Five new films open in South Africa today, although it’s obvious who the box office champion of the new releases is going to be.
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug:
Screening in 2D, 3D, HFR 3D and 3D IMAX is this second film in the Hobbit trilogy, based on J. R. R. Tolkien’s precursor to The Lord of the Rings. In this chapter of the epic fantasy adventure, Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), wizard Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen) and the Company of Dwarves have run-ins with orcs, shape-shifters, spiders, snooty elves, greedy townsfolk, necromancers and a bigass dragon (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch). Evangeline Lilly, Lee Pace, Luke Evans, Orlando Bloom and Stephen Fry all join the cast.
The Desolation of Smaug is currently sitting with an aggregated review score of 74% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. International critics have praised the film as far superior to first installment The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – calling it swift and satisfying. Personally though I had the same issues with this movie as its predecessor, where a faithful, engaging adaptation alternates with scenes that are pure unnecessary padding. Read my full review here.
Catch veteran action stars Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger in this tale of a structural engineer who accepts the challenge of escaping from the world’s toughest prison. To do this, he enlists the help of a fellow inmate. Also with Jim Caviezel, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Vinnie Jones, Vincent D’Onofrio and Sam Neill.
Escape Plan underperformed at the box office but is evidently far from a turkey. The story could be better, but there has been loads of praise for the two leads, the film’s sense of humour and overall embracing of the ridiculous. Of course, that won’t be to everyone’s taste as the film’s middling 49% Fresh rating reveals.
The Fifth Estate:
This thriller tells the very recent real life story of the WikiLeaks scandal. Benedict Cumberbatch plays controversial computer hacker Julian Assange while Daniel Brühl is journalist Daniel Domscheit-Berg, who comes to doubt how noble the information-leaking enterprise is. Also with Anthony Mackie, David Thewlis, Stanley Tucci and Laura Linney.
The Fifth Estate has earned much praise for Cumberbatch’s performance, but has otherwise been mostly dismissed by critics as too safe, too melodramatic and too dull.
Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas:
And these dark comedies just keep coming. Tyler Perry is back on the screen and behind the camera for this adaptation of his own play. This time the short-tempered, feisty grandmother brings “festive cheer” to a rural community over Christmas.
Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas has not screened for critics in advance, which has become expected of Perry films. I expect that if you liked the other entries in the film series you’ll enjoy this one. If not, avoid.
Stuur Groete aan Mannetjies Roux:
Oh look, a South African film set on a farm in the Karoo. In this coming-of-age drama, based on the stage musical, a teenager goes to stay on the farm of her aunt and uncle. Dark family secrets come to the fore. With Ian Roberts, Anna-Mart van der Merwe, Lizelle de Klerk and Laurika Rauch.
Last Updated: December 13, 2013