Firth) and her
doctor (Strong) are concealing something from her. This film is a
psychological thriller which successfully builds suspense with twists to
the plot and some false trails. An enjoyable thriller.
Director: Amma Asante
Cast includes: Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Emily Watson. Sarah Gadon, Matthew Goode, Tom Wilkinson, Sam Reid
Inspired by a painting and set in England in the eighteenth
century, Belle tells the story of Dido Elizabeth Belle (Mbatha-Raw), an
illegitimate mixed race daughter of Admiral John Lindsay (Goode), She
and her cousin are raised by Lord Mansfield (Wilkinson) and his wife
(Watson) where both girls are groomed for marriage. Lord Mansfield
comes to finds himself presiding over a slavery case whereas Belle
becomes attracted to the aspiring lawyer John Davinier (Reid) who
awakens her social conscience. The movie benefits from a very strong
performance from Mbatha-Raw and it addresses issues of slavery and
social inequality via the medium of a period romance. A fine, enjoyable
and serious film.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Director: Matt Reeves
Cast includes: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman, Keri Russell
This movie is already proving a success at the US box office
and has the makings of a summer blockbuster. The film is set a decade
after 'Rise of the Planet of the Apes'. Much of humanity has been wiped
out following an outbreak of an artificial virus which killed humans
yet increased the intelligence of apes. Human and ape live in a state
of fragile peace and the film explores the conflict that arises when the
humans try to start a hydroelectric dam that is located in the apes
territory. The first part of the movie builds the characters of both
humans and apes and later there are very impressive special effects as
hostilities commence between the two sides. Both apes and humans have
understandable motives and thus the film is much more than a simple war
between right and wrong. An excellent movie.
Guardians of the Galaxy
Director: James Gunn
Cast Includes: Zoe Saldana, Chris Pratt, Michael Rooker, Lee Pace
An action packed space adventure from Marvel. Adventurer
Peter Quill (Pratt) steals a mysterious artefact which is wanted by the
villain Ronan (Pace) who wishes to use it to destroy the planet of
Xandar. This forces Quill into a truce with a group of misfits
(including Rocket a talking raccoon and groot a walking tree) who find
they must make a stand to determine the fate of the galaxy. This is a
very 'busy' film with lots of spectacular action, plenty of great
characters, great one liners and lots of jokes. The plot seemed a
little convoluted, but just go with it and enjoy the action. The movie
does not take itself very seriously and will be loved by teenagers and
Director: Luc Besson
Cast Includes: Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman
Lucy (Johansson), a rather average American woman visiting
Taiwan, is kidnapped by gangsters, abused and made to smuggle an
experimental new drug which is sewn into her stomach. However a beating
received by one of the gangsters causes the bag to rupture and she
absorbs the drug, with the effect of increasing the efficiency of her
brain. This leads her to outgrow her physical and mental limitations as
she develops vast intellect and formidable psychic powers. Lucy can
now take her revenge. This is a fun film with the story told from
Lucy's point of view. However as her powers develop the revenge part of
the movie becomes very one sided and the film sacrifices action
sequences for a quest to understand her evolution into something that is
Director: Robert Stromberg
Cast Includes: Angelina Jolie, Miranda Richardson, Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley, Sam Riley
In part a re-telling of the tale of sleeping beauty but from
the point of view of the villain of the story, Maleficent (Jolie).
Maleficent was driven to evil following an act of betrayal which cost
her the ability to fly. She battles to save her shadowy forest kingdom
and plots revenge by placing a curse on the infant Aurora (Fanning),
daughter to the king. Aurora herself becomes caught in the conflict
between forest and human kingdoms. This is a rather dark fantasy for a
Disney film, but a great tale with powerful characters and impressive
Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
Director: Frank Miller & Robert Rodriguez
Cast includes: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Josh Brolin, Mickey
Rourke, Eva Green, Rosario Dawson, Jessica Alba, Powers Boothe, Clive
It has been nine years since the initial Sin City was
released, based on the graphic novels of Frank Miller. This film has
the same spirit (and some of the same characters) as the original and
again is shot in black and white (relieved with effective splashes of
colour). It is shot in a style half way between live action and
animation. The film comprises a couple of interlocking narratives.
There is the return of Senator Roark (Boothe) which gives some of the
characters motive for revenge. Also there is the relationship between
Dwight McCarthy (Owen) and his ex Ava (Green) who gets him to commit
murder. The film has an impressive cast, nudity and stylised violence as
it explores power and its abuse.
The Expendables 3
Director: Patrick Hughes
Cast Includes: Sylvester Stallone, Wesley Snipes, Jet Li, Jason Statham, Mel Gibson, Arnold Schwarzenegger
An attempt by the Expendables military team to apprehend an
arms dealer goes wrong. The dealer proves to be Stonebanks (Gibson) who
was a founder member of the Expendables who subsequently went rogue.
In the light of this Barney Ross (Stallone) decided to recruit new
members to his team to make it a match for the task of dealing with
Stonebanks. This is the third instalment in the Expendables franchise
and it follows the established formula of a well known cast, wisecracks
and violent set pieces. However this film does not break any new ground
and in all felt a little tired.
The Hundred-Foot Journey
Director: Lasse Hallstrom
Cast Includes: Helen Mirren, Manish Dayal, Om Puri, Charlotte Le Bon
A Walt Disney adaptation of the 2010 novel by Richard C
Morais. The Kadam's are an Indian family that were displaced due to
political rioting. They arrive at a quaint but rather conservative
French Village and decide to open an Indian Restaurant, the Maison
Mumbai. However just across the road is a classical, Michelin starred
restaurant Le Saule Pleureur run by Madame Mallory (Mirren). This leads
to fall-outs and ultimately sabotage between the two institutions.
Meanwhile Hassan (Dayal) the master cook of the Indian restaurant begins
a flirtation with Marguerite (Le Bon), the sous chef of Mme Mallory's
restaurant. This is a well acted and endearing movie with plenty of
laughs. Entertaining but lacking suspense.
The Nut Job
Director: Peter Lepeniotis
Cast Includes: Will Arnett, Liam Neeson, Katherine Heigl
Set in the 1950s, this animation follows the adventures of
Surly the squirrel who, with his friend Buddy the rat, plan to steal
from Maury's Nut shop. However the shop proves to be a front for
gangsters who are planning to rob the nearby bank. This combination
leads to action, car chases jokes and general mayhem. This is an
inoffensive film that will amuse children but leave parents a little
bored. An enjoyable romp, but not destined to be a cartoon classic.
Director: Michael Dowse
Cast Includes: Megan Park, Adam Driver, Zoe Kazan, Daniel Radcliffe, Rafe Spall
Toronto medical school dropout Wallace (Radcliffe) strikes
up a friendship with Chantry (Kazan), a woman he meets at a party. He
has given up on love following failed relationships whereas she has a
long term boyfriend (Spall) who for much of the film is away on a
business trip. This leads to Wallace and Chantry spending increasing
amounts of time together. Will they take the plunge and let their
friendship mature into a relationship? This romantic comedy is
reasonably entertaining with good dialogue and some slapstick humour.