Movie boffin: what’s on at the movies

By admin
12 April 2013

What to watch at the movies this weekend.

If you were disappointed with the latest Die Hard movie, Olympus Has Fallen could be what you’ve been waiting for as it follows the template of the original Die Hard. When the White House is taken over by terrorists and the president (Aaron Eckhart of The Dark Knight) is kidnapped, disgraced former presidential guard Mike Banning (300 star Gerard Butler) is trapped inside and decides to use his inside knowledge to take on the bad guys. Although the film received mixed reviews and 48 per cent on reviews site Rotten Tomatoes, the consensus was that although it was far from original, Antoine Fuqua’s tense direction and Butler’s strong performance could be enough for action junkies.

The other big mainstream release is The Host, which is based on Twilight author Stephenie Meyer’s only other work, also a romance novel but with a sci-fi spin. In the future, aliens have come to Earth and destroyed most of humankind by taking over our bodies. A small pocket of resistance still holds out and when a young woman, Melanie (Hanna star Saoirse Ronan), who’s in love with fellow human Jared (Max Irons of Red Riding Hood) is captured by the aliens, she’s sure it’s the end. But when an alien, Wanderer, inhabits her body Melanie refuses to “disappear” and influences Wanderer to find Jared. The film has received overwhelmingly negative reviews, with Total Film magazine calling it half-baked and abysmal and Rotten Tomatoes chiming in with “tedious and stale”.

A lowbrow comedy aimed at teenage boys, 21 & Over is about straight-A student Jeff Chang (Justin Chon), who’s always done what’s expected of him. But the night before his medical school interview his two best friends decide to take him for a wild night out to celebrate his 21st birthday (the legal drinking age in the US). Chaos, debauchery and overindulgence ensues. Most reviewers described this as a wannabe Hangover that falls short because it’s not consistently funny and quite predictable, but its target audience will no doubt lap it up.

Seven Psychopaths is from Martin McDonagh, the director of the excellent black comedy In Bruges, the film which gave Total Recall actor Colin Farrell his best role in years. Farrell teams up with McDonagh again in this crime comedy and stars as a struggling Irish screenwriter who becomes entangled in the Los Angeles criminal underworld after his oddball friends, including Sam Rockwell and Christopher Walken, kidnap gangster Woody Harrelson’s beloved shih-tzu dog. Empire magazine gave it four stars and said it’s “enormously entertaining, perfectly cast and endlessly quotable”.

Won’t Back Down stars Viola Davis, who gave a powerful performance in The Help, and Maggie Gyllenhaal of The Dark Knight as two determined mothers who battle the entrenched bureaucracy at their children’s failing inner-city school to transform it for the better. But despite the actresses’ best efforts reviews-aggregate site Metacritic gave it only 42 per cent and Rotten Tomatoes quoted Grant Rollings of the Sun Online who wrote, “All efforts to add zest to a serious subject fail.”

A Lucky Man is a local drama based on the life of Cape Flats gangster Ernie “Lastig” Solomon and looks at his choices as a boy and young man before he ended up in jail. The film was created as a message to young people not to follow in Solomon’s footsteps – at the end he talks to the camera and warns viewers about how the gangster community is false and meaningless. Unfortunately it doesn’t succeed; Laetitia Pople of Die Burger gave the film only one star and writes there’s too little background information to provide context for the viewer.

-Sandra Visser

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