BEAUTIFUL CREATURES

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Hoping to cast a spell over the young adult Twilight audience, this gothic love story fails to enchant.

When the mysterious and beautiful Lena moves to a new town she meets the studious Ethan at high-school. Due to being a witch, Lena is forbidden to love a mortal, but passions quickly develop and she is torn between her true love and an age old curse.

But the characters are thinly written, jokes fall flat, the dialogue is workaday and Alice Englert and Alden Ehrenreich as the central pair are fail to engage with each other or us.

Bringing a welcome sense of absurd are Brit stars Jeremy Irons and Emma Thompson, and while he’s a purring pianist in a pyjama suit, she Thompson alternates between sour and evilly captivating.

The inconsistent tone veers between lightweight gothic romance and high camp pantomime, and despite the spells and witchcraft, there is not much magic being cast here.

PITCH PERFECT

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It’s time to sing song merrily on high with this gleefully uptempo tale set in the world of competitive a cappella, which rattles through its routine sports underdog plot with witty banter, great singing and plenty of verve and energy.

The always engaging Anna Kendrick stars as Beca Mitchell, who joins a University singing group called the Barden Bellas, where she finds herself out of tune with Anna Camp’s band leader, who’s obsessed with her troupe becoming the first all-female national champions.

Struggling against each other and the opposition, the Bellas must also cope with romance, fistfights, arrests, and repeated projectile vomiting.

Sadly after a lot of good work, the movie fails to take a cue from its own characters and plays the finale absolutely safe, leaving the audience entertained but not surprised.

BREAKING DAWN PART 2

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Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson return as vampires Bella and Edward for one last bite of the cherry in the final chapter of the Twilight saga which doesn’t hold back on the tooth and claw.

Until now the franchise has been an anaemic exercise that was all teeth and no trousers but this time the gothic horror runs red with passion, anger and blood.

Bella and Edward’s daughter has been wrongly accused of being an immortal child by the Volturi, the royal family of vampires, and so as a threat to them they have decided she must die.

To protect her child, the now rampant Bella must gather help from a motley crew of vampires and werewolves in order to face down the Volturi in a final confrontation.

Stewart is full of furious, motherly anger and rips into her role with gusto, putting Pattinson firmly in her shadow.

Taylor Lautner as Jacob the love-sick werewolf is more petulant than ever and still afraid to put his shirt on, despite the heavy snow on the ground.

Michael Sheen is a great actor and as Aro, the leader of the Volturi, he is a prowling, preening, power hungry vampire who has the best fun delivering the film’s lines.

The film is beautiful to look at, not just for the actors but the stunning Canadian landscape is majestic in its wild, snow-covered glory.

There is again lots of running through forests and jumping from treetops but when the film kicks off in the second half there is some excellent fight choreography and the final confrontation is terrifically and excitingly staged.

I haven’t read the books and I’ve no idea if this is a faithful adaptation or not but I do know this is a handsome and exciting finale to a consistent and successful franchise.

If you’re not a fan of the film series this probably won’t make you change your mind, but if you are then you won’t be disappointed.

EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING

Cert 12A 96mins Stars 3

This disease-of-the-week coming of age mixed race romance is an exercise in tasteful restraint.

Glossy, charming, sweet and unthreatening, Amandla Stenberg and Nick Robinson are the fresh faced clean cut 18 year olds. 

Maddy suffers from an auto immune deficiency and lives a life of luxurious captivity with no practical knowledge of life or love until Olly the hot young hunk moves in next door.

She dreams of plunging into the ocean with wild passionate abandon, almost as if it’s a metaphor for sex or something.

Of course they can’t touch never mind kiss, so they have an online flirtation while being presumably the only non–sexting adult teens in the US.

Additional  impediments to true love are her seriously over-protective mother and his abusive father.

Despite taking massive gamble with our tolerance for plot twists, this wish fulfilment fantasy will allow a self indulgent wallow for young teenage girls suffering summer holiday lovesick  blues.

 

BUMBLEBEE

Cert PG 114mins Stars 3

The Hollywood machine has retooled the Transformers franchise for a sleeker, quicker and more enjoyable ride in this character driven prequel set in 1987.

With an impressively epic sci-fi opening on the planet, Cybertron, it soon changes into an Earth-bound goofy high school comedy version of E.T. the Extra-terrestrial, with some Herbie Goes Bananas-style shenanigans bolted on.

Pitch Perfect singing star Hailee Steinfeld finds the right gear as a teenage mechanic who befriends a shapeshifting Autobot she names Bumblebee, who acts like an eager to please puppy.

While she struggles with school and a part time job with a complicated home life, they must stop a pair of killer alien Decepticons intent on world domination. 

New director Travis Knight aims for a lighter tone but very little kids may be in danger of having their circuits blown by some of the heavy metal action.

However the sparky chemistry of Charlie and Bumblebee means the series has got its buzz back.

 

FIVE FEET APART

Cert 12A 116mins Stars 3

Sex means death in this teen romance which doubles as a disease awareness-raising drama.

Haley Lu Richardson and Cole Sprouse are a sweetly charming photogenic pair of patients, who meet in hospital while undergoing treatment for cystic fibrosis.

There is no cure for the genetic lung disorder which considerably shortens life expectancy. Five feet is the distance they must keep apart to minimise risk of a potentially fatal cross-infection, and touching and kissing are forbidden.

There are shades of the vampire Twilight series in their forced abstinence of contact, as well as noticeable nods to Kate Winslet’s epic romance in Titanic.

Based on the novel by Rachael Lippincott and dedicated to campaigner, Claire Wineland, it touches briefly on the financial cost of treatment and thankfully keeps the vomiting and other side effects down to a manageable degree.

If a little too much of the dialogue sounds like a teenage inspirational instagram post, then at least the film knows its target audience.

The Divergent Series: Allegiant

Diretor: Robert Schwentke (2016)

The third episode in this plodding sci-fi franchise grimly marches on to my general indifference.

Once again it looks fabulous, is filled with action and fizzes with great ideas. Thankfully there’s less abseiling, climbing and running than in previous instalments.

But it’s riddled with clumsy editing, needlessly fidgety camerawork, thin characters and leaden attempts at humour.

Touching on many modern concerns, the script has identity theft, genetic engineering, child exploitation, ethnic cleansing, ecological ruin, and personalised drone warfare.

All this good work collapses on itself due to a lack on underpinning logic, alarming plot holes and pedestrian performances.

Following on from the last film, called Insurgent (2015) for those of you still with us, the overthrow of Chicago’s brutal regime has resulted in mob rule, show trials and executions.

So freedom fighter Tris and her friends escape into the radioactive wasteland beyond the city wall.

Shailene Woodley has been brightest spark of the franchise but she seems unenthused by the never ending slog of supporting the seemingly never ending series.

They discover an advanced military city of gleaming spires, where they slowly learn the truth of Chicago’s horrific history.

Theo James plays Four, her curiously named romantic interest. Armed with a muscular pout  and great hair but no huge ability, he fails to limp convincingly.

Even the naturally combative and arrogant Miles Teller struggles to energise events as selfish sidekick Peter.

At least newcomer to the franchise, the veteran Jeff Daniels is reliably engaging.

He plays David, the softly spoken director of the sinister sounding Bureau of Genetic Welfare.

Violent blasts of music attempt to drown out the dull chorus of gunfire, explosions and painfully functional dialogue.

‘That doesn’t make any sense’ says Tris. It’s the only insightful line in the movie.