Our resident reviewer Paul Byrne talks Night at the Museum, Tormented and more!
NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM: BATTLE OF THE SMITHSONIAN
Directed by Shawn Levy. Starring Ben Stiller, Amy Adams, Hank Azaria, Owen Wilson, Steve Coogan.
THE PLOT: Now a successful businessman, Larry Daley (Stiller) invents and sells the kind of junk you can only ever find on The Shopping Channel, or irelandam, but he’s still shocked to discover that the natural history museum where he had such a big adventure as a night guard is boxing up its exhibits so they can be sent into deep Smithsonian storage. Cue a rescue mission, hampered ever-so-slightly by a villainous pharaoh, Kahmunrah (played by a show-stealing Hank Azaria), who’s keen to get his hands on an ancient tablet.
THE VERDICT: It may not have been a particularly good family film, but the fact that the original Night Of The Museumpulled in a whopping $457, 480,841 at the box-office meant it was very much inevitable that there would be a sequel. Like Ron Howard’s recent Angels & Demons sequel to his godawful megahit The Da Vince Code, this is a vast improvement on its 2006 predecessor, but it’s still not all that great a movie.
Not that Stiller and co. don’t try their darndest to entertain, enlisting some of the finest comic actors around – the likes of Hank Azaria, Christopher Guest, Bill Hader and Jonah Hill joining prodigal sons Owen Wilson, Robin Williams, Steve Coogan and Ricky Gervais – to play all sorts of famous faces, freaks and pharaohs. Throw in the fine Oscar-nominated actress Amy Adams (as flying ace Amelia Earhart), and the sort of CGI that would shame NASA, and you’ve got yourself a film that just can’t fail. Right?
Not quite, but you can’t fault Stiller and co. for trying. RATING: **
Directed by Jon Wright. Starring Alex Pettyfer, April Pearson, Mary Nighy, Tuppence Middleton.
THE PLOT: Nothing too original here – the ghost of a bullied boy driven to suicide coming back to reek grisly revenge on his old schoolmates, killing each of his tormenters in as elaborate and imaginative a way as the film’s micro budget will allow. And, er, that’s about it.
THE VERDICT: Teen horror flicks are, of course, ten-a-penny, and, on paper, it would seem this low-budget Brit offering has little new to add to the genre. But, as the body-count mounts, first-timer writer Stephen Prentice and first-time feature director Jon Wright prove that there’s one or two new tricks to be played out with this old dog. With a genre like this, it’s all down to the humour, and the deaths, and on that front, Prentice and Wright just about deliver. They’re no Pegg and Wright, but there’s enough intelligence and imagination here to keep horror fans happy. RATING: ***
EVERLASTING MOMENTS (Sweden/15A/127mins)
Directed by Jan Troell. Starring Maria Heiskanen, Mikael Persbrandt, Jesper Christensen.
THE PLOT: Set in the Swedish city of Malmo, 1907, Maria (Maria Heiskanen) has a hard life. An impoverished mother of five, Maria’s crap hand in life is dealt a further few blows by her brutish, drunken, unfaithful husband, Sigrid (Mikael Persbrandt). Deciding to sell a Contessa camera won as a prize, Maria is encouraged by photographer Mr. Pedersen (Jesper Christensen) to use it instead, something she decides to keep a secret from her disapproving husband. Said husband, meanwhile, is having an affair with barmaid Matilda (Amanda Ooms), an affair that doesn’t pause even when Maria has another baby. And then, well, things get kinda grim.
THE VERDICT: Given such a plot, in the hands of a less-seasoned director, Everlasting Moments could have been disastrous – if not downright hysterical. But septuagenarian filmmaker Jan Troell’s graceful pacing here brings a surprising power and dignity to this sad story. The fact that it’s based on a book by Jan’s wife, Agneta Ulfsater Troll, charting part of her own family’s history, may explain the distinctly true non-Hollywood grit on offer. The 72-year old Troell found himself with a Golden Globe nomination for Everlasting Moments (his first true Hollywood nod since being up for a Best Picture Oscar in 1972 for The Emigrants), but don’t expect a Hollywood remake here anytime soon. RATING: ***
THE AFRICA DAY FILM FESTIVAL
Those fine fellows at the IFI are playing host to four films that showcase the richness and vibrancy of African stories on film to mark Africa Day on May 24th.
Alongside Nollywood Lady (a documentary on Nollywood, the third largest film industry in the world/12.30pm), there’s alsoBled Number One (a Cannes-winning homecoming story from Algeria/2pm), The Story Of Concern (Alen Gilsenan charting the remarkable forty year history of the NGO/4.30pm), and Kirikou And The Wild Beasts (a special animated family film which will have an experienced reader narrating for younger viewers/1pm).
The screenings at The Africa Day Film Festival – which is co-hosted by Irish Aid – are free, but tickets must be acquired in advance from the IFI box office in person. Call (01) 6793477 for further details, or log on to www.ifi.ie.