Thursday, February 09, 2012

WEEKEND PIC - Feb 10 - 12, 2012


a)  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.

b) 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)
c) 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. 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.


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)

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. 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.

4. 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)
5. 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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