Film guru Paul Bryne reviews Wolverine, Hannah Montana and more

 

X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE

(Australia/USA/Canada/12A/107mins)

 

ONE TO WATCH!

 

Directed by Gavin Hood. Starring Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber, Jack Huston, Will i Am.

 

THE PLOT: Going right back to our sharp-clawed anti-hero’s roots, we meet little Jimmy Scissorhands in his formative years, as he goes on the run with his blood brother, Victor Creed (Schreiber), the dynamic duo rampaging through some of our major wars before breaking apart as they become mercenaries. And that’s when the trouble really starts, as Wolverine, having opted for the quiet life in the Canadian wilderness with his woman, is tracked down by U.S. Military scientist William Stryker (Huston).

 

THE VERDICT: There are few leading men on screen today who can chew on an old stogie, and not look ridiculous, but, luckily, Hugh Jackman – who also produces here – is one of them. Given that 2006’s The Last Stand was a tad crap, the pressure was on here to deliver, and, with a little help from writer David Benioff and Tsotsi director Gavin Hood, Jackman pulls it off. Fnarr. The all-important character study is there, but the Oscar-winning Hood delivers plenty of crash, bang and alloy adamantium wallop to counterbalance all that inner turmoil. RATING: ***


HANNAH MONTANA: THE MOVIE

 Directed by Peter Chelsom. Starring Miley Cyrus, Billy Ray Cyrus, Emily Osment, Melora Hardin. USA/G/102mins.

 

THE PLOT: A a by-the-numbers, behind-the-curtain look at life as a pop star that’s far more Spice World than A Hard Day’s Night, when teenager Miley Stewart (Miley Cyrus) ends up spending far too much time and energy being her secret alter-ego, pop princess Hannah Montana, papa (Billy Ray Cyrus) decides it’s time his little girl had a reality check. And so he forces Miley along on a family trip back south, so she can get back in touch with her hillbilly roots. And her horse. And that cute farmhand she left behind.

 

THE VERDICT: Lovers of music and movies will be disappointed to learn that the world’s current favourite tween pop sensation doesn’t die at the end of this movie. A movie that has just about enough of a plot to keep the young girls happy, but there’s nothing here but irritation, and David Brent-esque songs, for the rest of us. RATING: **


IS ANYBODY THERE?

Directed by John Crowley. Starring Michael Caine, Bill Milner, Anne-Marie Duff, David Morrissey. UK/12A/95mins.

 

THE PLOT: Caine plays Clarence, an elderly magician who’s showing the early signs of dementia, and so finds himself in a retirement home belonging to the parents of 10-year old Edward (Milner). Two lost souls, swimming in a fish bowl, the odd couple soon become friends, as the former struggles with the loss of his wife, and the latter struggles with the drifting apart of his parents.

 

THE VERDICT: The last time Michael Caine ended up sharing some serious screen time with a kid was for Conor McPherson’s criminally-underrated, Dublin-set comedy The Actors, back in 2003. Back then, Caine’s self-important theatre actor memorably told his pretty little co-star, Mary (Abigail Iversen), to “F**k off!”. No such expletives are necessary in this semi-autobiographical tale, by TV writer Peter Harness. It’s a sweet little film. Well, as sweet as a little film can be when it’s dealing with faded love, memory loss and death. RATING: ***


HELEN

Directed by Christine Molloy, Joe Lawlor. Starring Annie Townsend, Sandie Malia, Denis Jobling, Sonia Saville. UK/Ireland/IFI/97mins.

 

THE PLOT: After the disappearance of a teenage girl, police call upon one of her classmates, Helen (Townsend), for a reconstruction. Having been brought up in a foster home from an early age, Helen is plainly dealing with issues of her own identity – cemented by gaining access to records concerning her biological parents. When Joy’s parents invite her around for dinner though, Helen is already submerging herself in the missing girl’s life.

 

THE VERDICT: Just as Todd Haynes gave you the impression that Julianne Moore was falling off the edge of the screen as her character’s isolating illness took hold in Safe (1995) by moving her ever closer to the corners of each subsequent scene, writer/directors Christine Molloy and Joe Lawlor here push viewers to question identity, individuality and belonging, in this extremely stark film, using non-professional actors from workshops in Newcastle, Dublin and Birmingham. RATING: ***