COLOSSAL (15, 109 mins)
Starring: Anne Hathaway, Jason Sudeikis, Dan Stevens, Tim Blake Nelson, Austin Stowell. Director: Nacho Vigalondo.
Released: May 19 (UK & Ireland, selected cinemas)
SPANISH writer-director Nacho Vigalondo plays with madness in his brilliantly bonkers homage to Godzilla, which projects the monster-mashing mayhem through the lens of an offbeat indie romantic comedy.
Thematically, there are faint echoes of M. Night Shyamalan's unconventional superhero film Unbreakable, but Colossal is very much its own beast, anchored by an eye-catching performance from Anne Hathaway as a struggling alcoholic, whose recovery coincides with the emergence of a towering creature on the other side of the world.
Jason Sudeikis also plays against type to delicious effect as a bar owner, whose jealousy conjures something scarier and far more destructive than a green-eyed behemoth.
The leads enjoy simmering on-screen chemistry that lights the touchpaper on cataclysmic events on two continents, positing tantalising questions about the thin line separating unlikely heroes from villains.
Predictability has been largely eradicated from the picture's warped DNA and we take great delight from the twists and turns in Vigalondo's fantastical narrative, augmented with impressive digital effects that never threaten to overwhelm the emotional components.
New York City party girl Gloria (Hathaway) fails to get a grip on her hard-drinking ways and her straight-laced boyfriend Tim (Dan Stevens) throws her out of his apartment.
Gloria returns in shame to her sleepy upstate home town to crash in her parents' old house, which has been vacant since they retired to sunnier climes.
By chance, she crosses paths with childhood friend Oscar (Sudeikis) and makes insensitive small talk about the health of his mother.
"Don't you remember? You were still living here. You went to the funeral," he responds with bemusement.
Regardless, nice guy Oscar donates unwanted furniture to help Gloria get back on her feet and offers her a job at his bar, which he inherited from his father.
"It's like a Wes Anderson movie in here," she coos, surveying a western-themed area untouched by refurbishment.
Gloria begins to turn her life around and she forges friendships with Oscar's buddies Garth (Tim Blake Nelson) and Joel (Austin Stowell).
Breaking news about the sudden appearance of a giant creature in Seoul sends shockwaves around the world, and a dumbfounded Gloria discovers she is connected to this horned harbinger of doom.
Flashbacks to a traumatic childhood incident reveal the catalyst for this incredible meeting of human and monster minds.
Colossal is an engrossing and intimate character study with grand ambitions, realised in broad strokes by Vigalondo and his special effects team.
Hathaway welcomes us into her character's delirium, compelling us to root for her as she confronts her addiction head-on and demons closer to home.
Sudeikis is a wonderful foil and there is solid support from Stevens, Nelson and Stowell as the unsuspecting men caught in the crossfire of a truly epic battle of the sexes. 7.5/10
KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD (12A, 126 mins)
Starring: Charlie Hunnam, Jude Law, Astrid Berges-Frisbey, Djimon Hounsou, Eric Bana, Aidan Gillen, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Neil Maskell, Geoff Bell, Rob Knighton, David Beckham. Director: Guy Ritchie.
SEVERAL years in the making - all of them wasted - director Guy Ritchie's testosterone-heavy reworking of Arthurian legend is an interminable bore.
A lumbering script, co-written by Joby Harold and Lionel Wigram, pickpockets elements of an origin story from the biblical tale of Moses, Robin Hood and the Marvel Comics universe, with an eye to kick-starting a multi-film mythology filled with familiar characters from olde worlde legend.
Thunderous action sequences appear to have been reconstituted from the cutting-room floor of other blockbusters: rampaging giant elephants in battle armour in the opening melee look suspiciously like hulking Oliphaunts from The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King, and a monstrous magical serpent slithers just like Lord Voldemort's pet Nagini in the Harry Potter franchise.
The hero's obligatory training montage is rendered as a superfluous jaunt to a magical realm called the Darklands, where Arthur hones his swordsmanship against a dizzying menagerie of computer-generated snakes, bats, rats and wolves.
It's a triumph of visually arresting yet soulless digital might, awash with dodgy East End geezers who litter Ritchie's oeuvre, including his revisionist take on Sherlock Holmes with Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law.
Female characters are treated with casual disdain: reduced to witches, wenches or eminently expendable spouses and offspring, who can be slain to facilitate the flimsy plot.
"Where there is poison, there is a remedy," opines one sorceress.
Presumably, Ritchie's film is the pox.
Uther Pendragon (Eric Bana), king of the Britons, is betrayed by his power-hungry brother Vortigern (Jude Law), who forges a deadly pact with dark sorcerer Mordred (Rob Knighton).
The king is slain, but not before he can send his first-born son Arthur (Charlie Hunnam) down river to Londinium to be raised in a brothel.
Flanked by mates Back Lack (Neil Maskell) and Wet Stick (Kingsley Ben-Adir), Arthur blossoms into a strapping hunk, who is blissfully unaware of his destiny.
The heir apparent subsequently pulls Excalibur from a stone and is sentenced to death by Vortigern and his snarling henchman Mischief John (Geoff Bell).
Thankfully, a mysterious enchantress known only as The Mage (Astrid Berges-Frisbey) joins forces with Uther's exiled general Sir Bedivere (Djimon Hounsou) and expert archer Goosefat Bill (Aiden Gillen) to save Arthur from the executioner's chopping block.
King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword is swashbuckling tosh, hamstrung by lifeless performances, clunky dialogue and inert screen chemistry between Hunnam and Berges-Frisbey.
"Are you falling for me like I'm falling for you?" he asks insipidly.
Ritchie invigorates dull storytelling with trademark hyperkinetic brio and snappy editing, plus a throwaway cameo by David Beckham (replete with disfiguring facial make-up), who is just as wooden as the uprights he occasionally struck during his glory days with Manchester United.
Sadly, this is two tedious and dispiriting hours of own goals. 4/10
SNATCHED (15, 90 mins)
Starring: Amy Schumer, Goldie Hawn, Ike Barinholtz, Tom Bateman, Wanda Sykes, Joan Cusack, Oscar Jaenada, Bashir Salahuddin, Randall Park. Director: Jonathan Levine.
TWO generations of film comedy royalty - Amy Schumer and Goldie Hawn - are shamefully squandered in Jonathan Levine's odd couple adventure.
Based on a misfiring screenplay by Katie Dippold, who penned the hilarious Sandra Bullock-Melissa McCarthy romp The Heat, Snatched struggles in vain to make us care about a dysfunctional mother and daughter in peril in the jungles of South America.
The tone lurches between macabre (the accidental murders of two kidnappers by shovel and harpoon gun) and toe-curling humiliation (Schumer being caught red-handed washing her undercarriage over a sink), with scant regard for the finer points of character development or plotting.
Undeniably, Levine's romp has its bright moments, led by Joan Cusack as an acrobatic, mute ex-Special Forces operative, and Wanda Sykes as her sassy partner who is laden with sage advice about how a woman should stay safe on holiday ("Never have more drinks than you have tits").
However, girl power runs on empty from the opening frames and by the time Schumer flashes one of her breasts for a cheap laugh, we know the film-makers are up the Amazon without a paddle.
Self-absorbed, hard-partying dreamer Emily Middleton (Schumer) is unceremoniously dumped by her boyfriend Michael (Randall Park) shortly before a non-refundable trip to Ecuador.
"Don't worry. You still have at least two years to meet someone," messages Emily's mother Linda (Hawn) when she discovers her daughter's online relationship status has reverted to single.
Unable to persuade one of her female friends to accompany her on the South American odyssey, Emily turns instead to her sensible mom.
"Help me put the fun in non-refundable," she pleads.
Linda eventually agrees to abandon her clingy grown-up son Jeffrey (Ike Barinholtz) for the cocktails and crystal-blue waters of a sun-baked resort.
While the matriarch befriends fellow holidaymakers Barb (Cusack) and Ruth (Sykes), thrill seeker Emily sparks a boozy romance with handsome stranger James (Tom Bateman).
One night of passion leads to the kidnapping of Emily and her mother by notorious crime lord Morgado (Oscar Jaenada), who holds the women hostage for 100,000 US dollars.
When Jeffrey receives the ransom demand for his beloved 'ma ma' and sister, he telephones US State Department official Morgan Russell (Bashir Salahuddin) to coordinate an A-Team style rescue mission.
Snatched makes light of a questionable statistic - one in four tourists in South America are kidnapped - to propel the lead characters on a haphazard journey of self-discovery and reconciliation.
Hawn isn't gifted a single funny line during 90 deflating minutes while Schumer continues to mine half-hearted laughs from her role as the childlike clown, whose heart of gold is concealed behind a foul-mouthed facade.
Levine's picture careens out of control and crashes far short of Schumer's uproarious last picture, the offbeat romantic comedy Trainwreck.
This is just a wreck. 4.5/10
WHISKY GALORE! (PG, 98 mins)
GILLIES MacKinnon directs an affectionate remake of Alexander Mackendrick's classic 1949 Ealing comedy, based on the novel by Sir Compton Mackenzie. Inspired by real events in 1941, when the SS Politician was shipwrecked in the Outer Hebrides and wily islanders on nearby Eriskay attempted to salvage the cargo of alcohol, Whisky Galore! unfolds on the fictional Hebridean island of Todday. News spreads like wildfire through the community about a freighter that has run aground laden with 50,000 cases of "the water of life". Supplies of the drink have been depleted by wartime rationing so British authorities are keen to recover the cargo. Captain Waggett (Eddie Izzard) from the Home Guard leads this rescue mission but English Sergeant Odd (Sean Biggerstaff) colludes with the islanders, including local shopkeeper Joseph Macroon (Gregor Fisher), to conceal the booty. A battle of wits ensues between Waggett and the islanders, who hide the bottles of whisky in ingenious places to avoid confiscation.