STARTING THIS WEEK
THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL (12A) (All major cinemas)
THE apparent worldwide passion for tales of England’s Tudor dynasty should make this an absolute dead cert hit thanks to its pedigree both in front of and behind the camera.
The idea of an innocent Scarlett Johansson and a flirtatious Natalie Portman vying for the attentions of lusty Eric Bana would be tantalising enough in any setting.
But with the actresses playing the Boleyn sisters, Mary and Anne, and Bana as the larger than life monarch Henry VIII, the package is positively irresistible.
Add to this the fact the film is based on the hugely successful historical novel by Philippa Gregory, which has been adapted by Peter Morgan who wrote The Queen last year and is directed by Justin Chadwick who did stunning work on TV’s Bleak House and quality simply oozes from every frame.
What’s more, this is highly commercial historical drama which has no real desire to teach us anything significant about the period and is therefore likely to appeal to all those who lapped up Cate Blanchett’s second outing as Elizabeth I (whom we see being born in this picture) last year.
STAR RATING: ***
VANTAGE POINT (12A) (All major cinemas)
A SENSATIONAL cast find themselves at the centre of a movie that lives or dies by the audience’s acceptance of a gimmicky device you are likely to love or hate.
Set in Spain during a US Presidential visit, the main event takes place right at the start when there is a massive explosion and President Ashton (William Hurt) is shot.
What happens for about an hour after this dramatic and shocking opening is a series of rewinds to allow accounts of these events to be conveyed from the ‘vantage points’ of various characters.
They include Dennis Quaid’s highly experienced security service agent, his partner Matthew Fox, harassed TV producer Sigourney Weaver and spectator Forest Whitaker.
The danger is that such a concept will bore people rigid with its repetitive nature not helped by the fact many US critics have criticised the movie for not having a sufficiently innovative pay off to justify what has gone before.
STAR RATING: **
THE GAME PLAN (U) (All major cinemas)
ARNIE did it with Jingle All The Way, Vin Diesel tried it with The Pacifier - there is, in fact, a whole sub-genre of muscle-bound action heroes who have delved into the realm of the kid flick.
Now it’s the turn of ex-wrestler The Rock, as part of his transition into the actor Dwayne Johnson and, surprisingly, he is earning generous amounts of praise for his comedic charms in this otherwise by the numbers Disney family movie.
The star plays an ace American football player for whom life is good both privately and professionally. A massive ‘rock’ is thrown into those calm waters by the arrival of an eight year old girl on his doorstep.
She claims to be the product of a short-lived marriage which our hero indulged in nine years earlier. Now Mom has gone to spend a month in Africa and the daughter he never knew he had has turned up for a little parental bonding.
STAR RATING: **
DIARY OF THE DEAD (18) (All major cinemas)
IT IS tempting to ridicule George A Romero for once again returning to his zombie franchise to keep his career alive now he is fast heading for his 70th birthday.
But unlike many of those who have plundered the archives of 70s horror to provide audiences with cheap thrills, Romero is one of the few working in the genre who is also keen to engage minds while still pandering to the desire for gross style gore.
Here we have a group of students gathered in the woods to make a no budget mummy flick. They hear about the first zombie attacks on the radio and one of their number decides he is going to chronicle the crisis on video.
This is the perfect way into a little social commentary for Romero who is keen to point out how technology has turned us into a world of voyeuristic thrill seekers who stop at disasters not to help but to watch.
STAR RATING: **