All this week's cinema releases reviewed

Yahoo UK Movies Features
2 March 2012

This Means War - 3.5/5

In short:
FDR (Chris Pine) and Tuck (Tom Hardy) are two CIA agents who've been partners for years and friends for just as long. In fact, they're like brothers. When a raid to stop the villainous shenanigans of 'Heinrich' (Til Schweiger) goes awry, the two field agents are grounded. Confined to the office, their attention turns inward and they both realise they're pretty bored and lonely. Into their lives comes Lauren (Reese Witherspoon), a happy-go-lucky market researcher who has never found the guy of her dreams. And outright war is about to begin.

[Related content: More reviews for the latest releases]

What we think:
A likeable cast and director McG's frenetic blend of action and comedy make this spy love triangle a fun experience despite its flaws.

The word out there:
Empire: Smart, funny and really quite hot, this is worth a look no matter what you think of ‘Charlie's Angels’.
Time Out:
‘This Means War’ is yet another case of Hollywood execs trying way too hard to give the audience what they think it wants.
The Scotsman: There is no good reason why you should sit through this, unless you are on a flight to Australia, or it’s a condition of release for hostages.
Birmingham Post: The only outward emotion you’ll experience will be if someone chokes on a piece of popcorn in a nearby seat.

Release date: 2nd March
Runtime: 94 mins
Rating: 12A

Project X – 2.5/5

In short:
Another found footage film in the style of 'Chronicle' and 'Cloverfield', except this effort looks at one raucous night in the lives of three loser teens. Thomas (Thomas Mann) is about to celebrate his 17th birthday and his parents are out of town. His best friends Costa (Oliver Cooper) and J.B (Jonathan Daniel Brown) decide to throw him the mother of all parties, and document all of it on film. As the guests arrive in huge numbers things begin to get way out of hand. An irate drug-dealer turns up looking for his stolen stash, the riot police arrive in force, but there is no way this party is going to stop. The boys are just having too much fun.  

What we think:
It's unapologetic and offers a candid - if uncomfortable - view of the party-hard lifestyle it celebrates. There is fun to be had, even if it's something you find impossible to identify with.

The word out there:
The Telegraph: It’s flamboyantly loathsome on every imaginable level, and a great many unimaginable ones besides.
HitFix: ‘Project X’ barely plays by any rules, down to that title that tells you nothing about the film, and in the end, while it has a conservative heart, the film delivers on its premise at a volume that… yes… shocked me.
Den of Geek: It's throwaway fun aimed at enticing the youthful masses, but the entertainment factor compensates admirably for what's lacking elsewhere.
ViewLondon: Despite a few guilty pleasures, ‘Project X’ is neither as funny nor as emotionally engaging as it should have been...

Release date: 2nd March
Runtime: 88 mins
Rating: 18

Wanderlust – 2.5/5

In short:
George (Paul Rudd) and Linda (Jennifer Aniston) have just bought a tiny apartment in New York. But when George loses his job and Linda fails to land a lucrative contract they are forced to move out. As they head south to the charity of George's brother, the couple find themselves spending an eventful night at Elysium, a small community of free spirits and kind souls whose “leader” Seth (Justin Theroux) goes to great lengths to make everyone feel at home, and they decide to give life at Elysium a try permanently. Linda soon overcomes her initial reservations and blossoms (with substantial encouragement from Seth) but some of the practices trouble George. Exactly how far is he willing to go, and just what is Seth planning behind his back?

[Related story: Jennifer Aniston demands Wanderlust nude scenes cut]

What we think:
Sporadically funny and occasionally entertaining, this latest comedy from the Judd Apatow team certainly has its moments. Jennifer Aniston's pixelated bare chest is not one of them though.

The word out there:
Total Film:
Uptight urbanites encounter laidback beatniks with amusing consequences in a Judd Apatow production that doesn’t seem sure how to develop its culture-clash scenario.
Sky Movies: Rudd really lets rip, particularly with a sexually assertive monologue delivered to a mirror, and Aniston is game, even if she can't match her co-star's uninhibited verbal raunch.
Den of Geek: Not likely to linger after you’ve picked your way across the sticky cineplex floor, but it’s a fabric that is just about thick enough to support 90 minutes of solid comedy.
MovieVortex: There are a few twists and turns you’ll see coming a mile off, and they disrupt the feeling of free-flowing nonsense... But on the whole the film makes for thoroughly enjoyable viewing.

Release date: 2nd March
Runtime: 98 mins
Rating: 15

Hunky Dory – 3/5

In short:
In 1976 Swansea had the hottest summer on record, but for a group of kids in their final year at a local high school it was memorable for the emotional ups and downs of a musical production of ‘The Tempest’. Behind the play is enthusiastic drama teacher Vivienne (Minnie Driver) who is trying to complete her passion project in the sweltering heat and against a critical school establishment. Among the students, Davey's (Aneurin Barnard) family problems are matched by his unrequited love for Stella (Danielle Branch), Evan (Tom Harries) is grappling with the burgeoning realisation that he's gay, and Kenny (Darren Evans) is fighting against a 'skinhead' label that has marked him out as a troublemaker. The real question is will the show go on?

What we think:

A Welsh 'Glee' might not sound too appealing, but a rollicking set of songs, some frothy summer fun and credible performances make this a comfortable piece of throwaway entertainment with a nostalgic feel.

The word out there:
Empire: There's lo-fi charm in the musical numbers and heartfelt turns from the young cast but the story drifts along without offering much that we haven't seen before.
Sky Movies: Eschewing the slick vapidity of ‘Glee’, this champions a let's-do-the-show-right-here philosophy while lightly touching on heavier issues of race and gender.
Digital Spy: The kids' final performance is a high note - rousing and true; final proof that you don't need tidy resolutions to spin a lasting memory.
On The Box: ‘Hunky Dory’ may not venture beyond the comfortable safe realms of the “inspirational teacher movie" but it features some great performances from a good-looking cast and is never less than pleasantly charming.

Release date: 2nd March
Runtime: 109 mins
Rating: 15

Michael – 4/5

In short:
In a small, suburban town in Austria, Michael (Michael Fuith) works as insurance agent. He lives alone, and to the outside world he appears as a normal, if somewhat withdrawn, member of society. But through a soundproofed door lies a staircase to the basement. At the bottom there is a securely bolted door, and behind that lies a neatly maintained bedroom that holds 10-year-old Wolfgang (David Rauchenberger) captive. Following Michael through key incidents over a five-month period, we see the routine and ritual involved in the secretive life of this unassuming monster, and the alternating tedium and horror faced by his captive.

What we think:
Though sickening to watch, Markus Schleinzer's film is a masterful portrayal of the banality of evil.

The word out there:
The Telegraph: This is heart-stopping, mind-frazzling cinema; hard to recommend but even harder not to.
The Guardian: What is disturbing about this story is not simply the sexual abuse, which is kept off-camera, but the way Michael and Wolfgang fall so easily into a grotesque routine that looks like family life.
Empire: As horrifying and hard to watch as you'd expect a paedophile's eye view of life to be. It's neither sensationalist nor trite, and the questions it asks are intelligent and thoughtful.
Total Film: Haneke fans will be impressed by this rigorous, finely acted study of a suburban paedophile.

Release date: 2nd March
Runtime: 94 mins
Rating: 18

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