Your guide to the films on general release this week
The King’s Speech (12A)
When King George V (Michael Gambon) dies in 1936, eldest son Edward (Guy Pearce) ascends to the throne, but his reign is shrouded in scandal as he continues to romance American divorcee, Wallis Simpson (Eve Best). Love triumphs over duty and Edward abdicates, forcing youngest son Albert (Colin Firth) into the spotlight. However, the newly crowned King George VI suffers from a crippling stammer, which renders him unable to deliver public addresses. With war imminent and the country looking to its King for leadership, Queen Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter) approaches unconventional Australian-born speech therapist Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush) on the recommendation of a friend, and persuades him to help her husband overcome his fears.
Rating: Four and a half stars
127 Hours (15)
Aron Ralston (James Franco) is an avid mountain climber who made headlines in the summer of 2003 when he became trapped in the Blue John Canyon in Utah, his arm pinned against the wall of the canyon by a heavy boulder. After five days alone, with all hope seemingly lost and his strength evaporating in the sweltering heat, Ralston elected to amputate his trapped arm with a pen knife in the hope he could run for help before losing too much blood. Director Danny Boyle and screenwriter Simon Beaufoy, who both won Academy Awards for Slumdog Millionaire, reunite for this electrifying adaptation of Ralston’s memoir, Between A Rock And A Hard Place, which reveals the internal monologue of a man who fully expected to die in the baking earth.
Rating: Four stars
The Next Three Days (12A)
Lara Brennan (Elizabeth Banks) is a model businesswoman, wife and mother with a doting husband, John (Russell Crowe), and a young son in Paul Haggis’s remake of Anything For Her (Pour Elle). The family’s world implodes when police detectives Quinn (Jason Beghe) and Collero (Aisha Hinds) arrest Lara for the murder of her boss. Evidence is compelling - including fingerprints on the murder weapon. Lara is sentenced to a lifetime behind bars for a crime she maintains she did not commit. John naturally pins his hopes on an appeal but when the law fails him, the husband concocts an elaborate plan to spring his wife from jail. “I promise you, this will not be your life,” he tells Lara tearfully as he uses inside knowledge from an ex-con (Liam Neeson) to identify a tiny window of opportunity for escape.
Rating: Three stars
Season of the Witch (15)
Behmen (Nicolas Cage) and best friend Felson (Ron Perlman) are Crusaders who turn their backs on the church and return home to discover that the Black Plague has ravaged their beloved land. Sorcery is blamed for the fatal outbreak and Cardinal D’Ambroise (Christopher Lee) summons the two knights to his deathbed, where he implores them, among others, to undertake a perilous mission to transport a young witch (Claire Foy) to a remote abbey, where the monks will perform a ritual to purge her tortured soul. When some of the party begin to question if the girl is really a witch, a member growls menacingly, “She sees the weakness that lies in our hearts and she uses it against us.” Season Of The Witch lacks suspense or horror, steadily whittling down the cast through a series of trials.
Rating: Two stars
Arthur and the Great Adventure (PG)
Arthur (Freddie Highmore) is staying with his grandmother (Mia Farrow) and eagerly awaits the end of the moon’s tenth cycle and his return to the Minimoy village. Consequently, he will be able to venture back to his beloved princess Selenia (voiced by Selena Gomez). However, Arthur’s parents (Robert Stanton, Penny Balfour) throw a spanner in the works by cutting short their stay. Poised to leave, Arthur is shocked when a spider deposits a grain of rice in his hand engraved with a plea for help. Fearing that Selenia and her little brother Betameche (Jimmy Fallon) are in peril, the lad hastily improvises a passage back to the Minimoys where he joins forces with bar owner Max (Snoop Dogg) and his pickpocket cousin Replay (Stacy Ferguson) to locate Selenia.
Rating: Three stars
Meet the Parents: Little Fockers (12A)
Hapless male nurse Gaylord “Greg” Focker (Ben Stiller) is blissfully in love with his wife Pam (Teri Polo) and his twins, Samantha (Daisy Tahan) and Henry (Colin Baiocchi). The feisty daughter is giving her father the silent treatment while the boy is becoming fussy about his food. It’s hassle that Greg could do without as he considers a lucrative job offer from pretty drugs rep Andi Garcia (Jessica Alba) and debates sending the little ones to the prestigious Early Human School, run by inspirational headmistress Prudence (Laura Dern). Meanwhile, Pam’s father, retired CIA operative Jack Byrnes (Robert De Niro), continues to view Greg with suspicion and isn’t sure that his son-in-law is made of the right material to lead the Byrne clan.
Rating: Two stars