Movies released today, South Africa

Three high profile movies hit South African cinemas today.

My personal pick for the weekend is The Road, based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning 2006 novel by No Country for Old Men's Cormac McCarthy. Like the book, the film version of The Road centres on a nameless father and son duo (played by Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee) trying to survive as scavengers in post-Apocalyptic America. Just be warned that Terminator Salvation and 2012 this one is not! The Road is bleak, bleak, bleak, with the love between father and son the only positive in a tale where the worst of human nature is frequently on display. Charlize Theron, Robert Duvall and Guy Pearce round out the cast.

Early buzz was that The Road was to be a serious Oscar contender, but the film never quite lived up to expectations, critically or at the box office. This was despite scoring a solid 76% over at Rotten Tomatoes, where the film is called a unrelentingly harrowing experience and an engaging personal tale, but also quite light when it comes to plot. That last point isn't unexpected, however. The strength of McCarthy's novel is its powerfully simple writing style; not its storyline.

If everything goes according to plan I'll be seeing The Road this evening. In the meantime you can watch the excellent trailer here.

If your tastes in cinematic horror are more conventional - screaming girls, blood, guts and indestructible masked maniacs - you may be pleased to know that Halloween II is also released in South Africa today. In 2007, shock-rocker-turned-filmmaker Rob Zombie remade John Carpenter's classic slasher in Zombie's signature smutty style. The remake was reviled by critics and horror fans, but it made a killing (ha!) at the box office, meaning a Zombie sequel was inevitable. Much like the original Halloween II, this remake sees Michael Myers continuing to stalk his traumatised sister Laurie Strode - for a good chunk of the film in the dark hallways of a hospital.

Halloween II is 21% Fresh at Rotten Tomatoes, where it considered to be brutal, bloody and largely incoherent despite a few flashes of creative brilliance. Watch the trailer for Halloween II here.

Finally for the moms and dads out there, there's the family comedy The Spy Next Door, starring lovable martial arts icon Jackie Chan. Billy Ray Cyrus, George Lopez and Amber Valletta also star in this tale of CIA superspy Bob Ho, who decides to retire so that he can enjoy a quiet suburban life. Unfortunately for Bob though, while babysitting his girlfriend's children, he is forced to spring back into action when when the kids - who dislike Bob intensely - download a top secret scientific formula and gain the attention of a deadly Russian spy. Sounds very similar to Vin Diesel's The Pacifier, doesn't it?

The Spy Next Door is a painfully low 8% Fresh at Rotten Tomatoes. Apparently the stunt and action scenes are the only thing even remotely watchable in this tedious and unimaginative mess. By the sounds of things you'll be seeing this one at your peril... although your little ones are likely to love it!


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