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The Big Release
What's the story? Living in a secluded wilderness with her father, Hanna is trained with one purpose: to take revenge on those that killed her mother. When the time comes for Hanna's mission she discovers truths about her past as she struggles to fit into a foreign world.
Cast: Saoirse Ronan (The Lovely Bones, Atonement), Eric Bana (Munich, Chopper). Director: Joe Wright (Atonement, Pride and Prejudice).
Plus points: One of only two directors who have managed to make Keira Knightley look like an actress, Joe Wright has yet to make a bad film. While the film undoubtedly belongs to Saoirse she's ably assisted with excellent support from, amongst others, Tom Hollander. The score by the Chemical Brothers fits perfectly with the film without ever threatening to overshadow it.
Let downs: The science fiction element feels like an unnecessary addition justifiable only by Hanna's extraordinary abilities. Director Joe Wright occasionally lapses into 'look what I can do with a camera' territory, detracting from the story in front of him. And it's not the film-makers fault but that 'Modern-day Leon' tag by the Poster Quote People should be punished by crossbow.
Critics said: "Hanna is mainstream, yet bold, risky and lovably idiosyncratic" (TimeOut). It's also "Little Red Riding Hood meets The Bourne Identity " (Radio Times). 72% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Verdict: An electrifying fairytale/comic book film that still manages to embrace some semblance of reality. Not quite perfect but unique enough to power through any missteps, coming up slightly bruised but definitely not beaten.
Water For Elephants
What's the story? During the Great Depression orphaned veterinary student Jacob runs away to the circus. There he falls in love with the circus owner's wife and an elephant named Rosie.
Cast: Robert Pattinson (Twilight, Remember Me), Reese Witherspoon (Walk The Line, Legally Blonde). Director: Francis Lawrence (I Am Legend, Constantine).
Plus points: While shrieking R-Pattz fans will line up in droves, Water For Elephants is designed instead for the 'grey army'. Could do for Elephants what The Notebook did for notebooks. (Poster Quote People, feel free to use that worldwide.)
Let downs: Very much a star, Pattinson has yet to prove he's an actor. Sharing the screen with one as talented as Christoph Waltz only exacerbates the fact.
Critics said: "Familiar but enjoyable" (Empire), it's "handsomely mounted but timid" (New Yorker). 55% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Verdict: A return to a 'real studio picture' for 20th Century Fox, Water For Elephants manages to combine all the elements of an oldie – romance, tragedy, love – that should please those who feel 'they don't make 'em like they used to'.
What's the story? After his niece is kidnapped by vampires Priest Ivan goes rogue, abandoning the Church and its city walls that protect humans from the living dead. Coupled with his niece's boyfriend and hunted by a warrior priestess, Ivan must find the girl before she is turned. It's like a modern-day The Searchers! (Poster Quote People, that's a joke, use it and we'll sue).
Cast: Paul Bettany (Wimbledon, Master and Commander), Cam Gigandet (Burlesque, Twilight). Director: Scott Stewart (Legion).
Plus points: In 1995 Keanu Reeves made the risible Johnny Mneumonic. A few years later he stuck to his guns, despite all signs he shouldn't, and made a similarly themed film called The Matrix. In 2009, Paul Bettany made Legion, two years later he's made a similarly themed movie, Priest, despite all signs he shouldn't. Has he pulled off a Keanu?
Let downs: The short answer is a big, fat No. While there were those sceptical of The Matrix back in '99, a month or two before its release everyone was talking about it. No-one is talking about Priest.
Critics said: Priest is a "dourly humourless, futuristic farrago" (RadioTimes) and one which the director "fails to inject any sense of excitement, tension or fun" (ViewLondon). Not yet rated on Rotten Tomatoes.
Verdict: Better than Legion (it's hard to see how it could be worse), Priest is nowhere near improvement enough for anyone to think Bettany and Stewart should ever be allowed in the same room again. At least not with a camera and a budget.
What's the story? Rachel meets Dex. Rachel fancies Dex but doesn't ask him out. Rachel's best friend Darcy does. Darcy and Dex get engaged. I literally can't finish the turgid plot of this insipid nonsense.
Cast: Ginnifer Goodwin (He's Just Not That Into You, Walk The Line), Kate Hudson (How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Almost Famous). Director: Luke Greenfield (The Girl Next Door, The Animal).
Plus points: Jesus, this is gonna be tough...Erm, er, it's got John Krasinki in it. Will that do?
Let downs: From the director of the Rob Schneider classic The Animal, featuring the 'talent' from Fool's Gold and written by the author of some episodes of The Gilmore Girls. It's like they've made me a perfect movie! (Poster Quote People...best leave that one alone)
Critics said: A "soul-sucking romantic comedy" (EW) that is a "clichéd, predictable and exasperating movie" (HollywoodReporter). 22% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Verdict: If you didn't get your fill of wedding related hoo-ha last week then there's something deeply wrong with you. You might be exactly the kind of person this film is aimed at.
The Best Film Still Showing
For the second week in a row I'm picking an unashamedly silly film that revels in its stupidity and actually has a lot of fun because of it. In these 'real-world comic book times' it was always going to be a tricky sell – big haired Norse God with big hammer saves Earth - but Thor does just about enough to entertain for its running time. Any film with Natalie Portman and Idris Elba has to be worth a punt, in my humble opinion.
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