Now showing at Ritz Victoria Street,Burnham-on-Sea,Somerset TA8 1AN 01278 794123
- Seventh Son
- Suite Francaise
- The Divergent Series: Insurgent
- The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Cinderella 4 stars
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.
- Duration113 mins
- Official sitemovies.disney.com/cinderella/
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.
Home 3 stars
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.
- Duration94 mins
- Official sitewww.meettheboov.com
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.
Seventh Son 2 stars
Master Gregory is the last remaining knight of a noble order called the Spooks, which defend humanity from evil. When a witch called Mother Malkin escapes confinement, Master Gregory visits the home of Mr and Mrs Ward and offers the parents a small fortune to train their boy Tom - the seventh son of a seventh son - as his new apprentice. The Wards reluctantly agree and Tom begins his tutelage in earnest.
- GenreAction, Adaptation, Adventure, Drama, Fantasy
- CastDjimon Hounsou, Olivia Williams, Alicia Vikander, Ben Barnes, Julianne Moore, Jeff Bridges, Kit Harington.
- DirectorSergei Bodrov.
- WriterSteven Knight, Charles Leavitt.
- Duration102 mins
- Official siteseventhson.legendary.com
There's a simple rule of thumb to deduce if a film starring Oscar winner Jeff Bridges is worth your time, patience and hard-earned lucre. Almost without exception, the quality of the finished feature will be inversely proportional to the extravagance of his character's facial hair and the thickness of the preposterous accent.
In Sergei Bodrov's special effects-laden swords and sorcery romp, Bridges sports a dense shaggy beard to match a dishevelled mane and chews on every single line of dialogue in Charles Leavitt and Steven Knight's script as if he has a toffee stuck between his teeth.
The exaggerated performance and eye-catching appearance are a cheap distraction from a flimsy plot laden with unintentional hilarious dialogue and curious leaps in logic. He plays Master John Gregory, the last remaining knight of a noble and mystical order called the Spooks, who defend humanity by containing the creatures of the dark.
He imprisons a powerful witch called Mother Malkin (Julianne Moore) but the rise of a Blood Moon empowers the diabolical hag, who transforms into a dragon and escapes confinement. Gregory and his current apprentice Billy Bradley (Kit Harington) attempt to contain the witch but their heroic efforts culminate in tragedy.
As Malkin's powers grow, Gregory visits the home of Malcolm and Mam Ward (Timothy Webber, Olivia Williams) and he offers the parents a small fortune to train their boy Tom (Ben Barnes) - the seventh son of a seventh son - as his new apprentice.
The Wards agree and Mam bids farewell to her boy by asking him to wear her pendant. "Everything you need is inside you - don't be afraid to look," she tells Tom cryptically. The young man begins his tutelage in earnest, aided by Gregory's troll-like friend Tusk (John DeSantis).
Meanwhile, Malkin dispatches her niece, Alice (Alicia Vikander), to spy on the Spook and his protege as she gathers together her most trusted allies including her fierce lieutenant Urag (Jason Scott Lee) and blade-wielding warlock Radu (Djimon Hounsou).
Based on The Spook's Apprentice by Joseph Delaney, Seventh Son is a lumbering fantasy adventure that neglects to put the super in supernatural. Barnes is a bland hero, who valiantly keeps a straight face opposite Bridges' incessant mumbling, while Vikander looks radiant in a thankless role as the love interest torn between the forces of light and dark.
Moore, who recently won the Academy Award for Still Alice, slinks through each frame, huskily whispering camp lines like, "I like boys", without a hint of menace.
Russian director Bodrov salves some of the pain with a series of bombastic action sequences replete with flying dragons, wicked witches and an ill-tempered ogre-like creature called a boggart with an acute sense of smell. The monster's on-screen rage must be a violent reaction to the stink of Seventh Son.
Suite Francaise 3 stars
In June 1940, Madame Angellier ignores the spectre of war to collect rent from cash-strapped tenants, aided by her daughter-in-law Lucile. The Germans arrive and commander Bruno von Falk is billeted with the Angelliers. Lucile shares the handsome officer's love for music and she wrestles with her attraction to him. Meanwhile, farmer Benoit Sabarie and his wife Madeleine suffer the presence of billeted German officer Kurt Bonnet, who makes clear his libidinous interest in the wife.
- GenreDrama, Historical/Period, Romance, War
- CastMargot Robbie, Ruth Wilson, Michelle Williams, Matthias Schoenaerts, Lambert Wilson, Kristin Scott Thomas, Sam Riley, Harriet Walter.
- DirectorSaul Dibb.
- WriterMatt Charman, Saul Dibb.
- Duration107 mins
- Official site
Heartbreaking truth is more compelling than fiction in Suite Francaise, Saul Dibb's faithful adaptation of the novella Dolce by Irene Nemirovsky. Penned by Nemirovsky, a French Jew, in the early 1940s, Dolce was supposed to be the second instalment of a five-book series documenting life under German occupation and the rise of the Communist resistance.
Shortly after completing the second tome, the author was arrested by the Nazis and sent to Auschwitz, where she died, leaving behind a journal filled with finished work, detailed notes for a third book and provisional titles for the concluding instalments.
More than 50 years later, Nemirovsky's daughter pored through her mother's diary and gave her blessing to the publication of books one and two, Tempete En Juin (Storm In June) and Dolce, as a single volume. Dibb's picture concludes with moving testimony to the author, providing an emotional kick that is sadly lacking from the rest of his handsomely crafted tale of forbidden love in a time of conflict.
Suite Francaise opens with grainy black and white news footage of the German advance in June 1940 then bleeds into full colour as the narrative moves to the bucolic town of Bussy, east of the capital.
Madame Angellier (Kristin Scott Thomas), whose son has enlisted, ignores the spectre of war to collect rent from cash-strapped tenants, aided by her daughter-in-law Lucile (Michelle Williams). On the road, they encounter refugees, who have fled Paris in the futile hope of outrunning Hitler's troops.
Soon after, the Germans arrive and commander Bruno von Falk (Matthias Schoenaerts) is billeted with the Angelliers. "There was a relief in his presence after months of silence," poetically remarks Lucile, who shares the handsome officer's love for music.
While the Viscount (Lambert Wilson) and Viscountess de Montmort (Harriet Walter) curry favour with the occupying force, farmer Benoit Sabarie (Sam Riley) and his wife Madeleine (Ruth Wilson) suffer the presence of billeted German officer Kurt Bonnet (Tom Schilling), who makes clear his libidinous interest in the wife.
Tempers flare at the Sabarie farmhouse while pulses quicken under Madame Angellier's roof as Lucile and Bruno surrender to desire. They keep the affair secret from the fearsome Madame - "She could scare away the plague!" quips Bruno - but they cannot keep their illicit liaisons hidden forever.
Suite Francaise is a well-crafted yet emotionally underpowered portrait of a community torn apart by prejudice and suspicion. Thomas delivers another steely turn as a woman of substance, who refuses to bend to the Germans' might, while on-screen chemistry between Williams and Schoenaerts remains at a gentle simmer.
At the beginning of the film, Dibb orchestrates one decent action sequence - German planes dive-bombing French refugees - then settles into a pedestrian pace, echoed in the languid voiceover narration.
The Divergent Series: Insurgent 3 stars
Tris and Four are on the run with Marcus Eaton and other members of Abnegation. Jeanine Matthews and her cohorts from Erudite plus Dauntless traitor Eric are close behind, determined to crush the rebellion and wipe out the Divergents, who threaten the status quo. The fugitives align themselves with the factionless, who are being led by Four's mother Evelyn. Allegiances are tested as Tris learns shocking secrets about the past that threaten the people she loves and the future of her world.
- GenreAction, Adaptation, Adventure, Family, Romance, Science Fiction
- CastMiles Teller, Maggie Q, Theo James, Kate Winslet, Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, Ashley Judd, Zoe Kravitz, Ray Stevenson, Jai Courtney, Naomi Watts.
- DirectorRobert Schwentke.
- WriterBrian Duffield, Akiva Goldsman, Mark Bomback.
- Duration119 mins
- Official sitewww.thedivergentseries.com
Adapted from Veronica Roth's bestselling trilogy for young adults, Insurgent is a slickly engineered sequel that moves the dystopian narrative along at pace to a startling final revelation. Robert Schwentke's action-packed film crams its visual pyrotechnics into the climactic 40 minutes when Shailene Woodley's heroine Tris must complete a series of tasks to prove that she possesses the qualities of all five factions.
She must test positive for the selflessness of Abnegation, the courage of Dauntless, the honesty of Candor, the intelligence of Erudite and the inner peace of Amity. These trials include a visually stunning race against time to rescue Tris' mother (Ashley Judd) from a burning building that rotates as it ascends to the heavens and fisticuffs between the heroine and her diabolical doppelganger.
Woodley accomplishes these gymnastic feats with aplomb, but it's during the film's quieter moments that she truly excels. In particular, a scene of unburdening facilitated by a truth serum is a tour-de-force of raw, tear-stained emotion that bodes well for the concluding chapter Allegiance.
The finale will be released in two parts a la The Hunger Games. When it comes to milking cash cows, Hollywood prefers them desiccated when the end credits roll.
The second film opens with Tris (Woodley), her lover Four (Theo James), brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort) and Dauntless traitor Peter (Miles Teller) ensconced in the pacifist enclave of Amity under the jurisdiction of Johanna (Octavia Spencer). Tensions between Tris and Peter spill over just as the gun-toting forces of Erudite led by Eric (Jai Courtney) gate-crash the bucolic idyll.
Peter betrays the fugitives but Tris, Four and Caleb escape and head for the only sanctuary left to them: the realm of the factionless under the control of Four's conniving mother, Evelyn (Naomi Watts).
"If we were to combine forces, we'd be unstoppable," enthuses Evelyn, sensing an opportunity to overthrow Jeanine (Kate Winslet) and her cohorts from Erudite. Allegiances are tested as Tris and Four disagree about the way forward, flanked by their Dauntless brethren including Christina (Zoe Kravitz) and Tori (Maggie Q).
Meanwhile, Jeanine hunts down Divergents to unlock a box that purportedly contains the key to eradicating the misfits once and for all.
Although it lacks the sustained visceral thrills and sense of jeopardy that distinguished the first film, Insurgent confidently lays the groundwork for a fraught journey back to humanity. While Woodley excels in every frame, many of her talented co-stars are underused, particularly Whiplash drummer boy Teller and Elgort.
James continues to brood with his shirt on or off, kindling pleasing sparks of on-screen chemistry with his leading lady. Director Schwentke, who previously captained Jodie Foster in the airborne thriller Flightplan, safely pilots the sequel through a few moments of dramatic turbulence, knowing the best is yet to come.
The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel 4 stars
Sonny and his business partner Muriel consider expanding into a second hotel to cope with demand, aided by Douglas and Evelyn. The arrival of an American writer called Guy sends Madge into a swoon while Sonny has lots to keep him occupied with his impending nuptials to the beautiful Sunaina. Douglas and Evelyn's romance continues to develop but the course of true love, even in twilight years, never runs smooth.
- GenreComedy, Drama, Romance
- CastRichard Gere, Bill Nighy, Dame Maggie Smith, Ronald Pickup, Tamsin Greig, Penelope Wilton, Dev Patel, Tena Desae, Dame Judi Dench, Celia Imrie, Lillete Dubey.
- DirectorJohn Madden.
- WriterOl Parker.
- Duration122 mins
- Official sitewww.facebook.com/marigoldhotel
Towards the end of The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, a secret inspector is asked for an honest assessment of Jaipur's luxury development for residents in their golden years. The inspector concludes that behind the scenes, management of the hotel is shambolic but unerring affection for the staff makes it a four-star destination for "the elderly and beautiful".
The same honest appraisal applies to John Madden's entertaining sequel: Ol Parker's script is haphazard and several plot strands are flimsy but our emotional investment in the characters papers over the cracks.
Audiences who check in to this second chapter will be treated to the same pungent Jaipur backdrops and good-humoured service, with a fresh lick of dramatic paint courtesy of new arrivals, played with easy-going charm by Tamsin Greig and Richard Gere.
The dashing star of American Gigolo and Pretty Woman takes on sex symbol status here, causing groom-to-be Sonny (Dev Patel) to quip, "The man is so handsome, he has me urgently questioning my own sexuality." At 65 years old, Gere evidently still has it.
While the first film was lovingly adapted from Deborah Moggach's novel These Foolish Things, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel tumbles straight out of the scriptwriter Parker's imagination. He struggles to provide each resident with a compelling narrative arc: some are surplus to requirements while others relish the trials and tribulations that test fledgling romances and fractious friendships to breaking point.
Sonny and business partner Muriel (Maggie Smith) travel abroad to seek investment for a second hotel from business chief Ty Burley (David Strathairn) and return to India, mindful that funding is dependent on a review from a secret inspector.
"How was America?" asks Evelyn (Judi Dench), welcoming them home.
"It made death more tempting," retorts Muriel.
English traveller Lavinia (Greig) and American novelist Guy (Gere) arrive soon after and Sonny is convinced that Guy must be the inspector so he ignores Lavinia and lavishes attention on the writer. Guy's arrival sends Madge (Celia Imrie) into a swoon - "Lordy lord, have mercy on my ovaries!" she swoons - while Douglas (Bill Nighy) struggles to communicate his feelings to Evelyn.
Meanwhile, Sonny is pre-occupied with his impending nuptials to Sunaina (Tina Desai) and a simmering rivalry for his fiancee's affections from snake-hipped family friend Kush (Shazad Latif).
The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel delivers the same winning formula of laughter and tears, eliciting strong performances from Dench, Nighy and Smith at her acid-tongued, indomitable best.
The course of true love, even in twilight years, never runs smooth and Parker composes variations on a theme of amour, while peppering his script with pithy one-liners. "There is no present like the time," professes one wise soul. Madden's film is certainly a gift: you get everything you expect but nothing more.