movie buff

Masked Rider The First

Director: Takao Nagaishi

The background: Kamen Riders - Japan's answer to US superheroes such as Batman and Spider-man - are masked crusaders who have the special powers of insects like crickets and grasshoppers.

The first Kamen Rider was created by the late Shotaro Ishinomori for a 1971 TV show. The popular show spawned many sequels featuring Kamen Riders with different powers and different outfits, but they all followed the same basic formula: a secret society kidnaps a young man and transforms him into a Kamen Rider, after which he sets out to take on the bad guys.

The story: The film reveals the origins of Hongo and Ichimonji who were the first two Kamen Riders.

The former (played by Masaya Kikawada) is kidnapped by Shocker, an evil organisation that brainwashes humans and performs experiments on them, but he manages to regain his sense of self and escape.

He then teams up with Midorikawa, a magazine writer whose fiance was murdered by Shocker while gathering information about a phantom.

Ichimonji is an assassin sent by Shocker to kill Hongo and Midorikawa. But Shocker grows impatient with the headstrong Ichimonji and sends two other mutants, Cobra and Snake, to eliminate all the Kamen Riders.

Why bother? Plenty of kinky monsters and surreal battles that will appeal to kids.

The films opens on May 25.

Silent Hill

Director: Christophe Gans

Starring: Radha Mitchell, Sean Bean, Laurie Holden

The story: Adapted from the popular video game Silent Hill produced by Konami, the film - written by Roger Avery and directed by French filmmaker Gans - tells the story of a woman looking for her missing daughter in a coal-mining town with a dark history. During her search, the mother comes across demonic creatures, disfigured freaks and vengeful ghosts.

The film: Sony Pictures did not preview the film prior to its release in the US, which is a bad sign for a horror movie.

Not surprisingly, most critics like the film's visual quality but trash its paper-thin plot and confusing narrative.

Another bad sign is that the film runs for almost two hours, which is very long for a horror movie.

The star: Australian actress Mitchell played the frustrated wife of J. M. Barrie in Finding Neverland. She also starred in Woody Allen's Melinda and Melinda.

Why bother? Like many videogame adaptations such as Biohazard and Doom, large quantities of blood and gore can be expected. Horror or videogame nerds will love it.

The film opens on May 11.