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Now showing at Vue Bolton Middlebrook Leisure Park, The Linkway (o,Horwich,Bolton,Lancashire BL6 6JA 0871 224 0240

  • Alexander And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
  • Alien + Aliens
  • Annabelle
  • Beauty And The Beast
  • Derailed
  • Dolphin Tale 2
  • Extraterrestrial
  • Fury
  • Gone Girl
  • Horns
  • Love, Rosie
  • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls: Rainbow Rocks
  • Nightcrawler
  • NT Live Encore Screening: Frankenstein
  • Ouija
  • Planes 2: Fire & Rescue
  • Pride
  • Royal Opera Live Encore Screening: I Due Foscari
  • Serena
  • Snow Queen
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3D
  • The Babadook
  • The Book Of Life
  • The Book Of Life 3D
  • The Boxtrolls
  • The Equalizer
  • The Judge
  • The Maze Runner
  • This Is Where I Leave You
  • What We Did On Our Holiday

Alexander And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day 3 stars

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Every day seems to be a bad day for 11-year-old Alexander Cooper. He's the laughing stock of the entire school, his efforts to impress classmate Becky end in disaster. Ignored and misunderstood by his family, Alexander makes a birthday wish for the rest of the Cooper clan to experience just one calamitous day so they will all sympathise with his plight. Sure enough, the entire Cooper family endures a day crammed with mishaps and misadventures that threatens to leave them heartbroken and penniless.

Based on Judith Viorst's 1972 children's picture book, Alexander And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day is an effervescent comedy about the trials and tribulations that unite a modern family.

Sweet and inoffensive to its candy-coloured core, Miguel Arteta's film bursts with good intentions and wholesome ideals, teaching the titular tyke a valuable lesson about weathering an emotional storm in the company of people you love. Even if they are the sample people who unwittingly set in motion the chain reaction of mishaps and misadventures.

Rob Lieber's simplistic and episodic script ricochets between the different family members as their carefully ordered worlds implode: a mother races against time to prevent Dick Van Dyke (playing himself) from reading her children's book replete with an embarrassing typo; a father inadvertently sets himself on fire while trying to impress potential employers at a job interview; a daughter guzzles cough syrup to overcome a stinking cold that jeopardises her starring role in a school production of Peter Pan.

Anything that can go wrong does and Arteta captures each cartoonish calamity with a light touch, playing for laughs rather than revelling in the pain behind the pratfalls.

Eleven-year-old Alexander Cooper (Ed Oxenbould) feels like the universe is conspiring against him. He's the laughing stock of the entire school, his efforts to impress classmate Becky (Sidney Fullmer) have ended in ignominy and Philip Parker (Lincoln Melcher), the most popular boy in the year, has just announced he is having his birthday party on the same day as Alexander.

Misunderstood by his picture postcard family - father Ben (Steve Carell), mother Kelly (Jennifer Garner), older brother Anthony (Dylan Minnette), sister Emily (Kerris Dorsey) and baby brother Trevor (Elise and Zoey Vargas) - Alexander makes a birthday wish for the rest of the Cooper clan to walk in his shoes for 24 hours.

"I wish they knew what it felt like to have a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day," he laments, blowing out the birthday candle on his cake. As if by magic, the entire Cooper family endures a day that threatens to leave them heartbroken and penniless.

As the calamities stack up, Alexander wonders if he should come clean to his loved ones about his involvement in their spectacular downfall.

Alexander And The Terrible... is an entertaining half-term treat for all ages that doesn't drizzle on the sentimentality too thick. Oxenbould is an appealingly awkward hero and Carell and Garner offer robust support, embracing the broad physical comedy that their roles demand including a frenzied bicycle ride and a bruising encounter with an ostrich.

"I think you've got to have the bad days so you can love the good days even more," philosophises Alexander towards the end of this madcap journey of self-discovery. All together now: awwwww.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Friday 31st October 2014
Saturday 1st November 2014
Sunday 2nd November 2014
Monday 3rd November 2014
Tuesday 4th November 2014
Wednesday 5th November 2014
Thursday 6th November 2014

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Alien + Aliens 5 stars

A Halloween double-bill of space-set horrors starring Sigourney Weaver. When the crew of a cargo ship detect a distress signal their investigations lead them to something sinister. Years later, Ripley returns to a mining colony to face the extra-terrestrial killing machines and to discover her maternal side as she protects an orphan called Newt from the wily predators.

  • GenreAction, Adventure, Horror, Science Fiction
  • CastCarrie Henn, Sigourney Weaver, John Hurt, Michael Biehn, Tom Skerritt.
  • DirectorJames Cameron, Ridley Scott.
  • WriterJames Cameron, Ronald Shusett, Dan O'Bannon.
  • CountryUS/UK
  • Duration254 mins
  • Official site
  • Release31/10/2014 (selected cinemas)

A double-bill of the seminal sci-fi battles between Ripley and the extra-terrestrial killing machines, which began in 1979 with director Ridley Scott's stylish, much-imitated assault on the nerves. It is brilliantly sustained and truly terrifying, while Sigourney Weaver is perfect as one of sci-fi's few true heroines. The special effects are a tour-de-force of gore and HR Giger's jaw-dropping designs, including the infamous dinner table scene in which the foetal beastie burst from John Hurt's chest, sending a million tubs of popcorn flying towards the cinema floor. James Cameron almost unthinkably delivered a superior sequel, Aliens, ramping up the action and introducing a surrogate daughter, Newt (Carrie Henn), for Ripley to protect from the alien menace.

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Friday 31st October 2014

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Annabelle 3 stars

John and Mia Gordon survive an attack in their home by two murderous members of a satanic cult. The Gordons move to a new apartment but dark forces follow them in the form of a doll in the baby's nursery and drive poor Mia to the brink of a nervous breakdown. She seeks emotional support from local priest Father Perez and a kind bookshop owner called Evelyn.

  • GenreAdaptation, Horror, Romance, Thriller
  • CastWard Horton, Alfre Woodard, Annabelle Wallis, Tony Amendola.
  • DirectorJohn R Leonetti.
  • WriterGary Dauberman.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration99 mins
  • Official sitewww.annabellemovie.com
  • Release10/10/2014

According to the opening credits of Annabelle, dolls have frequently been used as conduits of evil. Modern filmmakers have certainly had great fun transforming inanimate figures into demonic vessels.

Anthony Hopkins fell under the spell of a possessive ventriloquist's dummy in Richard Attenborough's 1978 thriller Magic and mannequins ran amok the following year in the gruesome horror, Tourist Trap. In the late 1980s, audiences squealed with delight at opening instalments of the Child's Play and Puppet Master series.

More recently on the small screen, Doctor Who and his plucky companions faced malevolent mannequins and creepy life-sized dolls. This prequel to the 2013 supernatural horror The Conjuring fleshes out the blood-soaked history of a garish figurine called Annabelle, which sent chills down the spine in the first film and remains under lock and key in the home of real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren.

Director John R Leonetti replays the opening scene of The Conjuring then rewinds 12 months to sun-baked 1967 Santa Monica, California where picture perfect couple John (Ward Horton) and Mia Gordon (Annabelle Wallis) are preparing to welcome their first child into the world.

Late one night, Mia is woken by a disturbance next door and when John checks on neighbours Pete and Sharon Higgins (Brian Howe, Kerry O'Malley), he and Mia are attacked by two murderous cult members.

Police arrive in the nick of time, shooting dead the crazed attackers and spilling the blood of female perpetrator Annabelle Higgins on Mia's favourite limited edition doll. Thankfully, Mia, John and baby daughter Mia survive the hellish ordeal.

"Crazy people do crazy things," explains investigating officer Detective Clarkin (Eric Ladin), who tells the Gordons that the killers were members of a sect called the Disciples of the Ram, who conjure demonic forces with their human sacrifices.

The Gordons move to a new apartment but dark forces follow them and drive poor Mia to the brink of a nervous breakdown. She seeks emotional support from local priest Father Perez (Tony Amendola) and kind bookshop owner Evelyn (Alfre Woodard), who buoy the couple's spirits by speculating, "You don't come out of something like this weaker - you come out stronger."

Annabelle appropriates elements of Rosemary's Baby and The Omen for an increasingly silly tale of demonic possession and maternal sacrifice. Director Leonetti achieves a couple of decent scares but when it comes to burrowing deep beneath our skin, both he and scriptwriter Gary Dauberman fall short.

Visual effects are sparing which is more than can be said of Joseph Bishara's deafening orchestral heavy that turns up the volume to 11. Wallis works through a dizzying array of screams, shrieks and caterwauls as the plot careens out of control around her, and we eventually lose interest.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Friday 31st October 2014
Saturday 1st November 2014
Sunday 2nd November 2014
Monday 3rd November 2014
Tuesday 4th November 2014
Wednesday 5th November 2014
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Beauty And The Beast 5 stars

Belle swaps places with her inventor father as prisoner of the accursed Beast and falls for her hirsute host. Musclebound rival suitor Gaston leads the torch-wielding villagers against the Beast but the rabble meets its match in the equally enchanted servants, who include tightly wound pendulum clock Cogsworth and flirtatious candlestick Lumiere.

  • GenreAdaptation, Animation/Cartoon, Children's, Family, Family, Fantasy
  • CastRichard White, Angela Lansbury, Paige O'Hara, Robby Benson.
  • DirectorGary Trousdale, Kirk Wise.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration84 mins
  • Official site
  • Release09/10/1992

Disney's "tale as old as time" was the first animated feature to contest the Oscar for Best Picture. Decades after its initial release, Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise's fairytale still casts a heady spell, fashioning glorious family entertainment from the familiar European folk tale, with the clever additions of talking furniture and infectious songs. The tunes, conjured by composer Alan Menken and lyricists Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, are jaunty and lyrically wicked ("I'm especially good at expectorating!"). They are the musical equivalent of sherbet, fizzing pleasantly on the tongue, building to a rousing crescendo with the Busby Berkeley-esque Be Our Guest with lothario candlestick Lumiere as the crazed ringmaster of a three-ring kitchen circus. Ballads gently tug the heartstrings, particularly Belle and the Beast's dance beneath a twinkling chandelier performed to the haunting theme song. But it's the film's huge heart which beats loudest, reducing us to tears as the final petal of the enchanted rose falls. The story follows spirited Belle (voiced by Paige O'Hara) as she swaps places with her inventor father (Rex Everhart) as prisoner of the accursed Beast (Robby Benson) and falls for her hirsute host. Musclebound rival suitor Gaston (Richard White) leads the torch-wielding villagers against the Beast but the rabble meets its match in the enchanted servants led by tightly wound pendulum clock Cogsworth (David Ogden Stiers) and flirtatious candlestick Lumiere (Jerry Orbach). Beauty And The Beast is arguably Disney's finest hand-drawn animation, edging ahead of The Little Mermaid and The Lion King in terms of heartfelt emotion. We completely believe the relationship between the central characters, and their love for each other. Gaston is a delicious, swaggering villain, with a cleft chin that could topple empires, while Cogsworth and Lumiere provide much of the comic relief, some of it going above the heads of younger audiences. "If it ain't baroque, don't fix it!" jests the clock during a guided tour of the castle's impressive architecture. The screen bursts with colour throughout and even though the animation looks dated now, which is to be expected, the characters still retain impressive detail, especially in their facial expressions.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Saturday 1st November 2014
Sunday 2nd November 2014

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Derailed 3 stars

Charles Schine and Lucinda Harris are commuters who pass each other on the train each day, barely noticing one another. By chance, they catch each other's eye and engage in conversation. The spark of mutual attraction is obvious and the corporate high-flyers - who are both married - go out for a drink, which leads to a passionate one night stand. In the heat of their ardour, Charles and Lucinda are shocked when a gun-toting stranger bursts into their hotel room and threatens them, turning their worlds upside down.

  • GenreAdaptation, Drama, Thriller
  • CastClive Owen, Jennifer Aniston, Vincent Cassel.
  • DirectorMikael Hafstrom.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration107 mins
  • Official sitewww.derailedthemovie.com
  • Release03/02/2006

Derailed is a psychological thriller, adapted from James Siegel's instantly forgettable bestseller, which commits the cardinal sin: signposting the twists to the audience well before the big reveal. For all its faults, Siegel's book sustains a modicum of suspense through its serpentine turns and surprises, and the descriptions of violence - especially towards women - are queasily unsettling.

Screenwriter Stuart Beattie, who penned the script for Collateral, retains the convoluted plotting but sanitizes the nastier elements of the story, relying on our imagination to fill in the blanks. Clive Owen and Jennifer Aniston are an attractive pairing but they fail to kindle any tangible sexual chemistry; nor do their performances carry enough emotional weight to draw us into their characters' hellish predicament.

Charles Schine (Owen) and Lucinda Harris (Aniston) are commuters who pass each other on the train during the morning commute. By chance, they catch each other's eye and the spark of mutual attraction is obvious. The corporate high-flyers - who are both married with children - go out for a drink, which eventually leads to an illicit liaison in a downtown Chicago hotel.

In the heat of their ardour, Charles and Lucinda are shocked when a gun-toting stranger, LaRoche (Vincent Cassel), bursts into their hotel room and threatens them at gunpoint, turning their worlds upside down. Lucinda refuses to involve the police for fear of exposing her infidelity to her husband.

She begs Charles to remain silent too, for the sake of his wife Deanna (Melissa George) and 14-year-old diabetic daughter Amy (Addison Timlin). Suddenly, the adulterers face a nightmarish reality in which they are pawns in a deadly game of violence and betrayal. Then a wily police officer, Detective Church (Giancarlo Esposito), arrives at Charles's office, asking difficult questions.

Swedish director Mikael Hafstrom makes his English language feature film debut with Derailed. It's a poor choice for such a talented filmmaker, who shows little of the same flair and confidence evident in his Oscar nominated previous picture, Evil, a deeply affecting portrait of institutional bullying and violence in a boy's boarding school.

Owen is too cool and collected - you really wouldn't believe that Charles's life was crashing down around him - while Aniston's casting against type falls flat. Cassel is an odd though suitably menacing addition to the mix; supporting players, including George and Timlin, barely get a look in.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Friday 31st October 2014
Saturday 1st November 2014
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Monday 3rd November 2014
Tuesday 4th November 2014
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Thursday 6th November 2014

Dolphin Tale 2 3 stars

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Several years have passed since young Sawyer Nelson rescued plucky dolphin Winter with the help of Dr Clay Haskett and Dr Cameron McCarthy. Elderly dolphin Panama dies and leaves Winter without a surrogate mother or pool mate. Under regulations, Winter cannot be housed alone and so the race begins to find another companion for Winter before Clearwater is forced to give up its beloved dolphin to another aquarium.

  • GenreDrama, Family, Family
  • CastNathan Gamble, Morgan Freeman, Ashley Judd, Kris Kristofferson, Harry Connick Jr.
  • DirectorCharles Martin Smith.
  • WriterCharles Martin Smith.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration107 mins
  • Official sitewww.seewinter.com
  • Release03/10/2014

Released in 2011, Dolphin Tale fictionalised the incredible true story of a bottlenose called Winter, who was snared in a crab trap in Florida and lost her tail. The plucky mammal was rushed to nearby Clearwater Marine Hospital where dedicated staff rehabilitated Winter by fitting her with a silicon and plastic tail similar to prosthetics worn by human amputees.

The dolphin's remarkable recovery and her subsequent celebrity have ensured a steady stream of visitors to Clearwater, where Winter now shares a tank with another bottlenose called Hope.

Filmmaker Charles Martin Smith, who captained the original film, clearly fell in love with Winter because he writes and directs this uplifting yet wholly unnecessary sequel. Young audiences will happily wade through pools of sugary sentiment in order to enjoy heart-warming scenes with the dolphins and a stranded sea turtle christened Mavis.

Parents, however, won't find a great deal to buoy their interest besides footage during the end credits of two real-life rescues that inspired Smith's flimsy script.

Several years have passed since Sawyer Nelson (Nathan Gamble) rescued plucky dolphin Winter with the help of Dr Clay Haskett (Harry Connick Jr) and prosthetics expert Dr Cameron McCarthy (Morgan Freeman).

The teenager now works at Clearwater Marine Aquarium (CMA) with Clay's spunky daughter Hazel (Cozi Zuehlsdorff), his grown-up cousin Kyle (Austin Stowell) and trainer Phoebe (Austin Highsmith). Families flock to CMA to see Winter, which delights aquarium owner Phillip J Hordern (Tom Nowicki), who hopes to expand the site.

Sadly, those plans are put on hold when Winter's companion, an elderly dolphin called Panama, dies and leaves the plucky bottlenose without a pool mate.

Under regulations, Winter cannot be housed alone and a visiting inspector (played by director Smith), tells Clay, "I'm giving you 30 days to correct the problem." The race begins to find another companion for Winter before Clearwater is forced to give up its beloved dolphin.

Meanwhile, Sawyer realises his feelings for Hazel run deeper than friendship and the lad considers leaving Winter for three months to participate in a prestigious marine biology programme aboard a tall ship.

Dolphin Tale 2 serves no dramatic purpose other than to reignite interest in CMA and its real-life star attraction. Gamble is a likable if somewhat bland protagonist and the nascent romance with Zuehlsdorff remains chaste.

Connick Jr flashes his dazzling pearly whites to distract our attention from the hoary dialogue while Freeman makes fleeting appearances as the crotchety prosthetics wizard, who tells one pre-pubescent member of CMA staff, "I've got jars of peanut butter older than you."

Given the product's short shelf life, his character may not survive for a third splash in the dolphin pool.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Saturday 1st November 2014
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Tuesday 4th November 2014
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Extraterrestrial 3 stars

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April heads to her parents' cabin one last time before it is sold off as part of the divorce settlement. She invites along her boyfriend Kyle for some alone time but he insists on turning the occasion into a party involving their friends. A UFO crashes in the woods and the otherworldly passengers survive the fireball. The friends kill one of the aliens and the surviving extraterrestrials retaliate with lethal force.

  • GenreHorror, Science Fiction
  • CastFreddie Stroma, Brittany Allen, Melanie Papalia.
  • DirectorColin Minihan.
  • WriterColin Minihan, Stuart Ortiz.
  • CountryCan
  • Duration98 mins
  • Official site
  • Release29/10/2014 (selected cinemas)

April (Brittany Allen) is devastated when her parents announce their separation and she heads to the family's remote cabin one last time before it is sold off as part of the divorce settlement. She invites along her boyfriend Kyle (Freddie Stroma) for some alone time but he insists on turning the occasion into a party involving their friends including her cousin Melanie (Melanie Papalia) and his obnoxious buddy, Seth (Jesse Moss). Local law man Sheriff Murphy (Gil Bellows) pays a visit to the cabin and warns Melanie and co about a series of strange occurrences in the area. It transpires that a UFO has crashed in the woods and the otherworldly passengers survived the fireball. The friends kill one of the aliens and the surviving extraterrestrials retaliate with lethal force.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Friday 31st October 2014
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Monday 3rd November 2014
Tuesday 4th November 2014
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Thursday 6th November 2014

Fury 4 stars

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Norman Ellison is a new recruit, who is assigned the role of driving an M4 Sherman tank called Fury under the command of Sergeant Don Collier. This battle-weary veteran began the war in Africa and moved to Europe, killing numerous Germans along the way in the name of freedom. Aided by the rest of his crew, Boyd Swan, Trini Garcia and Grady Travis, Collier gives Norman an initiation he will never forget.

  • GenreAction, Drama, Historical/Period, War
  • CastLogan Lerman, Shia LaBeouf, Brad Pitt, Jon Bernthal, Michael Pena.
  • DirectorDavid Ayer.
  • WriterDavid Ayer.
  • CountryUK
  • Duration134 mins
  • Official sitewww.facebook.com/OfficialFuryMovie
  • Release22/10/2014

At a critical juncture in David Ayer's wartime thriller, Brad Pitt's grizzled tank commander turns to an inexperienced new recruit and sounds the death knell on morality and diplomacy in a time of conflict. "Ideals are peaceful, history's violent," he growls with an icy glare.

Those words resonate throughout Fury, a brutal, mud-spattered tour of duty during the final weeks of the Second World War, as seen through the gun sights of an M4 Sherman tank crew on a collision course with Hitler's troops.

The film opens with Pitt's inspirational leader stabbing an unsuspecting German officer in the eye and Ayer repeatedly sates a thirst for close-up gore with expertly choreographed battle sequences and hand-to-hand combat between ground troops. The bloodbath temporarily abates for brotherly banter inside the claustrophobic tank, but the air is always chokingly thick with impending doom.

Eight weeks after he enrolls in the US Army as a clerk typist, Norman Ellison (Logan Lerman) is assigned the position of assistant driver in a tank christened Fury under the command of Sergeant Don 'Wardaddy' Collier (Brad Pitt). This battle-weary veteran began the war in Africa and moved to Europe, killing numerous Germans along the way in the name of freedom.

Aided by the rest of his crew, Boyd Swan (Shia LaBeouf), Trini Garcia (Michael Pena) and Grady Travis (Jon Bernthal), Collier gives Norman an initiation he will never forget on a series of missions led by Captain Waggoner (Jason Isaacs) and Lieutenant Parker (Xavier Samuel).

Three other tanks commanded by Sergeant Binkowski (Jim Parrack), Sergeant Davis (Brad William Henke) and Sergeant Peterson (Kevin Vance) flank Fury as US soldiers push on towards Berlin. "It will end soon," Collier assures Norman, "but before it does, a lot more people gotta die."

Fury paints a familiar picture of the hell of war, directed with testosterone-fuelled swagger by Ayer, who previously helmed the bombastic police thrillers End Of Day and Sabotage. His script is studded with polished dialogue that doesn't quite ring true, like when Collier berates thuggish Grady, "You're an animal. All you understand is fist and boot".

Or when Collier encourages Norman to sow his seeds with a pretty young German (Alicia von Rittberg) by purring, "She's a good clean girl. If you don't take her into that bedroom, I will".

Pitt leads the cast with a strong performance as a battle-weary commander, who holds back a tide of anguish and uncertainty until he is alone and can allow the sobs to shake his scarred body. Lerman is equally compelling as a naive whelp, who develops a taste for killing Nazis.

Ayer obliges him with an astronomical body count and foreign fields slathered as far as the eye can see in mud, freshly spilt blood and the bodies of the fallen.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Friday 31st October 2014
Saturday 1st November 2014
Sunday 2nd November 2014
Monday 3rd November 2014
Tuesday 4th November 2014
Wednesday 5th November 2014
Thursday 6th November 2014

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Gone Girl 4 stars

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On her fifth wedding anniversary, Amy Dunne vanishes without trace. Her husband Nick works with the police to front a high-profile media campaign to secure the safe return of his "amazing Amy". In the glare of the spotlight, fractures appear in the Dunnes' marriage and police and public both question Nick's innocence. With Amy's creepy ex-boyfriend Desi Collings as another suspect, Detectives Rhonda Boney and Jim Gilpin search for answers.

  • GenreAdaptation, Drama, Romance, Thriller
  • CastNeil Patrick Harris, Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Boyd Holbrook, Scoot McNairy, Missi Pyle, Patrick Fugit, Kim Dickens.
  • DirectorDavid Fincher.
  • WriterGillian Flynn.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration149 mins
  • Official sitewww.gonegirlmovie.cok
  • Release02/10/2014

Ignorance is bliss when it comes to Gone Girl. If, like me, you haven't read Gillian Flynn's 2012 psychological thriller and you know nothing of the serpentine twists that propelled the novel to the top of the bestsellers list then jealously guard your cluelessness.

There's an undeniable delight watching Flynn wrong-foot us with this spiky satire on media manipulation and the glossy facade of celebrity marriages. When the central characters promise to love, honour and obey, till death do them part, one of them takes that vow very seriously.

Admittedly, you have to dig deep beneath the surface of David Fincher's polished film to find the jet black humour but it's there, walking hand-in-hand with sadism and torture that propel the narrative towards its unconventional denouement.

The film version of Gone Girl is distinguished by a career-best performance from Rosamund Pike as the pretty wife, who vanishes without trace on her fifth wedding anniversary and is presumed dead at the hands of her handsome husband (Ben Affleck).

Pike has to plumb the depths of human emotion in a demanding and complex role, by turns brittle and steely, terrified and driven. She's almost certain to earn her first Oscar nomination.

In stark contrast, Affleck is solid but little more as the spouse who pleads his ignorance but hides secrets from the people he adores. As battles of the sexes go, it's a resolutely one-sided skirmish.

On the morning of his anniversary, Nick Dunne (Affleck) calls detectives Rhonda Boney (Kim Dickens) and Jim Gilpin (Patrick Fugit) to his home. There are signs of a struggle and his wife Amy (Pike) is missing.

Nick's sister Margo (Carrie Coon), who has never liked Amy, assures her sibling that everything will be fine. "Whoever took her's bound to bring her back," she quips cattily.

Nick and Amy's distraught parents (David Clennon, Lisa Beth) front a high-profile media campaign to secure the safe return of "amazing Amy". In the glare of the spotlight, fractures appear in the Dunnes' marriage and police and public question Nick's innocence.

Gone Girl holds our attention for the majority of the bloated 149-minute running time, with a couple of lulls and a disjointed final act. Pike's mesmerising theatrics light up the screen and there is strong support from Neil Patrick Harris as Amy's creepy old flame.

Fincher's direction is lean, complemented by snappy editing and a discordant score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, who won the Oscar for their music to The Social Network.

Once you regain your balance from Flynn pulling the rug from under your feet, this is a slick yet slightly underwhelming whodunit that doesn't quite scale the dizzy heights of shock and suspense previously achieved by Jagged Edge, The Usual Suspects or indeed, Fincher's 2005 film, Se7en.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Friday 31st October 2014
Saturday 1st November 2014
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Monday 3rd November 2014
Tuesday 4th November 2014
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Horns 4 stars

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Ig Perrish is accused of the rape and violent murder of his beloved girlfriend, Merrin Williams, but he vociferously pleads his innocence. After a night of excessive booze, Ig regains consciousness with a raging hangover and discovers that he has a pair of horns growing out of his head. Even more bizarre, these horns possess the power to make people confess their sins. Ig uses his newfound abilities to discover the circumstances of Merrin's death and unmask the murderer.

  • GenreAdaptation, Horror, Romance, Thriller
  • CastDavid Morse, Daniel Radcliffe, Heather Graham, Juno Temple.
  • DirectorAlexandre Aja.
  • WriterKeith Bunin.
  • CountryUS/Can
  • Duration120 mins
  • Official site
  • Release29/10/2014

Something wicked this way comes as Harry Potter heartthrob Daniel Radcliffe becomes a horny little devil in Alexandre Aja's quirky supernatural thriller. Lord Voldemort would be proud of his transformation into a vengeful, flame-spewing demon, whose presence compels the damned to succumb to their most primal impulses.

Lusty work colleagues throw off the shackles of politeness and engage in frenetic sex; an exhausted mother fantasises about inflicting physical violence on a screaming child; a recovering drug addict hungrily snorts an entire stash of narcotics - destined for the oblivion of an overdose.

Aja, director of The Hills Have Eyes and Piranha 3D, remains rooted in the horror genre with Horns but there's more soul-searching than gratuitous gore in this serpentine whodunit about a young man who is suspected of murdering his girlfriend in a jealous rage.

Ig Perrish (Radcliffe) only has eyes for neighbour Merrin Williams (Juno Temple). Their romance blossoms in childhood when they play together as part of a gang with Ig's older brother Terry (Joe Anderson) and good friend Lee (Max Minghella).

On the day that Ig is poised to go down on bended knee, Merrin orchestrates a very public break-up in a diner. The following morning, police discover Merrin's lifeless body below her favourite treehouse in the forest and a drunken and dishevelled Ig in his car with no memory of the night before.

A voracious media scrum descends and Merrin's father Dale (David Morse) makes clear that he believes Ig is the killer. "As long as he is free, there is no way her soul can be laid to rest," rages the father.

After a night of excessive booze - a pitiful attempt to salve his grief - Ig regains consciousness with a raging hangover and discovers that he has a pair of horns growing out of his head.

The devilish outcrops compel locals to confess their sins and Ig realises he can exploit his new-found powers of persuasion to uncover the circumstances of Merrin's death and unmask a murderer.

Horns is blessed with one of Radcliffe's best screen performances. Sporting an impeccable American accent, he teases out his character's maelstrom of emotions, laced with mordant wit like when Ig survives a vicious beating and quips, "One thing I'll say in my favour, I'm hard to kill!"

Anderson and Minghella offer strong performances, while Temple casts a dreamy glow as the flame-haired free spirit, who drives men to madness. Black humour walks hand in hand with brutality as Ig's haphazard investigation twists and turns.

The blood-spattered and bone-crunching denouement can't resist a flourish of digital effects to unleash hell, literally, on earth. But for the most part, director Aja shows admirable restraint, revelling in the depravity and dark desires of a close-knit community, which assumes people are guilty until proven innocent.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Friday 31st October 2014
Saturday 1st November 2014
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Monday 3rd November 2014
Tuesday 4th November 2014
Wednesday 5th November 2014
Thursday 6th November 2014

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Love, Rosie 2 stars

movie title

Rosie Dunne and Alex Stewart have been best friends since they were children: completely at ease in each other's company. They are perfect for each other but afraid to reveal their true feelings. This seemingly unbreakable bond shatters when Alex moves to Boston to attend university, leaving behind Rosie in familiar surroundings in Dublin.

  • GenreComedy, Romance
  • CastJaime Winstone, Tamsin Egerton, Lily Collins, Art Parkinson, Christian Cooke, Sam Claflin.
  • DirectorChristian Ditter.
  • WriterJuliette Towhidi.
  • CountryGer/UK
  • Duration102 mins
  • Official sitewww.facebook.com/LoveRosieFilmUK
  • Release22/10/2014

The course of true love never did run smooth and it follows an infuriatingly long-winded route in Love, Rosie. Based on Cecelia Ahern's 2004 novel Where Rainbows End, Christian Ditter's exasperating comedy of errors concerns two attractive, intelligent and good-humoured best friends, who waste some of the best years of their lives ignoring how ideally suited they are.

Instead, the perfectly aligned protagonists pursue unfulfilling relationships with other people or embrace solitude rather than taking a tiny leap of faith from friendship to something deeper. The film is built on traditional rom-com foundations, flinging obstacles in the path of the best friends to explain why we have to sit through 12 years of their dithering before the inevitable moment of surrender.

Juliette Towhidi's script surfs a wave of silliness and falls over in pivotal scenes including an argument, which culminates with the eponymous heroine caterwauling, "Can you stop the psychobabble and can we talk like English people?" On this evidence, no they can't.

Rosie Dunne (Lily Collins) and Alex Stewart (Sam Claflin) live across the road from each other and have been best friends since they were five-years-old. On her 18th birthday, a delirious and drunken Rosie shares a smouldering kiss with Alex but forgets about the smooch thanks to a bump to the head.

He doesn't forget and jokingly skirts the issue of romance, which Rosie shoots down by quipping, "You will forever by the guy who wiped bogies on my party dress." Their unseemingly unbreakable bond shatters when Alex moves to Boston to attend university, leaving behind Rosie with her parents Dennis (Lorcan Cranitch) and Alice (Ger Ryan) in Dublin.

The pals follow divergent paths. Rosie turns to sassy best friend Ruby (Jaime Winstone) to buoy her spirits and an old school crush called Greg (Christian Cooke) with impressive abs provides a passable substitute for her soul mate.

Meanwhile, Alex succumbs to the aggressive overtures of supermodel Bethany Williams (Suki Waterhouse) and social climber Sally (Tamsin Egerton).

Love, Rosie will test the patience of the most hopeless romantic. Collins and Claflin age over the course of the film from nervous 18-years-olds to jaded thirty-somethings simply by changing their hairstyles.

Our incredulity reaches its peak when a resplendent 25-year-old Collins stands next to talented 13-year-old actress Lily Laight and we're asked to believe they are single mother and daughter. Of the supporting cast, only Winstone registers, having a ball as a straight-talking confidante, whose dyed hair is as colourful as her language.

If it was possible to develop a 5D cinema experience that allows audiences to physically reach into the big screen and slap characters, we would have battered and bruised the two leads senseless within the opening 15 minutes.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Friday 31st October 2014
Saturday 1st November 2014
Sunday 2nd November 2014
Monday 3rd November 2014
Tuesday 4th November 2014
Wednesday 5th November 2014
Thursday 6th November 2014

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My Little Pony: Equestria Girls: Rainbow Rocks 3 stars

Applejack, Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie, Rarity and Rainbow Dash are excited when Canterlot High hosts a musical showcase and the friends prepare to dazzle their classmates as The Rainbooms. A new girl group called The Dazzlings arrives at the school and suggests the friendly showcase becomes a battle of the bands. Competitive spirit between The Rainbooms and The Dazzlings generates tension at the school and a newly reformed Sunset Shimmer senses that the new arrivals are not ordinary girls at all.

  • GenreAnimation/Cartoon, Children, Children's, Fantasy
  • CastAndrea Libman, Tara Strong, Ashleigh Ball, Tabitha St Germain.
  • DirectorJayson Thiessen, Ishi Rudell.
  • WriterMeghan McCarthy, Lauren Faust.
  • CountryCan/US
  • Duration73 mins
  • Official sitewww.hasbro.com/mylittlepony/en_GB/
  • Release31/10/2014(selected cinemas)

A battle of the bands spirals out of control in this feature-length animation inspired by the TV series My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. Applejack (voiced by Ashleigh Ball), Fluttershy (Andrea Libman), Pinkie Pie (Libman again), Rarity (Tabitha St Germain) and Rainbow Dash (Ball again) are excited when Canterlot High hosts a musical showcase and the friends prepare to dazzle their classmates as The Rainbooms. A new girl group called The Dazzlings arrives at the school and suggests the friendly showcase becomes a battle of the bands. Competitive spirit between The Rainbooms and The Dazzlings generates tension at the school and a newly reformed Sunset Shimmer (Rebecca Shoichet) senses that the new arrivals are not ordinary girls at all but something more sinister. The fate of the school hangs in the balance and The Rainbooms call upon Princess Twilight (Tara Strong) to help them perform a musical counter-spell.

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Saturday 1st November 2014
Sunday 2nd November 2014

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Nightcrawler 4 stars

movie title

Ghoulish loner Louis Bloom monitors a police scanner, races to crime scenes and captures gruesome footage of critically injured victims on a handheld camera to sell to TV news stations, who are hungry for raw footage of real-life crime. As his business takes off, Louis hires an inexperienced protege called Rick to capture gangland shootings, murder and misfortune in grisly close-up.

  • GenreAction, Drama, Thriller
  • CastRene Russo, Jake Gyllenhaal, Riz Ahmed, Bill Paxton.
  • DirectorDan Gilroy.
  • WriterDan Gilroy.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration117 mins
  • Official sitewww.nightcrawlerfilm.com
  • Release31/10/2014

Set on the mean streets of modern day Los Angeles, Dan Gilroy's directorial debut is a delicious and twisted media satire starring Jake Gyllenhaal as a ghoulish loner called Louis Bloom, who exploits human misery for personal gain.

It's a tour-de-force and genuinely creepy performance from the handsome Oscar-nominated star of Brokeback Mountain, who has shed a significant amount of weight to portray an emaciated social limpet, who lives by the mantra that good things come to those who work hard.

In the case of Nightcrawler, this 'work' involves monitoring a police scanner, racing to crime scenes and capturing gruesome footage of critically injured victims on a handheld camera to sell to TV news stations, who are hungry for raw footage of real-life crime.

Gilroy's lean script doesn't shy away from the despicable and morally repugnant actions of the bloodthirsty anti-hero, nor does it forget to remind us that we are culpable for devouring this graphic news footage. If only we turned off, or could drive past a motorway accident without glancing at the carnage when we should be concentrating on the road ahead...

Louis is a product of base human desires and, like a vampire, he feeds off them with ghoulish glee. When we first meet Louis, he's struggling to find direction in life, until he pulls over on a highway close to a fatal accident and meets cameraman Joe Loder (Bill Paxton).

"If it bleeds, it leads," cackles Joe, who sells his footage to the highest bidder. Louis purchases a small camera and tries his luck then approaches Nina Romina (Rene Russo), ratings-hungry editor of the graveyard shift at one news station, with amateurish footage of a victim fighting for life.

She pays up and explains that her perfect newscast is "a screaming woman running down the street with her throat cut". Taking these words to his blackened heart, Louis hires an inexperienced protege called Rick (Riz Ahmed) to capture gangland shootings, murder and misfortune in grisly close-up. At first, Rick recoils in disgust but inexorably, Louis moulds his employee in his own warped image.

Nightcrawler is a bravura and audacious debut from Gilroy that captures Los Angeles at its most grimy. Every crackle of Louis' police scanner heralds potential doom and the director impresses in a pivotal action sequence, which sees Louis and Rick join a police chase in pursuit of valuable footage, regardless of the risks to pedestrians or other drivers.

Gyllenhaal distorts his screen image as a charming, buff leading man beyond recognition, slithering through each frame like a predator in search of the next kill. Russo is luminous in a meaty supporting role and London-born actor Ahmed captures the right mix of naivete and nervousness as a fellow passenger on this sickening descent into the abyss.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Friday 31st October 2014
Saturday 1st November 2014
Sunday 2nd November 2014
Monday 3rd November 2014
Tuesday 4th November 2014
Wednesday 5th November 2014
Thursday 6th November 2014

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NT Live Encore Screening: Frankenstein 3 stars

Two specially filmed performances of Danny Boyle's staging of Mary Shelley in a new adaptation by Nick Dear. Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller alternate the roles of Victor Frankenstein and his hideous creation, whose fates become entwined with devastating consequences. The cruelty of man gradually corrupts the creature and he wreaks revenge on Frankenstein and his bride-to-be, Agatha.

  • GenreAdaptation, Drama, Horror, Romance, Special
  • CastBenedict Cumberbatch, Lizzie Winkler, Ella Smith, Jonny Lee Miller, Naomie Harris.
  • DirectorDanny Boyle.
  • WriterMary Shelley, Nick Dear.
  • CountryUK
  • Duration161 mins
  • Official sitentlive.nationaltheatre.org.uk

Two specially filmed performances of Danny Boyle's staging of Mary Shelley in a new adaptation by Nick Dear. Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller alternate the roles of Victor Frankenstein and his hideous creation, whose fates become entwined with devastating consequences. Unleashed into the world, the monster forges an unlikely friendship with a blind, old man who teaches the outcast to speak. However, the cruelty of man gradually corrupts the monster and he wreaks revenge on Frankenstein and his bride-to-be, Agatha (Lizzie Winkler).

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Thursday 6th November 2014

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Ouija 3 stars

movie title

High school student Debbie hangs herself and the girl's classmates struggle to make sense of her suicide. Best friend Laine is left in charge of the house and she decides to make contact with Debbie using a ouija board. A small circle including Laine's boyfriend Trevor, her sister Sarah, gal pal Isabelle and Debbie's boyfriend Pete use the board to speak to Debbie and say their tearful farewells. Unfortunately, the friends unwittingly unleash a malevolent force.

  • GenreHorror, Romance, Thriller
  • CastAna Coto, Olivia Cooke, Bianca Santos, Daren Kagasoff.
  • DirectorStiles White.
  • WriterStiles White, Juliet Snowden.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration89 mins
  • Official sitewww.ouijamovie.co.uk
  • Release31/10/2014

On two occasions in Stiles White's supernatural horror, ill-fated characters spell out the golden rules of how to play safely with a Ouija spirit board. Never play on your own, never play in a graveyard, and always sign off by moving the heart-shaped planchette over GOODBYE.

It sounds simple enough but within minutes of establishing these dos and don'ts, grief-stricken high school students are recklessly ignoring their own advice and find themselves at the mercy of a malevolent force. "It's only a game," nervously whispers one girl. The naivete of characters in hoary horror films never ceases to amaze.

White's film, co-written by his wife Juliet Snowden, punctuates a predictable and increasingly preposterous plot with obligatory cheap scares, which all involve a member of cast appearing unexpectedly, accompanied by a discordant screech from composer Anton Sanko. As a big screen Halloween haunting, Ouija is pitifully short of both tricks and treats.

High school student Debbie (Shelley Hennig) consults a spirit board on her own and takes a tumble over her balcony with a string of fairy lights wrapped around her neck. Classmates struggle to make sense of her apparent suicide.

"I never got a chance to say goodbye," sobs Debbie's best friend Laine (Olivia Cooke) to her boyfriend Trevor (Daren Kagasoff). During a nostalgic final tour of Debbie's bedroom, Laine discovers an antique Ouija board and decides to rally the troops to make contact with their late friend and say their tearful goodbyes.

"Do not go seeking answers from the dead," warns Laine's superstitious grandmother (Vivis Colombetti), the only person in the neighbourhood who isn't blinkered to the neon-lit bad omens. "Get rid of the board!"

Unperturbed, Laine convenes at Debbie's house with her truculent younger sister Sarah (Ana Coto), Debbie's boyfriend Pete (Douglas Smith), gal pal Isabelle (Bianca A Santos) and Trevor to open a connection to the spirit world. Unwittingly, the friends make contact with a dark force that inhabits the house and torments the teenagers with the same greeting: HI FRIEND.

The body count rises and Laine follows a trail of clues leading to a patient in Hoover State Care Psychiatric Hospital with intimate knowledge of the house's previous occupants.

Ouija follows a linear path from ho-hum to hokum and clearly signposts the characters' demises including a dip in a swimming pool that takes almost the entire film to come to lacklustre fruition. Cooke looks pretty with tears in her eyes and her mouth contorted in fear while attractive co-stars are content to put themselves in harm's way.

Director White maintains a plodding pace, even during a climactic race against time to banish the evil. We're itching to grab the spirit board and say GOODBYE to Ouija well before the blessed relief of the end credits.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Friday 31st October 2014
Saturday 1st November 2014
Sunday 2nd November 2014
Monday 3rd November 2014
Tuesday 4th November 2014
Wednesday 5th November 2014
Thursday 6th November 2014

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Planes 2: Fire & Rescue 3 stars

movie title

During a flight with his mentor Skipper, Dusty Crophopper suffers a malfunction and learns that his gearbox is failing. Unfortunately, the model of his gearbox is now out of production, so Dusty must limit his revs or risk a fatal crash. Forced to abandon his racing dreams, Dusty agrees to fly to Piston Peak National Park to train become the town's new fire-fighting plane.

  • GenreAdventure, Animation/Cartoon, Comedy, Family, Family
  • CastDane Cook, Teri Hatcher, Stacy Keach, Julie Bowen, Hal Holbrook, Ed Harris, John Michael Higgins.
  • DirectorRoberts Gannaway.
  • WriterJeffrey M Howard.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration83 mins
  • Official sitemovies.disney.com/planes/
  • Release01/08/2014 (Scotland); 08/08/2014 (UK)

If the first Planes film, a spin-off from Pixar's Cars, appeared to be propelled by merchandising opportunities rather than creative necessity, this action-packed sequel attempts to stand on its own landing gear with a stirring tale of heroism and self-sacrifice.

As the title suggests, Planes 2: Fire & Rescue immerses us in the daredevil world of fire-fighting, honouring the men and women - and aircraft - who "fly in when others are flying out". It's a touching sentiment and screenwriter Jeffrey M Howard engineers some moving exchanges between the characters, some of whom are a splutter away from the scrap heap.

Director Bobs Gannaway employs the 3D format to striking effect in aerial sequences and the animation of raging infernos is impressively realistic. However, there's an inescapable feeling that this gung-ho adventure should have taken a flight path directly to the home formats rather than the big screen.

Soaring over Propwash Junction with his mentor Skipper (voiced Stacy Keach), Dusty Crophopper (Dane Cook) suffers a malfunction. Back at the hanger, trusted mechanic Dottie (Teri Hatcher) diagnoses a failing gearbox. "From now on, you have to keep down your torque to less than 80 percent," she instructs Dusty, putting an end to his illustrious racing career.

Dusty angrily defies Dottie and careens into the town's airport, causing a small fire. The incident casts doubt on the ability of veteran fire and rescue truck Mayday (Hal Holbrook) to service the airport's needs. So Dusty agrees to abandon his racing dreams in order to earn his certificate as the town's fire-fighting plane.

The plucky crop duster heads to Piston Peak National Park to train under helicopter Blade Ranger (Ed Harris), who was once a TV star, and his team including scooper Lil' Dipper (Julie Bowen), helicopter Windlifter (Wes Studi) and ex-military transport plane Cabbie (Dale Dye).

As Dusty masters the art of airborne fire-fighting, he also learns valuable lessons about friendship and endurance. As Blade reminds him, "If you give up today, think of all the lives you can't save tomorrow."

Planes 2: Fire & Rescue is geared towards younger viewers, hammering home the importance of team work and the valuable contribution of emergency services.

There is a handful of verbal and visual gags to engage older audiences: a front cover of industry magazine Cariety; a bar patron drunkenly confiding, "She left me for a hybrid. I didn't hear it coming!" A spoof of the long-running motorcycle police series CHiPs includes a cameo for Erik Estrada as Blade Ranger's partner on air patrol.

On the whole, though, Gannaway's sequel lacks the sophistication and emotional richness of yesteryear's Frozen or recent Pixar fare. Animation is crisp and colourful and the vocal performances are similarly warm so audiences feel a toasty glow before the first plumes of smoke from the computer-generated blazes.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Saturday 1st November 2014
Sunday 2nd November 2014
Tuesday 4th November 2014

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Pride 5 stars

movie title

Mark Ashton is the charismatic and outspoken leader of impassioned campaigners, who operate out of the Gay's The Word bookshop in London. Reading news stories about the miner's strike, Mark recognises a cause to champion. "Mining communities are being bullied just like we are," he tells his coterie and they form LGSM - Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners - with the intention of raising funds for a randomly selected Welsh community.

  • GenreComedy, Drama, Historical/Period
  • CastBill Nighy, Andrew Scott, Dominic West, Ben Schnetzer, George MacKay, Jessica Gunning, Paddy Considine, Imelda Staunton, Joseph Gilgun.
  • DirectorMatthew Warchus.
  • WriterStephen Beresford.
  • CountryUK
  • Duration120 mins
  • Official sitewww.pridemovie.co.uk
  • Release12/09/2014

Theatre director Matthew Warchus, who succeeds Kevin Spacey as artistic director of the Old Vic in London next year, will need to de-clutter his awards-laden mantelpiece. His second feature film is a barnstorming culture-clash comedy drama based on the inspirational true story of a group of gays and lesbians, who supported the miners during the 1984 strike and raised thousands of pounds for beleaguered communities, which dared to stand up to the Thatcher government.

This uplifting story of solidarity in the face of adversity and police intimidation is an absolute joy; an unabashed, irresistible crowd-pleaser in the magnificent mould of The Full Monty and Billy Elliot that rouses the audience to bellowing laughter while choking back a deluge of hot, salty tears.

Pride embraces and subverts stereotypes, deftly weaving together stories of personal triumph and anguish as the spectre of Aids casts a long shadow over the gay community.

Mark Ashton (Ben Schnetzer) is the charismatic and outspoken leader of young, impassioned campaigners, who operate out of the Gay's The Word bookshop in London run by Gethin (Andrew Scott). Reading news stories about the miner's strike, Mark recognises a cause to champion.

"Mining communities are being bullied just like we are," he tells his coterie comprising Mike (Joseph Gilgun), Jonathan (Dominic West), Jeff (Freddie Fox), Steph (Faye Marsay) and closeted new boy, Joe (George MacKay). They form LGSM - Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners - and rattle tins for a randomly selected Welsh community.

Mining representative Dai (Paddy Considine) invites Mark and co to the Dulais Valley where committee members Hefina (Imelda Staunton), Cliff (Bill Nighy) and Sian (Jessica Gunning) embrace the fund-raisers with open arms. However, some of the locals are repulsed.

"We're being backed up by perverts," sneers homophobic mother Maureen (Lisa Palfrey), kindling conflict between some of the neighbours and the LGSM.

Pride is a life-affirming ode to tolerance, acceptance and self-belief that defiantly lives up to its title, waving a flag for stellar home-grown filmmaking.

Performances are exemplary, ignoring a few wobbles with the Welsh accents, including a fiery turn from Schnetzer as a fresh-faced trailblazer and sobs aplenty from Mackay as the catering student, who cannot conceal his sexuality forever.

Scriptwriter Stephen Beresford strikes a perfect balance between hilarity and heartbreak, sharing polished one-liners among the ensemble cast including Menna Trussler as a clucky old dear, who labours under the illusion that all lesbians are vegetarians.

Warchus' film builds to a rousing crescendo that delivers a knock-out emotional wallop and opens the floodgates. As Frankie Goes To Hollywood professed during that turbulent summer of 1984: "When two tribes go to war/A point is all you can score." The characters in Pride score their points with unbridled passion and wit.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Saturday 1st November 2014
Sunday 2nd November 2014
Monday 3rd November 2014
Tuesday 4th November 2014
Thursday 6th November 2014

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Royal Opera Live Encore Screening: I Due Foscari 3 stars

Thaddeus Strassberger directs Verdi's searing early tragedy at the Royal Opera House in London under the baton of conductor Antonio Pappano. Placido Domingo sings the title role of the despairing father, who is torn between love for his family and duty to a corrupt city.

  • GenreMusical, Special
  • CastMaria Agresta, Placido Domingo, Francesco Meli.
  • DirectorThaddeus Strassberger.
  • WriterVerdi.
  • CountryUK
  • Official sitewww.roh.org.uk/cinemas

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Sunday 2nd November 2014

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Serena 3 stars

During a visit to Boston, timber merchant George Pemberton falls under the spell of Serena Shaw and they marry. The happy couple returns to North Carolina to expand George's empire and immediately clash with Sheriff McDowell, who hopes to buy vast swathes of Pemberton land to create a national park. When the deal falls through, McDowell declares war on the Pembertons.

  • GenreAdaptation, Drama, Historical/Period, Romance
  • CastBradley Cooper, Toby Jones, Jennifer Lawrence, Sam Reid, Sean Harris, Rhys Ifans.
  • DirectorSusanne Bier.
  • WriterChristopher Kyle.
  • CountryUS/Fr
  • Duration110 mins
  • Official sitewww.facebook.com/SerenaTheMovie
  • Release24/10/2014

Good things come to those who wait. Unfortunately, so too does Serena. Shot in the early summer of 2012, just as the first instalment of The Hunger Games was exploding on the big screen, Susanne Bier's blood-smeared period drama has taken a long time to navigate the choppy waters of post-production.

In the interim, the Danish writer-director has made the frothy romantic comedy All You Need Is Love starring Pierce Brosnan and the thriller A Second Chance. Meanwhile, luminous lead stars Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper have become the toast of Hollywood with their on-screen pairings in the Oscar-winning romance Silver Linings Playbook and swinging crime caper American Hustle.

In Serena, they play love-struck newlyweds, who succumb to jealousy and poisonous desire in the North Carolina mountains at the end of the 1920s. Romance is kindled at breakneck speed - within minutes of glimpsing his expertly coiffed co-star, Cooper is telling her dreamily, "I think we should be married" - and screenwriter Christopher Kyle adopts a similarly hurried approach to characterisation and narrative development in his haphazard adaptation of the book by Ron Rash.

These gaps in plot and logic become increasingly apparent in the film's overwrought second act, relying heavily on Lawrence to hold the film together with her histrionics. She's a cracking actress, but no one could single-handedly keep this runaway train on the tracks.

Timber merchant George Pemberton (Cooper) struggles to keep his business afloat, aided by partner Buchanan (David Dencik) and woodsman Galloway (Rhys Ifans). He has fathered a love child with a local woman called Rachel (Ana Ularu) and during a visit to Boston, George falls under the spell of Serena Shaw (Lawrence), who a friend describes as "beautiful, wounded and mad for trees".

They marry and return to North Carolina to expand George's empire and immediately clash with Sheriff McDowell (Toby Jones), who hopes to buy vast swathes of Pemberton land to create a national park. When the deal falls through, McDowell declares war on the Pembertons.

In order to quench her dark thoughts about Rachel, Serena resolves to fall pregnant to provide her husband with a legitimate heir but Mrs Pemberton is at the mercy of mischievous Mother Nature when it comes to conceiving.

Serena feels like it has been crudely bolted together in the editing room. Bier and cinematographer Morten Soborg capture breathtakingly beautiful vistas of the Czech Republic, which stands in for North Carolina, but style repeatedly trumps substance.

There's a palpable lack of fluidity to the narrative and the heroine's descent into murderous mayhem happens in the blink of an eye. In the absence of a well-structured script, Lawrence and Cooper barely flesh out their undernourished characters while Ifans, Jones and European co-stars struggle to pin down wandering American accents.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Saturday 1st November 2014
Monday 3rd November 2014

Snow Queen 3 stars

The wicked Snow Queen plunges the kingdom into eternal winter, almost extinguishing warmth from the hearts of the people. When the icy villainess kidnaps orphan boy Kai, his plucky sister Gerda embarks on a momentous journey across the frozen wasteland to rescue her stricken sibling. Accompanied by the Queen's disguised troll Orm, Gerda faces pirates and polar winds as she risks everything to breaks the Snow Queen's spell and restore harmony to the land.

  • GenreAdaptation, Animation/Cartoon, Drama, Family, Fantasy
  • CastIvan Okhlobystin, Galina Tyunina, Anna Shurochkina, Dmitriy Nagiev.
  • DirectorMaksim Sveshnikov, Vladlen Barbe.
  • WriterVladlen Barbe, Donald Roman Lopez.
  • CountryRus
  • Duration80 mins
  • Official sitewww.snowqueenfilm.com; www.facebook.com/snowqueenfilm
  • Release24/10/2014 (selected cinemas)

Vladlen Barbe and Maksim Sveshnikov directed this computer-animated adaptation of the beloved Hans Christian Andersen fairytale. The wicked Snow Queen (voiced by Galina Tyunina) plunges the kingdom into eternal winter, almost extinguishing warmth from the hearts of the people. When the icy villainess kidnaps orphan boy Kai (Ramilya Iskander), his plucky sister Gerda (Anna Shurochkina) embarks on a momentous journey across the frozen wasteland to rescue her stricken sibling. Accompanied by the Queen's disguised troll Orm (Ivan Okhlobystin), Gerda faces pirates and polar winds as she risks everything to breaks the Snow Queen's spell and restore harmony to the land.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Saturday 1st November 2014
Sunday 2nd November 2014

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3 stars

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Genetically modified turtle brothers Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo and Donatello grow up in the sewers of New York under the guidance of their mentor: a giant rat called Splinter, who teaches them Ninjitsu. Aided by plucky journalist April O'Neil and her cameraman Vern Fenwick, the turtles wage war on a shadowy figure called Shredder and his army, known as the Foot Clan, who are spreading fear and terror throughout the Big Apple.

  • GenreAction, Adaptation, Adventure, Comedy, Family, Fantasy, Romance
  • CastWill Arnett, Megan Fox, William Fichtner, Tohoru Masamune, Whoopi Goldberg.
  • DirectorJonathan Liebesman.
  • WriterAndre Nemec, Josh Appelbaum, Evan Daugherty.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration101 mins
  • Official sitewww.ninjaturtlesmovie.co.uk
  • Release11/10/2014 (Scotland); 17/10/2014 (UK & Ireland)

The adventures of turtle brothers Donatello, Leonardo, Michelangelo and Raphael began life in the mid 1980s as an irreverent comic book and rapidly spawned an animated TV series, a trilogy of films and a dizzying array of merchandise. Turtle power has endured to the present day, including a computer-animated series on Nickelodeon.

It's no surprise then that Jonathan Liebesman, director of Wrath Of The Titans, has resurrected the heroes in a half shell for the big screen. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is an outlandish, action-heavy romp that remains faithful to earlier incarnations, condensing the characters' back-story into a snazzy comic book-style opening sequence.

Die-hard fans will enjoy the heavy whiff of nostalgia, but if Liebesman was hoping to indoctrinate a new generation, he has cowabungled it. His film is incredibly violent, albeit bloodless, reducing two very young boys in my screening to distressed screams.

The lack of spilt blood is preposterous, especially when the turtles face chief villain Shredder, who sports armour festooned with blades. Razor sharp projectiles scythe through the air but miraculously don't nick flesh. Shredder by name but not by nefarious nature.

Leonardo (Pete Ploszek, voiced by Johnny Knoxville), Raphael (Alan Ritchson), Michelangelo (Noel Fisher) and Donatello (Jeremy Howard) grow up in the sewers of New York City. They flourish under rat mentor Splinter (Danny Woodburn, voiced by Tony Shalhoub), who teaches Ninjitsu to his surrogate sons.

During one of the turtles' sorties above ground, Channel 6 news reporter April O'Neil (Megan Fox) glimpses the crime-fighters, who are preparing for war with hulking terrorist Shredder (Tohoru Masamune) and his army, the Foot Clan.

Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo and Donatello fear exposure so they track down April and spirit her to their subterranean lair. "It's our Fortress Of Solitude, our Hogwarts, our Xavier's Academy," whispers Donatello, piling on the pop culture references.

Once April learns of the turtles' noble quest to destroy Shredder, she pledges her allegiance and ropes in wisecracking cameraman, Vern (Will Arnett), and prominent businessman Eric Sacks (William Fichtner), who has publicly declared war on the Foot Clan in a televised speech.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles updates the characters for the modern era. Thus Mikey has a penchant for cat videos on the internet and the three scriptwriters shoe-horn verbal references to films and TV shows with abandon: "Maybe she's a Jedi," whispers Mikey after April reveals she knows Splinter's name without an introduction.

The turtles are rendered through motion-capture performances and look rather creepy, but they somersault to perfection in action set pieces including a tumble down a snow-laden mountainside.

Alas, the hefty budget hasn't stretched to remedying basic continuity errors like when Fox's plastic heroine emerges from a downpour with dry, flowing hair. Believe that and you'll lap up this bland turtle soup.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Friday 31st October 2014
Saturday 1st November 2014
Sunday 2nd November 2014
Monday 3rd November 2014
Tuesday 4th November 2014
Wednesday 5th November 2014
Thursday 6th November 2014

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3D 3 stars

movie title

Genetically modified turtle brothers Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo and Donatello grow up in the sewers of New York under the guidance of their mentor: a giant rat called Splinter, who teaches them Ninjitsu. Aided by plucky journalist April O'Neil and her cameraman Vern Fenwick, the turtles wage war on a shadowy figure called Shredder and his army, known as the Foot Clan, who are spreading fear and terror throughout the Big Apple.

  • GenreAction, Adaptation, Adventure, Comedy, Family, Fantasy, Romance
  • CastTohoru Masamune, Whoopi Goldberg, Will Arnett, Megan Fox, William Fichtner.
  • DirectorJonathan Liebesman.
  • WriterAndre Nemec, Josh Appelbaum, Evan Daugherty.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration101 mins
  • Official sitewww.ninjaturtlesmovie.co.uk
  • Release11/10/2014 (Scotland); 17/10/2014 (UK & Ireland)

The adventures of turtle brothers Donatello, Leonardo, Michelangelo and Raphael began life in the mid 1980s as an irreverent comic book and rapidly spawned an animated TV series, a trilogy of films and a dizzying array of merchandise. Turtle power has endured to the present day, including a computer-animated series on Nickelodeon.

It's no surprise then that Jonathan Liebesman, director of Wrath Of The Titans, has resurrected the heroes in a half shell for the big screen. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is an outlandish, action-heavy romp that remains faithful to earlier incarnations, condensing the characters' back-story into a snazzy comic book-style opening sequence.

Die-hard fans will enjoy the heavy whiff of nostalgia, but if Liebesman was hoping to indoctrinate a new generation, he has cowabungled it. His film is incredibly violent, albeit bloodless, reducing two very young boys in my screening to distressed screams.

The lack of spilt blood is preposterous, especially when the turtles face chief villain Shredder, who sports armour festooned with blades. Razor sharp projectiles scythe through the air but miraculously don't nick flesh. Shredder by name but not by nefarious nature.

Leonardo (Pete Ploszek, voiced by Johnny Knoxville), Raphael (Alan Ritchson), Michelangelo (Noel Fisher) and Donatello (Jeremy Howard) grow up in the sewers of New York City. They flourish under rat mentor Splinter (Danny Woodburn, voiced by Tony Shalhoub), who teaches Ninjitsu to his surrogate sons.

During one of the turtles' sorties above ground, Channel 6 news reporter April O'Neil (Megan Fox) glimpses the crime-fighters, who are preparing for war with hulking terrorist Shredder (Tohoru Masamune) and his army, the Foot Clan.

Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo and Donatello fear exposure so they track down April and spirit her to their subterranean lair. "It's our Fortress Of Solitude, our Hogwarts, our Xavier's Academy," whispers Donatello, piling on the pop culture references.

Once April learns of the turtles' noble quest to destroy Shredder, she pledges her allegiance and ropes in wisecracking cameraman, Vern (Will Arnett), and prominent businessman Eric Sacks (William Fichtner), who has publicly declared war on the Foot Clan in a televised speech.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles updates the characters for the modern era. Thus Mikey has a penchant for cat videos on the internet and the three scriptwriters shoe-horn verbal references to films and TV shows with abandon: "Maybe she's a Jedi," whispers Mikey after April reveals she knows Splinter's name without an introduction.

The turtles are rendered through motion-capture performances and look rather creepy, but they somersault to perfection in action set pieces including a tumble down a snow-laden mountainside.

Alas, the hefty budget hasn't stretched to remedying basic continuity errors like when Fox's plastic heroine emerges from a downpour with dry, flowing hair. Believe that and you'll lap up this bland turtle soup.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Friday 31st October 2014
Saturday 1st November 2014
Sunday 2nd November 2014
Monday 3rd November 2014
Tuesday 4th November 2014
Wednesday 5th November 2014
Thursday 6th November 2014

This film is also showing at:

The Babadook 4 stars

movie title

Seven years after the death of her husband, care home worker Amelia is still haunted by memories of her beloved. Her young son Samuel, who is exhibiting the signs of ADHD, shares her sense of loss. The energetic tyke interrupts his mother's sleep patterns with claims of monsters in his room. Amelia attempts to lull the boy back to sleep with a bedtime story. One particular book, a gothic pop-up entitled Mister Babadook, sends a chill through mother and son, and Samuel senses a ghoulish presence.

  • GenreDrama, Horror, Thriller
  • CastEssie Davies, Daniel Henshall, Benjamin Winspear, Noah Wiseman.
  • DirectorJennifer Kent.
  • WriterJennifer Kent.
  • CountryAustralia
  • Duration94 mins
  • Official sitewww.thebabadook.com
  • Release24/10/2014

Children's literature is littered with murder, suffering and diabolical villains. Age-old fairytales feature a wolf devouring a helpless grandmother, ugly sisters hacking off toes and heels to squeeze their feet into a glass slipper, a mermaid enduring the pain of walking on knives and a witch fattening up siblings to roast in her oven.

Roald Dahl unleashed grotesques including Miss Trunchbull, The Twits and the Grand High Witch, while Harry Potter met his match in devilish Lord Voldemort. The Babadook joins this illustrious list.

The titular boogeyman of Australian writer-director Jennifer Kent's debut feature is a menacing figure in a top hat and black cloak, who stalks the pages of a children's pop-up book and slowly manifests in the real world.

A nerve-frayed mother is driven to the brink of infanticide by this hideously gnarled spectre while her hyperactive son faces the insidious threat with a cleverly handmade dart gun and portable catapult. Perfect bedtime reading for those of a nervous disposition.

Seven years after the death of her husband (Benjamin Winspear), care home worker Amelia (Essie Davis) is still haunted by memories of her beloved. She politely rebuffs advances from work colleague Robbie (Daniel Henshall) and weathers pity and sarcasm from her unsympathetic sister, Claire (Hayley McElhinney).

The only person who shares Amelia's sense of loss is her young son Samuel (Noah Wiseman), who is exhibiting the signs of ADHD. The energetic tyke interrupts his mother's sleep patterns with claims of monsters in his room, which turn out to be wild childish fantasies.

Each night, an exhausted Amelia lulls her boy back to sleep with a bedtime story. One particular book, a gothic pop-up entitled Mister Babadook, sends a chill through mother and son, and Samuel senses a ghoulish presence.

"Do you want to die?!" the boy asks his mother, warning her to beware The Babadook. She ignores his pleas and slowly, Amelia's mental state unravels, causing deep concern for elderly next-door neighbour Mrs Roach (Barbara West) and social services.

The Babadook is an impressive debut from Kent, drawing emotional power from the strong performances of Davis and Wiseman, who gel perfectly. The writer-director conjures some genuinely unsettling scenes of domestic disturbance and sensibly keeps the clawed antagonist off screen for the best part of an hour, hinting at unspeakable horrors that lurk in shadowy corners and beneath beds.

Once The Babadook slinks into the light and announces it presence with a death rattle growl, the film loses its power to shock and any feelings of skin-crawling dread are reduced to an itch.

Hardcore horror fans will find it a tad lightweight but for scaredy cats like us, Kent's descent into the darkness is definitely worth a scratch.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Friday 31st October 2014
Saturday 1st November 2014
Sunday 2nd November 2014
Monday 3rd November 2014
Tuesday 4th November 2014
Wednesday 5th November 2014
Thursday 6th November 2014

The Book Of Life 3 stars

movie title

In the town of San Angel on the Day Of The Dead, underworld gods La Muerte and Xibalba bet on the outcome of a love triangle involving friends Manolo, Joaquin and Maria. La Muerte, ruler of the Land of the Remembered, believes that sensitive Manolo will get the girl while Xibalba, ruler of the Land of the Forgotten, selects courageous Joaquin as his champion and secretly boosts the young man's chances with an enchanted medal of protection.

  • GenreAdventure, Animation/Cartoon, Comedy, Family, Family, Romance
  • CastRon Perlman, Zoe Saldana, Channing Tatum, Kate del Castillo, Diego Luna, Ice Cube.
  • DirectorJorge R Gutierrez.
  • WriterJorge R Gutierrez, Douglas Langdale.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration95 mins
  • Official sitewww.bookoflifemovie.co.uk
  • Release24/10/2014

In Mexican culture, Dia de los Muertos or Day Of The Dead is an important annual gathering for families and friends to honour the memory of loved ones who are no longer with them. The three-day celebration, which begins on October 31, traditionally involves adorning graves and specially constructed altars with sugar skulls, flowers and other gifts with special significance to the departed.

This fiesta of remembrance provides a vibrant and poignant backdrop to Jorge R Gutierrez's fantastical computer-animated fable about three friends, who discover there is love after death.

The Book Of Life razzle dazzles our eyes, especially in 3D, cramming as much retina-searing colour and detail as possible into each frame. Co-writer Douglas Lansdale adds plentiful humour to offset the film's air of tragedy including a chorus of singing nuns and a waspish grandmother, voiced by Grey DeLisle, who scene-steals with every purse-lipped outburst.

Museum tour guide Mary Beth (voiced by Christina Applegate) leads a group of unruly schoolchildren through an exhibition about Mexican folklore. She leads the whippersnappers to a chamber that houses the fabled Book Of Life and recounts one particular story, which unfolds in the town of San Angel on the Day Of The Dead.

Rival gods La Muerte (Kate del Castillo) and Xibalba (Ron Perlman) agree a wager on the resolution of a love triangle involving two boys, Manolo (Diego Luna) and Joaquin (Channing Tatum), who are both in love with their friend Maria (Zoe Saldana).

La Muerte, ruler of the Land of the Remembered, believes that sensitive Manolo will get the girl and realise his musical ambitions rather than take up the mantle of his matador father (Hector Elizondo). "Music is not a profession fit for a Sanchez bullfighter!" rages the old man.

Meanwhile, Xibalba (Ron Perlman), ruler of the Land of the Forgotten, selects courageous Joaquin as his champion and secretly boosts the young man's chances with an enchanted medal of protection.

When the time finally comes for Maria to choose between her suitors, conniving Xibalba attempts to influence her decision to ensure he wins the bet.

The Book Of Life inhabits a macabre universe that Tim Burton has made his own but director Gutierrez and his team of animators opt for a more jaunty, upbeat tone enhanced by a bouncy soundtrack replete with cover versions of Elvis Presley, Radiohead and Rod Stewart. "What is it with Mexicans and death?" asks a goth kid on the museum tour, somewhat tongue in cheek.

Luna and Tatum deliver lively vocal performances and Saldana essays a spunky heroine, who epitomises girl power, flanked by a cute porcine sidekick. Action sequences are orchestrated at a brisk pace, punctuated by soaring serenades.

Gutierrez's film strikes a pleasing balance between giggles and soul-searching, tackling tricky themes of mortality, self-sacrifice and the afterlife without giving young audiences nightmares.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Friday 31st October 2014
Saturday 1st November 2014
Sunday 2nd November 2014
Monday 3rd November 2014
Tuesday 4th November 2014
Wednesday 5th November 2014
Thursday 6th November 2014

This film is also showing at:

The Book Of Life 3D 3 stars

In the town of San Angel on the Day Of The Dead, underworld gods La Muerte and Xibalba bet on the outcome of a love triangle involving friends Manolo, Joaquin and Maria. La Muerte, ruler of the Land of the Remembered, believes that sensitive Manolo will get the girl while Xibalba, ruler of the Land of the Forgotten, selects courageous Joaquin as his champion and secretly boosts the young man's chances with an enchanted medal of protection.

  • GenreAdventure, Animation/Cartoon, Comedy, Family, Family, Romance
  • CastZoe Saldana, Channing Tatum, Ron Perlman, Kate del Castillo, Diego Luna, Ice Cube.
  • DirectorJorge R Gutierrez.
  • WriterJorge R Gutierrez, Douglas Langdale.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration95 mins
  • Official sitewww.bookoflifemovie.co.uk
  • Release24/10/2014

In Mexican culture, Dia de los Muertos or Day Of The Dead is an important annual gathering for families and friends to honour the memory of loved ones who are no longer with them. The three-day celebration, which begins on October 31, traditionally involves adorning graves and specially constructed altars with sugar skulls, flowers and other gifts with special significance to the departed.

This fiesta of remembrance provides a vibrant and poignant backdrop to Jorge R Gutierrez's fantastical computer-animated fable about three friends, who discover there is love after death.

The Book Of Life razzle dazzles our eyes, especially in 3D, cramming as much retina-searing colour and detail as possible into each frame. Co-writer Douglas Lansdale adds plentiful humour to offset the film's air of tragedy including a chorus of singing nuns and a waspish grandmother, voiced by Grey DeLisle, who scene-steals with every purse-lipped outburst.

Museum tour guide Mary Beth (voiced by Christina Applegate) leads a group of unruly schoolchildren through an exhibition about Mexican folklore. She leads the whippersnappers to a chamber that houses the fabled Book Of Life and recounts one particular story, which unfolds in the town of San Angel on the Day Of The Dead.

Rival gods La Muerte (Kate del Castillo) and Xibalba (Ron Perlman) agree a wager on the resolution of a love triangle involving two boys, Manolo (Diego Luna) and Joaquin (Channing Tatum), who are both in love with their friend Maria (Zoe Saldana).

La Muerte, ruler of the Land of the Remembered, believes that sensitive Manolo will get the girl and realise his musical ambitions rather than take up the mantle of his matador father (Hector Elizondo). "Music is not a profession fit for a Sanchez bullfighter!" rages the old man.

Meanwhile, Xibalba (Ron Perlman), ruler of the Land of the Forgotten, selects courageous Joaquin as his champion and secretly boosts the young man's chances with an enchanted medal of protection.

When the time finally comes for Maria to choose between her suitors, conniving Xibalba attempts to influence her decision to ensure he wins the bet.

The Book Of Life inhabits a macabre universe that Tim Burton has made his own but director Gutierrez and his team of animators opt for a more jaunty, upbeat tone enhanced by a bouncy soundtrack replete with cover versions of Elvis Presley, Radiohead and Rod Stewart. "What is it with Mexicans and death?" asks a goth kid on the museum tour, somewhat tongue in cheek.

Luna and Tatum deliver lively vocal performances and Saldana essays a spunky heroine, who epitomises girl power, flanked by a cute porcine sidekick. Action sequences are orchestrated at a brisk pace, punctuated by soaring serenades.

Gutierrez's film strikes a pleasing balance between giggles and soul-searching, tackling tricky themes of mortality, self-sacrifice and the afterlife without giving young audiences nightmares.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Friday 31st October 2014
Saturday 1st November 2014
Sunday 2nd November 2014
Monday 3rd November 2014
Wednesday 5th November 2014
Thursday 6th November 2014

The Boxtrolls 4 stars

movie title

An orphaned boy named Eggs is raised by gentle subterranean creatures that have been unfairly demonised by the terrified, fromage-fixated residents of Cheesebridge. When pest exterminator Archibald Snatcher and his henchmen begin to exterminate the Boxtrolls, Eggs joins forces with the surviving creatures and a girl called Winnie to protect the beasties from harm.

  • GenreAdaptation, Adventure, Animation/Cartoon, Comedy, Family, Family, Fantasy
  • CastToni Collette, Elle Fanning, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Isaac Hempstead-Wright, Jared Harris, Sir Ben Kingsley.
  • DirectorGraham Annable, Anthony Stacchi.
  • WriterIrena Brignull, Adam Pava.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration97 mins
  • Official sitewww.theboxtrolls.co.uk
  • Release12/09/2014

Based on the novel Here Be Monsters! by Alan Snow, The Boxtrolls is a rollicking stop-motion animated romp from the makers of Coraline and ParaNorman that proves weird can be truly wonderful. With faint echoes of Raymond Briggs' Fungus The Bogeyman, Graham Annable and Anthony Stacchi's quirky fantasy imagines a race of subterranean creatures, who root through bins in search of spare parts for their mechanical creations.

Despite a hearty appetite for slimy bugs, these pungent, green-skinned denizens of the underworld are cute rather than scary, possessing relatable human traits such as a passion for music or a quivering fear of the unknown. They spare troll blushes by wearing empty cardboard boxes and the former contents of these mouldering cartons provide each expressive character with a name such as Fish, Knickers, Sweets, Clocks and Fragile (ho ho!).

The meticulous detail of the movable figures and miniature sets is impressive, and co-directors Annable and Stacchi corral a vast team of animators, who produce thrilling chases and quieter moments of ribald humour.

The well-to-do, Victorian-era city of Cheesebridge is visited under the cloak of darkness by the eponymous beasties. One dark night, a Boxtroll called Fish (voiced by Dee Bradley Baker) kidnaps the infant son of a local inventor (Simon Pegg) and spirits away the child to the underground lair.

This shocking act plays into the grubby hands of pest exterminator Archibald Snatcher (Sir Ben Kingsley). "Prepare to say bye-bye to your brie, cheerio to your cheddar!" cackles Snatcher, striking fear into the heart of Lord Portley-Rind (Jared Harris) and the other fromage-fixated noblemen.

They grant Snatcher a place at the cheese-tasting top table if the exterminator and his henchmen - Mr Trout (Nick Frost), Mr Pickles (Richard Ayoade) and Mr Gristle (Tracy Morgan) - kill every last Boxtroll. Unaware that he is human, abducted boy Eggs (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) ventures above ground with the Boxtrolls and encounters Lord Portley-Rind's snooty daughter, Winnie (Elle Fanning).

She initially believes the horror stories about Boxtrolls devouring children - "Eat me. I'm sure I'm delicious!" - but once Winnie learns the truth about Eggs' past, she agrees to help vanquish Snatcher and his snivelling cohorts.

The Boxtrolls is a delight for the young and young at heart, hinging on the notion that families come in all shapes and sizes. Irena Brignull and Adam Pava's script is laden with verbal and visual gags, striking a gently mischievous tone throughout like when Winnie spots Eggs tugging at the crotch of his uncomfortable suit and whispers, "Don't snatch them in public. That's why they are called privates!"

Frost, Ayoade and Morgan provide the majority of the comic relief between action-packed set-pieces. Remain seated during the end credits for a hilarious scene of existential angst, which succinctly reminds us how pain-staking and time-consuming the stop-motion animation process is.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Friday 31st October 2014
Saturday 1st November 2014
Sunday 2nd November 2014
Monday 3rd November 2014
Tuesday 4th November 2014
Wednesday 5th November 2014
Thursday 6th November 2014

This film is also showing at:

The Equalizer 3 stars

movie title

Robert McCall has turned his back on his past as a covert government operative and has fashioned an unremarkable life in suburbia. At night, McCall works his way through a list of 100 books everyone should read while enjoying a coffee at his local diner, where he befriends a sassy prostitute called Teri. When she ends up in hospital, battered and bruised at the hands of her controlling pimp Slavi, McCall exacts revenge and sparks a war with the Russian Mafia.

  • GenreAction, Drama, Thriller
  • CastMarton Csokas, Denzel Washington, Chloe Grace Moretz, Melissa Leo, Bill Pullman, David Harbour.
  • DirectorAntoine Fuqua.
  • WriterRichard Wenk.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration132 mins
  • Official sitewww.equalizerthemovie.com
  • Release26/09/2014

Director Antoine Fuqua, who guided Denzel Washington to the Oscar podium in Training Day, reunites with the charismatic actor for this gratuitously violent reimagining of the beloved 1980s TV series.

Nostalgic memories of Edward Woodward's refined approach to justice and crime-fighting on the small screen are blown to smithereens by this brutish, big-screen rendering of The Equalizer. In a dizzying opening fight sequence, Washington impales a corkscrew in one henchman's noggin and repeatedly pummels a couple more as if he was tenderising a large slab of steak.

Each bone-cracking blow, stab and punch is captured in balletic close-up; a queasy dance of death that reaches a hilarious and frenetic crescendo with drills and sledgehammers in a hardware warehouse where the title character works when he's not coolly doling out just desserts.

Screenwriter Richard Wenk, who co-wrote The Expendables 2 with Sylvester Stallone, comes perilously close to the tongue-in-cheek tone of that film when Washington is asked by a work colleague how he hurt his bandaged hand and he drolly responds, "I hit it on something stupid". We presume he means the script, considering the implausibilities of the final act, steeped in mindless and repetitive bloodletting.

Robert McCall (Washington) has turned his back on his past as a covert government operative and has fashioned an unremarkable life in suburbia, where he nurses memories of his dead wife. By day, he earns a decent wage in a Home Mart warehouse and mentors another employee, Ralphie (Johnny Skourtis), through his security guard's exam.

By night, McCall works his way through a list of 100 books everyone should read while enjoying a coffee at his local diner, where he befriends a sassy prostitute called Teri (Chloe Grace Moretz). When she ends up in hospital, battered and bruised at the hands of her controlling Russian pimp Slavi (David Meunier), McCall exacts revenge. Justice seemingly prevails.

Unfortunately, Slavi and his goons are a link in a bigger chain controlled by the Russian Mafia and they dispatch sadistic fixer Teddy (Marton Csokas) to track down McCall. The Equalizer starts off promisingly, exploring the minutiae of McCall's daily life as a man scarred by grief and tormented by his past.

Washington is in his element in these early scenes, capturing the maelstrom of emotions that simmer beneath his character's placid surface. Once the first drop of blood is spilt, director Fuqua seizes every opportunity for wanton carnage, to the point that it seems like nothing short of a nuclear explosion will stop McCall in his tracks.

Csokas' vindictive antagonist has little depth beyond his propensity for cruelty and pain, which is something we experience as the running time drags unnecessarily into a third hour.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Friday 31st October 2014
Saturday 1st November 2014
Sunday 2nd November 2014
Monday 3rd November 2014
Tuesday 4th November 2014
Wednesday 5th November 2014
Thursday 6th November 2014

The Judge 3 stars

movie title

In the midst of a trial, big city lawyer Hank Palmer learns that his mother has passed away. He ventures back to his hometown, which he abandoned 20 years ago, and tentatively rebuilds bridges with his two brothers, Glen and Dale, and father Joseph, who has been the community's venerable judge for 42 years. As Hank prepares to fly back to Chicago, Joseph is arrested for killing a scoundrel who passed through his court.

  • GenreDrama, Romance, Thriller
  • CastRobert Downey Jr, Robert Duvall, Vera Farmiga, Vincent D'Onofrio, Leighton Meester, Billy Bob Thornton, Dax Shepard.
  • DirectorDavid Dobkin.
  • WriterNick Schenk, Bill Dubuque.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration141 mins
  • Official sitewww.thejudgemovie.com
  • Release17/10/2014

The law is an ass and the people who administer it bigger asses in David Dobkin's courtroom drama about an estranged family reunited under the testing conditions of a murder trial. The Judge takes its sweet time going through the legal motions, grafting on a superfluous romantic subplot to the revelations in the dock.

Thankfully, lead actors Robert Downey Jr and Robert Duvall sink their teeth into their broadly sketched characters and energise the dysfunctional father-son relationship that provides the film with its conflict and heart-tugging emotion.

Both men relish the verbal sparring, galvanised by screen chemistry that convinces us they are chips from the same unmovable block. The lead role of a smarmy big city lawyer, who proudly proclaims, "Innocent people can't afford me", is a snug fit for Downey Jr.

Like Tony Stark in the Iron Man films, this slick operator has arrogance and wise-cracks to spare, yet, beneath the impeccably tailored suits and designer shades, there beats the fragile heart of a man terrified of losing the people he loves. As the lead prosecutor of the murder trial sagely observes, "You're a bully with a big bag of tricks."

The legal eagle in question is Hank Palmer (Downey Jr), who helps his wealthy clients to escape the State of Illinois' prosecutorial clutches. During one trial, Hank learns that his mother has passed away.

He ventures back to his hometown, which he abandoned 20 years ago, and tentatively rebuilds bridges with his two brothers, Glen (Vincent D'Onofrio) and Dale (Jeremy Strong), and father Joseph (Robert Duvall), who has been the community's venerable judge for 42 years.

His mood brightens when he learns that old flame Samantha (Vera Farmiga) owns the local bar. As Hank prepares to fly back to Chicago, Joseph is arrested for killing a scoundrel who passed through his court.

Special prosecutor Dwight Dickham (Billy Bob Thornton) is drafted in to secure a conviction and Joseph chooses local defender CP Kennedy (Dax Shepard) rather than his son to represent him. "Your honour, I'm going to fight like a badger for you," pledges Kennedy, whose inexperience in front of presiding Judge Warren (Ken Howard) convinces Hank that he needs to take charge of the case.

The Judge plays out the gradual role reversal of parents and children as caregivers in the rarefied surroundings of a wood-panelled courtroom. Downey Jr and Duvall are both excellent and D'Onofrio and Strong offer sterling support as siblings in crisis.

Unfortunately, Farmiga is short-changed as the token love interest, who gives Hank a flimsy reason to stay in town. Nick Schenk and Bill Dubuque's script doesn't conceal any narrative aces up its sleeve but does play fair, methodically resolving issues within the Palmer family as the court case reaches a suitably tense resolution.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Saturday 1st November 2014
Sunday 2nd November 2014
Monday 3rd November 2014
Tuesday 4th November 2014
Thursday 6th November 2014

The Maze Runner 4 stars

movie title

A teenager called Thomas arrives in a green area called The Glade, which is home to dozens of other boys, whose memories have also been wiped. Gargantuan walls enclose The Glade and every morning, one wall parts to reveal a maze, which 'runners' explore in the vain hope of finding an exit. The runners must return before dusk when the wall closes and the maze reconfigures.

  • GenreAction, Adaptation, Family, Science Fiction, Thriller
  • CastDylan O'Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Will Poulter, Aml Ameen, Ki Hong Lee, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Patricia Clarkson, Blake Cooper.
  • DirectorWes Ball.
  • WriterGrant Pierce Myers, Noah Oppenheim, T S Nowlin.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration113 mins
  • Official sitewww.facebook.com/MazeRunnerUK?brand_redir=1
  • Release10/10/2014

Based on the bestselling novel by James Dashner, The Maze Runner is a testosterone-fuelled survival thriller cast from the same robust mould as The Hunger Games and Divergent. Like those dystopian nightmares, Wes Ball's film centres on naive characters, teetering on the cusp of adulthood, who are forced to make stark choices between life and death to secure freedom.

Only here, adolescent males are trapped in the moral mire and forced to establish a microcosm of self-governing society a la Lord Of The Flies in which the strongest take charge and the meek keep their heads down.

While The Hunger Games and Divergent expended valuable time establishing character back stories and motivations, this opening salvo of The Maze Runner employs a nifty cheat: amnesia. All of the protagonists are stripped bare of memories including their identity, emerging from the darkness of a lift shaft into an enclosed green space called The Glade as blank slates.

"I can't remember anything," whimpers newbie Thomas (Dylan O'Brien).
"You get your name back in a day or two. It's the one thing they let us keep," explains Alby (Aml Ameen), the de facto leader, who emerged into this strange prison three years ago.

Gargantuan walls enclose The Glade and every morning, one wall parts to reveal a maze which 'runners' like Minho (Ki Hong Lee) map while avoiding hideous denizens called Grievers in the vain hope of finding an exit. The runners must return before dusk when the wall closes and the maze reconfigures.

Having plucked his name from the fog of his mind, Thomas forges friendships with Alby, second-in-command Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) and runt of the litter Chuck (Blake Cooper), but falls foul of brutish rival Gally (Will Poulter).

Out of the blue, a girl called Teresa (Kaya Scodelario) emerges from the lift. She woozily claims to know Thomas and paranoia runs rampant...

For the opening hour, The Maze Runner is lean and taut, rattling along at breakneck speed to the beat of composer John Paesano's propulsive score. The threat of bloodshed hangs in the air but it's only when Thomas strays into the labyrinth that the film unveils a surprisingly nasty streak, dispatching the good-looking cast in a shockingly cold, clinical fashion.

Director Ball doesn't succumb to squeamishness or sentimentality: death comes quickly and gruesomely, and the strongest, most noble and endearing characters are prime fodder for the rampaging Grievers. The film earns its 12A certificate without flinching.

O'Brien and Ameen anchor the young ensemble with fine performances, with sterling support from Lee, Brodie-Sangster and Poulter, the latter fleshing out his punishment-fixated bully with aplomb.

Scodelario is noticeably short-changed but presumably, she will play a pivotal role - from beyond the grave or in the flesh - in next year's fleet-footed sequel, The Scorch Trials. Burn, baby burn.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Friday 31st October 2014
Saturday 1st November 2014
Sunday 2nd November 2014
Monday 3rd November 2014
Tuesday 4th November 2014
Wednesday 5th November 2014
Thursday 6th November 2014

This film is also showing at:

This Is Where I Leave You 3 stars

movie title

New York radio producer Judd Altman receives a telephone call to inform him that his father has died. He returns home to the surgically enhanced bosom of his mother Hilary and siblings Wendy, Phillip and Paul. It transpires that before the old man shuffled off his mortal coil, he stipulated that the Altmans should spend a week together in grief and reminiscence. "For the next seven days you are all my children again," Hilary informs her brood, "and you are all grounded."

  • GenreComedy, Drama, Romance
  • CastJason Bateman, Tina Fey, Jane Fonda, Rose Byrne, Kathryn Hahn, Timothy Olyphant, Adam Driver, Connie Britton, Corey Stoll.
  • DirectorShawn Levy.
  • WriterJonathan Tropper.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration103 mins
  • Official sitewww.thisiswhereileaveyou.com
  • Release24/10/2014

Emotional entanglements of a dysfunctional family provide the humour and pathos in Shawn Levy's touching comedy of shared history and heartache. Screenwriter Jonathan Tropper adapts his own bestselling novel, stitching together an entire year's worth of TV soap opera plot threads into a freewheeling narrative that spreads joy and misery evenly among the underwritten characters.

Revelations come ridiculously thick and fast, requiring ever greater suspensions of disbelief, to the point that we wouldn't be surprised if one of the central clan was unmasked as an extra-terrestrial doppelganger.

Thankfully, Tropper peppers his script with sparkling one-liners and the ensemble cast flings these verbal grenades with devastating precision, cajoling us to laughter even when Shawn Levy's film plumbs the murky depths of toilet humour.

New York radio producer Judd Altman (Jason Bateman) arrives home with a cake for his wife (Abigail Spencer) and discovers the birthday girl in bed with his obnoxious boss (Dax Shepard). Shortly afterwards, a shell-shocked Judd receives a telephone call to inform him that his father has died.

He returns home to the surgically enhanced bosom of his mother Hilary (Jane Fonda) and siblings Wendy (Tina Fey), Phillip (Adam Driver) and Paul (Corey Stoll). It transpires that before the old man shuffled off his mortal coil, he stipulated that the Altmans should spend a week together in grief and reminiscence.

"For the next seven days you are all my children again," Hilary informs her brood, "and you are all grounded." While Judd conceals his marital woes from mommie dearest, Wendy wonders if she made a mistake marrying her husband (Aaron Lazar) when she still loves a hunky neighbour (Timothy Olyphant), Paul clashes with his wife (Kathryn Hahn) about their inability to conceive and Phillip struggles to behave like an adult in front of his new partner (Connie Britton).

Skeletons rattle out of the closet and Judd seeks solace with hometown gal Penny (Rose Byrne), who has always carried a torch for him.

This Is Where I Leave You fizzes pleasantly on the tongue despite screenwriter Tropper's detours from plausibility, his occasional mawkishness and the broad strokes of his character development. Bateman mopes around like a rain-sodden puppy to curry our sympathy, while Fey injects some of her usual spark and wit.

Fonda has a ball as the potty-mouthed, imperious matriarch, who dispenses deep truths in one breath ("Secrets are a cancer to a family") and toe-curling confidences about her sex life with her late husband in the next ("We made love on our first date. I don't mind telling you, the man was hung!")

Her comic whirlwind threatens to blow everyone else off screen and Fonda relishes the film's only plot twist you don't see coming. It's a humdinger. Home, bittersweet home.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Friday 31st October 2014
Saturday 1st November 2014
Sunday 2nd November 2014
Monday 3rd November 2014
Tuesday 4th November 2014
Wednesday 5th November 2014
Thursday 6th November 2014

What We Did On Our Holiday 4 stars

movie title

Gordie McLeod is poised to celebrate his 75th birthday in the Scottish Highlands. His self-obsessed son Gavin is hosting the lavish party to impress the neighbours and hopefully secure the captaincy of the local golf club. As the party beckons, Gavin's less successful brother Doug and his wife Abi arrive with their three children in tow. The birthday celebrations are unexpectedly thrown into disarray and a media scrum descends on the family's doorstep.

  • GenreComedy, Drama, Romance
  • CastDavid Tennant, Billy Connolly, Rosamund Pike, Amelia Bullmore, Ben Miller, Emilia Jones, Harriet Turnbull, Bobby Smalldridge.
  • DirectorAndy Hamilton, Guy Jenkin.
  • WriterAndy Hamilton, Guy Jenkin.
  • CountryUK
  • Duration95 mins
  • Official site
  • Release26/09/2014

In 2007, Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkin abandoned the conventions of a tightly scripted sitcom and took a more fluid approach to mining laughs in the breakout hit Outnumbered. While the adult characters' lines were committed to the page, the young actors were allowed to improvise around suggestions from Hamilton and Jenkin, and consequently delivered natural performances, reacting instinctively to set-ups and punchlines.

The writer-directors adopt the same winning recipe for this uproarious feature film debut, an ill-fated family road trip laced with absurdity that touches the heart and tickles the funny bone.

Once again, it's the younger cast who scene-steal with aplomb, explaining why a bout of car sickness is a source of joy ("It's like being a fountain!") and succinctly distilling the anguish and betrayal of parental infidelity into a single throwaway line: "Dad had an affair with a Paralympic athlete with one foot."

That's not to say that Hamilton and Jenkin short-change the rest of the ensemble cast including David Tennant, Rosamund Pike and Glaswegian firebrand Billy Connolly. They snaffle a generous smattering of belly laughs too, like when Connolly's cantankerous grandfather tries to explain Hitler's seizure of land in terms a bairn might understand: "Like Monopoly, but with more screaming."

Gordie McLeod (Connolly) is poised to celebrate his 75th birthday in the Scottish Highlands. His self-obsessed son Gavin (Ben Miller) is hosting the lavish party to impress the neighbours and hopefully secure the captaincy of the local golf club.

Gavin's long-suffering and neurotic wife Margaret (Amelia Bullmore) remains in the background, occasionally exploding with pent-up rage. As the party beckons, Gavin's less successful brother Doug (David Tennant) and his wife Abi (Rosamund Pike) arrive with their three children in tow: 11-year-old Lottie (Emilia Jones), who scribbles repeatedly in her notebook so she can remember which lies she is supposed to tell; six-year-old Mickey (Bobby Smalldridge), who is obsessed with Vikings; and five-year-old Jess (Harriet Turnbull), whose best friends are two rocks christened Eric and Norman.

The birthday celebrations are unexpectedly thrown into disarray and a media scrum descends on the family's doorstep along with an interfering Social Services officer called Agnes (Celia Imrie), who casts doubt on Doug and Abi's ability to nurture their dysfunctional brood.

What We Did On Our Holiday is a rip-roaring riot, laying bare the petty jealousies and deep-rooted fears within a family while dealing with serious issues through the unblinkered eyes of the three children.

Tennant and Miller spark a fiery sibling rivalry with excellent support from Pike and Bullmore, the latter proving that it's the quiet ones you have to watch out for. Hamilton and Jenkin eschew cloying sentimentality in the film's tricky final third, striking a pleasing and ultimately winning balance between musing and amusing.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Friday 31st October 2014
Saturday 1st November 2014
Sunday 2nd November 2014
Monday 3rd November 2014
Tuesday 4th November 2014
Wednesday 5th November 2014
Thursday 6th November 2014

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