Movies to watch this week at the cinema: Point Break, Trumbo, Dad's Army, more...

Out on Friday 5 February

Point Break gets a remake. Bryan Cranston faces writer’s block. Jack Black brings R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps from page to scream. Yes, here’s this week’s new releases. Click on for our reviews of Point Break, Trumbo, Goosebumps, Dad’s Army, Rams, Miss Hokusai, Strangerland, Taking Stock, Lee Scratch Perry’s Vision Of Paradise and Janis: Little Girl Blue. For the best movie reviews, subscribe to Total Film.

POINT BREAK

News that Warner was rebooting Kathryn Bigelow’s seminal 1991 surf actioner was never going to be greeted with enthusiasm. Then it looked worse when Gerard Butler might be chewing his way through the role made famous by Patrick Swayze. But Butler jumped, Édgar Ramírez stepped in and it looked a slightly cooler proposition. But even then, does the still-stellar Point Break need a retune? And can it possibly improve on the Reeves/Swayze bromance? Well, no. But it doesn’t totally crash and burn either. This is a boneheaded, big, stupid movie rammed with eye-saucering ‘real’ action and almost knowingly dumb dialogue (the title is condensed to a particularly clunky speech about ‘reaching a point where you break’). It updates the original in a ham-fisted manner and gapes with plotholes big enough to surf through. But let’s face it: plenty of big, stupid movies have made plenty of money so there’s no reason why this Point Break shouldn’t entertain anyone looking for something merely “young, dumb and full of cum”. Updated for millennials, Johnny Utah (Luke Bracey) is now a poly-athlete into extreme sports who’s inexplicably joined the FBI because his bestie motorbiked off a cliff. He susses that a group of anarchists/robbers are actually adrenalin junkies seeking enlightenment by following a path of ‘ordeals’, the so-called Osaki 8 (extreme surfing, skydiving, proximity flying, snowboarding, free-climbing, street fighting, eating lunch up a mountain or something), and goes undercover to bust them. Of course, you know this story: Utah becomes enthralled by charismatic leader Bodhi (Ramírez) and finds himself morally torn and along for the ride(s). Not updated for 2016 is poor female representation, with Teresa Palmer’s manic hippy pixie providing little more than bikini shots and a nice dinner. But hey, this is all about the bros, man. And while Ramírez does sterling work selling a load of cobblers with considerable magnetism – the rest of the crew are dispensable – the standout stars are the real-life X-athletes who pull off the audacious stunts against a stunning global backdrop. Like an extended Red Bull promo filmed with GoPro, we’re inside the action as they wingsuit alongside sheer cliffs, surf a monster wave, dive from a plane into an earthbound cave and dangle from vertiginous crevices. OK, so that Bodhi/Utah face-off so memorably parodied in Hot Fuzz is fumbled, and none of it really makes sense. But as action no-brainers go, it’s silly, entertaining stuff. THE VERDICT: An enjoyably dopey actioner best viewed as a homage rather than a remake. Not a barrel ride, but no wipeout either. Director: Ericson Core Starring: Édgar Ramírez, Luke Bracey, Teresa Palmer, Ray Winstone Theatrical release: 5 February 2016 Jane Crowther

TRUMBO

With four Emmys and a Tony already, Bryan Cranston is making a strong run at the EGOT club with his first leading screen role since Breaking Bad. His affable and commanding performance as persecuted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo puts a spring in the step of what’s otherwise a somewhat plodding biopic, its workmanlike production an uncomfortable fit for its stranger-than-fiction true story. We pick up in 1947, with the well-liked and wildly successful Trumbo (best known now as the writer of Spartacus) teetering on the brink of a fall from grace. He, along with nine others, finds himself blacklisted for refusing to cooperate with Congress’ anti-communist witch hunt and, after a spell in federal prison, finds himself virtually unemployable. Once he was one of the highest-paid writers in Hollywood; now he’s forced to churn out paltry B-movie scripts under a pseudonym. If director Jay Roach’s approach to McCarthy-era Hollywood feels somewhat stilted – he leans heavily on recreated newsreel footage and expositional soundbites – his lightness of touch also lends a wry sense of mischief. As Trumbo sneaks back into legit screenplay work with a little help from Kirk Douglas (Dean O’Gorman, AKA The Hobbit’s Fili), the film moves from its simplistic early tone into essentially a caper story with typewriters, and works all the better for it. For all the gusto and verve of Cranston’s performance, he can’t imbue Trumbo with the nuance he lacks, and a belated attempt to give him some emotional conflict feels unearned. The supporting roles are even more like archetypes – though Helen Mirren is thrillingly caustic as tyrannical gossip columnist Hedda Hopper – and there’s a sense that the performances are all that’s holding Trumbo together. Screenwriters being notoriously under-appreciated in Hollywood, it’s a pleasure to see the scribe as hero here, but by the same token it’s unfortunate that the film’s own script feels so perfunctory. THE VERDICT: A sturdy and solidly unremarkable portrait of a fascinating period in Hollywood history, Trumbo is glossy, old-fashioned fun anchored by a magnetic, theatrical turn from Cranston. Director: Jay Roach Starring: Bryan Cranston, Diane Lane, Helen Mirren, Louis C.K., Elle Fanning Theatrical release: 5 February 2016 Emma Dibdin

GOOSEBUMPS

Years before there were queues outside bookshops for Harry Potter, kids were hiding under their duvets with Goosebumps, the hammy horror series by R.L. Stine that spawned more than 60 bestselling titles in the mid-’90s. It’s an odd move to land a movie adap now, when a lot of mums and dads will have all but forgotten the books, but you don’t need to know your Slappys from your Swamp Monsters to get the concept and love it. A box-fresh comedy horror that slings Amblin-esque heart, B-movie thrills and plenty of CGI at the screen, it’s a lot of dumb fun. Jack Black plays Stine (yes, it’s a bit meta) as a curious mix of Igor and Truman Capote – a reclusive writer who spends his days popping out of attic windows and screaming at his teenage daughter (Odeya Rush) for getting cute with the new boy next door (Dylan Minnette). The kids accidentally open Stine’s magic manuscripts, unleashing every monster he ever dreamed up. With werewolves, mummies, giant insects, blob monsters, zombies, evil clowns and mutant plants all running amok, this could be Cabin In The Woods for kids. Some scenes work better than others (including a film-stealing mob of stop-motion gnomes that squeeze in a few Gremlins nods), but there’s never a dull moment as Black dives into the frantic monster mash with more mad gusto than we’ve seen in some time. It’s far from slick, most of the other grown-ups get sidelined and the quality of special effects is obviously pitched at kids too young to care. But there’s a goofy, old- fashioned vibe throughout that makes it feel exactly like the kind of film you wanted to see when you were eight. THE VERDICT: Jack Black is the ringmaster in a three-ring circus of family horror that stays faithful to everything that made R.L. Stine’s junior pulp fiction such a ’90s playground sensation. Director: Rob Letterman Starring: Jack Black, Odeya Rush, Dylan Minnette, Amy Ryan, Ryan Lee Theatrical release: 5 February 2016 Paul Bradshaw

DAD’S ARMY

A movie version of beloved wartime sitcom Dad’s Army? Talk about stomping on sacrilegious ground. But fair play to director Oliver Parker and screenwriter Hamish McColl, they make a go of it, with a brilliantly appointed cast led from the front by Toby Jones as Captain Mainwaring, the pompous bank manager and leader of the Walmington-on-Sea Home Guard. Alongside him, Bill Nighy is perfect as suave Oxbridge bumbler Sgt Wilson. Ditto Michael Gambon as sweet old codger Godfrey, Sir Tom Courtenay as Corporal Jones, The Inbetweeners’ Blake Harrison as “stupid boy” Pike and Daniel Mays as Spivvy Wilson. Joining them is Catherine Zeta-Jones as a journalist for The Lady magazine, penning an article on our heroes. It’s 1944 and the men are losing morale. But when it’s revealed there’s a German spy in their midst, Mainwaring and co. see a chance to do something for the war effort before the platoon is disbanded by Mark Gatiss’ toffy-nosed military man. The laughs are largely gentle, with a few saucy postcard innuendos (“slipping her a sausage”) and some pratfalls, courtesy of Jones’ gift for physical comedy. Parker, who previously helmed the St. Trinian’s reboots, does his best to approximate the original show, from shoehorning in the catchphrases (“We’re doomed!” etc), to the theme tune and the “you have been watching...” end credit that always followed any Jimmy Perry-David Croft creation. At least the set-pieces are bigger, involving tanks, U-boats, explosions and a real cliffhanger with Jones. The end result emerges as an eerie facsimile – one that leaves you wondering what the point is. However good the actors all are, they’re never going to be Arthur Lowe and co. Adding in Mainwaring’s previously unseen wife (Felicity Montagu) is a nice touch, but really the film is vying for the goodwill of older audiences who’d be better off sitting at home watching the repeats with a cup of tea and a Chelsea bun. THE VERDICT: Full marks for the impersonations, no marks for originality. Not the embarrassment it could easily have been, but far from a must-see-at-the-cinema. Director: Oliver Parker Starring: Toby Jones, Bill Nighy, Tom Courtenay, Michael Gambon, Daniel Mays, Blake Harrison Theatrical release: 5 February 2016 James Mottram

MISS HOKUSAI

Magical and melancholy, tender and robust: rippling reserves of theme and style compensate for wobbly pacing in Keiichi Hara’s adaptation of Hinako Sugiura’s manga Sarusuberi. On one level it’s a coming-of-ager about Edo-period painter Katsushika Hokusai’s (voiced by Yutaka Matsushige) artist daughter O-Ei (Anne Watanabe). Yet there are other levels at play here. Weaving between sweet snowball fights, dragons and 10-hankie subplots about O-Ei’s sister, Hara teases a film of quiet poignancy and power from undulating experience: the plot is messy but the pendulum swing of emotions rings true. Director: Keiichi Hara Starring: Anne Higashide, Yutaka Matsushige, Gaku Hamada Theatrical release: 5 February 2016 Kevin Harley

STRANGERLAND

From Eyes Wide Shut to her on-stage turn in The Blue Room, Nicole Kidman has never been afraid to strip away the layers, both physically and mentally. Further proof arrives in Kim Farrant’s psychological drama, in which she and Joseph Fiennes play married out-of-towners whose lives unravel when their two troubled children (Maddison Brown, Nicholas Hamilton) disappear in the outback. Drawing from the likes of Picnic At Hanging Rock and Jindabyne, Farrant’s slow-burner never quite hits fifth gear. But with Kidman going loco, à la The Others, it still conjures a spell. Director: Kim Farrant Starring: Nicole Kidman, Joseph Fiennes, Hugo Weaving Theatrical release: 5 February 2016 James Mottram

TAKING STOCK

“Bollocks!” crieS Kelly Brook’s freshly dumped singleton after discovering there’s no gas to fuel the oven she has suicidally stuck her head in. It’s a sentiment you’ll no doubt share after enduring Maeve Murphy’s witless heist comedy, in which Brook’s aspiring actress plots with her workmates to rob the design shop that’s about to make them redundant. Clad in a Bonnie Parker beret and vertiginous pair of heels, the lad-mag favourite at least looks the part. Sadly, the part in question is a numpty whose crush on boss Scot Williams is as suspect as everything else in this amateurish Brit-flick Director: Maeve Murphy Starring: Kelly Brook, Georgia Groome, Scot Williams, Femi Oyeniran Theatrical release: 5 February 2016 Neil Smith

RAMS

The rams in question belong to elderly Icelandic sheep farmers Gummi (Sigurður Sigurjónsson) and Kiddi (Theodór Júlíusson) who, despite being neighbours in a remote valley, have not spoken to one another in 40 years. But when their flocks are threatened by disease, the estranged siblings must co-operate in defying the authorities. Deadpan Scandi-humour runs through writer/director Grímur Hákonarson’s carefully crafted tale, and there’s no doubting the film’s empathy for its protagonists. Shame, then, that the final-reel shift into tragedy feels misplaced. Director: Grímur Hakonarson Starring: Sigurduur Sigurjonsson, Theodor Juliusson Theatrical release: 5 February 2016 Tom Dawson

LEE SCRATCH PERRY’S VISION OF PARADISE

If pronouncements about his previous life as a fish raise concerns that this docu-portrait of Lee Scratch Perry will uphold ganja-baked whimsy over insight, they soon pass. Shot over 13 years, Volker Schaner’s hugely entertaining study of the spry dub legend digs deep and ranges wide. From Jamaica’s Black ark studios, we get rich juice on his Bob Marley work. Muso fans celebrate how he produced inexplicable sounds – one reckons he blew smoke on the tapes – while a visit to his mum is touchingly intimate. The real Perry gradually emerges, and his genius is all the more thrilling for it. Director: Volker Schaner Theatrical release: 5 February 2016 Kevin Harley

JANIS: LITTLE GIRL BLUE

Seismic talent, sensitive soul, dead by 27: Amy J. Berg’s stirring, shattering Janis Joplin portrait shares more than a first-name title with Asif Kapadia’s Amy. Like Kapadia with Winehouse, Berg digs deep into Joplin’s past, presenting her as a wounded radical in repressive Texas. California offered freedom, an outlet for her awesome blues rasp – and temptation. As crackling live footage (‘Ball and Chain’ kills) celebrates her talent, revealing letters and rigorous interviews show how Joplin revelled in her stage persona yet struggled with life: a recipe for triumph then tragedy, here given its punchy and desperately poignant due. Director: Amy Berg Theatrical release: 5 February 2016 Kevin Harley