The Artist

   Director: Michel Hazanavicius, The Weinstein Company, Rated PG, 100 mins

A black and white silent movie from French writer/director Michel Hazanavicius (OSS 117) has surprisingly taken out most of this year’s awards as well as won 5 Oscars including Best Film and the Best Actor award for its leading star Jean Dujardin, with some construing these accolades as paying homage to Hollywood’s golden era of silent movies.
The Artist
   The Artist is certainly an enjoyable experience due mainly to its simple storyline that tells of the downward spiral of a famous silent star George Valentin (Dujardin-OSS 117) who rejects the transition from silent to talking movies while his adoring fan and aspiring actress Peppy Miller (Berenice Bejo- OSS 117) accepts the change thereby seeing her star rise.
   Admittedly, Dujardin’s portrayal of Valentin is both entertaining and smooth, exhibiting that French characteristic of aloofness and pomposity required of the role-at the same time as showing a remarkable resemblance to legendary actors Clark Gable and Gene Kelly.
   Furthermore Bejo’s performance is delightful as Dujardin’s co-star Peppy and the chemistry between them is quite obvious.
   Besides French actors taking on both leading roles there are also credible performances from a renown supporting cast that includes John Goodman (star of TV’s Roseanne) as studio boss Al Zimmer, James Cromwell (Surrogates) as Clifton and Malcolm McDowell as the butler-with the real scene stealer being Valentin’s dog Uggie.
   There is no doubt that Hazanavicius’ tribute to the silent movie scene has plenty of charm (including a well assembled cast) that will appeal to enthusiasts of the silent movie era but others may see it as belonging to Hollywood’s historical period and still prefer to watch a more modern and colourful interpretation of human relationships or movies that incorporate ground-breaking action scenes with CGI effects.

VIC'S VERDICT:       3 Rubber Stamps

John Carter

   Director: Andrew Stanton, Walt Disney Pictures, Rated M, 132 mins

Oscar-winning animator and filmmaker Andrew Stanton whose hits include Wall-E and Finding Nemo returns to the big screen with a fun-filled fantasy adventure that combines the elements of a sci-fi movie with that of a western-in many respects similar to Spielberg’s Cowboys and Aliens.
John Carter
   Stanton’s blockbuster production (132 minutes in duration) has an intriguing beginning with an American Civil War officer, Captain John Carter (Taylor Kitsch – from X-Men Origins: Wolverine) suddenly finding himself being transported to Mars where he encounters the tall green insect like warriors known as the Tharks (with four arms and tusks) and is befriended by its leader Tars Tarkus (voiced by Willem Dafoe – The Hunter).
   There are also human-like inhabitants that are at war with each other on the planet known to the locals as “Barsoom” – the humanoid Red from the city of Helium and the humanoid Blue from Zodanga whose prince Sab Than (Dominic West –
Centurion) is offered by the Helium ruler, Tardos Mors (Ciarain Hinds – The Debt) his daughter’s hand in marriage, the lovely princess Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins), as a means of maintaining peace between the city states.
   Unfortunately this goes against the plans of the evil Matai Shang (Mark Strong – Green Lantern) who provides Sab Than (West) with a special weapon to wreak havoc against the Reds-that is until Carter steps in and due to Mars’ gravity uses his newly acquired superhuman powers to his advantage, enabling him to even leap tall buildings in a single bound.
   Using his obvious skills in animation and CGI to great effect, Stanton delivers an action-packed and thrilling sci-fi western that is filled with outrageous creatures, humorous sequences, grand landscapes, romantic bits and out of this world space-craft ensuring that Stanton’s rendition of John Carter (surprisingly based on Tarzan author Edgar Rice Burroughs’ earlier novels) is a truly entertaining experience.

VIC'S VERDICT:       3 ½ Rubber Stamps

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