VIDEO: Reviews and trailers of the latest film releases this week

Jason Statham stars in The Expendables 3. Picture courtesy of PA Photo/Lionsgate

Jason Statham stars in The Expendables 3. Picture courtesy of PA Photo/Lionsgate

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FILM OF THE WEEK

THE EXPENDABLES 3 (12A, 126 mins)

Action/Thriller. Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Antonio Banderas, Wesley Snipes, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Terry Crews, Kellan Lutz, Ronda Rousey, Glen Powell, Victor Ortiz, Robert Davi, Kelsey Grammer, Jet Li, Mel Gibson, Harrison Ford, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Director: Patrick Hughes. Released: August 14 (UK & Ireland)

Following a spectacular stunt aboard a moving train that opens this third instalment of the action franchise, Arnold Schwarzenegger turns to Sylvester Stallone and wearily confides, "I'm getting out of this business... and so should you."

Sage advice from the former governor of California.

His words fall on deaf ears because The Expendables is a cash cow for Stallone, who directed and co-wrote the opening salvo in 2010 and has been reliving his muscle-bound glory days ever since.

Australian director Patrick Hughes, who impressed with the gritty low-budget western Red Hill, takes charge of this outlandish mission festooned with bone-crunching hand-to-hand combat, pithy one-liners and deafening explosions.

And The Expendables 3 certainly opens with a bang. Several.

Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) and his crew of battle-hardened mercenaries - Lee Christmas (Jason Statham), Gunner Jensen (Dolph Lundgren), Toll Road (Randy Couture) and Hale Caesar (Terry Crews) - orchestrate a prison breakout.

Their target: original Expendables member Doctor Death (Wesley Snipes), who has been off the grid for several years.

"I heard you killed more people than the plague," growls Toll Road to his new comrade.

The bolstered team heads to Mogadishu at the behest of chief Max Drummer (Harrison Ford), where a spectacular skirmish at the dockyards brings Barney face-to-face with a ghost from the past.

Conrad Stonebanks (Mel Gibson), co-founder of the Expendables, who Barney was ordered to kill, is alive and exceeding well on the ill-gotten gains of the arms trade.

Faced with an adversary, who possesses unlimited supplies of state-of-the-art weaponry, Barney retires the old team and enlists the help of Trench (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and retired medic Bonaparte (Kelsey Grammer) to bring down Stonebanks.

They assemble a fearless younger crew comprising bareknuckle brawler Smilee (Kellan Lutz), nightclub bouncer Luna (Ronda Rousey), hacker Thorn (Glen Powell), weaponry specialist Mars (Victor Ortiz) and infuriatingly talkative former Spanish Armed Forces operative Galgo (Antonio Banderas).

The Expendables 3 is an entertaining and ridiculously far-fetched tour of duty that sensibly welcomes fresh faces to the fold and provides Banderas, Ford, Gibson and Snipes with sizeable roles to turn back the clocks.

"I haven't had so much fun in years," cackles Ford after he lays waste to hordes of enemy soldiers.

The clash between old school brute force and modern day tech savvy provides the scriptwriters with a rich vein of humour. Thus when Barney outlines his heavy-handed solution to toppling Stonebanks, Luna snorts derisively, "It's a great plan... if it was 1985."

Stallone looks good for his age and sparks brotherly banter with Statham, whose wavering accent is a prime target for put-downs.

They look like proud fathers, passing the mantle to the next generation of action heroes, who could potentially help the Expendables sequels reach double digits while Stallone does his bit for the cause with a zimmer frame rocket launcher.

RATING: 6/10

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THE UNBEATABLES 3D (U, 97 mins)

Animation/Family/Drama. Featuring the voices of Rupert Grint, Eve Ponsonby, Anthony Head, Stanley Townsend, Ralf Little, Rob Brydon, Peter Serafinowicz, Darren Boyd, Alistair McGowan, Alex Norton. Director: Juan Jose Campanella. Released: August 8 (Scotland & Ireland); August 15 (UK)

The beautiful game turns ugly in Juan Jose Campanella's free-flowing computer-animated fantasy.

Released on home turf in South America more than a year ago where it scored a record-breaking opening weekend, this English language version is a visual treat.

However the script scores a few own goals with a tepid romantic subplot and an emotionally underpowered final shootout that fails to rouse audiences on the terraces of their multiplexes.

In football, timing is crucial and can mean the difference between hard fought victory and soul-destroying defeat. The timing of The Unbeatables seems slightly off.

Surely Campanella's film should have kicked off four weeks ago on the crest of a post-World Cup wave rather than standing on the touchlines until the start of the new Premier League season?

The film's unlikely hero is Amadeo (voiced by Rupert Grint), who lives in a small village with his publican father (Darren Boyd).

The lad is a wizard at table football and when local bully Flash (Anthony Head) challenges Amadeo to a match in front of the lovely Lara (Eve Ponsonby), Amadeo overcomes his nerves to emerge victorious with his favoured yellow and green striped team.

Flash vows revenge. Many years later, the bully returns as a footballing superstar with a slimy agent (Stanley Townsend) and a contract, signed by the mayor, granting him permission to build a gargantuan stadium on top of the village.

To save the community from the bulldozers, Amadeo reluctantly agrees to a rematch - only this time, they will play on a proper pitch.

In the run-up to the televised grudge fixture, Amadeo's table footballers magically come to life.

Skip (Ralf Little), captain of the green and yellow stripes, rallies his troops including fellow strikers Rico (Rob Brydon) and Loco (Peter Serafinowicz).

Unfortunately, Amadeo's best players are barely an inch tall so the lad must recruit eccentric friends and neighbours to his squad.

"It's going to be like Barcelona against a non-league team with an injury crisis!" despairs Loco.

The Unbeatables is a classic David vs Goliath yarn that pokes fun at the preening prima donnas of the modern game, who earn more in one week for 90 minutes of dribbling than many of us see in a year.

The writers have personalized the dialogue to these shores, including a name check for Accrington Stanley FC and a sideswipe at Sepp Blatter and his organization when Flash's insidious agent grins, "You can trust me - I worked at FIFA!"

Set pieces including a visit to a fairground are a triumph of style over plausibility, treading water until Amadeo must face his destiny under his rival's malevolent gaze.

Vocal performances hit the woodwork, combining warmth with some shameless grandstanding from Brydon as the egotist, who spends almost as much time admiring his voluminous locks as he does perfecting his passing shots.

RATING: 6/10 

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THE ROVER (15, 108 mins)

Released: August 15 (UK & Ireland, selected cinemas)

In 2010, Australian director David Michod dazzled audiences with his debut narrative feature Animal Kingdom, earning Jacki Weaver an Oscar nomination as Best Actress In A Supporting Role.

For his follow-up, Michod heads into the outback for a gritty thriller set in a dystopian hell, where every resource can be traded for dollars in the aftermath of a global economic collapse.

Eric (Guy Pearce) parks his car by the side of the road and enjoys a drink in a bar. Outside, robbers Henry (Scott McNairy), Archie (David Field) and Caleb (Tawanda Manyimo) crash their car during a haphazard getaway and they steal Eric's motor to continue their flight to freedom.

Eric gives chase and when he confronts the trio to demand the return of his property, they knock him unconscious. Waking some time later beneath the blazing sun, Eric continues his pursuit of the robbers.

Thankfully, he crosses paths with Henry's injured brother Rey (Robert Pattinson), a simple and naive soul who was left for dead during the bungled heist. Rey agrees to lead Eric to his sibling's hideout and en route, the two men bond.

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HECTOR AND THE SEARCH FOR HAPPINESS (15, 120 mins)

Released: August 15 (UK & Ireland, selected cinemas)

Based on the book of the same name by Francois Lelord, Hector And The Search For Happiness is a romantic comedy directed by Peter Chelsom about a man, who learns to appreciate everything he already has rather than hanker for more.

Hector (Simon Pegg) is a London-based psychiatrist, who is beginning to feel just as depressed, dissatisfied and jaded as the patients he is supposed to be treating.

In an effort to jolt himself out of this fug, Hector kisses his long-time girlfriend Clara (Rosamund Pike) farewell and embarks on a globe-trotting journey of self-discovery to seek out true happiness.

As he zigzags the globe, visiting a Tibetan monastery and discovery the hidden delights of China, Hector crosses paths with a motley crew of disillusioned souls including a world weary banker called Edward (Stellan Skarsgard) and Professor Coreman (Christopher Plummer), who is in charge of Happiness Studies at UCLA.

Hector also reconnects with his ex-girlfriend Agnes (Toni Collette) and she helps him to acknowledge that the happiness and fulfilment he seeks are closer to home.

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SINGHAM RETURNS (Certificate and running time TBC)

Released: August 15 (UK, selected cinemas)

Ajay Devgn reprises his title role as a crusading police inspector in this Bollywood action thriller, directed once again by Rohit Shetty.

In the first film, fearless Bajirao Singham (Devgn) waged war against the mastermind of a kidnapping ring.

In the sequel, Singham returns to Delhi where he reunites with his beloved teacher Guruji (Anupam Kher), who is now a righteous politician.

It transpires that Guruji is receiving death threats from black marketer Baba (Amol Gupte) and his henchman.

Faced with accusations of corruption within his own team and an adversary who wields tremendous influence within the political system, including meddlesome Prabhakar Rao (Zakir Hussain), Singham must fight hard to retain his honesty and integrity while protecting the people he loves including his childhood friend Avni (Kareena Kapoor Khan).

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BLOOD TIES (15, 124 mins)

Released: August 15 (UK, selected cinemas)

Feuding siblings try to bury the hatchet - hopefully not in each other - in Guillaume Canet's 1970s-set crime thriller.

Chris Pierzynski (Clive Owen) serves nine years for murder and secures his release.

He promises to straighten himself out, cutting himself off from his ex-wife Monica (Marion Cotillard), who is now a prostitute with a drug dependency, in order to pursue a relationship with good girl Natalie (Mila Kunis).

Turning over a new leaf brings Chris closer to his sick father Leon (James Caan) and his estranged brother Frank (Billy Crudup), who is a New York City cop.

Unexpectedly, Frank find himself in trouble when he meets his ex-girlfriend Vanessa (Zoe Saldana), who is now married to a hulking brute called Anthony Scarfo (Matthias Schoenaerts).

She decides to divorce Anthony in order to start anew with Frank but her spouse won't let her leave without a fight and Anthony attempts to kill Frank to cling onto the woman he loves.

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THE CONGRESS (15, 123 mins)

Released: August 15 (UK, selected cinemas)

Blending animation and live-action, Ari Folman's sci-fi drama features a central performance from Robin Wright as a fictionalised version of herself.

Now that she is over 40, a perilous age for a film actress, Robin is finding it more difficult to get work and she looks back affectionately at past successes.

Pioneering film studio Miramount offers her a tantalizing deal: they will scan her to create a digital doppelganger and she will never have to act again.

Moreover, this other self, will remain ever youthful and can perform in physically demanding blockbusters that the real Robin would turn down as a matter of course.

In exchange for relinquishing her image, Miramount will pay Robin handsomely so she can spend more time with her sickly son Aaron (Kodi Smit-McPhee), who is being cared for by Dr Barker (Paul Giamatti).

After consultation with her agent Al (Harvey Keitel), Robin signs a 20-year contract with studio executive Jeff (Danny Huston).

Years pass and the digital Robin becomes the most famous and popular actress in the world. When the time comes to renew the contract, the real Robin faces a thorny moral dilemma.

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DINOSAUR 13 (PG, 95 mins)

Released: August 15 (UK, selected cinemas)

Todd Douglas Miller's engrossing documentary premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival to critical acclaim.

The film centres on American paleontologist Pete Larson who made headlines in 1990 with the Black Hills Institute, avid fossil hunters who stumbled upon the skeleton of the world's largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex.

The team spent two years meticulously exposing the skeleton and named it Sue after team member Susan Hendrickson, who the made remarkable find.

The team allowed people to visit the site and marvel at the scale of the beast.

Then in May 1992, the FBI and National Guard seized the skeleton, tying up the dig in endless red tape courtesy of the National Park Service and the Bureau of Indian Affairs as well as landowner Maurice Williams.

Miller's film relives the excitement of the discovery then the anguish of an acrimonious legal battle, which included an 18-month spell behind bars for Larson.

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WE GOTTA GET OUT OF THIS PLACE (15, 90 mins)

Released: August 15 (UK, selected cinemas)

Zeke and Simon Hawkins's gritty debut is a small-town thriller set in a community which is reliant on the local cotton mill to survive.

BJ (Logan Huffman), his girlfriend Sue (Mackenzie Davis) and best friend Bobby (Jeremy Allen White) are all preparing to leave for college.

BJ suggests they hit the town for a fittingly boozy send-off. He brings along a wad of cash and Sue and Bobby later discover that BJ stole the money from his cotton mill boss, Giff (Mark Pellegrino), who initially blames a Mexican immigrant worker for the crime.

While BJ is unwilling to speak up and save the Mexican from taking the fall, Bobby honourably yet falsely confesses to robbing the safe.

Giff reveals that the money belonged to a thug called Big Red (William Devane), who launders cash and will expect his loot to be in the safe.

The mill boss forcibly persuades BJ, Bobby and Sue to pull off a heist to replace the thousands they pilfered.

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THE NOTORIOUS MR BOUT (12A, 88 mins)

Released: August 15 (UK, selected cinemas)

Nicknamed the "Merchant of Death", Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout was a thorn in the side of the US administration until 2008, when the elusive businessman was arrested in Thailand as part of an elaborate sting operation.

Documentary filmmakers Tony Gerber and Maxim Pozdorovkin paint an extraordinary portrait of this mythical man, gaining unprecedented access to Bout and to years of video recordings made by the dealer of his professional and personal life.

Through the lens of Bout's camera and in subsequent interviews with the people closest to him, the film reveals charts Bout's meteoric rise and inglorious fall and also reveals the family man and philosophical businessman behind the ruthless facade.

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WHAT IF (15, 102 mins)

Released: August 20 (UK & Ireland)

Wallace (Daniel Radcliffe) drops out of medical school, in part to escape his failed relationship with another student.

He becomes disillusioned with love, convinced that he will never meet a significant other like his kooky roommate Allan (Adam Driver), who intends to marry his perfect partner, Nicole (Mackenzie Davis).

So Wallace vows to steer clear of romance and seeks refuge in the company of his sister Ellie (Jemima Rooper) and her son Felix (Lucius Hoyos).

At his lowest ebb, Wallace meets talented animator Chantry (Zoe Kazan), who lives with her longtime boyfriend Ben (Rafe Spall).

Chantry and Wallace become good friends but both recognise a spark of attraction that could be fanned into a full-blown affair.

As they wrestle with their feelings for one another and contemplate whether the person you should spend the rest of your life with is your best friend, Chantry's sister Dalia (Megan Park) makes a play for Wallace.

This unexpected attention piques Chantry's jealousy and forces true feelings into the open.

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ART PARTY (12A, 83 mins)

Released: August 12 (UK, selected cinemas)

In 2011, Bob and Roberta Smith (aka artist Patrick Brill) created Letter To Michael Gove, a large-scale painted response to the former Education Secretary's suggestion that art should be removed from the syllabus of British schools.

The striking work made the headlines and galvanised support across the art world.

In this documentary, co-directed by Tim Newton, Smith gathers together speakers and friends for the 2013 Art Party Conference, where they champion the importance of art in the education system and society in general.

Fact and fiction blur with Michael Gove represented on screen by actor John Voce and Julia Rayner plays his parliamentary aid.

With original music by Flameproof Moth and the Ken Ardley Playboys, the film features contributions and work by fellow artists including Jeremy Deller, Haroon Mirza, Cornelia Parker, John Smith and Jessica Voorsanger.

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COMING NEXT WEEK

* Scarlett Johansson runs amok as a woman blessed with superhuman strength in LUCY

* Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan fall deliriously in love in the romantic comedy WHAT IF

* Mother Nature unleashes her fury in INTO THE STORM

* Eric Bana comes face to face with dark forces in DELIVER US FROM EVIL

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UK FILM TOP 10

1 The Inbetweeners 2

2 Guardians Of The Galaxy

3 Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes

4 Planes 2: Fire & Rescue

5 How To Train Your Dragon 2

6 Back To The Future

7 The Nut Job

8 Hercules

9 The Purge: Anarchy

10 Transformers: Age Of Extinction

Chart courtesy of Cineworld.co.uk

 

Comments (1)

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4:05pm Mon 11 Aug 14

ithasntbeeneasywithouther says...

In my experience, it takes more than an entertaining ninety minute story, a director, a producer and a cast of romantic actors with a good script to fulfil a person's quest to find a source of real lasting peace and happiness for free.

I like a good film, but they have limitations and don't come cheap. They require electricity and are rarely translated for everyone or distributed to everyone on the planet for free.
In my experience, it takes more than an entertaining ninety minute story, a director, a producer and a cast of romantic actors with a good script to fulfil a person's quest to find a source of real lasting peace and happiness for free. I like a good film, but they have limitations and don't come cheap. They require electricity and are rarely translated for everyone or distributed to everyone on the planet for free. ithasntbeeneasywithouther
  • Score: -2

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