Stormbreaker   US title: Alex Rider: Operation Stormbreaker
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir Geoffrey Sax
scr Anthony Horowitz
with Alex Pettyfer, Alicia Silverstone, Ewan McGregor, Bill Nighy, Sophie Okonedo, Mickey Rourke, Damian Lewis, Missi Pyle, Andy Serkis, Sarah Bolger, Ashley Walters, Jimmy Carr, Robbie Coltrane, Stephen Fry
release UK 21.Jul.06, US 6.Oct.06 06/UK 1h33

To the rescue: Pettyfer

silverstone mcgregor nighy okonedo rourke pyle

26th Shadows Awards
Bill Nighy

Stormbreaker Based on screenwriter Horowitz's popular teen-spy novels, this whizzy adventure will keep pre-teens enthralled and adults quietly chuckling. But it's just not sophisticated enough.

Alex Rider (Pettyfer) is a 14-year-old orphan raised by a nanny (Silverstone) and an uncle (McGregor), who Alex thinks is a banker. But he's actually a super-spy who's been sneakily training Alex in languages, fight skills and extreme sports. So MI6 agents Blunt and Jones (Nighy and Okonedo) send him undercover as a gaming nerd to investigate computer tycoon Sayle (Rourke), whose new project seems more than a little nefarious. Especially when his henchmen (Lewis, Pyle and Serkis) do everything they can to keep Alex from learning the truth.

The Harry Potter parallels are obvious: an orphaned teen who's singularly qualified for a task--replacing wizardry with gadgetry. But there's a fundamental difference in tone, because where Harry is reluctant, hot-headed and often in trouble, Alex looks like a supermodel, never puts a foot wrong and has no discernible flaws or obsessions. Not even any real grief over his situation. Pettyfer is good in the role, but we can't identify with him in any way.

But young audiences don't care about those things; they'll thrill to the way director Sax orchestrates the film with big camera moves, flashy Donnie Yen-choreographed stuntwork, a lively Brit-pop score and a laundry list of London landmarks. It's a boy's fantasy in every way, as Alex engages in daring skulduggery, outfoxing the baddies and beating the most fearsome fighters at their own game. He also gets to play with lots of high tech gadgets, woo the girl (Bolger) and save the world.

Meanwhile, grown-ups will enjoy Nighy, also known as the world's greatest scene-stealer, even when he's not saying anything. The stiff dialog doesn't give him much to work with, but he still turns every line into comedy gold. Pyle is also hilarious as a Frau Blücher-like heavy. While Rourke, Silverstone and even McGregor have their moments. So it's a pity the characters are so simplistic and that the plot is so corny (it's all caused by British snobbery). Fun while it lasts, but so thin that we won't be clamouring for another instalment.

cert PG themes, violence 18.Jun.06

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... Stormbreaker Jenni Levy, UK: 5/5 "I thought all of it was really good, especially alex pettyfer's acting. i was able to connect with him and understand how he was feeling. i really liked the movie and i can't wait till the next one comes out." (9.Sep.06)

Nadeeja, New Zealand: 5/5 "In my opinion this is a great movie. It has all the thrills and the action anyone needs. The actors are great and the plot of the story is the so cool. I have read the book and I think the movie is just as awesome as the book. The plot, and some scenes have changed a bit but it's still great. The actors are really well chosen for the characters. especially Alex Pettyfer who acted as Alex Rider in the film. Some people say that he's got blond hair and that he just doesn't seem to be in the hero type. But the Alex Rider in the book is also blond and noone can blame him just because he's blond. Who cares about the hair colour. It's all about the personality I say. I think that Alex Pettyfer is great as Alex Rider and he acts really well in the character. The other actors are great especially Ewan Mcgregor, Alicia Silverstone and Bill Nighy. In my opinion this is action packed, thrilling, exciting and overall really great." (30.Sep.06)

© 2006 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall