Review: This week's new films
Thoughts of a British-made superhero film starring Nicolas Cage sound a no-no. But Matthew Vaughn has ignored the bad omens to adapt Mark Millar's comic Kick-Ass into an absolute belter. Plus: Clash of the Titans, How To Train Your Dragon, Storm.
Thoughts of a British superhero film starring Nicolas Cage would be enough to get most cinemagoers searching for the nearest euthanasia clinic. However director Matthew Vaughn has ignored these bad portents to adapt Mark Millar's comic into an absolute belter that is just about the most fun you can have legally in a cinema.
Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) is a teenage nobody. He has a small group of friends but is largely ignored at school. One day, after lamenting the lack of real superheroes, he takes it upon himself to become one. After ordering a costume online his first attempt at crime-fighting goes terribly wrong but leaves him with an ability not to feel pain.
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Trying out his new persona again, he becomes an internet sensation called Kick-Ass when he saves a man from a gangland beating and soon sets up MySpace account where people can ask for help. Along the way he meets Hit Girl and Big Daddy, a dysfunctional family of superheroes intent on taking down the city's big crime boss.
The acting is absolutely bang on the money, with sweetness from Johnson in the lead role and a wonderful pocket powerhouse performance from Chloe Moretz as the frightening Hit Girl. Cage in particular is excellent in the role of her loving yet psychotic father and squeezes ever bit of comedy from the role.
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If there are any dissenting voices lambasting this film then simply ignore them as it was not made with them in mind. Kick-Ass is huge, huge fun.
CLASH OF THE TITANS (12A)
By Zeus Clash of the Titans is a funny film - not that viewers will be laughing with it, more like at it. But unlike the 1981 cult classic, where the monsters our hero Perseus has to slay look like they are made by a 10-year-old, in the remake it is the script that could have been written by a child.
The fact that Sam Worthington speaks his lines as the central character in an Australian accent despite being in Ancient Greece is hilarious. Adding to the implausibility of the story, the scriptwriters have chucked the Greek mythology book out the window, introducing Io (a scarily-pale Gemma Arterton) as the love interest when for thousands of years she has had no part in the tale.
The plot, however, is not why cinema-goers will hand over their cash to watch this Hollywood blockbuster. The special effects are the star of the show with the giant scorpions, a slinky but lethal Medusa and the terrifying Kracken actually looking like scary monsters this time around.
It was a shame that the makers did not capitalise of the 3D effect when the creatures, which clearly most of the budget had gone on creating, failed to leap out of the screen. All in all, however, for viewers who like their films light on plot but packed with action, its a must see.
HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON (PG)
Based on a beloved kids' book this is a wonderful computer animated adventure from the studio behind Shrek.
Sure, it's not as funny as that film, but the film's charm and visuals make for a hugely enjoyable zero to hero tale.
Nerdy young Viking Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) suffers from a lack of brawn that makes him the black sheep of his proud dragon-slaying community.
When he strikes up a friendship with an injured dragon, he slowly begins to realise the beasts are not the monsters his warrior dad (Gerard Butler) makes them out to be - but he's going to have a hard time making the rest of his village realise.
It may be a family film but at times it plays like a slick action flick, complete with an astonishingly massive final battle with a giant dragon and plenty of breathtaking flying scenes that actually use the 3D to eye- popping effect. The fact that the adults speak in Scottish accents while the kids are all street-wise Americans is only a slight irritation and it's impossible not to be completely won over by the growing relationship between Hiccup and his dragon pal.
Legal thrillers get a welcome reality check in thoughtful drama. Both in terms of its subject matter and its execution, director Hans-Christian Schmid keeps things in the real world as a principled UN prosecutor aims to jail former Bosnian Serb warlord for war crimes.
There are no car chases, shoot-outs or entire scenes where characters talk eloquently about their feelings; rather Schmid gets stuck into the murky world of global politics where battling for justice ends up playing second fiddle to maintaining a steady ship in European affairs.
When her main witness is exposed as a liar and then commits suicide, prosecutor Hannah Maynard (Kerry Fox) aims to get the trial back on track by persuading the witness's sister, Mira (Anamaria Marinca), to take the stand. Though it's a struggle to persuade her to get involved, her own experiences could secure the case - but her own colleagues may refuse to hear the new witness in a bid to protect the current European political situation.
Schmid spoils things by trying to pull on the heartstrings a little too blatantly, but Fox and Marinca deliver powerful performances which help turn all the unsavoury backroom deals and talky legal procedures into a quietly gripping drama.