Directed by M. Night Shyamalan. Starring Jackson Rathbone, Dev Patel, Nicola Peltz, Noah Ringer.
THE PLOT: A gifted kid (Ringer, who acts like he’s a Make A Wish Foundation kid) who’s part baby Neo and part Dalai Lama is escorted across a hostile land by two witless siblings, Sokka (Rathbone) and Katara (Peltz), in the hope of defeating the Fire Nation. Hot on his tail, but suffering from major paternal tough love, is Prince Zuko (Patel).
THE VERDICT: From the mind of M. Night Shyamalan – Hollywood’s answer to Gareth Marenghi – comes yet another mindblowingly bad turkey – a film which looks destined to sweep the board at next year’s Golden Raspberries.
At one point early on, The Last Airbender had a score of just 4% on rottentomatoes.com, making it one of the worst-reviewed movie of not only this year, but of any year. Didn’t stop the cheesy spectacle from hitting the no.1 spot though, thanks, no doubt, to all those dedicated Nickelodeon kids, and to the adults who found themselves hooked on the manga-lite madness that originally ran on TV from 2005 to 2008. Which means the sequel may happen. So, you know, thanks, kids. RATING: *
THE PLOT: A little epilogue takes us to 740 A.D., as the evil Morgana Le Fay (Krige) is locked up in a labryinthine series of containers and is kept there over the centuries by Merlin pupil Balthazar (Cage). Jump to the beginning of the 21st century, and Balthazar runs a Manhattan magic shop, where he tells 10-year old nerd Dave Stutler (Jake Cherry) that he might just be the great chosen one. Only Dave unwittingly unleashes Balthazar’s arch enemy, Horvath (Molina), the ensuing battle leaving the young boy alone in a cloud of smoke, and without any proof as to what just happened. That comes ten years later, when Dave (Baruchel) is a physics student, and Balthazar returns, to make him his apprentice, as they go into battle…
THE VERDICT: These days, the vultures seem to be circling Jerry Bruckheimer, Hollywood’s most successful living producer. The man who gave us Top Gun, The Rock, Beverly Hills Cop, Bad Boys, Pirates Of The Caribbean and so many others blissfully mindless blockbusters has hit something of a losing streak lately, with the likes of Confessions Of A Shopaholic, G-Force and Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time all failing to conquer your local multiplex. The latter two were set up to be major franchises, a la Pirates Of The Caribbean – of which a fourth, unwanted sequel is currently being shot. Desperate times. Johnny Depp better get ready for the backlash. Even Bruckheimer’s CSI franchise on TV has started to lose viewers. So, the last thing old Jerry needed was for the latest collaboration with his National Treasure buddies, Nicolas Cage and director Jon Turtletaub, to falter at the US box-office. But that’s exactly what The Sorcerer’s Apprentice did, nabbing a relatively meagre $17.6m on its opening weekend recently. Last weekend, Will Ferrell’s mid-budget cop comedy The Other Guys nabbed $35.5m.
Not that this latest big-budget Bruckheimer adaptation (of a segment from 1940’s Fantasia) deserved much better. Lots of flash, lots of bangs, but not much wallop. RATING: **
MOVIES.IE’S ONE TO WATCH! THE SECRET IN THEIR EYES (Argentina/Spain/16/129mins)
Directed by Juan Jose Campanella. Starring Ricardo Darin, Soldad Villamil, Guillermo Francella.
THE PLOT: Jaded legal investigator Benjamin Esposito (Darin, an Argentinian soap star who broke through with 2000’s Nine Queens) slowly becomes obsessed with the case of the brutal rape and murder of a recently married 23-year old schoolteacher, his investigation both helped and hampered by his alcoholic co-worker, Pablo Sandoval (Francella), and the arrival of a striking new boss, Irene Menendez Hastings (Villamil). As Benjamin and the soon-to-be-married Irene become close, they track the killer, the capture and conviction of their prime suspect far from the end of their worries.
THE VERDICT: The surprise winner at this year’s Oscars for Best Foreign Language Film, The Secret In Their Eyes plays like a latter-day Almodovar outing, being, on the surface, an old-fashioned potboiler whodunnit. Scratch beneath that surface though, and Juan Jose Campanella’s engaging twister has a lot to say about Argentina in the late ’70s and early ’80s.
The filmmaker was keen to enlarge the love story in Eduardo Sacheri’s best-selling novel, bringing a surprising tenderness to this dark, political thriller. He’s also a filmmaker with a true understanding of international appeal, spending much of his time in the US on TV shows such as 30 Rock, Law & Order and House. This isn’t Campanella’s first Oscar experience either; his 2002 offering Son Of The Bride was also nominated for Best Foreign Language Film. Who knows what he’ll come up with next… RATING: ****
HOME THOUGHTS FROM, EH, HOME
The IFI Irish Film Archive are holding a Home Movie Heritage Day next Saturday, August 21st, between 12 and 4pm, with RTE celeb Ryan Turbidy kicking off proceedings.
Turbidy used the IFI’s vast library of home movies whilst researching his book on JFK, and this event is the first of its kind, as amateur filmmakers share their celluloid memories with the public. Included will be selections from Jim Horgan’s collection from Youghal 1910-1920, Father Jack Delaney’s footage of Dublin life before the Second World War and aristocrat, writer and Ufologist Desmond Leslie’s sci-fi offering Them In The Thing from 1955. Filmmaker James Kelly will close the day with his Nead an Dreoilin series for TG4, which also raided the IFI film archives.
You can visit www.ifi.ie or phone (01) 6795744 for full details.