Movies today, South Africa: Robin Hood dressed up to the 9

Six new films open in South Africa today, These include The Last Song, a wholesome Miley Cyrus family drama based on a Nicholas Sparks novel (20% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes); Red Cliff, a Chinese epic from John Woo centred on a historic 3rd Century ADE battle (88% Fresh); and the Oscar nominated A Serious Man (88% Fresh), the latest black comedy offering from the Coen Brothers. If you are in a "Local is Lekker" mood, seeing as the South Africa-hosted Football World Cup is now less than a month away, there's also race-and-religion-centric comedy I Now Pronounce You Black and White.

My top 2 movie picks for this week, though?

First up is Robin Hood, which marks the umpteenth reteaming of director Ridley Scott and his Gladiator star Russell Crowe. Based on the beloved English folktale, this new Robin Hood is being touted as a "realistic" reimagining of Sherwood Forest's famous archer-bandit. This time Robin is in William Wallace mode, leading a rebellion against corrupt nobles, while working to prevent Civil War. Lady Marian (Cate Blanchett) meanwhile gets her woman warrior groove on... if the film's trailers are to be believed. Meanwhile, Matthew MacFadyen, Mark Strong, William Hurt, Max von Sydow and Danny Huston round out the rest of the cast.

I've written about the new Robin Hood before and honestly my opinion hasn't changed. The film just looks so damn generic, with all the roguish charm of the original tale completely drained from proceedings. Instead we get a Braveheart-Gladiator-Kingdom of Heaven clone with a dash of A Knights Tale - father encourages son to have ambitions beyond his class - thrown in for good measure. Blah blah blah bleh.

My gut feeling is that Robin Hood is another 2010 reimagining dud, to sit alongside The Wolfman and Clash of the Titans. Once again, despite the involvement of a top cast and crew, the result is a sloppy, disappointing mess that prefers to lazily rehash cliches instead of attempting anything new and challenging. A big fat case of lost potential. For the record, Robin Hood is currently a middling 52% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, where it has been called obvious, predictable and "just okay." On the positive side, apparently Robin Hood's production values are excellent, and the muck-splattered battle scenes are rousing stuff. So perhaps weigh up your entertainment priorities before rushing off to the cinema for this one...

It's taken over 8 months for CGI-animated fantasy-adventure 9 to open in South Africa (I blogged about it back in September last year). Not to be confused with estrogen-oozing musical Nine, 9 is based on the Academy Award-nominated animated short of the same name by UCLA animation student Shane Acker. Directors Tim Burton and Timur Bekmambetov were so impressed by the short that they encouraged Acker to turn the project into a feature length project, while they acted as producers (not dissimilar to the relationship between District 9's Neill Blomkamp and Peter Jackson actually).

Anyway, 9 is set in a post-Apocalyptic world where the redemption of humankind rests in the hands of 9 sentient rag dolls - dubbed stitchpunks - who must complete their mission while avoiding various predator machines that roam the decimated landscape. It all sounds and looks deliciously weird. And it doesn't hurt that the film features an all-star voice cast that includes Elijah Wood, John C. Reilly, Jennifer Connelly, Christopher Plummer, Crispin Glover and Martin Landau.

9 is sitting with a 57% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which isn't particularly fantastic. General concensus is that while the film's dark, industrial visuals are stunning - really at an imaginative pinnacle - the filmmakers haven't been successful in stretching the plot of an 11-minute short for a full length, 80-minute film. So, yeah, brace yourself for great beauty, but know that it's accompanied by a muddled, metaphysical and message-heavy storyline.

Just don't get too excited about seeing 9, though. The film is screening in South Africa in very limited release. In KwaZulu-Natal, for example, it's only showing in 2 out-of-the-way cinemas, so my chances of seeing it before DVD release are very low. Hmph. Thanks distributors. We don't really enjoy watching ambitious animated films that are orientated towards mature viewers.


Briget said…
I watched 9 a few weeks ago and I thought that it was a pretty interesting movie. The storyline was slightly too complicated for the kids to fully understand but it had a very good ending where everything just fell into place nicely for me.
Dante said…
Also seen 9. The storyline had no goal. Nothing changes. weirdness...
MJenks said…
Is Matthew MacFadyan related to Angus MacFadyan, who was Robert the Bruce in Braveheart?
Pfangirl said…
Thanks for the "9" comments, Bridget and Dante. I'm still a bit torn though about making the long trek to Gateway to see it.

MJenks, I did a little Wiki'ing and there is no connection between the 2 MacFadyens. out of interest, Matthew MacFayden did play Mr Darcy in the Prode & Prejudice Keira Knightley film though.

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