Film Guide - April 19, 2013

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Escape (33354719)

Escape from Planet Earth (3D): A rescue mission for a hero astronaut from planet Baab turns sour when he becomes a prisoner on planet Earth. Now his family must save him. *** LN

Franscesca da Rimini: Set to Riccardo Zandonai's brilliant librettos, an arranged marriage doesn't go as planned. **** PB

Oblivion: Tom Cruise stars in another sci-fi flick where he is in the future one of the last people on Earth who try to make peace with what is and what was. The concept art is breathtaking but the story is so slow it’s almost a lullaby. ** MV

Robot and Frank: With a creative cast, this one takes a skewed look at ageing in a way that might be more palatable, but no less poignant than had it explored the topic more harshly. It’s a film that targets a specific market – those ageing or those caring for those who are ageing. **** DdB

21 & Over: Too predictable, clichéd and unabashedly profane to reach the heights, or is that depths, of Hangover. ** AP

A Lucky Man: Fictional drama based on the life of local gangster Ernie “Lastig” Solomons. Narratively patchy and unevenly paced, it’s strongest in the last two minutes when the man himself puts in an appearance. ** TS

Anna Karenina: Style triumphs over substance in the Joe Wright-directed period drama featuring Keira Knightley, Jude Law, Matthew Macfadyen and a host of stars. *** TS

Argo: Understated, well-characterised thriller set in 1979 Iran. Director Ben Affleck keeps the tension high and the action engrossing without beating you over the head with a message. **** TS

Chimpanzee: Disneynature documentary about a little chimpanzee, orphaned in an Ivory Coast jungle. Beautifully filmed, with a great score, though the narration creates a forced feel to the entire project. **** TS

Fanie Fourie’s Lobola: Funny local rom-com with original dialogue, great cinematography and a little bit of everything to keep most everyone amused. **** TS

G I Joe: Retaliation: Noisy, plotless, goof-filled. Must be a movie based on a toy franchise. Too bad it doesn’t have Michael Bay’s touch with the spectacle, though. **TS

Hitchcock: Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren are Alfred Hitchcock and wife, Alma Reville during the filming of the classic film Psycho. *** HH

Hyde Park on Hudson: It’s a mixed bag of not dealing with behaviour which today is still present, but much more harshly viewed. Some sparkling acting by Bill Murray, Laura Linney and excellent ensemble cast in what could have played in the Lincoln genre but chose frothy romantic drama instead to look at some aspects of Franklin D Roosevelt’s life. *** DdB

Identity Thief: Melissa McCarthy’s brash wild card with an off-kilter sense of humour and Jason Bateman’s initially bemused but increasingly frustrated straight man are stuck on a cross-country road trip that goes nowhere. ** AP

Jack the Giant Slayer: CGI-heavy film doesn’t make good use of its usually good actors or rich source material. Instead we get fable-lite popcorn fare for kids who aren’t old enough to get around the age restriction on this one. ** TS

Life of Pi: Ang Lee creates a gorgeously rendered 3D world on the high seas as a young boy struggles to survive in the company of only a Bengal tiger. **** TS

Lincoln: Talk-heavy biopic by Steven Spielberg about the last four months of Abraham Lincoln’s life. Daniel Day-Lewis disappears into the role for an uncanny, Oscar-nominated performance alongside a stellar cast. *** TS

Mama: drawing heavily on producer Guillermo del Toro’s touch with the fantastical, this is a scary horror, even if the storyline is predictable. *** TS

Maximum Conviction: For the first time, Steven Seagal is paired with Steve Austin as they play two ex-black ops operatives on a special mission. Both men may have their respective names to push but it is enjoyable to watch them as they give each other enough screentime to shine. *** MV

Olympus Has Fallen: Typical action flick (though surprisingly entertaining) about a solitary hero saving the USA – and the world – from imminent demise. Gerard Butler as ex-special operative Mike Banning is the new John McClane (of Die Hard) in the making. *** LdM

One in the Chamber: Relics Dolph Lundgren and Cuba Gooding Jr. come out with guns blazing as they play rival assassins with contracts on each other. Only good for the 91mins that it runs. *** MV

Oz the Great and Powerful: A children’s morality tale pushing the idea that if you just believe, you can achieve. Beautiful scenery, but very simplistic. *** TS

Parker: This is an attempt to capture the sassiness of Out of Sight where Jennifer Lopez and George Clooney took the rom-action movie to new heights. This one doesn’t quite have that one’s cachet and the clunky action sequences eliminate any drama. ** DdB

Red Dawn: The Koreans invade America and Chris Hemsworthy and Josh Hutcherson don’t ask why, they just fight back because that’s the American way which must be protected. ** WP

Searching for Sugarman: Narratively satisfying, Swedish director Malik Bendjelloul’s canny documentary tells the tale of the search for Detroit-born Mexcian musician Sixto Diaz Rodriguez. **** WP

Seven Psychopaths: Smart dialogue, eccentric characters and clever casting make this a savvy self-aware exercise. The retro soundtrack is cool, but beware the high violence quotient. **** TS

Sleeper’s Wake: A plodding plot and repetitive dialogue do not an adult thriller make. ** TS

Snitch: Dwayne Johnson and his muscles return to the big screen to play a dad who does anything to save his falsely accused and incarcerated son. A so-so effort that you will not remember next month. ** MV

So Undercover: Miley Cyrus as a PI, going undercover at the behest of the FBI. Seriously. ** TS

The Croods: An animated movie about a prehistoric family who leave their cave in search of a new world. Fiercely funny for adults and kids. **** HH

The Host: From the creator of the Twilight sagas comes a boring story about a resilient girl who tries to fight off an alien parasite race. ** HH

The Last Stand: Arnie is back, a little bit older and he knows it and shows it. Helped by Luis Guzman and Johnny Knoxville, he still stands in the way of the bad guys though. *** TS

The Sessions: Tender story that proves it is possible to make a grown-up film about sex in Hollywood. **** WP

To The Power of Anne: It’s described as a mockumentary, but because they flit between fantasy and reality the issues they’re trying to deal with are unclear. Why not go for hard-hitting slice of ageing and being a performer? Now it feels as if we’re watching some of Anne Powers’ life and why? ** DdB

Warm Bodies: Funny, sweet zombie romantic story which concentrates on what makes us human, and not the sfx. *** TS

Won’t Back Down: Viola Davis and Maggie Gyllenhaal are two mothers who are on a quest to turn the failing public school system around. *** HH

Zero Dark Thirty: Kathryn Bigelow directs Jessica Chastain in a drama about the capture of Osama bin Laden, in a film which unwittingly (or not) supports the idea that torturing prisoners is ok. **** TS

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