Movies released today, South Africa

It's a pretty good weekend at the movies with 3 high profile releases hitting South African cinemas today.

My personal pick for the week is Fantastic Mr Fox, a stop-motion animated film based on Roald Dahl's beloved children's book. Like the book, the film adaptation centres on a cocky fox (voiced by George Clooney) who seeks to outwit 3 repulsive farmers, Boggis, Bunce and Bean, who are intent on killing Mr Fox and his family by digging them out of their subterranean den.

Now I admit I've definitely had my concerns about the Fantastic Mr Fox film adaptation. Honestly, I still do. Director Wes (Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums) Anderson can be too quirky for his own good sometimes, and I fear that his trademark eccentricity will smother the film's simple but highly enjoyable source material.

Then again, Roald Dahl's books were such an important part of my childhood that I'm naturally a purist when it comes to my expectations of adaptations based on his work. Why change what already works? Still though, I may just have to suck up my worries and keep my mouth shut. After all, Fantastic Mr Fox has been nominated for multiple Best Animated Film awards, and it's sitting with a fantastic (ha!) 93% Fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes. Fantastic Mr Fox has been called witty, fun, cheerful, smart and easily one of the best films of 2009. High praise indeed!

As acclaimed as Fantastic Mr Fox is, the big winner at the box office this weekend is likely to be The Wolfman. Starring Benicio del Toro, Anthony Hopkins, Emily Blunt and Hugo Weaving, The Wolfman is essentially a remake of the classic 1941 Lon Chaney, Jr. horror film. Set in the 1880s, The Wolfman centres on emotionally scarred Lawrence Talbot (Del Toro) who, after years spent wandering abroad, returns to his ancestral home in rural England after his brother vanishes. It soon becomes apparent that something is killing the local villagers and Lawrence takes it upon himself to end the gruesome attacks once and for all.

I've blogged about The Wolfman before
and I'll repeat now that I love how it's a horror film with a classic period setting. I also love its gothic look. Plus it's great to see some cinematic love for werewolves again after vampires and zombies have hogged the limelight so much lately.

This said, The Wolfman has been afflicted with all kinds of development problems, from a last-minute change in director to repeated release delays as a result of re-edits and reshoots. This kind of dysfunction can really mangle a good movie, and it looks like The Wolfman has suffered for it. Although the percentage is continually changing at the moment, the film is currently just 32% Fresh at Rotten Tomatoes. The general consensus is that The Wolfman is a mixed bag: beautiful to look at, with impressive special effects and lots of graphic violence (if you're into that sort of thing), but the overall effort is disappointingly sabotaged by an obvious plot and general lack of passion by all involved.

Finally, this weekend - to coincide with 14 February - there's Valentine's Day, America's belated answer to Britain's Love Actually. I've spoken before about my theory that somewhere in Hollywood there exists two bowls containing the names of every romantic comedy actor and actress. When a new romcom is about to be cast, the studio randomly picks a name from the male and female bowls, creating a "new" combination of likeable leads. Well, for Valentine's Day - directed by Pretty Woman's Garry Marshall - they apparently just tipped the 2 bowls together.

The all-star cast of Valentine's Day includes Jessica Alba, Jessica Biel, Bradley Cooper, Ashton Kutcher, Julia Roberts, Jamie Foxx, Anne Hathaway, Shirley MacLaine, Hector Elizondo, Jennifer Garner, Patrick Dempsey, Eric Dane, Emma Roberts, Taylor Swift, Taylor Lautner, Queen Latifah, Topher Grace and George Lopez.

A bittersweet film with intertwining storylines, Valentine's Day focuses on the romantic fortunes of a group of men and women in Los Angeles on Valentine's Day. Unfortunately the film is receiving generally unfavourable comparisons to Love Actually and it's currently a grimace-worthy 14% Fresh at Rotten Tomatoes. Apparently it's just one tired romantic comedy cliche after cliche, offering viewers fluff without a single shred of substance.

Still, though, I'm sure Valentine's Day will be a massive hit. And in fact it's how I will be "celebrating" on Sunday. A group of single girlfriends and I are heading to the cinema to watch Valentine's Day and laugh, and jeer, and no doubt upset ourselves.


They should get rid of all those actors whom I despise and make a rom com starring Jessica Biel and Anne Hathaway.

Hmmm...wait. That DOES sound magnificent.
Pfangirl said…
Out of interest, both actresses had 2 of the best roles in Valentine's Day - Biel is a public relations agent who has a neurotic meltdown ever V-Day (and throws an annual Anti Valentine's Day party for her friends). Hathaway meanwhile is a poetry graduate turned phone sex operator, who talks dirty (unfortunately in a "safe" PG-13 way) for most of the film.

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