Paul Byrne looks at all the latest films including the long anticipated Tron sequel!

TRON: LEGACY (USA/PG/125mins)

Directed by Joe Kosinski. Starring Jeff Bridges, Garrett Hedlund, Olivia Wilde, Bruce Boxleitner, James Frain, Michael Sheen, Beau Garrett.

THE PLOT: A highly reverent and staunchly hi-tech, state-of-the-art sequel to the cult 1982 outing that was a little too hi-tech and state-of-the-art for its time (and therefore, a flop), Tron: Legacycatches up with Jeff Bridges’ altruistic and idealistic videogame guru Sam Flynn, still AWOL after breaking on through to the other side. And finding himself in a virtual world run by an egomaniacal dictator yin to his caring, sharing yang – Flynn having created the mutinous Clu in his own image. When his son (Garrett Hedlund) falls through the portal, a new battle begins, as the Buddha-like Sam Flynn is forced out of hiding – alongside his protege, Quorra (Wilde) – to beat Clu 2.0 to the closing portal back into our world.

THE VERDICT: It’s all very beautifully crafted, and occasionally stunning (with Daft Punk’s soundtrack adding considerably to the cool), but there’s far too much Yoda here, and not enough Yowsa, as life in the digital lane is debated again. And again. Disney might just have another flop on their hands. Which, deep down, is what Comic Book Guy would have wanted. Still, it deserves an extra star for effort, and being so true to the original. RATING: ***

 

BURLESQUE (USA/12A/118mins)

Directed by Steve Antin. Starring Cher, Christina Aguilera, Kristen Bell, Alan Cumming, Peter Gallagher, Eric Dane, Stanley Tucci.

THE PLOT: Ali (Aguilera) is just a simple country girl, orphaned and without a friend in the world. So, naturally, she becomes a dancer in a Sunset Strip nightclub, the Burlesque Lounge being home to some lean and mean – and, of course, one or two big-hearted – lasses who like nothing more than to strut their considerable stuff. For moolah. The manager may have to look over his

THE VERDICT: Ever since Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge brought the musical back onto Hollywood’s radar, and Rob Marshall’s overrated adaptation of the stage hit Chicago won the Oscar – thus proving to the studios that there was a tried and trusted formula that works – there’s been quite a lot of singing and dancing at our local multiplexes. Most of them have sucked (Dreamgirls,Nine, Down With Love). More importantly – in Hollywood’s eyes – they’ve flopped. Still, these big wheels take a few years to stop turning, and in the meantime, here’s Cher, Christina Aguilera and Kristen Bell shaking the hell out of their moneymakers. Alas, it plays like a lot of pain, and no gain.RATING:

 


CATFISH (USA/12A/87mins)

Directed by Ariel Schulman, Henry Joost. Starring Yaniv Schulman, Ariel Schulman, Henry Joost, Angela Pierce, Vince Pierce, Abby Pierce.

THE PLOT: When New York photographer Yaniv Schulman gets a painting by 8-year-old Michigan kid Abby in the post of one of his newspaper-published photographs, a Facebook friendship quickly develops. Something that the two filmmakers sharing Yaniv’s New York office – older brother Ariel and friend Henry – decide to start documenting. More paintings arrive, along with stories of Abby’s growing success selling them, whilst smoking hot older sister Megan also connects to Yaniv online. In a very big way. This might just be a match made in Facebook heaven. Which, it turns out, is exactly the problem, as Yaniv and the boys discover all is not what it seems…

THE VERDICT: A documentary that could have been irritatingly smug and trivial becomes something altogether more compelling and fascinating when a lie is uncovered, starting off a domino effect that leads our three boys to sheepishly make their way to the family home of Yaniv’s biggest admirers. What they discover almost deserves a banjo soundtrack, but then the true sadness of the situation takes hold, and Catfish once again becomes something unexpected. Something the three guys at its centre could never have imagined. Literally. Such online relationships make you realise that, like phone sex, it’s all about the image in your head. RATING: ****

 


ANIMALS UNITED 3D (Germany/15A/112mins)

Directed by Reinhard Klooss, Holger Tappe. Starring Ralf Schmitz, Thomas Fritsch, Christoph Maria Herbst, Bastian Pastewka, Oliver Kalkofe.
This German animated kiddies outing is distributed by UK Entertainment Film Distributors Ltd – which meant, as so often happens with this company, there was no press screening…

THE VERDICT: So, you know, Don’t go.

 


FRED: THE MOVIE (USA/12A/83mins)

Directed by Clay Weiner. Starring Lucas Cruikshank, Pixie Lott, Jake Weary, Jenette McCurdy, Siobhan Fallon, John Cena.

THE PLOT: Based on the hugely popular online series (one YouTube outing scoring over 48 million hits), Fred (Cruikshank) is an awkward 15-year old with the voice of helium-filled Minnie Mouse being scraped across a blackboard. And he’s in love with the faraway, out-of-his-league Judy (Lott) – who,for his big screen adventure, he dreams of singing a duet with. And, er, that’s it.

THE VERDICT: Didn’t get any notice about a press screening for this largely US phenomenon (take yet another bow, Kate Bowe PR) – so, I’m guessing it sucks even more than the online outings from whence it spawned. Go check out one of Fred’s YouTube adventures now. Just to see how annoying this guy is. RATING: n/a

 

YULETIDE YUMMIES

Those clever, kind and beret-toting IFI folk have lined up a season of festive films over the coming weeks, with such Christmas classics as It’s A Wonderful Life, The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe, The Shop Around The Corner, eh, The March Of The Penguins and The Red Shoes all dusted down for a big-screen outing.

James Stewart will be retreading the Shrek Forever After plotline from December 17th to the 23rd, whilst the Scorsese-approved restoration of The Red Shoes get another airing on December 11thand 12th. The Shop Around The Corner arrives on December 27th, The Lion and his buddies on December 29th and those pesky penguins on December 30th.

There will also be a Christmas Crackers programme of shorts, including Enda Walsh’s happy little outing charting the death of Santa. Sweet. Full details on the ifi website. About the festive films. Not Santa’s demise.