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Now showing at Odeon Dudley Merry Hill The Merry Hill Centre, Brierley Hill,Dudley,West Midlands DY5 1SY 0871 224 4007

  • Begin Again
  • Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes
  • Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes 3D
  • How To Train Your Dragon 2
  • How To Train Your Dragon 2 3D
  • Maleficent
  • Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie
  • Noah
  • Pudsey The Dog: The Movie
  • The Fault In Our Stars
  • The LEGO Movie
  • Transformers: Age Of Extinction
  • Transformers: Age Of Extinction 3D

Begin Again 4 stars

movie title

Greta comes to Manhattan with her boyfriend Dave Kohl, who has landed a major recording contract. Dave succumbs to his new found celebrity by cheating on Greta and she flees their swanky apartment. Soon after, Greta crosses paths with down-on-his-luck record executive Dan. He boldly tells her, "I want to make records with you," and together they record an album in different locations around the city over the course of the summer.

  • GenreComedy, Drama, Musical, Romance
  • CastKeira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo, Adam Levine, Hailee Steinfeld, Catherine Keener, James Corden, Mos Def.
  • DirectorJohn Carney.
  • WriterJohn Carney.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration104 mins
  • Official sitewww.beginagainfilm.com
  • Release11/07/2014

Some film-makers spend entire careers striving in vain for one moment of cinematic perfection. Others, like Irish director John Carney, strike gold early and face the daunting prospect of living up to giddy expectation. In 2007, Carney sent audiences and critics into a collective swoon with his micro-budget fourth feature, Once.

Shot for a paltry 160,000 Euros, the modern-day romance between a Dublin busker and a Czech flower girl sparked a real-life relationship between actors Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova. The subsequent stage adaptation won eight coveted Tony Awards including Best Musical and continues to play to packed audiences on both sides of the Atlantic.

Begin Again - which was originally titled Can A Song Save Your Life? but should perhaps have been re-christened Once Again - sees Carney orchestrate another musical collaboration between emotionally damaged misfits.

Shot against the backdrop of New York's iconic landmarks, this hugely entertaining romantic comedy is blessed with strong performances and an infectious soundtrack. Greta (Keira Knightley) comes to Manhattan with her boyfriend Dave Kohl (Adam Levine), who has just landed a major recording contract.

"We don't want anything to stand in your way," a record exec tells Dave, casting a wary glance at Greta.
"I'm just tagging along," she smiles soothingly.
Touring and promotion put a strain on the relationship and Dave succumbs to his new found celebrity by cheating on Greta.

She flees their swanky apartment in tears and crashes at the apartment of old friend Steve (James Corden), who busks for his supper. Soon after, Greta crosses paths with down-on-his-luck record executive Dan (Mark Ruffalo), who has just been fired by his business partner (Mos Def).

Dan is transfixed by Greta and boldly tells her, "I want to make records with you". He comes up with a simple concept - recording an album in different locations around the city - and ropes in various musicians to enrich Greta's sound including good friend Trouble Gum (CeeLo Green).

As the project gathers momentum, Greta reassesses her failed relationship and Dan rebuilds bridges with his teenage daughter (Hailee Steinfeld) and estranged wife (Catherine Keener).

Begin Again dances to the same beat as Once, albeit with a starrier cast including Maroon 5 frontman Levine, who makes a solid acting debut. Knightley and Ruffalo are an attractive pairing, the latter giving parenting a bad name when he takes his daughter to a bar and asks her to pick up his beer tab with her pocket money. "I spent that on condoms," she tells him, enjoying her father's embarrassment.

Corden provides additional comic relief. Musical sequences are full of energy including a blistering guitar solo from Steinfeld on a rooftop rendition of the film's best song, Tell Me If You Wanna Go Home. We don't.

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Thursday 24th July 2014

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Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes 4 stars

movie title

Simian flu has ravaged the globe, killing almost the entire human race. In San Francisco, one-time military man Dreyfus, who lost his entire family to the virus, leads the human survivors. The truce between humans and apes is tested to breaking point when a diplomatic mission led by Malcolm, his wife Ellie and teenage son Alexander enters the forest to request access to the O'Shaughnessy Dam, which provides the city with its electricity.

  • GenreAction, Adaptation, Drama, Romance, Science Fiction, Thriller
  • CastKeri Russell, Gary Oldman, Andy Serkis, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Jason Clarke, Toby Kebbell.
  • DirectorMatt Reeves.
  • WriterMark Bomback, Amanda Silver, Rick Jaffa.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration130 mins
  • Official sitewww.dawnofapes.com
  • Release17/07/2014

Blending state-of-the-art special effects with an intelligent script, Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes conjures two hours of animal magic that looks set to be crowned king of the blockbuster swingers. Tim Burton's abortive Planet Of The Apes is now a distant memory thanks to the 2011 revamp Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes and this superior sequel, which pushes the art of motion-capture performance to new limits.

Andy Serkis' exemplary work as Caesar, the super-intelligent chimpanzee who leads the ape uprising, is the film's emotional heartbeat. His ability to convey the character's rage, despair and passion through movement and subtle gesture is breathtaking.

Toby Kebbell is also compelling as Caesar's war-mongering rival, who believes the key to his species' survival is the extermination of humans. Mark Bomback, Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver's script elegantly draws parallels between the feuding primates, juxtaposing tender scenes of parenting with bruising skirmishes that create divisions on both sides.

Ten winters have passed since simian flu ravaged the globe. In the absence of law and order, basic resources such as water, food and electricity are dangerously depleted. One-time military man Dreyfus (Gary Oldman), who lost his entire family to the virus, leads survivors of the ALZ-113 virus in San Francisco.

He dispatches a team led by family man Malcolm (Jason Clarke) to access the O'Shaughnessy Dam, which provides the city with electricity. In the forest that envelops the dam, the scouting party encounters apes led by Caesar, including his ambitious second-in-command Koba (Kebbell), impetuous son Blue Eyes (Nick Thurston) and Bornean orangutan Maurice (Karin Konoval).

Malcolm's trigger-happy compatriot Carver (Kirk Acevedo) shoots one of the apes and the humans are banished to their stronghold. Once Dreyfus learns about the neighbouring ape community, he asks Malcolm and co to refrain from telling the other survivors.

"They're talking apes with big-ass spears!" shrieks Carver. Malcolm realises that he must earn Caesar's trust to gain access to the dam so he prepares to return to the forest with wife Ellie (Keri Russell) and teenage son Alexander (Kodi Smith-McPhee).

"If you're not back in three days, we're going to go out there and kill every last one of them," warns Dreyfus.

Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes is a slick thrill ride with brains as well as brawn. The grim mood, which permeates the first half, leads to all-guns-blazing war and director Reeves orchestrates these brutal sequences with elan.

Digital effects are jaw-dropping, giving birth to a realistic army of blood-thirsty apes who cram every chaotic, blood-spattered frame. The film's strong anti-gun message comes through loud and clear, but the appetite for destruction overpowers diplomacy.

"I always think ape better than humans," laments Caesar as his dream of lasting peace founders. "I see now how like them we are."

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Thursday 24th July 2014

This film is also showing at:

Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes 3D 4 stars

movie title

Simian flu has ravaged the globe, killing almost the entire human race. In San Francisco, one-time military man Dreyfus, who lost his entire family to the virus, leads the human survivors. The truce between humans and apes is tested to breaking point when a diplomatic mission led by Malcolm, his wife Ellie and teenage son Alexander enters the forest to request access to the O'Shaughnessy Dam, which provides the city with its electricity.

  • GenreAction, Adaptation, Drama, Romance, Science Fiction, Thriller
  • CastAndy Serkis, Keri Russell, Gary Oldman, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Jason Clarke, Toby Kebbell.
  • DirectorMatt Reeves.
  • WriterRick Jaffa, Mark Bomback, Amanda Silver.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration130 mins
  • Official sitewww.dawnofapes.com
  • Release17/07/2014

Blending state-of-the-art special effects with an intelligent script, Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes conjures two hours of animal magic that looks set to be crowned king of the blockbuster swingers. Tim Burton's abortive Planet Of The Apes is now a distant memory thanks to the 2011 revamp Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes and this superior sequel, which pushes the art of motion-capture performance to new limits.

Andy Serkis' exemplary work as Caesar, the super-intelligent chimpanzee who leads the ape uprising, is the film's emotional heartbeat. His ability to convey the character's rage, despair and passion through movement and subtle gesture is breathtaking.

Toby Kebbell is also compelling as Caesar's war-mongering rival, who believes the key to his species' survival is the extermination of humans. Mark Bomback, Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver's script elegantly draws parallels between the feuding primates, juxtaposing tender scenes of parenting with bruising skirmishes that create divisions on both sides.

Ten winters have passed since simian flu ravaged the globe. In the absence of law and order, basic resources such as water, food and electricity are dangerously depleted. One-time military man Dreyfus (Gary Oldman), who lost his entire family to the virus, leads survivors of the ALZ-113 virus in San Francisco.

He dispatches a team led by family man Malcolm (Jason Clarke) to access the O'Shaughnessy Dam, which provides the city with electricity. In the forest that envelops the dam, the scouting party encounters apes led by Caesar, including his ambitious second-in-command Koba (Kebbell), impetuous son Blue Eyes (Nick Thurston) and Bornean orangutan Maurice (Karin Konoval).

Malcolm's trigger-happy compatriot Carver (Kirk Acevedo) shoots one of the apes and the humans are banished to their stronghold. Once Dreyfus learns about the neighbouring ape community, he asks Malcolm and co to refrain from telling the other survivors.

"They're talking apes with big-ass spears!" shrieks Carver. Malcolm realises that he must earn Caesar's trust to gain access to the dam so he prepares to return to the forest with wife Ellie (Keri Russell) and teenage son Alexander (Kodi Smith-McPhee).

"If you're not back in three days, we're going to go out there and kill every last one of them," warns Dreyfus.

Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes is a slick thrill ride with brains as well as brawn. The grim mood, which permeates the first half, leads to all-guns-blazing war and director Reeves orchestrates these brutal sequences with elan.

Digital effects are jaw-dropping, giving birth to a realistic army of blood-thirsty apes who cram every chaotic, blood-spattered frame. The film's strong anti-gun message comes through loud and clear, but the appetite for destruction overpowers diplomacy.

"I always think ape better than humans," laments Caesar as his dream of lasting peace founders. "I see now how like them we are."

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Thursday 24th July 2014

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How To Train Your Dragon 2 4 stars

movie title

During one of his regular sorties with Toothless, Hiccup stumbles upon a lost world full of rescued dragons and a valiant dragon rider named Valka, who turns out to be Hiccup's long lost mother. A tearful family reunion with Hiccup's father Stoick is cut short when diabolical dragon hunter Drago Bludvist storms the lost world and takes control of all of the majestic creatures using a gargantuan Alpha dragon called a Bewilderbeast.

  • GenreAction, Adventure, Animation/Cartoon, Family, Family
  • CastKristen Wiig, America Ferrera, Jay Baruchel, Djimon Hounsou, Cate Blanchett, Gerard Butler.
  • DirectorDean DeBlois.
  • WriterDean DeBlois.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration102 mins
  • Official sitewww.howtotrainyourdragon.co.uk
  • Release27/06/2014 (Scotland); 11/07/2014 (nationwide)

Based on the book by Cressida Cowell, the 2010 computer-animated adventure How To Train Your Dragon soared tantalisingly close to perfection. Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois' brilliantly executed story of one boy's remarkable friendship with a supposedly fearsome dragon was deeply touching, distinguished by richly detailed visuals and an intelligent script.

The sequel, directed solely by DeBlois, expands the narrative arcs of the characters, testing their mettle in the aftermath of tragedy and conflict. Boys cross the rubicon to manhood, parents make selfless sacrifices to protect their brood and evil poisons an innocent heart.

As a wise woman in the film proclaims, "Good dragons under the control of bad people do bad things". Five years have passed since Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel) befriended Toothless and the inhabitants of the village of Berk now live in harmony with the dragons.

Hiccup's father Stoick the Vast (Gerard Butler) continues to preside over the people. He hopes Hiccup will accept his destiny as the next tribal chief but the boy prefers to soar through the clouds astride his trusty Night Fury.

During a regular sortie with Toothless, Hiccup stumbles upon a lost world of rescued dragons and a valiant rider named Valka (Cate Blanchett), who turns out to be a long-lost face from the past. "It's not everyday you find out your mother is some kind of crazy, feral, vigilante dragon lady!" whoops Hiccup.

A tearful family reunion with Stoick is cut short by diabolical dragon hunter Drago Bludvist (Djimon Hounsou), who storms this lost world and takes control of the majestic fire-breathing creatures using a gargantuan Alpha dragon. World domination beckons and all that stands in Drago's way are Hiccup, Toothless and the boy's plucky friends Astrid (America Ferrara), Fishlegs (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), Snotlout (Jonah Hill) and the twins Ruffnut (Kristen Wiig) and Tuffnut (TJ Miller).

In almost every aspect, How To Train Your Dragon 2 matches its polished predecessor... except one. The addition of Oscar winner Blanchett to the vocal fold is a calamitous misjudgement. From the outset, the Australian actress is engaged in a futile tug-of-war with her Scottish accent that initially roams the British Isles and eventually strays across the entire Commonwealth.

Her verbal strangulations are horribly distracting and undermine some of the film's most emotionally charged moments of reconciliation and remembrance.

For his part, writer-director DeBlois charts a breathless course between drama, action and comedy, the latter delivered with scenery-chewing gusto by Craig Ferguson as Stoick's best friend Gobber the Belch. "[Valka's] meatballs could kill more beasts than a battle axe. I still got a few knocking around in here!" he grimaces, pointing to his belly.

Flying sequences deliver a vertiginous thrill, especially in 3D, including a couple of death-defying battles that slalom and swoop at dizzying speed. Blanchett aside, lightning nearly strikes twice.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Thursday 24th July 2014

This film is also showing at:

How To Train Your Dragon 2 3D 4 stars

movie title

During one of his regular sorties with Toothless, Hiccup stumbles upon a lost world full of rescued dragons and a valiant dragon rider named Valka, who turns out to be Hiccup's long lost mother. A tearful family reunion with Hiccup's father Stoick is cut short when diabolical dragon hunter Drago Bludvist storms the lost world and takes control of all of the majestic creatures using a gargantuan Alpha dragon called a Bewilderbeast.

  • GenreAction, Adventure, Animation/Cartoon, Family, Family
  • CastKristen Wiig, Jay Baruchel, America Ferrera, Djimon Hounsou, Cate Blanchett, Gerard Butler.
  • DirectorDean DeBlois.
  • WriterDean DeBlois.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration102 mins
  • Official sitewww.howtotrainyourdragon.co.uk
  • Release27/06/2014 (Scotland); 11/07/2014 (nationwide)

Based on the book by Cressida Cowell, the 2010 computer-animated adventure How To Train Your Dragon soared tantalisingly close to perfection. Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois' brilliantly executed story of one boy's remarkable friendship with a supposedly fearsome dragon was deeply touching, distinguished by richly detailed visuals and an intelligent script.

The sequel, directed solely by DeBlois, expands the narrative arcs of the characters, testing their mettle in the aftermath of tragedy and conflict. Boys cross the rubicon to manhood, parents make selfless sacrifices to protect their brood and evil poisons an innocent heart.

As a wise woman in the film proclaims, "Good dragons under the control of bad people do bad things". Five years have passed since Hiccup (voiced by Jay Baruchel) befriended Toothless and the inhabitants of the village of Berk now live in harmony with the dragons.

Hiccup's father Stoick the Vast (Gerard Butler) continues to preside over the people. He hopes Hiccup will accept his destiny as the next tribal chief but the boy prefers to soar through the clouds astride his trusty Night Fury.

During a regular sortie with Toothless, Hiccup stumbles upon a lost world of rescued dragons and a valiant rider named Valka (Cate Blanchett), who turns out to be a long-lost face from the past. "It's not everyday you find out your mother is some kind of crazy, feral, vigilante dragon lady!" whoops Hiccup.

A tearful family reunion with Stoick is cut short by diabolical dragon hunter Drago Bludvist (Djimon Hounsou), who storms this lost world and takes control of the majestic fire-breathing creatures using a gargantuan Alpha dragon. World domination beckons and all that stands in Drago's way are Hiccup, Toothless and the boy's plucky friends Astrid (America Ferrara), Fishlegs (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), Snotlout (Jonah Hill) and the twins Ruffnut (Kristen Wiig) and Tuffnut (TJ Miller).

In almost every aspect, How To Train Your Dragon 2 matches its polished predecessor... except one. The addition of Oscar winner Blanchett to the vocal fold is a calamitous misjudgement. From the outset, the Australian actress is engaged in a futile tug-of-war with her Scottish accent that initially roams the British Isles and eventually strays across the entire Commonwealth.

Her verbal strangulations are horribly distracting and undermine some of the film's most emotionally charged moments of reconciliation and remembrance.

For his part, writer-director DeBlois charts a breathless course between drama, action and comedy, the latter delivered with scenery-chewing gusto by Craig Ferguson as Stoick's best friend Gobber the Belch. "[Valka's] meatballs could kill more beasts than a battle axe. I still got a few knocking around in here!" he grimaces, pointing to his belly.

Flying sequences deliver a vertiginous thrill, especially in 3D, including a couple of death-defying battles that slalom and swoop at dizzying speed. Blanchett aside, lightning nearly strikes twice.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Thursday 24th July 2014

This film is also showing at:

Maleficent 4 stars

movie title

Stefan tricks his friend, the powerful fairy Maleficent, and steals her wings in order to secure the throne. Maleficent waits patiently with shape-shifter sidekick Diaval to wreak revenge. That time comes when the queen gives birth to a beautiful daughter, Aurora, and Maleficent journeys to the castle to place a curse on the infant: on her 16th birthday, Aurora will prick her finger on the needle of a spinning wheel and fall into an eternal slumber. Only true love's kiss will break the spell.

  • GenreAction, Adaptation, Adventure, Family, Family, Fantasy, Romance
  • CastAngelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley, Brenton Thwaites, Sam Riley, Lesley Manville, Juno Temple, Imelda Staunton, Kenneth Cranham.
  • DirectorRobert Stromberg.
  • WriterJohn Lee Hancock, Linda Woolverton.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration97 mins
  • Official sitemovies.disney.com/maleficent
  • Release28/05/2014

Disney's empowerment of female protagonists, which snowballed in the delightful Frozen, continues apace in Robert Stromberg's fantastical live-action fairytale. Inspired by the studio's 1959 animation Sleeping Beauty, Maleficent is a visually stunning fantasy, which re-imagines the Brothers Grimm through the mascara-ed eyes of the eponymous villainess, who curses a fair princess to 100 years of slumber.

Screenwriter Linda Woolverton casts a heady spell by embellishing the familiar yarn with neat flourishes. "Let us tell an old story anew and see how well you know it..." teasingly purrs the narrator in the film's opening frames.

Lines between good and evil become blurred in Angelina Jolie's delicious portrayal of the vengeful fairy queen, whose belief in the power of "true love's kiss" is corrupted by the betrayal of the man she loves.

Sporting a hefty pair of horns, Jolie slinks through every frame, rolling menacing lines of dialogue around her mouth like candy and accentuating thinly veiled threats with an arched eyebrow. Naughty has seldom looked and sounded so nice.

Her nemesis is King Henry (Kenneth Cranham), a greedy monarch, who yearns to expand his kingdom by conquering the forest realm where Maleficent holds sway. In the ensuing battle, the king is badly wounded and pledges his crown to any man who can defeat the "winged elf".

Lowly underling Stefan (Sharlto Copley), who befriended Maleficent in childhood, tricks the fairy and steals her wings, thereby securing the throne. Following his coronation, King Stefan is poisoned by power and greed. In the forest, Maleficent bides her time with her shape-shifter henchman Diaval (Sam Riley).

When the queen gives birth to a daughter, Maleficent journeys to the castle to curse the infant Aurora: on her 16th birthday, the princess will prick her finger on a spinning wheel and fall into eternal slumber. Only true love's kiss can break the enchantment.

King Stefan entrusts the babe to bickering fairies Knotgrass (Imelda Staunton), Flittle (Lesley Manville) and Thistletwit (Juno Temple), who raise Aurora in a secluded woodland cottage. The princess blossoms into a caring young woman (now played by Elle Fanning) and Maleficent wonders if this innocent could unite the feuding kingdoms and earn her happy ever after in the arms of dashing prince Phillip (Brenton Thwaites).

Maleficent is anchored by Jolie's tour-de-force theatrics. She casts a stylish shadow over every frame and her twisted maternal bond with infant Aurora ("It's so ugly, you could almost feel sorry for it!") mellows into something genuinely moving and heartfelt.

Fanning is sweetness and youthful exuberance personified while Staunton, Manville and Temple provide the broad comic relief. Digital effects are impressively harnessed by director Stromberg to realise the forest and its magical denizens and allow the title character to take flight over her domain. Like the film, she soars.

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Thursday 24th July 2014

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Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie 2 stars

movie title

Agnes Brown proudly runs a fruit and vegetable stall in Moore Street Market, continuing a tradition that has been passed down in her family for generations. She hopes to pass the stall to daughter Cathy but a dastardly developer intervenes with plans to bulldoze the market. Aided by Cathy as well as next-door neighbour Winnie and her family, Agnes resolves to take on the Irish establishment and give it a good spanking.

  • GenreComedy, Drama
  • CastRobert Bathurst, Brendan O'Carroll, Nick Nevern, Jennifer Gibney, Eilish O'Carroll, Sorcha Cusack.
  • DirectorBen Kellett.
  • WriterBrendan O'Carroll.
  • CountryUK/Ire
  • Duration94 mins
  • Official sitewww.facebook.com/MBBDMovie
  • Release27/06/2014

First conceived for Irish radio and then as a series of books, the misadventures of feisty Dublin matriarch Agnes Brown transitioned seamlessly from stage to small screen in 2011 with the birth of the BBC sitcom Mrs Brown's Boys. Creator Brendan O'Carroll cast relatives and friends in supporting roles, ensuring the programme was a true family affair.

Critics may have been unkind but the series gained an ardent following. The 2013 festive special topped ratings on Christmas Day, trumping Doctor Who. Now, Agnes and her dysfunctional kin stampede the big screen under the direction of Ben Kellett. Lord help anyone who gets in her way!

Agnes proudly runs a fruit and vegetable stall in Moore Street Market, which has been passed down through the family for generations. The foul-mouthed harridan hopes her daughter Cathy (Jennifer Gibney) will take up the mantle but a dastardly developer, PR Irwin (Dermot Crowley), intervenes with plans to bulldoze the site.

"They won't take me without a fight, whoever they are," Agnes tells Fat Annie (June Rodgers). Unfortunately, Agnes has a 3.8 million Euro tax bill to settle stretching back to her grandmother's time. Aided by Cathy, her sons Mark (Pat Shields), Rory (Rory Cowan) and Dermot (Paddy Houlihan), and next-door neighbour Winnie (Eilish O'Carroll), Agnes resolves to take on the Irish establishment and give it a good spanking.

Dermot's best friend Buster Brady (Danny O'Carroll), bumbling lawyer Tom Crews (Simon Delaney) and a well-to-do barrister called Maydo Archer (Robert Bathurst), who is prone to stress-related Tourette syndrome, pledge their support to Agnes's seemingly hopeless cause.

Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie opens with a fire safety announcement from the eponymous matriarch "in case we have to ejaculate de building". This sets the crude tone for the next 94 minutes. Punchlines are depressingly predictable and the absence of a laughter track from a live studio audience exposes the script's dearth of gags and imagination.

O'Carroll evidently subscribes to the mantra: if it isn't funny on the page, add some profanities. While Spike Lee and Quentin Tarantino would probably doff their baseball caps to this slurry of gratuitous expletives, repeated uses of cuss words for desperate laughs becomes wearying.

Aside from the large-scale musical numbers that bookmark the haphazard narrative and a pointlessly protracted chase sequence, the film has no obvious cinematic ambitions.

A hare-brained subplot involving Mr Wang (Brendan O'Carroll again), Chinese owner of a school devoted to training blind ninjas, embraces hideous stereotypes that the malformed character might himself describe as "a rittle bit lacist".

Like its small screen counterpart, Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie doesn't edit out gaffes and revels in moments when the cast corpse one another. If only we were so easily amused.

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Thursday 24th July 2014

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Noah 3 stars

movie title

Noah lives with his wife Naameh and sons Shem, Ham and Japheth. One night, Noah experiences a vision of a devastating flood. A visit to the mountainous lair of Noah's grandfather Methuselah confirms the dire prediction and Noah accepts his task to build an ark capable of temporarily housing one pair of "all that creeps, all that crawls, all that slithers".

  • GenreAction, Adaptation, Adventure, Drama, Romance
  • CastDouglas Booth, Jennifer Connelly, Emma Watson, Ray Winstone, Russell Crowe, Marton Csokas, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Logan Lerman.
  • DirectorDarren Aronofsky.
  • WriterAri Handel, Darren Aronofsky.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration138 mins
  • Official sitewww.noahmovie.co.uk
  • Release04/04/2014

The story of Noah and his three sons unfolds across six chapters of the book of Genesis. Director Darren Aronofsky and co-writer Ari Handel expand this lesson into a sprawling narrative about one man's tireless quest to save innocent animals from the apocalypse.

This Noah is both a parable about self-sacrifice and a bombastic spectacle replete with computer-generated battle scenes that wouldn't look out of place in Peter Jackson's Middle Earth. Our Lord Of The Rings, if you will, although the script never directly references God.

The Nephilim, interpreted here as fallen angels, are re-imagined as gargantuan stone creatures not too far removed from the lovable Rock Biters in The Neverending Story, who aid Noah's epic construction.

"In the beginning there was nothing," booms an opening voiceover, condensing the fall of Adam And Eve and blood spilt between Cain and Abel into a mosaic of haunting images. While the descendants of Cain spread greed and wickedness, the descendants of Seth - Cain's surviving brother - work the land, taking only what they need.

The last of this righteous bloodline, Noah (Russell Crowe), lives with his wife Naameh (Jennifer Connelly) and sons Shem (Douglas Booth), Ham (Logan Lerman) and Japheth (Leo McHugh Carroll). One night, Noah experiences a vision of a devastating flood.

"All life blotted out because of what man has done," laments the father. A visit to the mountainous lair of Noah's grandfather Methuselah (Anthony Hopkins) confirms the dire prediction and Noah accepts his task to build an ark capable of temporarily housing one pair of "all that creeps, all that crawls, all that slithers".

He is aided by the three boys, adopted daughter Ila (Emma Watson) and an army of rock-encrusted fallen angels. Tubal-cain (Ray Winstone), a bad apple from the other branch of the family tree, stumbles upon the ark and threatens to storm the vessel to escape the Creator's wrath.

"There is no escape for you and your kind," proclaims Noah, instigating a fight to the death between the two men.

Noah is fascinating yet flawed. Quieter, thoughtful sections of the film, when the titular character wrestles with his destiny, beg provocative questions about devotion to a higher power including an extraordinary scene of attempted infanticide.

Crowe delivers a compelling central performance as a humble man, who accepts his own frailties. "We will work, complete the task - and then we will die, like everyone else," he forlornly instructs his family.

Regrettably, Aronofsky also has to recoup a hefty budget so he punctuates his characters' emotional rollercoaster with bombastic action sequences that are as soulless as they are spectacular.

When the pivotal deluge finally comes, it's a tour-de-force of visual effects and swooping camerawork that is over in a matter of minutes. Time and tide wait for no man, not even Russell Crowe.

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Thursday 24th July 2014

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Pudsey The Dog: The Movie 1 stars

movie title

Stray dog Pudsey crosses paths with siblings Molly, George and Tommy, who are poised to move from London "to some stupid cottage without WiFi" with their mother Gail. The eponymous mutt stows away in the family's removal trailer and is discovered when they arrive at their new home in the sleepy village of Chuffington. While Gail placates scheming landlord Mr Thorne, who hates dogs, Pudsey befriends horses Nelly and Edward and a pig called Ken, who thinks he's a chicken.

  • GenreAdventure, Comedy, Family, Family
  • CastJohn Sessions, Olivia Colman, David Walliams, Jessica Hynes, Izzy Meikle-Small.
  • DirectorNick Moore.
  • WriterPaul Rose.
  • CountryUK
  • Duration87 mins
  • Official sitewww.vertigofilms.com/film/pudsey.php
  • Release14/07/2014 (Scotland); 18/07/2014 (UK)

The sound of a pig repeatedly evacuating its bowels reverberates throughout Nick Moore's ham-fisted attempt to transform Britain's Got Talent's performing pooch into a modern-day Lassie. The porker's muck is an apt critique for Paul Rose's shambolic script that trades in toilet humour and misjudged innuendo. Some of the performances also beggar belief including John Sessions as the pantomime villain in tweeds.

He suffers the humiliation of a toe-curling flashback in which he plays a mother, father and infant in the same scene. Hopefully, Sessions was paid well for this half-hearted attempt at career suicide.

Elsewhere, David Walliams delivers a lifeless vocal performance as the four-legged hero, who hopes to travel the world and visit the Empire Sausage Building and Sausage Henge. The film handily omits to mention that if Pudsey realises his dream of scampering along The Great Sausage Wall, he could potentially end up on a local menu.

Closer to home, stray dog Pudsey (voiced by Walliams) crosses paths with siblings Molly (Izzy Meikle-Small), George (Spike White) and Tommy (Malachy Knights), who are poised to move from London "to some stupid cottage without WiFi" with their mother Gail (Jessica Hynes).

The eponymous mutt stows away in the family's removal trailer and is discovered when they arrive at their new home in the sleepy village of Chuffington. While Gail placates scheming landlord Mr Thorne (Sessions), who hates dogs, Pudsey befriends horses Nelly (Olivia Colman) and Edward (Peter Serafinowicz) and a pig called Ken (Dan Farrell), who thinks he's a chicken.

Pudsey The Dog: The Movie is a poor showcase of the eponymous cross breed. Viewers of Simon Cowell's talent search will be well versed in Pudsey's ability to perform acrobatic feats with guidance from trainer Ashleigh Butler.

On the big screen, he dances and twirls on hind legs, casts the occasional mournful glance at the camera and appears to converse with farmyard co-stars courtesy of digital trickery a la Babe.

Hynes and the younger cast are poorly served and parallel romantic subplots for Gail and Molly involving a handsome farmer (Luke Neal) and a teenage farmhand (Luke Tittensor) are sickly and unconvincing.

"Things are getting better," promises the chorus of one of the bubblegum pop songs that punctuate the soundtrack. Only when the end credits roll and we can leave. The ramshackle plot is interrupted by pointless diversions including the central character's incarceration in a secret dog prison that inspires a ludicrous Great Escape.

Amidst the pratfalls and a lame running gag about a giant pie, there are faint glimmers of heart-warming emotion including a timely mention of the Women's Land Army. However, good intentions are undermined by slapdash character development. If Pudsey The Dog: The Movie were an animal, we'd put it down humanely after 10 minutes.

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Thursday 24th July 2014

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The Fault In Our Stars 4 stars

movie title

Sixteen-year-old Hazel Grace Lancaster was diagnosed with cancer at an early age. An experimental drug trial has halted the spread of the cancer and Hazel reluctantly attends a cancer patients' support group at the behest of her mother Frannie and father Michael. During one of these sessions, Grace meets acerbic survivor Gus. The spark of attraction between the teenagers is instant and they become close friends, united by a shared disdain for convention.

  • GenreAdaptation, Drama, Romance, Teenage
  • CastNat Wolff, Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, Willem Dafoe, Sam Trammell, Laura Dern.
  • DirectorJosh Boone.
  • WriterScott Neustadter, Michael H Weber.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration126 mins
  • Official sitewww.thefaultinourstarsmovie.com
  • Release19/06/2014

Only a frozen heart could be unmoved as E.T. bids farewell to Elliot, Bambi cries forlornly in the forest for his fallen mother or Carl falls in love with Ellie in the opening sequence to Pixar's Up. The Fault In Our Stars will offer a stern test to the waterproof mascara of every teenager who fell in love with John Green's bestselling novel.

Josh Boone's polished adaptation deftly plucks heartstrings to the point that a trickle of saltwater tears threatens to become an unstoppable torrent. One tissue simply doesn't suffice as scriptwriters Scott Neustadter and Michael H Weber navigate the tricky topic of terminal illness with wry humour and sensitivity.

The film is blessed with a tour-de-force central performance from Shailene Woodley as a young cancer patient, who experiences the exquisite agony of first love just when it seems she has given up on life. The 22-year-old Californian actress doesn't hit a single false emotional note as her protagonist wrestles with guilt and mortality, catalysing smouldering screen chemistry with co-star Ansel Elgort.

Woodley plays 16-year-old Hazel Grace Lancaster, who was diagnosed with cancer at an early age and almost slipped away in hospital. An experimental drug trial has halted the spread of the disease but Hazel is resigned to her grim fate.

"Depression's not a side effect of cancer," she explains in voiceover, "it's a side effect of dying, which is what's happening to me." The teenager reluctantly attends a cancer patients' support group at the behest of her mom (Laura Dern).

During one session, Grace meets acerbic survivor Gus (Elgort), who lost his leg to halt the spread of his cancer. He is attending the meeting to support best friend Isaac (Nat Wolff). Grace and Gus's shared disdain for convention kindles friendship.

As the relationship intensifies, Hazel attempts to keep Gus at arm's length, warning that she "is a grenade", destined to obliterate everyone around her. "It would be a privilege to have my heart broken by you," he counters tenderly.

The Fault In Our Stars is a beautifully sketched portrait of adolescence, anchored by emotionally raw performances from the talented cast. Dern impresses as a parent braced for the anguish of burying her child, while Willem Dafoe injects spikiness to the role of Hazel's favourite author, who doesn't welcome fans with open arms.

Director Boone makes a couple of missteps, including a crudely engineered scene at Anne Frank's House in Amsterdam that feels wholly inappropriate. However, once our tear ducts start leaking, we forgive him and the script an occasional faux pas.

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Thursday 24th July 2014

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The LEGO Movie 4 stars

movie title

Emmet is an ordinary LEGO mini-figure, who is mistaken for a mythical figure known as Master Builder by an ancient wizard Vitruvius. Before he can clear up this unfortunate misunderstanding, Emmet is press-ganged into leading the quest to defeat a nefarious LEGO tyrant aided by a rogue's gallery of historical and fictional mini-figures including Batman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman and Abraham Lincoln.

  • GenreAction, Animation/Cartoon, Children's, Comedy, Family, Family
  • CastLiam Neeson, Channing Tatum, Morgan Freeman, Jonah Hill, Elizabeth Banks, Alison Brie, Will Ferrell, Cobie Smulders, Chris Pratt.
  • DirectorChristopher Miller, Phil Lord.
  • WriterPhil Lord, Christopher Miller.
  • CountryAustralia/
  • Duration100 mins
  • Official sitewww.thelegomovie.com
  • Release14/02/2014

It was Christmas 1984. I remember excitedly tearing snowman-festooned wrapping paper off a large box and staring wide-eyed at the LEGO construction set that had been the subject of countless unsubtle hints to my parents. Those tiny coloured construction bricks became a building site for my imagination, and even now, I get fuzzy pangs when I see film-themed kits cluttering up the shelves of toy shops.

That same warm glow permeates Phil Lord and Christopher Miller's rollicking adventure, which cleverly employs the latest technical wizardry to mimic the crude, imperfect movements of stop-motion animation.

The LEGO Movie is a hoot, celebrating the enduring power and popularity of a toy invented in the late 1940s. Directors Lord and Miller, who donned hard hats at the helm of the first Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs film, strike a delicious tone of irreverence throughout to ensure parents enjoy the ride just as much as younger audiences.

The unlikely hero is a socially awkward LEGO mini-figure called Emmet (voiced by Chris Pratt), who works on a building site in his hometown of Bricksburg. Desperate to fit in, Emmet follows the dictates laid down by President Business (Will Ferrell), who is actually - shock, gasp! - arch-villain Lord Business in disguise.

This nefarious tyrant plans to destroy Bricksburg and the neighbouring districts of Cloud Cuckoo Land and Middle Zealand using an artefact known as The Kragle.

Ancient wizard Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman) and his sassy henchwoman Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks) mistake Emmet for a mythical figure known as Master Builder, who possesses the power to create anything out of LEGO bricks with his mind.

According to prophecy, Master Builder will locate the Piece Of Resistance and destroy The Kragle. "A Special One? What a load of hippy, dippy baloney!" cackles Lord Business.

Emmet is press-ganged into leading the perilous quest to defeat the despot aided by a rogue's gallery of mini-figures including Wyldstyle's boyfriend Batman (Will Arnett), Green Lantern (Jonah Hill), Wonder Woman (Cobie Smulders), Abraham Lincoln (Will Forte) and a classic 1980s-era blue spaceman named Benny (Charlie Day).

The heroes are pursued by schizophrenic law-maker and -breaker Bad Cop (Liam Neeson). "Rest in pieces!" he guffaws as LEGO cannons destroy their home world.

Fast-paced and crammed with primary colours, The LEGO Movie pulls out all the stops to dazzle and delight. The script is peppered with wry one-liners, cinematic homages and an infectious theme song - Everything Is Awesome - that burrows into the brain and refuses to leave quietly.

Pratt, Ferrell and co deliver ebullient vocal performances, which are complemented by frenetic action sequences by LEGO land, sea and air. The final 10 minutes provide an unexpected, heart-warming surprise, guaranteed to have kids big and small grinning with glee.

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Thursday 24th July 2014

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Transformers: Age Of Extinction 2 stars

movie title

The alliance between humans and the robots has been broken and an elite CIA unit named Cemetery Wind now hunts the Transformers without mercy. Struggling inventor Cade Yeager and his family stumble upon Optimus Prime and help the Autobot leader to regain his strength. They head into the desert to reunite Bumblebee, Crosshairs, Drift and Hound. Together, the rebels must prevent fellow inventor Joshua Joyce from creating his own Transformer army led by the mighty Galvatron.

  • GenreAction, Adaptation, Adventure, Romance, Science Fiction
  • CastJack Reynor, Mark Wahlberg, Nicola Peltz, TJ Miller, Li Bingbing, Kelsey Grammer, Stanley Tucci.
  • DirectorMichael Bay.
  • WriterEhren Kruger.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration165 mins
  • Official sitewww.thetransformersmovie.co.uk
  • Release10/07/2014

If Michael Bay, director of Transformers: Age Of Extinction, were immortalised on-screen as a "robot in disguise", his mechanised alter-ego might be Maximus Kaboom. For two decades, the Californian film-maker has been elevating wanton destruction to a blockbusting art form.

In Armageddon, he pitted Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck against a gigantic asteroid on a collision course with earth and orchestrated destruction to the sonic booms of Aerosmith's I Don't Want To Miss A Thing.

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor provided Bay with a turbulent backdrop to his 2001 war opus. Since 2007, he has been ensconced in the Transformers fold, bringing bombast to live-action adventures of the bestselling Hasbro toys.

This fourth instalment is crammed with Bay's usual visual excesses and motifs, including gleaming cars and a pouting female protagonist in hilariously short denim shorts. Five years have passed since the Battle Of Chicago, which provided the pyrotechnic-laden climax to Transformers: Dark Of The Moon.

The alliance between humans and robots lies in tatters and an elite CIA unit named Cemetery Wind under the control of Harold Attinger (Kelsey Grammer) hunts Transformers without mercy. On a family ranch, struggling inventor Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) discovers that a rusty truck he has just purchased is battle-scarred Optimus Prime (voiced by Peter Cullen).

Agents from Cemetery Wind descend on the homestead and Optimus protects Cade, his daughter Tessa (Nicola Peltz), her secret boyfriend Shane (Jack Reynor) and Cade's mechanic sidekick Lucas (TJ Miller) in the ensuing gun fight.

The humans join forces with Optimus to reunite the Autobots - Bumblebee, Crosshairs (John DiMaggio), Drift (Ken Watanabe) and Hound (John Goodman) - and the rebellion plots a swift response to inventor Joshua Joyce (Stanley Tucci), who has created his own Transformer army led by the mighty Galvatron (Frank Welker).

Transformers: Age Of Extinction opens with Cade and Lucas scouring an abandoned cinema for scrap metal. "Sequels and remakes - bunch of crap!" growls the grizzled owner as he surveys memorabilia from bygone blockbusters that litter the tumble-down building.

Never has a truer word been spoken in one of Bay's exercises in hyperkinetic style over substance. Screenwriter Ehren Kruger repeatedly defies logic to contrive outlandish scenarios for pyrotechnics and carnage, including an alien spaceship that sucks up metal then drops magnetically charged cars and boats onto terra firma.

Wahlberg punches and leaps through gaping plot holes, trotting out the concerned father routine as younger members of cast perform gravity-defying gymnastics to emerge from clouds of razor-sharp shrapnel without a graze or smudged lip-gloss.

Action sequences are visual vomit: an incomprehensible spew of glistening metal and explosions that hurt the eyes especially in the large-scale IMAX format. "The war will be over soon," barks Grammer's Machiavellian politician during a momentary lull. The buttock-numbing 165-minute running time says otherwise.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Thursday 24th July 2014

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Transformers: Age Of Extinction 3D 2 stars

movie title

The alliance between humans and the robots has been broken and an elite CIA unit named Cemetery Wind now hunts the Transformers without mercy. Struggling inventor Cade Yeager and his family stumble upon Optimus Prime and help the Autobot leader to regain his strength. They head into the desert to reunite Bumblebee, Crosshairs, Drift and Hound. Together, the rebels must prevent fellow inventor Joshua Joyce from creating his own Transformer army led by the mighty Galvatron.

  • GenreAction, Adaptation, Adventure, Romance, Science Fiction
  • CastNicola Peltz, Jack Reynor, Mark Wahlberg, TJ Miller, Li Bingbing, Kelsey Grammer, Stanley Tucci.
  • DirectorMichael Bay.
  • WriterEhren Kruger.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration164 mins
  • Official sitewww.thetransformersmovie.co.uk
  • Release10/07/2014

If Michael Bay, director of Transformers: Age Of Extinction, were immortalised on-screen as a "robot in disguise", his mechanised alter-ego might be Maximus Kaboom. For two decades, the Californian film-maker has been elevating wanton destruction to a blockbusting art form.

In Armageddon, he pitted Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck against a gigantic asteroid on a collision course with earth and orchestrated destruction to the sonic booms of Aerosmith's I Don't Want To Miss A Thing.

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor provided Bay with a turbulent backdrop to his 2001 war opus. Since 2007, he has been ensconced in the Transformers fold, bringing bombast to live-action adventures of the bestselling Hasbro toys.

This fourth instalment is crammed with Bay's usual visual excesses and motifs, including gleaming cars and a pouting female protagonist in hilariously short denim shorts. Five years have passed since the Battle Of Chicago, which provided the pyrotechnic-laden climax to Transformers: Dark Of The Moon.

The alliance between humans and robots lies in tatters and an elite CIA unit named Cemetery Wind under the control of Harold Attinger (Kelsey Grammer) hunts Transformers without mercy. On a family ranch, struggling inventor Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) discovers that a rusty truck he has just purchased is battle-scarred Optimus Prime (voiced by Peter Cullen).

Agents from Cemetery Wind descend on the homestead and Optimus protects Cade, his daughter Tessa (Nicola Peltz), her secret boyfriend Shane (Jack Reynor) and Cade's mechanic sidekick Lucas (TJ Miller) in the ensuing gun fight.

The humans join forces with Optimus to reunite the Autobots - Bumblebee, Crosshairs (John DiMaggio), Drift (Ken Watanabe) and Hound (John Goodman) - and the rebellion plots a swift response to inventor Joshua Joyce (Stanley Tucci), who has created his own Transformer army led by the mighty Galvatron (Frank Welker).

Transformers: Age Of Extinction opens with Cade and Lucas scouring an abandoned cinema for scrap metal. "Sequels and remakes - bunch of crap!" growls the grizzled owner as he surveys memorabilia from bygone blockbusters that litter the tumble-down building.

Never has a truer word been spoken in one of Bay's exercises in hyperkinetic style over substance. Screenwriter Ehren Kruger repeatedly defies logic to contrive outlandish scenarios for pyrotechnics and carnage, including an alien spaceship that sucks up metal then drops magnetically charged cars and boats onto terra firma.

Wahlberg punches and leaps through gaping plot holes, trotting out the concerned father routine as younger members of cast perform gravity-defying gymnastics to emerge from clouds of razor-sharp shrapnel without a graze or smudged lip-gloss.

Action sequences are visual vomit: an incomprehensible spew of glistening metal and explosions that hurt the eyes especially in the large-scale IMAX format. "The war will be over soon," barks Grammer's Machiavellian politician during a momentary lull. The buttock-numbing 165-minute running time says otherwise.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Thursday 24th July 2014

This film is also showing at:

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