Friday's movie reviews

Quick reviews and trailers of the movies released in Irish cinemas this weekend for you - all in one place!

Friday's movie reviews

Ender’s Game

Parents who have spent countless hours admonishing their children for playing videogames rather than studying hard may want to give Ender’s Game a wide berth.

The unlikely heroes of Gavin Hood’s slick sci-fi drama, who are feted to save mankind from alien invaders, aren’t the brightest minds of the scientific community, who’ve pored over textbooks and deduced brilliant new theorems.

No, the saviours of an imperilled human race are socially awkward and emotionally volatile teenagers, who display brilliant tactical minds while playing hour upon hour of state-of-the-art videogames.

South African filmmaker Gavin Hood (X-Men Origins: Wolverine) directs at a brisk pace, integrating a miasma of digital effects with the live action to ensure his sharp-shooting adventure packs plenty of thrills to complement the tears and heartbreak.

Star Rating:

Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2

Fast food will kill you – literally tear you limb from limb – in Cody Cameron and Kris Pearn’s computer-animated sequel.

Luckily, the marauding cheeseburgers and tacos are consigned to a faraway island. Let us be thankful their sesame seed buns and corn tortilla shells turn to mush in brine.

While the first film, released in 2009, was loosely based on Judi and Ron Barrett’s children’s book of the same name, ‘Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2’ is an original concept.

However, the three scriptwriters are clearly big fans of Steven Spielberg’s 1993 box office behemoth ‘Jurassic Park’.

Thankfully, some of the wildlife is friendly, including Shrimpanzees, Buffaloafs and dark green Watermelophants. It gives a whole new meaning to playing with your food.

‘Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2’ boasts some decent laughs and a flimsy plot that doesn’t tarry too long on logic. Vocal performances are as lively as the rollicking action sequences, while Faris’s plucky heroine emphasises the underlying theme about man’s destruction of the natural world when she asserts, “We should be studying the food animals not killing them!”

The 3D version doesn’t have much to dazzle the retinas so avoid premium ticket prices and opt for colour-saturated 2D instead.

Star Rating: 3/5

One Chance

The story of an overweight, accident-prone, opera obsessive might not read as silver screen magic, but it looks like the team behind ‘One Chance’ has struck gold in depicting the tale of ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ winner Paul Potts.

James Corden dons the gnarly teeth to play Potts, a shy, bumbling man, who has spent years being bullied and lives with his parents in Port Talbot.

He earns his living working in Carphone Warehouse with his best mate (Mackenzie Crook) but dreams of becoming an opera singer and listens to classical music every moment he can, something his mother (Julie Walters) encourages and his dad (Colm Meaney) bemoans.

The movie is not without faults.

There are predictably saccharine moments, although these are kept to a minimum in the hands of ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ and ‘Marley And Me’ director David Frankel.

There are strong performances, particularly Corden, who refrains from gurning his way through the film, and an endearing Roach, who came to prominence as the young Margaret Thatcher in ‘The Iron Lady’.

The film isn’t life-changing but it is feel-good, even if you do fill a little cheated of enjoying a big finale like ‘Billy Elliot’ and ‘The Full Monty’ managed.

Just as the sceptics among us wrongly judged Potts, they should be mindful of doing the same with this movie.

Star Rating:

Closed Circuit

The legal presumption of innocence until proven guilty forms the backbone of John Crowley’s suspense thriller that starts in an almighty bang with an explosion in a crowded London market.

Soundless CCTV images of the fateful November morning provide a jaw-dropping jolt to pique our interest through the film’s exposition-heavy opening hour.

But then Steven Knight’s script gets bogged down in legalese and crucially, the pacing is pedestrian, without any noticeable hairpin twists or turns to get the pulse racing once action moves into the courtroom.

‘Closed Circuit’ feels curiously familiar, uncovering corruption and skulduggery within the corridors of power in Westminster, where one Machiavellian figure menacingly cackles, “Your girlfriend should have kept her mouth shut”, within earshot of witnesses.

Australian actor Bana lacks charisma and his British accent frequently returns to the southern hemisphere.

On-screen chemistry with Hall, who is solid in an underwritten role, barely simmers let alone boils.

Broadbent chews scenery while Julia Stiles is wasted as a nosy New York Times reporter.

Star Rating:

Jackass Presents Bad Grandpa

The Jackass pranksters led by clown extraordinaire Johnny Knoxville take their wince-inducing brand of tomfoolery to the next level in ‘Bad Grandpa’.

They hang the usual daredevil stunts and bad-taste humour on a gossamer thin narrative that is by turns touchingly sweet and eye-rollingly preposterous.

A couple of people involved in this freewheeling mayhem are actors but largely, innocent passers-by are caught in the comedic crossfire and their stunned reactions – captured on hidden cameras – are hilarious.

Gags in the film hit more than they miss, and some victim responses are priceless. Not all of the set-ups work though.

A fishing scene by a golf course is ridiculous and stunts which involve Irving exposing his nether regions go on far too long.

Yet there are some huge, rip-snorting laughs in Jeff Tremaine’s film, and on that most primal and puerile level, ‘Bad Grandpa’ is rather good.

Star Rating: 3/5

Also in cinemas…

The Selfish Giant

Loosely inspired by Oscar Wilde’s story of the same name, ‘The Selfish Giant’ is a breathtaking character study set in an impoverished community in Yorkshire.

Arbor (Conner Chapman) and his best mate Swifty (Shaun Thomas) struggle to fit in at school and they frequently suffer the unwanted attentions of class bullies.

During one encounter in the playground, Arbor loses his temper, leading to both boys being expelled from school.

Prospects are bleak so the lads align themselves with local scrap dealer Kitten (Sean Gilder) and his wife (Lorraine Ashbourne), who pay good money any metal the pair can get their grubby mitts on.

Swifty shows nature flair that puts Arbor in his shadow for the first time and sparks jealousy with shocking consequences.

It’s a Lot

A young man from a wealthy background is led astray during his time in the inner city in this urban comedy co-directed by Darwood Grace and lead actor Femi Oyeniran.

Nice guy Shawn (Oyeniran) yearns for a change of surroundings so he abandons the trappings of privilege to attend his cousin’s college, where drugs, violence and sex are prevalent.

He crashes his father’s car and has to raise the necessary funds to pay for expensive repairs but to find so much cash in a short space of time might require Shawn to bend the rules, perhaps even break them, for the first time in his life.

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