WEEKEND PIC - March 16-18, 2012
NEW THIS WEEK:
a) A SIMPLE LIFE (HK drama in Cantonese with Andy Lau, Deanie Ip, Qin Hailu, Wang Fuli, Paul Chiang, Leung Tin, Wendy Yu, Eman Lam, Elena Kong, Jason Chan, Hui So-ying, Anthony Wong, Chapman To, Sammo Hung and Tsui Hark) Rated * * * (3 stars): I have come across many of those dedicated maid-servants from China and seen how they become a part of the family of their charges. However, this Ann Hui movie is not only a touching 'dramedy' of the caring relationship between Ah Tao (Deanie Ip) and her young master, Roger (Andy Lau), but also a tongue-in-cheek look at the Hong Kong movie industry, with cameos by top names like Sammo Hung and Tsui Hark. Oh yes, we get another outstanding performance from veteran Ip, the real-life mentor of Andy Lau.
STILL GOING STRONG:
1. THE WOMAN IN BLACK (horror thriller with Daniel Radcliffe, Ciaran Hinds, Janet McTeer, David Burke, Shaun Dooley, Alisa Khazanova, Sidney Johnston, Mary Stockley, Alexia Osborne and Aoife Doherty) Rating * * * (3 stars): Set in Victorian England, this haunted house caper reminds me of the horror movies that scared the bejesus out of me when I was a kid. It still does. There is a palpable and pervasive sense of dread and creepiness throughout the show but the more interesting aspect is Radcliffe's post-Harry Potter presence: He proves that he can meet the challenge of playing a difficult role despite his age.
2. JOHN CARTER (sci-fi adventure with Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins, Samantha Morton, Mark Strong, Ciaran Hinds, Dominic West, James Purefoy, Daryl Sabara, Thomas Hayden Church and Willem Dafoe) Rated * * 1/2 (2.5 stars): Made by Disney at a staggering US$250 million budget, there seems to be more drama with its box-office performance than its action on the screen. This Mars fantasy written 100 years ago by Edgar Rice Burroughs (of Tarzan fame) predates the Star Wars stories but coming to the screen later, it is reminiscent of George Lucas' creations of aliens and airships. The story is whimsical and the battle scenes can be confusing. (Reviewed below)
3. Dr SEUSS' THE LORAX (animated fantasy with Danny DeVito, Ed Helms, Zac Efron, Taylor Swift, Betty White and Rob Riggle) Rated * * 1/2 (2.5 stars): I liken this one to a candy floss. It is light, fluffy and nice to look at but ultimately underwhelming. The Lorax may hold the interest and awe of the younger children for the first 30 minutes or so - before restlessness sets it. For adults, it is an unabashed propaganda for Dr Seuss' tree-hugging ideals and against the evils of excesses and capitalism. Dr Seuss' story is padded with subplots and songs but these do not always work... except for the cheerful number, Let It Grow. (Reviewed below)
4. THIS MEANS WAR (rom-com with Tom Hardy, Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine, Laura Vandervoort, Til Schweiger, Chelsea Handler, Angela Bassett and David Koechner) Rating: * * 1/2 (2.5 stars): With its triangle love story about two CIA agents (Pine and Hardy) fighting for the same girl (Witherspoon), the movie promises a mix of explosive mayhem, comedy and romance. However, there is precious little of these to go around and even less chemistry between the leads. Directed by McG of Charlie's Angels fame, it looks like a music video version of Mr and Mrs Smith.
5. THE DEVIL INSIDE (Horror thriller with Fernanda Andrade, Simon Quarterman, Evan Helmuth, Ionut Grama and Suzan Crowley) Rating * 1/2 (2 stars): Surprisingly, this Exorcist rehash was the top-grossing movie when it opened in America during the January 6-8 weekend, grossing US$34.5 million. The Devil Inside is another low-budget, lightweight shaky-cam effort that smacks of amateur acting, scripting and directing. The shaking images makes us want to puke.