At the Cinema: April 2010

The Ghost (2010)

Absorbing thriller from ‘Chinatown’ director Roman Polanski, based on the Robert Harris novel, about a writer (Ewan McGregor) hired to help get the former British Prime Minister’s (Pierce Brosnan) memoirs in to a publishable state. Trouble is, the previous writer hired to do this died in mysterious circumstances. Did he discover a secret he shouldn’t have? Film is slow to get started, but soon develops in to a highly enjoyable cinematic page-turner. Good performances all round, with McGregor in a strong lead role and Brosnan radiating charismatic arrogance. 4/5

Psycho (1960)

Wonderful to see the definitive Hitchcock horror up on the big screen for the first time, where of course it works even better than any showing on the small screen at home. Its pleasures are many: the camerawork, the performances, the score, the sly and witty script. This is a film that revels in its seedy story, yet elevates it in to a masterclass in suspense and shock. An undisputed classic from beginning to end. 5/5

Clash of the Titans (2010)

Disappointing remake of the 1981 Ray Harryhausen mythological epic about Perseus (Sam Worthington) and his quest to defeat the ancient God Hades (Ralph Fiennes), who is trying to usurp his brother Zeus (Liam Neeson). Lots of action to be sure, but very little else – an uneven script and uninvolving characters make the film a very passive experience. Performances aren’t great either; Worthington plays the same character he always does, and Fiennes merely reprises his role as Lord Voldemort. At least the original had a bit of charm. 2/5

How to Train Your Dragon (2010)

Very likeable animation from the directors of Lilo & Stitch about a Viking boy whose village specialises in killing the dragons that regularly attack them. The problems start when he befriends one of the dragons… There’s plenty of the action and visual energy you expect from a computer-animated film, but there are also characters who slowly draw you in to the story, making the climactic battle an intense experience with a somewhat surprising (but perfectly pitched) ending. Plenty of good-natured humour too that for once doesn’t rely on fart jokes or pop culture references. Good stuff. 4/5

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