WEEKEND PIC - March 4 - 6, 2011
NEW THIS WEEK
a) THE FIGHTER (boxing drama with Christian Bale, Mark Wahlberg, Amy Adams, Melissa Leo, Robert Wahlberg, Dendrie Taylor, Jack McGee, Jenna Lamia, Salvatore Santone and Chanty Sok) Rated * * * 1/2 (3.5 stars): The true story of welterweight champ Mickey Ward (Wahlberg) is not just the usual underdog in the ring tale. Besides crushing odds in his matches, Mickey also has to contend with a domineering mother (played by Oscar-winning Leo) and a drug-addict has-been boxer of a brother (Oscar-winning Bale) in his bid for the title. Throw in another note-worthy performance by Adams, and we have a winner of a boxing drama directed with finesse by David O. Russell. (Reviewed below)
b) 127 HOURS (adventure drama with James Franco, Lizzy Caplan, Kate Mara and Amber Tamblyn) Rated * * * (3 stars): Although this Danny (Slumdog Milllionaire) Boyle effort came out empty handed at the Oscars, it is another engaging rendition of the real-life story of mountain climber Aron Ralston's ordeal in the isolated Blue John Canyon in Utah in 2003. It offers the best performance of Franco's career as well as an inspired music score by A.R. Rahman. A must for adventure fans. (Check out the review here)
c) THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU (sci-fi romance with Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, Anthony Mackie, John Slattery, Michael Kelly, Terence Stamp, Donnie Keshawarz and David Bishins) Rated * * * (3 stars): Touted as 'Bourne meets Inception', this adaptation of Philip K. Dick's Adjustment Team is actually a love story caught in the tussle between Fate and Free Will. It is at times intriguing and downright silly but with the sparkling chemistry generated by Damon and Blunt, the romance tale is engaging enough. (Reviewed below)
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): 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. 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.
2. NO STRINGS ATTACHED (Romantic comedy with Natalie Portman, Ashton Kutcher, Kevin Kline and Ludacris) Rating: * * 1/2 (2.5 stars): This looks another reason is to catch Oscar-winning 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)