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Now showing at Cineworld Brighton Brighton Marina Village,Brighton,East Sussex BN2 5UF 0871 200 2000

  • A Walk Among The Tombstones
  • Bang Bang!
  • Before I Go To Sleep
  • Billy Elliot - The Musical: Live
  • Boyhood
  • Gone Girl
  • Lucy
  • Pride
  • The Boxtrolls
  • The Boxtrolls 3D
  • The Equalizer
  • The Riot Club
  • What We Did On Our Holiday

A Walk Among The Tombstones 3 stars

When a shootout with robbers ends in tragedy, booze-sodden NYPD cop Matt Scudder hangs up his badge and gets sober with the help of AA then re-invents himself as a private investigator. He is hired by Kenny Kristo to track down the sadistic kidnappers, who demanded a hefty ransom for his wife Carrie, took the money and still killed their terrified captive. In the course of his enquiries, Matt befriends homeless teenager TJ, who wants to learn how to be a detective.

  • GenreAction, Adaptation, Thriller
  • CastLiam Neeson, David Harbour, Dan Stevens, Adam David Thompson, Boyd Holbrook, Brian 'Astro' Bradley.
  • DirectorScott Frank.
  • WriterScott Frank.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration114 mins
  • Official sitewww.awalkamongthetombstones.net
  • Release19/09/2014

A grizzled private detective meets his match in a pair of sadistic kidnappers in Scott Frank's gritty thriller. Adapted from Lawrence Block's novel of the same name, A Walk Among The Tombstones establishes its grim tone with soft-focus opening credits depicting a blonde woman (Laura Birn) rousing from slumber under the gentle caress of her lover.

As the camera pulls back, we notice a tear trickle down the woman's porcelain cheek and a strip of metallic tape across her mouth, transforming a beatific dream into a nightmare of intolerable cruelty.

Unspeakably bad things continue to happen to good people throughout Frank's film without any guarantee that justice will prevail. Liam Neeson wades through this moral quagmire in typically robust fashion as the private eye, who risks his life for clients in order to atone for one particular sin committed during his inglorious past as an NYPD cop.

The role is more cerebral than the gung-ho avenging angels in the Taken series and Non-Stop, but director Frank duly caters to fans of Neeson's renaissance as a tough-talking action hero with one bruising fight sequence. When a shoot-out on the streets of 1991 New York City ends in senseless tragedy, booze-sodden officer Matt Scudder (Neeson) hangs up his badge and embraces sobriety with the support of Alcoholics Anonymous.

He re-surfaces as an unlicensed private detective, working out of his apartment in Hell's Kitchen. Fellow AA member Peter Kristo (Boyd Holbrook) approaches Matt with an urgent request to help his brother Kenny (Dan Stevens), who has just paid a 400,000 dollar ransom for his wife (Razane Jammal).

The kidnappers took the money then dismembered their hostage. Matt visits Kenny in his plush apartment and the former cop deduces the grief-stricken husband is a drug dealer. Interestingly, the perpetrators knew this from their ransom demand: "You'd pay a million for her if she was product."

Despite initial misgivings, Matt agrees to help Kenny unmask the merciless perpetrators, Ray (David Harbour) and Albert (Adam David Thompson), who are already scoping their next target. In the course of his enquiries, Matt encounters homeless teenager TJ (Brian 'Astro' Bradley), who needs a father figure to keep him safe on the mean streets of the Big Apple.

A Walk Among The Tombstones is a solid and involving genre piece that lays the groundwork for further adaptations of Block's series of books dedicated to Scudder. Matt's sweetheart Elaine, who is prominent on the page, is missing in action from Frank's film, allowing us to concentrate on the case and the relationship between Matt and TJ that feels like a convenient plot device rather than a fully realised surrogate father-son bond.

Neeson doesn't have to stretch himself in the undemanding and hard-hitting lead role, while Downton Abbey heartthrob Stevens makes little impact amidst the explosions of brutality.

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Thursday 2nd October 2014

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Bang Bang! 3 stars

Harleen Sahni is a lowly bank clerk, who craves some excitement in her humdrum life. She gets just that when she unexpectedly crosses paths with Rajveer Nanda, who claims to be an elite spy in the middle of a diabolical international plot. Rajveer asks Harleen to help clear his besmirched name and she is soon embroiled in a series of gunfights and adrenaline-pumping car and bike chases.

  • GenreAction, Drama, Romance, World
  • CastHrithik Roshan, Katrina Kaif, Ron Smoorenburg.
  • DirectorSiddharth Anand.
  • WriterSuresh Nair, Sujoy Ghosh.
  • CountryIndia
  • Duration153 mins
  • Official site
  • Release02/10/2014 (selected cinemas)

Hrithik Roshan and Katrina Kaif headline Siddharth Raj Anand's globe-trotting, action-packed Bollywood remake of the Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz thriller Knight And Day. Harleen Sahni (Kaif) is a lowly bank clerk, who craves some excitement in her humdrum life. She gets just that when she unexpectedly crosses paths with Rajveer Nanda (Roshan), who claims to be an elite spy in the middle of a diabolical international plot. Rajveer asks Harleen to help clear his besmirched name and she is soon embroiled in a series of gunfights and adrenaline-pumping car and bike chases. Marked for death by virtue of her association with Rajveer, Harleen no longer knows who she can trust and as the net closes in on the spy, she must make a life-altering decision about where her loyalties lie.

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Thursday 2nd October 2014

Before I Go To Sleep 4 stars

movie title

Following an accident, 47-year-old wife Christine Lucas suffers from anterograde amnesia. She wakes each morning without any memory or who she is or how she came to be sleeping in a strange bed next to a man she does not know. Consumed by fear, Christine races into the bathroom where a series of photographs on the wall begin to fill in the blanks, letting her know that the man is her husband Ben and they have shared many happy years together.

  • GenreAdaptation, Drama, Romance, Thriller
  • CastColin Firth, Mark Strong, Nicole Kidman, Anne-Marie Duff.
  • DirectorRowan Joffe.
  • WriterRowan Joffe.
  • CountryUS/UK/Fr/S
  • Duration92 mins
  • Official site
  • Release05/09/2014

There has been a rich harvest of taut thrillers in 2014 including the independent American features Blue Ruin and Cold In July and gritty British films Locke and Starred Up. With David Fincher's adaptation of Gone Girl looming on the horizon, this is undoubtedly a year when audiences will catch themselves returning to filthy habits and furiously biting their nails in the dark of an unbearably tense cinema. Before I Go To Sleep is guaranteed to jangle nerves and drop a few jaws as summer mellows into autumn. Based on SJ Watson's best-selling novel, this ingenious thriller places us in exactly the same hellish predicament as the heroine, who wakes up each morning without any memory of the past, including her own identity. Through the eyes of this terrified wife, we absorb scraps of information from supposedly reliable sources and try to piece together the truth, unsure if writer-director Rowan Joffe is leading us a merry, sadistic dance. Following a car accident, 47-year-old Christine Lucas (Nicole Kidman) is diagnosed with anterograde amnesia. Each morning, she wakes in a strange bed next to a man she does not know and creeps into the adjacent bathroom where a series of photographs on the wall begin to fill in the blanks, letting her know that the man is her husband Ben (Colin Firth) and they have shared many happy years together. "You store up information for a day, wake up, and it's all gone," explains Ben, whose love for his wife holds strong. He leaves for work and Christine continues to learn about her past from information in the house. Then she receives a mysterious telephone call from someone called Dr Nash (Mark Strong), who instructs her to look in the wardrobe. "We've been keeping a video diary. I'm not sure Ben knows," confides the medic. The subsequent footage casts doubt on the facts that underpin Christine's fragile existence. "Don't trust anyone!" whispers Christine to herself in the video diary, tears glistening in her eyes. As Christine reconnects with Claire (Anne-Marie Duff), who is supposedly her best friend, contradictory testimonies drive her to the brink of insanity. Before I Go To Sleep drips-feeds us fragmented flashbacks, clouding our judgement of characters as they orbit Christine, purportedly out of love. Kidman captures the fragility of a woman at the mercy of her condition, who knows she must stare into the abyss before sleep robs her of a day's detective work. Firth and Strong offer sterling support and Joffe cranks up the tension masterfully with each hairpin twist. The guessing game of who to trust is part of the film's diabolical appeal and the script engineers some wonderful bluffs until a gasp-inducing big reveal that should have audiences teetering precariously on the edge of their seats.

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Thursday 2nd October 2014

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Billy Elliot - The Musical: Live 5 stars

A live screening from London's West End of the Olivier Award-winning stage adaptation of the acclaimed British film about a spirited 11-year-old boy from County Durham, who dreams of becoming a ballet dancer against the turbulent backdrop of the 1980s miners' strike, with script and lyrics by Lee Hall and music by Elton John. Directed by Stephen Daldry.

  • GenreFamily, Family, Musical, Special
  • DirectorStephen Daldry.
  • WriterLee Hall, Elton John.
  • CountryUK
  • Duration180 mins
  • Official sitewww.billyelliotthemusical.com
  • Release28/09/2014

A live screening from London's West End of the Olivier Award-winning stage adaptation of the acclaimed British film about a spirited 11-year-old boy from County Durham, who dreams of becoming a ballet dancer against the turbulent backdrop of the 1980s miners' strike, with script and lyrics by Lee Hall and music by Elton John. Directed by Stephen Daldry.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Thursday 2nd October 2014

Boyhood 3 stars

movie title

Drama about a boy's coming of age, shot over 12 years with the same crew and cast. When we first meet Mason Jr, he's preparing to move house with his mother Olivia and precocious older sister, Samantha. Errant father Mason Sr takes the children ten-pin bowling and dispense pithy words of wisdom. As Mason Jr blossoms into a sullen and awkward teenager, Olivia ricochets from a bad marriage to a drunk professor to a bad marriage to one of her students.

  • GenreDrama, Romance
  • CastPatricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke, Ellar Coltrane, Lorelei Linklater.
  • DirectorRichard Linklater.
  • WriterRichard Linklater.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration166 mins
  • Official sitewww.boyhoodmovie.tumblr.com
  • Release11/07/2014

In 2002, filmmaker Richard Linklater had a dream. The celebrated Texan director of Dazed And Confused and Before Sunrise, whose mother and father separated when he was seven, wanted to make a drama that realistically captured the bonds between parent and child. He announced his intention to create a close-knit family of cast and crew, who would reunite every year to shoot new scenes that accurately reflected the physical and emotional changes of the young stars.

Seven-year-old Ellar Coltrane was cast in the lead role and Linklater chose his then eight-year-old daughter Lorelei to portray the central character's older sister. The result is a directorial doozy of dazzling ambition and scope that falls short in terms of pacing and compelling narrative arcs.

From a technical perspective, Boyhood is a staggering achievement - a testament to Linklater's determination that could have fallen apart at any point in the past 12 years. From the fragments of each annual get-together, the writer-director has fashioned a naturalistic slideshow of the awkward transition from childhood to adulthood that will doubtless garner an Oscar nomination and a deluge of critical plaudits.

When we first meet Mason Jr (Ellar Coltrane), he's preparing to move house with his mother Olivia (Patricia Arquette) and precocious older sister, Samantha (Lorelei Linklater), who keeps him awake with her rendition of Britney's Oops!... I Did It Again.

Errant father Mason Sr (Ethan Hawke) takes the children ten-pin bowling and the boy pleads for the introduction of safeguards to keep his ball out of the gutter. "You don't want bumpers - life doesn't give you bumpers," his old man counsels.

Major pop culture and political events including the publication of Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince and Obama's presidential campaign allow us to date each chapter as Mason Jr blossoms into a sullen and awkward teenager.

En route, Olivia ricochets from a bad marriage to a drunk professor (Marco Perella) to a bad marriage to one of her students (Brad Hawkins), with occasional appearances from Mason Sr to dispense pithy words of wisdom.

By the very nature of its creation, Boyhood unfolds in fits and spurts, some more interesting than others. Coltrane starts the film as a cheeky cherub, who is slightly wooden in front of camera, but he grows in confidence and stature.

Arquette has surprisingly scant screen time considering she is primary care giver and the final edit runs close to three hours, while Hawke could almost have walked off the set of Before Midnight, given his character's penchant for rambling introspection.

It's easy to be blinded by the glorious gimmick that initiated Boyhood but if you judge Linklater's film purely on what made it to the screen, it's a fascinating yet flawed experiment.

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Thursday 2nd October 2014

Gone Girl 4 stars

On her fifth wedding anniversary, Amy Dunne vanishes without trace. Her husband Nick works with the police to front a high-profile media campaign to secure the safe return of his "amazing Amy". In the glare of the spotlight, fractures appear in the Dunnes' marriage and police and public both question Nick's innocence. With Amy's creepy ex-boyfriend Desi Collings as another suspect, Detectives Rhonda Boney and Jim Gilpin search for answers.

  • GenreAdaptation, Drama, Romance, Thriller
  • CastNeil Patrick Harris, Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Boyd Holbrook, Scoot McNairy, Missi Pyle, Patrick Fugit, Kim Dickens.
  • DirectorDavid Fincher.
  • WriterGillian Flynn.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration149 mins
  • Official sitewww.gonegirlmovie.cok
  • Release02/10/2014

Ignorance is bliss when it comes to Gone Girl. If, like me, you haven't read Gillian Flynn's 2012 psychological thriller and you know nothing of the serpentine twists that propelled the novel to the top of the bestsellers list then jealously guard your cluelessness. There's an undeniable delight watching Flynn wrong-foot us with this spiky satire on media manipulation and the glossy facade of celebrity marriages. When the central characters promise to love, honour and obey, till death do them part, one of them takes that vow very seriously. Admittedly, you have to dig deep beneath the surface of David Fincher's polished film to find the jet black humour but it's there, walking hand-in-hand with sadism and torture that propel the narrative towards its unconventional denouement. The film version of Gone Girl is distinguished by a career-best performance from Rosamund Pike as the pretty wife, who vanishes without trace on her fifth wedding anniversary and is presumed dead at the hands of her handsome husband (Ben Affleck). Pike has to plumb the depths of human emotion in a demanding and complex role, by turns brittle and steely, terrified and driven. She's almost certain to earn her first Oscar nomination. In stark contrast, Affleck is solid but little more as the spouse who pleads his ignorance but hides secrets from the people he adores. As battles of the sexes go, it's a resolutely one-sided skirmish. On the morning of his anniversary, Nick Dunne (Affleck) calls detectives Rhonda Boney (Kim Dickens) and Jim Gilpin (Patrick Fugit) to his home. There are signs of a struggle and his wife Amy (Pike) is missing. Nick's sister Margo (Carrie Coon), who has never liked Amy, assures her sibling that everything will be fine. "Whoever took her's bound to bring her back," she quips cattily. Nick and Amy's distraught parents (David Clennon, Lisa Beth) front a high-profile media campaign to secure the safe return of "amazing Amy". In the glare of the spotlight, fractures appear in the Dunnes' marriage and police and public question Nick's innocence. Gone Girl holds our attention for the majority of the bloated 149-minute running time, with a couple of lulls and a disjointed final act. Pike's mesmerising theatrics light up the screen and there is strong support from Neil Patrick Harris as Amy's creepy old flame. Fincher's direction is lean, complemented by snappy editing and a discordant score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, who won the Oscar for their music to The Social Network. Once you regain your balance from Flynn pulling the rug from under your feet, this is a slick yet slightly underwhelming whodunit that doesn't quite scale the dizzy heights of shock and suspense previously achieved by Jagged Edge, The Usual Suspects or indeed, Fincher's 2005 film, Se7en.

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Thursday 2nd October 2014

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Lucy 3 stars

movie title

American twenty-something Lucy is kidnapped by Korean mob boss Mr Jang and forced to work as a drugs mule, carrying a consignment of a valuable synthetic drug called CPH4 sewn into her stomach. During her captivity, Lucy gets into a fight and one of her captors kicks her in the stomach, releasing CPH4 into her system. The drug significantly increases her physical and mental abilities, unleashing telepathic and telekinetic powers.

  • GenreAction, Science Fiction, Thriller
  • CastMorgan Freeman, Scarlett Johansson, Amr Waked, Choi Min-sik, Julian Rhind-Tutt.
  • DirectorLuc Besson.
  • WriterLuc Besson.
  • CountryFr
  • Duration89 mins
  • Official sitewww.lucymovie.co.uk
  • Release22/08/2014

Derriere-numbingly long films may be all the rage but at a lean 89 minutes, Lucy, the new action thriller from Luc Besson, is all the better for bucking this Hollywood trend. And with a kidnapping, killing sprees and questionable drugs thrown into the fray, there's certainly enough in that hour and a half to halt you from slipping out of the cinema.

Lucy (Scarlett Johansson) is a carefree student living in Taiwan, who is tricked by her new boyfriend Richard into doing his dirty work and carrying a briefcase, jam-packed with potent new drugs, into a hotel for him.

But there's no time for pleasantries here and before the concierge has greeted Lucy, Richard has been dispatched and Lucy is held hostage by the neighbourhood's merciless mob of local drug lords headed up by the unsparing Mr Jang (Choi Min-sik).

Waking up, Lucy discovers that the mob has taken the liberty of surgically implanting thousand of pounds worth of a deadly blue drug, CPH4, which increases the user's brain capacity, into her stomach. And more than that, if the bright blue crystals leak, it will kill her. But leak it does and Lucy, who is sent across the world as a drug mule, soon finds her brain working on disturbing new levels, signposted in the film with frequent updates on the percentage of brain capacity she's using.

As well as being hell-bent on exacting revenge on the mobsters, Lucy also busies herself by tracking down the eminent professor Samuel Norman (Morgan Freeman) in Paris who has spent decades researching the brain's potential.

In a deft twist to Johansson's role as a human-like operating system in Spike Jonze's Her, Lucy sees the actress' voice take on a lifeless tone, shedding personality and lightness as her brain's potential expands. Much has been made of the film's neurological theory not stacking up, but scientific soundness isn't the mission here - entertainment is.

And while there are some rather odd moments - the flashes to a prehistoric Lucy, the strained conversation Lucy has with her mum and the missed opportunity to kill Mr Jang while she can - Lucy is nevertheless a punchy film, which demands your attention every minute of the way.

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Thursday 2nd October 2014

Pride 5 stars

movie title

Mark Ashton is the charismatic and outspoken leader of impassioned campaigners, who operate out of the Gay's The Word bookshop in London. Reading news stories about the miner's strike, Mark recognises a cause to champion. "Mining communities are being bullied just like we are," he tells his coterie and they form LGSM - Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners - with the intention of raising funds for a randomly selected Welsh community.

  • GenreComedy, Drama, Historical/Period
  • CastBill Nighy, Andrew Scott, Dominic West, Ben Schnetzer, George MacKay, Jessica Gunning, Paddy Considine, Imelda Staunton, Joseph Gilgun.
  • DirectorMatthew Warchus.
  • WriterStephen Beresford.
  • CountryUK
  • Duration120 mins
  • Official sitewww.pridemovie.co.uk
  • Release12/09/2014

Theatre director Matthew Warchus, who succeeds Kevin Spacey as artistic director of the Old Vic in London next year, will need to de-clutter his awards-laden mantelpiece. His second feature film is a barnstorming culture-clash comedy drama based on the inspirational true story of a group of gays and lesbians, who supported the miners during the 1984 strike and raised thousands of pounds for beleaguered communities, which dared to stand up to the Thatcher government.

This uplifting story of solidarity in the face of adversity and police intimidation is an absolute joy; an unabashed, irresistible crowd-pleaser in the magnificent mould of The Full Monty and Billy Elliot that rouses the audience to bellowing laughter while choking back a deluge of hot, salty tears.

Pride embraces and subverts stereotypes, deftly weaving together stories of personal triumph and anguish as the spectre of Aids casts a long shadow over the gay community.

Mark Ashton (Ben Schnetzer) is the charismatic and outspoken leader of young, impassioned campaigners, who operate out of the Gay's The Word bookshop in London run by Gethin (Andrew Scott). Reading news stories about the miner's strike, Mark recognises a cause to champion.

"Mining communities are being bullied just like we are," he tells his coterie comprising Mike (Joseph Gilgun), Jonathan (Dominic West), Jeff (Freddie Fox), Steph (Faye Marsay) and closeted new boy, Joe (George MacKay). They form LGSM - Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners - and rattle tins for a randomly selected Welsh community.

Mining representative Dai (Paddy Considine) invites Mark and co to the Dulais Valley where committee members Hefina (Imelda Staunton), Cliff (Bill Nighy) and Sian (Jessica Gunning) embrace the fund-raisers with open arms. However, some of the locals are repulsed.

"We're being backed up by perverts," sneers homophobic mother Maureen (Lisa Palfrey), kindling conflict between some of the neighbours and the LGSM.

Pride is a life-affirming ode to tolerance, acceptance and self-belief that defiantly lives up to its title, waving a flag for stellar home-grown filmmaking.

Performances are exemplary, ignoring a few wobbles with the Welsh accents, including a fiery turn from Schnetzer as a fresh-faced trailblazer and sobs aplenty from Mackay as the catering student, who cannot conceal his sexuality forever.

Scriptwriter Stephen Beresford strikes a perfect balance between hilarity and heartbreak, sharing polished one-liners among the ensemble cast including Menna Trussler as a clucky old dear, who labours under the illusion that all lesbians are vegetarians.

Warchus' film builds to a rousing crescendo that delivers a knock-out emotional wallop and opens the floodgates. As Frankie Goes To Hollywood professed during that turbulent summer of 1984: "When two tribes go to war/A point is all you can score." The characters in Pride score their points with unbridled passion and wit.

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Thursday 2nd October 2014

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The Boxtrolls 4 stars

movie title

An orphaned boy named Eggs is raised by gentle subterranean creatures that have been unfairly demonised by the terrified, fromage-fixated residents of Cheesebridge. When pest exterminator Archibald Snatcher and his henchmen begin to exterminate the Boxtrolls, Eggs joins forces with the surviving creatures and a girl called Winnie to protect the beasties from harm.

  • GenreAdaptation, Adventure, Animation/Cartoon, Comedy, Family, Family, Fantasy
  • CastToni Collette, Elle Fanning, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Isaac Hempstead-Wright, Jared Harris, Sir Ben Kingsley.
  • DirectorGraham Annable, Anthony Stacchi.
  • WriterIrena Brignull, Adam Pava.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration97 mins
  • Official sitewww.theboxtrolls.co.uk
  • Release12/09/2014

Based on the novel Here Be Monsters! by Alan Snow, The Boxtrolls is a rollicking stop-motion animated romp from the makers of Coraline and ParaNorman that proves weird can be truly wonderful. With faint echoes of Raymond Briggs' Fungus The Bogeyman, Graham Annable and Anthony Stacchi's quirky fantasy imagines a race of subterranean creatures, who root through bins in search of spare parts for their mechanical creations.

Despite a hearty appetite for slimy bugs, these pungent, green-skinned denizens of the underworld are cute rather than scary, possessing relatable human traits such as a passion for music or a quivering fear of the unknown. They spare troll blushes by wearing empty cardboard boxes and the former contents of these mouldering cartons provide each expressive character with a name such as Fish, Knickers, Sweets, Clocks and Fragile (ho ho!).

The meticulous detail of the movable figures and miniature sets is impressive, and co-directors Annable and Stacchi corral a vast team of animators, who produce thrilling chases and quieter moments of ribald humour.

The well-to-do, Victorian-era city of Cheesebridge is visited under the cloak of darkness by the eponymous beasties. One dark night, a Boxtroll called Fish (voiced by Dee Bradley Baker) kidnaps the infant son of a local inventor (Simon Pegg) and spirits away the child to the underground lair.

This shocking act plays into the grubby hands of pest exterminator Archibald Snatcher (Sir Ben Kingsley). "Prepare to say bye-bye to your brie, cheerio to your cheddar!" cackles Snatcher, striking fear into the heart of Lord Portley-Rind (Jared Harris) and the other fromage-fixated noblemen.

They grant Snatcher a place at the cheese-tasting top table if the exterminator and his henchmen - Mr Trout (Nick Frost), Mr Pickles (Richard Ayoade) and Mr Gristle (Tracy Morgan) - kill every last Boxtroll. Unaware that he is human, abducted boy Eggs (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) ventures above ground with the Boxtrolls and encounters Lord Portley-Rind's snooty daughter, Winnie (Elle Fanning).

She initially believes the horror stories about Boxtrolls devouring children - "Eat me. I'm sure I'm delicious!" - but once Winnie learns the truth about Eggs' past, she agrees to help vanquish Snatcher and his snivelling cohorts.

The Boxtrolls is a delight for the young and young at heart, hinging on the notion that families come in all shapes and sizes. Irena Brignull and Adam Pava's script is laden with verbal and visual gags, striking a gently mischievous tone throughout like when Winnie spots Eggs tugging at the crotch of his uncomfortable suit and whispers, "Don't snatch them in public. That's why they are called privates!"

Frost, Ayoade and Morgan provide the majority of the comic relief between action-packed set-pieces. Remain seated during the end credits for a hilarious scene of existential angst, which succinctly reminds us how pain-staking and time-consuming the stop-motion animation process is.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Thursday 2nd October 2014

This film is also showing at:

The Boxtrolls 3D 4 stars

movie title

An orphaned boy named Eggs is raised by gentle subterranean creatures that have been unfairly demonised by the terrified, fromage-fixated residents of Cheesebridge. When pest exterminator Archibald Snatcher and his henchmen begin to exterminate the Boxtrolls, Eggs joins forces with the surviving creatures and a girl called Winnie to protect the beasties from harm.

  • GenreAdaptation, Adventure, Animation/Cartoon, Comedy, Family, Family, Fantasy
  • CastElle Fanning, Toni Collette, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Isaac Hempstead-Wright, Jared Harris, Sir Ben Kingsley.
  • DirectorGraham Annable, Anthony Stacchi.
  • WriterIrena Brignull, Adam Pava.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration97 mins
  • Official sitewww.theboxtrolls.co.uk
  • Release12/09/2014

Based on the novel Here Be Monsters! by Alan Snow, The Boxtrolls is a rollicking stop-motion animated romp from the makers of Coraline and ParaNorman that proves weird can be truly wonderful. With faint echoes of Raymond Briggs' Fungus The Bogeyman, Graham Annable and Anthony Stacchi's quirky fantasy imagines a race of subterranean creatures, who root through bins in search of spare parts for their mechanical creations.

Despite a hearty appetite for slimy bugs, these pungent, green-skinned denizens of the underworld are cute rather than scary, possessing relatable human traits such as a passion for music or a quivering fear of the unknown. They spare troll blushes by wearing empty cardboard boxes and the former contents of these mouldering cartons provide each expressive character with a name such as Fish, Knickers, Sweets, Clocks and Fragile (ho ho!).

The meticulous detail of the movable figures and miniature sets is impressive, and co-directors Annable and Stacchi corral a vast team of animators, who produce thrilling chases and quieter moments of ribald humour.

The well-to-do, Victorian-era city of Cheesebridge is visited under the cloak of darkness by the eponymous beasties. One dark night, a Boxtroll called Fish (voiced by Dee Bradley Baker) kidnaps the infant son of a local inventor (Simon Pegg) and spirits away the child to the underground lair.

This shocking act plays into the grubby hands of pest exterminator Archibald Snatcher (Sir Ben Kingsley). "Prepare to say bye-bye to your brie, cheerio to your cheddar!" cackles Snatcher, striking fear into the heart of Lord Portley-Rind (Jared Harris) and the other fromage-fixated noblemen.

They grant Snatcher a place at the cheese-tasting top table if the exterminator and his henchmen - Mr Trout (Nick Frost), Mr Pickles (Richard Ayoade) and Mr Gristle (Tracy Morgan) - kill every last Boxtroll. Unaware that he is human, abducted boy Eggs (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) ventures above ground with the Boxtrolls and encounters Lord Portley-Rind's snooty daughter, Winnie (Elle Fanning).

She initially believes the horror stories about Boxtrolls devouring children - "Eat me. I'm sure I'm delicious!" - but once Winnie learns the truth about Eggs' past, she agrees to help vanquish Snatcher and his snivelling cohorts.

The Boxtrolls is a delight for the young and young at heart, hinging on the notion that families come in all shapes and sizes. Irena Brignull and Adam Pava's script is laden with verbal and visual gags, striking a gently mischievous tone throughout like when Winnie spots Eggs tugging at the crotch of his uncomfortable suit and whispers, "Don't snatch them in public. That's why they are called privates!"

Frost, Ayoade and Morgan provide the majority of the comic relief between action-packed set-pieces. Remain seated during the end credits for a hilarious scene of existential angst, which succinctly reminds us how pain-staking and time-consuming the stop-motion animation process is.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Thursday 2nd October 2014

The Equalizer 3 stars

movie title

Robert McCall has turned his back on his past as a covert government operative and has fashioned an unremarkable life in suburbia. At night, McCall works his way through a list of 100 books everyone should read while enjoying a coffee at his local diner, where he befriends a sassy prostitute called Teri. When she ends up in hospital, battered and bruised at the hands of her controlling pimp Slavi, McCall exacts revenge and sparks a war with the Russian Mafia.

  • GenreAction, Drama, Thriller
  • CastMarton Csokas, Denzel Washington, Chloe Grace Moretz, Melissa Leo, Bill Pullman, David Harbour.
  • DirectorAntoine Fuqua.
  • WriterRichard Wenk.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration132 mins
  • Official sitewww.equalizerthemovie.com
  • Release26/09/2014

Director Antoine Fuqua, who guided Denzel Washington to the Oscar podium in Training Day, reunites with the charismatic actor for this gratuitously violent reimagining of the beloved 1980s TV series.

Nostalgic memories of Edward Woodward's refined approach to justice and crime-fighting on the small screen are blown to smithereens by this brutish, big-screen rendering of The Equalizer. In a dizzying opening fight sequence, Washington impales a corkscrew in one henchman's noggin and repeatedly pummels a couple more as if he was tenderising a large slab of steak.

Each bone-cracking blow, stab and punch is captured in balletic close-up; a queasy dance of death that reaches a hilarious and frenetic crescendo with drills and sledgehammers in a hardware warehouse where the title character works when he's not coolly doling out just desserts.

Screenwriter Richard Wenk, who co-wrote The Expendables 2 with Sylvester Stallone, comes perilously close to the tongue-in-cheek tone of that film when Washington is asked by a work colleague how he hurt his bandaged hand and he drolly responds, "I hit it on something stupid". We presume he means the script, considering the implausibilities of the final act, steeped in mindless and repetitive bloodletting.

Robert McCall (Washington) has turned his back on his past as a covert government operative and has fashioned an unremarkable life in suburbia, where he nurses memories of his dead wife. By day, he earns a decent wage in a Home Mart warehouse and mentors another employee, Ralphie (Johnny Skourtis), through his security guard's exam.

By night, McCall works his way through a list of 100 books everyone should read while enjoying a coffee at his local diner, where he befriends a sassy prostitute called Teri (Chloe Grace Moretz). When she ends up in hospital, battered and bruised at the hands of her controlling Russian pimp Slavi (David Meunier), McCall exacts revenge. Justice seemingly prevails.

Unfortunately, Slavi and his goons are a link in a bigger chain controlled by the Russian Mafia and they dispatch sadistic fixer Teddy (Marton Csokas) to track down McCall. The Equalizer starts off promisingly, exploring the minutiae of McCall's daily life as a man scarred by grief and tormented by his past.

Washington is in his element in these early scenes, capturing the maelstrom of emotions that simmer beneath his character's placid surface. Once the first drop of blood is spilt, director Fuqua seizes every opportunity for wanton carnage, to the point that it seems like nothing short of a nuclear explosion will stop McCall in his tracks.

Csokas' vindictive antagonist has little depth beyond his propensity for cruelty and pain, which is something we experience as the running time drags unnecessarily into a third hour.

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The Riot Club 4 stars

movie title

Alistair Ryle arrives at Oxford, hoping to emulate his older brother, a former president of an elite dining club at Oxford University. Given his lineage, Alistair is almost certain to catch the eye of Riot Club president James Leighton-Masters. However, it is dashing classmate Miles Richards from more humble stock, who steals Alistair's thunder and arouses the homosexual yearnings of influential club member Hugo Fraser-Tyrwhitt.

  • GenreAdaptation, Drama, Romance, Thriller
  • CastDouglas Booth, Natalie Dormer, Sam Claflin, Freddie Fox, Sam Reid, Jessica Brown Findlay, Ben Schnetzer, Gordon Brown, Olly Alexander, Max Irons, Tom Hollander, Matthew Beard, Holliday Grainger, Jack Farthing.
  • DirectorLone Scherfig.
  • WriterLaura Wade.
  • CountryUK
  • Duration107 mins
  • Official sitewww.facebook.com/TheRiotClubUK
  • Release19/09/2014

The class war degenerates into foul-mouthed tirades and stomach-churning violence in Laura Wade's robust adaptation of her own coruscating stage play. Posh originated at the Royal Court Theatre in London in 2010 and was revived two years later in the West End, painting a vivid portrait of a fictional dining clique akin to the Bullingdon Club at Oxford University, which once included David Cameron, George Osborne and Boris Johnson in its notorious ranks.

Lone Scherfig's film, retitled The Riot Club, packs a similar emotional wallop to its stage-bound predecessor, detonating pent-up testosterone and tempers with horrifying repercussions. Wade has fleshed out key protagonists and excised some scenes entirely to reduce the running time by 40 minutes.

There seems to be a greater emphasis on the fledgling romance between the most likable male character and a down-to-earth northern lass (Holliday Grainger), who is dazzled by the dreaming spires and gushes, "Being at Oxford is like being invited to 100 parties all at once - and I want to go to all of them."

The Riot Club is not a party most of us would wish to attend. But that's the point. Alistair Ryle (Sam Claflin) arrives at Oxford, hoping to emulate his older brother, a former president of the titular fraternity.

This hush-hush 10-strong dining club honours the memory of its libidinous 18th century founder by boozing to excess at an annual dinner, trashing the venue and paying for the damages out of their trust funds. Given his lineage, Alistair is almost certain to catch the eye of Riot Club president James Leighton-Masters (Freddie Fox).

However, it is dashing classmate Miles Richards (Max Irons) from more humble stock, who steals Alistair's thunder and arouses the homosexual yearnings of influential club member Hugo Fraser-Tyrwhitt (Sam Reid). Alistair and Miles pass initiation and are inducted into the ranks alongside Harry Villiers (Douglas Booth), Guy Bellingfield (Matthew Beard), Toby Maitland (Olly Alexander), Dimitri Mitropoulos (Ben Schnetzer) and George Balfour (Jack Farthing).

The students head to a country pub run by Chris (Gordon Brown) and his daughter Rachel (Jessica Brown Findlay), who have no idea of the devastation about to be wrought.

The Riot Club is a sobering attack on a culture of inherited privilege and power in Britain. Scherfig's film dissects how our egalitarian society is founded on secret handshakes in wood-panelled rooms far from the madding electorate, and you can almost see the venom streaking down the camera lens when one inebriated club member sneers, "I am sick to death of poor people!"

The Danish filmmaker, who previously helmed the Oscar nominated coming of age story An Education, doesn't spare the morally repugnant characters any blushes. A climactic showdown is just as jaw-dropping in lurid cinematic close-up as it was from the safe distance of the theatre's upper circle.

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Thursday 2nd October 2014

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What We Did On Our Holiday 4 stars

Gordie McLeod is poised to celebrate his 75th birthday in the Scottish Highlands. His self-obsessed son Gavin is hosting the lavish party to impress the neighbours and hopefully secure the captaincy of the local golf club. As the party beckons, Gavin's less successful brother Doug and his wife Abi arrive with their three children in tow. The birthday celebrations are unexpectedly thrown into disarray and a media scrum descends on the family's doorstep.

  • GenreComedy, Drama, Romance
  • CastDavid Tennant, Billy Connolly, Rosamund Pike, Amelia Bullmore, Ben Miller, Emilia Jones, Harriet Turnbull, Bobby Smalldridge.
  • DirectorAndy Hamilton, Guy Jenkin.
  • WriterAndy Hamilton, Guy Jenkin.
  • CountryUK
  • Duration95 mins
  • Official site
  • Release26/09/2014

In 2007, Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkin abandoned the conventions of a tightly scripted sitcom and took a more fluid approach to mining laughs in the breakout hit Outnumbered. While the adult characters' lines were committed to the page, the young actors were allowed to improvise around suggestions from Hamilton and Jenkin, and consequently delivered natural performances, reacting instinctively to set-ups and punchlines.

The writer-directors adopt the same winning recipe for this uproarious feature film debut, an ill-fated family road trip laced with absurdity that touches the heart and tickles the funny bone.

Once again, it's the younger cast who scene-steal with aplomb, explaining why a bout of car sickness is a source of joy ("It's like being a fountain!") and succinctly distilling the anguish and betrayal of parental infidelity into a single throwaway line: "Dad had an affair with a Paralympic athlete with one foot."

That's not to say that Hamilton and Jenkin short-change the rest of the ensemble cast including David Tennant, Rosamund Pike and Glaswegian firebrand Billy Connolly. They snaffle a generous smattering of belly laughs too, like when Connolly's cantankerous grandfather tries to explain Hitler's seizure of land in terms a bairn might understand: "Like Monopoly, but with more screaming."

Gordie McLeod (Connolly) is poised to celebrate his 75th birthday in the Scottish Highlands. His self-obsessed son Gavin (Ben Miller) is hosting the lavish party to impress the neighbours and hopefully secure the captaincy of the local golf club.

Gavin's long-suffering and neurotic wife Margaret (Amelia Bullmore) remains in the background, occasionally exploding with pent-up rage. As the party beckons, Gavin's less successful brother Doug (David Tennant) and his wife Abi (Rosamund Pike) arrive with their three children in tow: 11-year-old Lottie (Emilia Jones), who scribbles repeatedly in her notebook so she can remember which lies she is supposed to tell; six-year-old Mickey (Bobby Smalldridge), who is obsessed with Vikings; and five-year-old Jess (Harriet Turnbull), whose best friends are two rocks christened Eric and Norman.

The birthday celebrations are unexpectedly thrown into disarray and a media scrum descends on the family's doorstep along with an interfering Social Services officer called Agnes (Celia Imrie), who casts doubt on Doug and Abi's ability to nurture their dysfunctional brood.

What We Did On Our Holiday is a rip-roaring riot, laying bare the petty jealousies and deep-rooted fears within a family while dealing with serious issues through the unblinkered eyes of the three children.

Tennant and Miller spark a fiery sibling rivalry with excellent support from Pike and Bullmore, the latter proving that it's the quiet ones you have to watch out for. Hamilton and Jenkin eschew cloying sentimentality in the film's tricky final third, striking a pleasing and ultimately winning balance between musing and amusing.

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