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Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (12A, 135mins) ††††

The hype, for once, is more than justified, and JJ Abrams' reboot of the fantasy franchise is wowing fans across the world. It's 30 years after the end of Return of the Jedi, and lowly scavenger Rey (newcomer Daisy Ridley) is thrust into the middle of a battle between the Rebellion and the sinister First Order when she stumbles on a droid carrying a vital piece of information.

Audiences are spontaneously cheering when Han Solo and Chewie make their entrance and who can blame them, because The Force Awakens is a joyous and nostalgic experience full of wit and action.

In the Heart of the Sea (12A, 122mins) ††††

Ron Howard's stirring nautical adventure has had a torrid time of it at the US box office but I'm not entirely sure why. It's visually spectacular and a consistently engaging action yarn based on the true story that inspired Herman Melville to write Moby Dick.

Chris Hemsworth stars as Owen Chase, the seasoned first mate on a Nantucket whaler that's 2000 miles off the coast of South America when it's attacked and sunk by a giant sperm whale. And what happens next ain't pretty. Brendan Gleeson, Cillian Murphy and Ben Whishaw co-star in this visually splendid film.

Snoopy and Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie (G, 93mins) †††

The timeless cartoon characters of Charles Schultz are charmingly revived in this enjoyable family animation. Insecure schoolboy Charlie Brown is wandering around in the doldrums as usual when a pretty redhead moves in next door. He's in awe of her, and would-be psychotherapist Lucy reckons he doesn't stand a chance, but with the help of Snoopy, you never know.

The Peanuts Movie does not make the mistake of messing with a winning formula, and the animated characters remain pleasingly two-dimensional. There are plenty of funny moments along the way, and small children are sure to be entranced.

Irish Independent