TOWARDS the conclusion of Marc Forster's fantasy, Winnie-the-Pooh (voiced by Jim Cummings) stares adoringly at a grown-up Christopher Robin (Ewan McGregor), who has forgotten the joy of his childhood spent romping around the Hundred Acre Wood.

"It's always a sunny day when Christopher Robin comes to play," coos the honey-guzzling bear.

Alas, that sunshine doesn't always penetrate the rain clouds that linger over this cinematic namesake, which shamelessly milks our affection for beloved characters created by AA Milne and EH Shepard.

Credited to three screenwriters, Christopher Robin relies heavily on the quirks and naive charm of Pooh and his companions, who are convincingly brought to life through digital trickery.

A briskly paced opening section documents Christopher's formative years by flicking through the pages of a book - Chapter 2: In which Christopher Robin hears very sad news - which are laden with the bear's mantras for a contented life.

"Doing nothing often leads to the very best of something," philosophises Pooh.

Forster's film does very little and this leads to occasional laughs, teary confessions and a central message about cherishing time spent with loved ones.

Yesteryear's Goodbye Christopher Robin focused on the post-traumatic stress endured by Milne when he returned to London from the trenches of the Great War and a fractious relationship with his son.

Christopher Robin skips forward in time to the late 1940s.

The titular father (McGregor) is a workaholic efficiency manager in the luggage division of Winslow Enterprises run by Old Man Winslow (Oliver Ford Davies) and his slippery son Giles (Mark Gatiss).

Times are tough and Winslow Jr orders Christopher to deliver 20% cuts across his team in time for a board presentation on Monday morning.

"If this ship goes down, you need to ask yourself. Am I a swimmer or a sinker?" snarls Giles.

Christopher cancels a weekend in the country with his neglected wife Evelyn (Hayley Atwell) and young daughter Madeline (Bronte Carmichael) to concentrate on balance sheets.

Magically, Pooh materialises in London and convinces Christopher to return to the Hundred Acre Wood to track down Eeyore (Brad Garrett), Piglet (Nick Mohammed), Rabbit (Peter Capaldi), Kanga (Sophie Okonedo), Roo (Sarah Sheen) and Owl (Toby Jones).

Christopher Robin shoots for the same sweet nostalgia as Paddington but lacks the heart and soul of that marmalade-smeared adventure.

Gentle laughs punctuate the soul-searching, like when Christopher picks up Eeyore so they can walk faster and the donkey deadpans, "It's kind of you to kidnap me."

The picture's ponderous middle section meanders rather like the little bear on one of his quests for golden honey.

An emotionally manipulative final act, hung on an action set-piece in post-wartime London, is signposted as clearly as the fearsome Heffalumps and Woozles.


CRIME and punishment trade furious blows and bludgeon us into wearying submission in The Equalizer 2, a blood-spattered sequel to the 2014 action thriller, which reunited director Antoine Fuqua with Training Day leading man Denzel Washington.

Both return to active duty alongside scriptwriter Richard Wenk for a revenge mission, which doles out rough justice on home soil in breathlessly staged and gratuitously violent fight sequences.

This Robert McCall bears scant resemblance to the avuncular figure embodied by Edward Woodward in the popular 1980s TV series.

A wince-inducing prologue, set inside a speeding Turkish Railway dining carriage, details McCall's single-handed rescue of a bookshop owner's daughter (Rhys Olivia Cote) from the girl's thuggish father.

The set-piece serves no wider narrative purpose, merely underlining the central character's predilection for snapping limbs and face-planting knife-wielding henchmen as a means to a noble end.

Fuqua could cut away from the brutality but he relishes it in close-up, justifying each adrenaline-fuelled bout of fisticuffs by suggesting that everyone is stained by sin.

"There are no good and bad people anymore," opines one of McCall's CIA buddies, who has compromised integrity in the name of national security. "No enemies, just unfortunates."

Ultimately, we're the unfortunates because The Equalizer 2 squanders its Oscar-winning star and builds to a final showdown battered by hurricane-force winds that is overblown in every sense.

McCall (Washington) patrols the streets of Boston as an on-demand taxi driver, forcibly rebuking one group of cocaine-snorting city gents, who casually deposit a trembling, bruised woman in the back of his car.

Occasionally he engages with passengers like Holocaust survivor Sam Rubinstein (Orson Bean), who hopes to be reunited with a cherished family heirloom.

McCall also acts as mentor to a gifted artist called Miles (Ashton Sanders), who needs to distance himself from a circle of friends comprising drug dealers and gun-toting gang members.

In the midst of playing good Samaritan, McCall receives devastating news about one of the few people to know his location: former CIA associate Susan Plummer (Melissa Leo).

She is investigating the murders of a Belgian couple and a tangled web of intrigue propels McCall back into the orbit of his ex-partner Dave York (Pedro Pascal).

Bullets fly, friendships implode and McCall shields Susan's husband Brian (Bill Pullman) from a merciless hired assassin (Jonathan Scarfe).

The Equalizer 2 feels considerably longer than two hours, padding out a linear central plot with Miles's journey of self-discovery and an uplifting resolution to Sam's quest.

Washington's face registers barely a single emotion as he cuts a swathe through the criminal underworld with his fists, or by gouging out an eye.

He elevates the pulpy material and makes McCall's second righteous rampage a tolerable but unedifying experience.


THE Bafta award-winning creators of The Inbetweeners hope to repeat a winning formula with a raucous road trip directed by Iain Morris.

Nick (Joe Thomas) goes into emotional meltdown during his graduation after he is unceremoniously dumped on the big day by his girlfriend Caitlin (Hannah Tointon) in front of his father Robin (Jemaine Clement).

She assumed they would be breaking up after university, while he is preparing to commit to Caitlin by setting up home together.

Angry and confused, Nick can only see darkness and despair in his immediate future until lovable best friend Shane (Hammed Animashaun) suggests they head to a music festival in the company of his oddball pal, Amy (Claudia O'Doherty).

Nick is persuaded to pack his wellington boots for three days of music, merriment and alcoholic excess in an increasingly muddy field, surrounded by thousands of fun-loving strangers... plus Caitlin, who happens to be at the same festival with her friends.

After some initial awkwardness, Nick embraces the spirit of the festival and sheds his clothes and inhibitions as he realises that breaking up with Caitlin isn't the end of the world after all.

THE GUARDIANS (15, 135 mins)

Released: August 17 (UK & Ireland, selected cinemas)

Director Xavier Beauvois draws inspiration from the novel by Ernest Perochon to document the experiences of a group of women left behind by their husbands and sons during the First World War.

Hortense Sandrail (Nathalie Baye) presides over her family's farm with an iron fist now her husband Henri (Gilbert Bonneau) is too old and frail to perform gruelling physical labour.

The ageing matriarch is aided by her daughter Solange (Laura Smet), whose husband Clovis (Olivier Rabourdin) is serving his country.

Hortense's two sons, school teacher Constant (Nicolas Giraud) and Georges (Cyril Descours), are also away at war, leaving the women to plough the land, harvest crops and tend to livestock.

The daily toil proves too much, so Hortense hires a 20-year-old orphan called Francine (Iris Bry) to lighten the backbreaking load.

Francine is an excellent worker and she proves invaluable to the Sandrail family while the men repel the advances of the German army.

As the years pass, Francine's role within the household expands and she threatens to steal the heart of Georges when he returns home from the conflict.


Released: August 17 (UK, selected cinemas)

Director, writer and actor Orson Welles seized 1940s Hollywood by the scruff of the neck with his debut feature Citizen Kane.

Nominated for nine Academy Awards including best picture and director, the film eventually collected a golden statuette for best original screenplay, which Welles shared with Herman J Mankiewicz.

Film critic-turned-filmmaker Mark Cousins exposes a previously unseen side of Welles in this revealing documentary, which has been granted exclusive access to hundreds of Welles's private paintings and drawings.

Through these works of art, the film reflects the politics and passions of the film-making titan in his own brushstrokes and sketches, drawing parallels between the America of the past and the concerns of the present day under the divisive leadership of President Donald Trump.

Cousins's film is executive produced by Michael Moore.


Released: August 17 (UK, selected cinemas)

Joan Crawford collected her one and only Oscar as best actress for her role in Michael Curtiz's stylish 1945 film noir.

It's a tour-de-force performance which signalled one of the greatest comebacks in Hollywood history.

She plays a doting mother driven to the brink of murder.

Mildred is left to care for her children by husband Bert (Bruce Bennett), who seeks his emotional and physical comfort elsewhere, with the delightfully monikered Maggie Biederhof (Lee Patrick).

Bullied by eldest daughter Veda (Ann Blyth) about the family's lack of money, Mildred agrees to open a restaurant under the guidance of realtor Wally Fay (Jack Carson) and property owner Monte Beragon (Zachary Scott).

The restaurant's success still doesn't provide materialistic and snobby Veda with the luxuries she desires, so Mildred begrudgingly marries Monte, desperate to win the love and respect of her daughter.

However, poor Mildred soon learns that Veda has been having an affair with Monte behind her back.

THE WOMEN (U, 133 mins)

Released: August 17 (UK, selected cinemas)

A reissue of George Cukor's sparkling 1939 comedy-drama based on the play by Clare Boothe Luce.

Wealthy wife Mary Haines (Norma Shearer) learns that her husband Stephen is having an affair with a shop girl called Crystal (Joan Crawford).

Advised by her gal pals Sylvia Fowler (Rosalind Russell) and Edith Potter (Phyllis Povah), Mary heads for Reno to file for divorce, where she finds herself embroiled in the equally tangled love lives of the Countess DeLave (Mary Boland) and Miriam Aarons (Paulette Goddard).

These overlapping webs of intrigue allow Mary to reclaim her self-belief and fighting spirit, and to realise that she holds the balance of power in her bruised relationship with Stephen.

THE SPY WHO DUMPED ME (15, 117 mins)

Released: August 22 (UK & Ireland)

Audrey Stockton (Mila Kunis) meets Drew Thayer (Justin Theroux) on her birthday and sparks fly.

They embark on a whirlwind romance which ends almost one year later with Drew dumping Audrey.

She seeks solace in the company of her thirtysomething best friend Morgan (Kate McKinnon), who recommends that they blot out memories of Drew by savouring Los Angeles to excess.

Out of the blue, Drew re-establishes contact and reveals the real reason he had to terminate the relationship: he is an undercover CIA operative and the criminal fraternity was prepared to hurt Audrey to get to him.

Now, the bad guys are poised to kill Audrey and Morgan to retrieve an important item in Drew's possession.

The gal pals go on the run and cross paths with dashing MI6 agent Sebastian Henshaw (Sam Heughan), who claims he has been hired by his boss Wendy (Gillian Anderson) to protect them.

The trio slowly untangle a global conspiracy and, hopefully, avoid an early grave at the hands of gymnastic assassin Nadedja (Ivanna Sakhno).

KARWAAN (12A, 114 mins)

Released: August 23 (UK & Ireland, selected cinemas)

A dutiful son performs the last rites for his father and is blessed with new friends in a Hindi-language comedy-drama directed by Akarsh Khurana.

Avinash (Dulquer Salmaan) has always blamed his father (director Khurana) for the misery that life has lavished upon him.

Trapped in a thankless job in Bangalore with a boss who clearly despises him, Avinash yearns for adventure and he gets his wish in tragic circumstances.

His father perishes in an accident and a terrible mix-up results in Avinash receiving the wrong body.

He takes delivery of the mother of a woman called Tahira (Amala Akkineni), who lives in Kochi. In return, she receives the body of Avinash's old man.

Determined to rectify the administrative blunder, Avinash enlists the services of his one and only friend, Shaukat (Irrfan Khan), to drive from Bangalore to Kochi and exchange the deceased parents.

En route, Avinash and Shaukat collect a passenger, Tahira's outspoken daughter Tanya (Mithila Palkar), whose carefree nature is a shock to the system of the older men.

She encourages Avinash and Shaukat to take madcap detours to Ooty and Kumarakom and inspires both men to re-evaluate the direction of their unsatisfying lives.