Almost every film in cinemas this week, reviewed and rated

The Irish Times what-to-see guide to the movies now in cinemas across Ireland

New this week: Olivia Thirlby and Jonathan Rhys Meyers in Damascus Cover

New this week: Olivia Thirlby and Jonathan Rhys Meyers in Damascus Cover

 

ANT MAN AND THE WASP ★★★
Directed by Peyton Reed. Starring Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Douglas, Michael Peña, Walton Goggins, Bobby Cannavale, Laurence Fishburne, Michelle Pfeiffer. 12A cert, gen release, 117 min

New this week: Paul Rudd in Ant Man and the Wasp
New this week: Paul Rudd in Ant Man and the Wasp

In the aftermath of the Marvel Civil War, Ant Man (Rudd) and The Wasp (Lilly) attempt to rescue Wasp Emeritus (Pfeiffer) from something called the quantum zone. It’s lightweight. It’s confusing. Not nearly enough is stolen from The Incredible Shrinking Man. Oh well. With all the overly pompous franchise movies cluttering up cinemas, it remains a pleasure to sink into something so unapologetically goofy. The mad San Francisco chases suggest a hallucinatory What’s Up, Doc?. DC

APOSTASY ★★★★★
Directed by Dan Kokotajlo. Starring Siobhan Finneran, Molly Wright, Robert Emms, Sacha Parkinson, Steve Evets, Bronwyn James 12A cert, IFI, Dublin, 95 min
The excellent Finneran plays Ivanna, a council employee who has raised two adult daughters within the Jehovah Witnesses. Luisa (Parkinson) is showing signs of deviation from the elders’ strict regulations. Alex (Wright), who has a form of anaemia and feels guilt after inadvertently receiving a transfusion, has learned Urdu to aid her evangelising in that community. What follows is a tense, focused drama that at times takes on the quality of psychological horror. A singular British film. DC

THE BIG BAD FOX AND OTHER TALES ★★★
Directed by Benjamin Renner, Patrick Imbert. Voices of Bill Bailey, Adrian Edmondson, Bill Bailey, Celia Imrie, Phill Jupitus, Matthew Goode. G cert, gen release, 82 min

New this week: The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales
New this week: The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales

The people behind the lovely French animation Ernest and Celestine have worked hard to bring three charming, anthropomorphic stories to the big screen. Each revolves around the characters in a rustic farm. Each has a friendly moral at its heart. A fox takes care of chicks. He helps out the stork. He replaces Santa. It’s all commendably tasteful, but children may find it a little dull. Easier to admire than love. DC

DAMASCUS COVER ★★
Directed by Daniel Zelik Berk. Starring Olivia Thirlby, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, John Hurt, Jurgen Prochnow, Navid Negahban, Igal Naor, Neta Riskin. 15A cert, gen release, 94 min
There’s something pleasingly old-school to see an espionage drama that opens in West Germany in 1989. Rhys Meyers’s Ari Ben-Sion is the real deal as well. He’s suave. Calculating. Cool. Brutal when required. And, oh wait, now he’s in a meet-cute subplot with Thirlby’s photo-journalist. Ari is an Israeli secret agent dispatched to Syria to smuggle out a chemical weapons scientist. This plodding, predictable thriller is enlivened by JRM’s central turn and fight scenes. But not even the late John Hurt’s last screen appearance as a wily Mossad handler can bring it in from the cold. TB

DUBLIN OLDSCHOOL ★★★
Directed by Dave Tynan. Starring Emmet Kirwan, Ian Lloyd Anderson, Seána Kerslake, Sarah Greene, Ciaran Grace, Mark O’Halloran, Liam Heslin, Stephen Jones. 16 cert, gen release, 95 min
Tynan’s well-made adaptation of director Kirwan’s two-handed play hangs around encounters between Jason (Kirwan), an aspiring DJ, and Daniel (Lloyd Anderson), his heroin-addicted brother. Those sequences offer a convincing advertisement for the play, but the surrounding opened-out action feels chaotic and plotless. The language is steeped in a quasi-poetic romanticism that too often curdles on screen. For all that, Dublin Oldschool constructs a vivid portrait of the “sesh” life that many generations will savour. DC

FIRST REFORMED ★★★★
Directed by Paul Schrader. Starring Ethan Hawke, Amanda Seyfried, Cedric Kyles. 15A cert, IFI/Light House, Dublin, 113 min
Schrader examined the work of Yasujir Ozu, Robert Bresson and Carl Theodore Dreyer in a 1972 book under the heading Transcendental Style. The meditative First Reformed, Schrader’s 21st film as a director, is as transcendental as anything he has ever made. Reworking the malady of Bresson’s Diary of a Country Priest and the plot of Ingmar Bergman’s Winter Light, First Reformed concerns the Rev Toller (a mournful Hawke) and the widow of an environmental activist (Seyfried). TB

GENERATION WEALTH ★★★
Directed by Lauren Greenfield. 18 cert, Light House, Dublin (Tues/Wed only), 106 min
For a quarter of a century, photographer and documentarian Lauren Greenfield has carved out a compelling niche as the David Attenborough of the super-rich. Generation Wealth is a multimedia project intended to be a summation of Greenfield’s entertaining oeuvre. At its best, the film revels in the ridiculous antics of the moneyed elite, but the project is hampered by the director’s attempts to incorporate her own family background. TB

HOTEL ARTEMIS ★★
Directed by Drew Pearce. Starring Jodie Foster, Sterling K. Brown, Sofia Boutella, Jeff Goldblum, Brian Tyree Henry, Jenny Slate, Zachary Quinto, Charlie Day. 16 cert, gen release, 94 min
Odd dystopian thriller starring Foster as the head of an LA clinic that caters to criminals as the city burns. The rampant silliness would be less annoying if there were a lucid plot to distract us. Unfortunately, the picture is so hurried that it barely has time to introduce each character before the credits come hurtling up the screen. It feels like a spin-off from an imaginary larger franchise. DC

HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 3: A MONSTER VACATION ★★★
Directed by Genndy Tartakovsky. Voices of Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Selena Gomez , Kevin James, Fran Drescher, Steve Buscemi, Molly Shannon, David Spade, Mel Brooks. G cert, gen release, 97 min
By the time you read this, this third instalment of this monstrously successful trilogy will be tipping the franchise toward the $1 billion mark; not bad for a film where the best joke is: “He’s the mummy but you’re the one in De Nile.” Vampirologists may quibble about Dracula (Sandler) and his daughter (Gomez), crossing water and sunbathing without a care in the world, but the film is, for better or worse, every bit as good as its predecessors. Even watched beside various incarnations of the Addams and the Munsters, Hotel Transylvania remains the most family-friendly and proudly silly of all the monster dynasties. TB

THE INCREDIBLES 2 ★★★★
Directed by Brad Bird. Voices of Craig T Nelson, Holly Hunter, Sarah Vowell, Huck Milner, Samuel L Jackson, Bob Odenkirk, Catherine Keener, Brad Bird, Bill Wise. PG cert, gen release, 125 min
Terrific sequel to Pixar’s superhero saga finds Bob Parr, the sometime Mr Incredible, left at home with young Violet (who turns invisible), younger Dash (who moves speedily) and baby Jack-Jack (who does a lot of things). Meanwhile, Helen Parr is drawn into a scheme to rehabilitate the superhero reputation. The animation is glossier than ever. The design is so gorgeous you yearn to wear it home. It is, however, the jokes that really stand out. Excellent family entertainment. DC

JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM ★★★
Directed by JA Bayona. Starring Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Rafe Spall, Jeff Goldblum, Justice Smith, Daniella Pineda, James Cromwell, Toby Jones, Ted Levine, Geraldine Chaplin. 12A cert, gen release, 128 min
Adequate follow-up to the world-crushing Jurassic World. This time round, Howard and Pratt are asked to help the dinosaurs escape from a volcanic eruption. But evil men in suits have ulterior motives. The action is satisfactory, but what sets Fallen Kingdom apart is the decision to allow Bayona, director of the spooky The Orphanage, to turn the last act into a variation on the haunted house movie. The mesh doesn’t really work, but it remains an interesting experiment. DC

MAMMA MIA! HERE WE GO AGAIN ★★★
Directed by Ol Parker. Starring Amanda Seyfried, Lily James, Christine Baranski, Pierce Brosnan, Dominic Cooper, Cher, Colin Firth, Andy García, Stellan Skarsgård, Julie Walters, Meryl Streep. PG cert, gen release, 114 min
The follow-up to the Abba smash alternates between the aftermath of the first film and flashbacks to the three romances that caused the famous paternal confusion. Here We Go Again is actually superior in almost every way. The new cast members are amusing. The film-makers just about get way with unearthing a few less well-known Abba songs. Crucially, the direction is more than competent. Sunnier than a lifetime of holidays, James is a real standout as the younger version of Streep. DC

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – FALLOUT ★★★
Directed by Christopher McQuarrie. Starring Tom Cruise, Henry Cavill, Rebecca Ferguson, Ving Rhames, Simon Pegg, Angela Bassett, Alec Baldwin, Michelle Monaghan, Sean Harris, Wes Bentley. 12A cert, gen release, 147 min
Cruise’s Ethan Hunt tracks down missing plutonium. Fallout fairly froths over with terrific, clattering violence that – staged with as little CGI as possible – makes competing summer flicks such as Skyscraper feel like clouds of generic software. The tile-crunching fight in a Parisian bathroom is better even than the loo bust-up in the opening of Casino Royale. For all that, you couldn’t say it has anything like a plot. And Cruise looks increasingly odd. DC

OCEAN’S 8 ★★★
Directed by Gary Ross. Starring Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson, Awkwafina, Rihanna, Helena Bonham Carter, Richard Armitage, James Corden. 12A cert, gen release, 110 min
Female take on the glamorous sequence featuring all those listed above. Ocean’s 8, like its predecessors, exists solely as a vessel for movie stars and celebrities. A heist at the Met Ball ensures that, in addition to the main cast, there are glimpses of Anna Wintour, Serena Williams and Kim Kardashian. The film rattles along, powered by costume changes, silliness and Bullock and Blanchett’s attempts to out-cool one another. But few of these talented people seem to be trying very hard. TB

PATRICK ★★★
Directed by Mandie Fletcher. Starring Beattie Edmondson, Ed Skrein, Tom Bennett, Emily Atack, Jennifer Saunders, Gemma Jones, Adrian Scarborough, Bernard Cribbins, Meera Syal. PG cert, gen release, 95 min
Sarah Francis (Edmondson, charming) is a recently dumped klutz who has dropped out of law school to become a teacher. As English screen singletons go, she’s not as man hungry (mungry?) as Bridget Jones or as goopy as a Richard Curtis love interest, but she is ditzy enough to make one fearful when, in an unexpected bequest by her late grandmother, she inherits a spoiled-rotten pug named Patrick. Family fun ensues. TB

SICILIAN GHOST STORY ★★★★
Directed by Antonio Piazza and Fabio Grassadonia. Starring Julia Jedlikowska, Sabine Timoteo, Gaetano Fernandez, Corinne Musallari. Club, lim release, 122 min

New this week: Julia Jedlikowska and Gaetano Fernandez in Sicilian Ghost Story
New this week: Julia Jedlikowska and Gaetano Fernandez in Sicilian Ghost Story

This imaginative adult fairy tale chronicles the blossoming relationship between 13-year-old Giuseppe (Fernandez) and 12-year-old Luna (Polish-newcomer Jedlikowska), who, in spite of their parent’s disapproval, have fallen in love. One day, Giuseppe, the privileged son of a mob boss, disappears. Luna searches for him, wandering through the increasingly otherworldly woodlands, to no avail. The story shares kinship with the similarly lush The Spirit of the Beehive and Pan’s Labyrinth. TB

SKYSCRAPER ★★
Directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber. Starring Dwayne Johnson, Neve Campbell, Chin Han, Roland Møller, Noah Taylor, Byron Mann. 12A cert, gen release, 102 min
Barely adequate Rock-delivery system featuring Johnson as a security consultant fighting fire and terrorists in the world’s tallest building. The few innovations don’t much work. The hero moves nimbly for most of the film and then, when a plot hook demands it, suddenly remembers that he has a prosthetic lower leg. A running joke about duct tape is baffling. The CGI is so drably artificial that – impossibly for a film with this plot – almost all sense of jeopardy is lost. DC

TEEN TITANS GO! TO THE MOVIES ★★★
Directed by Peter Rida Michail and Aaron Horvath. Voices of Greg Cipes, Scott Menville, Khary Payton, Tara Strong, Hynden Walch, Will Arnett, Kristen Bell, Nicolas Cage, Michael Bolton, Will Wheaton, Stan Lee. PG cert, gen release, 84 min

New this week: Teen Titans Go! to the Movies
New this week: Teen Titans Go! to the Movies

For those unfamiliar with the gloriously silly comics and animated TV series, Teen Titans Robin, Raven, Beast Boy, Starfire, and Cyborg are the other guys of the DC Extended Universe. As their first feature film opens, the gang are too busy rapping about their own brilliance to stop the gigantic, marauding Balloon Man, who is smashing up the city. As with Lego Batman, Teen Titans Go! is as fun and self-referential as the DC action films are ponderous. TB