Fri, Jan 24, 2014 - Page 10 News List

Movie releases

Compiled by Ian Bartholomew  /  Staff reporter


The original Robocop, directed by Paul Verhoeven, was a finely crafted ultra-violent (for its day, it was made in 1987) action movie that had enough wit and energy to raise it above the average. So the first thing that needs to be said about the remake is that it is unnecessary. To add insult to injury, although the new film has pushed the violence up well beyond anything that would have been allowed on screen 20 years ago, it has also lost the Verhoeven touch, which included the aforementioned wit. The film is directed by Brazilian Jose Padilha, who had considerable commercial success with Elite Squad and Elite Squad: The Enemy Within, violent cop dramas set in the slums of Rio de Janeiro, and which were happy with the idea that the only way to fight violence is with even harsher measures. Robocop has all the appeal of a recruitment video for a fascist paramilitary group, and despite the presence of a few notable big names, never gets beyond being just a dumb excuse to keep the stunt teams and CGI guys busy.

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

A film based on a character created by Tom Clancy. It should be noted that it is not an adaptation of a Clancy novel, and more’s the pity, because input by the author of The Hunt for Red October and Patriot Games might have done much to beef up this rather sub-par thriller that chugs along well enough but never actually manages to be gripping. Directed by Kenneth Branagh in his first effort in the spy thriller genre, it has an impudence and swagger that is not unappealing, and the cast, led by Chris Pine as the title character, does a thoroughly decent job. Keira Knightley is wonderfully convincing as the love interest, and Branagh himself has a fine old time playing Viktor Cherevin, the villain of the piece. The story has repositioned the young Ryan in a post-9/11 world, effectively turning the chronology of the original espionage novels on its head, and creating Ryan as a spy for the new world of global financial and political posturing. There is much to be enjoyed, but this obvious attempt to reboot a faded cinematic property tarnishes a little of Branagh’s luster.

I, Frankenstein

Is it possible to create a cut-rate version of something like Wrath of the Titans. I, Frankenstein proves that it is. In this ridiculous movie, Frankenstein’s monster has evolved from tragic monster to flawed superhero who must help save the human race from becoming collateral damage in a centuries-old war between two clans of immortal being. There are plenty of firestorms and monsters and general CGI ballyhoo in this new release from the creators of the supernatural saga Underworld. It presents a mishmash of fantasy imagery that draws from a wide variety of sources but generally fails to make them all come together. Aaron Eckhart is a ripped muscleman with no imaginable connection to Mary Shelley’s creation, but he goes about his business of killing demons and saving his love interest with commendable commitment. One recalls how Michael Sheen was able to lighten the mood of Underworld with his impish charm, but alas, Eckhart might have a more sculpted body, but doesn’t quite have the acting chops to anchor this flick.

Kokowaah 2

Til Schweiger has created a series of German domestic dramas that have proved successful on the alternative scene here. Remember Schweiger two Rabbit Without Ears films. In similar fashion, Kokowaah 2 follows on a story established in the first installment. At the center of Kokowaah 2 is Henry, an author turned film producer, who is having issues with an erratic young actor. His wife Katharina (Jasmin Gerat) struggles with her role as a housewife and mother. Normal life becomes unhinged, Katharina checks out, friend Tristan moves in to help and we have a 3 Men and a Baby scenario. Solid acting, often amusing, and occasionally thought provoking, Kokowaah 2 is an inoffensive domestic/romantic drama with plenty of children’s roles, making it ideal for the whole family.

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