Movie boffin: what’s happening on the silver screen

By admin
19 September 2013

Take a look at what’s starting at the cinema this week

If you feel like a tongue-in-cheek action comedy look no further than Red 2 (10-12PG LV). After surviving the hit on them in Red (2010), retired black ops agents Frank (Bruce Willis), Victoria (Helen Mirren) and Marvin (John Malkovich) are back to show young upstarts how it’s done. This time they’re on a globe-trotting mission to track down a missing nuclear device and once again an army of assassins and corrupt government officials do their best to eliminate them. The cast includes Mary-Louise Parker (Weeds), Anthony Hopkins and Catherine Zeta-Jones.

The film received mixed reviews. Reviews aggregate sites Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic gave it 42 and 47 per cent respectively. On the former the consensus was that “while it’s still hard to argue with its impeccable cast or the fun they often seem to be having, Red 2 replaces much of the goofy fun of its predecessor with empty, over-the-top bombast”. British film magazine Empire’s James Dyer was more positive, awarding it three stars and writing that “the lightness of tone is refreshing in a brainless action romp and while it’s hardly challenging, everyone involved seems to be having so much fun it’s hard not to get swept along [in this] frothy return of Frank and his creaky commandos”.

Many little ones will be overjoyed to hear The Smurfs 2 (PG) has hit cinemas. Like its 2011 predecessor it’s a blend of live action and animation, with the CGI Smurfs interacting with actors. This time evil wizard Gargamel (Hank Azaria of The Birdcage) has abducted Smurfette (voiced by pop star Katy Perry) because she knows a secret spell that could turn the creatures he’s created – called Naughties – into real Smurfs. He takes her to Paris, and with the help of their human friend, Patrick (Neil Patrick Harris of How I Met Your Mother), the other Smurfs set out to rescue her.

The film received a critical mauling and got only 13 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes, where the consensus was that “like its predecessor, Smurfs 2 might amuse small children, but it’s largely an unambitious, charm-free collection of slapstick gags and one-liners”. Empire’s Olly Richards was a little kinder, giving it two stars and writing that it’s “made 100 per cent for small children. There’s no concession to adults having to accompany them. It’s very earnest and its jokes are easy but this is efficient product with an admirably modern message”.

Horror fans can finally look forward to a decent scary movie. The Conjuring (16 V) is centred on real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson of Watchmen and Vera Farmiga of Up in the Air), who are best known for their involvement in the alleged haunting in Amityville in the state of New York, USA, which inspired many films and books. When a couple and their five daughters move into a house in rural Rhode Island, they’re soon beset by terrifying phenomena and ask the Warrens for help.

The movie received mostly positive reviews: Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic awarded it 80 per cent and 68 per cent respectively. On the former it was described as “well-crafted and gleefully creepy” and director James Wan (Saw, Insidious) was praised for the way he “ratchets up dread through a series of effective old-school scares”. Empire’s Owen Williams gave it four stars and his verdict was that “a strong cast and an atmosphere of real dread mean that despite a catalogue of immediately recognisable ghost devices The Conjuring amounts to more than the sum of its scary parts”.

Based on the acclaimed novel by Salman Rushdie, who wrote the screenplay for and narrates the film adaptation, Midnight’s Children (13 V) is centred on Saleem (Satya Bhabha), the illegitimate child of a beggar woman, who’s born at the stroke of midnight as India declares its independence from Britain in 1947. He’s switched with another baby, Shiva (Siddharth), the only child of a wealthy couple, and the two of them grow up to follow the destiny meant for the other. Saleem is also imbued with mystical powers and can communicate with the other children born at the same moment.

The film received mixed reviews. Rotten Tomatoes gave only 42 per cent and the consensus was that “though Midnight’s Children is beautiful to look at and poignant in spots, its script is too indulgent and Deepa Mehta’s direction, though ambitious, fails to bring the story together cohesively”. Conversely Empire and Total Film were much more positive. Total Film’s James Mottram gave it three stars and Empire’s Kim Newman awarded it four, praising Rushdie’s “sensitive handling of his own material”. Newman writes, “It can’t cram in the whole novel but a large cast embody the book’s mix of humour, magic, history, anger and affection.”

Director Lee Daniels’ thriller The Paperboy (16 LPVSN) is quite a departure from his lauded, gritty drama Precious (2009). In ’60s small-town Florida seductive death-row groupie Charlotte Bless (Nicole Kidman) convinces investigative reporter Ward Jansen (Matthew McConaughey) to help her prove her fiancé, convicted murderer Hillary Van Wetter (John Cusack of 2012), is innocent. Ward’s younger brother, Jack (Zac Efron of High School Musical), also gets involved and becomes obsessed with Charlotte.

The movie received mixed reviews, scoring 43 and 45 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic respectively. Rotten Tomatoes described it as “trashy and melodramatic, enlivened by a strong cast and a steamy, sordid plot, but uneven and often veering into camp”. Critic Eric D Snider wrote on his site, “[This] sweaty, lurid nonsense is hard to take seriously but I’ll say this much for the film: it ain’t boring.” Empire’s Angie Errigo gave it three stars, writing that “Kidman is extraordinary as the loony ’60s chick and, if you dig spectacularly feverish trash, this could find a small but appreciative cult”.

Phata Poster Nikhla Hero (age restriction to be announced) – which translates as “poster rips open and out comes hero” – is a Bollywood action comedy about a young, small-town man, Vishwas (Shahid Kapoor), who dreams of being a movie star while his mother wants him to be a police inspector. When he travels to Mumbai for a police service interview he meets a wannabe writer who helps him land a small role in a film and soon he’s on his way to superstardom. But then his mom decides to visit. The film will be released worldwide today and hasn’t been screened for critics, so no reviews are available yet.

-Sandra Visser

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