Films now showing including: Ticket To Paradise (12A), Clerks III (15), Avatar (12A), See How They Run (12A), Tad The Lost Explorer And The Curse Of The Mummy (U), Nope (15), Bullet Train (15), DC League Of Super-pets (PG), The Railway Children Return (PG), Top Gun: Maverick (12A), Fall (15), Beast (15) and Minions: The Rise Of Gru (U)
TICKET TO PARADISE (12A)
Julia Roberts reunites with George Clooney to play an acrimoniously divorced couple, who plot to wreck their daughter’s island wedding so their only child doesn’t suffer the same heartbreak as them in the future.
Predictably, sparks of attraction are rekindled in a foreign climate as director Ol Parker translates his work behind the camera of Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again! from a fictional Greek island to the Indonesian archipelago.
The two leads could play these roles in their beauty sleep and their innate megawatt charm powers director Parker’s breezy romp.
CLERKS III (15)
Writer-director Kevin Smith gives himself a hearty pat on the back with Clerks III, a self-indulgent stumble down memory lane and the making of the semi-autobiographical 1994 comedy which made his name.
The third film in the series recreates scenes from the original in lustrous colour while addressing the theme of mortality – a subject close to Smith’s heart after a near-fatal myocardial infarction in 2018.
Devoted fans will be in nostalgia-soaked heaven but, for the rest of us, the third instalment hits as often as it misses.
The biggest box office hit of all time returns to cinemas for a limited time to give people the chance to reacquaint themselves with the moon Pandora ahead of the sequel this December.
SEE HOW THEY RUN (12A)
During a pithy opening voiceover, a witness to a diabolical crime in London’s glittering West End takes us into their confidence and playfully dismisses the tangled web that screenwriter Mark Chappell is about to spin for our entertainment: “It’s a whodunnit. You’ve seen one, you’ve seen ’em all.”
This is a rare instance when a character in director Tom George’s comical 1950s-set murder mystery is telling the truth.
See How They Run (pictured on opposite page) is a frightfully jolly jape that simultaneously venerates and pokes fun at the musty conventions of a whodunnit.
Chappell’s script skilfully conflates facts about The Mousetrap and fanciful fiction without ruining the play’s closely-guarded secret.
The identity of the murderer in Tom George’s immaculately designed picture won’t incite gasps of surprise but there is unabashed fun in the film’s stylish execution and some terrific performances.
TAD THE LOST EXPLORER AND THE CURSE OF THE MUMMY (U)
A decade after construction worker turned treasure seeker Tad Stones began his award-winning computer-animated escapades, the accident-prone hero faces creatures from the Egyptian underworld in a third big screen mission helmed by Spanish director Enrique Gato.
Screenwriter Neil Landau translates Manuel Burque and Josep Gatell’s original script, mining sporadic chuckles from a blundering CIA agent (voiced by Gary Martin) who believes you shoot first and ask uninformed questions later.
The gag wears thin but is fresher than repeated uses of nervous mid-flight flatulence to punctuate changes of location.
Gato’s picture doesn’t excavate any bravura action set pieces or heartfelt emotion but it’s short and sweet at a breezy 89 minutes.
Oscar-winning writer-director Jordan Peele’s latest is a close encounter of the second-hand kind, imagining first contact with extra-terrestrials as a stand-off between species.
BULLET TRAIN (15)
Deadpool 2 director David Leitch’s outlandish comedy thriller, based on Kotaro Isaka’s novel Maria Beetle, gleefully appropriates a bullet train’s key feature – speed – before it reaches the end of the line with an orgy of cartoon violence.
Action set-pieces, including bone-crunching brawls in different carriages, are breathlessly choreographed.
DC LEAGUE OF SUPER-PETS (PG)
DC League Of Super-Pets enthusiastically goes for walkies with familiar characters including Superman, Wonder Woman and Aquaman but shifts focus to the motley crew of furry critters who will join the Justice League as valiant sidekicks.
THE RAILWAY CHILDREN RETURN (PG)
Aptly-titled sequel to writer-director Lionel Jeffries’ cherished original, the follow-up this time is set against the backdrop of World War II, and sees the return of Jenny Agutter as Bobbie Waterbury (now a headstrong grandmother).
It’s a charming confection anchored by strong performances.
TOP GUN: MAVERICK (12A)
Smash-hit follow-up to the famous 80s action blockbuster, Tom Cruise’s latest star vehicle has won strong reviews from fans of the original and newcomers left stunned by the real-world stunt flying, and the film’s mix of emotional scenes returning favourite characters and high-speed derring-do.
Gravity kills in the aptly titled Fall, which suspends disbelief 2,000 feet in the air atop an abandoned TV tower, where two best friends become stranded a little over half an hour into director Scott Mann’s dizzying survival thriller.
The stakes are stomach-churningly high in a lean and ruthlessly efficient script co-written by Jonathan Frank and Mann, which defies common sense to cajole two female protagonists to the pinnacle of a rust-eroded needle in the middle of a desert.
Once co-stars Grace Fulton and Virginia Gardner have finished spouting platitudes (“You are so much stronger than you think you are!”) and reality bites, Fall asks us to hold on tight as stricken yet resourceful characters engineer ways to attract attention to their precarious perch.
As a breathless thrill ride, Mann’s picture maintains an assured grip through some risible interludes like one heroine instantly thinking of social media when the tower’s structure disintegrates (“I wish we’d filmed that!”)
Whirling camerawork jangles the nerves of anyone who suffers from acrophobia and distracts attention from some storytelling sleight of hand that lands with a satisfying thud.
This blood-soaked survival thriller sees Idris Elba take on a murderous lion after the big cat goes on a killing spree sparked by the night-time massacre of its pride by poachers.
Scriptwriter Ryan Engle wastes little time feeding the villains to the ferocious feline shortly after one thug examines a paw print and surmises, “He’s a big one. Better get him or he’ll come after us!”
However, the king of the jungle meets his match in Elba.
The London-born actor spends 90 minutes going fist to jaw with the lion to protect his family during a nightmarish South African safari that was supposed to be a healing exercise for his grief-stricken brood.
The underdog storyline is writ large from the moment a London record label head honcho (Ramon Tikaram) dismisses the band as Moby Dick And The Whalers and supports the promotion of an airhead pop diva because, “Success is measured in record sales not brain cells.” Inevitably, he chokes on those words.
Cinematographer Toby Moore showcases Cornwall’s natural beauty in every conceivable light, including a heart-to-heart on a cliff-top bench with a panoramic view of the port.
The only point of contention is an on-screen discussion about scone layering etiquette. Battle lines are drawn in jam then cream… or vice versa.
Rating: Three stars
MINIONS: THE RISE OF GRU (U)
Another caper starring Gru and everyone’s favourite Minions. This fifth instalment of the Despicable Me saga delivers the breathless entertainment and escapism we have come to expect with casual ease.
ALSO SHOWING: Wildwood, Peeping Tom, Vertigo, Spectre, Lightyear, Inside Out, Moonage Daydream, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (Extended Edition).
More by this authorPhilip Murray