Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Critical Week: Visiting Underland

Amid all of the awards excitement in London last week, the biggest press screening was for Tim Burton's new take on Alice in Wonderland - in 3D! On Imax screens! And while the film lives up to the visual hype with its colourful details and outrageous comical characters, the story is the disappointment, as we're actually taken to Underland, not Wonderland, for a sequel to Lewis Carroll's classic tales. But an iffy story won't put off most viewers, and children will especially enjoy the dark shadings and epic-like imagery.

Other big screenings included Roman Polanski's Berlin-winning thriller The Ghost, which is probably too subtle in its filmmaking brilliance; the lively and entertaining, but probably unnecessary, remake of George A Romero's 70s classic The Crazies; and the gripping Swedish blockbuster The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, the first in a trilogy of thrillers about a journalist and a young woman who has been abused all her life. Also from Sweden came the superbly well-filmed and acted The Ape, and I saw two docs from Israel dealing with sexuality in compelling, engaging ways: City of Borders from Jerusalem and Gay Days from Tel Aviv.

Outside the cinema I caught up with Whoopi Goldberg's film-to-theatre adaptation of Sister Act, a ludicrously camp romp with more sequins than you can possibly imagine. It's also great fun, but would have been even more of a crowd-pleaser if they'd used actual Motown and disco hits rather than original songs that mimic vintage tracks. Also on stage, I saw Megan Mullally live with her band Supreme Music Program - a hugely entertaining show during which we even got a few glimpses of the iconic Karen Walker.

This week's press screening schedule includes Matthew Vaughn's hotly anticipated action-comedy Kick-Ass and Paul Greengrass' anxiously awaited Baghdad thriller Green Zone, plus Ricky Gervais' Cemetery Junction, Neil Marshall's Centurion, the British football comedy The Shouting Men and the British indie prison drama Release.

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