Friday, September 09, 2011

WEEKEND PIC - Sept 9 - 11, 2011



a) CONTAGION (drama with Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jude Law, Kate Winslet, Laurence Fishburne, Marion Cotillard, Bryan Cranston, Sanaa Lathan and Jennifer Ehle) Rated * * * (3 stars): Don't expect Contagion to be as critically-acclaimed as the 2000 drug flick, Traffic. However, director Steven Soderbergh's docudrama style keeps the pace tensed and engaging. The big name cast is not allowed to overshadow the dramatic impact of the virus, which remains the main invisible star of the film. Some of his subplots are weak and even ridiculous but the film is believable on the main. (Reviewed below)

b) BRIDESMAIDS (comedy with Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne, Chris O'Dowd, Melissa McCarthy, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Ellie Kemper, Jon Hamm and Matt Lucas) Rating * * * (3 stars): If you enjoyed The Hangover and its sequel, you are gonna like this one. The laughs come on regularly and Wiig manages to shine in a role that seems to have been tailor-made for her. Indeed, she makes the film seem like an American version of Bridget Jones!

c) MY KINGDOM (drama in Cantonese with Wu Chun, Han Geng, Barbie Hsu, Liu Qian, Yuan Biao and Yu Rongguang) Rated * * 1/2 (2.5 stars): After a promising start, My Kingdom slowly falls apart. This may be due to director Gao Xiaosong trying to reach out for more than he can grasp. He extends the kungfu flick into a multi-genre effort, resulting in a messy revenge film that is part costume drama and part soap opera and even a love story. Also, the three young leads seem unable to carry the movie. They were obviously picked for their looks than talent. (Reviewed below)


1. CARS 2 (animated comedy with Owen Wilson, Larry the Cable Guy, Michael Caine, Emily Mortimer, Eddie Izzard, John Turturro and Bonnie Hunt) Rated * * * 1/2 (3.5 stars): Highly energetic and action-packed, this sequel is even better than its predecessor. This time around, we find tow truck Mater (Larry) and his buddy Lightning McQueen (Wilson) going to Japan, Italy and England on a World Grand Prix tourney during which Mater is mistaken for an American spy. What I like about the movie is that its 'car-acters' are nicely developed with their own personalities, especially British newcomers Finn (Caine) and his sidekick Holley Shiftwell (Mortimer). (Reviewed below)

2. SACRIFICE (period drama in Mandarin with Ge You, Wang Xueqi, Fan Bing Bing, Huang Xiaoming, Vincent Chiu, Zhang Fengyi and William Wang) Rated * * * (3 stars): Chen Kaige's third adaptation of a Chinese stage play deals with court intrigue, assassination, massacre and revenge. However, the revenge plot here is not your run-of-the-mill type. It involves elements touted to be "worse than death", like familial bond, trust and then learning the truth about a tragic sacrifice. Interesting. (Reviewed below)

b) THE SMURFS (live action cum animated comedy with Hank Azaria, Neil Patrick Harris, Jayma Mays and Sofia Vergara) Rating * * (2 stars): This Smurfs movie unleashes the blue critters from their fantasy village into the streets of New York for some ruckus and mayhem. Like on the TV series, the Smufs are both adorable and annoying but the movie seldom rises above the level of childishness of Alvin And The Chipmunks. Mainly for kids who have been on a diet of Smurfs on TV.

4. CONAN THE BARBARIAN (fantasy actioner with Jason Momoa, Stephen Lang, Rachel Nichols, Rose McGowan, Ron Perlman and Leo Howard) Rated * * (2 stars): One thing to bear in mind is that there are lots of violence and nudity and a bit of sex in this movie, so you can expect our censors to have a field day with it. However, the much touted scene with Momoa's butt is uncut. Indeed, except for the gratuitous violence and a mundane mythical story, its strengths and weaknesses are similar to the 1982 film starring Arnie the Governator. (Reviewed below)


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