The Iron LadyDirector: Phyllida Lloyd, UK Film Council, Rated M, 105 mins
Meryl Streep is absolutely mesmerising as former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, delivering an Oscar winning performance in The Iron Lady, which has been adapted to the screen by British Playwright Abi Morgan and directed by Phyllida Lloyd of Mamma Mia fame.
Lloyd’s brilliant biopic deals with the most significant events of Thatcher’s controversial reign as Prime Minister as well as providing a fascinating glimpse into the life of a young Margaret Thatcher who was influenced by her father (Iain Glen) to pursue a political career, at the same time as meeting her future husband Denis (Jim Broadbent from the Harry Potter movies).
Lloyd also imparts an incredible insight into Margaret Thatcher’s life through the eyes of an elderly Thatcher afflicted with dementia who had so much power and is now seen as a fragile old lady who has to cope with isolation and loneliness.
This is shown in the opening scenes where Thatcher is seen complaining to a shopkeeper about the price of milk and then returning home to tell her husband Denis about it - despite him passing away some years before.
It is amidst her comfortable surroundings and her amusing conversations with her departed Denis that Thatcher reflects on many of her past decisions beginning with her winning a seat for the British Conservative Party, her ascendancy to the Prime Ministership and her uncompromising stance on a number of political issues especially the Falklands War. Ultimately the story revolves around power and the price that Mrs Thatcher paid in addition to presenting an intimate portrait of a complex, determined and extraordinary woman.
Besides some great settings, wonderful costumes and an ensemble cast of renowned British actors such as Richard E. Grant, Anthony Head and Olivia Coleman (as Thatcher’s daughter Carol), it is Streep’s riveting performance and marvellous mimicry-portraying to perfection Margaret Thatcher’s voice, mannerisms and hairdo- that ensures The Iron Lady is an enormously enjoyable movie experience and one not to be missed.
VIC'S VERDICT: 4½ Rubber Stamps
Tower HeistDirector: Brett Ratner, Universal Pictures, Rated M, 104 mins
This cleverly made crime comedy caper from renowned director Brett Ratner (Rush Hour) is, as the title suggests, about a heist of a penthouse apartment in an exclusive residential tower owned by wealthy financier Arthur Shaw (Mash star Alan Alda) and attempted by a group of dissatisfied employees following Shaw’s sudden arrest for securities fraud including the embezzlement of their pension funds.
The heist is conceived by the building manager Josh Kovacs (Little Fockers Ben Stiller) after being informed by the arresting FBI agent Claire Denham (Tea Leoni from Fun with Dick and Jane) that their funds were gone and that Shaw had stashed away in his plush penthouse some $20 million.
Lacking the criminal skills to carry out such a heist, Kovacs enlists the help of a loud-mouth crim by the name of Slide (Shrek’s Eddie Murphy ) and together with fellow employees Charlie (Casey Affleck from Gone Baby Gone), Enrique (Michael Pena from The Lincoln Lawyer), and Odessa (Precious star Gabourey Sidibe), as well as impoverished tenant Mr Fitzhugh (The Producers Matthew Broderick), they embark on a daring plan that is full of laughs and surprises.
Ratner’s Tower Heist is a really enjoyable and entertaining movie due to a stylish storyline and a stellar cast that includes such excellent actors as Stiller, Murphy and Affleck, not to mention the wonderful performances from Leoni as the FBI agent and Sidibe as the Jamaican maid who has a talent for opening any lock or safe.
VIC'S VERDICT: 4 Rubber Stamps
The SmurfsRelease Date January 2012
Director: Raja Gosnell, Sony Pictures, Rated G, 103 mins
The lovable Smurfs have finally been released on DVD much to the joy of countless children everywhere keen to see the cute characters in their first adventure movie.
Director, Raja Gosnell has set the scene for the appearance of the blue smurfs by showing them in their magical world - familiar faces such as Papa Smurf (voiced by Jonathan Winters), Smurfette (Katy Perry), Brainy (Fred Armisen), Clumsy (Anton Yelchin), Grouchy (George Lopez), and Gutsy (Alan Cumming) - and later being chased by the wicked wizard Gargamel (Hank Azaria) through a magical portal into the middle of New York.
They soon find refuge with a young couple, Patrick Winslow (Neil Patrick Harris) and his pregnant wife Grace (Jayma Mays) which is the start for the smurf’s adventures and their hope of getting back to their own world.
Gosnell has done a good job combining the live action with the animated scenes involving the six blue smurfs which is complimented by a reasonable storyline and performances from the ensemble cast.
Kids will get a great kick out of seeing one of their favourite characters while their parents will be able to reminisce back to the ‘80’s when they first saw The Smurfs as cartoon characters on television.
Besides the movie, the 2 Disc DVD Edition includes a range of bonus features especially The Smurfs-A Christmas Carol.
VIC'S VERDICT: 3 Rubber Stamps
ZookeeperRelease Date January 2012
Director: Frank Coraci, Sony Pictures, Rated PG, 102 mins
The likeable comedic actor Kevin James returns as a zookeeper (Griffin Keyes) in Frank Coraci’s crazy romantic comedy taking on a Dr Dolittle role in a busy metro zoo where he is shocked to learn that the animals can talk to him, offering to help get back his former fiancé, Stephanie (Leslie Bibb).
With the help of his animal friends - voiced by a great cast including Nick Nolte as Bernie the gorilla, Adam Sandler as Donald the monkey, Sylvester Stallone as Joe the lion, Cher as Janet the lioness, Judd Apatow as Barry the elephant, Jon Favreau as Jerome the bear, Maya Rudolph as Mollie the giraffe - Griffin agrees to take their dating advice as well as the spectrum of animal gestures and mannerisms in order to impress Stephanie, unaware of the affection that the zoo’s vet, Kate (Rosario Dawson) has for him.
Following his hit comedy Click, Coraci has this time around given more screen time to the animals, resulting in some amusing scenes and enabling James to deliver more of his wisecracks.
One hilarious scene worth highlighting is where Griffin takes Bernie the gorilla out to a local milk bar which is complemented by James’ various antics as he attempts to regain the affection of his former fiancé.
Overall Zookeeper is a charming and enjoyable family movie that the kids will particularly like including the funny bonus material featured on the DVD.
VIC'S VERDICT: 3 Rubber Stamps
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