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Now showing at Cineworld Weymouth New Bond Street,Weymouth,Dorset DT4 8LY 0871 200 2000

  • Annie
  • Dumb And Dumber To
  • Elf
  • Frozen (Sing-A-Long Version)
  • Get Santa
  • Horrible Bosses 2
  • Nativity 3: Dude, Where's My Donkey?!
  • Night At The Museum: Secret Of The Tomb
  • Paddington
  • Penguins Of Madagascar
  • St Vincent
  • The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies
  • The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies 3D
  • The House Of Magic
  • The House Of Magic 3D
  • The Hunger Games: Mockingjay: Part 1
  • The Polar Express
  • The Polar Express 3D
  • Tinker Bell And The Legend Of The NeverBeast

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)

Monday 22nd December 2014
Tuesday 23rd December 2014
Wednesday 24th December 2014

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)

Sunday 21st December 2014
Monday 22nd December 2014
Tuesday 23rd December 2014
Wednesday 24th December 2014

Elf 3 stars

Buddy has been raised as an elf at the North Pole. Unfortunately, since he was born to a human mother, Buddy is far too big for his surroundings and he constantly wreaks havoc in his miniature home. Desperate to find people like himself, Buddy leaves for New York City where he learns that his biological father is a penny-pinching curmudgeon whose only concern is his bank balance. Surrounded by people who don't believe in Christmas or indeed Santa Claus, Buddy resolves to bring the magic back to the festive season.

  • GenreAction, Children's, Comedy, Drama, Family, Family, Romance, Thriller
  • CastEdward Asner, Will Ferrell, James Caan.
  • DirectorJon Favreau.
  • WriterDavid Berenbaum.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration96 mins
  • Official site
  • Release14/11/2003 (London); 28/11/2003 (nationwide)

At one time or another, we have all felt lonely and isolated, as if we simply don't fit in. Buddy (Will Ferrell) has felt that way his entire life. Abandoned by his parents as a baby, he spent his formative years at an orphanage, until one Christmas Eve, he escaped his crib and crawled undetected into Santa's bag of toys. Accidentally carried back to Santa's workshop in the North Pole, Buddy was quickly taken under the wing by an elderly elf (Bob Newhart), who raised the youngster as his own. Buddy has grown up learning the elfish ways, including how to make toys for the world's children, but his size - he is three times larger than everyone else - and innate clumsiness make him more of a liability than a help. Santa Claus (Edward Asner) loves Buddy with all of his heart, but he is painfully aware that humans doesn't belong at the North Pole. And so he encourages Buddy to travel to New York City to meet his father biological father, Walter (James Caan), a penny-pinching publisher of children's books who cares more about his ailing empire than his family. At first, Walter doesn't believe that Buddy is his son - he thinks the young man is an imposter with eyes on his publishing firm. However, Walter reluctantly invites Buddy to his plush Manhattan apartment, where the elf discovers he has a new mother called Emily (Mary Steenburgen) and a 10-year-old step-brother called Michael (Daniel Tay), who doesn't believe in Santa or Christmas. Buddy's visions of New York as a picture postcard paradise of sugar plums and ice skating are rudely shattered and the elf savant quickly realises that festive spirit is in depressingly short supply. Surrounded by people who don't believe in Christmas or indeed Santa Claus, Buddy resolves to bring the magic back to the holiday season, and in the process, he reunites with his dad and forges a romance with a cute department store worker called Jovie (Zooey Deschanel). Elf is a hugely enjoyable and extremely fluffy slice of sugar-frosted family entertainment, spreading tidings of comfort and joy. Screenwriter David Berenbaum borrows liberally from other festive favourites including Miracle On 34th Street, A Christmas Carol and even Jingle All The Way to fashion a heart-warming parable about errant fathers and the over-commercialisation of yuletide. Ferrell exudes a childlike innocence in the lead role which endears Buddy to us as he struggles to get to grips with life in the big city. His enthusiasm for life is infectious and despite everything that life throws at him, Buddy always tries to make the best of a bad situation. He soon learns that his North Pole skills can be useful: like when he and Michael find themselves caught in the middle of a snowball fight, and Buddy unleashes a devastating salvo which sends the other kids running for cover. The fish-out-of-water comedy is well judged too, including a hilarious skit involving Buddy's first encounter with a midget. "I didn't know you have elves here..." he giggles, unaware that his comments are being taken as an insult in the current climate of rampant political correctness. There's also a disgusting moment when Buddy gathers together lumps of chewing gum stuck under railings in the street and pops them in his mouth, believing the gum to be free sweets, just like in Santa's grotto. The friction with Caan's modern day Ebenezer Scrooge thaws nicely as the film progresses, beginning with open hostility ("He's certifiably insane," shrieks Walter to the doctor who carries out a DNA test on Buddy) which is tempered only by Emily's desire to see her husband reunite with his son. "You can't just throw him out in the snow," she tells Walter, when the old coot considers ejecting Buddy from his life for a second time. "But he loves the snow," replies Walter dryly, "he's told me 50 times." The romantic subplot is a bit flimsy despite some nicely awkward scenes between Buddy and Jovie ("My tongue swells up when I'm around you," he tells her nervously as a sign of his affection). It's great to see screen veterans Asner and Newhart in supporting roles and director Jon Favreau drizzles on the schmaltz for the rousing, feelgood finale.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Tuesday 23rd December 2014
Wednesday 24th 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)

Monday 22nd December 2014
Tuesday 23rd December 2014
Wednesday 24th December 2014

Get Santa 3 stars

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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)

Monday 22nd December 2014
Tuesday 23rd December 2014
Wednesday 24th December 2014

Horrible Bosses 2 2 stars

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Best friends Nick Hendricks, Dale Arbus and Kurt Buckman launch their invention, Shower Buddy, which dispenses shampoo directly into the cascading water. Burt Hanson, multi-millionaire owner of a giant mail-order retailer, unveils a rip-off called Shower Pal. Faced with financial ruin, Nick, Dale and Kurt foresee one way out: kidnap Burt's obnoxious son Rex and ransom the young Hanson for a small fortune.

  • GenreAction, Comedy, Romance
  • CastJason Bateman, Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis, Jamie Foxx, Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Aniston, Chris Pine, Christoph Waltz.
  • DirectorSean Anders.
  • WriterJohn Morris, Sean Anders.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration108 mins
  • Official sitewww.horriblebosses2.com
  • Release28/11/2014

Released in 2011, Horrible Bosses centred on three friends, who plotted to kill their sadistic employers and found self-respect in the process. Sean Anders' raunchy sequel flings that self-respect out of the window and subjects the same unfortunate characters to a barrage of potty-mouthed humiliations that might be tolerable if we could muster an iota of sympathy for anyone in this redundant and joyless mess.

Alas, the lumbering script, scrawled by Anders and John Morris, has its mind in the gutter. The luminous Jennifer Aniston spends the entire film spouting sexually explicit obscenities as an aggressive alpha female with an addiction to sins of the flesh.

During the end credit out-takes, she refuses to deliver one line and smirks, "I can't say that!" Considering the filth that tumbles from her perfectly glossed lips, it's hard to imagine anything that could provoke this polite resistance. Our resistance to the sequel is resolute.

Best friends Nick Hendricks (Jason Bateman), Dale Arbus (Charlie Day) and Kurt Buckman (Jason Sudeikis) appear on Good Morning Los Angeles to launch their invention, Shower Buddy, which dispenses shampoo directly into the cascading water. Burt Hanson (Christoph Waltz), multi-millionaire owner of a giant mail-order retailer, places an initial order of 100,000 units.

Once the final Shower Buddy has been lovingly manufactured and packaged, Burt ruthlessly cancels his order and unveils a rip-off called Shower Pal, which is manufactured cheaper abroad. "I hate to break it to you, but the American Dream is made in China," grins Burt's son Rex (Chris Pine).

Faced with financial ruin, Nick, Dale and Kurt foresee one way out: kidnap the younger Hanson and ransom the son for a small fortune. This hare-brained scheme takes an unexpected twist when Rex asks to be cut in on the deal.

"Help me help you get revenge on my Dad!" he implores. The plan spirals out of control and the trio crosses paths once again with cool cat associate Dean Jones (Jamie Foxx), jailbird David Harken (Kevin Spacey) and Dale's old boss, sexual predator Dr Julia Harris (Aniston).

Horrible Bosses 2 doesn't work on any level. Bateman's solid low-key performance contrasts starkly with the irritating double-act of Day and Sudeikis. Like a pair of wasps trapped in a jam jar, they buzz endlessly as dim-witted dullards, who barely seem capable of drawing breath, let alone carrying out a kidnapping.

An early demise for their numbskull characters, perhaps under the wheel of a runaway steam roller, would be a blessed relief. I can but dream.

Waltz and Pine chew scenery as the pantomime villains, who believe that "the only thing that creates wealth is wealth". Ironically, filmmakers threw millions at this film and have created a poor excuse for a comedy.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Sunday 21st December 2014
Monday 22nd December 2014
Tuesday 23rd December 2014

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

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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)

Monday 22nd December 2014
Tuesday 23rd December 2014
Wednesday 24th December 2014

This film is also showing at:

Night At The Museum: Secret Of The Tomb 3 stars

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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)

Monday 22nd December 2014
Tuesday 23rd December 2014
Wednesday 24th December 2014

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)

Monday 22nd December 2014
Tuesday 23rd December 2014
Wednesday 24th December 2014

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)

Monday 22nd December 2014
Tuesday 23rd December 2014
Wednesday 24th December 2014

St Vincent 4 stars

movie title

Vincent lives in a ramshackle house in Brooklyn with a pet cat and dreams of the past. He owes a small fortune to bookie Zucko, who is reluctantly threatening to smash Vincent's kneecaps unless fortunes change. Lady Luck smiles on the sexagenarian loner when struggling single mother Maggie and her son Oliver move in next door and Vincent exploits Maggie to become the lad's babysitter.

  • GenreComedy, Drama, Romance
  • CastNaomi Watts, Bill Murray, Melissa McCarthy, Chris O'Dowd, Terrence Howard, Jaeden Lieberher.
  • DirectorTheodore Melfi.
  • WriterTheodore Melfi.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration102 mins
  • Official sitewww.stvincentfilm.com
  • Release05/12/2014

A modern-day Scrooge is moved by the plight of a young boy in Theodore Melfi's touching and frequently uproarious comedy. There are neither jingling bells nor ghostly visitations in St Vincent - the only spirits are swigged from a bottle - but Dickens' underlying theme of the redemption of the human spirit rings true in this valentine to Bill Murray.

The Oscar-nominated star of Ghostbusters, Groundhog Day and Lost In Translation is in riotous form in Melfi's delightful film, deploying split-second comic timing to devastating effect as he reveals a beating heart of gold beneath the shambolic appearance of his penny-pinching curmudgeon.

His irascible old coot might gamble, smoke and drink to excess, and seek physical pleasure in the company of a heavily pregnant Russian prostitute, but we fall head over heels for Murray's virtuoso portrayal and it's a love affair that endures the film's occasional lull or sloppy characterisation.

Newcomer Jaeden Lieberher is magnificent as the spirited tyke, whose innocence and unwavering faith provide a beacon of hope for the self-destructive codger to stumble back into the land of the living. Writer-director Melfi wrings us dry of laughter and tears in the process.

Vincent (Murray) lives in a ramshackle house in Brooklyn with a pet cat and dreams of the past. He owes a small fortune to bookie Zucko (Terrence Howard), who is reluctantly threatening to smash Vincent's kneecaps unless fortunes change.

Lady Luck smiles on the sexagenarian loner when struggling single mother Maggie (Melissa McCarthy) and her son Oliver (Lieberher) move in next door and Vincent exploits Maggie to become the lad's babysitter. "He's sort of cool, in a grouchy sort of way," Oliver assures his mother about his new guardian.

While Maggie works long hours to keep a roof over their head, Vincent introduces Oliver to horse racing, his feisty Russian companion-for-money Daka (Naomi Watts) and an elderly woman with Alzheimer's called Sandy (Donna Mitchell), who he visits at an expensive nursing home.

When Vincent's schoolteacher Brother Geraghty (Chris O'Dowd) asks his impressionable charges to deliver a verbal report on someone they consider a 21st-century saint, Oliver knows exactly who he wants to canonise.

St Vincent is anchored by Murray's award-worthy performance, but supporting cast is equally impressive, often in underwritten roles. McCarthy abandons her usual schtick to embody a mother in crisis and Watts plies a thick cod-eastern European accent as the working girl looking for a break.

O'Dowd scene-steals with aplomb as a holy man with heavenly quips: "I'm a Catholic, which is the best religion because we have the most rules." Aided by a leading man in rude health, writer-director Melfi doesn't slather on the sentimentality too thick as he exposes glimmers of hope for each dysfunctional character and encourages them to walk towards the light comedy.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Sunday 21st December 2014
Monday 22nd December 2014
Tuesday 23rd December 2014

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)

Monday 22nd December 2014
Tuesday 23rd December 2014
Wednesday 24th December 2014

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)

Monday 22nd December 2014
Tuesday 23rd December 2014
Wednesday 24th December 2014

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)

Monday 22nd December 2014
Tuesday 23rd December 2014
Wednesday 24th December 2014

The House Of Magic 3D 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)

Wednesday 24th 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)

Monday 22nd December 2014

This film is also showing at:

The Polar Express 3 stars

One snowy Christmas Eve, an eight-year-old boy lies awake in his bed waiting nervously for the sound of the bells on Santa's sleigh. At five minutes to midnight, the boy's bedroom begins to shake as a deafening roar reverberates throughout the neighbourhood. A gleaming steam train rumbles to a halt in front of the house. As the boy races outside, he is met by a conductor who invites him to board the train. Destination: the North Pole.

  • GenreAdaptation, Adventure, Animation/Cartoon, Children's, Family, Family
  • CastTom Hanks, Nona Gaye, Eddie Deezen.
  • DirectorRobert Zemeckis.
  • WriterWilliam Broyles Jr, Robert Zemeckis.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration100 mins
  • Official site
  • Release03/12/2004 (London); 10/12/2004 (nationwide); 08/12/2014 (selected cinemas)

The Polar Express, based on the beloved children's book by Chris Van Allsburg, is a colourful if rather twee fable about the magic of Christmas. Unfortunately, comparisons with other state-of-the-art computer animated features, such as The Incredibles, are likely to shunt this vehicle for director Robert Zemeckis and star Tom Hanks into the sidings.

One snowy Christmas Eve, an eight-year-old boy (Tom Hanks) lies awake in his bed waiting excitedly for the sound of the bells on Santa's sleigh. Having gathered evidence that Father Christmas is a myth perpetrated by adults (newspaper clippings, magazine articles), Hero Boy desperately wants to believe in the icon of the yuletide season but is afraid that he will be disappointed.

At five minutes to midnight, the youngster's bedroom begins to shake as a deafening roar reverberates throughout the neighbourhood. A gleaming steam train rumbles to a halt in front of the house. As Hero Boy races outside, clad only in his pyjamas, slippers and a dressing gown, he is met by The Conductor (Hanks again) who invites him to board the train. Destination: the North Pole.

The child nervously takes his place in a carriage with several other excited children, including a spirited girl (Nona Gaye), a bespectacled know-it-all (Eddie Deezen) and a lonely boy (Peter Scolari) from a poor family, who only manages to board the train after Hero Boy pulls the emergency cord. The Conductor is far from pleased by the unexpected delay.

The children head through the night towards a magical meeting with elves, Santa Claus and a ghostly Hobo (Hanks... again!) who watches over everyone that travels on The Polar Express. En route, they have to contend with dancing waiters serving bowls of steaming hot chocolate, malfunctioning brakes and perilously icy conditions that threaten to derail the train.

From a technical viewpoint, The Polar Express is stunning. Using a new motion capture system called Performance Capture, the actors' live action performances are rendered in digital form, driving the emotions and movements of the computer generated performers. This allows Hanks, who also executive produces the film, to play no less than five different roles, including Hero Boy's father and Santa Claus.

The technique brings an added sheen of realism to the characters - limbs have the right sense of weight and inertia, and many of the characters have subtle mannerisms and tics. Unfortunately, their faces look extremely synthetic, creepily so in the case of some of the children and Santa Claus himself with their glassy, soulless eyes.

The plot chugs from one big action sequence to the next - a skiing sequence on top of the snow-laden carriages, a breakneck dash through the elf toy factory among them - leaving little time for character development. For Hero Boy and his pint-sized companions, their emotional journey is a hop from A to B, with nothing in between.

The Polar Express is bright and simplistic enough to engage young children; older audiences and parents will probably consider disembarking well before the film reaches the North Pole. Selected IMAX cinemas across the country will be screening The Polar Express 3-D, which uses a revolutionary new process so the eye-popping visuals literally leap off the screen. All aboard.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Monday 22nd December 2014
Tuesday 23rd December 2014
Wednesday 24th December 2014

The Polar Express 3D 3 stars

On Christmas Eve night, a young boy, who refuses to believe in the existence of Santa Claus, wakes to be greeted by the sight of a magnificent steam train outside his house. Jumping aboard, the boy is befriended by The Conductor and several other children as the train chugs towards the North Pole and a magical meeting with Father Christmas and his elves.

  • GenreAdaptation, Adventure, Animation/Cartoon, Family, Family
  • CastTom Hanks, Leslie Zemeckis, Eddie Deezen.
  • DirectorRobert Zemeckis.
  • WriterWilliam Broyles Jr, Robrt Zemeckis.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration100 mins
  • Official site
  • Release03/12/2004 (London); 10/12/2004 (nationwide); 08/12/2014 (selected cinemas)

Tom Hanks produces and lends his voice to this computer animated feature inspired by the popular children's book of the same name by Chris Van Allsburg (who also wrote the book on which Jumanji was based). On Christmas Eve night, a young boy, who refuses to believe in the existence of Santa Claus, wakes to be greeted by the sight of a magnificent steam train outside his house. Jumping aboard, the boy is befriended by The Conductor and several other children as the train chugs towards the North Pole and a magical meeting with Father Christmas and his elves.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Monday 22nd December 2014
Tuesday 23rd December 2014
Wednesday 24th December 2014

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)

Monday 22nd December 2014
Tuesday 23rd December 2014
Wednesday 24th December 2014
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