Film Guide - August 1, 2014

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Guardians of the Galaxy: Fun, epic ride through outer space with Star-Lord and his misfits because someone has to save the universe. It’s a comic book, but well worth the ride. **** TS

Monty Python Live (mostly): Limited screenings of the Monty Python Live (mostly) stage show recorded on July 10 at London’s O2 Arena featuring John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin and Carol Cleveland, with images of Graham Chapman. (Not reviewed)

Mr Pip: haunting, lyrical and brutal reminder of the power of books to inspire and provide solace, but also give us a way to cope with reality. **** TS

Plot for Peace: A well-crafted documentary searching for truth around exactly how a French businessman became embroiled in the process of releasing Nelson Mandela from jail. Well-paced, with some inadvertently funny moments. ***** TO

Wish I was Here: While this has all the overly sentimental dialogue, musical crutches and pensive Zach Braff close-ups that annoyed viewers of Garden State, this also touches on timely themes with artistic vulnerability. So ask yourself, do you like the guy’s work or not? *** WP

22 Jump Street: Making fun of sequels, buddy cop movies and college fratboy shenanigans, Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill return for a bromance that is goofy, but funny. **** TS

Bad Neighbours: The well-matched leads (Seth Rogen and Zac Efron) with their bawdy humour earn their 16 DLS rating and the audience’s laughs. *** WP

Belle: Beautiful period drama that delves into the life of a mixed-race woman who grew up in an aristocratic family at a time when slavery was still the bedrock of the British economy. **** TS

Blended: Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore again display an onscreen connection that lends a grounding warmth to the clunkiest of clunky comedy setups – two single parents on an African holiday as a second date. *** HR

Broken Circle Breakdown: While its reach may exceed grasp, this is nevertheless an intoxicating, finely wrought romance with a terrific soundtrack.*** HR

Cold Harbour: An investigation into the murder of a Chinese man sees the life of policeman Sizwe Miya unravel in a way he didn’t expect as he uncovers corruption closer to home and an abalone smuggling operation. Great cast let down by a shabby script and ham-fisted direction. ** DT

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (3D): An unexpectedly good sequel, in which renegade ape Koba sets off a war with the surviving humans of a deadly virus. Only his leader and friend Caesar can stop it, but he might be too late. Fast-paced, well shot and an adventurous roller-coaster ride. *** DT

Deliver Us from Evil: An effective if imperfect meeting of the detective film and the exorcism-based fright flick. *** HR

House of Magic (3D): Animated 3d adventure from the Belgian crew that created Fly Me to the Moon, about a kitten who stumbles into a magical house and decides he really wants to live there. (Not reviewed)

How to Train Your Dragon 2 (3D): The dragonriders of Berk are back, five years older, but Toothless steals the show. Exquisite flying sequences, meticulously animated with a strong, meaty storyline and interesting characters. **** TS

Le Weekend: A finely matched Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan explore the wrinkles of marriage with humour and honesty. *** HR

Life of a King: Cuba Gooding jr’s performance elevates this dramatic retelling of the unlikely true story of Eugene Brown and his mission to give inner-city Washington DC kids a future. *** WP

Locke: Tom Hardy is compelling despite the film’s one location. **** WP

Maleficent: Angelina Jolie brings to life one of Disney’s scariest villains in this riff off Sleeping Beauty, but this is family fare where the menace lies more in the visuals than the intent of any character. *** TS

Step Up All In (3D): With the same format but different routines, the latest instalment in this franchise leaves dance fans yearning for more. **** MV

The Invisible Woman: Ralph Fiennes both tells the story and plays Charles Dickens as he reveals the love affair of his life with a younger woman. Unfolding at a measured pace and with a gentility that captures the times, not the emotional turbulence, it is for those who love books. **** DdB

The Other Woman: Settling for cheap laughs, director Nick Cassavetes doesn’t make use of the talented trio of leads. ** AP

Think Like a Man Too: The popular couples from Think Like A Man return in this sequel, on a slightly different adventure. Marriage, babies and a wedding are on the cards in this entertaining romcom. *** LN

Third Person: Three supposedly intersecting love stories, directed by Paul Haggis, but that’s about all that keeps it together. ** WP

Transformers 4: Age of Extinction: Great action scenes, but the missing cast and weak storyline will leave you yearning for the older films. *** MV


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