If you aren’t gearing up for this year’s Durban International Film Festival – I suppose, even if you are – you have four new releases to catch at South African cinemas as of today.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes:
Screening in 2D and 3D is this sequel to the 2011 reboot – a hit with critics and audiences alike. The follow-up sci-fi actioner looks to be little different. For the record the film is set a decade after a virus has decimated humanity. Survivors like Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman, Keri Russell and Kodi Smit-McPhee have to contend with, and consider their feelings towards the evolved ape population that is thriving in the woods. This group is headed by chimpanzee Caesar (motion-capture performed by Andy Serkis) who has very good reason to be distrustful of humans. And so tensions escalate.
According to Nick in his 5-star review, Dawn is one of the year’s best films – hands down. He’s not the only one to think so. At the time of writing, the film was sitting with an aggregated review score of 98% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. Dawn is evidently the perfect balance of excitement, intelligence and emotional resonance, with dazzling special effects to boot.
Earth to Echo:
Shot in the found footage style is this throwback sci-fi adventure for the whole family. You know, think E.T. and Flight of the Navigator. A group of childhood best friends are about to be forced apart by a construction project. Then they encounter a friendly alien robot who needs their help to return to its home planet.
Earth to Echo is far from original but evidently it has a certain charm, and young children won’t be distracted by the copycatting. The found footage approach is completely pointless here though, and very inconsistently used.
Despite Liam Neeson looking typically Taken-intense on the poster, Third Person is actually more romantic drama than thriller. It tells three interlinking love stories set in Rome, Paris and New York, and features a star-studded cast that includes Mila Kunis, Olivia Wilde, James Franco, Adrien Brody, Maria Bello and Kim Basinger.
Despite its pedigree, Third Person has not been a hit with critics. It’s been called intriguing but imperfect; hurt badly by its attempts to be too clever than it is, and coming across as self-conscious and artificial as a result.
Also screening in limited release is this intimate drama starring Naomi Watts and Matt Dillon as a minimum wage couple stuck in a cycle of poverty, but nonetheless excited by the prospect of having a baby… if they can overcome the many obstacles thrown their way.
Sunlight Jr. isn’t exactly cheerful stuff – in fact, it’s most frequently called depressing – but it’s very well acted, insightful and non-judgemental.
Last Updated: July 11, 2014