Movie boffin: what’s happening at the cinema

By admin
30 August 2013

With another cold and wet weekend headed our way, what better than to grab some popcorn and catch a great movie or two?

The big movie this week is Elysium (16 LV), director Neill Blomkamp’s much-anticipated follow-up to District 9 (2009). In the year 2154 the wealthy live on a pristine space station, Elysium, where all their needs are catered for, while the poor scrape by on a ruined Earth and try to infiltrate Elysium by any means necessary. When the life of a former car thief called Max (Matt Damon) hangs in the balance he agrees to take on a dangerous mission that pits him against Elysium government minister Delacourt (Jodie Foster), who sends a mercenary (District 9’s Sharlto Copley) to get rid of him.

The film received mostly positive reviews: critics’ reviews aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes gave it 69 per cent, and the consensus was that “after the heady sci-fi thrills of District 9, Elysium is a bit of a comedown for Blomkamp, but on its own terms, it delivers just often enough to satisfy”. British film magazine Empire gave it four stars, with critic Kim Newman writing, “Not perfect, but a much more satisfying Earth-in-ruins film than Oblivion or After Earth. It’s a little more conventional than District 9 (what isn’t?), but confirms Blomkamp as one of the potential science-fiction greats of this decade.”

For younger audience members, there’s Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters (7-9PG V), a sequel to Percy Jackson & the Lightning Thief (2010) and based on the series of teen fantasy books by Rick Riordan. In the first film teenager Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman of The Three Musketeers) discovered he’s a demigod – the son of a human mother and Greek god Poseidon. Now in order to save their home, Percy and his fellow demigod friends have to brave the Sea of Monsters to find the fabled Golden Fleece.

The film got mostly negative reviews, scoring 38 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes and 39 per cent on fellow reviews aggregate site Metacritic. Rotten Tomatoes found “it’s pretty and packed with action [but] unfortunately also waterlogged with characters and plots that can’t help but feel derivative”. Empire’s Ian Nathan gave it two stars and called it “a pale imitation of Harry Potter” writing “there’s nothing inept, nothing garbled about [director] Thor Freudenthal’s storytelling, it’s just so flavourless and derivative there’s nothing much to recommend about it either”. But if you love Greek mythology, perhaps give it a go.

Comedy drama Arthur Newman (16 LNS) tells the story of Wallace Avery (Colin Firth of The King’s Speech), a divorced former golf pro who’s messed up his one shot at happiness. He decides to fake his own death and assumes another identity to start anew. On his way to a new job in the US Midwest, he meets a troubled young woman (Emily Blunt of The Devil Wears Prada) who’s also trying to escape from her past and together they engage in an elaborate game of role-playing, stealing the identities of couples they meet along the way. But as painful secrets emerge, they start to wonder if it’s really possible to start over.

The movie received mostly negative reviews: Rotten Tomatoes gave it 23 per cent and the consensus was that “despite the natural charisma of its leads, Arthur Newman does little with its intriguing setup, and the result is bland and unconvincing”. Josh Bell of Las Vegas Weekly described it as “a slow, lethargic journey to nowhere, full of pseudo-profound dialogue and generic indie-drama plotting”.

Satyagraha (age restriction to be announced) is a Bollywood political thriller about an ambitious capitalist Manav (Ajay Devgan) who’s distraught after his best friend, Akhilesh (Indraneil Sengupta), dies. When Akhilesh’s widow (Amrita Rao) struggles to get compensation from the government, Akhilesh’s father, Dwarka (Amitabh Bachchan), slaps an arrogant official and gets imprisoned. Using social media Manav starts a campaign to free him, which inspires an uprising.

The film was well-received by most critics. India Today magazine awarded it four stars, calling it “a timely wake-up call for a wounded nation”. Taran Adarsh of website Bollywood Hungama also gave it four stars and described it as “an all-engrossing, compelling drama that mirrors the reality around us”.

-Sandra Visser

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