Alan Dee’s movie preview: About Time is a workmanlike date movie but no Curtis cracker

Sniffy films buffs might tartly observe that it’s about time that Richard Curtis had another hit, and About Time isn’t going to be it.

Wednesday, 4th September 2013, 5:15 am
About Time

The TV titan who can claim hits as varied as Mr Bean, Blackadder and the Vicar of Dibley among his writing credits as well as film successes of the magnitude of Four Weddings And A Funeral and Notting Hill has only actually directed three films, all of which he wrote himself.

There was the over-sweet portmanteau piece Love Actually, which was slight but popular, and then the pirate radio comedy The Boat That Rocked, which left most people unmoved or feeling a little queasy.

Now we have About Time, which is pretty much what you get when you take Groundhog Day set-up, strip away the sharp satire and glaze it with 17lbs of sugar.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Domhnall Gleeson is our hero, a clean-cut young man who discovers on his 21st birthday that, like all the men in his family, he can travel in time.

There are rules, dad Bill Nighy tells him – he can’t change history but he can tinker with what happens in his own life.

When he meets and falls for Rachel McAdams, he decides to stop the clock every time he makes a boob and go back to start all over again, using what he has learned to win her heart.

Keen students of this particular cinema cliche will realise that gifts like this always come with consequences.

Some critics have welcomed this as a return to rom com form after that rocky ride in the North Sea, while others have been disturbed by the leading man’s cynical grooming of his lady love.

It’s a workmanlike date movie but it’s nothing to get too excited about, and if you had the ability to travel in time it’s unlikely that you would use your powers to go back and see it again.

A one word title and you know exactly what’s coming up – Vin Diesel is Riddick and he makes Jason Statham look like a Richard Curtis charmer.

As an outlaw trapped on a hostile planet, Diesel follows on from the rough and tumble of previous outings Pitch Black and The Chronicles of Riddick and makes the most his finely honed survival skills and his ability to see in the ark to fend off a band of bounty hunters who are determined to take him dead or alive. It’s been nearly ten years since Riddick’s last screen appearance but Diesel shows no signs of mellowing.

For softer stuff you might be able to seek out Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, a modern-day western which is getting a wider release on the back of winning two prizes at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara are the stars of this story of doomed love set in 1970s smalltown Texas, directed by David Lowery.