Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Local Cinema Round-Up for 27th August to 4th September by Peter Clarke

For up to date local cinema links and day-by-day  listings of what's showing on local screens every week visit the Virtual-Lancaster Cinema Page. Read on for the weekly round-up, and reviews.

There are four new movie releases this period. We have horror with As Above, So Below. There is family animation with Barbie and the Secret Door & Matt Hatter Chronicles. Finally there is music with the re-release of the Beatles A Hard Days Night to celebrate its 50th anniversary.

The release of new films means the loss of old. Specifically Mr Peabody & Sherman and The Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return are no longer being screened.

High culture is represented with Globe: Macbeth, RSC Live: The Two Gentlemen of Verona and NT Live: Media. Also of note is the showing of the 1947 film The Lady of Shanghai directed by Orson Welles and starring Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth.

The complete listings from the Vue was not available at the time of this posting.

Reviews

Arthur & Mike
Director: Dante Ariola
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Colin Firth, Emily Blunt
A romantic road movie originally released in Toronto in 2012 with the title 'Arthur Newman' where it received rather mixed reviews. The film tells the story of Arthur Avery (Firth) who has an un-fulfilling job and a history of failed relationships. He fakes his own death and takes to the road adopting the identity of Arthur Newman. He meets and falls in love with Michaela (known an Mike in the film) who is a kleptomaniac woman also on the run. They start to break into other peoples homes to assume their identity. Ultimately however their past catches up with them. This is a rather low-key movie espousing the message that you cannot run away from yourself.

As Above/ So Below
Director: John Erick Dowdle
Certificate: 15
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.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Director: Matt Reeves
Certificate: 12A
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.

Deliver us from Evil
Director: Scott Derrickson
Certificate: 15
Cast Includes: Eric Bana, Olivia Munn, Sean Harris, Edgar Ramirez, Joel McHale
Like so many horror films this claims to be based on genuine experiences. New York Police officer Ralph Sarchie (Bana) and partner Butler (McHale) investigate a series of domestic abuse crimes often involving children. They find a hard drinking priest Father Mendoza (Ramirez) is also investigating these incidents and Sarchie and the priest start to work together. In time Sarchie comes to accept there is a demonic element to the crimes and the film builds towards an attempted resolution by exorcism. The movie provides its share of frights but despite, some original ideas, it is a 'by the numbers' exorcism film with perhaps more drama than demonism.

Guardians of the Galaxy
Director: James Gunn
Certificate: 12A
Cast Includes: Zoe Saldana, Chris Pratt, Michael Rooker, Lee Pace
An action packed space adventure from Marvel. Adventurer Peter Quill (Pratt) steals a mysterious artifact 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 adults alike.

Lucy
Director: Luc Besson
Certificate: 15
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 beyond human.

Maleficent
Director: Robert Stromberg
Certificate: PG
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 special effect.

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
Director: Frank Miller & Robert Rodriguez
Certificate: 18
Cast includes: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Josh Brolin, Mickey Rourke, Eva Green, Rosario Dawson, Jessica Alba, Powers Boothe, Clive Owen
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 spark (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 stylized violence as it explores power and its abuse.

The Expendables 3
Director: Patrick Hughes
Certificate: 12A
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 installment 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 Nut Job
Director: Peter Lepeniotis
Certificate: U
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.

What If
Director: Michael Dowse
Certificate: 15
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.