Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (12A, 130mins, Warner Bros)
Tom Hanks toplines this 9/11 shaped drama as a father and husband who dies in the Twin Towers. This portion of the film is told through flashback, the bulk of the story in this carefully observed and for the most part refreshingly-sentimentality free tale takes place in the here and now as Hanks’s borderline autistic son Oskar struggles to ratinalise what has happened and how he feels. Discovering a key in his father’s cupboard, he decides he must find out what it opens and traverses a mourning Manhattan as he does so. Newcomer Thomas Horn is sublime as the young Oskar, but a final act move into more predictable movie territory takes the shine, slightly, off what could have been a sterling movie.
Ghost Rider – Spirit of Vengeance in 3D (12A, 95mins, EOne)
Nicolas Cage returns in this sequel as Johnny Blaze, a motorcycle stunt rider back from the dead to rustle up Hell’s escaped souls. The first film was a commercial flop and sits most firmly in the ‘comic book movies no one wishes they made’ category. A Batman Begins-style reinvention (a back to basics, story rooted in reality approach after the Batman and Robin abomination), though, is sadly unlikely here. Instead, Cage lassos evil ones in 3D.
The Woman in the Fifth (15,m 83mins, Artificial Eye)
Ethan Hawke stars in this thriller as a US lecturer who flees to Paris after a scandal back home where he strikes up a relationship with Kristin Scott Thomas’s mysterious widower, who becomes one of the suspects in a murder case. Hawke and Scott Thomas are resolutely reliable, and they’re in the hands of a filmmaker – My Summer of Love helmer Pawel Pawlikowski – whose grasp on character and emotion are finely tuned.
DVDs OUT FEBRUARY 20…
Warrior (15, Lionsgate Home Ent)
Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton star as brothers forced into fighting each other in the ring in a mixed martial arts contest, each bringing more than their own share of fraternal frailties, deep rooted fractious feelings and personal reasons for smacking seven shades of shit out of their opposite number to score the big cash prize. It’s Rocky all over, but the combat scenes are crunching, there is emotional heft to the brothers’ stories, and in the hands of Edgerton and Hardy, their characters’ journeys are never short of compelling.
Fright Night (15, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment)
Another Eighties classic retooled for the remake market, this time it’s Tom Holland’s vamp classic Fright Night, only the end product is not half as bad as it could have been. Anton Yelchin is the awkward teen who’s convinced – rightly – that his new nextdoor neighbour is a murderous, flesh-munching vampire. More than that, this vamp has the hots for his mum too. The action’s relocated to Las Vegas – the city where everyone is a night-stalker – with Yelchin as the geek-turned-chic teen (angsty and heroic in all the right places), Colin Farrell as the vamp (lacking bite) and David Tennant pretty much stealing the show as a tacky Vegas magician roped in to fight the undead.
Real Steel (12, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment)
If Warrior was Rocky reincarnated, Real Steel is the bastard offspring of Sylvester Stallone’s Italian Stallion classic and Robot Wars. Hugh jackman is the former boxer who has been forced to give up on his career after people were replaced witih pugilist bots. He’s crap at his job though, has a bit of a gambling problem all of which is thrown in to disarray when his estranged son comes to stay for the summer, his exuberance for boxing, his passion for the fight, and his dedication to a principled, moral path meaning that everyone finds lessons they can learn. Taking a plucky underdog bot they find at the junkyard all the way to the big leagues, Sean Levy’s family-friendly flick is packed to the hilt with sports movie clichés, but manages to make them fresh, exciting and, most of all, weave in them in to a tale you actually care about.
Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark (15, Optimum Home Entertainment)
Guillermo del Toro produces, with newboy Troy Nixey directing, this remake of an old 70s TV movie. An odd choice for a a rehash, you might think, the reason for this oddball choice though is that Dark was one of the first films to scare the young del Toro and the movie left its mark. Set in a lonely old stately mansion, there are ‘things’ under the stairs that want nothing but bad things to happen to the human inhabitants of the house. The lead is trimmed down from adult to a pre-teen (a brilliant Bailee Madison), but the critters themselves go from pale-skinned half-human figures to pint-sized – and CG-manifested – furry gremlins, which are not nearly half as scary. Horror for the underage, and a good way in to the genre, which is perhaps what del Toro intended all along.
There Be Dragons (15, G2 Pictures)
Roland Joffe’s Spanish Civil War drama tanked at the box office – less than USD $1m in return for its USD $37m budget – and was chastised for splicing battlefield action and carnage with dull historical musings and melodrama. It’s a fairly star-studded affair – Charlie Cox (Stardust), Dougray Scott (Mission Impossible 2) and Wes Bentley (American Beauty) but remains one for the curious and devoted only.