GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS (U) ★★★ ★★
SPECTACULAR but corny sequel.
Animal behaviour specialist Dr Mark Russell (Kyle Chandler) and paleobotanist wife Emma (Vera Farmiga) lost their son Andrew, and their love for each other, in the devastation of Godzilla’s rampage through San Francisco. The couple are estranged and Emma has custody of their daughter Madison (Millie Bobby Brown, above), who supports her mother’s work for “secret monster-hunting” consortium Monarch in a rainforest in China.
Former British army colonel turned eco-terrorist Jonah Alan (Charles Dance) storms the outpost with gun-toting henchmen and takes Emma and Madison hostage. He forces the mother to rouse a giant beast christened Mothra.
Monarch scientist Dr Ishiro Serizawa (Ken Watanabe), his associate Dr Vivienne Graham (Sally Hawkins) and director of technology Dr Sam Coleman (Thomas Middleditch) inform Mark that his family is in jeopardy.
A globe-trotting rescue mission begins in earnest as Colonel Alan agitates more slumbering Titans including three-headed Ghidorah in Antarctica and winged predator Rodan inside a Mexican volcano.
BOOKSMART (15) ★★★★★
RAUCOUS rites-of-passage comedy.
Amy (Kaitlyn Dever, right) and best friend Molly (Beanie Feldstein) have forsaken fornication and partying in order to achieve their academic dreams.
As graduation looms, Amy is destined for Columbia while Molly has been accepted into Yale. The gal pals despair at the tomfoolery of classmates so they are gob-smacked to learn that lazy peers have also secured places at Ivy League institutions.
It’s a bitter pill to swallow: Amy and Molly have needlessly missed out on extra-curricular lessons in drunken bonding. The over-achievers resolve to make amends on the night before Molly delivers her valedictorian speech.
They hatch a hare-brained scheme to gatecrash a party thrown by cool kid Nick (Mason Gooding), but this haphazard odyssey puts Amy and Molly on a collision course with narcotics, crime, an explosion of bodily fluids and a shocking discovery about their high school principal ( Jason Sudeikis).
MA (15) ★★★ ★★
A GROUP of teenagers get an abject lesson in stranger danger when they ask a lonely woman to buy them alcohol, and end up taking the contraband back to her basement. A couple of jump cuts later and Ma’s basement is inexplicably filled with inebriated, under-supervised juveniles.
What ensues is a horror film for the post-Get Out era – Ma aims for fear by social awkwardness, complete with racial undertones, social media scare tactics, and a botched anti-bullying message.
It’s gratifyingly bonkers. The set pieces are self-aware and schlocky, the third act features inventive nastiness, and Octavia Spencer (above) oozes screen presence as the malevolent Ma.