Movie reviews

A DISHEVELLED, tired and a very hungover Phil (Bradley Cooper) is on the phone and he’s got some bad news: it’s happened again… and it’s worse this time.

He’s not lying. The Hangover Part II (16s) is a rethread of 2009’s smash hit… and it’s not as good as the first outing. It doesn’t even come close. The Wolfpack are in Thailand for Stu’s (Ed Helms) wedding but he’s insists there will be no bachelor party after what happened in Vegas. After a cosy beer around a beach campfire, Phil, Stu and Alan (Zach Galifianiakis) wake up in a sleazy Bangkok hotel room with a monkey, a severed finger belonging to 16-year-old Teddy (Mason Lee), Stu’s future brother-in-law, who is nowhere to be seen, and Mr Chow (Ken Jeong), The Hangover’s bad guy. Before he can tell them what went down, Chow keels over and dies and the guys band together to find the missing Teddy before his father, who already has it in for Stu, goes ballistic. It’s the same set up that worked a treat last time but in his effort to up the ante, director Todd Phillips (Old School, Due Date) forgot the gags. The antics feel forced as the expected troop through the back streets of Bangkok brings our heroes up against a host of oddities. It’s all rather predictable and tired now and in their race to make the plot as bizarre as they can The Hangover Part II loses the charm the original boasted.

PRE-TEEN middle-schooler Greg Heffley (Zachary Gordon) is a legend in his own mind, but reality has a rude way of intruding on his fantasies. In Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2: Rodrick Rules (G), Greg is forced to spend more time with his bullying high school brother Rodrick (Devon Bostick), when their mother decides it’s time the siblings bonded. What follows is essentially a pre-teen comedy of embarrassment, as aspiring rock star Rodrick humiliates Greg at every turn. All of which is bad enough, but Greg has lost his heart to new girl Holly (Peyton List), which gives Rodrick’s tormenting another agonising twist. It’s all good, clean family fun, but where Wimpy Kid 2 differs from its predecessor is in placing Devon Bostick front and centre, where his Ashton Kutcher-lite schtick entirely overshadows the rather charmless Gordon, whose acting is so wooden that the decision by director David Bowers to depict Greg’s cartoon alter-ego as a puppet seems unnecessarily cruel. With Steve Zahn sidelined as the brothers’ hapless father, and Robert Capron a lumpen presence as Greg’s best friend Rowley, it’s left to Bostick to invest the movie with what little fizz it possesses.

A DIGITAL restoration, approved by Francis Ford Coppola, is as good a reason as any for film fans to reacquaint themselves with Apocalypse Now (18), which opens with Captain Willard (Martin Sheen) receiving orders to penetrate the jungles of Vietnam in order to ‘terminate with extreme prejudice’ the rogue Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando). A searing indictment of the lunacy of modern warfare, it is one of the most powerful films ever made, with legendary set-pieces popping up at regular intervals. Dramatically overblown, cinematically verbose, self-indulgent and eye-poppingly outrageous, the film exerts an almost hallucinogenic quality, even before Willard penetrates Kurtz’s lair and encounters not only the man himself, but his wild-eyed disciple, the photographer played by Dennis Hopper. Robert Duvall, Harrison Ford, Laurence Fishburne and Scott Glenn co-star in a film that wasn’t just about the Vietnam war, as Coppola suggested, it was the Vietnam war. On limited release nationwide.

IN A reversal of the romantic vignettes in When Harry Met Sally, Heartbeats (16) opens with snippets of interviews of the broken-hearted relating how the relationship they thought was the one, fell apart. They prove to be an interesting backdrop to the main thrust of the story: Marie (Monia Chokri) and Francis (writer-director Xavier Dolan) fall for Nick (Niels Schnieder), a rich, curly-haired pretty boy rumoured to be bisexual. As the two friends vie for his affections, both descend into a childish game of one-upmanship. Amusing and awkwardly honest, Heartbeats’ charm falls victim to an ill-advised climax.


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