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El Maslaha: Generic Egyptian Action Flick
Ahmed Sakka and Ahmed Ezz’s film roles overlap for the first time in this run of the mill tale of a policeman versus a drug kingpin. Based on a true story, the film revolves around Hamza (Sakka), a policeman out for revenge. His recently wed brother, who had also been an officer, was killed by a drug dealer while on duty. Before justice could be served, the criminal’s brother, Salem (Ezz), the biggest drug kingpin in Sinai, busts him out of jail and wipes all trace of him off of the face of the Earth. Hamza requests to be transferred to the narcotics division and goes after Salem, trying his best to catch him and find out where he’s hidden his brother.
There’s really nothing very special about this film; it could easily pass for any of the dozens of B-list thrillers that Hollywood pumps out every year. To nobody’s surprise, Sakka plays the same character he always does: the cocky tough guy. Though, in this film, his defining trait is his love for his brother. Everything else about him is an enigma, not a particularly interesting one but an enigma nonetheless.
Ezz stretches his range a bit and plays sleazy character instead of a charming one, though he shares the brotherly love aspect with Sakka. His character is a bit more fleshed out than Sakka’s and he’s definitely the more successful actor of the two.
Pretty much every female role is window dressing. Case in point, Hamza’s brother’s widow is shown to be a significant part of the family before his death. After he kicks the bucket though, she mysteriously vanishes from the plot. Her purpose is to make the death seem tragic, though honestly if they’d wanted to do that they could have made it clear that the death was actually a murder. The editing made it seem like it was a car accident and not a deliberate shooting.
Zeina is another example of how shallow the female characters are. She plays the murderer’s girlfriend and is used solely as a way for Salem to prove how much of a creep he is by lusting after her. Hanan Turk and Kinda Alloush round up the female cast members and are similarly underused.
The real kicker though is that the film is rather old fashioned. At one point, Hazem suggests using two different walkie-talkies. An old one, which the mob had tapped, was going to be used to broadcast false information; a new one would be used to coordinate the police team’s real plans. This is as smart as the film gets and this suggestion was treated as a brainwave.
The plot is also occasionally unclear. We mentioned the vague murder, which is a travesty seeing as it kicks off the entire film, but the final showdown is also rather muddled. It’s just really hard to keep track of what’s going on even though not a lot is happening.
On the plus side, the film is sprinkled with a few good laughs and has an ending that leaves you oddly satisfied. Another really great point is that the film doesn’t buy into stereotypes about Bedouins and revenge. Both leads are equally obsessed with revenge but it’s portrayed more as brotherly love instead of an issue of family honour.
Those assuming that these two actors coming together would result in something exceptionally entertaining will be in for a disappointment, since both actors have solo films that are far more interesting.
Dino Time – also known as Dino Mom – is the latest animated feature to hit cinemas and is brought to us by CJ Entertainment - apparently one of the biggest entertainment companies in South Korea. Helmed by a couple of relatively unknown directors, Dino Time's premise offers a lot more than it suggests.
We meet Ernie (Adlon); a mischievous little boy who is always on the lookout for a new and an exciting adventure. He spends most of his day cruising around on his rocket-powered skateboard whilst dodging the spying eye of his annoying younger sister, Julia (Strong), who gets her own kicks by landing her older brother into trouble with their live-by-the-rules mom, Sue (Lynch).
One day, after sneaking out from his bedroom window, Ernie drops in on his best friend Max (Lowenthal). Rummaging around the family garage, the boys stumble upon, and are instantly intrigued by, a shiny egg-shaped time machine that Max's inventor dad is still trying to perfect. Naturally, things soon get out of control when they accidentally set off the time-machine and are transported to another time and place where dinosaurs and other supposedly 'extinct' creatures roam the earth.
They soon come face-to-face with a real life T-Rex named Tyra (Griffith) and her hyperactive orphan dinosaur son, Dodger (Schneider). What makes things even worse is that they seem to have lost the time-machine power key and are unable to return home. Meanwhile, more disturbing obstacles appear – involving the spiteful pair of dinosaurs (voiced by two of the Baldwin brothers) – who are plotting to steal Tyra's precious egg.
The expectations of watching a film that has never been released on the big-screen anywhere else in the world is usually pretty low. However, in this case, one is pleasantly surprised to see a story with so much vivacity and heart. Sure, there's a certain ‘TV-movie’ quality to it and it's far from the visual excellence we're all used to, but the drawbacks of its relatively inexpert computerised imagery never divert from the more amusing moments that the story itself brings.
The cast, which includes some of Hollywood's best, do a super job in keeping Dino Time fun and entertaining. Best-known for her role as Marcy in the popular and controversial TV-show Californication, Ms. Adlon lends her voice to our main protagonist, Ernie; bubbly and incredibly enchanting, Adlon carries the story like a pro. Other stars such as veteran actress Melanie Griffith and funny man Rob Schneider are a perfect fit for their roles, while the Baldwin Brothers – Stephen and William – serve up slightly bland and forgettable performances.
All in all, Dino Time is not a blockbuster nor is it a ground-breaking work of art. However, it does manage to take you back to a much simpler time, when the story actually mattered. Take your youngsters, they will have a blast!
The latest reboot and retelling of one of the most cherished and iconic comic book characters, makes one thing clear right from the very start; Superman is the original and ultimate superhero.
Man of Steel opens with a lengthy – yet extremely gratifying – prologue of Superman’s origins on the distant planet of Kryptonite, where noted scientist Jor-El (Crow) and his wife Lara Lor-Van (Zurer) have just welcomed a healthy baby-boy into the world, which they name Kal-El. Their planet, as Jor-El anticipates, is dying and before an attempted military coup by General Zod (Shannon) and his gofers, the worried parents transport Kal-El to down to the safety of planet Earth in an effort to preserve their people.
Jumping ahead thirty years, we find a grown-up Kal-El (Cavill) – now Clark Kent – trying to find his place in the world. Through a series of flashbacks, we learn about the different stages of his upbringing in Smallville, Kansas and the issues that arise as he comes to discover his superpowers. His adoptive parents, father Jonathan Kent (Costner) and mother Martha Kent (Lane), have always tried to impart wisdom on the boy and his dad, who has played a major role in his life, has continuously encouraged self-control and advised him never to reveal his superhuman abilities to anyone.
Soon, Clark is left with no choice but to have his identity exposed when General Zod, along with his commander – the menacing Faora-Ui (Traue) – arrives on earth and threatens to invade Earth if he doesn’t surrender. Along with the help of the persistent journalist, Lois Lane (Adams) – the only person who knows his true identity – Superman needs to do everything in his power to protect the innocent and serve as a beacon of hope.
Helmed by 300 director, Zack Snyder, and scripted by The Dark Knight screenwriters, David S. Goyer and Christopher Nolan, Man of Steel has been one of the most anticipated film of the year and delivers in no uncertain terms. Sophisticated and sleek, everything about Man of Steel feels unvaryingly tight and incredibly easy to follow, and the two-hour plus running time never poses as an obstacle to the story.
Gone are the days of whimsical optimism and goofy humour; this Superman is exceptionally dark – ala The Dark Knight – and boasts a surprisingly relatable and highly-complex storyline. Snyder, who has already showcased his incredible visual panache in 300, once again delivers some of the most thrilling and head-spinning action sequences in the busniness. But then again, it’s the dream-like quality to the flashback scenes and Hans Zimmer’s phenomenal and moving score that provides real richness and depth to the story throughout.
Cavill, the first British actor to take on this iconic role, is truly superb. His depiction of a troubled superhero, who strives to always do well by everyone, is wonderful and never sappy. The role of Lois Lane stays away from the usual damsel in distress dramatics and Adams takes it on with aplomb; she’s charming, strong and incredibly feisty. As the antagonist of the story, Shannon is incredibly compelling and demands attention every time he appears on screen, while Crowe, Costner and Lane contribute just as much in their briefer roles.
This is it. This is the one Superman film everyone has been waiting for and we’re happy to report that Man of Steel is everything we hoped and expected it to be; it’s the sophisticated, adult take that the world’s most famous superhero has so desperately needed.