Movies releasing today: Fast cars, plain girls and kiddie vampires

Three notable new releases hit South African cinemas today, and they offer entertainment for highbrow audiences and undemanding viewers alike.

Fast 5: Sure to be the big hit of the weekend is Fast 5, the *ahem* 5th film in The Fast and the Furious series. I've never been a fan of the franchise but a certain moviegoing segment laps up these adrenalin and testosterone fueled tales of young rebels driving fast cars, breaking laws and just generally being douches. Series stars Vin Diesel and Paul Walker return for this installment, where the film's big hook is its exotic Rio de Janeiro setting and the casting coup of Dwayne Johnson as the badass government agent out to catch Diesel and co.

As loathe as I am to admit this, Fast 5 has received the best reviews of any Fast and the Furious movie. It is currently 79% Fresh on review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes, where it has been praised for its mind-blowing stunt work, a great heist at its heart, Johnson's presence as a more interesting opponent, and the film's overall slickness. Just check your brain at the door - which is typical for a sublimely ridiculous Fast movie - and don't bother looking for any female characters of importance.

Jane Eyre: You couldn't get further from Fast 5 on the movie-making spectrum, than this arty big screen adaptation of Charlotte Brontë's classic gothic romance and proto-Feminist tale. Alice in Wonderland's Mia Wasikowska stars as the title character, a lowly governess who catches the attention of moody Mr Rochester (Michael Fassbender), a man haunted by major secrets in his... er... attic. Jamie Bell meanwhile appears as grim clergyman, and far more suitable suitor, St. John Rivers.

2011's Jane Eyre may be the latest of dozens of filmed adaptations, but it's apparently one of the best ever made. The film is 82% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. Reviewers are calling Jane Eyre 2011 an elegant, exceptionally well acted adaptation that plays up the eeriness of Bronte's text. Be aware though that Jane Eyre is not a cheerful, witty costume drama. It is bleak, relentlessly despairing and heartbreaking. Having read, enjoyed and studied the novel twice already, I'm very keen to watch this one.

Let Me In: Let Me In is the American remake of the cult Swedish film Let the Right One In, based on the novel of the same name. Splicing horror, romance and a coming of age tale, Let Me In centres on lonely, frequently bullied Owen (The Road's Kodi Smit-McPhee) a 12 year old who finds himself drawn to his mysterious new neighbour, a reclusive girl called Abby (Kick-Ass's Chloë Grace Moretz). Around the same time as Abby's arrival, Owen's sleepy New Mexico community is rocked by a series of bloody murders. Abby may be far more powerful, and dangerous, than she looks.

I wasn't a particularly big fan of Let the Right One In, which I found to be overrated, given its ultra-slow pacing and predictable plot. Let Me In director Matt "Cloverfield" Reeves however has claimed that his remake is more "accessible," and surprisingly, for once, an American remake of a European film may actually be better than its inspiration. Let Me In is 90% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. Having won dozens of awards and appeared on several Best of 2010 lists, the film has been called simultaneously chilling and touching. Some critics though are still insisting it's a pointless adaptation - way too similar to the Swedish original. Let Me In may be worth a viewing however, and I'm certainly tempted.


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