The Fighter
   Director: David O. Russell, Rated MA, 115 Mins

With his direction of the boxing drama The Fighter, David Russell has based his gutsy movie on the true story of “Irish” Micky Ward.
   It progresses from his early attempts as an underdog boxer to ultimately earning his shot at a world title bout with the help of his famous half brother Dicky Ecklund, a boxer in his heyday who supposedly knocked out “Sugar Ray Leonard”.
Morning Glory
   Portraying the pugnacious fighter Micky Ward (and lead character) is the affable actor (and producer) Mark Wahlberg (The Other Guys) who appeared in Russell’s earlier movie Three Kings while Christian Bale (Batman in the The Dark Knight) plays the drug-addicted Dicky and haphazard trainer of Micky.
   Russell cleverly uses the title of the movie to signify both the boxing aspect of his story as well as the internal fights that erupt within Micky’s dysfunctional family-outside the ring.
   This is certainly demonstrated between Micky and his manipulative mother Alice (played by Melissa Leo from Everybody’s Fine), his numerous sisters and to a lesser extent with his brother Dicky, not to mention the family’s displeasure with Micky’s love interest, the feisty bartender Charlene (Amy Adams from Julie and Julia) after she convinces Mickey to split from the family.
   Even though the performances of Bale (considered over the top in some scenes) and Leo have already been acknowledged with Golden Globe Awards, it is hard to actually warm to their particular characters unlike the characterisations by Walberg and Adams, both of whom were a real pleasure to watch in their respective roles.
   Despite some good performances and authentic settings (including Russell’s nice touch of showing the real characters in the closing credits of the movie), The Fighter is in reality a punchy family drama shot against a boxing background that just somehow does not quite reach the same level of enjoyment and/or inspiration as Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky (1977) or even Clint Eastwood’s Million Dollar Baby (2004).

VIC'S VERDICT:       3 ½ Rubber Stamps

Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2
   Release Date 9 February
   Alexander Zamm, Rated G, 84 Minutes

The creators of Beverly Hills Chihuahua, the beloved talking chihuahuas are back, only this time their family just got bigger.
   Being released this month is Disney’s Blu-ray Value Pack and DVD sequel of the all new, doggie-packed adventure Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2, a must-own family comedy starring newlywed chihuahua parents Papi (voiced by George Lopez) and Chloe (voiced by Odette Yustman) who are in puppy chaos with their mischievous puppies creating one hilarious challenge after another.
True Grit
   And, when their human owners are in trouble it’s the Chihuahuas that come to their rescue.
   Entering a competitive Beverly Hills Dog Show, the pups must work together to win the grand prize and out-strut the reigning champion, the stuck-up poodle Appoline (voiced by Bridgit Mendler).
   With only three weeks to prepare, the precious pups will stop at nothing to succeed.    In this particular sequel it is Papi, Chloe and their playful pups embarking on another adventure and proving how resourceful they can be in difficult situations.
   Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2 is a heart-warming comedy about family, dogs and adventure with the Blu-ray Value Pack and DVD being released with a doghouse full of bonus features, including the bloopers featurette Papi’s Faux Paux as well as an interactive trivia game for the whole family to enjoy.
   So make sure you get your paws on Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2 on Disney’s Blu-ray Value Pack and DVD when it is released on 9 February.
VIC'S VERDICT:       3 ½ Rubber Stamps

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