Alan Dee: This week’s new film releases

WHEN they write the history of cinema 2011 will go down either as the year in which 3D became the new standard or withered away due to general lack of interest. What’s it going to be – on a par with the talkies, or Cinemascope?

If you want my vote, the 3D backlash is well under way. Serious film fans are boycotting the fancy format in favour of the 2D option, and I’m with them.

But still the 3D blockbusters heave themselves on to the horizon, and the latest is Cars 2, in which the likes of Owen Wilson, Michael Caine, Joe Mantegna, John Turturro and Emily Mortimer lend their voices to a second slice of fun from the strangely uninvolving four-wheeled characters from the Pixar people.

This time round, as is almost obligatory with sequels, the crew are hitting the road in search of new locations.

There’s a race being staged in Europe to find out which is the fastest car on the planet, which is where Caine and Mortimer come in.

It’s all pretty much exactly what you’d expect from a second lap – familiar, funny in places, reliable family fare but not destined to be remembered as a classic, even with that ‘added value’ 3D,

> Here’s an idea that might go down well in these tough times – let’s kill the boss!

Seth Gordon’s Horrible Bosses ropes in Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Spacey, Colin Farrell and Jason Bateman to tell the tale of three downtrodden workers who are so fed up that rather than file a grievance with HR they decide to cut to the chase and assassinate the source of their employment anguish.

Aniston, Spacey and Farrell are the bosses concerned in a series of linked stories and Jamie Foxx also turns up as the hit man the unhappy workers turn to for help. It’s basically 9 To 5 meets Strangers On A Train, a neat idea performed with vim and vigour and a pleasant change from the slew of soppy rom coms we’ve been subjected to lately.

> Also flying the flag for offbeat comedy is Beginners, in which Ewan McGregor has to cope with the double whammy dropped on him by dad Christopher Plummer. One, the old man is dying. Two, he’s gay, and now Ewan’s mum has passed on he’s coming out of the closet with a vengeance.

Director Mike Mills, who based the story on his relationship with his own father, handles sensitive issues deftly – worth seeking out.

> You might also get a chance to catch The Big Picture, one of those slick French takes on a hit American thriller, this time by US author Douglas Kennedy. The 2006 hit Tell No One, adapted from the book of the same name by Harlan Coben, was one of the best examples of this sort of transatlantic translation, and this one is in the same league for sophisticated grown-up entertainment.