WEEKEND PIC - Jan 27 - 29, 2012
YOUR GUIDE TO THE WEEKEND MOVIES
STILL GOING STRONG:
1. 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.
2. THE VIRAL FACTOR (action thriller with Jay Chou, Nicholas Tse, Lin Peng, Andy Tien, Bai Bing, Liu Kai-chi, Carl Ng, Philip Keung, Elaine Jin and Crystal Lee) Rating * * 1/2 (2.5 stars): After a promising start, this Dante Lam actioner gets shoe-horned into the usual action-over-narration slot. Character development and plausibility takes second seat to action set pieces filmed in Jordan, Norway and Kuala Lumpur. Mayhem and destruction are the order of the day but there is little or emotional connection with the audience. Just the right popcorn treat for the Lunar New Year period, I suppose.
3. 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.
4. 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.