Lina Leandersson as the vampire in Let the Right One In / image courtesy of Momentum Pictures
Our weekly round-up of film reviews
Matthew Perry plays Mike, washed up at 37 (37!) but gets a chance to be young and hunky as Zac Efron in 17 Again. (Oh, how Perry must wish life imitated art.) Best known for being pretty in the High School Musicals, this film "gives Efron the chance to show he can actually act as well as look good" (Evening Standard, 3 stars). Mike enrols in school with his children, "preaching abstinence to the boys... earnestly lecturing a group of incredulous girls on the value of self-respect" (Guardian, 3 stars). "Most audience members", thinks The Telegraph (3 stars) "turned into Zac Efron by a freak of fate, might have slightly more creative ideas about how to make the most of it, but do remember this is a 12A". "Amusing, wholesome fun for young teenage swooners" concludes The Times (3 stars).
"Some movies, while never quite attaining masterpiece status, nonetheless have a monumental WTF-factor" says The Guardian (4 stars) of Let the Right One In, a Swedish tale of pre-teen love between a bullied boy and a vampire who's been 12 for a very long time. The film "is unarguably concerned with the curse of vampirism... [but it] plays not as a harum-scarum horror but as a touching and weirdly chaste love story" (The Independent, 4 stars). Empire knows this sounds familiar, but "in a season where Twilight... has become, by a wide margin, the most profitable vampire movie ever made, Let The Right One In trumps the Hollywood vision by landing an instant, secure place on the list of the ten best vampire movies... this is horror, rooted in love" (5 stars). The Evening Standard (4 stars) praises the two child leads, "marvellously natural performers who carry a sometimes fractured film from point to point with stunning realism" while The Telegraph (5 stars) simply finds it "beautiful to gaze at, achingly romantic, emotionally involving, unexpectedly terrifying".
François Truffaut's debut masterpiece The 400 Blows gets a re-release this week, and inevitably the critics are swooning. Jean-Pierre Léaud plays tearaway Antoine, at odds with his parents and teachers in a monochrome Paris. "In the history of cinema no collaboration between a director and an actor... has been as intense or interesting as that begun here by Truffaut and Léaud" breathes The Telegraph (5 stars). "It is, of course, one of the best evocations of youthful travails and uncertainties ever put on film" says the Evening Standard (5 stars). "It retains the vigour and insolence of the youth it celebrates" slavers The Independent (5 stars). "There are too many great moments to list in full" declares The Guardian (5 stars). We get the picture: it's very, very good.
From the sublime to the overblown and shouty now, in Fast and Furious. Paul Walker and Vin Diesel return in the fourth installment of the cars, girls n chases franchise to - well, does it matter? "This is dumb, loud and fast... it’s not unenjoyable" reckons The Times (2 stars). The Guardian finds the film is "Fast in that it moves at a terrific clip. But it is Furious only in the sense that it seems confused and irritable" (2 stars). The Independent is damning: "only 13-year-old boys and Jeremy Clarkson could possibly enjoy this" (1 star).
Race to Witch Mountain is a loose remake with Dwayne Johnson (formerly known as The Rock) playing a Las Vegas cabbie who has to help two strange children / aliens save the world from alien invasion. "It's a rattling good chase movie... perfect holiday nonsense" says The Times (3 stars), while the Empire finds an "unexpectedly entertaining mixture of good, clean Disney fun with some rather more modern action scenes" (3 stars). Others are less impressed. "Not very dazzling" is The Independent's verdict (2 stars) and the Evening Standard says the end "couldn’t come soon enough for me" (1 star).
In Pinochet's Chile, Raul is a fiftysomething psychopath obsessed with Tony Manero, of Saturday Night Fever. He "goes to appalling lengths to achieve his tacky dream — to build a dancefloor made of flashing light bulbs and glass... It would be hysterical if he didn’t then club to death his neighbours so he can sell their TV set" (The Times, 4 stars). It's "a brilliantly clammy and unnerving piece of work... [that] can be viewed as a broadside against globalisation" says The Guardian (4 stars) or, as Empire suggests, "a bitterly dark comedy [or] a harrowing depiction of life under Pinochet in late-70s Chile" (3 stars). The Evening Standard, meanwhile, finds time to commend the "quietly compelling performance from co-screenwriter Alfredo Castro as Raul" (3 stars).
Martin McGartland was an informer within the IRA; he was eventually unmasked and is still in hiding. Fifty Dead Men Walking is 'inspired' by his memoirs and he's not terribly happy about the result. "Be that as it may, producer-director Kari Skogland has put together an effective, if cinematically unambitious, enterprise, emphasising the suspense-thriller elements" says The Guardian (3 stars). It's "an edge-of-seat thriller, a doomy romance and a grim documentary of terror and betrayal... worryingly entertaining" agrees The Times (3 stars). London born Jim Sturgess as McGartland "dominates the film, showing us how an ordinary man can get involved in the messy, heartless business of informing", thinks the Evening Standard (4 stars).
Dragonball Evolution is a live action version of a manga franchise which nobody likes very much. The Evening Standard calls it a "farrago" (1 star) while The Independent (1 star) can't work out what's going on: "it involves some cut-price FX and a lot of Zen blather about using your inner strength. Use yours and avoid this". The highest praise comes from The Guardian, which reckons it "could have been a lot worse" (2 stars).
Next week: bro-mance with Paul Rudd in I Love You, Man and Armando Iannucci's In The Loop gets political.