• When?
  • Or

Now showing at Cineworld Cheltenham The Brewery, Oxford Passage, off St Marg,Cheltenham,Gloucestershire GL50 4EF 0871 200 2000

  • Annie
  • Big Eyes
  • Birdman
  • Dumb And Dumber To
  • Exodus: Gods And Kings 3D
  • Frozen
  • Frozen (Sing-A-Long Version)
  • Get Santa
  • Nativity 3: Dude, Where's My Donkey?!
  • Night At The Museum: Secret Of The Tomb
  • Paddington
  • Penguins Of Madagascar
  • The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies
  • The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies 3D
  • The House Of Magic
  • The Hunger Games: Mockingjay: Part 1
  • The Imitation Game
  • The Theory Of Everything
  • The Woman In Black: Angel Of Death
  • Tinker Bell And The Legend Of The NeverBeast
  • Unbroken

Annie 3 stars

movie title

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Saturday 27th December 2014
Sunday 28th December 2014
Monday 29th December 2014
Tuesday 30th December 2014
Wednesday 31st December 2014
Thursday 1st January 2015

This film is also showing at:

Big Eyes 3 stars

movie title

Director Tim Burton charts the incredible true story of artist Margaret Hawkins, who leaves her husband with her young daughter in tow and settles in San Francisco. There, she falls under the spell of fellow painter Walter Keane, who marries Margaret to ensure she won't lose custody of her child. Margaret's haunting depictions of waifs with over-sized eyes capture the public imagination and Walter persuades his wife to allow him to take the credit for the works.

  • GenreBiography, Drama, Romance
  • CastKrysten Ritter, Christoph Waltz, Amy Adams, Danny Huston, Jason Schwartzman, Terence Stamp.
  • DirectorTim Burton.
  • WriterLarry Karaszewski, Scott Alexander.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration106 mins
  • Official sitewww.bigeyesfilm.com
  • Release26/12/2014

Tim Burton began his illustrious Hollywood career as an animator for Disney, working on wholesome family fare including The Fox And The Hound. However, from the moment he nestled into the director's chair for 1985 comedy Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, Burton forged a distinctive path that resolutely defied convention and fashionability.

His visually arresting interpretations of Batman, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory and Alice In Wonderland revelled in the darkness coursing beneath the glossy surface of each well-known story. Occasionally, his offbeat sensibilities have upended a blockbuster script like his abortive 2001 remake of Planet Of The Apes but even when he falters, Burton has remained true to himself.

Given his penchant for the macabre and melancholic, the Californian filmmaker is a snug fit for this biopic of artist Margaret Keane, who famously took her husband to court in 1986 to prove he was a fraud. She alleged that her spouse's phenomenally popular paintings of waifs with unnaturally large eyes were actually created by her and she had foolishly allowed him to steal her thunder.

The film begins in 1958 California with Margaret Hawkins (Amy Adam) leaving her husband "before it became the fashionable thing to do" with young daughter Jane (Delaney Raye) in tow. They settle in San Francisco where Margaret's spooky pictures of street children catch the eye of fellow painter Walter Keane (Christoph Waltz).

She falls under his spell and they marry to ensure Margaret won't lose custody of Jane. Local gallery owner Ruben (Jason Schwartzman) doesn't rate Margaret's work - "Clear out the clutter before the Taste Police arrive!" he snipes - but her haunting depictions of children with over-sized eyes become an unexpected sensation.

Fame-hungry Walter persuades Margaret to let him claim ownership since he has the showmanship to promote the Keane brand. While Margaret toils night and day in her studio, Walter enjoys the trappings of celebrity.

However, not everyone is seduced by Walter, including revered critic John Canaday (Terence Stamp), who despairs at the column inches devoted to this talentless self-publicist. "He is like the Hula Hoop - he won't go away!" laments Canaday.

Truth is more bizarre than fiction in Big Eyes but Burton's handsome dramatisation of the Keanes' romance and subsequent legal wranglings is infuriatingly light on fine detail. It's difficult to understand why Margaret agrees to the deception when she is strong enough to leave her first husband or tell Walter plainly, "The more you lie, the smaller you seem."

Adams delivers another solid performance while Waltz tempers his usual scenery-chewing apart from the climactic trial when his accused man mounts a legal defence based on everything he has seen on Columbo.

Period detail is splendid but quirky style overrides emotion. We're cast adrift from the misfit characters and for once, Burton seems incapable of throwing us a lifeline.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Friday 26th December 2014
Saturday 27th December 2014
Sunday 28th December 2014
Monday 29th December 2014
Tuesday 30th December 2014
Wednesday 31st December 2014
Thursday 1st January 2015

This film is also showing at:

Birdman 5 stars

movie title

Riggan Thomson rose to fame playing a superhero called Birdman in three blockbuster films in the 1990s. Twenty years later, his career is stagnant and he is determined to establish himself as a serious artist by directing, writing and starring in a Broadway staging of Raymond Carver's short story What We Talk About When We Talk About Love. As opening night approaches, petty squabbles between Riggan and his cast - including Broadway star Mike Shiner - threaten to derail the vanity project.

  • GenreComedy, Drama, Indie, Romance
  • CastMichael Keaton, Zach Galifianakis, Edward Norton, Emma Stone, Naomi Watts, Andrea Riseborough.
  • DirectorAlejandro Gonzalez Inarritu.
  • WriterAlejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Nicolas Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Armando Bo.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration119 mins
  • Official sitewww.birdmanthemovie.com
  • Release26/12/2014 (selected London cinemas); 01/01/2015 (nationwide)

Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton) rose to fame playing a superhero called Birdman in three blockbuster films in the 1990s. Twenty years later, his career is stagnant and he is determined to establish himself as a serious artist by directing, writing and starring in a Broadway staging of Raymond Carver's short story What We Talk About When We Talk About Love. As opening night approaches and critics such as Tabitha Dickinson (Lindsay Duncan) prepare to deliver their verdict, petty squabbles between Riggan and his cast - including popular Broadway star Mike Shiner (Ed Norton) - threaten to derail the vanity project. The leading man struggles to keep his personal demons at bay, exacerbated by run-ins with his spirited and fiercely independent daughter Sam (Emma Stone).

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Thursday 1st January 2015

This film is also showing at:

Dumb And Dumber To 1 stars

movie title

Harry urgently needs a kidney transplant but since he is adopted, there is no familial donor. Out of the blue, he learns that he fathered a child in 1991 with old flame Fraida Felcher. This daughter, Penny, could be a perfect match. So Harry and his simple-minded pal Lloyd hit the road - and occasionally each other - in order to reunite Harry with his long-lost offspring and persuade her to give up her organ.

  • GenreAction, Comedy, Romance
  • CastRob Riggle, Jeff Daniels, Jim Carrey, Kathleen Turner, Laurie Holden.
  • DirectorBobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly.
  • WriterSean Anders, Mike Cerrone, John Morris, Bennett Yellin, Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration109 mins
  • Official sitewww.dumbanddumberto.co.uk
  • Release19/12/2014

There's no shortage of dim-witted, foolhardy and empty-headed characters on the big screen. Watch any horror film and at least one victim will venture into the dark to investigate a strange noise when common sense dictates you run in the opposite direction.

Inspector Clouseau blundered through various investigations yet somehow always solved the case, A Clockwork Orange featured a droog called Dim and Kevin Kline won an Oscar as numbskull assassin Otto West in A Fish Called Wanda.

Forrest Gump, one of cinema's great innocents, famously remarked that "stupid is as stupid does" and using that barometer, Dumb And Dumber To takes the art of moronic tomfoolery to new depths. From the eye-watering opening gag of a DIY catheter removal, Bobby and Peter Farrelly's mindless sequel to their hit 1994 comedy embraces every crude, lewd and inappropriate set-up imaginable in its relentless pursuit of cheap, grubby titters.

If this is the future of comedy on film then the art form has flat-lined and I would strongly recommend for a Do Not Resuscitate order. Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels reprise their roles as best pals Lloyd Christmas and Harry Dunne, who mix up their words ("That's all water under the fridge") and are blinkered to the perils of modern life. They merrily take a shower under the waste water pipe from a nuclear power plant.

For two decades, Lloyd (Carrey) has been consigned to Baldy View Psychiatric Hospital, where Harry (Daniels) visits and helps nurses to wash, dress and feed the comatose patient. Thankfully, Lloyd regains the few senses he possesses and supports Harry through his own medical emergency: an urgent kidney transplant.

Since Harry is adopted, there is no familial donor and the future seems bleak. Out of the blue, Harry learns that he fathered a child in 1991 with old flame Fraida Felcher (Kathleen Turner). "Do you know what this means? You have a grown kid... with grown kidneys!" shrieks Lloyd.

The dim-witted duo tracks down the fruit of Harry's loins, Penny (Rachel Melvin), to her adopted parents: reclusive scientist Dr Pinchelow (Steve Tom) and his trophy wife (Laurie Holden). Alas, Penny has already departed for a convention in El Paso to honour her father's ground-breaking work.

So the simple-minded pals hit the road - and occasionally each other - in order to reunite Harry with his long-lost offspring and persuade her to give up her organ.

Dumb And Dumber To is a greater ordeal for us than it is for Harry and Lloyd, who are battered and bruised by misfortune. The plot is nonsensical and includes pointless diversions including a brief reappearance of the Mutt Cutts dog van from the original picture.

Carrey and Daniels fling themselves into the fray with gusto, at the mercy of a script that lacks subtlety, sophistication or any discernible laughs.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Friday 26th December 2014
Saturday 27th December 2014
Sunday 28th December 2014
Monday 29th December 2014
Tuesday 30th December 2014
Wednesday 31st December 2014
Thursday 1st January 2015

This film is also showing at:

Exodus: Gods And Kings 3D 3 stars

movie title

When King Seti I passes away, his son Prince Ramses ascends the throne and rules 1300 BC Egypt with an iron fist. Soon after, Ramses learns that Moses is the child of Hebrew parents and consequently he banishes his adopted brother to the wilderness, never to return. Far from the splendour of the palace, Moses encounters a burning bush and discovers that God has tasked him with leading 400,000 Hebrew slaves to freedom.

  • GenreAction, Adventure, Drama, Romance
  • CastChristian Bale, Joel Edgerton, Aaron Paul, Ben Mendelsohn, John Turturro, Sigourney Weaver, Sir Ben Kingsley.
  • DirectorRidley Scott.
  • WriterAdam Cooper, Bill Collage, Jeffrey Caine, Steven Zaillian.
  • CountryUK/US/Sp
  • Duration150 mins
  • Official sitewww.exodusgodsandkings.com
  • Release26/12/2014

The history of cinema is bookmarked by defining moments when pioneers dreamt, at considerable expense, outside the traditional 16:9 ratio of the big screen. The 1933 version of King Kong, The Wizard Of Oz, Ben-Hur, Cleopatra, Star Wars, Jurassic Park and James Cameron's Titanic pushed the technology of the era to the limit in pursuit of jaw-dropping spectacle.

Cecil B DeMille's final picture, The Ten Commandments starring Charlton Heston and Yul Brynner, sits proudly in that illustrious company. Shot in blistering heat, the 1956 biblical epic was the most expensive film of its time and DeMille famously clambered up the 7000-feet Mount Sinai to immortalise the moment Moses receives the Word of God.

Almost 60 years later, Gladiator director Ridley Scott attempts with limited success to update the biblical story for a modern generation raised on eye-popping digital trickery. Exodus: Gods And Kings doesn't skimp on the technological wonder including a relentless barrage of plagues.

However, the passion and fury, which coursed through the veins of DeMille's swansong, are missing. Admittedly, the 1956 picture runs an hour longer but it's this modern retelling which sags noticeably in the middle.

Before an assault on the Hittite army, an Egyptian High Priestess (Indira Varma) predicts, "A leader will be saved and his saviour will one day lead." In the heat of battle, Moses (Christian Bale) saves the Pharaoh's son Ramses (Joel Edgerton). Soon after, King Seti I (John Turturro) dies and Ramses ascends the throne.

Seeds of suspicion, sown by the priestess's prophesy, flourish and when Ramses learns that Moses is the child of Hebrews, the new pharaoh banishes his adopted brother to the wilderness. Nine years later, Moses is settled in Midian with a wife Zipporah (Maria Valverde) and son Gershom (Hal Hewetson).

Following a storm, he encounters a burning bush and a messenger of God in the form of a boy (Isaac Andrews). The child reveals that God has tasked Moses with leading 400,000 Hebrew slaves to freedom. "What kind of Lord tells a man to leave his family?" questions Zipporah. Moses' momentous course is set and the plagues rain down on cruel Ramses.

Exodus: Gods And Kings falls short of DeMille's epic rendering. The bombast and swagger are there, heightened by composer Alberto Iglesias's score, but it's on a more basic emotional level that the script short-changes us and the characters.

Bale and Edgerton, sporting scowls and mascara, barely scratch the surface of their feuding kin but Ben Mendelsohn has fun with his boo-hiss Egyptian viceroy, destined for a grisly demise. The geography of the climactic chase through the receding waters of the Red Sea is confusing.

"A leader can falter, stone will endure," observes one character about the Ten Commandments. Films can falter and it's unlikely that Scott's flawed vision will endure.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Friday 26th December 2014
Saturday 27th December 2014
Sunday 28th December 2014
Monday 29th December 2014
Tuesday 30th December 2014
Wednesday 31st December 2014
Thursday 1st January 2015

This film is also showing at:

Frozen 4 stars

movie title

As children, Anna and Elsa love to play together, taking full advantage of Elsa's ability to create ice and snow from her fingertips. An accident late one night convinces the King to wipe Anna's memory so she forgets about her sibling's hidden talents. Many years later, Elsa unwittingly reveals her powers to the locals and is branded a witch. She flees to the snowy mountains to a castle forged in ice. Anna gives chase and encounters a hunky ice trader called Kristoff and his loyal reindeer Sven.

  • GenreAction, Adaptation, Adventure, Animation/Cartoon, Comedy, Family, Family, Romance
  • CastKristen Bell, Alan Tudyk, Idina Menzel, Josh Gad, Ciaran Hinds, Jonathan Groff, Santino Fontana.
  • DirectorJennifer Lee, Chris Buck.
  • WriterJennifer Lee.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration108 mins
  • Official sitemovies.disney.com/frozen/
  • Release06/12/2013; 24/11/2014

Loosely based on The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen, Frozen proves that Disney's animated heroines have unquestionably come of age. Long gone are the rose-tinted days when princesses waited patiently for Prince Charming to sweep them off their feet or save them from a grim fate.

Now, the spunky, independent and self-assured young women are just as smart and resourceful as their male counterparts and they don't need the love of a man to affirm their self-worth.

Frozen is a terrific fairy-tale adventure that melds old-fashioned values with state-of-the-art visuals and a rousing musical score with infectious songs by husband-and-wife team Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez.

Every beautifully coloured and crafted frame is crammed with wit and joy, drawing in audiences of all ages to the story of two sisters battling against the elements and their fears to claim their rightful place on the throne.

Directors Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck don't let the pace flag and the 108 minutes pass in a blur of laughter, tears and frost-bitten action sequences that look stunning in 3D with all of the computer-generated snowflakes fluttering before your eyes. You won't need to wrap up warm because the story casts an irresistible warm glow that should thaw even the most cynical and jaded heart.

As children, Anna (voiced by Kristen Bell) and Elsa (Idina Menzel) love to play together, taking full advantage of Elsa's ability to create ice and snow from her fingertips. An accident late one night convinces the King (Maurice LaMarche) to wipe Anna's memory so she forgets about her sibling's hidden talents.

At the same time, Elsa retires from public gaze, fearful that she will hurt someone else with her powers. When the King and Queen are subsequently lost at sea, Elsa reluctantly emerges to claim the throne.

Alas, on her coronation day, Elsa's gloves come off and the locals witness her extraordinary abilities and brand her a witch. She flees to the snowy mountains to a castle forged in ice. Meanwhile, Anna gives chase, leaving the kingdom in the hands of her trusted sweetheart, Prince Hans (Santino Fontana).

En route, Anna meets hunky ice trader Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), his loyal reindeer Sven and a blissfully naive talking snowman called Olaf (Josh Gad).

Frozen is one of the best animated features to canter out of the Disney stable in years. Warm-hearted, uplifting and constantly surprising, it's a timeless fable that will appeal to both boys and girls thanks to uproarious comic relief from Olaf, who is too cute for words.

Bell and Menzel add vim to their plucky heroines, the latter singing the film's stand-out song, Let It Go. As an added treat, Frozen is preceded by a black and white Mickey Mouse short, Get A Horse, that seems to hark from a bygone era but has a wicked sting in the tail.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Saturday 27th December 2014
Sunday 28th December 2014
Monday 29th December 2014
Tuesday 30th December 2014
Wednesday 31st December 2014

Frozen (Sing-A-Long Version) 4 stars

As children, Anna and Elsa love to play together, taking full advantage of Elsa's ability to create ice and snow from her fingertips. An accident late one night convinces the King to wipe Anna's memory so she forgets about her sibling's hidden talents. Many years later, Elsa unwittingly reveals her powers to the locals and is branded a witch. She flees to the snowy mountains to a castle forged in ice. Anna gives chase and encounters a hunky ice trader called Kristoff and his loyal reindeer Sven.

  • GenreAction, Adaptation, Adventure, Animation/Cartoon, Comedy, Family, Family, Romance
  • CastKristen Bell, Josh Gad, Ciaran Hinds, Jonathan Groff, Alan Tudyk, Santino Fontana, Idina Menzel.
  • DirectorChris Buck, Jennifer Lee.
  • WriterJennifer Lee.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration108 mins
  • Official sitemovies.disney.com/frozen/
  • Release07/02/2014

Loosely based on The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen, Frozen proves that Disney's animated heroines have unquestionably come of age. Long gone are the rose-tinted days when princesses waited patiently for Prince Charming to sweep them off their feet or save them from a grim fate.

Now, the spunky, independent and self-assured young women are just as smart and resourceful as their male counterparts and they don't need the love of a man to affirm their self-worth.

Frozen is a terrific fairy-tale adventure that melds old-fashioned values with state-of-the-art visuals and a rousing musical score with infectious songs by husband-and-wife team Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez.

Every beautifully coloured and crafted frame is crammed with wit and joy, drawing in audiences of all ages to the story of two sisters battling against the elements and their fears to claim their rightful place on the throne.

Directors Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck don't let the pace flag and the 108 minutes pass in a blur of laughter, tears and frost-bitten action sequences that look stunning in 3D with all of the computer-generated snowflakes fluttering before your eyes. You won't need to wrap up warm because the story casts an irresistible warm glow that should thaw even the most cynical and jaded heart.

As children, Anna (voiced by Kristen Bell) and Elsa (Idina Menzel) love to play together, taking full advantage of Elsa's ability to create ice and snow from her fingertips. An accident late one night convinces the King (Maurice LaMarche) to wipe Anna's memory so she forgets about her sibling's hidden talents.

At the same time, Elsa retires from public gaze, fearful that she will hurt someone else with her powers. When the King and Queen are subsequently lost at sea, Elsa reluctantly emerges to claim the throne.

Alas, on her coronation day, Elsa's gloves come off and the locals witness her extraordinary abilities and brand her a witch. She flees to the snowy mountains to a castle forged in ice. Meanwhile, Anna gives chase, leaving the kingdom in the hands of her trusted sweetheart, Prince Hans (Santino Fontana).

En route, Anna meets hunky ice trader Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), his loyal reindeer Sven and a blissfully naive talking snowman called Olaf (Josh Gad).

Frozen is one of the best animated features to canter out of the Disney stable in years. Warm-hearted, uplifting and constantly surprising, it's a timeless fable that will appeal to both boys and girls thanks to uproarious comic relief from Olaf, who is too cute for words.

Bell and Menzel add vim to their plucky heroines, the latter singing the film's stand-out song, Let It Go. As an added treat, Frozen is preceded by a black and white Mickey Mouse short, Get A Horse, that seems to hark from a bygone era but has a wicked sting in the tail.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Saturday 27th December 2014
Sunday 28th December 2014
Monday 29th December 2014
Tuesday 30th December 2014
Wednesday 31st December 2014

Get Santa 3 stars

movie title

Getaway driver Steve Anderson is released from prison after two years behind bars. His return to the outside world coincides Santa Claus crash-landing in the British countryside. Steve's nine-year-old son Tom, who lives with his mother Alison and her new partner, discovers the figurehead of Christmas asleep in the garage and the boy telephones his old man for help. Steve races to Tom's aid and they embark on a madcap quest to save Christmas, defying Steve's parole in the process.

  • GenreAction, Comedy, Family, Family, Romance
  • CastJim Broadbent, Stephen Graham, Warwick Davis, Rafe Spall, Kit Connor, Joanna Scanlan, Nonso Anozie.
  • DirectorChristopher Smith.
  • WriterChristopher Smith.
  • CountryUK/US
  • Duration102 mins
  • Official site
  • Release05/12/2014

After the nightmare before Christmas of Nativity 3: Dude, Where's My Donkey?!, it seemed like we were in for tidings of discomfort and joylessness. Thankfully, Christopher Smith's festive fable lifts the gloom with a predictable yet magical tale of a fractured family, which is reunited by the power of the season.

The writer-director is evidently a huge fan of E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, crafting an uplifting resolution that is strongly reminiscent of Spielberg's classic, including a swollen orchestral crescendo that should perhaps be entitled An Unabashed Ode To John Williams. Get Santa might not scale the dizzy heights of the 1982 film it hopes to emulate, but what Smith's script lacks in subtlety and sophistication, it makes up for in heart-warming sentiment and an abundance of wholesome cheer, plus a herd of flatulent reindeer guaranteed to have tykes giggling with glee.

Admittedly, there are moments when the tone becomes sickly sweet and threatens to send the audience into sugar shock but what is Christmas without garish excess?

Getaway driver Steve Anderson (Rafe Spall) is released from prison and heads straight to a meeting with his parole officer, Ruth Morbury (Joanna Scanlan), who insists that he checks at in 5pm every day except for December 25. "Miss an appointment and I'll presume you're stealing," she growls.

His release coincides with the mysterious appearance of reindeer on Tower Bridge, which sparks a media circus. It transpires that Santa Claus (Jim Broadbent) has crash-landed and needs help to get his sleigh airborne.

Steve's nine-year-old son Tom (Kit Connor), who lives with his mother Alison (Jodie Whittaker) and her new partner (Joshua McGuire), discovers the figurehead of Christmas asleep in the garage and the boy telephones his old man for help.

Having waited two years, one month and three days to be reunited with his boy, Steve races to Tom's aid and they embark on a madcap quest to save Christmas, defying Steve's parole in the process.

Meanwhile, Santa finds himself behind bars with some of Steve's old block mates including The Barber (Stephen Graham), Knuckles (Nonso Anozie) and Sally (Warwick Davis).

Get Santa rests largely on the shoulders of newcomer Connor and he's a natural, sparking lovely on-screen rapport with Spall. Broadbent, who previously voiced Santa in the computer-animated jaunt Arthur Christmas, brings warmth and gravitas to his role.

Whittaker is shamefully underused, but Scanlan savours her limited screen time, channelling the villainous spirit of Pam Ferris in Roald Dahl's Matilda. Lapland sequences, which were shot in Yorkshire, benefit from splendid production design and some nifty digital effects to bring to life a glittering wonderland populated by Santa's little helpers, who apparently cannot take flight.

"If we fly over 1,000 feet, we explode," explains one with obvious distress. An act of elf-destruction - you learn something new every day.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Saturday 27th December 2014
Sunday 28th December 2014
Monday 29th December 2014
Tuesday 30th December 2014
Wednesday 31st December 2014
Thursday 1st January 2015

Nativity 3: Dude, Where's My Donkey?! 1 stars

movie title

Mrs Keen, the new headmistress of St Bernadette's Primary School in Coventry, welcomes superteacher Mr Shepherd to the fold. On his first day, Mr Shepherd sustains a swift kick to the head from the school donkey. When he regains consciousness, Shepherd doesn't recall his daughter Lauren or his impending New York nuptials to sweetheart Sophie. Buffoonish teaching assistant Mr Poppy joins forces with Lauren to restore her father's memory.

  • GenreComedy, Drama, Family, Musical, Romance
  • CastCatherine Tate, Adam Garcia, Celia Imrie, Marc Wootton, Lauren Hobbs, Martin Clunes.
  • DirectorDebbie Isitt.
  • WriterDebbie Isitt.
  • CountryUK
  • Duration110 mins
  • Official sitewww.facebook.com/NativityFilm
  • Release14/11/2014

A couple of years ago, my inquisitive nephew - then six years old - asked what happens to children who are consigned to Father Christmas' naughty list. I told him that children who misbehave don't get any presents on Christmas Day and must spend the following 12 months being extra good. I know now that I was wrong.

Mischievous scamps on the naughty list will be punished by spending 110 minutes in the company of Nativity 3: Dude, Where's My Donkey?!. There are elements of this shambolic third instalment of writer-director Debbie Isitt's improvised festive fables that my little nephew might enjoy: flatulence, dollops of donkey dung and a gurning man-child dressed in an oversized animal costume.

However, no amount of wrapping can disguise an early Christmas turkey, overstuffed with sickly sentiment, mawkish musical sequences and gargantuan leaps of logic. It's a crying, snivelling shame: the original Nativity!, released in 2009, was an unabashed delight that has become an annual treat in my tinsel-laden household.

This third and hopefully final chapter is a nightmare before Christmas. Mrs Keen (Celia Imrie), the new headmistress of St Bernadette's Primary School in Coventry, welcomes superteacher Mr Shepherd (Martin Clunes) to the fold to whip the pupils into shape ahead of an Ofsted inspection.

On his first day, Mr Shepherd sustains a swift kick to the head from the school donkey. When he regains consciousness, Shepherd doesn't recall his daughter Lauren (Lauren Hobbs) or his impending New York nuptials to sweetheart Sophie (Catherine Tate).

Buffoonish teaching assistant Mr Poppy (Marc Wootton) joins forces with Lauren to restore her father's memory by visiting favourite haunts from his childhood and participating in a flash mob competition in London.

Meanwhile, in the Big Apple, Sophie's old flame, arrogant flash mob guru Bradley Finch (Adam Garcia), worms his way back into her brittle affections with help from her parents (Duncan Preston, Susie Blake), brother (Ralf Little) and bridesmaid (Niky Wardley).

Nativity 3: Dude, Where's My Donkey?! is possibly the worst film I've seen this year. The script's definition of a flash mob is extremely loose, some of the children at St Bernadette's look too old to attend primary school, several New York scenes have clearly been shot closer to home with British actors at odds with the accent and Mr Poppy is a major irritation rather than a joyous source of giggles.

Performances are as wooden as a Norwegian spruce and the song and dance numbers are unevenly lip-synced. Characters behave without melodic rhyme or reason. Sophie's brother inexplicably vows to help slimeball Bradley win back Sophie, then sabotages the nefarious plan in the next breath.

To answer the over-punctuated question in the film's title: with regret, dude, he's at the knacker's yard dragging the entire cast and crew with him.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Saturday 27th December 2014
Sunday 28th December 2014
Monday 29th December 2014
Tuesday 30th December 2014
Wednesday 31st December 2014
Thursday 1st January 2015

Night At The Museum: Secret Of The Tomb 3 stars

movie title

Plucky security guard Larry Daley discovers the magical Tablet Of Ahkmenrah is gradually losing its powers. Recognising the repercussions for his display case friends, he scours the globe for a solution. His epic quest leads to the British Museum in London where Larry and his chums - Wild West cowboy Jedadiah, Roman general Octavius, Theodore Roosevelt, Attila the Hun, interpreter Sacagawea, Neanderthal man Laa and Dexter the mischievous capuchin monkey - seek out Ahkmenrah's father Merenkahre, who fashioned the original tablet.

  • GenreAction, Adventure, Comedy, Family, Family
  • CastSteve Coogan, Owen Wilson, Dick Van Dyke, Rami Malek, Dan Stevens, Sir Ben Kingsley, Rebel Wilson, Robin Williams, Ben Stiller, Ricky Gervais.
  • DirectorShawn Levy.
  • WriterDavid Guion, Michael Handelman.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration98 mins
  • Official sitewww.nightatthemuseummovie.com
  • Release19/12/2014

It's time to say goodbye. The third chapter of the blockbusting Night At The Museum franchise has lost two of its greatest special effects - Mickey Rooney and Robin Williams - in the past 12 months. So it's fitting that Secret Of The Tomb should be an action-packed adventure punctuated with dewy-eyed farewells and warm-hearted reminiscence.

Shawn Levy's picture is a fitting swansong, reuniting most of the protagonists from the original for a final transatlantic hurrah. The script adds father-son bonding to the mix and a new Neanderthal called Laa (Ben Stiller), who is partial to munching on polystyrene foam.

For the most part though, familiarity with the series' larger-than-life characters breeds contentment. The third chapter opens in 1938 Egypt, where adventurer Robert Fredericks (Brennan Elliott) and his 12-year-old son CJ (Percy Hynes-White) stumble upon a burial chamber.

"If anyone disturbs this tomb, the end will come!" proclaims one superstitious local. Undaunted, Fredericks empties the site of its priceless artefacts, dividing the treasures between New York and London.

Fast-forwarding to the present day, the magical Tablet Of Ahkmenrah, which brings to life the exhibits of the American Museum Of Natural History, is losing its power. Security guard Larry Daley (Stiller) recognises the repercussions for his display case chums and enlists the help of museum director Dr McPhee (Ricky Gervais) to ship the tablet to the British Museum in London, home of pharaoh Merenkahre (Sir Ben Kingsley), who fashioned the tablet in honour of his son Ahkmenrah (Rami Malek).

Larry heads for the British capital with his son Nick (Skyler Gisondo) and several stowaways: Theodore Roosevelt (Robin Williams), cowboy Jedediah (Owen Wilson), Roman general Octavius (Steve Coogan), Attila the Hun (Patrick Gallagher), interpreter Sacagawea (Mizuo Peck), Laa and Dexter the capuchin monkey.

Aided by dashing Sir Lancelot (Dan Stevens) and hindered by local security guard Mindy (Rebel Wilson), Larry races against time to restore the tablet's lustre before the magic dissipates forever.

Night At The Museum: Secret Of The Tomb milks our affection for the characters without exhausting our good will. There's nothing innovative in the third film but good humour and sweetness prevail, and the script continues to have fun juxtaposing the modern and ancient worlds like when Sir Lancelot asks Nick, "Have you ever held a blade?" and the teenage responds, "Only in World Of Warcraft."

London looks splendid through Levy's lens, accompanied by a predictable yet rousing chorus of The Clash, and an extended cameo by a Hollywood superstar during the frenetic denouement is a treat. Stiller seems to have tears in his eyes for most of the second half, relying predominantly on co-stars to lasso the laughs.

When Williams' waxwork President acknowledges the end is nigh and softly remarks, "You have to let us go," it's hard not to get a little lump in your throat.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Saturday 27th December 2014
Sunday 28th December 2014
Monday 29th December 2014
Tuesday 30th December 2014
Wednesday 31st December 2014
Thursday 1st January 2015

This film is also showing at:

Paddington 4 stars

movie title

A young Peruvian bear with a passion for the British heads to London in search of a new home. At Paddington train station, he meets a boy called Jonathan Brown and his parents, who offer the lovable creature, christened Paddington, a temporary haven. At large in a strange city, Paddington wreaks havoc in the Brown household. Then an evil museum taxidermist named Millicent glimpses the wondrous bear and realises that he would make the most perfect addition to her collection.

  • GenreAdaptation, Comedy, Drama, Family, Family
  • CastHugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Julie Walters, Michael Gambon, Ben Whishaw, Nicole Kidman, Imelda Staunton.
  • DirectorPaul King.
  • WriterPaul King.
  • CountryUK/Fr
  • Duration95 mins
  • Official sitewww.paddington.com
  • Release28/11/2014

More than 50 years after he first appeared in print, author Michael Bond's beloved bear Paddington has finally arrived on the big screen in his first star-packed family adventure. Upcoming director Paul King's film lovingly weaves the traditional tenets of the duffel-coat wearing bear's story into a modern narrative.

Like the books, the film starts in deepest, darkest Peru, where a well-mannered three-foot bear (voiced by Ben Whishaw) lives with his elderly Aunt Lucy (Imelda Staunton) and Uncle Pastuzo (Michael Gambon). In their youth, Lucy and Pastuzo were visited by a kindly English explorer who left his red hat with his furry friends.

When their home is threatened, Aunt Lucy packs her nephew off to the safety of London to track down the explorer, who has promised that there will always be a home for them in the capital.

Of course, after sailing the oceans in a boat filled with supplies of his treasured marmalade, the bear finds London isn't actually that friendly. In fact it's pretty miserable what with the drizzly weather and glum commuters pushing and shoving their way out of Paddington station and ignoring his pleas for a home.

"Sorry, we haven't got time for this," cries worrywart Mr Brown (Hugh Bonneville), while his moody daughter Judy (Madeleine Harris) exclaims she's "embarrassed" to be near the small grisly, who has a 'Please look after this bear' sign around his neck.

Luckily, warm-hearted Mrs Brown (Sally Hawkins) and son Jonathan (Samuel Joslin) vow to take the furry chap home for the night. Naming him Paddington after the station where they found him, the Browns introduce their guest to kindly housekeeper Mrs Bird (Julie Walters).

But disaster soon strikes when Paddington tries to freshen up in the bathroom, resulting in a flood, two earwax-stained toothbrushes and a sharp telling off. Determined to find the explorer, Mrs Brown takes Paddington to see her friend Mr Gruber (Jim Broadbent), an antiques dealer who might have clues to his existence.

In doing so, they attract the attention of cranky curtain twitcher Mr Curry (Peter Capaldi) and a slimy associate of villainous taxidermist Millicent (Nicole Kidman) who is hell-bent on "stuffing that bear". With Millicent determined to get her mitts on Paddington to display him in the Natural History Museum, the Browns find themselves on a humdinger of a cat and mouse chase to try and keep their furry friend safe.

As comforting and sweet as Paddington's beloved marmalade, King's delightful adaptation has heaps of heart and enough humour and carefully plotted cameos to ensure everyone more than grins and bears his adaptation.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Saturday 27th December 2014
Sunday 28th December 2014
Monday 29th December 2014
Tuesday 30th December 2014
Wednesday 31st December 2014
Thursday 1st January 2015

This film is also showing at:

Penguins Of Madagascar 3 stars

movie title

Skipper leads a crack squad of penguins comprising Kowalski, Rico and Private. A grey wolf called Classified, who works for the elite inter-species task force North Wind, recruits the plucky birds to thwart nefarious octopus Dr Octavius Brine. The penguins collaborate with some of the best agents in North Wind including harp seal demolitions expert Short Fuse, snowy owl intelligence analyst Eva and plucky polar bear Corporal to defeat their tentacled adversary.

  • GenreAdventure, Animation/Cartoon, Comedy, Family, Family
  • CastChristopher Knights, Chris Miller, Tom McGrath, Benedict Cumberbatch, Peter Stormare, John Malkovich, Ken Jeong, Conrad Vernon.
  • DirectorEric Darnell, Simon J Smith.
  • WriterMichael Colton, John Aboud, Brandon Sawyer.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration92 mins
  • Official sitewww.madagascar.dreamworks.com
  • Release05/12/2014

Birds of a feather somersault, karate kick and bicker together in Eric Darnell and Simon J Smith's misfiring computer-animated spin-off from the Madagascar films. Frenetic and fast-paced, Penguins Of Madagascar initially sketches the back story of the four plucky Antarctic critters with a beak for adventure through the lens of a documentary film crew, who are keen to observe the flightless birds in their treacherous natural habitat.

The script soon fast-forwards to the conclusion of Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted and literally blasts the penguins into an outlandish spy caper replete with a menagerie of animal co-stars that should be a merchandiser's dream this Christmas.

The colour-saturated animation is a feast for the eyes and there are a few neat visual gags such as the penguins' novel approach to navigating a zebra crossing undetected. However, the four lead characters, who are boundlessly charming in small doses as sidekicks, grate slightly as heroes of their own half-baked story.

Hopefully the adorable Minions from the Despicable Me series will dodge a similar fate when they graduate to the limelight in a self-titled feature next summer.

Skipper (voiced by Tom McGrath) leads a crack squad comprising Kowalski (Chris Miller), Rico (Conrad Vernon) and Private (Christopher Knights) on a daring mission to break into Fort Knox in search of treasure: a luminous orange snack called Cheezy Dibbles.

From the offset, goofball Private is identified as the black penguin of the operation. "He's sort of our secretary-slash-mascot," observes Skipper. The hunt for Cheezy Dibbles leads the penguins into the clutches of nefarious octopus Dr Octavius Brine (John Malkovich), who intends to take over the world using his mutation serum.

Thankfully, Skipper and co escape and a subsequent chase with hench-octopi along the canals of Venice leads the penguins into the company of a grey wolf called Classified (Benedict Cumberbatch), who works for an elite inter-species task force known as North Wind.

Fellow agents include harp seal demolitions expert Short Fuse (Ken Jeong), snowy owl intelligence analyst Eva (Annet Mahendru) and plucky polar bear Corporal (Peter Stormare). The unlikely heroes join forces to defeat their tentacled arch-nemesis, but this collaboration will amount to nothing unless Skipper allows Private to discover the hero within.

Penguins Of Madagascar exhibits a similar lack of invention as the films which gave birth to Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private. Brine's master plan for global domination bears an uncanny resemblance to events in Despicable Me 2 and the underlying message of tolerance and acceptance has been preached countless times before.

"If we've learnt anything on this delightful adventure, it's that looks don't matter. It's what you do that counts," declares Skipper.

A running joke involving celebrity names in one character's dialogue is a cute flourish but certainly not enough for these penguins to defy evolution and effortlessly take flight.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Saturday 27th December 2014
Sunday 28th December 2014
Monday 29th December 2014
Tuesday 30th December 2014
Wednesday 31st December 2014
Thursday 1st January 2015

This film is also showing at:

The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies 3 stars

movie title

The company of dwarves led by Thorin Oakenshield fails to slay the dragon Smaug in his Lonely Mountain lair. The majestic creature takes to the skies and Bilbo Baggins watches in horror as Smaug prepares to incinerate Lake-town and its residents. Bard the Bowman possesses the last remaining black arrow and is the only thing standing between the dragon and total annihilation. Elsewhere, Gandalf is imprisoned at Dol Guldor by the Necromancer, who unleashes legions of orcs upon the Lonely Mountain.

  • GenreAction, Adaptation, Adventure, Fantasy
  • CastSir Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Orlando Bloom, Lee Pace, Cate Blanchett, Evangeline Lilly, Luke Evans, Hugo Weaving, Benedict Cumberbatch.
  • DirectorPeter Jackson.
  • WriterFran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Guillermo del Toro, Peter Jackson.
  • CountryNZ/US
  • Duration144 mins
  • Official sitewww.thehobbitblog.com
  • Release12/12/2014

Almost 13 years to the day since director Peter Jackson first transported us to Middle Earth, the Oscar-winning New Zealand filmmaker completes his tour of duty of JRR Tolkien's novels. It has been a long and sometimes gruelling slog since The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King. Giddy expectation has crashed and burned, with only a few smouldering embers for ardent fans to stoke in the hope that Jackson might redeem himself with this concluding chapter of The Hobbit trilogy.

Alas, The Battle Of Five Armies bids farewell to the hobbits, dwarfs and elves with a whimper rather than a bang. The script occasionally deviates from Tolkien's source text, contriving one superfluous and protracted interlude with elvish allies Elrond (Hugo Weaving) and Galadriel (Cate Blanchett) and wizard Saruman (Christopher Lee) to provide a flimsy bridge between the two series.

Jackson's mastery of action sequences is beyond doubt - the two set pieces, which bookend this film, are executed with flair, precision and a miasma of impressive digital effects.

However, all that technical sound and fury without comparable emotional heft makes for increasingly wearisome viewing. We should be thankful this concluding jaunt is the shortest of the six: a mere 144 minutes.

The company of dwarves led by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) including Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) watches in horror as the mighty dragon Smaug (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch) incinerates Laketown. As the flames rise, Bard the Bowman (Luke Evans) prepares to launch the last remaining black arrow at the beast.

His children seek cover with elf warrior Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly) and badly injured dwarf Kili (Aidan Turner). Nearby, the Master of Laketown (Stephen Fry) and snivelling henchman Alfrid (Ryan Gage) make their escape in a barge laden with gold.

At Dol Guldur, Gandalf (Sir Ian McKellen) escapes from the clutches of the Necromancer (Cumberbatch again) and beats a hasty path to the mountains, where various tribes will converge. "You must summon our friends, bird and beast - the battle for the mountain is about to begin!" bellows the wise wizard.

As the fate of Middle Earth hangs in the balance, Thorin sacrifices everything in his selfish pursuit of the mythical Arkenstone.

The Hobbit: The Battle Of Five Armies follows a similar template to earlier pictures, resolving plot strands including the forbidden romance of Tauriel and Kili as the blood flows in brutal fight sequences. Comical interludes with Alfrid seem to jar with the darker tone that pervades this chapter, including the inevitable loss of at least one hero in the melee.

Freeman's performance provides a flimsy emotional fulcrum while co-stars battle with their characters' demons or hordes of bloodthirsty orcs. As the end credits roll, accompanied by an original song from Billy Boyd who played Pippin in The Lord Of The Rings saga, we feel a sense of relief rather than sadness.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Friday 26th December 2014
Saturday 27th December 2014
Sunday 28th December 2014
Monday 29th December 2014
Tuesday 30th December 2014
Wednesday 31st December 2014
Thursday 1st January 2015

This film is also showing at:

The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies 3D 3 stars

movie title

The company of dwarves led by Thorin Oakenshield fails to slay the dragon Smaug in his Lonely Mountain lair. The majestic creature takes to the skies and Bilbo Baggins watches in horror as Smaug prepares to incinerate Lake-town and its residents. Bard the Bowman possesses the last remaining black arrow and is the only thing standing between the dragon and total annihilation. Elsewhere, Gandalf is imprisoned at Dol Guldor by the Necromancer, who unleashes legions of orcs upon the Lonely Mountain.

  • GenreAction, Adaptation, Adventure, Fantasy
  • CastMartin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Sir Ian McKellen, Orlando Bloom, Lee Pace, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett, Evangeline Lilly, Luke Evans, Hugo Weaving.
  • DirectorPeter Jackson.
  • WriterPhilippa Boyens, Fran Walsh, Guillermo del Toro, Peter Jackson.
  • CountryNZ/US
  • Duration144 mins
  • Official sitewww.thehobbitblog.com
  • Release12/12/2014

Almost 13 years to the day since director Peter Jackson first transported us to Middle Earth, the Oscar-winning New Zealand filmmaker completes his tour of duty of JRR Tolkien's novels. It has been a long and sometimes gruelling slog since The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King. Giddy expectation has crashed and burned, with only a few smouldering embers for ardent fans to stoke in the hope that Jackson might redeem himself with this concluding chapter of The Hobbit trilogy.

Alas, The Battle Of Five Armies bids farewell to the hobbits, dwarfs and elves with a whimper rather than a bang. The script occasionally deviates from Tolkien's source text, contriving one superfluous and protracted interlude with elvish allies Elrond (Hugo Weaving) and Galadriel (Cate Blanchett) and wizard Saruman (Christopher Lee) to provide a flimsy bridge between the two series.

Jackson's mastery of action sequences is beyond doubt - the two set pieces, which bookend this film, are executed with flair, precision and a miasma of impressive digital effects.

However, all that technical sound and fury without comparable emotional heft makes for increasingly wearisome viewing. We should be thankful this concluding jaunt is the shortest of the six: a mere 144 minutes.

The company of dwarves led by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) including Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) watches in horror as the mighty dragon Smaug (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch) incinerates Laketown. As the flames rise, Bard the Bowman (Luke Evans) prepares to launch the last remaining black arrow at the beast.

His children seek cover with elf warrior Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly) and badly injured dwarf Kili (Aidan Turner). Nearby, the Master of Laketown (Stephen Fry) and snivelling henchman Alfrid (Ryan Gage) make their escape in a barge laden with gold.

At Dol Guldur, Gandalf (Sir Ian McKellen) escapes from the clutches of the Necromancer (Cumberbatch again) and beats a hasty path to the mountains, where various tribes will converge. "You must summon our friends, bird and beast - the battle for the mountain is about to begin!" bellows the wise wizard.

As the fate of Middle Earth hangs in the balance, Thorin sacrifices everything in his selfish pursuit of the mythical Arkenstone.

The Hobbit: The Battle Of Five Armies follows a similar template to earlier pictures, resolving plot strands including the forbidden romance of Tauriel and Kili as the blood flows in brutal fight sequences. Comical interludes with Alfrid seem to jar with the darker tone that pervades this chapter, including the inevitable loss of at least one hero in the melee.

Freeman's performance provides a flimsy emotional fulcrum while co-stars battle with their characters' demons or hordes of bloodthirsty orcs. As the end credits roll, accompanied by an original song from Billy Boyd who played Pippin in The Lord Of The Rings saga, we feel a sense of relief rather than sadness.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Friday 26th December 2014
Saturday 27th December 2014
Sunday 28th December 2014
Monday 29th December 2014
Tuesday 30th December 2014
Wednesday 31st December 2014
Thursday 1st January 2015

This film is also showing at:

The House Of Magic 3 stars

movie title

Ginger tabby cat Thunder is abandoned by his owners at the roadside. He seeks refuge in a ramshackle mansion owned by a retired magician called Lawrence, who performed under the moniker The Illustrious Lorenzo. The old man is subsequently involved in a traffic accident and recuperates in hospital. Lawrence's scheming nephew Daniel hatches a scheme to dispatch his uncle to a retirement home and sell the house for vast profit.

Curiosity almost kills the cat in The House Of Magic. Set largely within the confines of an ageing conjurer's home, Jeremy Degruson and Ben Stassen's undemanding computer-animated fantasy centres on a discarded feline, whose pluck and determination overcome adversity. The film doesn't overstay its welcome at a brisk 85 minutes and boasts flashes of visual brio.

That inventiveness is shoe-horned into lively opening sequences, which cut back and forth between a traditional third-person perspective and the four-legged hero's point of view as he clambers up a tree or cowers beneath oncoming traffic.

There's a quickening of the pulse, especially in 3D, as the camera replicates the tentative scamper of the cat along a branch as the animal prepares to leap the divide to an open window. Sadly, Degruson and Stassen lose the will to push visual boundaries as the story unfolds and the grand finale, involving a snivelling villain and a wrecking ball, is an anti-climax.

Ginger tabby cat Thunder (voiced by Murray Blue) is abandoned by his owners at the roadside. "You must have done something wrong because they chucked you like a cheap burrito," growls a passing dog (Joey Carmen).

The heavens open and Thunder seeks refuge from the downpour in a ramshackle mansion owned by a retired magician called Lawrence, who performed under the moniker The Illustrious Lorenzo.

The magician's two performing animals, Jack the rabbit (George Babbit) and Maggie the mouse (Shanelle Gray), view Thunder as a threat and they attempt to shoo the pussy back into the storm. Once their moggie-loving master catches sight of Thunder, he welcomes the homeless kitty to his new home.

Lawrence is subsequently involved in a traffic accident and recuperates in hospital. The old man's scheming nephew Daniel (Grant George) hatches a scheme to dispatch his uncle to Rhode Island Senior Retirement Home and sell the house for vast profit.

Luckily, Daniel is allergic to cats, and the magician's other animals and fantastical mechanised creations, including doves Carlo (Babbit again) and Carla (Kathleen Browers), sabotage viewings of the house and attack potential buyers. "As long as I'm here, you're all safe," naively purrs Thunder.

With its bright colours and linear narrative, The House Of Magic should engage younger audiences. Parents should be prepared for tears and screams before bedtime though when a snarling Doberman, which is chasing Thunder through undergrowth, appears to burst out of the screen and snaps its hungry jaws.

Older children will have to amuse themselves because the animation lacks the sophistication of Pixar, while the script operates on a single unchallenging level.

Solid vocal performances complement the archetypal characters, with fleeting comic relief from Carmen's pooch, who boldly claims to be "the Marlon Brando of Chihuahuas".

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Saturday 27th December 2014
Sunday 28th December 2014
Monday 29th December 2014
Tuesday 30th December 2014
Wednesday 31st December 2014

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay: Part 1 4 stars

movie title

Katniss Everdeen barely survived the Third Quarter Quell and she gathers her strength in the company of her friends, architect of the rebellion Plutarch Heavensbee and the President of District 13, Alma Coin. The scent of rebellion is in the air and the people look to Katniss to lead them against President Snow and the armed forces of Panem. However, Peeta has been captured by Snow and is being manipulated to quell the uprising.

  • GenreAction, Adaptation, Adventure, Drama, Family, Romance, Science Fiction
  • CastJennifer Lawrence, Woody Harrelson, Liam Hemsworth, Elizabeth Banks, Josh Hutcherson, Donald Sutherland, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jeffrey Wright, Stanley Tucci.
  • DirectorFrancis Lawrence.
  • WriterDanny Strong, Peter Craig.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration123 mins
  • Official sitewww.thehungergames.co.uk
  • Release20/11/2014

The spectre of war casts a long shadow over the penultimate chapter of the blockbusting dystopian thrillers based on Suzanne Collins' bestselling trilogy. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay: Part 1 follows the lead of the Harry Potter and Twilight sagas by cleaving the final book in two.

This decision - driven as much by greed as artistic necessity - results in a dark, brooding two hours of self-sacrifice almost completely devoid of the propulsive action sequences that distinguished the earlier films. Jennifer Lawrence's portrayal of reluctant heroine Katniss Everdeen, a pawn in the battle of wits between the money-rich Capitol and the impoverished Districts, remains a mesmerising constant.

She delivers another emotionally bruising performance, especially in early scenes when her battle-scarred teenager stares over the smouldering ruins of her beloved District 12, littered with charred skeletons of friends and neighbours who were incinerated as they fled.

This hellish vision brings Lawrence to her knees, unable to hold back racked sobs of pain. The floodgates open and screenwriters Peter Craig and Danny Strong take their time channelling her aching sense of loss into an all-consuming rage that will set the Capitol ablaze this time next year. "If we burn, you burn with us!" she bellows down a camera lens at President Snow (Donald Sutherland). We don't doubt it.

Katniss barely survived the Third Quarter Quell. Separated from fellow tributes Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) and Johanna (Jena Malone), who are being held in the Capitol, Katniss gathers her strength in a secret underground complex. Her allies include childhood friend Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth), mentor Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson), chaperone Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks), architect of the rebellion Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and District 13 President Alma Coin (Julianne Moore).

The people of the Districts look to Katniss to lead them against President Snow and the armed forces of Panem. "We're going to stoke the fire of this revolution that this Mockingjay started," growls Plutarch, commissioning a series of propaganda videos directed by Cressida (Natalie Dormer) with Katniss as the reluctant star. Meanwhile, Snow initiates his own forceful media campaign fronted by Caesar Flickerman (Stanley Tucci) and a clearly disoriented Peeta.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay: Part 1 is the calm before the storm of full-blown conflict. It's a slower burn than previous films and lacks some of the on-screen electricity since Katniss and Peeta are separated but Lawrence burns bright as the eponymous "girl on fire".

Effie's role is expanded from the book to bring some comic relief to the subterranean gloom. "Everything old can be made new again - like democracy!" she chirrups. Maybe so, but as Part 1 makes abundantly and agonisingly clear, you have to sacrifice innocent lives to sweep away the past.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Friday 26th December 2014
Saturday 27th December 2014

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The Imitation Game 4 stars

movie title

Socially awkward mathematician Alan Turing arrives at Bletchley Park where Commander Denniston presides over a group of the country's keenest minds in the hope that one of them can break the Enigma code. Turing ploughs his own furrow and raises eyebrows by recruiting Joan Clarke to the team. She is a beautiful mind like Turing, inspiring him to greatness by observing, "Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of that do the things people never imagine."

  • GenreAdaptation, Biography, Drama, Gay, Thriller, War
  • CastKeira Knightley, Benedict Cumberbatch, Matthew Goode, Mark Strong, Charles Dance, Rory Kinnear, Allen Leech, Matthew Beard.
  • DirectorMorten Tyldum.
  • WriterGraham Moore.
  • CountryUK/US
  • Duration114 mins
  • Official sitewww.theimitationgamemovie.com
  • Release14/11/2014

In December 2013, The Queen granted a posthumous royal pardon to Alan Turing. The London-born mathematician had been prosecuted for homosexuality in 1952 - a criminal act at the time - and he undertook a treatment of chemical castration with oestrogen injections rather than serve time behind bars.

It was an undeservedly inglorious end for a brilliant man, who was instrumental in breaking the Enigma code and should have been feted by our battle-scarred nation as a hero. Based on a biography by Andrew Hodges, The Imitation Game relives that race against time to decipher German communications and bring the Second World War to a swift conclusion.

Morten Tyldum's masterful drama neither shies away from Turing's homosexuality nor lingers on it, framing nail-biting events at Bletchley Park with the mathematician's 1951 arrest in Manchester. "If you're not paying attention, you'll miss things," Turing teases us in voiceover.

Indeed, you'll miss impeccable production design, an unconventional yet touching romance, subterfuge and sterling performances including an Oscar-worthy portrayal of the socially awkward genius from Benedict Cumberbatch.

Alan Turing (Cumberbatch) sits in a police interrogation room with Detective Nock (Rory Kinnear), facing a charge of indecency with a 19-year-old unemployed man called Arnold Murray. "I think Turing's hiding something," Nick informs his Superintendent (Steven Waddington), who is keen to wrap up the conviction.

In flashback, we witness Alan's arrival at Bletchley Park where Commander Denniston (Charles Dance) and Major General Stewart Menzies (Mark Strong) preside over a group of the country's keenest minds in the hope that one of them can break Enigma.

Hugh Alexander (Matthew Goode), John Cairncross (Allen Leech) and Peter Hilton (Matthew Beard) work alongside Turing, but he ploughs his own furrow and raises eyebrows by recruiting Joan Clarke (Keira Knightley) to the team.

She is a beautiful mind like Turing, inspiring him to greatness by observing, "Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of that do the things people never imagine."

Punctuated by school day scenes of the young Turing (Alex Lawther) and his first love, an older boy called Christopher (Jack Bannon), The Imitation Game is a beautifully crafted tribute to a prodigy, whose invaluable contribution to the war effort was unjustly besmirched by bigotry.

Cumberbatch is mesmerising, trampling over the egos of fellow code breakers without any concern for their feelings as he vows to solve "the most difficult problem in the world". It's a tour-de-force portrayal, complemented by strong supporting performances from Knightley, Goode et al as the close-knit team who note, "God didn't win the war. We did."

The pivotal Eureka moment sets our pulses racing, heightened by Alexandre Desplat's exquisite orchestral score. Director Tyldum navigates the fractured chronology with clarity and flair, ensuring that his heart-rending film doesn't itself become a perplexing puzzle.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Saturday 27th December 2014
Sunday 28th December 2014
Monday 29th December 2014
Tuesday 30th December 2014
Wednesday 31st December 2014

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The Theory Of Everything 4 stars

movie title

Theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking falls head over heels in love with English literature student Jane Wilde at 1960s Cambridge University. Their fledgling romance is tested by his diagnosis with motor neuron disease. Stephen's parents Frank and Isobel try to warn Jane off their son, fearful of emotional devastation that will be wrought if he dies within the two years predicted by doctors. However, she defies everyone, determined to love Stephen for as long as they are together.

  • GenreAdaptation, Biography, Drama, Romance
  • CastEddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, Charlie Cox, Emily Watson, Simon McBurney, David Thewlis.
  • DirectorJames Marsh.
  • WriterAnthony McCarten.
  • CountryUK
  • Duration123 mins
  • Official site
  • Release01/01/2015

Based on the memoir Travelling To Infinity: My Life With Stephen by Jane Wilde Hawking, The Theory Of Everything charts the romance between theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne) and English literature student Jane Wilde (Felicity Jones) from fleeting first glances at 1960s Cambridge University, through his diagnosis with motor neuron disease, and their subsequent battle against the condition. Stephen's parents Frank (Simon McBurney) and Isobel (Abigail Cruttenden) try to warn Jane off their son, fearful of emotional devastation that will be wrought if he dies within the two years predicted by doctors, but she defies everyone, determined to love Stephen for as long as they are together. Her resolve inspires Stephen and he continues his ground-breaking work, publishing his book A Brief History Of Time, which becomes a bestseller around the world and transforms Stephen into a global celebrity. Aided by choirmaster Jonathan Jones (Charlie Cox) and carer Elaine Mason (Maxine Peake), Jane raises the couple's three children and attempts to hold their marriage together under intense physical and emotional strain but fissures slowly appear in the relationship.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Thursday 1st January 2015

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The Woman In Black: Angel Of Death 3 stars

At the height of the Second World War, stern headmistress Jean Hogg and caring young teacher Eve Parkins abandon their school in London to evacuate a group of pupils to the safety of the countryside. Dr Rhodes leads the school party to its new home: the dilapidated Eel Marsh House. Unaware of the dark history of their refuge, the teachers and pupils settle into a routine but the spectre of the house latches onto one boy.

  • GenreDrama, Horror, Romance, Thriller, War
  • CastJeremy Irvine, Helen McCrory, Phoebe Fox, Oaklee Pendergast.
  • DirectorTom Harper.
  • WriterJon Croker.
  • CountryUK
  • Duration98 mins
  • Official sitewww.facebook.com/TheWomaninBlackAngelofDeath
  • Release01/01/2015

Set 40 years after the first film, Tom Harper's horror sequel continues the reign of terror of the vengeful ghost, which haunted the rooms and hallways of Eel Marsh House. At the height of the Second World War, stern headmistress Jean Hogg (Helen McCrory) and caring young teacher Eve Parkins (Phoebe Fox) abandon their school in London to evacuate a group of pupils to the safety of the countryside. Dr Rhodes (Adrian Rawlins) leads the school party to its new home: the dilapidated Eel Marsh House. Unaware of the dark history of their refuge, the teachers and pupils settle into a routine but one young boy, Edward (Oaklee Pendergast), is bullied by his classmates. The spectre of the house latches onto Edward and exacts revenge on one tormentor then turns her attention to the rest of the interlopers. Aided by a handsome pilot called Harry Burnstow (Jeremy Irvine), who is stationed nearby, Eve musters her courage to save her young charges from harm but the grip of the malevolent ghost tightens.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Thursday 1st January 2015

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Tinker Bell And The Legend Of The NeverBeast 3 stars

Animal fairy Fawn has a big heart and often takes pity on wounded creatures that could, when fully grown, pose a threat to the other residents of Pixie Hollow. She befriends a hulking creature called a NeverBeast, which has been roused from hibernation by a passing green-tailed comet. Legend decrees that the NeverBeast will destroy Pixie Hollow but Fawn refuses to believe that the gentle giant would ever hurt the fairies.

Released in 2008, the computer-animated fantasy Tinker Bell was the first Disney film to give a voice to the iconic character from JM Barrie's play Peter Pan, Or The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up. Aside from a brief appearance from Wendy Darling, the first picture attempted to fly on its own two wings by introducing audiences to the fantastical realm of Pixie Hollow where fairies live in harmony under benevolent Queen Clarion (voiced by Anjelica Huston).

Almost every year since, the spirited sprite has taken flight in a wholesome, family-oriented sequel to enforce strong messages of self-belief, courage and sisterly solidarity. Tinker Bell And The Legend Of The NeverBeast is the sixth and most enjoyable instalment in the series so far, referencing Beauty And The Beast and the fable of Androcles and the lion to teach children - particularly girls - that true beauty comes from within.

Director Steve Loter and his team of animators dilute that message by festooning the screen with pretty, slim, rosy-cheeked and beautifully coiffed protagonists dressed in figure-hugging fairy fashions of every conceivable flattering cut and hue. But it's the thought that counts.

Animal fairy Fawn (voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin) has a big heart and often takes pity on wounded creatures that could, when fully grown, pose a threat to the other residents of Pixie Hollow including Tinker Bell (Mae Whitman), Silvermist (Lucy Liu), Iridessa (Raven-Symone), Vidia (Pamela Adlon) and Rosetta (Megan Hilty).

Having caused an almighty kerfuffle with a baby hawk and incurred the wrath of fiery scout fairy Nyx (Rosario Dawson) and her second-in-command Fury (Melanie Brown), Fawn reluctantly agrees to follow her head rather than her heart in the future.

Almost immediately, she breaks this promise when she stumbles upon a hulking creature called a NeverBeast, which has been roused from hibernation by a passing green-tailed comet. Hideous and fearsome at first sight, Fawn christens her discovery Gruff and becomes deeply attached to the behemoth.

Subsequently, Pixie Hollow librarian Scribble (Thomas Lennon) uncovers a drawing, which suggests that Gruff will bring about the destruction of Pixie Hollow. The scout fairies prepare for a dawn attack on the NeverBeast.
"What will you do if you find it?" asks Fawn.
"My job," replies Nyx, wielding her spear.

Tinker Bell And The Legend Of The NeverBeast casts a sweet, inoffensive and entertaining spell, juxtaposing gentle laughs from vain, image-obsessed fairy Rosetta with Fawn's assertions that you shouldn't judge a Gruff by his mane ("I know he's not what they say he is!").

Visuals are crisp and colourful and the script accomplishes one simple twist to catalyse a frenetic finale. Vocal performances are solid throughout and director Loter conjures a genuinely moving resolution that should coax a steady trickle of tears down parents' cheeks.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Saturday 27th December 2014
Sunday 28th December 2014
Monday 29th December 2014
Tuesday 30th December 2014
Wednesday 31st December 2014
Thursday 1st January 2015

Unbroken 4 stars

movie title

A dramatisation of the extraordinary true story of Louis Zamperini, who competed at the 1936 Olympic Games, survived a plane crash in his B-24 bomber during the Second World War then suffered at the hands of the Japanese in a POW camp. Behind enemy lines, sadistic commander Mutsuhiro Watanabe, who is nicknamed The Bird, sets out to break the Olympian's spirit with cruelty and intimidation.

  • GenreAction, Adaptation, Drama, War
  • CastJai Courtney, Jack O'Connell, Domhnall Gleeson, Luke Treadaway, Miyavi, Garrett Hedlund.
  • DirectorAngelina Jolie.
  • WriterJoel Coen, Ethan Coen, William Nicholson, Richard LaGravenese.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration137 mins
  • Official sitewww.unbrokenfilmintl.com
  • Release26/12/2014

Angelina Jolie's third feature film behind the camera has the hallmarks of 24-carat Academy Awards bait. Based on the book by Laura Hillenbrand, Unbroken documents the extraordinary true story of Louis Zamperini, who competed at the 1936 Olympic Games, survived a plane crash during the Second World War then suffered at the hands of the Japanese in a POW camp.

Somehow, Zamperini weathered the pain and returned home a national hero. Jolie's admiration for her subject is evident in every gorgeously crafted frame of this life-affirming biopic, which is blessed with Roger Deakins' stunning cinematography and an elegiac score from composer Alexandre Desplat.

Wince-inducing scenes of cruelty warrant the film's 15 certificate but the violence always serves the narrative and is never gratuitous. Taking to heart the words of Louis's brother - "If you can take it, you can make it" - we stare into the heart of darkness with Zamperini, willing him to overcome his horrific ordeal.

As a boy, Louis (Jack O'Connell) drives his parents (Vincenzo Amato, Maddalena Ischiale) to distraction with his fisticuffs. Louis narrowly avoids reform school and his older brother Pete (Alex Russell), a star of the school athletics team, decides to channel his sibling's energy and aggression into running.

These efforts reap rewards and Louis is selected to represent America at the Berlin Olympics. "A minute of pain is worth a lifetime of glory. You remember that," whispers Pete. Louis finishes a creditable eighth after a blistering final lap of 56 seconds.

War breaks out and Louis serves in the US Army Air Force alongside best friend Russell Phillips (Domhnall Gleeson). Their B-24 bomber crashes into Pacific, killing everyone except Louis, Russell and fellow recruit Francis McNamara (Finn Wittrock).

The men drift through shark-infested waters with little food or water until a Japanese crew picks them up. The men are tortured and separated. Louis is sent to a POW camp where sadistic commander Mutsuhiro Watanabe aka The Bird (Miyavi) sets out to break the Olympian's spirit.

Unbroken soars close to greatness, emboldened by tour-de-force performances from O'Connell and pop star Miyavi, who makes his professional acting debut.

The twisted relationship between sworn enemies is intricately sketched by the four scriptwriters, including a scene in which The Bird whips Zamperini with his buckled belt then offers the bloody American some tissue paper for his wounds. "Why do you make me hit you?" wonders the Japanese commander aloud.

Jolie's direction is assured including gruelling scenes at sea. Fifty-two years after his release from the POW camp, a sprightly 80-year-old Zamperini returned to Japan as an honoured guest rather than a captive to run a leg of the Tokyo Olympics torch marathon.

With every step, he inspired friends and one-time foes to forgive and begin the seemingly impossible healing process.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Friday 26th December 2014
Saturday 27th December 2014
Sunday 28th December 2014
Monday 29th December 2014
Tuesday 30th December 2014
Wednesday 31st December 2014
Thursday 1st January 2015

This film is also showing at:

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