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JACK REACHER (12A) Former military officer Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise) is a ghost in the system, even to the US government with all of its technology and resources.

He is lured out of hiding when a mentally unstable sniper, James Barr (Joseph Sikora), is arrested for the murder of five innocent people in Pennsylvania. Before Barr slips into a coma, he writes down three words - Get Jack Reacher. On cue, Jack makes contact with lead detective Emerson (David Oyelowo) and District Attorney Rodin (Richard Jenkins), convinced that the cops have caught their perpetrator. However, Rodin's daughter, defence attorney Helen Rodin (Rosamund Pike), isn't convinced of Barr's guilt and she hires Jack to check the forensics. As Jack follows a chain of evidence, he falls foul of criminal mastermind The Zec (Werner Herzog) and a sharp-shooting henchman (Jai Courtney) , whose business interests may play some part in the unfolding mystery.

PARENTAL GUIDANCE (U) Artie Decker (Billy Crystal) and his wife Diane (Midler) are childhood sweethearts, married for more than 40 years. Artie is a commentator for his local baseball team while Diane keeps in shape by poledancing.

Poor Artie is crestfallen when the new owners of the team sack him from the commentary booth to inject fresh blood into the club. Soon after, the couple's daughter telephones to ask Artie and Diane to babysit their three grandchildren Harper, Turner and Barker while she accompanies her husband on an important business trip. Diane readily accepts, but it soon becomes clear that the grandparents do not know how to relate to Harper, Turner and Barker and their 21st Century fads.

MIDNIGHT'S CHILDREN (12A) Across a jubilant India, children are born with magical powers to unsuspecting parents. Saleem and Shiva are two such babies, one destined for poverty as the son of a street musician, the other for middle-class comfort, until a maternity nurse (Seema Biswas) is swept up in revolutionary fervour and switches the infants' name tags, robbing Shiva of his privileged birth right. Saleem (Satya Bhabha) grows up removed from his family. A simple sneeze unlocks Saleem's ability to telepathically contact the other children born at midnight, and using this mystical bond, the chosen ones plan to pool their amazing capabilities. However, Shiva (Siddharth) harbours deep resentment towards Saleem and plots to seize control of this band of misfits.

LIFE OF PI (PG) An inquisitive writer (Rafe Spall) turns up unexpectedly at the door of Pi Patel (Irrfan Khan), having been told the stranger's life story deserves to be immortalised in print.

In flashback, Pi recounts his youth as the son of a circus owner who decided to sell the family business in Pondicherry and emigrate to Canada with his wife and two boys. A raging storm causes the freighter to overturn and young Pi escapes in a lifeboat along with a zebra, orang-utan, hyena and a tiger called Richard Parker. The rest of the clan perish at sea. As the days pass, the predators prevail until just Richard Parker and Pi remain, trapped together in a vast expanse of water.

PITCH PERFECT (12A) Beca (Anna Kendrick) arrives at college with dreams of becoming a music producer, to the chagrin of her university professor father. He promises to fund a career in Los Angeles if she agrees to become involved in campus life.

So Beca reluctantly signs up with all-girl a cappella group The Bellas, who flopped spectacularly at last year's sing-off when soloist Aubrey (Anna Camp) projectile vomited over the audience. Aubrey's right-hand gal, Chloe (Brittany Snow), is open to Beca's bold ideas to reinvigorate the repertoire but Aubrey insists they stick to her songbook of 1990s favourites. New girl Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) throws her considerable weight behind Beca but as the competition draws near, tensions are evident.

THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY (12A) Director Peter Jackson returns to Middle Earth in the first instalment of The Hobbit trilogy, based on JRR Tolkien's classic novel.

Jackson begins his film at Bag End, with the elderly Bilbo (Ian Holm) penning a book to his cousin Frodo (Elijah Wood). Rewind 60 years and we meet the young Bilbo (Martin Freeman) in the Shire as he encounters Gandalf The Grey (Sir Ian McKellen) and a 13-strong company of dwarves, who intend to reclaim their lost gold from the dragon Smaug in his mountain lair. Bilbo agrees to accompany dwarf leader Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) and his troops on their perilous mission. En route, the brave souls encounter elvish allies as well as Gollum and the Goblin King.

TINKER BELL AND THE SECRET OF THE WINGS 3D (U) In the magical realm of Pixie Hollow ruled by Queen Clarion (voiced by Anjelica Huston), Tinker Bell (Mae Whitman) and her friends busy themselves gathering berries and coaxing flowers to bloom.

Fairy Mary (Jane Horrocks) oversees the final shipments of baskets, which snowy owls collect and fly into the Winter Woods. When the time comes for the animals to cross the rubicon, Tink helps Fawn (Angela Bartys) to lead the critters to the checkpoint and watches with envy, aware that she and her pals are forbidden from crossing the divide into the kingdom ruled by Lord Milori (Timothy Dalton). Curiosity gets the better of the mischievous fairy and Tink hitches a ride inside the last basket to the Winter Woods, where a visit to the Keeper (Jeff Bennett) of the library reveals that she has a sister called Periwinkle (Lucy Hale). They hatch a plan to smuggle Periwinkle into Pixie Hollow, unprepared for the repercussions of their actions.

SO UNDERCOVER (12A) So Undercover sends a young private eye on her most tricky mission: to infiltrate a college campus.

Street-smart investigator Molly (Miley Cyrus) learned everything from her father, former police officer Sam. She quit school to work alongside him and now gets a kick out of exposing cheating spouses or apprehending petty thieves. FBI agent Armon approaches Molly with a tantalising proposition: he needs her to go undercover as a college student to gather evidence for his latest case. With her girlish looks, Molly is perfect for the mission and she fits in on campus, and soon becomes a target for the resident bullies. As she finds her feet, Molly falls head over heels for Nicholas (Joshua Bowman) but has to continue lying to him in order to protect her cover.

THE ORANGES (15) David Walling (Hugh Laurie) and his wife Paige (Catherine Keener) live on Orange Drive in New Jersey next door to their best friends Terry and Cathy Ostroff.

Both couples are devoted to their children - David and Paige's son Toby and daughter Vanessa grew up with Terry and Cath's daughter Nina (Leighton Meester), so there is a natural bond between the offspring. Nina returns home for Thanksgiving after a five-year absence following an emotionally bruising break-up from her fiance. The Wallings and Ostroffs wait patiently for Nina to realise that Toby is the man of her dreams. Instead, the prodigal daughter sparks an affair with married David. Once the illicit liaison becomes public, the families must examine their priorities and dreams and decide if the path to happiness will take them away from Orange Drive.


ADRIFT AT SEA The Life of Pi
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jan 4, 2013
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