Now that the summer heat is finally hitting full force, I’ve been enjoying spending early afternoons taking in matinees and relaxing in the cool comfort of the inside of a theatre. The summer hits just keep coming at the theatres. Some films I was hoping would blow me away have underperformed, while a few little gems have surfaced despite my low expectations. Rave Reviews takes you back in time with Jake Gyllenhaal in Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and to an off-world game reserve in Predators.
I was not at all interested in seeing Prince of Persia in theatres. Other reviewers had given the latest from Disney Studios short shrift and I have often been underwhelmed by movies based on video games (Doom? Silent Hill? Need I say more?). Despite my hesitation, I allowed myself to be dragged to the theatres and was pleased with what I saw. The dialogue is light, there’s a reluctant romance sprinkled with clever quips, and an unlikely hero who shows his worth and wins the day. The studio did well to join with director Mike Newell (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire; Four Weddings and a Funeral). Newell has a knack for putting together easy to watch dramas, comedies and action flicks. Prince of Persia could have easily been a poorly produced fluffy filler for the middle of the summer season, but thanks to decent performances by leads Gyllenhaal and newcomer Gemma Arterton, Prince is a fun frolic that’s worthy of a family date with the big screen.
This past weekend, I sated my appetite for aliens, explosions and cheesy dialogue with Predators, the latest from that venerable franchise. When Predator was originally released, it was met with mixed reviews but for some reason it’s gained popularity over time. Perhaps it’s the simplicity of the storyline or the drawn out tension that’s rare in present day action films. Whatever the case may be, it’s spawned a slew of sequels: Predator 2, Alien vs. Predator, and now Predators. In its latest reincarnation we go back to the original concept, but with a twist: a group of individual mercenaries find themselves on an alien planet and are forced to band together in order to survive being hunted for sport by the predators. As a fan of the original Predator, I found this to be the closest any of the sequels has come to the feel of the original: the pace is quicker, but the gripping tension is still there. Add in some great rifts on the original musical score, a decent cast with Adrian Brody and Topher Grace, and a whole new race of Predators to gawk at and you’ve got the makings of an out-of-this-world action thriller.
There are still plenty of great summer movies coming your way. If you’re looking for a way to beat the afternoon heat, you’re sure to find it at your local theatre—air conditioning never looked this good!