Movies out today: animated animals, girl assassins and the return of the Wolfpack

Opening in South African cinemas today are 3 different films, catering for 3 very different audiences.

1) For families, there's CGI-animated Animals United. Screening in 2D and 3D is this environmentally conscious tale set in the Okavango Delta about a group of animals who are forced to join forces when a dam disrupts their water supply. Made in Germany, the English-dubbed version of the film features an all-star voice cast including Stephen Fry, Dawn French, Joanna Lumley, Jim Broadbent and Vanessa Redgrave.

I can't say I'm particularly excited to watch Animals United. For one thing the trailer is dominated by slapstick and fart jokes. For another, it reminds me a lot of the Spanish-made The Missing Lynx, which was similarly environmentally focused, featured sub-par plasticy animation and was unfortunately really, really juvenile. As in, don't bother if you're over 5 years old.

And unfortunately, judging by the film's 29% Fresh rating on review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes, the Lynx comparisons are justified. Critics are calling Animals United clunky, joke-free and preachy.

2) Sure to be the big winner at the box office this weekend is adults-only comedy The Hangover: Part II. In this sequel to the raunchy 2009 smash hit, Phil (Bradley Cooper), Doug (Justin Bartha) and Alan (Zach Galifianakis) head to Thailand for Stu's (Ed Helms) wedding. Once again the guys wake up from an out-of-control bachelor party and have to retrace their amnesiac steps to find a missing member of their group - this time the brother of Stu's fiancée.

As much as I enjoyed The Hangover, I don't know if I'll be watching its follow-up. Sequels to comedies have always struck me as a bad idea. Never are the laughs as fresh the second time around because sequels inevitably stick to a formula. And by the sounds of things, The Hangover: Part II refuses to veer AT ALL from its predecessor's structure.

As a result, The Hangover: Part II is currently just 36% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. It's been called lazy filmmaking and a pale imitation of the original, despite its new exotic Bangkok setting. The laughs are still there but on the whole things are a lot darker and a lot sleazier.

3) Globe-trotting action thriller Hanna arrives in South Africa with zero advertising; zero buzz. What you need to know though is that the title character is essentially a much more serious Hit Girl, in that the film centres on a teenager (The Lovely Bones' Saoirse Ronan) who has been trained since childhood by her ex-CIA father (Eric Bana) to be the perfect assassin. Now, finally, she is ready to be unleashed on the world, much to the concern of Cate Blanchett's corrupt government agent.

Hanna is 72% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. By the sounds of it, the film is rapidly developing a cult following as an unconventional genre-blending revenge tale that straddles the line between arthouse cinema and mainstream blockbuster. Apparently Hanna's action scenes rival anything in a Bourne film, and the acting is fantastic, even if the plot and a general lack of subtlety simultaneously let down the project.


Phaezen said…
Didn't know anything about Hannah till I saw the trailer on Tuesday which shot it to the top of my want to watch list. Whoever dropped the ball on advertising this one should be shot.

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