PICK OF THIS WEEK’S FILMS

The Herald Magazine - - Arts CINEMA -

ROBIN HOOD (12A) THE GIRL IN THE SPI­DER’S WEB (15)

The men are far from merry in di­rec­tor Otto Bathurst’s gung-ho ac­tion ad­ven­ture, which can­ters through the blood-soaked ori­gins of the English folk hero be­fore he gives se­ri­ous thought to rid­ing through glens or steal­ing from the rich. Ac­tion set pieces are rem­i­nis­cent of the As­sas­sin’s Creed video games, em­ploy­ing slow-mo­tion to ex­cess as lead­ing man Taron Eger­ton per­forms bonecrunch­ing leaps and som­er­saults while fir­ing ar­rows with his trusty bow. Bathurst de­liv­ers some de­cent thrills with these high-tempo se­quences in­clud­ing a breath­less chase in horse-drawn carts chore­ographed to re­sem­ble the char­iot race from Ben-Hur, and the ex­plo­sive theft of the Sher­iff of Not­ting­ham’s war taxes. Away from the testos­terone-fu­elled de­struc­tion, Ben Chan­dler and David James Kelly’s script al­lows Eger­ton to re­cy­cle his charm and swag­ger from the Kings­man films, while co-star Ben Men­del­sohn em­braces the pantomime sea­son as a suit­ably slip­pery Sher­iff of Not­ting­ham.

Al­most a decade after Noomi Ra­pace orig­i­nated the role of emo­tion­ally dam­aged hacker Lis­beth Sa­lan­der, Stockport-born ac­tress Claire Foy be­comes the third ac­tress to wage war on abu­sive men as Swedish author Stieg Lars­son’s aveng­ing an­gel.

It’s a far cry from the el­e­gance and pageantry of her award-win­ning por­trayal of Queen El­iz­a­beth II in The Crown and Foy em­braces the phys­i­cal­ity of the eye-catch­ing role.

Un­for­tu­nately, this in­car­na­tion of Lis­beth lacks the emo­tional com­plex­ity of ear­lier in­stal­ments. The tor­mented heroine has been re­duced to a two-di­men­sional ac­tion hero, who screeches around Stock­holm on her mo­tor­cy­cle like Bat­girl and weath­ers a flurry of body blows and bul­lets with a gri­mace.

NA­TIV­ITY ROCKS! (U)

When you hit rock bot­tom, the only way is up.

That’s cer­tainly true of writer-di­rec­tor Deb­bie Is­sit’s se­ries of im­pro­vised come­dies, which be­gan in 2009 with the rol­lick­ing Na­tiv­ity!,

The fourth in­stal­ment is a small step in the right direc­tion after the mis­er­able Na­tiv­ity 3:

Dude, Where’s My Don­key?, which shame­lessly tugs heart­strings by ad­dress­ing the global refugee cri­sis along­side the usual yule­tide tom­fool­ery. Mu­si­cal theatre star Si­mon Lip­kin fizzes with en­ergy in ev­ery frame as man-child teach­ing as­sis­tant Mr Poppy, even when the film around him is stag­nat­ing, while Strictly Come Danc­ing judge Craig Revel Hor­wood would be hard pushed to de­scribe his pantomime vil­lain as fab-u-lous.

The cli­mac­tic stage per­for­mance to jus­tify Coven­try’s claim as Christ­mas Town of the Year is sweetly sham­bolic if over­long, re­unit­ing char­ac­ters with a gen­er­ous sprin­kling of tears.

NO­BODY’S FOOL (15)

Fools rush in to watch writer-di­rec­tor Tyler Perry’s crass com­edy about a high-fly­ing

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