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Movies on release.

Byline: Mike Davies

Also released this week Conan The Barbarian (15) Almost 30 years on from Arnie's breakthrough role, Robert E Howard's Cimmerian warrior gets a reboot from Marcus Nispel, the director responsible for dismal Viking saga Pathfinder. Word is he's on more solid sword and sorcery footing with Game of Thrones star Jason Momoa as the man of few words who, on a quest for vengeance against the man who killed his father, finds himself up against supernatural enemies. Suitably dark with Morgan Freeman's narration providing gravitas, the trailers promise plenty of bloody action and a look inspired by the Frank Frazetta paintings, doubtless accounting for the eight topless wenches in the credits.

Horizontal 8 (tbc) Waking with amnesia in a Polish hotel room to find a pile of cash and a gun, a man throws the money out the window into a town in the grip of terrorism panic where one note changes the lives of all those through whose hands it passes. Polish Film Festival (Thu, mac) On Release Arrietty (U) Subtitled version of the visually beautiful Japanese animation adaptation of The Borrowers as the impulsive tiny heroine accidentally gets herself seen by a young human bean. Slow with little action, it won't suit restless kids, but it's a gentle joy to watch. (Fri-Mon, Warwick Arts Centre; Fri-Thu, mac) *** Beginners (15) Mike Mills' semi-autobiographical drama as flashbacks show Ewan McGregor dealing with his late widowed father Christopher Plummer coming out of the closet while struggling with present day commitment issues with his new girlfriend. Too waffly for emotional impact, but the subtitled Jack Russell's fun. (Fri-Mon, mac) *** The Big Picture (15) When self-loathing lawyer and frustrated snapper Romain Duris accidentally kills his wife's photographer lover, he fakes his own death, adopts the dead man's identity and heads for Montenegro to reinvent himself pursuing his original passion. But success means exposure and he's forced to embark on another new life, which is where this French adaptation of Douglas Kennedy's novel loses its footing as it abandons themes of obsession and identity and veers off into arty redemptive melodrama. (Tue-Thu, mac) *** Bridesmaids (15) Kristen Wiig agrees to be her best friend's maid of honour but oneupmanship with a controlling bridesmaid leads to fall outs. Sex and the City meets The Hangover with girlie dirty talk, it starts with spark but never builds comic momentum. *** Captain America: The First Avenger 3D (12A) Scrawny Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) volunteers for a secret experiment and is transformed into a supersoldier.

Costumed and dubbed Captain America, he's finally sent into action to foil a plot by the Red Skull, a Nazi megalomaniac who's obtained a source of unlimited power. Raiders-style Boys Own wartime adventure given a sci-fi tweak. **** Cars 2 (U) Not Pixar's most engaging, but superior to the original with dump truck Mater centre stage in a spy movie parody that sees Lightning McQueen entering a World Grand Prix while Brit spy Finn McMissile seeks to unmask the auto villain behind a plot to discredit a new green fuel. Fast and funny, with stunningly realistic looking city backdrops. **** The Devil's Double (18) Dominic Cooper delivers two tour de force performances in the true story of the Iraqi war hero forced to become the double of Saddam's sadistic, psychotic son Uday, then dangerously falling for his favourite lover. Intense and often brutal, it's a visceral experience. *** Cowboys & Aliens (12A) Considerably more successful than Wild Wild West's fusion of Western and sci-fi, even so the pairing of Daniel Craig's outlaw with Harrison Ford's grumpy cattle baron to rescue abducted townsfolk from alien gold prospectors never really sparks as it should and lacks the courage of its allegorical convictions. *** Glee: The 3D Concert Movie (PG) What it says on the box, documentary of this summer's tour with much singing, dancing and a Gwyneth Paltrow cameo. No previews.

The Guard (15) Brendan Gleeson triumphs as a cynical, droll, but smart, small town Galway cop teaming with Don Cheadle's FBI agent to track a gang of drug smugglers. Writer-director John McDonagh's comedy drama marries Hot Fuzz with his brother's In Bruges and Tarantinoesque codphilosphical banter to produce one of the year's best films. **** Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part Two 3D (12A) The saga concludes as Harry and Voldemort meet for the final showdown, major characters die and the truth about is Snape revealed. Inevitably, much of the novel's backstories are skimmed over while several recurring characters have mere cameos. But, visually spectacular, the action is thrilling and the emotions are high as even the most hardened might need to wipe away a tear. ***** Horrible Bosses (15) Three put upon employees (Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, Charlie Day) conspire to murder their bosses - sadistic bully Kevin Spacey, cokehead pyscho Colin Farrell and nymphomaniac dentist Jennifer Aniston with the help of a supposed hit man. Misunderstandings and mishaps ensue. There's a few funny moments but coarse vulgarity prevails. * Horrid Henry: The Movie 3D (U) Cartoonish, colourful and, at times, bizarrely surreal, Francesca Simon's mischievous creation goes big screen in a slapstick save the school romp that plays like a primary St Trinians. With no concessions for grownups, this is pure silly kids entertainment. *** The Inbetweeners (15) Having left school (with a tell it as it is send-off from the head that teachers will cheer), Ch4's four loser buddies head to Crete for the inevitable TV spin off holiday feature as they seeks to lashed and laid. As crude, rude and gross as you'd expect, but also surprisingly warm, well observed and, with a rubbish dancing highlight, often hilariously funny. *** Kind Hearts and Coronets (PG) The definitive Ealing comedy as Dennis Price sets out to murder the eight relatives (all played by Alec Guinness) who stand in the way of his succession to a dukedom. (Tue-Thu, Warwick Arts Centre) *** Kung Fu Panda 2 3D (PG) Po and the Furious Five face a peacock villain out to destroy Kung Fu and rule China. Excellent animation and there's even some plot in-between the chases and kung fu battles. *** Mr Popper's Penguins (PG) Another workaholic ex-husband/absent dad learns the value of family, this time through bonding with six penguins left him by his late father to teach him the value of family. Jim Carrey mugs to irksome excess while fart and poop gags abound. If you can see only one penguin film this year, wait for Happy Feet 2. ** Project Nim (12A) James Marsh's documentary about the 1970s project to see if a chimp could learn to communicate if raised as a child reveals as much about humans, especially their power struggles, as it does about apes. (Sat/Sun, Electric) *** Rise of the Planet of the Apes (12A) Terrific reboot origin story as well-intentioned scientist James Franco enhances the intelligence of chimp Caesar, raising him at home, in his quest to develop an Alzheimer's cure. When an incident sees Caesar sent to an ape penitentiary, the stage is set for a spectacular climactic simian uprising. Brilliant motion capture work by Andy Serkis injects intense emotion into the thought-provoking narrative. **** The Smurfs 3D (U) Revival of the annoying 80s cult characters as a group of them become trapped in the human world pursued by a lunatic wizard. Like the Chipmunks but with plastic blue gnomes, small kids will love it, everyone else will think it's smurf. ** Super 8 (12A) In 1979, a group of pubescent small town wannabe film makers find themselves caught up in a ruthless military operation to recapture an escaped alien while also dealing with coming-ofage issues and first crushes. JJ Abrams nostalgically evokes the old school filmmaking of early Spielberg in a cocktail of ET, Stand By Me and The Goonies, while also including the most spectacular train crash ever. **** Whisky Galore (PG) Alexander Mackendrick's droll 1949 Ealing comedy as, inspired by a true incident, Hebridean islanders seek to bamboozle customs and excise when 50,000 cases of whisky are shipwrecked on their shore. (Fri/Sat, mac) *** Mike Davies
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Aug 25, 2011
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