8:00 PM, 27th April, 2012
This year marks the hundredth anniversary of the creation of Tarzan. How many other literary characters have been as famous as Tarzan over the course of a full century? I can think of only two - Sherlock Holmes and Dracula - and they don't suffer from the disadvantage of having been created by Edgar Rice Burroughs, one of the world's truly dreadful writers.
I'm basing this assessment on the books of his I've attempted to read - not the Tarzan works, but the other huge popular success Burroughs launched in 1912: the Barsoom books, starring John Carter - a rugged, muscular, suspiciously-Tarzan-like US Civil War veteran who somehow finds himself on the planet Mars (or 'Barsoom', as the locals call it). Children and teenage males loved these books. There's something wonderfully primal about the content: a man who is nothing particular on Earth finds himself in a lush, baroque, semi-barbaric world where he turns out to have what my wife sarcastically refers to as "the inner awesome": he takes part in a new civil war, changes the history of a whole new world and wins the hand of a beautiful princess.
It's been a hundred years, but Disney has finally freed John Carter from Burroughs's dreadful prose and put him on the big screen. The story gallops along through a world of crumbling palaces and great lumbering beasties, beautifully realised by a team of Pixar animators, turning their talents to live action for the first time. There's something shameless about the fantasy - and irresistible.
10:31 PM, 27th April, 2012
Based on a true story, Killer Elite is an action-packed drama that pits two of the world's most elite special operatives against the cunning leader of a secret military society.
Set in 1980, retired hit man Danny (Statham) is an ex-special ops agent who had been a member of Britain's Elite Special Air Service (SAS). Danny discovers his long time mentor, Hunter (De Niro) is being held captive after accepting an assassination contract worth millions of dollars but failing to complete the task. And so Danny is out of retirement - his mission, to complete Hunter's assignment within a limited timeframe or Hunter will be executed. But the assassination targets know of the plan and are prepared to protect their own.
Danny and Hunter are thrown into a dangerous global game of cat and mouse from Australia to Paris, London to the Middle East. The three leads in this action/drama thrill ride are fantastic. The supporting cast members also give solid performances and include such familiar faces as Dominic Purcell ("Prison Break", Straw Dogs), Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje ("Lost", The Thing), and Aussie actors Ben Mendelsohn (Animal Kingdom, "Love My Way") and Yvonne Strahovski ("Chuck", I Love You Too).