Film Reviews: Prince Of Persia, Streetdance 3D, The Bad Lieutenant: Port Of Call - New Orleans and Cop Out
New films reviewed by Graham Young and Roz Laws.
Prince Of Persia ****
Cert 12A, 115mins
Films based on video games rarely work well – just look at Lara Croft, Resident Evil, Street Fighter and Doom.
But then again, one of the biggest film franchises of all time was based on a Disney theme park ride.
Now Pirates of the Caribbean producer Jerry Brockheimer sprinkles a little of his action movie fairydust on another summer blockbuster.
It also helps that it’s directed by Mike ‘Harry Potter’ Newell.
The Brit has surrounded himself with plenty of his countrymen and makes sure that leading man Jake Gyllenhaal doesn’t stand out. His English accent is miles better than Russell Crowe’s in Robin Hood.
Jake plays Prince Dastan, an orphan adopted by King Sharaman (Ronald Pickup) in ancient Persia. He grows up happily alongside princes-by-birth, Richard Coyle and Toby Kebell, and uncle Ben Kingsley.
Clever, agile and resourceful, Dastan becomes an adept fighter, storming the royal city of Alamut in a bid to find weapons of mass destruction which turn out not to exist (sound familiar?)
He also discovers a magical dagger which can turn back time and its guardian, Princess Tamina (Gemma Arterton).
When Dastan is framed for the king’s death, Tamina helps him escape.
Cue sparky banter as they cross the desert – the landscape looks even more impressive on the huge screen of Birmingham IMAX – and encounter the likes of Alfred Molina, a great comic character with an even funnier ostrich.
There’s a good finale, though it’s CGI-heavy compared with the realistic thrills of Robin Hood.
Still, Jake and Gemma make a gorgeous-looking couple and there’s plenty of exciting action. Just sit back and enjoy a fun popcorn movie.
Streetdance 3D ****
Cert PG, 98 mins
Here’s some good news about the British film industry for once.
StreetDance is not a sadistic gangster thriller, nor is it about football violence littered with even more foul language.
Remarkably, it’s a contemporary urban youth movie with some fabulous shots of London – and there’s not a single stabbing in sight.
The plot is as formulaic as it comes in terms of its dance competition ethos, but then this is just another silver screen way of capitalising on the High School Musical audience and the current vogue for TV shows like Britain’s Got Talent and Strictly.
Adding substance to the youthful cast, Charlotte Rampling is both helpful and provocative as ballet schoolmistress Helena (though Sutton Coldfield’s star of The Office, Patrick Baladi, is too much of a token presence alongside her).
Weeks before the UK Street Dance Championships, Helena offers rehearsal space to talented street dancer Carly (Nichola Burley), but only if her team are willing to train with some ballet students on a quid pro quo basis. Carly has been left reeling after her boyfriend Jay (Ukeweli Roach) joins a rival team, so will she rise to Helena’s challenge? You bet.
Although StreetDance is a relatively low budget movie, there has been no compromise with the 3D.
Considering the speed of movement on screen, viewers will be surprised to see that ‘stereographer’ Max Penner has more than matched some significant parts of Avatar for clarity. Expect to see a hit – and surely a sequel.
The Bad Lieutenant: Port Of Call - New Orleans ***
Cert 18, 122 mins
This film has almost nothing to do with Abel Ferrara’s 1992 Harvey Keitel movie, Bad Lieutenant. Except it features a ludicrously-extended variation of the title and another officer of the law heading downhill fast thanks to a drug habit spiralling out of control.
A hero cop with a commendation, Terence McDonagh now has a bad back to add to his worries. When five Senegalese immigrants are murdered in a city still reeling from Hurricane Katrina, will the nature of this job be the perfect cover for him to keep breaking the law himself?
As his 1996 Oscar for Leaving Las Vegas proved, Nicolas Cage is at his best when sailing close to the edge with substance abuse, though some viewers will baulk when he takes out his misdirected anger on a defenceless old lady.
Cop Out *
Cert 15, 107 mins
Director Kevin Smith’s ‘homage’ (or lazy copy) of 1980s buddy cop movies teams Bruce Willis with Tracy Morgan, who should know better than to agree to this rubbish.
They are NYPD partners Jimmy and Paul, suspended for messing up a drugs bust. Jimmy’s daughter is about to get married and he can’t afford the $50,000 bill, but he’s determined not to let her smug stepfather Jason Lee pay.
So he must sell a rare baseball card, except it’s stolen by Seann William Scott during a heist. The plot is unexciting and the dialogue terrible. This is crude, unfunny and unwatchable, so avoid.