Film Bites: It's a great weekend for a film (+trailers)

By Chris Schulz

Asa Butterfield stars as Hugo Cabret in Hugo. Photo / Supplied
Asa Butterfield stars as Hugo Cabret in Hugo. Photo / Supplied

Grab your ice creams and stock up on popcorn - the holiday movie lull is finally over with three big films hitting New Zealand cinemas this weekend, including the return of movie maestros Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese.

The biggest and buzziest of those three films has to be Hugo, Scorsese's family friendly 3D adventure that is attracting all kinds of Oscar-worthy accolades.

Based on Brian Selznick's bestseller The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Hugo tells the story of a boy living in the walls of a Paris train station until he begins rebuilding a magical robot with the help of a toy shop owner.

With an 83 per cent approval rating on Metacritic, Hugo has received overwhelmingly positive reviews.

"He has made a potential holiday classic, an exciting, comic and sentimental melodrama that will satisfy children and adults alike and reward repeat viewings for many years to come," said Salon.com reviewer Andrew O'Hehir.

TimeOut reviewer Francesca Rudkin agreed, giving it four stars out of five and calling it a "pleasurable love letter to the art of film-making and a tribute to the early days of cinema".

Sounds good. And it's in 3D too, so if if that family beach outing you've been planning for ages is a write off, Hugo could be the answer.

Check out the trailer for Hugo:

Hot on the heels of Hugo comes War Horse, a new film from Steven Spielberg which is based on the novel War Horse by Michael Morpurgo.

TimeOut's Rudkin called War Horse an "unashamedly old-fashioned romp through World War I on the back of a horse named Joey" that consisted of a "curious mix that was part sentimental family film and part brutal and grisly war epic".

She gave it 3.5 stars out of five, a rating consistent with Metacritic's 72 per cent approval rating.

But Miami Herald reviewer Rene Rodriguez was more positive, calling War Horse a "knockout".

"There isn't a moment in the movie where you don't feel Spielberg's passion, and this time, the film is worthy of his enthusiasm," she said.

Check out the trailer for War Horse:

It came with a great trailer but the apocolyptic end-of-days flick The Darkest Hour has been slammed by reviewers.

Olivia Thirlby, Emile Hirsch and Rachael Taylor star as American tourists visiting Russia when Earth is invaded by energy-deficient aliens.

With just a 17 per cent approval rating, reviewers haven't been kind to The Darkest Hour.

Entertainment Weekly reviewer Keith Staskiewicz couldn't wait for it to end.

"You should be rooting for the humans, but you might as well be rooting for the blobs. Most likely, though, you'll just be rooting for the credits," he said.

The Hollywood Reporter's John DeFore said the film lacked even one "compelling character".

Alien invasion films usually have some redeeming features - or at least some good action sequences, but not this time. You have been warned.

Check out the trailer for The Darkest Hour:

If none of that grabs your attention, then go to Hugo anyway. And as for that rain forecast, head over to the Metservice to see how many movies you can pack in this weekend while it's pouring down outside.

- Herald online

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