New movies out today: demons, gangsters, aspiring hairdressers and eco-terrorists

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It’s a something-for-everyone weekend at South African cinemas, with today’s new releases straddling a wide assortment of genres.

Evil Dead:
Horror movie remakes and reboots are a dime-a-dozen. This latest revisits Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell’s career-launching cult classic, but is actually produced by the two men. A group of friends – played by largely unknowns – head to a cabin in the woods and accidentally summon a demonic presence.

You can read three reviews of Evil Dead 2013: mine, James‘s and Lourens‘s (well, kinda). In short, we were all pretty impressed by this brutal, respectful and well-acted remake. Avoid it though if you’re put off by dumb character decisions, or like the more cartoonish Evil Dead II and Army of Darkness – this one is dead serious. Internationally, some critics have also missed the humour and fright factor, but generally found Evil Dead a satisfying gorefest. 62% Fresh on review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes.

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Planes:
On the opposite end of the entertainment spectrum is animated family adventure Planes. Screening in 2D and 3D is this Cars spin-off. Coming from Disney’s straight-to-DVD animation division as opposed to Pixar, Planes centres on a little underdog Cessna who overcomes his fear of heights to take part in an Around the World race. With the voices of Dane Cook, Stacy Keach, Cedric the Entertainer, John Cleese and many more.

According to critics, Planes is colourful, cute and good-natured, but utterly formulaic. It should entertain young children but everyone else is likely to find it a bland, if beautifully animated, cash cow.

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Welcome to the Punch:
Changing directions yet again, we have this stylish British crime thriller. Mark Strong stars as a criminal who comes out of hiding when his son is involved in a failed heist. This puts him on he radar of cop, and long-time nemesis, James McAvoy. Also with Andrea Riseborough and David Morrissey.

Welcome to the Punch has split critics. Some have praised the film for its excellent performances, high intensity and visual polish. Others haven’t been able to get past the superficiality and copy-paste nature of it all.

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Jimmy in Pienk:
A South African comedy about a conservative farmer (Louw Venter) who harbours an unconventional passion: he loves hairstyling. When the family farm is facing bankruptcy, he must head to the city and swap stylish sheep shearing for human models when he takes part in a new reality TV show. In Afrikaans with English subtitles.

Jimmy in Pienk sounds like a very likeable cross between one of those gentle Australian blue collar comedies and You Don’t Mess with the Zohan. Expect plenty of fish-out-of-water shenanigans, particularly relating to Jimmy’s interactions with the Cape Town gay community.

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The East:
Screening in limited release is this film festival thriller from the makers of last year’s provocative indie hit Sound of My Voice. Brit Marling stars as a former FBI agent who is hired to infiltrate a group of eco-terrorists that includes Alexander Skarsgård and Ellen Page.

Kervyn found The East to be both thoughtful and tense, but sadly this morally complex film starts more strongly than it finishes. Internationally, critics have also appreciated the film’s refusal to resort to typical Hollywood simplification of morality and accountability. Pity it’s a bit inconsistent and can be smugly earnest.

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Last Updated: August 16, 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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