Friday, June 24, 2011

WEEKEND PIC - June 24 - 26, 2011



a) ATTACK THE BLOCK (sci-fi adventure with Nick Frost, Jodie Whittaker, Luke Treadaway, Flaminia Cinque and Joey Ansah) Rating * * * (3 stars): If you like Shaun Of The Dead, you will love this scary, fun and funny caper about how a teenage hoodie gang team up with a gutsy trainee nurse (Whitaker) to protect their housing estate in England from an alien invasion. Written and directed by Joe Cornish this one is refreshing and promising as his feature debut.

b) SACRED AND SECRET (documentary co-written and directed by Basil Gelpke, with Adrian Paul) Rating * * * (3 stars): This documentary on the social and spiritual complexities of Bali offers insights into some of the islands' occult ceremonies, guarded since the times of the Majapahit Kingdom. One of the highlights of the film is its sequence on the preparations and rituals surrounding the death of Agung Suyasa, the head of the royal family of Ubud.

c) TREASURE INN (comedy in Cantonese with Nicholas Tse, Nick Cheung, Charlene Choi, Huang Yi, Liu Yang and David Tong) Rating * * (2 stars): Hong Kong writer-director Wong Jing is back with his ludicrous tricks in this low-brow comedy about how two rookie cops (Tse and Cheung) try to solve the case of a stolen jade statue of the Goddess of Mercy. There are some attempts at spoofing the murder thrillers bit the movie is utterly derivative and a rip-off of Stephen Chow's Kung Fu Hustle and Shaolin Soccer.


1. X-MEN: FIRST CLASS (fantasy adventure with James MacAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Rose Byrne, January Jones, Oliver Platt and Kevin Bacon) Rating: * * * 1/2 (3.5 stars): A first class prequel (of the origins of Professor X and Magneto et al) done in style and wit by Matthew Vaughn (of Kick-Ass fame). The performances by MacAvoy and Fassbender are excellent, the state-of-the-art effects are impressive and there are many surprises in store for X-Men fans. Arguably, the best X-Men film so far. (Reviewed below)

2. KUNG FU PANDA 2 (animated comedy with Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Dustin Hoffman, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu, David Cross, James Hong, Gary Oldman and Michelle Yeoh) Rated * * * 1/2 (3.5 stars): Po the kungfu warrior panda (Black) is back and he and his friends are on a mission to save China from a mega-villain Peacock (Oldman) with a weapon of mass destruction. Then there's a subplot about Po's search for his biological parents that should lend depth to the sequel. For me, this one is even better than the first and it pays to watch in 3D. (Reviewed below)

3. SUPER 8 (sci-fi adventure with Kyle Chandler, Joel Courtney, Elle Fanning, Riley Griffiths, Jessica Tuck, Amanda Michalka, Joel McKinnon Miller, Ryan Lee, Zach Mills, Garbiel Basso, Ron Eldard, Noah Emmerich and Glynn Turman) Rated * * * (3 stars): An absorbing tale about a bunch of kids caught in 'alien invasion' in a small American town circa 1979. Directed by J.J. Abrams, this adventure is reminiscent of Spieberg's E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial and Close Encounters of the Third Kind - with a good mix of monster action and kiddie interactions. What's more, you will be bowled over by the performances of the young cast, especially by Dakota Fanning's sister, Elle. (Reviewed below)

4. GREEN LANTERN (fantasy adventure with Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Mark Strong, Peter Sarsgaard and Temuera Morrison) Rated * * 1/2 (2.5 stars): With a rather muddled-up opening and a storyline that recalls the exploits and romantic tangles of other comic book renditions like Superman and Spider-Man, Reynolds' Green Lantern only serves as another summer cinema fodder. There are some memorable moments with Lively as the hero's girlfriend and a few action pieces, but the overall effect is a feeling of mediocrity. (Reviewed below)

5. LADDALAND (Thai supernatural thriller with Saharat Sangkapreechat, Piyathida Woramuksik, Suthatta Udomsil and Atipit Chutiwatkajornchai) Rated * * (2 stars): This second feature of Sophon Sakdaphisit - about how a 'normal' family becomes dysfunctional after moving into their new home - aims at a more sophisticated, Hitchcock-styled way of story-telling. This works well for a while until the narrative gets too contrived and implausible - incorporating actions that make no sense. (Reviewed below)


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