Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Local Cinema Round-Up for 3rd to 11th 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 two new releases during this period. There is science fiction adventure with Jurassic World (12A) and a welcome return to horror with Insidious Chapter 3 (15). However the Dukes is showing a number of movies that were released earlier in the year but have not yet been shown in our region. These are the drama Girlfriend (15); a period drama Phoenix (12A); mystery with The Falling (15) and the real life drama Woman in Gold (12A).

We see the reappearance of Spy that was shown just briefly in Lancaster. Also there is the return of The Spongebob Movie: Sponge out of Water and a last chance to see The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

Movies that have vanished from the screens include Cinderella; Return to Sender and Unfriended.

This period sees the return of high culture with The Royal Opera House: La Boheme which is being screened for one night only.

There is currently something of a lull in movies for smaller children though we have the return of Spongebob along with the continued screening of Two by Two and Moonins on the Riviera. However Tomorrowland: A World Beyond can be enjoyed by all the family.

Along with the newly released dramas, the gripping San Andreas remains as excellent viewing as does Spooks: The Greater Good, though the latter will soon be nearing the end of its season.

For comedy Spy is an excellent choice of film, whereas more musical oriented comedy is available with Pitch Perfect 2.

Movies due for release later this month include Take That Live in mid June, and Minions due for release at the end of the month.

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.

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.

Pitch Perfect 2
Director: Elizabeth Banks
Certificate: 12A
Cast includes: Anna Kendrick, Elizabeth Banks, Rebel Wilson, Adam DeVine, Brittany Snow
A sequel to the the 2012 movie 'Pitch Perfect' with many of the cast from the previous movie continuing with their roles. The Bellas are an a cappella singing group at Barden University who have previously won a national competition. A hilarious 'wardrobe malfunction' during a performance means the group will be disbanded unless they can redeem themselves by winning the world a cappella tournament in Holland. This requires beating their rivals, a techo group called Das Sound Machine. This is one of the better teen movies and is the highest grossing musical comedy. A worthy successor to the original film.

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.

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.

Spy
Director: Paul Feig
Certificate: 15
Cast includes: Melissa McCarthy, Jason Statham, Jude Law, Rose Byrne
Susan Cooper (McCarthy) is a CIA agent who works at a desk. However her partner Bradley Fine (Law) is assassinated in the field whilst another agent Richard Ford (Statham) is compromised. Despite lack of practical experience, Cooper volunteers to go underground and infiltrate the network of the arms dealer Rayna Boyanov (Byrne) in order to avenge Fine's death. In truth the plot does not really matter in this film, simply enjoy it as a tremendous send up of spy movies. McCarthy brings all her comedic talents to bear in this spoof and Statham also sends up his usual macho roles. Great performances, great comedy.

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.

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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