YOUR GUIDE TO THE WEEKEND MOVIES
a) NO STRINGS ATTACHED (Romantic comedy with Natalie Portman, Ashton Kutcher, Kevin Kline and Ludacris) Rating: * * 1/2 (2.5 stars): This looks like the closest Valentine's Day movie you can get to take your date to celebrate. Another reason is to catch Oscar nominee Portman in a role where she basically plays herself as opposed to the tensed, psyched-up ballerina in Black Swan. Director Ivan Reitman's No Strings Attached is no laugh fest, but it is saucy enough for a few giggles and sexy enough to be entertaining. Nothing less, nothing more.
b) THE RITE (horror thriller with Anthony Hopkins, Ciarán Hinds, Alice Braga, Toby Jones and Colin O'Donoghue) Rating * * 1/2 (2.5 stars): Ho-hum, another exorcist flick and another round of Hopkins' replay of his Hannibal Lector snarls! ''Were you expecting swivelled heads and pea soup?'' Hopkins' priest asks someone in the movie. Our reply: "Not really, but we we not expecting a debate with the devil on demonic possession and the strength of one's faith, either." To be fair, there are some interesting ideas being tossed about here but most of them get lost in the messy narrative.
STILL GOING STRONG:
1. SHAOLIN - (kungfu actioner with Andy Lau, Nicholas Tse, Jackie Chan, Fan Bing Bing and Wu Jing) - I have not been able to catch this Chinese New Year offering and all the other Hong Kong productions as I am still in the US. I am electing this as an option for readers because of good reviews. It is not a remake of the 1982 movie that launched Jet Li's career, though. Should be worth a watch.
2. THE GREEN HORNET (action thriller with Seth Rogen, Jay Chou, Cameron Diaz, Tom Wilkinson, Christoph Waltz, David Harbour and Edward James Olmos) Rated * * 1/2 (2.5 stars): An uneven and derivative rendition of the masked hero-and-sidekick TV caper made famous by Bruce Lee. And for title-star and script-writer Rogen to be upstaged by Jay Chou, it says a lot about the tone and quality of the film. (Reviewed below)
3. YOGI BEAR (live-cum-animation comedy with Anna Faris, Justin Timberlake, Dan Aykroyd, T.J. Miller, Nathan Corddry, Tom Cavanagh, Andrew Daly and Dean Knowsley) Rating * * 1/2 (2.5 stars): Service-able but uninspired rendition of the Hanna-Barbera cartoon series about the famous bear of Jellystone Park. The 3D looks better than other animated efforts but the treats here are the voice performances of Timberlake and Aykroyd as Boo-boo and Yogi respectively.
4. FASTER (crime thriller with Dwayne Johnson, Billy Bob Thornton, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Carla Gugino, Maggie Grace and Moon Bloodgood) Rated * * 1/2 (2.5 stars): Director George Tillman has apparently wanted to delve into themes of revenge and forgiveness instead of just an action flick - and only succeeds partially. With Johnson and Thornton around, it is not easy to take the movie seriously. Even for an action thriller, there isn't much action. (Reviewed below)
PS. Since I am in the US, or the other side of the world from Malaysia, I am unable to provide reviews on the Chinese New Year offerings.