WEEKEND PIC - Feb 17-19, 2012
NEW THIS WEEK
a) THE DESCENDANTS (family drama with George Clooney, Shailene Woodley, Amara Miller, Nick Krause, Robert Forster, Matthew Lillard, Judy Greer, Patricia Hastie and Beau Bridges) Rated * * * 1/2 (3.5 stars): It doesn't look like this Alexander Payne effort is going to win any major Oscar but it is one of the best dramas of 2011. Augmented in no small measure by nifty Hawaiian songs and scenic locales, the story about how a busy lawyer (Clooney) is forced to perform his duties as father to his two girls, is both touching and funny. And we have excellent performances from Clooney and Woodley as his eldest daughter. (Reviewed below)
b) THE IRON LADY (biography with Meryl Streep, Harry Lloyd, Richard E. Grant, Jim Broadbent, Anthony Head, Olivia Colman, Roger Allam, Alexandra Roach, Julian Wadham and Nick Dunning) Rating: * * (2 stars): The one and only thing this movie has in its favour is two-time Oscar-winner Streep in the title role as Margaret Thatcher. This biopic directed by Phylida Lloyd is almost like her first feature film, Mama Mia, in terms of depth and style. Thatcher's major accomplishments and life before politics are either glossed over or left out; the men are mostly portrayed as incompetent, while Mrs T is generally depicted as feminist icon.
STILL GOING STRONG:
1. STAR WARS EPISODE 1 THE PHANTOM MENACE 3D (1999 sci-fi adventure re-issue with Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Jake Lloyd and Ian McDiarmid) Rated * * * 1/2 (3.5 stars): George Lucas had delayed making this 'prequel' in the 80s because he wanted to wait for theatrical technology to catch up in the industry. When was released in 1999, it was the most awaited movie and also the most hyped. Now re-released in 3D, it should provide a nostalgia trip for Star Wars fans and enhance the excitement of the pod racing sequences.
2. CHRONICLE (sci-fi thriller with Dane DeHaan, Michael B. Jordan, Alex Russell, Michael Kelly and Ashley Hinshaw) Rated * * * (3 stars): This 'found-footage' chronicle about how three teenagers acquire telekinetic powers is like a mix of Cloverfield and TV's Heroes. It has its tongue firmly in cheek and should appeal to and delight the youngsters. What's more it does not have the old grainy, headache-inducing shaky-cam techniques of The Blair Witch Project and Cloverfield. Promising effort by first-time director Josh Trank and writer Max Landis.
3. 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.
4. MAN ON A LEDGE (crime thriller with Sam Worthington, Jamie Bell, Elizabeth Banks, Genesis Rodriguez, Edward Burns, Ed Harris, Anthony Mackie, Kyra Sedgwick and William Sadler) Rated * * (2 stars): The build-up works fine for a crime thriller - the pace is fast and there are the requisite vertigo-inducing effects and eye candy. And then just when we are about to get to the climax, everything breaks down. Yeah, the ending is so devoid of logic that it insults our intelligence. (Reviewed below)
5. SAFE HOUSE (action thriller with Denzel Washington, Ryan Reynolds, Brendan Gleeson, Vera Farmiga, Sam Shepard, Robert Patrick and Nora Arnezeder) Rating * * (2 stars): There are the usual car chases, plot twists and double crosses but at the end of the day, it is an uninspired rehash of The Bourne Identity caper. The lead stars, Reynolds and Washington, look tired and lacklustre while the secondary cast of Vera Farmiga, Brendan Gleeson and Sam Shepard are wasted in dull roles.