New on the shelves
Angels and Demons is Ron Howard’s follow-up to The Da Vinci Code with Tom Hanks playing symbolist Robert Langdon as he follows ancient clues on a dash through Rome to find four missing cardinals. First the positives — this is a pacy affair, there are plenty of crypts and catacombs to be explored and, crucially, it’s a better Dan Brown adaptation than The Da Vinci Code. Faint praise. Less promisingly, the plot is two parts implausible, three parts ridiculous, and any of the book’s reflection on religion and its place in society is entirely lost in the on-screen hullabaloo. Overall, it works OK as a chase movie with a difference.
In Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, Matthew McConaughey is a lad about town with a string of willing lovelies anxious for a moment of his time. Being an obliging sort, Matt tries to facilitate as many dalliances as he can, but makes no promises of a repeat showing.
But everything changes when, the night before his brother’s wedding, our carefree friend is confronted by three ghosts of previous girlfriends. When former squeeze Jennifer Gardner shows up at the nuptials the following day, will Matt have learned his lessons? Mark S Waters directs this romantic twist on A Christmas Carol and there are some amusing and — very occasional — touching moments. But overall the script isn’t nearly strong enough to sustain the rather flimsy concept.
Fireflies In The Garden is a melodrama from Dennis Lee that certainly boasts an impressive cast. Ryan Reynolds, Willem Dafoe, Emily Watson, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hayden Panettiere, Ioan Gruffudd, and Julia Roberts make up a stellar ensemble and all deliver the goods. Unfortunately, this tale of a troubled family further torn apart by a tragic accident never really delivers the stage they deserve. There’s a TV movie feel about the screenplay and eventually the sheer number of main characters rather clogs up the screen. One for that duvet day.
Cradle Will Fall is a harrowing story (based on real events ) of a woman whose post-natal depression becomes a severe psychotic breakdown. Marooned on a remote farm with a mother who now wants to kill her whole family, a terrified 10-year old now has to protect his three siblings. Harrowing and rather disturbing viewing, although as a horror, it does generate plenty of suspense.
Bloody, first-player combat with great gun and swordplay, decent storyline and an excellent soundtrack. The main character, Rubi Malone, has a nice line in agile acrobatics and the action is unrelenting.
Need For Speed: Shift, Xbox 360
Another in the NFS series that covers all the bases; excellent track choice, decent cars and a great career mode. But there’s a sense that we’ve seen it all before and the handling of the cars seems a little sensitive.
IL-2 Sturmovik: Birds of Prey, PS3
World War II flight simulator with fantastic controls, great choice of planes and an accessible arcade level for newcomers. Limited mission variation the only bugbear.