Star Trek (2009) – I was really looking forward to the Star Trek reboot given the raving reviews stateside and I must say I wasn’t disappointed. J.J. Abrams imbues this 2009 version with great energy less all the cheesy dialogue that made the previous movies quite cringe-inducing at times. Without any A-list stars in the leading roles works in the film’s favor and in fact the relatively unknown cast delivers solid performance – we can see how they grow into the characters. The movie never really slows down as crisis after crisis hits the crew of the Enterprise and I must say the space fleet battles are the best yet in any of the Star Trek series. My pick for the best blockbuster for the summer so far! Highly recommended.
Terminator Salvation – many film buffs probably squirmed at the idea that McG was going to direct this 4th installment of the Terminator franchise but the casting of Christian Bale in the leading role as John Connor gave some hope. Terminator Salvation isn’t as hopelessly boring as Terminator 3, but fails to generate the excitement of T2 or the original. We’ve seen robots bashing each other around in the Transformers two summers ago, there aren’t any new jaw dropping special effects … and the plot fails to deliver any surprises either. The film remains a passable popcorn movie but won’t be crowned top dog among this summer’s blockbusters.
Duplicity – Hollywood has run out of ideas (and new stars) for successful romantic comedies so they created a new genre – the romantic thriller. Julia Roberts and Clive Owen star as ex-CIA and ex MI6 operatives who have fallen in love, and given up their secret service jobs in order to make a quick buck in the world of corporate espionage. Alternating between romance and thriller, Duplicity should provide enough serpentine plot twists and romantic interludes to keep both guys and chicks happy. Recommended.
Night And Fog 天水圍的夜與霧 – I found Night And Fog a disappointment as part 2 of acclaimed Hong Kong director Ann Hui’s probe into life in the working class Tin Shui Wai 天水圍. Her earlier film followed the mundane life of a blue collar mother working to support her son – that movie never succumbed to melodrama and delivered a slice of life about making a living in one of Hong Kong more troubled neighborhoods with honesty and a lot of heart.
Night And Fog, however, although based on a real life tragedy, quickly falls into genre movie territory with Hui adding an overt layer of social commentary on top of the proceedings. The film focuses on an unemployed construction worker played by Simon Yam – his distrust of his significantly younger Szechuan wife ultimately leads to the tragic slaughtering of his wife and two children. Although Yam has really blossomed into a subtle actor in many of Johnnie To’s movies, here he is reverting back to the “madman pervert” role he played so often in exploitation movies back in the 1990s.