Movie boffin: what to see at the cinema

By admin
14 June 2013

What’s on at the movies this week?

The biggest release this week is the animated fantasy Epic (PGV) from Blue Sky Studios, which also created Rio and the Ice Age movies.

A teenage girl, Mary Katherine (voiced by Amanda Seyfried of Mamma Mia!), goes to live with her eccentric father (Jason Sudeikis of Horrible Bosses) who’s obsessed with finding a tiny race of beings who live in the forest. When she encounters one of them she gets shrunk down to their size and finds out they’re the guardians of the natural world who are battling to save the forest from destructive creatures.

The film received generally favourable reviews – it scored 62 per cent on reviews aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes, where it was noted that “though its themes are familiar, Epic is beautifully animated and crafted with just enough flair to make for solid family entertainment”.

Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe and Catherine Zeta-Jones star in Broken City (16LV), a thriller centred on a cop-turned-private eye (Wahlberg) who’s tasked by the mayor of New York (Crowe) to find out if his wife (Zeta-Jones) is cheating on him. But what he uncovers seems to point to corruption at the highest level in government.

The film received mostly negative reviews and many critics were baffled by why big stars Wahlberg and co would agree to act in it. Rotten Tomatoes gave it 30 per cent, criticising its “thinly sketched, formulaic script”. Jason Best described it on the blog Movie Talk as “a solidly old-fashioned crime thriller that ploughs the familiar furrow of cops, crooks and corruption in New York City”.

Gambit (10LV) is loosely based on a 1966 film starring Michael Caine and Shirley MacLaine, whose roles are now taken over by Colin Firth (The King’s Speech) and Cameron Diaz respectively. A British art curator (Firth) decides to take revenge against his abusive boss (Alan Rickman, Professor Snape in Harry Potter) by conning him into buying a fake Monet with the help of a Texan rodeo champion (Diaz).

Despite the script being adapted by the celebrated Coen brothers, who wrote and directed The Big Lebowski (1998) and No Country for Old Men (2007), most critics dismissed the movie as dull and unfunny. Empire magazine’s Kim Newman gave it two stars and wrote this type of farce needs a light touch, but that the “approach is slightly too forced” and relies too much on “farts, nudity and toilet gags”.

Acclaimed Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar, who’s recently made dark, serious films such as Broken Embraces (2009) and The Skin I Live in (2011), returns to the camp, bawdy style of his early work with the comedy I’m So Excited (16SLD). During a flight from Madrid to Mexico City, the passengers are shocked to find out the landing gear is damaged. While the plane circles the airport, they start to reassess their lives, while the crew try to distract them from the precarious situation.

The film received mixed reviews. Empire’s David Hughes gave the film three stars, writing that in the ’70s and ’80s Almodóvar’s sexually explicit, over-the-top look at Spanish culture was subversive and daring, but because social attitudes have since changed for the most part, the film feels like an old-fashioned Carry On comedy. Hughes adds, “An unshakeable tolerance for high camp and lowbrow humour may be required to fully appreciate [it].”

-Sandra Visser

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