Tai Chi Hero (太極2英雄崛起)
Following on from Tai Chi 0 (太極1從零開始), Stephen Fung’s (馮德倫) planned trilogy about a simple country kid who learns the mysteries of Tai Chi in order to save his village, Tai Chi Hero takes everything to the next level. Leading man William Feng (馮紹峰) not only does his chop-socky action sequences, but also has a real chance to get it on with Angelababy (楊穎), and there are villainous foreign soldiers (led by actor Peter Stormare) and lots of improbable steampunk military hardware. The first installment made it huge at the box office in China and appealed to kungfu fans around the world with its technical accomplishment and determination to entertain, whatever the cost. Of course, Tai Chi Hero is also silly and shameless, but what’s not to like.
Tim Burton is the undisputed master of the dystopian fairy tale and while his recent takes on classics like Alice in Wonderland and Sweeney Todd might not have been to everyone’s taste, his talent for reworking classic material and making it his own is prodigious. With Frankenweenie a tale of the love between a boy and his dog, and the disastrous results that ensue when he brings the animal back to life, has great potential for retro magic and a touch of spoof. Burton plays with such hallowed cinematic material that he has inevitably caused some offense, but his energy and invention carry all before it, and Frankenweenie is nothing short of a delight.
A sports movie with a coming-of-age theme that might have come right of a screenwriters’ DIY. Young kid (Jonny Weston) with no direction meets older dude (Gerard Butler) who does something awesome (in this case, surfs giant waves). Kid wants to learn to be the best, has problems with friends and family, but finally faces up to his own demons, achieves his goal and, lets not forget, also scores with the hot chick as well.
Spanish take on Steven Spielberg’s AI: Artificial Intelligence that shows good sense in using its relatively limited budget to good effect. Alex, a Robot programmer, is given a project to build an artificial child, which he models on Eva, the 10-year-old daughter of his brother and his former lover Lana. The time spent with the child makes Alex suspicious that there are secrets in Lana’s past that he has yet to discover, even while his feelings for her are rekindled. Imaginative, intelligent and an outstanding performance by Claudia Vega as Eva.
German film about a young pianist whose comfortable life changes when his homosexuality is exposed, after his younger brother begins an affair with his supposed “girlfriend.” The film, in German and Serbo-Croatian, features some strong acting from the young cast, and good support from the adults, particularly from Predrag Bjelac as Sasha’s father.