This weeks new movies reviewed by Paul Byrne…
KUNG FU PANDA 2 (USA/PG/90mins)
Directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson. Starring the voices of Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Gary Oldman, Dustin Hoffman, David Cross, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu, Danny McBride.
THE PLOT: Suddenly realizing that the goose who raised him might not actually be his real dad, Po (Black) sets out to trace his birth parents just as the banished albino peacock Lord Shen (Oldman) returns to his family throne. The evil bird is determined to unleash hell, giving Po and the Furious Five plenty of opportunities to unleash their fists of fury…
THE VERDICT: The 2008 original may have swept up quite a few awards (most of its Annies arriving because Disney/Pixar were boycotting the event), but this origins outing is a far sweeter, funnier and – given its target audience – faster affair. The chase sequences here would make Max Sennett dizzy. The gags are spot-on though, whilst the thrills and spills are all present and correct. Almost Kung Fu Hustle good, in fact. Jeez, what’s happening at DreamWorks Animation? Their movies are pretty darn good these days. RATING: 4/5
THE RUNWAY (Ireland/PG/92mins)
Directed by Ian Power. Starring Jamie Kierans, Demian Bichir, Kerry Condon, James Cosmo, Mark Doherty, Pat Laffin, John Carpenter.
THE PLOT: The wilds of Cork, and Paco (Kierans) is in need of a friend, now that his best mate (Carpenter) and his traveller family have been moved on. He could also do with finally meeting his absent father, who, his single mother (Condon) reliably informs him is living in Spain. And that’s when Ernesto (Bichir) falls from the sky, when he crashlands his Martin B26 Marauder in the woods. Paco quickly smuggles him home…
THE VERDICT: Based loosely on a true event (the makeshift runway still buried in deepest, darkest Cork), Ian Power’s debut feature owes more than a little to Whistle Down The Wind. Only this time, instead of Jesus in the barnyard, it’s Jose. Some sweet touches, and performances – all with an overriding Ealing sensibility – make this a pleasant watch, but ultimately, this plays like a decent TV outing. RATING: 3/5
HONEY 2 (USA/PG/110mins)
Directed by Billie Woodruff. Starring Katerina Graham, Randy Wayne, Melissa Molinaro, Lonette McKee.
THE PLOT: One of Honey’s former pupils, 17-year old Maria (Graham) is in trouble with the law, and so decides to head back to her Bronx roots, and the rec center where she learnt how to shake her money-maker. Determined to live on the straight and narrow, Maria stays with Honey’s mum, but the lure of the dancefloor is too much. We’ve all been there.
THE VERDICT: A sequel to the 2003 film that almost made Jessica Alba a star, this cynical little exercise in hitting a target market went straight to DVD in America. Here, they must reckon kids are a little more susceptible to the lure of a hot Bronx chick shakin’ that ass, finding self-respect, and a cool boyfriend. Enjoy. RATING: 1/5
MOTHER’S DAY (USA/18/112mins)
Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman. Starring Rebecca De Mornay, Jaime King, Shawn Ashmore, Briana Evigan, Patrick John Flueger.
THE PLOT: Having goofed up on a bank robbery, three brothers decide it’s best to run home to mummy (De Mornay). Only mummy has lost the family home in a foreclosure. And so the psycho brothers decide to hold the new occupants (including King’s grieving mum) and their birthday party guests hostage. Until the leader of the gang, mum, gets there.
THE VERDICT: It’s led by former movie star Rebecca De Mornay. It’s co-produced by Brett Ratner. It’s a remake of a 1980 cult classic. It’s directed by someone responsible for three Saw films. And Repo. And guess what? It’s not very good. RATING: 2/5
POINT BLANK (France/IFI/84mins)
Directed by Fred Cavaye. Starring Gilles Lellouche, Roschdy Zem, Gerard Lanvin, Elena Anaya, Mireille Perrier.
THE PLOT: Escaping from a bungled office break-in, the injured Hugh Sartet (Zem) is saved by trainee nurse Samuel (Lellouche) when his breathing equipment is cut. And Samuel is promptly repaid for his kind deed by having his pregnant wife kidnapped, the demand being that he hands over Hugh. And that’s when the police get involved. Corrupt police.
THE VERDICT: There’s something refreshingly old school nuts and bolts about this cops and robbers drama, the lack of irony, inverted commas or retro pop soundtrack coming as something of a very pleasant surprise. All that matters here are the twists and turns, the double-crosses and the revenge. A film Don Seigel would be proud to call his own. RATING: 3/5
Directed by Gregg Araki. Starring Thomas Dekker, Haley Bennet, Chris Zylka, Roxanne Mesquida, Juno Temple, Andy Fischer-Price, Jason Olive.
THE PLOT: It’s the end of the world as we know it – only 18-year old California stoner dude Smith (Dekker) hasn’t got a clue. But he gets one when, high, he bumps into a woman being stabbed by three guys in animal masks. Naturally, Smith puts it down to an hallucination. But then the men in the animal masks reappear. And Smith stumbles upon the New World Order cult on the net – and spots his dead father as their leader…
THE VERDICT: Having previously given us The Doom Generation (1995), This Is How The World Ends (2000 TV movie) and Mysterious Skin (2004), Gregg Araki has proven himself the bastard son of Michael Bay and Larry Clark. And here, his tastes for teens caught up in a sun-drenched future shock hellhole continues, but the novelty is wearing a little thin. Still, Juno Temple (Atonement, Greenberg) is a revelation, getting all the best lines. RATING: 2/5
VIVA LA ALLIANCE FRANCAISE!
Two very curious and promising offerings hit the IFI on the 19th and 20th as part of Alliance Francaise’s 6th Let’s French… Music Festival, which itself runs from June 16th to the 25th in different venues across the city.
First up is Rubber (17.15, June 19th), directed by Quentin Dupieux (music fans will know him as Mr. Oizo), and described as ‘Roger Corman meets Samuel Beckett’. And it’s about a tyre. Called Robert. Who comes to life and starts chasing after women. It’s safe sex gone mad.
The second film is Love Songs/Les Chansons d’amour (June 20th, 19.10), Christophe Honore’s 2007 Cannes contender being a homage to Jacques Demy’s 1964 Les Parapluies de Cherbourg, even employing the same three chapter headings (Departure, Absence and Return). The trio from Bertolucci’s The Dreamers – Ludivine Sagnier, Chiara Mastroianni and Louis Garrel – takes on singing duties here in a film that’s said to draw on the Nouvelle Vague in more ways than one.
Full details on ifi.ie.