Movie Talk

Snoopy and Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie | An entertaining showcase for Charles Schultz's Peanuts gang

Given the inherent challenge of translating a newspaper comic strip into computer animation, this gently nostalgic movie does a fair job of putting Charles Schultz's Peanuts gang on screen.

Snoopy and Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie can't capture all the wit and charm of the original, of course, but it does provide an entertaining showcase for the cartoonist's beloved characters and does convey some of the strip's wry melancholy.

Happily, the film doesn't tinker with its source. Ever-anxious Charlie Brown still yearns for the Little Red Haired Girl and still comes a cropper whenever he tries to kick...

Money Monster | George & Jodie's hostage thriller lets the real culprits off the hook

Hollywood heavyweights Jodie Foster, George Clooney and Julia Roberts join forces – Foster as director, Clooney and Roberts as stars - for Money Monster, a darkly comic thriller that seeks to uncork the rage of the many against the privileged few.

Clooney’s Lee Gates is the brash host of a cable TV finance show, peddling stock market tips to the masses with brazen razzamatazz; Roberts is his often peeved but always imperturbable producer.

Unfortunately, one of Lee’s hot tips has just plummeted in value, prompting a disgruntled blue-collar investor Kyle Budwell (played by rising British star Jack O’Connell) to...

Alice Through the Looking Glass | Dazzle, derring-do and a muddled plot for Lewis Carroll's heroine

Tim Burton’s CGI-laden adventure fantasy Alice in Wonderland was dazzling to look at but weak on plot. He’s relinquished the director’s chair to James Bobin (maker of The Muppets and Muppets Most Wanted), but the same is even truer of sequel Alice Through the Looking Glass.

Departing even further from Lewis Carroll’s original tales, the film opens with feisty, proto-feminist Alice (again played by Australian actress Mia Wasikowska) performing feats of derring-do as a sea captain in the South China Seas.

She easily outwits the Malay pirates besetting her in the Straits of Malacca but the pompous chauvinists awaiting...

The Bad Education Movie | Jack Whitehall returns as teacher Alfie Wickers in a frenetic big-screen spin-off

How do you solve the puzzle of turning a half-hour sitcom into a 90-odd-minute feature film? From On the Buses in the 1970s to The Inbetweeners in the 2010s, British filmmakers have come up a reliable fix: send the characters on holiday.

That’s the time-honoured custom honoured by The Bad Education Movie, a spin-off from the BBC3 series created by and starring stand-up comedian Jack Whitehall, which dispatches Whitehall’s posh teacher and his comprehensive school pupils on a typically unruly trip to Cornwall.

Yet the sitcom’s core dynamic remains essentially unchanged. Whitehall’s Alfie Wickers is still the loveable buffoon, hopelessly...

Bobby | Film review - England's World Cup hero Bobby Moore had 'the aura of a prince'

1966 World Cup hero Bobby Moore is the subject of stirring documentary Bobby, released to celebrate the 50th anniversary of England’s win.

And Moore really does cut a heroic figure here. ‘He had the aura of a prince’ and ‘he was an Adonis’ are the kind of phrases used about him by the film’s contributors, who include teammates Geoff Hurst and Gordon Banks, famous adversary Pelé, celebrity fans Ray Davies and Russell Brand, and members of Moore’s family.

Watching the glorious footage of Moore in his prime, you can easily see what they mean. Blond, blue-eyed and coolly composed,...

The 5th Wave | Film review - Plucky teen Chloë Grace Moretz battles aliens and a lacklustre script

Chloë Grace Moretz is the latest plucky teenager battling overwhelming odds in a dystopian sci-fi thriller, following in the footsteps of Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games and Shailene Woodley in the Divergent series.

Based on the young-adult novel by Rick Yancey (first of a trilogy, naturally), The 5th Wave finds the Earth attacked by an alien spaceship. Moretz’s high-school student, Cassie Sullivan, survives the extraterrestrials’ initial assaults – the first wave power cuts, second earthquakes, third a deadly virus – and, like her fellow movie heroines, winds up torn between two potential suitors, school quarterback Ben (Nick Robinson)...

Dirty Grandpa | Film review - Robert De Niro & Zac Efron's road trip plumbs the depths

Robert De Niro redoubles his efforts to trash his acting legacy with Dirty Grandpa, a crass comedy about a foul-mouthed, recently widowed military veteran who takes his uptight corporate lawyer grandson (Zac Efron) on a recklessly hedonistic road trip to Florida in a bid to loosen him up.

The gags are mostly witless, with Efron’s character coming in for repeated humiliation from a series of scrapes with frat boys, drug dealers and the police that leave him naked or befuddled or both.

Yet the stars are certainly game, as is Aubrey Plaza, who very nearly pulls off the film’s...

Spotlight | Film review - Oscar-winning newsroom drama salutes Boston's dogged press gang

Worthy to stand alongside All the President’s Men as a great newspaper movie, the Oscar-winning Spotlight chronicles the dogged efforts in 2001/02 by a team of reporters from the Boston Globe to expose the Roman Catholic Church’s cover-up of systemic child sex abuse by priests. There’s nothing flashy about the film, but its sober treatment of the story proves absolutely riveting.

Director and co-writer Tom McCarthy handles the complex story with forensic clarity and he gets terrific ensemble performances from his cast, headed by Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton and Rachel McAdams as three of the investigating journalists on the...

The Big Short | Film review - The weirdos and outsiders who made a killing from the crash

You won’t know whether to laugh or cry when watching this dazzling dark comedy about the guys who made a killing from the global financial crash of 2008.

Based on the book by Michael Lewis (author of Liar’s Poker, Moneyball and The Blind Side), director Adam McKay’s film The Big Short shows how a ‘bunch of weirdos and outsiders’, including Christian Bale’s eccentric, heavy-metal-loving genius, Steve Carell’s furiously indignant fund manager and Ryan Gosling’s reptilian Wall Street trader, spotted what no one else did: reckless mortgage lending by greedy banks meant that the US housing market – and with...

Sing Street | Film review - Young love, mad hair and infectiously catchy songs

Following his New York sojourn for 2013’s comedy-drama Begin Again, writer-director John Carney returns home to Dublin, stamping ground of 2007’s underdog hit Once, for his latest heart-warming celebration of the joys and solace of making music.

A departure for Carney is that Sing Street is set in the past; another is that it has teenage protagonists; and this combination gives his new film a nostalgic sweetness and exuberance that is thoroughly winning.

It’s 1985, Ireland is in recession and the film’s 15-year-old hero, Ferdia Walsh-Peelo’s Conor, has just been pulled out of his private Jesuit school by his...