Friday the 13th at the Movies: junkies, trannies, bitches, pirates, gospel singers and action heroines

It's a fantastic weekend for new releases at the movies, with 6 new flicks catering for all audiences. In fact, I'd say that viewers have 2 Must-Sees out of today's newcomers: The Hunger Games and Pirates! Band of Misfits...

The Hunger Games: Literary sensation The Hunger Games makes the leap to the big screen with similar success. In this teen-centric sci-fi tale set in a totalitarian future, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) is a fiercely pragmatic 16 year old, who finds herself participating in The Hunger Games - a televised tournament where teenagers fight to the death. Trailer Tuesday profile here.

My review will be up on this blog on Monday (or you can read it now over at The Movies.co.za). However, in short, although it has its rough patches The Hunger Games is a potent, well acted adaptation that will satisfy fans and newcomers alike. For the record, The Hunger Games has an aggregated Rotten Tomatoes rating of 85% Fresh.


The Pirates! Band of Misfits: Releasing in 3D is this claymation latest from Aardman Animations (the British studio of Wallace and Gromit fame). Based on the comedic book series by Gideon Defoe, The Pirates! centres on an incompetent Victorian Era pirate (voiced by Hugh Grant) who is intent on winning the coveted Pirate of the Year Award. Trailer Tuesday profile here.

Like its Aardman predecessor, Arthur Christmas (my review), The Pirates! Band of Misfits is apparently a rollicking good time for viewers of all ages. It's full of Monty Python-style silliness and requires multiple viewings to truly appreciate its hundreds of its sight gags. 92% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.


Joyful Noise: Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton (in her first major film role in a decade) face off in this musical about 2 very different women competing for the position of choir director at their church. Clashing views have to be put aside though as the choir prepares for one last ditch effort at winning the prestigious Joyful Noise Gospel competition.

Evidently Joyful Noise is a mixed bag oozing cheese and cheeriness. It's enthusiastically acted by a likeable cast, and the film is at its best during its musical numbers. However, it completely loses momentum once the singing stops, skipping from one tepid plot point to the next. 34% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.


Young Adult: The creative team behind quirky comedy Juno - director Jason Reitman and writer Diablo Cody - reunite for this darkly comic look at a self-absorbed writer and lifelong alpha bitch (Charlize Theron), who returns to her home town to seduce her former high school sweetheart (Patrick Wilson), now married with a baby.

81% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, Young Adult is a savagely cynical character study that evidently won't be to everyone's taste. Charlize is reportedly fearless and utterly convincing though as a woman clinging to delusions of her youth.


Puncture
: Chris Evans yanks off his star-spangled bodysuit, and transitions from hunky, confident hero to drug-ravaged, dour junkie in this indie drama, based on real-life events. Evans plays a drug-addicted lawyer who agrees to defend a nurse pricked by a contaminated needle. Little does he know, the lawsuit will throw the spotlight on a massive pharmaceutical conspiracy.

Mixing a David and Goliath legal battle with a personal examination of drug addiction, Puncture has split critics - some of whom have found it a riveting piece of social activism; others a clunky, unmemorable drama. Evans has been universally praised for his soulful performance however. 53% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.


Albert Nobbs: Showing in limited release is this drama, which racked up 3 Oscar nominations, including one for leading lady Glenn Close, who has been trying to bring this story to the big screen since 1982. Close plays the title character, a woman masquerading as a man for 30 years in order to make a living in 19th Century Ireland. Mia Wasikowska, Aaron Johnson and Janet McTeer co-star.

Albert Nobbs has been highly praised for its performances and make-up, but the film apparently doesn't excel on other areas. It's been labelled a stern-faced drag (like its lead character, ha!). 53% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

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