Complete A-Z list

Southland Tales


Stars: Dwayne Johnson, Seann William Scott, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Mandy Moore, Miranda Richardson, Lou Taylor Pucci, Wallace Shawn, Christopher Lambert, Justin Timberlake, Kevin Smith, John Larroquette, Jon Lovitz, Bai Ling, Curtis Armstrong, Nora Dunn, Wood Harris

Director: Richard Kelly

When films like this, a hard-cursing, often violent fantasy-comedy about the end of the world, are good, they're great. But the formula, usually (as here) star-studded, rarely works.

Full of people you wouldn't expect, the film features Johnson (here not billed as The Rock) - as an action star stricken with amnesia, whom several factions seem anxious to track down, although it doesn't look as difficult as everyone makes out - and Scott as a cop with a twin (or alter ego) who's been captured by neo-Marxists, who...oh, to heck with the plot.

Let's just say that nearly all the relevant characters, including mad scientist Shawn, ambition-crazed senator's wife Richardson and blackmailing porn star Gellar, end up in a luminescent zeppelin that's about to be blasted out of the sky.

The director's vision is certainly bold and the intent, you feel, is serious in its blackly comic way, but most of the characters are cartoonish and, especially with their silly names, might have stepped from the frames of an Austin Powers romp. Johnson's performance is amusing and he looks as though he might actually be the only player who's on the same wavelength as the director (whose rather more successful, if equally skewed first film was Donnie Darko).

Film fans with long memories will recognise squeaky-voiced Zelda Rubinstein, who most people will not have seen since she played the exorcist/'cleaner' in Poltergeist.

David Quinlan

USA 2006. UK Distributor: Universal. Colour.
144 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 1, Swearing 2.

Review date: 02 Dec 2007