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New Release movie reviews - August 22

Posted by: Jim Schembri | 22 August, 2013 - 1:49 PM
Kick Ass

KICK-ASS 2 **1/2 (103 minutes) MA

For those who loved Kick-Ass 1 there's a lot to like in Kick-Ass 2: the signature, salty language coming out the mouths of kids; the stylised ultra-violence; the gentle, respectful pokes at the super-hero genre; Jim Carrey actually being interesting in a film again. And if nothing else, the film certainly proves there is an art to making projectile vomiting funny.

Yet the film's biggest treat - and this will come as no surprise to Kick-Ass fans - is how strong and magnetic a character Hit Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz) has become. She's great. Trouble is, there's not enough of her.

This latest adventure finds the concept of the self-made super-hero taking root in New York, with citizens merrily giving themselves names and going out to fight crime. Chief among them is an ex-mafia heavy, played by a gruffly accented Carrey, perhaps keen to make up for his dud turn in The Incredible Burt Wonderstone.

The key villain again is Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), so eager to prove his evil credentials he assembles his own team of super bad-asses with great names like Genghis Carnage (Tom Wu) and Mother Russia (Olga Kurkulina), the latter being a buffed wall of muscle dressed in Soviet red.

There's a pervasive sense in the film that while the mystique of the main character (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) has run its course, Hit Girl's journey is shaping up as far more intriguing, especially given how her arc is following the classic contours of the high-school outsider standing up for herself. It's a great blend of adolescent tropes with high concept.

She's too big and feisty to be a side-kick; Hit Girl clearly deserves her own film. Consequently, fans might feel the best part of the film keeps grinding against chapters that are less engaging. And while the film is never dull, you tend to keep waiting for things to get back to Hit Girl.

Coupled with that is the role-owning Moretz, who is proving herself a terrific young actress (Let Me In; Hugo) and is blessed with very photogenic features, possesses a very strong screen presence.

Frankly, the world would be much better off if the next film focused on her. Let's just hope they get on to it promptly before she outgrows the role.

THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS: THE CITY OF BONES 1/2 (130 minutes) M

Awful, expensive, over-long, unremittingly dull attempt to start a Twilight-like franchise. With Lily Collins (Mirror Mirror; Abduction) front-and-centre, this slow-moving dirge involves the usual stuff about demon hunting, supernatural symbols, elongated fights in Gothic setting and hot guys in hoods walking around in jackets with their chests exposed. Collins does a lot of fighting and running around (often in stiletto boots), but director Harald Zwart (the very good The Karate Kid; the very bad Pink Panther 2) insists on filling the screen with quick cuts and VFX instead of character. A real yawn, even for fans of the genre. Based on the books by Cassandra Clare, plans were already underfoot for the sequel before this was released. They might just want to wait to see if anybody's interested first. 

WHAT MAISIE KNEW **** (99 minutes) M

In her privileged corner of New York, little Maisie (Onata Aprile) watches as her monstrously selfish parents (Julianne Moore and Steve Coogan) pull their relationship apart and try starting new lives with younger partners. The only thing they haven't factored into their mid-life gear change is Maisie, leaving her emotionally abandoned and groundless until she finds succour in unexpected quarters.

A superb, moving film, it's a tribute to author Henry James that his 1897 story could prove so illuminating when adapted for the 21st century. Performances throughout are terrific, seeped as they are in guilt, resentment and confusion. But the real find here is Onata Aprile as Maisie. She's a knockout. Expect to see her at next year's Oscars.

Movies with Jim Schembri

Jimmy S Jim Schembri is one of Australia's most respected film critics. Click here for all your Jim Schembri film reviews, top ten lists, interviews with Australian and Hollywood talent and much much more.

 

Blog comments Your Say

  • Hiya Vijetha. I've never read a Twilight book, became a convert to the films as they improved. We recently reported in a Cheat Sheet how the Mortal Instruments sequel was iced when it tanked at the box office. They so expected the film to be a hit they planned a follow up - then the numbers came in! Just goes to prove there's no such thing as a sure thing in show biz! Re Potter - the series was up and down but it came good in the end - and that's all that matters in movies!

    Jim Schembri Monday 14 October, 2013 - 7:20 PM
  • hey... twilight was MUCH worse than City of Bones... i like the book, but not the movie-a good movie, but a bad book adaptation. I hate Twilight, I am a Potterhead.

    Vijetha Monday 14 October, 2013 - 6:33 AM

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