Coming-of-age comedy THE KINGS OF SUMMER (15: Studio Canal) owes more than a little to Rob Reiner’s classic Stand By Me.
It’s a slightly uneven affair, but in some of its funny and tender moments, it’s nearly as good.
Teenage pals Joe (Nick Robinson) and Patrick (Gabriel Basso) are tired of what they see as parental oppression, so they run away to the woods to spend the summer fending for themselves and building a house.
They are joined by oddball kid Biaggio (Moises Arias), but their attempts at self-sufficiency are as shambolic as their accommodation, with most of the food coming from a nearby convenience store.
The intrusion of girls puts their friendship – the film’s main strength – to the test and it also disturbs the rhythm of the screenplay, which gradually loses focus.
Despite that, these latter-day ‘Swallows and Amazons’ have plenty of charm and their performances are immensely likeable.
> THE ICEMAN (15: Lionsgate) cometh on DVD and this fairly average true-crime biopic is given a backbone of steel by the towering presence of Michael Shannon as New Jersey hitman Richard Kuklinski.
A prolific killer for the powerful Gambino family, Kuklinski was known as The Iceman for his modus operandi, which involved freezing and storing his victims’ bodies to obscure the date and time of death.
OK, it sounds like a traditional Mob movie premise, but the selling point here is that he led a double life, hiding his sordid secret from his wife (Winona Ryder) and family right up to his arrest in 1986.
The storytelling is relatively pedestrian and visually there’s nothing new despite some stylish flourishes, like a hit carried out using a spiked drink in a packed nightclub.
What makes it special is Shannon, who’s terrific playing the human being behind the murderer. He’s so psychopathic that he doesn’t realise he’s actually a monster posing as a man.
> Tedious sequel THE LAST EXORCISM PART II (15: Studio Canal) is doomed as a spooky experience by its lack of genuine creepiness.
Picking up where the first film left off, it drops the ‘found footage’ format for a visually straightforward offering.
After gaining internet fame as ‘Crazy possessed girl in woods’, Nell (Ashley Bell) tries to recover from her ordeal in a New Orleans halfway house.
She receives ghostly warnings from her deceased dad and it appears that the demon Abalam is still determined to seduce her to the dark side. if only we cared.
There’s some novelty in the spiritual warfare that erupts between Catholicism and voodoo, and the menace slowly builds with false frights and sudden sounds, but viewers will be ahead of this every step of the predictable way.
> THE RISE (15: E1 Entertainment) is a British crime thriller with a twist. Instead of the usual cunning Cockneys, the gangsters are callow northerners.
In the opening scene, ex-con Harvey (Luke Treadaway) is bloodied, back in a cell and being interrogated by a world-weary detective (Timothy Spall).
Usual Suspects-style flashbacks follow as we discover why this young pretender and his partners-in-crime dared to take on the local drug lord.
The title refers to a sprawling Leeds council estate, which wouldn’t look out of place in a post-apocalyptic blockbuster.