A geektastic weekend of new movie releases (13-15 May)

Due to issues with Blogger during the last few days of last week, the following blog post was lost. It may therefore be a tad out of date, but I'm sure it's still of use to movie fans considering a visit to the cinema over the coming days and weeks.

It's a big week for new movies. Ignoring the big fantasy and action films with geek appeal there's still Tyler Perry's all-star feminist drama For Colored Girls (33% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes), animated franchise reboot (and actual AA Milne story) Winnie the Pooh (70% Fresh), and Master Harold... and the Boys, the South African interracial drama based on Athol Fugard's classic, award-winning play.

If you're in the mood for more escapist entertainment however, you may want to check out the following:

Beastly: Beauty and the Beast receives a contemporary retelling in this teen romance (and novel adaptation) clearly trying to cash in on the Twilight craze. I Am Number Four's Alex Pettyfer is a rich, popular and handsome high school douchebag who receives his comeuppance when he is transformed into a scarred monster. Living a reclusive life in a expensive condo, he finds himself falling for forced flatmate Vanessa Hudgens, a girl he would've previously scorned.

Alas, Beastly is just 17% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. Apparently it's a mess all around, stripping out the gothic heart of its fairytale source material and replacing it with teen angst, superficiality and groan-inducing sappiness - all while a better movie clearly lurks beneath the surface.

Your Highness: From the director of The Pineapple Express comes this unusual mix of R-rated slacker comedy and medieval fantasy epic. Danny McBride and James Franco are chalk-and-cheese royal brothers out to rescue Zooey Deschanel from an evil sorcerer (Justin Theroux). During the course of their misadventures their path crosses with warrior babe Natalie Portman who joins them on their quest.

What looks like something akin to a bawdy Princess Bride or Monty Python and the Holy Grail is in reality apparently neither. Your Highness is a weak 25% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, where it has been called uneven, unfunny and evidently a lot more fun to make than watch.

Priest: Screening in 2D and converted 3D is this loose adaptation of the popular Korean comic. Priest is a supernatural-action tale set in a post-Apocalyptic alternate reality where the world has been decimated by vampires and Satanists. Human survivors now chiefly live in oppressive walled cities run by the Church, which fends off the vampires thanks to its bands of warrior priests. Paul Bettany is one of these priests, a veteran who disobeys his superiors and heads out in the Wastelands when his niece is kidnapped by the evil Black Hat (Karl Urban). Cam Gigandet's Sheriff and Maggie Q’s priestess follow closely behind.

Priest is currently 19% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. Apparently the film isn’t terrible but suffers from a blatant lack of originality (see my comments in the earlier post: Trailer Tuesday: Priest) and for being overwhelming dour and drab.

The Way Back: The Way Back is the long awaited new film from acclaimed filmmaker Peter Weir (Witness, Dead Poets Society, The Truman Show, Master & Commander). Based on a true story, this WWII era adventure sees a group of men attempt a daring escape from a Soviet gulag in Siberia and return home to Europe. This attempt sees them cross the frozen wastes of Siberia, as well as the Gobi Desert on foot. The film stars Jim Sturgess, Colin Farrell, Ed Harris, Mark Strong and Saoirse Ronan.

The Way Back – which, for some odd reason, is having its cinema release confined to the art film circuit in South Africa – is 75% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. Apparently the film isn't Weir's best, and some reviewers found it tedious. Others, however, have praised the film for its grand visuals and insist it belongs among the engaging adventure film greats.


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