Red Dog * * *
Cert PG, 92 mins
You don’t have to be Rolf Harris or BBC WM stalwart Ed Doolan to enjoy this little movie about a dog wandering around the Australian outback, but you can imagine the good friends from Down Under chuckling all the way through its many adventures.
Based on a story by Louis de Bernières (Captain Corelli’s Mandolin), at its heart is the notion that while owners sometimes choose their dogs, this one chooses its owners.
Happily running around and hitching lifts here, there and everywhere across a vast landscape which matches the colour of his fur, Red’s wonderful eyes unite a disparate, ethnically diverse community.
If this all sounds familiar to lovers of doggy movies from Marley & Me to Richard Gere’s Hatchi, then the genuinely-moving denouement will come as a lovely surprise. GY
Ghost Rider – Spirit of Vengeance 3D
Cert 12A, 95 mins
Even to this day, the 1996 best actor Oscar winner Nicolas Cage (Leaving Las Vegas) remains the fifth youngest person to win acting’s highest accolade.
But it’s thanks to movies like this sequel that he won’t be anywhere near holding the statue aloft again at this weekend’s 84th Academy Awards.
Merely fitfully exciting and only for those with a mental age of about 12 – and anyone younger should be kept away to preserve their sanity – this is an uncalled for sequel directed by Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, the team behind Jason Statham’s superior Crank.
They sometimes use rollerblades to try to breathe extra life into the story of stunt rider Johnny Blaze (Cage) trying to rid himself of his skull-burning curse by saving a boy from the Devil (Ciarán Hinds, fresh from The Woman in Black). Even the 3D format won’t stop the general premise from feeling one-dimensional.
You’ll leave feeling like an old-school headmaster writing an end of term report, viz: ‘Nicolas Cage... acts daft, could do better’. GY
Blood Car * *
Cert 18, 75 mins
Rather like the re-released Star Wars: The Phantom Menace 3D opens with a tax prologue that Gordon Brown might have thrown in the bin, news that sky-high fuel prices have prompted the invention of a car that can run on human blood might not have you rushing to the cinema to find out more.
This film clearly aims to be a ‘cult shocker’ from the opening scenes, but never becomes as sexually risqué as it promises.
The general theme is more about the division between eating meat and being vegetarian, not voyeurism or even vampirism in scrap yards.
Having the ability to liquidise bodies in your car boot might be the only way for Archie Andrews (Mike Brune) to go forward, but even at little more than an hour you can feel this is one wafer-thin movie running out of gas.
Which perhaps explains why it’s taken since 2007 for Blood Car to get only as far as Dudley Showcase. GY