Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Summer 2010 Preview

Summer 2010


As in previous years, KRS recently held a gala lunch for journalists, critics and censors. The event also featured a lengthy trailer showcasing the main films to look forward to this summer. Over the next 3 months, KRS will be releasing 42 films in Malta, including 17 blockbusters, and covering all genres and target audiences.

Once the World Cup is over, here’s the menu for top-notch evening entertainment:

(the ones I’m looking forward to most are in orange)


  • The A-Team – big screen version of the classic TV action series, starring Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper and Sharlto Copley.
  • The Adjustment Bureau – Paranoia thriller starring Matt Damon and Emily Blunt as a potential couple kept apart by strange forces.
  • Brooklyn’s Finest – Police and crime drama starring Richard Gere, Don Cheadle and Ethan Hawke, from the director of Training Day.
  • Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore (3D) – Sequel to the family favourite, featuring lots of talking pets with high-tech gadgets.
  • Centurion – Period war drama starring Michael Fassbender.
  • The Collector – Somebody breaks into a house, not knowing that there’s already somebody much more dangerous inside. Thriller, of course.
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid – Comedy about a smart but unimposing kid who documents his attempt at surviving secondary school.
  • Dinner for Schmucks – Steve Carell and Paul Rudd star in this offbeat comedy about an executive who invites losers to dinner for entertainment purposes.
  • Eat, Pray, Love – Based on the best-selling true story, this film stars Julia Roberts as a middle-aged woman who breaks free of the rat-race back home to spend a year travelling the world and marvelling at what she discovers.
  • The Expendables – Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren, Jet Li, Jason Statham, Steve Austin, Mickey Rourke, Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Not a chick flick.
  • Get Him To The Greek – Johan Hill stars as a young intern assigned the impossible task of ensuring that erratic British rocker Aldous Snow (Russell Brand) gets to a concert on schedule.
  • Grown Ups – Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, David Spade, Rob Schneider and Kevin James star as a group of old friends who get together and realise not much has changed.
  • The Hole – Matinee-type horror film about two boys who discover a mysterious hole in their basement, from much-loved director Joe Dante.
  • I Am Love – A classy, tragic love story starring Tilda Swinton as a woman in a posh Italian household threatened by love and passion.
  • Inception – From the director of Memento and The Dark Knight comes a psychological thriller about the content of dreams, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Ken Watanabe, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Michael Caine and Ellen Page.
  • The Karate Kid – a remake of the 80s classic, this time starring Jackie Chan as the mentor and Jaden Smith as the kid.
  • The Killer Inside Me – Casey Affleck stars in this chilling drama about a deputy sheriff with psychopathic tendencies, from director Michael Winterbottom.
  • Killers – Katherine Heigl and Ashton Kutcher star in this crime comedy about a girl who finds the man of her dreams and then finds out what he really does for a living.
  • Knight and Day – Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz star in this action-comedy about a globe-trotting and glamorous fugitive couple.
  • The Last Airbender – M. Night Shyamalan returns with his take on the fantasy TV series about those who have the power to control the elements.
  • Mark of an Angel (L’ Empreinte de L’Ange) – drama about a woman who becomes obsessed with the idea that a young girl might be the daughter she thought had died in a fire.
  • Marmaduke – Based on the popular comic strip, this film follows the antics of the lovable, but often uncontrollable Great Dane, voiced by Owen Wilson.
  • Mes Amis Mes Amours – Set inside a French expat community in London, this quirky romantic comedy follows of the adventures in life and love of two single fathers who decide to share a flat.
  • The Other Guys – Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell star as two bungling New York City detectives who try to make it amongst the elite.
  • Piranha (3D) – Prehistoric piranhas are unleashed in Lake Victoria after a tremor. Like many Jaws, but smaller.
  • Predators – Adrien Brody and Laurence Fishburne form part of a team of dangerous criminals who are hunted down by the merciless alien race from the previous Predator films.
  • The Rebound – Catherine Zeta-Jones stars in a light romantic comedy about a middle-aged woman having a rebound relationship with her young male nanny.
  • Resident Evil: Afterlife (3D) – Milla Jovovich returns as the heroine of this dark and action-packed franchise, whose baddies just won’t stay dead.
  • The Runaways – Rising female starts Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning star in a coming-of-age biopic about a 70s teenage band.
  • Salt – Angelina Jolie is Evelyn Salt, a CIA officer who claims she is being framed, and has to stay on the run while trying to prove her innocence.
  • Scott Pilgrim vs. The World – Based on the popular comic, this original modern-day tale of chivalry pits the hapless Michael Cera, as the titular character, against the seven evil ex-boyfriends of his new-found love.
  • Shrek Forever After (3D) – The 4th and final chapter in this alternative fairytale.
  • The Sorcerer’s Apprentice – Walt Disney and Jerry Bruckheimer joins forces to bring us the live-action adventure full of magic and marvel, stemming from the famous Fantasia sequences. Starring Nicholas Cage, Jay Baruchel and Monica Bellucci.
  • Step Up 3-D – Street and hip-hop dancers face off in a high-stakes showdown in the heart of New York.
  • Takers – Matt Dillon, Hayden Christensen and Paul Walker star in this thriller about a group of bank robbers who see their 20-million-dollar heist interrupted.
  • The Tournament – Every seven years in an unsuspecting town, thirty of the world’s deadliest assassins’ battle to the death for the title of No. 1. Starring Robert Carlyle and Ving Rhames.
  • Toy Story 3 (3D) – The ground-breaking and heart-warming tale of toys resumes, with Tom Hanks and Tim Allen reprising the famous roles of Woody and Buzz Lightyear.
  • The Twilight Saga: Eclipse – Part 3 of 4 in the fable of vampires and werewolves that has set the teenage world alight.
  • Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps – Oliver Stone returns to direct, and Michael Douglas returns to star in the sequel to the 80s greed thriller that seems even more relevant now. Also starring Shia LaBeouf and Carey Mulligan.
  • Warrior – Nick Nolte stars in the story of an alcoholic ex-boxer who tries to return to the top of his game, but knows he must fight his brother to do so.
  • When In Rome – Kristen Bell stars in this romantic comedy about an impulsive New Yorker who steals some coins from a fountain while on holiday in Rome, and see her love-life go to extremes as a result.
  • Wild Target – Bill Nighy and Emily Blunt star in a black comedy about a solitary assassin with a perfect reputation, who finds himself drawn to one of his victims.



Summer 2010 is looking very promising indeed...

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

She’s Out Of My League


  • Released Internationally on 12/03/10
  • Released in Malta by KRS on 23/06/10

Preview (first published 29/05/10 in VIDA Magazine)

June is looking like a good month for comedy, and the second most promising offering is an underdog story with heart. The man against the odds is Kirk, portrayed by Jay Baruchel, the young and slightly-built guy who played unlikely heroes in Tropic Thunder and the recent How To Train Your Dragon. After tackling the Vietnam jungle and a nest of dragons, he now attempts to win over a far deadlier foe – a 10/10 woman. His supportive friends assure him that he is clearly a 5/10 at best, and affectionately refer to him as a moodle, or man-poodle, whom women would love to pet. But for some strange reason, the stunning blonde Molly (Alice Eve – ­Crossing Over, Sex and the City 2) seems to have more than just pity for him, and with nothing to lose, he puts pride aside and goes for gold. The least us males can do is support him in this noble venture.

Review (22/06/10)

Beating the odds

Despite being inherently predictable, this films works. It may not cover any new ground, or deliver any unexpected thrills, but for its entire duration it manages to keep us interested in the romantic endeavours of its hapless hero, and his unlikely shot at scoring out of his league. This is largely thanks to the two main characters. Baruchel’s Kirk is hard not to like, and his attempts in the opening scenes to win back his previous girlfriend firmly establish his lowly rank in the world of romance. If geeky is the new cool, this guy is ice cold. Rather hotter, however, is Molly, who floats through airport security, where Kirk works, setting off every alarm in sight, including his. When she leaves her phone behind, he suddenly has a chance to meet her again, and she seems unusually nice to him when they do. Alice Eve manages to balance looking ridiculously hot with acting rather down-to earth, making her seem somehow attainable. If we can see it, then eventually so can Kirk.

Support network

Before he sees it though, his friends do. As is standard in these sort of love/sex comedies, the friends and family of the main couple play an essential role. Kirk has three close friends and colleagues with wildly varying views about life, the universe and everything. They provide some of the better scenes and lines, with hopeless romantic Devon often being the most original and amusing of the three. Inevitably, their interaction with Molly's friends takes on a role of its own. Kirk's family, however, make his friends seem meek. Loud, obnoxious and incredibly thick, they constantly ruin Kirk's life, and when Molly comes over for lunch he has good reason to feel uneasy. The family chemistry culminates in a hilarious in-flight scene later on in the film, which is well-played.


As expected, Kirk's self-worth proves crucial in his attempt at greatness. In a world where perceived quality is swiftly replacing actual quality as a key to success, Kirk needs all the help he can get to believe in himself and project the right image. Sadly, he would probably not stand a chance in reality, but who needs reality when we're heading to the cinema?



Space Chimps 2: Zartog Strikes Back

Fusion TIFF File


  • Released Internationally on 28/05/10
  • Released in Malta by KRS on 23/06/10 in 3D


In a nutshell

In 2008, three annoying chimps ventured into space. Unfortunately, they didn't stay there.


I imagine there are many factors contributing to the decision to make a sequel. Money's probably a driving factor (Sex and the City 2), as in an unfinished story to tell (Iron Man 2). Sometimes a concept works so well and is so liked that filmmakers find ways of extending the story to justify the return of their beloved characters (Shrek 2). And sometimes a fresh pair of hands tries to succeed where the original film failed (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan). With Space Chimps 2, the most plausible reason seems to be that since somebody had already designed all the characters, they realised they could quickly hammer out some semblance of a script and make another film with minimal effort.


The film is mostly set on Earth, where the chimps run amok in the space station, awaiting orders. The youngest and most eager of the trained monkeys gets cut from the upcoming mission for budget reasons, and in an experimental and angry mood he inadvertently launches the space shuttle, with only himself inside. Nobody notices the shuttle is gone, because all those in ground control are busy eating ice-cream sundaes. There are further mind-boggling plot twists, but I won't ruin them for you.


The voice cast manages to act badly, perfectly matching their crudely-animated counterparts. This is probably the first time I ever saw awkward silences in an animated film, and the script and plot stutter and drag in equal amount, ultimately telling a story that could have (and probably should have) been a half-hour television episode. Stanley Tucci stains his filmography as the senator, while other voices of varying quality breathe life into the four main chimps. Rounding off the cast are three human scientists who offer a brief promise of humour, a big-headed sidekick who's so annoying she made me miss Jar-Jar Binks, and a Vogon-like bad guy, who looks like his animation was abandoned half-way.

Once again, why?

It's not all bad. Whilst clawing at reasons to like this film I had to admit I'm most probably not its target audience. I'd venture to guess that there's enough colour, simplicity, talking animals and crude action to appeal to toddlers, but more discerning children will find smarter stimulation this summer amongst dragons, ogres and talking toys. This might keep your three-year old occupied for just over an hour, but you’d better pray they don’t ask you to sit with them. There are worse ways to pass the time, but most of them are not readily available outside of Guantanamo Bay.




Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Hot Tub Time Machine



  • Released Internationally on 26/03/10
  • Released in Malta by KRS on 02/06/10


Preview (first published 29/05/10 in VIDA Magazine)

In a nutshell

Time travel is fun, I’ve been told. And the 80s were fun, if I remember well. So as part of the ongoing fascination with that most unstylish of decades, we finally get to travel back to 1986.

Why we’re hyped?

Probably the best time-travel film to date was based in the 80s, with Marty McFly leaving 1985 to travel back and forth in Back to the Future. This time, four male buddies with women troubles find themselves trapped in 1986 after a very drunken night involving a hot tub. They wake up when hair was bigger, highlighter jumpsuits weren’t only worn by inmates, and Michael Jackson (rest his soul), was still black. With such a goldmine of kitsch references and retro jokes, this promises to be one of the funniest movies this summer. It’s like The Hangover, but on the set of a Bonnie Tyler video.

Who’s in it?

Leading the pack back in time is the ever likeable John Cusack, who continues to alternate between quirky but excellent smaller films like Being John Malkovich and big-budget epics like Con Air or 2012. He is also one of the producers of the film, and should know something about the 80s since that when he had his first starring roles. Rising comedy regular Craig Robinson (Pineapple Express, Zack and Miri Make A Porno and the upcoming Shrek Forever After) is one of his bosom buddies, who isn’t too keen on bumping into his 1986 self, complete with high-rise hairdo. Clark Duke (Kick-Ass) and Rob Corddry (The Heartbreak Kid) round of the futuristic foursome. The film is directed by Steve Pink, who once adapted the screenplay for another Cusack gem – High Fidelity. So get out your leg warmers and zip up your shell suits, and get in the tub.



Review (02/06/10)

Present imperfect

Adam (Cusack) returns home from work to find that his long-term girlfriend has finally left, taking most of his possessions with her. In his basement, his pudgy nephew Jacob (Duke) lives indoors and his only social interactions are online, via his avatar on 'Second Life' (which makes one worry about how many such situations really exist). Across town, failed musician Nick (Robinson), does various non-appetising jobs at a dog-care centre, and definitely doesn't wear the trousers in his marriage. When their previously close friend Lou (Corddry) is hospitalised after a suspected suicide attempt, their lives comes swiftly into focus and they decide to try a weekend of bonding in a ski resort they used to love when they were younger. Nostalgia plays tricks, however, and they arrive to find a run-down resort that is a mere shadow of their glorious memories. When in doubt, drink.

Details, details

Time travel films require a certain amount of suspension of belief, for what I hope are obvious reasons. But the concept is so entertaining, and such a goldmine for cinematic moments that we're usually more than willing to nod along with talk of 'flux capacitors' and the 'space time continuum'. So usually the scantiest of details are enough to get the plot going. In this case, the unlikely mode of transport is an outdoor jacuzzi, which during the wild night of partying in which lots of sticky alcohol is spilt over the control panel, sends the four naked occupants swirling back to the mid-80s. The scene is a fast-paced, slightly trippy and very dizzying montage, which moves the plot swiftly forward to where we want to be. Getting back proves slightly more complex, however, and the numerous scenes where the four travellers and a mysterious, angelic handyman (Chevy Chase) try to fix the tub and get home end up being rather tedious and overdone.

Sex, drugs and glam-rock 'n’ roll

It may not be the swinging 60s or hedonistic 70s, but these unsuccessful males travel back to what they consider to be the zenith of their social lives - a wild winter week they spent in the resort, which was eventful and memorable on various levels. Brought up watching numerous time travel films themselves, they decide they should relive the week exactly as they remember it, so as to hopefully avoid a ‘butterfly effect’ and end up changing history forever. So, with a sense of duty, they set out into the frosty night to get punched by bullies, stabbed in the eyebrow by angry ex-girlfriends and booed off stage at a concert. Until, that is, they start realising that there’s fun to be had. Jacob, the unlikely time traveller who wasn’t even born at the time, is the most eager to get back home, especially after meeting the rather slutty 80s version of his dear mother.

Johnny B. Goode

The references to Back to the Future are frequent and not too subtle, from the hot tub’s digital display to the scene where the crowd is awed by a rendition of a ‘song from the future’. Certain scenes have the same overall feel of that time-travel classic too, as the characters try to tip-toe through the night’s events without disturbing the course of history, and failing miserably. The film also contains numerous elements that struck a chord in last year’s The Hangover, from the buddy aspect of the main characters to the shameless lack of decency or correctness as the events unfold. Most of the sleaze and crudeness is embodied in the character of Lou, with his three companions trying to hold him back, which sets up an interesting finale to the timeline troubles.

In the end

It’s crude, it’s rather silly, and it’s often much less coherent than similar films it tries to emulate. But there are frequent moments of hilarity, and a few inspired scenes that the main characters handle with boyish charm. You’ll probably need to be in the mood for this one, but if you are, you’re in for a fun ride.