Six of the best films to see at the cinema this week

Jessica Chastain lays her cards on the table. Ferdinand the bull is released

'Hostiles' is a powerful, gritty western starring Christian Bale and Rosamund Pike and is directed by Scott Cooper.

 

HOSTILES ★★★★
Directed by Scott Cooper. Starring Christian Bale, Rosamund Pike, Wes Studi, Jesse Plemons, Adam Beach, Rory Cochrane, Peter Mullan, Scott Wilson, Timothée Chalamet. 15A cert, general release, 133 min

Powerful, gritty western featuring Bale as an army captain reluctantly accompanying an old Comanche enemy (Studi) across dangerous territory. Studi and Bale play gently off each other’s hard carapaces to satisfying effect. But the standout performance comes from Pike. Convincingly American, the English actor edges her character from scooped-out despair to a kind of weary acceptance. The music is insidiously effective and the big skies work great magic. A satisfactory variation on The Searchers template. DC

MOLLY’S GAME ★★★
Directed by Aaron Sorkin. Starring Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba, Michael Cera, Kevin Costner, Chris O’Dowd. 15A cert, general release, 140 min

The flop lays out a true story. The deliciously named Molly Bloom (appropriately, it is Chris O’Dowd who eventually makes the Joycean connection) is a former competitive skier who went on to run high-stakes poker games in Los Angeles and New York. Much money came her way before she eventually attracted the attention of the law. Sorkin’s directorial debut makes good use of a suave cast, but his trademark showy dialogue is really straining for effect here. DC

PITCH PERFECT 3 ★★★
Directed by Trish Sie. Starring Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Brittany Snow, Hailee Steinfeld, Anna Camp, John Lithgow. 12A cert, general release, 93 min

The Divas are in a USO tour. The hugely entertaining third – don’t make it the last – episode in the world’s best a cappella franchise defies any graded assessment such as that attempted by the star rating above. Like an Abbot and Costello picture or a Road to . . . picture, Pitch Perfect 3 doesn’t make any effort at structure or coherence. Indeed, it turns its lack of interest in such things into a good self-regarding joke. Fair enough. There are worse things. 12A cert, gen release, 93 min Review DC

JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE ★★★
Directed by Jake Kasdan. Starring Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, Nick Jonas, Bobby Cannavale. 12A cert, general release, 118 min

The second Jumanji caper has a “big idea” that extends beyond opportunistic brand recognition. With more than a nod to The Breakfast Club, the film gathers together a group of mismatched teens for after-school detention. They soon find themselves caricatured as avatars in a Jumanji videogame. Amazingly, this actually works rather well. Each is surprised and challenged by the new look. Sadly, there is also some dubious objectification afoot. Review TB

STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI ★★★
Directed by Rian Johnson. Starring Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Laura Dern, Benecio del Toro. 12A cert, general release, 151 min

Luke (Mark Hamill), Leia (the late Carrie Fisher) and others from the original trilogy are here to help guide the new characters through a hurricane of fan service. The latest adventure will stuff a Star Wars-shaped hole for those who need such a thing. But it’s barely a film. Not until the final, tolerably cathartic denouement does it become clear what this stodgy mass is actually about. Put simply, The Last Jedi is lodged several parsecs up its own black hole. 12A cert, gen release, 151 min Review/Trailer DC

FERDINAND ★★★
Directed by Carlos Saldanha. Voices of John Cena, Kate McKinnon, Anthony Anderson, Bobby Cannavale, Daveed Diggs, Gina Rodriguez, David Tennant. G cert, general release, 106 min
 

The Story of Ferdinand – a cute fable about a bull who would rather sniff flowers than fight matadors – was a big deal in wartime. Released on the eve of the Spanish Civil War, it was banned in Spain until after Franco’s death. Blue Sky’s animated version embellishes the original narrative with various tried and tested family film subplots, including the little girl he wants to get back home (Lassie Come Home), the death of a parent (Bambi) and same-species bullies (Dumbo). It’s actually pretty charming. Review TB

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