Thursday, April 05, 2012

WEEKEND PIC - April 6 - 8, 2012



a) THE FLOWERS OF WAR (war drama with Christian Bale, Ni Ni, Zhang Xinyi, Huang Tianyuan, Han Xiting, Zhang Doudou, Tong Dawai, Cao Kefan, Atsuro Watabe, Yangyang Chunzi, Sun Jai and Li Yuemin) Rated * * * (3 stars): Adapted from Yan Geling's novel by Zhang Yimou, the movie grips us right from start to end. It is set in 1937 when Japanese soldiers plunder and rape Nanking - but the movie centres on how a lusty American mortician (Bale) is persuaded to masquerade as a priest to protect a bunch of female students in a cathedral. And yes, Zhang introduces a new star in Ni Ni. (Reviewed below)

b) STREETDANCE 2 (dance drama in 3D with Falk Hentschel, George Sampson, Sofia Boutella, Stephanie Nguyen, Samuel Revell and Tom Conti) Rated * 1/2 (1.5 stars): This sequel to the 2010 Streetdance 3D is tolerable as long as its stars are dancing. However, when they stop, the film sucks big time. This is because none of the cast members can act to save their lives - except for Conti who looks so out of place in this recycled dance show that mixes Latin moves with hip-hop. (Reviewed below)

c) DARK FLIGHT (Thai horror in 3D with Marsha Watanapanich, Peter Knight and Patcharee Thabtong) Rating: * 1/2 (1.5 stars): If you have seen Snakes On A Plane, this one offers the variation, Ghosts On A Plane. However, while the former has a touch of humour and cult feel to go with the proceedings, the laughter here is largely unintended. We get the feeling that the 3D is more of a novelty than to enhance the scares.


1. 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. (Reviewed below)

2. MIRROR MIRROR (fantasy spoof with Julia Roberts, Lily Collins, Armie Hammer, Sean Bean, Nathan Lane, Mare Winningham, Michael Lerner, Jordan Prentice, Mark Povinelli, Joe Gnoffo and Ronald Lee Clark) Rated * * * (3 stars): Director Tarsem Singh gives the classic Snow White fairy tale a touch of modern day political and gender correctness. He also keeps its tongue firmly in cheek, having the charming Roberts to poke fun at her Evil Queen and making the Seven Dwarves a band of bandits. The best part is in the closing credits when Tarsem shows off his Bollywood roots. (Reviewed below)

3. 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)

4. WRATH OF THE TITANS (fantasy adventure in IMAX 3D with Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Danny Huston, Rosamund Pike, Toby Kebbell, Bill Nighy and Danny Bell) Rated * * 1/2 (2.5 stars): The first Clash Of The Titans was critically-roasted. This sequel is slightly better with a more comprehensive narrative and action pieces. The main plot is family melodrama - with Perseus (Worthington) setting out to save Daddy Zeus (Neeson), accompanied by the lovely Andromeda (Pike) and Argenor (Kebbell). I caught this in IMAX where the action is enhanced in spectacular 3D and recommend it to action fans. (Reviewed below)

5. 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)


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