Reviews – New movies opening Nov 18th 2011

This weeks movies reviewed by Paul Byrne, including Twilight Breaking Dawn Part 1

Directed by Bill Condon. Starring Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Billy Burke, Ashley Greene, Jackson Rathbone, Peter Facinelli, Elizabeth Reaser.
THE PLOT: Proof, if proof were needed, that fairytale romances rarely last longer than the honeymoon, when vampire Edward (Pattinson) and his beloved Bella (Stewart) finally get to consummate their love – only after getting married, of course, which is the Mormon way – they’re soon the proud if confused parents of Renesmee (Mackenzie Foy). The arrival of their mysterious daughter sparks off a series of events that will lead to an all-out battle against the Volturi, the nasty council of vampire leaders…
THE VERDICT: A franchise that’s getting ever longer in the tooth, despite its once rabid-verging-on-rabies fanbase, the Twilight saga limps to a near-close with this, the first of a two-parter finale. As with previous offerings, another fine director – this time Bill Condon, known for Gods And Monsters (1998), Chicago (2002) and Kinsey (‘04) – is reduced to hack duties by the mighty pen of millionaire Mormon author Stephanie Meyers. Basically Dan Brown in a dress and touting a whiter-than-white-bread religion, Meyers was lucky enough to tap into every teenage girl’s wet dream of the wild boy from the wrong side of the tracks. Her limitations as a writer though have been all too painfully obvious as the franchise trundled on, the central love triangle little more than a typical daytime soap story arc, only with enough hair and teeth to fill your average Bee Gees fan convention. The Dublin distributor decided to screen this just a few hours before the film enjoyed its midnight opening. Which tells you just how much they really thought of it. RATING: 2/5

TRESPASS (USA/16/90mins)
Directed by Joel Schumacher. Starring Nicolas Cage, Nicole Kidman, Cam Gigandet, Liana Liberato, Ben Mendelsohn, Jordana Spiro, Dash Mihok.
THE PLOT: Tricking their way into the family home disguised as policemen, leader Elias (Mendelsohn), his stripper girlfriend Petal (Spiro), his younger brother Jonah (Gigandet) and the rather large, rather foreboding Ty (Mihok) have been observing diamond dealer Kyle Miller (Cage) and his wife Sarah (Kidman) for some time now. And they reckon they’re loaded. Only, it would appear, they’re not. And they’re also pretty damn dysfunctional, something that becomes even more apparent when the couple’s teenage daughter, Avery (Liberato), returns from a party. There’s some apparent history between Sarah and Jonah that only adds to the mounting confrontations and confusion, as Kyle refuses to co-operate, even when his family are put in the firing line.
THE VERDICT: It’s got Nicolas ‘tax bill’ Cage! And Nicole ‘I love do dance’ Kidman! It’s directed by Joel ‘Needs more smoke machine’ Schumacher! How could this possibly be bad? Well, hold on to your ego, because Trespass isn’t just bad. It’s Cage-and-Kidman-in-a-Joel-Schumacher-film bad. Which is something to behold. The secret film at last month’s annual Halloween bash Horrorthon – where it was largely laughed off the screen – Cage is no longer capable of playing anything straight. He’s great when he does his panto psycho routine – proving truly wonderful in Kick-Ass and Herzog’s Bad Lieutenant remake – but when Cage is trapped in a film as ludicrous and, well, dull as this, opening up his can of crazy just looks desperate. As opposed to sweetly bonkers. The shoot wouldn’t have been helped by Cage’s insistence just before cameras rolled that he play one of the kidnappers rather than the husband, a move that delayed the starting date by 14 days. Who know, it might have helped? This $35m movie took just $25,000 in the US. A movie every bit as pathetic as its generic, badly photoshopped poster suggests. RATING: 2/5

JUSTICE (USA/15A/104mins)
Directed by Roger Donaldson. Starring Nicolas Cage, January Jones, Guy Pearce, Jennifer Carpenter, Harold Perrineau, Monica Acosta.
THE PLOT: New Orleans, and high school teacher Nick Gerard (Cage) discovers that his cellist wife Laura (Jones) has been brutally raped on her way home from practice. At the hospital, Nick is approached by the mysterious Simon (Pearce), and, before you can say, ‘Hey, it’s Death Wish!’, he tells the shellshocked Nick that knows who did. And how to put it right. At a price, no doubt. Like, you know, turning vigilante for Simon too.
THE VERDICT: Man, I really hope good Saint Nick gets to pay off all his debts soon, because he’s been saying yes to some really generic crap of late. Not that he was averse to generic crap in the past, but there’s a sense of desperation about his current batch of straight-to-DVD-worthy releases. This one hasn’t even gotten a theatrical release in the US. Sure, it’s all only rock’n’roll, and a good old-fashioned thriller can be as satisfying as any cockroach-eating indie love-in, but there’s only so much TV fodder – Drive Angry, Trespass and Justice makes it three-in-a-row from Cage – that the head and heart can take. Next up, Ghost Rider: Spirit Of Vengeance. Gulp. RATING: 1/5 Taylor Lautner Gay

Directed by Lelia Doolan. Starring Bernadette Devlin McAliskey.
THE PLOT: Charting the 40 years in the Northern Ireland political life of the woman dubbed the Irish Joan Of Arc, this ‘mini-skirted Castro’ became, at the age of 21, the youngest woman ever elected at Westminster. The year was 1969, the ‘rebellious, awkward and contrary’ Bernadette Devlin McAliskey and her fellow civil rights activists in Northern Ireland finding themselves being described as belonging to the politics of impatience. She was, said John Bowman, “not prepared to grow old in an unjust system”. She survived an assassination attempt in 1981, and still remains a radical socialist republican to this day.
THE VERDICT: Shot over nine years, with a credited nod to John Goldschmidt’s 1969 TV documentary Bernadette Devlin for early archival material, director Lelia Doolan reintroduces the world to a powerful woman whose impressive achievements when it came to civil rights in Northern Ireland are indeed worth remembering. Blessed with a lively and articulate subject, Doolan interviewed McAliskey from 2002 to 2011, gathering insights, anecdotes and archive material along the way. The resulting film proved a hit at the Galway Film Fleadh and the London Film Festival, and runs at the IFI until the 24th. RATING: 4/5

Movie reviews by Paul Byrne

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