Movie boffin: what’s happening at the cinema

By admin
16 August 2013

Take refuge from the cold and head to the cinema for one of these latest releases.

Fans of Pixar’s Cars and Cars 2 should enjoy the spin-off, Planes (PG), which is centred on a humble cropduster, Dusty (voiced by Dane Cook of Good Luck Chuck), that dreams of competing as a high-flying racer but is afraid of heights. With the help of seasoned fighter plane Skipper (Stacy Keach of Prison Break) he gets a chance to compete in a world-famous aerial race.

Although executive produced by Disney/Pixar chief John Lasseter, the film was originally intended as a direct-to-DVD sequel and was handed over to DisneyToon Studio, which makes DVD sequels such as The Lion King 2 (1998), so it didn’t receive the tender loving care usually applied to Pixar/Disney films and got mostly negative reviews.

Reviews aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes awarded it only 25 per cent, concluding that “Planes has enough bright colours, goofy voices and slick animation to distract some young viewers – and probably sell plenty of toys – but on nearly every other level it’s a disappointment”.

Jimmy in Pienk (7-9PG) is an Afrikaans comedy starring Die Laaste Tango’s Louw Venter as conservative mielie farmer Jimmy Bester who lives out his creative side by shearing sheep but has to hide it from his father, who believes creativity is for sissies. The Bester farm is in trouble and the only solution is for Jimmy to travel to Cape Town to ask for help from his gay uncle Fred (Gys de Villiers of Verraaiers). But Fred holds a grudge against his family for rejecting him and tells Jimmy the only way he’ll get the money is if he enters Fred’s hairdressing competition and wins the prize money.

Die Burger’s Laetitia Pople gave the film three stars, calling it highly entertaining and a touch eccentric, but criticised it for its stereotypical depiction of gay men, although she does concede that director Hanneke Schutte pokes fun at various other stereotypes too, such as the macho Afrikaans farmer.

Writer/actress Brit Marling, known for thoughtful sci-fi dramas Another Earth (2011) and Sound of My Voice (2011), reteams with the latter’s director, Zal Batmanglij, for The East (13V), an espionage thriller about former FBI agent Sarah (Marling) who takes a job at an elite private intelligence firm and is sent to infiltrate The East, an anarchist group which carries out attacks on corrupt corporations. But she becomes attracted to their leader, Benji (True Blood’s Alexander Skarsgård), and starts to sympathise with their cause.

The film received mostly positive reviews: reviews aggregate site Metacritic gave it 68 per cent and Rotten Tomatoes 74 per cent, where it was described as “tense, thoughtful, and deftly paced; a political thriller that never loses sight of the human element”. Empire’s Kim Newman gave it three stars, describing it as “well-acted and suspenseful, [but] a little awkward and earnest, and perhaps not angry enough”. Tom Long of The Detroit News noted, “The East leaves questions unanswered, but at least it asks those questions.”

For those looking for something with cops and robbers there’s Welcome to the Punch (16 LV). Master criminal Jacob Sternwood (Mark Strong of Sherlock Holmes) returns to Britain from his hideaway in Iceland after his son is mysteriously gunned down in London, which gives detective Max Lewinsky (James McAvoy of X-Men: First Class) one last chance to catch him.

The film received mixed reviews. Rotten Tomatoes gave it 50 per cent and the consensus was that “Welcome to the Punch is a little deeper and more thoughtful than most police dramas – but not quite enough to surmount its thinly written characters and numbing violence”. On the other hand Empire’s Dan Jolin gave it four stars, calling it “a confident, ambitious and action-rich Brit thriller, albeit one whose characters and clarity suffer from the frantic intensity of its pacing”.

Director Sam Raimi is now famous for his trilogy of Spider-Man movies (2002-2007) but has a cult following for his early horror films such as The Evil Dead (1981). Like almost every other classic of the genre, this film has been remade but, unusually, with Raimi’s blessing. In Evil Dead (18LVH) a group of young people once again hole up in a remote cabin in the woods. There they stumble upon a Book of the Dead and of course read it, which unleashes demons that possess them one by one.

The film received mostly mixed reviews. Rotten Tomatoes gave it 62 per cent, while on Metacritic it got 57 per cent. The consensus on Rotten Tomatoes was that “it may lack the absurd humour that underlined the original, but the new-look Evil Dead compensates with brutal terror, gory scares and gleefully bloody violence”. Empire and Total Film both gave it three stars, concluding it’s a solid remake that matches the original’s nastiness, but takes itself a bit too seriously.

Once upon ay Time in Mumbai Dobaara! (age restriction to be announced) is a Hindi crime drama and a sequel to 2010’s Once upon a Time in Mumbaai! After assassinating his mentor as well as his predecessor, a gangster (Akshay Kumar) is now the reigning crime lord in Mumbai. But then his two greatest enemies decide to work with the cops to bring him down.

The film received mixed reviews. Noted critic Rajeev Masand gave it only one-and-a-half stars, and said watching it “is the equivalent of getting a root canal”. Times of India’s Madhureeta Mukherjee awarded it three-and-a-half stars, writing that “this film has its moments, but it’s not as compelling as the prequel”.

-Sandra Visser

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