August 18, 2008

Fun Part’s Missing

By Reviewed by Syida Lizta Amirul Ihsan; James Hipkiss


Directed by Chris Miller

Voiced by Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy, Antonio Banderas, Rupert Everett, Julie Andrews, Justin Timberlake and Eric Idle

Distributed by Berjaya HVN Sdn Bhd

THE third instalment of this green ogre tale is no longer hilarious. It's as if an animation is given a certain amount of fun energy and Shrek has used them all with its third outing running on reserved battery.

The whole story of Shrek (Myers) getting the throne and trying to pass the buck to Arthur (Timberlake) while Fiona (Diaz) saves the kingdom is just stretching the story too far.

Blend it with an American medieval high school lingo and the story gets off-putting if you are over 15.

Thank God the Donkey (Murphy) is still razor-sharp although Puss in Boots (Banderas) is not given enough attention even as Shrek's second-rate sidekick.

The good thing is the DVD version is packed with special features that's fun to watch.

Meet the Cast is the best feature, with the Hollywood stars speaking about their roles.

Banderas even said that after he voiced Puss in Boots, every woman he meets talks about the cat, erasing the Zorro image he is often linked to.

Shrek's Guide to Parenthood is also funny. Puss in Boots advises the couple to make sure their tongues are clean before they clean the little ones. He's a cat, after all.

The DWK section is an interactive feature for children, which includes tips on how to be green and Merlin's crystal ball that gives answers to yes and no questions.

Overall, I think this movie is a good lesson about knowing when to stop. The first two movies were funny. The third, well, the makers were not so lucky. - SL

Rating: **


Directed by Franck Khalfoun

Starring Wes Bentley and Rachel Nichols

Distributed by Speedy Video Distributors Sdn Bhd

THE next level of fear is lurking in your parking lot. And if it has a crazy security guard manning the area by himself with his menacing dog, then be scared. Be very scared.

First, some security tips: Never venture alone into an empty parking lot late at night. If your car won't start, get a friend to pick you up from the building.

But if you ever find yourself absolutely alone in a locked building with no other humans in sight, just call the police from the reception desk and wait for help.

Obviously, our heroine didn't do all this. After finding the building locked, Angela (Nichols) goes down again and is attacked by the security guard, Thomas (Bentley), who has been watching her for months.

He is lonely. She is scared. What ensues is a cat-and-mouse chase as she tries to escape.

As a thriller, this movie can bore you. There are only two main actors and half of the movie Thomas goes: "Angela, Angela..." as the lady holds her breath to prevent from being found. Needless to say, it doesn't take a genius to write the script. There is hardly any speech.

The consolation is seeing Angela fighting back. Otherwise, there is nothing much going on here as far as a thriller goes. - SL

Rating: **


Directed by Richard Lagravenese

Starring Hilary Swank, Scott Glenn, Imelda Staunton, Patrick Dempsey and Mario

Distributed by Berjaya HVN Sdn Bhd

BASED on the book The Freedom Writers Diary, this film follows the true story of Los Angeles school teacher Erin Gruwell.

Coming from a middle class liberal background, the newly qualified Gruwell (Hilary Swank) takes a job in a LA ghetto school, little realising that her classroom would be a continuation of the race based gang mentality outside the school gates.

African, Hispanic and Asian American kids sit in a poisoned atmosphere in separate sections of the room never mixing, only fighting.

She then discovers that every one of them has lost friends in gang-related shootings, and their gang membership is the only thing that gives them an identity and credibility.

To open a line of communication and understanding between individuals, Gruwell persuades the students to start keeping daily diaries.

This inspiration frees the students from their gang mentality and turns them from their negative fatalistic mindset to a positive one.

The true relevance and importance of what Gruwell achieved is discussed and expanded upon in the special features section of the DVD.

She is interviewed, as are actors from the film who themselves grew up in similar social backgrounds to the characters they portray.

We learn too that this scheme created by Gruwell, which many teachers were at first skeptical about, is now running successfully in many inner city schools, and is supported by a dedicated organisation. A very positive, optimistic and inspirational film. - JH

Rating: ***


Directed by Antoine Fuqua

Starring Mark Wahlberg, Danny Glover, Michael Pena and Kate Mara

Distributed by Berjaya HVN Sdn Bhd

Retired United States Marine Scout sniper Bob Lee Swagger is visited in his isolated Rocky Mountains retreat by some shady Government types from Washington, who have a special mission for him.

A very convincing Washington `spook' played by Glover explains to Swagger (Wahlberg) that there's a plot to assassinate the President by sniper fire.

They want Swagger to make a detailed presidential assassination plan which they hope will enable them to predict the plan of the real hit man and catch him before his deed is done.

Swagger, reluctant to become involved at first, draws up the perfect plan, and yes, you can imagine more or less what happens then - he becomes a wanted man on the run.

Certainly action packed, but perhaps a trifle predictable. One is thinking, "didn't Swagger see this coming?"

The special bonus features contains the usual commentary, and the usual "making of".

Then strangely, there is also a short piece about the history of one of the film's main locations - Independence Hall in Philadelphia, the Liberty Bell and the declaration of American independence from the "tyranny" of Britain. So here's a thriller with a bonus documentary on US history. - JH

Rating: ***

***** Excellent

**** Very Good

*** Good

** Fair

* Poor

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