Movies released today: Escapism abounds

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Five new films open in South Africa today, offering something for everyone, from R-rated action junkies to families with young children.

Riddick:
Vin Diesel’s last-of-his-kind antihero returns to his stripped down Pitch Black roots in this third installment in the action sci-fi franchise. This time Riddick must evade bounty hunters, mercenaries and the beastly inhabitants of a desolate planet. Also with Katee Sackhoff and Karl Urban.

Critics seem to be divided about Riddick. Evidently it’s at its strongest when its lead is simply picking off foes slasher-style in the dark. Otherwise, according to Kervyn, it’s a clumsy mix of badass elements that work and others that don’t – including unnecessary misogyny. A not bad but not great 60% Fresh on review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes.

riddick

About Time:
This British romantic comedy comes from Love Actually writer-director Richard Curtis. Domhnall Gleeson is a young man who learns from his father (Bill Nighy) that all the men in his family can time travel. He uses this ability to smooth over the problems in his relationship with Rachel McAdams.

Coming across like a mix of The Time Traveler’s Wife and Groundhog Day, About Time apparently benefits from the chemistry of its leads and interesting concept. Just don’t look for any emotional complexity. All you’ll find is sentimentality instead.

time

Khumba:
Screening in 2D and 3D is this animated comedy adventure from the South African makers of Zambezia. This TriggerFish film centres on a zebra who is born with only half his stripes. When he is blamed by his superstitious herd for a drought, he heads out into the Karoo, making new friends and enemies as he learns the value of diversity. With the voices of Jake T. Austin, Laurence Fishburne, Steve Buscemi, Loretta Devine, Liam Neeson and assorted locals like Nik Rabinowitz and Rob van Vuuren.

Plotwise, Khumba seems a tad on the heavy-handed side, but the film certainly demonstrates technical polish on par with many international animation studios. TriggerFish’s features just keep getting better and better. Ideal for families with under-10s.

khumba2

Battle of the Year:
Love your dance-off movies? Battle of the Year is the latest entry in this special sub-genre. Also screening in 3D, this one is a fictional story based on a real-life breakdancing competition. It stars Josh Holloway as a coach tasked with unifying the American crew, including Chris Brown’s character, so that they can challenge the Korean world champions.

Evidently Battle of the Year is a weak imitation of much better dance films. It’s corny, cliched and just plain dull. Even the too few dance scenes are too frenetic and over-edited to satisfy.

battle

Die Ballade van Robbie de Wee:
Your second South African release of the week is this musical drama thriller. Neil Sandilands is a music producer who has hit rock bottom professionally and personally. Rising young star Robbie de Wee (Marno van der Merwe) can take him back to the top, but then a dead girl is found in the singer’s hotel room… In Afrikaans with English subtitles.

This one is notable for the fact that it’s directed by veteran local filmmaker Darrell Roodt and written by bestselling author and screenwriter Deon Meyer.

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Last Updated: October 25, 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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