CROWHURST

Cert 12A 103mins Stars 4

This year’s second biopic of doomed British amateur yachtsman, Donald Crowhurst, is a far more compelling kettle of fish than Colin Firth’s washed out turn in The Mercy.

Following in the wake of its big budget competitor and stripped of its Hollywood gloss, this is closer to a horror film and is a dark vision of isolation, weakness and madness.

In 1968 the weekend sailor and amateur inventor took up the challenge to become the first person to single-handedly circumnavigate the globe without stopping.

As Crowhurst, Justin Salinger gives us a less sentimental and more sympathetic interpretation of the man who sails into a hell of his own creation when he resorts to cheating.

Punctuating the many eerie silences with popular song and hymns, a rendition of Jerusalem is demoniacally satirical.

Wholly nightmarish and with a touch of the supernatural, this is impressively real as it doesn’t rely on CGI waves to impress us. This really floated my boat.

 

ONLY THE BRAVE

Cert 12A 133mins Stars 3

There’s a long slow burn to the action in this real life firefighting drama.

It’s an honourably sincere and respectful tribute to the bravery and sacrifice of the elite firefighters, the Granite Mountain Hotshots. 19 of whom perished saving their town from a ferocious Arizona wildfire in 2013.

However I may burn in hell for sniggering at the first degree levels of unsuppressed testosterone and muscle flexing machismo not seen in cinemas since Tom Cruise took flight in Top Gun.

While waiting for the call to duty, handlebar moustache-sporting beefcakes enjoy manly joshing, sweaty workouts and semi-naked games of pitch and toss. 

Jailbird Miles Teller is the new recruit trying to go straight by joining James Brolin’s team. Jennifer Connelly and Andie MacDowell play the weeping wives comforted by Jeff Bridges’ former firefighter.

The veteran star has reached an age where he now looks exactly like his father Lloyd in 1980 comedy classic, Airplane! I guess he picked the wrong day to quit smoking.

KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD

Cert 12A 126mins Stars 2

Director Guy Ritchie puts Arthurian legend to the sword with this humdrum fantasy adventure.

It’s a big budget spectacular full of magical beasts and battles, aiming appeal to fans of TV’s Games of Thrones. But without all the nudity and sex.

It barely plays lip service to the legend, and often feels as if Ritchie has made a Robin Hood film by mistake. He does manage to remember to include a sword in the stone and a lady in the lake.

The definitive versions of King Arthur are 1981’s Excalibur and 1975’s Monty Python and the Holy Grail. This is not as funny as one or as grandly mythic as the other.

Ritchie made his name with gangster romps such as Lock Stock, and it’s no surprise to find Arthur reinvented as a brylcreamed cockney hard case.

The King is played with a remarkable lack of charisma by Charlie Ho-hum, sorry, Hunnam. Imagine Gary Barlow in It’s A Royal Knockout, armed with a super-powered sword. But without the cavalier sense of fun that suggests.

With Ritchie being director, producer and co-writer, only those on set with any clout remain unscathed from the pillage of his stylistic flourishes.

Jude Law is impressively imperial as Arthur’s evil uncle, Vortigern. In order to maintain his reign of terror in England, he needs to find and destroy his nephew.

In an astutely edited and mildly distracting cameo as a knight, former footballer David Beckham makes a valiant stab at acting.

With the exception of French actress Astrid Berges-Frisbey, women are mostly window dressing.

Who knows why Warner Bros allowed Ritchie to squander £135 million of their cash on this dull and disappointing disaster.

But having already fallen on its sword around the globe, trying to turn this into box office gold will be as easy as finding the Holy Grail.

GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS

Cert 12A 131mins Stars 2

This super-sized creature feature with a pea for a brain stomps into cinemas intent on ruling the box office by squashing the audience into submission.

A sequel to 2014’s visually gorgeous but dramatically sterile Hollywood reboot of Japan’s most iconic export, this is a screaming CGI assault on storytelling as well the senses.

As giant reptiles threaten all human life, it’s up to Godzilla to restore order and balance to the planet, aided by a plucky band of scientists and soldiers armed with nothing but heavily armed hi-tech bunkers, battleships and fighter jets.

Neither Aaron Taylor-Johnson or Elizabeth Olsen return so humanity’s survival rests on the ability of ‘B’ list middle-aged leading man Kyle Chandler to deliver pitifully poor dialogue with the maximum dignity a fine actor can muster knowing his agent has sold him a ginormous pup.

As Dr. Mark Russell, he’s determined to rescue his teenage daughter Millie Bobby Brown, and ex-wife Vera Farmiga, from a host of ancient monsters who are battling for supremacy.

Sally Hawkins and Ken Watanabe reprise their roles as anxious and awe-filled scientists who stand around and throw scraps of info to the audience.

While this delivers on its promise of epic monster action, this is an adventure which manages to make a staggering dull spectacle of someone scrabbling through an ancient lost city being consumed by lava to defibrillate a giant monster with a nuclear warhead.

Plus the script suggests we live in a world where massively powerful secretive global corporations are a force for good, while eco warriors are evil, and nuclear weapons have health giving properties.

Any film with the smallest degree of self-awareness or irony could have a lot of fun with these topsy turvy concepts, but not this one.

While the beasts have every excuse to be lumbering, incoherent and boring, this expensively assembled wannabe blockbuster has none whatsoever.