Movies out today: Robot cops and romance

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You’d think that today was Valentine’s Day given the number of romances that are hitting the big screen in one go. However, the big release of the week is more about bullets and broken limbs than broken hearts.

RoboCop:
Also screening at IMAX is this sci-fi actioner that reboots the RoboCop film franchise. Joel Kinnaman is good cop and family man, Alex Murphy, who wakes from a near-fatal car bombing to find that he has been turned into a cyborg. And so begins the struggle between the Man and Machine parts of his nature. Also with Gary Oldman, Michael Keaton, Abbie Cornish, Samuel L Jackson and more.

South Africa is actually getting RoboCop 2014 a full week before the United States (for a change). As a result, the film has yet to accumulate an aggregated review score on Rotten Tomatoes. At the time of writing, however, consensus seems to be that the film is far better than its troubled development suggested it would be. It’s a very different beast to Paul Verhoeven’s 1987 original, but competently reflects today’s social issues. A solid 3.5 stars out of 5.

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Romeo & Juliet:
Another generation, another big screen take on William Shakespeare’s beloved (but surely tired by now?) romantic tragedy. Hailee Steinfeld and Douglas Booth play the title characters, teenagers who fall in love despite coming from rival families. Like the old Franco Zeffirelli film from the 1960s, this British production is actually set in Renaissance Italy.

Despite the more authentic setting, this latest Romeo & Juliet is apparently a pretty-looking dud, completely devoid of passion and intensity. Plus it criminally meddles with the Bard’s dialogue.

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The Best Man Holiday:
The all-star romantic comedy drama gets a rather clunkily named sequel 14 years later. The band of friends and partners get together for the Christmas holidays, and old rivalries, romances and secrets come out. With the likes of Taye Diggs, Nia Long, Morris Chestnut, Regina Hall and Terrence Howard all reuniting with the original’s writer-director.

The Best Man Holiday apparently bounces between raunchy and mawkish melodrama. It’s far removed from reality but benefits from the winning cast, and a heart that is very much in the right, entertaining place.

bestman

Labor Day:
Screening in limited release is this drama and novel adaptation from the director of Juno and Up in the Air. Part romance, part coming-of-age tale, the film centres on a depressed single mother (Kate Winslet) and her son, who find their lives changed when they’re forced to hide a criminal (Josh Brolin) on the run.

Critics have praised the performances in Labor Day but complained about the mushy plot and overbearing earnestness of proceedings. The tender-hearted will get swept up while cynics should stay far away.

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Inside Llewyn Davis:
The latest from the Coen brothers is this award-winning comedy drama. Set in the early 1960s, it tells the story of a destitute folk singer (Oscar Isaac) struggling since the suicide of his musical partner. Also with Carey Mulligan, John Goodman and Justin Timberlake.

Inside Llewyn Davis won the prestigious Grand Prix at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, and has earned a spot on many critics’ Best of 2013 list. Considering how melancholy it is for the most part, it’s apparently incredibly satisfying… if you’re into arty movies that happily drift around narratively.

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Last Updated: February 7, 2014

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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