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Now showing at Odeon Worcester Foregate Street,Worcester,Worcestershire WR1 1DX 0871 224 4007

  • Interstellar
  • Paddington
  • The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies 3D
  • The Hunger Games: Mockingjay: Part 1
  • The Imitation Game
  • The Pyramid

Interstellar 4 stars

movie title

Planet earth is slowly dying. Mankind looks to the stars for a new planet to colonise. When scientists discover a wormhole that should allow a spacecraft to travel beyond the galaxy into the unknown, doting father Cooper bids farewell to his son Tom and daughter Murph to lead an exploratory mission in search of a new home. Accompanied by fellow explorers Brand, Doyle and Romilly, Cooper undertakes the most important mission in human history.

  • GenreAction, Adventure, Romance, Science Fiction, Thriller
  • CastMatthew McConaughey, Jessica Chastain, Anne Hathaway, John Lithgow, Topher Grace, Casey Affleck, Sir Michael Caine, Wes Bentley, Ellen Burstyn.
  • DirectorChristopher Nolan.
  • WriterChristopher Nolan, Jonathan Nolan.
  • CountryUS/UK
  • Duration164 mins
  • Official sitewww.interstellarmovie.com/index-intl.php
  • Release07/11/2014

Writer-director Christopher Nolan shoots for the stars with a futuristic thriller, co-written with his brother Jonathan, about mankind's search beyond this galaxy for a new home to replace a dying planet earth. Epic in scope and wildly ambitious, Interstellar doesn't quite achieve its bold vision of a love story between a father and daughter set against the vast backdrop of mankind's final roll of the dice to avoid extinction.

However, even when this grand futuristic adventure malfunctions, it's a deeply engrossing meditation on the ties that bind and the endurance of those emotional bonds across space and time.

Nolan and cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema have captured some of the most breathtaking vistas including our first glimpses of a black hole or wormhole on large-format IMAX film.

These sequences pack a mighty visual punch and powerfully convey how tiny and seemingly insignificant we are on our third rock from the sun. Composer Hans Zimmer, who collaborated with the London-born director on The Dark Knight trilogy, provides another bombastic orchestral score to complement the majestic imagery.

Planet earth is dying: great dust clouds sweep across agricultural plains, ruining crops and making it impossible to breathe comfortably without face masks. "We used to look up and wonder about our place in the stars. Now we just look down and worry about our place in the dirt," laments Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), a former test pilot, who toils the parched soil with his 15-year-old son Tom (Timothee Chalamet) and 10-year-old daughter Murph (Mackenzie Foy).

Cooper answers a call from Professor Brand (Michael Caine) to lead a mission to locate a new planet capable of sustaining human life. "We're not meant to save the world. We're meant to leave it," explains Brand, whose scientist daughter Amelia (Anne Hathaway) will be part of the four-strong crew along with astrophysicist Romilly (David Gyasi) and pilot Doyle (Wes Bentley).

Leaving his brood in the care of his father-in-law (John Lithgow), Cooper undertakes the most important mission in human history, knowing that failure would mean certain death for the people he loves.

Interstellar retains a tight focus on the characters without sacrificing the adrenaline-pumping thrills that fans expect from director Nolan. Two talking military machines called TARS (voiced by Bill Irwin) and CASE are a marvel of mechanical puppeteering and inject much needed humour.

"I have a discretion setting," deadpans TARS in response to a request from Cooper to disclose sensitive information. Oscar winners McConaughey and Hathaway add emotional heft to their embattled astronauts, wringing out tears after Amelia sternly warns Cooper: "You might have to choose between seeing your children again and saving the human race."

A couple of dense, wordy philosophical discussions about gravity and love orbit the moon of unintentional hilarity but thankfully, Nolan avoids the crash and burn in the nick of time.

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Thursday 18th December 2014

Paddington 4 stars

movie title

A young Peruvian bear with a passion for the British heads to London in search of a new home. At Paddington train station, he meets a boy called Jonathan Brown and his parents, who offer the lovable creature, christened Paddington, a temporary haven. At large in a strange city, Paddington wreaks havoc in the Brown household. Then an evil museum taxidermist named Millicent glimpses the wondrous bear and realises that he would make the most perfect addition to her collection.

  • GenreAdaptation, Comedy, Drama, Family, Family
  • CastHugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Julie Walters, Michael Gambon, Ben Whishaw, Nicole Kidman, Imelda Staunton.
  • DirectorPaul King.
  • WriterPaul King.
  • CountryUK/Fr
  • Duration95 mins
  • Official sitewww.paddington.com
  • Release28/11/2014

More than 50 years after he first appeared in print, author Michael Bond's beloved bear Paddington has finally arrived on the big screen in his first star-packed family adventure. Upcoming director Paul King's film lovingly weaves the traditional tenets of the duffel-coat wearing bear's story into a modern narrative.

Like the books, the film starts in deepest, darkest Peru, where a well-mannered three-foot bear (voiced by Ben Whishaw) lives with his elderly Aunt Lucy (Imelda Staunton) and Uncle Pastuzo (Michael Gambon). In their youth, Lucy and Pastuzo were visited by a kindly English explorer who left his red hat with his furry friends.

When their home is threatened, Aunt Lucy packs her nephew off to the safety of London to track down the explorer, who has promised that there will always be a home for them in the capital.

Of course, after sailing the oceans in a boat filled with supplies of his treasured marmalade, the bear finds London isn't actually that friendly. In fact it's pretty miserable what with the drizzly weather and glum commuters pushing and shoving their way out of Paddington station and ignoring his pleas for a home.

"Sorry, we haven't got time for this," cries worrywart Mr Brown (Hugh Bonneville), while his moody daughter Judy (Madeleine Harris) exclaims she's "embarrassed" to be near the small grisly, who has a 'Please look after this bear' sign around his neck.

Luckily, warm-hearted Mrs Brown (Sally Hawkins) and son Jonathan (Samuel Joslin) vow to take the furry chap home for the night. Naming him Paddington after the station where they found him, the Browns introduce their guest to kindly housekeeper Mrs Bird (Julie Walters).

But disaster soon strikes when Paddington tries to freshen up in the bathroom, resulting in a flood, two earwax-stained toothbrushes and a sharp telling off. Determined to find the explorer, Mrs Brown takes Paddington to see her friend Mr Gruber (Jim Broadbent), an antiques dealer who might have clues to his existence.

In doing so, they attract the attention of cranky curtain twitcher Mr Curry (Peter Capaldi) and a slimy associate of villainous taxidermist Millicent (Nicole Kidman) who is hell-bent on "stuffing that bear". With Millicent determined to get her mitts on Paddington to display him in the Natural History Museum, the Browns find themselves on a humdinger of a cat and mouse chase to try and keep their furry friend safe.

As comforting and sweet as Paddington's beloved marmalade, King's delightful adaptation has heaps of heart and enough humour and carefully plotted cameos to ensure everyone more than grins and bears his adaptation.

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Thursday 18th December 2014

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The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies 3D 3 stars

movie title

The company of dwarves led by Thorin Oakenshield fails to slay the dragon Smaug in his Lonely Mountain lair. The majestic creature takes to the skies and Bilbo Baggins watches in horror as Smaug prepares to incinerate Lake-town and its residents. Bard the Bowman possesses the last remaining black arrow and is the only thing standing between the dragon and total annihilation. Elsewhere, Gandalf is imprisoned at Dol Guldor by the Necromancer, who unleashes legions of orcs upon the Lonely Mountain.

  • GenreAction, Adaptation, Adventure, Fantasy
  • CastMartin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Sir Ian McKellen, Orlando Bloom, Lee Pace, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett, Evangeline Lilly, Luke Evans, Hugo Weaving.
  • DirectorPeter Jackson.
  • WriterPhilippa Boyens, Fran Walsh, Guillermo del Toro, Peter Jackson.
  • CountryNZ/US
  • Duration144 mins
  • Official sitewww.thehobbitblog.com
  • Release12/12/2014

Almost 13 years to the day since director Peter Jackson first transported us to Middle Earth, the Oscar-winning New Zealand filmmaker completes his tour of duty of JRR Tolkien's novels. It has been a long and sometimes gruelling slog since The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King. Giddy expectation has crashed and burned, with only a few smouldering embers for ardent fans to stoke in the hope that Jackson might redeem himself with this concluding chapter of The Hobbit trilogy.

Alas, The Battle Of Five Armies bids farewell to the hobbits, dwarfs and elves with a whimper rather than a bang. The script occasionally deviates from Tolkien's source text, contriving one superfluous and protracted interlude with elvish allies Elrond (Hugo Weaving) and Galadriel (Cate Blanchett) and wizard Saruman (Christopher Lee) to provide a flimsy bridge between the two series.

Jackson's mastery of action sequences is beyond doubt - the two set pieces, which bookend this film, are executed with flair, precision and a miasma of impressive digital effects.

However, all that technical sound and fury without comparable emotional heft makes for increasingly wearisome viewing. We should be thankful this concluding jaunt is the shortest of the six: a mere 144 minutes.

The company of dwarves led by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) including Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) watches in horror as the mighty dragon Smaug (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch) incinerates Laketown. As the flames rise, Bard the Bowman (Luke Evans) prepares to launch the last remaining black arrow at the beast.

His children seek cover with elf warrior Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly) and badly injured dwarf Kili (Aidan Turner). Nearby, the Master of Laketown (Stephen Fry) and snivelling henchman Alfrid (Ryan Gage) make their escape in a barge laden with gold.

At Dol Guldur, Gandalf (Sir Ian McKellen) escapes from the clutches of the Necromancer (Cumberbatch again) and beats a hasty path to the mountains, where various tribes will converge. "You must summon our friends, bird and beast - the battle for the mountain is about to begin!" bellows the wise wizard.

As the fate of Middle Earth hangs in the balance, Thorin sacrifices everything in his selfish pursuit of the mythical Arkenstone.

The Hobbit: The Battle Of Five Armies follows a similar template to earlier pictures, resolving plot strands including the forbidden romance of Tauriel and Kili as the blood flows in brutal fight sequences. Comical interludes with Alfrid seem to jar with the darker tone that pervades this chapter, including the inevitable loss of at least one hero in the melee.

Freeman's performance provides a flimsy emotional fulcrum while co-stars battle with their characters' demons or hordes of bloodthirsty orcs. As the end credits roll, accompanied by an original song from Billy Boyd who played Pippin in The Lord Of The Rings saga, we feel a sense of relief rather than sadness.

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Thursday 18th December 2014

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The Hunger Games: Mockingjay: Part 1 4 stars

movie title

Katniss Everdeen barely survived the Third Quarter Quell and she gathers her strength in the company of her friends, architect of the rebellion Plutarch Heavensbee and the President of District 13, Alma Coin. The scent of rebellion is in the air and the people look to Katniss to lead them against President Snow and the armed forces of Panem. However, Peeta has been captured by Snow and is being manipulated to quell the uprising.

  • GenreAction, Adaptation, Adventure, Drama, Family, Romance, Science Fiction
  • CastJennifer Lawrence, Woody Harrelson, Liam Hemsworth, Elizabeth Banks, Josh Hutcherson, Donald Sutherland, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jeffrey Wright, Stanley Tucci.
  • DirectorFrancis Lawrence.
  • WriterDanny Strong, Peter Craig.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration123 mins
  • Official sitewww.thehungergames.co.uk
  • Release20/11/2014

The spectre of war casts a long shadow over the penultimate chapter of the blockbusting dystopian thrillers based on Suzanne Collins' bestselling trilogy. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay: Part 1 follows the lead of the Harry Potter and Twilight sagas by cleaving the final book in two.

This decision - driven as much by greed as artistic necessity - results in a dark, brooding two hours of self-sacrifice almost completely devoid of the propulsive action sequences that distinguished the earlier films. Jennifer Lawrence's portrayal of reluctant heroine Katniss Everdeen, a pawn in the battle of wits between the money-rich Capitol and the impoverished Districts, remains a mesmerising constant.

She delivers another emotionally bruising performance, especially in early scenes when her battle-scarred teenager stares over the smouldering ruins of her beloved District 12, littered with charred skeletons of friends and neighbours who were incinerated as they fled.

This hellish vision brings Lawrence to her knees, unable to hold back racked sobs of pain. The floodgates open and screenwriters Peter Craig and Danny Strong take their time channelling her aching sense of loss into an all-consuming rage that will set the Capitol ablaze this time next year. "If we burn, you burn with us!" she bellows down a camera lens at President Snow (Donald Sutherland). We don't doubt it.

Katniss barely survived the Third Quarter Quell. Separated from fellow tributes Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) and Johanna (Jena Malone), who are being held in the Capitol, Katniss gathers her strength in a secret underground complex. Her allies include childhood friend Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth), mentor Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson), chaperone Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks), architect of the rebellion Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and District 13 President Alma Coin (Julianne Moore).

The people of the Districts look to Katniss to lead them against President Snow and the armed forces of Panem. "We're going to stoke the fire of this revolution that this Mockingjay started," growls Plutarch, commissioning a series of propaganda videos directed by Cressida (Natalie Dormer) with Katniss as the reluctant star. Meanwhile, Snow initiates his own forceful media campaign fronted by Caesar Flickerman (Stanley Tucci) and a clearly disoriented Peeta.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay: Part 1 is the calm before the storm of full-blown conflict. It's a slower burn than previous films and lacks some of the on-screen electricity since Katniss and Peeta are separated but Lawrence burns bright as the eponymous "girl on fire".

Effie's role is expanded from the book to bring some comic relief to the subterranean gloom. "Everything old can be made new again - like democracy!" she chirrups. Maybe so, but as Part 1 makes abundantly and agonisingly clear, you have to sacrifice innocent lives to sweep away the past.

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Thursday 18th December 2014

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The Imitation Game 4 stars

movie title

Socially awkward mathematician Alan Turing arrives at Bletchley Park where Commander Denniston presides over a group of the country's keenest minds in the hope that one of them can break the Enigma code. Turing ploughs his own furrow and raises eyebrows by recruiting Joan Clarke to the team. She is a beautiful mind like Turing, inspiring him to greatness by observing, "Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of that do the things people never imagine."

  • GenreAdaptation, Biography, Drama, Gay, Thriller, War
  • CastKeira Knightley, Benedict Cumberbatch, Matthew Goode, Mark Strong, Charles Dance, Rory Kinnear, Allen Leech, Matthew Beard.
  • DirectorMorten Tyldum.
  • WriterGraham Moore.
  • CountryUK/US
  • Duration114 mins
  • Official sitewww.theimitationgamemovie.com
  • Release14/11/2014

In December 2013, The Queen granted a posthumous royal pardon to Alan Turing. The London-born mathematician had been prosecuted for homosexuality in 1952 - a criminal act at the time - and he undertook a treatment of chemical castration with oestrogen injections rather than serve time behind bars.

It was an undeservedly inglorious end for a brilliant man, who was instrumental in breaking the Enigma code and should have been feted by our battle-scarred nation as a hero. Based on a biography by Andrew Hodges, The Imitation Game relives that race against time to decipher German communications and bring the Second World War to a swift conclusion.

Morten Tyldum's masterful drama neither shies away from Turing's homosexuality nor lingers on it, framing nail-biting events at Bletchley Park with the mathematician's 1951 arrest in Manchester. "If you're not paying attention, you'll miss things," Turing teases us in voiceover.

Indeed, you'll miss impeccable production design, an unconventional yet touching romance, subterfuge and sterling performances including an Oscar-worthy portrayal of the socially awkward genius from Benedict Cumberbatch.

Alan Turing (Cumberbatch) sits in a police interrogation room with Detective Nock (Rory Kinnear), facing a charge of indecency with a 19-year-old unemployed man called Arnold Murray. "I think Turing's hiding something," Nick informs his Superintendent (Steven Waddington), who is keen to wrap up the conviction.

In flashback, we witness Alan's arrival at Bletchley Park where Commander Denniston (Charles Dance) and Major General Stewart Menzies (Mark Strong) preside over a group of the country's keenest minds in the hope that one of them can break Enigma.

Hugh Alexander (Matthew Goode), John Cairncross (Allen Leech) and Peter Hilton (Matthew Beard) work alongside Turing, but he ploughs his own furrow and raises eyebrows by recruiting Joan Clarke (Keira Knightley) to the team.

She is a beautiful mind like Turing, inspiring him to greatness by observing, "Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of that do the things people never imagine."

Punctuated by school day scenes of the young Turing (Alex Lawther) and his first love, an older boy called Christopher (Jack Bannon), The Imitation Game is a beautifully crafted tribute to a prodigy, whose invaluable contribution to the war effort was unjustly besmirched by bigotry.

Cumberbatch is mesmerising, trampling over the egos of fellow code breakers without any concern for their feelings as he vows to solve "the most difficult problem in the world". It's a tour-de-force portrayal, complemented by strong supporting performances from Knightley, Goode et al as the close-knit team who note, "God didn't win the war. We did."

The pivotal Eureka moment sets our pulses racing, heightened by Alexandre Desplat's exquisite orchestral score. Director Tyldum navigates the fractured chronology with clarity and flair, ensuring that his heart-rending film doesn't itself become a perplexing puzzle.

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Thursday 18th December 2014

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The Pyramid 2 stars

movie title

A team of archaeologists led by Holden unearths a vast three-sided pyramid buried in the desert. Unable to contain their curiosity, the team including Holden, Nora, Fitzie and Sunni descends into the pyramid. The archaeologists become trapped in a labyrinth of deadly chambers and Holden deciphers hieroglyphics, which suggest that there is a predatory creature inside the pyramid designed to hunt and slay intruders.

  • GenreAction, Horror, Romance, Thriller
  • CastDenis O'Hare, Ashley Hinshaw, James Buckley, Christa-Marie Nicola.
  • DirectorGregory Levasseur.
  • WriterNick Simon, Daniel Meersand.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration89 mins
  • Official site
  • Release05/12/2014

More than 100 pyramids have been unearthed in Egypt, many constructed as burial chambers for the pharaohs. The size and architectural precision of these monuments is mind-boggling, not least the Pyramid Of Khufu at Giza, which rises majestically for more than 450 feet.

The legends of the pyramids and ancient Egyptian gods, immortalised vibrantly in hieroglyphs, are plundered for cheap shocks in Gregory Levasseur's found-footage horror. Shot predominantly through the lens of a documentary film crew, The Pyramid uses 2013 protests in Egypt as a queasy backdrop to the usual hoary array of screams in the dark and evisceration.

Screenwriters Daniel Meersand and Nick Simon adopt a lax approach to credibility for the sake of nudging along the plot. Thus, the leader of the expedition pointedly warns everyone, "Don't touch anything," then proceeds to caress every surface inside the pyramid and set off booby traps.

When the only escape route turns out to be a cylindrical shaft in the roof, one of the characters unexpectedly pipes up, "I've been rock climbing my entire life" to hastily explain why they can shimmy 30 feet upwards at the drop of a torch.

More than 90 years after the discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb, a team of archaeologists led by Dr Miles Holden (Denis O'Hare) unearths a tetrahedral pyramid south of Cairo. Miles is an old school adventurer, who believes in painstaking physical excavation, unlike his gung-ho daughter Nora (Ashley Hinshaw), who embraces technological innovation.

"Archaeology used to be about digs and dirt but we've lost that sensation," laments Miles to documentary filmmaker Sunni (Christa Nicola) and her British cameraman Fitzie (James Buckley). Funding for the dig is pulled in response to violence on the streets of the Egyptian capital but Nora persuades her father to dispatch a remote-controlled robot on loan from NASA into the pyramid.

Her friend Michael (Amir K) pilots the probe into the first chamber where something attacks the machine. With just two hours until Corporal Shadid (Faycal Attougui) escorts them from the site, Miles, Nora, Michael, Sunni and Fitzie abandon all hope and venture below ground into a labyrinth laden with nasty surprises.

The Pyramid is a subterranean horror-by-numbers, which is woefully light on shocks, sympathetic characters or emotion. O'Hare and Hinshaw essay bland heroes while Inbetweeners star Buckley provides fleeting comic relief.

His wisecracks are an irritation but Fitzie manages one flash of common sense when Miles leads the team into the bowels of the pyramid and the cameraman sarcastically grumbles, "Let's go deeper into this hell hole, make it completely impossible for them to find our bodies!"

The gloomy setting allows workmanlike digital special effects to pass under the cover of darkness, where our interest is quickly dead and buried.

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Thursday 18th December 2014

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