Collateral Beauty

Howard Inlet (Will Smith) was a high-flying, smooth-talking New York marketing whizz, until two years ago when his six year old daughter died. He returned to work eighteen months later, but his understandable change of character has left him shut down and closed off to all around him. His work has suffered, and the business he co-owns with best friend Whit (Edward Norton) may go under unless something can be done. After hiring a private investigator, Whit – along with colleagues Simon (Michael Pena) and Claire (Kate Winslet) – discover that as part of his recovery process Howard has written letters to the entities of Love, Death and Time, so the trio decide to hire actors to portray these facets of the world and confront Howard, in an attempt to prove he is crazy so he’ll be forced to sign his ownership of the business over to them.
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Atonement

Based on the book of the same name that swept the country a few years ago, Atonement tells the story of Briony in three stages of her life, as a young writer in her parents stately manor in the early 30s (Saoirse Ronan), training to become a nurse during World War 2 (Romola Garai) and much later, releasing a book on the subject as an old woman (Vanessa Redgrave), cut the story she tells is not only her own, but that of Cecilia and Robbie (Keira Knightley and James McAvoy), her older sister and their gardener.

A childhood misunderstanding of several events lad Briony to make a rash decision she would live to deeply regret, for its consequences had the very real possibility of being incredibly dire. Whilst beautifully shot in every scene, most notably the standout 5 minute continuous steadicam sequence as three soldiers (including Ashes to Ashes’ Daniel Mays) discover a war ravaged beach complete with hundreds of extras, horses and a funfair making the film worthwhile on its own, the film does not quite have the right mix of war and romance to attract both genders, focussing more on the females than males, yet there is still plenty to keep all engaged, and at times agog.
Choose film 7/10

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest

The second pirates film is not as good as the first, but is still thoroughly entertaining, and features several enjoyable set pieces, not least of which is the three-way swordfight between Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom and Jack Davenport (who really should be in more films). This is probably my highlight of the trilogy, especially once the giant wheel comes into play.
The special effects are stepped up from the first film, with Davy Jones and his crew looking exceptional, with the many hours of work involved being well worth the effort. Still, the cliffhanger endings do make this seem more of a set-up for the trilogy closer.Choose life 6/10

Pirates of the Caribbean: the Curse of the Black Pearl

The original Pirates of the Caribbean film, the greatest ever made best on a theme park ride, is tremendous family-friendly fun, especially in its first half. It loses its way towards the end of the second reel, as the plot becomes inundated with various bluffs and double crosses, although in a film about pirates this is only to be expected. The CGI is excellent and well used, as is the comic relief, mainly provided by Lee Arenberg and Mackenzie Crook, surely the closest any human being can get to being a scarecrow without an awful lot of hay. Geoffrey Rush could well have been cast as villain Barbossa on the strength of his piratical laugh alone, and for that deserves at least a mention.Choose film 7/10