WAR Horse is a safe bet in the film stakes; the tattooed girl is back as are Holmes and Watson disguised as Robert Downey Jr and Jude law. A Japanese play station game gets the big screen treatment and Meryl Streep is Margaret Thatcher.
Odeon, DumfriesLonsdale, Annan
Steven Spielberg presses all the right emotional buttons in War Horse (12A).
Without the “from the horse’s mouth” narration of the book and the physical impact of the manned horse puppets of the stage version, Spielberg returns to capitalise on the unique quality of big screen cinema to tell an epic story of family loyalty, the tragedy of war and the power of endurance through the bond between one boy and his horse.
Spielberg is the master storyteller and here he has a story that takes you from the rural idyll of Devon to the hell holes of the First World War trenches as, in a series of episodes, we follow the diverging paths of farm boy, Albert and his horse, Joey, when he is sold to the army by his father to save his farm.
The horror of trench warfare is an echo of Saving Private Ryan with whizz-bangs echoing around the cinema as Spielberg plunges you into the maelstrom of war.
Emotionally this is one to tug at the heart strings and you need to be hard-hearted to resist the poignant culmination of the bond between two horses in the mud and barbed wire of the Somme.
Newcomer Jeremy Irvine is excellent as Albert – watch out for him as Pip in a new film of Great Expectations – and there are fine performances from Peter Mullan and Emily Watson as his parents. Simply terrific.
The gentler pleasures of Puss In Boots 3D (U) continue for the early weekend matinee at the Odeon and in 2D at Annan.
Robert Burns Centre Film Theatre, Dumfries.
Expect War Horse here soon but meantime it’s back to The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (18), tonight, tomorrow and Monday, but all screenings are sold out. Of course, if you are among the millions who have read the book or seen the original Swedish version, the new American film will lack the element of surprise but it still packs considerable power as the grim story of a freakish family, an unsolved crime and the sexual brutalisation of a ward of the state unfolds.
Daniel Craig sheds his Bond image rigorously as the disgraced journalist Mikael Blomkvist but the focus of the film is in Lisbeth Salander, the bi-sexual computer hacker and investigator as played by Rooney Mara bedecked like a Goth who would give Bond a run for his money.
Be prepared for scenes of graphic sexual abuse and violence.
If you watched Sherlock on TV at the weekend, you will have some idea of the plot of Sherlock Holmes: Game Of Shadows (12A) on Tuesday and Thursday, but that is where any similarity ends.
This is the second outing for Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law in Guy Ritchie’s hugely enjoyable mix of reverence and pastiche.
Moriarty is the evil presence at the centre of the story that takes Holmes and Watson across Europe to the famous encounter at the Reichenbach Falls.
Played for laughs as much as thrills, this is less quirky than the TV series but it has a tremendous Moriarty in Jared Harris and you get more than an eyeful of Stephen Fry as Sherlock’s brother Mycroft than decency warrants.
The Wednesday World Cinema event is Tekken Blood Vengeance (12A), a Japanese animated feature adventure based on the video game series.
It will be introduced by Andrew Partridge, director of the Scotland Loves Animation Festival, and this is a rare chance to leave your PS3 at home and see your video game on the big screen.
With the Golden Globe already under her belt, Will Meryl scoop the awards this year as Best Actress as Maggie?
Very probably since her performance in The Iron Lady (12A) is uncannily accurate with the tailored suits, the handbag and that strident voice.
Phyllida Law, who directed Streep in Mamma Mia, has tried to play down the politics and play up Maggie the woman, who rose from humble beginnings and became Britain’s first woman Prime Minister.
She tells her story from the misty perspective of her Alzheimer-afflicted memory as an old woman hallucinating her late husband Dennis (the splendid Jim Broadbent).
The highlights of her career then follow with Meryl Streep absorbing her personality so completely that the lady lives again with all the ferocity and unwavering conviction that made her both admired and hated.