REVIEWS: Bob Marley gets a so-so biopic with ‘One Love’; Good superhero fun with the critically reviled ‘Madame Web’; ‘Inspector Sun’ is a quality kids’ cartoon; Finnish film ‘Fallen Leaves’ is a bore; ‘Nyad’ is a triumphant film about defying stereotypes about the elderly

Flying high: Kingsley Ben-Adir as Bob Marley in ‘One Love’.

BOB MARLEY: ONE LOVE **1/2 (107 minutes) M
The music is great but the flow is stilted and much of the dialogue incomprehensible in the loving biopic Bob Marley: One Love.

Some strong stretches manage to capture the peace-loving spirit of the father of reggae, such as the concert he staged during a violent election period in Jamaica. Director Reinaldo Marcus Green (King Richard) also brings us into how and why Marley created reggae.

There’s no question how convincing a job British actor Kingsley Ben-Adir does in his portrait of Marley as a loving family man and a star largely unaffected by ego as he gains global popularity.

Good drama is delivered as he inevitably comes up against money-hungry label suits and valiantly faces the cancer that cut his life in half.

Regrettably, the rambling, episodic nature of the storytelling is coupled with a commitment to cultural authenticity that, even more regrettably, results in some fast-talking, heavily-accented performances that are tough to decipher.

The film could have done with subtitles, an option that will no doubt be available when the film enters the stream on Paramount+. Perhaps it’s best to wait till then.

MADAME WEB *** (116 minutes) M
If you were to believe the thermonuclear attack launched by the world’s motion picture critics against Madame Web you could be forgiven for expecting this Marvel film to be among the worst entries of the superhero genre.

Worse than Black Adam, worse than Iron Man 2, even worse than Fantastic Four and Age of Ultron.

But is it really that bad? Well, no – not even close.

If anything, Madame Web turns out to be a rather pleasant and enjoyable surprise, a well-made and well-paced origin story for a band of female superheroes who exist in the Spider-Man Cinematic Universe. (So it’s one of those hybrid Marvel films where Sony owns the rights to the characters – for those who care about such matters.)

Dakota Johnson (she of the 50 Shades trilogy) puts in an above-average performance as Cassie Webb, a New York paramedic who grew up as a foster kid.

Knowing little about her scientist mother who scoured the depths of the Amazon searching for a medically valuable spider, Cassie discovers she has some Spidey-type powers as well as a touch of clairvoyance that tends to kick in at opportune moments.

Cassie’s quest is to protect three young women (Sydney Sweeney, Celeste O’Connor and Isabela Merced) who are destined to be masked guardians in the future, provided they can survive the competing quest of a villain who wants to kill them all so he can be left alone to exploit a rare spider venom.

OK, the plot isn’t exactly William Goldman but it’s still a heck of a lot more coherent than a lot of other superhero films that have not drawn anywhere near the same degree of critical ire.

Grounding the film’s well-staged action sequences is the connection that develops between the three teen girls and Cassie as they come to appreciate how they need each other, with the girls finding in Cassie the strong parental figure missing from their lives. It’s a mother-daughter theme that works quite well, and is very welcome in a film of this type.

So, never mind the critical mauling the film has received: Madame Web chimes in as a superhero lark that sits well above the dreck offered up by the genre in recent years.

The titular hero of ‘Inspector Sun’ finds himself in a tight spot.

INSPECTOR SUN AND THE CURSE OF THE BLACK WIDOW *** (88 minutes) PG
Think Agatha Christie meets A Bug’s Life and you’ve got the gist of Inspector Sun, a brightly animated comedy-mystery lark wherein the titular detective, a seven-legged spider with Poirot-styled pencil moustache, tries solving a rather complex murder case on board an art deco flying boat as it wings its way from Shanghai to San Francisco in 1934.

Fizzing with one liners and a cast of insect and insect-adjacent characters (remember, spiders are not insects!), Inspector Sun is a lovingly rendered throwback to old-style film noir mysteries and the clichés they rode upon. It’s replete with retro references adults will likely appreciate more than kids.

Voiced by comedian Ronny Chieng, Inspector Sun is a freshly retired detective whose enthusiasm for solving crime is hampered only by his thick skull.

Fortunately, he has Janey (Emily Kleimo), a more-than-capable jumping spider assistant to help him work through the blizzard of clues surrounding the untimely demise of crime boss Dr Bugsy Spindlethorp (Scott Geer).

As the genre conventions dictate, chief among the suspects is, of course, his ex-wife Arabella Killtop (Jennifer Childs Greer), a sexy black widow spider who steps comfortably into the role of femme fatale.

The dialogue is crammed with quick jokes, many of which might fly over the heads of young kids who, to be honest, might also struggle to comprehend a plot that, while well-thought through, is perhaps a few degrees more complex than it needs to be. You have to listen fast to catch all the lightning-fast exposition.

Still, it all comes together in the end with a terrific action finale in San Francisco Bay beneath the yet-to-be-completed Golden Gate Bridge. Director Julio Soto Gurpide, working from a screenplay by Rocco Pucillo, ties everything together with panache.

Visually, the film is a delight to behold, especially with the stylish universe the insect critters inhabit.

They don’t scutter about in the crawlspaces of the plane but instead occupy a beautifully designed parallel world to the humans, complete with its own corridors, cabins and dining rooms.

It gives the film’s lavishly designed high-end animation a nice touch of old-world class.

FALLEN LEAVES * (81 minutes; subtitled) M
In writer/director Aki Kaurismäkia’s thoroughly boring rom-com Fallen Leaves, slow-witted working-class drones Ansa (Alma Pöysti) and Holappa (Jussi Vatanen) try finding love in a colourless Helsinki. What is clearly intended as a quiet little romantic charmer is actually inert and wholly uninteresting, its straight-faced performances and supposedly dry wit failing to bring the ditty to life. Think of it as an arthouse sedative.

NYAD ***1/2 (121 minurtes) M
Two superb, Oscar-nominated performances from Annette Bening (best actress) and Jodie Foster (best supporting actress) drive Nyad, the bittersweet tale of flawed heroism following sexagenarian athlete Diana Nyad and her steely resolve to swim from Cuba to Florida.

Some 30 years after her failed attempt at the endeavour she decides to reinvigorate her body and her mind by trying it again – ove and over.

Summoning her best friend and longtime trainer Bonnie Stoll (Foster), Nyad sets out to defy stereotypes about the elderly by getting into shape and heading into the critter-infested ocean with the help of veteran navigator John Bartlett (Rhys Ifans).

In a splendid, warts-and-all portrayal Bening reveals Diana Nyad as both a defiant figure and as a ego-driven brute, expecting everyone to service her enterprise.

The film is drawn from the book Find a Way by Diana Nyad and is at pains to shows how dogged determination and sheer stubborness are both sides of the same coin.

Bening and Foster bounce off each other beautifully, with Ifans chiming in with some top-shelf support.

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