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HAPPY DEATH DAY 2U (15) .. ... AS the convoluted plot of writer-director Christopher Landon's horror thriller grinds into gear, a science boffin (Phi Vu) listens intently to the film's heroine (Jessica Rothe, right) describe being stuck in an alternate time loop with subtle differences from the first.

"This kind of reminds me of Back To The Future II," he observes to blank stares from the heroine.

The two-dimensional nerd is, disappointingly, on the money with his analogy: Happy Death Day 2U is overstuffed with narrative, less entertaining and relies heavily on our affection for characters from a slicker and superior original. Worst of all, Landon is so concerned with explaining his time loops through extraneous dialogue laden with multiverses and temporal ripples that he neglects to deliver edge-of-seat thrills and gratuitous blood spills.

A PRIVATE WAR (15) ... .. OSCAR-NOMINATED documentarian Matthew Heineman makes an assured feature film directorial debut with a dramatisation of the life of foreign affairs correspondent Marie Colvin (Rosamund Pike, right), who was killed in 2012 while covering the siege of Homs.

A Private War stages an assault on our nerves, championing the vital role played by journalists in shining a light on moral outrages and injustice in a time of conflict. Donning the black eyepatch, which became Colvin's trademark after she lost the sight in one eye in a grenade blast in Sri Lanka, Pike delivers a fearless and ferocious lead performance as a champion of civilian casualties.

INSTANT FAMILY (12A) ... .. INSPIRED by the experiences of writerdirector Sean Anders, Instant Family is a surprisingly sweet and touching comedy drama about foster parenting, which delivers its core messages of patience and self-sacrifice with sincerity and tear-filled eyes.

The opening hour of Anders' picture mines a steady supply of chuckles from the misadventures of a happily married couple, who welcome three troubled tykes into their ordered home.

The director's light touch and occasional splashes of syrupy sentiment give way to hard knocks in a poignant second half that promises to exhaust every handkerchief you have tucked in a pocket or sleeve.

Rose Byrne and Mark Wahlberg, above, possess a winning combination of cluelessness and caring as first-time parents, and the latter wrings genuine tears from his scenes with gifted young co-stars.

Anders' surprisingly affecting picture proudly wears its heart on its sleeve.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Loughborough Echo (Loughborough, England)
Date:Feb 27, 2019
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