Movie reviews: Inferno, Storks, Oasis: Supersonic

* Inferno 3/5

Movie reviews: Inferno, Storks, Oasis: Supersonic

Adapted from Dan Brown’s blockbuster novel, Inferno (12A) stars Tom Hanks as Robert Langdon, the Harvard professor of symbology who cracked the Da Vinci code.

Inferno opens in Florence, with Langdon in a hospital ward sporting a bullet wound to the head, suffering from amnesia and experiencing vivid visions of Hell.

All of which is bad enough, but soon Langdon and his physician, Dr Brooks (Felicity Jones) are running for their lives from a female assassin, with various government agencies and the World Health Organisation hot on their trail …

Written by David Koepp and directed by Ron Howard (who previously directed The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons), Inferno is a relentlessly paced pursuit movie with Langdon and Brooks solving cryptic puzzles on the hoof as they race from Florence to Venice and onward to Istanbul in a desperate bid to prevent the release of a virus designed to wipe out half the human race.

The early stages offer an intriguing set-up, not least because amnesia has robbed Langdon of his most potent weapon, and Ron Howard oversees the editing of action sequences that owe a debt to the staccato rhythms of the Jason Bourne movies.

It’s all very promising, but the blend of endless chase scenes, improbable scenarios and cerebral brain-teasers results in a rather muddled story.

Tom Hanks is as charismatic as ever as the bewildered but resourceful Langdon, but elsewhere the supporting cast fails to provide the characters with any great depth.

Storks (G) opens with a rather shocking discovery – storks no longer bring babies to expectant parents, but instead operate a drone-like delivery service for retail behemoth

But when chief-stork-in-waiting Junior (voiced by Adam Samberg) contrives to accidentally send a new baby out into the world, the race is on to ensure his boss, Hunter (Kelsey Grammar), doesn’t discover the mistake.

Aided and abetted by Tulip (Katie Crown), a human orphan adopted by the storks when her delivery was botched 18 years previously, Junior sets out on an epic quest to deliver one last baby …

Written by Nicholas Stoller, who co-directs with Doug Sweetland, Storks is a breathless chase movie that finds Junior and Tulip pursued by a ravenous wolf pack, the oppressively alpha male Hunter, and the odious sneak Pigeon Toady (Stephen Kramer Glickman).

Packed with action sequences as the heroic duo negotiate a number of close escapes, the story also finds room for a heartfelt message about adults making more time in their lives to connect with their children – if the unorthodox family unit of stork, human and baby can manage to nurture a loving relationship whilst running pell-mell from their enemies, the subtext implies, then surely more conventional families can do so too.

The animation is superb, especially when the wolf pack morphs into a variety of incarnations (including a bridge and a submarine) to continue its pursuit of Junior and Tulip. Overall, it’s a solid family-friendly animation, although the relentlessly frantic pace does tend to pall after a time.

Telling one of the great rags-to-riches rock-‘n’-roll stories, Oasis: Supersonic (15A) has for its narrative spine the band’s appearance at Knebworth in 1996, when Oasis, less than three years after signing their first professional contract, played to a phenomenal three-quarters of million people over three nights.

With Noel and Liam Gallagher on board as executive producers, Mat Whitecross’s documentary was never likely to give us the kind of searing insight of recent classics, such as the Amy Winehouse film; that said, Noel and Liam provide much of the voiceover commentary to old home-movie footage, and they aren’t particularly precious about either their own or the band’s reputation in doing so.

It’s a conventional narrative, as Whitecross charts the evolution of a band that was going nowhere fast under Liam’s direction until Noel – until then an unassuming roadie, and ‘a bit of a loner, a bit of stoner’ – joined as the main songwriter.

Spotted by Alan McGee of Creation Records, Oasis were soon going stratospheric – or, if you prefer, supersonic. It’s an exhilarating trip down memory lane, not least because Oasis were the last British band to inspire ‘Beatlemania’ levels of devotion in their fans, although McGee’s statement that “Any band worth its salt is about something more than the music” does beg the (unanswered here) question as to what Oasis were actually ‘about’ other than crafting timeless riffs.

That said, Noel and Liam are constantly entertaining, and frequently laugh-out-loud funny, as they cast a jaundiced eye back over those all-too-few few crazy years when Oasis were the only legitimate heirs to the rock-‘n’-roll legacy of The Beatles and The Stones.

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