Dolphins and dragon tattoos – New movies opening in South Africa today

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After a few relatively quiet Fridays, South African audiences are once again spoiled for choice this week with the release of 4 high profile new movies – 3 of them remakes, new interpretations or prequels – to cater for all tastes and audience segments.

Dolphin Tale: Screening in 2D and (oddly enough) 3D is this feel-good true story of Winter, a dolphin that loses her tail to a crab trap, and the people who band together to ensure her survival… even going so far as to raise funds for a unique prosthetic. Sure to stir up Free Willy nostalgia, the film stars Harry Connick, Jr., Ashley Judd, Nathan Gamble, Morgan Freeman and Winter herself.

Dolphin Tale comes from the producers of the massively popular, and Oscar-winning, The Blind Side so I’m sure you can gauge the tone of this animal-centric family drama. It’s all about love, friendship and determination overcoming adversity. For the record, Dolphin Tale was a commercial and critical hit when it released in North America back in September. The majority of reviewers have called the film a heartfelt, wholesome (and predictable) tale that the whole family will enjoy.

Footloose: Remember that silly Kevin Bacon movie about a town that forbids dancing? Well, Footloose is the latest 80s film to receive the (pointless) remake treatment. Largely unknown dancer-actor Kenny Wormald stars as a cool city teen who relocates to rural Georgia and immediately rebels against pastor Dennis Quaid’s dance ban. Naturally the preacher’s defiant daughter (Julianne Hough) is drawn to our hero, which stirs up even more trouble.

Footloose is sure to please the same crowd that laps up other Twinkle-toed Teen movies like Step Up, High School Musical and Fame 2009. This said, apparently the new Footloose isn’t half bad. While there are some critics complaining that the remake too closely mirrors the original, others are praising the film for its energy, enjoyable nostalgia value and terrific dance scenes.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: Another remake (well, kind of) opens today as well, and that’s the American film version of Stieg Larsson’s crime mystery novel The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. The international bestseller has of course already been treated to an acclaimed Swedish adaptation, but helping to make this new interpretation intriguing is the involvement of Fight Club, Se7en and The Social Network director David Fincher. So you know Dragon Tattoo isn’t going to pull its punches! For the record, Daniel Craig stars as a disgraced journalist hired to solve a decades old mystery involving a powerful and secretive family of industrialists. Rooney Mara is Lisbeth Salander, a brilliant but skittish young hacker who involves herself in the investigation.

Although The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – self-dubbed “The Feel Bad Movie of Christmas” – didn’t exactly set the US box office alight, it has released to critical acclaim – with much praise going the way of Mara. Apparently the film is slick, brutal and engrossing, although some have complained it is too emotionally aloof and lacks surprise.

The Thing: It’s taken almost 3 months for this sci-fi-horror prequel to reach our shores. Scott Pilgrim’s Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Warrior’s Joel Edgerton star in this tale that seeks to depict what exactly went down at the Norwegian Antarctica base just before the events of John Carpenter’s classic 1982 film of the same name. So yup, a group of researchers discover an extraterrestrial craft under the ice and promptly unleash a shape-shifting alien that assimilates and mimics its prey. Cue distrust and a desperate fight for survival.

Horror remakes and prequels are typically more miss than hit, and The Thing 2011 could have gone either way. As it turns out, the finished film is just so-so. Apparently it’s not horrible – in fact it’s highly respectful towards the original Thing and features a strong, convention-breaking performance from Winstead. The movie is however still pointless, unoriginal and uninspired.

Last Updated: January 6, 2012

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