WEEKEND PIC - Feb 25 - 27, 2011
Note: This is 'Oscar Weekend' and after The King's Speech, we have Black Swan and True Grit opening at the 'eleventh hour' to cash in on Oscar Night Fever. The other main contenders are Inception, The Social Network, The Fighter, The Kids Are All Right, Winter's Bone and 127 Hours (all of which are reviewed in this blog) Just click on the title to check out the review and have a great time watching the Academy Awards on Monday morning.
NEW THIS WEEK
a) BLACK SWAN (Dance drama with Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Winona Ryder, Vincent Cassel, Janet Montgomery, Barbara Hershey, Christopher Gartin and Sebastian Stan) Rated * * * 1/2 (3.5 stars): Dubbed a 'mind f**k' sub-genre, this point-of-view saga of a ballerina plays havoc with our minds and offers an eye-boggling performance that should land Portman the Best Actress Oscar. Some may view it as a 'dark thriller' or ballet seen as a 'blood sport'. Either way, we also get great performances by Hershey (as a overbearing mom) and Kunis as a 'rival' dancer. (Check out the review here).
b) TRUE GRIT (Western remake with Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Hailee Steinfeld, Josh Brolin and Barry Pepper) Rated * * * 1/2 (3.5 stars): When the Coen Brothers came out with this remake of the famous John Wayne effort, all eyes were on Jeff Bridges' Rooster Cogburn - the role synonymous with Wayne who won an Oscar for it. And many critics agreed that Bridges gave his own stamp on the character and some even said this was a better version than the True Grit of 1969. And yes, Hailee Steinfeld is also impressive as Mattie Ross, the 14-year-old who seeks revenge for her father's death. (Reviewed here )
c) DRIVE ANGRY (action thriller with Nicolas Cage, Amber Heard, William Fichtner, Billy Burke, David Morse, Katy Mixon, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Charlotte Ross and Christa Campbell) Rated * * (2 stars): Let's consider this as Ghost Driver - a sequel of sorts to Cage's 2007 comic book fantasy Ghost Rider. That way, we can understand director Patrick Lussier's preoccupation with fast cars, hot chicks, chases and explosions at the expense of a meaningful narrative. Perhaps it is meant to work like a Tarantino cult flick but it still doesn't make the grade. (Reviewed below)
d) I AM NUMBER FOUR (sci-fi fantasy with Alex Pettyfer, Timothy Olyphant, Teresa Palmer, Dianna Agron, Callan McAuliffe and Kevin Durand) Rating * * (2 stars): Number One was killed in Malaysia, or so we are told, and now they are coming after Number Four! Sounds mysterious? Well, the novelty soon fizzles when we see how derivative this 'alien romance' is, copying from the Twilight franchise and employing a host of high school movie cliches. A lame adaptation of the novel by Pittacus Lore.
STILL GOING STRONG:
1. THE KING'S SPEECH (drama with Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter, Guy Pearce, Timothy Spall and Michael Gambon) Rating: * * * 1/2 (3.5 stars): With 12 nominations for the Oscars, this period saga on Britain's King George VI is compulsory for viewing for film fans of all ages. It's like Pygmalion (or My Fair Lady) in the reverse and it offers an invaluable insight into the role of royalty at a time when Britain and the world are on the brink of war. What's more, we have first class performances, opulent sets and scintillating wit. (Check out the review here)
2. NO STRINGS ATTACHED (Romantic comedy with Natalie Portman, Ashton Kutcher, Kevin Kline and Ludacris) Rating: * * 1/2 (2.5 stars): This looks like the closest Valentine's Day movie you can get. Another reason is to catch Oscar nominee Portman in a role where she basically plays herself as opposed to the tensed, psyched-up ballerina in Black Swan. Director Ivan Reitman's No Strings Attached is no laugh fest, but it is saucy enough for a few giggles and sexy enough to be entertaining. Nothing less, nothing more.
3. THE MECHANIC (action thriller with Jason Statham, Ben Foster, Donald Sutherland, Tony Goldwyn, Jeff Chase, Mini Anden, Eddie J. Fernandez, Kurt Deville and Monica Acosta) Rated * * 1/2 (2.5 stars): An uninspired remake of the 1972 Charles Bronson hit, this Simon West effort just piles on the gore and the firepower. West makes no attempt to improve the ridiculous narrative of the original - and even adds on more silly plotting of his own. Still, Foster is sheer dynamite here and more than pulls his weight. (Reviewed below)
4. SANCTUM (underwater thriller with Richard Roxburgh, Alice Parkinson, Rhys Wakefield, Dan Wyllie, Christopher Baker, Allison Cratchley and Sean Dennehy) Rated * * 1/2 (2.5 stars): Sanctum is hyped up as a James Cameron movie but it is directed by Alister Grierson. Cameron is the exec producer and like any Cameron film, the effects (also in 3D) and technical specs are fantastic - but the dialogue and the narrative of this man-vs-nature caper are lame and cliched. Catch it for the cinematography and effects, if you must. (Reviewed below)
5. BURLESQUE (musical drama with Cher, Christina Aguilera, Eric Dane, Cam Gigandet, Julianne Hough, Peter Gallagher, Alan Cumming, Kristen Bell and Stanley Tucci) Rated * * 1/2 (2.5 stars): I see this strictly as a vehicle to put pop queen Aguilera on the big screen. But even though she is sexy and dynamic as a dancer and singer, she does not have the talent to pull it off as an actress. Neither does Cher, for that matter. Burlesque, therefore, is mildly entertaining - for those who are undiscerning. (Reviewed below)
f) THE RITE (horror thriller with Anthony Hopkins, Ciarán Hinds, Alice Braga, Toby Jones and Colin O'Donoghue) Rating * * 1/2 (2.5 stars): Ho-hum, another exorcist flick and another round of Hopkins' replay of his Hannibal Lector snarls! ''Were you expecting swivelled heads and pea soup?'' Hopkins' priest asks in the movie. Our reply: "Not really, but we we not expecting a debate with the devil on demonic possession and the strength of one's faith, either." To be fair, there are some interesting ideas here but most of them get lost in the messy narrative.