Movie Reviews: Sex and the City 2, Tooth Fairy, [REC] 2, The Losers
SEX AND THE CITY 2 * * *
(15, 146 mins)
Opening to the strains of Alicia Keys' song Empire State Of Mind (Part II) Broken Down, a valentine to the concrete jungle of New York City, Sex And The City 2 takes another bite out of the Big Apple with the expertly coiffed cast of the hit TV series.
The gossamer-thin plot is more flimsy than some of the characters' dresses and at 146 minutes, the sequel overstays its welcome by the best part of an hour.
However, fans of the sassy gal pals will be in seventh heaven at the endless parade of chic couture and the return of Carrie's old flame Aidan, who stirs up long-dormant feelings.
The fashions might be designer label, but the film's sense of humour is bargain basement: Sex And The City 2 sniggers at bouncing cleavage in a wet t-shirt and a visibly aroused man in loose fitting linen trousers. Girls just wanna have crude fun.
Neurotic writer Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) is starting to realise that life after saying "I do" to paramour Mr Big (Chris Noth) isn't everything she thought it would be.
Samantha (Kim Cattrall) has moved back to New York, battling valiantly against menopause, and Miranda (Cynthia Nixon) has forgiven adulterous husband Steve, targeting her rage instead at her chauvinistic boss.
Meanwhile, Charlotte (Kristin Davis) is struggling to be the perfect wife to ever-dependable husband Harry and a perfect mother to their two daughters.
Thankfully, chesty Irish nanny Erin is always on hand to entertain the youngsters.
"There ought to be a law against hiring a nanny like that!" gasps Samantha.
"Yeah, the Jude Law," cattily retorts Carrie.
By chance - or rather dramatic contrivance - Samantha is invited to the United Arab Emirates to sample the delights of a newly opened luxury hotel, and she takes her chums along for the ride.
Sex And The City 2 is a succession of slick yet hollow set pieces, loosely stitched together to resemble a narrative, including a karaoke sequence to Helen Reddy's empowering anthem I Am Woman.
The film opens strongly with flashbacks to the characters in the 1980s, complete with bouffant hairdos and lurid clashes of colour, then segues into the commitment ceremony of Stanford Blatch and Anthony Marantino, with a cameo from Liza Minnelli as the minister, who rocks the reception with a high-energy rendition of Beyonce's Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It).
Miranda is almost surplus to requirements and Carrie's vacillations once again take centre stage, culminating in a preposterous race around a spice market.
As the girls fly home after their desert adventure, a stewardess offers Carrie a customs form and asks if she has anything to declare.
"Yes, I'm a mess," confirms the writer. She might as well be speaking about the film.
(Review by Damon Smith)
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THE LOSERS * * * *
(Cert 12A, 97 mins)
Some films set themselves up for a fall with their boastful titles, extended hype or starry cast.
But since even The Losers’ trailer looks sufficiently naff for you to go in with less than high expectations, there’s only one way that this ensemble comedy drama can go in your estimation – and that’s up. As the negative title suggests, the DC Comics’ adaptation doesn’t take itself remotely seriously.
Which is great news when its principal mission is to do nothing more than to provide some outlandishly entertaining, larger-than-life silver screen entertainment.
Powered along by rock numbers like Ram Jam’s Black Betty and a score from The Usual Suspects’ composer John Ottman, the cast has no big star names, just an interesting mix of actors who might draw in their own little fan bases.
They include Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Watchmen) in the possibly career-making role of Clay, Chris Evans (Fantastic Four) and Avatar and Star Trek actress Zoë Saldana following in the all-action footsteps of Catwoman’s Halle Berry.
Five members of a CIA black ops team are betrayed and then left for dead after a covert mission.
They go undercover to find out who was responsible for ordering their assassination. The script is sharp and the action from multiple locations so gloriously over-the-top it doesn’t matter whenever the special effects aren’t up to much.
The BBFC has granted it a 12A certificate on account of the violence ‘‘falling some way short of the type of fighting seen in more realistic works such as the Bourne trilogy’’ and there being just ‘‘one use of strong language’’.
Parents thinking of taking children under 12 should note that there is a pretty steamy sex scene and, though clearly of a fantastical nature, The Losers is still a fairly violent movie for the certificate.
(Review by Graham Young)
TOOTH FAIRY * *
(Cert PG, 101 mins)
Cinemagoers who are feeling a bit long in the tooth will want to excuse themselves from this rehashed ‘fish-out-of-water’ movie.
But if duty calls and you have the nerve to take your children or grandchildren, then make sure you’ve got something to chew instead of grinding your own gnashers for at least 15 minutes longer than ought to have been necessary.
The sole purpose of this sometimes surprisingly violent movie is to keep NFL footballer turned wrestler turned film star Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson firmly inside his own Tinseltown hamster wheel.
For reasons that perhaps only Johnson knows best, Tooth Fairy is simply a retread of his laboured family comedy The Game Plan.
Only this one comes with wings on. Stars like Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger were never great actors, but they were top stars so Johnson’s impressively-muscled torso ought to have elevated him into another all-action hero by now.
Instead of that he’s working for Santa Clause 2 & 3 director Michael Lembeck as a minor league hockey star.
Derek Thompson is usually credited with knocking out the teeth of his opponents, but questioning whether a tooth fairy exists in front of the daughter of partner Carla (Ashley Judd) means he’s soon banished off to the land of the fairies led by Lily (Julie Andrews, still looking impossibly lovely at 74).
Ricky Gervais’s partner-in-crime Stephen Merchant plays Derek’s gangly tutor. Surely he’ll make this a bundle of laughs – especially as he’s called, er, Tracy.
While Merchant looks the part, his Ricky-style accent suggests he’d have had more fun playing with a spoof swingometer on General Election night.
Compared with the timeless brilliance of Emma Thompson’s buck-toothed Nanny McPhee, you should give Tooth Fairy the gum’s rush.
(Review by Graham Young)
[REC] 2 * * *
(Cert 18, 84 mins)
Directed by the first film’s writer-directors Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza, [REC] 2 isn’t so much a new recording as a razor-edited digital playback.
Released here two years ago, the original [REC] was often thrilling – and chilling – for the way the Spanish movie made the most of its limitations: girl filming life in a fire station goes on job, keeps shooting with video camera and encounters a living hell.
Now other investigators are following in her bloody footsteps and a priest is also involved.
But all they can manage to do between them is to extend the original’s running time by six minutes, whilst turning this into a bizarre sequel which might have been called The Exorcist On A Staircase.
Repetitive in its own right as well as in terms of its origins, [REC] 2 is well made but never remotely scary – the cardinal sin of any horror movie.
Some of the white-on-white subtitles are also impossible to read, as if they’ve been typed in by a colour-blind ghost.
Memo to foreign filmmakers: what’s wrong with the colour yellow?
(Review by Graham Young)