Friday, July 22, 2011

WEEKEND PIC - July 22 - 24, 2011



a) WU XIA (martial arts drama with Donnie Yen, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Tang Wei, Jimmy Wang Yu and Kara Hui) Rated * * * (3 stars): Mark this one as director Peter Chan's best work and one of Donnie Yen's best performances. The first half works like a crime scene investigation caper with Kaneshiro's detective 'reconstructing' the events that led to the deaths of two notorious bandits at an idyllic village in China. The second half is more 'action-oriented' but the best parts are in the little details of life circa 1917 and the scenic shots. The only flaw is the ending that borders on the absurd. (Reviewed below)

b) HANNA (spy thriller with Saoirse Ronan, Eric Bana, Cate Blanchett, Tom Hollander, Olivia Williams, Jason Flemyng, Jessica Barden and Aldo Maland) Rated * * * (3 stars): Director Joe Wright teams up with his Atonement star Saoirse Ronan in this espionage thriller that has Ronan playing a younger, Kick-Ass version of Jason Bourne. Trained from childhood as a killer, her Hanna has us rooting for her as she goes against the odds with the CIA baddies. She has good support from Blanchett, Bana and Hollander too. (Reviewed below)

c) TAKE ME HOME TONIGHT (romantic comedy with Topher Grace, Anna Faris, Dan Fogler, Teresa Palmer, Michele Trachenberg and Michael Biehn) Rated * * 1/2 (2.5 stars): A touch of Eighties nostalgia, anyone? Well, this comes from Topher Grace, one of the lead stars of That '70's Show on television. The comedy lacks the rowdy absurdity of The Hangover but Grace and Palmer display screen chemistry as two people trying to hit it off during a wild Labour Day booze party. (Reviewed below)


1. HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHY HALLOWS Pt 2 (fantasy adventure with Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Gary Oldman, Ralph Fiennes, Jamie Campbell Bower, Helena Bonham Carter, Jason Isaacs, Tom Felton and Alan Rickman) Rated * * * 1/2 (3.5 stars): British director David Yates seems business-like in unravelling this final part of the HP franchise, picking up from where Part 1 left off - and building up to the big showdown between Harry and Voldemort at Hogwarts. Of course, Yates is mindful of the legions of HP fans out there and he 'stages' farewell glimpses of almost of the whole cast. It is a fitting and celebratory send-off for a 10-year series that helped to define the lives of so many fans. (Reviewed below)

2. TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON (sci-fi fantasy with Shia LaBeouf, Josh Duhamel, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, John Malkovich, Patrick Dempsey, Ken Jeong, John Turturro, Frances McDormand and Tyrese Gibson) Rated * * 1/2 (2.5 stars): Seen in glorious three-dimension, director Michael Bay's CGI effects and set pieces are awe-inspiring and visually spectacular. Indeed, he is so proud of them that he overloads and repeats the sequences, unnecessarily stretching the movie to over 2.5 hours. The opening act, involving a 'secret' lunar landing deal, is promising but after that, everything goes downhill. The comedy looks strained, the acting is mostly over-the-top and Bay's latest eye candy, the English Rose Huntington-Whiteley, makes the discarded Megan Fox look like an Oscar star. (Reviewed below)

3. Mr POPPER'S PENGUINS (comedy with Jim Carrey, Carla Gugino, Maxwell Perry Cotton, Madeline Carroll, Andrew Stewart-Jones, Clark Gregg, Curtis Shumaker and Angela Lansbury) Rated * * 1/2 (2.5 stars): Looks like Carrey is back in his Ace Ventura mode of making an ass of himself with penguins. But no, this family comedy is more subtle than the Ventura flicks. What's more, the performances of the six Gentoo penguins, augmented by CGI (of course), will appeal to the audience, especially the five-year-olds. At least Carrey does not do poop and fart jokes - these come from the penguins. (Reviewed below)


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