Film Guide - December 21, 2012

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TO Boom2 ODD COUPLE: Bella (Salma Hayek) and Scott (Kevin James) in Here Comes the Boom.

Celeste and Jessie Forever: The geeky-chic Rashida Jones and Andy Samberg play a couple who continue to be BFFs while separated in this funny film that challenges rom-com stereotypes. **** HH

End of Watch: Great chemistry between Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena as two cops marked for death by gangsters. Great performances make up for the cliched script. **** TS

Here Comes the Boom: Kevin James in wrestling spandex trying to convince us he could bag Salma Hayek. No. ** HH

The Master: Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix are compelling in two different ways in a finely drawn portrait of cult leaders and followers. **** TS

Life of Pi: Ang Lee creates a gorgeously rendered 3D world on the high seas as a young boy struggles to survive in the company of only a Bengal tiger. **** TS

A Separation: This 2012 Oscar winner for Best Foreign Language Film is set in Iran and looks at the trials and tribu- lations of a married couple and those around them. *** HH

Alex Cross: Clichéd plotline and uninspired acting make for a boring film, even if the Detroit architecture is priddy. ** TS

Bel Ami: Laden with seduction and deception on a bed of politics, sadly, Bel Ami is not the most sweeping of period dramas. ** DT

Finding Nemo: The classic Pixar film re-released in 3d. (Not Reviewed)

Five-Year Engagement: A bit long, but leads Jason Segal and Emily Blunt have an easy chemistry and the funny script is surprisingly deep. *** WP

Footnote: A finely drawn portrait of the complicated relationship between a father and son. **** TS

Freelancers: In this cop drama, 50 Cent follows in his father’s footsteps and realises revenge is a dish best served cold. Also starring Robert de Niro and Forest Whitaker. *** HH

Hysteria: Slightly amusing in the moment, but forgettable movie about the invention of the vibrator. *** TS

Looper: Cleverly cast, with a wise Bruce Willis in a stand-off with an arrogant Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and cunningly told with a fine balance between action and intellect. **** DdB

Madea’s Witness Protection: Tyler Perry tries to broaden his target audience by bringing a white family into Madea’s home. It's not funny, or novel. ** HH

Moonrise Kingdom: Highly stylised, richly detailed Wes Anderson film about two teenagers who fall in love and run away together, only to be pursued by a bunch of cynical, if rather quirky adults. **** TS

Paranorman: This gorgeously animated stop-motion feature rips off horror movies and spoofs classic features with equal abandon. Not for the little ones. *** TS

Peace, Love and Misunderstanding: The combined talents of Jane Fonda, Catherine Keener and Elizabeth Olsen cannot save this cliched mess. ** WP

Pitch Perfect: Better than Glee, more grown up than High School Musical, this musical comedy about a varsity girl who joins an a cappella group packs a pretty good punch. **** HH

Prettville: Afrikaans musical set in a 1950s that never was, from the producers of Liefling. Beyond saccharine. *** TS

Rise of the Guardians: Santa, the Tooth Fairy, Jack Frost, the Sandman and the Easter Bunny join forces to defeat the Bogeyman. Great for small ones, but problematic when you start analysing the weak storyline. *** TS

Searching for Sugarman: Narratively satisfying, Swedish director Malik Bendjelloul’s canny documentary tells the tale of the search for Detroit-born Mexican musician Sixto Diaz Rodriguez. **** WP

Skyfall: Action thriller that continues the Bond character development from the previous two Daniel Craig movies. Great cinematography, exotic locations and all the Bond extras. **** TS

Taken 2: Liam Neeson delivers breathtaking blows in this sequel about a man fighting abductors who are back for revenge. It is an unlikely story, forgettable but pleasantly surprising. *** MV

The Angels’ Share: Ken Loach directs a fairly unknown cast of Scots in a comedy set against the backdrop of Scotland’s inner city problems like unemployment and crime. **** TS

The Oranges: It’s not about the fruit, it’s about dysfunctional families living on a street called Orange Drive, but even a fantastic cast led by Hugh Laurie, Catherine Keener and Oliver Platt could not save a script seemingly as random as the title. ** DdB

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey: Return to Peter Jackson’s Middle Earth where Bilbo steals the ring and helps the dwarves reclaim their homeland. *** TS

The Possession: Relying on hoary ghost story clichés makes for unintentional laughs. ** HR

The Tempest: Opera recorded live at the New York Metropolitan Opera House. (Not Reviewed)

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2: Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson’s on-screen love story as Bella, now a newborn, and Edward Cullen remains as intoxicating as ever. Fans will love the intensity of the story as family and friends unite for the biggest battle the Cullens have ever faced. *** DT

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