Friday, February 03, 2012

WEEKEND PIC - Feb 3 - 5, 2012



a) WAR HORSE (adventure with Emily Watson, David Thewlis, Peter Mullan, Niels Arestrup, Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irvine, Benedict Cumberbatch and Toby Kebbell) Rated * * * (3 stars): Directed by Steven Spielberg from a stage play, this war drama seen from the point of view of a horse is touching and at times heartwarming. Sure it tends to be sentimental but it is classic and epic film-making without the use of CGI. Make sure you have lots of facial tissues, though. (Reviewed below)

b) 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.

c) HAYWIRE (spy thriller with Channing Tatum, Ewan McGregor, Michael Douglas, Michael Fassbender, Gina Carano, Antonio Banderas, Bill Paxton, Michael Angarano) Rating * * * (3 stars): In 2008, Steven Soderberg featured young porn star Sasha Grey in a movie called The Girlfriend Experience, about a high-class Manhattan callgirl. The movie was, at best, tepid. In Haywire, he features mixed martial arts (MMA) superstar Gina Carano as a Government agent gone rogue, kicking a lot of male asses. Well, this time around, he back her up with a bunch of A-list stars to prevent the project from going haywire at the box-office.

d) THE GREY (adventure thriller with Liam Neeson, Dermot Mulroney, James Badge Dale, Joe Anderson, Frank Grillo, Dallas Roberts, Nonso Anozie, Ben Bray, Larissa Stadnichuk and James Bitonti) Rated * * 1/2 (2.5 stars): With action star Neeson in the lead, many will be expecting a testosterone-filled sock-em action movie. It is not. The Grey is a rather bleak and coldly realistic film about how a bunch of air crash survivors face the elements as well as packs of killer wolves in their trek to safety. (Review pending)


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. 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.


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