Thursday, March 22, 2012

WEEKEND PIC - March 23 - 25, 2012



a) FREAKONOMICS (documentary of the 2005 best-seller by by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner) Rating * * * (3 stars): After reading the runaway best-seller way back in 2006, I could not imagine anyone trying to make a film about its series of 'freak economics' that postulates, for example, whether a name given to a child can have an influence on him or her later in life. Well, its 'chapters' are unevenly done but many of the subjects are compelling, nevertheless. If you have not read the book, this is a good opportunity to catch up - at the GSC International Screens. (Review pending)

b) THE HUNGER GAMES (sci-fi adventure with Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutherland, Stanley Tucci, Wes Bentley, Liam Hemsworth, Elizabeth Banks, Lennie Kravitz and Willow Shields) Rated * * 1/2 (2.5 stars): This first instalment of Suzanne Collins' trilogy about the adventures of Katniss Everdeen (Lawrence), directed by Gary Ross, is a faithful attempt that sets out the groundwork for the other two movies. However, while remains faithful to the book, the movie lacks the vision and imagination of the Harry Potter and Lord Of The Rings franchises. Kudos to Lawrence's portrayal of the heroine, though. She is the winning factor. (Reviewed below)

c) THE VOW (romantic comedy with Rachel McAdams, Channing Tatum, Jessica Lange, Sam Neill, Jessica McNamee, Wendy Crewson, Tatiana Maslany and Scott Speedman) Rated * * 1/2 (2.5 stars): Basically, this is a chic flick about a guy having to woo his wife again when she suffers from amnesia after a car accident. There isn't much chemistry between Tatum and McAdams, while the filler relationship between Tatum and his assistant holds more promise. And yes, shoddy writing abounds - including one scene showing a physically impossible accident. (Reviewed below)

d) ONE FOR THE MONEY (romantic comedy with Katherine Heigl, Jason O'Mara, Daniel Sunjata, Nate Mooney, John Leguizamo, Sherri Shepherd and Debbie Reynolds) Rated * * (2 stars): Two for the show... and it is all on Heigl who plays the plucky bounty hunter Stephanie Plum who not only goes after the bad and not-so-bad guys - but also manages to solve murder cases as well. A thick smog of incredulity hangs over the narrative and many of the cast are caricatures instead of realistic characters. (Reviewed below)


1. 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. 

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 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)


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