Movies out today: World saving and life changing

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Six new movies open in South Africa today, with a bias towards coming of age tales, where young people are forced to navigate the complexities of an unforgiving adult world as they shape their own identities.

Ender’s Game:
The best-selling sci-fi novel comes to the big screen, and is also showing at IMAX. Asa Butterfield is a gifted young military cadet destined to play an instrumental role in defending the Earth from alien attack. Also with Harrison Ford, Abigail Breslin, Ben Kingsley and Viola Davis. South African Gavin Hood directs, and has written the screenplay.

Ender’s Game hasn’t exactly blown away critics but it isn’t a disaster either. Kervyn enjoyed the spectacle and action scenes but found it all rather shallow. Internationally, critics have also found it flawed – particularly too grim-faced and numb for its own good – but complimented its attempts at thematic complexity, strong performances and polished visuals.  62% Fresh on review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes.

enders

Homefront:
Jason Statham stars in this action drama – adapted for the screen by Sylvester Stallone – about a DEA agent who retreats to a small town for the sake of his young daughter, only to clash paths with James Franco’s brutal drug lord. Also with Winona Ryder and Kate Bosworth.

Homefront may sound reminiscent of Commando, and apparently the film does adopt a retro violent approach. Statham fans should eat it up, but again, despite most of the cast playing against type, it’s not as adrenalin-charged as it should be.

homefront

Free Birds:
Screening in 3D is this animated comedy about turkeys who time travel back to the first Thanksgiving in a bid to take their species off the dinner menu. With the voices of Owen Wilson, Woody Harrelson and Amy Poehler.

Free Birds doesn’t come from any of the major American animation studios – in fact it’s from the same guys responsible for direct-to-DVD Open Season 2 and 3. The end result is a family film that’s technically proficient but otherwise unoriginal, unfunny and sometimes even borderline culturally offensive.

birds

Black Nativity:
Just in time for the festive season is this musical drama based on the play of the same name. Over the holidays a teen is sent to live with estranged relatives and learns the importance of family, faith etc. etc. With Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett, Tyrese Gibson, Jennifer Hudson and plenty of gospel music.

Black Nativity has evidently split reviewers. Its supporters have called it respectful and stirring – particularly during the music sequences – while critics have complained that it’s trite and unexciting.

nativity

Mud:
Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon and Sam Shepard star in this Mark Twain-inspired coming of age drama set in the American Deep South. Two boys encounter a mysterious fugitive living on a river island and become embroiled in his plans.

Mud has been something of a film festival darling, praised for its nuanced, engrossing nature and, of course, McConaughey’s Oscar-worthy performance. A stunning 98% Fresh.

mud-beach

Young & Beautiful:
Screening in limited release is this French language drama about a teenage girl from a affluent family who starts to dabble in prostitution. With Marine Vacth and Charlotte Rampling.

Young & Beautiful premiered at this year’s Cannes Film Festival where it received much acclaim as a candid exploration of teenage sexuality and experimentation. A star-making vehicle for Vacth even if the film coolly observes more than it burrows to the heart of our heroine.

Last Updated: August 29, 2017

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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