ALSO STARTING THIS WEEK
SCREEN Queen Angelina Jolie’s first film for two years takes itself far too seriously.
Salt is a thinly veiled attempt at making a Bourne-esque franchise, but rather than be genuinely gripping, the plot starts slow, is predictable and the script clichéd.
The film, which seems timely, given the recent Russian spy furore in the States, was originally written for a male lead.
In a nod to that, Jolie’s protagonist Evelyn Salt disguises herself as a man at one stage, to break into the White House, but the scene lacks humour.
Jolie can still kick some serious butt – there’s a huge body count in the film – but too often it seems she’s just going through the motions and some of the high-octane moments lack spark.
Chiwetel Ejiofor is on form as the counter-intelligence officer who chases Salt throughout the film, and is integral to the final scene that sets up a sequel.
If there are tongue-in-cheek moments, they don’t raise a laugh and the dull colour palette does nothing to lift the film out of the realms of mediocrity.
BASED on the newspaper comic strip by Brand Anderson and Phil Leeming, Marmaduke is a mildly entertaining family comedy about the rites of passage of a dog who believes you have to wag your tail to someone else’s beat to fit in.
Of course, the lovable mutt ultimately learns a valuable lesson about individuality versus conformity, with some slapstick interludes and syrupy sentiment to sweeten the pill.
Following in the paw prints of Cats & Dogs, Tom Dey’s film allows its animal stars to converse via digital trickery, their computer generated mouths moving and eyes bulging in exaggerated fashion, while all the human characters hear are barks and meows.
There are a couple of decent gags in Tim Rasmussen and Vince Di Meglio’s linear script, like ‘It’s raining cats and us!’
However, rather like the clumsy, four-legged hero, the film isn’t a pedigree breed and there are no surprises tucked under its collar.
Vocal performances are lively, despite the paucity of one-liners, and small children will love the dance sequences and cartoon violence.
CATS AND DOGS: THE REVENGE OF KITTY GALORE (U)
AFTER years in hiding, Kitty Galore (voiced by Bette Midler) breaks cover to steal valuable technology which she needs to construct a device that will get rid of the pesky dogs once and for all. Lou (Neil Patrick Harris) and his covert team of canine super agents are soon on the case and they induct clumsy police dog Diggs (James Marsden) into their ranks to work alongside veteran Butch (Nick Nolte) to save the day. A pigeon called Seamus (Katt Williams) provides clues to Kitty Galore's dastardly plan but to defeat the mad moggy, the dogs have to join forces with agents from MEOWS (Mousers Enforcing Our World Safety).
THE KARATE KID (PG)
WILL Smith's diminutive 11-year-old son Jaden takes the lead role of Dre Parker, who begrudgingly leaves Detroit to follow his mother Sherry (Taraji P Henson) to Beijing for her work. The young man struggles to adjust to his new surroundings but pretty classmate Mei Ying (Wenwen Han) helps with the cultural differences, sparking potential romance. Unfortunately, class bully Cheng (Zhenwei Wang) is rather fond of Mei too and he humiliates Dre in front of the other students. After reclusive maintenance man Mr Han (Jackie Chan) saves Dre from a beating at the hands of Cheng and his buddies, the American youngster is forced to take part in an open karate tournament. So training begins in earnest.
KNIGHT AND DAY (12A)
JUNE Havens (Cameron Diaz) is an unassuming Midwestern gal, who is in the wrong place at the wrong time. Boarding a flight bound for Boston, June is unexpectedly caught in the crossfire of a mid-air shoot out between paranoid government agent Roy Miller (Tom Cruise) and gun-toting assassins. June wakes the next morning, in her bed, believing that her high altitude adventure was nothing more than a bad dream, only for Miller to abduct her from a diner in front of would-be suitor, Rodney (Marc Blucas). The young woman is now marked for death and must quickly learn the tricks of the spy trade to stay alive.
THE LAST AIRBENDER (PG)
ORPHANED siblings Sokka (Jackson Rathbone) and Katara (Nicola Peltz) discover a young boy called Aang (Noah Ringer) frozen in the ice near their village. The tyke is covered in strange tattoos and the siblings surmise that Aang must be the Avatar, destined to manipulate the four elements (air, water, earth, fire). No sooner have the children arrived back at their village than outcast Prince Zuko (Dev Patel) from the Fire Nation and his soldiers capture Aang and hold him hostage aboard their ship. Thankfully, the prisoner escapes and begins the journey back to his temple, accompanied by Sokka and Katara.
STEP UP 3D (12A)
LUKE (Rick Malambri) is an aspiring filmmaker, who owns a warehouse in New York City called The Vault, where young dancers live together and hone their craft, performing as The Pirates. Rent on the property is months in arrears and unless Luke can find the balance quickly, dancer Julian (Joe Slaughter) from rival troupe The Samurai will buy the warehouse at auction. As luck would have it, the World Jam is just weeks away with a first prize of $100,000.
TINKER BELL AND THE GREAT FAIRY RESCUE (U)
THE animation sees Tinker Bell, voiced by Mae Whitman, and her fairy friends winging their way from Never Land to the lush meadows of the English countryside to bring summer to the Mainland. Forever curious and distracted by the sight of her first ever automobile Tinker Bell wanders away from fairy camp and flies alongside an oblivious Dr Griffiths (Michael Sheen) and his nine-year-old daughter Lizzie (Lauren Mote). Lonely and looking for entertainment, Lizzie, an ardent believer in fairies, wanders out into the fields and sets up a home for them, inadvertently catching Tinker Bell.