Thursday, June 23, 2011

Releases 23/06

Australian cinemas are in for a busy day with four new releases. These are the the animated duo (oddly released on the same day, I assume for the school holidays) of Kung-Fu Panda 2 and Cars 2, Julia Leigh's Cannes selection, Sleeping Beauty and the vampire flick Stake Land. 

Kung-Fu Panda 2 - Po is now living his dream as The Dragon Warrior, projecting the Valley of Peace alongside his friends and fellow kung fu masters, The Furious Five. But Po's new life of awesomeness is threatened by the emergence of a formidable villain, who plans to use a secret, unstoppable weapon to conquer China and destroy kung fu. Po must look to his past and uncover the secrets of his mysterious origins; only then will he be able to unlock the strength he needs to succeed. I enjoyed Kung-Fu Panda, but I certainly haven't been hanging out for this sequel. Well received (83% on RT and runner-up in the audience voting at the SFF), it should be a enjoyable enough.

Cars 2 - Pixar have an almost flawless resume, but most Pixar fans will agree that Cars is their weakest film. By a substantial margin. This time round star race car Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) and the incomparable tow truck Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) take their friendship to exciting new places when they head overseas to compete in the first-ever World Grand Prix to determine the world's fastest car. But the road to the championship is filled with plenty of potholes, detours and hilarious surprises when Mater finds himself torn between assisting Lightning McQueen in the high-profile race and towing the line in a top-secret mission orchestrated by master British super spy Finn McMissile (Michael Caine). Yawn. This actually seems like it is worth skipping.

Sleeping Beauty - Lucy is a young university student possessed by a kind of radical passivity. She lets a flip of the coin generate a random sexual encounter and she displays an uncomplaining patience when facing the repetitions of her various menial jobs that fund her studies. One day she responds to an advertisement in the student newspaper, and is initiated as a lingerie waitress and secretly auditioned for the role of a Sleeping Beauty. The old wealthy men who visit the Sleeping Beauty Chamber rely on Lucy's passivity. The unnerving experience of being observed in her sleep starts to bleed into her daily life. An Official Selection at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, Julia Leigh's repulsive erotic drama has lofty ambitions and a sense of style. But it's tedium and lack of an agenda diffuse the exceptional performance from Emily Browning. Has divided audiences and caused controversy, and with good reason. Check out my review of Sleeping Beauty

Stake Land - When an epidemic of vampirism strikes, humans find themselves on the run from vicious feral beasts. Cities are tombs and survivors cling together in rural pockets fearful of nightfall. When his family is slaughtered, young Martin (Connor Paolo) is taken under the wing of a grizzled, wayward hunter (Nick Damici) whose new prey is the Undead. Simply known as Mister, the vampire stalker takes Martin on a journey through the locked-down towns of America's heartland, searching for a better place while taking down any bloodsuckers that cross their path. Seems to be an admirable and above-average horror flick.

Weekly Recommendation: Sleeping Beauty is worth your time, though chances are it will appeal to few. The safest bet could be Kung-Fu Panda 2, which may actually be a sequel of some quality. 

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