Film Bites: Kids take over at the movies (+video)

By Chris Schulz

Hugh Jackman stars in Real Steel. Photo / Supplied
Hugh Jackman stars in Real Steel. Photo / Supplied

Kids, start nagging your parents to take you to the movies because there are a heap of films hitting theatres just in time for the school holidays.

The biggest is the CGI-dominated Transformers-for-kids tale Real Steel, starring Wolverine's Hugh Jackman and Lost's Evangeline Lily.

While the plot looks typical of many sports films - down-and-out boxer redeems himself by reuniting with his estranged son and hitting the comeback trail - Real Steel has one big difference.

Yep, these boxers aren't human - they're made of metal. Maybe they should have got Sylvester Stallone involved and called it Rocky vs Megatron.

Reviews have been mixed, with a 59 per cent approval rating on Metacritic, and The Hollywood Reporter slammed it for being highly unoriginal and consisting of "nothing but recycled parts".

TimeOut reviewer Francesca Rudkin was more kind, giving the film 3.5 stars out of five.

She called it "an at-times unusual blend of intense futuristic boxing and schmaltzy, predictable father and son drama" that was worth seeing on an iMax screen.

But if you can handle the cheese factor, Real Steel can probably be relied upon for some robotic eye candy action.

And that's something kids both big and little can enjoy.

Check out the trailer for Real Steel:

Also aimed squarely at the rugrats is Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World - the fourth instalment of the kids-become-embroiled-in-evil-plot-and-save-the-world family adventure series.

The surprising thing about this film is that it's directed by Robert Rodriguez, a lover of gore who directed the very-much-R18 trilogy of shockers Machete, Planet Terror or Sin City.

But Spy Kids 4 is definitely rated PG, and there are plenty of shenanigans to keep the kids involved, like dodgy time travelling villain the Timekeeper (as played by Jeremy Piven) and their new step-mum - a retired superspy (Jessica Alba).

Unfortunately, there's little to recommend in this for parents - unless dad is a major Alba fan. And with a 37 per cent rating on Metacritic, that's not a good sign.

Check out the trailer for Spy Kids 4 and read a feature on the film here:

If it's still raining after shelling out for the kids to see those two films, then throw them into The Smurfs, strap on those clunky 3D glasses, leave a giant bucket of popcorn on their laps and see how they go.

Starring the usually reliable Neil Patrick Harris alongside a cast of blue midgets, The Smurfs also includes a host of guest stars: Katy Perry, Sofia Vergara, Hank Azaria and George Lopez.

It's a bit of an action caper, with the little blue dudes getting sucked into a vortex and ending up in New York City with evil sorcerer Gargamel in hot pursuit.

It hasn't had great reviews from adult reviewers, but since when did they know anything about kids films?

Check out the trailer for The Smurfs:

Elsewhere, the ultimate big kid Rowan Atkinson returns for a second outing as a bumbling British spy in the James Bond spoof Johnny English Reborn.

It's been seven years since the first film, but apparently Atkinson thought it was worth returning to the franchise when fans of the rubber-faced comic would rather a return to Blackadder or Mr Bean than this light-hearted slapstick fare.

Giles Hardie from the Sydney Morning Herald gave the film just two stars out of five.

"Atkinson throws every comedy trick in his diverse arsenal at this film - rubber-faced Bean-isms, gross stupidity, slapstick, word plays, farce, absurdity and diverse physical oddities - and the result is a hectic, haphazard mix of the occasionally hysterical with the too-often hopeless," he said.

Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to decide for yourself whether Johnny English Reborn is "hysterical" or "hopeless".

Check out the trailer for Johnny English Reborn:

If you don't have kids, you're lucky enough to have a babysitter booked, or you don't want to share a cinema with a pack of jaffa-throwing tweens, there are a few films aimed at older audiences worth checking out.

Top of the pile is Samoa's first feature film The Orator, which has had rave reviews and even whispers of possible Oscar nominations.

Herald reviewer Peter Calder gave it four stars out of five. Read his review here.

Watch the trailer for The Orator:

If that's not your cup of tea, there's also Irish rom-com Happily Ever After, Japanese period romance Norwegian Wood and Bollywood comedy Rascals.

- Herald online

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