Movies releasing today: roguish cats, boxer robots and mirror earths

Three fantasy and sci-fi movies likely to have geek appeal open in South African cinemas today. Here's the rundown:

Puss in Boots: Screening in 3D and 2D is this Shrek spin-off and prequel that centres on Antonio Banderas's swashbuckling fairy tale feline. In this animated family comedy, Puss aligns himself with sassy Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek) and mastermind Humpty Dumpty (Zach Galifianakis) to steal a great treasure from thuggish outlaws Jack and Jill (Billy Bob Thornton and Amy Sedaris). Profiled as part of Trailer Tuesday here.

I've said it before but Puss n Boots is hands down my favourite character in DreamWorks' Shrek films. That in turn makes this movie my hands down #1 pick of the week's new releases. It also doesn't hurt that Puss in Boots has a strong 82% Fresh rating on review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes. Apparently the film never strives to be anything more than light, fluffy fun, but it delivers on its objective with tons of wit and charm. Vastly superior to the later Shrek films according to reports.

Real Steel: Curiously enough, the same guys who dismissed MMA drama Warrior (my review) as a cliched underdog sports drama are super keen to watch this tale of a boxer and coach given a last shot at a title fight. Then again, in Real Steel this tired plot - based on a Richard Matheson short story - has been refurbished... with giant robots! In a near future, where human boxing is forbidden, Hugh Jackman is a down-on-his-luck promoter who bonds with his estranged son while training an archaic sparring bot for last chance glory.

Real Steel is apparently family friendly, heart-stirring sci-fi as opposed to the usual genre blend of cold and Dystopian. The film has a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 58% Fresh. Apparently the plot and premise are corny and derivative as all hell but the overall result is a emotionally satisfying and entertaining crowd-pleaser, where the characters actually have space to breathe, and the audience has a blast despite (or perhaps because of?) the ridiculousness.

Another Earth: This unusual indie tale combines sci-fi and personal drama. William Mapother and Brit Marling star as gifted strangers drawn together by tragedy, grief and guilt at the same time a duplicate Earth mysteriously appears in the sky, approaching our own planet.

It all sounds quite odd but Another Earth was a winner at this year's Sundance Film Festival, and has been touring the festival circuit with some success. The film has a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 63% Fresh, with critics calling it slow paced but intriguing and cerebral... Just be aware though that the sci-fi content is little more than a backdrop for interpersonal issues (a favourite, reality-grounded topic in indie cinema) to play out.


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