Saturday, January 21, 2012

WEEKEND PIC - Jan 20 - 22, 2012

Wishing readers a Happy New Year of the Dragon


a) UNDERWORLD: AWAKENING (sci-fi thriller with Kate Beckinsale, Scott Speedman, India Eisley, Stephen Rea, Charles Dance and Michael Ealy) Rating * * 1/2 (2.5 stars): Selene (Beckinsale) awakens from a 15-year coma and finds that she has a hybrid (vampire-lycan) daughter (Eisley)! Now, she must help to stop a bio-tech company from creating an army of super-lycans. Rendered in 3D, this one ups the ante on visuals but the narrative is pretty much the same. For fans of the series, it is another chance to see Beckinsale in kick-ass action.

b) JOURNEY 2: THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND (fantasy adventure with Dwayne Johnson, Michael Caine, Josh Hutcherson, Vanessa Hudgens, Kristin Davis and Luis Guzman) Rating: * * (2 stars): With Hutcherson and Hudgens in the lead, this sequel to 2008's Journey To The Center of the Earth is obviously intended as a 3D-enhanced CGI feast for the kids. Adults may balk at the childish story, Dwayne Johnson's pec-popping and singing, and its vain attempts at being funny. Mainly for die-hard adventure fans and kids below 15.

N.B. As I am still in the US, I am unable to review the Chinese New Year movies like:
c) The Viral Factor,
d) I Love Hong Kong 2012
, and
e) All's Well Ends Well 2012.


1. CONTRABAND - (action thriller remake with Mark Wahlberg, Kate Beckinsale, Ben Foster, Giovanni Ribisi, Diego Luna, J.K. Simmons, Lukas Haas and William Lucking) Rated * * 1/2 (2.5 stars): It is January - the low season for the box-office - and this is typical cinema fodder with Wahlberg playing 'Wahlberg' in a predictable "one last job" crime action thriller. Directed by Baltasar Kormákur, based on a 2008 Icelandic thriller that Kormakur starred in, Contraband is derivative and implausible.

2. THE AWAKENING (supernatural thriller with Rebecca Hall, Dominic West, Imelda Staunton, Isaac Hempstead-Wright and Shaun Dooley) Rated * * 1/2 (2.5 stars): Playing a bit like The Others, Sixth Sense and The Orphanage, this British-styled thriller has the requisite eerie atmosphere and engaging performance by lead star Hall. However, the movie kind of buckles at the end with a lame resolution that leaves more questions than answers. (Reviewed below)

3. THE BEAVER (drama with Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster, Anton Yelchin, Jennifer Lawrence, Cherry Jones, Paul Hodge, Michelle Ang, Riley Thomas Stewart, Kris Arnold and John Bernhardt) Rated * * 1/2 (2.5 stars): Directed by Jodie Foster, this psychological drama is about mental depression and how a hand puppet is used as a form of therapy. The plus side here is Gibson's riveting performance as a man on the verge of suicide; the minus side is that Foster allows the subplot about the son (Yelchin) and his girlfriend (Lawrence) to break the momentum of the main story.

4. THE DARKEST HOUR (sci-fi thriller with Emile Hirsch, Olivia Thirlby, Rachael Taylor, Max Minghella and Joel Kinnaman) Rating * * (2 stars): Set in Moscow, this doomsday alien invasion thriller may keep our interest for 20 minutes. Then, when we get over the novelty of the plot (and how Earthlings get vapourised by invisible aliens), we start to realise how utterly silly the script is. Reminds me of Skyline, but with less IQ.


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