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: Unfriended: Dark Web

New this week: Unfriended: Dark Web

 

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
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, lim release, 82 min
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, lim 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 John Hurt’s last screen appearance as a wily Mossad handler can bring it in from the cold. TB

THE DARKEST MINDS ★★
Directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson. Starring Amandla Stenberg, Mandy Moore, Bradley Whitford, Harris Dickinson, Patrick Gibson, Skylan Brooks, Gwendoline Christie. 12A cert, gen release, 103 min

New this week: The Darkest Minds
New this week: The Darkest Minds

This dull film imagines a world in which a mysterious disease grants special powers to those affected. As is eventually the case in most universes that allow superheroes, the authorities clamp down on the mutants. We’ve seen some entries to the exhausted YA dystopian school recently, but Nelson’s hopeless adaptation of some book you’ve never heard of breaks new ground in its determination not to surprise. Once again the urge towards individuality is combined with an obsession with forming cliques. DC

DOG DAYS ★★★
Directed by Ken Marino. Starring Nina Dobrev, Vanessa Hudgens, Adam Pally, Eva Longoria, Rob Corddry, Tone Bell, Jon Bass, Michael Cassidy, Thomas Lennon, Tig Notaro, Finn Wolfhard, Ron Cephas Jones. PG cert, gen release, 113 min

New this week: Tone Bell and Nina Dobrev in Dog Days
New this week: Tone Bell and Nina Dobrev in Dog Days

This is now officially a thing. Arriving at rear-sniffing distance from Disney’s pug-themed Brit-com Patrick, Dog Days confirms a new subgenre with a wet nose. Remember the rom-com? The 20th century form of visual storytelling that ended when Matthew McConaughey put his shirt back on? Like that, but with added dog and fewer abs. The LA-set Dog Days unfolds as an Altmanesque daisy chain. All possible similarities with the auteur behind Nashville begin and end with choral effect. Wish fulfilment with a waggly tail. 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

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, lim 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 IMAGE YOU MISSED ★★★★
Directed by Donal Foreman. Featuring Donal Foreman, Arthur MacCaig, Maeve Foreman. Club, lim release, 74 min

New this week: The Image You Missed
New this week: The Image You Missed, on select release

Foreman, one of our very best young film-makers, confirms the promise of Out of Here – a stealthy Dublin odyssey – with a defiantly odd documentary that combines the personal and the political to stirring effect. The director goes in search of his dad, late documentarian Arthur MacCaig, and uncovers truths about the Northern Irish Troubles and the tricks of memory. The real beauty of The Image You Missed is the way form follows content. MacGaig valued certainty; Foreman kmows doubt. DC

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

THE MEG ★★
Directed by Jon Turteltaub. Starring Jason Statham, Li Bingbing, Rainn Wilson, Ruby Rose, Winston Chao, Cliff Curtis. 12A cert, gen release, 113 min

New this week: Jason Statham in The Meg
New this week: Jason Statham in The Meg

Who would win in a fight, Jason Statham or a prehistoric shark? That’s the neat meme-generated premise at the heart of this $150 million B-picture. (Tune in next summer for who would win, Statham or a trillion lions?) Director Turteltaub seems to have entirely misinterpreted the mechanics of the creature feature. With reverse Spielbergian logic, the beast is unveiled too early and increasingly diminishes in visual impact. Roger Corman would never have signed off on such shoddy work. TB

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

POPE FRANCIS: A MAN OF HIS WORD ★★★
Directed by Wim Wenders. Featuring Pope Francis. PG cert, lim release, 96 min

New this week: Win Wenders with Pope Francis while filming Pope Francis: A Man of His Word
New this week: Win Wenders with Pope Francis while filming Pope Francis: A Man of His Word

Wenders talks to Pope Francis, intercutting the interview with footage of Jorge Mario Bergoglio’s early life and monochrome recreations of Saint Francis of Assisi’s experiences. No film called A Man of His Word is going to draw much blood from the subject. Sure enough, Wenders lets him off on clerical abuse and includes no mention at all of abortion. The Pope still emerges as an impressive personality: engaged, intelligent, compassionate. DC

SICILIAN GHOST STORY ★★★★
Directed by Antonio Piazza and Fabio Grassadonia. Starring Julia Jedlikowska, Sabine Timoteo , Gaetano Fernandez, Corinne Musallari. Club, IFI/Light House, Dublin, 122 min
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, Halsey, Lil Yachty, Michael Bolton, Will Wheaton, Stan Lee. PG cert, gen release, 84 min
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

UNDER THE TREE/UNDIR TRÉNU ★★★★★
Directed by Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurðsson. Starring Steinþór Hróar Steinþórsson, Edda Björgvinsdóttir, Sigurður Sigurjónsson, þorsteinn Bachmann, Lára Jóhanna Jónsdóttir, Selma Björnsdóttir. Club, lim release, 89 min

New this week: Under the Tree
New this week: Under the Tree

What’s the most astonishing dark act of screen comedy you can think of? Think dirtier than The Dirties, holidaying with Sightseers, faultier than Fawlty Towers, terrorising with Four Lions. Under the Tree raises (or possibly lowers) the bar for the nastiest, meanest, pettiest act committed by seemingly ordinary folk. We’re told that good fences make for good neighbours, but even Trump’s wall couldn’t made a dent in the simmering feud at the black heart of this killer – literally and figuratively – Icelandic comedy. Unmissable. TB

UNFRIENDED: DARK WEB ★★
Directed by Stephen Susco. Starring Colin Woodell, Rebecca Rittenhouse, Betty Gabriel, Andrew Lees, Connor Del Rio, Stephanie Nogueras, Savira Windyani. 15A cert, gen release, 93 min
The second Unfriended is, we are told, a standalone sequel, which is a polite way of saying that it’s trading on the success of the 2014 original without any of its verve or invention. Twentysomething Mattias (Woodell) and his various chums, including a tech boffin and chief of exposition (Lees), an internet conspiracy nut (Del Rio), and a lesbian couple (Rittenhouse and Gabriel), sit down on Skype for an old-fashioned game of Cards Against Humanity. And then the laptop starts peeping. And a digital portal appears leading to the Dark Web. And Lees explains what the Dark Web is. Figuratively speaking, Unfriended 2 puts a sheet over its head and says “whooo; the internet is scary”. But, literally speaking, this Blumhouse makeweight is seldom as scary as a sheet. TB

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