Stardust posterThe school holidays get under way on Monday and the major movie distributors are making sure you have plenty of choice about where to drop the sprogs while you head off to play the pokies. First up British fantasy film Stardust, based on a Neil Gaiman novel and featuring a catalogue of famous names, from Robert De Niro and Ricky Gervais to Sienna Miller and Michelle Pfeiffer. In the tradition of The Princess Bride (as the saying goes), Stardust is directed by Matthew Vaughan who produced Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch and directed Layer Cake so expect plenty of swearing and gunfights (perhaps not). Readings, Empire, Regent-on-Manners, Queensgate.

[The rest of this week’s new films after the jump.]

There’s another raft of animated penguins on offer in Surf’s Up, from Sony. The twist this time around is that the film is an animated mockumentary and the focus is the World Penguin Surfing Championship and major contender Cody Maverick (voiced by Transformers’ Shia LaBoeuf). Readings, Empire, Regent-on-Manners, Queensgate.

Toy franchise the Bratz get the live-action treatment in Bratz: The Movie. According to the Readings web site the film stars Paula Abdul but this story in the New York Post says she was fired for being “a night mare to deal with”. I’ll be there the first screening this morning to confirm or deny her presence. Don’t you wish you were me? Bratz is also playing at Sky City Queensgate.

Finally (for the kids at any rate) is Underdog, a Disney adventure about a dog who gets super powers in a laboratory accident and becomes a superhero. Jim Belushi returns from obscurity to star as the lead grown-up. You’ll find Underdog at Readings, Regent-on-Manners and Queensgate.

Independently-produced New Zealand feature film When Night Falls had a Gala World Premiere at the Paramount last night and gets a short season there from today. The 1930s horror-thriller was shot digitally around Wellington and stars Tania Nolan, Rosella Hart and Sylvia Rands.

Finally the Penthouse asks us to “Think The Full Monty in Japanese with Hula dancing!” presenting us with the Japanese sleeper hit Hula Girls. Variety says ”a gallery of well-drawn characters and keen observations of small-town life make the time pass pleasantly.”

All these films will be reviewed at Funerals & Snakes next Wednesday (and in print via the Capital Times on the same day).