Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Local Cinema Round-Up for 29th April to 7th May 2015

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.

A time of change at the cinema screen with four films lost and five new releases. The new films bring action and adventure with Big Game (12A), drama with Far from the Madding Crowd (12A), two doses of family animation with The Hero of Colour City (U) and Two by Two (U) and finally horror with Unfriended (15).

Films that are lost include A little Chaos; Divergent Series: Insurgent; Get Hard and The Theory of Everything. In addition the following films will soon be disappearing from our screens Child 44; John Wick; Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 and The DUFF.

A film that has returned to the screen after an absence is the excellent Birdman showing at the Vue for one night only.

This is a good time for adventure. Fast cars in Fast and Furious 7 and superhero action with Avengers: Age of Ultron. Also the dramas Child 44 and John Wick are worth a trip to the cinema. Finally the classic Ridley Scott's Blade Runner (The final cut) is a must for followers of Science fiction.

As always family entertainment is well represented with the remake of Cinderella and the comedy Shaun the Sheep.

The Dukes are continuing with their David Lynch season, showing The Elephant Man and later this week Blue Velvet. Also they offer a free glass of champagne with the showing of Moulin Rouge and a free slice of cake with The Breakfast Club.

The only area where the weeks program is weak is culture with Royal Opera House: La Fille Mal Gardee being the sole representative in this category.

Reviews

Avengers: Age of Ultron
Director: Joss Whedon
Certificate: 12A
Cast Includes: Robert Downey Jr, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, Chris Evans, Scarlet Johansson, Chris Hemsworth, James Spader, Paul Bettany
This is the eleventh film in the franchise and the movie starts where 'The Avengers' finished. Following a raid on a Hydra outpost, Stark (Downey) and Banner (Ruffalo) complete Stark's defense program to protect the earth using an artificial intelligence. However the latter, Ultron (Spader) strives for human destruction. Ultron attacks the avengers and develops a plan to end humanity. Following the battle the avengers start to fight among themselves. However Stark creates a new being, Vision (Bettany) who aids the avengers in their final confrontation with Ultron. This is a very fast acting movie, louder and bigger than its predecessors with complicated plot and titanic special effects. The movie has received good reviews and will delight anyone who enjoyed previous Avenger movies.

Birdman
Director: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Lindsay Duncan, Edward Norton, Michael Keaton, Andrea Riseborough, Zach Galifiankis, Emma Stone.
Subtitled 'The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance' this is the story of washed up actor Riggan Thomas (Keaton) once famous for playing a movie superhero Birdman. However once he left the franchise his career never recovered. Thus he is making a last ditch attempt to revive his fortunes by directing and acting in a play at the St James theatre on Broadway. The play is not going well and Riggan is plagued by his inner voice (manifest at the character Birdman), by quarrels with his actors and arguments with his family. The film appears to be shot as a single, cut free. sequence and it contains surreal, 'over the top' interludes. This is a dark comedy,a flight of fancy, about a self absorbed man. The acting is superb (especially Keaton) and the whole a quirky must see movie that could be the film of 2015. If you can only see one movie, this is the one.

Child 44
Director: Daniel Espinosa
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, Gary Oldman
The film is based on Tom Rob Smiths novel of 2008 and is set in Soviet Russia in the 1950s. Leo Demidov (Hardy) is an agent of the secret police. However he refuses to denounce his wife Raisa (Rapace) as a traitor so he and his wife are exiled to Volsk, a provincial Russian outpost. Here Demidov, with his superior General Mikhail Nesterov (Oldman), works to track down a serial killer who is attacking young boys. However the investigation is hampered by the official position that within the Soviet Union there are no such things as murderers. The film could have been a very decent thriller and it benefits from strong action. However it is let down somewhat by the thick Russian accents adopted by the actors and lack of development of some of the characters. The movie was banned within Russia for portraying the county as Mordor.

Cinderella
Director: Kenneth Branagh
Certificate: U
Cast includes: Lily James, Cate Blanchett, Stellan Skarsgard, Richard Madden
Disney's re-telling of the story of Cinderella. Cinderella (James) finds herself at the mercy of her cruel stepmother Lady Tremaine (Blanchett) following the death of her father. The film sticks very close to Disney's 1950 animated musical. Cinderella is rather 'sickly sweet' but this is offset by the malevolence of the character of Lady Tremaine. The movie has some comedy action and a good selection of special effects. There is nothing in here to offend and the movie will be loved by all.

Fast and Furious 7
Director: James Wan
Certificate: 12A
Cast Includes: Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Jason Statham
Dominic Toretto (Diesel), Brian O'Connor (Walker) and the rest of their associates return to the USA where they hope to find peace. However Deckard Shaw (Statham) is the latest villain after Don and the team as he seeks revenge for the death of his brother. The film is thus a sequel to the 2013 Fast and Furious 6 and it involves even more car chases and madcap action. The film suffered from the death of the actor Paul Walker during filming but this does not detract from the frenzied action. A worthy successor to this popular franchise.

John Wick
Director: David Leitch, Chad Stahelski
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Keanu Reeves, Michael Nyqvist, Bridget Moynahan, Alfie Allen
John Wick (Reeves) used to be an assassin, but he left that world behind when he got married. Unfortunately his wife Helen (Moynahan) died from an illness but she bequeathed him a beagle puppy as a gift. Wick subsequently met members of a Russian gang at a garage forecourt and they tried to buy his car. He refused so the gang followed him home where they beat him, killed the dog and took the car. The rest of the film is the violent and action packed consequences as Wick seeks revenge. The film has a rather comic book feel and it posits a mysterious underworld of mobsters and assassins in which Wick must operate. Reeves gives an excellent performance to make this a very entertaining film in which there are no heros.

Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2
Director: Andy Fickman
Certificate: PG
Cast Includes: Kevin James, Raini Rodriguez
Paul Blart (James) is a Mall Cop who takes a vacation with his teenage daughter Maya (Rodriguez) before she starts college. They go to Las Vegas to attend a Security Guard Expo. Though Blart is mocked by the Casino security staff, he uncovers an attempted theft and goes after the thieves. The film is a sequel to Paul Blart: Mall Cop which was released in 2009 and became something of a surprise box office hit. The movie is an example of that rather rare genre, a true family comedy that succeeds in entertaining young and old.

The DUFF
Director: Ari Sandel
Certificate: 12A
Cast Includes: Mae Whitman, Skyler Samuels, Bianca Santos, Robbie Amell, Bella Thorne, Nick Eversman
The film is based on the novel of the same name by Kody Keplinger. Bianca (Whitman) is a high school senior who, at a party, finds that she has been given the label the DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) to her more popular friends Jess (Samuels) and Casey (Santos). She takes steps to challenge this designation by helping the star of the school football team Wesley (Amell) with his academic work in return for his helping her to re-invent herself. Yet she must face her nemesis, the mean label maker Madison Morgan (Thorne). This is an entertaining comedy albeit with some sexual references and crude language.

Unfriended
Director: Levan Gabriadze
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Jacob Wysocki, Shelly Hennig, Moses Jacob Storm, Courtney Halverson, Heather Sossaman
This was initially released under the title Cybernatural. The movie is based in California, though the set of the film is the screen of the computer of Blaire Lily (Hennig). Blaire's friend Laura Barns (Sossaman) committed suicide a year earlier after a video was released on the Internet which shamed her. Now Blair and her set of friends find themselves being stalked on Skype and other social media by an unknown figure who starts to reveal the dark secrets of the group of friends. This is a teen horror movie that will appeal to a generation whose social life revolves around social media. The film has its share of frights and setting the movie on a computer screen is breaking new ground for the horror genre. 

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