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.
The Hurt Locker
Director: Kathryn Bigelow, First Light Productions, Rated MA, 131 mins
The Hurt Locker is Kathryn Bigelow’s first movie since directing K-19: The Widowmaker in 2002.
Besides being a particularly violent production it comes across as another war spectacle that is brutal and gutsy.
The movie follows the U.S Army’s Bravo Company, a team of bomb disposal experts situated right in the heart of the Iraq war.
Jeremy Renner, who is best known for his impressive performances in S.W.A.T and The Assassination of Jesse James, gives a powerful performance as lead character Staff Sergeant William James; a reckless but brilliant soldier who has disposed of some 850 bombs.
Despite Renner’s leading role, there are no other known actors in major roles, with Bigelow only seeing fit to have brief appearances by superstar Ralph Fiennes (The English Patient) and Australian actor Guy Pearce (Death Defying Acts).
What distinguishes this movie from those dealing with other theatres of war is its concentration on violence that at times becomes incessant.
Bigelow, who chose to shoot in Jordan-which is close to Iraq, combines with screenwriter Mark Boal to provide a powerful but disturbing story full of intensity.
The film comes over as a brutal war drama as depicted through the operation of a bomb disposal unit- due in large part to Barry Ackroyd’s vivid cinematography which creates tense realism.
The Hurt Locker is an unusual movie with no clear adversary, no obvious character development and no climax.
Even though it manages to make a powerful but subtle statement about the insanity of war it comes nowhere near to Spielberg’s masterful direction of Saving Private Ryan.
It is a matter of conjecture whether Bigelow’s war spectacle will appeal to everyone or just those interested in watching another war movie where violence is paramount and where the futility of war is actually depicted.
VIC'S VERDICT: 3 Rubber Stamps
Percy Jackson and The Lightning Thief
Director: Chris Columbus, Fox 2000 Pictures, Rated M, 118 mins
Chris Columbus, the director of two of the earlier Harry Potter movies, has turned his attention to adapting to the big screen the first in a series of five novels by bestselling author Rick Riordan.
Percy Jackson and The Lightning Thief is a thrilling fantasy adventure where the present meets the past and where Greek mythology and Gods are tumbled into the mix.
Percy Jackson (played by relative newcomer Logan Lerman) is a modern teenager who, upon discovering he is the son of the Greek sea god Poseidon (Kevin McKidd), is falsely accused of stealing Zeus’s (Sean Bean) lightning bolt.
Together with his protector Grover (Brandon T. Jackson) and Annabeth (Alexandra Daddario) who is the daughter of Athena, Percy proceeds to track down the real lightning thief and return the bolt before it causes a meteorological catastrophe on Earth.
Prior to embarking on their quest Percy and his friends are instructed Centaur named Chiron (Pierce Brosnan) on fighting techniques and how to use their special powers.
Along the way they encounter various figures from Greek mythology including a Minotaur, Medusa (a delightful performance from Kill Bill star Uma Thurman), the Hydra, Persephone (Rosario Dawson) and Percy’s uncle, Hades (Steve Coogan).
Thanks to Peter Lando’s wonderful set decoration and some great special effects, Columbus hits the mark with this mythological fantasy adventure despite providing limited screen time to Brosnan and Thurman and a patchy plot.
There is certainly no comparison to the Harry Potter movies, instead Percy Jackson and The Lightning Thief is an entertaining movie that delivers plenty of spills and thrills.
VIC'S VERDICT: 3 Rubber Stamps
Release Date: 3 March
Director: Jonathan Mostow, Touchstone Pictures, Rated M, 89 mins
Disney’s much awaited DVD Surrogates features Die Hard superstar Bruce Willis as an action hero.
Jonathan Mostow’s exciting sci-fi thriller is set in the futuristic world of 2017 where people experience their lives from home by plugging into life-like robotic surrogates that they control from their armchairs.
As revealed in the opening scenes it is a much younger Bruce Willis (with blondish hair) playing FBI agent Tom Greer who appears with his partner Jennifer Peters (portrayed by Australian Radha Mitchell).
On learning that the son of the surrogate inventor has been killed, and having had his own surrogate destroyed, it is left to an older Willis in his role as the actual physical agent Greer to investigate a conspiracy that could lead to the destruction of millions of surrogates around the world.
The storyline for Surrogates is based on Robert Venditti and Brett Weldele’s graphic novel and has a similar theme to that embodied in the sci-fi classic Blade Runner where technology affects every aspect of human life.
Besides Willis and Mitchell, renowned actor James Cromwell stars as the acclaimed inventor of the surrogates and popular Ving Rhames plays The Prophet, the leader of an organisation known as The Dreads who is devoted to the destruction of surrogates.
As a natural action director Mostow has imbued his movie with some extraordinary fast-moving action sequences and impressive special effects, using the element of surprise and a wonderful twist in the concluding scenes to great effect.
Disney’s latest DVD is thoroughly enjoyable, and definitely belongs in the home movie collection.
In addition to Willis’ brilliant performance and in tune with the classic science fiction genre established by Philip K. Dick in his novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, Surrogates is an action packed DVD not to be missed this summer.
Special features include director Jonathan Mostow’s fascinating commentary as well as a spectacular special music video, I Will Not Bow by American rock band Breaking Benjamin.
Additional features appear in the Blu-ray edition.
VIC'S VERDICT: 4 ½ Rubber Stamps
To find out more about Victor Rebikoff click here.