Movies

Muppets Most Wanted

STARRING: Ricky Gervais, Ty Burrell, Tina Fey, Steve Whitmire, Eric Jacobson, Matt Vogel

DIRECTOR: James Bobin

THE SKINNY: Just as the Muppets finally get back together, master criminal Constantine (Vogel) disguises himself as Kermit (Whitmire) and takes his place in the gang. Along with his accomplice Dominic Badguy (Gervais), Constantine takes the Muppets on a European tour but his real plan is to unlock the code to a hidden treasure. Meanwhile, Kermit is trapped in a Russian prison.

RATING: PG

THE CONSENSUS: This is not exactly the most wanted Muppet movie we were expecting compared to its charming predecessor.


MARS

What a weird step backwards for this beloved franchise.

The 2011 hit The Muppets gave us a very contemporary and accessible take on the characters, with none of the schticky nonsense that ended up dragging down previous Muppet movies.

Writer and star Jason Segel told a story both parents and kids could relate to, and injected the film with truly poignant songs - Man Or Muppet resonated on a surprisingly deep level.

The jokes were truly funny and not just corny.

With Muppets Most Wanted, we're back with the same sort of silliness we saw in old-time Muppet flicks - none of the warmth we felt with Segel's movie, just gag after gag after gag.

The songs are pretty lame - used to drive the plot forward rather than to explore grander themes or feelings.

One of the film's main problems is Gervais, who has become a strangely unlikable fellow in recent years.

You can imagine Segel hugging the Muppets and genuinely loving them, but Gervais seems lost.

Fey, playing Kermit's prison guard, tries to be delightful, but how delightful can one be in a Russian prison? 

The brightest light in the whole film is Burrell as a very French policeman. He gives his all, and seems truly engaged.

While everyone else is trying to make a Muppet movie, he's just having a ball.

Rating: 2/5


VENUS

Kermit the Frog is living out his famous song - that it sure isn't easy being green.

The famous green amphibian is known for his tenacity and ingenuity, so we know he'll find a way out of his Siberian gulag mess.

And that's my beef with this sequel.

Everything here is by the numbers.

It lacks the sparkle and spontaneity of the Muppets' last big-screen outing in 2011.

While the charm is still present, there's none of that nostalgic quality that gives this movie a heart.

The plot also gets monotonous and slow in the middle.

Thankfully, the pace picks up towards the end, and as usual, it's up to Kermit to save the day.

He brings back the madcap caper and old-school fun that's unique to The Muppets.

Gervais does a decent job, but it's Burrell's chemistry with Sam the Eagle that shines.

The many celebrity cameos are funny - Christoph Waltz doing the waltz, Tom Hiddleston as an escape artist, Usher playing an usher - but the musical numbers are the main draw here.

Noteworthy songs are the ones between Constantine and Badguy, and Fey's gulag item.

Rating: 3/5

Poster poser

DRAFT DAY

What It Looks Like:

Kevin Costner wears a fancy suit, works in a swanky office and carries around a football. Though he's been completely useless, he learns some life lessons when he falls in love or whatever. He's still useless but like only a 7/10 instead of a 10/10 on the scale. Everyone else in the movie is also useless.

What It's Really About:

Costner stars as the manager of an American football team who is under a lot of pressure to rebuild his team on draft day. 

Moviepicks

ICEMAN 3D (PG13)

Rating: 3/5

Hong Kong martial arts superstar Donnie Yen is 50 years old, but doesn't look a day past 35, thanks to his stoic demeanour and incredible gongfu chops.

In his latest action comedy vehicle Iceman 3D, he plays one of three Ming Dynasty warriors (alongside Chinese actors Wang Baoqiang and Yu Kang) who are frozen in time following a snowstorm.

They are transported - 400 years later - to modern-day Hong Kong, where Yen's character falls in love with a bar hostess (Eva Huang).

If you're a fan of Yen's Ip Man movies, there is nothing groundbreaking about the action set pieces here. You'd enjoy the film's humour though, which is crass yet charming.

Yen swears constantly, pees in the open and in one scene, drinks from a toilet bowl, thinking it's an ancient well.

- Tan Kee Yun


OCULUS (NC16)

Rating: 4/5

I was dreading going to this movie.

Producer Jason Blum is the same guy who did Paranormal Activity and Insidious, two very scary films.

Oculus is about a family with a murder problem.

Tim (Brenton Thwaites) is released from a mental hospital 10 years after killing his dad, who had killed his mum.

Tim's sister Kaylie (Karen Gillan) is convinced that all this nastiness was caused by a haunted mirror, and sets out to prove it.

Considering that the action revolves around an evil mirror, it's only fitting that Oculus inhabits a warped world in which reality becomes indistinguishable from illusion.

The cast is fantastic, particularly Gillan. There's something about a ginger in a horror movie that makes it extra creepy.

- Jason Johnson


BRICK MANSIONS (PG13)

I think most of us took Paul Walker for granted, but now that he's gone, it has become painfully clear what a wonderful performer he was.

In Brick Mansions, he stars as Damien, a policeman who volunteers to enter a walled-off ghetto to retrieve a weapon of mass destruction that has fallen into the hands of a gangster (RZA).

He teams up with Lino (David Belle), a parkour expert who wants to rescue his girlfriend from the same thug.

The adaptation of the French film District 13 features some thrilling action, and Walker is a convincing butt-kicker.

What might surprise you is the flick's heart. Brick Mansions shows a lot of sensitivity towards the ghetto denizens, taking care to humanise characters that might be portrayed as cardboard villains in lesser films.

Of course the main thing that comes through is Walker's easy-going goodness.

- Jason Johnson