The Bourne Legacy
As if the Bourne trilogy created by Paul Greengrass was not enough, Hollywood has now mined the backstory for new material in what is probably best described as an expansion of the Bourne universe, rather than a sequel. The biggest break with the first three films is that the central character is no longer Matt Damon’s Jason Bourne. He has been very ably replaced as a thoughtful action hero by Jeremy Renner’s Aaron Cross, another product of the program that gave birth to a breed of super special ops agents. There is a strong supporting cast, not least Rachel Weisz as the love interest, and plenty of top notch action. The plot is tightly integrated with the previous story, as the film has been directed and written by Tony Gilroy, who wrote the screenplay for the first three Bourne films, and who also wrote other well-considered action pieces such as State of Play and Michael Clayton.
Step Up Revolution
There have been a string of films, both in the US and the UK, celebrating street dance and exploiting the exceptional marketability of beautiful young people doing the most exceptional things with their bodies. All have suffered to a greater or lesser degree from the same faults of having a thoroughly unoriginal story and dialogue that is at best cheesy, and and worst, virtually unbearable. Step Up Revolution tries to put forward a social, even a political, agenda, hence the presence of “Revolution” in the title, but really, no one on the production team has the chops to make this work. There is good dancing, and the film can be watched for that alone, but sadly, the dancing sometimes has to stop, and when the characters open their mouths to talk, you might find yourself heading for the door.
Live action movie based on a manga by Shohei Manabe and directed by cult favorite Katsuhito Ishii, who got his international break when Quentin Tarantino took a shine to his loopy debut film Sharkskin Man and Peach Hip Girl and brought him onto the Kill Bill team. Smugglers has a frenetic, propulsive story set against the gonzo underworld of Ishii’s fertile imagination. There is some cartoonish action, but with its gut-wrenching violence and torture-horror jolts, this is not a film for children. The visual style, with its strong anime influences, is exciting to look at, and allowing for the hyped-up acting style, the performances are solid throughout.
Okami kodomo no ame to yuki
A new animation by director Mamoru Hosoda, who created the classic The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. The style and quiet mood of fantasy are similar to his earlier work. The title of the film, which translates as “The Wolf Children Ame and Yuki,” provides the main substance of the story, which tells of a college student who falls in love with a wolf-man and bears two wolf children. Their family life, how they adapt after the death of the wolf man, and their need to interact with the outside world, provide the themes explored through Hosada’s persuasive storytelling.
One Piece Movie 3D: Mugiwara Chase
The 11th movie in the One Piece anime franchise based on a manga by Eiichiro Oda. The series follows the adventures of a character called Monkey D. Luffy, a young man whose body gains the properties of rubber after inadvertently eating a supernatural fruit. He travels the world with a group called the Straw Hat Pirates in search of the world’s ultimate treasure: The “one piece” of the title. Naturally they encounter a wide variety of villains. This is the first 3D outing for this venerable series.