Movies out today: quantity over quality

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Interesting fact: of the nine (holy crap, nine!) new releases today, none of them have more than 50% on Rotten Tomatoes, so basically none of them are very good. Another interesting fact: nine freaking new releases! I think this is the longest post I’ve written for TheMovies to date. Anyway, on with the show…

  • Child 44

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A politically-charged serial killer thriller set in 1953 Soviet Russia that chronicles the crisis of conscience for secret police agent Leo Demidov, who loses status, power and home when he refuses to denounce his own wife, Raisa, as a traitor. Exiled from Moscow to a grim provincial outpost, Leo and Raisa join forces with General Mikhail Nesterov to track down a serial killer who preys on young boys. Their quest for justice threatens a system-wide coverup enforced by Leo’s psychopathic rival, Vasili, who insists that “there is no crime in Paradise.”

Book-to-movie adaptations are risky, sometimes they are phenomenal, and sometimes they fall short. Which, in the case of Child 44, means that it’s worse off than if it had just been bad to start with. Despite strong performances and fantastic cinematography, Child 44 flounders with a script that could have been tighter and superfluous plots that could have been removed, leaving us with a movie that could have ended up with much more than 3.5/5.

  • Lullaby

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LULLABY explores the power of life, its transformative moments, and reconnections between loved ones. Estranged from his family, Jonathan discovers his father has decided to take himself off life support in forty-eight hours’ time. During this intensely condensed period, a lifetime of drama plays out. Robert fights a zero sum game to reclaim all that his illness stole from his family. A debate rages on patients’ rights and what it truly means to be free. Jonathan reconciles with his father, reconnects with his mother, sister, and his love, and reclaims his voice through two unlikely catalysts – a young, wise-beyond-her-years patient and a no-nonsense nurse. Through this intensely life affirming prism, an unexpected and powerful journey of love, laughter, and forgiveness unfolds.

A movie like Lullaby sounds like the kind of movie that should be enlightening and inspirational. Instead, it’s superficial and manipulative, wallowing in trite wisdom, clichés and despair, and will leave you feeling drained and probably depressed (much like its 32% rating on Rotten Tomatoes).

  • Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2

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After six years of keeping our malls safe, Paul Blart has earned a well-deserved vacation. He heads to Vegas with his teenage daughter before she heads off to college. But safety never takes a holiday and when duty calls, Blart answers.

The only thing funny about Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 is the fact that it only has 6% on Rotten Tomatoes, which I think is hilarious. Other than that, it’s the sequel that no one asked for to a movie that shouldn’t have been made in the first place, innocuous enough in and of itself but by no means worth any time or effort.

  • Unfinished Business

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A hard-working small business owner (Vince Vaughn) and his two associates (Tom Wilkinson, Dave Franco) travel to Europe to close the most important deal of their lives. But what began as a routine business trip goes off the rails in every imaginable – and unimaginable – way, including unplanned stops at a massive sex fetish event and a global economic summit.

Crude and shallow, Unfinished Business tries to be The Hangover but ends up being a poor copy of Eurotrip mixed with what may as well be Dumb and Dumber Too. What I’m getting at is that it’s plain and simply awful. Like, 11% on Rotten Tomatoes awful. Skip!

  • Yellowbird

Yellowbird

Yellowbird (Seth Green) is a timid bird that falls from his nest and looses his family. He befriends Ladybug who encourages him to break free and see the world. On his first venture out into the world, he meets Darius (Danny Glover), a patriarch of a migratory bird family that is about to leave for winter migration to Africa. Darius dies, and it’s Yellowbird’s destiny to lead the flock to Africa for the winter. With the help of Darius’s charming daughter, Delf (Dakota Fanning), the group has an exciting adventure that sends them to Paris, Holland, and over the vast Ocean. In this exquisitely animated tale of bravery, independence and the true meaning of friendship, families everywhere will fall in love with YELLOWBIRD.

Oh man you know it’s bad when the movie’s official blurb has a spelling mistake, never mind including what looks like a spoiler. But, Yellowbird isn’t really aimed at anyone over the age of seven, so it probably doesn’t matter. Kids will most likely enjoy it, if not immediately forget about it as soon as they leave the cinema.

  • Do You Believe?

do you believe

A dozen different souls-all moving in different directions, all longing for something more. As their lives unexpectedly intersect, they each are about to discover there is power in the Cross of Christ … even if they don’t believe it. Yet. When a local pastor is shaken to the core by the visible faith of an old street-corner preacher, he is reminded that true belief always requires action. His response ignites a faith-fueled journey that powerfully impacts everyone it touches in ways that only God could orchestrate.

Do You Believe is melodramatic, intense and, well, really preachy. It’s aimed at a specific audience and if you’re included in that you’ll enjoy it, otherwise its 19% on Rotten Tomatoes isn’t likely to change your mind.

  • Jadoo

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This comedy revolves around two brothers, both wonderful chefs, who fall out catastrophically. At the climax of their dispute they rip the family recipe book in half – one brother gets the starters and the other gets the main courses. They set up rival restaurants, across the road from each other, and spend the next twenty years trying to out-do each other. Neither brother will admit it but they both know they are not entirely successful in the ‘other half’ of the menu. It takes a daughter – a successful corporate lawyer marrying a man from a very different background – to reunite them. She is planning her marriage and is determined that they will both cook the wedding banquet.

Critics are pretty divided on Jadoo, as reflected by its 50% score on Rotten Tomatoes. Some think it’s predictable and forgettable, others are calling it lively, beautiful and buoyant. At least it manages to avoid most cultural clichés, and you should have a passably enjoyable time.

  • La Traviata

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La Traviata tells the moving story of how the beautiful but fragile courtesan Violetta is coerced into sacrificing her one hope of personal happiness for the sake of her lover’s reputation. A tragic and resonant tale of society and morality, Verdi’s masterpiece combines compelling characters with hugely powerful, moving and instantly recognisable melodies, making it one of the most emotionally engaging and popular operas of all time.

Directed by Peter Konwitschny, this adaptation apparently “cuts to the very heart of the opera’s themes of passionate love and tragic death with a modern and uncluttered staging, and a running time of less than two hours”. And that’s literally all I can tell you because I can’t find any more information about it. So, if you like opera and shorter running times, then yay for La Traviata, I guess?

  • Somer Son

somer son

Pieter en Sonja Jooste is ‘n allerdaagse dertig jarige paartjie. Na vyf jaar van getroude lewe, begin die twee hulle verhouding bevraagteken. Al is hulle lief vir mekaar, is hulle verhouding naby aan ‘n vervelige einde. Die feit dat hulle sukkel om swanger te raak is vir Sonja ‘n teken. Die feit dat Pieter agter Sonja se rug ‘n vasektomie gehad het is ‘n swaar geheim. ‘n Vakansie in paradys is net die ding vir hulle verhouding om weer vlam te vat, maar ‘n motorongeluk oppad stuur hulle op ‘n onverwagse avontuur.

So Somer Son is a movie about… um, hang on… well… Oh who cares? Is anyone actually still reading at this point? If you made it this far, then congratulations! You’ve suffered through the 1300-odd words I wrote. If you got bored and scrolled to the end, I don’t blame you!

Last Updated: May 8, 2015

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