Virtual-Lancaster Cinema Page. Read on for the weekly round-up, and reviews.
There are three new releases making it to the local cinemas during this period. We have boxing action with Creed (12), a tale of revenge in The Revenant (15) and a documentary on sheep farming with Addicted to Sheep (PG). Other than these the situation is rather static.
It looks likely that we are soon to loose The Lady in the Van but there are no other losses to report. In addition the excellent science fiction adventure The Martian is returning for one day only.
Drama abounds. There is western action in The Hateful Eight, science fiction with Star Wars: the Force Awakens, nautical adventure in The Heart of the Sea and the emotional drama The Danish Girl.
For comedy Joy and Daddy's Home are both excellent movies. More family oriented films come with Snoopy and Charlie Brown: The Peanuts movie; The Good Dinosaur and Hotel Transylvania 2.
Director: Ryan Coogler
Cast includes: Michael B Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tony Bellew
Adonis "Donnie" Jackson (Jordan) is the son of former heavyweight
boxing champion Apollo Creed. He is determined to become a fighter and
looks up his fathers old friend Rocky Balboa (Stallone), who agrees to
become his trainer despite problems of his own. Jackson gets a chance
to prove his worth by fighting the world light heavyweight champion
"Pretty" Ricky Conlan (Bellew). The movie closely mirrors the original
Rocky with fighting underdog making good. However this is very much a
film in its own right with Stallone and Jordan giving excellent
performances, making for great entertainment.
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.
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: David O Russell
Cast includes: Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Diana Ladd
A semi-fictional biographical comedy drama about a mop, or how Joy
Mangaro (Lawrence) became a millionaire. Joy is a divorced mother with
two children, living with her extended dysfunctional family who all
depend upon her. In the early 1990s she invents and markets the Miracle
Mop. This becomes a great success, selling on a TV shopping channel.
Her grandmother Mimi (Ladd) is always supportive of her, and it is she
who supplies the narration during the film. The movie has a strong cast
and Lawrence provides an exceptionally strong performance. There are
some laugh out loud moments during the movie though at times it seemed a
little flat. A good, but not a great film.
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 Danish Girl
Director: Tom Hooper
Cast includes: Eddie Redmayne, Alicia Vikander, Ben Whishaw
The film is based on a novel by David Ebershoff and inspired by the
lives of Dutch artists Lili Elbe/Einar Wegener (Redmayne) and Gerda
Wegener (Vikander). Set in the mid 1920's Gerda is a portrait painter,
but a sitter is late for an appointment. Hence Gerda gets her husband
Einar to stand in for the missing female sitter. This has consequences.
Einar has been harbouring a disire to become a female and the finished
portrait attracts favourable attention from art dealers. Einar decides
to permanently convert to his alter ego Lili Elbe and becomes one of
the first people to received a surgical sex realignment procedure to
change from a man to a woman. The movie follows both the artists as
they come to terms with the change from Einar to Lili. A serious movie,
well acted and well received that highlights the issues of gender
The Hateful Eight
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Cast Includes: Samuel L Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins
A mystery western set in Wyoming some years after the American civil
war, and told in six chapters. A stagecoach bound for Red Rock picks up
a number of passengers. These include John Ruth (Russell), bounty
hunter, Daisy Domergue (Leigh) a criminal, Major Marquis Warren
(Jackson) another bounty hunter and Chris Mannix (Groggins) the
prospective sheriff of Red Rock. Due to a blizzard, the stage coach is
forced to make a stopover at Minnie's Haberdashery and here the
travellers meet a local hangman, a loner, a Mexican and a Confederate
General. These eight must spend the night together. However, one of
them is plotting evil and the night descends into violence and death.
This is an excellent movie, stylish, well acted and with excellent
dialogue. Tarantino slowly builds up tension and suspense during the
first half of the movie, leading to a final climactic resolution.
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.
Director: Ridley Scott
Cast includes: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig
A manned mission to the planet mars is aborted when the crew face a
huge sandstorm. However astronaut and botanist Mark Watney (Damon) is
left behind, presumed dead. Yet he lives and must now find a way to
survive and contact Earth in the hope that a rescue mission can be
mounted. The movie is based on the 2011 novel of the same name by Andy
Weir. This is a homage to the ingenuity of man in desperate
circumstances. The movie is visually effective, scientifically
accurate and is well seasoned with humour. An excellent film that has
received glowing reviews.
Director: Alejandro G Inarritu
Cast includes: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy
Set in Montana and South Dakota in the year 1823 and based on the book
by Michael Punke, this is a tale of revenge. A party trapping for pelts
in the American wilderness come under attack by native Americans of the
Arikara nation. With most of the hunting party slain, the remainder
escape. However one of their number, Hugh Glass (DiCaprio) is attacked
and nearly killed by a bear. The remainder of the hunters split up.
The larger group go back to their barracks whereas a couple of men
including John Fitzgerald (Hardy) stay to look after Glass. However
Fitzgerald tries to kill Glass and then abandons him to the wilderness.
Against the odds Glass survives and is intent on revenge. The scenery
in the movie is breathtaking and the action shots are stunning. The
bulk of the film shows the tribulations of Glass as, wounded, he tries
to return to safety after his abandonment. An emotional, well acted and
very convincing movie.