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Now showing at Cineworld Solihull 47,Mill Lane Arcade (Upper), Touchwood,Solihull,West Midlands B91 3GS 0871 200 2000

  • Annie
  • Avengers: Age Of Ultron
  • Big Hero 6
  • Cinderella
  • Far From The Madding Crowd
  • Home
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • Mad Max: Fury Road 3D
  • Moomins On The Riviera
  • Pitch Perfect 2
  • Poltergeist
  • Poltergeist 3D
  • San Andreas 3D
  • Shaun The Sheep Movie
  • Spooks: The Greater Good
  • The Age Of Adaline
  • Tomorrowland: A World Beyond

Annie 3 stars

movie title

Annie lives in Harlem in the dubious care of embittered, alcoholic, faded pop star Colleen Hannigan with four other girls. During one of her regular jaunts around the city, Annie is rescued from the path of a truck by mobile phone company billionaire Will Stacks, who is running for mayor. The footage goes viral and boosts Will's approval ratings. Election advisor Guy suggests that Will temporarily adopts Annie to boost his chances of winning the election.

  • GenreAdaptation, Comedy, Drama, Family, Family, Musical
  • CastRose Byrne, Quvenzhane Wallis, Jamie Foxx, Cameron Diaz, Bobby Cannavale, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, David Zayas.
  • DirectorWill Gluck.
  • WriterAline Brosh McKenna, Will Gluck.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration118 mins
  • Official sitewww.annie-movie.com/site
  • Release20/12/2014

Adapted from the popular Broadway musical, the 1982 film version of Annie is firmly ingrained in many rose-tinted childhood memories. The uplifting story of a flame-haired orphan girl who overcomes insurmountable odds to win the heart of a billionaire businessman taps into our deep-rooted sense of belonging.

Infectious music and lyrics by Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin have reverberated throughout popular culture from episodes of 30 Rock, Glee and South Park to a sample on rapper Jay-Z's 1998 single Hard Knock Life. Will Gluck's glossy modern remake retains most of the original songbook with a couple of new soaring ballads.

Some of the updates don't quite work: changing Annie's residence from an orphanage to a foster home significantly reduces the number of children in care for one of the big song and dance numbers. Also Carol Burnett's ferocious portrayal of Miss Hannigan has been softened so Cameron Diaz retains a glimmer of likability, even when she's drunkenly snarling, "You think the world wants a smart-mouthed little girl?".

On the whole, Gluck's reworking possesses the same wholesome likability including a winning title performance from Quvenzhane Wallis, who was Oscar nominated for Beasts Of The Southern Wild.

Annie (Wallis) lives in Harlem in the dubious care of embittered, alcoholic, faded pop star Colleen Hannigan (Diaz) with four other girls: Tessie (Zoe Margaret Colletti), Mia (Nicolette Pierini), Isabella (Eden Duncan-Smith) and Pepper (Amanda Troya).

Eternally cheerful and optimistic, Annie believes her real parents will return for her and every Friday, she sits outside the Italian restaurant where her folks left her aged four with a note.

During one of her regular jaunts around the city, Annie is rescued from the path of a truck by mobile phone company billionaire Will Stacks (Jamie Foxx), who is running for mayor. The footage goes viral and boosts Will's approval ratings.

Election advisor Guy (Bobby Cannavale), who masterminded campaigns for Arnold Schwarzenegger and Kim Jong-Il, suggests that Will temporarily adopts Annie. Will agrees and welcomes Annie into his high-tech penthouse, where she befriends the mogul's trusty assistant Grace (Rose Byrne).

Over time, Annie opens Will's heart but just when he is poised to consider adopting her forever, her real parents (Tracie Thoms, Dorian Missick) reappear. Annie lacks some of the rough charm of the 1982 film but director Gluck and his team add enough contemporary spit and polish without obscuring the story's emotional arc.

Cast lip-sync convincingly and the big numbers are slickly choreographed including a heartfelt rendition of Tomorrow from Wallis on the city streets. An extended sequence at the premiere of a fantasy film called Moon Quake Lake - featuring wink-wink cameos from Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis and Rihanna - is rather cute.

"People love musicals, they're magical," observes one character. This version of Annie has an ample sprinkling of that lustre dust.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Wednesday 27th May 2015
Thursday 28th May 2015

Avengers: Age Of Ultron 3 stars

movie title

Tony Stark hopes to jumpstart world peace using a dormant artificial intelligence program but he unwittingly unleashes the villainous Ultron. Nick Fury marshals superhero team of Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, The Incredible Hulk, Black Widow and Hawkeye to protect mankind from annihilation, testing the bonds of trust between the team members in the process. Uneasy alliances are forged and the Avengers cross paths with mysterious and powerful siblings Wanda and Pietro Maximoff.

  • GenreAction, Adaptation, Adventure, Family, Fantasy, Science Fiction
  • CastChris Evans, Robert Downey Jr, Mark Ruffalo, James Spader, Chris Hemsworth, Samuel L Jackson, Jeremy Renner, Scarlett Johansson, Elizabeth Olsen, Aaron Taylor-Johnson.
  • DirectorJoss Whedon.
  • WriterJoss Whedon.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration141 mins
  • Official sitewww.marvel.com/avengers
  • Release23/04/2015

As the roaring success of last year's Guardians Of The Galaxy confirmed, our appetite for films set in the Marvel Comics universe is voracious. This eagerly anticipated sequel to the 2012 action adventure Avengers Assemble is poised to smash box office records with the same unstoppable clobber of a rampaging Incredible Hulk. Director Joss Whedon is back at the helm to lay the narrative groundwork for the 2016 blockbuster, Captain America: Civil War, which will tear the eponymous team apart as governments worldwide prepare to pass an act regulating superhuman activity. In many respects, Avengers: Age Of Ultron is business as usual. Whedon's film fleshes out the back stories of existing characters, introduces new friends and foes to the fray, and continues the relentless cross-pollination of this menagerie of mighty misfits. Marvel Comics chairman Stan Lee makes his traditional cameo and Whedon's script glisters with polished one-liners, including one gem to pithily illustrate how quickly an evil artificial intelligence can infect the World Wide Web: "He's spreading faster than a Catholic rabbit." While the sequel delivers exactly what we expect, it lacks some of the pizazz of the first film and pacing noticeably sags in the middle, plus overly enthusiastic editing of set pieces reduces some skirmishes to an incomprehensible blur, which strain the eyes in 3D. In the breathless action sequence which opens the film, the Avengers storm a Hydra stronghold in the central European city of Sokovia under the control of Baron von Strucker (Thomas Kretschmann) in order to reclaim Loki's magical staff, the Chitauri Scepter. During the melee, emotionally scarred siblings Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) and Pietro Maximoff (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), who have been subjected to secret Hydra experiments, are unleashed. Wanda infects the mind of Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr), using her dark sorcery to convince the billionaire that he will bring about the deaths of the entire team. Tormented by his nightmarish vision, Stark secretly plans to harness the power of the Chitauri Scepter to awaken a dormant artificial intelligence program to protect mankind. "I don't want to hear that 'man wasn't meant to meddle' medley," Stark tells scientist Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) as justification for his covert operation. Instead, Stark unwittingly unleashes the villainous Ultron (voiced by James Spader). Steve Evans aka Captain America (Chris Evans) clashes with Stark for control of the Avengers comprising Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Natasha Romanov aka Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Banner aka The Incredible Hulk and Clint Barton aka Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner). Rivalries intensify and fragile bonds of trust fray as mankind's survival hangs in the balance. Thankfully, the Avengers have a new, yet familiar, ally: an android called Vision (Paul Bettany). By introducing a hulking automaton arch-nemesis, Avengers: Age Of Ultron duplicates some of the large-scale digital destruction of the Transformers franchise. Spader's vocal performance lends gravitas to his mechanised megalomaniac while Downey Jr predictably snaffles the majority of the droll quips. Seeds of romance between Ruffalo and Johansson, sown in the first film, are heavily watered as a diversion from the bone-crunching. Running jokes about Captain America's aversion to swearing and the size of Thor's hammer don't run out of puff before the 141 frenetic minutes come to a suitably bombastic close. Marvel films have a habit of sneaking a teaser into the end credits. Age Of Ultron doesn't disappoint the ardent fan boys and girls on this front either.

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Wednesday 27th May 2015
Thursday 28th May 2015

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Big Hero 6 4 stars

movie title

Fourteen-year-old Hiro Hamada idolises his older brother Tadashi, who is one of the star pupils of Professor Robert Callaghan, head of the robotics program at San Fransokyo University. A fire at the university ends in tragedy and poor Hiro is consumed with grief until his brother's greatest creation, a self-inflating personal healthcare robot called Baymax, helps the teenager to come to terms with his loss.

  • GenreAction, Adaptation, Animation/Cartoon, Comedy, Family, Family, Science Fiction
  • CastRyan Potter, Scott Adsit, Jamie Chung, TJ Miller, Daniel Henney, James Cromwell, Genesis Rodriguez, Damon Wayans Jr.
  • DirectorDon Hall, Chris Williams.
  • WriterRobert L Baird, Daniel Gerson, Jordan Roberts.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration114 mins
  • Official sitemovies.disney.com/big-hero-6/
  • Release30/01/2015

Never underestimate the soothing power of a hug. With one simple squish, you can provide comfort, encouragement or a simple how-do-you-do that transcends a thousand well-chosen words. Big Hero 6 is the cinematic equivalent of a warm hug, embracing the old-fashioned family values of the Walt Disney brand alongside cutting-edge computer technology that audiences now expect to dazzle their senses.

Directors Don Hall and Chris Williams marry dizzying action sequences that look even more spectacular in 3D to an emotionally rich story of a lonely boy's unshakable bond with his self-inflating robot protector, recalling the magical 1999 animated feature The Iron Giant.

The inquisitive automaton Baymax is the stuff that sweet celluloid dreams are made of: tender, loving and unwittingly hilarious. Every child will want their own marshmallow man to snuggle at night and keep them safe from the harsh realities of modern life that weigh heavily on the film's grief-stricken adolescent hero.

"I see no evidence of physical injury," informs the robot as he scans the boy's body.
"It's a different kind of hurt," laments the teenager.

Fourteen-year-old Hiro Hamada (voiced by Ryan Potter) idolises his older brother Tadashi (Daniel Henney), who is a star pupil of Professor Robert Callaghan (James Cromwell), head of the robotics program at San Fransokyo University.

A fire on campus culminates in tragedy and shell-shocked Hiro is inconsolable until his brother's greatest creation, a personal healthcare robot called Baymax (Scott Adsit), helps the teenager to confront his loss. As the boy discovers Baymax's functionality, he also stumbles upon a secret: the fire might not have been an accident.

Indeed, a greedy entrepreneur called Alistair Krei (Alan Tudyk) might have started the blaze. Aided by Tadashi's loyal friends GoGo (Jamie Chung), Wasabi (Damon Wayans Jr), Honey Lemon (Genesis Rodriguez) and Fred (TJ Miller) plus an upgraded Baymax, Hiro resolves to discover the truth about the deadly inferno.

Based on an obscure title from the Marvel Comics universe, Big Hero 6 is a rip-roaring opening salvo in a potential new franchise. Directors Hall and Williams orchestrate the requisite thrilling set pieces with brio, including an unconventional dash through the undulating streets of San Fransokyo that knowingly flouts traffic laws.

"There are no red lights in a car chase!" squeals GoGo. The animators and script never lose sight of the central relationship of Hiro and Baymax, sketching that bond in exquisitely deft strokes. Grown men will be choking back tears.

Big Hero 6 is preceded by Patrick Osborne's Oscar nominated short Feast, which charts the relationship between a Boston terrier and his master from puppyhood to middle age in a series of vignettes. It's a pick of the animated litter that leaves an indelible mark on the heart, just like Hall's and Williams' turbo-charged main feature.

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Wednesday 27th May 2015
Thursday 28th May 2015

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Cinderella 4 stars

movie title

Ella loses her mother and father, but inherits a vindictive stepmother Lady Tremaine and two brattish stepsisters, Anastasia and Drizella. Treated as a servant by her new family, who cruelly nickname her Cinderella, the plucky heroine catches the eye of dashing Prince Charming, who must pick a bride to ensure the security of the kingdom. So he throws a lavish ball where Ella makes a grand entrance with some magical help from her Fairy Godmother.

  • GenreAction, Adaptation, Drama, Family, Family, Fantasy, Romance
  • CastDerek Jacobi, Stellan Skarsgard, Richard Madden, Holliday Grainger, Cate Blanchett, Sophie McShera, Lily James, Ben Chaplin, Helena Bonham Carter, Hayley Atwell.
  • DirectorKenneth Branagh.
  • WriterChris Weitz.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration113 mins
  • Official sitemovies.disney.com/cinderella/
  • Release27/03/2015

Slavishly adapted from Disney's classic 1950 animated musical, Kenneth Branagh's live action version of the fairy-tale romance doesn't skimp on the period detail. Sandy Powell's luxurious costumes, Dante Ferretti's opulent set designs and Patrick Doyle's sweeping orchestral score conjure a magical world of unerring love in which even we gasp at the gargantuan splendour of the grand ball where the prince must choose his wife.

While this Cinderella unquestionably dazzles the senses, screenwriter Chris Weitz is shackled to fond memories of the hand-drawn film and consequently, he has almost no room for flourishes of originality.

The plot arc is predetermined, the ugly stepsisters don't hack off their heels or toes to squeeze into a misplaced glass slipper, and Helena Bonham Carter's fairy godmother isn't quite as eccentric as she or we would like as she engineers the film's best set-piece with a flick of her wand.

"I don't go transforming pumpkins for just anyone!" she chirps. No, the special effects wizards do and they accomplish the pivotal sequence with aplomb. Before all of the jiggery-pokery with a pumpkin, four mice and a goose, Ella (Lily James) is consigned to the kitchen by her vindictive stepmother Lady Tremaine (Cate Blanchett) and brattish stepsisters, Anastasia (Holliday Grainger) and Drizella (Sophie McShera).

Emboldened by the dying words of her mother (Hayley Atwell) - "Have courage and be kind" - Ella tries to rise above the bullying. When the name-calling becomes too frightful, she escapes on horseback and catches the eye of the dashing Prince (Richard Madden), who must pick a bride at the behest of the dying King (Derek Jacobi).

So the Prince throws a lavish ball where Ella makes her grand entrance then disappears as the clock chimes midnight, leaving behind footwear that would surely pose a health and safety risk in any other film. "Find that girl - the forgetful one who loses her shoes!" decrees the Captain of the royal guard (Nonzo Anosie).

Cinderella will enchant a generation of girls, who dream of donning the tiara of a Disney princess. James and Madden are an attractive screen pairing, while Blanchett draws inspiration from Joan Crawford to cast a formidable shadow from beneath the brim of her character's extravagant hats.

"I do love a happy ending, don't you?" gushes one of the characters. Branagh's film certainly does, without a hint of irony. The main feature is preceded by the animated short Frozen Fever, which continues the adventures of sisters Anna (voiced by Kristen Bell) and Elsa (Idina Menzel) as they prepare for a birthday celebration.

Lovable snowman Olaf (Josh Gad) and hunky Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) also return and the script includes a cute reference to the blockbusting film when ice queen Elsa sneezes and chirrups, "A cold never bothered me anyway!" A generation of men, who take to their beds at the first sniffle, would disagree.

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Wednesday 27th May 2015

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Far From The Madding Crowd 3 stars

movie title

Bathsheba Everdene turns down a marriage proposal from sheep farmer Gabriel Oak because she does not believe that she needs a husband to possess or tame her. Soon after, Bathsheba inherits her uncle's estate and defies expectation to turn around the ailing farm. Gabriel, who has fallen on hard times, is hired by Bathsheba as the estate's shepherd and he continues to pine for her from afar as Bathsheba entertains amorous advances from wealthy farmer William Boldwood and dashing Sergeant Troy.

  • GenreAdaptation, Classic, Drama, Historical/Period, Romance
  • CastCarey Mulligan, Matthias Schoenaerts, Tom Sturridge, Jessica Barden, Michael Sheen, Juno Temple.
  • DirectorThomas Vinterberg.
  • WriterDavid Nicholls.
  • CountryUS/UK
  • Duration119 mins
  • Official site
  • Release01/05/2015

The 2015 re-release of John Schlesinger's 1967 version of Far From The Madding Crowd provided a timely reminder of the raw emotional power of Thomas Hardy's late 19th-century novel and Julie Christie's luminous portrayal of spirited heroine, Bathsheba Everdene.

Danish director Thomas Vinterberg brings a delicate touch to this handsome new incarnation, which runs 50 minutes shorter than its predecessor and is undernourished as a consequence.

One tragic supporting character, who should shatter our hearts to smithereens, is reduced to a simplistic two-dimensional plot device, and the heroine's vacillations between three potential suitors seem more haphazard than usual in a noticeably rushed final act.

Moreover, one of these paramours has significantly more screen time, so her choice is inevitable. Feelings are tightly buttoned beneath Janet Patterson's splendid costumes and when one of the characters does eventually lose control and commits a fatal "crime of passion" at a Christmas party, we're just as surprised by the outburst as the film's clucky social set.

The film opens in 1870 with Bathsheba (Carey Mulligan) living with her aunt Mrs Hurst on the adjacent property to handsome sheep farmer, Gabriel Oak (Matthias Schoenaerts).

She rebuffs his heartfelt advances, telling a crestfallen Gabriel, "I don't want a husband. I don't want to be some man's property". Soon after, Bathsheba inherits her uncle's vast estate and defies expectation to turn around the ailing farm, aided by her companion Liddy (Jessica Barden).

Gabriel, who has fallen on hard times, is hired by Bathsheba as the estate's shepherd and continues to pine for her from afar.

Meanwhile, emotionally repressed and wealthy farmer William Boldwood (Michael Sheen) makes his feelings for Bathsheba known, but her head is turned by dashing and reckless Sergeant Troy (Tom Sturridge), whose heart was broken at the altar by servant girl Fanny (Juno Temple).

These three suitors leave Bathsheba in an emotional whirl and when Boldwood offers her financial security as his bride, she turns to brooding Gabriel for advice.
"I need some who's objective, indifferent," Bathsheba tells the shepherd.
"Then I'm afraid you're asking the wrong man," pointedly responds Gabriel.

Anchored by Mulligan's nuanced performance, Far From The Madding Crowd is a visually arresting, but ultimately anaemic portrait of rural desires. Schoenaerts wrestles in vain with a West Country accent, while Sheen and Sturridge have limited screen time to match fond memories of Peter Finch and Terence Stamp in respective roles in the 1967 film.

While Vinterberg's vision, filmed on location in pastoral Dorset, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire, lacks emotional heft, it packs a mighty visual punch thanks to cinematographer Charlotte Bruus Christensen.

Rolling landscapes look invitingly wild and untamed, bathed largely in natural light, and the nascent beauty of leading lady Mulligan shines through the artfully composed muck and grime.

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Wednesday 27th May 2015
Thursday 28th May 2015

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Home 3 stars

movie title

An extra-terrestrial race called the Boov invades Earth under the command of Captain Smek with a view to claiming the third rock from the sun as their new home. The Boov round up the humans and relocates the entire species. A resourceful teenage girl called Tip, whose mother was abducted, evades capture and goes on the run. She crosses paths with an outcast Boov named Oh, who has been banished by his otherworldly kin. They join forces to save Earth.

  • GenreAction, Adventure, Animation/Cartoon, Comedy, Family, Family, Fantasy, Science Fiction
  • CastJim Parsons, Steve Martin, Rihanna, Jennifer Lopez, Matt Jones.
  • DirectorTim Johnson.
  • WriterTom J Astle, Matt Ember.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration94 mins
  • Official sitewww.meettheboov.com
  • Release20/03/2015

Humans and cute aliens unite to save Earth in Tim Johnson's entertaining but shamelessly contrived computer-animated adventure. The new dog performing old tricks on the DreamWorks block, which previously housed Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda and How To Train Your Dragon, lacks the belly laughs and heart-breaking emotion of those films, but merrily rehashes elements from all three.

Thus the extra-terrestrial invaders discover they like to wave their hands in the air like they just don't care to our music and the central duo discovers that self-sacrifice is an important part of friendship.

Johnson's film has some solid gags and the colour palette is bright, although there are disappointingly few visual tricks up the animators' sleeves to justify the increased ticket price for the 3D version.

In a neat piece of short-hand, the invaders turn out to be the extra-terrestrial equivalent of mood rings, changing colour to reflect their emotional state: yellow for fear, pink for love, red for anger, blue for sadness and green for dishonesty. It's a merchandiser's dream and every parent's nightmare: children begging for the same stuffed toy in multiple shades.

An extra-terrestrial race called the Boov invades Earth under the command of power-hungry Captain Smek (voiced by Steve Martin) with a view to claiming the third rock from the sun as their new home.

The Boov round up the humans and relocate the entire species to Australia. Back in America, a resourceful 11-year-old girl called Tip (Rihanna), whose mother (Jennifer Lopez) was abducted from their apartment, evades capture and goes on the run with her rotund pet cat.

She encounters a fugitive Boov named Oh (Jim Parsons), who has accidentally sent an email invitation to his "warming of house party" to everyone in the galaxy, including the Boov's sworn enemy, the Gorg. Tip and Oh are poles apart: she is spunky and brave, while he turns tail at the first sign of peril.

"If probability falls below 50%, the Boov give up," explains Oh. Working together, they forge a touching friendship and Tip helps her extra-terrestrial chum to embrace his flaws.

Based on the children's book The True Meaning Of Smekday by Adam Rex, Home ticks all of the boxes, but does so without any obvious verve, originality or sense of urgency. Parsons riffs on his nerdy character in The Big Bang Theory, while Rihanna lends her distinctive Barbadian tones to the plucky, pint-sized heroine.

She also has two songs on the soundtrack including the dance anthem Only Girl (In The World), which provides moments of unnecessary distraction as Tip talks over the top of the music.

At one point during the chase, Oh turns to Tip and screams, "This is not a sustainable friendship model." Johnson makes it work for 94 minutes, but only just.

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Wednesday 27th May 2015
Thursday 28th May 2015

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Mad Max: Fury Road 4 stars

movie title

Immortan Joe rules the Citadel with an iron fist and he intends to mastermind the propagation of mankind in his own cruel image using five women called The Wives. Imperator Furiosa kidnaps these slaves and flees across the Wasteland. They join forces with Max Rockatansky, who has knowledge of the Wasteland and can help the fugitives find sanctuary in the deadly shifting sands. In the process, Max lights a fuse on a bitter and bloody road war between Furiosa and Immortan Joe.

  • GenreAction, Adventure, Science Fiction, Thriller
  • CastNicholas Hoult, Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Riley Keough, Zoe Kravitz, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley.
  • DirectorGeorge Miller.
  • WriterGeorge Miller, Brendan McCarthy, Nick Lathouris.
  • CountryAustralia/
  • Duration120 mins
  • Official sitewww.madmaxmovie.com
  • Release14/05/2015

Fasten your seat belts and hold on white-knuckle tight as writer-director George Miller invites you to an orgy of high-octane auto mayhem that makes Fast & Furious 7 looks like a sedate Sunday afternoon drive. Mad Max: Fury Road, the fourth instalment of the post-apocalyptic franchise, delivers a blitzkrieg of propulsive pursuits featuring almost 150 hand-built death machines of every conceivable shape and size.

These thrillingly choreographed sequences of carmageddon build to a jaw-dropping finale, replete with roof-mouthed metronome-like poles that allow road warriors to swoop down and snatch their prey from adjacent vehicles.

If the original Mad Max released in 1979 was soaked in testosterone, Fury Road adds a heady whiff of oestrogen by introducing a badass tribe of warrior women called the Vuvalini, who ride proudly into battle armed with explosive-tipped spears.

One prime specimen is Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron), the enigmatic driver of a mighty 18-wheeler mobile war rig. She reports to Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne), despotic leader of the Citadel, who is propagating the species in his cruel image using The Wives.

These five enslaved women (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Riley Keough, Zoe Kravitz, Courtney Eaton, Abbey Lee) are impregnated by Immortan Joe to provide him with a viable male heir. Furiosa kidnaps The Wives and flees across the Wasteland with Immortan Joe and his army in hot pursuit.

Among the chasing horde is shaven-headed, tattooed acolyte Nux (Nicholas Hoult), who believes that death in battle will grant him entry to the warrior paradise of Valhalla. As Nux puts the pedal to the metal, his poisoned blood is replenished by a living donor, Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy), strapped to the front of the hot rod.

During the chase, Max breaks free from Nux and begrudgingly helps Furiosa and The Wives to evade Immortan Joe's clutches, bound for a lush oasis known as the Green Place.

Mad Max: Fury Road is a tour-de-force of adrenaline-pumping thrills. Computer trickery is kept to a bare minimum: stunt drivers actually performed these mind-boggling feats in real vehicles at dizzying speeds.

When director Miller briefly does take his foot off the accelerator, he hopes we'll be giddy enough on exhaust fumes to care deeply about plot and characterisation. Both sit quietly in the back seat, waiting for the next rev of a V-8 engine.

Hardy perfects an array of grunts and growls in place of dialogue. He's a dull boy though next to Theron's gutsy alpha female, who goes toe-to-toe and trades blow for bone-crunching blow with the grizzled anti-hero, channelling her character's sense of loss into vengeance.

Keays-Byrne takes a leaf out of Hardy's book from The Dark Knight Rises and dons a nightmarish face mask made of horse teeth. Miller's rambunctious ride is heightened by a deafening soundtrack courtesy of Grammy-nominated composer Junkie XL.

You'll feel the teeth rattle in your head as his sonic boom of drums, strings, thrashing electric guitars and a soaring 80-voice choir competes with the crash-bang-wallop of the on-screen carnage.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Wednesday 27th May 2015
Thursday 28th May 2015

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Mad Max: Fury Road 3D 4 stars

movie title

Immortan Joe rules the Citadel with an iron fist and he intends to mastermind the propagation of mankind in his own cruel image using five women called The Wives. Imperator Furiosa kidnaps these slaves and flees across the Wasteland. They join forces with Max Rockatansky, who has knowledge of the Wasteland and can help the fugitives find sanctuary in the deadly shifting sands. In the process, Max lights a fuse on a bitter and bloody road war between Furiosa and Immortan Joe.

  • GenreAction, Adventure, Science Fiction, Thriller
  • CastNicholas Hoult, Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Riley Keough, Zoe Kravitz, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley.
  • DirectorGeorge Miller.
  • WriterBrendan McCarthy, George Miller, Nick Lathouris.
  • CountryAustralia/
  • Duration120 mins
  • Official sitewww.madmaxmovie.com
  • Release14/05/2015

Fasten your seat belts and hold on white-knuckle tight as writer-director George Miller invites you to an orgy of high-octane auto mayhem that makes Fast & Furious 7 looks like a sedate Sunday afternoon drive. Mad Max: Fury Road, the fourth instalment of the post-apocalyptic franchise, delivers a blitzkrieg of propulsive pursuits featuring almost 150 hand-built death machines of every conceivable shape and size.

These thrillingly choreographed sequences of carmageddon build to a jaw-dropping finale, replete with roof-mouthed metronome-like poles that allow road warriors to swoop down and snatch their prey from adjacent vehicles.

If the original Mad Max released in 1979 was soaked in testosterone, Fury Road adds a heady whiff of oestrogen by introducing a badass tribe of warrior women called the Vuvalini, who ride proudly into battle armed with explosive-tipped spears.

One prime specimen is Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron), the enigmatic driver of a mighty 18-wheeler mobile war rig. She reports to Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne), despotic leader of the Citadel, who is propagating the species in his cruel image using The Wives.

These five enslaved women (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Riley Keough, Zoe Kravitz, Courtney Eaton, Abbey Lee) are impregnated by Immortan Joe to provide him with a viable male heir. Furiosa kidnaps The Wives and flees across the Wasteland with Immortan Joe and his army in hot pursuit.

Among the chasing horde is shaven-headed, tattooed acolyte Nux (Nicholas Hoult), who believes that death in battle will grant him entry to the warrior paradise of Valhalla. As Nux puts the pedal to the metal, his poisoned blood is replenished by a living donor, Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy), strapped to the front of the hot rod.

During the chase, Max breaks free from Nux and begrudgingly helps Furiosa and The Wives to evade Immortan Joe's clutches, bound for a lush oasis known as the Green Place.

Mad Max: Fury Road is a tour-de-force of adrenaline-pumping thrills. Computer trickery is kept to a bare minimum: stunt drivers actually performed these mind-boggling feats in real vehicles at dizzying speeds.

When director Miller briefly does take his foot off the accelerator, he hopes we'll be giddy enough on exhaust fumes to care deeply about plot and characterisation. Both sit quietly in the back seat, waiting for the next rev of a V-8 engine.

Hardy perfects an array of grunts and growls in place of dialogue. He's a dull boy though next to Theron's gutsy alpha female, who goes toe-to-toe and trades blow for bone-crunching blow with the grizzled anti-hero, channelling her character's sense of loss into vengeance.

Keays-Byrne takes a leaf out of Hardy's book from The Dark Knight Rises and dons a nightmarish face mask made of horse teeth. Miller's rambunctious ride is heightened by a deafening soundtrack courtesy of Grammy-nominated composer Junkie XL.

You'll feel the teeth rattle in your head as his sonic boom of drums, strings, thrashing electric guitars and a soaring 80-voice choir competes with the crash-bang-wallop of the on-screen carnage.

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Wednesday 27th May 2015
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Moomins On The Riviera 4 stars

Moomin, Moominpappa, Moominmamma, Snorkmaiden and Little My embark on an exciting adventure by sea to the French Riviera. In this sun-kissed playground of the rich and fabulous, there are manifold distractions and Snorkmaiden's head is turned by suave playboy Clark Tresco, which infuriates Moomin. Meanwhile, Moominpappa befriends aristocrat Marquis Mongaga and adopts the name de Moomin in order to impress his new acquaintance.

  • GenreAdaptation, Animation/Cartoon, Comedy, Family, Family
  • CastNathaniel Parker, Tracy-Ann Oberman, Russell Tovey, Ruth Gibson, Stephanie Winiecki.
  • DirectorXavier Picard.
  • WriterAnnina Enckell, Leslie Stewart, Hanna Hemila, Beata Harju, Xavier Picard.
  • CountryFin/Fr
  • Duration77 mins
  • Official sitewww.moominsontheriviera.com
  • Release22/05/2015

Finnish illustrator Tove Jansson's lovable characters, the Moomins, sprung to life as a comic strip and picture books, then made an indelible mark in the UK as a 1980s stop-motion animated children's television series narrated by Richard Murdoch.

A Japanese anime TV version and a theme park on the island of Kailo followed in the 1990s as part of a merchandising boom that has firmly installed these rotund creatures, who resemble hippopotamuses, in global pop culture. Jansson's inquisitive creations set sail for the big screen in this lovingly hand-drawn animation, based on the original comic strips.

Moomins On The Riviera is a cautionary tale about the corruptive power of greed and jealousy, which takes a few gentle sideswipes at the cult of celebrity and the inflated price of modern art. The inoffensive script maintains a gentle pace, despite the extravagance of the setting with its luxury yachts and speedboats, reminding audiences of all ages that money can't buy the happiness of a family united.

In the aftermath of a pirate shipwreck close to the Moomins' island home, Moominpappa (Nathaniel Parker), Moominmamma (Tracy Ann Oberman), Moomintroll (voiced by Russell Tovey), Snorkmaiden (Stephanie Winiecki) and Little My (Ruth Gibson) embark on an exciting adventure by sea to the French Riviera.

In this sun-kissed playground of the rich and fabulous, there are manifold distractions. "Why do people in the south keep their hedgehogs in the water?" innocently wonders one of the clan, glimpsing a sea anemone in the rippling water.

Snorkmaiden's head is turned first by her Hollywood idol Audrey Glamour (Shelley Blond) and then by suave aristocratic playboy, Clark Tresco (Dave Brown). "Cousin, I need you to take my place in the story. I'm getting married," she coos to Moomintroll in a sweet moment of script in-jokery.

He is particularly infuriated by the skimpiness of Snorkmaiden's two-piece bikini. "You can't wear that!" he scolds. "It's like you're wearing nothing!"

Meanwhile, Moominpappa befriends artist Marquis Mongaga (Philippe Smolikowski) and adopts the name de Moomin in order to impress his new acquaintance. Moominmamma becomes exasperated and retires to the relative calm of the family's trusty boat, hoping that the rest of her brood will come to their senses and remember the family motto - "Live in peace, plant potatoes and dream" - in time for the journey home.

Directed with a light touch by Xavier Picard, Moomins On The Riviera is an entertaining introduction for younger audiences to the cuddly characters, and a nostalgia trip for the rest of us, created with the blessing of Jansson's niece Sophia.

Visuals retain the naive charm of original illustrations, even with the introduction of potentially grown-up scenes like Moominpappa suffering a whiskey-induced hangover. Vocal performances for this dubbed English language version are solid, and the 77-minute running time passes in the blink of an eye.

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Wednesday 27th May 2015
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Pitch Perfect 2 4 stars

movie title

Fat Amy suffers an embarrassing wardrobe malfunction in the presence of President Obama, which threatens to bring Barden University's all-female a cappella group into disrepute. In order to restore their pride, the Bellas enter a global singing competition that has never been won by an American group. Beca, Fat Amy, Chloe, Lilly, new recruit Emily and the other Bellas prepare to pitch-slap their talented rivals into submission.

  • GenreComedy, Family, Musical, Romance
  • CastAnna Kendrick, Hailee Steinfeld, Rebel Wilson, Anna Camp, Skylar Astin, Adam DeVine, Elizabeth Banks, Brittany Snow, John Michael Higgins.
  • DirectorElizabeth Banks.
  • WriterKay Cannon.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration115 mins
  • Official sitewww.pitchperfect2-uk.tumblr.com
  • Release15/05/2015

Lightning almost strikes twice in the eagerly anticipated sequel to the feel-great comedy Pitch Perfect. Actress Elizabeth Banks nestles in the director's chair for this uproarious second outing and she confidently conducts a choir of familiar faces through soaring musical mash-ups and pitch-slapping putdowns.

Screenwriter Kay Cannon, who penned the original, enforces the message of femme power by contriving a spectacular fall from grace for the Barden Bellas in order that her plucky heroines rediscover their sisterly solidarity. Beyonce's anthemic "Run The World (Girls)" is a fitting opener for one medley of redemption, emphasising that while these girls wanna have fun, they won't do so at the expense of friendships or their careers.

Cannon pads out her admittedly flimsy premise with parallel romantic subplots and introduces a Latin American exchange student, whose life-or-death heritage becomes a running joke that limps before the two hours are up.

Thankfully, Rebel Wilson turbo-charges her scenes and is rewarded with the film's only solo - Pat Benatar's power ballad "We Belong" - that builds to a rousing call to arms for the broken-hearted.

Three years after all-female group the Barden Bellas triumphed in the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella, the girls perform for President Obama and his wife. Fat Amy (Wilson) suffers a wardrobe malfunction during a Miley Cyrus-themed aerial routine and drags the good name of Barden University into the gutter.

In the wake of Muffgate, commentators John Smith (John Michael Higgins) and Gail Abernathy-McKadden (Elizabeth Banks) cast the Bellas into the wilderness and mock Beca (Anna Kendrick) when she claims they can become the first American group to win the World A Cappella Championships.

Beca, Fat Amy, Chloe (Brittany Snow), Stacie (Alexis Knapp), Jessica (Kelley Jakle), Cynthia-Rose (Ester Dean), softly spoken beatboxer Lilly (Hana Mae Lee) and new recruits Emily (Hailee Steinfeld) and Flo (Chrissie Fit) prepare for musical battle.

However, the path to glory in Copenhagen is blocked by well-drilled reigning champions, Das Sound Machine, led by the statuesque Kommissar (Birgitte Hjort Sorensen) and her right-hand herr Pieter (Flula Borg).

The Bellas' make-or-break performance beckons and Beca frets about her song choices. "You're the most talented person I know," gushes Fat Amy soothingly, "and I've met three of The Wiggles... intimately."

Pitch Perfect 2 hits many of the high notes of the original film. Beca's romance with boyfriend Jesse (Skylar Astin) is inert in the sequel so the spotlight shifts to Fat Amy's on-off-on-off flirtation with Bumper (Adam DeVine).

Banks and Higgins lasso some of the heartiest guffaws, the latter spewing chauvinism with aplomb as he casually describes the Bellas as "an inspiration to girls all over the country who are too ugly to be cheerleaders".

Musical sequences are choreographed with verve, including a rousing finale that astutely goes back to acca-basics to tug the heartstrings.

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Poltergeist 3 stars

movie title

Eric Bowen and his wife Amy move into a new home with their three children: teenage daughter Kendra, son Griffin and youngest child Madison. Angry spirits invade the home and focus their attention on little Madison, making contact with her through the white noise on a TV screen before spiriting away the terrified girl into the netherworld. Eric and Amy turn to supernatural expert Dr Claire Powell and medium Carrigan Burke to return Madison to the land of the living.

  • GenreAdaptation, Horror, Thriller
  • CastSam Rockwell, Rosemarie DeWitt, Kennedi Clements, Jane Adams, Jared Harris, Kyle Catlett, Saxon Sharbino.
  • DirectorGil Kenan.
  • WriterDavid Lindsay-Abaire.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration94 mins
  • Official sitewww.foxmovies.com/movies/poltergeist
  • Release22/05/2015

They're back!... the malevolent spirits from Tobe Hooper's 1982 horror resurface in director Gil Kenan's contemporary update, which supplants old school shocks with a whirlwind of computer-generated hocus pocus.

The original film was a masterpiece of sustained creepiness and inspired wild theories about a curse - supposedly borne when filmmakers used actual skeletons in the swimming pool scene - to explain the deaths of four cast members including angelic 12-year-old lead actress, Heather O'Rourke.

Regrettably, the might of modern technology dilutes the shock of the neat set-up and renders this revamp of Poltergeist an entirely scare-free affair. Screenwriter David Lindsay-Abaire appears to have been influenced by modern horror films including Insidious and Annabelle, adding demonic toy clowns and a reality TV ghost hunter to his volatile mix.

There's a cute wink to the 1982 film in his script when the family learns that their home was built on a former cemetery and someone quips, "It's not as if it was an ancient burial ground." The iconic scene with a little girl and a flickering TV screen is also recreated.

In unconvincing fits and bursts, Kenan's film strives to set itself apart from the past, including the use of 3D that only really makes sense for a nasty moment with an electric drill.

Eric Bowen (Sam Rockwell) and his wife Amy (Rosemarie DeWitt) move into a new home with their three children: truculent teenager Kendra (Saxon Sharbino), scaredy-cat Griffin (Kyle Catlett) and cutie-pie Madison (Kennedi Clements).

The family notices odd electrical discharges around the house and Madison begins to converse with imaginary friends that live in her wardrobe. "They're lost people - not pretend, mommy," the tyke sweetly informs Amy.

Spirits make contact with Madison through white noise on a TV and spirit her away to the netherworld. Eric and Amy turn to Dr Claire Powell (Jane Adams), a professor of paranormal psychology, for assistance.

She brings in two trusty assistants, Boyd (Nicholas Braun) and Sophie (Susan Heyward), to capture evidence of the parallel spirit realm, where Madison is lost. "Someone should go in there and show her the way back here," suggests Griffin.

So Claire summons paranormal expert Carrigan Burke (Jared Harris), who hosts the reality TV show Haunted House Cleaners, to return Madison to the land of the living.

Poltergeist has creaking doors aplenty and bumps in the night but savvy 21st century audiences will be wise to these hoary scare tactics. Rockwell and DeWitt are solid while Clements exudes sweetness like her predecessor.

Harris is a poor replacement for Zelda Rubinstein's iconic spookfinder, Tangina, but the remake is already on shaky ground by the time he enters the fray, replete with wavering Irish accent. When Amy tells her son Griffin there is nothing to be afraid of, she was right.

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Wednesday 27th May 2015
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Poltergeist 3D 3 stars

movie title

Eric Bowen and his wife Amy move into a new home with their three children: teenage daughter Kendra, son Griffin and youngest child Madison. Angry spirits invade the home and focus their attention on little Madison, making contact with her through the white noise on a TV screen before spiriting away the terrified girl into the netherworld. Eric and Amy turn to supernatural expert Dr Claire Powell and medium Carrigan Burke to return Madison to the land of the living.

  • GenreAdaptation, Horror, Thriller
  • CastSam Rockwell, Rosemarie DeWitt, Kennedi Clements, Jane Adams, Jared Harris, Kyle Catlett, Saxon Sharbino.
  • DirectorGil Kenan.
  • WriterDavid Lindsay-Abaire.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration94 mins
  • Official sitewww.foxmovies.com/movies/poltergeist
  • Release22/05/2015

They're back!... the malevolent spirits from Tobe Hooper's 1982 horror resurface in director Gil Kenan's contemporary update, which supplants old school shocks with a whirlwind of computer-generated hocus pocus.

The original film was a masterpiece of sustained creepiness and inspired wild theories about a curse - supposedly borne when filmmakers used actual skeletons in the swimming pool scene - to explain the deaths of four cast members including angelic 12-year-old lead actress, Heather O'Rourke.

Regrettably, the might of modern technology dilutes the shock of the neat set-up and renders this revamp of Poltergeist an entirely scare-free affair. Screenwriter David Lindsay-Abaire appears to have been influenced by modern horror films including Insidious and Annabelle, adding demonic toy clowns and a reality TV ghost hunter to his volatile mix.

There's a cute wink to the 1982 film in his script when the family learns that their home was built on a former cemetery and someone quips, "It's not as if it was an ancient burial ground." The iconic scene with a little girl and a flickering TV screen is also recreated.

In unconvincing fits and bursts, Kenan's film strives to set itself apart from the past, including the use of 3D that only really makes sense for a nasty moment with an electric drill.

Eric Bowen (Sam Rockwell) and his wife Amy (Rosemarie DeWitt) move into a new home with their three children: truculent teenager Kendra (Saxon Sharbino), scaredy-cat Griffin (Kyle Catlett) and cutie-pie Madison (Kennedi Clements).

The family notices odd electrical discharges around the house and Madison begins to converse with imaginary friends that live in her wardrobe. "They're lost people - not pretend, mommy," the tyke sweetly informs Amy.

Spirits make contact with Madison through white noise on a TV and spirit her away to the netherworld. Eric and Amy turn to Dr Claire Powell (Jane Adams), a professor of paranormal psychology, for assistance.

She brings in two trusty assistants, Boyd (Nicholas Braun) and Sophie (Susan Heyward), to capture evidence of the parallel spirit realm, where Madison is lost. "Someone should go in there and show her the way back here," suggests Griffin.

So Claire summons paranormal expert Carrigan Burke (Jared Harris), who hosts the reality TV show Haunted House Cleaners, to return Madison to the land of the living.

Poltergeist has creaking doors aplenty and bumps in the night but savvy 21st century audiences will be wise to these hoary scare tactics. Rockwell and DeWitt are solid while Clements exudes sweetness like her predecessor.

Harris is a poor replacement for Zelda Rubinstein's iconic spookfinder, Tangina, but the remake is already on shaky ground by the time he enters the fray, replete with wavering Irish accent. When Amy tells her son Griffin there is nothing to be afraid of, she was right.

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Wednesday 27th May 2015
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San Andreas 3D 3 stars

The San Andreas Fault, which runs for more than 800 miles through California, gives way, triggering a magnitude 9 earthquake that decimates the west coast. Search and rescue helicopter pilot Chief Ray Gaines takes to the air to hunt for survivors including his estranged wife Emma, who is engaged to wealthy real estate developer Daniel Reddick. Reunited in unimaginable tragedy, Ray and Emma head from Los Angeles to San Francisco to save their only daughter Blake.

  • GenreAction, Drama, Romance, Thriller
  • CastIoan Gruffudd, Alexandra Daddario, Dwayne Johnson, Carla Gugino, Archie Panjabi.
  • DirectorBrad Peyton.
  • WriterCarlton Cuse.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration114 mins
  • Official sitewwws.warnerbros.co.uk/sanandreas/
  • Release28/05/2015

The San Andreas Fault, which runs for more than 800 miles through California, gives way, triggering a magnitude 9 earthquake that decimates the west coast. Search and rescue helicopter pilot Chief Ray Gaines takes to the air to hunt for survivors including his estranged wife Emma, who is engaged to wealthy real estate developer Daniel Reddick. Reunited in unimaginable tragedy, Ray and Emma head from Los Angeles to San Francisco to save their only daughter Blake.

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Thursday 28th May 2015

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Shaun The Sheep Movie 4 stars

movie title

Shaun and the flock grow tired of the daily routine on Mossy Bottom Farm under the watchful eye of Bitzer the sheepdog. So the herd hoodwinks the Farmer into taking a well deserved day. Unfortunately, the cunning plan goes awry and the Farmer ends up in the Big City suffering from a nasty bout of memory loss. Shaun and his fleecy friends head for the metropolis to bring the Farmer back home but they attract the attentions of a nasty animal containment officer called Trumper.

  • GenreAction, Adventure, Animation/Cartoon, Children, Children's, Comedy, Family, Family
  • CastJohn Sparkes, Justin Fletcher.
  • DirectorRichard Starzack, Mark Burton.
  • WriterRichard Starzack, Richard Goleszowski, Mark Burton.
  • CountryUK
  • Duration85 mins
  • Official sitewww.shaunthesheep.com
  • Release06/02/2015

Bristol-based Aardman Studios works its stop-motion animated magic on a colourful big screen adventure for the mischievous sheep, who first appeared in Wallace and Gromit's 1995 escapade A Close Shave and has been baad to the bone in a self-titled CBBC series since 2007.

Drawing loving inspiration from other Aardman films including Chicken Run, Shaun The Sheep Movie is a shear delight, melding slapstick and subtler humour to appeal to young fans and their wranglers.

Directors Mark Burton and Richard Starzack shepherd this boisterous romp through various twists and turns at a breathless pace. They litter the screen with wry visual gags, including an airborne cow clearing the roof of the Over The Moon public house.

Stop-motion visuals burst with colour and action sequences are orchestrated with mind-boggling technical precision. As usual, Shaun is at the centre of the madcap action. The flock grows tired of the daily routine on Mossy Bottom Farm under the watchful eye of Bitzer the sheepdog.

So the animals hoodwink the Farmer into taking a well-deserved day off so they can do the same. Unfortunately, this cunning plan goes awry and the Farmer ends up with a nasty bout of memory loss after a high-speed journey to The Big City inside a runaway caravan.

Off the hoof, Shaun and his fleecy friends board the 62 bus from Mossy Bottom to the metropolis, determined to bring their beloved master back home. Unfortunately, they attract the attention of a nasty animal containment officer called Trumper, who doesn't want any farmyard escapees on the lamb on his patch.

Aided by an orphan dog named Slip, the sheep disguise themselves as humans to pull the wool over the eyes of unsuspecting residents of The Big City and track down the Farmer.

In human form, the sheep enjoy haute cuisine at a bistro called Le Chou Brule, while the Farmer discovers a new calling with hair clippers at an upscale boutique. Back at Mossy Bottom, The Naughty Pigs run amok in the farmhouse, oblivious to the hare-brained antics of the other four-legged residents.

Shaun The Sheep Movie will have families flocking in droves to local cinemas. There's nothing woolly about Burton and Starzack's screenplay, which doesn't pause to bleat between set pieces, propelling the narrative forward without sacrificing the characterisation.

There are some lovely interludes here like Shaun's temporary incarceration in an animal shelter, which also houses a psychotic cat from the same litter as Hannibal Lecter and a dog with BARK and BITE tattooed on its knuckles.

As with other Aardman offerings, the animators' imprints are occasionally visible in the expressive clay protagonists, which is part of the film's undeniable charm. Ewe won't be disappointed.

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Wednesday 27th May 2015
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Spooks: The Greater Good 3 stars

movie title

Harry Pearce, Head of Counter-Terrorism Department at MI5, oversees the handover of deadly terrorist Qasim. The transfer is a disaster and Qasim escapes custody. Soon after, Harry vanishes without trace. High-ranking MI5 operatives enlist Harry's protege Will Crombie to track down his former mentor. In the process, Will stumbles upon a deadly conspiracy and a diabolical plot masterminded by Qasim to detonate a dirty bomb in the heart of London.

  • GenreAction, Drama, Romance, Thriller
  • CastElyes Gabel, Kit Harington, Jennifer Ehle, Peter Firth, Tuppence Middleton, David Harewood, Lara Pulver.
  • DirectorBharat Nalluri.
  • WriterSam Vincent, Jonathan Brackley.
  • CountryUK
  • Duration104 mins
  • Official sitewww.facebook.com/spooksthemovie
  • Release08/05/2015

During a nine-year run on BBC One, Spooks thrilled viewers with the morally conflicted escapades of members of Section D of MI5, including one gruesome death sequence involving a deep fat fryer that sparked a deluge of complaints.

The show concluded in 2011 with the death of a pivotal character, effectively bringing down the curtain on the high-stakes spy game. After four years in dramatic limbo, familiar faces return in this glossy big-screen mission penned by Jonathan Brackley and Sam Vincent, who co-wrote the majority of episodes of the final two series.

There's a comforting air of familiarity about this Bourne Identity-style caper that serves as a reboot of the franchise and wedges the door ajar for further assignments, presuming lead actor Kit Harington can be wooed away from Game Of Thrones. Director Bharat Nalluri, who was closely associated with the TV version, maintains a brisk pace and orchestrates a couple of nail-biting action sequences.

Sir Harry Pearce (Peter Firth), Head of Counter-Terrorism at MI5, oversees the handover of terrorist Qasim (Elyes Gabel) to the CIA. The transfer, via the traffic-clogged roads of London, reaches a standoff when Qasim's gun-toting henchmen attack the police escort.

Harry makes the bold decision to avoid bloodshed by releasing the prisoner. Qasim narrowly escapes a subsequent pursuit by MI5 agent June Keaton (Tuppence Middleton) and her partner. Soon after, Harry vanishes without trace, shouldering the blame for the debacle.

Dame Geraldine Maltby (Jennifer Ehle), Deputy Director General of MI5, and Oliver Mace (Tim McInnerny), Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, enlist Harry's protege Will Crombie (Kit Harington) to track down his mentor. Will reluctantly agrees and unwittingly stumbles into a deadly conspiracy.

"I had to find someone I can trust: it's a short list," Harry informs Will when they eventually meet. With the clock ticking before Qasim detonates a dirty bomb in the heart of London, Will attempts to navigate a web of intrigue, some of it spun by Harry, aided by fellow agent Erin Watts (Lara Pulver).

Spooks: The Greater Good references tragic events from the final episode of the TV series and reopens old wounds to cast doubt on the ulterior motives of some of the key players.

Fans will savour these gossamer thin ties to the past but Nalluri's picture works well as a stand-alone feature for the uninitiated. Firth affects the same furrowed brow to suggest he is custodian of too many secrets, while Harington expends energy in bruising fight sequences.

The plot twists and turns, and threatens to tie itself in knots, but thankfully unravels with a satisfying dose of treachery. As Harry reminds his idealistic protege, "You can do good or you can do well. Sooner or later, they make you choose."

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The Age Of Adaline 3 stars

movie title

In the 1930s, Adaline Bowman is driving to her parents' house as the snow falls. She is the victim of a freak car accident and is struck by lightning - a bizarre combination which causes her to remain a luminous 29 years old and never age. Adaline knows she will have to watch everyone she loves die and slip away. So she resolves to live alone and never allow anyone close to her for fear of hurting them.

  • GenreDrama, Romance
  • CastEllen Burstyn, Blake Lively, Harrison Ford, Amanda Crew, Michiel Huisman, Kathy Baker.
  • DirectorLee Toland Krieger.
  • WriterSalvador Paskowitz, J Mills Goodloe.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration113 mins
  • Official site
  • Release08/05/2015

The Age Of Adaline is a rose-tinted fairy story for every image-obsessed Hollywood actress. Lee Toland Krieger's swooning romance centres on a beautiful woman, who is "immune to the ravages of time" and retains her twenty-something radiance for almost eight decades without the intervention of a plastic surgeon or Botox jab.

She defies wrinkles, crow's feet and the relentless pull of gravity to remain forever young while the world around her withers and rusts. If the catalyst for this miracle - a car crash on snow-laden roads followed by a plunge into sub-zero water and a lightning bolt strike - could be replicated in a Californian hospital, you suspect that at least one starlet would volunteer as a guinea pig to test the outlandish theory.

However, with great beauty comes great responsibility and sadness. The eponymous heroine of Krieger's film cannot allow anyone to get close, who might reveal her secret.

As one character, who does stumble upon the truth, solemnly observes: "All these years, you've lived but you've not had a life." When death is no longer the full stop to your glorious existence, how can you appreciate every lesson learnt, every moment of regret or hard-fought victory?

In 1937, Adaline Bowman (Blake Lively) is the victim of a freak accident, which condemns her to remain 29-years-old. Her daughter Flemming (Cate Richardson) grows up, forcing Adaline to dodge uncomfortable questions about her glowing appearance.

She resolves to live alone and to change her identity and home every decade. On New Year's Eve, almost 80 years after the fateful accident, Adaline meets handsome San Francisco philanthropist, Ellis Jones (Michiel Huisman).

He woos Adaline and persuades her to accompany him to his parents' 40th wedding anniversary party. She walks into the Jones homestead and comes face to face with Ellis' father William (Harrison Ford), who takes one look at his son's sweetheart and gasps: "Adaline!"

He is her long-lost beau from the 1960s, who she abandoned without explanation. Adaline is distraught and tells her daughter that there can be no future to her relationship with Ellis. <"What are you talking about?" despairs Flemming (now played by Ellen Burstyn). "You've got nothing but future!"

The Age Of Adaline gently plucks heartstrings as the time-defying protagonist struggles to let Ellis into her unedifying existence. Director Krieger employs a gushing voiceover to fill in the gaps in Adaline's past.

This florid and unintentionally hilarious narration risks derailing the entire, sticky sweet enterprise. Thankfully, Lively delivers a measured performance and she kindles simmering screen chemistry with Huisman. Ford is terrific as the emotionally scarred patriarch, who fears he is losing his grip on sanity, grounding the film in tear-stained reality while the rest of the script demands dizzying suspensions of disbelief.

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Wednesday 27th May 2015

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Tomorrowland: A World Beyond 3 stars

At the 1964 World Fair, a young boy called Frank Walker takes a magical trip to a world called Tomorrowland in the company of a girl called Athena. Many years later, Frank is a grizzled, world weary inventor, who is haunted by his memories of Tomorrowland and the beautiful Athena. A spirited young woman called Casey Newton, who has also glimpsed this futuristic realm, gatecrashes Frank's life at the most inopportune moment and compels him to venture back to Tomorrowland.

  • GenreAction, Adventure, Family, Fantasy, Science Fiction
  • CastHugh Laurie, Britt Robertson, George Clooney, Raffey Cassidy.
  • DirectorBrad Bird.
  • WriterBrad Bird, Damon Lindelof.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration130 mins
  • Official sitewww.movies.disney.com/tomorrowland
  • Release22/05/2015

For a big budget fantasy which vociferously encourages children to dream, Tomorrowland: A World Beyond is disappointingly - and ironically - short on invention and ingenuity. Director Brad Bird, who cast early cinematic spells in animation with The Iron Giant, The Incredibles and Ratatouille, engineers a trio of slick set pieces in the opening hour.

In particular, his female protagonist's first glimpse of the titular kingdom is a breath-taking assault on the senses including the haunting image of synchronised divers somersaulting downwards into circular pools of water suspended one above another.

Once the cogs of a preposterous plot begin to whir, any exhilaration quickly dissipates, leaving us to slog through an exceedingly pedestrian second hour that is heavy on exposition and light on wonder. As soon as one character starts ranting about a secret brotherhood founded by Gustave Eiffel, Thomas Edison, Jules Verne and Nikola Tesla - a narrative thread that might have come untangled from Dan Brown's outlandish Da Vinci Code - all hope is lost.

Aside from a pair of duelling robots, casually introduced into the underwhelming finale, it's difficult to see what will hold the attention of young children, who aren't already asleep or kicking the chair in front of them in boredom.

At the 1964 New York World Fair, young inventor Frank Walker (Thomas Robinson) fails to impress judge David Nix (Hugh Laurie) with his misfiring jetpack. However, the boy does catch the eye of an enigmatic girl called Athena (Raffey Cassidy), who gives Frank a lapel pin emblazoned with a capital T that magically grants him access to a parallel dimension called Tomorrowland.

Eventually, Frank is banished from the fantastical realm and his beloved Athena. Many years later, Frank (now played by George Clooney) is a grizzled recluse, haunted by the past.

A spirited young woman called Casey Newton (Britt Robertson), who has glimpsed this futuristic realm by touching her own lapel pin, gatecrashes Frank's life at the most inopportune moment.

"You've been manipulated to believe you're part of something incredible," Frank warns Casey as they travel back to Tomorrowland to discover the fairy-tale realm has been corrupted beyond recognition.

Tomorrowland: A World Beyond has teasing flashes of the beguiling flight of fantasy that Bird surely intended. A high-speed pursuit with robot assassins around Frank's booby-trap laden home is executed at a breathless pace, and rising star Cassidy from Worsley near Manchester outshines Clooney and Robertson in their underwritten roles.

However, a framing device which allows Frank and Casey to jointly narrate the story - and constantly bicker - grates and is ultimately superfluous. Somewhere between Bird's plodding direction in the second act and his convoluted script co-written by Damon Lindelof, Tomorrowland becomes a test of endurance rather than a pulse-quickening tumble down the rabbit hole of the human spirit.

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