Released in Australian cinemas tomorrow are four new features: The Hangover Part II, Soul Surfer, Get Low and Of Gods and Men.
The Hangover Part II - Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms), Alan (Zach Galifianakis) and Doug (Justin Bartha) return to the screens for another adventure. This time they travel to Thailand for Stu's wedding. After the disastrous bachelor party in Las Vegas, Stu is taking no chances and has opted for a safe, subdued pre-wedding brunch. But when the Wolfpack get together, things don't go as planned and the group find themselves in a musty Bangkok hotel room with one of their comrades missing (this time the younger brother of Stu's fiance) and no memory of their escapades the night before. This has a near-identical structure to the original, which is enough to consider it a re-make, though it does make several substitutions (a monkey instead of a baby, and a facial tattoo instead of a missing tooth). Though darker and more outrageous, this fairly predictable sequel (with an awful conclusion) is not as effective because of that reason. It's still entertaining, but don't expect to have as much fun as in Vegas.
Get Low - Inspired by the true story of Tennessee recluse Felix "Bush" Breazeale, who planned his funeral while he was still alive, director Aaron Schneider's dramatic period piece stars Robert Duvall, Sissy Spacek and Bill Murray. Few folks have spoken with Felix Bush (Duvall) since he disappeared into the Tennessee woods 40 years ago, and the ones who have don't have the kindest words to say about him. Gruff, confrontational and ill-tempered, Felix has been the source of many malicious rumours. When Felix walks into Frank Quinn's (Murray) funeral parlour and announces his intentions to throw himself a massive party before he passes away, word quickly spreads through town and anticipation starts to run high. Duvall was in consideration for a Best Actor nomination at the 2010 Academy Awards, so you know he'll be good. The awesome trailer has me intrigued about this one. RT score = 85%
Soul Surfer - Champion surfer, Bethany Hamilton (AnnaSophia Robb), loses her left arm in a terrifying shark attack, but summons the determination to make an incredible comeback in this inspirational sports drama based on a true story. It seemed likely that she would never ride a surfboard again, but Bethany used her faith and determination to reclaim the title of champion while being cheered on by her supportive parents (Dennis Quaid and Helen Hunt), and Sara (Carrie Underwood), the kind hearted leader of a local youth group. While the story of this young girl is an incredible one, this also looks pretty cheesy at times. RT score = 51%
Of Gods and Men - Eight French Christian monks live in harmony with their Muslim brothers in a monastery perched in the mountains of North Africa in the 1990's. When a crew of foreign workers is massacred by an Islamic fundamentalist group, fear sweeps through the region. The army offers them protection, but the monks refuse. Should they leave? Despite the growing menace in their midst, they slowly realize that they have no choice by to stay. The film is loosely based on the life of the Cistercian monks of the Tibhirine in Algeria, from 1993 until their kidnapping in 1996. This was a big hit at the French Film Festival earlier in the year and has been receiving great reviews (RT = 92%).
Weekly Recommendation: The Hangover Part II will do well, and its not a disaster. But I would like to check out Get Low and Of Gods and Men, which should both prove to be interesting and thought-provoking.