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Movies Friday 14th November 2008

Friday, 14 November 2008

We're preparing you for your trip to the cinema or the DVD shop this weekend with Michael Doherty's reviews on the hottest new films out in theatres and on DVD.

In Movie Theatres

Max Payne
Directors: John Moore
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Jamie Hector (II), Mila Kunis, Beau Bridges
Running Time: 99' 30"
Rating: ***
Classification: 15A
Courtesy: 20th Century Fox

Plot: MAX PAYNE tells the story of a maverick cop determined to track down those responsible for the brutal murder of his family and partner. Hell-bent on revenge, his obsessive investigation takes him on a nightmare journey into a dark underworld.

Verdict: The latest screen adaptation of a popular video game features Mark Wahlberg as the maverick New York cop on the trail of the bag guys who killed his family. Directed by our own John Moore, it's a dark tale with supernatural overtones that's a bit ho-hum but will have particular appeal to teenage boys.

Other Verdict: It doesn't look, sound or resonate like a movie, so what is Max Payne? It's a videogame, people, masquerading as cinema and yet one more blight on pop culture. Mark Wahlberg has followed his deserved Oscar nomination for The Departed with questionable choices, such as Shooter and The Happening. But this is a career low. Max Payne is a dank, dispiriting cop flick that merely requires Wahlberg to wear a scowl that could have been painted on digitally with more expressiveness. Wahlberg's Max is an NYPD washout reduced to handling cold cases, like the murder of his wife and child. Out for revenge, Max joins forces with Russian assassin Mona Sax (so sad to see Mila Kunis, the romantic highpoint in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, stuck in this dreck), who is equally vengeful. It seems that the same villains have offed her sister Natasha (new Bond babe Olga Kurylenko). The plot has something to do with a hallucinatory drug that makes soldiers super-strong to fight in Iraq. Too bad director John Moore couldn't inject the drug into the fragile thread of a script. Max just drags on as it drags you down. If you stay and watch the endless end credits, there's a short scene that hints a sequel is coming. That's what I call real pain.
Peter Travers for Rolling Stone Magazine

The Baader Meinhof Complex
Directors: Uli Edel
Starring: Martina Gedeck, Moritz Bleibtreu
Running Time: 149' 00"
Rating: ***
Classification: 15A
Courtesy: Momentum Pictures

Plot: A look at Germany's terrorist group, The Red Army Faction (RAF), which organized bombings, robberies, kidnappings and assassinations in the late 1960s and '70s. Based on Stefan Aust's best-selling nonfiction book.

Verdict: Powerful drama chronicling the exploits of the infamous terrorist group who came to prominence in Germany during the late 1960s and early 1970s. The strong cast is first-rate and much of the movie's power derives from the insertion of actual newsreel footage of the events as they unfolded. On the downside, the direction is clunky and the pacing a bit leaden.

Other Verdict: As a history lesson The Baadar-Meinhof Complex can't be beat - no stone is left unturned as Edel, adapting Stefan Aust's book, gives a detailed account of their story. As a film, though, it's flawed. Even though it takes 150 mins to tell the story, the proceedings still feel rushed and there doesn't seem to be any structure to the plot. Although filled with good performances by actors who get enough screen time to distinguish themselves from the rest of the cast, there are no characters: everyone seems to be just a mouthpiece for rhetoric, with dialogue reduced to political debate only.

Review by Gavin Burke,

Available on DVD

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Director: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Harrison Ford, Shia LaBeouf, Cate Blanchett, Ray Winstone, John Hurt
Courtesy: Paramount Pictures

Classification: 12A

Plot: In 1957, Indiana Jones is thrust back in action, venturing into the jungles of South America in a race against Soviet agents to find the mystical Crystal Skull.

Verdict:It's pretty good actually. Beginning in Nevada in 1957, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull finds our hero battling, not Nazis this time, but Cold War Rooskies, personified by cool, rapier-wielding baddie Cate Blanchett. With whip, fedora, new sidekick Shia Laboeuf and old flame Karen Allen in tow, Indy sets out for South America where he hopes to get his hands on the fabled Crystal Skull before those pesky Russians. Cue much quipping and derring-do and much jaw-jaw (a bit too much, actually) about ancient Mayan civilisations.

Kung FU Panda

Directors: Mark Osborne, John Stevenson
Starring: Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Jackie Chan, Lucy Liu, Dustin Hoffman
Courtesy: Paramount Pictures
Classification: PG

Plot: Po the panda lives a laxy life in The Valley of Peace, when his friends are threatened however Po unwittingly becomes the chosen one and must use his fighting skills to save the day.