Movies out today: Witches and witch hunters

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This week at South African cinemas, film-goers have a choice between supernatural fantasy and grown-up drama. There’s an exact even split between these 2 types of movies today with 4 new releases hitting our screens.

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters:
This fantasy actioner was supposed to be one of the first big fairy tale ‘reimaginings” of 2012 – before being unexpectedly delayed for a year. That’s never a good sign but, for the record, here Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton play the abandoned kiddies from the Brothers Grimm tale, all grown up. They strut around in black leather, spout dialogue with American accents and exterminate Famke Janssen’s band of witches with steampunk weaponry. Screening in 2D and 3D.

Looking like a cinematic sibling to Van Helsing and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters has fared similarly “well” with critics. Sporting an aggregated Rotten Tomatoes rating of 15% Fresh, the very gory film is apparently incoherent and repetitive. Still, if you enjoy consciously silly, stylised escapism, Witch Hunters is supposed to be very entertaining. I’d still be very wary of paying full price for this one though…

Beautiful Creatures:
Very much in the Twilight mould, Beautiful Creatures is also based on a supernatural romance novel. Small town teenager Ethan (Alden Ehrenreich) falls for 16 year old Lena (Alice Englert), a witch about to undergo a coming of age event where she’ll be chosen either for the Dark or Light. Also with Jeremy Irons, Viola Davis, Emmy Rossum and Emma Thompson.

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Beautiful Creatures underperformed at the US box office last weekend but even if we don’t see film adaptations of the remaining 3 books in the quadrilogy, evidently Part 1 is no turkey if overseas critics are to be believed. It’s flawed but it has a sense of humour about its ridiculousness, and unlike KPatz in Twilight, the love story actually convinces. This said, our very own Kervyn hated the film – calling it a sloppy collection of cliches.

Verraaiers:
This South African historical drama – screening in Afrikaans with English subtitles – presents a slice of history that doesn’t regularly feature in the cinematic diet of our Apartheid-obsessed nation. Verraaiers (translation Traitors) is set during the Anglo-Boer War and centres on a respected Afrikaans officer (Gys de Villiers) who gives up the fight and returns to his farm to protect his family once the English initiate their devastating Scorched Earth policy. As a result, he and his sons are put on trial for high treason.

Verraaiers certainly looks like a pedigreed and genuinely interesting local production, featuring a strong cast. Don’t expect it to be a cheery film though. This one looks very heavy in its trailer.

The Sessions:
Screening in limited release is this bittersweet indie drama based on a true story. John Hawkes plays a poet paralysed and forced to live in a iron lung as a result of polio. Fearing he is near death, he resolves to lose his virginity by hiring a professional “sex surrogate” (An Oscar-nominated Helen Hunt). Also starring William H. Macy.

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The Sessions was a huge hit at last year’s Sundance Film Festival, and has won much acclaim for its performances. Apparently it’s a touching and inspiring look at a taboo subject, and handles its copious sexual content with a maturity you very rarely see from Hollywood.

Last Updated: February 22, 2013

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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