PROJECT POWER

Cert 15 Stars 3

Two likeable stars buddy up in this high concept comic book crime thriller which barrels along with glossy special effects, strong production values and is peppered with plenty of action and an abundance of larger than life characters.

Giving movie star charisma to a workaday script which leans heavily on their talent and presence to hold our attention, Jamie Foxx and Joseph Gordon-Levitt are a former soldier and a maverick cop, who are reluctantly united in trying to find the former’s missing daughter.

Her disappearance is connected to gangs who are flooding the city streets with a new illegal super drug called Power, whose good trips can give you superhero speed, strength or other powers, but a bad dose can see you explode. It’s worth watching for the ice women, the flaming man and the chameleon guy.

They guys are accompanied by a young teenage street hustler called Robin who demonstrates her talent for freestyle rap, a hell of a thing for actress Dominique Fishback to attempt in front of Foxx, who won an Oscar for playing jazz and blues music legend Ray Charles.

MARA

Cert 15 Stars 2

There’s no need to stay up late for this plodding scare-free supernatural horror plagued by a demon who kills people in their sleep, and is based on the eyebrow raising premise over 40% of world’s population suffer from sleep paralysis, two thirds of whom describe being attacked by a demonic entity.

As the investigating criminal psychologist, former Bond girl Olga Kurylenko delivers a well-judged physical performance, but it’s not enough to compensate for the clunky predictable dialogue she’s saddled with, from a script which is so devoid of imagination and energy it could put Freddy Krueger to sleep.

MESSAGE MAN

Cert 18 Stars 3

An idyllic island is the setting for this brutal and gory Australian thriller which dresses up a story straight out of a Clint Eastwood western with the glossy modern thrills of a Bond movie.

A retired hitman drifts into a small town on an Indonesian island and when he helps out a poor family in trouble with a local gang, a bloodbath begins involving pistols, bombs, swords and machetes.

Writer and director Corey Pearson provides uncomplicated but effective action while marrying film-craft with style and flashes of humour, I just wish he’d cut to the chase a little sooner.

SPREE

Cert 15 Stars 4

Smart, snappy and bloody, this US satirical comedy thriller is a 21st century morality tale about the perils of chasing attention, popularity and celebrity by posting extreme videos online.

Joe Keery stars as Kurt, a twenty-something emotionally stunted Los Angeles taxi driver who’s frustrated by having spent over 10 years posting videos of himself on Youtube but never having an audience whose numbers reach double figures. His deluded motto ‘if you’re not documenting yourself, you don’t exist’ is horrifying but worse is yet to come.

He creates ‘the lesson’, an instruction video built on the idea of growing an online audience by piggy-backing on other people’s popularity, but it’s really a cover for Kurt’s desire to go viral, and his plan is to livestream a killing spree with his passengers as the victims.

However as they’re initially racist far right activists, estate agents, and Hollywood narcissists with anger management issues, we don’t mind too much, and Kurt’s breezy open-faced personality and conspiratorial delivery encourage us to sympathise with him.

Yet Kurt is soon sliding into increasingly obsessive and outrageous behaviour, as if he were the impoverished grandchild of American Psycho’s violent lunatic Patrick Bateman.

Plus Kurt’s plan takes a detour when he picks up a popular and attractive stand-up comic who has all the talent Kurt lacks, and is played with increasing disbelief by the impressive Sasheer Zamata.

The script is a damning critique on the dubious attitudes of 21st American men and is knowingly pumped full of worthless marketing and brand buzzwords.

It’s happy to take highlight the prevalence of social media-fuelled insecurities, and take gleeful potshots at violent video games, gun ownership, and the financial benefits of murder.

Writer and director Eugene Kotlyarenko delivers a very assured, inventive and energetic and relevant ride, and one that’s remarkably exciting and fresh for a movie mostly set in the confines of a reasonably priced car.

COME AS YOU ARE

Cert 15 Stars 3

Based on the story of Asta Philpot, who was featured in a 2007 BBC documentary, this frank and funny real life road trip comedy-drama sees sex and disability go hand in hand as a squabbling trio of young men with disabilities attempt to lose their virginity by travelling to a Canadian brothel called the Chateau Paradise, whose motto gives the film its name.

An act of rebellion against their restrictive home life, their quest for sexual gratification becomes a bid for personal freedom, and although it takes an increasingly sentimental turn, stars Hayden Szeto, Ravi Patel and Grant Rosenmeyer are always entertaining.

THE SNOW QUEEN: MIRRORLANDS

Cert U Stars 3

Magic, mechanical mayhem, warring kingdoms and a battle between wizardry and science all feature in this upbeat and swashbuckling animated fairytale, an exciting and fun fable based on traditional European fairy tales and updated with the gloss of steampunk design and some superhero-style fisticuffs.

Gerda is the kind hearted, impetuous and brave young daughter of wizards who lives in a warm and sunny medieval kingdom, but she’s frustrated by a lack of power of her own.

Her land is ruled by a cruel king who favours science over magic and by exploiting their greed and gullibility of his subjects, begins to banish all magicians – including Gerda’s parents – to the Mirrorlands, the dreaded realm of the feared Snow Queen.

And so Gerda with her brother Kay, and friend Alfida, Gerda goes in pursuit of a magic key to free her loved ones and along the way discovers her own hidden powers.

The Snow Queen herself is a nicely acerbic monarch who although limited by a magic spell to her icy realm, is able to appear to Gerda as a ghostly spirit.

Yes it all feels a lot like a riff on Disney’s Frozen but on a creative level more akin to the animated capers of The Nut Job, or Tad The Explorer films.

There’s some jarringly out of place references to Alcatraz and suchlike and occasional use of modern slang but your little kids won’t care, they’ll be carried along by the epic sweep of the adventure on a journey of honey hued vistas. featuring lava lakes, giant rock monsters, and sky pirates.

However there’s a surprisingly intricate styling to the charming cityscapes, which feature robot-like street sweepers and trolley trams, and it’s full of slapstick silliness with mischievous and cute critters.

So it will entertain its target audience of your little ones, and without any songs to pad out the running time, it makes it’s a brisk enjoyable affair for the grown-ups.

AN AMERICAN PICKLE

Cert 12A Stars 4

Seth Rogen doubles up in this smart and satirical generational culture clash comedy drama, and the star of comedies such as Long Shot and Bad Neighbours puts his wide range to great use playing opposite himself as a violent yet dignified ditch-digger Herschel, and his great-grandson, an ineffectual and conniving computer programmer called Ben.

In 1920’s New York immigrant Herschel falls into a vat of pickle and is perfectly preserved for 100 years, not ageing a day.

Emerging in present-day Brooklyn, the success of the entrepreneurial Herschel’s market stall is threatened when his old fashioned values are aired on social media.

Simon Rich’s script satirises hipsters and their quest for authentic experiences, mocks the exploitative and contradictory notion of ethical online apps, and has pops at corporate food waste, the US treatment of immigrants and the lack of faith and family in modern life.

It’s the sort of quirky, inventive and heartfelt movie the Coen Brothers used to make before they won the Best film and directing Oscars for No Country For Old Men, and promptly forgot for a decade how to be funny.

PERFECT 10

Cert 15 Stars 4

Two young Brits make impressive screen debuts in this engrossing contemporary coming-of-age teen drama, a portrait of ordinary modern Britain powered by the youthful energy of its engaging central characters whose sweary aggressive attitude can switch in an instant to exuberant child-like joyfulness and optimism.

Frankie Box is a real life British gymnastics medalist turned actress who seems as comfortable treading the boards as she is balancing on the beam, and her perfect casting sees her showcase her gym skills while delivering a wonderfully unaffected performance.

As Leigh she’s an aspiring gymnast living with her dad on a housing estate who’s drawn into crime by the unexpected arrival of her older step-brother Joe, played with a pleasing swagger by Alfie Deegan. They’re a likeable, believable pair full of unrealised potential and horribly out of their depth among Joe’s criminal companions.

It’s a hugely accomplished and confident directorial debut by writer Eva Riley which bears comparison to Andrea Arnold’s 2009 gritty Essex drama Fish Tank, and though Perfect 10 doesn’t quite score full marks, it’s not far off.

THE FAIRY PRINCESS AND THE UNICORN

Cert U Stars 2

Magic and music take flight in this fantasy animated adventure based on the Bayala kids toy range and offers gentle entertainment aimed squarely at your little ones.

In a world divided into tribes of sun elves and shadow elves, the brave Princess Surah is a product of both regimes and must learn to control her growing magic powers while on a quest to recover a stolen dragon egg and prevent war.

Various story elements are reminiscent of fairy tales such as Sleeping Beauty, but with all the darkness stripped out and replaced with pretty rainbow coloured design. Even the peril comes wrapped in giant swirls of purple neon ribbons.

An environmentally friendly message of kindness, co-operation, tolerance and acceptance can’t be sniffed at, there are fun comic sidekicks in the shape of pet wolves and parrots and skunks, all the principal characters are female, most of the men are foolish and the young girls are the heroes.

It’s not up to Disney’s standard, but if your kids are familiar with the characters they’ll probably enjoy it more than I did.

100% WOLF

Cert 3 Stars 3

Werewolves and dogs are at each other’s throats as a pair of pooches go on the run in this boisterous family animated fable from Australia, a coming-of-age spin on The Lion King, bundled up with pop songs, slapstick, supernatural spells and spy gadgets.

On his 14th birthday Freddy expects to follow in his late father’s paw prints and become a fully fanged werewolf, but as his nefarious uncle is plotting to make himself the leader of the pack Freddy finds himself transformed into a poodle instead, and he has until the next moonrise to recover the lost magical Moonstone.

It’s in the possession of a deluded ice cream man in his Bond villain-style high-tech lair, and to retrieve it Freddy teams up with a stray dog named Batty who offers some streetwise advice and the hint of romance.

Alexs Stadermann previously directed 2014’s kiddie caper Maya the Bee Movie and knows his target audience, so he keeps it fast-paced, funny, with decent production values and most important of all maintains a steady stream of pee jokes to amuse kids of all ages.