Reviews New movies opening April 1st 2011

Paul Byrne reviews this weeks new movies including Source Code, Sucker Punch, Killing Bono, Oranges & Sunshine, Hop and more…

SOURCE CODE (USA/France/12A/93mins)

Directed by Duncan Jones. Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga, Jeffrey Wright, Michael Arden, Cas Anvar.

THE PLOT: Gyllenhaal is the man with a definite out of body experience, playing decorated airman Captain Colter Stevens, unwashed and somewhat slightly dazed when he wakes up in the body of an unknown man. And that’s when he discovers that he’s part of a mission to find the bomber of a Chicago commuter train. A mission where, eh, he can relive his dead host’s last eight minutes aboard said train, looking for clues as to the bomber’s next target…

THE VERDICT: Duncan Jones – the director formerly known as Zowie Bowie – follows up his 2009 award-winning feature debut Moon with this mindbending tale that may not be quite as clever as it thinks it is, but there’s enough brain-teasing and visual treats to keep you watching. Oh, and let’s not forget Gyllenhaal, one of the few actors you can trust these days.


KILLING BONO (Ireland/UK/15A/113mins)

Directed by Nick Hamm. Starring Ben Barnes, Robert Sheehan, Stanley Townsend, Krysten Ritter, Pete Postlethwaite, Martin McCann, Peter Serafinowicz.

THE PLOT: It’s the 1970s, Dublin’s Mount Temple school, and the kids are all set on becoming rock stars – especially Paul Hewson (McCann) and Neil McCormick (Barnes). The former becomes Bono; the latter becomes a struggling nobody who, too proud to ever accept a helping hand from his rock star mate, keeps both himself, and his guitarist brother (Sheehan), down in the also-rans. Of course, the crap songs don’t help either.
THE VERDICT: Akin to Toby Young’s cringe-inducing ‘How To Lose Friends And Alienate People’, Neil McCormick’s memoirs of his failed attempt to become a rock star, just like his mate, Bono, makes for a sorry, and increasingly irritating, film. This is Dig! without the rebel, or the cause. Or the tunes.


SUCKER PUNCH (USA/12A/109mins)

Directed by Zac Snyder. Starring Emily Browning, Vanessa Hudgens, Abbie Cornish, Jenna Malone, Carla Gugino, Scott Glenn, Oscar Isaac, Jon Hamm.

THE PLOT: Babydoll (Browning) is sent to an insane asylum for, well, hot, young and troubled girls. Who are forced into burlesque and brothel duties – in that order. Only Babydoll has the power to interpret mighty battles alongside her leatherclad fellow delinquents (including Cornish’s wizened head girl and Malone’s dreamer) against all sorts of crazies – including steam-powered Nazi zombies, giant ninja warriors, and a great big, fire-breathing dragon.
THE VERDICT: This is Showgirls for the videogame generation. It’s so bad, it goes beyond being funny, or kitsch, or ironic. Snyder – the 300 and Watchmen director delivering his first original story – shot for Tarantino here, and hit Shyamalan. Right now, Warners must be seriously considering taking the Superman project away from him.

WAKE WOOD (UK/Sweden/18/90mins)

Directed by David Keating. Starring Aiden Gillen, Eva Birthistle, Timothy Spall, Ella Connolly, Ruth McCabe, Dan Gordon.

THE PLOT: When their daughter, Alice (Connolly), is savaged to death by a dog on her ninth birthday, shellshocked vet Patrick (Gillen) and pharmacist Louise (Birthistle) move to the remote town of Wakewood, in the hope of forgetting their troubled past. Only the locals have the pagan occult wherewithall to bring their daughter back to life, for just three days…

THE VERDICT: Shades of Don’t Look Now and Antichrist abound, but this latest offering – shot in Donegal – from the resurrected Hammer is, in many ways, a subtle tribute to the early days of the British horror studio. Subtle being the operative word, thanks to the sterling presence of Gillen and Birthistle, and a script that concentrates as much on the family drama as it does the hillbilly hocus pocus. Also out on DVD.

HOP (USA/G/93mins)

Directed by Tim Hill. Starring Russell Brand, James Marsden, Elizabeth Perkins, Hank Azaria, Hugh Laurie, David Hasselhoff.

Review coming soon!


Directed by Jim Loach. Starring Hugo Weaving, Emily Watson, David Wenham, Tara Morice, Neil Melville.

THE PLOT: Nottingham, 1968, and social worker Margaret (Watson), having reunited an Australian child with her mother, uncovers decades of forced child deportation. And institutionalised abuse. Taking her findings to the press fails to get the UK and Australian authorities to admit responsibility, Margaret being spurred on in her campaign by a victim of the policy, Jack (Weaving)…

THE VERDICT: A 20-year struggle is captured surprisingly well in this earnest but moving film, as a thousand adults realise they might not be orphans after all. Just victims of a cruel policy that saw them shipped off to Australia, and away from their mothers. Jim has clearly been paying attention to pop Ken’s work, but he manages to make his own mark here with a film that, although a tad polemic at times, has real emotional punch.

ESSENTIAL KILLING (Various/15A/83mins)

Directed by Jerzy Skolimowski. Starring Vincent Gallo, Emmanuelle Seigner, Zach Cohen, Iftach Ophir, David L. Price.

THE PLOT: Opening as an unnamed Afghan Jihadi (Gallo) is captured by American forces, having just killed three Alliance soldiers who were pursuing him, our confused protagonist – deafened by the air-to-ground missile that felled him – is taken to an American base in Poland. When a transport truck overturns, our cold and confused Jihadi is free. To roam the harsh, snow-covered landscape, a hunted man…

THE VERDICT: There is practically no dialogue from leading man Gallo in veteran Polish director Skolimowski’s latest offering, adding to the film’s Kafkaesque nightmare fight for survival. It’s a film that plays like Lars von Trier putting Ray Mears though his Five Obstacles – only not as cool as that sounds. The flashbacks to happier times are corny verging on Team America, but Gallo, as always, goes that extra mile when it comes to the stir crazy.


As his latest, Essential Killing, opens in the IFI, the second part of a two-month long Jerzy Skolimowski retrospective gets under way.

Included is 1982’s Moonlighting, starring Jeremy Irons, Lightship, with Robert Duvall, from 1985 and the Alan Bates-led 1970s asylum drama The Shout.

Full details available on