Paul Byrne reviews the latest movies including Sex and the City 2 and The Losers

SEX AND THE CITY 2 (USA/15A/146mins)

Directed by Michael Patrick King. Starring Sarah Jessica Parker, Kristin Davis, Cynthia Nixon, Kim Cattrall, Chris Noth.


THE PLOT: We pick up where we last left the girls two years ago, Carrie having finally married the love of her life (Noth), and the other three also finding some kind of peace, love and happiness. Where to go from there? Well, how about some self-doubt? Or, if the budget can stretch to it, lots and lots of self-doubt. Charlotte’s not sure what it means to be a good mother. Miranda’s not sure what it means to be a good mother and a decent attorney. Samantha is worried about growing old. As for Carrie, well, naturally, she’s written a book, I Do, Do I?, all about marriage. Even though she’s only been married for two years. And then they all go to Abu Dhabi. Because they’ve been given a bigger budget this time out.


THE VERDICT: There’s very little to be said about this inevitable sequel, other than it’s every bit as good/bad as the 2008 big-screen outing. Most people will have made up their minds which long before they’ve entered the cinema, SATCgarnering the same kind of fevered, blinkered following as the Twilight franchise. Or dogfighting.


That first multiplex offering from Carrie and co. Surprisingly made over $400m at the box-office. This, after all, was based on a TV series that had wrapped things up four years before, bringing to an end 6 years of New Yorkers Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda shopping, dating and generally trying to be as fabulous as possible.


It’s all not-actually-that-good, inane Xpose-esque banter, bickering and boy-baiting. Of course, anyone who’s ever swung a handbag at a bouncer is going to love it. And that includes the boys. RATING: **



TOOTH FAIRY (USA/PG/100mins)

Directed by Michael Lembeck. Starring Dwayne Johnson, Ashley Judd, Stephen Merchant, Seth MacFarlane, Julie Andrews.


THE PLOT: Johnson plays ace minor hockey star Derek Thompson, known for his teeth-removing tackles, and being something of a softy off the field. When he informs his girlfriend’s young daughter that the tooth fairy doesn’t really exist, one visit from Julie Andrews later, and Thompson’s on a two-week crash course in, yep, being a tooth fairy.


THE VERDICT: Having made the unexpected leap from World Wrestling Federation icon to a much-loved and highly successful actor – thanks to the likes of The Scorpion King and Welcome To The Jungle – Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson’s recent run of bad luck at the box-office has resulted in a retreat to broad family comedies.


Indeed, his last sizeable hit was 2007’s cuddly kiddie outing The Game Plan, and our boy is here firmly back in PG mode for a movie that’s kinda likeKindergarten Cop with wings on. Rainier Wolfcastle would be proud. It’s a sweet enough offering, but clearly one best suited to the very young. And the critically toothless, of course. RATING: **



THE LOSERS (USA/15A/96mins)

Directed by Sylvain White. Starring Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Zoe Saldana, Chris Evans, Idris Elba, Jason Patric.


THE PLOT: A team of Special Forces operatives with silly names – such as Clay, Pooch and Cougar – head into deepest, darkest Bolivia to do a little contract killing. After their boss double-crosses our five heroes though – by toasting 20 children the team have just rescued – our boys decide to go it alone. Cajun style. Soon, they’re joined by the very fetching, and very angry, Aisha (Avatar’s Saldana) in their mission to bring down The Man.


THE VERDICT: Despite a hip cast, and a tried-and-tested plot, there’s something not quite right here. Based on a 1970s DC Comics strip, and coming across somewhere between a balls-out ’80s action thriller and a grindhouse special, The Losers failed to find an audience in the US. Which seems fitting, given that director Sylvain White never quite finds his feet here.


It’s like The Expendables without the reanimated action legends. Or Tropic Thunder without the irony. RATING: **


[REC] 2 (Spain/18/84mins)

Directed by Juame Balaguero, Paco Plaza. Starring Jonathan Mellor, Manuela Velasco, Oscar Zafra, Ariel Casas.


THE PLOT: Life inside the quarantined building hasn’t gotten any easier, or less life-threatening, even with the inclusion of a virus specialist (Mellor) and a swarm of SWAT officers. With a cameraman yet again charting the unwilling prey’s every move, extra angles on the flesh-eating horror is provided by the mini-cameras situated on the SWAT team’s helmets.


THE VERDICT: Returning to let us know exactly what – or who – it was that kept going bump in the night, this Spanish horror sequel delivers plenty of short, sharp frights, but little else. Naturally, the door is left wide open for a third installment, but this particular franchise is already beginning to smell like it’s past its sell-by date. RATING: **


SPACE CHIMP 2: ZARTOG STRIKES BACK (USA/G/80mins)

Directed by John H. Williams. Starring Laura Bailey, Jack Shada.

Released with little warning, and without a press screening, Space Chimps 2: Zartog Strikes Back is, most likely, a masterpiece. The 2008 original made $65million at the box-office. Yowsa. RATING: n/a


BLACK DEATH (UK/Germany/15A/101mins)

Directed by Christopher Smith. Starring Sean Bean, Eddie Redmayne, Carice van Houten, David Warner, Kimberly Nixon, Andy Nyman.


THE PLOT: Bean plays mighty knight Ulrich, leading a band of merry merciless warriors out of a plague-ridden, 14th century England in the hope of hunting down a sorcerer said to possess the powers to bring the dead back to life. Led by a nervous young monk (Redmayne), Ulrich and the gang eventually find the remote marshland village where their sorcerer lives, only to find the ample charms of a hot witch (van Houten) muddying the mission.


THE VERDICT: The man who just can’t say no to a good TV commercial, Sean Bean goes medieval on our asses once again in this gothic horror actioner. A fine movie, to be sure. If you’ve just returned from a medieval battle re-inactment, that is. Pete Jackson should take that sword back. RATING: **