Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Local Cinema Round-Up for 27th May to 4th June 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.

Only a modest two new films have been released during this period. These are the action adventure San Andreas (12A) and the comedy drama Danny Collins (15). However there is also the welcome return, for one day only, of the historical drama Selma.

Films that have been lost include Spy and The Age of Adaline. In addition it seems that the films Return to Sender and Spooks: The Greater Good will soon near to end of their screening.

There are only three comedies on offer at the moment, the new Danny Collins, the musical Pitch Perfect 2 and the black comedy A pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence. However drama is better represented with Return to Sender, San Andreas, Mad Max: Fury Road and Spooks: The Greater Good.

We have fantasy with Avengers: Age of Ultron and Tomorrowland: A World Beyond. Also there is horror with the remake of Poltergeist. What is missing from the Lancaster Screens is any form of high culture, though the Dukes is screening the classic Fellini film 8 1/2.

In other news the Dukes have revised their website so it is easier to see, at a glance. what is on for for each day.

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.

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.

Far From the Madding Crowd
Director: Thomas Vinterberg
Certificate: 12A
Cast Includes: Juno Temple, Carey Mulligan, Tom Sturridge, Matthias Schoenaerts, Michael Sheen
The latest film adaptation of Thomas Hardy's classic novel of the same name. Bathsheba Everdene (Mulligan) is a willful young woman who has come into property by inheritance. Her looks and manner result in three potential suitors looking to marry her, a sheep farmer Gabriel Oaks (Schoenaerts), a middle aged neighbour William Boldwood (Sheen) and a handsome Sargent Frank Troy (Sturridge). However Bathsheba comes to regret her choice of husband. This is a fine adaption of what is a difficult novel to bring to the screen. The scenery is glorious and acting excellent. A solid period drama romance.

Poltergeist
Director: Gil Kenan
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Rosemarie DeWitt, Sam Rockwell, Kennedi Clements, Jane Adams, Jared Harris
This is a remake of the classic Spielberg and Hooper 'Poltergeist' released in 1982. Eric (Rockwell) has lost his job whereas his wife Amy (DeWitt) is an unsuccessful writer. Hence they downsize, taking their three children to live in a rather dilapidated house in the suburbs. Here the children suffer from psychic attacks and their younger child Madison (Clement) becomes infatuated with a TV set. Madison is captured by a malevolent spirit and the TV provides the only means of communication between herself and her family. Her parents seek help, initially from a parapsychologist Dr Claire Powell (Adams) and thence from a psychic Carrigan Burke (Harris) in order to save their daughter. This is an action packed film, with solid acting, though the film offers little time for the characters to be developed. The movie follows closely the 1982 original and provides a worthwhile remake.

San Andreas
Director: Brad Payton
Certificate: 12A
Cast Includes: Dwane Johnson, Carla Guging, Ioan Gruffudd, Alexandra Daddario, Hugo Johnstone-Burt, Art Parkinson
A magnitude nine earthquake hits California, demolishing Los Angeles and San Francisco. Chief Ray Gaines (Johnson), a pilot working for the LA Fire Department, rescues his estranged wife Emma (Gugino) from a crumbling building. The the two of them fly to San Francisco to save their daughter Blake (Daddario). Blake meanwhile been rescued by an engineer Ben (Johnstone-Burt) and his brother Ollie (Art Parkinson). This is a feel good disaster movie, following the lives of a half dozen people against the backdrop of a devastating series of earthquakes. There is impressive CGI footage of leveled cities and widespread destruction. Also we have fine acting from Daddario and Johnson, the latter playing his archetypal action character with a soupcon of humour. A proficient and watchable film.

Selma
Director: Ava DuVernay
Certificate: 12A
Cast Includes: David Oyelowo, Carmen Ejogo, Tom Wilkinson
A slice of American History. The film follows Martin Luthor King (Oyelowo) and the events that led up to the 1965 civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery which preceded President Johnson's (Wilkinson) signing the voting Act of 1965 giving equal voting rights to Afro-American citizens. Not only does this film show the build up to the march, it also portrays something of the humour and character of Martin Luthor King and the strain that his work imposed on his marriage to Coretta (Ejogo) and on his friends. It covers much of the political backdrop to the civil rights movement and contains images of violence and racial slurs that were endured by the marchers in their quest for equal voting rights.

Spooks: The Greater Good
Director: Bharat Nalluri
Certificate: 15
Cast Includes: Jennifer Ehle, Laura Pulver, Kit Harington, Tuppence Middleton, Peter Firth, Elyes Gabel
A terrorist, Adam Qasim (Gabel), escapes from MI5 custody. Harry Pearce (Firth), head of counter terrorism, is blamed and Harry subsequently vanishes. Agent Will Halloway (Harington) is brought back into MI5 to investigate. He succeeds in finding Harry and the two of them work to uncover a traitor who deliberately freed the terrorist and who is plotting to destroy MI5. The film is set in London and marks the cinema debut of the TV series that was first broadcast in 2002. The movie captures the spirit of the series and references events in the final episode. The plot is unpredictable with plenty of twists and turns and the film has its fair share of action. This is a tense, fast paced offering that will delight anyone who enjoyed the TV show. However it may not quite have enough presence to win over an international audience.

Tomorrowland: A World Beyond
Director: Brad Bird
Certificate: 12A
Cast Includes: George Clooney, Britt Robertson, Raffey Cassidy, Hugh Laurie
A Walt Disney film which attempts something a little different. Casey (Robertson) is a young woman, by nature an optimist with great enthusiasm for science. She gets into some minor trouble which leads her to finding a badge with the magical property of transferring her to Tomorrowland, a place outside the usual dimensions of the earth. Helped by a mysterious woman Athena (Cassidy) she finds Frank (Clooney), an inventor. Together they travel to Tomorrowland where their aim is to inspire hope amongst the people of earth. It is admirable that Disney is rather 'breaking the mold' with this film and it is likely that the target audience comprises young adults who are still enthused by science. However adults are likely to find the movie unduly complex and perhaps a little boring.

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.

Wild
Director: Jean-Marc Vallee
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Reese Witherspoon, Thomas Sadoski
A biographical drama based on Cheryl Strayed's memoirs of her trek across America. Cheryl (Witherspoon) is a woman with an unfortunate past. Her mother died of cancer. Her marriage failed and she fell into reckless and self destructive behaviour. In an attempt to make sense of her life, Strayed decided to hike the Pacific Crest Trail on her own. The trail is in excess of 1000 miles, extending from Mexico, through California to the Canadian border. The film follows Strayed's journey, with frequent flashbacks to fill in the details of her earlier life. This is a fine drama supported by the music and poetry that kept her going. It is difficult not to feel that you are accompanying her on the way. 

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