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

Crazy Rich Asians will be out in cinemas tomorrow.
Crazy Rich Asians will be out in cinemas tomorrow.

Grab the popcorn for the latest movies at cinemas near you. 

CRAZY RICH ASIANS (12A):

Based on the novel by Kevin Kwan, Jon M Chu's crowd-pleasing confection relies on well-worn genre tropes and lovingly gift-wraps every luxurious frame in the splendour of modern-day Singapore.

Chu's film invests almost two hours showcasing the south-east Asian state's breath-taking beaches, spectacular high-rise hotels, designer boutiques and mouth-watering street food.

If the island wasn't already high on your list of dream holiday destinations, it will be before the end credits roll.

Scriptwriters Peter Chiarelli and Adele Lim don't stray from tried and tested rom-com conventions and they arm the good-looking all-Asian cast with some crisp one-liners including some standout barbs from Awkwafina, who was last seen stealing scenes and jewels in Ocean's 8.

The upbeat soundtrack seamlessly melds east and west with Chinese Mandarin cover versions of familiar hits including Money (That's What I Want), Madonna's Material Girl and Coldplay's anthem Yellow.

New York University lecturer Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) has been raised in America by her single mother Kerry (Tan Kheng Hua), who worries about her daughter's sense of cultural identity.

"I'm so Chinese, I'm an economics professor who's lactose intolerant," jokingly retorts Rachel.

The tug of war between east and west intensifies when Rachel's boyfriend Nick (Henry Golding) invites her to accompany him to Singapore to attend the wedding of good friends Colin (Chris Pang) and Araminta (Sonoya Mizuno).

Rachel is blissfully unaware that Nick is the golden boy of Singapore's wealthiest dynasty headed by ferocious matriarch Eleanor (Michelle Yeoh), who expects her boy to take up the reins of the family business and marry into money.

Eleanor is deeply unimpressed with lowly academic Rachel as Nick's choice of partner and the mother makes clear her intent to remind her son of his responsibilities.

"When children are away from home too long they forget who they are," she observes coldly.

Meanwhile, Rachel supports Nick's cousin Astrid (Gemma Chan) as her marriage fractures and the new arrival prepares for the wedding with a makeover courtesy of her fashion-conscious friend Goh Peik Lin (Awkwafina) and Nick's flamboyant second cousin Oliver (Nico Santos), who playfully describes himself as "the rainbow sheep of the family".

Crazy Rich Asians is a sweet and heartfelt frolic through the battlefields of love, which delivers a full complement of uproarious laughter and tugged heartstrings.

Wu and Golding, making his feature film debut, are a delightful on-screen pairing while Yeoh keeps her fiercely protective mother the right side of caricature.

A prologue set in a rain-drenched 1995 London is hard to swallow but the rest of director Chu's silky-smooth cocktail goes down a treat.

KING OF THIEVES (15):

In April 2015, Hatton Garden - London's famed jewellery quarter - became the scene of a daring and audacious robbery.

Around six weeks after the robbery, the Metropolitan Police announced nine arrests and a gang of 60- and 70-something career criminals were unmasked as the perpetrators of the audacious heist.

King Of Thieves dramatises the robbery, offering one expletive-laden version of events masterminded by screenwriter Joe Penhall.

Considering the rich source material and an Oscar-calibre cast led by Sir Michael Caine and Jim Broadbent, director James Marsh's film is curiously devoid of suspense or engaging characters.

King Of Thieves struggles to pickpocket our undivided attention for 108 minutes, losing dramatic momentum as tempers flare and fissures appear in the band of brothers as they divide their glittering spoils.

Caine, Broadbent and Courtenay are always watchable but the script doesn't test their acting mettle while Gambon embraces his thinly sketched character's wide-eyed lunacy to comical effect.

Marsh stages the pivotal robbery with assurance but his film arrives a week after the riveting true-life crime thriller American Animals, and wilts in comparison.

SUPERFLY (15):

The lead character of Director X's soulless update of the 1972 blaxploitation caper Super Fly, which starred Ron O'Neal as an enterprising criminal with "a plan to stick it to The Man" and a ghetto fabulous wardrobe to complement the hip soundtrack masterminded by Curtis Mayfield.

Every frame of Superfly looks expensive but while the price tags on characters' threads might be ridiculously high, the quality of Alex Tse's script is cheap and cheerless.

Leading man Trevor Jackson has the fast car and voluminous hair to match Ron O'Neal's earlier incarnation but his chancer's lack of emotion under pressure gives us no compelling reason to root for the enterprising bad boy. 

THE PREDATOR (15):

The Predator contrives a self-contained story of heroism and self-sacrifice centred on a band of misfit brothers in arms, who are mankind's last hope against the titular terror.

Foul-mouthed comedy and gore-slathered horror are uneasy bedfellows in a wayward script co-written by Fred Dekker, which honours previous chapters in the series but neglects to learn from the mistakes of the past.

Considering mankind has had three decades to study the Yautja, it's laughable that characters are clueless to how the alien stalks its prey using thermal imaging and cloaking camouflage. 

We deserve to perish.