October 4, 2008

Films on Release Around the Region

By Mike Davies

NEW RELEASES Brideshead Revisited (12A) Not exactly faithful to the book, but on its own terms a watchable period melodrama love triangle about Catholicism, faith and class. ***

88 Minutes (15) Dismal serial killer thriller as forensic psychiatrist Al Pacino gets a message saying he has 88 minutes to live. They don't pass quickly enough. *

Fly Me To The Moon 3D (PG) Visually impressive, narratively dull animation about three flies who stowaway on Apollo 11. **

How To Lose Friends & Alienate People (15) Middling fish out of water romcom media satire with gaffeprone self-absorbed Simon Pegg trying to make it as a celeb gossip writer in New York. ***

Secret Policeman's Ball (18) Live broadcast of this year's Amnesty comedy event with Frank Skinner and Graham Norton. (Today, Cineworld Broad St) ON RELEASE Appaloosa (15) Wryly humorous Western with Ed Harris and Viggo Mortensen as lawmen for hire asked to clean up a town dominated by Jeremy Irons. Renee Zellweger's brassy widow is the third side of the bizarre love triangle. ***

Babylon AD (12A) Vin Diesel sleepwalks his way through a vacuous, dumbed down rehash of Children Of Men as he has to protect a young woman vital to the future of a post-apocalypse Earth.**

Bangkok Dangerous (18) The Pang brothers loud but empty remake their Thai hit with Nic Cage as the hitman who reassesses his life after falling for a shopgirl. **

The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas (12A) Tragedy strikes as the young son of a death camp commander becomes friends with a young Jewish boy.

Emotionally harrowing Holocaust drama. ****

The Dark Knight (12A) Christopher Nolan's awesome Batman sequel plunges into a jet black world of chaos and moral anarchy with a sensational performance by Heath Ledger as the nightmarish Joker. *****

Death Race (15) Loud, violent, empty-headed but entertaining remake of the 1975 sci fi cult with Jason Statham the framed prisoner forced to race against fellow inmates to win his freedom. (***

Disaster Movie (12A) Another scattergun parody of recent movies and pop culture names, loosely hung on a Cloverfield-aping plot.

There's at least two laughs.**

The Duchess (12A) Keira Knightley and Ralph Fiennes shine in intellectually sharp, emotionally engaging 18th century drama about the menage a trois in which Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, found herself trapped. ****

Eden Lake (18) Terrifying Brit. horror as a young couple's romantic camping weekend becomes a nightmare when they're assaulted by a gang of teenage thugs. ****

Hellboy II: The Golden Army (12A) Guillermo de Toro's imagination runs riot as Hellboy and his fellow paranormals juggle romantic troubles and attitude problems while battling forces from Earth's fantastical world. ****

Mamma Mia! (PG) Meryl Streep socks out the tunes like a Super Trouper in the feelgood big screen adaptation of the frothy romantic musical built around ABBA songs. ****

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (12A) Lifeless threequel as the O'Connell family battle Jet Li's resurrected would be world conqueror in the Himalayas. ** Pineapple Express (15) Potheads Seth Rogen and James Franco go on the run after the former witnesses the latter's supplier shoot someone. Stoner comedy you have to be high to find funny. **

Righteous Kill (15) Underwhelming, clunky and painfully obvious De Niro and Pacino team-up as a couple of veteran detectives investigating vigilante killings that point to a rogue cop. **

RocknRolla (15) Guy Ritchie fails to recapture Lock, Stock and Snatch form with his return to Lahndan gangster territory, a promising start sunk by stale plot, recycled characters and a slow descent into flabby repetition and flat dialogue.**

Space Chimps (U) Amiable CGI animation kids adventure about finding your inner hero as three astronaut chimps rescue an alien planet from its power-mad despot. ***

Star Wars: The Clone Wars (PG) CGI spin-off, set between Episodes II and III, as Anakin and Kenobi have to rescue Jabba the Hutt's kidnapped son. ***

Step Brothers (15) Crude comedy with Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly as emotionally stunted fortyish men who act liked spoiled six year olds when they become reluctant step-siblings.** The Strangers (15) Effective minimalist horror as three masked strangers silently terrorise a couple after breaking into their secluded house.***

Taken (15) Ex-CIA agent Liam Neeson kills a lot of people to rescue his teen daughter from sex slave traffickers. Succinct but great action nonsense. ***

Tropic Thunder (15) Ben Stiller's mild action comedy satire on the movie biz as a bunch of self-absorbed actors making a war movie mistake real drug running guerrillas for part of the screenplay. ***

Wall-E (U) Fabulous Pixar animation with a green message and a touching romance as, alone on a trash covered Earth, a rustbucket robot falls for the female drone sent to check if humans can return. ****

Wild Child (PG) Affable St Trinian's knock-off as a spoiled Malibu princess learns about responsibility and real friendship when sent to an English boarding school.***

The Women (12A) Meg Ryan and Eva Mendes star in dull remake of George Kukor's 1939 comedy about the romantic swings and roundabouts of gossiping New Yorker socialites. **

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