An enthralling tidal wave of epic sea battles, stunning CGI, clever slow-motion...and laughable dialogue.
That’s fantasy adventure sequel 300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE (15: Warner), a worthy companion piece to the original.
Like 300, the film is based on a Frank Miller graphic novel anddirector Noam Murro sticks to what worked the first time in terms of raw, full-blooded violence and thunderous action.
General Themistocles (Sullivan Stapleton) rallies his fellow Grecians together against the massive Persian navy led by ruthless commander Artemisia (Eva Green).
Fleshed out with the origins of god-king Xerxes, the genesis of Artemisia’s revenge plot, a wildly hilarious acrobatic seductionscene and some fantasy creatures, it’s an entertaining package.
Stapleton can’t quite match the charisma of Gerard Butler’s King Leonidas, but Green does evil extremely well.
> FADING GIGOLO (15: Curzon) is a quaint, feather-light comedy drama about a middle-aged New York guy who decides to sell his body for sex.
John Turturro writes, directs and stars, while Woody Allen plays the shady friend – a bookshop owner who’s broke after his business closes – who convinces him to give it a go.
He presents him with his first client, Dr Parker (Sharon Stone), for a cut of the action to help resolve his financial problems.
It’s a big leap for a quiet man who works in a florist, but Turturro makes a virtue of his enigmatic character and Stone’s doctor is certainly drawn to him, as is her gal pal.
Their characters are sketchily drawn though and Vanessa Paradis is badly cast as an Orthodox Jewish widow who stirs Turturro’s hidden depths.
But there’s great chemistry between Turturro and Allen and it’s their scenes together that really bring the film to life.
> Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore also have chemistry, and history, and they’ve done some of their best work together.
The bad news is that bloated romantic comedy BLENDED (12: Warner) isn’t in the same class as The Wedding Singer and 50 First Dates.
Here they play single parents who, after a disastrous blind date, find themselves and their five children all on holiday at the same African safari resort.
This contrived combination of kids and critters leads to much slapstick and only an occasional subtler moment and ultimately the movie is long and laboured.
> The Postman Pat children’s TV series used gentle, stop-motion animation to portray a simple rustic life moving at a snail’s pace.
But everyone’s favourite first-class male gets a fast-paced CGI makeover with POSTMAN PAT: THE MOVIE (U: Lionsgate).
Our hero swaps Greendale for a world of TV talent shows, celebrities and evil ‘Patbots’ – postie lookalikes that want to take over, if not the world, then at least its postal service.
Pat purists will have kittens at the very thought of all this and while his souped-up new look won’t be for everyone, it’s actually very well done.
Voices are provided by the likes of Stephen Man gan (Pat), Jim Broadbent, Rupert Gint and David Tennant.