The weekly round up of film reviews continues, courtesy of James Bryan...
This week, chaste vampires in Twilight and a documentary about Gonzo journalist Hunter S Thompson.
The Times describes Twilight as “a supernatural sex education movie for lovesick Goths.” Based on Stephenie Meyer’s bestselling books the film has “the unhealthiest-looking teenage couple ever to smooch on a screen.” Kristen Stewart plays the new kid at school who falls in love with the pale charismatic Edward – a 17-year-old vampire whose beverage of choice is animal blood. He wants her, but knows that his vampire tendencies will take over if they are together because “unprotected bites are as taboo as sex between mortals and corpses, so the two hormonal teenagers sizzle like sausages in a frying pan” (The Times). Generally the reviews are very good with the film giving an interesting spin on conservative America. The Guardian has a 4-star review saying “it is, in its unworldly way, sweetly idealistic with a charm all of its own: a teen romance to get your teeth into.” The Times goes with 3-stars, “the supernatural stunts don’t disappoint. Neither does the deadpan wit.” The Independent also deems this worthy of 3-stars and that the leads make “a mesmerising pair, and their twitchy, sidelong glances play out a duet of unspoken yearning that might just get under your skin.”
The reviews of Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr Hunter S. Thompson are mixed. Narrated by Johnny Depp and with talking heads like Tom Wolfe, Jimmy Carter and Ralph Steadman this should have been the definitive version of Thompson’s extraordinary life. The Independent thinks that filmmaker Alex Gibney (who made the phenomenal Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room) misses an opportunity because “at no point does he really investigate Thompson's dark side, not the ubiquitous drugs so much as the obsession with guns, the serial infidelities and a volcanically severe temper that one can almost hear in the testimony of his two wives” (2-stars). The Guardian is also disappointed in a 3-star review, “though entertaining in many ways, is oddly uninterested in his strengths or otherwise as a writer, the very gift for which Thompson earnestly wished to be known.” The Times however is swept away by the film (or the subject matter) in a 4-star review that says “Gibney’s brilliant homage to the author crackles with energy and purpose. Mischief, too. Johnny Depp reads out chunks of stinging prose while toying with one of Thompson’s terrifying handguns.”
Also out this week is animation The Tale of Despereaux, a perfectly acceptable family animation that has the misfortune of being compared to Ratatouille. The Guardian, with the faintest praise possible, says “If it was on ITV2 on 27 December, at around four in the afternoon, you wouldn't necessarily want to turn over” (2-stars). The Times thinks that “adults will appreciate the painterly visuals, all soft edges and delicate shadows,” (3-stars) and The Independent thinks it is a “pleasantish family animation” (2-stars).
Next week’s Boxing Day big releases hoping to get your off your booze-soaked overfed backside are Baz Luhrmann’s Australia and Jim Carrey attempting to see if he can still be funny in Yes Man.
By James Bryan