Reviews of films I haven’t seen

January 11, 2011 at 2:39 pm (TV/movie review)

Here in Canberra, the ANU runs a brilliant film club. One of the cool things is that they release a book each semester filled with reviews. I helped them with reviews a little this year, but due to release dates there were two I had to – not to put too fine a point on it – make up. As is, perhaps, immediately obvious.

Gnomeo and Juliet

Okay. Try to stay calm. I know it’s hideously offensive that we’re now getting Shakespeare’s tragedies in animated comic form, but don’t worry – it’s really not anything to do with “Romeo and Juliet”. Sure, the tale involves two cute kids from feuding families, but other than the names, this is a completely original film. Oh, and as you’ve probably gathered from the posters, all the main characters are gnomes who only move when the humans aren’t watching. Mr Shakespeare didn’t come up with a great gimmick like that – more’s the pity.

It’s as funny as kids’ movies need to be to please the parents; Juliet gets a lot more action (not THAT kind you sickos); and the animation is what you’d expect from Touchstone. Gnomes are just like humans in terms of facial expressions, which is guaranteed to make a better film than trying to make cars or other objects interesting.

The voice cast is what you’d want in any film, which is to say James McAvoy, Emily Blunt, Michael Caine, Jason Statham, Patrick Stewart and. . . Ozzy Osbourne (why not?) Elton John features in the sound track, with at least one original song. He and Lady Gaga sing a duet, too.

Come and see it for your kids, for the music, for the over-the-top animated action scenes, and for the laughs.

And for once, you don’t know how it’ll end.

I Am Number Four

The hero here knows he’s probably going to be killed, and he has to live with a reasonably uncool nickname – but it could have been the movie I Am Number Two which would be worse. So that’s a relief.

Alex Pettyfer plays an alien, AKA our hero. His planet has been blown up by a bunch of tougher aliens, and only he and his eight co-survivors are left. Make that seven. No, six. No, five. Since the aliens are teenagers (like puberty wasn’t bad enough by itself), they pretend to be ordinary humans going to high school (where, as you know, all the most imaginative super powers are conceived). Unfortunately, the bad aliens have already messily disposed of numbers One, Two (another reason being named after a euphemism is a bad idea), and Three. For some wacky reason, Number Four thinks perhaps his life is in danger. It is.

The movie is based on a young adult novel of the same name, written by Pittacus Lore. It’s high-action, with cool alien super powers and a good-looking alien hero who runs around a lot. The visual and special effects are just as shiny and dark as one could hope for, and the baddies are properly bad.

If that’s not enough for you to come and see it, I don’t know what is.

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