Movie boffin: what’s happening at the cinema

By Kirstin Buick
08 November 2013

Our Movie Boffin reveals this weekend's must-watch movies.

The highly anticipated Thor: The Dark World (10–12PG V) opens today giving comic book fans and Chris Hemsworth fanatics something to look forward to tonight.

The sequel to 2011’s hit film Thor, based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name, follows the events of 2012’s hit The Avengers. Loki (Tom Hiddleston) was imprisoned and the Bifrost was repaired, making contact between Earth and Asgard possible again. But just as Thor (Chris Hemsworth) has restored peace to the Nine Realms, old enemies the Dark Elves return seeking revenge.

The hundreds of thousands of fans flocking to theatres won’t give a hoot what critics have to say but reviews have been mostly positive. It received a score of 58 out of 100 on Metacritic and 73 out of 100 on Rotten Tomatoes, who said, “it may not be the finest film to come from the Marvel Universe but Thor: The Dark World still offers plenty of the humour and high-stakes action that fans have come to expect”.

British film magazines Empire and Total Film both gave the film four stars. Empire’s Chris Hewitt loved it, saying the audience is “rewarded with a thrilling and often surprisingly funny reminder that, following The Avengers and Iron Man 3, nobody is better than Marvel at this blockbuster business right now”.

Total Film’s Neil Smith described it as “a breakneck sequel that’s never dark for long”.

Book your ticket now.

On the other end of the reality spectrum there’s The Butler (13 LPV), the new drama from acclaimed director Lee Daniels (Precious). The film is loosely based on the life of a White House butler, who served eight American presidents over three decades from the ’50s to the ’80s.

Forest Whitaker, who won a Best Actor Academy Award for The Last King of Scotland, plays the butler called Cecil Gaines (played by Forest Whitaker) in the film. The stellar cast includes Oprah Winfrey in her first big-screen role since 1998’s Beloved as well as Alan Rickman, Vanessa Redgrave and Terrence Howard.

The film, which is tipped for Oscar glory, got a score of 66 on Metacritic and 73 on Rotten Tomatoes.

“The Butler mixes big issues and big people and real human life with surprising grace”, Tom Long of the Detroit News newspaper wrote. Ken Hanke of the Mountain Xpress newspaper gave it four stars, calling it “a very worthy film”.

But it’s also “manipulative and preachy”, Empire’s Simon Braund wrote. “There’s no doubting Daniels’ sincerity, but he lays it on with a trowel. And although the film’s message is entirely principled, it smacks of self-importance and comes with a veneer of sentimentality that’s unlikely to sit well with audiences outside the US”. Whitaker, however, provided a “superb” performance and Winfrey’s was “terrific”.

Book if you love stories based on real life. Give it a miss if you’re looking for a Friday action flick.

For a bit of romcom delight, there’s Baggage Claim (PG). The lovely Paula Patton (Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol), wife of Blurred Lines hitmaker Robin Thicke, plays a flight attendant who gives herself 30 days to find Mr Right when she finds out her little sister (Lauren London) is getting married.

It didn’t do well with critics. Rotten Tomatoes, who gave it a score of 15, said, “Baggage Claim hits the same notes as a number of successful romantic comedies without establishing much personality of its own”.

Total Film’s Ken McIntyre gave it two stars, writing that it “shows subtlety the door almost the minute it starts. [Director] David E Talbert’s romcom is the filmic equivalent of a frying pan to the skull”.

Perhaps check out what else is in your local cinema – or try M-Net’s Box Office if you have a PVR.

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