SO you’re back from your FIFO stint at the mines, and wondering what to watch at the movies? Here are some of the current and recently-released films you might want to catch at the cinemas or on a DVD.
Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott
The newest revival of Charlie’s Angels seems an unnecessary commodity, one no-one really asked for.
That being said, the movie pleasantly surprises and entertains, and is notable for being directed by a woman, Elizabeth Banks, who stars as one of the agency’s management team of Bosleys.
The plot, unfortunately, is a trite hackneyed, involving once again some eager scientist developing modern technology which will be used against humanity. But we can forgive that for the rollicking romp that follows.
Lead scientist of The Calisto project, Elena Houghlin (Scott), has serious concerns about a flaw that could weaponise the self-contained energy source that was aimed at revolutionising clean energy.
After being disappointed that her superiors are more interested in profits than caution, she contacts the Charlie Townsend Spy Agency, soon realising the severity of the situation as she becomes the target of assassination.
With former MI-6 Angel Jane Kano and deadly ditz Sabina Wilson (Stewart) assigned for her protection, and introduced to a world of secret weapons and spies with elite combat skills, Elena soon moves from fear to fascination as she joins the duo in tracking down the now-missing Calisto device in an attempt to recover and disarm, before sinister hands take hold.
Overall, Charlie’s Angels is relentless in its effort to enjoy itself, as Banks injects the entire film with playfulness: the situations are absurd, the characters are over the top, the action scenes ludicrous (for example shooting upside down while hanging off a wildly careering vehicle) while the costumes are mostly fabulous.
Watching Balinska and Stewart dance effortlessly to Donna Summer’s Bad Girls or goof around in a photo booth is uproarious fun, and even Banks rocks her pair of oversized sunglasses.
This movie rates a D: for being delightful yet derivative, but definitely one that delivers.
Ewan McGregor, Rebecca Ferguson
THE sequel to The Shining focuses on Dan Torrance (McGregor), a 30-something alcoholic who remains traumatised by the sinister events that occurred at the Overlook Hotel when he was a child.
Dan can communicate with ghosts, an ability referred to as the Shine.
We’re now in 2011, when Dan gets a job at a hospice where he uses his psychic abilities to comfort dying patients, who give him the nickname “Doctor Sleep”.
Meanwhile, a psychopath known as Rose the Hat (Ferguson) and her macabre mob of devoted followers have deduced that they can become immortal by murdering children gifted with the Shine, and feeding on the psychic steam exhaled at the moment of death.
After killing several such youngsters, Rose and her thorns are especially interested in a teenage girl named Abra, who they have discovered possesses a more powerful dose of the ability than anyone.
She makes telepathic contact with Dan, and together they try to overcome the psychic vampires, a struggle which leads them to the long-abandoned Overlook, where Dan hopes to harness the powers of its mystic inhabitants.
The result is a more supernatural offering than Kubrick’s picture, which was arguably a psychological thriller focusing on Dan’s father Jack’s descent into homicidal madness as the main event.
TERMINATOR: DARK FATE
Linda Hamilton, Arnold Shwarzenegger
The classic Terminator franchise graces our screens once again, bringing along with it the premise from the first chapter, in which sentient, almost invulnerable machines take over the Earth but find resistance in the human rebellion that is led effectively by an enigmatic leader.
The solution the robots devise is for them to send a Rev-9 ‘terminator’ back in time to ensure the saviour is never born.
Not to be undone, the humans have their secret weapon in the form of the mechanically enhanced Grace, who is also dispatched to the present day to keep Dani alive.
In trying to avoid capture, they encounter legendary Terminator-eliminator Sarah Connor (Hamilton), no longer a damsel in distress; she’s now older and irritable, greyer and grimmer, but just as kick-ass fantastic.
The tenacious trooper even appropriates – and owns – Arnold Schwarzenegger’s immortal line, “I’ll be back”.
And speaking of Arnie, he IS back: as a model T-800 Terminator who has surprisingly developed a human conscience, been living a normal life with a family, and started a drapery business.
The sheer absurdity of such a scenario ensures that Arnie gets most of the good lines and provides unexpected comic value amidst all the bloodletting of the first hour.
Cal, as he is named, teams up with the female triumvirate to hunt down the Rev-9, despite Connor’s revulsion at working with the enemy.
Of course, all-out battle between the opposing forces has been a staple of all Terminator films, and in that regard, Dark Fate‘s action scenes don’t disappoint. In this age of CGI though, you’d expect nothing less.
Ultimately though, it really is all about Hamilton, reprising the role that helped make her career, and who delivers a grizzled action movie heroine unlike anything we’ve ever seen before.
This contrasts perfectly with Schwarzenegger, who brings a warmth and oddball charm to his T-800 persona.