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HOME (U) AN extra-terrestrial race called the Boov invades Earth under the command of power-hungry Captain Smek (voiced by Steve Martin) with a view to claiming the third rock from the sun as their new home.

The Boov round up the humans and relocate the entire species to Australia.

Back in America, a resourceful 11-year-old girl called Tip (Rihanna), whose mother (Jennifer Lopez) was abducted from their apartment, evades capture and goes on the run with her pet cat. She encounters a fugitive Boov named Oh (Jim Parsons), who has accidentally sent an email invitation to his "warming of house party" to everyone in the galaxy, including the Boov's sworn enemy, the Gorg.

Working together, Tip and Oh forge a touching friendship and the girl helps her extra-terrestrial chum to embrace his flaws.

Based on the children's book The True Meaning Of Smekday by Adam Rex, Home is an entertaining but shamelessly contrived computer-animated adventure. Rating.....

THE GUNMAN (15) MERCENARY for hire Jim Terrier (Sean Penn) operates in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where he fulfils secret contracts that would undoubtedly horrify his do-gooder surgeon girlfriend Annie (Jasmine Trinca).

Jim's colleague Felix (Javier Bardem), who manages these covert operations, accepts a contract to assassinate the Minister For Mining. Jim pulls the trigger and leaves the country under the cloak of darkness, bidding farewell to Annie and his fellow mercenary Cox (Mark Rylance).

Several years later, Jim returns to Africa to atone for his sins by assisting a humanitarian relief agency. He is attacked by machete-wielding assailants and fears the ghosts of his old life have returned to haunt him.

So Jim flies to London to warn Cox and gather intelligence from old pal Stanley (Ray Winstone) before heading to Barcelona to reconnect with Felix and Annie, who are now married.

Adapted from a novel by Jean-Patrick Manchette, The Gunman is a gleefully violent action thriller, which seems to appeal to leading man Penn's outspoken political and social views.

His robust, muscular performance is better than the script deserves, and Bardem and the mercurial Rylance are both wasted in two-dimensional roles. Rating.....

THE GALLOWS (15) Starring: Reese Mishler, Pfeifer Brown, Ryan Shoos, Cassidy Gifford Directors: Travis Cluff, Chris Lofing Duration: 81 mins FORGET mathematics, English literature, history, science, geography and the American high school curriculum.

The supposedly clued-up teenagers in Travis Cluff and Chris Lofing's low budget thriller urgently need an education in the basics of horror movie survival.

The thinly sketched protagonists appear blissfully unaware of any found footage horrors that have been haunting cinemas since The Blair Witch Project popularised the format in 1999, and stumble blindly to their doom with cameras rolling.

In The Gallows, this shaky handheld footage is presented as official evidence - "Property of the Beatrice Police Department, 28/10/2013".

Whenever a student is left on his or her own, main footage from an omnipresent camera jumps to a video recording from the lone character's smartphone, so we are treated to their brush with death in jittery close-up, replete with heavy breathing.

Instantly | The film opens in 1993 at the first night of Beatrice High School's production of a period drama called The Gallows, which bears a passing resemblance to Arthur Miller's The Crucible.

Something goes tragically awry during the play's denouement and student Charlie Grimille dies in front of distraught parents and classmates. Twenty years later, football jock Reese Houser (Reese Mishler) hurriedly learns lines for the anniversary production of The Gallows at Beatrice High in order to impress lead actress Pfeifer forgettable Ross (Pfeifer Brown).

"Everybody knows he's going to choke like Charlie," sniggers Reese's best friend Ryan (Ryan Shoos), in bad taste, from behind his camera.

On the eve of opening night, Reese doubts himself so Ryan makes a bold suggestion: they should break into the school and destroy the set of the play, which would force the cancellation of The Gallows.

The Gallows boasts a couple of half-hearted scares but this is a predictable and instantly forgettable tale of things that go bump in the night with the cast hampered by a flimsy script while deaths are hopelessly contrived. Rating.....

SELF/LESS (12A) Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Ben Kingsley, Matthew Goode Director: Tarsem Singh Duration: 117 mins BILLIONAIRE New York industrialist Damian Hale (Sir Ben Kingsley) is a force of nature in the boardroom but even he is no match for cancer.

With less than sixth months to live, he contacts Phoenix Biogenic run by the enigmatic Professor Albright (Matthew Goode), who claims to have pioneered a procedure that transplants the consciousness of wealthy patrons into a healthy body that has been grown in the laboratory.

Damian stages his death and reawakens as a 30-something hunk (Ryan Reynolds) and takes on a new identity as entrepreneur Edward Kittner. Every day, Damian must take a red pill to stave off hallucinations, which Albright passes off as "glitches". When he misses a dose, vivid images of a single mother and her daughter flood Damian's brain, suggesting that Albright fibbed about the provenance of the genetically engineered host body.

Self/Less is a missed opportunity. What could have been a thoughtprovoking futuristic nightmare, asking theological questions, is reduced to a humdrum action thriller replete with bone-cracking fist fights.

Rating.....

CAPTION(S):

Instantly forgettable |

Ben Kingsley as Damian Hale
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jul 17, 2015
Words:883
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