There are four new releases opening in Australian cinemas tomorrow. What makes this week different from last is the fact that I want to see all of them. I have a very busy week ahead. The films are Captain America: The First Avenger, Hanna, The Conspirator and the 2010 Academy Award nominee for Best Animated Film, L'illusionniste [The Illusionist]. Expect reviews for all but L'illusionniste by the end of the weekend.
Captain America: The First Avenger - Don't look now but there is another Superhero film hitting theatres in 2011, and The Green Lantern hasn't even been released yet. From the trailer, I thought this one looked to be the best of the bunch, but as expected, reviews have been a little mixed (RT = 74%). Captain America focuses on the early days of the Marvel Universe when Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) volunteers to participate in an experimental program that turns him into the Super Soldier known as Captain America. Rogers joins forces with Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) and Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) to wage war on the evil HYDRA organisation, led by the villainous Red Skull (Hugo Weaving). Directed by Joe Johnson, the film also stars Tommy Lee Jones and Stanley Tucci.
Hanna - Hanna (Saorise Ronan) is 16 years old. She is bright, inquisitive and a devoted daughter. Uniquely she has the strength, the stamina and the smarts of a soldier; these come from being raised by her widowed father Erik (Eric Bana), an ex-CIA man, in the wilds of North Finland. Hanna has been living a life unlike any other teenager; her upbringing and training have been one and the same, all geared to making her the perfect assassin. But out in the world there is unfinished business for Hanna's family and it is with a combination of pride and apprehension that Erik realises his daughter can no longer be held back. I have heard some overwhelming praise for this film, with the excellent performances, the inspired direction by Joe Wright (Atonement), the crisp action choreography and the score by the Chemical Brothers all recognised. I missed Hanna at the SFF, where it played on Opening Night and was later sold out, but I have been looking forward to it for a few months now.
The Conspirator - In the wake of Abraham Lincoln's assassination, seven men and one woman are arrested and charged with conspiring to kill the President, Vice President and Secretary of State. The lone woman charged, Mary Surrat (Robin Wright Penn) owns a boarding house where John Wilkes Booth (Toby Kebbell) and others met and planned the simultaneous attacks. Against the ominous back-drop of post-Civil War Washington, newly-minted lawyer, Frederick Aiken (James McAvoy), a 28-year-old Union war hero, reluctantly agrees to defend Surratt before a military tribunal. While Redford was a great star in his day, his directorial skills have never matched his skills as a performer. While I'm sure the story will be fascinating, it is being called a bland, ponderous history lesson that disappointingly lacks the required tension to keep audiences engaged.
L'illusionniste [The Illusionist] - This animated comedy/drama directed by Sylvain Chomet is based on an unproduced script written by the late French mime, director and actor Jacques Tati (Mon Oncle) in 1956. The Illusionist is one of a dying breed of stage entertainers. With emerging rock stars stealing his thunder in the later 1950's, he is forced to accept increasingly obscure assignments in fringe theatres, at garden parties and in bars and cafes. Then, while performing in a village pub off the west coast of Scotland, he encounters Alice, an innocent young girl who believes his tricks are real magic and will change his life forever. Though they don't speak the same language, the two lonely strangers quickly bond through acts of small kindness. I would really like to see this critically acclaimed, Academy Award nominated animation, but with such a limited release, I will be hard pressed to find the time to make it out to the Chauvel.
Weekly Recommendation: While I think Captain America will be an enjoyable popcorn flick, and I think L'illusionniste will be a charming and nostalgic adult animation, my strongest recommendation would be Hanna. Check it out!