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

  • Big Hero 6
  • Fifty Shades Of Grey
  • Focus
  • It Follows
  • Kingsman: The Secret Service
  • Project Almanac
  • Shaun The Sheep Movie
  • The Boy Next Door
  • The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
  • The Wedding Ringer

Big Hero 6 4 stars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Fifty Shades Of Grey 3 stars

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As a favour to her roommate Kate, literature student Anastasia Steele interviews handsome and charming multimillionaire businessman Christian Grey. Anastasia is bewitched by Christian and makes clear her desire for him. In order to get closer to the object of her amorous affections, the student submits to Christian and he introduces her to an erotically charged world of submission, domination, lust and temptation.

  • GenreAdaptation, Romance, Thriller
  • CastDakota Johnson, Jennifer Ehle, Jamie Dornan, Rita Ora, Marcia Gay Harden.
  • DirectorSam Taylor-Johnson.
  • WriterKelly Marcel.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration125 mins
  • Official sitewww.fiftyshadesmovie.com
  • Release13/02/2015

With its simplistic storyline about a naive heroine drawn to a dark, brooding hunk, who conceals monstrous desires, Fifty Shades Of Grey is Twilight with riding crops and plush furnishings. Sam Taylor-Johnson's flaccid film version of the EL James literary sensation preaches to the perverted in soft-core whimpers and sighs. Editor Lisa Gunning gently caresses each glossy sequence of writhing appendages to the strains of Danny Elfman's score or a soaring ballad from Annie Lennox and Sia. "Got me looking so crazy in love," purrs Beyonce beneath the picture's first impeccably lit montage of gym-toned flesh on flesh. Sadly the carnal abandon in her lyrics fails to translate as lustful hanky-spanky on the big screen. The plot is handcuffed tightly to the book. As a favour to her flu-riddled roommate Kate (Eloise Mumford), English Literature student Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) interviews handsome billionaire Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) for an article in the university newspaper. Anastasia is intoxicated but Christian initially pushes her away. "I'm not the man for you. You have to steer clear of me," he whispers. Irresistibly drawn to the businessman, Anastasia agrees to a date and Christian spirits her away to his red room festooned with S&M toys via a flight on his private helicopter. As she takes her first ride on his chopper to the throb of Ellie Goulding's chart-topping hit Love Me Like You Do, Taylor-Johnson's film reduces to an orgy of product placements and glossy fantasies that wouldn't look too shabby as TV commercials for luxury cars, designer fragrances or crumbly, flaky confectionery. Only in Taylor-Johnson's film, the beautiful heroine, who bites her lower lip as lazy shorthand for anticipatory sexual pleasure, wants to unwrap Dornan's sculpted torso rather than a glistening slab of milk chocolate. "I'm incapable of letting you go," confides Christian as he introduces wide-eyed Anastasia to his secret world of domination and submission, which didn't get UK censors hot under the collar, passing the film uncut. Nor me. I was more aroused by the immaculate shine on Christian's piano than anything in his boudoir of bondage: a set designer must have spent hours buffing those ivories. When Dornan and Johnson are fully clothed and enjoying comical scenes of flirtation, they kindle smouldering screen chemistry. As soon as one of them disrobes, those embers are extinguished. Kelly Marcel's script fails to flesh out the protagonists: Christian remains an enigma and Dornan gamely keeps a straight face as he barks lines like, "If you were mine, you wouldn't be able to sit down for a week." The usual sexual inequality about on-screen nudity applies. While Johnson is depicted full frontal, Dornan's johnson remains artfully hidden by his co-star's creamy thighs or high thread-count bed sheets. In an early scene, Ana's roommate excitedly demands the lowdown on Christian and the heroine coolly responds that he was nice, courteous and clean. That's a fair summation of the film: two hours of polite, functional, beautifully shot foreplay that fails to locate the G-spot.

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Focus 3 stars

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Nicky is a seasoned master of misdirection, who can charm even the most cynical targets into falling for his money-making schemes. He becomes romantically entangled with novice con artist Jess but realises that his feelings are clouding his judgement. So Nicky promptly ends terminates the relationship. Three years later, Nicky is in Buenos Aires at a race car circuit for a lucrative ruse. The stakes are high... then Jess reappears and throws the con man off his game.

  • GenreComedy, Drama, Romance, Thriller
  • CastWill Smith, Margot Robbie, Rodrigo Santoro, Gerald McRaney, BD Wong.
  • DirectorJohn Requa, Glenn Ficarra.
  • WriterJohn Requa, Glenn Ficarra.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration105 mins
  • Official sitewww.focusmovie.com
  • Release27/02/2015

The con men and women who bluff, distract and double-cross in Glenn Ficarra and John Requa's light-fingered drama, operate by clearly defined rules. They perform hundreds of petty thefts rather than one major heist because there is safety in volume, they refuse to steal from the vulnerable, and they never allow sentiment to cloud their cold-hearted, cash-oriented judgement.

"Love will get you killed in this racket," grizzles one veteran of the hustle. It's surprising then that Ficarra and Requa ignore their character's pithy advice and stake heavily on a fraught romance between their anti-hero, a consummate con man, and his sassy sex-bomb protegee.

The writer-directors' gamble might have paid off if lead actors Will Smith and Margot Robbie were gifted snappier dialogue, and their bedroom scenes were choreographed with passion rather than softly-lit precision to kindle smouldering on-screen chemistry.

As it is, the biggest con in Focus is not the climactic swindle, which strenuously tests the bonds of honour between thieves, but the sizzle of that central relationship, which supposedly pushes both characters to the edge of reason.

Nicky Spurgeon (Smith) is a master of misdirection, who can sweet-talk cynical targets into falling for his money-making schemes. Aided by a large crew of pickpockets and accomplices including right-hand man Horst (Brennan Brown) and technical wizard Farhad (Adrian Martinez), Nicky follows the money.

During carnival season, he operates out of New Orleans and becomes amorously entangled with novice Jess Barrett (Robbie). "You get their focus, take whatever you want," explains Nicky, teaching her the tricks of his shady trade.

After one major sting, Nicky acknowledges his distracting feelings for Jess and he terminates the relationship. Three years later, Nicky is in Buenos Aires at a race car circuit for a scam involving team owners Garriga (Rodrigo Santoro) and McEwen (Robert Taylor).

The stakes are high and Garriga is protected by a straight-shooting bodyguard called Ownes (Gerald McRaney), who thinks sleep is for wimps. "I'll lie down when I get cancer or when I have sex," snarls the heavy. Just as Nicky is poised to initiate his elaborate scheme, Jess reappears and throws the veteran con man into an emotional tailspin.

Focus is a familiar tale of old scoundrels performing new tricks, which lacks the erotic charge of the co-directors' previous film, Crazy, Stupid, Love. Robbie is luminous and makes Smith seem lifeless, confirming her ability to steal a film after eye-catching work opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf Of Wall Street.

Ficarra and Requa engineer a dramatic crescendo at the end of the first hour against the backdrop of an American football game. The second act in Argentina is an anti-climax by comparison that plays its winning hand far too early. In the absence of jeopardy, we lose everything, especially interest.

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It Follows 4 stars

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Virginal 19-year-old Jay sleeps with her boyfriend Hugh. A first night of passion culminates in Hugh restraining Jay, and he informs her that she is now the target for a ghoulish manifestation that can take the form of family, friends or total strangers. Back home, Jay's sister Kelly and friends Yara and Paul console her but are reluctant to believe Hugh's outlandish story. When the youngsters clash with the sexually transmitted menace, they go on the run to concoct a daring plan of action.

  • GenreHorror, Romance, Thriller
  • CastHeather Fairbanks, Linda Boston, Caitlin Burt, Maika Monroe, Daniel Zovatto, Keir Gilchrist.
  • DirectorDavid Robert Mitchell.
  • WriterDavid Robert Mitchell.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration110 mins
  • Official site
  • Release27/02/2015

In Wes Craven's post-modern 1996 slasher Scream, a geeky cinephile played by Jamie Kennedy detailed the universally accepted rules for surviving a horror film. "You can never have sex," he explained. "Big no-no. Sex equals death."

Writer-director David Robert Mitchell expands on this notion of fatal carnality in his impressive second feature: a skin-crawling jaunt into alcohol-fuelled teen angst that eschews the usual array of knife-wielding maniacs and masked bogeymen. Instead, It Follows pits a group of unsuspecting teenage protagonists against the insidious threat of a sexually transmitted spectre that silently and mercilessly stalks each deflowered victim.

If the shape-shifting phantom catches and kills the terrified target, then the mark of death reverts to the previous carrier, and so on, back down the sexual daisy chain. The only way to escape the malevolent force, which walks slowly towards victims and is invisible to the uninfected, is to pass it on.

Sex still equals death in Mitchell's grim suburban nightmare but for the promiscuous, it's also a temporary stay of execution. An air of doom pervades the opening frames in which a nameless teenager flees her home and screeches away into the night in her family's car. "Just know that I love you both," whimpers the girl into a mobile phone, lit by her car's headlights.

The next morning, the girl is dead - her bones snapped and limbs contorted into a horrific tableaux. The focus shifts to virginal 19-year-old Jay (Maika Monroe), who has decided to give herself to her boyfriend Hugh (Jake Weary). A first night of passion culminates in Hugh restraining Jay.

"You're not going to believe me but I need to you to remember what I say," he barks, informing Jay that she is now the target for a manifestation that can take the form of family, friends or total strangers. On cue, a naked woman staggers out of the dark.

Back home, Jay's sister Kelly (Lili Sepe) and friends Yara (Olivia Luccardi) and Paul (Keir Gilchrist) console her but are reluctant to believe Hugh's outlandish story. When the youngsters clash with the sexually transmitted menace, they acknowledge the deadly threat and go on the run with Jay and neighbour Greg (Daniel Zovatto) to concoct a plan of action.

It Follows turns the screw on the horror genre, sustaining tension as characters wrestle with a mind-blowing dilemma. Monroe is a sympathetic heroine, faced with a seemingly impossible moral conundrum: look over her shoulder for the rest of her life or pass on her fate.

Mitchell's lean script ponders this agonising choice with a level head, compelling us to urgently scan the horizon of each scene for the incoming threat. One sequence, shot in a busy school corridor using a slowly rotating static camera, is deliciously nail-biting. You can run but you cannot hide.

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Kingsman: The Secret Service 3 stars

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Gary Unwin, who is known to his friends as Eggsy, is on the downward spiral to drugs and crime. He is dismissed as a hopeless cause by everyone except agent Harry Hart, who believes Eggsy would make an excellent crime-fighting operative. So Hart takes Eggsy under his wing and enrols the young man in a gruelling training programme against more eloquent and refined peers.

  • GenreAction, Adventure, Comedy
  • CastColin Firth, Taron Egerton, Michael Caine, Mark Strong, Jack Davenport, Samuel L Jackson, Tom Prior, Mark Hamill.
  • DirectorMatthew Vaughn.
  • WriterMatthew Vaughn, Jane Goldman.
  • CountryUS/UK
  • Duration129 mins
  • Official sitewww.kingsmanmovie.com
  • Release29/01/2015

Directed at full pelt by Matthew Vaughn, Kingsman: The Secret Service is an outrageous James Bond-esque caper with an unpleasant and sadistic streak. This hare-brained tale about a secret organisation of impeccably tailored British agents dedicated to world peace lampoons the conventions of the spy genre with an arched eyebrow.

"Nowadays, they're all a little serious for my taste," opines Colin Firth's lead operative about modern-day spy films, one of several self-referential winks in Vaughn and Jane Goldman's script. "Give me a far-fetched plot any day," he quips, and that's just what Kingsman delivers in spades.

Unfortunately, the film also serves up a blitzkrieg of gratuitous on-screen barbarity. The violence doesn't support the plot, the plot is constructed to support as much wanton carnage as Vaughn can cram into each frame.

This stomach-churning slaughter reaches a nauseating crescendo in a Southern church where Firth's good guy squares off against a congregation of brain-washed bigots, racists and homophobes, who apparently deserve to die in lurid close-up while Lynyrd Skynyrd's Free Bird strums on the soundtrack. The film was cut by UK censors to secure a 15 certificate but I wouldn't want my nephews, if they were 15 or 16, anywhere near Vaughn's giddy bloodbath.

Gary Unwin (Taron Egerton), who is known to friends as Eggsy, is on a downward spiral despite an impressive IQ. He is powerless to stop his mother Michelle (Samantha Womack) suffering abuse from her boyfriend (Geoff Bell), and a spot of joy-riding leads to a brief stay in a police cell.

Eggsy is dismissed as a hopeless cause by everyone except dapper secret agent Harry Hart (Colin Firth), who believes the young man has untapped potential as a crime-fighter. So Hart enrols Eggsy in a gruelling training programme against sneering posh lads Charlie (Edward Holcroft), Barnaby (Matthew William Jones) and Hugo (Tom Prior), and friendlier rivals Grace (Sophie Cookson) and Roxy (Alisha Heng).

The recruits test their strength and guile in a series of challenges devised by gadget geek Merlin (Mark Strong). Against the odds, Eggsy shines brighter than some of the supposed creme de la creme and when technological wizard Valentine (Samuel L Jackson) and his blade runner henchwoman Gazelle (Sofia Boutella) threaten mankind with a radical solution to climate change, Eggsy puts his training to good use alongside his stiff upper-lipped mentor.

Kingsman: The Secret Service leaves an exceedingly nasty taste in the mouth that is difficult to shake, garnished with crude sexism in the closing frames. Firth is a debonair action hero, contrasting sharply with Egerton's bad boy from the wrong side of the tracks.

Jackson has fun with his lisping megalomaniac, who gags at the sight of blood. If we did the same watching Vaughn's undeniably stylish film, we'd all need urgent medical assistance inside the first 20 minutes.

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Project Almanac 3 stars

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Seventeen-year-old high school student David Raskin hopes to follow in the footsteps of his inventor father, who worked for the US military and died in a car crash when David was just seven. He looks through his father's belongings and stumbles upon the blueprints for a time machine. Using materials stolen from his high school, David builds the machine aided by his sister Christina and classmates Adam, Quinn and Jessie.

  • GenreScience Fiction, Teenage, Thriller
  • CastVirginia Gardner, Amy Landecker, Sofia Black-D'Elia, Jonny Weston, Sam Lerner, Allen Evangelista.
  • DirectorDean Israelite.
  • WriterAndrew Deutschman, Jason Pagan.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration106 mins
  • Official sitewww.projectalmanac.com
  • Release20/02/2015

Time waits for no man but it loops at dizzying speed for five enterprising teenagers in Project Almanac. Dean Israelite's found footage sci-fi thriller ponders the repercussions for a group of high school students, who build a time machine and exploit its power to rewrite history with a swipe of a smartphone screen.

"You have to kill Hitler - that's, like, time travel 101," quips one lad. "Why don't we sell this thing to Richard Branson for like a zillion dollars?" he adds with a wolfish, capitalist grin. Both excellent suggestions but Israelite's film focuses instead on the selfish dreams of the fresh-faced time travellers, anchoring a frenzied final act on the shaky assumption that a sensitive, practical 17-year-old would jeopardise dozens of lives for the most cloying, irrational desire.

There is a palpable lack of sympathy for any of the good-looking and intelligent characters, and dialogue repeatedly questions why a handheld camera would be constantly rolling and capturing all of the vital footage.

High school student David Raskin (Jonny Weston) intends to emulate his inventor father (Gary Weeks), who worked for the US military and died in a car crash on David's seventh birthday. The gifted lad is accepted to the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) but only secures 5000 US Dollars of the tuition fees.

David's mother (Amy Landecker) prepares to sell the family home but there is one scholarship application left. Rifling through his father's belongings, David stumbles upon blueprints for a temporal relocation device and videotape evidence that he attended his ill-fated seventh birthday party... as a teenager.

"You're telling me Dad left a time machine in the basement?" gasps his sister Christina (Virginia Gardner), echoing our incredulity. Using hydrogen canisters stolen from school, David builds his father's contraption aided by Christina, nerdy friends Quinn (Sam Lerner) and Adam (Allen Evangelista), and high school crush Jessie (Sofia Black-D'Elia).

Experiments with the device, dubbed Project Almanac, begin in earnest: resitting Quinn's disastrous chemistry test, wreaking revenge on a girl (Michelle DeFraites) who is bullying Christina. Each step back in time sends ripples from the past to the present, beyond the teenagers' control.

Project Almanac is strikingly reminiscent of Josh Trank's superior 2012 fantasy Chronicle, employing the same first person perspective and equally slick special effects. The script nods and winks to forerunners of the genre including Back To The Future, Looper and Jean-Claude Van Damme's finest hour, Timecop, including a cute verbal reference to a stalwart of British television.

"You enter the time here and boom! You're Doctor Who," goofs Adam as he demonstrates the device's controls. Israelite's direction maintains a brisk pace and doesn't tarry on the science behind the predictable adolescent wish fulfilment. Because that would be a waste of everyone's time: past, present and future.

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Shaun The Sheep Movie 4 stars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Boy Next Door 2 stars

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High school teacher Claire Peterson is separated from her cheating husband. Potty-mouthed pal Vicky, who is also the school's vice principal, urges Claire to sign the divorce papers but she hesitates for the sake of their teenage son Kevin. That changes when strapping 19-year-old Noah Sandborn moves in next door. One night of ill-advised passion lights the fuse on Noah's obsession and when Claire informs him that their romp was a booze-fuelled mistake, he responds with threats and violence.

  • GenreAction, Romance, Thriller
  • CastJennifer Lopez, John Corbett, Hill Harper, Ryan Guzman, Kristin Chenoweth, Ian Nelson.
  • DirectorRob Cohen.
  • WriterBarbara Curry.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration91 mins
  • Official sitewww.theboynextdoorfilm.com
  • Release27/02/2015

Never trust a good-looking stranger with your heart. The Boy Next Door harks back to a bygone era of jeopardy thrillers when Michael Douglas' unfaithful husband met his match in Glenn Close's bunny boiler and naive Bridget Fonda discovered you should never share living space with a single white female.

Alas, Rob Cohen's hokey yarn is more Facile Distraction than Fatal Attraction, courtesy of a clumsy, cliche-riddled script by Barbara Curry that fails to generate suspense. It doesn't help her cause that 27-year-old leading man Ryan Guzman, who flaunted his abs in the most recent Step Up films, has to pass muster as a high school senior.

"I'm almost 20," explains his character, inciting hoots of derision that become commonplace as the plot goes through predictable motions. Co-star Jennifer Lopez fares just as badly but with her additional credit as producer, she is granted carte blanche to look fierce and fabulous as an English literature teacher, who espouses Greek classics in figure-hugging skirts and heels.

Her lips are flawlessly glossed, her hair impeccably tousled, even when she is in the throes of a sex scene with Guzman and he is enthusiastically kneading her breasts as if they were balls of raw pizza dough.

Lopez plays Claire Peterson, who is separated from her cheating husband (John Corbett). Potty-mouthed pal Vicky (Kristin Chenoweth), who is also the high school's vice principal, urges Claire to sign the divorce papers but she hesitates for the sake of their teenage son Kevin (Ian Nelson).

That changes when strapping Noah Sandborn (Guzman) moves in next door and announces his manly presence by helping Claire with her sticky garage door.
"His parents died last year. I'm all he's got in the way of family," explains Noah's great-uncle (Jack Wallace).
"Seems like a nice boy," replies Claire dreamily.

One night of ill-advised passion lights the fuse on Noah's obsession and when Claire informs him that their romp was a booze-fuelled mistake, he responds by papering her classroom with explicit images and making suggestive comments about her cookies. Mary Berry would be mortified.

With a touch of tongue-in-cheek, The Boy Next Door might have achieved cult status like Basic Instinct and Showgirls. Regrettably, Cohen's film is deadly serious apart from Chenoweth's fleeting comic relief. Lopez doesn't convince as an educator of hormone-addled teenage minds.

Guzman gamely keeps a straight face as he woos Claire with Homer and whispers "a woman like you should be cherished" as he exfoliates her hands with his rippling six-pack during their beautifully lit tumble.

If there's one compliment you can begrudgingly pay The Boy Next Door, it's that their on-screen coupling is far steamier than any of the restrained slap and tickle in Fifty Shades Of Grey.

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The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel 4 stars

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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.
  • CountryUS/UK
  • Duration122 mins
  • Official sitewww.facebook.com/marigoldhotel
  • Release26/02/2015

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.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Wednesday 4th March 2015
Thursday 5th March 2015

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The Wedding Ringer 3 stars

movie title

Tax attorney Doug Harris is two weeks shy of marrying fiancee Gretchen at a lavish ceremony masterminded by flamboyant wedding planner Edmundo. Unfortunately, he doesn't have any close male friends to be his best man. The lovable loser seeks help from Jimmy Callahan, owner of The Best Man Inc. For 50,000 US dollars, Jimmy will adopt the identity of Doug's fictitious pal and recruit seven bogus groomsmen to complement Gretchen's gaggle of bridesmaids.

  • GenreComedy, Romance
  • CastKaley Cuoco-Sweeting, Josh Gad, Kevin Hart, Ken Howard, Cloris Leachman, Mimi Rogers, Olivia Thirlby.
  • DirectorJeremy Garelick.
  • WriterJeremy Garelick, Jay Lavender.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration101 mins
  • Official sitewww.sonypictures.com/movies/theweddingringer/
  • Release20/02/2015

It is supposed to be the happiest day of a couple's life but a wedding is seldom the stress-free parade of well-behaved children, appropriate jokes, sobriety and family harmony promised by glossy bridal magazines. A single delay or mishap can become a wrecking ball that demolishes months of meticulous and expensive preparation.

And just when it seems the worst is over and everyone can draw breath, the best man nervously stands up, microphone clasped in a sweaty palm, to deliver a speech which is supposed to be the crowning glory of the toasts. It's only then you realise that one man's Dutch courage is another's alcohol poisoning.

The Wedding Ringer is a sweet-natured yet highly improbable buddy comedy of errors, which walks down the aisle with one hapless groom, who enlists professional help to ensure he gets the best best man for his beautiful blushing bride.

Tax attorney Doug Harris (Josh Gad) is two weeks shy of marrying fiancee Gretchen (Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting) at a lavish ceremony masterminded by flamboyant wedding planner Edmundo (Ignacio Serricchio). As the son of an international tax attorney, who moved the family around the world, Doug never stayed in one place long enough to forge lasting friendships so he has no male companions to support him.

When Gretchen puts Doug on the spot about seating plans, he conjures up a fictitious best man called Bic Mitchum, who is a military priest from North Dakota. The lie weighs heavily on Doug and the lovable loser seeks help from Jimmy Callahan (Kevin Hart), owner of The Best Man Inc.

For 50,000 US dollars, Jimmy will adopt the identity of the elusive Bic and recruit seven bogus groomsmen - Reggie (Affion Crockett), Lurch (Jorge Garcia), Bronstein (Dan Gill), Otis (Corey Holcomb), Fitzgibbons (Colin Kane), Kip (Alan Ritchson) and Endo (Aaron Takahashi) - to complement Gretchen's gaggle of bridesmaids.

As the big day approaches, Jimmy goes into charm overdrive to fool Gretchen's parents (Ken Howard, Mimi Rogers), sister (Olivia Thirlby) and grandmother (Cloris Leachman) and deliver Doug the wedding he deserves.

Written in broad strokes by director Jeremy Garelick and Jay Lavender, The Wedding Ringer raises one glass to male bonding and another to mawkish sentiment, sloshing contrivances in every direction. The unlikely central pairing of Hart and Gad, who voiced Olaf the self-deluded snowman in Frozen, occasionally sparkles.

Hart dials down his manic showmanship a notch or two and Gad oozes natural likability as a loner who can't believe he has landed the girl of his dreams. The script neatly jilts one garish stereotype at the altar but Garelick's film is amicably divorced from reality and evidently lost custody of the three-dimensional characters. For better or worse, The Wedding Ringer falls short of matrimonial bliss.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Wednesday 4th March 2015
Thursday 5th March 2015

This film is also showing at:

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