Directed by Carlos Saldanha. Starring the voices of Jesse Eisenberg, Anne Hathaway, George Lopez, Jermaine Clement, Leslie Mann, Jane Lynch, will.i.am.
THE PLOT: Like a fish out of water – or, to be more precise, a rare Macaw out of his comfy, sleepy Minnesota home – Blu (Eisenberg, in full Woody Allen mode) is taken to bustling, hustling Rio in the hope of mating with Jewel (Hathaway). Only poachers interrupt the would-be lovebirds’ courtship, and soon there’s a chase as the DeMille-friendly carnival kicks into gear…
THE VERDICT: From the makers of Ice Age – and it shows – this colourful, quickfire CG animation offering may not be particularly innovative, but it is always entertaining. For Saldanha (who directed the Ice Age trio and Robots), it’s a labour of love, the director being a Rio native. For kids, and parents looking for some light slapstick fun, it’ll simply be a big, broad blast. RATING: 4/5
Directed by Simon Wells. Starring the voices of Seth Green, Dan Fogler, Joan Cusack, Elisabeth Harnois, Mindy Sterling.
THE PLOT: Getting his wish that mommy would just disappear, 9-year old Milo (facial expressions by Green; voice by child actor Seth Dusky) soon recants when she’s abducted by aliens. Sneaking onboard their ship, Milo is soon making his way through Mars’ underground, meeting all sorts of freaks and geeks as he plots his rescue mission…
THE VERDICT: Another Zemeckis performance capture extravaganza bites the dust, Mars Needs Moms bombing spectacularly in the US. Is it any wonder Disney have walked away from another further collaborations with the former blockbuster maestro? Hollywood would much rather have Back To The Future IV or Forrest Gump: The Idiot Returns than another Polar Express. Of note to sci-fi fans, this mediocre outing is directed by somewhat hack-like Simon Wells (and co-written with his missus, Wendy, based on Berkeley Breathed’s 38-page book) – who just happens to be the great-grandson of H.G. Wells. RATING: 2/5
Directed by Stuart Beattie. Starring Caitlin Stasey, Rachel Hurd-Wood, Lincolin Lewis, Deniz Akdeniz, Phoebe Tonkin.
THE PLOT: Coming home from a camping trip in the wilds, 17-year old Ellie (Stasey) and her friends find their town has been invaded by a foreign “coalition”, and the local show ground has been turned into a makeshift concentration camp. And so, our everyday teens are soon fiery young warriors, as they down empty flasks and pick up a few weapons…
THE VERDICT: Based on the first of a series of best-selling novels by John Marsden, this Australian phenomenon is clearly hoping for some Twilight-size action around the rest of the world. And director Beattie (who helped script the likes of Collateral, 30 Days Of Night and the Pirates Of The Caribbean outings) clearly knows how to deliver mainstream thrills and spills. This is unlikely to mean much to anyone outside its prime teen market though. Barring those who just like watching teens in their prime, of course. RATING: 3/5
Directed by Christan E. Christiansen. Starring Minka Kelly, Leighton Meester, Cam Gigandet, Alyson Michalka, Danneel Ackles, Billy Zane.
THE PLOT: Sweet, smalltown girl Sara (Kelly) is enjoying the Southern California university life, meeting friendly young people, like roommate Rebecca (Meester). Who turns out to be a little too friendly. And protective. To the point of attacking one of her friends in the shower. And putting Sara’s adorable, and adoring, new kitten in the clothes dryer.
THE VERDICT: Taking its cue from Single White Female, The Roommate takes a well-worn premise and finds absolutely nothing new to say with it. The psycho roomie is a staple of the horror genre, and everyone over the age of ten should be very familiar with the who’s, what’s, where’s and look-out-behind-ya’s. So, maybe they made this piece of predictable hokum for the untapped under-10s horror market? The 15A rating must be killing them… RATING: 1/5
Directed by Carmel Winters. Starring Aisling O’Sullivan, Eileen Walsh, Stephen Moran, Mick Lally.
THE PLOT: A camera crew attempts to interview a Dublin mum, Sharon (O’Sullivan), determined, three years after the event, to set the record straight. With expletives. And stoney glances to camera. The event in question we see in flashbacks, her 15-year old son, Stephen (Moran), having kidnapped a toddler, holding him in his granddad’s remote house. His motivations, and intentions, are hard to fathom, as proceedings take a distinctly sinister and desperate turn, whilst the chain-smoking Sharon is beginning to regret her frank and revealing diatribes to camera…
THE VERDICT: A Dublin Film Critics Circle double-winner at the recent Dublin Film Festival, this Irish offering somehow manages to morph from annoying (O’Sullivan’s over-acting, like Deirdre O’Kane channeling David Brent; the constant jump between film stocks) to intriguing (as the plot reveals hidden layers) and, finally, distinctly disturbing. Not quite Haneke, but disturbing nonetheless, as this troubled teen, holed up in a ramshackle house with a frightened two-year old, begins suffering a little Performance fever. Mick Lally – in his final outing – gives a truly naked performance in a loveless and darkly hilarious sex scene that’s almost worth the admission price alone. RATING: 3/5
THE PLOT: A meek tropical fish salesman finds his life slowly turning into a Lynchian nightmare when a loud, ‘fun guy’ rival (who is, in every way, Dennis Hopper happy) not only insists upon employing his shoplifting teenage daughter in his larger, more successful tropical fish emporium, but pulls the increasingly confused and frightened patsy into an elaborate scam that involves knocking off investors, secretly banging his young, second wife, and generally becoming an alpha male psycho.
THE VERDICT: A film that sets out to prove it’s a fish-eat-fish world out there, controversial Japanese filmmaker Sono’s intoxicating and violent outing is surprisingly philosophical. The black comedy of practical serial killing is there, but Sono also has a lot to say about masculinity, about being the man of the house. And how the fine art of making someone invisible can make you feel invincible. Somewhere between Kafka and Kurosawa, this sublime madness was inspired by a true story. Think Fargo meets Fight Club. It’s that good. RATING: 5/5
GONNA WATCH A CLASSIC
Those clever clogs at the IFI are giving us all a chance to catch some true cinematic classics over the coming month, as they showcase four highly acclaimed outings – namely Bernardo Bertolucci’s Before The Revolution; Peter Bogdanovich’s The Last Picture Show (the greatest film of all time, incidentally); Sergei Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin, and Henri-Georges Clouzot’s Les Diaboloques.
Get thee over to www.ifi.ie for the full details. You little dire boloques.