Virtual-Lancaster Cinema Page. Read on for the weekly round-up, and reviews.
There are two new releases in this pre-Christmas period, the comedy Daddy's Home (12A) and the action/drama In the Heart of the Sea (12A).
We have lost the movies Black Mass; Krampus & Victor Frankenstein and it looks like the spy films Bridge of Spies and Spectre are nearing the end of their season. However the films Pan and Suffragette have made a return.
Star wars: The Force Awakens is still the main feature film of this period, with The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 providing a good alternative. Other strong drama on offer includes Bridge of Spies; Suffragette and The Lady in the Van.
Adult comedy during this period is supplied by Christmas with the Coopers and Sisters.
As expected over Christmas there is a good selection of family films on offer, including Frozen; Hotel Transylvania 2; Pan: Snoopy & Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie and The Good Dinosaur. Also on offer is the black and white Christmas classic It's a Wonderful Life.
Wishing you a Merry Christmas, One and All.
Bridge of Spies
Director: Steven Spielberg
Cast includes: Tom Hanks, Amy Ryan, Mark Rylance, Austin Stowell
A cold war drama, based on a genuine incident. Rudolf Abel (Rylance)
is a spy working for the Soviet Union who has been captured in the USA.
He is to be put on trial and James Donovan (Hanks), an insurance
lawyer, is given the job of acting as his defence. Meanwhile, a secret
American Spy plane is shot down in Soviet airspace and the pilot,
Francis Gary Powers (Stowell) is captured by the Russians and convicted
of espionage. Neither America nor Russia want their respective officers
interrogated by the other side and hence Donovan is tasked with
organising a prisoner exchange. This is a fine spy drama, more dialogue
and politics than action but it succeeds in building the tension. Both
Hanks and Rylance give excellent performances and Spielberg masterfully
created the ambience of the cold war period.
Director: Sean Anders
Cast Includes: Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Linda Cardellini
A comedy. Conservative radio executive Brad (Ferrell) marries Sarah
(Cardellini) and tries to be a good step dad to her two children.
However his wife's charismatic and musclebound former husband Dusty
(Wahlberg) comes for an extended visit. Brad finds he must now compete
with their real father for the affection of his step children. There is
a real on-screen chemistry between Ferrell and Wahlberg as they vie
with each other and this provides plenty of opportunity for gags and
comedy set pieces. However some of the gags are rather predictable
leaving a film that is genuinely funny but seldom hilarious.
Director: Chris Buck
Cast Includes Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Josh Gad,Alan Tudyk, Jonathan Groff
This Disney musical animation is loosely based on the fairy tale 'The
Snow Queen' who has condemned a kingdom to eternal winter. It is up to
Anna (sister to the snow queen) and a loner Kristoff to undertake an
epic journey to find the Snow Queen and convince her to lift the icy
spell. This is a magical movie destined to become a classic. It will
appeal to families and children of all ages and makes an ideal movie for
In the Heart of the Sea
Director: Ron Howard
Cast Includes: Ben Whishaw, Brendon Gleeson, Benjamin Walker, Cillian Murphy
A film based on a non-fiction book by Nathaniel Philbrick. It is set in
the winter of 1820 when the whaling ship the Essex sets sail. Finding
the local whaling ground is depleted, the ship ventures into the Pacific
Ocean. Here prey is bountiful, but a massive sperm whale seeks
vengeance against the hunters. It attacks the ship and the crew take
refuge on a tiny island where they face the prospect of starvation.
Hence they have little option but to take to the seas again to face the
hardships and privations of an extended voyage to return home. This is a
gripping film with convincing special effects and plenty of action,
though somewhat lacking in suspense. An entertaining sea-fairing yarn.
Director: Joe Wright
Cast Includes: Hugh Jackman, Levi Miller, Amanda Seyfried, Kathy Burke, Garrett Hedlund
A prequel to the story of Peter Pan. Peter (Miller) is abandoned by
his mother and brought up in an orphanage run by Mother Barnabus
(Burke). He is captured by pirates and taken to the magical world of
Neverland where he is forced into slave labour by Bluebeard (Jackman).
Peter and his friend James Hook (Hedlund) manage to escape to the forest
where Peter befriends the fairy Tinker Bell. The fairies fight and
defeat the pirates and Hook becomes captain of the Jolly Roger ship. A
rather bland and somewhat contrived movie.
Director: Jason Moore
Cast includes: Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, James Brolin, Dianne Wiest
Maura (Poehler) and Kate (Kay) are very different sisters. Maura is the
sensible one, now divorced, whereas Kate is excitable and prone to
tantrums. They are summoned back to their parents house to clear out
their childhood bedroom in one weekend as their parents Bucky (Brolin)
and Deana (Wiest) are about to sell the home. The sisters decide to
mark the occasion by hosting a party for their high school friends, but
find things get rapidly out of hand. There is some crude language and
sexual content in this movie and some some of the gags feel a little
laboured. However the whole is a cracking comedy giving an emotional
roller coaster ride.
Director: Sam Mendes
Cast includes: Daniel Craig, Ralph Fiennes, Christopher Waltz, Andrew Scott
The latest James Bond Movie. M engages in a political battle to keep
the secret service, in the light of a plan by Max Denbigh (Scott) to
replace the 00 program with computer surveillance. Bond meanwhile is
trying to locate Franz Oberhauser (Waltz), the suspected head of the
evil organisation 'Spectre'. The movie starts in Mexico during the Day
of the dead celebrations and thence the action continues in London, Rome
and Morocco. There are numerous over the top action sequences, car
chases, a good assortment of scary villains and exotic love interest.
However amid this harshness, the movie contains a good level of humour.
Tension builds from the very start, though some of this starts to
dissipate as the film progresses. This is James Bond from the classic
mould and Daniel Craig delivers a great performance.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Director: J J Abrams
Cast includes: Harrison Ford, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver.
The movie is set some thirty years after 'The Return of the Jedi'. The
power vacuum left after the Empire was vanquished has been filled by
the 'First Order' who start to control the galaxy with their
stormtroopers. The movie tells of the adventures of Han Solo (Ford),
Chewbacca and Princess (now General) Leia (Fisher) as they join new
characters including Rey (Ridley), a scavenger, Finn (Boyega) a First
Order Conscript and a spherical droid BB-8 as they battle the First
Order led by the ominous Kylo Ren (Driver). This movie follows the
style of the first star wars trilogy and, for this reviewer, was much
better than the prequels. Old characters make a welcome appearance to
supplement the newer heroes and villains. An excellent movie in all
respects and the best Star Wars yet.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2
Director: Francis Lawrence
Cast includes: Jennifer Lawrence, Woody Harrelson, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Elizabeth Banks, Donald Sutherland
The concluding part of The Hunger Games series, based on the novels by
Suzanne Colins. The movie continues from the previous film. Katniss
(Lawrence) is recovering from battle, but she rejoins her comrades to
bring the revolution to the Capital and President Snow (Sunderland).
The Capital however is now peppered with booby traps awaiting for them.
The film seems to move at a slightly slower pace than the previous
instalments as there is a political element to the plot. Acting is very
convincing, the special effects are spectacular and the plot has a good
number of twists and turns. An excellent and emotional movie that
provides a satisfying and worthy conclusion to the Hunger Games
The Lady in the Van
Director: Nicholas Hytner
Cast includes: Maggie Smith, Alex Jennings
A true story, adopted from 1999 West End Play of the same name and
filmed on location in North London. In 1974, Miss Shephard (Smith) is a
woman looking for somewhere to park after being moved on the council.
Playwright Alan Bennett agrees to her parking her van (which is also her
accommodation) in his drive for a couple of days. However Miss
Shephard then lived in the drive for the next fifteen years and the film
shows the relationship between Bennett and his nuisance neighbour.
This is a warm, charming and thoroughly fun movie.