Primer (12A)<br></br>Unleashed (18)<br></br>The Perfect Man (PG)<br></br>Appleseed (12A)<br></br><br></br>

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The Independent Culture

Now here's something mighty peculiar. Shane Carruth, a former engineer who spent three years teaching himself film-making, wrote, directed, edited and scored this little conundrum of a thriller "for the price of a used car". He also stars as Aaron who, with his fellow boffin Abe (David Sullivan), discovers unexpected clairvoyant properties in a gadget they've been experimenting with in a garage.

The potential is awesome, though this doesn't quite fit with a story that's basically white-shirted office drones talking impenetrable shop. The urgency of that talk is impressive, but most of the time I hadn't the smallest clue what they were on about. It looks good, though.

Unleashed (18) *

Bob Hoskins abuses the memory of The Long Good Friday as a small-time cockney villain who has trained an adopted urchin, Danny (Jet Li), to fight like an attack dog once let off the leash. (The original title, "Danny The Dog", was dumped by the film-makers - their one good decision).

The diminutive Li lays waste to rival gangs and any inconvenient scenery with his high-kicking chop-socky until, one day, he chances upon blind piano tuner Morgan Freeman and his daughter, who teach him a gentler way of life. If that isn't preposterous enough, try figuring out why the whole thing is set in Glasgow - and then why nobody (not a single person!) speaks with a Scots accent.

The Perfect Man (PG) *

This starts off mildly annoying, proceeds through grimly unappealing, and finally succumbs to the unremittingly godawful. Hilary Duff stars as a teenage busybody who's so fed up with the pathetic blokes her mom (Heather Locklear) falls for, she invents a suitor who will woo the misguided woman and - what? What on earth is she hoping to achieve by such a deception? The film-makers don't know either, but they seem to think this Emma-style matchmaking will somehow endear her to us. A mistake.

Appleseed (12A) **

Based on a Japanese manga comic from the 1980s, this has the traditional strengths and weaknesses of the anime genre. On the one hand, the swooping visuals of gleaming futuristic cityscapes are magnificently lush and intricate; on the other, its storyline and cartoonish characters are as thin as rice paper.

Appleseed centres upon brave girl-warrior Deunan, who must navigate a path between a council of elders and the engineered clones, "biaroids", who safeguard the experimental city-state of Utopia. The action set-pieces are great, but they play second fiddle to a conspiracy plot that requires epically tedious swathes of exposition.

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