Saturday, May 14, 2011

WEEKEND PIC - May 13 -15, 2011


(Apologies for this late posting. was closed for maintenance yesterday)


a) PUNISHED (crime thriller with Anthony Wong, Richie Jen, Maggie Cheung Ho-yee, Janice Man, Candy Lo, Lam Lei and Jun Kung) Rated * * * (3 stars): A taut psychological thriller about a kidnapping case and a personal brand of punishment. Anthony Wong is splendid in his role as the tyrannical father of the victim while Richie Jen provides one of his best performances as his bodyguard and henchman. This is not the usual action-packed thriller but it has the trademarks of director Law Wing-cheong and producer Johnny To all over. (Reviewed below)

b) PAUL (Sci-fi comedy with Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Seth Rogan, Jason Bateman, Bill Hader, Kristin Wiig, Sigourney Weaver, John Carroll Lynch and David Koechner) Rating: * * * (3 stars): There is a blend of E.T. and Close Encounters of the weird kind here but Paul is actually a road trip cum buddy movie about two guys running into an alien (voiced by Rogen). There are some very funny moments, especially when we get Sigourney Weaver on screen.

c) SOMETHING BORROWED (romantic comedy with Ginnifer Goodwin, Kate Hudson, Colin Egglesfield, John Krasinski, Steve Howey and Ashley Williams) Rated * * (2 stars): Director Luke Greenfield and scripter Jennie Urman borrows a whole lot from the rom-com genre to make this triangle love caper among best friends a lame comedy. Some of the secondary characters are more annoying than funny while Hudson and Goodwin are wasted in a storyline that should not have been made into a movie. At least not like this. (Reviewed below)

d) PRIEST (horror thriller with Paul Bettany, Karl Urban, Cam Gigandet, Maggie Q, Lily Collins, Brad Dourif, Stephen Moyer and Christopher Plummer) Rated * * (2 stars): It may be based on a Korean graphic novel but this movie works more like a videogame with its shoot-the-vampire quest being the main attraction. Also, those familiar with the post-Apocalyptic flick genre will recognise set pieces and ideas borrowed from films like Blade Runner, Star Wars and Mad Max 2. The main attraction for me is Hong Kong's Maggie Q as the Priestess - hence the two stars. (Reviewed below)


1. THOR (fantasy adventure with Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins, Chris Hemsworth, Idris Elba, Tom Hiddleston, Ray Stevenson, Kat Dennings, Stellan SkarsgÄrd, Rene Russo and Jaimie Alexander) Rated * * * (3 stars): Director Kenneth Branagh shows he is as adept at action epics (this is his firts) as he is with Shakesperean dramas (his forte). Hemsworth, as the mythical 'Goldilocks' god of thunder, is solid in his title role in a film that teems with explosive CGI action and spectacular set designs. (Reviewed below)

2. WATER FOR ELEPHANTS (drama with Reese Witherspoon, Robert Pattinson, Christoph Waltz, Jim Norton, Hal Holbrook and Mark Povinelli) Rated * * * (3 stars): Sara Gruen's novel is very competently adapted by director Francis Lawrence, aided in no small measure by heart-throb Pattinson and the two Oscar-calibre leads, Witherspoon and Waltz, and a talented pachyderm that plays Rosie. The setting, in the Great Depression years (circa 1930s), is realistic, capturing the romance of the travelling Benzini Brothers Circus as well as the mood and atmosphere of the poverty-stricken era. (Reviewed below)

3. FAST & FURIOUS 5 (action thriller with Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster, Dwayne Johnson, Joaquim de Almeida, Tyrese Gibson, Chris 'Ludacris' Bridges, Matt Schulze, Sung Kang, Gal Gadot, Tego Calderon, Don Omar and Elsa Pataky) Rated * * * (3 stars): Those who like fast cars, hot women, chases and crashes will get their fill here as director Justin Lin revs up on these factors that charge the adrenaline. Of course the 'scripto-meter' is low on logic and the film violates the laws of physics. In other words, it is a real summer guy flick - so be prepared for the spills and thrills - and sweaty palms. (Reviewed below)

4. THE DETECTIVE 2 (crime thriller in Cantonese with Aaron Kwok, Liu Kai Chi, Patrick Tam and Beibi Gong) Rated * * (2 stars): Touted as the sequel to Oxide Pang's 2007 'C+ Detective', this one is more of a repeat of the original than a sequel. We get the same plot-format (bodies piling up) and similar quirky character (in Kwok's private eye). To make matters worse, the culprit is revealed two-thirds into the movie and the rest drags uncomfortably to its predictable ending. (Reviewed below)

2. THE LOST BLADESMAN (war actioner with Donnie Yen, Jiang Wen, Alex Fong, Betty Sun and Andy On) Rating * * * (3 stars): Adapted from the story of 'Guan Yu crossing five passes and slaying six generals' from Luo Guanzhong's famous novel, Romance of the Three Kingdoms by co-directors/writers Alan Mak and Felix Chong, this war flick is reminiscent of Red Cliff. However, with Donnie Yen doubling up as action director, we have lots of combat action as well as a strong story about friendship, loyalty, warfare and even a bit of romance.


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