August 1, 2008

The Movies: Film Reviews ; MUST SEE


14 104 min



12A, 86 mins



U, 80mins


THE X-Files was one of those TV shows that encouraged a devoted kind of fan.

Good thing too since it's been six years since award-winning series wound up.

This is the second feature film based on the exploits of FBI agents Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) and it moves away from the alien-based plot arc that dominated the series.

The story focuses on Father Joseph Crissman (Billy Connolly), a convicted paedophile and supposed psychic, who leads authorities to a severed limb buried in the snow.

Agent Mosley Drummy (Alvin "Xzibit" Joiner) approaches Scully to re-establish contact with her former partner and expert in the paranormal Mulder so that he can consult on the case.

"If you could contact him, it might just save the life of an FBI agent," pleads Drummy cryptically.

Scully, of course, agrees and soon finds herself back at Mulder's side.

Her partner is fascinated by Father Joe's visions from God, but Scully remains sceptical.

On screen chemistry between the two leads still smoulders and the film develops their relationship in intriguing new directions, making this an interesting return to the murky world of the X- Files.

But while there are flashes of brilliance in the slow-burning plot, there is nothing to justify the investigation unfolding on the big screen.

Another movie that might have been better-off sidestepping the silver screen is The Love Guru.

When it opened in America earlier this summer, Hindu leaders were not amused by Mike Myers' mockery of their spiritual leaders, calling for a boycott of the film.

But in truth Marco Schnabel's film isn't mean-spirited, it's just unremittingly dull, wrapping quasi-philosophical teachings in the usual mishmash of slapstick, innuendo and sight gags.

A smattering of celebrity cameos, including pop star Jessica Simpson, Val Kilmer, rapper Kanye West and Myers as himself fall flat while pivotal scenes involving Oprah Winfrey and Celine Dion are clumsily realised without the actual involvement of either woman.

The plot deals with Myers' Guru Pikta's quest for fame as a self- help specialist in the USA, after leaving his beloved mentor Guru Tugginmypuddha (Sir Ben Kingsley, bizarrely) behind. He takes on a Canadian ice-hockey star suffering marriage problems hoping to help raise his profile as a guru as well as heal the rifts in the hockey- star's marriage.

There's the unmistakable whiff of Austin Powers about the whole sorry enterprise, from the barrage of double entendres to Myers' incessant, toothy gurning.

From a film that has its sights set firmly on the gutter to another aiming for the stars.

Like WALL-E It's another computer-animated family move set beyond the stars, but there the resemblance ends. This time around we've got primates instead of robots in the lead roles, and unfortunately, Space Chimps fails to conjure up any of the affective emotional content that made WALL-E so enjoyable.

There's plenty of monkey business in this outlandish adventure but the screenplay and the animation lack the necessary sophistication to engage audiences, young or old.

None of the characters are developed in any detail.

Indeed, when one NASA-bound chimpanzee boasts "Space is in my veins" and his sidekick quips, "And between your ears," he might as well have been talking about any of the primates in the film: Homo sapiens or Pan troglodytes.

Performing circus chimp Ham III (voiced by Andy Samberg), grandson of the very first primate in space, is recruited by NASA as part of a high profile campaign to retrieve the missing Infinity Space Probe, which has been sucked through a wormhole onto the other side of the galaxy.

Ham joins professional astro-chimps Titan (Patrick Warburton), Luna (Cheryl Hines) and Comet (Zach Shada), who are unimpressed by the newcomer's goofiness or his unwillingness to boldly go where so many have gone before.

Unfortunately there are only three seats in the space shuttle, so technical genius Comet is forced to remain behind at Nasa HQ to guide the mission from the ground.

Emerging through the wormhole, Ham, Titan and Luna crash-land on the planet of Malgor where the megalomaniacal Zartog (Jeff Daniels) is exploiting the Infinity Space Probe to enslave the rest of the population. So the chimps join forces with loveable alien Kilowatt (Kristen Chenoweth) to outwit Zartog and restore peace to this strange world.

Locations including the Valley Of Really Bad Things fail to live up to their billing and the promised eruption of a volcano is a massive anti-climax.

Early in the film, one of the intrepid heroes jokes "We got three chimps strapped into a EUR37bn space ship, what could go wrong?"

The answer turns out to be De Micco's picture.

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