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AtoZ.

Byline: With DAVID EDWARDS

ARBITRAGE Cert 15, Running time 107mins Starring: Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, Tim Roth A millionaire hedge fund manager sees his life unravelling after his mistress dies in the car he was driving. A tense and well-plotted thriller that, with its look at dodgy Wall Street dealings, is also timely.

BROKEN CITY Cert 15, Running time 109mins Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe, Catherine Zeta-Jones A private eye is hired by the mayor of New York to discover if his wife is having an affair. This good-looking thriller attempts, and fails, to recreate the neo-noir menace of Chinatown. Still, it's worth catching to see Crowe's hair-do that makes him look like a cross between a choirboy and a Shetland pony.

THE CROODS Cert U, running time 99mins Voices: Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds A caveman family journey through an unfamiliar and dangerous world after their home is destroyed. Lightweight animation from DreamWorks that feels awfully similar to the Ice Age movies.

DARK SKIES Cert 15, Running time 97mins Starring: Keri Russell, Josh Hamilton A suburban family's home becomes the scene of weird phenomena in hokey sci-fi horror from the team which brought us Insidious and Sinister. As far as alienabduction flicks go, it's a shame someone abducted the scares.

THE EXPATRIATE Cert 15, Running time 100mins Starring: Aaron Eckhart, Olga Kurylenko On the run from the suits who want both him and his teenage daughter dead, a techie learns of an illegal and not particularly interesting arms deal that just may involve a CIA spook. Predictable stuff, it's pretty much what you'd expect Taken 3 to look like.

FINDING NEMO (3D) Cert U, Running time 96mins Voices: Alexander Gould, Ellen DeGeneres, Barry Humphries Regarded by many as their finest film, Pixar's fifth animation is certainly their best looking and now, rereleased in soupedup form, becomes an even more astonishing spectacle.

FIRE WITH FIRE Cert 15, Running time 97mins Starring: Josh Duhamel, Bruce Willis, Vinnie Jones Having gone straight to DVD in the US, this mundane action thriller now slithers down the chute into a multiplex near you. Duhamel is an LA firefighter who, after witnessing a Mob hit, is put into witness protection. Aside from being unnecessarily bloody, the plot is less a story and more a series of tedious action-flick cliches. One for the incinerator.

GI JOE: RETALIATION Cert 12A, Running time 110mins Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Channing Tatum, Bruce Willis The badasses return to take on the forces of Cobra in a daft and extremely loud action sequel inspired by the Hasbro toys. It delivers plenty of bangs for your buck - just don't go in expecting high art.

THE HOST Cert 12A, Running time 125mins Starring: Saorise Ronan, Max Irons A teenage girl is possessed by an alien spirit in a sci-fi romance based on the novel by Stephenie 'Twilight' Meyer. The film wasn't screened for critics but the word on the street is that it's a turkey of the highest order.

THE INCREDIBLE BURT WONDERSTONE Cert 15, Running time 100mins Starring: Steve Carell, Steve Buscemi, Jim Carrey A pair of Vegas magicians find their status as the kings of conjuring coming under threat from an extreme street illusionist. The gag-tolaugh ratio is about 50:50, but Carrey hasn't been this funny in ages.

JACK THE GIANT SLAYER Cert 12A, Running time 114mins Starring: Nicholas Hoult, Ewan McGregor, Ian McShane A young farmer's boy journeys up a beanstalk to rescue a princess from a land of giants. The special effects in Bryan 'X-Men' Singer's fantasy adventure are spot on, but the storyline is generally predictable.

A LATE QUARTET Cert 15, Running time 106mins Starring: Christopher Walken, Catherine Keener, Philip Seymour Hoffman Simmering rivalries in a professional string quartet come bubbling to the surface when their leader announces his retirement. It's great to see Walken given a chance to play it straight for a change, but the film's themes of friendship and family dysfunction were better addressed in, say, Please Give.

MANIAC Cert 18, Running time 89mins Starring Elijah Wood, Nora Arnezeder, Liane Balaban Wood, better known as Frodo Baggins, is a loner with mother issues called Frank who has a nasty habit of stalking, stabbing and scalping the female residents of LA. The 1980 original was a supremely scuzzy piece of misogyny with no redeeming message and it's the same second time around.

THE ODD LIFE OF TIMOTHY GREEN Cert U, Running time 105mins Starring: Jennifer Garner, Joel Edgerton, A childless couple making their case to an adoption board tell an incredible story about 10-year-old Timothy, a lad who became their son one summer. While it's earnest and means well, this is also desperately cheesy and a bit creepy.

OZ: THE GREAT AND POWERFUL Cert PG, Running time 130mins Starring: James Franco, Mila Kunis, Michelle Williams, Rachel Weisz A travelling magician is swept from 1905 Kansas to the magical kingdom of Oz in Sam Raimi's imaginative Wizard Of Oz prequel. Packed with playful references to the 1939 musical and with a sly wit all of its own, a splendid time is guaranteed for all.

THE PAPERBOY Cert 15, Running time 107mins Starring: Zac Efron, Nicole Kidman, Matthew McConaughey, John Cusack Set at the tail-end of the 1960s, the plot follows ace reporter Ward Jansen as he returns to his hometown to investigate whether a man on Death Row is really guilty of murder. His way in is via Kidman's trashy temptress who has a thing for jailbirds, and who enchants Ward's younger brother. It all adds up to a terribly weird movie - a cross between Killer Joe and TV's The Wonder Years.

PARKER Cert 15, Running time 118mins Starring: Jason Statham, Jennifer Lopez, Rosario Dawson The Stath plays career criminal Parker who, after robbing the Utah State Fair with a gang of goons, is shot and left for dead having rejected their offer of another heist. As he recovers from his wounds, former partners in crime start circling. Decent oneliners abound, but too much talk plus bit-parts from stars of TV's The Shield and The Wire only add to the notion this is best enjoyed at home with a pizza.

RED DAWN Cert 15, Running time 93mins Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson, Connor Cruise With the North Koreans parachuting into their West Coast hometown, a gang of youngsters tool up and - via the briefest of training montages - transform into a juvenile delta force. The 1984 original has long been filed under 'guilty pleasure', and even though the Koreans' current sabre rattling adds an air of topicality, it's too much of a jump to believe they could conquer a superpower.

ROBOT & FRANK Cert 12A, Running time 89mins Starring: Frank Langella, James Marsden, Susan Sarandon A retired jewel thief is given a domestic robot to help around the house, sparking a friendship when he realises the machine may help him revive his career. Langella is wonderful while his up-and-down relationship with his mechanoid mate hits some unexpectedly sweet notes.

SAFE HAVEN Cert 12A, Running time 115mins Starring: Julianne Hough, Josh Duhamel A young woman goes on the run after apparently murdering a cop in Boston. Catching a Greyhound, she winds up at the safe haven of a small town in North Carolina - and into the arms of Josh Duhamel's hunky widower. The best thing you can say about this is that it looks nice. The town is postcard perfect and the leads have both got nice hair. Aside from that, it's two hours of irritating cliches.

SIDE EFFECTS Cert 15, Running time 106mins Starring: Jude Law, Rooney Mara, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Channing Tatum A woman's life starts falling apart when she's prescribed a pioneering antidepressant.

Steven Soderbergh's ingenious and twisting thriller looks like something made by the love child of Alfred Hitchcock and David Cronenberg. The first great thriller of 2013.

SPRING BREAKERS Cert 18, Running time 94mins Starring: James Franco, Vanessa Hudgens, Selina Gomez, Ashley Benson Sick of small-town life, four gal pals rob a restaurant and head to Florida for a week of hard partying with their college friends. When they're busted during a raucous party, the girls are sprung by a leering bling-boy who wants something in return.

STOKER Cert 18, Running time 99mins Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Nicole Kidman A teenage girl begins to suspect her quietly menacing uncle may be up to no good in a stylish but arch thriller from Korea's Chanwook Park. It's full of overcooked kookiness, but Kidman hasn't been this good in ages.

TRANCE Cert 15, Running time 105mins Starring: James McAvoy, Rosario Dawson, Vincent Cassel Olympic hero Danny Boyle returns to directing duties for an ambitious but flawed psychological crime thriller. Despite a promising start, the film descends into head-scratching nonsense. Barely scrapes bronze.

WELCOME TO THE PUNCH Cert 15, Running time 100mins Starring: James McAvoy, Mark Strong, Andrea Riseborough A Met detective is given another chance to bring down the gangster who left him for dead. The story is no great shakes but is helped by a memorable performance from Strong that's an exercise in controlled rage, and cinematography that highlights London's scenic appeal.
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Title Annotation:Features; Opinion, Column
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Apr 12, 2013
Words:1515
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