Byzantium (Neil Jordan) is the director's second bite at the vampire genre, a dark, brooding and sensual return that trades the Cruise-Pitt combo (as bachelors on the prowl in Interview With The Vampire) for Gemma Arterton and Saoirse Ronan as women on the run. Both are terrific at bringing their undead characters to life, and Arterton shines in particular, giving Clara a youthful vibrancy but also a seen-it-all ruthlessness as she oscillates between guardian and predator. Jordan gets bogged down at times by a convoluted backstory but efficiently navigates his way through it. He keeps the film's clever gender-based themes at the forefront while serving up a visual feast in a rich palette of neon hues splashed on deep reds and pitch blacks. With Twilight finally over, we're not exactly hungering for more vampire movies, but Jordan gives us something to savour. 118 min.
Rating: NNNN (RS)
Opens Jul 12 at Yonge & Dundas 24. See here for times.
Pacific Rim (Guillermo del Toro) plays as though it's been pulled from a manga del Toro read when he was a child and has been trying to turn into a movie ever since. It's an original work with the spirit of every Godzilla movie you've ever seen and every giant robot fight you've ever imagined. And it's a hell of a lot of fun. The premise is as simple as it gets: giant monsters invade the earth; humankind builds giant robots to punch the monsters until they fall down. No matter what's going on in the frame, the stakes are always simple and immediate. Del Toro directs with a lusty joy in combat, both super-sized and on a more personal scale, using archetypal characters in much the same way that James Cameron does. But del Toro is a more playful and humanistic filmmaker, forever finding odd little moments that make you smile in the midst of all the digital 3D chaos. What more could you want from a summer movie? Some subtitles. 131 min.
Rating: NNNN (NW)
Opens Jul 12 at 401 & Morningside, Beach Cinemas, Carlton Cinema, Cineplex Cinemas Empress Walk, Coliseum Mississauga, Coliseum Scarborough, Colossus, Courtney Park 16, Docks Lakeview Drive-In, Eglinton Town Centre, Grande - Steeles, Humber Cinemas, Queensway, Rainbow Market Square, Rainbow Promenade, Rainbow Woodbine, Scotiabank Theatre, SilverCity Fairview, SilverCity Yonge, SilverCity Yorkdale. See here for times.
Pandora's Promise (Robert Stone) examines the extreme feelings that the subject of nuclear power elicits, dismantling the various prejudices and misconceptions clouding the debate. Writer/director Stone begins with the premise that the conversation has been dominated by unproductive, fear-based bias. That he cherry-picks his facts to prove his thesis is ultimately the doc's greatest fault. Pandora's Promise aims, as one speaker puts it, to "put nuclear in its proper context." Some of these claims - like the Chernobyl fallout zone being comparatively safe, despite plenty of evidence to the contrary - verge on the irresponsible. One-sidedness aside, the film offers plenty to chew on. 90 min.
Rating: NNN (John Semley)
Opens Jul 12 at Bloor Hot Docs Cinema. See here for times.
Diaz: Don't Clean Up This Blood (Daniele Vicari) recreates the horrific police assault on the Diaz School in Genoa, Italy, during the 2001 G8 summit. Ostensibly responding to an earlier attack on a police cruiser - which the film depicts as little more than an awkward rolling stop - the authorities ran riot over students, legal-aid workers, unaffiliated protesters and even a few journalists who just happened to be spending the night in the building. The incident would eventually lead to criminal indictments against 29 officers, but director Vicari isn't interested in the fallout, just in showing us what happened in the 24 hours surrounding the raid. But by employing a largely pointless time-shifting structure to cycle back and repeat events from multiple perspectives, he mutes the horror of the incident and turns it into a showpiece for his own supposed artistry. Bloody Sunday and Battle In Seattle remain the high-water mark for this sort of filmmaking. Some subtitles. 127 min.
Rating: NN (NW)
Opens Jul 12 at Yonge & Dundas 24. See here for times.
Syrup (Aram Rappaport) is based on Max Barry's satirical novel about a hipster trying to succeed in the cutthroat, image-conscious world of New York drink marketing. It should have stayed on the page, where its savvy, self-aware narrator hero almost certainly comes off as less of a dick than he does in the form of Shiloh Fernandez. (It still baffles me that Fernandez was so sympathetic and likeable in that Evil Dead remake, but not in anything else.) Fernandez's sneering hipster - who must come up with a new product to impress an even more self-aware executive (Amber Heard) when his roommate (Twilight's Kellan Lutz) steals his million-dollar drink idea - is so repellent that I found myself hoping he'd be hit by a truck. The rest of the movie is pretty vile, too, burying potentially interesting observations about the amorality of advertising under a layer of bullshit posturing that makes Mad Men look like cinéma vérité. 89 min.
Rating: N (NW)
Opens Jul 12 at Carlton Cinema, Kingsway Theatre. See here for times.
Grown Ups 2 (Dennis Dugan) reunites Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock and David Spade for a series of jokes about getting older. Screened after press time - see review July 12 at nowtoronto.com/movies. 101 min.
Opens Jul 12 at 401 & Morningside, Beach Cinemas, Carlton Cinema, Cineplex Cinemas Empress Walk, Coliseum Mississauga, Coliseum Scarborough, Colossus, Courtney Park 16, Docks Lakeview Drive-In, Eglinton Town Centre, Grande - Steeles, Queensway, Rainbow Market Square, Rainbow Promenade, Rainbow Woodbine, SilverCity Fairview, SilverCity Mississauga, SilverCity Yonge, SilverCity Yorkdale, Yonge & Dundas 24. See here for times.
Turbo (David Soren) is an animated sports comedy about a humble garden snail with a need for speed. See review in next week's issue. 96 min.
Opens Jul 17 at 401 & Morningside, Beach Cinemas, Cineplex Cinemas Empress Walk, Coliseum Scarborough, Colossus, Courtney Park 16, Eglinton Town Centre, Grande - Steeles, Humber Cinemas, Queensway, Rainbow Market Square, Rainbow Woodbine, SilverCity Fairview, SilverCity Mississauga, SilverCity Yonge, Yonge & Dundas 24. See here for times.
Venus and Serena (Maiken Baird, Michelle Major) is a documentary about the tennis superstar siblings, filmed during 2011, one of their most challenging ever. 100 min.
Opens Jul 17 at Colossus, Queensway, Yonge & Dundas 24. See here for times.
WWE Money In The Bank 2013 is a live high-def match featuring John Cena, Ryback, Alberto Del Rio and other WWE superstars. 180 min.
Opens Jul 14 at Coliseum Mississauga, Coliseum Scarborough, Colossus, Eglinton Town Centre, Queensway, Yonge & Dundas 24. See here for times.