Thursday, January 12, 2012

WEEKEND PIC - Jan 13 - 15, 2012



a) 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.


1. MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - GHOST PROTOCOL (action thriller with Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Paula Patton, Simon Pegg, Josh Holloway, Lea Seydoux, Tom Wilkinson, Michael Nyqvist, Ving Rhames and Anil Kapoor) Rated * * * 1/2 (3.5 stars): With Brad Bird (of The Incredibles) at the helm, we have a more compleat M:I caper - nicely coated with typical English humour (courtesy of Pegg), narrative depth and a plot we can sink our teeth in. The set pieces are not bad either, especially the Burj Khalifa building stunts and sand storm in Dubai, and the climactic face-off in Mumbai. This M:I 4 is arguably the best of the franchise. (Reviewed below)

2. SHERLOCK HOLMES: A Game of Shadows (mystery thriller with Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Noomi Rapace, Jared Harris, Stephen Fry, Kelly Reilly and Rachel McAdams) Rated * * * (3 stars): Guy Ritchie's bastardisation of Arthur Conan Doyle's icon continues - with the wedding of Dr Watson and a nefarious plot by Dr Moriarty (Harris). Again, the emphasis is on elaborate action set pieces at the expense of intellectual intrigues that is typical of Holmes' capers. Still, with Downey Jr and Law in the lead, this romp is sheer popcorn entertainment fit for the holiday season. (Reviewed below)

3. 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)

4. 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.

5. 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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