(PG, 94 minutes)
Director: Tim Johnson
Voice Cast: Jim Parsons, Rihanna, Steve Martin, Jennifer Lopez
Plot: Alien invasion movies are usually bloody, but in this animated flick, the gently officious extra-terrestrials ('the Boov') alight on Earth as their latest hiding spot, and non-violently relocate humanity to a carefree internment camp in Australia. The two sides meet when an error-prone Boov, Oh (Parsons), goes on the run with a 7th grade girl on a quest, Tip (Rihanna). Steve Martin, always a vocal delight, plays the Boov boss, who doesn’t quite understand Earth’s consumer goods.
Adult Irritation Potential: Oh’s malapropisms may tire after a while, and the Rihanna songs on the soundtrack are not exactly singles material.
(G, 112 minutes)
Director: Kenneth Branagh
Cast: Lily James, Cate Blanchett, Helena Bonham Carter, Richard Madden
Plot: A remarkably traditional take on a fairy tale with folk roots that extend back to the 17th century, this live action Cinderella has everything that the classic Disney animated version from 1950 had: a kind heroine (James), a cruel stepmother (Blanchett, capable but not remarkable), a fairy godmother (Bonham Carter), a prince (Madden), a ball, and serious royal fantasies. Kenneth Branagh has done many Shakespearean adaptations, as well as Thor, but never has he made a movie so firmly aimed at 11-year-old girls.
Adult Irritation Potential: Minor – the film’s look is gorgeous, although explaining how Cinderella got such an insanely narrow waist for her ball gown may be tricky.
Shaun the Sheep Movie
(G, 85 minutes)
Directors: Mark Burton & Richard Starzak
Voice Cast: Justin Fletcher, John Sparkes, Omid Djalili
Plot: Britain’s Aardman Animation, having moved on from claymation to computers, brings its small screen favourite to cinemas, with the sussed sheep (Fletcher) and his fellow farm cohorts venturing into the wider world when their owner (Sparkes) leaves the paddocks and loses his memory. The average Shaun the Sheep episode runs for a few minutes and has little dialogue – although Shaun’s baah’s are expressive – but a wealth of satirical ideas, so it remains to be seen how that will translate to a running time of almost one and a half hours.
Adult Irritation Potential: This adult will be greatly irritated if the farm’s pigs – dedicated troublemakers – aren’t in the supporting cast.
The Book of Life
(PG, 95 minutes)
Out: April 2
Director: Jorge Gutierez
Voice Cast: Diego Luna, Zoe Saldana, Channing Tatum, Ice Cube, Christina Applegate
Plot: As told by a museum guide (Applegate) to an unorderly assemblage of adolescents, this Mexican-themed animated movie is about that nation’s folklore, including a town where every story in the world resides. A pair of spirits bet on which of two boys (Luna and Tatum) will grow up to grasp the love of their female friend (Saldana), a process that involves a poisonous snake, bandits, and the netherworld. (Did I mention that Guillermo del Toro is a producer?)
Adult Irritation Potential: Anyone who recognises the voice of Ice Cube (as a candle maker) may worry that he’s about do what Ice Cube does best: swear with exclamatory force.
The Spongebob Movie: Sponge Out of Water
(PG, 92 minutes)
Out: April 2
Director: Paul Tibbitt
Voice Cast: Tom Kenny, Bill Fagerbakke, Rodger Bumpass, Antonio Banderas
Plot: The nuttiest yellow sea sponge in the ocean (Kenny) returns in a sequel that was already wildly popular in North America, as the undersea town of Bikini Bottom runs off the rails after the secret recipe for the beloved Krabby Patty goes missing. As in his previous big screen outing, SpongeBob and friends will go from traditional animation to computer-generated characters added to live action footage once they leave the ocean. Expect sea-themed lunacy, bad jokes and knowing asides.
Adult Irritation Potential: Have you heard SpongeBob’s voice?
Tinker Bell and the Legend of the Neverbeast
(G, 76 minutes)
Out: April 2
Director: Steve Loter
Voice Cast: Mae Whitman, Ginnifer Goodwin, Lucy Liu, Rosario Dawson
Plot: Disney’s gentlest fairy and the gang at Pixie Hollow have to deal with the fear of the unknown when a rather large creature, the NeverBeast, arrives in their picture book-like domain. Tinker Bell (Whitman) is not so sure, while Fawn (Goodwin) is determined to save the newcomer from the Scout Fairies. If you can foresee a very obvious lesson in this animated picture then you may well have seen one of the six previous Tinker Bell features.
Adult Irritation Potential: It may be a touch too saccharine for some, but this film has the miraculous potential to render a three-year-old still and quiet for well over an hour.
Humpback Whales 3D
(IMAX, E, 45 minutes)
Out: April 23
Director: Greg MacGillivray
Voice Cast: Ewan McGregor
Plot: A documentary adventure into the undersea world of some of the ocean’s most majestic creatures that is narrated by Ewan McGregor, this 3D journey will reveal the 20 metre-long humpback whale on a screen that is big enough to accommodate one. The footage will reveal mothers caring for their young, the humpbacks at acrobatic play, and serve as a reminder as to how whaling almost eradicated the species, all the while capturing their distinctive and otherworldly spectrum of whale vocalisation.
Adult Irritation Potential: Small, unless you’re a thwarted Japanese ‘research’ whaling boat captain.