Virtual-Lancaster Cinema Page. Read on for the weekly round-up, and reviews.
A mix of new releases this period. There is a welcome horror with Annabelle (15), romantic drama with The Best of Me (12A) and fantasy adventure with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (12A). In addition there are two performing arts movies with One Direction: Where we Are (U) and The Royal Ballet: Manon (12A).
Also this period we have the return of two family favourites Earth to Echo and How to Train Your Dragon 2.
Films no longer being screened in this region include The Riot Club, A Walk Among the Tombstones and Pride. In addition it seems likely that the films Lucy, Sex Tape and Before I Go to Sleep will shortly be coming to the end of their season.
Movies of note at the moment include the psychological thriller Gone Girl and the ballet Manon Live
Director: John R Leonetti
Cast includes: Annabelle Wallis, Ward Horton, Alfre Woodard
The film is set in California in the 1960's where a young
couple move into their new home. The wife Mia (Wallis) is pregnant and
has a hobby of collecting dolls. The husband John (Horton) is a medical
student and he gives a creepy pigtailed doll to Mia to add to her
collection. Yet the doll is possessed and with its acquisition comes a
series of disturbances including slamming doors and the malfunctions of
an elevator. Mia gives birth and the newborn is also threatened by
these disturbances. The film is the prequel to 'The Conjuring' but was
shot with limited budget. It borrows heavily from other horror movies
and comes complete with cookie neighbour and helpful priest. However
despite a rather stilted dialogue and lack of originality, it
successfully builds suspense to become quite an effective 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.
Earth to Echo
Director: Dave Green
Cast includes: Teo Halm, Ella Linnea Wahlestedt, Reese C. Hartwig, Jason Gray-Stanford
A construction project is destroying a neighbourhood when a
group of friends start to receive strange signals on their phones. They
search for the origin of the signals and discover an alien who has
become trapped on earth. The film tells the story of the youngsters as
they battle the government and help the alien return to his home. It is
hard not to compare this film with 'E.T.' However the movie is really
about the youthful friendships rather than an extra-terrestrial. A
entertaining if rather average family film.
Director: David Fincher
Cast Includes: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike
The film is based on, and is pretty much true to, the best
selling book by Gillan Flynn. It is the fifth wedding anniversary of
the Dunne's. Nick Dunne (Affleck) goes for a drive, and returns to find
his wife Amy (Pike) is gone and the house ransacked. He reports her as
missing to the police and initially he is treated with sympathy.
However as time passes he becomes a prime suspect. The film is told in a
broken time-line and we see in flashbacks that the marriage had started
to fail. However is Nick guilty of murdering his wife? The film is a
psychological thriller with the plot taking a sharp turn in the latter
half of the film. This is an excellent, must see, movie.
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
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Cast includes: Denzel Washington, Chloe Grace Moretz, Bill Pullman, Marton Csokas.
A big screen adaption of the 1980's TV drama series which
starred Edward Woodward. Now Washington takes on the role of McCall, a
black ops commando who faked his own death so he could retire to an
uneventful existence in Boston. McCall is a childless widow, working in
a superstore and with a fondness for reading. He befriends Teri
(Moretz) a young woman who works as a prostitute. However she is beaten
and hospitalized by Russian gangsters. McCall decides to use his
skills to retaliate and as a result finds himself the target of a
Russian team led by a psychopath Teddy (Csokas). Washington is a
consummate actor who plays the role with skill and conviction. However
the whole is essentially a violent vigilante movie. Entertaining and
believable but the film does not break any new ground.
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 Maze Runner
Director: Wes Ball, Douglas Cumming
Cast includes: Kaya Scodelario, Dylan O'Brien
Thomas (O' Brien) awakes with no memory to find himself
trapped with dozens of other boys inside an enclosure with towering
walls. He subsequently discovers this to be a gigantic maze. He
integrates in the society of boys, becoming one of the runners, a sub
group who try to map the maze and find a way out. Attacking the boys
are Grievers which are giant spider like creatures who also inhabit the
maze. Thomas has dreams about an organisation called W.C.K.D. and he
must uncover his purpose and find a way to escape. The movie is a
decent adaption of the best selling novel by James Dashner, the first in
a trilogy. The acting is strong and the depiction of the maze and its
grandeur is very impressive. The movie is aimed at young adults but it
contains some violence and the whole has a rather joyless atmosphere.
The ending was somewhat complicated, designed perhaps to pave the way
for the forthcoming sequel.
What We Did on Our Holidays
Director: Andy Hamilton, Guy Jenkins
Cast Includes: Rosamund Pike, David Tennant, Billy Connolly
Doug (Tennant) and Abi (Pike) are a married couple on the cusp
of a divorce. Despite this, they decide to take their three children
to Scotland to attend a family gathering to celebrate the 75th birthday
of Gordie (Connolly), Doug's father. In conversation, the children let
slip to the wider family the details of their life in London and the
parents arguments. Hence tension and family feuds ensue. The
characters of the film are based on the TV series 'Outnumbered' and the
film is in part comedy sitcom and in part an emotional 'roller-coaster'.
Despite fine acting (with Connolly in particular fine form) the final
third of the film seemed a little flat.