Comedy, sci-fi, romance and drama at SA cinemas today

Five new movies of note open today in South Africa - catering for all audience wants.

Never Let Me Go
may come across as a pretty standard love triangle if you're just judging it by its poster (which features stars Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley and Andrew Garfield). However, dig a little deeper and it emerges that the film is based on Kazuo Ishiguro's multi-award winning novel of the same name - which deals with the topic of cloning for organ donation. It turns out our young friends and lovers are being raised purely so that their "originals" can extend their lives. So Never Let Me Go is thematically a lot heavier and more unconventional than it first appears. On many film critic' Top 10 of 2010 lists, the movie is 69% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

Sticking with sci-fi and sci-fi literature there's I Am Number Four, based on Pittacus Lore's popular youth novel. Alex Pettyfer is Number 4, a super-powered alien whose quiet life on Earth is shattered when the beings who destroyed his homeworld track him down. As his alien race (the Loriens) can only be killed in sequence, Number 4 now stands between the Mogadorian invaders and fellow teen aliens Numbers 5-9. It had an enticing marketing campaign but I Am Number is apparently pretty disappointing - noisy, superficial and derivative. 30% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

Hall Pass is the latest from Bobby & Peter Farrelly, the writer-directors behind gross-out, sexually explicit comedy hits There's Something About Mary, Dumb and Dumber and Me, Myself & Irene. Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis play restless married men who are gifted with a "hall pass" from their wives (Jenna Fischer and Christina Applegate) - a full week of no-consequences singledom. Hall Pass is a tepid 34% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. Apparently the film only produces a few weak laughs, and even fans of the Farrelly Brothers' previous work will be disappointed by its inherent conservatism.

The team behind hit South African comedy White Wedding reunite for crime drama Paradise Stop. Kenneth Nkosi and Rapulana Seiphemo star as men (and best friends) on opposite sides of the law in a sleepy Limpopo town. When a crime wave hits this quiet border post, principled cop Seiphemo defies threats, corruption and his own feelings to confront businessman Nkosi - who owns the local truck stop at the centre of underworld activities. Watch the Paradise Stop trailer here.

I'm not entirely sure what twisted mind came up with the idea for a loose adaptation of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet with warring garden gnomes and the music of Elton John, but that's exactly the surreal combination that makes up CGI-animated Gnomeo and Juliet. Screening in 2D and 3D, the wacky family comedy features the voices of James McAvoy, Emily Blunt, Michael Caine, Jason Statham, Maggie Smith and many, many more big name British stars. Gnomeo and Juliet is 55% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. Critics are divided, calling it energetic and fun on one hand, and one-dimensional and too self-referential on the other.


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