We review all this week's releases

Yahoo UK Movies Features
4 May 2012

American Pie: Reunion – 3.5/5

In short:
The gang are all back for the final instalment in the 'American Pie' series. Jim (Jason Biggs) and Michelle (Alyson Hannigan) are now married, but have little time for each other following the birth of their son. Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas) is a house husband, who still holds a torch for Vicky (Tara Reid) whereas Oz (Chris Klein) is living it up as a minor celebrity with a stunning girlfriend (Katrina Bowden).  Then there is Stifler (Seann William Scott), who is just the same. He's still bitter about Finch (Eddy Kay Thomas) sleeping with his mum, but that isn't enough to put him off joining the gang for the latest high school reunion.  And so all the old gang return to their origins, but is this one last hurrah or a chance to kick-start their lives?

What we think:
Remaining thankfully true to its bawdy origins, 'American Pie: Reunion' is riotously funny and has the nostalgia factor in spades.

The word out there:
Empire: The first couple of servings back in the day were fresh and fruity, but the franchise has been left on the shelf a little too long.
Total Film: Warning: contains Jason Biggs’ wang and the contents of Stifler’s bowels. Happily, the fourth, funny, (possibly) final serving of American Pie is also warm and nostalgic enough to satisfy.
TimeOut: There has never been a movie with so many shots of grown men eyeing teenage girls’ backsides. The result is fitfully amusing but more often just creepy.

Release date: 2 May
Runtime: 113 mins
Rating: 15

Watch the trailer for 'American Pie: Reunion'

The Lucky One – 1/5

In short:

After three tours of Iraq, US Marine Logan (Zac Efron) returns to his homeland wondering how he survived so many brushes with death. Most of his fortunate escapes came after he found a photo of a mysterious girl, so, deciding that she is his guardian angel, he sets out across America to find her. Surprisingly, he tracks her down in Louisiana. Her name is Beth (Taylor Schilling) and she runs a dog shelter with her grandmother and young son Ben (Riley Thomas Stewart). Unable to explain his sudden arrival, Logan takes a job working with the dogs, and gradually grows closer to his angel. But with her ex-husband and local sheriff (Jay R. Ferguson) lurking around the corner, and his past threatening to catch-up with him, will it all work out for the couple who seemed fated to meet?

What we think:
Another insipid Nicholas Sparks romance fails to set our hearts aflame. It's the usual sickly-sweet fare, but this time the light, fluffy plot is replaced with musical montages - endless, repetitive musical montages. The melodrama master may have finally run out of ideas.

The word out there:
Empire: The Notebook may have had us blubbing but since then Nicholas Sparks adaptations have offered thin pickings for cinemagoers.
Total Film: A through-and-through weepie that’s unlikely to convert any Sparks naysayers.
TimeOut: ‘The Lucky One’ lacks the romantic impact of the adaptation of Sparks’s ‘The Notebook’ or even Channing Tatum-starrer ‘Dear John’.
IndieLondon: Everything about The Lucky One feels contrived, whether it’s the flimsy plot device driving the central romance or the one dimensional nature of most of the characters.

Release date: 2 May
Runtime: 101 mins
Rating: 12A

Watch the trailer for 'The Lucky One'

Safe – 4/5

In short:
10-year-old Chinese maths prodigy Mei (Catherine Chan) is being held by mob boss Han Jiao (James Hong), who plans to ship her off to New York to work as a number counter for his businesses. Meanwhile Luke Wright (Statham) is a washed up cage fighter who has fallen on hard times. The Russian Mafia are after him, corrupt police are on his case and he has a dodgy mayor watching his every move. When Luke finds the frightened Mei on the run from his own enemies, he decides to help. It's going to be one crazy night in New York, and the unlikely pair are going to have to use brains and brawn to make it to morning

What we think:

The plot is generic, and the action not entirely original but there is a breathless energy and witty execution that makes this immensely watchable. 'Safe' is Jason Statham's best Hollywood film.

The word out there:
Empire: A rough, exhausting, exhilarating action picture with a payoff which would have delighted Sam Fuller or Howard Hawks. The Stath - an actual Olympian, remember - is on top form.
Total Film: With Yakin's all-action plot operating like clockwork, an on-song Statham proves anything but expendable in a genre he dominates.
TimeOut: ‘Safe’ is a film constructed entirely of clichés: the tight-lipped hero with a dark past, the chirpy, mouthy kid sidekick, the legions of interchangeable hoods with funny accents and bad attitudes.
WhatCulture: For 14 yr old boys with extremely short attention spans and hardened Statham fans only. Anyone else will probably want to skip Safe.

Release date: 4 May
Runtime: 94 mins
Rating: 15

Watch the trailer for 'Safe' starring Jason Statham

Silent House – 2/5

In short:
Sarah (Elizabeth Olsen) is headed to the countryside with her father (Adam Trese) and uncle Peter (Eric Sheffer Stevens). There the trio set about repairing their dilapidated holiday home, preparing it for an imminent sale. While they're working, Sophie (Julia Taylor Ross) appears, claiming to be a childhood friend of Sarah's: something Sarah herself has no recollection of. This is just the beginning of the strange events in store for Sarah. As she rummages through the damaged and dirty recesses of the house strange things begin to happen. At first it's just noises, but things are about to get much worse.

What we think:
A commitment to the unnerving single shot that composed the original and a relentless intense performance from Elizabeth Olsen can't quite pull this Rope-y horror through it's dire final act.

The word out there:
Empire: It works as a suspense-building scare machine, given heart and depth by Olsen’s performance - though it’s still an effective exercise in misdirection rather than a strikingly original vision.
Total Film: Technically impressive, genre-smart and nerve-shredding while it lasts, Silent House is really just a fun campfire horror tale.
TimeOut: This is an unimaginative ‘re-imagining’ of ‘La Casa Muda’, a low-budget Uruguayan horror movie from 2011.
On The Box: Dull gives way to ridiculous in the film’s final act – a needlessly expository explanation which feels unconvincing and contrived. Elizabeth Olsen shines like a diamond in a coal scuttle.

Release date: 4 May
Runtime: 85 mins
Rating: 15

Watch the trailer for 'Silent House'

Beauty and the Beast 3D – 5/5

In short:
Originally released in 1991, this classic tale has won over audiences like few others. The story begins with an arrogant prince cursed to live as a hideous beast. His castle is turned into a dark and foreboding place where all the staff have been transmogrified into household objects. In a nearby village, Belle dreams of a world far away. Her father is an eccentric inventor, who also wants the best for his daughter, although local village show-off Gaston has set his sights on winning Belle for himself. When Belle finds herself trapped in the beast's castle, she is forced to put up with his foul moods, with only walking teacups and dancing wardrobes for company. But can she ever fall in love with the man underneath the fur? And will Gaston give up the girl he desires? Time to find out... in 3D.

What we think:
A flawless example of animated filmmaking. Its appeal is universal and its impact long lasting. 'Beauty and the Beast' in 3D is unmissable.

The word out there:

The Express: Pure fairytale escapism that doesn’t boast any digital trickery, celebrity voiceovers or unnecessary action.
The Guardian: There's plenty of craftsmanship in this Disney rerelease, but it might struggle to appeal to the post-Pixar generation.
TimeOut: Whether or not you give a mouse dropping about 3D (and Disney has done a smashing job on the refit), what a treat it is to see ‘Beauty and the Beast’ again.
I Heart The Talkies: The 3D is noticeable form the very beginning of the film. Given that the film was never intended to be exhibited in 3D, it actually works rather well in this form.

Release date: 4 May
Runtime: 92 mins
Rating: U

Watch the trailer for 'Beauty and The Beast'

Juan of the Dead – 4/5

In short:
Juan (Alexis Dias de Villegas) has spent all of his 40 years living in Cuba and doing nothing much. Juan's best friend Lazaro (Jorge Molina) is an even bigger loser who ruins anything that might turn the pair's fortunes around. Their lazy way of life is about to be shattered, however, when a mysterious virus begins to turn normal citizens into mindless zombies. As the residents are turned into what local media refer to as 'dissidents', Juan spots a chance to make a quick buck. Enlisting his daughter Camila (Andrea Duro) and Lazaro's son Vladi (Andros Perugorria), Juan sets up a business to rid the survivors of the zombie scourge. Soon 'Juan de los Muertos' is up and running, taking care of your bloodthirsty relatives... for a small fee of course.

What we think:
This Cuban version of 'Shaun of the Dead' is soaked in political satire and none-too-subtle humour. Occasionally it's borderline offensive, but it's still a highly entertaining watch.

The word out there:
Screengeek: The humour is propelled along by the kinetic direction of Alejandro Brugues, echoing the playful style of Edgar Wright, with the occasional rebellious touch of an early Robert Rodriguez.
Empire: If it’s not too late in the day for yet another zombie movie, this has enough small pleasures... to make it a worthwhile watch for a) Cuban exiles and b) long-term zombie completists. Others may be slightly bewildered.
TimeOut: [C]haracters appear for no reason and are bumped off without warning; there’s just not enough flesh on these funny bones.
Onthebox: As a horror movie it’s passable but it’s made more enjoyable by its likable leads (Juan in particular, who looks like a Hispanic John Tuturro), playful attitude and rather more biting satire.

Release date: 4 May
Runtime: 92 mins
Rating: 15

Hara-Kiri: Death Of A Samurai – 4/5

In short:
In feudal Japan at the beginning of the 17th century, penniless ronin Hanshiro Tsugumo (Ebizô Ichikawa) has grown tired of his miserable life and resolved to end it in a manner befitting a samurai: by committing hara-kiri (seppuku) in the courtyard of the House of Li. The head of the house (Kôji Yakusho), however, is suspicious. During these difficult times, they have been plagued with poor samurai threatening suicide in order to elicit charity. In a bid to deter another scammer, he tells Hanshiro the sad story of the last man who came to his court requesting permission to kill themselves. As the story of Motome Chijiiwa (Eita) unravels, matters become more complex than the servant of Li anticipated.

What we think:
Make no mistake, this is no lightweight homage to the past. Miike draws on the latest technology to vividly, and often painfully, revive the rich ideas of this classic samurai tale.

The word out there:
The Guardian: Takashi Miike's 17th-century samurai revenger's tragedy is superbly acted.
New Empress: The vast majority of the film does not follow the typical direction of a ‘samurai film.’ ‘Action’ is kept to a minimum to make it all the more significant and the day-to-day domestic concerns of a family living in poverty is what fuels the film.
Total Film: The 3D is completely redundant and the action sporadic but unexpected gearshifts provide plenty of narrative meat.
TimeOut: Taken on its own merits, the film has a lot to recommend it... But for all this, the film fails to step out of the shadows of its illustrious forebears.

Release date: 4 May
Runtime: 126 mins
Rating: 18

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