James Bond for the adolescent set

By Noelani TorreInquirerLast updated 11:47pm (Mla time) 09/01/2006Published on page E2 of the September 2, 2006 issue of the Philippine Daily InquirerIF YOU’RE watching “Stormbreaker” because of Ewan McGregor, you’re going to be in for a disappointment. He only gets one chase scene and several lines of dialogue before his 10 minutes of screen time end. And if you’re watching the movie for Alicia Silverstone, well, she more or less suffers the same fate.The stars in this action fantasy aren’t the big names (which include Mickey Rourke, Bill Nighy, Stephen Fry, Andy Serkis, and Sophie Okonedo), but an unknown actor playing a 14-year-old teenager who leads a life that every insecure youngster in the real world would love to lead.[b]First book[/b]“Stormbreaker” is based on the first book of the same title in Anthony Horowitz’s popular young adult series featuring teenage spy extraordinaire, Alex Rider. Played by Alex Pettyfer, Rider is a seemingly typical teen living with his banker uncle (McGregor) and their housekeeper (Silverstone).Alex turns out to be more than your usual British schoolboy when he morphs into a junior James Bond, after his uncle is killed and is revealed to be an agent for Her Majesty’s Secret Service.It turns out that, by giving him lessons in martial arts, sharp shooting and foreign languages, Rider Senior has actually been training him to be a spy.Soon, Rider is dragged into working for MI6 to finish his uncle’s case against computer mogul, Darrius Sayle (Rourke).It’s a farfetched tale: It’s hard to believe that the Secret Service would really send a relatively untrained teenager to do an operation all by himself — but, this is adolescent fantasy, after all, and in the book, Horowitz is able to make you suspend disbelief. Unfortunately, he and director Geoffrey Sax haven’t quite managed to carry it off on the big screen.[b]Two-dimensional[/b]You never believe in Alex Rider, or in the feats he accomplishes. His character is two-dimensional, and his utter perfection — good looks, astounding combat skills, an ultra-cool, no-nerves approach — elicits no sympathy from viewers.This is partly the script’s fault, but you must also give discredit where it is due: Alex Pettyfer is a pretty boy who will no doubt attract girls, but his acting ability consists mostly of scrunching his Greek-god brow and gazing intently into the distance. He doesn’t have the charm and humor of Frankie Muniz (“Agent Cody Banks”) that made that other young actor’s foray into spy-dom more enjoyable to watch.[b]Caricature[/b]The rest of the actors are all flat, caricature types — which would not have been a problem if the film had just been the teeniest bit self-mockingly funny a la “Johnny English.”The movie is supposed to bring in a new British franchise like “Harry Potter,” but it looks like it’s going to be sounding a death knell, instead.www.showbizandstyle.inq7.net