We review all this week's cinema releases

Yahoo UK Movies Features
27 April 2012

Marvel Avengers Assemble – 5/5

In short:
S.H.I.E.L.D. is in turmoil. Asgardian demi-god Loki (Tom Hiddleston) has used the mysterious, cube of energy known as the 'tesseract' to escape into the realm of Earth - and he has an army waiting to join him. Top dog Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) has a plan to stop him though, and it involves resurrecting the Avengers initiative. In order for it to work, he must unite a disparate band of heroes, and they all come with their own baggage. Can Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans), The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) put their differences aside to save the day?

[Related feature: Everything you need to know about 'Avengers Assemble']
[Related content: Our full review of 'Avengers Assemble']

What we think:
Joss Whedon has taken the genre up a gear, and it's a non-stop thrill ride you won't want to end.

The word out there:
The Telegraph: 'Avengers Assemble' is a lavishly enjoyable assemblage of everything that’s good about contemporary popcorn cinema.
The Shiznit: Every second onscreen seems designed to breathe new life into a genre that was just starting to become predictable.
Total Film: Big, brash and very funny, Joss Whedon’s Avengers Assemble is equal to the sum of its parts – and for once, that’s no faint praise.
IndieLondon: It’s by no means a perfect movie but it is a consistently fun and thrilling blockbuster experience that quite often genuinely delights.

Release date: 26 April
Runtime: 142 mins
Rating: 12A

Watch the 'Avengers Assemble' movie trailer

Albert Nobbs – 4/5

In short:

The Morrison's Hotel is home to many lively characters, but of all of them dutiful butler Albert Nobbs seems the most inconspicuous as he goes about his business. But Albert (Glenn Close) has a secret. The loyal servant has been hiding her gender from everyone around her, even the resident doctor (Brendan Gleeson) and young maid Helen Dawes (Mia Wasikowska) have no idea who Albert really is. Two new arrivals threaten the peace of the hotel, however. The boisterous Joe (Aaron Johnson) has his sights set on winning the heart of Helen, and burly Hubert Page (Janet McTeer) is hiding something from those around her as well. Frightened and confused, Albert decides to try and find happiness away from the glare of co-workers, while Helen looks for a life of wedded bliss despite the obstacles in her way.

What we think:

A bittersweet film with some towering performances. Glenn Close and Janet McTeer are more than worthy of their awards recognition.

The word out there:
The Express: It’s finely acted (both Close and McTeer were Oscar nominated) and McTeer brings some welcome heart and humour.
Empire: Not only sad, sad, sad but dreary and unpleasant, peopled with largely unsympathetic characters but for McTeer, who is great.
TimeOut: The grim, grey-hued result is about as far from contemporary drag chic as it’s possible to get – appropriate for the subject matter, perhaps, but hardly the stuff of satisfying cinema.
Sky Movies: Resolutely downbeat, this tale of Victorian gender-bendering scores thanks to skilful performances, particularly from Close and McTeer, and exhaustive attention to period detail.

Release date: 27 April
Runtime: 102 mins
Rating: 15

Watch the 'Albert Nobbs' trailer

African Cats – 3/5

In short:
On the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya, two African cats are involved in life or death journeys that will affect not only their lives, but also those of the next generation of lions and cheetahs. Sita is a female cheetah who, like all of her species, is in the process of raising her litter single-handedly. Meanwhile, a group of lions known as the 'River Pride' is also about to face a tough reality. The cats must survive in order to ensure the safe passage of their cubs to adulthood.

What we think:
Family-friendly Disney doc delivers some stunning shots and emotional moments.

The word out there:
Total Film: An absolute must-see for fans of roar footage.
The Scotsman: Got children? Animal-mad, unfussy children who don’t mind a Disney re-enaction of the circle of life gore..? This might hold them until the next David Attenborough box set.
HeyUGuys: The idea that very young children can still go to the pictures and see 90 minutes of fluffy lions, and possibly learn something, is somewhat reassuring.
I Heart The Talkies: Additional facts and information would have given the film more substance. Nevertheless, if it functions to get children curious about nature, it is definitely a good thing.

Release date: 27 April
Runtime: 89 mins
Rating: U

Watch the 'Damsel's In Distress' trailer

Damsels in Distress – 4/5

In short:
When Lily (Analeigh Tipton) joins Seven Oaks College, she is quickly taken under the wing of a clique of popular, pretty and stylish busybodies led by the apparently perfect Violet (Greta Gerwig). But as Violet sets about trying to 'better' her campus colleagues, with the help of Heather (Carrie MacLemore) and Rose (Megalyn Echikunwoke), it becomes apparent that the girls aren't the strong, confident women they project themselves as. When man trouble slowly causes problems for each member of the group, they start to display some of the character quirks more associated with the lower social order - as well as some that may require a little more psychological help.

What we think:

A kick up 'Glee's glittery behind, and a reminder that cinema still holds the key to the quirkiest of worlds.

The word out there:
The Guardian: If it's possible for a picture to be at once ideal and imperfect, then Damsels fits the bill.
TimeOut: While the comedy might be patchy, Gerwig and Stillman make for quite the two-step.
Digital Spy: You're forced to wonder who Stillman is really poking fun at: the frat boys, or you, for having paid to laugh at them?
UltraCulture: Weird, snarky and yet unaccountably joyful, it’s easily one of the most singular movies of 2012...

Release date: 27 April
Runtime: 99 mins
Rating: 15

Watch the 'Damsels In Distress' trailer

Being Elmo – 4/5

In short:
Meet Kevin Clash, the man behind one of the most iconic puppet creations in the world. Growing up in Baltimore in the 1970's, and inspired by popular American TV show 'Captain Kangaroo', Kevin developed a passion for making his own furry friends. With support from his parents, who still speak with pride about their son's achievements, Kevin finally made it into the hallowed Henson workshop. It's here that he got his big break. Whilst working on 'Sesame Street', Kevin was handed a little-used puppet called Elmo. After giving him a distinctive voice and universal message of love, Elmo quickly became a phenomenon. With a legion of fans of all ages watching his every move, just how difficult is it being Elmo?

What we think:
We've witnessed grown men reduced to tears whilst watching 'The Muppets', and this film will evoke much the same, but in a very different style. Brief, but ultimately rewarding fare.

The word out there:

The Hollywood Reporter: Being Elmo is a rare documentary that will connect across generations and cultures to delight viewers worldwide for years to come.
Empire: A charming, if occasionally surface-deep look at the man behind the fur. Elmo like!
TimeOut: Constance Marks’s film is a simple cut-and-paste job, drawing on new interviews and archive, but what it lacks in refinement it makes up for in infectious warmth.
Cine-Vue: Whilst there is bound to be a heavy dose of nostalgia factor attached to any film that deals with childhood characters, there's enough back-story here to suggest that most will be engaged...

Release date: 27 April
Runtime: 76 mins
Rating: U

Watch the 'Being Elmo' trailer

The Monk – 3/5

In short:
Based on a cult Gothic novel, 'The Monk' stars Vincent Cassel as Ambrosio, a conflicted man about to face his darkest hour. The Capuchin monastery that is home to a strict order of monks is a peaceful place in the calm of 17th century Madrid. The charismatic Ambrosio is famous for his mesmerising sermons and believes he is immune to temptation. When a mysterious stranger arrives, hidden behind a wax mask, things begin to unravel and inexplicable events throw everything into disarray. Are these the ultimate tests of faith for Ambrosio, or are they manifestations of his own inner demons.

What we think:
The atmosphere is intentionally arid, but comedy editing  undermines the sombre tone. An uneven curio that has some decent ideas.

The word out there:
The Express: A ponderous French movie that delivers neither shocks, scares or through-provoking ideas.
Empire: It’s interesting and unsettling, with a charismatic lead performance, but nowhere near as shocking as it should be.
Total Film: It’s a while before Cassel fully embraces his dark side, yet his customary charisma is what seals The Monk’s redemption.
ViewLondon: It's never quite as chilling or as disturbing as it should have been.

Release date: 27 April
Runtime: 101 mins
Rating: 15

Watch 'The Monk' trailer

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