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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
  • Annabelle
  • Frozen
  • Fury
  • Get On Up
  • Gone Girl
  • Horrible Bosses 2
  • Interstellar
  • Kajaki: The True Story
  • Mary Poppins
  • Mr Turner
  • Nativity 3: Dude, Where's My Donkey?!
  • Nightcrawler
  • Ouija
  • Paddington
  • Royal Opera Live Encore Screening: L'Elisir D'Amore
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
  • The Book Of Life
  • The Drop
  • The Hunger Games: Mockingjay: Part 1
  • The Imitation Game
  • The Nut Job
  • The Unbeatables

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)

Saturday 29th November 2014
Sunday 30th November 2014
Monday 1st December 2014
Tuesday 2nd December 2014
Wednesday 3rd December 2014
Thursday 4th December 2014

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)

Saturday 29th November 2014
Sunday 30th November 2014
Thursday 4th December 2014

Frozen 4 stars

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As children, Anna and Elsa love to play together, taking full advantage of Elsa's ability to create ice and snow from her fingertips. An accident late one night convinces the King to wipe Anna's memory so she forgets about her sibling's hidden talents. Many years later, Elsa unwittingly reveals her powers to the locals and is branded a witch. She flees to the snowy mountains to a castle forged in ice. Anna gives chase and encounters a hunky ice trader called Kristoff and his loyal reindeer Sven.

  • GenreAction, Adaptation, Adventure, Animation/Cartoon, Comedy, Family, Family, Romance
  • CastKristen Bell, Alan Tudyk, Idina Menzel, Josh Gad, Ciaran Hinds, Jonathan Groff, Santino Fontana.
  • DirectorJennifer Lee, Chris Buck.
  • WriterJennifer Lee.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration108 mins
  • Official sitemovies.disney.com/frozen/
  • Release06/12/2013; 24/11/2014

Loosely based on The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen, Frozen proves that Disney's animated heroines have unquestionably come of age. Long gone are the rose-tinted days when princesses waited patiently for Prince Charming to sweep them off their feet or save them from a grim fate.

Now, the spunky, independent and self-assured young women are just as smart and resourceful as their male counterparts and they don't need the love of a man to affirm their self-worth.

Frozen is a terrific fairy-tale adventure that melds old-fashioned values with state-of-the-art visuals and a rousing musical score with infectious songs by husband-and-wife team Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez.

Every beautifully coloured and crafted frame is crammed with wit and joy, drawing in audiences of all ages to the story of two sisters battling against the elements and their fears to claim their rightful place on the throne.

Directors Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck don't let the pace flag and the 108 minutes pass in a blur of laughter, tears and frost-bitten action sequences that look stunning in 3D with all of the computer-generated snowflakes fluttering before your eyes. You won't need to wrap up warm because the story casts an irresistible warm glow that should thaw even the most cynical and jaded heart.

As children, Anna (voiced by Kristen Bell) and Elsa (Idina Menzel) love to play together, taking full advantage of Elsa's ability to create ice and snow from her fingertips. An accident late one night convinces the King (Maurice LaMarche) to wipe Anna's memory so she forgets about her sibling's hidden talents.

At the same time, Elsa retires from public gaze, fearful that she will hurt someone else with her powers. When the King and Queen are subsequently lost at sea, Elsa reluctantly emerges to claim the throne.

Alas, on her coronation day, Elsa's gloves come off and the locals witness her extraordinary abilities and brand her a witch. She flees to the snowy mountains to a castle forged in ice. Meanwhile, Anna gives chase, leaving the kingdom in the hands of her trusted sweetheart, Prince Hans (Santino Fontana).

En route, Anna meets hunky ice trader Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), his loyal reindeer Sven and a blissfully naive talking snowman called Olaf (Josh Gad).

Frozen is one of the best animated features to canter out of the Disney stable in years. Warm-hearted, uplifting and constantly surprising, it's a timeless fable that will appeal to both boys and girls thanks to uproarious comic relief from Olaf, who is too cute for words.

Bell and Menzel add vim to their plucky heroines, the latter singing the film's stand-out song, Let It Go. As an added treat, Frozen is preceded by a black and white Mickey Mouse short, Get A Horse, that seems to hark from a bygone era but has a wicked sting in the tail.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Saturday 29th November 2014
Sunday 30th November 2014

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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)

Saturday 29th November 2014
Sunday 30th November 2014
Monday 1st December 2014
Tuesday 2nd December 2014
Wednesday 3rd December 2014
Thursday 4th December 2014

Get On Up 3 stars

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As a boy, James Brown witnesses violent clashes between his parents, which results in his mother Susie walking out. James's hot-headed father Joe delivers the boy into the care of Aunt Honey, who runs a brothel. Under her tutelage, he attends church and develops his passion for music in the choir, before meeting fellow singer Bobby Byrd, who becomes his best friend. They form a rhythm and blues vocal group called The Famous Flames and fame and fortune beckon.

  • GenreBiography, Drama, Musical
  • CastDan Aykroyd, Nelsan Ellis, Chadwick Boseman, Octavia Spencer, Jill Scott, Lennie James, Viola Davis.
  • DirectorTate Taylor.
  • WriterJohn-Henry Butterworth, Jez Butterworth.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration139 mins
  • Official sitewww.getonupmovie.com
  • Release21/11/2014

T'is the season to be funky. Get On Up is a handsome biopic directed by Tate Taylor (The Help), which charts the rise of soul brother James Brown against a backdrop of civil unrest. Thirty-two year-old rising star Chadwick Boseman achieves a startling transformation to convincingly portray the musical legend across five decades that defined the face of multi-cultural America.

As a boy growing up in 1940s South Carolina, James (Jordan and Jamarion Scott) witnesses violent clashes between his parents. Consequently, his battered mother (Viola Davis) walks out, leaving James with his hotheaded father (Lennie James). The old man delivers the boy into the care of Aunt Honey (Octavia Spencer), who runs a brothel.

Under her tutelage, James (now played by Boseman) attends church and develops his passion for music in the choir, before meeting Bobby Byrd (Nelsan Ellis). They form a rhythm and blues vocal group called The Famous Flames and sign to King Records, releasing their first single "Please Please Please" in 1956.

Ben Bart (Dan Aykroyd) becomes James' manager and pushes the flamboyant showman to the fore at the expense of the other members of the group.

Get On Up is reminiscent of the Oscar-winning 2004 film Ray, which netted Jamie Foxx a golden statuette for his portrayal of rhythm and blues legend Ray Charles. Both films are conventional biopics and are selective about the episodes they immortalise of their singers' turbulent lives.

In the case of Taylor's film, we are treated to historical footnotes about Brown's well documented social and political activism, including his 1968 concert at Boston Garden following Martin Luther King's assassination and a visit to Vietnam to support US troops.

Jez and John-Henry Butterworth's fragmented script feels emotionally underpowered. However, concert sequences are electrifying including a recreation of a 1971 gig in Paris that sees Brown whip the audience into a frenzy with "Get Up (I Feel Like Being A) Sex Machine" and "Super Bad".

Boseman is super good, capturing the impetuosity and unerring self-belief of the Godfather of Soul from age 16 to 60. Three hours in a make-up chair to apply full-body prosthetics and a bouffant hair-piece aids the actor's stunning metamorphosis for Brown's later years, when the cranky old coot, dressed in a natty green velour tracksuit, infamously instigates a police car chase following a shotgun altercation with a woman who used his private bathroom.

Costumes and wigs would be superfluous without Boseman's startling ability to capture every facet of Brown's personality from the raspy voice and cool cat swagger to his fleet-footed shuffles on stage.

Aside from Ellis' strong turn as best friend Bobby Byrd, supporting performances are largely overpowered by Boseman's dazzling theatrics. On celluloid as in life, Brown refuses to be upstaged.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Saturday 29th November 2014
Sunday 30th November 2014

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)

Saturday 29th November 2014
Sunday 30th November 2014
Monday 1st December 2014
Tuesday 2nd December 2014
Wednesday 3rd December 2014
Thursday 4th December 2014

Horrible Bosses 2 2 stars

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Best friends Nick Hendricks, Dale Arbus and Kurt Buckman launch their invention, Shower Buddy, which dispenses shampoo directly into the cascading water. Burt Hanson, multi-millionaire owner of a giant mail-order retailer, unveils a rip-off called Shower Pal. Faced with financial ruin, Nick, Dale and Kurt foresee one way out: kidnap Burt's obnoxious son Rex and ransom the young Hanson for a small fortune.

  • GenreAction, Comedy, Romance
  • CastJason Bateman, Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis, Jamie Foxx, Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Aniston, Chris Pine, Christoph Waltz.
  • DirectorSean Anders.
  • WriterJohn Morris, Sean Anders.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration108 mins
  • Official sitewww.horriblebosses2.com
  • Release28/11/2014

Released in 2011, Horrible Bosses centred on three friends, who plotted to kill their sadistic employers and found self-respect in the process. Sean Anders' raunchy sequel flings that self-respect out of the window and subjects the same unfortunate characters to a barrage of potty-mouthed humiliations that might be tolerable if we could muster an iota of sympathy for anyone in this redundant and joyless mess.

Alas, the lumbering script, scrawled by Anders and John Morris, has its mind in the gutter. The luminous Jennifer Aniston spends the entire film spouting sexually explicit obscenities as an aggressive alpha female with an addiction to sins of the flesh.

During the end credit out-takes, she refuses to deliver one line and smirks, "I can't say that!" Considering the filth that tumbles from her perfectly glossed lips, it's hard to imagine anything that could provoke this polite resistance. Our resistance to the sequel is resolute.

Best friends Nick Hendricks (Jason Bateman), Dale Arbus (Charlie Day) and Kurt Buckman (Jason Sudeikis) appear on Good Morning Los Angeles to launch their invention, Shower Buddy, which dispenses shampoo directly into the cascading water. Burt Hanson (Christoph Waltz), multi-millionaire owner of a giant mail-order retailer, places an initial order of 100,000 units.

Once the final Shower Buddy has been lovingly manufactured and packaged, Burt ruthlessly cancels his order and unveils a rip-off called Shower Pal, which is manufactured cheaper abroad. "I hate to break it to you, but the American Dream is made in China," grins Burt's son Rex (Chris Pine).

Faced with financial ruin, Nick, Dale and Kurt foresee one way out: kidnap the younger Hanson and ransom the son for a small fortune. This hare-brained scheme takes an unexpected twist when Rex asks to be cut in on the deal.

"Help me help you get revenge on my Dad!" he implores. The plan spirals out of control and the trio crosses paths once again with cool cat associate Dean Jones (Jamie Foxx), jailbird David Harken (Kevin Spacey) and Dale's old boss, sexual predator Dr Julia Harris (Aniston).

Horrible Bosses 2 doesn't work on any level. Bateman's solid low-key performance contrasts starkly with the irritating double-act of Day and Sudeikis. Like a pair of wasps trapped in a jam jar, they buzz endlessly as dim-witted dullards, who barely seem capable of drawing breath, let alone carrying out a kidnapping.

An early demise for their numbskull characters, perhaps under the wheel of a runaway steam roller, would be a blessed relief. I can but dream.

Waltz and Pine chew scenery as the pantomime villains, who believe that "the only thing that creates wealth is wealth". Ironically, filmmakers threw millions at this film and have created a poor excuse for a comedy.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Saturday 29th November 2014
Sunday 30th November 2014
Monday 1st December 2014
Tuesday 2nd December 2014
Wednesday 3rd December 2014
Thursday 4th December 2014

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Interstellar 4 stars

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Planet earth is slowly dying. Mankind looks to the stars for a new planet to colonise. When scientists discover a wormhole that should allow a spacecraft to travel beyond the galaxy into the unknown, doting father Cooper bids farewell to his son Tom and daughter Murph to lead an exploratory mission in search of a new home. Accompanied by fellow explorers Brand, Doyle and Romilly, Cooper undertakes the most important mission in human history.

  • GenreAction, Adventure, Romance, Science Fiction, Thriller
  • CastMatthew McConaughey, Jessica Chastain, Anne Hathaway, John Lithgow, Topher Grace, Casey Affleck, Sir Michael Caine, Wes Bentley, Ellen Burstyn.
  • DirectorChristopher Nolan.
  • WriterChristopher Nolan, Jonathan Nolan.
  • CountryUS/UK
  • Duration164 mins
  • Official sitewww.interstellarmovie.com/index-intl.php
  • Release07/11/2014

Writer-director Christopher Nolan shoots for the stars with a futuristic thriller, co-written with his brother Jonathan, about mankind's search beyond this galaxy for a new home to replace a dying planet earth. Epic in scope and wildly ambitious, Interstellar doesn't quite achieve its bold vision of a love story between a father and daughter set against the vast backdrop of mankind's final roll of the dice to avoid extinction.

However, even when this grand futuristic adventure malfunctions, it's a deeply engrossing meditation on the ties that bind and the endurance of those emotional bonds across space and time.

Nolan and cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema have captured some of the most breathtaking vistas including our first glimpses of a black hole or wormhole on large-format IMAX film.

These sequences pack a mighty visual punch and powerfully convey how tiny and seemingly insignificant we are on our third rock from the sun. Composer Hans Zimmer, who collaborated with the London-born director on The Dark Knight trilogy, provides another bombastic orchestral score to complement the majestic imagery.

Planet earth is dying: great dust clouds sweep across agricultural plains, ruining crops and making it impossible to breathe comfortably without face masks. "We used to look up and wonder about our place in the stars. Now we just look down and worry about our place in the dirt," laments Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), a former test pilot, who toils the parched soil with his 15-year-old son Tom (Timothee Chalamet) and 10-year-old daughter Murph (Mackenzie Foy).

Cooper answers a call from Professor Brand (Michael Caine) to lead a mission to locate a new planet capable of sustaining human life. "We're not meant to save the world. We're meant to leave it," explains Brand, whose scientist daughter Amelia (Anne Hathaway) will be part of the four-strong crew along with astrophysicist Romilly (David Gyasi) and pilot Doyle (Wes Bentley).

Leaving his brood in the care of his father-in-law (John Lithgow), Cooper undertakes the most important mission in human history, knowing that failure would mean certain death for the people he loves.

Interstellar retains a tight focus on the characters without sacrificing the adrenaline-pumping thrills that fans expect from director Nolan. Two talking military machines called TARS (voiced by Bill Irwin) and CASE are a marvel of mechanical puppeteering and inject much needed humour.

"I have a discretion setting," deadpans TARS in response to a request from Cooper to disclose sensitive information. Oscar winners McConaughey and Hathaway add emotional heft to their embattled astronauts, wringing out tears after Amelia sternly warns Cooper: "You might have to choose between seeing your children again and saving the human race."

A couple of dense, wordy philosophical discussions about gravity and love orbit the moon of unintentional hilarity but thankfully, Nolan avoids the crash and burn in the nick of time.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Saturday 29th November 2014
Sunday 30th November 2014
Monday 1st December 2014
Tuesday 2nd December 2014
Wednesday 3rd December 2014
Thursday 4th December 2014

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Kajaki: The True Story 3 stars

A small unit of soldiers, largely drawn from the British Army's 3rd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment (3 Para), is stationed at the Kajaki Dam under the command of Corporal Mark Wright. A three-man patrol heads out from a ridge overlooking the dam to disable a Taliban roadblock. One of the men detonates a land mine, blowing off his leg. Fellow soldiers race to his aid but they find themselves trapped in an unmarked minefield, left behind after the Russian invasion of the 1980s.

  • GenreAdventure, Drama, Indie, War
  • CastDavid Elliot, Mark Stanley, Malachi Kirby.
  • DirectorPaul Katis.
  • WriterTom Williams.
  • CountryUK
  • Duration108 mins
  • Official sitewww.kajakimovie.com
  • Release28/11/2014 (selected cinemas)

Paul Katis makes his feature directorial debut with this harrowing true story of heroism and self-sacrifice in Helmand Province in Afghanistan in 2006. A small unit of soldiers, largely drawn from the British Army's 3rd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment (3 Para), is stationed at the Kajaki Dam under the command of Corporal Mark Wright (David Elliot). A three-man patrol heads out from a ridge overlooking the dam to disable a Taliban roadblock. One of the men, Lance Stuart Hale (Benjamin O'Mahony), detonates a land mine, blowing off his leg. Fellow soldiers including medic Paul "Tug" Hartley (Mark Stanley) and Corporal Stuart Pearson (Scott Kyle) race to his aid but they find themselves trapped in an unmarked minefield, left behind after the Russian invasion of the 1980s. With no obvious way out, the soldiers must work together to survive their hellish predicament.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Saturday 29th November 2014
Sunday 30th November 2014
Monday 1st December 2014
Tuesday 2nd December 2014
Wednesday 3rd December 2014
Thursday 4th December 2014

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Mary Poppins 4 stars

In Edwardian London, Mr & Mrs Banks need a new nanny for their children Jane and Michael. The young whippersnappers draft their own advert for applicants. The wind changes direction and Mary Poppins arrives at the Banks household to take charge. Her eccentric teaching methods gradually win over the children and their parents, and soon the entire household - including bustling cook Mrs Brill - is in love with Mary.

  • GenreAnimation/Cartoon, Children's, Classic, Drama, Family, Musical
  • CastJulie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke, David Tomlinson, Glynis Johns.
  • DirectorRobert Stevenson.
  • WriterBill Walsh, Don DaGradi.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration139 mins
  • Official site

In Edwardian London, Mr & Mrs Banks need a new nanny for their children Jane and Michael. The young whippersnappers draft their own advert for applicants. The wind changes direction and Mary Poppins arrives at the Banks household to take charge. Her eccentric teaching methods gradually win over the children and their parents, and soon the entire household - including bustling cook Mrs Brill - is in love with Mary.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Saturday 29th November 2014
Sunday 30th November 2014

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Mr Turner 5 stars

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Painter JMW Turner returns to London and the home he shares with his father William and housekeeper Hannah Danby. He channels his energy into his work, which continues to raise eyebrows at the Royal Academy Of Arts. During excursions to Margate, Turner meets Mrs Booth and her husband and rents a room from the couple so he can paint seascapes by the morning light. The burgeoning relationship between the artist and Mrs Booth sweetens the bitter pill of William's passing.

  • GenreBiography, Drama, Historical/Period, Romance
  • CastDorothy Atkinson, Paul Jesson, Timothy Spall, Ruth Sheen, Lesley Manville, Marion Bailey.
  • DirectorMike Leigh.
  • WriterMike Leigh.
  • CountryUK
  • Duration150 mins
  • Official sitewww.facebook.com/MrTurnerFilm
  • Release31/10/2014 (selected cinemas)

On his death bed, celebrated landscape painter and watercolourist Joseph Mallord William Turner, who was a divisive figure in the 19th-century art world, reportedly lamented, "So I am to become a non-entity." Mike Leigh's impeccably crafted biopic, which concentrates on the final 25 years of the artist's career, ensures the genius of Turner lives on.

Anchored by a magnificent central performance from Timothy Spall, Mr Turner is another glorious ensemble piece from the writer-director of Topsy-Turvy and Vera Drake.

Developed through improvisational workshops, which are the trademark of Leigh's filmmaking process, the script melds historical fact with personal interpretation to burrow deep beneath the surface of the characters and expose the desires and fears which drove some to greatness and others to despair.

When it comes to greatness, Spall's embodiment of an artist with few social graces and a surplus of talent is the stuff that Oscars were made of. The London-born actor spent two years learning how to paint like Turner so he could convincingly hold a brush and palette in front of the camera, allowing Leigh to capture visceral scenes of artistic creativity in full flow.

Mr Turner opens with the breathtaking image of the artist capturing the rising sun over fields in Belgium. He returns to London and the home he shares with his father William (Paul Jesson) and housekeeper Hannah Danby (Dorothy Atkinson).

The relationship between the two men is sketched in exquisite, heart-warming detail in these early scenes, with Turner warmly embracing his "daddy". Turner channels his energy into his work, which continues to raise eyebrows at the Royal Academy Of Arts.

"The universe is chaotic and you make us see it," observes Turner's good friend Mary Somerville (Lesley Manville). During excursions to Margate, Turner meets Mrs Booth (Marion Bailey) and her husband (Karl Johnson) and rents a room from the couple so he can paint seascapes by the morning light.

The burgeoning relationship between the artist and Mrs Booth sweetens the bitter pill of William's passing and Turner continues to clash with the artistic establishment, represented here by Sir John Soane (Nicholas Jones) and his coterie.

Mr Turner is a glorious period piece that offers us a glimpse behind the canvasses of a misunderstood maverick, who notes at one point, "When I peruse myself in a looking glass, I see a gargoyle."

Spall is imperious and Leigh surrounds his lead star with an impeccable supporting cast of familiar faces including Jesson as an honest, hard-working man of the world who believed "the rain falls, the sun shines and the onions grow" and Atkinson as the housekeeper who allows Turner to use her to sate his sexual desires.

The 150-minute running time passes too quickly, holding our attention with ravishing costumes and period detail as well as a haunting orchestral score from composer Gary Yershon. Very nearly a masterpiece.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Saturday 29th November 2014
Sunday 30th November 2014
Monday 1st December 2014
Tuesday 2nd December 2014
Wednesday 3rd December 2014
Thursday 4th December 2014

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Nativity 3: Dude, Where's My Donkey?! 1 stars

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Mrs Keen, the new headmistress of St Bernadette's Primary School in Coventry, welcomes superteacher Mr Shepherd to the fold. On his first day, Mr Shepherd sustains a swift kick to the head from the school donkey. When he regains consciousness, Shepherd doesn't recall his daughter Lauren or his impending New York nuptials to sweetheart Sophie. Buffoonish teaching assistant Mr Poppy joins forces with Lauren to restore her father's memory.

  • GenreComedy, Drama, Family, Musical, Romance
  • CastCatherine Tate, Adam Garcia, Celia Imrie, Marc Wootton, Lauren Hobbs, Martin Clunes.
  • DirectorDebbie Isitt.
  • WriterDebbie Isitt.
  • CountryUK
  • Duration110 mins
  • Official sitewww.facebook.com/NativityFilm
  • Release14/11/2014

A couple of years ago, my inquisitive nephew - then six years old - asked what happens to children who are consigned to Father Christmas' naughty list. I told him that children who misbehave don't get any presents on Christmas Day and must spend the following 12 months being extra good. I know now that I was wrong.

Mischievous scamps on the naughty list will be punished by spending 110 minutes in the company of Nativity 3: Dude, Where's My Donkey?!. There are elements of this shambolic third instalment of writer-director Debbie Isitt's improvised festive fables that my little nephew might enjoy: flatulence, dollops of donkey dung and a gurning man-child dressed in an oversized animal costume.

However, no amount of wrapping can disguise an early Christmas turkey, overstuffed with sickly sentiment, mawkish musical sequences and gargantuan leaps of logic. It's a crying, snivelling shame: the original Nativity!, released in 2009, was an unabashed delight that has become an annual treat in my tinsel-laden household.

This third and hopefully final chapter is a nightmare before Christmas. Mrs Keen (Celia Imrie), the new headmistress of St Bernadette's Primary School in Coventry, welcomes superteacher Mr Shepherd (Martin Clunes) to the fold to whip the pupils into shape ahead of an Ofsted inspection.

On his first day, Mr Shepherd sustains a swift kick to the head from the school donkey. When he regains consciousness, Shepherd doesn't recall his daughter Lauren (Lauren Hobbs) or his impending New York nuptials to sweetheart Sophie (Catherine Tate).

Buffoonish teaching assistant Mr Poppy (Marc Wootton) joins forces with Lauren to restore her father's memory by visiting favourite haunts from his childhood and participating in a flash mob competition in London.

Meanwhile, in the Big Apple, Sophie's old flame, arrogant flash mob guru Bradley Finch (Adam Garcia), worms his way back into her brittle affections with help from her parents (Duncan Preston, Susie Blake), brother (Ralf Little) and bridesmaid (Niky Wardley).

Nativity 3: Dude, Where's My Donkey?! is possibly the worst film I've seen this year. The script's definition of a flash mob is extremely loose, some of the children at St Bernadette's look too old to attend primary school, several New York scenes have clearly been shot closer to home with British actors at odds with the accent and Mr Poppy is a major irritation rather than a joyous source of giggles.

Performances are as wooden as a Norwegian spruce and the song and dance numbers are unevenly lip-synced. Characters behave without melodic rhyme or reason. Sophie's brother inexplicably vows to help slimeball Bradley win back Sophie, then sabotages the nefarious plan in the next breath.

To answer the over-punctuated question in the film's title: with regret, dude, he's at the knacker's yard dragging the entire cast and crew with him.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Saturday 29th November 2014
Sunday 30th November 2014
Monday 1st December 2014
Tuesday 2nd December 2014
Wednesday 3rd December 2014
Thursday 4th December 2014

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Nightcrawler 4 stars

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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)

Sunday 30th November 2014
Monday 1st December 2014
Tuesday 2nd December 2014
Wednesday 3rd December 2014
Thursday 4th December 2014

Ouija 3 stars

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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)

Saturday 29th November 2014
Sunday 30th November 2014
Monday 1st December 2014
Tuesday 2nd December 2014
Wednesday 3rd December 2014
Thursday 4th December 2014

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Paddington 4 stars

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A young Peruvian bear with a passion for the British heads to London in search of a new home. At Paddington train station, he meets a boy called Jonathan Brown and his parents, who offer the lovable creature, christened Paddington, a temporary haven. At large in a strange city, Paddington wreaks havoc in the Brown household. Then an evil museum taxidermist named Millicent glimpses the wondrous bear and realises that he would make the most perfect addition to her collection.

  • GenreAdaptation, Comedy, Drama, Family, Family
  • CastHugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Julie Walters, Michael Gambon, Ben Whishaw, Nicole Kidman, Imelda Staunton.
  • DirectorPaul King.
  • WriterPaul King.
  • CountryUK/Fr
  • Duration95 mins
  • Official sitewww.paddington.com
  • Release28/11/2014

More than 50 years after he first appeared in print, author Michael Bond's beloved bear Paddington has finally arrived on the big screen in his first star-packed family adventure. Upcoming director Paul King's film lovingly weaves the traditional tenets of the duffel-coat wearing bear's story into a modern narrative.

Like the books, the film starts in deepest, darkest Peru, where a well-mannered three-foot bear (voiced by Ben Whishaw) lives with his elderly Aunt Lucy (Imelda Staunton) and Uncle Pastuzo (Michael Gambon). In their youth, Lucy and Pastuzo were visited by a kindly English explorer who left his red hat with his furry friends.

When their home is threatened, Aunt Lucy packs her nephew off to the safety of London to track down the explorer, who has promised that there will always be a home for them in the capital.

Of course, after sailing the oceans in a boat filled with supplies of his treasured marmalade, the bear finds London isn't actually that friendly. In fact it's pretty miserable what with the drizzly weather and glum commuters pushing and shoving their way out of Paddington station and ignoring his pleas for a home.

"Sorry, we haven't got time for this," cries worrywart Mr Brown (Hugh Bonneville), while his moody daughter Judy (Madeleine Harris) exclaims she's "embarrassed" to be near the small grisly, who has a 'Please look after this bear' sign around his neck.

Luckily, warm-hearted Mrs Brown (Sally Hawkins) and son Jonathan (Samuel Joslin) vow to take the furry chap home for the night. Naming him Paddington after the station where they found him, the Browns introduce their guest to kindly housekeeper Mrs Bird (Julie Walters).

But disaster soon strikes when Paddington tries to freshen up in the bathroom, resulting in a flood, two earwax-stained toothbrushes and a sharp telling off. Determined to find the explorer, Mrs Brown takes Paddington to see her friend Mr Gruber (Jim Broadbent), an antiques dealer who might have clues to his existence.

In doing so, they attract the attention of cranky curtain twitcher Mr Curry (Peter Capaldi) and a slimy associate of villainous taxidermist Millicent (Nicole Kidman) who is hell-bent on "stuffing that bear". With Millicent determined to get her mitts on Paddington to display him in the Natural History Museum, the Browns find themselves on a humdinger of a cat and mouse chase to try and keep their furry friend safe.

As comforting and sweet as Paddington's beloved marmalade, King's delightful adaptation has heaps of heart and enough humour and carefully plotted cameos to ensure everyone more than grins and bears his adaptation.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Saturday 29th November 2014
Sunday 30th November 2014
Monday 1st December 2014
Tuesday 2nd December 2014
Wednesday 3rd December 2014
Thursday 4th December 2014

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Royal Opera Live Encore Screening: L'Elisir D'Amore 3 stars

A live broadcast from the Royal Opera House in London of Laurent Pelly's production of Donizetti's comic opera in two acts charting the love affair of lowly peasant Nemorino and beautiful landowner Adina. Vittorio Grigolo and Lucy Crowe play the lovers across the social divide with Bryn Terfel as quack doctor Dulcamara.

  • GenreSpecial
  • CastVittorio Grigolo, Lucy Crowe, Bryn Terfel.
  • DirectorLaurent Pelly.
  • WriterDonizetti.
  • CountryUK
  • Official sitewww.roh.org.uk/cinemas

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Sunday 30th 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)

Saturday 29th November 2014
Sunday 30th November 2014
Monday 1st December 2014
Tuesday 2nd December 2014
Wednesday 3rd December 2014
Thursday 4th December 2014

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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)

Saturday 29th November 2014
Sunday 30th November 2014
Monday 1st December 2014
Tuesday 2nd December 2014
Wednesday 3rd December 2014
Thursday 4th December 2014

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The Drop 3 stars

movie title

Bob Saginowski tends the neighbourhood bar owned and run by Cousin Marv. Walking home after a shift, Bob hears whimpering and discovers a badly beaten pitbull in a dustbin. The homeowner, Nadia, claims to know nothing about the distressed animal and she helps to patch up the dog's wounds. A criminal low life called Eric Deeds visits Bob and claims to be Rocco's owner. He threatens to tell the police that Bob mistreated the pitbull unless the bartender pays him 10,000 dollars.

  • GenreAdaptation, Drama, Romance, Thriller
  • CastNoomi Rapace, Tom Hardy, James Gandolfini, Matthias Schoenaerts, John Ortiz.
  • DirectorMichael R Roskam.
  • WriterDennis Lehane.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration106 mins
  • Official sitewww.thedrop-movie.com
  • Release14/11/2014

Adapted for the screen by novelist Dennis Lehane from his 2009 short story Animal Rescue, The Drop is a solid, dependable crime thriller set predominantly in a Brooklyn bar, which the Chechen mob uses as a collection point for laundered money. In these boozy and convivial surroundings, romance is kindled, personal ties are frayed and one hard-working member of bar staff contemplates breaking the law for a noble cause: love.

Belgian director Michael R Roskam's second feature, his follow-up to the Oscar nominated Bullhead, gradually turns the screws, exerting pressure on the characters as they wrestle with their consciences. Some capitulate while others demonstrate hidden reserves of strength, resourcefulness and aggression that prove you should never judge a book by its well-worn cover.

The Drop is blessed with James Gandolfini's final screen performance and he is a slippery, brooding presence amid occasional twists of a serpentine plot. However, it's chameleonic London-born star Tom Hardy, who wrought havoc on Christian Bale and Gotham as masked madman Bane, who shines brightest, juxtaposing his imposing physicality and vulnerability.

Bob Saginowski (Tom) is a softly spoken soul, who tends the neighbourhood bar owned and run by Cousin Marv (Gandolfini). Walking home after a shift, Bob hears whimpering and discovers a badly beaten pitbull in a dustbin.

The homeowner, Nadia (Noomi Rapace), claims to know nothing about the distressed animal and she helps to patch up the dog's wounds. Bob subsequently adopts the pitbull, christening his four-legged friend Rocco. Soon after, two gun men hold up Marv's bar and steal "five large... and change".

Detectives Torres (John Ortiz) and Romsey (Elizabeth Rodriguez) investigate and when the police are gone, Chechen thug Chovka (Michael Aronov) arrives with goons in tow, impressing on Marv and Bob the importance of replacing the stolen cash as soon as possible. As the dust settles, a criminal low life called Eric Deeds (Matthias Schoenaerts) visits Bob and claims to be Rocco's owner.

He threatens to tell the police that Bob mistreated the pitbull unless the bartender pays him 10,000 dollars. Faced with the prospect of losing Rocco, Bob contemplates stealing dirty money from the Chechens on one of the busiest drinking days of the year: Superbowl Sunday.

The Drop is predictable but this portrait of greed and ambition on the mean streets of New York hits most of the right menacing notes. Lehane's lean script is peppered with colourful dialogue and sustains dramatic tension. Director Roskam gently waters the seeds of romance between Bob and Nadia, catalysed by simmering screen chemistry between Hardy and a poorly served and underused Rapace.

Performances from the two male leads anchor the picture, staring into the blackened hearts of men who surrendered their souls to the Devil many years ago.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Saturday 29th November 2014
Sunday 30th November 2014
Monday 1st December 2014
Tuesday 2nd December 2014
Wednesday 3rd December 2014
Thursday 4th December 2014

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The Hunger Games: Mockingjay: Part 1 4 stars

Katniss Everdeen barely survived the Third Quarter Quell and she gathers her strength in the company of her friends, architect of the rebellion Plutarch Heavensbee and the President of District 13, Alma Coin. The scent of rebellion is in the air and the people look to Katniss to lead them against President Snow and the armed forces of Panem. However, Peeta has been captured by Snow and is being manipulated to quell the uprising.

  • GenreAction, Adaptation, Adventure, Drama, Family, Romance, Science Fiction
  • CastJennifer Lawrence, Woody Harrelson, Liam Hemsworth, Elizabeth Banks, Josh Hutcherson, Donald Sutherland, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jeffrey Wright, Stanley Tucci.
  • DirectorFrancis Lawrence.
  • WriterDanny Strong, Peter Craig.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration123 mins
  • Official sitewww.thehungergames.co.uk
  • Release20/11/2014

The spectre of war casts a long shadow over the penultimate chapter of the blockbusting dystopian thrillers based on Suzanne Collins' bestselling trilogy. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay: Part 1 follows the lead of the Harry Potter and Twilight sagas by cleaving the final book in two.

This decision - driven as much by greed as artistic necessity - results in a dark, brooding two hours of self-sacrifice almost completely devoid of the propulsive action sequences that distinguished the earlier films. Jennifer Lawrence's portrayal of reluctant heroine Katniss Everdeen, a pawn in the battle of wits between the money-rich Capitol and the impoverished Districts, remains a mesmerising constant.

She delivers another emotionally bruising performance, especially in early scenes when her battle-scarred teenager stares over the smouldering ruins of her beloved District 12, littered with charred skeletons of friends and neighbours who were incinerated as they fled.

This hellish vision brings Lawrence to her knees, unable to hold back racked sobs of pain. The floodgates open and screenwriters Peter Craig and Danny Strong take their time channelling her aching sense of loss into an all-consuming rage that will set the Capitol ablaze this time next year. "If we burn, you burn with us!" she bellows down a camera lens at President Snow (Donald Sutherland). We don't doubt it.

Katniss barely survived the Third Quarter Quell. Separated from fellow tributes Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) and Johanna (Jena Malone), who are being held in the Capitol, Katniss gathers her strength in a secret underground complex. Her allies include childhood friend Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth), mentor Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson), chaperone Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks), architect of the rebellion Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and District 13 President Alma Coin (Julianne Moore).

The people of the Districts look to Katniss to lead them against President Snow and the armed forces of Panem. "We're going to stoke the fire of this revolution that this Mockingjay started," growls Plutarch, commissioning a series of propaganda videos directed by Cressida (Natalie Dormer) with Katniss as the reluctant star. Meanwhile, Snow initiates his own forceful media campaign fronted by Caesar Flickerman (Stanley Tucci) and a clearly disoriented Peeta.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay: Part 1 is the calm before the storm of full-blown conflict. It's a slower burn than previous films and lacks some of the on-screen electricity since Katniss and Peeta are separated but Lawrence burns bright as the eponymous "girl on fire".

Effie's role is expanded from the book to bring some comic relief to the subterranean gloom. "Everything old can be made new again - like democracy!" she chirrups. Maybe so, but as Part 1 makes abundantly and agonisingly clear, you have to sacrifice innocent lives to sweep away the past.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Saturday 29th November 2014
Sunday 30th November 2014
Monday 1st December 2014
Tuesday 2nd December 2014
Wednesday 3rd December 2014
Thursday 4th December 2014

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The Imitation Game 4 stars

movie title

Socially awkward mathematician Alan Turing arrives at Bletchley Park where Commander Denniston presides over a group of the country's keenest minds in the hope that one of them can break the Enigma code. Turing ploughs his own furrow and raises eyebrows by recruiting Joan Clarke to the team. She is a beautiful mind like Turing, inspiring him to greatness by observing, "Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of that do the things people never imagine."

  • GenreAdaptation, Biography, Drama, Gay, Thriller, War
  • CastKeira Knightley, Benedict Cumberbatch, Matthew Goode, Mark Strong, Charles Dance, Rory Kinnear, Allen Leech, Matthew Beard.
  • DirectorMorten Tyldum.
  • WriterGraham Moore.
  • CountryUK/US
  • Duration114 mins
  • Official sitewww.theimitationgamemovie.com
  • Release14/11/2014

In December 2013, The Queen granted a posthumous royal pardon to Alan Turing. The London-born mathematician had been prosecuted for homosexuality in 1952 - a criminal act at the time - and he undertook a treatment of chemical castration with oestrogen injections rather than serve time behind bars.

It was an undeservedly inglorious end for a brilliant man, who was instrumental in breaking the Enigma code and should have been feted by our battle-scarred nation as a hero. Based on a biography by Andrew Hodges, The Imitation Game relives that race against time to decipher German communications and bring the Second World War to a swift conclusion.

Morten Tyldum's masterful drama neither shies away from Turing's homosexuality nor lingers on it, framing nail-biting events at Bletchley Park with the mathematician's 1951 arrest in Manchester. "If you're not paying attention, you'll miss things," Turing teases us in voiceover.

Indeed, you'll miss impeccable production design, an unconventional yet touching romance, subterfuge and sterling performances including an Oscar-worthy portrayal of the socially awkward genius from Benedict Cumberbatch.

Alan Turing (Cumberbatch) sits in a police interrogation room with Detective Nock (Rory Kinnear), facing a charge of indecency with a 19-year-old unemployed man called Arnold Murray. "I think Turing's hiding something," Nick informs his Superintendent (Steven Waddington), who is keen to wrap up the conviction.

In flashback, we witness Alan's arrival at Bletchley Park where Commander Denniston (Charles Dance) and Major General Stewart Menzies (Mark Strong) preside over a group of the country's keenest minds in the hope that one of them can break Enigma.

Hugh Alexander (Matthew Goode), John Cairncross (Allen Leech) and Peter Hilton (Matthew Beard) work alongside Turing, but he ploughs his own furrow and raises eyebrows by recruiting Joan Clarke (Keira Knightley) to the team.

She is a beautiful mind like Turing, inspiring him to greatness by observing, "Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of that do the things people never imagine."

Punctuated by school day scenes of the young Turing (Alex Lawther) and his first love, an older boy called Christopher (Jack Bannon), The Imitation Game is a beautifully crafted tribute to a prodigy, whose invaluable contribution to the war effort was unjustly besmirched by bigotry.

Cumberbatch is mesmerising, trampling over the egos of fellow code breakers without any concern for their feelings as he vows to solve "the most difficult problem in the world". It's a tour-de-force portrayal, complemented by strong supporting performances from Knightley, Goode et al as the close-knit team who note, "God didn't win the war. We did."

The pivotal Eureka moment sets our pulses racing, heightened by Alexandre Desplat's exquisite orchestral score. Director Tyldum navigates the fractured chronology with clarity and flair, ensuring that his heart-rending film doesn't itself become a perplexing puzzle.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Saturday 29th November 2014
Sunday 30th November 2014
Monday 1st December 2014
Tuesday 2nd December 2014
Wednesday 3rd December 2014
Thursday 4th December 2014

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The Nut Job 3 stars

movie title

Mischievous squirrel Surly lives in idyllic Liberty Park in the sprawling 1950s metropolis of Oakton City with his rat pal Buddy and fellow squirrels Andie and Grayson. Like all animals of his kind, Surly is mad about nuts and he orchestrates a daring heist of one of the city's shops for the tasty snack. Little does Surly know that the new owner of the store, King, is the leader of a gang of robbers who intend to tunnel from the store to the First Oakton Bank located across the street.

  • GenreAdventure, Animation/Cartoon, Comedy, Family, Family
  • CastLiam Neeson, Will Arnett, Katherine Heigl, Brendan Fraser, Maya Rudolph, Stephen Lang.
  • DirectorPeter Lepeniotis.
  • WriterLorne Cameron.
  • CountryCan/S Kore
  • Duration86 mins
  • Official site
  • Release01/08/2014

All of the hastily sketched characters in Peter Lepeniotis' 1950s-set computer-animated adventure go nuts at some point during the poorly paced proceedings. A money-grabbing ex-con goes gaga at the sight of rats, a pet pug is driven barking mad by her owner's repeated use of a silver dog whistle, a girl scout whoops with maniacal glee as a runaway food cart careens into oncoming traffic, and an army of woodland critters loosen their tenuous grasp on civility when they stumble upon a horde of cashews, pistachios, macadamias and walnuts. Protagonists of the two-legged and four-legged persuasions in The Nut Job might be bright-eyed and - in the case of the squirrels - bushy-tailed but most of Lepeniotis and co-writer Lorne Cameron's script feels tired. The narrative lacks fluidity, most of the animals don't exist beyond a single personality trait and there's a palpable absence of jeopardy during a centrepiece bank heist. References to a certain foodstuff are sprinkled liberally throughout the dialogue - "We found it: the Lost City of Nutlantis!" - so any parents who wake suddenly from a sneaky power-nap in the dark are soon reminded where they are. Raccoon (voiced by Liam Neeson) and his red bird sidekick Cardinal preside over the animal denizens of Liberty Park in the sprawling metropolis of Oakton City. Winter is fast approaching, so every groundhog, squirrel, mouse and mole gathers supplies to add to the food store in the trunk of the great oak. Everyone except for mischievous squirrel Surly (Will Arnett), who has always ploughed a lone furrow. "I'm independent, which means 'looking out for number one'," Surly reminds fellow squirrels Andie (Katherine Heigl) and Grayson (Brendan Fraser). When a raid on a food cart goes disastrously wrong, Surly is banished to the city by the other animals. The ravenous rodent stumbles upon a store selling nuts and plots a daring heist with trusty rat pal, Buddy (Rob Tinkler). Little does Surly know that the new owner of the store, King (Stephen Lang), is the leader of a gang of robbers, who intend to tunnel from the shop's basement to First Oakton Bank and plunder the vault. The Nut Job orchestrates some pleasing slapstick and visuals are colourful, including a couple of sprightly chases, but Lepeniotis' film doesn't justify a release on the big screen rather than a debut on home formats. Vocal performances raise a smile, but little more, and the squirrelly love triangle involving Surly, Andie and Grayson is clumsily contrived. Neeson uses his trademark growl to lend an air of menace to the dictatorial raccoon, who believes, "animals are controlled by the amount of food they have". Pickings are certainly slim here.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Sunday 30th November 2014

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The Unbeatables 3 stars

movie title

Table football champion Amadeo beats local bully Flash, who vows revenge. Many years later, Flash returns to the village as a footballing superstar with a contract, signed by the mayor, granting him permission to build a gargantuan stadium on top of the village. Faced with the prospect of bulldozers and devastation, Amadeo agrees to face Flash and his team mates on the pitch in a match that will decide if the village stands or falls.

  • GenreAdventure, Animation/Cartoon, Comedy, Family, Romance
  • CastAnthony Head, Rupert Grint, Peter Serafinowicz, Rob Brydon, Stanley Townsend, Darren Boyd.
  • DirectorJuan Jose Campanella.
  • WriterMichael Broadbridge, Juan Jose Campanella, Eduardo Sacheri, Gaston Gorali.
  • CountrySp/Arg/Ind
  • Duration97 mins
  • Official sitewww.foosball-themovie.com
  • Release08/08/2014 (Ireland & Scotland); 15/08/2014 (UK)

A young man realises heroes come in all shapes and sizes in this computer-animated fantasy from Juan Jose Campanella, Argentinian director of the Oscar-winning drama The Secret In Their Eyes. Amadeo (voiced by Rupert Grint) lives in a small village, where he works in a bar run by his father (Darren Boyd). Painfully shy and insecure, Amadeo's sole joy is playing the table football in the bar. Local bully Flash (Anthony Head) challenges Amadeo to a game and with the lovely Laura (Eve Ponsonby) cheering him on, Amadeo miraculously overcomes his nerves to emerge victorious. Flash is humiliated and vows revenge. Many years later, Flash returns to the village as a footballing superstar with a slimy agent (Stanley Townsend) in tow and a contract, signed by the mayor, granting him permission to build a gargantuan stadium on top of the village. Faced with the prospect of bulldozers and devastation, Amadeo agrees to face Flash and his team mates on the pitch in a match that will decide if the village stands or falls. In the run-up to this vital showdown, the table footballers magically come to life. Skip (Ralf Little), the captain of the green and yellow striped team, vows to help Amadeo emerge victorious and he rallies his troops including diminutive teammates Rico (Rob Brydon) and Loco (Peter Serafinowicz). Unfortunately, pickings are slim in the village and Amadeo will have to select his players from his eccentric friends and neighbours.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Saturday 29th November 2014
Sunday 30th November 2014

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