Director: Neil Burger. Relativity Media, Rated M, 105 Mins
The director of ‘The Illusionist’ Neil Burger has created an intriguing concept for his entertaining and visually striking sci-fi fantasy in which his leading character is able to expand his intellectual capacity beyond human dimensions by simply taking a pill - having earlier informed the audience that human beings only use a small proportion of their brain at any one time.
The story begins with down and out author Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper from ‘The A-Team’) having writer’s block and losing his girlfriend, Lindy (Australian actress Abbie Cornish – ‘Bright Star’). He is offered a lifeline by his former brother-in-law Vernon (Johnny Whitworth) who gives him a pill called NZT that transforms his life immediately.
With his newfound abilities Eddie is able to complete his book and learn numerous foreign languages in a matter of hours as well as become a financial whiz - not realising till later that there is a serious down-side to taking too many pills (as is often the case).
Eddie’s overnight success (which includes getting Lindy back) soon brings him to the attention of business heavyweight Carl Van Loon (played by the legendary Robert De Niro – ‘Meet the Parents’) as well as a Russian loan shark Gennady (Andrew Howard) who is also after Eddie’s life-changing pills.
Besides some fine performances from De Niro and Howard it is Cooper who really shines in his portrayal of Eddie.
Despite a few holes in the plot and an anti-climatic conclusion there is still plenty of stimulating action to enjoy as demonstrated by the steady camera that takes you on a roller coaster ride zooming past city blocks and streets within seconds - which is what happens to Eddie as his enhanced speed keeps up with his ever increasing brain capacity.
Even though the characters and visual effects are great to watch the entertainment value is limitless unless you have another pill!
VIC'S VERDICT: 3 ½ Rubber Stamps
Battle: Los Angeles
Director: Jonathan Liebesman. Columbia Pictures, Rated M, 116 Mins
Hollywood’s latest venture into alien invasions is Jonathan Liebesman’s guns blazing, high octane sci-fi war drama that is both clichéd and loud but a lot better than the abysmal ‘Skyline’ movie released last year.
Liebesman’s use of a hand-held camera and computer-generated aliens are also reminiscent of techniques utilised in both ‘Cloverfield’ and ‘Independence Day’.
Liebesman wastes little time in showing the start of the invasion following a series of meteors hitting the major cities around the world which release armed aliens and saucer-shaped ships.
The story takes place in Los Angeles (considered the final line of defence against the aliens) and centres on the experienced staff sergeant Michael Nantz (‘The Dark Knight’s Aaron Eckhart) who is forced to abandon his retirement plans in order to join a platoon of soldiers led by Lieutenant William Martinez (Ramon Rodriguez). Their orders are to rescue a group of civilians who are trapped in a police station and after doing so (which included saving a feisty air force sergeant Elena Santos – ‘Avatar’s Michelle Rodriguez) they embark on a mission to destroy the command module of the mother ship that controls both the aliens and their fleet of space ships.
With the script not being up to scratch and an unsteady hand-held camera (which did irritate some in the audience) one could not help being impressed by the level of special effects employed in relation to the alien creatures and the well orchestrated battle scenes; not to mention some reasonable performances from Eckhart and Rodriguez.
Once again Liebesman’s entertaining movie is further proof that such a battle could only happen and be won in Los Angeles!
VIC'S VERDICT: 3 Rubber Stamps
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