Neil Fox on film (05.10.11)

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Johnny English Reborn

The shame. The pure shame. This week, seminal British actor Paddy Considine’s directorial debut Tyrannosaur is released.

It’s a beautiful, brutal, searing work, the like of which we haven’t seen since another great British actor Gary Oldman’s lone outing behind the camera, Nil By Mouth.

Do we get it locally? No. We get this utterly risible and scintillatingly awful piece of mainstream British trash, a sequel no less to a film that was a turkey first time round featuring a comedic icon who hasn’t been relevant for well over 15 years.

In exile and shame Johnny English has been training and reviving in deepest Asia, but he is called back into duty, given a chance at redemption, when a plot is leaked of a group of assassins out to kill a world leader and send the globe into chaos.

The distant echoes of Batman Begins are the closest the film gets to credible as the story is told through a series of tired clichés and awfully derisive action that deserves to be shunned.

Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark

Brilliant director Guillermo Del Toro has been quiet since he delivered the fun but slight Hellboy II.

This is because he is preparing a giant sci-fi disaster movie, and so in the meantime is putting his name to various horror pics by lesser directors that still bear his influence and imprint.

Here, a young girl is sent to live with her estranged father and his girlfriend in their new house.

It’s a classic set-up as the child discovers the secret of the weird old house and terror seeps out.

It’s a decent enough shocker that ticks all the boxes, but it lacks the touch of the master, the big name above the title, and only just about sates us until he is back where he belongs.

The Lion King 3D

It’s sad that perhaps the finest example of modern 3D conversion is on a film 17 years old, but the job Disney have done on their last traditionally composed (in other words pre-Pixar) masterpiece is exquisite.

There’s little to add about the film, its Shakespearean tragedy narrative, the music, the emotional core, the humour, the gorgeous illustration work.

It’s sad that the most exciting releases locally recently include two films from two decades ago, but that’s what Cineworld programmers think of us, unworthy of anything new and challenging upon immediate release.

Midnight in Paris

Little chance it will play here, but it should be commutable, and the latest Woody Allen is, for once, worth the effort to seek out. Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams are an engaged couple holidaying in Paris as an adjunct to a family business trip. There they discover the city and themselves through a series of encounters.

There’s a warmth, an emotion and a style lacking from a lot of Allen’s recent work and it’s a joy to see him so funny, carefree and engaged in script, character and location.

Still flawed, but so much better than normal, and than anything else new you may get to see this week – save Tyrannosaur.