New in town: Watch Scarlett Johansson  in Lucy at Speciality Theatre. *Photo supplied
New in town: Watch Scarlett Johansson in Lucy at Speciality Theatre. *Photo supplied

Speciality Theatre

Lucy

***

Stars: Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman

Director: Luc Besson

Rated: R

Showing: Fri 2:45pm, 6:30pm, 9pm; Sat 6:30pm,  8:30pm, 9pm; Sun 2:30pm,  5pm, 7:30pm; Mon-Wed 2:45pm, 6:30pm, 9pm.

Runtime: 90 minutes

Action, Sci-Fi

After a decade when the only person to take her seriously was Woody Allen, Scarlett Johansson seems to have found her groove of late, with the new actioner Lucy as further confirmation of her niche.

She’s been a poker-faced Russian comic book heroine in The Avengers universe, a murderously humourless alien in Under the Skin and a voice a guy could fall in love with in Her. And that’s the polished skill-set she brings to Lucy, a vulnerable college student whose poor choice in beaus gets her tangled up with a Korean/Taiwanese mob about to unleash an irresistible new drug on Europe. Besson’s script may let her (and Morgan Freeman) down in the third act, but the 89 minute-long Lucy is so brisk it’ll give you whiplash. Even marginal thrillers benefit from a director and star who have a sense of urgency and are as hell-bent as this on not overstaying their welcome. 

Planes: Fire and Rescue

**

Stars: Dane Cook, Ed Harris, Julie Bowen.

Director: Roberts Gannaway.

Rated: PG

Showing: Fri 2:30pm, 6pm; 

Sat 2pm, 4:15pm, 6pm; 2pm,  4:30pm, 7pm; Mon-Wed

2:30pm, 6pm.

Runtime: 83 minutes

Animation, adventure, comedy.

Planes: Fire & Rescue is roughly twice as good as its predecessor, Planes, which was so story-and-laugh starved it would have given “direct-to-video” a bad name. Yes, there was nowhere to go but up.

The sequel’s story is about something — Dusty the racing plane learns to be a S.E.A.T., a Single Engine Ariel Tanker, a fire-fighting plane. For very young children, it offers animated suspense and lovely and exciting animated aerial footage of planes and helicopters fighting forest fires in the American West. 

The characters are, to a one, stiffs. But bringing in Ed Harris (as a no-nonsense trainer / helicopter), Hal Holbrook (voicing an ancient fire truck) and Wes Studi (a Native American Sikorsky Sky Crane chopper) classes things up. 

Liberty Theatre

Hercules

***

Stars: Dwayne Johnson, John Hurt, Ian McShane

Director: Brett Ratner

Rated: PG-13

Showing: Fri-Sat 2:30pm, 6pm, 9pm; Sun 2:30pm, 5:30pm; Mon-Wed 2:30pm, 6pm, 9pm.

Runtime: 98 minutes

Action, adventure

Having endured his legendary twelve labours, Hercules, the Greek demigod, has his life as a sword-for-hire tested when the King of Thrace and his daughter seek his aid in defeating a tyrannical warlord. 

Neptune Theatre

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

***

Stars: Andy Serkis, Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman, Keri Russell, Toby Kebbell.

Director: Matt Reeves

Rated: PG-13

Showing: Fri-Sat 7:30pm; Sun 5:30pm; Mon-Wed 7pm.

Runtime: 126 minutes

Action, drama, sci-fi.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is an action-packed epic, a moving sci-fi allegory rendered in broad, lush strokes by the latest state of the computer animator’s art. Yes, you will believe a chimp can talk, ride a horse and fire a machine gun. These evolved animated apes have fur with feeling, expressive faces, fangs and eyes that show them well on their way to being human.

Dawn illustrates the accelerating pace of improvements to CGI — with performances built around motion-capture-suited actors Andy Serkis and Toby Kebbell, among others — in sequences so dazzling your jaw will drop.

ALL REVIEWS BY MCT