YOUR GUIDE TO THE WEEKEND MOVIES
NEW THIS WEEK:
a) THE SPY NEXT DOOR (comedy with Jackie Chan, Amber Valletta, Madeline Carroll, Will Shadley, Alina Foley, Magnus Scheving and Katherine Boecher) Rating: * * (2 stars): Another greasy kids' stuff the likes of The Pacifier and Old Dogs, with Chan (pictured, right) playing an undercover CIA spy who has to take care of his neighbour's three kids. Yup, the trite, sentimental crap that Chan is now reduced to playing.
b) CASE 39 (horror thriller with Renée Zellweger, Jodelle Ferland, Ian McShane, Kerry O'Malley, Callum Keith Rennie, Bradley Cooper and Adrian Lester) Rated * * (2 stars): Derivative and predictable horror about a family services officer who takes her case to her own home. Expect lots of stuffed borrowed from The Omen, The Orphan, et al. (Reviewed below)
STILL GOING STRONG
1. AVATAR (sci-fi adventure with Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Stephen Lang, Michelle Rodriguez, Sigourney Weaver and Giovanni Ribisi) Rated * * * * (4 stars out of 4): A happy marriage of form and function, James Cameron has gone one up on his Titanic. The plot may be a bit derivative but the setting, in a futuristic and fictional planet of Pandora, is a visual feast. The action sequences, augmented by CGI and motion-capture techniques, are mind-boggling. Already the No. 2 Top-Grossing film worldwide, behind Titanic. (Reviewed below)
2. SHERLOCK HOLMES (action adventure with Robert Downey Jr, Jude Law, Rachel McAdams, Mark Strong, Eddie Marsan, Kelly Reilly and William Hope) Rated * * * (3 stars): The world-famous detective gets a blockbuster-style makeover by Guy Ritchie in this robust and entertaining but irreverent rendition of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Holmes. (Reviewed below)
3. PARANORMAL ACTIVITY (horror thriller with Micah Sloat, Katie Featherston, Mark Fredrichs, Amber Armstrong, Tim Piper and Randy McDowell) Rating * * * (3 stars): Made like The Blair Witch Project, this supernatural docudrama is about horror in a house. It was last year's sleeper that became a runaway hit. Scary too.
4. CARRIERS (thriller with Lou Taylor Pucci, Chris Pine, Piper Perabo, Emily VanCamp, Christopher Meloni and Kiernan Shipka) Rated * * * (3 stars): An engaging tale of how four youngsters set out on a road trip in a post-pandemic America where a viral infection has claimed almost all its population (pictured, left). A bit like Zombieland. Commendable cast with good chemistry. (Reviewed below)
5. JU-ON: WHITE GHOST and BLACK GHOST (Japanese horror with Ai Kago and Akina Minami) Rating * * 1/2 (2.5 stars): This is actually a combination of two short movies of about an hour each - one about a murder horror in a house, and the other, the grudge of an unborn child. Not particularly earth-shattering but a good marketing ploy, though.
6. CIRQUE DU FREAK: THE VAMPIRE's ASSISTANT (sci-fi fantasy with John C. Reilly, Ken Watanabe, Josh Hutcherson, Chris Massoglia, Ray Stevenson, Patrick Fugit, Orlando Jones, Willem Dafoe, Salma Hayek) Rating: * * (2 stars): Like the title suggests, this film about a boy running away to join the circus is freakish, disjointed and messy. It is the first of a vampire trilogy by Darren Shan but don't bet on a sequel.
7. HAVE YOU HEARD ABOUT THE MORGANS? (romantic comedy with Sarah Jessica Parker, Hugh Grant, Sam Elliott, Mary Steenburgen and Elisabeth Moss) Rated * 1/2 (1.5 stars): Derivative tale of a Manhattan couple forced to slum it out in a small town in Wyoming under a witness protection programme. Grant's acting is irritating and Parker looks lost. (Reviewed below)
8. OLD DOGS (comedy with John Travolta, Robin Williams, Kelly Preston, Seth Green, Ella Bleu Travolta, Lori Loughlin and Matt Dillon) Rated * 1/2 (1.5 stars): An infantile attempt at comedy with Travolta and Williams playing clowns after being saddled with taking care of a pair of twins. Some gags can make you puke. (Reviewed below)