DEEP BLUE SEA 3

Cert 15 Stars 3

This silly and gory fun sci-fi horror sequels is more in the same vein of throwaway nonsensical fun, and though the story and dialogue are ridiculous, the locations are stunning, underwater photography is pretty, and it admirably never gets dragged down by a sense of seriousness.

The wonderfully earnest Tania Raymonde stars as the leader of an international team of buff young scientists on a small Indian ocean island who become terrorised by a gang of genetically enhanced super-sharks.

‘I find this really hard to believe’ says one potential victim. But I reckon that’s overthinking the preposterous premise.

SUPERMAN: MAN OF TOMORROW

Cert 12 Stars 3

I’m much more of a Batman than Superman fan, but I enjoyed this typically fast paced and action filled thirty-ninth film in in the Warner Bros. animated series.

Young Clark Kent is an intern at the Daily Planet newspaper working alongside ace reporter Lois Lane and yet to adopt his famous costume or even the name Superman.

When a snarling alien bounty hunter called Lobo arrives with violent intentions, the Man of Steel has to team up with future arch-enemy Lex Luthor and leap into action faster than a speeding bullet to save the world. Not for the little ones.

 

PAYDIRT

Cert 15 Stars 2

Christian Sesma writes and directs this low rent violent revenge heist crime thriller with the over-excited unthinking sleazy schoolboy sensibility of a 1990’s music video, and is all too impressed by his ability to make his characters ability to swear and shoot. Occasionally at the same time.

Far better than the material deserves, former Bros drummer Luke Goss is a confident and likeable presence as a recently released convict mixed up with bad cops, the Mexican cartel and a stolen bag of cash, while poor Val Kilmer looks desperately unwell as a Sheriff chasing them all.

THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN

Cert PG Stars 4

With talking animals, cutsey kid, top drawer production values and a cracking voice cast, this heartwarming live action animated hybrid is bang on brand for Disney, and mixes elements of some of its favourite films such as Dumbo, Bambi and their 1998 ape adventure Mighty Joe Young, to a moving and crowd pleasing effect.

Its a reasonably faithful adaptation of K. A. Applegate’s 2012 children’s novel, which is a fictitious work based loosely on the life of a real gorilla called Ivan. Here the silverback is rendered along with his animal colleagues in the impressive photorealistic style seen recently in Disney’s The Lion King remake.

He’s voiced by the wonderfully versatile Sam Rockwell who brings a questioning dignity and quiet intelligence to the role, as well as playing nicely against Angelina Jolie’s wise African elephant, Danny DeVito’s stray dog, Helen Mirren’s posh poodle and Chaka Khan’s chicken.

They all live in a tiny circus built into a shopping mall ran by Bryan Cranston’s kindly ringmaster, who’s desperate to find a new way of pulling in the punters to save his failing show, and while a newly arrived orphan baby elephant offers financial salvation, it causes Ivan to reconsider his life in a cage

Beating with gentle charm the film’s heart is undoubtedly in the right place and it’s utterly sincere in its approach to animal welfare. And the friendly and furry menagerie allow the filmmakers to remind us families come in all shapes and sizes while offering a gentle yet firm commentary on hunting and littering.

Because it’s geared to the widest and youngest possible audience there’s a noticeably lack of grit, which may seem a misuse of the actors who’re more than capable of bringing a little bite to their roles.

However it does mean there’s nothing in the circus to scare the horses, or your little ones, though in true sentimental Disney style they may be tears before bedtime. And not just for the kids.

LOVE IS BLIND

Cert 15 Stars 3

Poldark star Aidan Turner adopts a decent American accent in this playful, intriguing and quirky modern day fable of love and self-discovery as a suicidal builder called Russell who struggles to communicate with the woman who may save him from himself.

Brighton-born actress Shannon Tarbet is a bright presence as Bess, despite suffering from a psychological condition which prevents her from seeing or hearing certain people, such as Russell and her mother, played by an unusually sympathetic Chloe Sevigny.

Meanwhile Bess’s father is played by Matthew ‘Ferris Bueller’ Broderick gives a quiet understated performance of quiet dignity as a sufferer of Parkinson’s disease.

A story of ghosts and grief wrapped in a riddle of love, it’s a curiously sunny affair with undercurrents of sadness. Stylised locations are frequented with flashbacks and fantasy sequences, plus the uplifting if whimsical soundtrack and some occasional visual trickery lend the tale a gentle dreamlike quality.

Despite being far too syrupy and sentimental for my taste I still enjoyed it for being a pleasantly off-beat experience with an appealing sense of optimism.

CHEMICAL HEARTS

Cert 15 Stars 2

Full of the aching yearning and confusion of teenage life but with none of the excitement or fun, this bittersweet and heartfelt coming of age high school romantic drama is based on Krystal Sutherland’s novel and very much a passion project for writer, producer and director Richard Tanne.

Austin Abrams stars as pretentious shoe gazing teenager Henry, who’s never been in love but quickly becomes infatuated with a new classmate when they’re thrown together to edit the college magazine.

Lili Reinhart is nicely brittle and defensive as Grace, who while tolerating Henry’s attentions, is dealing with issues of which he can barely imagine and her affection for him is far more ambivalent than his is for her.

Anchored in an unremarkable small town American setting, there’s an earnest and whimsical edge to a story bursting with nostalgia for lovesick teenage years and seemingly endless discussions of life, love and limbo.

It should appeal to any literary-minded angst-ridden love sick teenagers you have moping around the house, but for anyone else it would make a fine substitute for sleeping pills.

TENET

Cert 12A Stars 5

Delivering the blockbuster of the year, Brit director Christopher Nolan confirms his position as the foremost creator of high concept top quality popcorn entertainment with this bold, epic and ingenious mind-bending spy thriller.

As a CIA agent who’s prepared to die for his team and his cause, John David Washington commands our attention as the un-named protagonist who’s recruited by a shady agency to save the world from a Third World War, a fate claimed to be worse than armageddon.

He’s thrown into a complex time-twisting plot which circles around art forgery and arms dealers, but if you’ve seen Nolan’s 2010 smash Inception, then you’ll know to expect nothing is as straightforward as it seems.

The son of Oscar winning screen legend Denzel, Washington has inherited his father’s screen presence, charm and talent but is very much his own man, and seems utterly comfortable shouldering the responsibility for carrying a huge movie such as this.

It’s a privilege Nolan previously afforded established heavyweight stars Leo DiCaprio and Christian Bale – and Washington isn’t out of place in their company.

Washington is teamed up with former Twilight star Robert Pattinson who brings a wonderfully dry comic delivery to his lines, and his introduction is as a somewhat highly strung ex-pat gentleman thief, imagine Lawrence of Arabia being played by David Bowie.

They’re a great pairing and it’s easy to imagine either of them as the next James Bond, and Nolan’s well known love of 007 is apparent in every frame.

From the superb and thrilling stunt work which involves articulated lorries, catamarans and the crashing of a real life jumbo jet, and in the glossy location work which reaches from the US to India via Italy and Scandinavia, Bond’s influence shines through.

Among all the inventively-staged action it’s great to see former TV Eastender’s actor Himesh Patel getting a boost to the big league to complete a diverse trio of agents. And on that note it’s refreshing to see a film of this stature and sweep include important scenes between an African-American lead and an Asian woman of a certain age, the elegant Dimple Kapadia.

Recently announced as Princess Di in TV’s The Crown, Elizabeth Debicki is terrific despite being cast again as an abused trophy wife fighting for access to her young son.

There’s a welcome though brief appearance by Nolan stalwart, Michael Caine, and Kenneth Branagh is cold heartedly monstrous as a Russian oligarch.

A dizzying and explosive adventure to rank alongside Nolan’s Inception for its ability to confound the audience, the writer and director even feels compelled to warn us early on not to try and figure out what’s happening – but just to lose ourselves in the thrill of the chase. As Clemence Poesy’s scientist says. ‘Don’t try to understand, feel it.’

Nolan’s ability to craft crowd-pleasing spectacle remains undimmed and is so brimming with confidence he dares to employ one of cinema’s oldest visual tricks and succeeds in making it seem remarkably fresh and almost groundbreaking.

Thanks in part due to Ludwig Goransson’s thunderously propulsive score Tenet sounds fantastic, and it looks incredible, especially on a giant IMAX screen. This is the biggest cinema event of the year and you don’t want to miss it.

BEGINNINGS, ENDINGS

Cert 15 Stars 2

Shailene Woodley stars in this painfully introspective, indulgent and lethargic romantic drama as Daphne, a thirty-something woman in a love triangle with two she meets at a party.

An accomplished, intelligent actress with a strong screen presence, back in 2014 Woodley seemed set for Hollywood superstardom after starring in the smash romantic drama The Fault in Our Stars, but following the big budget sci-fi disappointment of the Divergent films her career has mostly been TV based.

Co-star Jamie Dornan is best known for the Fifty Shades franchise and so is more than comfortable getting his kit off, while Sebastian Stan – best known as Marvel superhero The Winter Soldier – isn’t a slouch in the pecs and abs department either.

Director Drake Doremus seems hugely influenced by arthouse maestro Terrence Malick, who’s far from my favourite filmmaker, plus he allowed his cast to employ a semi-improvisational method which actors love but it has mixed results for the audience, as is often the case. And just like in Daphne’s life we have to endure an awful lot of being stuck in the middle.

SHEEP & WOLVES: PIG DEAL

Cert U Stars 2

The punning title of this animated fairytale is a very effective guide to the bright, busy, brief and fairly basic paw-powered fun on offer.

When a fearsome wolf pack discover a land where wolves and sheep live in harmony, they’re so disgusted they lay siege to the village and plot to use magic to turn the peaceful inhabitants into pigs.

The filmmakers haven’t broken the piggy bank on the wooly minded script, which despite the ramshackle plotting will make ewe laugh every now and again, and the relentless piggery-jokery may amuse any easily distracted kids.

BABYTEETH

Cert 15 Stars 3

Following her moving turn in this years adaptation of Little Women as the youngest sister Beth, Eliza Scanlen seems to be carving a career of playing seriously ill daughters, as she appears as another one in this indulgent and meandering Australian coming-of-age drama.

As Milla, she’s a cancer stricken teenager who while contemplating suicide on a station platform meets a smalltime drug dealer, Moses and is drawn to his reckless swagger, carefree nature and multiple tattoos.

As Moses, Toby Wallace demonstrates the charisma which saw him cast in a biopic as the young rockstar Michael Hutchence.
However as she’s a schoolgirl and Moses is 23, her parents – played by Essie Davis and Ben Mendelsohn – aren’t best pleased.

I wasn’t surprised to learn it originated as a stage play as it fits a template of the most dreary type of theatrical navel gazing, being a portrait of the middle class in crisis, and full of disastrous dinner parties and smashed violins. And as such it’s hard to relate or care about. However it’s finely crafted and the acting is faultless across the board.