Now showing at Everyman Winchester Southgate Street,Winchester,Hampshire SO23 9EG 0871 906 9060
- It's A Wonderful Life
- Penguins Of Madagascar
- The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies
- The Imitation Game
It's A Wonderful Life 5 stars
Reissue of Frank Capra's masterful Yuletide drama, revolving around suicidal family man George Bailey, who ponders a life without his beloved wife Mary and children. Thankfully he is saved in the nick of time by a guardian angel called Clarence. "You see George, you've really had a wonderful life," says the spirit, "Don't you see what a mistake it would be to just throw it away?"
- GenreChildren's, Classic, Drama, Family, Romance
- CastJames Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore.
- DirectorFrank Capra.
- WriterFrances Goodrich, Albert Hackett, Frank Capra.
- Duration129 mins
- Official site
- Release14/12/2007 (selected cinemas)
Frank Capra's life affirming 1946 fable stars James Stewart as suicidal family man George Bailey, who ponders a life without his beloved wife Mary (Donna Reed) and children, but is thankfully saved by guardian angel Clarence (Henry Travers). "You see George, you've really had a wonderful life," says the spirit, "Don't you see what a mistake it would be to just throw it away?" It's A Wonderful Life is one of the best films ever made and the perfect festive treat. Stewart, as the suicidal father who is dragged back from the brink by an all-knowing, all-seeing angel, has never been better, and the direction and pacing throughout is virtually flawless.
Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)
- Wednesday 24th December 2014
Paddington 4 stars
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.
- Duration95 mins
- Official sitewww.paddington.com
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.
Penguins Of Madagascar 3 stars
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.
- Duration92 mins
- Official sitewww.madagascar.dreamworks.com
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.
The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies 3 stars
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.
- Duration144 mins
- Official sitewww.thehobbitblog.com
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.
The Imitation Game 4 stars
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.
- Duration114 mins
- Official sitewww.theimitationgamemovie.com
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.