Blockbuster movies of the week

This means war: Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine and Tom Hardy
This means war: Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine and Tom Hardy

This Means War (12 – Dir: McG – Stars: Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine, Tom Hardy)

A real popcorn-muncher. CIA agents FDR (Pine) and Tuck (Hardy) are partners and buddies on down-time after an assassination job when they both fall for the beautiful Lauren (Witherspoon).

They swear on ‘buddy-hood’ to play by the rules, and may the best spy win. But the rules are soon ditched in this fast, stylish comedy thriller packed with smart one-liners.

Don’t miss the Extras. The best laugh of all is in the second alternative ending.

7/10

Margaret (15 – Dir: Kenneth Lonergan- Stars: Anna Paquin)

Margaret charts the anger of the teenager (Paquin) struggling against the unfairness of life and the compromises made with it by adults.

She has been partly responsible for a woman’s death in a road accident, and suppressed rage surges to the fore causing conflict with parents, friends, teachers, lawyers.

That narrative is compelling enough, but Lonergan borrows from opera to give the scale of the story an epic grandeur.

Intrinsically re-scored operatic classics are set to long takes of the majestic New York landscape, and a classroom discussion explores Shakespeare’s dark insight: “As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods/They kill us for their sport.” Impressive.

9/10

John Carter (12 – Dir: Andrew Stanton – Stars: Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins, Mark Strong, Dominic West)

John Carter isn’t the turkey some critics suggested ... stultifying, oppressive, interminably long were some of the kinder comments. It’s none of those. It’s a quality Star Trek, a messy, chaotic, go-for-it fun adventure.

Sure, you have to suspend disbelief several notches more than normal even in sci-fi, and the story could do with a bit more clarity, but it’s hard not to be engaged by the characters and the drama. It’s a fantasy after all, in fact based on one of the first comic book tales by Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Carter is a Civil War veteran hiding in a cave when he grabs a medallion from a mysterious stranger and is transported to Mars. It pitches him into a battle between Tharks, Zodangans and Heliumites, and may the best alien win.

7/10