This week we have a pair of animated films, a woeful blockbuster universally panned by every critic around, a thriller set in the Arctic Circle...and a film about Justin Bieber. Yikes! It must be school holidays. Respectively, they are Hop, Rio, Sucker Punch, How I Ended This Summer and Justin Bieber: Never Say Never.
Hop: Russell Brand voices E.B., the teenage son of the Easter Bunny. On the eve of taking over the family business, E.B. leaves for Hollywood in pursuit of his dream of becoming a drummer. Once there, he encounters Fred (James Marsden), an unemployed slacker with his own lofty goals. When E.B. discovers that a power-hungry chick is plotting a coup to take over the job of the Easter Bunny, and finally realises who he is meant to be, everything leads him and Fred to an epic showdown to try and save Easter. From the creators of Despicable Me (which may or may not prove appealing), Hop is sure to be a winner with the kids. I feel for the adults in the audience, however.
Hop at Rotten Tomatoes: 24%
Rio: Rio is the new comedy-adventure from creators of Ice Age. Blu (voiced by Jesse Eisenberg) is a domesticated Macaw who never learned to fly, living a comfortable life with his owner and best friend Linda in a small town of Moose Lake, Minnesota. Blu and Linda think he's the last of his kind, but when they learn about another Macaw who lives in Rio de Janiero, they head to the faraway and exotic land to find Jewel (voiced by Anne Hathway), Blu's female counterpart. The Ice Age series was a big success, and this looks to be full of colour and frivolity. From the only limited consensus, it certainly has been well received.
Rio at Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Sucker Punch: Well, here we are. Zach Snyder's Sucker Punch. One of the most talked-about and anticipated films of 2011, and also one of the most universally disliked. Sucker Punch is an epic action fantasy that takes is into the vivid imagination of a young girl whose dream world provides the ultimate escape from her darker reality. Unrestrained by the boundaries of time and place, she is free to go where her mind takes her, and her incredible adventures blur the lines between what's real and what is imaginary. Sure to be technically mind-blowing, but lacking any semblance of characters or plot, the visual thrills have no purpose. The film was described to me as an experience like "watching a friend play violent video games for two hours". Not fun!
Sucker Punch at Rotten Tomatoes: 22%
Justin Bieber: Never Say Never: A film about Justin Bieber on tour, and about the rise of this pop culture phenomenon. Seriously, who would watch this?
Justin Bieber at Rotten Tomatoes: 64%
How I Ended This Summer: On a desolate island in the Arctic Circle, two men work at a small meteorological station, taking recordings from their radioactive surroundings. Sergei, a gruff professional in his fifties, takes his job very seriously. His new partner, bright eyed college grad Pavel, retreats to his MP3 player and video games to avoid Sergei's imposing presence. One day while Sergei is out, inexperienced Pavel receives terrible news for Sergei from HQ, and consequences explode against a chilling backdrop of thick fog, sharp rocks and the merciless Arctic Sea. With likely a very limited release, this will be hard to find, but as a winner of a bunch of European Festival awards, I'm sure it's worth checking out.
How I Ended This Summer at Rotten Tomatoes: 75%
Well this week I intend to see How I Ended This Summer and find out what all the fuss is about with Sucker Punch. I doubt I'll see Rio although this looks like the safest wide-release option.
Weekly recommendation: Rio or How I Ended This Summer. Happy viewing!