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Now showing at Cineworld Southampton Ocean Village, 4 Ocean Way,Southampton,Hampshire SO14 3TJ 0871 200 2000

  • Magic In The Moonlight
  • Paddington
  • Penguins Of Madagascar
  • Penguins Of Madagascar 3D
  • The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies
  • The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies 3D
  • The Hunger Games: Mockingjay: Part 1
  • The Imitation Game

Magic In The Moonlight 3 stars

movie title

Celebrated magician Stanley Crawford answers a plea from his good friend Howard Burkan to travel the French Riviera and debunk a psychic medium called Sophie Baker, who has promised to help wealthy widow Grace Catledge make contact with her late husband. Posing as businessman, Stanley heads for the Catledge villa and witnesses Sophie's boggling feats of mind-reading and clairvoyance that defy rational explanation.

  • GenreComedy, Drama, Romance
  • CastColin Firth, Emma Stone, Hamish Linklater, Marcia Gay Harden, Simon McBurney, Eileen Atkins.
  • DirectorWoody Allen.
  • WriterWoody Allen.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration98 mins
  • Official site
  • Release19/09/2014

There is a soupcon of magic and moonlight but considerably more insecurities and bluster in Woody Allen's playful yet lightweight romantic comedy set on the sun-kissed 1920s French Riviera. The writer-director's frequent forays away from his beloved New York to European soil have been decidedly hit-and-miss affairs and Magic In The Moonlight disappoints more than it delights.

Allen affectionately evokes the era from the opening croon of the Cole Porter classic You Do Something To Me performed by Leo Reisman & His Orchestra, and the writer-director loads the soundtrack with upbeat jazzy tunes that telegraph the characters' emotions like You Call It Madness (But I Call It Love) by Smith Ballew and His Piping Rock Orchestra to underscore a blossoming central romance.

Regrettably, sparkling one-liners are in short supply on the Cote d'Azur and the on-screen chemistry between Colin Firth and Emma Stone is lukewarm, never threatening to set our pulse racing like her smouldering pairings with Ryan Gosling in Crazy, Stupid, Love or real-life beau Andrew Garfield in The Amazing Spider-Man.

The film opens in 1928 Berlin, where magician Stanley Crawford (Firth) delights a sell-out audience in his guise as Chinese conjurer Wei Ling Soo. Backstage, he berates his crew for their incompetence and lives up to the description of his best and perhaps only friend Howard Burkan (Simon McBurney) as "a genius with all the charm of a typhus epidemic".

Howard entreats Stanley to accompany him to the Riviera to debunk a psychic medium called Sophie Baker (Emma Stone), who has promised to help wealthy widow Grace Catledge (Jacki Weaver) make contact with her late husband.

In return, Grace has pledged to fund an expensive institute fronted by Sophie's mother (Marcia Gay Harden). Swatting aside warnings about Sophie's beauty - "A pretty face never hurt a cheap swindler," retorts Stanley dryly - the magician bids fond farewell to his fiancee (Catherine McCormack) and heads for the Catledge villa posing as businessman Stanley Taplinger.

In no time at all, Stanley is almost as smitten with Sophie as Grace's lovesick son Brice (Hamish Linklater) and the celebrated magician struggles to find a rational explanation for her boggling feats of mind-reading and clairvoyance.

Magic In The Moonlight is a valentine to Allen's lifelong fascination with tricks and illusions, and he engineers one moment of misdirection to quickly untangle the knotty central plot. An even bigger trick would be convincing us that Firth and Stone make a perfect match but it's doubtful Houdini could have pulled off that gross deception.

Supporting cast, who have a canny knack of scoring Oscar nominations in Allen's work, are subdued, even Eileen Atkins in the plum role of Firth's straight-talking aunt, who can sniff romance on her nephew like cheap cologne.

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Thursday 18th December 2014

Paddington 4 stars

movie title

A young Peruvian bear with a passion for the British heads to London in search of a new home. At Paddington train station, he meets a boy called Jonathan Brown and his parents, who offer the lovable creature, christened Paddington, a temporary haven. At large in a strange city, Paddington wreaks havoc in the Brown household. Then an evil museum taxidermist named Millicent glimpses the wondrous bear and realises that he would make the most perfect addition to her collection.

  • GenreAdaptation, Comedy, Drama, Family, Family
  • CastHugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Julie Walters, Michael Gambon, Ben Whishaw, Nicole Kidman, Imelda Staunton.
  • DirectorPaul King.
  • WriterPaul King.
  • CountryUK/Fr
  • Duration95 mins
  • Official sitewww.paddington.com
  • Release28/11/2014

More than 50 years after he first appeared in print, author Michael Bond's beloved bear Paddington has finally arrived on the big screen in his first star-packed family adventure. Upcoming director Paul King's film lovingly weaves the traditional tenets of the duffel-coat wearing bear's story into a modern narrative.

Like the books, the film starts in deepest, darkest Peru, where a well-mannered three-foot bear (voiced by Ben Whishaw) lives with his elderly Aunt Lucy (Imelda Staunton) and Uncle Pastuzo (Michael Gambon). In their youth, Lucy and Pastuzo were visited by a kindly English explorer who left his red hat with his furry friends.

When their home is threatened, Aunt Lucy packs her nephew off to the safety of London to track down the explorer, who has promised that there will always be a home for them in the capital.

Of course, after sailing the oceans in a boat filled with supplies of his treasured marmalade, the bear finds London isn't actually that friendly. In fact it's pretty miserable what with the drizzly weather and glum commuters pushing and shoving their way out of Paddington station and ignoring his pleas for a home.

"Sorry, we haven't got time for this," cries worrywart Mr Brown (Hugh Bonneville), while his moody daughter Judy (Madeleine Harris) exclaims she's "embarrassed" to be near the small grisly, who has a 'Please look after this bear' sign around his neck.

Luckily, warm-hearted Mrs Brown (Sally Hawkins) and son Jonathan (Samuel Joslin) vow to take the furry chap home for the night. Naming him Paddington after the station where they found him, the Browns introduce their guest to kindly housekeeper Mrs Bird (Julie Walters).

But disaster soon strikes when Paddington tries to freshen up in the bathroom, resulting in a flood, two earwax-stained toothbrushes and a sharp telling off. Determined to find the explorer, Mrs Brown takes Paddington to see her friend Mr Gruber (Jim Broadbent), an antiques dealer who might have clues to his existence.

In doing so, they attract the attention of cranky curtain twitcher Mr Curry (Peter Capaldi) and a slimy associate of villainous taxidermist Millicent (Nicole Kidman) who is hell-bent on "stuffing that bear". With Millicent determined to get her mitts on Paddington to display him in the Natural History Museum, the Browns find themselves on a humdinger of a cat and mouse chase to try and keep their furry friend safe.

As comforting and sweet as Paddington's beloved marmalade, King's delightful adaptation has heaps of heart and enough humour and carefully plotted cameos to ensure everyone more than grins and bears his adaptation.

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Thursday 18th December 2014

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Penguins Of Madagascar 3 stars

movie title

Skipper leads a crack squad of penguins comprising Kowalski, Rico and Private. A grey wolf called Classified, who works for the elite inter-species task force North Wind, recruits the plucky birds to thwart nefarious octopus Dr Octavius Brine. The penguins collaborate with some of the best agents in North Wind including harp seal demolitions expert Short Fuse, snowy owl intelligence analyst Eva and plucky polar bear Corporal to defeat their tentacled adversary.

  • GenreAdventure, Animation/Cartoon, Comedy, Family, Family
  • CastChristopher Knights, Chris Miller, Tom McGrath, Benedict Cumberbatch, Peter Stormare, John Malkovich, Ken Jeong, Conrad Vernon.
  • DirectorEric Darnell, Simon J Smith.
  • WriterMichael Colton, John Aboud, Brandon Sawyer.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration92 mins
  • Official sitewww.madagascar.dreamworks.com
  • Release05/12/2014

Birds of a feather somersault, karate kick and bicker together in Eric Darnell and Simon J Smith's misfiring computer-animated spin-off from the Madagascar films. Frenetic and fast-paced, Penguins Of Madagascar initially sketches the back story of the four plucky Antarctic critters with a beak for adventure through the lens of a documentary film crew, who are keen to observe the flightless birds in their treacherous natural habitat.

The script soon fast-forwards to the conclusion of Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted and literally blasts the penguins into an outlandish spy caper replete with a menagerie of animal co-stars that should be a merchandiser's dream this Christmas.

The colour-saturated animation is a feast for the eyes and there are a few neat visual gags such as the penguins' novel approach to navigating a zebra crossing undetected. However, the four lead characters, who are boundlessly charming in small doses as sidekicks, grate slightly as heroes of their own half-baked story.

Hopefully the adorable Minions from the Despicable Me series will dodge a similar fate when they graduate to the limelight in a self-titled feature next summer.

Skipper (voiced by Tom McGrath) leads a crack squad comprising Kowalski (Chris Miller), Rico (Conrad Vernon) and Private (Christopher Knights) on a daring mission to break into Fort Knox in search of treasure: a luminous orange snack called Cheezy Dibbles.

From the offset, goofball Private is identified as the black penguin of the operation. "He's sort of our secretary-slash-mascot," observes Skipper. The hunt for Cheezy Dibbles leads the penguins into the clutches of nefarious octopus Dr Octavius Brine (John Malkovich), who intends to take over the world using his mutation serum.

Thankfully, Skipper and co escape and a subsequent chase with hench-octopi along the canals of Venice leads the penguins into the company of a grey wolf called Classified (Benedict Cumberbatch), who works for an elite inter-species task force known as North Wind.

Fellow agents include harp seal demolitions expert Short Fuse (Ken Jeong), snowy owl intelligence analyst Eva (Annet Mahendru) and plucky polar bear Corporal (Peter Stormare). The unlikely heroes join forces to defeat their tentacled arch-nemesis, but this collaboration will amount to nothing unless Skipper allows Private to discover the hero within.

Penguins Of Madagascar exhibits a similar lack of invention as the films which gave birth to Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private. Brine's master plan for global domination bears an uncanny resemblance to events in Despicable Me 2 and the underlying message of tolerance and acceptance has been preached countless times before.

"If we've learnt anything on this delightful adventure, it's that looks don't matter. It's what you do that counts," declares Skipper.

A running joke involving celebrity names in one character's dialogue is a cute flourish but certainly not enough for these penguins to defy evolution and effortlessly take flight.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Thursday 18th December 2014

This film is also showing at:

Penguins Of Madagascar 3D 3 stars

movie title

Skipper leads a crack squad of penguins comprising Kowalski, Rico and Private. A grey wolf called Classified, who works for the elite inter-species task force North Wind, recruits the plucky birds to thwart nefarious octopus Dr Octavius Brine. The penguins collaborate with some of the best agents in North Wind including harp seal demolitions expert Short Fuse, snowy owl intelligence analyst Eva and plucky polar bear Corporal to defeat their tentacled adversary.

  • GenreAdventure, Animation/Cartoon, Comedy, Family, Family
  • CastChris Miller, Tom McGrath, Christopher Knights, Benedict Cumberbatch, Peter Stormare, John Malkovich, Ken Jeong, Conrad Vernon.
  • DirectorEric Darnell, Simon J Smith.
  • WriterMichael Colton, John Aboud, Brandon Sawyer.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration92 mins
  • Official sitewww.madagascar.dreamworks.com
  • Release05/12/2014

Birds of a feather somersault, karate kick and bicker together in Eric Darnell and Simon J Smith's misfiring computer-animated spin-off from the Madagascar films. Frenetic and fast-paced, Penguins Of Madagascar initially sketches the back story of the four plucky Antarctic critters with a beak for adventure through the lens of a documentary film crew, who are keen to observe the flightless birds in their treacherous natural habitat.

The script soon fast-forwards to the conclusion of Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted and literally blasts the penguins into an outlandish spy caper replete with a menagerie of animal co-stars that should be a merchandiser's dream this Christmas.

The colour-saturated animation is a feast for the eyes and there are a few neat visual gags such as the penguins' novel approach to navigating a zebra crossing undetected. However, the four lead characters, who are boundlessly charming in small doses as sidekicks, grate slightly as heroes of their own half-baked story.

Hopefully the adorable Minions from the Despicable Me series will dodge a similar fate when they graduate to the limelight in a self-titled feature next summer.

Skipper (voiced by Tom McGrath) leads a crack squad comprising Kowalski (Chris Miller), Rico (Conrad Vernon) and Private (Christopher Knights) on a daring mission to break into Fort Knox in search of treasure: a luminous orange snack called Cheezy Dibbles.

From the offset, goofball Private is identified as the black penguin of the operation. "He's sort of our secretary-slash-mascot," observes Skipper. The hunt for Cheezy Dibbles leads the penguins into the clutches of nefarious octopus Dr Octavius Brine (John Malkovich), who intends to take over the world using his mutation serum.

Thankfully, Skipper and co escape and a subsequent chase with hench-octopi along the canals of Venice leads the penguins into the company of a grey wolf called Classified (Benedict Cumberbatch), who works for an elite inter-species task force known as North Wind.

Fellow agents include harp seal demolitions expert Short Fuse (Ken Jeong), snowy owl intelligence analyst Eva (Annet Mahendru) and plucky polar bear Corporal (Peter Stormare). The unlikely heroes join forces to defeat their tentacled arch-nemesis, but this collaboration will amount to nothing unless Skipper allows Private to discover the hero within.

Penguins Of Madagascar exhibits a similar lack of invention as the films which gave birth to Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private. Brine's master plan for global domination bears an uncanny resemblance to events in Despicable Me 2 and the underlying message of tolerance and acceptance has been preached countless times before.

"If we've learnt anything on this delightful adventure, it's that looks don't matter. It's what you do that counts," declares Skipper.

A running joke involving celebrity names in one character's dialogue is a cute flourish but certainly not enough for these penguins to defy evolution and effortlessly take flight.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Thursday 18th December 2014

This film is also showing at:

The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies 3 stars

movie title

The company of dwarves led by Thorin Oakenshield fails to slay the dragon Smaug in his Lonely Mountain lair. The majestic creature takes to the skies and Bilbo Baggins watches in horror as Smaug prepares to incinerate Lake-town and its residents. Bard the Bowman possesses the last remaining black arrow and is the only thing standing between the dragon and total annihilation. Elsewhere, Gandalf is imprisoned at Dol Guldor by the Necromancer, who unleashes legions of orcs upon the Lonely Mountain.

  • GenreAction, Adaptation, Adventure, Fantasy
  • CastSir Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Orlando Bloom, Lee Pace, Cate Blanchett, Evangeline Lilly, Luke Evans, Hugo Weaving, Benedict Cumberbatch.
  • DirectorPeter Jackson.
  • WriterFran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Guillermo del Toro, Peter Jackson.
  • CountryNZ/US
  • Duration144 mins
  • Official sitewww.thehobbitblog.com
  • Release12/12/2014

Almost 13 years to the day since director Peter Jackson first transported us to Middle Earth, the Oscar-winning New Zealand filmmaker completes his tour of duty of JRR Tolkien's novels. It has been a long and sometimes gruelling slog since The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King. Giddy expectation has crashed and burned, with only a few smouldering embers for ardent fans to stoke in the hope that Jackson might redeem himself with this concluding chapter of The Hobbit trilogy.

Alas, The Battle Of Five Armies bids farewell to the hobbits, dwarfs and elves with a whimper rather than a bang. The script occasionally deviates from Tolkien's source text, contriving one superfluous and protracted interlude with elvish allies Elrond (Hugo Weaving) and Galadriel (Cate Blanchett) and wizard Saruman (Christopher Lee) to provide a flimsy bridge between the two series.

Jackson's mastery of action sequences is beyond doubt - the two set pieces, which bookend this film, are executed with flair, precision and a miasma of impressive digital effects.

However, all that technical sound and fury without comparable emotional heft makes for increasingly wearisome viewing. We should be thankful this concluding jaunt is the shortest of the six: a mere 144 minutes.

The company of dwarves led by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) including Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) watches in horror as the mighty dragon Smaug (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch) incinerates Laketown. As the flames rise, Bard the Bowman (Luke Evans) prepares to launch the last remaining black arrow at the beast.

His children seek cover with elf warrior Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly) and badly injured dwarf Kili (Aidan Turner). Nearby, the Master of Laketown (Stephen Fry) and snivelling henchman Alfrid (Ryan Gage) make their escape in a barge laden with gold.

At Dol Guldur, Gandalf (Sir Ian McKellen) escapes from the clutches of the Necromancer (Cumberbatch again) and beats a hasty path to the mountains, where various tribes will converge. "You must summon our friends, bird and beast - the battle for the mountain is about to begin!" bellows the wise wizard.

As the fate of Middle Earth hangs in the balance, Thorin sacrifices everything in his selfish pursuit of the mythical Arkenstone.

The Hobbit: The Battle Of Five Armies follows a similar template to earlier pictures, resolving plot strands including the forbidden romance of Tauriel and Kili as the blood flows in brutal fight sequences. Comical interludes with Alfrid seem to jar with the darker tone that pervades this chapter, including the inevitable loss of at least one hero in the melee.

Freeman's performance provides a flimsy emotional fulcrum while co-stars battle with their characters' demons or hordes of bloodthirsty orcs. As the end credits roll, accompanied by an original song from Billy Boyd who played Pippin in The Lord Of The Rings saga, we feel a sense of relief rather than sadness.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Thursday 18th December 2014

This film is also showing at:

The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies 3D 3 stars

movie title

The company of dwarves led by Thorin Oakenshield fails to slay the dragon Smaug in his Lonely Mountain lair. The majestic creature takes to the skies and Bilbo Baggins watches in horror as Smaug prepares to incinerate Lake-town and its residents. Bard the Bowman possesses the last remaining black arrow and is the only thing standing between the dragon and total annihilation. Elsewhere, Gandalf is imprisoned at Dol Guldor by the Necromancer, who unleashes legions of orcs upon the Lonely Mountain.

  • GenreAction, Adaptation, Adventure, Fantasy
  • CastMartin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Sir Ian McKellen, Orlando Bloom, Lee Pace, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett, Evangeline Lilly, Luke Evans, Hugo Weaving.
  • DirectorPeter Jackson.
  • WriterPhilippa Boyens, Fran Walsh, Guillermo del Toro, Peter Jackson.
  • CountryNZ/US
  • Duration144 mins
  • Official sitewww.thehobbitblog.com
  • Release12/12/2014

Almost 13 years to the day since director Peter Jackson first transported us to Middle Earth, the Oscar-winning New Zealand filmmaker completes his tour of duty of JRR Tolkien's novels. It has been a long and sometimes gruelling slog since The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King. Giddy expectation has crashed and burned, with only a few smouldering embers for ardent fans to stoke in the hope that Jackson might redeem himself with this concluding chapter of The Hobbit trilogy.

Alas, The Battle Of Five Armies bids farewell to the hobbits, dwarfs and elves with a whimper rather than a bang. The script occasionally deviates from Tolkien's source text, contriving one superfluous and protracted interlude with elvish allies Elrond (Hugo Weaving) and Galadriel (Cate Blanchett) and wizard Saruman (Christopher Lee) to provide a flimsy bridge between the two series.

Jackson's mastery of action sequences is beyond doubt - the two set pieces, which bookend this film, are executed with flair, precision and a miasma of impressive digital effects.

However, all that technical sound and fury without comparable emotional heft makes for increasingly wearisome viewing. We should be thankful this concluding jaunt is the shortest of the six: a mere 144 minutes.

The company of dwarves led by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) including Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) watches in horror as the mighty dragon Smaug (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch) incinerates Laketown. As the flames rise, Bard the Bowman (Luke Evans) prepares to launch the last remaining black arrow at the beast.

His children seek cover with elf warrior Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly) and badly injured dwarf Kili (Aidan Turner). Nearby, the Master of Laketown (Stephen Fry) and snivelling henchman Alfrid (Ryan Gage) make their escape in a barge laden with gold.

At Dol Guldur, Gandalf (Sir Ian McKellen) escapes from the clutches of the Necromancer (Cumberbatch again) and beats a hasty path to the mountains, where various tribes will converge. "You must summon our friends, bird and beast - the battle for the mountain is about to begin!" bellows the wise wizard.

As the fate of Middle Earth hangs in the balance, Thorin sacrifices everything in his selfish pursuit of the mythical Arkenstone.

The Hobbit: The Battle Of Five Armies follows a similar template to earlier pictures, resolving plot strands including the forbidden romance of Tauriel and Kili as the blood flows in brutal fight sequences. Comical interludes with Alfrid seem to jar with the darker tone that pervades this chapter, including the inevitable loss of at least one hero in the melee.

Freeman's performance provides a flimsy emotional fulcrum while co-stars battle with their characters' demons or hordes of bloodthirsty orcs. As the end credits roll, accompanied by an original song from Billy Boyd who played Pippin in The Lord Of The Rings saga, we feel a sense of relief rather than sadness.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Thursday 18th December 2014

This film is also showing at:

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay: Part 1 4 stars

movie title

Katniss Everdeen barely survived the Third Quarter Quell and she gathers her strength in the company of her friends, architect of the rebellion Plutarch Heavensbee and the President of District 13, Alma Coin. The scent of rebellion is in the air and the people look to Katniss to lead them against President Snow and the armed forces of Panem. However, Peeta has been captured by Snow and is being manipulated to quell the uprising.

  • GenreAction, Adaptation, Adventure, Drama, Family, Romance, Science Fiction
  • CastJennifer Lawrence, Woody Harrelson, Liam Hemsworth, Elizabeth Banks, Josh Hutcherson, Donald Sutherland, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jeffrey Wright, Stanley Tucci.
  • DirectorFrancis Lawrence.
  • WriterDanny Strong, Peter Craig.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration123 mins
  • Official sitewww.thehungergames.co.uk
  • Release20/11/2014

The spectre of war casts a long shadow over the penultimate chapter of the blockbusting dystopian thrillers based on Suzanne Collins' bestselling trilogy. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay: Part 1 follows the lead of the Harry Potter and Twilight sagas by cleaving the final book in two.

This decision - driven as much by greed as artistic necessity - results in a dark, brooding two hours of self-sacrifice almost completely devoid of the propulsive action sequences that distinguished the earlier films. Jennifer Lawrence's portrayal of reluctant heroine Katniss Everdeen, a pawn in the battle of wits between the money-rich Capitol and the impoverished Districts, remains a mesmerising constant.

She delivers another emotionally bruising performance, especially in early scenes when her battle-scarred teenager stares over the smouldering ruins of her beloved District 12, littered with charred skeletons of friends and neighbours who were incinerated as they fled.

This hellish vision brings Lawrence to her knees, unable to hold back racked sobs of pain. The floodgates open and screenwriters Peter Craig and Danny Strong take their time channelling her aching sense of loss into an all-consuming rage that will set the Capitol ablaze this time next year. "If we burn, you burn with us!" she bellows down a camera lens at President Snow (Donald Sutherland). We don't doubt it.

Katniss barely survived the Third Quarter Quell. Separated from fellow tributes Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) and Johanna (Jena Malone), who are being held in the Capitol, Katniss gathers her strength in a secret underground complex. Her allies include childhood friend Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth), mentor Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson), chaperone Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks), architect of the rebellion Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and District 13 President Alma Coin (Julianne Moore).

The people of the Districts look to Katniss to lead them against President Snow and the armed forces of Panem. "We're going to stoke the fire of this revolution that this Mockingjay started," growls Plutarch, commissioning a series of propaganda videos directed by Cressida (Natalie Dormer) with Katniss as the reluctant star. Meanwhile, Snow initiates his own forceful media campaign fronted by Caesar Flickerman (Stanley Tucci) and a clearly disoriented Peeta.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay: Part 1 is the calm before the storm of full-blown conflict. It's a slower burn than previous films and lacks some of the on-screen electricity since Katniss and Peeta are separated but Lawrence burns bright as the eponymous "girl on fire".

Effie's role is expanded from the book to bring some comic relief to the subterranean gloom. "Everything old can be made new again - like democracy!" she chirrups. Maybe so, but as Part 1 makes abundantly and agonisingly clear, you have to sacrifice innocent lives to sweep away the past.

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Thursday 18th December 2014

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The Imitation Game 4 stars

movie title

Socially awkward mathematician Alan Turing arrives at Bletchley Park where Commander Denniston presides over a group of the country's keenest minds in the hope that one of them can break the Enigma code. Turing ploughs his own furrow and raises eyebrows by recruiting Joan Clarke to the team. She is a beautiful mind like Turing, inspiring him to greatness by observing, "Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of that do the things people never imagine."

  • GenreAdaptation, Biography, Drama, Gay, Thriller, War
  • CastKeira Knightley, Benedict Cumberbatch, Matthew Goode, Mark Strong, Charles Dance, Rory Kinnear, Allen Leech, Matthew Beard.
  • DirectorMorten Tyldum.
  • WriterGraham Moore.
  • CountryUK/US
  • Duration114 mins
  • Official sitewww.theimitationgamemovie.com
  • Release14/11/2014

In December 2013, The Queen granted a posthumous royal pardon to Alan Turing. The London-born mathematician had been prosecuted for homosexuality in 1952 - a criminal act at the time - and he undertook a treatment of chemical castration with oestrogen injections rather than serve time behind bars.

It was an undeservedly inglorious end for a brilliant man, who was instrumental in breaking the Enigma code and should have been feted by our battle-scarred nation as a hero. Based on a biography by Andrew Hodges, The Imitation Game relives that race against time to decipher German communications and bring the Second World War to a swift conclusion.

Morten Tyldum's masterful drama neither shies away from Turing's homosexuality nor lingers on it, framing nail-biting events at Bletchley Park with the mathematician's 1951 arrest in Manchester. "If you're not paying attention, you'll miss things," Turing teases us in voiceover.

Indeed, you'll miss impeccable production design, an unconventional yet touching romance, subterfuge and sterling performances including an Oscar-worthy portrayal of the socially awkward genius from Benedict Cumberbatch.

Alan Turing (Cumberbatch) sits in a police interrogation room with Detective Nock (Rory Kinnear), facing a charge of indecency with a 19-year-old unemployed man called Arnold Murray. "I think Turing's hiding something," Nick informs his Superintendent (Steven Waddington), who is keen to wrap up the conviction.

In flashback, we witness Alan's arrival at Bletchley Park where Commander Denniston (Charles Dance) and Major General Stewart Menzies (Mark Strong) preside over a group of the country's keenest minds in the hope that one of them can break Enigma.

Hugh Alexander (Matthew Goode), John Cairncross (Allen Leech) and Peter Hilton (Matthew Beard) work alongside Turing, but he ploughs his own furrow and raises eyebrows by recruiting Joan Clarke (Keira Knightley) to the team.

She is a beautiful mind like Turing, inspiring him to greatness by observing, "Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of that do the things people never imagine."

Punctuated by school day scenes of the young Turing (Alex Lawther) and his first love, an older boy called Christopher (Jack Bannon), The Imitation Game is a beautifully crafted tribute to a prodigy, whose invaluable contribution to the war effort was unjustly besmirched by bigotry.

Cumberbatch is mesmerising, trampling over the egos of fellow code breakers without any concern for their feelings as he vows to solve "the most difficult problem in the world". It's a tour-de-force portrayal, complemented by strong supporting performances from Knightley, Goode et al as the close-knit team who note, "God didn't win the war. We did."

The pivotal Eureka moment sets our pulses racing, heightened by Alexandre Desplat's exquisite orchestral score. Director Tyldum navigates the fractured chronology with clarity and flair, ensuring that his heart-rending film doesn't itself become a perplexing puzzle.

Showtimes (Click time to book tickets)

Thursday 18th December 2014

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