Film Reviews and Listings: June 14-20
Ridley Scott’s latest movie both references 2001: A Space Odyssey and includes a robot character who is shown imitating Peter O’Toole’s performance in David Lean’s sublime Lawrence of Arabia. But since the creator of Blade Runner did more than anyone to define contemporary science fiction, he’s earned a right to his pretensions. The much-anticipated Prometheus, a prequel to the dankly gruesome Alien, is set about 70 years in the future and features a space flight to a remote star system. The mission is to confirm the possibility that space aliens visited Earth many thousands of years ago — and may even have supplied the DNA source code that created humankind.
This being sci-fi, evidence of a seemingly extinct alien culture is soon discovered; then things inevitably go wrong, and people start to die in gruesome ways. And, this being a sci-fi epic that wants some intellectual content to go along with the dazzling set designs, questions of faith, religion and free will are raised in interesting ways — not least when David the robot (marvelously played by Michael Fassbender) points out to a spiritually inclined scientist (Noomi Rapace of Dragon Tattoo fame) that he has received no benefit from knowing his origins.
Although there is less here than meets the eye — the plot feels a bit static, and the “meet your Creator” theme dates from Blade Runner — Prometheus contains stunning set pieces, great art direction and strong performances. It also marks a pleasing change from the ongoing plethora of wind-up superhero movies. M
Directed by Ridley Scott
Continues at Odeon, SilverCity, Uni 4, & Westshore
Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted
Despite being a step down from primo animation like Saving Nemo, the Madagascar movies have been lively and funny entertainments, with great character voices and the delightful scheming of that trio of perfidious penguins. The third in the series, Europe’s Most Wanted, easily maintains the tone of the earlier movies. In this outing, the penguins have abandoned our heroes in the middle of Africa while flying off to Monte Carlo to make their fortune in the casino. Alex the lion, Marty the zebra, et al. follow them to France and attempt an abduction, only to create chaos at the casino that brings them to the attention of a crazed animal-control officer who desperately wants a lion head to mount on her wall of trophies.
On the run, our cute critters joins forces with a down-on-its-luck circus and head to Rome and then London, hoping to attract the attention of a big-time circus promoter who will take them home to America. And so, while being stalked ruthlessly by Captain DuBois and struggling to reverse the fortunes of a bedraggled troupe of circus animals, “Madagascar’s Most Amusing” take the audience on a very colourful adventure.
Although sometimes a bit of a jumble — the movie’s tone shifts jerkily from post-modern pop culture commentary, to caper flick, to a rather laboured be-all-you-can-be lesson in self-affirmation — Madagascar delivers some zingy family entertainment. And after getting in a few jabs at Quebec and Cirque de Soleil, it then rips them off shamelessly for a nearly surreal climactic performance. Lots of fun! M
Madagascar 3 ★★★
Starring Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer
Continues at Capitol, Uni 4, SilverCity, Westshore
ROCK OF AGES -(Capitol/SilverCity/Westshore) Tom Cruise is supposedly great in this over-the-top tribute to heavy metal music. Starts Fri.
MOONRISE KINGDOM -(Odeon/Uni 4) The ever-quirky Wes Anderson (Rushmore, The Fantastic Mr. Fox) tells a tale about two very young lovers who run away from a repressive New England town, thus sparking an unusual search. The great cast includes Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Edward Norton, and Frances McDormand. Starts Fri.
THAT'S MY BOY -(Odeon/SilverCity/Westshore) The egregious Adam Sandler is back with a new low brow comedy, this one featuring SNL's Andy Samberg as his wayward son. Starts Fri.
BERNIE -(Capitol) The latest from Richard Linklater (Dazed and Confused, Before Sunrise) is a black comedy starring Jack Black as a small-town Texas mortician who kills a wealthy widow, then goes to great trouble to create the illusion she's still alive. Starts Fri.
★★★ THE AVENGERS -(Capitol/SilverCity/Westshore/Uni 4) A mob of Marvel-ous superheroes comes together to help prevent a global apocalypse, in a decent but uninspired orgy of one-liners and special effects. The galaxy of greatness includes Iron Man (Robert Downey), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), and Captain America (Chris Evans).
BATTLESHIP -(Caprice) The classic Hasbro board game sails into the cineplex, transformed into a sci-fi epic as a naval armada does battle with a terrifying extraterrestrial force. Note: moves here from the Westshore on Fri.
★★★½ THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL -(Odeon/Uni 4) A diverse group of British seniors seek out an affordable retirement hotel in India, only to find it in shabby disarray. But despite the initial disappointment, India's exotic charms win them over. This heartfelt comedy-drama has a great cast that includes Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson and Judi Dench.
★★ COSMOPOLIS -(Capitol) Robert Pattinson (Twilight) stars as a financier-vampire as David Cronenberg directs an adaptation of Don Dellilo's cerebral novel about a day in the (disintegrating) life of one of Wall Street's "masters of the universe." The novel is probably masterly, but the film is oppressive: stilted, talky, and inhuman.
★★ DARK SHADOWS -(Caprice) Tim Burton directs Johnny Depp in a tepid adaptation of the campy 1970s soap opera that featured a family of dysfunctional vampires. Fangs, but no fangs.
THE DICTATOR -(Odeon/SilverCity/Caprice) Borat star Sacha Baron Cohen will likely be at his politically incorrect best in this crazy comedy about a North African dictator who gets into surprising trouble in New York City.
★★ DR. SEUSS' THE LORAX- (Caprice) This is an over-stuffed, garishly coloured eco-parable that is preachy and only fitfully engaging. Featuring the voices of Danny DeVito, Zac Efron and Taylor Swift.
★★½ THE FIVE–YEAR ENGAGEMENT -(Odeon) Emily Blunt and Jason Siegel star in a sweet but meandering rom-com about a couple who endure an unusually long engagement that causes stress for various family members.
★★½ THE HUNGER GAMES -(Caprice) With Twilight fading fast, the latest teen sensation is this fantasy account of a future world where every year 24 young people are selected to fight to the death on live TV. Everyone else seems to love this movie, but other than for the great lead performance by JenniferLawrence I found this derivative and a bit cheesy.
HYSTERIA -(Odeon) Expect an unusual -- but accurate -- bit of sex education in this droll account of the doctor who invented the vibrator during the Victorian Era. Too, too shocking! With Maggie Gyllenhaal and Hugh Dancy.
★★★ MADAGASCAR 3: EUROPE'S MOST WANTED -(Capitol/SilverCity/Uni 4) Those mouthy NYC zoo escapees are up to their usual colourful antics in a wittily entertaining animation romp. See review.
MEN IN BLACK III -(Capitol/SilverCity/Westshore) Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones reprise their roles as alien-bashing crime fighters in a third outing for this wacky sci-fi comedy series. And thanks to a time travel aspect, Josh Brolin has fun playing the younger version of Jones' character.
★★★ THE PIRATES! BAND OF MISFITS -(Caprice) The Aardman Studios crew (of Wallace and Gromit fame) set sail with this rollicking -- and extremely silly -- spoof of all things piratical. Featuring the vocal talents of Hugh Grant, Salma Hayak, and Jeremy Piven.
★★★½ PROMETHEUS - (Odeon/SilverCity/Westshore/Uni 4) Ridley Scott returns to his sci-fi roots with a creepy, visually stunning prequel to the classic, still-terrifying Alien. Starring Michael Fassbender and Noomi Rapace. See review.
★★★ SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN -(Caprice) Lasse Hallström (Chocolat) directs Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt in a whimsical tale, part satire and part romantic comedy, about a fisheries expert who becomes a consultant to a sheik who wants to bring the sport of fly fishing to the desert.
SNOW WHITE & THE HUNTSMAN -(SilverCity/Westshore/Odeon) Supposedly Charlize Theron steals the show as the evil queen, in an exotic retelling of the classic fairy tale. With Kristen Stewart of Twilight fame.
WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU'RE EXPECTING -(Caprice) This non-traditional chick flick looks at five couples confronting the joys and challenges of becoming parents. Starring Cameron Diaz and Jennifer Lopez. Note: moves here from the Westshore on Fri.
★★ AMERICAN REUNION -(Caprice)
★★½ MIRROR MIRROR -(Caprice)
DINOSAURS: GIANTS OF PATAGONIA -(noon, 2 pm, 5 pm) Those "terrible lizards" come back to life in a feature that complements the fascinating dinosaur exhibit currently on at the RBCM.
★★★½ ROCKY MOUNTAIN EXPRESS -(11 am, 3 pm, 7 pm) Here's a patriotic account of the many daunting challenges behind building the CPR railway: part history lesson, part glorious travelogue.
TORNADO ALLEY -(4 pm, 8 pm) Take an incredible trip into the violent heart of tornadoes via never-before-seen footage collected by a fearless (crazy?) storm chaser.
TO THE ARCTIC -(10 am, 1 pm, 6 pm)
Born To Be Wild - (10am June 20-21 only)
MOVIE MONDAY - Screening A Friend Indeed: The Bill Hackter Story. Movie Monday celebrates its 19th birthday with a heartwarming documentary about a man with notable disabilities whose life was ennobled by several friendships -- with people whose lives were then enriched by the man that Bill Hackter was thus allowed to become. 6:30pm MONDAY in the 1900-block Fort. By donation. 595FLIC. moviemonday.ca.
Cinecenta at UVic screens its films in the Student Union Building. Info: 721-8365. cinecenta.com.
COMIC–CON EPISODE IV: A FAN'S HOPE -(Wed.-Thurs., June 13-14: 7:10, 9:00) Directed by Morgan Spurlock (The Greatest Movie Ever Sold), this is an insider look at the world's largest collection of fanboys and dress-up nerds as they descend on San Diego for an annual comic book fest of intergalactic proportions.
THE DEEP BLUE SEA -(Fri.-Sat., June 15-16: 7:00, 9:00) The great Rachel Weisz (Whistleblower) plays a judge's wife who is caught in a self-destructive love affair with an air force pilot. Based on a play by Terence Rattigan.
THE SALT OF LIFE -(Sun.-Mon., June 17-18: 7:10, 9:00) This droll Italian charmer portrays a kind-hearted would-be philanderer who is consistently overwhelmed by the various attractive women in his life.
THE STORY OF FILM: AN ODYSSEY -(Tues., June 19: 7:00, 9:20) Cinecenta continues its own 15-hour odyssey with the segments three and four of filmmaker and historian Mark Cousins' epic history of cinema artistry (which has a global moreso than a Hollywood perspective).
BULLY -(Wed.-Thurs., June 20-21: 7:00, 9:00) A lot of interest -- and praise -- has been generated by this hard-hitting (as it were) documentary on the bullying that is sadly pervasive throughout the school system.