Hello all, and in the week of the Oscar ceremony, how reassuring it is that we have some films that are not awards fodder, but are they any good? Let's find out ….
This week's big release continues Liam Neeson's metamorphosis into an action star. With his extensive set of special skills, Neeson has been one of the movie world's more curious undertakings of recent years, yet the 61-year old has clearly taken (get it?) to it with relish, and no shortage gruff!
Non-Stop takes Neeson on board a plane in an action thriller brought to you by director Jaume-Collet Serra who previously worked with him on Unknown. The setup is that Neeson plays an air marshall who is called to action on a transatlantic flight. When he gets a bunch of text messages, he puts the passengers in danger until the airline concerned transfers $150 million into an off-shore account.
Produced by action producer legend Joel Silver, the film also carries with it a strong cast with Julianne Moore amongst the support and hopefully will be on the 'good' side of Neeson's action output and carry with it a sense of 'fun' too.
Ride Along (12A)
This action-comedy stars Kevin Hart as a security guard called Ben who teams up (with supposedly hilarious consequences) with his brother-in-law James (Ice Cube) on a patrol of Atlanta to prove himself as marriage material to Angela (James' sister).
Having seen the trailer and had all this explained, I have to consider whether or not there's much more to it, and indeed whether or not it is actually 'funny'. The plot, for what its worth, is clearly an excuse for a myriad of circumstantial thrills (?) and spills (?), bullets, chases and explosions that happen during the film's running time.
My other concern is that the film has a 12A rating which means the humour is likely to be diluted. Whilst violence is increasingly strong in this rating, the film will live or die in its comic delivery - and if you pacify the latter for ratings then that's more unforgivable as a movie going experience. I'm not convinced it's going to satisfy on that level especially from what the trailers and tv spots are suggesting.
The Book Thief (12A)
Open on wide release since Wednesday, The Book Thief is a film telling the story of 'good German people' during World War II. The film centres on Liesel, an illiterate teenager who is caught up in the war's horrors.
With her mother sent to concentration camp accused of Communism, and her brother killed en route to a new foster home, Liesel grabs a book dropped at his burial place called "The Grave Digger's Handbook" and proceeds to steel other books as a form of solace. She soon finds herself in the home of new parents played by Emma Watson and Geoffrey Rush and befriends a stranded Jew called Max.
Directed by Brian Percival (known for Downton Abbey amongst others), I'm curious to see how its apparent schmaltz versus delivery factor balances out. I like the idea that books offer Liesel's past and future and a relatively gentle tale amidst the evils around her.
There are plentiful showings of the Oscars Best Film nominees being shown.
Showing at the Mac from Friday 28th Feb until Monday 3rd March is Alex Gibney's documentary The Armstrong Lie (15), following how Gibney was hired to make a film all about Armstrong's comeback in 2009, only for the project to be shelved when the doping scandal erupted, and a whole different film about drugs and deception was made.
Those looking for classic French cinema can look no further than Louis Malle's 1958 film Life to the Scaffold (PG), shown at Mac from Tuesday 4th to Thursday 6th March, a film seen as the first movie of La Nouvelle Vague.
Finally, there's another opportunity to catch the Brum documentary More Canals Than Venice (PG), which gets another airing at the Mac at 2pm on Thursday 6th.
Ok, so that's it from me! As always, any comments or queries, then please shoot them my way @timmy666 on Twitter.
Have a great week at the movies and join me next week for more At The Flix!