Neil Fox on film: Rise Of The Guardians, Alex Cross, Great Expectations

Rise of the Guardians

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 29th November 2012, 7:38 am

After the surprise success of Shrek heralded a new rival to Pixar and Disney, Dreamworks really took their foot off the gas, delivering average movie after average movie, pretty much, until the wonderful How To Train Your Dragon fulfilled that long-held promise.

They have followed up that wondrous movie with another one, this time focusing on the loss of innocence and the need for heroes, in the form of our mythical legends.

A team led by Santa Claus, which includes The Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy and Sandman, recruit young whippersnapper Jack Frost to save the innocence of the world from the dark, evil Pitch, looking to corrupt the youth of the planet once and for all.

The film is smart and funny, playing with well-known archetypal characters really well and delivering some fantastic action.

It should definitely give Brave a run for its money at the Oscars, a fantastic kids movie that will make you smile and cheer for iconic figures of your childhood, long resigned to the memory bin that comes with adulthood.

Great Expectations

Another version of Dickens’ classic arrives, courtesy of director Mike Newell (Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire, Four Weddings And A Funeral) and it’s, well, like most of the others.

A very traditional telling that has a brilliant cast but offers nothing new that we haven’t seen before.

Ralph Fiennes is perfect as Magwitch, the catalyst that changes young Pip’s life, but Pip is played by the beige and flat Jeremy Thomas, who becomes in thrall to Helena Bonham Carter’s stereotypical Miss Havisham, falling for her protégé Estella.

One of Dickens’ greatest and most popular tales, it’s hard to get wrong, and Newell largely doesn’t. He just doesn’t bring anything fresh to the table, it’s just a decent TV-suitable telling.

A real shame that there is such a lack of cinematic imagination for one of our most beloved authors.

Alex Cross

Polemic figure Tyler Perry takes on the title role, portraying a detective made famous by no less than Morgan Freeman in Kiss The Girls and Along Came A Spider.

Sadly, he, and the film, are crippled by the weight of expectation and can’t escape the shadow that Freeman casts.

The film is weak, derivative and cliché-ridden.

Cross faces off against a deranged, torturous killer in the form of Matthew Fox, a sadistic but limited performance in a film that doesn’t know what to do with its material.

Trouble With The Curve

Clint Eastwood’s first performance as an actor since Gran Torino (not counting him talking to a chair for the Republican Party earlier this year) is sweet and charming, in a film that tries to be just that.

A baseball scout, on the verge of retirement, takes his daughter along for one last time, reconnecting and reminiscing.

It’s a nice film, one that wastes Clint and Amy Adams, who plays his daughter.

Both stars are better than this but make it watchable, and inoffensive.