Movies in brief

Won't back down

Very loosely based on parent trigger laws in some US states, the film is likely to strike a chord with South Africans. It is about failing schools and how parents and good teachers can change that.

Maggie Gyllenhaal is a single mother with two jobs and a child with dyslexia. Viola Davis is a great teacher facing serious personal issues including a child who is in need of special education. The combination of these determined women changes the law and through it their children’s destiny.

But in the end, there is far too much violin playing and rah-rah emotion rousing, and not quite enough grappling with the myriad issues that feed into the education crisis.

Won’t Back Down is probably a film that could double for therapy or catharsis, but when the house lights come up it all feels a bit fake. 6/10

G.I. Joe: Retaliation

One hundred minutes of brain freeze is the only promise you will get from this toy-store-to-big-screen sequel. Channing Tatum rippled his muscles through the first film five years ago. This time, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson takes over the role as the leader of the G.I. division.

The G.I. Joes, based on the popular toy soldiers, are sent on a suicide mission, while the fake US president holds the world to ransom and the deadly Cobra Commander escapes from a subterranean prison.

To cut a convoluted story short, Bruce Willis comes to the rescue and the G.I. Joes save the world. 5/10

Hitchcock

The film maker who most famously preferred blondes, Alfred Hitchcock, is brilliantly portrayed by Anthony Hopkins. Helen Mirren is his wife and collaborator and Scarlett Johansson is Janet Leigh, the blonde who became famous for screaming in the shower in Psycho.

Set during the filming of Psycho, it offers an insight into Hitch’s process, but even more interestingly into the unique relationship between him and his wife.

It is not a biopic in the traditional sense. Rather, it’s an intriguing examination of an exceptional life and a groundbreaking movie. 8/10

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q7vYhtfNM9U

Snitch

Director Ric Roman Waugh used to be a stuntman and Snitch is his second full-length feature film in charge. This father-against-the-underworld flick stars Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson as an absentee father who comes back into his son’s life when his son is arrested on drug charges.

Due to some US drug law, the only way to dodge a heavy sentence on a drug rap is to catch a bigger fish in the drug pool. Enter dad who sets himself up as a wannabe drug transporter to catch the cartel guys.

It’s pedestrian compared to Taken. But then again, it is always fun to watch the little guy win. 6/10

Warm bodies

This is about R (Nicholas Hoult), a very unusual zombie who can’t quite remember the rest of his name. He saves a human girl (Teresa Palmer) from harm instead of eating her brain. This unzombie-like action changes the world.

Writer Isaac Marion self-published this zombie romance in 2010 to rave reviews for a pure genius genre mashup. This flick does for zombies what Twilight did for vampires. 7/10

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07s-cNFffDM

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