ANDREW COLLINS: FILM OF THE DAY
PREMIERE 47 Ronin ★★★
This was named by Variety as one of Hollywood’s biggest flops of 2013, but we can let the accountants worry about that. It’s time to assess anew what is certainly an overblown samurai action fantasy that takes a genuine event from 18th-century Japanese feudal history and adds CGI beasts and shapeshifting sorcery to cover all bases. Keanu Reeves plays the statutory half-English stray, brutally trained in martial arts so that a box-office white face can lead the fabled 47 warriors against an “infinite army” to avenge their master’s death. Directed by debutant Carl Rinsch with a surprising degree of confidence around vast, sword-swinging set pieces on location in, well, Budapest, 47 Ronin is the sort of internationally aimed product where you can always guess the next line of pithy dialogue (“I’m not afraid of you,”“You should be.”) But Reeves sort of suits that, and there is spectacle to enjoy as our heroes climb castle ramparts like cockroaches and monsters barrel through verdant forests. Not entirely without honour.
The Third Man ★★★★★
Graham Greene had an idea about a man who wasn’t dead, Carol Reed wanted to make a film in Vienna; add Orson Welles and a haunting zither score and the rest is movie history.
The Queen ★★★★★
Name an award that Helen Mirren didn’t win for her portrayal of Elizabeth II. Or just relax and enjoy her superb performance here as the monarch deals with the aftermath of Diana’s death.
Monsters, Inc ★★★★★
Can you believe this is already fifteen years old? It’s still as funny as ever, with John Goodman and Billy Crystal excelling as the voices of the towering fluffball Sulley and his one-eyed joker pal Mike.
The Hobbit: an Unexpected Journey ★★★
The critics were sceptical but make your own mind up if this return to Middle-earth can hold a torch to the Rings saga. Never mind the sprawl, feel the spectacle.