Movie boffin: what’s happening at the cinema

By admin
08 August 2013

There aren’t any blockbusters this week. The biggest mainstream film is Now You See Me

There aren’t any blockbusters this week. The biggest mainstream film is Now You See Me (10-12PG), a thriller about four illusionists – a street magician (The Social Network’s Jesse Eisenberg), an escape artist (Isla Fisher of Confessions of a Shopaholic), a mind reader (Woody Harrelson) and a pickpocket (Dave Franco of 21 Jump Street) – brought together by a mysterious mastermind to pull off elaborate crimes.

The film received mixed reviews. Reviews aggregate sites Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic gave it 48 and 50 per cent respectively. On Rotten Tomatoes the consensus was that the “thinly sketched characters and scattered plot rely on sleight of hand from the director to distract audiences”.

British film magazines Total Film and Empire were a bit more positive – their reviewers both gave the movie three stars but complained the ending lets it down. Empire’s Olly Richards wrote, “Magicians as criminals is a marvellous conceit and [director] Louis Leterrier gets a great deal of entertainment out of it, but it can’t disguise a weak end with smoke and mirrors.” And Total Film’s Ken McIntyre’s verdict was, “Starts well, ends in a heap, but in between there’s just enough splash and flash to distract from the lack of substance.”

Adam Sandler and his gang of fellow comics, including Chris Rock, David Spade and Kevin James, return for Grown Ups 2 (10-12PG L). Lenny (Sandler) and his family have moved back to his small hometown where his friends still live. When the public swimming pool is taken over by a group of college jocks, including Heroes’ Milo Ventimiglia and Twilight’s Taylor Lautner, the middle-aged men try to prove they’re still alpha males by showing the young upstarts who’s boss.

The film received overwhelmingly negative reviews. On Rotten Tomatoes it got only seven per cent and was summed up with the following, “Grown Ups 2 will bore, annoy and disgust audiences of nearly every persuasion.” Ken McIntyre gave it one star and noted US critic Richard Roeper said, “When Taylor Lautner is the funniest thing in a movie starring Adam Sandler and Chris Rock, we’re in trouble.”

A cast of top British actors, including Helena Bonham Carter and Ralph Fiennes, head up another adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic novel Great Expectations (10-12PG). Set in 1880s England, it tells the story of humble orphan Pip (Jeremy Irvine of War Horse) who suddenly becomes wealthy with the help of an unknown benefactor and climbs the class ladder to pursue his dream girl, the hard-hearted Estella (The Borgias’ Holliday Grainger).

The reception the film received was mostly positive. Both Empire and Total Film gave it three stars, writing that although director Mike Newell (Four Weddings and a Funeral) does nothing innovative to distinguish his version from the many other adaptations, it’s still a classy film that ticks all the boxes. Guy Lodge of Empire wrote, “For those who haven’t yet encountered this story on screen (or, indeed, on the page), this tidily paced, attractively cast film is a perfectly good primer”, while Total Film’s Kate Stables praised the central duo of Irvine and Grainger who “lift the film out of its classy but cosy mode into something finer”.

Fast & Furious actor Paul Walker stars in Vehicle 19 (13V), an action thriller directed by South African filmmaker Mukunda Michael Dewil and set in Johannesburg. Walker plays a recently paroled man who accidentally picks up the wrong rental car after his long-haul flight. It turns out there’s a girl in the trunk, a gun under the seat and police corruption around every corner.

The film received mostly negative reviews – Rotten Tomatoes gave it only 25 per cent, and summed it up with the following, “It starts with an interesting premise and Paul Walker is as handsomely brooding as ever, but [the film’s] incoherently shot action sequences make it a poor substitute for his work in the Fast & Furious movies.” Total Film’s Jamie Graham was more positive, giving it three stars and called it a “competent B movie”.

Of Good Report (16LVSN), the South African film initially banned when it was meant to be screened at the Durban International Film Festival, is now being released. Described as a Little Red Riding Hood story told from the perspective of the wolf, it focuses on a teacher (Mothusi Magano) who, after having an affair with one of his learners (Petronella Tshuma), spirals into an abyss of obsession that eventually turns to murder. Times Live’s Tymon Smith described the film as “daring, refreshing, clever and darkly comic” and “one of the most intriguing, surprising and intelligent pieces of cinema to come out of South Africa in decades”.

Chennai Express (age restriction to be announced) is a Bollywood action comedy starring superstar Shah Rukh Khan as Rahul who stays with his grandparents in Mumbai and is prevented from getting married by his possessive grandfather who can’t live without him. When Rahul accidentally boards the wrong train he finds true love. Boxofficecapsule.com gave the film 3,5 out of five, calling it “entertaining but not as mindless as many other films in [the] same genre”.

Thalaivaa (age restriction to be announced) is a Tamil-language romance about a shy man (Vijay) whose only passion is dance and how circumstances transform him into a respected leader. The film hasn’t been reviewed yet.

-Sandra Visser

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