Film reviews: Les Misérables | Gangster Squad | What Richard Did | Texas Chainsaw 3D

Scotland on Sunday film critic Siobhan Synnot gives her verdict on this week’s new releases: Les Misérables, Gangster SquadWhat Richard Did and Texas Chainsaw 3D

Les Misérables (12A)

Director: Tom Hooper
Running time: 158 minutes
Star rating: * * *
On general release from Friday 

“It’s already widely known that director Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech) opted to shoot the actors singing live rather than lipsynching to a pre-­recorded vocal. He’s also a big fan of filming long takes in close-up, often with actors emoting to camera straight from the heart and uvula. This is remarkably effective if you are Anne Hathaway attempting to reclaim I Dreamed A Dream from Susan Boyle by giving a raw new reinterpretation. You may not be a fan of Hathaway, but as the desperate, brutalised Fantine, deprived of hair, back teeth and dignity, her demolition of the song is an impassioned showstopper. Sure, it’s a performance, but one that brings the house down. The trouble is that nothing else manages the same emotional punch, and we still have another two hours of Hollywood actors shouting and Hooper’s unsubtle assaults on our tear ducts to go.” Read more…

Gangster Squad (15)

Director: Ruben Fleischer
Running time: 113 minutes
Star rating: * *
On general release from Friday

“Gangster Squad, helmed by Zombieland director Ruben Fleischer has been a troubled production: originally it was set to be released last year, but in the aftermath of the Aurora shooting in July, the film was pulled and its cinema massacre setpiece (shown in the original trailer) has now been replaced by a new Chinatown confrontation. This attentiveness to sensitivities is laudable but that doesn’t save Gangster Squad, a film which aspires to be hard-boiled but is really just half-baked. There are plenty of shootouts, slashings and the occasional bloody amputation, but little variety or thought to the script.” Read more…

What Richard Did (15)

Director: Lenny Abrahamson
Running time: 88 minutes
Star rating: * * *
Glasgow Film Theatre, Friday until 17 January

“Privileged Dublin teenager Richard (Jack Reynor) is about to wave goodbye to captaining his school rugby team and tootle off to university in the car his wealthy dad bought him. Yet his glossy lifestyle rarely encounters much resentment, since Richard seems to be a popular, level-headed guy. However, after making a move on a pretty girl (Roisin Murphy), he gets into a fight with her ex (Sam Keeley) and has to decide whether to face up to the consequences. Partly improvised – and it shows – director Lenny Abrahamson and scriptwriter Malcolm Campbell have shaped a slight morality tale which starts to feel overstretched even at 87 minutes. Despite Reynor’s Boyzone charisma, it’s hard to care what Richard might do next.” Read more…

Texas Chainsaw 3D (18)

Director: John Luessenhop
Star rating: * *
Running time: 92 minutes
On general release

“Using blasts of high-decibel noise in place of actual scares, the flick spends a lot of time carving its way through scenarios already familiar to anyone who has seen or heard about the original film, whilst acknowledging the importance of pointing a chainsaw through the screen often enough to justify the extra cost of 3D glasses. At best, it’s more technically proficient than the original, and almost boasts a star name (Clint Eastwood’s son Scott is in the cast). But don’t call this a reimagining, because imagination is the last thing at work here.” Read more…

Will you be going to see any of these films this week?