Alan Dee’s movie preview: Your choice, a second helping of Red or blue?

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Summer means sequels, as we have already seen, and this week’s release schedule is top-heavy with unashamed retreads of previous hits.

To be fair, the main movies in question are as different as chalk and cheese.

Helen Mirren and John Malkovich in Red 2

Helen Mirren and John Malkovich in Red 2

First up is Red 2, in which our wrinkly crew of deadly if slightly doddery retired special agents are called back into action despite their complaining knees and other assorted ailments.

Bruce Willis is trying to take life easy when edgy one-time colleague John Malkovich hoves into view, and together they uncover a portable nuclear warhead smuggled into Moscow during the Cold War by scientist Anthony Hopkins who is now locked up in an asylum for the criminally insane.

Helen Mirren can’t be left out, but this time round she is given orders to take Frank out.

And to bring the average age of the cast down a bit, Catherine Zeta-Jones joins the fun.

There are no surprises here to match the unexpected box office hit that was the original film, which obviously appealed to the more mature movie-goer who wanted something a bit more meaty than late life romance and retired opera singers – you know who we’re talking about.

It’s pretty much a given that Smurfs 2 was not given a green light on the promise of crusty old film fans like me liking it and spending their hard-earned cash watching irritating little blue creatures capering around the screen, so they won’t be disappointed.

It’s sad to see some real talent bound up in this family-friendly but completely forgettable nonsense, whether that’s Neal Patrick Harris who always seems ready to send himself up or Hank Azaria and Brendan Gleeson, who deserve so much better.

Supercool comedy star John Oliver, recently given the plum job of standing in for John Stewart on The Daily Show on the other side of the pond, may well be regretting that decision to voice one of the little chaps – but Alan Cumming, Shaquille O’Neill and the bloke who used to be Pee Wee Herman are in that camp, too.

The plot makes little sense, the character names are deliberately dense, and though aimed at a family audience it will only please children who haven’t really seen any other films. If you’re after a holiday outing, there is much better available.

For grown-up thrills, there’s The Conjuring, another ‘based on a true story’ tale of the paranormal that is so nerve-shredding that it has been restricted to a 15 certificate. Gulp!

Family move into run-down Rhode Island farmhouse, all seems to be going well and then scary things start to happen. Don’t they always? They call in a couple of ghost-spookers, and everything that you would expect to happen happens. Scary? No.