AMERICAN GANGSTER (18) (All major cinemas)

SCARFACE, Serpico and Heat all spring to mind when watching Ridley Scott’s latest picture but there is enough originality to keep one watching for the excessive 157 minutes as Denzel Washington’s drugs kingpin pits his wits against Russell Crowe’s dogged detective.



A THREE hour Western in which very little happens and where the end is given away by the title – boy, does this movie have its work cut out for it! OK, so it does have Brad Pitt as Jesse James and it is one of the best reviewed pictures of 2007. But with the best will in the world, this lyrical look at both the legend of the infamous outlaw and his unhealthy relationship with the obsessive teenager who kills him (played by Casey Affleck) is going to be of marginal appeal.


AUGUST RUSH (PG) (Vue, Cheshire Oaks)

OLIVER Twist gets a modern wash and brush-up and benefits from yet another eye-catching performance from remarkable youngster Freddie Highmore. Highmore plays an orphan in a New York boys home who develops into a rare musical talent but decides to run away to search for the parents he never knew. He ends up staying with a bunch of Manhattan tearaways and being exploited by Robin Williams’ Fagin figure, who quickly realises that Highmore’s musical gifts could be his meal ticket for life.


BEOWULF (12A) (All major cinemas)

DIRECTOR Robert Zemeckis has taken the motion capture techniques he employed so well in The Polar Express and taken them to the next stage with remarkable results for this revival of what is regarded as the first ever novel. There are stunning likenesses of Angelina Jolie and Anthony Hopkins while Ray Winstone has never looked so buff! Best seen in 3D where possible.


THE DARJEELING LIMITED (12A) (Vue, Cheshire Oaks)

THE films of Wes Anderson are very much an acquired taste and it is difficult to imagine this converting anyone left cold by the charms of The Royal Tannenbaums or The Life Aquatic. If you loved those pictures, though, this will not disappoint as we follow the meandering fortunes of three brothers – Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody and Jason Schwartzman – who agree to break their year long silence by taking on a railway journey across India. There isn’t much more plot than that as the episodic nature of their adventures runs parallel to a study of the relationship between the trio of siblings.


ELIZABETH: THE GOLDEN AGE (12A) (Vue, Cheshire Oaks)

DIRECTOR Shekhar Kapur’s 1998 original was lush and colourful in its attention to detail and featured a stunning and worthily Oscar nominated performance from Cate Blanchett in the title role. Such a description can also be applied to this belated sequel but this time Kapur gets carried away with the spectacle and is far more anxious to prove his worth as an action director in some admittedly well staged sea battles.


FRED CLAUS (PG) (All major cinemas)

VINCE Vaughn is on top form as the delinquent brother of Santa, the black sheep of the Claus family who is always full of slightly dodgy scams but has to shape up when his famous brother (played by Paul Giamatti) is sidelined and he has to take over. With Kevin Spacey reprising his Lex Luthor villainous gig and a supporting cast that includes the likes of Kathy Bates, Miranda Richardson and even Rachael Weisz, this may actually be more palatable that its premise suggests.


GOOD LUCK CHUCK (15) (Vue, Cheshire Oaks)

BAD luck anyone who mistakenly ventures into any cinema screening this puerile pond scum of a picture which seems to systematically set out to offend the entire female gender. Dane Cook is apparently a massively successful stand-up comedian in the States but he can forget transferring that appeal to the big screen if he chooses another vehicle where the main objective seems to be to break the record for greatest number of breasts on show outside the porn industry.


HITMAN (15) (All major cinemas)

THE latest movie based on a computer game gives Die Hard 4.0 villain Timothy Olyphant a chance to show his quality as a leading man but to be honest, to portray Agent 47, Olyphant’s talents do not need to be tested beyond the ability to look cool in a suit while wielding powerful weapons in both hands. There is an attempt at a plot: Agent 47 is set up to execute a Russian leader which puts his own survival at risk. He has a hooker tagging along for the ride and Dougray Scott as an Interpol agent trying to bring him to justice. And that’s as much story as director Xavier Gens needs to provide him with enough excuses for a huge amount of gun play.


NANCY DREW (PG) (Vue, Cheshire Oaks, weekend matinees)

A CELEBRATION of the original, slightly geeky girl and her excellent skills as a sleuth that many a schoolgirl has enjoyed reading about over the years. This time Nancy (Emma Roberts) goes to Los Angeles with father Carson (Tate Donovan). When they move into a house previously owned by a Hollywood star who was murdered, she breaks a promise to her father and sets off to investigate its secrets, followed by Ned (Max Thieriot) and Corky (Josh Flitter).


RATATOUILLE (U) (All major cinemas)

PIXAR back on top form with this Paris-set comedy about a rat with gourmet taste buds. This could just be the best reviewed mainstream movie of 2007 to date with critics positively gagging on their superlatives as they rush to outdo each other in their praise of Brad Bird’s first entry into the genre since he brought joy to all our lives with The Incredibles in 2004.


RESCUE DAWN (12A) (Vue, Cheshire Oaks)

WERNER Herzog remains one of world cinema’s most challenging directors and while his latest may be among his more accessible features, it is no fun Saturday night out. An American film-maker would have turned this true story into an uplifting account of triumphant adventure. Herzog decides instead to focus entirely on the ordeal faced by Christian Bale as Americanised German Dieter Dengler who became a prisoner of war at the mercy of the Viet Cong during the early years of the Vietnam war. After being tortured by his captors, he escapes into the jungle, only to suffer hardships even worse than those he had to endure in captivity.


SHROOMS (18) (All major cinemas)

YOU don’t get to see an Irish horror flick every week although this low budget chill fest does little more than transplant Deliverance to rural Ireland. Instead of a bunch of burly rednecks on a weekend adventure, we get a bunch of young thrill seekers – played by a bunch of young unknowns – who head for the countryside to get out of their heads on magic mushrooms. No sooner have they gone trippy than some murderous locals start offing them one by one but they can’t tell what’s real and what’s hallucination.


THE SINGER (12A) (Clwyd Theatr Cymru, Mold, Tuesday-Thursday)

GERARD Depardieu plays an ageing club singer who grows bored of his minor celebrity and becomes infatuated with a local estate agent (Cecile De France) in this May-December love story.


STARDUST (PG) (All major cinemas)

FIRST real stab at adapting the works of writer Neil Gaiman brings us his fairy tale for adults - saddled with a family certificate. Even so, there are welcome touches of Monty Python to spice up the feisty plot about a young hero who sets off on a quest to find a falling star and discovers if in the form of argumentative Claire Danes. STAR RATING: ***

30 DAYS OF NIGHT (15) (Vue, Cheshire Oaks)

A VAMPIRE movie with the gimmick of being set in Barrow, Alaska, the northernmost town in America which has to endure an annual period of 30 days when the sun never shines. Sounds like heaven on earth for the hellish undead - they certainly think so, which is why Danny Huston’s hordes of hungry fang faces head there for the after death equivalent of an all-you-can-eat vacation. Sheriff Josh Hartnett and estranged wife Melissa George assemble town survivors in a bid to bite back against the bloodthirsty threat they face.



December 14: BEE MOVIE (Animation)

December 14: ENCHANTED (Amy Adams)

December 21: ST TRINIANS (Rupert Everett)

December 26: PS I LOVE YOU (Hilary Swank)

December 28: CLOSING THE RING (Mischa Barton)

Dates subject to change.