Movie boffin: What’s on at the cinema

By admin
19 April 2013

It’s a great week for fans of sci-fi as three of the four releases contain elements of this genre.

The big release of the week is the sci-fi adventure Oblivion starring Tom Cruise.

Directed by Joseph Kosinski, who made the visually stunning Tron: Legacy, the story takes place after Earth has been attacked by aliens and the surviving humans have left for a new home. Jack (Cruise) stays behind to service machinery that harvests resources, but starts to suspect there’s something amiss with his mission. Most critics felt the film was visually striking but thinly scripted.

Empire magazine gave it three stars, ending the review with: “Kosinski has again built a fantasy world that feels real to its core, but once more put most effort into the scenery and too little into the people.”

Escape from Planet Earth is an animated sci-fi comedy about cocky blue alien astronaut Scorch Supernova (voiced by Brendan Fraser) of the planet Baab, who pulls off daring rescues with the behind-the-scenes help of his nerdy brother, Gary (Rob Corddry). When a distress call comes in from a mysterious planet, which turns out to be Earth, Scorch recklessly heads into danger and gets caught in a trap.

Now it’s up to timid Gary to save his brother. Reviews aggregate site Metacritic gave the film only 35 per cent but Joe Leydon of Variety magazine wrote, “A lightweight, warp-speed, brightly coloured trifle that should delight small children and sporadically amuse their parents.”

The quirky sci-fi comedy Robot & Frank is centred on a retired cat burglar, Frank (veteran actor Frank Langella of Frost/Nixon), whose kids are worried he’s getting too old to live alone. As this is the future, they decide to buy him a walking, talking robot programmed to improve his physical and mental health.

Frank is initially against the idea, but soon realises the robot could be a useful partner in crime. The film received mostly rave reviews: on reviews aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes it got 87 per cent. Langella’s charming performance was lauded and Total Film magazine gave it four stars, calling the movie “playful and poignant”, and saying it “nudges us towards subtle meditations on how the things that make us can break us in old age”.

The Bollywood film this week, Ek thi Daayan (“once there lived a witch”), is also fantastical, as it’s a horror film about an illusionist (Emraan Hashmi) being haunted by a witch. Jinson John of Indian Box Office Online gave it three-and-a-half stars.

-Sandra Visser

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