Private Peaceful (12A)
The second Michael Morpurgo adaptation of the year, after War Horse, is a more conventional story of familial love and loss that moves from Devon pastures to the fields of Flanders. Young Tommo Peaceful falls for local lass Molly, only to find his older and more charismatic brother Charlie also succumbing to her charms.
The rivalry continues as the brothers sign up in 1914 and run foul of a sadistic sergeant major (John Lynch) amid the useless slaughter of the trenches.
MacKay and Jack O'Connell give affecting performances, though the film is sluggish in its early stages and cartoonish about the class struggle (Richard Griffiths plays a jingoistic lord of the manor).
The film's opening scene – one Pte Peaceful awaits the firing squad at dawn – is manipulated so as to make us wonder who's wearing the blindfold, a bit of trickery that doesn't compensate for the unsurprising nature of what follows.
tv Review: Miranda Hart and co deliver the festive goods
tvReview: Older generation get hot under the collar this Christmas
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 The political parties aren't all the same – which means 2015 will be a 'big-choice' election
- 2 President of Argentina adopts Jewish godson to 'stop him turning into a werewolf'
- 3 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
- 4 The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public set to see exhibits from police’s grisly crime museum
- 5 Naomi Wolf reacts to Isis 'conspiracy theories' critism after she questions whether beheading videos are real
Peter Lik: The self-proclaimed 'fine-art photographer' whose work sells for millions
Downton Abbey Christmas special 2014, review: Love is everywhere, actually
The golden age of TV comedy is here
The Boy in the Dress, TV review: David Walliams' Boxing Day treat is a celebration of being different
From Marvel to Star Wars: The rise of cinema’s shared universes
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Immigrants make UK racist, says Ukip councillor Trevor Shonk
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever
Katie Hopkins speaks out on childhood obesity: 'Parents of fat children should be prosecuted for child cruelty'