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New Pope Francis 1 should ban exorcism films as they insult the
intelligence of viewers.
This film is so boring and derivative. What's the big deal about Nell floating above her bed.
She hears the usual weird noises and sees funny things, typical in all exorcism films.
This film plods along at a leisurely pace until the exorcism, which is so weird that you have to see it to believe it.
WHO brings a heart monitor, a chicken and salt to an exorcism???? Ha ha.
THERE is a trend in violent films that makes it excusable for the
protagonist to go on a killing spree, regardless of the damage that he
inflicts on people and property. For example, vigilantes are given
permission to exact revenge to fulfil their desire for blood, while
criminals can cause wanton damage because they strive to keep the
This trend continues in producer-director Taylor Hackford's Parker, about a robber who is cheated of his share of the loot by his crew, and is left for dead. It's a miracle that he survives the attempt on his life, and it's a surprise that he can still walk after the innumerable shootings, stabbings and knocks he receives.
He then plots to get back what belongs to him because "it's the principle". Nothing can stop him from his determination to regain his money. If the number of bodies rises, so be it.
Viewers go to see a Jason Statham film not because of its intellectual superiority, but because of his superior reflexes when it comes to dealing with villains. Statham's preferred method of settling problems is to either whip out his gun or to whip the enemy to death.
He plays the titular character, Parker, with his trademark blank look and gruff voice. Parker's crew is robbing the cashier's department at the Ohio State Fair, and during the heist, a guard has difficulty breathing. Parker asks the guard to calm down and asks the latter to think of his girlfriend.
The film cuts to a scene of Parker in an intimate moment with his own girlfriend. This is supposed to assure viewers that Parker is a robber with a big heart.
The crew has an altercation with Parker, but he recovers from his near-death experience, has time to commit another robbery on his own to obtain money and then tracks down the crew, which is preparing to commit a heist in Palm Beach, Florida.
The film's sole moment of wit takes place when a killer is sent to dispose of Parker's girlfriend, Claire (Emma Booth). He trespasses on the property, with a knife in hand, but Claire, who hears him entering the house, hides away, also with a knife in hand.
She runs out of the house but has the temerity and calmness of mind to slash the tyres of the killer's SUV, parked in front of the house, before making her escape.
So far, everything is proceeding according to plan in a Statham film: high on violence and low on mental stimulation.
The introduction of Jennifer Lopez is a welcome distraction. Her character, real-estate broker Leslie, injects an iota of intelligence, humour, sexiness and, perhaps, a touch of reality.
Leslie says that she's fed up driving rich playboys to see homes that she can never afford. At the same time, she must fend off their gropes, all for a full commission.
The sexiness part comes in when Leslie has to strip to her underwear for Parker's viewing pleasure. Lopez is 44 this year, but she's still muy caliente.
Lopez's marshal character in Out of Sight (1998) is probably her best performance. Her chemistry with the fugitive (played by George Clooney) is amazing. With Statham, she's acting in front of a statue.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
HANSEL & Gretel: Witch Hunters is on the surface a rip-off of The
Expendables 2. The dialogue is just functional, risible and crude, and
the action -- not to mention the abundance of blood splatter, and
crushed and decapitated heads -- dominates most of the film.
The film certainly doesn't mince its action; in fact, it'll make director Quentin Tarantino blush.
Norwegian writer-director Tommy Wirkola, in his English-language debut, uses the Brothers Grimm's tale of child abandonment as a springboard to display his aptitude with medieval fantasy, tight leather clothes, face-changing witches and an arsenal of heavy weapons for the most enlightened of bounty hunters.
Hansel (Renner) and Gretel (Arterton) dig deep into their souls to get rid of witches.Beneath the river of blood that permeates this film, however, lies the simple fact that two orphaned siblings are on a quest to find out what had become of their parents and why they were abandoned, in short, a search for their identities.
Unfortunately, to get to that point, viewers will have to sit through an avalanche of violence. As one sibling says: "Unleash hell."
The film opens with Hansel and Gretel being carted into the woods by their father. He never comes back. Brother and sister walk into a home made of cake and dispose of the witch in it, thanks to their immunity from spells.
Fifteen years later, diabetic Hansel (Jeremy Renner of The Avengers, The Bourne Legacy) and Gretel (Gemma Arterton of Quantum of Solace) are witch hunters.
The mayor of the small German town of Augsburg (in a nod to the tale's German roots) hires them to kill witches who have been abducting children for a sacrificial ceremony.
For a while, it's fun to see the male and female siblings working together to eliminate witches.
Both have equal strength and are well-equipped to deal with any event that arises, especially as they have weapons that emit arrows. That fun quickly disappears as their witch hunts involve only a huge amount of carnage.
Hansel says: "Killing innocent women won't bring back the missing children." He'll get to skinny dip with pretty Mina (Pihla Viitala), initially wrongfully accused of being a witch.
Mina later gets to spray bullets with a machine gun in a scene similar to that in The Last Stand.
Gretel finds an unlikely romance with a troll, Edward (Derek Mears), who's the Beast to her Beauty. Edward crushes victims, especially their heads, as if they were ants.
The film, of course, sets its mind and path on beating viewers into submission.
ANNE Hathaway's rendition of I Dreamed A Dream in director Tom Hooper's
sing-through musical brought tears to my eyes. Hathaway plays
seamstress-turned-prostitute Fantine in this adaptation of Victor
Hugo's 1862 five-volume novel of the same name.
Hooper (The King's Speech) frames Fantine in this scene in a close-up and with a black background and films it without an edit. Hathaway's expression captures everything her character wants but can only dream of.
I dare anyone to see this scene without shedding a tear. The Academy Awards can already present the best supporting actress award to Hathaway.
The problem with this scene is that it raises the bar so high that everything that comes after this is a letdown. Fantine also disappears early on from this 160-minute film and reappears only at the end.
The interminable length doesn't help and the film could have lopped off a few songs, especially that of Russell Crowe, who plays policeman Javert, who is obsessed with hunting down petty thief Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman).
Perhaps the novel did a good job of explaining Javert's single-minded focus in wanting to catch Valjean, but, in the movie, he appears as a buffoon with nothing better to do than to ride all over France during the 19th century to look for a man who was convicted only for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his sister's dying son.
Valjean (Jackman) consoles a beaten-up Fantine (Hathaway).A lot has been said about Hooper getting the actors to sing live during filming, and not during post-production, so this translates into greater intimacy between the actors and the audience. Viewers can really feel the actors heaving during the singing.
This may have worked out well for Hathaway, but, alas, not so for the rest of the actors. Crowe sings with his band, but his singing can best be described as mediocre. He also looks glum most of the time, preening in his policeman's costume.
Jackman is known to sing for his supper, so he handily carries most of the film. His singing is better than average and he hits all the right notes, but compared to Hathaway, he doesn't even come close.
Jackman's Valjean is tormented by his past. He made a vow to do right and has stuck to it since he broke his parole, changed his name and became a respectable member of society. But as singing Who Am I? twice says, he can never really run away from his origins.
Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter goof around.However, there's hope for him as Fantine appears to him when he's on his last breath, telling him: "To love someone is to see the face of God." Heck, he should have been called J.C. instead of J.V.
He's been carrying his burden from the moment he was set free (shown at the beginning of the film) to his very end. He was, after all, influenced by the forgiveness shown to him by the priest whose church he robbed. That was the turning point in his life.
He will risk life and limb during his life, fighting until the last moment to justify his second chance.
The story is a social critique of the unjustness of the law and the ruthlessness by which the police will pursue petty crooks, regardless of the severity of the crime and the justification for it.
It's also about a man who turns over new leaf but can never get rid of the vestiges of his past.
Valjean becomes the mayor of a small town who runs a sewing factory. For all his good intentions, he doesn't keep close tabs on his ornery and horny foreman, who abuses his position to oust Fantine.
After Hathaway's bravura singing, Valjean has no choice but to take care of Fantine's daughter, Cossette (Isabelle Alan, and later, Amanda Seyfried, who sang her way through Mamma Mia!) Crowe and Jackman face-off in Les MisViewers won't be swept of their feet by Seyfried's singing, but her duet with lover Marius (Eddie Redmayne) does add a romantic spark.
What is more interesting is Marius' friend, Eponine (Samantha Barks), who pines for him and is devastated when he falls for Cossette.
Her singing of her loss is heartfelt, and viewers will feel great sadness when she sacrifices herself to save Marius in the 1832 Paris rebellion.
Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter add a touch of levity to this seriously serious musical by playing the innkeeper parents of the young Eponine.
Samantha Barks plays Eponine, who pines for a guy falling for someone else.The film, although immeasurably wonderful, could have done better with a tighter storyline, fewer songs and better singing from some actors.
ONE thing I learnt from watching Spanish director J.A. Bayona's tsunami
disaster film is that it pays to have travel insurance and it's good to
be a white if you're caught in a natural disaster.
For the first lesson, I'd like to think that my insurance firm would rush over a luxurious private jet to pick up me and my family and transport me to a proper hospital in another country.
I don't know of any insurance firm that would go to these lengths for its customers. It would have probably asked me to pay first and then make claims upon my return.
For the second lesson, Bayona whose movie is based on the true account of a Spanish family, the Belons focuses on the impact of the Dec 26, 2004, tsunami on one white family.
On watching it for the first time, I thought that it made sense to describe the trauma experienced by one family whose members were separated by the giant tidal wave. The sole white family could have represented the multitudes of families whose lives came crashing down to earth.
On watching it for the second time, however, I noticed a huge void regarding the sufferings experienced by the local residents, that is, the Thais.
The kid on the left doesn't look too frightened about what's going to happen in this CGI shot. Indonesia was the hardest hit, with about 130,000 deaths; Thailand recorded 5,395 deaths, and Malaysia, 68.
In the film, nothing is seen or said about the Thai experience. The white woman and her son are brought to safety by an elderly man, and an elderly woman puts a blouse over the white woman.
Some villagers take the injured white woman and he son to the hospital, and along the way, the plight of so many more whites is shown.
At the hospital, there are only whites in it, with their pain and anguish being the film's foremost concern.
The boy, too, helps to track only white patients.
There are scenes of bodies left in the aftermath of the destruction, and they are white ones.
When the husband of the white woman manages to call home, he talks only of his family. There's no mention about the death and destruction in Thailand.
The finale of the film is also contrived. The director milks every second leading up the reconciliation between the family members in the hospital.
The family in concern comprises big company employee Henry (Ewan McGregor), non-practising doctor wife Maria (Naomi Watts, nominated for an Oscar best actress for this role), and sons Lucas (Tom Holland), Thomas (Samuel Joslin) and Simon (Oaklee Pendergast).
The film opens with the family in a plane about to land in a southern Thai island. Eldest son Lucas is rapped by his mum for not taking care of his brother.
The family members settle in for their holiday. They are thrilled to light Thai balloons on Christmas Day on the resort's beach, but again, there's not a single Asian in sight.
I had visited Phuket during the 2009 Christmas season, so I know that Thai resorts are overrun by whites. I had even joked that the number of whites was greater than the number of whites during this time of the year. But not even one non-white at the beach? Ewan McGregor with Samuel Joslin (left) and Oaklee Pendergast. Maria and Lucas are separated from the other three by the tsunami. I had seen Clint Eastwood's Hereafter and Korean tsunami disaster film Tidal Wave (2009), so I was prepared for the onslaught.
But the director goes one better by showing what happens to Maria and Thomas in the water. They are hit by so many objects that it's a miracle that they did not die in the water.
The film follows the badly-injured Maria and her son as they struggle to reach safety.
However, I cannot take anything away from the excellent acting. Holland is wonderful in showing greater responsibility, especially when he orders his mum to get to the top of a tree and forget about the cries of a kid.
Watts, for her part, must show pain, compassion and the desire to see her family again. She's terrific in the first half but she's then limited to a hospital bed and looking tired with a ghastly white pallor.
McGregor gets to shine, even though his high-pitched boyish voice is distracting. His scene with the second son, when he convinces the kid to take care his brother while he (McGregor) goes to look for the others, is touching.
Responsibility is a theme in the film, and all the kids step up their duties during this critical moment: Lucas takes care of his mum, while Thomas minds Simon.
The ending of the film is like that in Argo. Viewers already know how the film will end, so there's no dramatic tension, but that doesn't stop Bayona from creating excitement out of nothing.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
DIRECTOR Simon West (The Expendables 2) teams up again with Nicolas
Cage on this daddy-rampage film in New Orleans.
By the way, what's with the recent spate of films about fathers who go ballistic (see Taken 2) when their families are threatened? Perhaps films like these allow fathers, and society, to give vent to their feelings of helplessness in the face of rising crime.
Or, perhaps, it's just an excuse by Cage and West to go through the motions and con (get it? Con Air?) the audiences into parting with their money.
Cage has, of course, ventured into robbery territory before, for example, Gone In 60 Seconds(2000), in which a skillful car thief is forced to come out of retirement to save his abducted brother.
In Stolen, just-released skillful bank robber Will Montgomery is forced to come out of his shell to save his kidnapped daughter Alison (Sami Gayle).
Earlier, the audience is privy to a bank robbery gone wrong when Will shoots his accomplice Vincent (Josh Lucas) in the leg to prevent him from killing an eye-witness. He also burnt the US$10 million that they had stolen.
Eight years later, Will is released from prison and heads straight to see Alison, 15, who refuses to entertain his fatherly entreaties.
Unbeknown to them, Vincent, who now has a Terminator-like leg, is watching them from his taxi. He kidnaps Alison, stuffs her in the trunk of his taxi and demands that Will give him the US$10 million within 12 hours.
While I don't mean to be disrespectful to the handicapped, I wonder if the US authorities would allow a man with a metal prostheses to drive a cab.
This is all happening during Mardi Gras, which I had the opportunity of partaking in a long time ago, so you can imagine the revelry and crowds thronging the French Quarter.
Will begs the cops to help him, but detective Tim Harlend (Danny Huston) doesn't give a hoot about his predicament.
The FBI is portrayed as a bunch of bumbling incompetents who can't even protect its own office. What follows is a cat-and-mouse game as viewers watch Will hunt for Vincent and the cops hunt for Will (see The Fugitive).
There are lots of close calls as bullets are fired and Will jumps in and out of buildings and cars with reckless ease.
One thing that is puzzling is Vincent's decision to place Alison in the car trunk. I'm assuming that he wants to remain on the go, but why would he drive in the city during its busiest time of the year?
Also, as he abruptly stops the vehicle many times, why doesn't Alison bump her head against the trunk?
The movie, as you might imagine, is pretty predicable, as once Nicolas Cage sets his mind on doing something, you know that it'll be accomplished.
I'M a big proponent of non-violence in movies and am critical of movies
such as The Expendables 2, Taken 2, The Raid and Universal Soldier: Day
However, after watching the painfully dry and laborious Chinese period piece The Assassins, I may have to reconsider my views. It's weighed down by its own importance and can't get out of a maze of drudgery.
Even the presence of Chow Yun Fat, the Gerard Depardieu of Chinese movies, isn't enough to save the movie.
Chow instils charm, charisma and integrity in his emperor-like roles, so he can play a ruthless leader who exudes compassion for his lover in his sleep.
Director Zhao Linshan's The Assassins is a drama about royal court intrigue, fighting for power and a woman torn between two lovers. Yet viewers won't be able to relate to most of the characters, and even the confusion experienced by the woman in question is inexplicable. It's as if she was forced into that position.
Cao Cao (right) tells the killer concubine that they can pin the blame on the many subplots in the film. Chow is chancellor Cao Cao, who rises to the No. 2 position in the Han Dynasty by virtue of his ruthlessness in wars. The numero uno is effeminate Emperor Xian (Alec Su), who sings songs of male lovers.
The emperor's sycophants see Cao Cao as a threat to them wanting to keep the former in power, so they devise many ways to assassinate the latter. One way is by snatching kids whose parents were killed in wars by Cao Cao.
As teens, Lingju (Liu Yifei) and Mu Shun (Tamaki Hiroshi) are forced to attend a camp that trains them to be assassins. Mu Shun is castrated so he can join the emperor's group of eunuchs, while his lover Lingju becomes Cao Cao's concubine to get close to him and to kill him.
Cao Cao, meanwhile, must contend with hordes of assassination attempts against him, including that of his concubine's, but he wins her over with the milk of his human kindness. He's not as bad as he's portrayed to be. You can see why taking on this role isn't a stretch for Chow.
Mu Shun realises that his lover is falling for Cao Cao, and tells her that Cao Cao can provide many things for her that he can't. A man needs a lot of balls to say that to a lover.
THE Islamophobia is toned down in French director Olivier Megaton's
senior-citizen action thriller Taken 2. Liam Neeson still gets to whip
the behinds of Albanian Muslim villains, but his character also gets to
show off his gentle side, including teaching his teen daughter how to
In fact, retired CIA agent Bryan Mills spends quite a bit of of time comforting his ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen) deal with problems arising from her second marriage. Lenore still wants to get it on with him. Bryan, however, is more interested in their daughter Kim's (Maggie Grace) boyfriend and teaching her how to pass her driving exam.
In the meantime, the Albanians, whose kids or relatives were killed by Bryan in the first movie written by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen four years ago, vow to avenge their deaths.
The writing duo don't let the Albanians down. They concoct a plan to let the Albanians, led by Murad (Rade Serbedzija), capture Bryan, his ex- wife and daughter in Istanbul.
Bryan had invited them there after the ex-wife's second husband had suddenly cancelled travel plans. What the second husband would think of his family's sudden excursion to Istanbul is not revealed.
The villains do get to kidnap Bryan and Lenore, but not before they let Kim, who's wearing a red bikini top, escape from their clutches in a hotel. In fact, the bumbling villains had already let their presence be spotted by our dear hero in the hotel and, later, in a busy market.
The villains put a hood over Bryan but he can counts stops and streets. He also listens to the environment (dogs barking and man playing a violin) while they take him and Lenore to a warehouse.
Their desire for revenge must have been so strong that they forgot to search him. If they did, they'd have found a small cellphone hidden on him.
Bryan then uses the device to talk with his daughter, and in the movie's most ingenious scene, he tells her to use a shoelace, pen and map to find his whereabouts.
Of yeah, he also tells her to lob a few grenades, thinking that no one in this huge historical city, which I visited two years ago, would notice the plumes of smoke and carnage caused his by travel activities.
Bryan escapes but not before there's running over the city's rooftops. Why is running on rooftops so popular in movies? It was also deemed necessary in Bourne Legacy and Total Recall recently.
Bryan then retraces his steps (using his extra-sensory powers, and the fortunate luck of hearing the same dogs barking and the same violinist playing) to find where he was hidden. Why would he do this? Wouldn't he have recognised the place he escaped from?
I'd have thought that the villains had learnt their lesson from Bryan escaping from their warehouse, but they're still nonchalant about it. For example, they're still engrossed in watching soccer on TV and one villain even turns his back towards the main gate while smoking. Heck, they didn't even lock it.
The film focuses quite a bit on Bryan and his family to allow our dear ex-CIA agent to go on a rampage without feeling guilty.
The editing is cut quickly and interspersed with fast music, including soaring violin tunes.
The action, including the shoot-outs, car chase and close combat, is ordinary. Neeson, Janssen and Grace's acting is commendable but they're stuck in bad script.
RED Lights - the second English movie by Spanish director Rodrigo
Cortes, the first being Buried - is a horror flick about two paranormal
investigators who bust fake mind readers and psychics. The start of the
movie is identical to that in British movie The Awakening (2012).
Dr Margaret Matheson (the ever able Sigourney Weaver) and her assistant, physicist Tom Buckley (Cillian Murphy of Inception and Dark Knight Rises), are called in to probe into irregular sounds in a house. They expose the fraud running a séance.
In fact, Margaret even teaches a university class on how to expose paranormal frauds. Is there really such a class? Margaret says she has not encountered a genuine paranormal event. This sets up the movie's finale: can there be a real psychic?
Meanwhile, comely student Sally (Elizabeth Olsen) catches the eye of Tom.
Then the biggest psychic entertainer in the world, grey haired Simon Silver (Robert De Niro without breaking a sweat), makes a return after 30 years. Tom urges Margaret to investigate him but the latter urges caution. Tom does it on his own, but his presence is exposed by breaking glasses and short circuits.
Margaret later drops dead and it's left to Tom to continue his pursuit. This part caught me by surprise. I had expected a few twists and turns before Margaret outed Simon.
So I continued watching, but the finale will rile you up and make you feel cheated. Everything points towards the expected fraudster -- Tom finds a dead bird outside his apartment and then his apartment is ransacked, and he's nearly strangled to death in a toilet at Simon's show -- but alas, it isn't.
Perhaps viewers should expose Red Lights for what it is: a red herring without any value. It should be buried for good.
Olsen also appeared in another movie with a lot of red herrings, Silent House (2011). The lesson to be learnt from Red Lights: avoid Olsen.
TIME travel is a popular theme in movies as it allows directors to
postulate the idea of humans travelling across time either to change
the past (Terminator, 1984) or to realise that you can't change the
past (Twelve Monkeys, 1995).
In 'Terminator', John Connor sends a rebel soldier back in time to save his yet-to-conceive mother from a cyborg attack. The mother conceives a baby with the soldier and the baby grows up to be John Connor. Viewers must accept the fact that the foetus continues to live even after the soldier dies.
In 'Twelve Monkeys', in a bleak future caused by a virus attack, a man (Bruce Willis) is sent back in time to find out what caused the attack. The future society accepts that it can't change the past; it just wants to finds out what caused the present situation. In this movie, the adult Willis meets his child self. He also dies in the past, but his child self lives.
The past comes alive once again in writer-director Rian Johnson's Looper, about a bunch of assassins who kill scumbag sent back in time.
Here's how it works. Villains 30 years into the future send back those they want killed. The loopers blast these baddies into oblivion, get rid of the bodies and pocket a sizable amount of silver for their deeds. The catch is, the villains must knock off these loopers in 30 years to "close the loop".
I found all of this rather confusing, and if most viewers are like me, they'll spend most of their time figuring out what's going on instead of enjoying the movie.
Young Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt in swept-back hair, a fake nose and darkened eyebrows) is immensely rich because of his unusual profession. He snorts drugs (eyedrops), drives around in his sports car, goes clubbing and enjoys the services of an escort, single mum Suzie (Piper Perabo)
The landscape of the future is pretty much similar to what you've seen in other movies, but there are more street people and shooting thieves is definitely allowed. In this case, Looper misses a chance to comment on the social discontent brewing in the streets. And if it didn't do so, then why show these scenes?
Young Joe moves to Shanghai, China, and becomes Old Joe (Willis), who marries Summer Qing (Qing Xu). There's not much talk between them, and I presume she's in the movie to open doors into China's huge market.
Old Joe thinks he's reached nirvana, but his 30-year tenure is up and he must now face his own extinction. He blames a new villain called the Rainmaker for breaking up his idyllic lifestyle.
He escapes his fate and travels back in time, narrowly escaping being killed by Young Joe.
Old Joe tells him that they should find and kill the young Rainmaker, who just happens to be in the county they're in.
All this talk and lack of a female presence means its time to introduce the lovely Sara (Emily Blunt), a farmer whose son Cid (Pierce Gagnon) is 10 and is one of three suspects scheduled for termination by the Joes.
It's interesting to note that an assault on Young Joe is felt by Old Joe, which is really cool, but not until you realise that this first happened in Frequency (2000).
In the meantime, syndicate boss Abe (Jeff Daniels) is hot on their heels, so all this makes for a lively finale, if you have the patience to sit through this remake of Terminator.
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