Welcome to the movies at PS News.
Each week, PS News's film critic Victor Rebikoff will highlight the latest offerings from the silver screen and share his expert commentary for our information and guidance.
Director: Clint Eastwood, Weinstein Company, Rated M, 118 mins
Academy Award winning director Clint Eastwood (Million Dollar Baby) has delivered another magnificent movie.
Invictus is the inspiring true story of how former South African President Nelson Mandela undertakes a unique initiative to unite his apartheid-torn country.
Mandela enlists the help of the captain of South Africa's rugby team and rallies him and his team in their campaign to win the 1995 Rugby World Cup (being held in South Africa at that time).
Besides Eastwood’s excellent direction, Invictus (which is based on John Carlin’sbook) really belongs to Academy Award winning actor Morgan Freeman (Wanted) whose portrayal of Nelson Mandela must be considered the highlight of his excellent career (with Mandela himself suggesting Freeman for the role).
A further highlight is the chemistry between Mandela and the South African team captain Francois Pienaar (Matt Damon, The Informant).
Despite rugby being a focus (though not a predominant factor), Eastwood has imbued a great deal of realism into his movie by providing some initial insight into Mandela’s imprisonment and focusing mainly on the early days of his presidency in 1990.
In particular, Eastwood shows Mandela’s courage and his sense of compassion and forgiveness-exemplified in Mandela’s strong support of the South African rugby team, the Springboks.
This support displeased black South Africans as it was seen as supporting a symbol of white oppression.
It is while playing the role of mentor and motivational coach to Pienaar that Mandela reveals the words of a heart-rendering poem, Invictus (Latin for unconquered) which kept him going during all those solitary years in prison, concluding with the touching refrain that Mandela utters during the World Cup final, “I am master of my fate, I am captain of my soul”.
Invictus is a thoroughly enjoyable and moving experience, with wonderful performances throughout especially from Freeman and Damon.
It is no surprise that both actors have received nominations at next month’s Academy Awards.
Most importantly the film shows a country’s journey from darkness into light, encapsulating the courage and compassion of a world icon.
This ‘unconquering’ movie is one that should not to be missed.
VIC'S VERDICT: 4 ½ Rubber Stamps
Release Date: 10 February 2010
Director: Mark A Lewis, Sony Pictures, Rated M, 90 mins
The Thaw is an engaging sci-fi horror from writer/director Mark Lewis (Ill Fated) and has some similarities to John Carpenter’s classic The Thing.
Renowned actor Val Kilmer stars as Dr David Kruipen, an environmentalist who, together with his team, discovers a preserved woolly mammoth in the melting Arctic ice.
The team also discovers an ancient parasite that has been incubating inside the beast.
It is not too long before Kruipen’s daughter Evelyn (Martha MacIsaac) is on her way to join him only to find no one can get hold of him.
The Thaw offers more suspense than horror with the CGI bugs being convincing and the other effects being quite good.
While the plot revolves largely around Kilmer's character, the focus is really on his daughter and her fellow students in containing the deadly infestation.
Despite some scenes not appealing to the faint hearted Sony’s DVD is still entertaining and includes some interesting extras such as the Behind the Scenes featurette with comments from the cast and crew intermixed with shots of the film and its making as well as messages on global warming.
VIC'S VERDICT: 3 Rubber Stamps
Release Date: February 2010
Director: Howard McCain, Weinstein Company, Rated MA 115 Minutes
Warner Bros’ soon to be released DVD is a blend of sci-fi and Viking mythology that is thoroughly entertaining with solid acting and impressive action sequences.
‘Outlander’ finds Kainan (Jim Caviezel) a soldier from another world crash landing on Earth around the first century in addition to a monstrous alien creature called a Moorwen.
Before he has a chance to track down the creature Kainan is taken prisoner by Viking warriors from a nearby village. Just as the creature begins terrorising the Viking villages, it is only Kainan who has the knowledge and the skill to stop it. But convincing his captors proves to be a difficult task, and the threat of an impending war with another Viking clan only exacerbates the situation. Fortunately King Rothgar (John Hurt) and his daughter Freya (Sophia Myles) have faith in Kainan, believing he may be the only one who can save them all.
With an absorbing storyline and some great special effects (as well as the depiction of advanced alien technology combined with Viking Iron Age weaponry) makes this Warner Bros’ DVD definitely worth owning not to mention a fascinating array of special features in both the Blu-ray and DVD versions including deleted and extended scenes and commentaries from the director and producer.
VIC'S VERDICT: 4 Rubber Stamps
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