Simon Carver reviews a new animated version of the Nativity...
There’s nothing really wrong with Ben Gregor’s first film as a director, it’s just that there isn’t very much that is likely to set anyone’s pulse racing as it has the feel of a long version of a pre-teatime show on CBBC. Having said that, there are worse things that one could say about a film that is aimed at children and young teenagers.
Rating 7½/10 U 106 mins
There’s nothing really wrong with Ben Gregor’s first film as a director, it’s just that there isn’t very much that is likely to set anyone’s pulse racing as it has the feel of a long version of a pre-teatime show on CBBC. Having said that, there are worse things that one could say about a film that is aimed at children and young teenagers. The story is fairly familiar in that a youth club is threatened with closure and a bunch of kids put on a talent show to try to save it. It wouldn’t be fair to reveal what happens in the end, but you might be able to guess. There’s a charming performance by Ashley Jensen as the youth club leader and the children – including Akai Osei-Mansfield from Britain’s Got Talent – are good dancers and this film makes a nice outing for the family.
Iron Man 3
Rating 7½/10 12A 130 mins
The first two Iron Man films introduced us to Tony Stark and his alter ego and this third film develops the character and his relationship with “Pepper” Potts, his former PA, with whom Stark is now a couple. Tony Stark’s weapons and defence inventions have also been taken to a new level and the end battle in which various Iron Man suits battle against robots takes us more into the realm of Transformers than seemed entirely necessary. However, Iron Man remains one of the most interesting superheroes, largely because he isn’t super at all. This means that we get to explore some ideas about humanity’s brokenness and at the same time enjoy seeing what Robert Downey Jr does best – charm the birds from the trees.
The Great Gatsby
Rating 7½/10 12A 143 mins
Anyone familiar with Baz Luhrmann’s earlier work – Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge – will be familiar with his flamboyant and idiosyncratic approach to period texts. In The Great Gatsby, famously written and set in the 1920s Jazz Age, Luhrmann has chosen to give a key musical role to Jay-Z, a master of hip hop. This together with the director’s use of 3D makes for a rather surreal film. There’s also one major problem with Leonardo DiCaprio’s performance as Jay Gatsby which is that he’s not Robert Redford, the star of the 1974 version of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s story. Gatsby is one of the great 20th century novels and the big themes of judgement and hope come through just as strongly as ever.