Magic, moms, muscles and memories in cinemas today

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It’s a bumper week of new cinema releases in South Africa today. Five new movies open, each offering something different for moviegoers.

Oz The Great and Powerful:
Screening in 2D and shot-for-3D is this big budget fantasy adventure from Disney, clearly intended to achieve the same success as Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. A prequel to The Wizard of Oz, the film explains how conman carnival performer Oscar Diggs (James Franco) evolves into the title character. Mila Kunis, Michelle Williams and Rachel Weisz are the the 3 powerful witches who insist Oscar is destined for greatness. Directed by Sam Raimi.

Early word from critics is that Oz The Great and Powerful is quite watchable – particularly in terms of its impressive special effects and world creation – but it’s not overwhelmingly impressive. At the time of writing, the film’s aggregated review score on Rotten Tomatoes was sitting at 63% Fresh. It’s apparently a good kids’ movie but just doesn’t capture the heart or imagination, given that it’s too slight in terms of plot and characterisation.

Snitch:
Having finally cottoned on that his many fans prefer to see him in action movies as opposed to *cough* family comedies like Tooth Fairy, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson stars in this crime drama-actioner loosely based on real life events. Johnson plays a man who must infiltrate and inform on a drug cartel to help reduce his son’s prison sentence. Also with Jon Bernthal, Barry Pepper, Susan Sarandon and Benjamin Bratt.

Critics have been quite evenly split by Snitch, earning it a 56% Fresh score at Rotten Tomatoes. Some are calling it a pleasant surprise, featuring especially strong, thoughtful work by Johnson. Others haven’t been impressed by the film’s attempts at issue exploration, calling it overly serious and morally muddled. As for our reviewer Kervyn, well, as far as he’s concerned, the film is a mix of both viewpoints.

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10 Years:
This nostalgia-centred romantic comedy drama is evidently American Reunion without the gross-out humour. So don’t look for dumps in a cooler box here. Instead expect a top-notch cast of sub-35 year olds returning to high school for their 10 year reunion. Starring the likes of Channing Tatum, Justin Long, Chris Pratt, Rosario Dawson, Oscar Isaac and Lynn Collins.

10 Years is evidently solid, sincere and likeable, with each character given a signature moment to shine. This said, some reviewers have complained that the film is too gentle, and others that it would’ve been stronger if it dumped the forced laughs and stayed serious.

Guilt Trip:
Seth Rogen and Barbra Streisand star in this comedy drama about an inventor who embarks on a cross-country road trip with his widowed mother. Cue numerous mom embarrassments and the angry surfacing of old hurts.

The film is apparently light, breezy and quite watchable. It’s just more heartfelt that hilarious though, and remains predictable instead of truly embracing the full comedic potential of its leads.

Sleeper’s Wake:
Your sole South African offering for the week is this R-rated psychological thriller based on the award-winning novel by Alastair Morgan. John Wraith (Lionel Newton) is a guilt-stricken, middle-aged writer who retreats to an isolated South Coast setting. There he encounters a family dealing with their own grief and finds himself drawn to the sulky but seductive teenage daughter, Jackie (Jay Anstey).

Produced by Anant Singh, Sleeper’s Wake has been doing the rounds on the film festival circuit, screening at the Durban, London and Toronto International Film Festivals among others. Although the unusually-dark-for-a-South-African-production hasn’t won any awards (it’s apparently a bit too stilted), it has won praise for its technical slickness and performances, particularly that of Anstey. Screening in Cape Town and Joburg only.

Last Updated: March 8, 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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