ALVIN and the Chipmunks are something of a phenomenon in the States where they have managed to produce more than 10 albums of squeaky voiced pop. The philosophy seems to be that during school holidays, children will lap up just about anything – or at least parents will be desperate to get them out of the house. Just in case you’re interested, Jason Lee leads the otherwise unknown ‘human’ cast while Alvin himself is voiced by Justin Long.


AVPR: ALIENS VS PREDATOR – REQUIEM (15) (All major cinemas)

NOT exactly flogging a dead franchise but pretty damn close to it. This is the second picture to pitch Aliens against Predators. We have the same basic premise in so far as the two extra-terrestrial races embark on a pitched battle on Earth with puny little humans finding themselves in the role of collateral damage. Whereas the earlier picture stuck everyone underground in Antarctica, this one takes everything into the open in Colorado but sets it all at night just in case too much light is shone on its absurdity.


BALLS OF FURY (12A) (Vue, Cheshire Oaks)

TABLE tennis meets kung fu in this absurd comedy which tries to match Will Ferrell’s daft heights but is lumbered with a far less charismatic star in Dan Fogler. He plays a former Olympic table tennis champ who has gone to seed but is needed to get back into shape by the FBI who want him to blow the lid off a secret ping pong-kung fu tournament where only the winner gets to stay alive.


BEE MOVIE (PG) (All major cinemas)

JERRY Seinfeld returns to the limelight for the first time since his celebrated TV series ended and what does he play? A talking bumble bee! This animated family film has enough smart gags to keep adults happy and lots of colourful adventure to satisfy younger audience members.


CHARLIE WILSON’S WAR (12A) (All major cinemas)

TOM Hanks is receiving enormous praise for his portrayal of good old boy politician Charlie Wilson but the immensely complicated nature of the true story may struggle to find a wider audience. Everyone knows about the fall of the Soviet regime in 1989 and as far as the American role in the historic events was concerned, most of the credit went to Ronald Reagan. Director Mike Nichols’ film – based on George Crile's bestseller and adapted for the screen by West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin – tells the largely unknown story behind the scenes.


DAN IN REAL LIFE (12A) (All major cinemas)

STEVE Carell continues to quietly build an impressive body of work with a romantic comedy which, for once, appeals to both head and heart. The film has an astonishingly slight premise: single dad of three girls meets a charming woman who gives him her phone number but turns out to be his brother’s new girlfriend. All parties end up assembled at Carell’s parents’ massive beach house for Thanksgiving weekend.


ENCHANTED (U) (All major cinemas)

ARGUABLY the best movie to come out of Disney since the first Pirates of the Caribbean picture. The central gimmick here is taking the staple diet of Disney fairy tales - sweetly innocent princess, dashingly heroic prince, wicked queen – and tossing them all into the real world of New York before watching cultures clash to compelling effect.


THE GOLDEN COMPASS (PG) (All major cinemas)

THERE are high hopes that this opening chapter in the scren adaptation of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials will turn into a trilogy of Lord of the Rings proportions. A great cast headed by Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig and newcomer Dakota Blue Richards is matched by some stunning settings and sequences.


HALLAM FOE (18) (Clwyd Theatr Cymru, Mold, Saturday-Monday)

JAMIE Bell continues to produce excellent post-Billy Elliot work with this David Mackenzie film about a teenage boy haunted by the death of his mother who runs away to Edinburgh where he becomes fixated on a young woman (Sophia Myles) who bears an uncanny resemblance to his mum. STAR RATING: ***

HENRY V (U) (Clwyd Theatr Cymru, Mold, Friday only)

IT WAS 1944 when Laurence Olivier not brought Shakespeare’s celebrated historical play to the screen but also helped inspire Allied forces to victory against Hitler’s Germany. Its significance is huge and its impact undiminished all these decades later.


I AM LEGEND (15) (All major cinemas)

WILL Smith stars in this remake of the classic 1970s science fiction thought-provoker The Omega Man, which starred Charlton Heston, about the last human survivor on Earth. The rest of the species has either been wiped out by a mysterious virus or turned into inhuman zombies which means a lonely but still perilous existence for our hero.


THE KITE RUNNER (12A) (Vue, Cheshire Oaks)

BOLD and compelling work from Finding Neverland director Marc Forster. Although shot mostly in English, this adaptation of Khalid Hosseini's best selling book features a cast of unknowns and begins its story in Afghanistan immediately before the Soviet invasion of 1979. Unlike the war zone it quickly became, this was a largely peaceful nation the year before the upheaval began and our young hero Amir (Zekeria Ebrahimi) enjoys a contented life as the son of a wealthy merchant. But when his best friend Hassan (Ahmad Khan Mahmidzada) is brutally raped by the local bully and his gang, Amir fails to come to his pal’s aid.


KLIMT (15) (Clwyd Theatr Cymru, Mold, Tuesday-Thursday)

FANTASY based on the life of art nouveau painter Gustav Klimt. In 1918, Klimt (John Malkovich lies on his deathbed, reviewing the people and events that shaped his life. STAR RATING: **


ALTHOUGH Zach Helm was responsible for writing the weird and wonderful Stranger Than Fiction, his directorial debut is a little sickly sweet to achieve that movie’s cult status. Dustin Hoffman plays a wonderfully optimistic 243 year old owner of a magical toy shop who is genuinely looking forward to the next adventure that awaits him – dying!


NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN (18) (Vue, Cheshire Oaks)

JOEL and Ethan Coen were seemingly incapable of getting anything other than glowing reviews until they got something of a kicking with Intolerable Cruelty and The Ladykillers. Well those critical blips are well behind them as No Country For Old Men is being hailed as the greatest picture they have made to date – which is saying something. At the heart of it is a character so evil he could convince you Hannibal Lecter was a Disney creation.


PS I LOVE YOU (12A) (All major cinemas)

A DISTINCTLY lightweight start to the cinematic year sees 2008 ushered in with an unashamedly soppy, sentimental romantic comedy about a widow grieving for her dead husband. Hilary Swank and Gerard Butler seemingly have the perfect marriage until he dies of a brain tumour.


ST TRINIAN’S (PG) (All major cinemas)

THE decision to update the creaky St Trinian’s series from the 1950s for the 21st century comes as something of a surprise. The story of this anarchic bunch of young ladies having to find ways to save their school from bankruptcy is merely an excuse for everyone to ham it up and overact to their hearts’ content.


WALK HARD: THE DEWEY COX STORY (15) (Vue, Cheshire Oaks)

SPOOF movies have been well and truly ruined by the Scary/Date Movie brigade which make one yearn for the glory days of Airplane! and The Naked Gun. Well, some of the lost ground is impressively regained in this hugely entertaining, sometimes crude and often musically excellent parody of musical biopics like Walk The Line and Ray. John C Reilly finally gets a lead role worthy of his talents after spending his career stealing movies in supporting roles. He plays good old boy Dewey who is such a musical talent, all he has to do is pick up an instrument to find out how to play it.


WE OWN THE NIGHT (15) (Vue, Cheshire Oaks)

ECHOES of The Departed resonate through this crime drama which pits the kinetic acting skills of Joaquin Phoenix and Mark Wahlberg against each other. Phoenix is the boss of a club owned by the Russian mafia in Brooklyn who has a background that would get him killed if it was revealed: dad Robert Duvall and brother Wahlberg are both cops.



February 1: CLOVERFIELD (Lizzy Caplan)


February 15: JUMPER (Hayden Christensen)

February 22: RAMBO (Sylvester Stallone)

Dates subject to change.