Emily Blunt in Young Victoria / image courtesy of Momentum Pictures
The weekly round-up of cinema releases continues...
Watchmen, the adaptation of Alan Moore's "unfilmable" graphic novel, has certainly sparked debate around these parts, but what of the actual film? The big question is whether director Zack Snyder can do cinematic justice to the original book and the answer seems to be, by and large, yes. He "takes the best of the two mediums, chews them together, and spits out a bolus of phlegm whose complex elements stick together surprisingly well" was our verdict, and Empire (4 stars) agrees that Snyder has made a film for both fan and uninitiated, but "errs to the former. While necessarily filleting down the vast story to something palatable for human bladders, he is slavish to the original text". It's perhaps predicatable that newspaper critics are more lukewarm: "if the movie has a heart, I can’t discern it. The missing warmth is what stops Moore’s complex set of costumed heroes from moving us on film", says the Evening Standard (3 stars), and the Times (2 stars) feels it "hits the target only when he is spoofing Cold War fears... except that Kubrick got here in 1964 and did an infinitely more amusing job in Dr Strangelove". This is one of those cases where reviews don't matter much, though - if you're a fan, you're pretty much going to love it.
So, swiftly moving on to The Young Victoria. Our longest reigning monarch wasn't always a frumpy widow - Julian Fellowes's script gives us Victoria in her youth as she ascends to the throne aged just 18 and the beginnings of her relationship with Prince Albert (no pub crawls here). The Times bemoans that "this is the kind of flouncy historical drama that Britain just can’t seem to shake the habit of making... It’s decorative, but suffers from a stultifying lack of drama" (3 stars). The Guardian spent their time watch-checking: "where was the tang and the zing and the oomph of Fellowes's cracking script for Gosford Park?" (2 stars). The Evening Standard looked up Victoria's diaries after watching the film and found that "even a cursory perusal of Victoria’s own words shows exactly what this film lacks - to put it rudely, balls" (2 stars). Emily Blunt may give "a pert lift to Victoria's traditional sobriety" (Independent, 2 stars) but it seems there's little here to re-write history.
Michelle Williams lives in her car with her dog in Wendy And Lucy, "a subtle gem about the kindness of strangers" (The Times, 4 stars). "Not a great deal happens, but that's not to say my attention wandered from this quiet tale of woe for a second" says The Independent (3 stars), and the Evening Standard praises Williams's "totally natural" performance (3 stars). Only The Guardian demurs, seeing in it the "classic indie-Sundance idiom of reticent performance, affectless dialogue, stonewashed colour photography and plain, sans-serif lettering on the credits" (2 stars).
American Teen is a documentary following five Breakfast Club stereotypes in an Indiana high school. Well, we say documentary but the Guardian has doubts: "throughout the film I had a nagging sense that it simply had to be a hoax" (2 stars). The protagonists "don’t take a drug between them and don’t seem to have sex, but are looking for uncomplicated companionship and some way forward into adult life" (Evening Standard, 3 stars). The Independent still finds "there's a lot more to like and enjoy here than you might suppose" (3 stars).
Reviews of Surveillance are overshadowed by discussions of whether director Jennifer Lynch has inherited any of dad David's talent (she also directed Boxing Helena: form your own judgements). "This crime-spree-procedural-with-a-twist isn’t evidence of a shockingly overlooked talent, but it’s watchable, in a gloating sort of way" declares The Telegraph (3 stars) and The Independent reckons she got "a definite quirkiness from the old man" (3 stars). Bill Pullman and Julia Ormond play FBI agents investigating a string of small-town murders and the result is "a violent B-movie bamboozler that, while fun for a spell, is finally unconvincing" (Guardian, 2 stars).
Flame and Citron were the code names of two Danish World War Two resistance fighters, and this story "is what is known as fictionalised truth, researched for years and obviously an important story for [the director's] country. It makes an intriguing one for us too" (Evening Standard, 3 stars). "A well-made, satisfying film" in the Guardian's view (3 stars) but The Times thinks it's "curiously devoid of tension" (2 stars).
Low budget Brit horror Reverb revolves around two musicians pulling an all-nighter in a studio that holds a recording with a secret. "As horror premises go, it’s not a bad one" reckons The Times, (1 star) but it "soon relapses into all the old gross and silly horror nonsense" (Guardian, 2 stars). The Independent rolled its eyes at supposedly fraught moments when the characters hear voices from the beyond: "They seem to say: 'Can you believe this guff?'" (1 star).
Next week prepare yourself for Jennifer Aniston with a dog in Marley and Me and to be punched square in the face by Bronson.