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Film round-up September 08


Get Smart

Although Hellboy 2: The Golden Army (cert 12A; 119 mins), directed by Guillermo Del Toro, lacks the depth of his Pan's Labyrinth, it's nonetheless populated with assorted characters and creatures worthy of his extraordinary visual imagination, including an antagonistic elven prince whose giant servant fires his hands from his wrists on retractable chains. The army itself, however, proves anticlimactic. But like the original Hellboy, the piece never takes itself too seriously.

Neither does the big screen version of the classic sixties spy caper Get Smart (cert 12A; 110 mins), with the hero played by funny man Steve Carrell (Evan Almighty, The 40 Year Old Virgin). Shallow yet strangely satisfying, it delivers laughs aplenty amidst lots of action and stuntwork.

Somers Town (cert 12A; 70 mins), the most interesting cinematic knockoff since ChungKing Express, is Shane Meadows' follow up to This Is England redeploying the talents of the attention deficit disordered actor Tom Turgoose as a youth who comes down from the Midlands to live on the streets of London. It's a hugely likeable work, if a minor one.

This month's unexpected gem is the documentary Heavy Metal In Baghdad (cert tbc; 85 mins) which charts the struggles of the ascendant heavy metal band Acrassicauda (latin for The Black Scorpion). What marks the band out is their Iraqi nationality which makes their seemingly simple goal of playing heavy metal almost insurmountable both at home and then as refugees in Syria. Democracy and HM seem unlikely bedfellows, but this commendably politically incorrect - and must see - film is hopefully set to change all that.

Sticking with the politically incorrect, Tropic Thunder (cert 15; 107 mins) parodies the way Hollywood makes Vietnam War movies. Frequently tasteless and excruciatingly funny, it comes with the best spoof trailers and ads since Planet Terror and sends up the mores of contemporary Hollywood something rotten. It has it all: medieval monastic gay love, self-obsessed actors, land mine victims, greedy producers, deadly pandas, helicopter crashes, jungle pyrotechnics and more. A riot.

Jeremy Clarke