Mad about movies

We delve through the UAE’s latest cinema releases

By Adam Zacharias (adam@khaleejtimes.com)

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Published: Thu 19 Apr 2012, 8:12 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 9:54 PM

The Lucky One

YET ANOTHER NICHOLAS Sparks novel hit screens for fans of overly sincere cheeseball romance yarns.

Zac Efron picks up the template of lovelorn dreamboat, popularised by Ryan Gosling in The Notebook and since replicated by the likes of Channing Tatum and Liam Hemsworth, to play an Iraq war hero returning to North Carolina.

His character, Sergeant Logan Thibault, is looking for a beauty he believes kept him safe during the conflict, the twist being that he only knows her through a photograph. Though wary at first, the mystery sweetheart Beth (Taylor Schilling) eventually decides that having Zac Efron begging you for a date isn’t the worst thing to happen to a lady.

Result: movie-goers cry golden tears for Warner Bros. to line its pockets with. Everyone’s a winner.

“The setting may be tranquil, but the underlying emotions expressed in Nicholas Sparks’ novel are anything but, with complex themes involving relationships, passions and unresolved issues,” said Lousie Keller of Urban Cinelife about the melodrama, which also opens in the States this weekend.

Ed Gibbs of the Sun Herald disagrees though, saying, “Sparks’ books are more Mills & Boon than The Deer Hunter, with his characters little more than mere sketches. Only the women even vaguely register dramatically here.”

Battleship

THIS WEEK’S MARQUEE release is the $200 million sci-fi spectacular Battleship, based on the age-old guessing game of the same name.

Unsurprisingly, the action doesn’t revolve around people putting plastic pins in co-ordinates, though one would think the makers might stick with the basic naval war theme.

Instead, director Peter Berg (Hancock) and his team have spewed out a premise which sees the titular battleship fighting invading aliens. All the while, Admiral Shane (Liam Neeson) and his crack team of attractive young people (Brooklyn Decker, Taylor Kitsch, Rihanna) say words while things blow up.

Parallels aplenty have been drawn to Michael Bay and his CGI-worshipping Transformers franchise, whose continuing box office success no doubt inspired Universal Pictures to make this movie in the first place.

“Impressive visual effects and Berg’s epic set pieces fight against an armada of cinematic clichés and some truly awful dialogue,” said Megan Lehmann of the Hollywood Reporter.

“Like the very best junk food, Battleship has no nutritional value whatsoever but goes down easy. I just hope the film is meant to be a send-up,” declared David Edwards of the Daily Mirror.

Buried

BUILT AROUND THE simple yet nightmarish prospect of being buried alive, this taut thriller has won huge acclaim for maintaining the audience’s attention over 94 minutes.

Iraq-based truck driver Paul Conroy (Ryan Reynolds) wakes up in a coffin, bound and gagged, with just a lighter and a mobile phone with limited reception (my phone goes duff too on the London underground, so I can sympathise).

Conroy must then try to work out where he is, how he got there and, most pressingly, if there is any chance of escape.

“On a technical level Buried is impressive, at times blisteringly suspenseful, making the most of a ripping score and Reynolds’ fully charged agony,” said Kyle Smith of the New York Post about the film, released in the States in 2010.

“Although the entire movie takes place in the enclosed space, director Rodrigo Cortes and writer Chris Sparling are ingenious in creating more plausible action than you would expect possible,” remarked Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun Times.



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