Friday, May 06, 2011

WEEKEND PIC - May 6 - 8, 2011



a) 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)

b) 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)

c) 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)


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. 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.

3. RED RIDING HOOD (fantasy thriller with Amanda Seyfried, Gary Oldman, Billy Burke, Lukas Haas, Shiloh Fernandez, Michael Shanks, Julie Christie, Virginia Madsen and Max Irons) Rated * * 1/2 (2.5 stars): A rather anaemic transformation of the Grimm Brothers folk tale into a grim fantasy thriller. Big Bad Wolf is made into a werewolf and the plot becomes a where-wolf whodunit. Of course, there is a love story - a triangle one - thrown in but there isn't enough bite to the romance or the horror. (Reviewed below)

4. A CHINESE GHOST STORY (fantasy thriller with Louis Koo Tin Lok, Wong Fan Siu, Crystal Liu Yi-Fei, Yu Shao Qun, Wai Ying-Hung and Lin Peng) Rated * * 1/2 (2.5 stars): This Wilson Yip remake of the 1987 movie starring Leslie Cheung is meant to be a triangle love story but the romance is lost in the 'wire-fu' stunts and swordfighting gimmicks. Still, the three leads, Koo, Liu and Yu Shao Qun (reprising Cheung's role) acquit themselves admirably from a messy plot of sexily-clad demonesses and itinerant demon-hunters. (Reviewed below)


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