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I’m not nor­mally one to make box office pre­dic­tions but I have a gut feel­ing that The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls is going to be massive. It’s an inspir­ing New Zealand story, well told with plenty of humour and music, and the lit­er­ally irre­press­ible Topps’ lust for life shines like a beacon through­out. Using plenty of archiv­al foot­age and pho­tos, Leanne Pooley’s doc­u­ment­ary fol­lows the Twins from idyll­ic rur­al Calf Club Days, through the rough and tumble protests of the 80s, to their cur­rent status as liv­ing legends.

I recom­mend you take your kids so they can see how much of what’s good about New Zealand (that we take for gran­ted) was fought for by these strong and prin­cipled women, who also just hap­pen to be beloved fam­ily entertainers.

Dreamworks Animation chief Jeffrey Katzenberg has been trav­el­ling the world for the last year pro­mot­ing Monsters vs. Aliens and his new digit­al Tru3D tech­no­logy, hail­ing both as the saviour of cinema. After watch­ing, and some­what enjoy­ing, the film I have to say that the case for both is over­stated. The Dreamworks anim­ated products have always suffered in com­par­is­on with the pure storytelling vir­tues of Pixar and their reli­ance on cheap gags and stunt cast­ing is still in evid­ence here.

Ordinary Californian Susan Murphy (Reese Witherspoon) is struck by a met­eor­ite on her wed­ding day and trans­formed into a 50ft high vir­tu­ally indes­truct­ible super-woman. She’s cap­tured by the Government and taken to a secret facil­ity to live along­side sev­er­al oth­er oddball 50s B‑movie “mon­sters”, nev­er to be seen again, until called on to save Earth from a threat from out­er space.

More a premise than an actu­al movie, Monsters vs. Aliens bene­fits from the vibrant 3D visu­als and flicker-free digit­al present­a­tion but the sit­com humour and thin char­ac­ter­isa­tion renders it a bit too hol­low to be great.

This review­er is nor­mally the annoy­ing per­son who shushes the talk­ers in movies, but early on in The Uninvited, I decided to leave my neigh­bours alone as what they had to say was infin­itely more inter­est­ing than any­thing on the screen. A “wicked step­moth­er” movie with ele­ments drawn from oth­er super­nat­ur­al thrillers, and a twist that would thrill only the most naïve, The Uninvited is rated R13 and that’s about the age group that will get the most out of it.

At the open­ing of the film we see troubled teen Anna (Emily Browning) released from a men­tal hos­pit­al, back into the care of her author fath­er (David Strathairn) and his new girl­friend (Elizabeth Banks). Troubled by vis­ions, Anna becomes con­vinced that Banks’ char­ac­ter killed her moth­er and is try­ing to do away with her and her sis­ter. Not so much Uninvited as Unconvincing.

Feeling gen­er­ous, I asked for noth­ing more from 12 Rounds than it enter­tain me and it came close at times. A hokey adventure-thriller about a cop forced to under­go 12 tests to save his girl­friend from a psy­cho ter­ror­ist, it’s much lar­ger than life plot would really bene­fit from lar­ger than life prot­ag­on­ists – and not in the ‘con­dom stuffed with wal­nuts’ way that hero John Cena fills his t‑shirts. Cena, a super­star wrest­ler with a granite-jawed all-American qual­ity, is well short on cha­risma and the vil­lain, who looks like Wayne Coyne from The Flaming Lips, nev­er really combusts.

Peter Sellers was a com­ic geni­us and his Pink Panther films are beloved by many. Steve Martin is also a com­ic geni­us but his take on the role Sellers made fam­ous is not doing his repu­ta­tion much good. Maybe that’s not the point. Martin is a fam­ously intel­lec­tu­al com­ic and there are times watch­ing Pink Panther 2 when I sus­pec­ted that I was the vic­tim of an obscure situ­ation­ist prank rather than a genu­ine attempt at entertainment.

Finally, Ip Man is a kung fu biop­ic about the fam­ous Master Ip, the guy who taught Bruce Lee the ways of wing chun. Starting off as an easy going fable about a peace-loving par­agon of a man who, des­pite his mar­tial arts tal­ent, refuses to fight, Ip Man takes a dark turn when the Japanese invade Canton in 1938, bru­tal­ising and sub­du­ing the pop­u­la­tion. The Japanese in this film are so awful they make the Germans in Schindler’s List look like The Wiggles – it’s an ugly, ste­reo­typ­ic­al rep­res­ent­a­tion which leaves a sour taste.

Printed in Wellington’s Capital Times on Wednesday 8 April, 2009.

Notes on screen­ing con­di­tions: I’m still a suck­er for 3D and ever-hopeful that someone will do some­thing really cool with it one day. (I’ve already seen Coraline in 3D but my opin­ions on it’s awesome-ness are embar­goed until opens in August.) Ip Man was at the Embassy, a res­ult of Sky City Cinemas increas­ing attempts to gen­er­ate an audi­ence for Asian films in Wellington. The print looked like it had lost a gen­er­a­tion when the English sub­titles had been digit­ally added and, as a res­ult, looked washed-out on the big Embassy screen.