News Column

Just Watts was she thinking?

September 22, 2013


NOBODY emerges unscathed from this fabulously awful royal biopic charting the Queen of Hearts' last days. It's a film so shocking it could bleach your hair.

Charting the two years leading up to Diana's 1997 death, what we have here is a cheap and cheerless effort that looks suspiciously like a Channel 5 midweek matinee.

Director Oliver Hirschbiegel, who gave us the exceptional Hitler film Downfall, should have known better.

Naomi Watts - who looks utterly unlike the real thing - plays Diana ("the most famous woman in the world", as the film never tires of telling us), who's reeling from her divorce from Prince Charles and is now fluttering her eyelashes in the direction of a new man.

Her beau turns out to be heart surgeon Hasnat Khan - who's already dismissed the movie - with their affair causing a stir that echoes up and down the halls of Kensington Palace.

It's while campaigning for an end to landmines that the pair bicker and then bond.

Then, amid major Royal ructions, the world's most famous woman attempts to make her new man jealous by inviting the media to snap her on a yacht with Dodi Fayed.

Much like the Margaret Thatcher biopic The Iron Lady, this is a film nobody would bother going to see if it weren't for the famous characters.

It's lazy mid-afternoon stuff.

Naveen Andrews, playing Khan, looks as if he's just stumbled onto a movie set while Watts displays little of Diana's nervy fragility, instead coming over like a needy singleton even Bridget Jones would cross the street to avoid.

Action hero Wesley Snipes in a blonde wig would have been much more convincing.

As for William and Harry, they make a small appearance boarding an RAF helicopter. Perhaps they wanted an aerial view of the carnage.

COLD COMES THE NIGHT (15) WE CATCH up with Bryan 'Breaking Bad' Cranston in the process of making the transition from small to big- screen megastardom.

The triple Emmy-winning actor is rumoured to be playing Superman's arch foe Lex Luthor in the next Man Of Steel movie. So think of this noirish but minor thriller as a stepping stone.

Our guy is a Russian gangster who takes a motel owner (Alice Eve) and her daughter hostage with the idea of using her friendship with Logan Marshall-Green's bent cop to retrieve a bag of mob money. Notwithstanding Cranston's dodgy Russian accent, the film could almost pass for an episode of Breaking Bad, but it's redeemed by its moody tone and Eve - last seen in Star Trek: Into Darkness - who gives her best performance to date.

HAWKING (PG) SCIENCE superstar Stephen Hawking narrates an engaging, if shallow, documentary exploring his life and work in theoretical physics. It's just a shame that there's, ahem, a black hole when it comes to his family.

While charting Hawking's well-to-do upbringing, studies at Oxford and subsequent diagnosis of motor neurone disease, we also get a layman's insight into his most famous theory on black holes. With his computerised voice illuminating the key moments of his life, a touching picture emerges of a man who hasn't allowed his disability to get the better of his will to succeed.

His first wife, Jane, offers penetrating insights, particularly regarding his acute competitiveness. But his second marriage to his nurse, during which she allegedly abused him, gets short shrift and there are no chats with his children.

R.I.P.D. (12A) JEFF BRIDGES and Ryan Reynolds team up for a lame buddy movie so sleepinducing, it could bankrupt the manufacturers of Mogadon.

You know you're in the presence of a turkey when even the stars look as if they're struggling to stay awake.

Reynolds is a copper who, when shot dead during a raid, awakens in the afterlife offices of the Rest In Peace Department that's been set-up to exterminate the ghouls who roam the Earth in disguise.

His partner turns out to be an Old West gunslinger, played by Bridges who coasts along spouting several Dude-isms from The Big Lebowski.

If any of that sounds familiar, that's because you've seen Men In Black.

Familiarity aside, the film isn't funny with the gags and forced zaniness teethgnashingly awful.

THE CALL (15) THE thin concept behind Halle Berry's new thriller is padded out to feature length and is best filed under P for potboiler. It's as if the makers knew they didn't have enough material to last the course and welded on an extra half hour which, alas, belongs to another film. You can practically see the join.

Haunted by a bungled response that led to a girl's murder, police operator Jordan (Berry) is given a shot at redemption when the killer kidnaps another victim (Little Miss Sunshine herself, Abigail Breslin), who makes a desperate 911 call from the boot of his car. Using all her wiles, Jordan must keep the girl on the phone until the cops can trace her location.

Most of the film is reasonably engaging, even if every other line is Jordan screaming, "Don't hang up!" But it's when Breslin's character ends her call that things head in a southerly direction with the operator abandoning her headset and morphing into a cross between Nancy Drew and Ellen Ripley.

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