This week it's the NME Weekly Movie Guide...2. Like many a sequel it's done purely for the cash.
The Big Release
Kung Fu Panda 2
What's the story? Fast as lightning, Kung-Fu fighting panda bear Po is enjoying his new found life rocking around the Valley of Peace with his snake, crane, tiger and monkey buddies. But when a deadly new enemy, a peacock by the name of Lord Shen, comes looking to take over Chinatown it's up to Po and his buds to take him down.
Cast: Jack Black (Gulliver's Travels, School of Rock), Dustin Hoffman (Tootsie, Lenny) Gary Oldman (The Dark Knight, Leon). Director: Jennifer Yuh Nelson – Début Feature.
Plus points: Top notch animation, stunning choreography (even compared to actual Kung Fu films) and Gary Oldman giving his best baddie this century make Kung Fu Panda one of the better cash-ins, sorry, sequels of the year thus far.
Let downs: Jack Black's fat man schtick stopped being funny a half decade ago, but as he's stuck behind the screen for this one his 'presence' isn't overly damaging. Because this is a film using animation as a technique to tell it's story we're contractually obliged to let you know it's not as good as Pixar.
Critics said: "The odd amusing line doesn't stop this being pretty bland stuff" (Film4), "the franchise drags, rather than races, towards the promise of another sequel." (RadioTimes). 83% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Verdict: Still a lot more for the kids than for adults, if you're gonna get dragged to the 'plex by little ones you could do a lot worse. The pleasant, if a little syrupy, coda about nuture trumping nature is a nice way to end this instalment but hopefully, perhaps the third one will finally deal with Po, and his species, reluctance to fuck.
What's the story? When a bunch of criminal brothers return to their family home to dig up the cash they stashed away, they don't expect to find a group of 30somethings throwing a housewarming. Things get worse for the revellers when the convict's mother joins her sons, ready to inflict a little lesson of Mommy Knows Best.
Cast: Rebecca DeMornay (The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, Risky Business), Jaime King (Sin City, The Spirit). Darren Lynn Bousman (Saw II, III, IV).
Plus points: For those that like their blood red and their screams curdling Mother's Day does, at least, earn it's 18.
Let downs: The lack of any, even remotely, likeable characters means it's just a case of wait to see who gets 'deaded' next. Seeing as this is from the guy who gave us Saw's II-IV, lack of characterisation is hardly surprising.
Critics said: "Excruciatingly misguided" (Time Out) it "clomps from traumatic to ridiculous to boring" (Little White Lies). 63% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Verdict: The mere idea of a home invasion is enough to make queasy the more sensitive souls, after all an Englishman's home is his castle and nobody wants bastards running around their castle. But nastiness itself isn't enough to sustain any film, least of all this forgettable date. Which is another thing; Friday the 13th, Halloween, Valentine's Day, Black Christmas, can't we have just one day a year where people don't get horribly cut up and tortured? Note to self: Shrove Tuesday, Film Idea. The inventor of the pancake seeks revenge against Jif...
What's the story? A girl does some dancing.
Cast: Katerina Graham (The Roommate, 17 Again), Lonette McKee (Malcolm X, Brewster's Millions). Director: Bille Woodruff (Beauty Shop, Honey).
Plus points: If I have to type 'the choreography is impressive' one more time I'm going to Riverdance on my own balls.
Let downs: You know what really pisses me off about this? It's called Honey 2 when the lead's name is Maria. Call it Maria and stop cashing in on anything that makes a profit by adding a number to it and xeroxing the script you talentless, money-grabbing, studio bastards.
Critics said: "It pans out so predictably Simon Cowell might have planned it." (Sky) Honey 2 “has no ambitions beyond delivering more of the same" (ViewLondon). 14% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Verdict: If you really like dancing go watch Top Hat or Singing in the Rain or some kids down the local park and let this feckless, spiritless, lazy dirge limp to a slow box-office death so no-one will ever try and replicate it again. Actually 'watching kids down the local park' may be illegal now, best check that before you leave the house.
The Best Film Still Showing
The Escapist. More4. Friday 9pm.
With X-Men:First Class and The Hangover:Part Two being a slight let down and a complete pile of pants, in that order, my recommendation is to give the cinema a miss this week and instead enjoy a very impressive British prison movie from the comfort of your own living room. It contains the wonderful Brian Cox and Shakespeare playing a nutter. So watch that. Or I dunno, read a book or something.
If you've noticed Owen is a little more upset at the state of movies than usual it's because he's decided to stop smoking. So please feel free follow him on Twitter and tell him how lovely fags are.