WITH the Shrek films seemingly having reached their natural conclusion, this first big screen spin-off from those movies features one of their most popular characters, Puss in Boots, who was introduced in Shrek 2 and voiced by Antonio Banderas.
Tapping into Banderas's Zorro persona for maximum impact here, he's a thief, a lover and a fugitive, looking for a big score to repay an old debt.
It still exists in the same fairytale world as the Shrek movies, but wisely resists the temptation to rope in old friends for self-conscious cameos.
Instead the convoluted plot involves having to find Jack and Jill, who have the magic beans which can be used to grow the beanstalk to get to the giant's castle where the goose that lays the golden eggs is said to be.
But Puss's old friend-turned-nemesis Humpty Dumpty (Zach Galifianakis) has also been on a lifelong search for the beans and the Golden Goose, and along with his sidekick, Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek), he'll stop at nothing to get his goal.
Though cute and entertaining, most of the jokes are built around cats being cats, which is fine as it goes but it often betrays a lack of imagination and doesn't provide much in the way of actual wit.
Action scenes are generally workmanlike, with the visit to the giant's castle a particular non-event.
Most of the film goes by without Puss showing his skills, though it all comes together for a well staged finale.
But it purrs along pleasantly enough and at least it has a focussed plot, although it is too prone to flashbacks and life stories, with an extended sequence showing us just how he came to be Puss in Boots and how his friendship and rivalry with Humpty began.
Kitty Softpaws is in the film largely because convention demands a feisty female character, rather than anything actually being added by her presence, but Hayek is good value, and she and Banderas, a fine voice actor, play off against each other well.
And as Shrek spin-offs go, it could have been much worse – it could have been Donkey.
Director: Chris Miller
Running time: 90 mins
ANOTHER EARTH (12A) Lo-fi sci-fi is starkly complelling, but cops out at the end
A PLANET that appears identical to earth is spotted in the heavens on the same night a young drink driver, Rhoda (Brit Marling, left), hits another car and kills the wife and young son of John (William Mapother).
Four years later, Rhoda is out of jail and trying to readjust her life, and goes to John's home planning to tell him who she is, but unable to, she ends up cleaning his house instead, while the other earth gets ever closer.
It's frustrating to be given such an intriguing and original premise and do something so modest with it, in a low-fi sci-fi whose micro budget trappings are often just a cover -up for it being poorly lit.
The actual other earth part of Another Earth is a side detail to an indie drama that's slow and sombre but starkly compelling and powerfully acted.
The question of whether there's another version of you up there is a potent theme, but it's only really explored in terms of the human drama, and many will find the conclusion a massive cheat.
Director: Mike Cahill
Running time: 92 mins
NEW YEAR'S EVE (12A) It progresses from being bad to active incompetence
AN in-concept only follow up to Valentine's Day, this hideous romantic comedy tracks what appears to be several thousand different characters on New Year's Eve in New York.
It takes in births, deaths and marriages, with many of them orbiting Jon Bon Jovi, due to play a gig at Times Square where most of them end up gathering.
Returning players such as Jessica Biel and Ashton Kutcher take on entirely different characters from those in Valentine's Day, while the likes of Robert De Niro, Halle Berry and Sarah Jessica Parker get roped into feeble situations constructed with the most flat and uninspired direction and acting imaginable.
With an alarming dearth of laughs when it's not being cloying and obvious, it soon progresses from just being bad to active incompetence, made with a complete lack of care and attention.
The only remotely tolerable thread involves Zac Efron helping out Michelle Pfeiffer's dowdy office worker, but they're forced too frequently to make way for the rest of a catastrophe that makes Valentine's Day look like His Girl Friday.
Director: Garry Marshall
Running time: 118 mins
IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE (U) Simply one of the best films ever
FRANK CAPRA'S classic returns to the GFT for its much-loved Christmas run and if you've never seen it on the big screen, there's really no excuse for missing it now.
It's a Wonderful Life was poorly received upon its initial release in 1946, and only became acclaimed as the masterpiece it is today through repeated TV screenings in the subsequent decades.
Such a reaction is almost impossible to fathom when watching now, with its position as an immortal Christmas favourite cemented by its ingenious fantasy structure, wonderful performances and a parade of colourful supporting characters.
On the brink of suicide because of his failing business, George Bailey (James Stewart) discovers what the lives of those closest to him would have been like if he had never been born.
It's a journey that's both joyous and heartbreaking, and the finest celebration of family and friendship ever seen on film.
But the night is darkest just before the dawn and Capra takes his audience through the emotional wringer along with George, from the depths of despair to the soaring heights of the human heart.
It's a Wonderful Life is quite simply one of the best films ever made.
Director: Frank Capra
Running time: 130 mins