Many classic horror films are getting a remake and now it is the turn of Don't Be Afraid of the Dark which achieved a cult status. Written by Guillermo Del Toro (who claimed he was infatuated with the 1974 classic and the idea of monsters under the bed, which begs the question, why remake it if you love it?) Don't Be Afraid of the Dark concerns Sally Hirst (Bailee Madison) moving to her father's (and his girlfriend) 19th century Rhode Island mansion. There, however, strange things happen as the house is not all it seems and Sally begins to hear strange voices which say that they will be friends but that will not be the case. The films starts off pretty gruesomely with an incident involving a chisel and a set of teeth this, sadly, remains the only generally shocking moment as, and I never thought I would say this, Del Toro's writing is a disappointment here. The film travels through many of the genres clichés never utilising them in an effective way but while there is a degree of tension raised the proceedings remain rather scare free. That said Don't Be Afraid of the Dark is a handsome film, the cinematography is elegant and graceful and the set pieces are terrific, there is certainly some Del Toro flair here but while the film does remain pleasant to look at its not quite as rewarding in other aspects. The performances from Guy Pearce (as the father) and Bailee Madison are fine but Don't Be Afraid of the Dark remains a disappointing haunted house story and nowhere near on par with the likes of The Devil's Backbone and The Orphanage in which Del Toro was director and producer respectively.
The likes of Blue Sky Studios and DreamWorks find it hard to compete with Pixar who dominate the quality of the genre but Rio is not a bad effort from Blue Sky Studio, granted it does not compete with any or Pixar or DreamWorks' greatest works but as a piece of entertainment it is perfectly fine. Blu (Jesse Eisenberg) is a rare blue macaw who is found and adopted by a human being in Tinysota (actually it's called Minnesota). However when an ornithologist called Túlio Monteiro (Rodrigo Santoro) informs Blu and his owner, Linda Gunderson (voiced by Leslie Mann), of a female bird in Rio de Janeiro the two, after some deliberation, jet off to Brazil. There are only Blue Macaws in existence thus Blu has to meet Jewel (Ann Hathaway) and repopulate the species but things do not go to plan as Blu gets stolen by bird smugglers. For both children and adults Rio will serve as a decent piece of entertainment as it will certainly keep the kids quiet (for an hour and a half at least) and present an opportunity for the adults to relax and enjoy. The visuals are colourful and exquisite, and serve as a perfect advert inviting tourists to Rio. The characters (all voiced by a stellar voice cast) are just as colourful and engaging as the visuals but while the story itself may falter in the second act there is still plenty to laugh at for both young and old. The Die Hard reference made me chuckle.
Brett Ratner has a largely unimpressive filmography consisting of the likes of Rush Hour (his most well known work), Red Dragon and New York I love You. Tower Heist is his most recent effort which is unlikely to earn him any new plaudits. Ben Stiller stars as Josh Kovacs, a manager of an apartment block who teams up with a small group of co-workers and friends consisting of Charlie (Casey Affleck), Mr. Fitzhugh (Mathew Broderick), Enrique De (Michael Peña) and Slide (Eddie Murphy) who attempt to recover the money that was stolen from their co-workers by Arthur Shaw (Alan Alda). Brett Ranter's Tower Heist has very little brains (but this being a Brett Ratner film this is not entirely surprising) but however this means that it is not funny enough to be a good comedy or slick and cool enough to be Oceans 11 style crime caper. There are laughs but they are few and far between, the romantic subplot between FBI agent Claire Denham (Tea Leoni) and Ben Stiller lacks the spark to make it interesting. In terms of the performances the actors do a passable job, Eddie Murphy gives the best performance but Ben Stiller is a disappointment, as Stiller is completely forgettable in the lead role. There are one or two good scenes but Brett Ranter's directorial style is simple at best and lacks any skilful touches that will turn a rather dull comedy into a worthy one. It's not a bad film but it's not one worth seeing.