The Grey

   Director: Joe Carnahan, Icon Film Distribution, Rated MA, 117 mins

Man’s survival against a pack of wolves in a freezing Alaskan wilderness is the main theme of this psychological thriller from Joe Carnahan the director who successfully adapted to the big screen the television hit series of the ‘80’s, The A-Team.
   Carnahan teams up again with leading actor Liam Neeson playing a sharpshooter (John Ottway) contracted to protect a group of oil field workers after surviving a horrific plane crash in a remote part of Alaska.
   Besides attending to their injuries and withstanding the icy conditions the eight survivors must also contend with a vicious pack of killer wolves whose eyes glow distinctly in the night, ready to pounce on their human prey as soon as an opportunity arises.
The Grey
   As the only one with the natural instinct to deal with both the environment and the wolves (despite losing his weapon in the crash) Ottway (Neeson) quickly takes command of the motley crew of survivors comprising of Henrick (Dallas Roberts), Diaz (Frank Grillo), Talget (Dermot Mulroney), Burke (Nonso Anozie), Flannery (Joe Anderson), Hernandez (Ben Bray) and Lewenden (James Badge Dale).
   But in their efforts to reach the safety of the forest, a number are killed by the ever watchful wolves, leaving some to doubt (including the audience) if anyone will make it alive.
   In his tense thriller, Carnahan has crafted a man versus beast scenario with his wolf creation (mainly computer-generated simulations) appearing as another frightening feature of nature that is harshly contrasted against the confronting snow-white landscape.
   Apart from the monstrous wolves there is a small cast of mainly unknown actors except for Mulroney (Inhale), with Neeson delivering another powerful performance as he tries to save the remaining few.
   Ultimately Carnahan’s chilling and at times slow-paced production may not appeal to the faint-hearted as it does present both the mental and physical obstacles to surviving such a traumatic ordeal which is prophetically summed up in Ottway’s daily chant as “Live or die on this day”.
VIC'S VERDICT:       3 ½ Rubber Stamps

My Week with Marilyn

   Director: Simon Curtis, The Weinstein Company, Rated M, 99 mins

TV director and producer, Simon Curtis makes his movie debut with My Week with Marilyn, providing a fascinating insight into Marilyn Monroe, one of Hollywood’s most glamorous legends, and superbly portrayed by Golden Globe winning actress Michelle Williams (Shutter Island).
   The story itself is based on the memoirs of Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne - Glorious 39), a young Englishman who gets a break in a movie (due to his wealthy parents’ connections with celebrated actor/director Sir Laurence Olivier) and becomes infatuated with the movie idol on the set of the 1956 production of The Prince and the Showgirl which not only co-stars Olivier (Kenneth Branagh - Valkyrie) but is also directed by him.
My Week with Marilyn
   In adapting Clark’s book to the screen Curtis uses Marilyn’s first visit to England with her playwright husband Arthur Miller (Dougray Scott) to introduce her to the audience which shows off Williams’ remarkable resemblance to the real Marilyn.
   The same can also be said of Branagh’s characterisation of the great Olivier who had little patience with Marilyn’s consistent lateness, and that of Julia Ormond (The Green) as Olivier’s wife, Vivien Leigh.
   The other well-cast members of the British ensemble are Judi Dench as the British legend Dame Sybil Thorndike and Emma Watson (Harry Potter) as Lucy, Colin’s initial love interest.
   Curtis has certainly transformed Clark’s memoir into a thoroughly entertaining movie at the same as painting an appealing picture of Marilyn’s pleasing personality when she and Colin are together, as opposed to her different moods when she is antagonised by Olivier.
   Besides enjoying Branagh’s near perfect portrayal and Williams’ stand out performance, there is the lingering envy one feels for Clark’s wonderful week with the marvellous Marilyn.

VIC'S VERDICT:       4 Rubber Stamps

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