Sin City, If I Stay, The Rover and more on UAE screens
Time Out staff
Sin City: A Dame to Kill For Director: Frank Miller, Robert Rodriguez Stars: Mickey Rourke, Jessica Alba, Josh Brolin 2/5
Meaty fists connect with faces, guns explode like nukes and panes of glass don’t have a chance of maintaining structural integrity – yet for all of the amplified destruction of Robert Rodriguez’s action sequel to 2005’s Sin City, it never impresses. Why is it such a snooze? You don’t expect to be exhausted by reams of soul-sick narration and artful chiaroscuro compositions, but that’s what happens. The doomy, noirish universe of Frank Miller’s graphic novel already felt a little thin and borrowed. Now it’s closer to computerised, and even with the writer coming up with some new material, the movie is frozen in a quote-laden pose that already felt spent with the first chapter.
The main problem is uniformity. For a black-and-white movie, there aren’t many shades of grey in the characters, certainly not in returning hulk Marv (Mickey Rourke, under a mountain of facial prosthetics) or Powers Boothe’s venal Senator Roark, who seems unelectable in the first place. Meanwhile, new heroes like Josh Brolin’s muttering photographer are redundant – everyone is corruptible in Basin City, but that doesn’t leave us much in the way of suspense. And when a story hinges on exotic dancer Jessica Alba’s ability to summon a vengeful inner spirit, you’ll be waiting a long time for very little in return.
Amazingly, one performer does emerge from the sludge of Sin City: A Dame to Kill For with an emerald-eyed fury, and that’s Eva Green, fully committing to the title role’s silky monstrosity. Yet Green is the only one able to excite this silly material into the spiky shape it’s supposed to take. You wish the rest of the cast was as clued in. Joshua Rothkopf
The Rover Director: David Michôd Stars: Guy Pearce, Robert Pattinson, Scoot McNairy 3/5
Is there something in the water in Australia? The country that gave us the post-apocalyptic motorway games of Mad Max now offers a variation on the theme, only drier and dirtier. David Michôd (Animal Kingdom) efficiently sets up a vague global ‘collapse’, a stolen-car scenario and little in the way of humour in his new feature.
The Rover is almost worth it for the coiled performance of Guy Pearce as Eric, a man on a mission to retrieve his car from robbers, taking Robert Pattinson along for the ride. Weaker people get in Eric’s way – and suffer. Michôd’s way with a desolate landscape makes for a passable guy-flick masquerading as something more deep. Joshua Rothkopf
If I Stay Director: R.J. Cutler Stars: Chloë Grace Moretz, Mireille Enos, Jamie Blackley 3/5
First love always feels like a matter of life and death. But it really is for Portland teenager Mia (Chloë Moretz, Hit Girl in Kick-Ass) in this adaptation of Gayle Forman’s bestselling young-adult novel. We find the budding classical cellist as her relationship with rocker Adam (Jamie Blackley) hangs in the balance. Not only are their musical pathways diverging, but when a family car crash leaves Mia in a coma, her very future is uncertain.
Flashbacks to their romance are surprisingly engrossing, leaving the rest of the movie struggling to wring even more feeling from Mia’s out-of-body POV. Our stricken heroine witnesses the post-smash reactions of friends and loved ones, before finally deciding whether she wants to live or not.
For a drama pretty much aimed at 12-year-old girls, this is less superficial than you’d expect. Veteran doc-maker RJ Cutler approaches teenage growing pains and looming independence with due seriousness. Adding the life-or-death device almost seems a bit much (especially with a celestial glow hanging over everything), highlighting the acting limitations of Moretz and Blackley as they try to move up through the emotional gears.
Caring grandpa Stacy Keach brings genuine feeling to a movie which, while solidly done, falls slightly short of full-on blubfest. Trevor Johnston
No Good Deed Director: Sam Miller Stars: Taraji P Henson, Idris Elba, Leslie Bibb
An unsuspecting Atlanta woman (Henson) lets a charming stranger (Elba) into her home to use the phone, but soon finds the old adage ‘no good deed goes unpunished’ rings true when he takes over the property and terrorises her family. Time Out staff
The Power of Few Director: Leone Marucci Stars: Christopher Walken, Juvenile, Christian Slater
A religious conspiracy and an unusual crime in this action thriller, told from the perspective of five different characters. Set in New Orleans, Christopher Walken stars as a loquacious homeless man with a host of conspiracy theories, while newcomer Tione Johnson stars as Few, a young girl who seems to see everything. Expect Tarantino-style non-linear narratives and some beautiful camera shots. Time Out staff