WEEKEND PIC - July 13 - 15, 2012
NEW THIS WEEK:
a) ICE AGE 4: CONTINENTAL DRIFT (animated comedy with Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary, Queen Latifah, Jennifer Lopez, Peter Dinklage and Seann William Scott) Rating * * * (3 stars): Basically, you know what you are going to get from this franchise and you won't be disappointed with its pumped-up action and additional characters. Among the newbies is Dinklage's flamboyant baboon who is such a scene-stealer that he looks set to come back for the next outing. And yes, Scrat is fun too.
b) NAKED SOLDIER (action thriller with Sammo Hung, Andy On, Jennifer Tse and Philip Ng) Rating * 1/2 (1.5 stars): It started in 1992 with Naked Killer, followed 10 years later by Naked Weapon (starring Maggie Q). This is the third in a series started by producer Wong Jing - and it has his trademark flaws written all over it. Despite its tittilating title, there is nothing nude or erotic about this shameless outing with recycled plots and situations. This time around, Jennifer Tse (sister of Nicholas) is the titular character who is not in the same class as Maggie Q.
STILL GOING STRONG:
1. THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (reboot of fantasy comic book franchise, with Andy Garfield, Emma stone, Rhys Ifans, Denis Leary, Martin Sheen, Sally Field and Campbell Scott) Rating * * * (3 stars): Do we really need another retelling of the Spider-Man origin? One thing I am happy to note is that this new version of the web-slinger tale thrives on its own strengths without undermining or being held back by Sam Raimi’s vision. Director Marc Webb emphasises more on the human drama and the psychological side of Peter Parker's childhood and his love story with Gwen Stacy. And with top-notch acting by Garfield, this one looks fit enough for a summer blockbuster.
2. PROMETHEUS (sci-fi thriller with Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Idris Elba, Guy Pearce and Logan Marshall-Green) Rated * * * (3 stars): This is supposed to be the sequel to Ridley Scott's 1979 Alien but it has been rewritten to stand on its own as a sci-fi thriller. Prometheus is a technically brilliant visual feast, enhanced by 3D. However, its narrative seems to have bitten off more than it can chew, raising our expectations and not fulfilling them. On the whole, however, it is a compelling film especially for sci-fi fans. (Reviewed below)
3. BRAVE (animated adventure with Kelly MacDonald, Emma Thompson, Billy Connolly, Julie Walters, Kevin McKidd and Craig Ferguson) Rated * * * (3 stars): This Pixar's 13th animated feature is basically a mother-daughter tale set in the Scottish Highlands and spiced with mirth, myth and magic. It is suitably action-packed and centred around a young red-haired heroine that most of today's young girls can relate to. However, its magical elements tend to run away with the story and leave the older viewers dissatisfied. (Reviewed below)
4. MADAGASCAR 3: EUROPE'S MOST WANTED (animated comedy with voices of Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett Smith, Sacha Baron Cohen, Cedric The Entertainer, Andy Richter, Tom McGrath, Frances McDormand, Jessica Chastain, Bryan Cranston, Martin Short and Paz Vega) Rated * * * (3 stars): Accompanied by 3D and a bigger voice cast, this third instalment of the successful Madagascar franchise offers more of verything in its bag of madcap gags. It also dispenses with ties to reality and logic, culminating in a circus-gone-berserk climax. Should delight the kids during the weekend. (Reviewed below)
5. ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER (fantasy thriller and biopic with Benjamin Walker, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Anthony Mackie, Marton Csokas, Jimmi Simpson, Rufus Sewell, Erin Wasson and Dominic Cooper) Rated * * 1/2 (2.5 stars): Adapted from the book by Seth Grahame-Smith (who also wrote the screenplay), the film chronicles the famous US Prez as a closet vampire-killer. It is obviously a mix of biopic and horror flick but it fails at both, and ends up being an expensive action film. Two of its action set pieces, involving stampeding horses and a runaway train, stand out but I prefer its subplot on Abe's love story. (Reviewed below)