CHRISTOPHER ROBIN

Cert PG 103mins Stars 3

Ewan McGregor comes unstuck by a CGI Winnie-the-Pooh in this period live-action family fantasy which is surprisingly light on honey.

Disney plunder A.A. Milne’s whimsical classic children’s characters and throw in elements of their own 1960’s animated adaptations, but for all it’s impressive craft, occasional charm and predictable sentiment, there’s a surprisingly lack of joy.

And with the doom-laden donkey, Eyeore, as the funniest character, it struggles for chuckles.

The script imagines Milne’s son Christopher as a middle-aged office manager who’s under pressure at work, disconnected from his lovely wife and daughter, has forgotten his old friend Pooh bear, and can’t see the magical 100 Acre Wood for the trees.

Hayley Atwell brings charm to her small role as the wife, and Mark Gatiss is a panto villain of a boss.

Before you can say ‘Mary Poppins’, the wind changes direction and Pooh Bear enters his life once more, needing help to find his missing friends such as Piglet and Tigger.

Scotsman McGregor deploys his stilted English accent in an earnest performance, but the lacks the genius light-comedy skills of Hugh Grant, who was so brilliant in last years talking bear movie, Paddington 2.

That film placed a beloved bear in a bright modern context, but Pooh is weighed down with a muted palette of autumnal tones and Edwardian nostalgia, making the US accents of the animated cuddly toys sound out of place.

Plus considering 100 Acre Wood is a metaphor for the carefree joys of childhood, even when the sun’s shining it’s a gloomy, muddy, chilly and vaguely nightmarish place.

Director Marc Forster’s is a curious choice as director given his last big movie was Brad Pitt’s zombie thriller, World War Z, and he delivers at best a solid, handsome and occasionally creaky experience.

Fortunately we’ve the Mary Poppins sequel arriving in December to give us a proper spoonful of sugar.

THE MEG

Cert 12A 113mins Stars 4

It’s man versus megalodon in this enjoyably silly slick and glossy action adventure.

Jason Statham experiences a sinking feeling when a prehistoric giant shark is discovered at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean.

The Brit star plays a retired rescue diver with a ropey reputation called Jonas, presumably in homage to the biblical who was swallowed by a huge whale.

Jonas realises he’s going to need a bigger boat if he’s to save the crew of a stricken submersible, lost off the China coast 11 miles underwater and faced with the 23 metre long hungry behemoth.

Various characters become fish bait as greed and self interest compete with bravery and noble sacrifice.

With the script merrily splicing Steven Spielberg’s 1975 masterpiece, Jaws, with his Jurrasic Park franchise, the big budget CGI and an international cast are designed to give this fishy tale a global appeal.

And with Statham being a former member of the British diving team, he’s completely at home when up to his neck in watery thrills.

Plus he’s well-practised at delivering outrageous lines with the straightest of faces. The film would be sunk without him.

Most impressively of all he swims against the tide of accepted wisdom by being adept at acting with animals and  children, establishing a lovely rapport with the cute-as-a-button ten year-old, Shuya Sophia Cai.

Her on-screen mother is Chinese superstar Li Bingbing, who is a strong foil for Statham, with equal screen time and action scenes of her own.

There are monstrous squids, schools of sharks, and holidaymakers oblivious to the peril of the cast spouting some of the best so-bad-it’s-good dialogue of the year.

This is knowingly broad not deep entertainment, a giant bite of popcorn fun which is totally jawsome.