Shes the Man
In this high-school take on Twelfth Night, Amanda Bynes plays a girl named Viola who pretends to be her twin brother, Sebastian, in order to play on the soccer team at Illyria Prep. The premise essentially sets up a series of uncomfortable moments in which Viola-as-Sebastian tries to avoid undressing in front of other people. Bynes is likable enough, though, to carry this frequently frantic and shrill film, even though her version of masculinity is sort of cringe-inducing in its twitchiness. Her bowl-cut wig accentuates her gigantic eyes and chipmunk teeth, and her boy-speak comes out as a sporadic Southern twang mixed with surfer-dude droppings like, You know it, brah. Channing Tatum, Laura Ramsey and David Cross co-star. PG-13 for some sexual material. 105 min. Two stars out of four.
The Hills Have Eyes
After sitting through this remake of the 1977 cult favorite, you won't feel like using your brain for much of anything. Horror fans who like their movies the gorier the better should be satisfied with French director Alexandre Aja's interpretation of the Wes Craven classic. Everyone else will feel as if they, too, have taken the pointy end of the ax to the head. Then again, they're not the target audience. Aja and Levasseur were good enough to deliver characters who feel like actual human beings (the cast includes Aaron Stanford, Kathleen Quinlan and Vinessa Shaw). The director also has the benefit of CGI to create visual effects that were lacking in Craven's low-budget original. As such, he holds nothing back when it comes to gore.
R for strong gruesome violence and terror throughout, and for language. 100 min. Two stars out of four.
V For Vendetta
Andy and Larry Wachowski, creators of The Matrix movies, wrote the screenplay for this totalitarian saga based on David Lloyds 1980s graphic novel. The result feels like an extension or philosophical cousin of the siblings sci-fi trilogy, the movie landing somewhere between the neo-noir freshness of the original The Matrix and the indecipherable bombast of the two sequels. First-time director James McTeigue, a Wachowski brothers protege, effectively captures an image of Britain under a 1984-esque boot heel, but the movie drags on far too long and stumbles into pretension as it tries to comment on current world affairs. Natalie Portman stars as the young heroine, who falls under the spell of the title character (Hugo Weaving), a masked crusader carrying out a one-man war of terrorism against the repressive, xenophobic government that has seized control of Britain.
R for strong violence and some language. 133 min. Two and a half stars out of four.