MOVIE ROUND-UP:This Week’s New Film Releases, Fri May 5-Thu May 11

 

NEW RELEASES

Sleepless (15)

Jamie Foxx has made some odd career choices. He won an Oscar, Golden Globe and a BAFTA for Ray and was nominated in all three for Collateral, he then impressed further in Django Unchained. But, on the other hand, his CV also includes two Horrible Bosses and the  black rework of Annie. And now he’s starring in the engaging but generic cop thriller, a remake of a 2011’s Nuit Blanche,  in which none of the surprises are anything but, telegraphed ahead as they are.

Playing Vincent Downes,  Foxx is first seen with his partner, Sean (Tip Harris), taking down a couple of thugs and relieving them of 25k of cocaine, taking off before the cops get there. But, hey, what do you know, both Vincent and Sean are themselves cops. Perhaps they’re part of the corruption over-caffeinated Internal Affairs agent Bryant (Michelle Monaghan), back at work from  being beaten up a bust gone bad,  is trying to take down.  Meanwhile, Vincent has a problem when it turns out the drugs, which belonged to dodgy Las Vegas casino owner Rubino (Dermot Mulroney), were intended  for Novak (Scoot McNairy), who’s running his drug lord dad’s operations while he’s off on holiday. Now Rubino needs them back before the volatile Novak arrives to collect them.  To which end, he has his henchman kidnap Thomas (Octavius J. Johnson), Vincent’s estranged high school son as they’re en route to his football game, knifing Vincent in the process.

So, now Vincent has to take the drugs to the casino, stashing them in the gents while he negotiates his son’s release. Unfortunately, Bryant, who reckons he’s one of the dirty cops, has been tailing him, removes the drugs and stashes them somewhere else in the casino calling in her partner Dennison (David Harbour) so she can bust everyone at one go. So, when Vincent goes to get the bag and finds it gone, he has to improvise. Meanwhile, Novak is getting impatient, Rubino’s getting desperate and Vincent manages to survive far more beatings than a man who with a  stomach stab wound might feasibly endure. Oh, yeh, and his worried nurse ex-wife (Gabrielle Union) keeps calling asking where their son’s got to, Vincent is, of course, undercover, but apparently no one knows it, not even Internal affairs, for which he works, because, don’t you know, there’s so many corrupt cops he can’t trust anyone. Or tell his family. Especially given someone ratted out an informant to Novak and blew Bryant’s earlier operation. Mmm, wonder who that might possibly be and who could possibly have removed the drugs from the locker where she hid them?

The fact that pretty much all of this takes place within the casino over the course of one night is one of the increasingly implausible and nonsensically titled film’s few inspired touches. Director Baran  bo Odar keeps things moving along and Foxx is solid enough on a one note level, but pretty much everyone else cranks things up to almost caricature levels, except, of course, for the one that doesn’t, just so you don’t guess this twist. As if. It ends with a clear set up for a  sequel. Now, that would be a surprise. (Cineworld 5 Ways, NEC, Solihull;  Empire Great Park, Sutton Coldfield; Odeon Birmingham, Broadway Plaza, West Brom; Showcase Walsall; Vue Star City)

 

A Dog’s Purpose (PG)

Having previously directed My Life As  A Dog and Hachi: A Dog’s Tale, Lasse Hallstrom now adds a third canine title to the CV with this wallowingly sentimental family yarn that takes the well-worn a boy and his dog set-up and takes it for a walk on a very long leash. Starting with a young stray puppy being picked up by a Michigan dog-catcher and euthenised. Only to be instantly reincarnated in the body of a red retriever who winds up being adopted by young Ethan, who names him Bailey. Or, as the dog thinks, Bailey, Bailey, Bailey, Bailey. As they grow up together, they play catch and Bailey even engineers teenage promising football star Ethan’s romance with love of his life Hannah, but all that falls apart when the school bully Bailey humiliated seeks revenge and accidentally burns down the family home (though, by this point, Ethan’s dad – Luke Kirby)- has become an alcoholic and been kicked out), leading to the end of Ethan’s football dreams and, in a pique of self-pity, his future with Hannah.

This takes up the longest section before Bailey grows old and dies, only to be again reincarnated, this time as female Alsatian who  becomes the K9 partner of lonely copy Carlos only to be killed in action and come bacg again, this time as a cute corgi that brings together college loner Maya and her future husband, growing old with another family before, yep, its soul passing to another dog, who’s taken in by a white trash couple and eventually dumped by the husband. As it turns out, Bailey’s latest body fetches up near a farm that’s now run by a familiar figure (now played by Dennis Quaid, the trailer already having given everything away) and, with another scent from the past back in town, it all comes full circle for a long delayed happy ending.

As you’ll have worked out by now, a dog’s purpose, the meaning of  canine life if you will, is, apart from have fun and eat a lot, one of emotional rescue, but should that have passed you by, Josh Gad, who winsomely voices the dog’s soul through all its incarnations (bizarrely even the female one) helpfully sums it all up at the end.

There are some shamelessly manipulated sniffle-inducing moments amid the general cheesiness, but as the dog’s spirit passes from one body to the next so the accompanying, but never linked stories become shorter and more perfunctory, any emotional involvement going walkies until the final moments, with none of the characters given room to develop any dramatic depth beyond simple shorthand. And Bailey’s supposedly amusing observations on human behaviour (he sees kissing as searching one another for  food) are just embarrassingly unfunny. It’s not a  total dog, but you can’t help but feel you’ve been sold a pup.  (Cineworld 5 Ways, NEC, Solihull;  Empire Great Park, Sutton Coldfield; Odeon Birmingham, Broadway Plaza, West Brom; Reel; Showcase Walsall; Vue Star City)

 

Mindhorn (15)

Unfortunately, lack of screening availabilty means this, the latest from the Mighty Boosh crew can’t be  reviewed until next week, but, despite a somewhat limited outing, it’s already being hailed by some as the comedy of the year. It’s a spoof on  the 80s detective/secret agent TV genre with Julian Barratt as Richard Thorncroft, a washed-up and now overwight, out of condition actor who was once the star of popular TV series Mindhorn, set on the Isle of Wight with the titular character being a pricate detective with a robotic eye that lets him see the truth . He gets a chance to relive his glory days and make a comeback when he’s called upon by Andrea Risborough’s cop to help nail an elusive serial killer (Russell Tovey) who believes Mindhorn was actually a documentary and will only talk to him

Featuring cameos from Steve Coogan as the  star of the Windjammer spinoff, Kenneth Branagh and Simon Callow as themselves, and with co-writer Simon Farnaby as Thorncroft’s stunt double with Essie Davis as their shared love interest, a hefty degree on post-modern irony and knowing silliness can be expected. (Cineworld 5 Ways;  Electric; Empire Great Park; Everyman)

 

Unlocked (15)

 

It’s not going to win any awards, but, efficiently directed by Michael Apted, this terrorist-themed thriller does a watchable enough job even if it convoluted plot’s twists and turns and unreliable characters might induce headaches trying to keep up.

Blaming herself for not cracking the code soon enough to prevent the deaths of numerous civilians during a terrorist bombing in Paris, former CIA agent Alice (Noomi Rapace) is working for an counselling agency in London’s East End, feeding back any hints of terrorist activity to the head of MI5 (Toni Collette channelling Annie Lennox).

Then she’ approached by a CIA man who says she’s needed to interrogate a courier they’ve snatched who’s supposed to be delivering  message from a local Imam suspect of being behind terrorist attacks.  They need her to unlock his message so they can switch their man to meet the mastermind behind what they believe to be an upcoming biological attack. Which she duly does, only to get a call from MI5 at a crucial moment asking her to interrogate the self-same courier. Clocking that she’s been played, she escapes and seeks help from her former CIA mentor (Michael Douglas), only for him to be gunned down,  giving her the address of a safe house apartment. However, arriving there she find sit being burgled by the heavily tattooed Jack (Orlando Bloom) who says he’s a former marine who served in Iraq and, after rescuing her from a couple of armed officers sent to apprehend her (CIA station boss John Malkovich acting on the assumption she’s gone rogue), sets off to try and track down the guy the courier was supposed to meet, enlisting the help of one of her agency clients in the process.

Given it’s established early on that the CIA has been ‘penetrated’, Alice has no idea of who to trust, and the audience are pretty much in the same position as characters motivations and alliances seem to switch at the drop of a plot twist hat.

Riddled with heavy handed expositionary dialogue and preposterous set-ups, it rumbles along merrily enough, punching up the tension as it goes and slotting into the recent niche of thrillers adopting cynical view about the lengths to which government agencies will go to achieve their ends.

If it’s a little hard to take Bloom as some East End macho man, Rapace delivers a solid intense performance worthier of a far better film while Collette plays things with a twinkle in her eye and Malkovich adds a wry sense of fun with his dry humour and comic timing. Ultimately, having made its theatrical  debut in Russia of all places, which seems a bit ironic given that’s where the deadly bio-agent has been smuggled out of, it feels a bit like a poor man’s Spooks and the sort of B movie opportunist zeigeist thriller you’d expect to go straight to DVD or on-demand when you can use the remote to switch between plot holes as you watch. (Cineworld 5 Ways, NEC, Solihull;  Empire Great Park; Odeon Birmingham, Broadway Plaza, West Brom; Reel; Showcase Walsall; Vue Star City)

 

NOW PLAYING

 

Beauty and the Beast (PG)

Following on from Cinderella and The Jungle Book, this is the latest of Disney’s toons to get a live action update. Directed by Bill Condon, this very much plays to the original’s Oscar winning score and songs to make it a  full out musical, complete with three new numbers; however, while parts are very good, it never quite takes off  as a whole. Likewise, while the design generally looks terrific, especially the Beast’s gloom-frozen castle, Belle’s village feels very much like a 30s stage set. It’s a qualification that tends to apply throughout. The CGI animated household objects into which the servants have been transformed are brilliantly rendered, but, as voiced by Ian McKellen (Cogsworth, the clock), Ewan McGregor (Lumiere, the candelabra) and Emma Thompson (an inexplicably Cockney accented Mrs. Potts, the teapot), they’re also often very irritating.  And then, on the one hand, you have a serious turn by Kevin Kline as Belle’s guilt-haunted inventor father and a solid theatrical villain from Luke Evans as the arrogant, narcissistic Gaston, while, on the other, an over the top Josh Gad is almost unbearably hammy as his adoring camp sidekick LeFou.

The problem extends to the central characters too. Dan Stevens is magnificent under the CGI as the tortured Beast (rather less so when restored to his true prince form), but, unfortunately, Emma Watson is all too prettily bland as Belle, though she can handle a tune passably enough. Only in the final, and genuinely moving, moments, does she ever fully come to life, meaning that, if you’re over the age of eight, much of what goes before is ever so slightly boring.

You’ll know  the fairy tale and the film’s opening voice over makes short work of delivering the exposition as to why the prince was cursed by an enchantress, transformed into a  beast for having no love in his heart, and cursed to remain that way when the last petal falls from the red rose in the glass case if he’s not found someone to love him for who he is.

Lost during a storm,  Belle’s  father takes shelter in the hidden castle and is locked up by the Beast after stealing a rose from the garden on his way out, Belle duly taking his place and, assisted by the matchmaking Lumiere,  her tender and wise nature soothing the Beast’s rage, lifting his depression and causing him to care as, bonding over a love of literature, she comes to see his inner soul. In addition, the film also takes a trip to Belle’s birthplace in Paris to add some backstory about what happened to her mother and why dad’s so protective.

At its best, as with a showstopping Be Our Guest dinner sequence that tips the hat to Busby Berkeley, the LeFou and Gaston tavern table hopping  musical routine, the castle invasion action finale and, of course, the iconic ballroom waltz with that yellow dress and blue tunic, it’s fabulous, equal  and occasionally superior to the 1991 animation. Unfortunately,   when it isn’t, it falls rather short,  and, while watchable, also disappointingly forgettable.   (Cineworld 5 Ways, NEC, Solihull;  Empire Great Park, Sutton Coldfield; Odeon Birmingham, Broadway Plaza, West Brom; Reel; Showcase Walsall; Vue Star City)

The Belko Experiment (18)

Director Greg McLean and Guardians of the Galaxy writer James Gunn give another spin to the Battle Royale scenario in which a bunch of characters have to kill one another in order to survive. Here it’s a group of office drones working in a Colombian high-rise for Belko, a government funded corporate whose day goes belly up when, over the intercom, a voice announces that in eight hours most of them will be dead and that they have to kill two people in the next thirty minutes or face the consequences. At which point the place goes into lock down, cutting off communication with  metal shutters covering all the exits and windows. The CEO,  Barry (Tony Goldwyn), reassures the staff it’s just some prank, but, when explosive chips implanted  in their heads start going off, that’s clearly not the case.

At which point, with middle manager Mike (John Gallagher, Jr.), who’s romantically involved with fellow employee Leandra (Adria Arjona), removing the explosive from his neck things basically settle into a rather you than me scenario when they’re told another 30 have to die in the next four hours. So, on the one hand you have good guy Mike in favour of resistance and, on the other, there’s Barry assisted by creepy Wendell (John C. McGinley) assigning who lives and dies. All of which is being monitored by hidden cameras by the unseen figures in the nearby warehouse and whose snipers are on hand to prevent anyone trying to get a message out.

Rather inevitably, it descends into a who’s next situation (contenders include new hire Melonie Diaz, maintenance worker  Michael Rooker, stoner  Sean Gunn and security guard James Earl) and where, given the place is plunged into darkness, it’s not always clear what’s going on, but there is a liberal helping of splatter  as well as a strong seam of black and bleak humour, The perfunctory coda involving the lone survivor about it all being an experiment by a global bunch of demented social scientists is a half-hearted attempt at  explanation that defies logic but, as you might expect, does end on a set up for phase 2. (Showcase Walsall; Vue Star City)

 

The Boss Baby (U)

If Storks wasn’t confusing enough for kids about where babies come from, in this Looney Tunes styled animation they’re despatched from a heavenly factory where tots are either sent to families or, if they don’t pass the tickle test, to  BabyCorp management.  The highly imaginative seven-year-old Tim (Miles Christopher Bakshi) has a perfect life, basking in the love of his parents (Jimmy Kimmel and Lisa Kudrow). So he’s not happy to learn he’s getting a baby brother. Even less when the new arrival turns out to wear a black business suit, carries a briefcase and is hugely demanding. Then, to his shock, he finds the baby (Alec Baldwin) can walk, talk and ia actually a BabyCorp exec on a mission because babies are losing out on love to puppies. His job is to prevent the launch of the latest product from arch-rival Puppyco, for which Tim’s parents work,  which threatens to soak up all the love that’s left. To which end, he recruits some of the neighbouring babies, a cute set of a triplets, feisty  Staci and the  gormless but muscular Eugene, but, ultimately, it’s the reluctant siblings who are forced to work together if they ever want to be out of each other’s lives.

Fast and snappy with both slapstick and Baldwin’s dry humour, it deals with themes of sibling rivalry and family while finding time for poop and fart jokes, all climaxing in a big action sequence involving Tim and the Boss Baby in Las Vegas as they take on Puppyco’s owner (Steve Buscemi) and his henchman.

Baldwin delivers his trademark sarcastic patter to perfection (“cookies are for closers”) and director Tim McGrath moves thing along at a cracking pace while Tobey Maguire provides the bookended narration by the grown up Tim and James McGrath offers amusing touches as Tim’s Gandalf-like wizard alarm clock. It inevitably ultimately descends into sentimentality, but even so this earns its rusks. (Cineworld NEC, Solihull;  Empire Great Park, Sutton Coldfield; Odeon Birmingham, Broadway Plaza, West Brom; Reel; Showcase Walsall; Vue Star City)

The Death Of Mr Lazarescu (15)

If you think the NHS is bad, be grateful you don’t live in Romania. Based on a true story, Cristi Puiu’s film follows symbolically named old Dante Remus Lazarescu (Ion Fiscuteanu) from his first call to the ambulance service complaining of stomach pains through the long night to his eventual admission by a world-weary doctor.

By then, dutiful fiftysomething paramedic Mioara (Luminita Gheorghiu) will have taken him to three other hospitals where she’ll be patronised by arrogant doctors and he’ll be variously ignored, dismissed as a drunk who deserves all he gets, and, even when diagnosed, passed on for others to deal with by a succession of short-tempered doctors and nurses worried about their own interests, flirting or just plain overworked.

The film’s non judgmental, content to observe in almost documentary fashion as others impose their own perceptions in their response to the dying Lazarescu as he slips into dementia.Some viewers will feel anger and frustration, others will sympathise with medical staff working impossible hours in impossible conditions, trying to cope with the victims of a major bus crash. Throughout, everyone is credibly human, glimpses of compassion peeking through the walls erected against personal involvement in the life and death passing before them. Filmed in long takes, devoid of music, and veined with a seam of black humour, it’s a long, slow film that casts a unsentimental piercing gaze through the bleak darkness and holds you transfixed throughout its journey.(Sun: MAC)

 

Fast And Furious 8 (12A)

Once just about racing fast cars, now about saving the world, the latest box office record breaking addition to the franchise opens with a high speed race around Havana between  the newly married Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel), who’s honeymooning there with  Letty (Michelle Rodriguez),  and the local hotshot that involves the former, engulfed in flames, driving his burning car backwards across the finishing line. It’s thrilling stuff, but it’s just a warm up for the jaw dropping auto action that follows.

Returning from shopping, Toretto’s waylaid by a mysterious blonde (Charlize Theron) who wants him to work for her and has an incentive he’s in no position to refuse. Meanwhile, special agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) is approached at a girls’ soccer match where’s he’s coach to his daughter’s team (and which, with their Maori war dance, provides one  the funniest moments) and sent on a mission to retrieve a stolen nuclear device from a bunch of terrorists. The old team, Toretto, Letty, Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Tej (Chris Bridges) and new hacker addition Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) are  duly recruited, and next thing you know they’re bursting through concrete walls with a small army in pursuit. However, having seen them off, Hobbs is forced off the road by Toretto, who takes the device and drives off.

Cut to Hobbs being banged up in the same prison as sworn enemy Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), giving rise to a testosterone show down and a ferocious fight between prisoners and guards. All of which has been engineered by Mr Nobody (Kurt Russell)  and his new assistant, mockingly dubbed Little Nobody (Scott Eastwood), to get Hobbs on board along with the others to track down Toretto whom, it transpires, having betrayed family,  is now in cahoots with the woman from Cuba, aka the cyberterrorist known as Cipher. And, since they’re one short, Nobody insists that Shaw is part of the team, too.

As for Cipher, having acquired the nuclear device, and stormed into Nobody’s HQ with Toretto to steal powerful surveillance device God’s Eye,  she now wants him  to relieve the visiting Russian Minister of Defence of the launch codes he happens to be carting round New York and, from there, it’s just a short hop to stealing a nuclear Russian sub and launching  a missile to teach the superpowers a lesson. At some point, you get to learn what hold she has over Toretto, but let’s not spoil the surprise.

Suffice to say, this is the most spectacular of the series so far featuring an awesome firefight climax on a frozen Russian wasteland involving any number of heavily armed vehicles and the aforementioned colossal sub. But even that pales into insignificance against the New York set piece as Cipher takes control of an array of auto-drive vehicles for a car chase the likes of which you have never seen before and with  automobile destruction that makes Michael Bay look like some kid crashing his Matchbox cars. Oh yeh, and there’s a baby too. And a gleeful cameo from Helen Mirren.

Directed by F. Gary Gray, it remembers to give it a  heart  to go with the mayhem, as well as copious humour, mostly provided by the macho trade-offs between Hobbs and Deckard and the ribbing of dorky by the rules Little Nobody. On the other hand, Theron does a terrific line in ice cold heartless villainy with charisma to spare. It gets dark in places, but it knows not to take things too seriously, enjoying a sense of its own preposterous even as everything explodes around it. With two more   instalments in the works (Theron patently set for a return bout) there’s clearly plenty of fuel in the tanks yet, though how they’re going to top this is anyone’s guess.  (Cineworld 5 Ways, NEC, Solihull;  Empire Great Park, Sutton Coldfield; Everyman; Odeon Birmingham, Broadway Plaza, West Brom; Reel; Showcase Walsall; Vue Star City)

 

Get Out (15)

Bringing a welcome injection of fresh blood to horror movies, writer-director Jordan Peele deftly revives the genre’s element of social commentary, constructing his film as a racial satire which chimes powerfully in America’s current climate. Indeed, Peele’s darkly funny film riffs on the idea of whites finding a new way of subjugating blacks to slavery.

A rising star in the photography world, Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) is persuaded to visit the new girlfriend Rose’s (Allison Williams) family in their upstate home. He’s just a little wary of their reaction, specifically since she hasn’t told them he’s black. Indeed, his best friend, Rod (LilRel Howery providing the broad comedy) , a Homeland Security agent with the TSA  who reckons white folk want black sex slaves, thinks it’s a really bad idea. However, Rose reassures him that they’re progressive thinkers and will be totally accepting. Indeed,  neurosurgeon Dean (Bradley Whitford) and hypnotherapist wife Missy (Catherine Keener) prove to be just that. Even so, Chris isn’t totally at ease and, even though Dean says that he’s almost embarrassed at having live-in black servants, handyman Walter (Marcus Henderson) and housekeeper Georgina (Betty Gabriel), kept on after caring for his elderly parents, but they’re  like part of the family.  Chris finds their almost zombie-like behaviour a little unsettling, likewise, Rose’s spoiled brother Jeremy (Caleb Landry Jones) who goes on about his “genetic makeup” and Missy’s insistence on hypnotising him to cure his smoking habit.

Clearly all is not what it might appear. The visit coinciding with an annual bash when all the rich folks come over, Chris feels there’s something familiar about the quietly polite black husband (Lakeith Stanfield)  of one of the middle-aged women. Audiences will too, since he was seen abducted on a deserted street at the start of the film. When Rod suggests he take a photo on his phone and send it to him to check out, the flash causes something in the man to snap, his meek demeanour falls away and he lurches at Chris telling him to ‘get out!’

It is, of course, rather too late for that  and  it’s not long before Chris wakes up to find himself strapped to a chair and  discovering just what is going on, why the servants act like they do and why so many black men have been vanishing in the area. To say more would spoil things, but suffice to say The Stepford Wives and Invasion of the Body Snatchers are not idle comparisons.

Peele cleverly marries the growing tension and horror with comedy and  barbed casual racism before cranking things up to a bloody and gory climax as well as a final gotcha. Scary, funny, thought-provoking and resonantly timely, this has the makings of a future classic. (Odeon Birmingham, Broadway Plaza; Vue Star City)

 

Going In Style (12A)

A remake of Martin Brest’s 1979 film starring George Burns and Art Carney, Zach Braff’s update has Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Alan Arkin as, respectively, Joe, Willie and Albert, three retirees who, on learning the pension fund of the steel company where they worked is being dissolved following a corporate restructuring, decide to rob the Brooklyn bank handling the deal. Albert, the grouch  always going on about how he could die  any day, shares a house with Willie, who is hiding a kidney problem and would like to be able to see more of his daughter and grandchildren who have moved out of town, while Joe is facing foreclosure and wants to hang on to his home and keep the family together. When he’s caught up in an armed robbery at the same bank, the ease at which it goes down inspires him to persuade his friends to take their own shot. Naturally, being geriatrics, things aren’t likely to run quite as smoothly, and the dry run in the local supermarket is, to say the least, a shambles, although it does serve to bring Albert and his sexy neighbour Annie (Ann-Margret) rather closer together.

Needing some professional advice, they cut dodgy low life Jesus in on the deal while Joe pulls his weed-dealing ex son in law (Peter Serafinowicz) back into the family circle to fulfil his responsibilities as father to feisty daughter Brooklyn while he’s off on his crime spree. Then, once the hold up goes down, the three wearing Rat Pack masks, Matt Dillon is the FBI agent who takes on the case and determines to pin the robbery on the trio.

Generic, but nevertheless sweet and watchable, the three elderly leads spark well together as well as having their own spotlight moments, Caine having the bigger emotional tug and Arkin providing his trademark sardonic humour. There’s also an amusing turn from Christopher Lloyd as one of their befuddled fellow OAPs .It does waffle around slightly in the final stretch, but it’s undemanding fun and, given the timely concerns about pension fund entitlements and rip off banks, maybe it’ll spark some equally successful copycats here. (Odeon Broadway Plaza; Vue Star City)

Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 (12A)

It starts brilliantly. As, hired  by Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki),  the haughty High Priestess of the genetically perfect gold-skinned arrogant Sovereign to protect some superpowerful batteries, the Guardians, Peter Quill aka Star Lord (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (Dave Bautista) and Rocket (Bradley Cooper) take on a multi-tentacled creature, the regenerating Baby Groot (Vin Diesel) plugs in the speakers and starts dancing along to ELO’s Mr Blue Sky. Meanwhile, the battle sequence all takes place in the background. And then it gets even better.

Fleeing the auto-piloted Soverign fleet after Rocket steals a handful of the batteries, the Guardians, along with their fee, Gamora’s  bionic revenge-obsessed adoptive sister Nebula  (Karen Gillan), manage to hop through space  and crash land on some planet, on which also lands the pod-like spaceship containing the figure who saved them. To Quill’s surprise, this turns out to be Ego (Kurt Russell),  who announces himself as his long-lost father (a spookily digitally rejuvenated Russell seen earlier courting mom-to-be Melissa to the strains of  70s American hit Brandy (You’re A Fine Girl). Even more of a surprise is when, having taken Quill, Gamora and Drax to his home planet while Rocket and Baby Groot repair the ship, he explains that he’s  a Celestial, quite literally a living planet who created the world around himself and took on human form, and that, Quill, part human/part alien, is a Celestial too with the same, albeit latent, powers.

It seems Ego’s spent the last 30 years looking for him and now wants to be the dad he never was. Desperate for family, Quill soon puts aside suspicions, but not so Gamora. Rightly so it turns out when Ego’s antennaed  ‘pet’ Mantis (Pom Klementieff), an empath with the ability to read people’s emotions, finally spills the beans about something to do with reshaping the universe, with other lifeforms not figuring in the grand plan.

Meanwhile, the Soveeign are still on their trail and have enlisted Yondu (Michael Rooker), the blue-skinned Ravager who raised Quill (and who’s been drummed out of the order for child  trafficking by its leader, a cameoing  Sylvester Stallone), to track them down. But he has a problem too when his crew, led by the self-styled Taser mutiny and lock him and Rocket up to be handed over to the Sovereign.  Both scenarios ultimately leading to Baby Groot having to save the day.

Ramped up even beyond the first film, again written and directed by James Gunn, it brings together awesome digital effects, pulse-pounding action and, of course, the constant irreverent humour that helped make the first film such a hit. Themes of family, sibling and parent-child relationships, self-worth, identity, redemption and forgiveness loom large while the film is again awash with cool 70s music from Quill’s Awesome Mix Vol 2 cassette  and Bautista provides the larger than life comic relief with his unfiltered  judgemental observations and Cooper keeps up the sly wisecracks, deftly balancing the film’s unexpected vein of emotion. Naturally, it never takes itself seriously and that’s part of the immense fun. Plus there’s five end credit clips (including a moody teenage Groot), another Howard the Duck cameo and the obligatory Stan lee appearance, this time in  the company of The Watchers. Thrills of this magnitude should probably be illegal. (Cineworld 5 Ways, NEC, Solihull;  Electric; Empire Great Park, Sutton Coldfield; Everyman; Odeon Birmingham, Broadway Plaza, West Brom; Reel; Showcase Walsall; Vue Star City)

 

Kong: Skull Island (12A)

Following Peter Jackson’s bloated 2005 remake, director Jordan Vogt-Roberts takes another swing at reviving cinema’s most famous ape. And  knocks it out of the park.

Clocking in at a tightly packed two hours, it balances explosive action, breathtaking effects, throwaway humour and some respectful nods to the original (effectively recreating that iconic Fay Wray/Kong moment) to wildly entertaining effect. However, the most striking thing  is that, set in 1973, it’s essentially Apocalypse Now with a  100 foot gorilla, Coppola’s movie very clearly referenced in any number of  shots  recreating that iconic image of the red streaked sun, both with and without helicopters blaring out rock music. In Samuel  L Jackson as Lt Col. Preston Packard, the army officer who doesn’t want to the war to end, especially not in ‘abandonment’, as he terms it, it also has its own crazed Kurtz.

Opening with a brief WWII  prologue as two young pilots, one American, one Japanese, are fighting to the death after crashing on some island when two giant hairy hands appear on the cliff top, it fast forwards to Bill Randa (John Goodman), who heads up  Monarch, a secret agency seeking  “massive unidentified terrestrial organisms” as he convinces  a senator (Richard Jenkins) to back an expedition to a hitherto uncharted island “where myth and science meet.”

Requisitioning a military escort headed up by Packard and his  chopper squad (among them Shea Whigham, John Ortiz, Jason Mitchell and Toby Kebbell) most of whom serve as cannon fodder along with the assorted scientists, Randa  and his team (Corey Hawkins, Tian Jing) also recruit ex SAS officer Conrad (Tom Hiddleston) as their tracker  while, sensing a story, war photographer Mason Weaver (Brie Larson) also inveigles a place on the mission.

However, no sooner have they battled their  way through the electrical storm shrouding the island  and started dropping seismic bombs, than they’re  being swatted out of the sky by an angry Kong.

Initially separated, the film charts their attempt to survive as they head for the pick up point, Conrad, Weaver and the rest of his group encountering Hank Marlow (John C. Reilly), the American pilot from the opening, who has been living with the natives ever since and warns of even more dangerous beasts, against which Kong, the last of his kind, has become the island’s protector. Which means they now have to stop Packard from blasting the monkey to pieces.   With familiar  don’t screw with nature messages and observations on how war can make a man see enemies everywhere, it wastes little time on exposition and  gets on with mounting its spectacular action, introducing docile giant water buffalos, towering killer spiders and a humongous  octopus before finally bringing on lizard-like monsters  to raise the bloody body count tally further.

Essentially a prequel to Godzilla, given the thrills assembled here, those who hang around for the post credits scene will be pleased to note  references to such  other celebrated Japanese movie monsters as Mothra and Rodan, suggesting this monkey business is far from over yet.   (Vue Star City)

 

Lady Macbeth  (15)

Adapted from Russian writer Nikolai Leskov’s 1860 novel Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk and relocated to the bleak County Durham moors of Victorian England , while its titular character may have the single-minded ruthlessness of Shakespeare’s schemer, there’s also a strong touch of Lady Chatterley too, along with the gothic sensibilities of  Emily Bronte.

The feature debut of theatre director William Oldroyd, there’s some effective theatrical touches to his period piece in the use of still moments in which the camera simply focuses on the character as she sits staring out of the screen that compound the unease that permeates this bleak and emotionally brutal work.

Bought as domestic property by elderly and sadistic  wealthy miner Boris (a loathsome Christopher Fairbank) as a bride for his hard-drinking obnoxious and ineffectual son Alexander (Paul Hilton),  who runs their  large farm, the young Katherine (Florence Pugh) quickly finds her life is not one she relishes, her husband showing no hint of affection (he never consummates the marriage) and even the servants treating her with disdain. Often left alone  save for her black maid Anna (Naomie Ackie), a virtual prisoner in her own home,  she’s bored and restless, until she meets mixed race stable-hand Sebastian (Cosmo Jarvis) whose  sexual magnetism quickly brings out her wild side as they embark on frenzied and frequent sex while Alexander is off dealing with some colliery incident and his father’s in London.

When Boris returns and sniffs out what’s been going on, Katherine disposes of him with poison mushrooms and then, when his son returns and confronts her with the same accusations, he too meets a bloody fate. However, Katherine and Sebastian’s murderous lustful union then faces another setback with the arrival of a refined black woman and her child claiming a connection to the family. Clearly further obstacles need to be removed.

Oppressed by a patriarchal tyranny, initially a figure of sympathy whose actions could be argued as justifiable, her subsequent crime, with Sebastian as accomplice, and her manipulation of blame in her power games are decidedly less so, the film confronting audiences with one especially hard to watch sequence. Rarely off screen, Pugh is mesmerising while, creating the sense of oppressive claustrophobia, both physically and psychology, Oldroyd delivers a very different sort of period piece from the usual heritage cinema that also touches on questions of class and race. Stunning.  (Cineworld 5 Ways; Electric)

 

Logan (15)

The third and final chapter in Wolverine’s standalone  story wears its template on its sleeve in both referring to and showing clips from classic Alan Ladd Western Shane, the story of a loner drawn into a fight not of his making but which becomes inescapably personal. Not to mention Terminator 2.

Set in 2029, Logan (Hugh Jackman) and Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) are the last of the X-Men (it’s never stated what happened to the others, but an enigmatic reference suggests a cataclysmic tragedy) and something has blocked the birth of any new mutants. The conflicted Logan is now old, grizzled, limping,  his eyesight failing, his healing powers on the blink and the adamantium in his body poisoning him. Deadening his physical and emotional pain with drink, he’s working as a limo driver in Texas, shacking up at an abandoned industrial site near the Mexican border where, along with albino mutant Caliban (Stephen Merchant), a former mutant-tracker, he’s looking after the  nonagenarian Professor X, who, hidden in a  rusting toppled water tower and suffering from Alzheimer’s, needs constant medication to prevent his powerful mental powers running out of control and causing seizures for anyone in the vicinity.

In one of his lucid periods, Xavier insists that he’s senses a new mutant, something Logan dismisses. Until, that it is, he encounters  Gabriela (Elizabeth Rodriguez), a Mexican nurse offering a considerable wad of cash to drive her and her Hispanic daughter Laura ((Dafne Keen) to Canada. However, arriving at the motel to collect them, he finds the woman dead and, on returning to his hideout, discovers the girl had stowed away in the car. Although, she says nothing, it seems she is the mutant Xavier sensed. As to her powers, they’re bloodily revealed with the arrival of  Pierce (Boyd Holbrook), the cyborg head of the paramilitary  Reavers. Much to Logan’s shock, she too sprouts deadly adamantium claws and has the same fast healing abilities. It transpires that she was genetically bred, along with other young mutants, by Dr. Rice (Richard E. Grant), who runs shady bioengineering program Transigen, using Logan’s DNA. As Xavier points out, basically, she’s his daughter.

From here, the film becomes a chase road movie as the three set out to find Eden, the supposed mutant safe haven in the Dakota hills, despite Logan insisting it’s merely something dreamed up in one of the X-Men comics for which he has no time, with Pierce, Rice and the latter’s genetically created secret weapon, in pursuit.

Given Jackman’s stated this is his last outing as the character, the way things end won’t come as any real surprise. The fact that it is profoundly moving may well. Directed by James Mangold, from the opening scene as Logan slices his way through a bunch of would be carjackers, the film is spectacularly violent, both Logan and the feral Laura’s claws ripping off limbs and slashing through skulls in graphic detail. Yet this is balanced with moments of humour and  the tender ruminations on family (if Laura’s Logan’s genetic daughter, Xavier is his surrogate father), loneliness and redemption.

Giving a superbly nuanced performance, ranging from extreme rage to heavy weariness the mesmerising Jackman is terrific, as indeed is Stewart who lends the film his own imposing gravitas, while, in her debut role, an impressive eleven-year-old Keen, although wordless until the final stretch, has striking presence and a penetrating stare, something that bodes well should the Wolverine saga spin off to a second generation. In recent years, superheroes have become darker and more grown up, ending with an inspired final image this is among the best of them.  (Vue Star City)

 

 Mulholland Drive (15)

A welcome reissue of the 2001 thriller involving the convoluted, twisted, dark and dreamlike narrative patterns that spawned the term Lynchian, as the title suggests, this  is David Lynch’s answer to Sunset Boulevard, a disturbing nightmare plucked from the Hollywood dream factory. Originally conceived as a pilot for an open-ended TV series the network rejected  it as too slow and too weird, French studio Canal Plus  stumping  up the finance to film a further 45 minutes worth of material and reconfigure it into a feature film.

The result is a slice of schizoid Chandler-like neo noir that makes Twin Peaks look like Janet and John. Initially it pans out in not dissimilar manner, a mystery thriller unravelling in a dream. An opening jitterbug contest credits sequence cuts to a sleeping woman, then we’re on the titular LA thoroughfare as a limo pulls up and the driver points a gun at his brunette female passenger (Laura Harring). Before he can fire, speeding joyriders crash into the car, killing everyone except the woman in the black cocktail dress. She crawls from the wreck and staggers into the night, slipping into an apartment as its owner is driven off in a cab.

Re-enter the jitterbug girl, now identified as Betty Elms (Naomi Watts), a relentlessly perky blonde Canadian ingenue in town to try and make it as an actress. It’s her aunt’s apartment. She finds the woman who, suffering from amnesia, tells her her name is Rita (after seeing a poster of Rita Hayworth film Gilda on the apartment wall).

Discovering ‘Rita’ has a bagful of cash and a mysterious blue key, the two women set out to learn who she really is, falling in love along the way. So far, so coherent. Well, as coherent as any plot that also involves a man being scared to death by a dreadlocked vagrant who lives behind a coffee shop,  movie director Adam (Justin Theroux) being heavied by a mobster to cast an unknown actress called Camilla as the lead in his latest film, and a punky contract killer whose latest hit has turned into a bit of a body count farce. And let’s not forget the mysterious menacing midget who lives in a vacuum sealed glass room. The shudderingly unsettling cackling elderly couple Betty meets on the plane. Or the decaying corpse of the woman named Diane.

At which point, and following a steamy lesbian sex scene, just as you think you’ve got it relatively sussed Lynch doesn’t so much as pull the rug from under your feet as demolish the entire floor, turning the film’s tone on its head and switching names, identities, personalities and situations in a manner that makes Lost Highway seem an object lesson in logic.

Teeming with red herrings and throwaways (Robert Forster appears for all of  a minute as one of two cops investigating the opening crash), Lynch obsessives will revel in the proliferation of his trademark signatures, including a classic coffee moment and, in echo of  Blue Velvet, an erotically charged rendition of Roy Orbison’s Crying – in Spanish. But what will delight most is the way he brilliantly orchestrates the film’s dream logic, Chinese (blue) box structure and tinseltown references. Characters such as apartments manager Coco (veteran legend Anne Miller) and the menacing Cowboy reappear in their ‘real’ selves, colours and names take on deep Freudian connotations and buffs will note that it is awash with allusions to Hollywood lore.

Visually and stylistically dazzling, and with awe inspiring performances topped off by breathtakingly sensational newcomer Watts, it may not at first sight appear to make rational sense. However, veined with themes of  wishful illusion and bitter reality and a bleak through line about the corruption and betrayals of the cruelly destructive movie industry, the more you think about its tale of  the disintegration of one woman and her dream(s), the clearer the parallels with Billy Wilder’s masterpiece become. It may be a swimming pool or it may be a dingy apartment, but in Hollywood all losers’ roads ultimately lead to the same metaphorical destination.

It’s a night out in the hallucinatory  freak circus of a schizophrenic Los Angeles where creepy characters (the grinning old folks who haunt Betty are terrifying) pass across the screen, nothing is what it seems, the red herrings swim in shoals and the arch humour comes thick black like the coffee. It’s hysterical, it’s frightening, it’s mesmerising.  It’s Raymond Chandler’s Alice in Wonderland with a blue box instead of a rabbit hole  It’s nothing Lynch hadn’t done before. But  never as such an intoxicating a drug. (Mockingbird)

 

Power Rangers (12A)

 And here’s yet another revival, this time of the  mid-90s (and still ongoing) live-action TV series, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers about five ‘teenagers with attitude’ recruited by the wizard Zordon to battle the evil (and risibly named) Rita Repulsa as she attempts to conquer Earth, each of them having their own super-powers and  wearing individually colour-coded spandex suits and helmets.

Directed by Dean Israelite, this latest entry takes things back to the start for an origin story that kicks off 67 million years ago as Zordon (Bryan Cranston) and his team are defeated by rogue Ranger Rita (a gleefully hamming Elizabeth Banks), taking her out with him in one last act, but not before burying the Rangers’ power crystals to be found by those next worthy of using them. Cut to the present as sports star Jason Scott (Dacre Montgomery) pulls off a high school prank involving a bull, crashes his car, is busted, thrown off the team and sentenced to Saturday detentions, where he meets autistic Billy (RJ Cyler) and cool chick Kimberly (Naomi Scott) who apparently punched some boy’s tooth out.  Jason steps into protect Billy from the class bully and  agrees to drive him out to some quarry in the neighbouring hills where it seems Kimberely goes to chill out. It also happens to be frequented by fellow screw-ups/misfits Zack (Ludi Lin), who escapes there when caring for his sick mom on the trailer park gets too much, and Trini (Becky G.), who’s dealing with her own identity issues.

Anyways, Billy sets off a charge and all five find themselves plummeting into some cavern, discovering what seems to be an alien spaceship, falling into water and inexplicably waking up back home the next day and discovering they’ve acquired superstrength. So, it’s back to the site where they get to meet a wisecracking talking robot (Bill Hader) and Zordon, or rather his essence which is now trapped in some sort of giant 3D pin-art sculpture, who informs them they’ve been chosen to be the new Power Rangers, but they have to prove themselves worthy before they can summon up the armour within them.

Which means, what with everyone having to confront their dark secrets, it’s almost 80 minutes into the two hours before the familiar red, blue, purple, blue, black and yellow suits appear and the film can get on with the action as, behind the controls of their  Dinozords, they face off against the now resurrected Rita who, with her equally naffly named creation, Goldar (yes, it’s a monster made from gold) and rock-creatures army, is destroying  the town looking for the energy source which will ensure her conquest and which just happens to be located beneath the film’s glaring product placement, a Krispy Kreme store.

With its joke about ‘milking’ a bull along with inference that Trini’s a lesbian (thus Hollywood’s first gay superhero) and the focus on her fellow Rangers’ personal issues,  this skews older than the TV series, and, while, closer to The Fantastic Four than Captain America: Civil War, despite the CGI confusion of the finale, is, as such, rather more fun than might have been expected. (Vue Star City)

 

The Promise (12A)

Another film looking to illuminate  little known historical events, having previously made Hotel Rwanda, director Terry George now addresses another genocide, that conducted by Turkey against the Armenian people from 1915-1923 and for which the Turkish government has, to this day, never acknowledged responsibility.

However, unlike his previous film, where the genocide was the central focus, this  sets it as a backdrop to a clichéd romantic triangle  and takes forever in getting to the crux of the issue.

The local apothecary, Mikael Boghosian (Oscar Isaac) wants to become a doctor but can’t afford the fees. So his parents arrange a  marriage to  Maral (Angela Sarafyan) and Mikael duly sets off to medical school in Constantinople using his 400 gold coins dowry to pay for his tuition. Taking lodgings with his wealthy businessman uncle, he meets Ana (Charlotte LeBon), a fellow Armenian who’s nanny to his two nieces, while, at  the Imperial Medical School, he becomes friends with Emre (Marwan Kenzari), the son of a high ranking Turk who has only enrolled so as to avoid military service.

Mikael is drawn to Ana, and she to him; however, he doesn’t mention his fiancée back home and she’s in a relationship with Chris Myers (Christian Bale), a reporter for the American Press Association who’s covering the Ottoman Empire’s alliance with Germany. He’s also documenting the growing tensions between Turkey and Armenia and, as WWI hostilities break out., the systematic attempt by the former to wipe the latter from the face of the earth, which quickly leads to Mikael being rounded up for forced labour and Emre being forced into the army. Meanwhile, Chris is  attracting attention with his coverage of atrocities.

Unfortunately, while there are some harrowing moments along the way, until the last act, when fleeing Armenians take a stand against Turkish troops on a mountain outside Aleppo and a French warship steams into rescue them, the narrative focus is firmly on the relationships between Ana, Mikael and Chris, the three of them frequently separated by events.

It’s unfortunate – not to say offensive – enough that the genocide plays second narrative fiddle, even more so since the romantic drama is a rather  lifeless affair with no chemistry sparking between any of those involved.

It’s patently obvious that Bale is only really there for financing reasons, which no doubt also explains brief cameos by Tom Hollander, James Cromwell and Jean Reno in roles that could have been played by anyone. It runs through some familiar clichés and overused machinations in workmanlike fashion while the dialogue often creaks and the performances occasionally slip into melodrama. However, while wearily overlong and at times rather dull, it’s watchable enough and George’s earnest attempt to put the genocide back in the spotlight is admirable. But, save for one scene of slaughter, it says much that the most effective things here are the title cards detailing  how  1.5 million Armenians were killed, leaving any promise decidedly unfulfilled. (Cineworld 5 Ways, NEC, Solihull;  Vue Star City)

 

Their Finest (12A)

Taking its title from a line in Churchill’s speech about the Battle of Britain, this is clearly pitched at an older audience and those with an affection for 40s British romantic melodramas. Relocated to wartime London from Wales to share a flat with her struggling artist husband (Jack Huston), copywriter Catrin Cole (Gemma Arterton) is hired by the Ministry Of Information Film Division to work on a propaganda shorts, to provide “the slop”, as the female dialogue is patronisingly termed, which, in turns, sees her assigned to join tetchy and cynical fellow screenwriter  Tom Buckley (Sam Claflin) on a  morale-boosting feature about Dunkirk.

The film is to be based on the  story of twin sisters who sailed their small boat to Dunkirk to rescue some of the troops. However, in interviewing them, Cole learns that engine failure meant they actually never got there and that, charisma vacuums, both live in fear of their intimidating father. Nevertheless, given the Ministry’s head (Richard E Grant) has demanded “authenticity informed by optimism”, she overlooks the  inconvenient facts and the screenplay starts to take shape along with the casting. Along with the actor who’ll play Johnny, the hero and romantic interest, this will also include  faded star and inveterate ham Ambrose Hilliard (Bill Nighy), who, after his no-nonsense new agent (a bizarrely accented Helen McCrory taking over when her brother, Eddie Marsan’s killed in an air raid) points out his recent lack of work, begrudgingly agrees to take on the role of  drunken uncle Jack, although he’s not happy about being killed off halfway

Then, to the consternation of  all concerned, looking to get the US  into the war, the Ministry demands an American character, to be played by  handsome but wooden pilot hero Carl Lundbeck (Jake Lacy) who, naturally proves complete incapable of delivering a line. Still, over endless rewrites (many at the behest of Hilliard), the film gradually comes together and, inevitably the  bickering between Catrin and Tom plays out as you expect, only for the film to throw  an unexpected spanner into the happy ever after works.

Directed by Lone Scherfig (who made An Education with which this shares some themes), it never quite knows what it wants to be, an Ealingesque comedy, a romantic dramady, a behind the scenes look at movie making, a feminist commentary on the role played by women during WWII and their struggles for equality with men or what, and, as a result, it never quite gels as any of them.  On top of which, even as a homage, I suspect the CGI backdrops of a blitzed London weren’t intended to look like some 40s back lot.

Clafin underplays nicely as Tom and Arterton does her best with an awkwardly underwritten role, wringing some genuinely affecting emotion in the final stretch, while  Rachel Stirling sparks as the team’s lesbian supervisor and there’s an amusing cameo from Jeremy Irons reciting Henry V’s Crispin’s Day speech as the Secretary of War, Perhaps inevitably though, it’s Nighy who steals everything, his dry delivery and mannerisms may now be overly familiar, but they’re still very funny. As recent homefront British wartime movies go, this is nothing like The Imitation Game, the good news is it’s nothing like Dad’s Army either.  (Cineworld 5 Ways, NEC, Solihull;  Empire Great Park, Sutton Coldfield; Everyman; MAC; Odeon Birmingham, Broadway Plaza; Showcase Walsall; Vue Star City)

Unforgettable (15)

A ludicrous thriller that revisits the tired psychotic ex genre, it stars Rosario Dawson as  Julia, an editor for an online publisher who relocates from the city to share a house in sunny California with her fiancée, recently divorced David (Geoff Stults), who gave up Wall Street to  run his late father’s small brewery. It’s not long before she meets the ex-wife, Tessa (Katherine Heigl), a Stepford blonde control freak who orders around her and David’s young daughter, Lily (Isabella Kai Rice).,  just as her own mother (Cheryl Ladd) dominates her. The frosty pleasantries and intense stare of that first encounter tells you all you need to know, Tessa is, as one character puts it, Psycho Barbie. Initially it’s just barbed exchanges, but when she learns that she and David are getting married, her barely repressed crazed bitch bubbles over. Next thing you know, she’s stolen Julia’s phone, engagement ring, keys, panties and the watch she bought David, set up a fake Facebook page and is sending come on messages to Michael Vargas (Simon Kassianides), Julia’s aggressive ex against whom she had to take out a (now expired) restraining order, and about whom she’s naturally not told David.

Given the film opens with a bloodied Julia being interviewed about the fact Vargas’ body was found in her house and that they appeared to have been carrying on a steamy Facebook conversation, not to mention those panties and photos they found, you’ll already have a good idea of where this is going before the flashbacks get there.

Feeling like a particularly trashy soap, with a screenplay so ridiculous it was presumably dashed off by Christina Hodson while leafing through a book of clichés over coffee, Heigl’s  sociopathic Tess chews her way through the dialogue and physical stuff with a manic determination to take on every other Hollywood bunny boiler, but the ham and her one-dimensionally written character are likely to elicit more sniggers than gasps. But then no one emerges with much credit, Dawson acting with her mind seemingly elsewhere. There was potential to exploit the genuine issues of a child caught between two  mothers, but sadly Lily’s just a prop to the narrative. Unforgettable it is, but not in the way they filmmakers intended. Still, as the coda suggests, Unforgettable 2- Grandma’s Revenge is surely not far away. (Vue Star City)

 

 

 

 

CINEMAS

Cineworld 5 Ways – 181 Broad St, 0871 200 2000

Cineworld NEC – NEC  0871 200 2000

Cineworld Solihull – Mill Ln, Solihull 0871 200 2000

The Electric Cinema  – 47–49 Station Street,  0121 643 7879

Empire – Great Park, Rubery, 0871 471 4714

Empire Sutton Coldfield – Maney Corner, Sutton Coldfield

0871 471 4714

The Everyman – The Mailbox 0871 906 9060

MAC – Cannon Hill Park 0121 446 3232

Mockingbird, Custard Factory  0121 224 7456.

 

Odeon Birmingham -Birmingham, 0871 224 4007

Odeon Broadway Plaza – Ladywood Middleway, 0333 006 7777

Odeon West Bromwich – Cronehills Linkway, West Bromwich  0333 006 7777

Reel – Hagley Rd, Quinton Halesowen 0121 421 5316

Showcase Walsall – Bentley Mill Way, Walsall 0871 220 1000

Vue Star City – Watson Road, 08712 240 240

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