This weeks movies reviewed by Paul Byrne including Real Steel, Footloose, Dolphin Tale, Parked, and more…
REAL STEEL (USA/12A/127mins)
Directed by Shawn Levy. Starring Hugh Jackman, Evangeline Lilly, Anthony Mackie, Kevin Durand, Hope Davis.
THE PLOT: This strange, slightly strained mix of hillbilly and hardware – of Johnny Cash and Arthur C. Clarke – has Hugh Jackman’s former contender trying to keep one step ahead of his debtors when he and his estranged 11-year old son (newcomer Goyo) literally unearth a rusty old sparring robot who, hey, might just win them the robo-boxing world title. Rounding out the surrogate happy family is Lilly’s gym owner, Bailey, always there with a welcome smile and a squirt of oil.
THE VERDICT: Pretty much Transformers meets The Champ, the latest attempt by Shawn Levy (Night Of The Museum, The Pink Panther) to build a franchise got off to a decent start in the US last weekend, with a $27m take. More family film than hardware hard-on, Real Steel is an unashamedly old-fashioned tale, welded together from some well-worn classics. Which isn’t necessarily a criticism, but there are no money shots here, no real sparks. RATING: 3/5
DOLPHIN TALE (USA/G/112mins)
Directed by Charles Martin Smith. Starring Morgan Freeman, Ashley Judd, Harry Connick Jr., Nathan Gamble, Kris Kristofferson, Cozi Zuehisdorff, Winter.
THE PLOT: Based on a true story, unhappy kid Sawyer (Nelson) has his single mum (Judd) worried, as he rarely ventures beyond his desk. When Sawyer helps rescue a beached dolphin though, that soon changes, as the little tyke starts to spend every waking hour at the swimming-in-debt Clearwater Marine Aquarium, where the dolphin is being nursed back to health. When Winter’s tail fin has to be amputated, aquarium chief Dr. Clay (Connick) calls on prosthetics expert Dr. Cameron McCarthy (Freeman) to save the day. The rest, as they say, is t-shirts. And baseball caps. And inflatable dolphins. And a big Hollywood movie adaptation.
THE VERDICT: A surprise monster hit in the US – where it crept up to number one after three over-performing weeks – Dolphin Tale comes from the makers of The Blind Side. And it shows. This is another film that promotes spirituality, social responsibility and group hugs. No one gets hurt (well, apart from the dolphin, of course), but there’s an undeniable TV movie smell about Dolphin Tale. A 1970s Disney TV movie, to be exact. RATING: 2/5
Directed by Darragh Byrne. Starring Colm Meaney, Colin Morgan, Milka Ahiroth, Stuart Graham, Michael McElhatton.
THE PLOT: Meaney plays Fred Daly, a businessman down on his luck, and finding himself without a home when he returns to his native Dublin. Soon, Fred is sleeping in his car, keeping everything neat and tidy, and keeping to himself. Which doesn’t quite suit friendly druggie Cathal (Morgan), who lives just a few car park spaces away. As Fred attempts to pull his life back together, he realizes that Cathal – in debt to some drug dealers (McElhatton, Graham) – might be letting his fall apart. Finnish actress Milka Ahlroth (quite a chunk of the budget is Finnish) plays the shy Fred’s love interest…
THE VERDICT: Despite the presence of the gruff and ready Colm Meaney in the lead role, and its grimy premise, this feature debut from Darragh Byrne tries much too hard to be twee. Diddley-aye twee, at that, its homeless Dubliner odd couple clearly inspired by Lenny Abrahamson’s Adam & Paul (2004). There’s no comparison though. This is Garage without the garage. Or much of a point. Ultimately, Parked is a film that never really goes anywhere. RATING: 2/5
Directed by Craig Brewer. Starring Kenny Wormald, Julianne Hough, Dennis Quaid, Andie MacDowell, Miles Teller, Ray McKinnon.
THE PLOT: Hey, it’s a small town in America’s deep south, so, dancing is against the law. But, double hey, this is our time. To live. So, you know, we’re going to dance. No matter what our single parents say!
THE VERDICT: There are a few things you need to know about this remake of the 1984, Kevin Bacon-led teen classic. Such as, Kevin Bacon declined doing a cameo. Originally, Kenny Ortega (High School Musical, This Is It) was going to direct, and his buddy, Zac Effron, was going to be the lead. The lead here, Kenny Wormald, previously appeared in Jennifer Lopez’s MTV series, Dancelife. Oh, and most importantly, Dennis Quaid and Andie MacDowell are the biggest stars here. Actually, the only thing you need to know is that last fact. RATING: 2/5