When a film franchise comes out with a third installment, one gets a sense that that franchise knows what they’re doing and that they are definitely in the business of making money, not high art. Since 2008, the Kung Fu Panda films have repackaged Shrek in a tasty Chinese coating and passed it off as original animated entertainment and DreamWorks Animation actually did get it right. Jack Black serves as voice actor superstar, accompanied by a who’s who of modern day supportive acting talent. Kung Fu Panda 3 continues to follow the adventures of spiritually-misguided Po, a panda who, through the power of kung fu, teamwork, and friendship sees deeper and realizes his true potential. This is the third film, so expect strong similarities between this installment and the previous two however that’s not saying this is a mediocre film because it really is rather fun and lively, not to mention funny and brimming with strong technical achievements.
The woes of the one-hit wonder have been cleverly documented on film all too well. Movies like Barton Fink and Wonder Boys have tackled the subject exquisitely and numerous scribes throughout history have fallen victim to this unfortunate case of writer’s block. The new rom-com The Rewrite is based on the possibility that a once great creator can become a bit frozen when it comes to creating. Throw in a quirky plot, a pleasant setting and a superb supporting cast and you definitely have something worth checking out. It is a film that doesn’t break any genre rules or offer anything particularly new, just a cute story and a fine cast of actors.
Murder mysteries have sort have disappeared from movie theaters in recent times. Gone are the days of pulpy film noirs with shadowy characters and anti-heroes tempted by sexy and morally-ambiguous femme fatales. The new oddball comedy Murder of a Cat attempts to travel back to the era of film noir, using a feline as the murder victim and a slacker man-child as the private dick investigating the crime. It is a film that tries to be cute and succeeds here and there but it ultimately falls flat and offers nothing new or special. The film’s saving grace would simply have to be the performances, which while funny, can’t save this picture from mediocrity.