Geoff Cox’s DVD reviews: Predestination, Penguins Of Madagascar, Ribbit, Get On Up

Predestination
Predestination
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A time-travelling secret agent journeys back and forth through history in search of a bomber who has eluded him throughout his career in sci-fi thriller PREDESTINATION (15: Signature).

Until it spirals out of all logical control, this expansion of Robert Heinlein’s 1958 short story All You Zombies is a thoughtful, if wonky, small-scale epic of retro-futurism.

The less said about the ornate plot the better as it bends gender as elaborately as it takes time through every decade of the mid-20th century.

On his final assignment to 1975, the agent (Ethan Hawke) must stop the elusive Fizzle Bomber terrorist blowing up Manhattan while recruiting an enigmatic magazine agony aunt ( Sarah Snook) into his organisation.

The quirky imagination on show only intensifies the disappointment of a convoluted climax probing human identity while attempting to unravel time-travel paradoxes.

> Those scene-stealing penguins from family-minded animated comedy franchise Madagascar deservedly get their own spin-off movie.

Heroic flightless birds Skipper, Kowalski, Private and Rico are recruited as spies in PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR (U: Twentieth Century Fox) to thwart the world-takeover plans of arch-baddie octopus Dave – a role that stretches John Malkovich’s vocal chords more than his acting muscles.

Meanwhile, Benedict Cumberbatch voices the goodie group’s wolfish boss.

Spin-offs can suffer when wrenched away from their parent movies, because what’s fun in small doses doesn’t necessarily work well in large ones. In this case, the film-makers struggle at times with a generic plot, contrived gags and a tendency to assume frantic is fun. But the penguins are cute and there are enough mirthful moments – many splendidly surreal – to make this a DVD worth watching.

> Sean Astin voices a frog with an identity crisis in another creature feature, RIBBIT (U: Lionsgate).

It’s not the worst animated film I’ve seen, but it comes close. Although it has an American voice cast, this is a Malaysian production and as well as being unfunny, it’s riddled with plot errors and is generally amateurish.

Ribbit has always felt different from all the other frogs. To find purpose in his life, he embarks on a journey through the Amazon Rainforest, during which he is accidentally hypnotised into believing he is a human prince trapped in a frog’s body.

Convinced that he now understands why he is different, Ribbit heads out in search of the princess whose kiss will solve all his problems. He’s joined by his best friend, a female squirrel named Sandy.

> The life and times of music legend James Brown has the potential to make a great biopic, but for all its gloss and elaborately staged musical sequences GET ON UP (12: Universal) falls short of the mark.

Chadwick Boseman stars as the self-styled Godfather of Soul, who was born into poverty but became one of the most influential performers of the 20th century. He also had a knack for hitting the headlines as often as the charts.

Boseman is superb at conveying the charisma that helped make Brown a hero to millions, and there is fine support from Dan Aykroyd as Brown’s manager, but ultimately the film is a sanitised version of events.