Alistair Harkness reviews the latest releases
Compliance (15) ****
Intentionally queasy drama set in a busy fast food restaurant and revolving around an employee who is subjected to an increasingly humiliating and degrading line of questioning after the manager receives a phone call from the police. Based on true events, what transpires may seem incredible, but that’s why it’s so unsettling. Ann Dowd, Dreama Walker and Pat Healy star.
The Croods (PG) ***
CG-animated adventure about a prehistoric family facing up to its potential demise, this has lots of cutting-edge visuals to dazzle the eye, but the storytelling is caveman basic, revolving around a free-spirited young girl called Eep (Emma Stone) torn between obeying her overprotective father (Nicholas Cage) and running off with an adventure-seeking, fire-harnessing caveboy (Ryan Reynolds).
Identity Thief (15) **
Bridesmaids star Melissa McCarthy is the best thing in this road-trip comedy about a fraudster who steals the identity of Jason Bateman’s uptight financial controller and ends up on the run with him across America. Unfortunately the jokes aren’t funny and too much of the film is rooted in that spurious Hollywood belief that anyone over a certain size is secretly yearning for the acceptance of thin people.
Jack the Giant Slayer (12A) **
A special effects display in search of a story, X-Men director Bryan Singer’s take on Jack and the Beanstalk seems more interested in using digital technology to render hordes of rampaging giants on screen than finding a way to make the fairytale genuinely compelling for a new audience. With Nicholas Hoult, Ewan McGregor and Stanley Tucci.
Oz the Great and Powerful (12A) ***
Part loving tribute, part modern reboot, this sort-of prequel to The Wizard of Oz offers plenty to enjoy without really nailing what makes the 1939 adaptation of L Frank Baum’s story such an enduring classic.
Post Tenebras Lux (18) **
Purveyor of demanding, poetic provocations such as Japón, Battle in Heaven and Silent Light, Mexican auteur Carlos Reygadas abandons narrative altogether for his latest – a fractured series of vignettes related to a prosperous middle-class family living in the Mexican countryside. Beautifully shot, but with little explication, it confirms Reygadas as a filmmaker who can create forceful images but not always persuasive works of art.
Side Effects (15) ****
Steven Soderbergh uses the unscrupulous practices of multinational drug companies as a jumping-off point for a moody, sophisticated but gleefully twisty thriller. Jude Law plays an overworked psychiatrist who prescribes a powerful new antidepressant to Rooney Mara, with unexpected consequences for everyone.
Stolen (15) ***
Nicholas Cage re-teams with Con Air director Simon West for a cornball action movie about a newly released ex-con who has 12 hours to get his hands on $10 million if he ever wants to see his just-kidnapped daughter alive again. If you can get past some rubbish plotting, it’s surprisingly watchable trash, and offers the sight of Cage talking about Care Bears, delivering lines in Swedish and pulling off a bank heist with a blowtorch.