AT THE CINEMA: A weekly round-up of the latest films

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Grab the popcorn for the newest movies in your local cinema now. 

THE DARKEST MINDS (12A):

Adapted from the first instalment of a trilogy of young adult novels penned by Alexandra Bracken, The Darkest Minds conjures dystopian nightmares that will be achingly familiar to fans of The Hunger Games and Divergent series.

The live action debut of Kung Fu Panda director Jennifer Yuh Nelson is set in a bleak, futuristic America where the adult population has turned against child survivors of a deadly epidemic.

One brave girl emerges from the melee to follow her destiny as figurehead of a rebellion, inspiring others to rise up against brutal regimes, which exterminate what they do not understand.

Nelson's film is blessed with a moving central performance from Amandla Stenberg, who captures the vulnerability of an adolescent heroine, who experiences growing pangs under duress including the first stirrings of hormone-addled desire for a boy.

Nelson confidently executes all of the elements including some slickly choreographed action sequences, but every glossy frame is doused liberally with eau de deja vu.

A pathogen with the unwieldy name Idiopathic Adolescent Acute Neurodegeneration (IAAN) delivers a fatal blow to 98% of the children's population.

Survivors are blessed with potentially deadly powers.

US President Gray (Bradley Whitford), whose son Clancy (Patrick Gibson) is among the afflicted, orders children to be forcibly removed from their homes and relocated to rehabilitation camps where they are colour-coded based on their newfound abilities.

Green, Blue and Yellow are permitted to live under armed guard, while Orange and Red are eliminated via lethal injection.

Sixteen-year-old Ruby Daly (Amandla Stenberg) is an Orange but has lived under the radar as Green in Thurmond rehabilitation camp, where Dr Cate Connor (Mandy Moore) takes a keen interest in the youngster.

The medic risks her life to smuggle Ruby out of the facility to join the fight against the government as part of the Children's League.

The Darkest Minds is anchored by the luminous Stenberg, who catalyses simmering on-screen chemistry with Dickinson's strapping hunk.

There are sparks of a potential sequel but it's hard to imagine that flame burning bright without the kindling wood of originality.

Out now

POPE FRANCIS: A MAN OF HIS WORD (PG) 

Award-winning German filmmaker Wim Wenders is granted unprecedented access to the Vatican and Pope Francis for this documentary portrait of the first Jesuit pope and his influence on the Catholic Church.

Punctuated by lengthy face-to-face conversations between the director and his subject, Pope Francis: A Man Of His Word chronicles how Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the former Archbishop of Buenos Aires, succeeded Pope Benedict XVI.

Marking a change in direction for the office by openly discussing the refugee crisis and global poverty, Wim Wenders unveils a once secret side to Pope Francis which is rarely shown to the rest of the world. 

Out now

DOG DAYS (12A)

A group of Los Angelenos are brought together by a mutual love for four-legged friends in a modern-day comedy drama directed by Ken Marino.

Elizabeth (Nina Dobrev) worries that throwing a birthday party for her dog might be a step too far but good friends assure her that it is perfectly natural to shower affection on your pet.

Meanwhile, Tara (Vanessa Hudgens) and boyfriend Garrett (Jon Bass) fall in love with a chihuahua named Gertrude, and Grace (Eva Longoria) and her husband Kurt (Rob Cordrry) question whether man's best friend is the glue holding their dysfunctional clan together.

Out now

THE MEG (12A):

It's definitely not safe to go back into the water in director Jon Turteltaub's supersized horror thriller, which wedges tongue firmly in cheek to imagine the carnage wrought by a 75ft-long megalodon shark on an underwater research complex.

Dr Zhang (Winston Chao) and his daughter Suyin (Li Bingbing) oversee an international facility named Mana One, where scientists conduct experiments in previously uncharted depths of the ocean.

During one of these missions, a craft piloted by Celeste (Jessica McNamee), Toshi (Masi Oka) and Wall (Olafur Darri Olafsson) loses contact with Mana One after a heavy collision.

With time of the essence, Dr Zhang and his associate James Mackreides (Cliff Curtis) head to Thailand to persuade underwater rescue expert Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham) to lend his expertise to bringing the stricken craft back to the facility.

Jonas obliges and he discovers that a voracious megalodon is on the loose, threatening the safety of everyone working in Mana One and up above, on the surface.

While some of the film, which is based on the best-selling novel MEG by Steve Alten, was shot on open water, the production also built two huge tanks in New Zealand to capture a lot of the action. 

Out now