So, the smack-down that was Indy v SATC was officially won by Indy (presumably with one of his famed punches to the face). While those two films continue to soak up every last ton of box office cash we have a blockbuster free week of smaller scale films.
The biggest release of the week is Gone, Baby Gone. It’s directed and co-written by Ben Affleck who’s looking for career salvation after being unforgivably rubbish in countless films. He’s cast his brother, Casey (also known as the Affleck That Can Act) in the lead role and it’s the story of a little girl who gets abducted in a tough Boston neighbourhood. Due to parallels with the Madeline McCann case the film’s release was delayed from last year. The reviews are very positive with The Times giving the film 4-stars calling it a ‘terrific, tightly plotted crime movie that suggests that Affleck could well give Clint Eastwood a run for his money in the actor-turned-director stakes.’ Anthony Quinn in the Independent calls it no less than ‘one of the films of the year’ (4-stars) while the Guardian (3-stars) has high praise for ATCA, ‘Casey Affleck coolly holds the centre of the film: a wiry, stubborn presence, intent on solving the case but aggressive and unstable with it. It is his persistence, both as actor and character, that tides us over the tricky plot reversals.’
Bit part player Genghis Khan who wowed us all those years ago in Bill and Ted breaks out with a lead role in Mongol, the epic biopic of his early life. Generally it’s got good reviews (the NY Times loves it), but the Guardian (2-stars) finds it ‘weighed down with its own ostentatious importance.’ Landscape-lovers (wherever you may be) will be impressed as, ’the film, shot in remote parts of China, Mongolia and Kazakhstan, catches the vast wilderness of the one-time Mongol empire with awesome clarity.’ (The Independent, 3-stars.)
Prom Night ticks every possible horror movie cliché and isn’t even being ironic. The Times (2-stars) says that ‘it’s a scare-free attempt at a slasher movie.’ While the Guardian (2-star) says that the killer, ‘looms out of the shadows with a pained smile and an ominous rumble that suggests nothing so much as acute indigestion.’ Even the original wasn’t that great. Rent Carrie instead.
Another dire spoof arrives with Superhero Movie which gets universally panned. The Guardian (1-star) describers it thus: ‘Every scene is like witnessing a tiny murder in which an enfeebled gag is wheeled out, tortured for a spell and then mercifully laid to rest..’ Do not go and see this. If you laugh at the trailer seek professional help.
Also out this week is documentary, The King of Kong, following obsessive grown men trying to break the record on the original Donkey Kong video game. While not necessary to see it on the big screen it’s a great film and far more engaging than you might expect. The Times gives it 4-stars: ‘Granted, old-fashioned video games aren’t much of a spectator sport, but Gordon’s funny, candid documentary boasts a pair of extraordinarily counterbalanced characters: nice guy Steve is one of life’s underdogs, while the sneaky, egomaniac Billy fancies himself as Obi Wan but comes off more like Darth Vader.’
Next week we have the revised attempt at The Incredible Hulk and The Happening, which if pre-release reviews are to be believed, might be a contender for worst film of the summer. Bring it on.
By James Bryan