Victor Rebikoff 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.

Twilight Saga: New Moon
   Director: Chris Weitz, Imprint Entertainment, Rated M, 130 mins

The success of the first Twilight movie, which was directed by Catherine Hardwicke (Lords of Dogtown) in 2008 was due in large part to the unusual yet romantic link between a teenage girl and a vampire, however its success was also due to loyal fans of the novels by Stephanie Meyer, which the film was based on.
   New Moon is the next chapter of the Twilight Saga and is based on the second of the series of four books.
   It was written for the screen by Melissa Rosenberg, who also wrote the screenplay for Twilight.
   Following on from the first movie, the main character, Bella (Kristen Stewart) celebrates her eighteenth birthday with Edward (Robert Pattinson), her vampire boyfriend.
   The celebration is dampened when Bella is almost killed and Edward breaks up with her, choosing to leave town with his family.
   Edward’s harsh words that he doesn’t love her and will never see her again cause Bella to fall into a miserable, zombie-like state.
   However, it takes just a few months for Bella to form a friendship with American native, Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner) whom she later discovers is a werewolf.
   As their friendship blossoms, Bella is forced to choose between friendship, love and forgiveness.
   The director of the Twilight Saga: New Moon is Chris Weitz (The Golden Compass).
   Weitz’s direction has clearly broadened the appeal of the franchise to include not only adolescents and teenagers but an older adult audience.
   Unlike the first movie which only included vampires, there is now the added element of werewolves, who pit themselves against their only enemy – you guessed it – vampires.
   There has been an improvement in acting, directing style and writing, and New Moon appears to be darker than its predecessor, with a greater emphasis on action sequences, better special effects, a good soundtrack and more violence.
   The bland performances of Stewart and Pattinson are more than compensated for by the greater presence of 17-year-old Taylor Lautner as Jacob (appearing more as a major character), the somewhat brief appearance of Michael Sheen (Frost/Nixon) as Aro (who excelled as one of the lead vampires) and Dakota Fanning (War of the Worlds) as sadistic Jane.
   Despite having more violence and a heart-throbbing ending, Weitz has made an entertaining movie but one which may not appeal to everyone’s taste.
   It will be interesting to see if the improvements made in this movie will be enhanced in the next instalment of the saga with the release of Eclipse expected sometime in 2010.
VIC'S VERDICT:       3 ½ Rubber Stamps

DVD Releases
Bangkok Dangerous
   Release Date: 16 December 2009
   Director: The Pang Brothers, Saturn Films, Rated MA, 94 mins

Nicolas Cage, the popular star of National Treasure 1 and 2, appears in Disney’s soon to be released DVD Bangkok Dangerous.
The film is an action thriller filmed entirely in the exotic city of Bangkok and directed by the Pang Brothers as a remake of their 1999 Thai cult hit of the same name.
   Cage stars as Joe, a professional hit man who is hired by Thai gang lord Surat (Nirattisai Kaljaruek) to eliminate four people, including the Thai Prime Minister, a politician who is popular with the public.
   In order to maintain his anonymity Cage recruits Kong (Chakrit Yamnan) a thief he meets off the street to help him liaise with Surat’s contact, Aom (Panward Hemmanee) a nightclub dancer.
   He also breaks his strict rule of not ‘getting involved’ by ‘getting involved’ with Fon, a pretty pharmacist who is deaf and mute (beautifully played by Chinese actress Charlie Yeung).
   Bangkok Dangerous, which is set amongst the spendour of one of Asia’s most exciting cities, is essentially a hard hitting action thriller where Cage again displays his superior acting techniques amidst a wonderful Asian cast
   Disney’s DVD and Blu-ray editions also include an array of special features, with one showing a 15-minute evolution of Hong Kong cinema titled From Hong Kong to Bangkok.
   Other features include a behind the scenes look at the making of the movie, Bangkok Dangerous: the Execution of the Film, and an alternative ending and a digital copy.

VIC'S VERDICT:       3 Rubber Stamps

DVD Releases
Year One
   Release Date: December 2009
   Director: Harold Ramis, Sony Pictures Rated M 97 Minutes

Sony’s new DVD ‘Year One’ is a comedic look at man’s beginnings starring Jack Black as Zed and Michael Cera as Oh, two cavemen who just do not fit in with their tribe. After Zed eats from the tree of knowledge he gets expelled from his tribe and persuades Oh to go with him to start a new life elsewhere.
   During their travels the duo come across well-known biblical characters including Cain and Abel (David Cross and Paul Rudd), Abraham (Hank Azaria) and Isaac (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), finally arriving at the doomed cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. They soon come across the two women they left behind in their village, Maya (Juno Temple) and Eema (June Diane Raphael) who have been captured and are to be used as human sacrifices.  Zed and Oh eventually rescue them after vanquishing both the king (Xander Berkley) and his High Priest (Oliver Platt).
   It is hard to believe that this rather absurd yet comical movie was directed by such a well known director as Harold Ramis who is credited with such hits as ‘Caddyshack’, ‘Ghostbusters 1 and 2’, and ‘Groundhog Day’. This is one movie spoof that is ridiculous at times and denigrates the actors chosen to carry out their roles.
   At the same time the Sony DVD has a number of reasonable extras. First up is a commentary with Jack Black, Michael Cera, and director Harold Ramis in which it is apparent that the trio enjoyed working together and had a good time telling the behind the scenes stories of shooting the movie. In addition there are:
  • Deleted, extended and alternate scenes which allow viewers to see other versions of scenes that were not as strong as what made it into the movie;
  • Line-o-Rama-where the actors improve some of their lines, making this feature particularly funny;
  • Gag Reel is the standard collection of bloopers and stifled crack-ups; and
  • Year One: The Journey Begins is a special feature which has entertaining interviews with the cast and crew where they share their thoughts on the making of the movie.
VIC'S VERDICT:       2 ½ Rubber Stamps
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