Movies out today: Action and women-centric entertainment

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Actually, the following new cinema releases have been out since yesterday to capitalise on the Women’s Day public holiday in South Africa. And unsurprisingly, given the focus of yesterday’s holiday, most of the new movies are headlined by women and lean towards traditionally female concerns.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter:
If you’re not in the mood for tough minded heroines and chick flicks, the most high profile, high concept debut of the weekend may be up your alley. Screening in converted 3D and 2D is this big screen adaptation of Seth Grahame-Smith’s historical mash-up novel. In this movie mix of action, horror and real-life history, we bear witness to the secret vampire-slaying life of America’s 16th president (played by Benjamin Walker). Dominic Cooper and Mary Elizabeth Winstead also star.

Coming from the director of Wanted and Night Watch, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter promises to be packed with visual spectacle. However, despite its silly premise, the film takes itself too seriously, and as a result ends up feeling tonally unbalanced and dull. Or so Kervyn says in his TheMovies review. With an aggregated Rotten Tomatoes rating of 35%, international critics seem to agree. This said, the film has scored much higher with ordinary moviegoers, so perhaps trust in your personal taste for this one.

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Haywire:
Girl power is front and centre in this action espionage thriller from director Steven Soderbergh. Real-life MMA star Gina Carano plays a betrayed operative out for revenge. It’s a case of outrun and outfight as she tackles former colleagues, clients and authorities alike. Also with Ewan McGregor, Channing Tatum, Michael Fassbender, Michael Douglas and Antonio Banderas.

You can read our full Haywire review here, but in short, the straightforward film delivers the bone-crunching action it promises, and Carano is convincing in the combat scenes. Unfortunately though, in quieter moments she’s a wooden actress, and the film feels similarly stiff and unsatisfying as a whole. Internationally, critics have responded more positively, calling Haywire a swift, neat, minimalist treat. 80% Fresh.

Girl in Progress:
Eva Mendes stars in this drama-comedy about a single mother too wrapped up in her frantic professional and private life to realise that her adolescent daughter (Cierra Ramirez) has formulated a misguided plan to skip her teenage years, and leap straight into adulthood. Also with Matthew Modine and Patricia Arquette.

“Women’s films” very rarely garner critical praise, and Girl in Progress is no different. Despite a promising premise, and some genuine heart, apparently this mother-daughter coming-of-age tale is too cliched and contrived for its own good, growing increasingly sentimental as it progresses.

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Where Do We Go Now?
You can catch this subtitled Lebanese comedy-drama in limited release on the arthouse circuit. In a remote village where Muslims and Christians live side by side, the female population  (led by Nadine Labaki’s cafe owner) resorts to extreme measures to keep their hot-tempered menfolk ignorant of escalating strife in the country.

Where Do We Go Now? has racked up its fair share of Audience Awards on the film festival circuit – including at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival. Apparently it’s a lot more lighthearted than you’d expect of a movie centred on Middle Eastern conflict. This said, it doesn’t always make the leap from comedy to tragedy, and back, convincingly.

Out of interest, at select Ster Kinekor cinemas this week you can also catch Bob Marley documentary Marley and Nigerian romantic drama Untamed.

Last Updated: August 10, 2012

Noelle Adams

Sometime Tomb Raider. Full-time Pop Culture fanatic and Geekaissance Woman. Most often spotted outputting Pop Culture opinion pieces, writing fanfic and original genre fare, cosplaying and bringing the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu smackdown. Editor of the Comics and Toys section.

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