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Now showing at the cinema including: DC League Of Super-pets, Joyride, Where The Crawdads Sing, The Railway Children Return, Thor: Love And Thunder, Minions: The Rise Of Gru, Elvis, Jurassic World: Dominion, Top Gun: Maverick, Lightyear and The Bad Guys


By Philip Murray


Krypto (voiced by Dwayne Johnson) and Superman (John Krasinski).
Krypto (voiced by Dwayne Johnson) and Superman (John Krasinski).

DC LEAGUE OF SUPER-PETS (PG)

Every dog, potbellied pig, turtle and red squirrel has its day in an exuberant computer-animated comedy based on DC Comics characters, who first appeared in print 60 years ago. 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 critters who will join the Justice League as valiant sidekicks.

JOYRIDE (15)

A foul-mouthed road trip across Ireland salves deep emotional wounds in director Emer Reynolds’ old-couple caper that trades heavily in contrivance to reach a wholly predictable final destination.

Energised by gorgeous on-screen chemistry between Oscar winner Olivia Colman (sporting a lilting accent) and 14-year-old newcomer Charlie Reid, Joyride takes whimsical detours to showcase the rugged beauty of County Kerry and inflict blunt force trauma with a central message that loving families can be chosen rather than inherited by bad blood.

WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING (15)

Director Olivia Newman’s slow-burning film adaptation of Delia Owens’ international bestseller is off-key for protracted periods of its languid two-hour running time despite a solid central performance from Daisy Edgar-Jones and ravishing cinematography courtesy of Polly Morgan. Threaded with timely issues of domestic violence and female empowerment, Where The Crawdads Sing struggles to generate dramatic momentum or suspense as a much-abused protagonist goes on trial for murder in a North Carolina courthouse which routinely doles out death sentences.

THE RAILWAY CHILDREN RETURN (PG)

An aptly titled sequel, The Railway Children Return strives to recapture the wistful nostalgia and sentimentality of the original against the backdrop of World War II, including scenes shot on the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway and the return of Jenny Agutter as Bobbie Waterbury (now a headstrong grandmother who has answered the suffragette cause).

It’s a charming confection anchored by strong performances from the young cast led by Beau Gadsdon.

THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER (12A)

Taika Waititi returns to the director’s chair to serve up a heady cocktail of action-packed spectacle and raucous humour in Marvel’s latest Thor outing. Tonal shifts can be jarring and Christian Bale’s all-guns-blazing performance as a vengeful villain is on a different plane from everyone else in the gung-ho odyssey.

MINIONS: THE RISE OF GRU (U)

A nagging sense of familiarity pervades every brightly coloured frame of Minions: The Rise Of Gru, but it nevertheless delivers the breathless entertainment and escapism we have come to expect with casual ease. Visuals are slick and efficient, which is an apt summation of everything Balda and his team confidently marshal on screen.

ELVIS (12A)

Director Baz Luhrmann delivers a visually extravagant biopic of Elvis Presley (Austin Butler) that packs in more than two-and-a-half hours of breathlessly choreographed musical performances, impeccable costume design and

some nostalgia-drenched spectacle.

Presley’s rise and fall is narrated by manager Colonel Tom Parker, an invidious presence portrayed by Tom Hanks.

The script can’t satisfyingly resolve the narrative tug of war between the film’s most emotionally complex and colourful characters. Certain aspects are glossed over even with a luxurious 160-minute running time.

JURASSIC WORLD: DOMINION (12A)

Set a few years after the events of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, the belaboured final chapter brings back series legacy stars Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum and BD Wong for a globe-trotting caper exploring the mysterious goings-on at bio-engineering company Biosyn.

In the same way that Jurassic Park III meekly concluded the original trilogy, Jurassic World: Dominion brings the second salvo and the over-arching storyline to a close with a narrative splutter rather than a deafening roar.

TOP GUN: MAVERICK (12A)

Top Gun: Maverick blasts Tom Cruise back into the box office stratosphere.

Director Joseph Kosinski, who previously worked with Cruise on the 2013 sci-fi thriller Oblivion, shares his daredevil leading man’s need for speed, orchestrating edge-of-seat thrills on land and in the air to disprove the theory that sequels linger in the slipstream of the original.

The film is a pure, unadulterated adrenaline rush of nostalgic pleasure.

LIGHTYEAR (PG)

Six-year-old Andy supposedly received his Buzz Lightyear action figure in the first Toy Story film as an early birthday present, after a trip to the cinema with his mother to see an action-packed film about a courageous Space Ranger.

Writer-director Angus MacLane’s out-of-this-world computer-animated adventure is that picture.

Co-written by Jason Headley, Lightyear unfolds in a different universe from Pixar Animation Studios’ earlier work (the central character is voiced by Chris Evans rather than Tim Allen) but iconography from Andy’s playtime proliferates, including Buzz’s catchphrase and the insidious threat of Emperor Zurg.

The visuals are breathtaking and a robotic cat sidekick named Sox is a bountiful source of humour, but Lightyear is one of Pixar’s fluffier and more forgettable offerings. MacLane shoots for infinity and beyond like the film’s namesake but cannot quite escape the gravitational pull of the high expectations surrounding such a beloved character.

THE BAD GUYS (U)

Leopards can change their spots – or at least apply make-up to cleverly conceal them – in a madcap computer-animated creature feature directed by Pierre Perifel.

Based on a series of graphic novels for younger readers written by Aaron Blabey, The Bad Guys unfolds in a heavily stylised world where humans and anthropomorphic critters co-exist in uneasy harmony.

The wise-cracking anti-heroes of this concrete jungle are five bank robbers led by a debonair wolf, whose hare-brained heists nod reverentially to Ocean’s Eleven to the point that when the lupine leader sweet-talks one clued-up target, she pithily counters “Don’t Clooney me!”

Scriptwriter Etan Cohen atones for the deplorable 2018 comedy Holmes & Watson with snappy dialogue, colourful characterisation and brisk pacing, including at least one rug-pulling plot twist and the loopy liberation of thousands of helpless guinea pigs from an animal laboratory.

A running gag involving noxious flatulence whiffs well before the 100 minutes are up but gags hit more often than they miss and a distinctive aesthetic melds traditional 2D hand-drawn artistry with digital wizardry to eye-popping effect.

Rating: Three stars



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