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- All Is Well
- Bajrangi Bhaijaan
- Hitman: Agent 47
- Inside Out
- Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation
- NT Live: The Beaux' Stratagem
- Sinister 2
- Straight Outta Compton
- Thani Oruvan
- We Are Your Friends
All Is Well 3 stars
Inder Bhalla is a singer constantly at odds with his father, who runs the family bakery and is forever in debt. The two generations of the Bhalla family are forced to go on the run with thugs in hot pursuit. On the road, father and son bicker despite the best efforts of Inder's mother, who has Alzheimer's, to broker peace. As old wounds are healed and ghosts of the past are exorcised, Inder and his father come to a new understanding that helps them confront their problems in the present.
- GenreBollywood, Drama
- CastSupriya Pathak, Rishi Kapoor, Abhishek Bachchan, Asin.
- DirectorUmesh Shukla.
- WriterNiren Bhatt, Sumit Arora.
- Official site
- Release21/08/2015 (selected cinemas)
Umesh Shukla directs this Bollywood comedy about a dysfunctional family, who must come to terms with their insecurities to survive as a unit. Inder Bhalla (Abhishek Bachchan) is a singer constantly at odds with his father (Rishi Kapoor), who runs the family bakery and is forever in debt. The two generations of the Bhalla family are forced to go on the run with thugs in hot pursuit. On the road, father and son bicker despite the best efforts of Inder's mother (Supriya Pathak), who has Alzheimer's, to broker peace. As old wounds are healed and ghosts of the past are exorcised, Inder and his father come to a new understanding that helps them confront their problems in the present.
Bajrangi Bhaijaan 3 stars
Pawan Kumar Chaturvedi is desperate to win the love of Rasika but he is struggling to impress her father. At the railway station one day, Pawan encounters a deaf and mute girl from Pakistan. The child is lost, terrified by her alien surroundings and doesn't know how to get back home. Pawan boldly promises to help the girl make the daunting journey back to Pakistan so she can be reunited with her worried family.
- GenreBollywood, Drama, World
- CastHarshaali Malthotra, Salman Khan, Kareena Kapoor, Nawazuddin Siddiqui.
- DirectorKabir Khan.
- WriterParveez Sheikh, Vijayendra Prasad, Asad Hussain, Kabir Khan.
- Official site
- Release17/07/2015 (selected cinemas)
Salman Khan and Kareena Kapoor, who sets hearts aflutter in the 2011 action romance Bodyguard, reunite for this Hindi drama directed by Kabir Khan, which is released worldwide during Eid al-Fitr. Pawan Kumar Chaturvedi (Khan) is desperate to win the love of Rasika (Kapoor) but he is struggling to impress her father. At the railway station one day, Pawan encounters a deaf and mute girl (Harshaali Malhotra) from Pakistan. The child is lost, terrified by her alien surroundings and doesn't know how to get back home. Pawan boldly promises to help the girl make the daunting journey back to Pakistan so she can be reunited with her worried family.
Brothers 3 stars
Monty is a street fighter, who has separated himself from the rest of the world, while his brother David is a school teacher, who wants to provide for his wife Jenny and their sickly daughter. Unable to meet soaring medical bills on his teacher's salary, David lays his life on the line to enter the mixed martial arts competition Right To Fight. Monty is also a contestant in the high profile tournament and is determined to claim the hefty first prize.
- GenreAction, Adaptation, Bollywood, Drama
- CastSidharth Malhotra, Akshay Kumar, Jacqueline Fernandez, Jackie Shroff.
- DirectorKaran Malhotra.
- WriterEkta Pathak Malhotra.
- Official site
- Release14/08/2015 (selected cinemas)
Karan Malhotra, director of Agneepath, helms this hard-hitting action-drama set in the bruising world of underground street fighting, which is a remake of the 2011 film Warrior starring Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton. Gary Fernandes (Jackie Shroff) has served 10 years in prison and returns home to discover that his sons David (Akshay Kumar) and Monty (Sidharth Malhotra) are estranged. Monty is a street fighter, who has separated himself from the rest of the world, while David is a school teacher, who wants to provide for his wife Jenny (Jacqueline Fernandez) and their sickly daughter. Unable to meet soaring medical bills on his teacher's salary, David lays his life on the line to enter the mixed martial arts competition Right To Fight. Monty is also a contestant in the high profile tournament and is determined to claim the hefty first prize, regardless of who he has to pummel in the process.
Faraar 3 stars
Ekam flies to America to fulfil his dreams. On the flight, he befriends a beautiful woman called Jasmine, who takes an interest in his plans. At the airport, officers take Ekam into custody because they mistake him for a notorious gangster called Shinda. Alone in a foreign country with no one to vouch for him, Ekam turns to Jasmine for help and she puts him in touch with a high profile lawyer.
- GenreDrama, Thriller, World
- CastGippy Grewal, Kainaat Arora, Jaggi Singh.
- DirectorBaljit Singh Deo.
- WriterJas Grewal.
- Duration148 mins
- Official site
- Release28/08/2015 (selected cinemas)
A case of mistaken identity has far-reaching consequences in this Punjabi thriller, directed by Baljit Singh Deo. Ekam (Gippy Grewal) flies to America to fulfil his dreams. On the flight, he befriends a beautiful woman called Jasmine (Kainaat Arora), who takes an interest in his plans. At the airport, officers take Ekam into custody because they mistake him for a notorious gangster called Shinda. Alone in a foreign country with no one to vouch for him, Ekam turns to Jasmine for help and she puts him in touch with a high profile lawyer. The legal eagle is confident that Ekam is innocent but as more hurdles are thrown in the young man's path, both sides resort to desperate measures to secure the outcome they want.
Hitman: Agent 47 2 stars
Genetically engineered assassin 47 carries out contracts on high profile targets on behalf of the International Contracts Agency. Known by a barcode tattoo on the back of his neck, 47 is the product of years of research. Unfortunately, a huge corporation fronted by Le Clerq wishes to exploit these abilities for nefarious purposes to create an unstoppable army of obedient trained killers.
- GenreAction, Adaptation, Thriller
- CastZachary Quinto, Ciaran Hinds, Rupert Friend, Thomas Kretschmann, Hannah Ware.
- DirectorAleksander Bach.
- WriterSkip Woods, Michael Finch.
- Duration96 mins
- Official sitewww.foxmovies.com/movies/hitman-agent-47
Based on the hugely successful Hitman videogames, Aleksander Bach's frenetic action thriller hopes to atone for the sins of a drab 2007 film version headlining Timothy Olyphant. Unfortunately, a new lick of paint and some breathlessly choreographed fight sequences can't disguise the same fatal flaw.
Like so many screen adaptations of videogames, Hitman: Agent 47 fails to replicate the adrenaline-pumping visceral thrill of assuming control of an iconic character and nervously guiding them through the digital realm. The agonising sense of responsibility, which draw beads of sweat on a player's brow, are completely lost on an audience sitting comfortably in the dark of an air-conditioned cinema.
Director Bach evidently loves the games and he confidently orchestrates action set pieces, punctuated by slow motion acrobatics and explosions. A prolonged bout of bone-crunching hand-to-hand combat on the tracks of the Berlin underground, and a high speed pursuit around a multi-storey car park, are high points.
Once the bullets have all been discharged, vehicles wrecked and necks snapped, the film offers little in the way of characterisation, plot or emotional nuance. The protagonist is a genetically engineered assassin called Agent 47 (Rupert Friend), who carries out high profile contracts assigned to him by his handler, Diana (Angelababy).
Known by a barcode tattoo on the back of his neck, 47 is the product of years of scientific tinkering, which has imbued him with unrivalled intelligence, speed, stamina and strength... until the next iteration. Diana orders 47 to hunt down and kill Dr Litvenko (Ciaran Hinds), mastermind of the Agent program.
A huge corporation called Syndicate International fronted by Le Clerq (Thomas Kretschmann) is also looking for Litvenko and intends to use his groundbreaking research to create an unstoppable army of obedient trained killers. The only way to flush the scientist out of hiding is by using his daughter Katia (Hannah Ware) as bait.
Unfortunately, she has also vanished off the grid. Agent 47 tracks her down in Berlin where battle ensues between the hit man and her enigmatic protector, John Smith (Zachary Quinto).
The balance of power tips back and forth between 47 and Smith, and Katia must decide who - if anyone - she trusts. "Don't put your faith in me, you'll be disappointed," growls 47.
Hitman: Agent 47 is a tiny improvement on the 2007 film but it's a close call. Friend is suitably lifeless as the gun-toting anti-hero, expertly performing fight choreography including a couple of bruising showdowns with Quinto. Ware is equally bland yet considerably more emotional as the pawn in a game that she unknowingly controls.
Kretschmann doesn't have sufficient screen time to put meat on the bones of his lacklustre villain, who swipes angrily at a touchscreen desk as his masterplan falls apart. Bach's film obligingly follows suit.
Inside Out 5 stars
From the moment baby Riley opens her eyes, her mood is shaped by five coloured emotions - Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger and Disgust - which bicker behind a large control desk laden with buttons and levers. Joy is the dominant emotion in Headquarters and she safeguards Riley's memories, which are stored as glowing orbs. When Riley turns 11, her parents relocate from Minnesota to San Francisco. Traumatic events such as a first day at a new school nudge Sadness to the fore.
- GenreAnimation/Cartoon, Comedy, Family, Family
- CastDiane Lane, Amy Poehler, Kyle MacLachlan, Bill Hader, Phyllis Smith, Lewis Black, Mindy Kaling.
- DirectorPete Docter, Ronaldo Del Carmen.
- WriterPete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley.
- Duration102 mins
- Official sitewww.movies.disney.com/inside-out
Despite gargantuan advances in medical science, we still don't fully understand the complexities of the human brain: its ability to process vast quantities of information, solve problems and store memories at speeds that put supercomputers to shame.
Pixar Animation Studios, the wizards who conjured the Toy Story trilogy, contemplate the vagaries of neuropsychology with this visually stunning and emotionally rich comedy, which unfolds predominantly inside the head of a little girl.
This high-brow concept doesn't seem like the most accessible subject matter for a family-oriented computer animation. But directors Pete Docter and Ronaldo Del Carmen elegantly tilt their film at the windmills of the mind and deliver a hilarious, heartfelt and ultimately life-affirming adventure that celebrates childhood innocence, family unity and the power of the human spirit to overcome adversity.
Laughter and tears abound, as well as cute visual gags, ensuring parents will be repeatedly dabbing their eyes while children whoop and gurgle with glee at the slapstick and rollicking action sequences.
A mother (voiced by Diane Lane) and father (Kyle MacLachlan) welcome a baby girl called Riley (Kaitlyn Dias) into the world. From the moment she opens her eyes, Riley's mood is shaped by five coloured emotions - golden Joy (Amy Poehler), blue Sadness (Phyllis Smith), purple Fear (Bill Hader), red Anger (Lewis Black) and green Disgust (Mindy Kaling) - which bicker behind a large control desk laden with buttons and levers.
Joy is the dominant emotion in Headquarters and she safeguards Riley's memories, which are stored as glowing orbs, tinged with the colour of the emotion that prevailed at the time. When Riley turns 11, her parents relocate from Minnesota to San Francisco.
Traumatic events such as a first day at a new school nudge Sadness to the fore. Following an altercation, sworn rivals Joy and Sadness are expelled from Headquarters and find themselves stranded in the labyrinth of Riley's long-term memories.
Aided by Riley's imaginary friend Bing Bong (Richard Kind), Joy and Sadness blaze a haphazard trail on the chugging train of thought back to Fear, Anger and Disgust, who have been left in charge of Headquarters, with disastrous consequences.
Inside Out is Pixar's best film since the holy animated trilogy of WALL-E, Up and Toy Story 3. Docter's script, co-written by Meg LeFauve and Josh Cooley, glisters with imagination, wit and invention, delivering guffaws with detours into the heads of Riley's parents as they attempt to deal with her pre-teenage rebellion.
Vocal performances are note perfect, led by Poehler's exuberant portrayal of Joy and Smith's sincere embodiment of Sadness, who tugs heartstrings as the film reaches its exquisite conclusion.
The film is preceded by a short: a musical love story entitled Lava between two volcanoes called Uku and Lele, directed by James Ford Murphy. Joy and Sadness shared blissful control of my mind throughout.
Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation 4 stars
The Impossible Missions Force (IMF) led by agent Ethan Hunt has taken down some of the most deadly criminal networks in the world using guile and state-of-the-art technology. Now the hunters become the hunted. A shadowy band of assassins known as the Syndicate targets IMF for extinction. Hunt reunites with colleagues William Brandt, Benji Dunn and computer hacker Luther Stickell to expose the Syndicate and bring down the organisation using every weapon and turbo-charged vehicle at their disposal.
- GenreAction, Adaptation, Adventure, Thriller
- CastJeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Tom Cruise, Ving Rhames, Sean Harris, Alec Baldwin, Rebecca Ferguson.
- DirectorChristopher McQuarrie.
- WriterChristopher McQuarrie.
- Duration131 mins
- Official sitewww.missionimpossible.com
Call it testosterone-fuelled recklessness, hubris or feeling the need... the need for speed, Tom Cruise certainly puts on a show in the fifth instalment of the Mission: Impossible franchise. He clings to the side of an airplane as it takes flight, slaloms at dizzying speed on a motorcycle and performs death-defying leaps as secret agent Ethan Hunt.
The 53-year-old star performs most of these hair-raising stunts himself, allowing writer-director Christopher McQuarrie to capture every pulse-quickening second in thrilling close-up with minimum digital trickery.
Cruise's commitment to his role puts fellow action stars to shame - unlike the films of Stallone and Schwarzenegger, the script is devoid of wry one-liners to poke fun at his advancing years.
McQuarrie, Oscar-winning screenwriter of The Usual Suspects, bookmarks slam-bang action sequences with intentionally ambiguous exchanges between rival operatives, who acknowledge the futility of their efforts as pawns in the spy game.
Their inevitable deaths will go unnoticed and fresh-faced young agents will step forward, continuing the brutal tug-of-war between political idealism and global terrorism. The film opens with the Impossible Missions Force (IMF) hijacking a shipment of nerve gas from Chechen separatists.
Soon after, CIA Director Alan Hunley (Alec Baldwin) succeeds in shutting down IMF for a total disregard for protocol, which led to the destruction of the Kremlin in the previous film. The hunters become the hunted when a shadowy organisation known as the Syndicate, fronted by Solomon Lane (Sean Harris), targets IMF for extinction.
Hunt covertly reunites with colleagues William Brandt (Jeremy Renner), Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) and computer hacker Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) to bring down The Syndicate using every gadget, disguise and turbo-charged vehicle at their disposal.
The operation brings Hunt into close contact with undercover MI6 agent Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) and her slippery handler (Simon McBurney), a sadistic henchman known as the Bone Doctor (Jens Hulten) and the unsuspecting British Prime Minister (Tom Hollander). "This may very well be our last mission," Brandt tells Hunt. "Make it count."
Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation is slickly bolted together by McQuarrie and editor Eddie Hamilton (Kick-Ass, Kingsman: The Secret Service). Turbo-charged scenes of carnage are punctuated by IMF's existential crisis in a world that regards their methods as "outdated".
Cruise somersaults, punches and tumbles through every frame without breaking sweat, while Pegg, who was pigeon-holed as comic relief in the previous instalment, steps up in a pivotal supporting role.
Ferguson's ice maiden doesn't thaw sufficiently under Cruise's smouldering gaze to kindle on-screen chemistry but her femme fatale snaps several limbs and necks in impressive hand-to-hand combat sequences.
Humour is used sparingly to diffuse tension, leaving us hungry for another explosion of IMF antics to the pulsating rhythm of Lalo Schifrin's iconic theme. On this evidence, Mission: Impossible and its gung-ho leading man won't be self-destructing any time soon.
NT Live: The Beaux' Stratagem 3 stars
Two penniless bounders hope to marry for money in this revival of George Farquhar's biting restoration comedy, which is broadcast live to cinemas from the stage of the National Theatre in London. Aimwell and Archer have fallen on hard times in London. So they travel around the country posing as master and servant respectively in the hopes of wooing rich ladies to secure their financial future.
- GenreComedy, Romance, Special
- CastSamuel Barnett, Pippa Bennett-Warner, Esh Alladi, Susannah Fielding, Geoffrey Streatfeild.
- DirectorSimon Godwin.
- WriterGeorge Farquhar.
- Duration180 mins
- Official sitentlive.nationaltheatre.org.uk
- Release03/09/2015 (selected cinemas)
Two penniless bounders hope to marry for money in this revival of George Farquhar's biting restoration comedy, which is broadcast live to cinemas from the stage of the National Theatre in London. Aimwell (Samuel Barnett) and Archer (Geoffrey Streatfeild) have fallen on hard times in London. So they travel around the country posing as master and servant respectively in the hopes of wooing rich ladies to secure their financial future. The chancers take lodgings at an inn, run by shady landlord Will Boniface (Lloyd Hutchinson) and quickly learn that their primary target should be wealthy widow Lady Bountiful (Jane Booker), who has a beautiful daughter called Dorinda (Pippa Bennett-Warner). The widow also has a son Mr Sullen (Richard Henders), whose wife (Susannah Fielding) clearly yearns for more excitement than the town of Lichfield can offer. So Aimwell and Archer resolve to seduce Dorinda and Mrs Sullen but the two women are more than a match for the penny-grabbing paramours. Directed by Simon Godwin.
Phantom 3 stars
A series of devastating attacks has struck fear into the hearts of the Indian people. Agent Daniyal Khan vows to tear down the terrorism network spearheaded by Hariz Saeed, who preaches hatred to his acolytes. The mission is perilous and Daniyal sensibly aligns himself with security agent Nawaz Mistry to ensure the mission's success. However, Hariz's influence spreads far and wide, and he will not allow one righteous man to thwart his campaign of fear.
- GenreAction, Bollywood, Thriller
- CastKatrina Kaif, Rajesh Tailang, Saif Ali Khan.
- DirectorKabir Khan.
- WriterKausar Munir, Kabir Khan.
- Duration136 mins
- Official site
- Release28/08/2015 (selected cinemas)
Based on the book Mumbai Avengers by Hussain Haidi, Phantom is a Hindi action thriller directed by Kabir Khan set in the aftermath of the November 2008 shootings and bombings in Mumbai. A series of devastating attacks has struck fear into the hearts of the Indian people. The government and security forces appear helpless, unable to bring the perpetrators to justice. Indian agent Daniyal Khan (Saif Ali Khan) vows to tear down the terrorism network spearheaded by Hariz Saeed (Shahnawaz Pradhan), who preaches hatred to his acolytes. The mission is perilous and Daniyal sensibly aligns himself with security agent Nawaz Mistry (Katrina Kaif) to ensure the mission's success. However, Hariz's influence spreads far and wide, and he will not allow one righteous man to thwart his campaign of fear.
Pixels 2 stars
Out of the blue, alien invaders attack Guam military base with energy that has been coded to swarm like the creatures in the arcade game Galaga. It transpires that a time capsule, sent into space by NASA after the 1982 arcade game world championships, has been intercepted by extra-terrestrials and misinterpreted as a declaration of war. In order to halt the alien advance, mankind must beat the aliens at life-or-death versions of classic games including Centipede and Pacman
- GenreAction, Adaptation, Comedy, Family, Family, Romance, Science Fiction
- CastMichelle Monaghan, Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Peter Dinklage, Josh Gad.
- DirectorChris Columbus.
- WriterTimothy Dowling, Tim Herlihy.
- Duration106 mins
- Official sitewww.facebook.com/PixelsFilm
Like many socially awkward children of my generation, I escaped reality by playing fiendishly addictive games on consoles and computers, including an Atari, Vic 20 and Commodore 64. Asteroids, Battlezone, Centipede, Pacman, Phoenix, Space Invaders and Track & Field were trusted friends.
Pixels is an action comedy, which harks back to this bygone era before smartphones and immersive 4D, when guiding a circular yellow head around a maze with four coloured ghosts in hot pursuit, was the height of hi-tech entertainment.
Based on a short film of the same title by Patrick Jean, Chris Columbus' big budget romp imagines life-size arcade games on the streets of bustling modern cities. Except here, losing a life could mean the end of planet Earth. Scriptwriters Tim Herlihy and Timothy Dowling fail to capitalise on this neat and tantalising premise, crafting an inane story of triumph against adversity that treats female characters as pretty baubles.
In 1982, prepubescent pals Sam Brenner (Anthony Ippolito) and Will Cooper (Jared Riley) attend the arcade game world championships where they befriend conspiracy theory-spouting oddball Ludlow Lamonsoff (Jacob Shinder).
Sam gets through to the final where he loses a showdown on Donkey Kong, against egotistical champion Eddie Plant (Andrew Bambridge). More than 30 years later, Sam (now played by Adam Sandler) installs software for a living, while Will (now played by Kevin James) has become the deeply unpopular President of the United States.
Alien invaders attack Guam military base with energy that has been coded to swarm like the creatures in the arcade game Galaga. It transpires that a time capsule of arcade game footage, sent into space by NASA in 1982, has been intercepted by extra-terrestrials and misinterpreted as a declaration of war.
In order to halt the alien advance, mankind must compete in life-or-death versions of Centipede and Pacman. Sam and Will reunite with Ludlow (now played by Josh Gad) and Eddie (now played by Peter Dinklage) to secure mankind's victory, armed with light cannons fashioned by military weapons specialist Lieutenant Colonel Violet van Patten (Michelle Monaghan). "Let the nerds take over!" she bellows defiantly. Please don't.
Pixels is a nostalgia-drenched bore, hung on the centerpiece recreations of classic games, which result in the destruction of swathes of London and Manhattan. Sandler sucks the dwindling energy out of every frame, unable to muster any enthusiasm for his two-dimensional role.
Monaghan is wasted as the simpering love interest while James goofs and gurns as a highly improbable American leader. Columbus, who directed the first two instalments of the Harry Potter films, fails miserably to conjure the same magic.
He gleefully fills the screen with familiar pixelated characters including Q*bert, Frogger and Mario. Regrettably, it's game over from the opening frames for genuine emotion and narrative sophistication.
Sinister 2 3 stars
Courtney Collins moves into a farmhouse with her nine-year-old twin sons, Dylan and Zach. They are unaware of the grim history of the house or the presence of the malevolent spirit. Late one night, Dylan sleepwalks and is marked by Pagan deity Bughuul, who intends to possess the boy's body and then kill the rest of the family, documenting the massacre on Super 8 video. When Courtney discovers the horror taking place under her roof, she vows to protect Zach from harm.
- GenreHorror, Thriller
- CastJames Ransone, Shannyn Sossamon, Robert Daniel Sloan, Dartanian Sloan.
- DirectorCiaran Foy.
- WriterC Robert Cargill, Scott Derrickson.
- Duration97 mins
- Official site
A group of possessed children, a ritual sacrifice, a remote house with a dark cellar, a bogeyman who gets his kicks out of surprise appearances. Boo! This eclectic mix of cliche horror elements fails to blend in Sinister 2, a sequel to Scott Derrickson's 2012 supernatural yarn. The first film shockingly revealed that missing children were murdering their families.
The follow-up relies on jump scares to compensate for a storyline that lacks any new or unexpected insights. The central issue with Sinister 2 is that Bughuul, the demonic creature responsible for the bloodshed, has now lost his air of mystery and thus his punch. He was omnipresent in the tapes, photographs and shadows of the first film.
Once it becomes clear in the sequel that he is only instructing the children, Bughuul is downgraded to a useless token character, who lures but never attacks. It is his squad of possessed, pale-faced moppets who do the killing, the talking and, while they are at it, the feeble scaring.
Unfortunately, observing the deadly process unfold from the perspective of these tormented tykes does not ignite any fear - their manifestation is too polished, fading in and out of thin air too smoothly to cause alarm.
Sinister 2 revolves around ex-Deputy So & So (James Ransone), who discovers the latest house in a long sequence of family massacres orchestrated by Bughuul. Intent on ending the blood-letting, So & So is shocked to find runaway mother Courtney Collins (Shannyn Sossamon) and her twins Dylan and Zach (Robert Daniel Sloan and Dartanian Sloan) inhabiting the creaky farmhouse.
Courtney's violent husband Clint (Lea Coco) becomes embroiled in the madness, Dylan is subjected to increasingly disturbing nightly visitations and the ex-deputy chooses to stumble through any dark, haunted hallway in his vicinity, armed with a torchlight and an array of frightened expressions. Needless to say, characters hear suspicious noises in the dark and decide to check them out en masse.
Every time Sinister 2 is about to lose more momentum than its rocky storyline can afford, we see old footage of seemingly innocent home videos that suddenly take a deadly turn. These recordings are disturbing and the characters' demises are inventive, but they fail to supply an entire film with spine-tingling chills.
Director Ciaran Foy throws bloody rats, children with scythes and burning crucifixes into the mix in a vain attempt to inject a dose of fear. It's no use.
Sinister 2 relies too heavily on Bughuul's predictable jump scares, accompanied by an unsettling yet repetitive soundtrack. Audiences would need to be wearing earplugs and blindfolds not to guess what's coming.
Straight Outta Compton 4 stars
Good friends Dr Dre, Eazy-E, Ice Cube, MC Ren and DJ Yella search for an outlet for their creativity. With gentle persuasion from his buddies, Eazy-E sets up his own label, Ruthless Records, and the group's first release Boyz-n-the-Hood piques the interest of Jerry Heller. He sweet talks Eazy-E into becoming the band's manager. An electrifying live performance leads to a deal with Priority Records but Ice Cube grows increasingly concerned about Eazy-E's close working relationship with Heller and the absence of contracts for the rest of the group.
- GenreBiography, Drama, Musical
- CastCorey Hawkins, O'Shea Jackson Jr, Paul Giamatti, Neil Brown Jr, Jason Mitchell, Aldis Hodge.
- DirectorF Gary Gray.
- WriterJonathan Herman, Andrea Berloff.
- Duration147 mins
- Official sitewww.straightouttacomptonthemovie.co.uk
Whenever Hollywood immortalises pages from history at 24 frames per second, it's wise to treat each lustrous dramatisation with a pinch of salt. Rigorous factual accuracy is often sacrificed at the altar of artistic licence. In the case of F. Gary Gray's engrossing film, you will need to grab bulging fistfuls of sodium chloride.
Not only are two of the key protagonists of this rags to musical riches biopic listed as executive producers, one of the men - rapper turned actor Ice Cube - is portrayed on screen by his own son. The faint whiff of nepotism is overpowered by heady fumes of whitewash from Jonathan Herman and Andrea Berloff's script, which neglects to address accusations of misogyny and homophobia levelled at California hip hop collective N.W.A.
Regardless of the rosy tint to director Gray's lens, Straight Outta Compton is a fascinating portrait of youthful exuberance, raw ambition and racial divide that rubs some of that salt into the deep wounds inflicted since the police shooting of teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson.
The film opens in 1986 with pals Dr Dre (Corey Hawkins), Eazy-E (Jason Mitchell), Ice Cube (O'Shea Jackson Jr), MC Ren (Aldis Hodge) and DJ Yella (Neil Brown Jr) searching for an outlet for their creativity.
Tensions are high between police and black youths - random stop and searches are an unwelcome part of neighbourhood life. "I'm the only gangster round here," snarls one officer. With gentle persuasion from his buddies, Eazy-E sets up his own label, Ruthless Records, and the group's first release Boyz-n-the-Hood piques the interest of Jerry Heller (Paul Giamatti).
He sweet talks Eazy-E into becoming the band's manager. "What does N.W.A. stand for? No Whites Allowed?" asks Jerry naively. An electrifying live performance leads to a deal with Priority Records founded by Bryan Turner (Tate Ellington).
Ice Cube grows increasingly concerned about Eazy-E's close working relationship with Heller and the absence of contracts for the rest of the group. He eventually leaves and goes solo, sparking a bitter war of rhymes between the former band mates.
Ice Cube aligns himself with Suge Knight (R Marcus Taylor) and together they establish Death Row Records. Meanwhile, Dr Dre also turns his back on Eazy-E and N.W.A. and channels his energy into working as a producer for other acts including Snoop Dogg (Keith Stanfield) and Tupac Shakur (Marcc Rose).
Straight Outta Compton might run to a holler short of two-and-a-half hours but Gray's film has sufficient swagger to hold our attention. Hawkins, Mitchell and Jackson Jr deliver accomplished performances as the sometimes deluded pioneers of a hip hop revolution.
Musical performances pulse with energy including a stand-off with police at a concert that culminates in a riot. This might not be the whole uncomfortable truth, but what we are allowed to see hits the right notes.
Thani Oruvan 3 stars
Mithran IPS is a hard-working and tenacious officer, who is part of an elite squad dedicated to dismantling organised crime. He refuses to kowtow to bribery or intimidation, protecting the weak and the vulnerable regardless of the personal risks. When ruthless yet charming villain Siddharth Abhimanyu manages to evade the long arm of the law, Mithran embarks on a personal crusade to bring down his nemesis, aided by a fellow officer, who knows how to handle herself when the bullets start flying.
- GenreAction, Thriller, World
- CastVamsi Krishna, Jayam Ravi, Arvind Swamy, Nayantara.
- DirectorMohan Raja.
- WriterSubha, Mohan Raja.
- Duration158 mins
- Official site
- Release28/08/2015 (selected cinemas)
Mohan Raja, brother of Jayam Ravi, directs the popular Indian actor in this Tamil action thriller with a strong social message. Mithran IPS (Ravi) is a hard-working and tenacious officer, who is part of an elite squad dedicated to dismantling organised crime. He refuses to kowtow to bribery or intimidation, protecting the weak and the vulnerable regardless of the personal risks. When ruthless yet charming villain Siddharth Abhimanyu (Aravind Swamy) manages to evade the long arm of the law, Mithran embarks on a personal crusade to bring down his nemesis, aided by a fellow officer (Nayantara), who knows how to handle herself when the bullets start flying.
Vaalu 3 stars
A Tamil romantic comedy, which centres on a young man, who lives in the railway quarters in Chennai and discovers love with a beautiful woman. When she is betrothed to another in an arranged marriage, the hero pledges to move heaven and earth to halt the impending nuptials. Simbu and Santhanam provide the comic relief to S Thaman's musical score that hopes to tug the heartstrings.
- GenreComedy, Drama, World
- CastHansika Motwani, Silambarasan, Santhanam.
- DirectorVijay Chandar.
- WriterVijay Chandar.
- Duration155 mins
- Official site
- Release31/07/2015 (selected cinemas)
Vijay Chandar makes his directorial debut with this Tamil romantic comedy headlining Silambarasan and Hansika Motwani. The film centres on a young man (Silambarasan), who lives in the railway quarters in Chennai and discovers love with a beautiful woman (Motwani). When she is betrothed to another in an arranged marriage, the hero pledges to move heaven and earth to halt the impending nuptials. Simbu and Santhanam provide the comic relief to S Thaman's musical score that hopes to tug the heartstrings.
Vacation 2 stars
Rusty Griswold draws inspiration from his childhood to reconnect to his family by taking his wife Debbie and bickering sons James and Kevin on a cross-country road trip to the Walley World theme park. En route, the Griswolds insult a rapist trucker, make a pit-stop at the home of Rusty's sister Audrey and her weatherman husband, and seek relaxation at a natural spring.
- GenreAction, Adaptation, Comedy, Drama, Romance
- CastLeslie Mann, Christina Applegate, Chris Hemsworth, Ed Helms, Chevy Chase, Skyler Gisondo, Beverly D'Angelo, Steele Stebbins.
- DirectorJohn Francis Daley, Jonathan M Goldstein.
- WriterJonathan M Goldstein, John Francis Daley.
- Duration99 mins
- Official sitewww.vacationthemovie.com
In the 1980s, Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo played hapless parents Clark and Ellen Griswold in three raucous comedies under the National Lampoon banner, which reflected the exquisite agony of spending quality time with loved ones during the holidays.
Vacation, European Vacation and Christmas Vacation mined a rich vein of universal humour grounded in sibling rivalry and miscommunication between the generations.
Writer-directors John Francis Daley and Jonathan M Goldstein's contemporary update borrows the title of the first film and recycles the central plot but spatters the heartfelt sentiment with a thick layer of filth. Elegance and sophistication are strangers to a lumbering script peppered with paedophilia and projectile vomiting, that isn't averse to an in-joke about the film's hand-me-down origins.
"I've never heard of the original Vacation," remarks a teenager.
"Doesn't matter. The new Vacation will stand on its own," responds his father. It doesn't - the new film is on its knees, wretching and wretched, from the crass opening set piece.
As a boy, Rusty Griswold (Ed Helms) undertook an epic cross-country trip to the Walley World theme park with his family. More than 30 years later, Rusty is a commercial pilot for Econo Air with a beautiful wife Debbie (Christina Applegate) and two sons: sensitive teenager James (Skyler Gisondo), who plays a guitar, and foul-mouthed bully Kevin (Steele Stebbins), who torments his older brother.
For years, Rusty has taken his clan to a log cabin in Michigan for their summer holiday, but when he overhears his wife bemoaning the predictability of the excursion, he surprises the Griswolds with an impromptu road trip to Walley World.
The family begrudgingly bundles into a hulking hybrid hire car and hits the road. En route, the Griswolds insult a rapist trucker (Norman Reedus), make a pit-stop at the home of Rusty's sister Audrey (Leslie Mann) and her weatherman husband (Chris Hemsworth), and seek relaxation at a natural spring.
"This water was heated by Mother Nature's bowels," purrs Rusty, who fails to notice the steaming oasis is a raw sewage outlet. The pungent brown goo, which the Griswolds smear on their faces, believing it to be mineral-enriched mud, is a fitting summation of this joyless and charmless comedy of errors.
Characters have no depth and none of the central clan is particularly likable, even weakling James, who spends most of the film flirting awkwardly with a girl (Catherine Missal) on a similar road trip.
The script aggressively peddles puerile humour, liberally spraying bodily fluids and entrails over the actors, while Hemsworth's slight contribution is reduced to posing in his underwear with a sizable protrusion to draw the eye.
Cameos by Chase and D'Angelo provide a waft of sweet nostalgia to momentarily counteract the stink of everything else.
We Are Your Friends 3 stars
Cole is a 23-year-old aspiring DJ, who lives in the San Fernando Valley with his friends. One night, Cole crosses paths with James Reed, an established DJ, who has steadily risen through the ranks. James takes Cole under his wing and helps his protege to befriend the right people and become a record producer. As Cole hones his craft, he becomes attracted to James' younger girlfriend Sophie and their burgeoning friendship threatens to spark a full-blown affair.
- GenreDrama, Romance
- CastWes Bentley, Zac Efron, Jon Bernthal, Emily Ratajkowski, Jonny Weston.
- DirectorMax Joseph.
- WriterMax Joseph, Meaghan Oppenheimer.
- Duration98 mins
- Official sitewww.wayf-movie.com
When it rains cinematic love letters to the electronic dance music (EDM) scene, it pours. We Are Your Friends arrives shortly after Eden, Mia Hansen-Love's autobiographical account of shattered dreams set against the backdrop of the 1990s French music scene.
While that film expertly mixed style and substance with a pulsating soundtrack from the era, director Max Roberts' present-day soap opera taps its foot to a more predictable beat in the sun-baked San Fernando Valley.
According to the film's narrator, this unfashionable stretch of Los Angeles County has a thriving pornography industry, airhead blondes and the best sushi in California. It's also a playground for dreamers - wannabe musicians, actors and DJs - who hope to be talent-spotted on the other side of the Hollywood sign and offered their one-way ticket to fame and fortune.
It's a pungent setting for Roberts and co-writer Meaghan Oppenheimer to explore the frailty of a get-rich-quick generation, obsessed with stories of twentysomethings, who invented an app or performed songs on a video sharing website and are now multi-millionaires.
We Are Your Friends has a smattering of grit, including scenes of drug-taking plus a senseless tragedy that is telegraphed in neon lettering, but the sweetness and sentimentality of this bro-mantic fairytale is overpowering. Consequently, Roberts can't resist a feel good coda to reset the film's moral compass.
Zac Efron plays Cole, a 23-year-old DJ who lives in the valley with buddies Mason (Jonny Weston), Ollie (Shiloh Fernandez) and Squirrel (Alex Shaffer). One night at a club, Cole meets EDM demi-god James Reed (Wes Bentley), who commands vast fees for his sets.
James takes the twinkly-eyed upstart under his wing and grants Cole 24-hour access to his recording studio. As the newcomer hones his craft, he kindles an attraction with James' younger girlfriend, Sophie (Emily Ratajkowski), which threatens to spark a full-blown affair.
We Are Your Friends starts promisingly, bombarding the screen with snazzy visuals and captions as Cole delivers an idiot's guide to the Valley and EDM. A PCP-induced trip in an art gallery catalyses a terrific animated sequence.
After this initial rush of blood to the head, Roberts tempers the directorial brio and reveals the deeply conventional heart beneath the film's shiny exterior. Efron plies his usual boyish good looks and charm as a counterpoint to Bentley's world-weary EDM veteran. "You used to be good. Now you're just a sell-out collecting a cheque," Cole defiantly informs James during one exchange.
Ratajkowski looks ravishing in pouty close-up, but has little to do besides drive a wedge between her two suitors. Big name DJs including Alesso, Posso and Nicky Romero enjoy cameos to lend authenticity to a film that ultimately doesn't have the courage of its convictions.