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

New this week: Pitch Perfect 3 hits a whole host of high notes, while Jumanji just gets by

The official trailer for Mountain, narrated by Willem Dafoe. Video: Madman FIlms

 

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

MOUNTAIN ★★★★
Directed by Jennifer Peedom. Narrated by Willem Dafoe. Club, IFI, 74 min

Crafted from some 2,000 hours of footage shot in 15 countries – not to mention such astonishing documents as the recently restored Epic of Everest (1924) – Jennifer Peedom’s film is not short on breathtaking spectacle. Making terrific use of the archive of the appropriately named Canadian production house Sherpas Cinema, Mountain provides a marvellous compendium of the craziest extreme sports on the planet. Willem Dafoe’s voiceover doesn’t quite match, but it makes for good eye candy. Review TB

And, for the season that’s in it . . .

THE MAN WHO INVENTED CHRISTMAS ★★★
Directed by Bharat Nalluri. Starring Dan Stevens, Christopher Plummer, Jonathan Pryce, Simon Callow. PG cert, general release, 104 min

It’s 1834, and on the back of three flops, Charles Dickens could really use a bestseller. Desperate, he bangs out A Christmas Carol. Oh, the compound ironies: Dan Stevens, the man who ruined Christmas for millions in 2012 (when his Downton Abbey character Matthew Crawley was killed off), is back to restore the festivities. His Dickens is all ribald energy and the film around him is better than we had a right to expect. God bless them, every one! Review TB

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