Directed by Mike Newell. Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Gemma Arterton, Alfred Molina, Ben Kingsley.
THE PLOT: Gyllenhaal plays Dastan, the street urchin who, adopted by the king because of his valour in battle, finds himself hooking up with Princess Tamina (Arterton) to, eh, rescue the Sands Of Time from the nasty nobleman Nizam (Kingsley). A gift from the gods, the Sands Of Time is a handy dagger that controls time. And looks like a Lidl special offer.
THE VERDICT: Jerry Bruckheimer – Hollywood’s most successful living producer – must have been hoping for a repeat of some of that old Pirates Of The Caribbean magic when he once again cast a much-loved, much-respected character actor smack dab in the middle of a great big old-fashioned swashbuckling adventure yarn.
Whereas Pirates Of The Caribbean was based on an old Disney theme park ride, Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time is based on an old, 1989 videogame. The big difference though is in the pudding, so to speak – Pirates was great, big dumb fun; Prince Of Persia is just big and dumb.
It’s the sort of movie only a 12-year old boy could truly love. And only if he’s yet to see a decent movie. RATING: **
Directed by Ciaran O’Connor. Starring Ruth Negga, Karl Shiels, Niall O’Brien, Jasmine Russell.
THE PLOT: Having rescued fresh arrival Taiwo (Negga) after she escaped the evil clutches of underground boss McManus (O’Brien), small time criminal Keely (Karl Shiels) offers himself up as her guardian angel. Despite the fact that this would-be gangsta has only just robbed Taiwo of all her money, and a precious photograph she keeps of her sister – whom she hopes, we learn in regular voiceover, to bring to this land of dreams some day. Those dreams seem far from heavenly though when Keely finds Taiwo a job in a Dublin city centre gentlemen’s club – the sort of place you’re ever likely to find a gentleman. Just as the duo’s strained love begins to blossom though, Taiwo finds the stolen picture, and is soon running into the arms of seasoned madam Leslie (Russell).
THE VERDICT: Proving that woman is indeed the African-American of the world, being down and out, and an immigrant, on the mean streets of Dublin has been tackled before on screen (most recently in David Gleeson’s The Front Line), writer/director Ciaran O’Connor at least trying to capture the spaces in-between when it comes to such horror stories. It’s an understandably difficult watch at times, and one that’s unlikely to find a big audience, not only because of the harrowing subject matter but also due to the lack of a certain something here that would make Trafficked truly bite. You hope for Lilja 4-ever, or maybe even Taxi Driver, but you end up with Breakfast At Supermac’s, with a bunch of Fair City actors all wishing they were Al Pacino. Only Jasmine Russell comes close. RATING: ***
Directed by Werner Herzog. Starring Nicolas Cage, Eva Mendes, Jennifer Coolidge, Xzibit, Val Kilmer, Shawn Hatosy.
THE PLOT: Cage plays coke-fueled – very coke-fueled – cop Terence McDonagh, battling constant back pain and a crumbling run of wheeling and dealing in New Orleans’ criminal underworld. With only stunning prostitute girlfriend Frankie (the stunning Mendes) for anything approaching tender loving care, McDonagh goes increasingly Point Blank on a homicide case in which a family of five was wiped out by a drug boss (Xzibit). As our boy becomes increasingly dependent on coke, his policing methods become increasingly desperate, and violent, as each new day brings a fresh kind of hell.
THE VERDICT: Take Henry Hill’s last day of freedom in Goodfellas – paranoid, drug-fueled and running to stand still – and stretch that magnificently frenetic sequence into an entire movie. Well, then you’ve got something pretty darn close to this trippy, truly thrilling cop-gone-bad outing from the great Werner Herzog.
The heart was filled more with dread than delight when it was announced that Herzog was going to remake this 18-year old movie directed by the achingly cult and not-actually-good filmmaker Abel Ferrara – especially given that his leading man was to be Nicholas Cage, a once reliably kooky actor turned Jerry Bruckheimer monkey. Nonetheless, the boys do a spectacular job here, delivering one of the darkest, most compelling cop dramas in quite some time. David Simon would be proud.
We know we’re in a sleazy world from the get-go when we see that Val Kilmer plays Cage’s partner, but everything about this movie works beautifully – the casting, the dream sequences, the intoxicating descent into Travis Bickle madness. Stunning. RATING: ****
Directed by Kevin Smith. Starring Bruce Willis, Tracy Morgan, Juan Carlos Hernandez, Cory Fernandez, Kevin Pollak, Adam Brody.
THE PLOT: It certainly looks like Willis had a lot of fun making this unashamedly old-fashioned buddy-buddy cop comedy co-starring the leading comic light of TV’s 30 Rock, Tracy Morgan. A hark-back to the likes of 48 Hrs and Lethal Weapon, Morgan does his trademark Eddie-Murphy-on-acid routine whilst Willis tries his best to play the straight man. But even he has to join in on the fun.
In one memorable scene, Cop Out pays tribute not only to classic cop films but to cinema itself, as Tracy Morgan’s Paul Hodges runs through a series of impressions during an interrogation. Willis’ Jimmy Monroe claims not to know who or what he’s impersonating when Morgan launches into John McClane’s battle-cry of “Yippee-ki-yay, motherfuckers”. Shurely shome mishtake?
THE VERDICT: The critics have been unfairly harsh on this light but sure-footed confection, perhaps disappointed that indie kingpin Smith didn’t bring something different to the table. Poor old lardass doesn’t seem to be able to catch a break of late. Or a plane. His last offering, Zack & Miri Make A Porno, got a kicking too. Ironically, Smith’s first director-for-hire job has given him his first truly watchable movie in quite some time. Now, finally they might get around to remaking Good Cop, Black Cop, a Tracy Jordan classic… RATING: ***
I didn’t get any notice about the press screening. So, ain’t reviewing this one. It’s an English offering, about a dance crew who are forced to work with ballet dancers from the Royal Dance School in return for some rehearsal space for the all-important Street Dance Championships. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say this is probably arse. Grade A, top-of-the-range, oven-ready arse. It got three stars in the patriotic, studio-blowing Empire magazine. Which means it must be really, really bad.