Joe Gill rounds up the week’s movies
The original Kick-Ass, based on Mark Millar’s graphic novels, was a veritable kick in the head to the superhero genre.
A nerdy, spotty New York teen with all the habits and quirks of that awkward breed, decides to impress a girl by putting on a green bodysuit and take on the local thugs, and – lo and behold – gets beaten to a pulp.
It was hilarious, hyper-violent, subversive and supremely audacious. I left the cinema with a mile-wide grin, shaking my head at the ingenuity of turning every cliché of the genre on its head.
Now he’s back for the sequel. Having finished off the top criminal (Mark Strong) in the first film, he’s looking for a new cause. The on-screen phenomenon that was Chloe Grace Moretz as the foul-mouthed, lethal Mindy aka Hit Girl, is back. She’s 15 now and trying to lead a normal life, after the death of her father in the first Kick-Ass. She tries cheerleading, girl gangs and first dates, but we know it’s not going to last.
Along for the ride this time are a bunch of gung-ho amateurs in suitably comical superhero outfits, led by wisecracking Jim Carrey as Colonel Stars And Stripes and brutal blonde Mother Russia, a real hoot with a unique technique for dispatching bad guys to a stupendous soundtrack.
Meanwhile the son of deceased crime boss Frank, Christopher Mintz-Plasse aka Red Mist, is set on revenge. He gives himself a new supervillain monicker that cannot be repeated in polite company – suffice to say he chooses it after accidentally killing his mother. In fact, with his demonic gusto, Mintz-Plasse steals every scene he’s in.
The true fans of Kick-Ass will love all that is sick and funny about its sequel, including a tremendous bone-crunching climax. Yet, however ironic, foul-mouthed and absurdly violent it is, it can’t be the fresh surprise it was first time around.
After the epic sci-fi flop that was the Chronicles of Riddick, Vin Diesel and writer David Twohy took eight years off before going back for more. Despite the critical panning of Chronicles, fans still loved the character and wanted more.
Finally the long awaited sequel is here, revisiting the successful formula of the first ‘Riddick’ film, Pitch Black.
The third movie comes without a huge studio budget behind it, stripping things back to the action sci-fi essentials.
Diesel is the blank-faced killer with night vision who has been left for dead on a planet infested with giant scorpions and worse.
Sending out a distress signal, he hopes to lure some unsuspecting bounty hunters into enabling his escape.
It might not be the most original formula but the director and star bring some new tricks to the show, including an almost wordless first half hour in which Riddick plans his exit via one of the two mercenary spaceships that have landed on the planet. There are some great – unprintable – one liners as the crew begin to fight amongst themselves as they are gradually decimated by Riddick and the alien beasts. All action thrills.
Snoop Dog, Samuel L Jackson and Paul Giammatti provide some first class voicework for this animated comedy in which a garden snail (Ryan Reynolds) dreams of winning the Indy 500. Through an accidental encounter with a street car, his slime is souped up and he is soon facing his human hero in the big race. It’s a little on the hectic side, but likeable enough with plenty of gags to keep the family entertained.
A scene of a horrific massacre on the outskirts of Las Vegas leads two detectives on the trail of the perpertrators. Conveniently, the uniformly gorgeous victims have left behind copious amounts of video evidence that they somehow managed to shoot on their phones before and during the events. A found footage horror that features beautiful people coming to a sticky end for no apparent purpose.
As I Lay Dying
James Franco directs and stars in this adaptation of the 1930 novel by William Faulkner, set among the poor rural folk of Mississippi. The Bundrens set out with a coffin carrying their recently deceased mother Addie to Jefferson, the town where she grew up, with tragic results. Things go badly wrong when they try to cross a flooded river. The novel is considered unfilmable with 15 characters each telling their part of the story. Franco uses split screen to get across the fragmented narrative. It’s a brave, creative – if not entirely successful – effort.
Following the tsunami and nuclear disaster in Japan, a deadly cloud of chemicals hits a poor district of Taipei, killing the population and turning them into a zombie plague. A SWAT team has to join forces with a band of ruthless gangsters and a pervert to fight the growing army of the living dead. Cheap and violent.